It is the power of discrimination which constitutes the difference between the aristocrat and the bourgeois. Personally, I believe in the idea of aristocracy, that is, in true aristocracy, not in the person who possesses a title and gives himself airs, but in the aristocrat who instinctively has the right feeling at any given moment and in any circumstances. In the ordinary phrase, he is a gentleman. If we make that idea into a bigger thing, carried on to another plane, the gentleman becomes the spiritual man. The aristocrat has been trained for ages, not only in this life but in past lives. He has submitted to restrictions here, made efforts there, till it has become instinctive with him to do the right thing wherever he is, whether in a cottage or in a palace, whether in the poor man's house or in the ashrama of the Master. Years of training have taught him to maintain certain standards, whereas the bourgeois will be clumsy and by his clumsiness he will upset others. Because he has not had training, he is incapable of discrimination between right and wrong, between the beautiful and the ugly, and to him all is a mass of confused ideas. It is these things which stamp a person for what he is.
On the Path both can exist, the bourgeois and the aristocrat, but the aristocrat always goes ahead because he feels that he has a duty to perform as an example, and this gives him an essential nobility. It should make him eager to turn round, and help others and not feel that his nobility makes him proudly distinctive or superior. After all, that feeling of superiority only comes from ignorance and will vanish when he learns that the Path is endless, that there are millions ahead of him on that Path as there are millions behind him.
In this manner we have to create a new aristocracy. The distinctions will be between those who know and those who do not know, those who doubt and those who believe. When the Teacher comes, as He has come, and when He speaks, certain people will understand at once and others will not, some will misjudge and others will recognize the Truth.
If you have practised discrimination rightly, you will know what it is to be superior to everything that happens, in the right sense of the word. Events pass you by and leave you untouched. If they are great, you go along with them; if they are noble, you feel more nobly. If they are small, you let them pass you by. If you are excited, it is only in a balanced way. You use your excitement to make yourself big, to walk a little further. It is the power of discrimination which distinguishes the saint and the sage from the savage. When the savage has to make his choice between two ugly things, he will probably choose the uglier one; but the sage chooses between the beautiful and the still more beautiful, because his power of perception and of discrimination has grown by exercise. He no longer has to make his choice between little things; he is detached from them, he is above them.
You should be striding from mountain top to mountain top, not keeping at the same level, but always climbing higher and higher and never slipping back. When you are walking up a mountain, if you slip it means that you have to make a greater effort to gain the level which you had reached before. If you want to get to the top, you must continue, you must not rest; you must not relax your efforts. You may take time, but you must not slip back.
To gain discrimination, you must take time and Work at it deliberately and with patience. You can act swiftly and suddenly when you have reached a certain stage, because you have been trained to right action; but in the early stages you must take time and weigh your motives, your actions, your feelings. Take the case of a musician; for many years he practises in private before he dares to come before the public. It is the same with those who are treading the path of evolution; they must have training and show meticulous care in the choice of the things which are set before them, because the further you go on that path, the greater will be the demand for common sense, the greater the demand for discrimination of the right kind.
Do not narrow down this particular quality, because if you have acquired this, you will also attain all other qualities. If you are the embodiment, the essence of discrimination, you need have no other quality in the world, because in that all is included. If you have developed this quality in its perfection, you use your intelligence, your emotions, your whole body, to create a new atmosphere. It is because we have not acquired it that we are continually struggling. Once you have gained it, nothing in the world can touch you. And then begins the real happiness, the real glory of thinking, feeling, acting, and living.
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