(1) An adept -- the highest as the lowest -- is one ONLY DURING THE EXERCISE OF HIS OCCULT POWERS.
(2) Whenever these powers are needed, the sovereign will unlocks the door to the INNER man (the adept,) who can emerge and act freely but on condition that his jailor -- the OUTER man -- will be either completely or partially paralyzed as the case may require; VIZ.: either (A) mentally and physically; (B) mentally, -- but not physically; (C) physically but not entirely mentally; (D) neither, -- but with an akasic film interposed between the OUTER and the INNER man.
-- K.H., THE MAHATMA LETTERS TO A.P. SINNETT, Letter No. 24B, page 176.
By B.P. Wadia
[From THE BUILDING OF THE HOME, pages 17-22.]
The sons of Bhumi (Earth) regard the Sons of Deva-lokas (angel-spheres) as their gods; and the Sons of lower kingdoms look up to the men of Bhumi, as to their Devas (gods); men remaining unaware of it in their blindness ... They (men) tremble before them while using them (for magical purposes).
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 605-6
In the building of his home, the Theosophical student has an advantage over the ordinary man because of the knowledge at his disposal. His responsibility is correspondingly heavy, for if he neglects to utilize the doctrines of the Great Wisdom, his own personal career as a student will not be a successful one. Even theoretical knowledge deteriorates in quality and diminishes in quantity and the topsy-turvy understanding of the teachings increases in proportion as he neglects the application of the Occult Science.
Fortunate is the student who has the opportunity to create, by right endeavor at application, a Theosophical home. Many among us can use our creative ability only in a very restricted sphere, for the home in which we live is not ours to construct, and our Karmic opportunity is restricted to cooperation with others, and with the heads of the family. Still we can create our own personal atmosphere, charging our surroundings with the sweet fragrance of Theosophy. But if, under Karma, we have the final say in making the plan and in carrying out our own Home-Building, then we are more fortunate in our opportunities.
An ordinary teacher of a high school can do great good, but its owner, the headmaster, has extraordinary scope not only for improving the lot of all the pupils, but even for shaping the educational policy itself of the State in which it is located. Many a Theosophical student having but a very restricted say in the building of the home to which he belongs is like the teacher, but there are those who are in the position of the headmaster and many more can become like him. They are fortune's favored Grihasthas, with almost illimitable scope for theosophizing their city and their country.
Now, what particular doctrines of Theosophy are of special value to the Home-Builder? Putting aside those which are necessary for the improvement of his own character, for the control of his wandering mind, for becoming the better able to help and teach others, and so on, we must confine ourselves to certain specific teachings which are more directly applicable. The first of these to be considered is the truth about the existence of the Invisible, its spiritual rulers, and its psychic denizens. Theosophy describes the Universe as a plenum and teaches that the hierarchies of beings are processioning therein, advancing from stage to stage through involution and evolution. Says THE SECRET DOCTRINE (I, 274-5):
The Universe is worked and GUIDED from WITHIN OUTWARDS. As above so it is below, as in heaven so on earth; and man -- the microcosm and miniature copy of the macrocosm -- is the living witness to this Universal Law and to the mode of its action. We see that every EXTERNAL motion, act, gesture, whether voluntary or mechanical, organic or mental, is produced and preceded by INTERNAL feeling or emotion, will or volition, and thought or mind. As no outward motion or change, when normal, in man's external body can take place unless provoked by an inward impulse, given through one of the three functions named, so with the external or manifested Universe. The whole Kosmos is guided, controlled, and animated by almost endless series of Hierarchies of sentient Beings, each having a mission to perform, and who -- whether we give to them one name or another, and call them Dhyan-Chohans or Angels -- are "messengers" in the sense only that they are the agents of Karmic and Cosmic Laws. They vary infinitely in their respective degrees of consciousness and intelligence; and to call them all pure Spirits without any of the earthly alloy "which time is wont to prey upon" is only to indulge in poetical fancy. For each of these Beings either WAS, or prepares to become, a man, if not in the present, then in a past or a coming cycle (Manvantara). They are PERFECTED, when not INCIPIENT, men.
The human kingdom is but one hierarchy. Humanity on earth is surrounded by minerals, vegetables, and animals, and like man himself, these have their respective invisible counterparts; but these form only one part of the vast invisible. There are other constituents. Nature is septenary: "the spiritual or divine; the psychic or semi-divine; the intellectual; the passional; the instinctual, or COGNITIONAL; the semi-corporeal, and the purely material and physical natures." Just as our own mind is nearer to our own body than is the body of another, so also some of these invisible intelligences are nearer neighbors than our friends living in our street. We have cosmic neighbors, and we owe to these proper recognition and duties, just as we have and should assume civic and national responsibility.
When the Grihastha, the Home-Builder, and his Patni, the Housewife (this latter term deserves to be invested with its ancient dignity, which it has lost in these degenerate days) try to rear the family without any consideration of the power which the invisible exerts on the visible, they fall prey to illusion. Maya, the illusioning power of Nature, comes into play when, for example, the earner of the family bread thinks not of the invisible -- both psychic and spiritual -- aspect of money, the maleficent and beneficent currents which give the coin its rolling capacity; or again, when Maya envelopes the woman who fails to differentiate between mere physical cleanliness and magnetic purity.
Why is cleanliness said to be next to godliness? A spotlessly clean cook who sulks and grumbles and is irritable is not next to God -- he is not really clean; though in our civilization he is taken to be so -- an example of Maya. Obviously the reverse is also true; it is Maya to think that it matters not if the cook or a clerk is not clean provided that the one is good-natured, and the other is honest. Maya or Illusion results whenever the spiritual is divested of the material and vice versa. The dirty sannyasi is NOT a sannyasi; nor does the cowl make a monk. In India the spiritual aspect has been so distorted that people under-value the matter-side -- the form within which the Spirit dwells and through which it has to function.
In the Occident no knowledge of "another world" exists; in India useful knowledge about trilokas, the three worlds, is forgotten. Therefore have religious rites and ceremonies become worse than useless -- possible sources of psychic infection. The Theosophical student must avoid the two pitfalls and remember that body without soul is a corpse and that many a soul without a body is a bhut. The greatest of sannyasis or renouncers -- the Nirmanakayas -- have each a body, though it is not of flesh and blood; without His kaya, the renouncer could not bring about the Great Renunciation. It is most necessary, then, for the Theosophical practitioner to grasp the application of the doctrine of Maya in the task of Home-Building and to repeat with Robert Browning:
Let us not always say "Spite of this flesh today I strove, made head, gained ground upon the whole!" As the bird wings and sings, Let us cry, "All good things Are ours, nor soul helps flesh more, now, than flesh helps soul."
So the Grihastha who aspires to practice Theosophical doctrines must acquire sufficient knowledge about the invisible. In doing so, he will have to be extra careful to avoid using what are called religious texts or shastraic injunctions. One of the most potent sources from which corruption has set in in every religion is its code of rites and ceremonies. Withdrawals and interpolations have taken place; the priest who was once a holy-living magician has (as a class) become an exploiting ignoramus today, whose vibhutis or excellences are greed, cunning, and sensuality!
The Theosophical student, therefore, should not seek guidance about the invisible in old religious books and shastraic texts. Especially in India is there a grave danger to him from traditional religious bias. He will do well to confine himself to strictly theosophical texts and seek guidance therein. There is in Theosophical books all the knowledge he will need -- and more. Once he has grounded himself in Theosophical knowledge, he may be able to perceive the inwardness of whatever truth there may be in the allegorical statements and descriptions of symbolic rites of old religious tomes. To utilize the wholesome ethical injunctions in old religions is one thing; to use their fragmentary instructions for the performance of rites and ceremonies is another -- always useless and sometimes dangerous.
