But remember: you should not blame your neighbour because he does not see with your eyes. You should not despise those who think you are wrong, but weigh their blame, and see how much of reason there is therein. Remember also that in this struggle upwards, full weight should be given to the experience of the race as well as to your own. You should not despise nor flout those laws which keep the mass of the people in the path of decency and of good citizenship, and you should remember the warning of Shrī Kṛṣhṇa, so pre-eminently wise: “The standard that the wise man sets, by that the people go.” To take your own road alone means a tremendous responsibility, as well as an act of heroism, for others may follow, unknowing, where you have deliberately chosen your path. Others less prepared by self-discipline and training may rush in after you where you have opened the gateway; and so, in your action, by which the blind must judge you, you must consider your circumstances as well as your vision of the Best. Only when to yield is treason to the Highest in you, should you set yourself alone against the world. “Tangled,” said Shrī Kṛṣhṇa, “Tangled is the path of action,” and that is true. Therefore you must develop your intellect; therefore you must train your will; therefore you must try to illuminate your judgment; no headlong, thoughtless action must be taken on the first impulse towards an unaccustomed path.
There is one thing that I have often said, and that I will here repeat, especially for my younger friends, whom I welcome to our meetings here. I would say to them: If you want advice, and ask: “Shall I disobey the customary law, and go my own way?”–then wait. The wanting of advice is the sign that the Spirit in you has not yet spoken with the compelling voice that you ought to obey. I have had boys come to me and say: “Shall I disobey my father? this refusal to obey seems to be the right path.” My answer invariably has been: “My boy, if you are doubtful, as you must be since you ask me, then obey your father and mother, and see what the result is; for, when the Spirit speaks, no outside advice is wanted.” The great decisions of the Spirit are made in solitude, and they are not made by the advice of man. If you want others to support you, if you want the opinion of others to buttress you up, then the chances are, when the moment of stress comes upon you, you will quiver, you will say to your adviser: “Oh! you have advised me to do this; see what trouble it has brought, and I must suffer for it.” And so, I have never advised, nor will advise, a great act of sacrifice. O crowd of thoughtful men and women, I say to you: “Choose your highest and follow it unflinchingly.” But if any one of you comes to me and says: “Shall I sacrifice this? shall I sacrifice that? shall I disregard the other?” I say: “My friends, the decision is with you and not with me. Your own conscience must guide you. Your own intelligence must direct you. As I cannot suffer for you, I will not advise.” For one has no right to impose upon another a sacrifice one is willing to face for one’s self. I know my own strength and weakness. I am accustomed by many lives of aspiration to judge what path I shall follow. But shall I follow the path that I see to be Right for me, the path of suffering, and invite others to enter on it, who may not be prepared to face the pain? No; the decision towards pain must be made by the open vision of the one who affronts the suffering; otherwise, in the stress of the agony he may wish he had chosen the easier and the smoother path. The pioneer must know his strength; the pioneer must be ready for the stones that pierce his feet, for the thorns that tear his flesh. Let no weakling enter on the path of that higher, more strenuous, endeavour. We want pioneers. But we want pioneers of courage, of heart, of strength, of endurance, that no danger can daunt, that no peril can paralyse. Only such are worthy to come into the ranks of the pioneers, who make the path along which humanity shall march in days to come. And if you say to me: “Why should we go? Why should we suffer that others may tread smooth? Why should our flesh be torn that others may walk in ease?”–my answer is: “Unless the Spirit is so unfolded in you that the path of progress is to you the path of happiness, so that when the feet are bleeding, when the flesh is tortured, you can look up with a smile and say: ‘Lord, I have come to do Thy will’; until the path to you is the only path of happiness, you had better tread the accustomed ways of the men and women around you.”
For there is a time in evolution, when all wish for aught the world can give has vanished from the human Spirit; when there is no desire for aught save that God’s will may be done on earth, as it is done in the higher realms of wisdom; when to be allowed to suffer in order that that Will may be done is a joy beyond all earthly joy, is a delight beyond anything that the world can give. Realise that the Martyr and the Hero die, because death is the most joyous thing that they can meet, knowing that by their death the world’s progress is improved. Unless you feel this in you, then travel along the road that for you is Right; for the consent of the intelligence, the consent of the conscience, the realisation of God, these alone are the strength of the Hero; these, in the midst of the very flames of martyrdom, enable him to smile with joy, for vision of the future that he sees.