With this note of warning we must add that no Theosophical student need feel nervous about studying, with a view to application, the teachings of the Esoteric Philosophy about the Invisible. Lack of such study is very often responsible for errors of judgment in dealing with numerous questions of day-to-day living -- e.g., diseases and their remedies. Modern science knows not the Invisible, and to build the Home on the foundations of the materialism of that science would be a blunder of the first magnitude. This does not, however, mean that the Theosophical student cannot and should not make adequate use of well-established facts of modern knowledge.
We are not beings of mere matter, living on an earth isolated in space:
Millions of things and beings are, in point of localization, around and IN us, as we are around, with, and in them; it is no metaphysical figure of speech, but a sober fact in Nature, however incomprehensible to our senses.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 604-5
They (the Stanzas of Dzyan) teach belief in conscious Powers and Spiritual Entities; in terrestrial, semi-intelligent, and highly intellectual Forces on other planes; and in Beings that dwell around us in spheres imperceptible, whether through telescope or microscope.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 478
Although as invisible as if they were millions of miles beyond our solar system, they are yet with us, near us, WITHIN our own world, as objective and material to their respective inhabitants as ours is to us.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 605
This being so, how illogical for a Theosophical student to build his home without paying due attention to the Great Invisible!
By Henry Travers Edge
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, April 1918, pages 325-30.]
A certain writer, in discussing the meaning of the phrase, 'The State,' contrasts the theories of Rousseau and Plato, and consequently of the two schools of thought which they represent. Avoiding lengthy detail, we may sum up the matter by saying that the former starts from the assumption that the individual is a separate unit; and then, having made this false assumption, proceeds to devise means for the harmonious mutual adjustment of the lives of various individuals; and so the State appears as an artificial contrivance for preventing the (supposed) rights of different individuals from conflicting with each other.
Between the State and the individual a contract is supposed to exist, by which the individual agrees to modify or surrender some of his rights, in return for the protection which the State affords him from the encroachment of other people's rights. On the contrary, the Platonic idea was that the individual is not really separate at all; hence, so far from needing an artificial contrivance to insure harmonious cooperation, he tends naturally to form associations, because thus only can he realize the purport of his life. Not being a separate unit, he cannot live alone; and the State now appears as the natural and logical outcome of man's instincts and requirements.
That the individual is not a separate unit in the sense required by the former theory, can be argued either by studying the nature of the individual, or by examining the consequences which ensue upon the acceptance of that theory as a starting-point. This view of the State represents it as necessarily repressive, however much we may palliate that circumstance by calling it the result of a contract. It gives perpetual recognition to individualism; the forces in operation in the community are opposed to one another in a position of unstable equilibrium; and as the writer we are citing points out, there is nothing in the theory to prevent an individual (or group of individuals) from doing exactly what he pleases, so long only as he can manage to do so without violating the terms of the contract. In short, the balance rests upon might rather than right.
But in the second theory the State is represented as the fulfillment of the individual's needs, and is therefore not repressive but expressive. But the best part of this view is that it allows for the indefinite development of the individual along right lines. For the inference is that, the more highly developed he becomes, the greater will be his need for union, and therefore the more perfect will be the form of the State that arises out of that need. In this way it is supposed that the bounds of family, clan, tribe, city-state, kingdom, and empire are successively outgrown, as man the individual develops; until at last the limits of nationality become merged in a union of all mankind. If this be so, the plans for a FORCIBLE union of nations are wrongly conceived. There should be no need for force; nor if it were needed could it ever be successfully applied.
The second of the two theories above mentioned -- that assigned to Plato -- is the one on which Theosophy bases its teaching of brotherhood. Men are not separate units to be brought together and made amicable by artificial inducements or restraints; they are actually united, and need only learn to realize this fact. Brotherhood is not a pooling of separate interests; it is the recognition of a common interest. To achieve brotherhood is to open our eyes and look at something that actually exists; not to try to create something which does not exist. Unbrotherliness is a failure to see our unity and to mold our acts in accordance therewith; it is the giving of undue prominence to such desires as are merely personal, and the devising of policies of conduct and theories of the State based on personal desires. For it is of course true that men are separate in some respects: they have separate bodies, and a part of the mind attaches itself to these bodies and becomes involved in their interests.
Man is dual; he is a God grafted on an animal stock. The lower part of his nature, where the stem enters the ground, is apt to send out shoots of the old stock. Yet a tree is fed not only by earth and water from below, but also by air and sunlight from above. The achievement of brotherhood, then, is a learning to live in the higher part of our nature. The writer quoted believes that international unity is the natural logical sequel of man's needs; and this idea Theosophy emphasizes, adding the light of its luminous teachings.
If people are asking themselves the practical question, "What shat we do." a large part of the answer may be given by saying, "First turn your eyes in the right direction." If this idea of the nature of brotherhood, this better idea of the nature of the State and of the relation of the individual thereto, can gain ground; if thereby it can replace unworthy ideas, individualistic, animalistic; much will have been gained; humanity will begin to move in the direction its eyes are fixed in.
As for one's individual conduct -- what is it but to strive more earnestly than before to realize one's place as a member of the human family (or, better, of the family of all that lives); to set aside personal aims as of small value; to transfer one's hopes and happiness from these personal aims to larger aspirations; to try to make duty govern one's feelings, instead of defining duty BY one's feelings? Not that it is necessary for everybody to blossom forth into a social reformer; the principle can and should be applied in what are perhaps considered small affairs. A man may marry a woman because he loves her; he may also love her because he has married her. We can find out what is our duty, and then throw our whole enthusiasm into it; in which case we are director of our emotions instead of being lured by them.
In weighing the respective merits of the various kinds of government, one feels disposed, in the light of the above considerations, to distinguish all corporate unions into the natural and the artificial, rather than into the hackneyed types of democracy, oligarchy, and autocracy.
Artificial governments would thus be defined as those which aim to bring about by constraint and devices a unity which does not actually exist among the elements to be governed; and such governments are unstable, whichever of the forms they may be classed under.
The natural or spontaneous governments, of which we have abundant examples in history and contemporary annals, arise out of some urgent common need and are voluntary; they assume whatever form of organization is found best suited to the exigencies of the occasion. Unity of control is usually found to be a requisite condition; but this is not based on force, precedent, or heredity, but on trust and confidence. It may be said that the spontaneous unions recorded in our annals are not usually based on very exalted motives; and this is true.
The history of Greece provides us with a story of one little state after another coming to the supremacy by means of a civic unity based upon opposition to the other little states; and often we find two unfriendly powers drawn together by their common jealousy of a third. The several lower estates of the people unite in a revolution to overthrow the higher power which they deem their common enemy. All classes in a nation are united. Sectional jealousies are laid aside, but merely in the interests of the national side in a destructive war. All the same, the principle is good, though its application in these cases may leave cause for regret; and we must endeavor to give it its right application.
It has often been pointed out that mankind has been drawn together naturally by its own development in material resources. In other words, commerce and science have become internationalized. Thus the beneficent law of human evolution works ever onwards towards its goal, even when its path leads through the slime of earth; just as a selfish man may find higher responsibilities forced upon him when his natural desires have conducted him into the position of father of a family. We find that our individual requirements have waxed so great that we can no longer live without one another. We must have sugar from here, rubber from there. Our brother will send us his cotton, and we will return it made up. If we are interested in music, it would be a pity to docket it with national names and choose our repertoire by national prejudices. The expansion of my own mind demands that I shall study Indian philosophy and Chinese metaphysics.
Speculation about international unity has usually confined itself to economical considerations. But man is ESSENTIALLY a spiritual being. His higher faculties are not a mere efflorescence of his lower nature; they are attributes of the divinity in him. Again, it is not a question of creating a spiritual unity, but of recognizing one that already exists. It is this spiritual unity that is the true basis of solidarity; and solidarity will arise spontaneously in proportion as individual men recognize their spiritual nature and cultivate their spiritual needs. Man has to OUTGROW his limitations. Those who hunger to live more truly, more earnestly, but do not see a way, will find it in Theosophy; for Theosophy does not impose upon man anything artificial, but points to realities and interprets life as it is.
Life as it IS, -- contrasted with life as it is supposed to be. The latter is a conglomeration of wrong theories, the chief of which is that theory which persists in regarding all wholes as nothing more than fortuitous aggregations of separate units. We have just been considering this theory in its application to social science, and it is familiar enough in the natural sciences.
Theosophy proposes to regard wholes as the essential existences, and the parts into which they may be separated as being of altogether minor importance. A brick gains its importance from its being part of a house; a house is not a mere agglomeration of bricks. It is the same way with man. We have been suffering from economic theories based on the false assumption that, if the desires of the individuals are consulted and given rein, the welfare of the community will necessarily ensue by the working of some mysterious law. This law, we are now being told, is not true. The welfare of the community is paramount and the welfare of the individual conditional thereupon. This likewise applies in an international sense. Another capital error was the regarding of a single earth-life as the whole of a man's existence and the consequent attempt to adjust ideals and policies to that theory. But in view of reincarnation, things wear a totally different aspect. It is such ideas as these -- which, as said, are not new, but are revivals of ancient knowledge -- that give Theosophy a power where other resources fail.
It may be argued that progress is due to the assertion of individuality, and that uniformity can be secured only by the suppression of individuality, and therefore at the expense of progress. But we are not proposing to level men DOWN by a process of pruning that would reduce them all to stumps; it is to level them UP that we aim.
Curious inquirers may have expected to find that the resident workers at the International Theosophical Headquarters would be of the colorless and uniform kind that is wont to be found in communities organized by pressure from above rather than by innate strength. And these inquirers may have been surprised to find that such is not the case at Point Loma; but that, on the contrary, union and harmony have been secured without the suppression of individual character and initiative.
The explanation however is simple; the concrete result thus attained merely follows the abstract principle. The people are cooperating voluntarily in the working-out of a common purpose; and so, instead of shrinking into a mold, they are expanding symmetrically in accordance with natural laws recognized by all. Mutual adaptation is of course necessary, but this does not mean suppression or enforced conformity to dogmas and artificial rules. Those who adhere to their original purpose, which caused them to become workers for Theosophy, find ample room for the expansion of their nature; and if anyone finds himself cramped, it is because he has fallen away from that purpose and no longer finds himself willing to pursue it.
The same thing is observable in the Raja-Yoga College and School, where the pupils show marked individual differences of character, and not that monotonous likeness that is so apt to be produced among children in institutions. This proves that Theosophy does not suppress individuality but merely directs its growth and thus preserves it from running to excrescences on the one hand or from yielding to some conventional mold on the other hand.
Presumably it would be the same in the world at large. Common notions of individuality and personality are of course much confused and often topsy-turvy. People rebel at the idea of following a high principle of conduct, calling it slavery and convention; but yet they slavishly obey the conventions of fashion, whether it be in the symbolical form of wearing precisely the same kind of necktie and socks as other people, or whether it be in those minute points of conventional behavior and habit thus symbolized. In a word, the more people clamor for individual freedom, the more they run into a mold. Given their individuality, they exercise it, as they must, in following some law; and choose the conventional rules. Theosophy does not hamper the power of choice or the right to choose; it simply offers us something to choose that is worth choosing.
The distinction made by Theosophical writers between individuality and personality needs emphasis. Personality means personal desires; and to give rein to these would mean chaos; but individuality means the real character -- freedom to follow the right. Theosophy aims at the development of the individuality, and seeks to produce a type of man who will choose the right, believing that a harmonious community is the natural outcome of harmoniously developed individuals.
As to government -- the final authority is the PRINCIPLES accepted and venerated by the people; and the visible administrators are those who represent these principles. We have already seen that unanimity produces efficient government -- even in such matters as war and business. What is needed therefore is unanimity in higher ideals. Knowledge of the truth makes for harmony; because truth is single, and error manifold; and Theosophy proclaims old and well-tried truths which always have made for harmony wherever their influence has prevailed.
By William Q. Judge
[An abstract of a lecture delivered at Irving Hall, San Francisco, October 26th, 1891 reprinted in ECHOES OF THE ORIENT, III, pages 189-95]
We are such stuff as dreams are made of.
-- Shakespeare, The Tempest, Act IV, Sc. I.
Have perseverance as one who doth for evermore endure, for thy shadows [personalities] live and vanish. That which in thee shall live forever, that which in thee knows, for it is knowledge, is not of fleeting life; it is the man that was, that is, and will be, for whom the hour shall never strike.
-- THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE, page 31
It is of these "dreams" of which we are made and of this man for whom "the hour will never strike" that I have to speak to you tonight, of the inner constitution of man, divided in a sevenfold manner, called sometimes the seven-fold constitution of man. This seven-fold constitution is not confined, in our opinion, to man, but is shared with him by the whole of nature also. The consideration of this subject, therefore, properly demands that of the whole theosophical theory of evolution, so that tonight I cannot hope to go over it, but only that part of it which particularly relates to man.
In the theosophical theory, spirit and matter are co-existent, and co-eternal. There is no spirit without matter, and vice versa, there is no matter without spirit. These two are the manifestations of the One Absolute reality. That is to say, matter is at one pole of this reality and spirit at the other. In other words, spirit contains the plan, as it were, which it impresses upon matter, which receives this and carries out its evolution from the moment that manifestation begins. Therefore, this evolution is on all the seven planes.
The word "plane" is used in Theosophy -- and by many others before this -- to indicate not only a place, but also a state or condition. For instance we have the plane of mind, of body, the spiritual, and the physical planes. This does not mean that they are separated from each other like the compartments of a ship, or floors of a house. These planes are conditions, or states, of which one may interpenetrate the other. Evolution may be carried on to perfection so far as this relates to inner planes, such as those of man's septenary constitution.
To illustrate: Consider the shadow from some object in an electric light, thrown in a certain direction. Another electric light may throw a beam at right angles to this black shadow. The shadow and the light thus cross each other, but they do not interfere. The shadow, when it strikes an object beyond, still envelopes it in darkness, although the electric light has shone through its center. Thus the shadow and the bright light may exist at the place where they cross, independently, otherwise they would negative each other, and there would be a cessation of light or of shadow beyond the point where they met. Instead of this, both shadow and light will continue on to their respective destinations.
This sufficiently illustrates my meaning, that the planes of evolution may proceed within each other, and yet not interfere, and it is not necessary that they be separated in any sense whatever. There are many illustrations which could be drawn from science. Mr. Tyndall substantiates this with respect to the colors of the solar spectrum. We know these are all in the solar light, unseen by us until they are separated by the prism. And so on, in almost every direction, are similar illustrations.
Evolution proceeds on seven planes throughout the manifested universe. Man, in this world, is the highest manifestation of this evolution, and therefore contains within himself its higher seven planes, which before his advent were not perceptible, although they existed always in the germ. Buddha declares that man is made up or formed from thought germs. He is not alone in this assertion.
Many philosophers since his time have said the same thing; that man is a thinker, and is made up of and the result of his thoughts. Western minds have become so accustomed to judging him by his mortal body, and to listen to theories which teach the conditions whereby mental states may be materially produced, that at last it has lost sight of man as a thinker at all, and cannot understand why he is made up of his thoughts. We admit that he has a body, and that this body is not thought, but declare that it is the result of his thoughts. The body, now used by all human beings, is the result of the thought of the human race in the past, which thought, at length enabled it to so mold matter as to furnish the body in which man, who is the thinker, really lives.
Man, the thinker, is not divided in this seven-fold way, but man consisting of body and other elements of his nature is so divided. This seven-fold division is not absent anywhere in nature. The seven days of a week is an instance. The layers of the skin are divided in a seven-fold way. In the growth of the child before birth, there are seven distinct divisions. In the progress and construction of the great works of man, there is even seen the seven-fold division.
Of a great building, for example, the architect first formulates the plan. The materials existing in various states, represent a second stage; collecting them together after that, a third; united in the building, a fourth; decorating it, a fifth; furnishing it, a sixth; and its occupation by man, the seventh and last. And so it is with man. The ideal plan is laid down; the materials of which are scattered through space; these are collected; then built together in the various forms of nature until that of man is reached.
The first division of man is body, composed of what is called matter, or atoms, held together in a definite form. Have you ever reflected that your body, composed of matter, is made out of the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms, and therefore you have within portions of the tiger and all ferocious beasts as well as the gentle? You have also vegetable and mineral matter collected in your body, for this represents all that evolution on the physical plane has accomplished in the world.
With the Evolutionists of today, we admit that at one time there was only a mass of fire mist, and although our theory of evolution does do so, it is unnecessary to go beyond that for our present purpose. These say there was first this fire mist, which, by means of the processes of nature, began to revolve into a vortex, and so continued until it became sufficiently dense for a crust to form upon it. This kept growing thicker, until we have the world as it exists today, which finally, without any life or intelligence of its own, produced these. That is, from nothing came forth something.
We admit with them that this process went on, but we assert that it was in accordance with the plan laid down by other human beings, who evolved it as the result of the experience of other lives on earths which they had passed through in the great wheel of eternity. But we say further that in this fire mist of the scientists are beings carrying the plan of evolution with them. They first put this matter through the mineral school, so to speak, residing within each particle, and continuing the process for millions and millions of years. When this had been sufficiently accomplished, these beings then passed on; that is, pushed forward some of this matter into the vegetable kingdom. This process was carried on for uncountable years. Then this same collection of beings carried the evolution of atoms up into the animal kingdom, where we are now, as mere masses of flesh, not as human shapes. This process went on until the whole mass had received education in the animal kingdom.
The geological history of the world verifies these statements, excepting, of course, the presence of these egos. I admit that its links do not give us any proof of these beings, but I insist that a survey of the whole scheme demands their presence. In the early ages, we find only forms of trees; later, we observe enormous, or mammoth, beasts. They have disappeared when the necessity for them passed. There isn't even a "missing link."
The anatomist of today insists that these were the forefathers of our animals; that such and such a huge beast is the original of such and such a smaller one. The process of perfecting that brought them to the stage where they now are was done by and through these beings. Are our bodies, then, the result of this evolution? If so, we are connected with all the lower kingdoms. Without life this body would be useless, and the Theosophic theory is that there is no spot in space where there is no life.
We have been accustomed to talking about life as something belonging to material bodies, but as to the intervening space, we have generally thought of it as without life. It is undoubtedly true, I think, that in every point in space there is the same stream of life, in which all beings exist, and hence this Life Principle is the second division of the Theosophic classification of man's constitution.
Now, the question arises, what is life and what is death? Ordinarily, death is thought of as something that comes to all beings, without exception. Theosophy denies that there is such a thing as death at all. We don't say there is no death for this body. But we declare that what is called death is really life; it is one of its phenomena. Man may be compared to an electric lamp, composed of carbon interposed at a break in the wire. The current, caused to flow through this wire, reaches the carbon, is resisted and broken until the carbon is exhausted.
Man is a carbon standing in a current of life, consisting of molecules united in such a manner that he is capable of living -- burning -- just so long. That is, carrying the theory into everyday life, he is capable of remaining active just so many hours, when he becomes fatigued because life is so strong he cannot longer resist it. In the morning he awakens, to once more renew the contest, and keeps on so doing from year to year, until life has grown too strong for him and he is compelled to give up the fight and abandon his home in the body.
There is really no such thing as death, but only a change, an abandoning of the body. This, then, is the second division of man's nature; called in the Sanskrit philosophy, Prana, meaning breath, because it is said that man lives by means of breath. It is derived from the sun, which is the center of life or being for this globe.
The next division is the Astral body, called the Design body, or Linga Sharira, that on which the physical structure is built; a further materialization of the ideal plan which existed in the beginning of this evolution. Ages since, at the time animals were going through the evolution necessary to prepare the human form, only the Astral man existed. This Astral body was therefore first; before man existed in material form, and, I think, represents the time when according to the Christian Bible Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Paradise, for it was a state of paradise to have only an astral body at a time when a physical one would have compelled man to maintain a perpetual warfare against the monsters of prehistoric ages.
The Theosophical theory is that Adam, existing as an Astral Body and having reached that point in evolution where matter could be built into this body, received a "coat of skin" or became a man of flesh and blood as he is today. I advert to this because it is from the sacred book of the Christian, which has been reviled and scoffed at because it has never been explained except in its literal sense.
The Astral body is the shape of man's body, but contains in itself organs which connect the man inside the real figure with the outside organs; eyes, ears, nose, etc. Without the Astral body, it would be impossible to account for the possession of senses which are not man's true outer senses. The somnambulist, for instance, walking with his eyes open sees nothing; is looking at you and cannot see you.
Our explanation is that the connection between himself in the Astral body and the outer organs is cut off. In hypnotism, any organ or organs may be so cut off while others remain active, thus accounting for many of its phenomena. The Astral body therefore is in reality more the man than the body, but is so connected with it that it is not able to act except in certain cases.
"Mediums" are such instances. A medium is a hysterical, nervous person. We know that looking over mediumship we find them afflicted with something akin to this; catalepsy, for instance. The condition in which many curious things happen through mediums is this: The proper adjustment of all the functions -- nervous, material, and mental -- is really a condition of the Astral body, which is able sometimes to manifest itself. In our opinion, nearly all the phenomena of Spiritualism may be traced to the Astral body, are manipulations of it; and we know that when one goes to a medium he simply awakens her Astral body and receives from it his own thoughts in reply to his queries, and nothing more, except in some few rare cases.
The divorce between religion and science has been so great that the "Inner Man" has been forced to manifest improperly and out of place, in order to keep alive the evidence that there was such a body. Had science been united to and gone hand in hand with spiritual philosophy, we would have had a uniform development. Since man's investigations have been curbed, he has revolted within, and he has been manifesting this inner nature for the last forty years. The facts of Spiritualism are thus of use, but at the same time are dangerous. They bring back to the earth influences which ought not to return; pictures of old crimes which produce in men once more the desire to commit them.
We come next to the division of passions and desires, the basis of action from which men find their incentive to do both good and evil. When a man dies and is buried, his kamic body is released. The life principle is also released from these atoms to go into others. Then the kamic body, with all the passions and desires, is set free.
We will suppose the case of a suicide. His kamic body escapes full of the idea of suicide. Similarly, the man who has indulged in drinking and all sorts of sensualities, goes out full of these things. A murderer who is hung is in the same condition. Guiteau would go out full of that last scene where he defied his accusers, and where he declared he would destroy all the people who had anything to do with his incarceration. What happens? Man's higher principles go on and on with evolution, finally being reincarnated. If after death, these lower elements are seized by mediums and brought back to earth, infused with additional life, not permitted to disintegrate, it is a crime.
Everyone who goes to a medium and asks that their dead may return commits a crime. It is a crime against the person who is dead, and against the medium; it brings around her bad influences, for the majority that can return are full of crime. They are of the earth, earthy.
Now, when I am dead, my astral body will not have my senses; it will contain only my passions and desires, which swerve me as they swerve you also, and if I am drawn back against my will, I may do harm. If you could actually see what occurs at a seance, you would never go to another. You would see all these vile shapes enveloping the sitters like a huge octopus.
Mediumship is nothing but communicating with the astral dead; it is the worship of the dead, and as such it has been condemned for ages. Moses said "Ye shall kill a witch." He prohibited his people from having anything to do with such things.
Having considered the lower principles of man, we now come to that which is immortal, or mind, soul, and spirit, called respectively, Manas, Buddhi, and Atma. Atma, or spirit, is universal, and Buddhi its vehicle. Manas is the individualized thinker, the one who is conscious. These three together are eternally passing through incarnation and coming back again and again to gain experience; to reap reward or punishment.
Before birth, in the prenatal state, man is in almost the same condition that he is after death, so that a consideration of the postmortem state will serve for the prenatal. The difference is only slight.
By a simple illustration you will probably understand the ordinary, or Devachanic condition after death, and its relation to life. Imagine a young Theosophist who is to deliver a speech. Previous to his appearance, he thinks of it continually, perhaps for days, goes over his ideas and wonders what kind of an impression he will make. In the evening he delivers it, in a brief time compared to that he has spent in thinking about it. When he has delivered it, he thinks of the impression he has made. The next day and for many days he still thinks of it. Isn't the thought more than the act? The state of Devachan is where he is in a similar manner thinking over the things of his last life until he returns to rebirth.
Thus after the death of the body, we keep up this thinking, and develop this part of our nature until the time comes when it is exhausted and we come back to life to continue evolution until the race has been perfected.
By A. Trevor Barker
[An address delivered at the European Convention, Visingso, Sweden, July 27 to August 1, 1938, printed in THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, November 1938, pages 307-12.]
It may be well if we try for a moment to interpret this title, and as I understand it, it is that we should try to consider together to what extent we may feel assured that the help, approval, and blessing of the Great Brotherhood will be upon our Theosophical efforts. It is a very important subject for all of us, and there is a kind of subheading to this subject, a quotation from THE MAHATMA LETTERS, which you will see in the program: "Far from our thoughts may it ever be to erect a new hierarchy for the future oppression of a priest-ridden world."
I do not know whether you have given as much thought to this strange sentence as I have, but at any rate, if you have ever read the Section in THE MAHATMA LETTERS concerning what was called the London Lodge of the Theosophical Society, it must have impressed you as both significant and enigmatic. It was therefore with a good deal of thankfulness and relief that I found that the Leader had made my task this morning considerably easier by selecting this point in the program among others, kindly interpreting it in a very illuminating way in the message you heard read the first day of the Convention.
It showed that he realized that in our work there is always the possibility, nay, the ever-present real danger, that the sectarian tendency in human nature will want to build churches where there should be temples of Light; will want to create a priesthood out of the so-called hierarchical government of our Theosophical Society, instead of a Brotherhood of free-thinking men and women who are working together by mutual help and sympathy -- those who may know a little more than others helping those less experienced to bring forth from within themselves the deep, understanding, and illuminating spiritual strength and power which do come as the higher nature is able to influence and make porous the cells of our material brain.
I believe Mr. Judge used this expression: making the brain porous to the influence of the Higher Manas, illuminated by the spiritual principle above it.
Now this is only possible as you study the teachings in the right way, thus opening up the faculties of the entire nature. I think we have all had the experience -- I know I have -- of the necessity of finding others more advanced than ourselves to help us in the difficult task of searching our way through the uncharted seas of occultism, and that is why our Lodge-work is arranged in the way it is, so that we have the chance of working together and getting the help from others that is necessary, at any rate in our early days.
This sentence: "Far from our thoughts may it ever be to erect a new hierarchy for the future oppression of a priest-ridden world," gave rise in my mind to the query as to whether the organization of the Theosophical Society was really the best suited for the purpose that we have in view, based as it is upon the hierarchical principle. I have thought a tremendous amount about it, and it may have been brought home to me with somewhat greater force than to you, because my earlier training in Theosophical work has been in organizations which do not believe in making a Theosophical organization a structure on the hierarchical principle.
That is not because they do not believe that Nature herself is constructed upon a hierarchical principle, but rather because, with fallible and imperfect human nature the giving of titles and positions of authority to use in an impersonal work of human Brotherhood, may tend to develop just the very qualities that we wish to forget and overcome; to develop, in other words, a feeling of distance, of separateness between those who are called upon to lead and those that they are trying their best to serve.
There is one thing that one does become convinced of in the Point Loma Society, and that is, that if we understand the spirit of the work rightly, this problem of creating a new hierarchy and a kind of priesthood in the sense that G. de P. referred to it in his message, won't occur. It is actually the death of the Theosophical spirit if knowledge of the philosophy tends to get into the hands of a few individuals, who, whether by reason of opportunity, personal effort, or because of some particular facility or ability in that direction, happen to be able to do these things more easily, perhaps, than others. But the Leader once wrote to me in a way that illuminated my mind very considerably; and one must realize how profoundly true it is in his own case, where he wrote that it was his greatest inspiration constantly to practice the occult art of leadership in learning how to draw forth and bring to birth the inner spiritual energies in the members and students.
Surely in our Lodge-work, officials and leaders of study-circles and so on, should keep that ideal in mind: that their function is not merely to present correct answers to problems that are propounded, but that they must do their work in such a way that the younger and less experienced and those who are new to the work shall be quickened and inspired, and above all have no hesitation or fear in themselves making the effort, not only to study but to give voice to an exposition of the truths of the Ancient Wisdom that they are trying to study together.
As I was saying to someone to whom I had the privilege of talking yesterday, if those who are beginning their studies only realized the immense pleasure and deep satisfaction that it gives to older students to see the younger ones with all their fresh simplicity of mind giving expression to these truths that we have tried to make part of our lives, I do not think they would hesitate in the same way to stand upon the platform and begin to try to give expression themselves to these thoughts; and they will find that, when they do so, there is one real brotherhood on earth, and it is that composed of all whose fate it has been to have to stand upon their legs and to try to speak! They will find always a real Brotherhood among those people.
It is ten minutes to eleven and I have only ten minutes more; therefore I will just content myself with saying that if you want to understand the full significance of that particular sentence about not creating a new hierarchy of our Lodge-Presidents and officials, it is most necessary to study the whole Section in THE MAHATMA LETTERS, entitled "The London Lodge of the Theosophical Society," which you will find on pages 397 to 409. It is all in there, and that sentence was actually called forth because of the curious situation that arose in the London Lodge when (just think of it!) they had the enormous privilege that we would do anything for, for there were the Masters themselves taking a personal interest in the work of that Lodge, where A.P. Sinnett and Anna Kingsford were working side by side.
The Master K.H. had recommended a certain course of action, which was not only his wish but also the wish of the Chohan as well; but things did not turn out quite as expected, and this sentence was uttered, and followed by the statement that if he had used his influence upon Sinnett, with his convictions different from those of Anna Kingsford, or persuaded their minds so as to bring the members of the London Lodge to accept his views of the situation, it would have been a denial of the freedom of thought, that very freedom of thought that was the fundamental basis of brotherhood -- upon which the whole Theosophical Society was constructed.
I think that there are no less than four passages in THE MAHATMA LETTERS in which the Master shows that from their point of view what was important in the attitude of those early workers, was not their respect for or their devotion to the Masters. This they did not seem to be really in the least concerned about; and they even went so far as to say of the Chohan: "He cares even less than we do what Mrs. Kingsford, Mr. Hume, or anybody else thinks of us."
What they did insist upon, however, was that the individual members should be true above all things to the objects and principles and ideals for which the Society came into existence; in other words, that they should learn to be loyal to the Idea and to the Cause; and if they had that quality and had learned to be true above all to themselves and to Truth, that was all the Masters worried about.
The members might have queer views on certain things. They did not really know anything about the Masters and could be forgiven for their ignorance. The test seemed to be whether their hearts were right; whether they were true to the best they knew, true to the Cause and its objects and working for it. They did not seem to care for anything more -- as you can read for yourselves. You can find the references if it interests you.
Then about this main question of Masters' help in our own Theosophical work. That I think is the concern of all of us in these days; for we have not the visible evidence that they had in those days, inspired by the constant care and direct contact of the Masters with the work. Then how far can we be assured of their cooperation? I am just going to read to you one passage from THE MAHATMA LETTERS, page 365:
My friend, I have little if anything more to say. I regret deeply my inability to satisfy the honest, sincere aspirations of a few chosen ones among your group -- not at least, for the present. Could but your L.L. understand, or so much as suspect, that the present crisis that is shaking the T.S. to its foundations is a question of perdition or salvation to thousands; a question of the progress of the human race or its retrogression, of its glory or dishonor, and for the majority of this race -- OF BEING OR NOT BEING, of annihilation, in fact -- perchance many of you would look into the very root of evil, and instead of being guided by false appearances and scientific decisions, you would set to work and save the situation by disclosing the dishonorable doings of your missionary world.
One may feel convinced that when Master K.H. wrote in that way in those days, the situation is not any less urgent in that respect today than it was then. And therefore, we should fulfill the conditions that we are expected to fulfill, and follow the lines indicated to Sinnett:
But you ought to prepare for it, for much remains to break forth. You perceived, hitherto but the light of a new day -- you may, if you try, see with K.H.'s help the sun of full noon-day when it reaches its meridian. But you have to work for it, work for the shedding of light upon other minds through yours.
-- THE MAHATMA LETTERS TO A.P. SINNETT, page 257
So that it really comes back to this, that if we make the right kind of effort in the way that so many lectures more able than mine have indicated to us during this Convention, and in the way that you will hear spoken of, I do not doubt, in the speeches that that are to be made now and on our concluding day -- tomorrow, then we shall not, I think, have the slightest doubt that the blessing of the Great Brotherhood is upon every sincere effort, no matter how seemingly inappropriate, that is made by any individual to help on Their work. We know it, and I think we can all see that the wonderful success that has been attained by our Swedish Comrades in this Convention is a proof of the kind of support that we are discussing in this particular matter.
[From THE ARYAN PATH, July 1963, pages 277-80, reprinted from THE ARYAN PATH, February 1932.]
Give up more than one personal habit, such as practiced in social life, and adopt some few ascetic rules.
-- H.P. Blavatsky
When Prince Siddhartha left his Queen and palace to seek Wisdom which would both explain and eliminate the woes of humanity, he went from school to school of ardent practitioners who were engaged in the same great quest. He came across that class of gaunt and mournful yogis, who regard the body as foe to the soul and therefore torture flesh and maim each limb, hoping "to baulk hell by self-kindled hells."
In answer to the royal aspirant who enquired why they added ills to life which is so evil, they had no explanation to offer save that they had chosen that way; and in their turn asked -- "Speak, if thou knowest a way more excellent; if not, peace go with thee." It was before the Enlightenment; Gautama was not yet able to point the Royal Way -- Raja-Yoga -- but he felt that the Torturous Way -- Hatha-Yoga -- was wrong.
There is another class of false pietists of bewildered soul -- those -- who have not the strength of will, the pluck to suffer, nor the courage to endure bodily chastisement, but who, nevertheless, retire to convents and monasteries, ashrams and maths, where the power of flesh may not envelop them, where the senses may not encounter temptations.
Both these groups are far from the reality of the Second Birth.
In our own midst there are not a few who have freed themselves from the bondage of organized religions, but have not been trapped into materialistic agnosticism and atheism, and desire to seek the Way to Enlightenment. There are those who are trying to define the rules of the higher life under the title of a "new asceticism." There are those also who are seeking a guru or a master in the highways and hedges -- going to the West, or coming to the East. Some fancy that bodily training and breathing exercises will bring Wisdom, while others imagine that it matters not what one eats and drinks and says and does as long as inner aspiration is remembered and subjective peace is felt. Some seek visions and wonders; others despise them as not only worthless but meaningless, finding their satisfaction in the exercise of their own mental muscles. All such, however well-meaning, are "bewildered souls."
True asceticism belongs to the most ancient of sciences, the Kingly Science of Raja-Yoga. Raja-Yoga is the science of true aesthetics, the knowledge to be obtained through HIGHER Feeling which is perceptive, vaguely called Intuition. Hatha-Yoga is the science of athletics, deals with bodily training at its best and with torturous control over bodily functions at its worst. The very first rule of that Kingly Science taught in the Gita, proclaimed by the Buddha, given in THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE, is that the higher life is an inner process, and begins with an inner attitude.
If thou art told that to gain liberation thou hast to hate thy mother and disregard thy son; to disavow thy father and call him "householder" -- for man and beast all pity to renounce -- tell them their tongue is false.
Believe thou not that sitting in dark forests, in proud seclusion and apart from men; believe thou not that life on roots and plants, that thirst assuaged with snow from the great Range -- believe thou not, 0 Devotee, that this will lead thee to the goal of final liberation.
Think not that breaking bone, that rending flesh and muscle, unites thee to thy "silent Self." Think not that when the sins of thy gross form are conquered, 0 Victim of thy Shadows, thy duty is accomplished by nature and by man.
The blessed ones have scorned to do so.
The teachings implied in the above piece of instruction should be fully applied.
Social life is not to be given up but only some personal habits practiced in social life; not wholesale bodily asceticism is to be adopted but only some ascetic rules. The Divine Discipline taught in the Gita is "not to be attained by the man who eateth more than enough or too little, nor by him who hath a habit of sleeping much, nor by him who is given to over watching." (vi.16)
The principle of the higher life which leads to the Second Birth is this inner attitude and habit, from which outer deeds and behavior naturally emanate. He who has purified his thoughts will find a clean tongue; he who speaks pure words will find his palate responding only to that sattvic food which the Gita defines, but not in terms of vegetarianism or meat-eating (Gita, xvii.8). But consuming sattvic food will not bring forth true words or kind ones; mere utterance of holy sentences will not enlighten the mind. From within without is the basic law, and true asceticism observes it to the full, in the letter and in the spirit.
There are two unpardonable sins in the hidden life against which true asceticism warns. Each aspirant must fortify himself against them, and they may well become pointers to what is to be abandoned and what is to be adopted. They are -- Doubt and Hypocrisy.
The best way to overcome doubt is to be true to one's self. In these columns last month, it was shown how the development of Conscience is the first step and that it is the Voice of Conscience which subdues the Voice of Flesh and evokes the Voice of Spirit. The use of Conscience removes doubts. Doubts are little concerned with our BELIEFS; they attack our clear perceptions, our knowledge, and our highest visions.
It is well to doubt that which confuses our reason, which shocks our intelligence, or weakens our moral stamina. Doubt which awakens to action the lethargic man of blind-belief is to be prized, as Browning taught. But to doubt our own convictions, rooted in our reason and founded on our calmest reflection or highest vision, the teachings of the Sages, is to commit the unpardonable offence. The ascetic rules to be adopted by each must conform themselves to such inner convictions. Mere aping of habits of others, however high in evolution or holy in life, is the wrong way of asceticism and proves disastrous.
The sin of Society is hypocrisy. Pleasant but insincere speech; white lies; glossing over our acts which our own reason pronounces wrong and our own moral perception condemns; explaining away blunders of omission and sins of commission; the simulating of a charitable and kindly spirit; the gossipy condemnation of people behind their backs under the guise of fearless criticism; indulgence in questionable deeds saying that one must experience everything. All such are acts of hypocrisy, corrode soul-life, and open the gates of hell. Battle must be given to any such personal social habits if they abide in us.
The dread of being called sanctimonious must be faced, and saintly ways of true sanity should neither be abandoned nor masked. Virtue and moral hygiene are laughed at as "goody-goody-ness," but those who aspire to soul-life must not be daunted by petty criticism. Prudence may be scorned as prudery, a sense of justice to one's self may be attacked as selfishness -- but nevertheless the ascetic rules positively applied by individuals in society will change the tone of that society.
Jesus was an ascetic -- he never doubted the power and potency of his own spiritual-soul, his "father in heaven." And he was not a hypocrite. That is why he did not fear to break bread with winebibbers and harlots, chase usurers, nor attack rabbis.
Gautama was an ascetic -- obtaining light about suffering and its cause, he adopted the begging bowl and unflinchingly pressed his way to the hearts of tyrants and untouchables and never failed to overcome hatred by wise compassion, which was his highest vision.
Krishna was an ascetic -- seeing that war, and ruthless war at that became necessary after his failure to secure peace with honor, for which he used all possible avenues, he led the Pandavas to the gory field of duty. The Master of his own Mercy stood unmoved amidst the havoc all around.
There are others, Twice-Borns, who overcame doubt and hypocrisy. But all such began that task as mortals in the world of soul-doubts and social-hypocrisy; all such took the inner resolve in the sanctity of heart-silence; all such, desiring to lift up high the banner of mysticism and proclaim its reign near at hand, gave the example to others by changing their own modes of life.
True asceticism is also true aestheticism. Doubt dies as old habits die; hypocrisy dies as mental and moral austerity is practiced. Also, the Inner Perception of true Feeling deepens as well as widens as one lives out in family and in society one's own visions and convictions. Therefore:
Give up more than one personal habit, such as practiced in social life, and adopt some few ascetic rules.
By Herbert Coryn
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, March 1918, pages 270-77.]
Let man look within himself," said Katherine Tingley, "and study the mysteries of his own nature. When he does this, he learns of the mysteries of life and can begin to work understandingly for the development of all that is noblest and best in himself."
When the Greek Oracle sounded down the centuries the great injunction: "Man, Know Thyself," he implied that man did not know himself and that he would find it greatly worth his while to get that lacking knowledge.
It is so difficult to get because THIS coming to know differs from any other coming to know in that it is the same as a coming to BE, the attainment of a new kind of being.
For instance, the musician feels one morning as he gets up that there is something coming for him. There are great doings somewhere in him. He is abstracted. Outer matters are not quite so real as usual. Then, as he sits down to his desk, a very high, rapt state of feeling comes upon him, out of which or in which definite melodies and harmonies presently begin to take shape, the internally heard expression of the feeling. These, with much labor, he arranges in due form so as exactly (as far as possible) to express and convey his feeling.
But where, in him, was the feeling, the down-coming sweep of inspiration, before it came and while he knew merely that it was coming? In what highest part of himself was that? There is such a hidden, secret, sacred place in each of us; though, if it could get expression at all, that expression might be in some other form than MUSIC. But it is there, and self-knowledge means knowing about it, and knowing about it means coming to BE that place, taking conscious charge of it, being not only the common self that we are now but also this extremely uncommon, ethereal, and inspirational self, this breather of the breath that is inspiration.
The first step is to study Theosophy and thus know of this self with the mind, to assent to its existence; then to feel its overshadowing presence; then to become it. It can be done, said the Greek Oracle and say all the great Teachers in greater or less degree by every one of us; but it is very difficult. Nevertheless there is nothing else so well worth trying for. As H.P. Blavatsky said:
There is a road, steep and thorny ... but yet a road, and it leads to the heart of the universe ... There is no danger that dauntless courage cannot conquer; there is no trial that spotless purity cannot pass through; there is no difficulty that strong intellect cannot surmount. For those who win onward, there is reward past all telling, the power to serve and bless humanity. For those who fail, there are other lives in which success may come.
A missionary was discussing religion with a Brahman and presently asked: "What, then, according to you, is God?" And the Brahman calmly replied: "I am myself God."
He was not a lunatic. He merely meant that some of the creative power which called forth the universe and sustains it was in himself. He would have said the same of other men -- the missionary, possibly, excepted. To quote H.P. Blavatsky again,
Every human being is an incarnation of his God, in other words, one with his 'Father in Heaven' ... In the case of each man, the soul of his 'Heavenly Father' is incarnated in him. This soul is himself, if he is successful in assimilating the divine individuality while he is in his physical, animal shell. 'As many men on earth, so many Gods in Heaven,' but these Gods are aspects or rays of the one 'Divine Spirit which no language can describe and which the mind in its limitations cannot comprehend but the fire of whose divine energy we can feel in our hearts awakening us to right action and illuminating our pathway.'
There is an old story of some Russian political prisoner, drearily occupying an almost naked stone cell. Recalling other days with outdoor nature, he so longed for sight of a flower or something green and living that his imagination developed the picture of a rose so vividly that it seemed almost real to him. He imagined it in a glass of water blooming on the table and scenting the damp gloom. The color and every petal and leaf became clear to him. After a morning or two, the jailer suddenly entered with a rose in a glass and put it on the table just on the spot where the prisoner had imagined his own mind-rose to be, and said: "I was in the castle garden watering my roses this morning and it struck me that I'd bring you one to liven things a little. So I picked out this one. I might have thought of it before."
And the rose which the jailer had selected was the exact copy of the prisoner's mind-rose, color, petals, and leaf-sprays. When it was dead, the prisoner still had his own. In his mind it threw out more leaves and some buds and flowered graciously for him as long as he was in that cell. The teller of the story says:
I think he had created his rose, and, good reader, though it was but a mind thing, it was alive, which was why it grew; and though it was but a mind thing, it was somewhat real so that the jailer saw it without knowing that he saw, and so brought in a copy of it.
Hence say some philosophers -- that the universe is a live flower created in the all-encompassing mind of God, live and growing; and also seen by us because we too are minds with, if we but knew it, the same creative power, a power whereof the artists and musicians and poets do verily show a little ray, though so far they have to laboriously and manually work with heavy matter to show us what they have created.
Someday, perhaps, man may get that closer power over all matter which now he has only over the matter of his own body, and even that but very slightly. For though this body-matter of ours has some of our life in it, it is of course, like all other matter, alive with ITS OWN life, a real life of its own outside our present consciousness and control, and in various degrees sentient. Fortunate, we may say. For we don't do so well with that much of our bodies as is under our control as to suggest our present fitness for any further powers over them.
But why do we not all get inspiration all the time? Why is it only into the minds of poets, artists, and musicians that this great rarefying breath from above can enter?
A bird is singing in the top of yonder tree. He seems half mad with the spring ecstasy of life, does not know how to get forth the pulse of it fast enough, changes his note and key, and sets all the air almost tangibly as well as audibly athrill.
Suddenly he sees a worm or a grub, stops his song, and drops upon his meal. There is no more song for a while; he voices no more the swift and exultant rhythmic life-pulse in his being; he is scratching about the leaves for another worm, his little mind wholly full of that.
Suppose he were ALWAYS thinking of grubs and worms and flies and feathers to line his nest with, hoping that finer ones would come his way and fearing lest they should not, and remembering some he had last year and a row with another bird that he had about them? Where would be his song? What chance would his bit of the vast nature-music have to come through him? And where would be his happiness? For true happiness is nothing else but the unrestricted pulsing through of the great nature-life, whether the happiness of the bird as the simpler little pulses come through, or the intense and even painful bliss of the musician and poet as they get life's richer harmonies. They are harmonies that may come through as color and as scent as well as sound. Who that has eyes that see will fail to know that as the plant breaks into color with its flower, it too, in its way, is consciously feeling and showing forth the divine pulse of life?
But our minds are full of something else. We too have to look after our grubs and worms and feathers for our nest. We too have to scratch amid dead leaves. The struggle for them is very keen. It takes most of the time to get enough of them, and the rest of the time we spend in getting too much of them. And the rest of our minds we occupy with memories of them and anticipations of more and better of them, and fears about them, and jealousies and quarrels and rankling of old quarrels: in a word, with the personalia of life.
And so we miss the inner beauties and spiritualities of life; we cannot hear within us the everlasting and actual music of life or see within and all around us its subtler pulses and washings of color or detect more than a few of its scents. And what music and color and scent we do get from around us we hardly and only casually notice. It is the MIND that shuts us off from realities, the mind of brain, the mind of daily life, always full, always a-grind, never still, always occupied and preoccupied, a necessary servant and yet most of the time an enemy.
We trained it to be what it is; we let it get its habits; we never learned to control it and its desires; we were never taught that there was a life above, beyond, to be reached by the stilling down of mind into its silence, and that only in its stillness and silence could the voice of great life be heard in its music and seen in its color and appreciated in its meaning.
We never learned that we were ALL creative geniuses, gods, within, above, with power not only like the birds to give expression to the pulse that is already at work in space and nature, but also, because of our inner unity with highest and most divine ideation, to do as it does and create the new, to be co-creators with it.
It is in the power of creation, of initiation, that man overpasses all the lives below him. They voice a little of what already is. He can add to what is. The musician, artist, poet, has in some measure the power to still his mind and perceive and voice a little of divinity, perhaps to create a little more; and then to make his mind -- held back from all other matters, all grubs and worms -- register and give form to what he perceives or has created.
Theosophy points to the fact that we have TWO minds, one animal or human-animal, and one divine or human-divine. A cat watches a bird. To her it is something to eat. Its colors and grace go for nothing; its song is noise. It may be something to eat for us too. But if with our animal minds we note that, we also note first and chiefly the color and grace and song, and sympathize with the song's ecstasy. If we could keep our poor wandering attention long enough and closely enough upon the thrill of the song, we should understand that much of divine life that it expressed, though the understanding might be much deeper than could go into words.
Two men look at a tree. One man, using only the animal mind, sees only some feet of lumber and hence so much cash and hence so much to eat. The other sees the beauty of the up-springing, outfolding life, feels the full, tense life of the tree, may understand the tree, what a tree is for in the great plan, what it expresses, and its share in the great working out of things.
No animal has anything of THAT mind. The modern science books, and even the psychologies, tell us that man is nothing but an evolved animal, that his mind contains nothing which in some lesser degree the animals' minds do not contain.
It is true that man's animal mind is but a development of the mind of the animal. But we have two powers (and their consequences) of which no animal possesses any germ.
"A penny for your thoughts," we say when our friend has been leaning back in his chair silent for five minutes. A penny would usually be an excessive charge; but if he accepted the bargain and handed over the then contents of his mind, what should we have? What are we, any of us, thinking of at any given moment? Are we thinking at all in any proper sense of the word?
There are snatches of memory connected with whatever the eye happens to fall upon, and other snatches which these first snatches suggest. There are hopes that this will happen or that not happen. There is what she said yesterday and what I said in reply, having been irritated. It is warm weather and there is some idea of an ice-cream. Something suggests a business interview to come off tomorrow, which is Saturday, and so where shall we take our usual little Sunday trip to, which reminds us that we can't go because Mrs. Jones is coming to dinner and nothing seems to please her. -- And so on and so on.
You see that cannot really be called thinking at all. Things are rambling along through the mind and memory just as they happen to suggest themselves or are suggested by what happens to be seen or heard or by the body's state of heat or cold or hunger or what not. The animals, the dog, the cat by the fire, the snake out on the path in the sun -- they think just in that way, save of course that it is all on a simpler scale.
But if while the stream was going on you should decide that it was unworthy of you and that in the face of any outer distractions you would hold to some one thing that really needed consideration; or if you decided that some single memory, say of a quarrel, or some single emotion, say a fear, was unworthy of you and should be quashed; if, in short, you made a JUDGMENT concerning your thought or feeling, and used your WILL to carry out your judgment, actually turning and holding the mind in some decided-upon and definite direction; or compelled yourself to feel kindly instead of angry or courageous instead of fearful! THEN you would have shown distinctly and exclusively HUMAN qualities or powers. You would have stood back from your mind and feeling, watched them, judged them, and then altered them. Will and judgment, in this sense, no animal possesses.
An animal cannot watch its own mind; still less can criticize it; still less can alter it in accordance with an ideal of what it ought to be or do. Judgment and will are both of them beyond -- not in or of -- the personal mind, since one looks at and judges the mind and the other alters and controls the mind.
It is because of the BEYOND-mind region, the region where dwell will and judgment, that we are truly human, and in the higher levels of that region, divine-human. No animal can create an ideal of what it would like to be, or ought to be but is not, and then go for it.
Wherefore we are incarnate souls or divine-humans, incarnate in living matter of the highest complexity. We are so thoroughly incarnated and have given so much attention to the development of the animal mind that we have forgotten that there is another, the mind that belonged to us before we came down to incarnation, that still exists, mostly unused, uncalled upon -- save to a degree by the musicians, artists, poets, and a few others. It is only to be got at by withdrawing from and temporarily silencing the other, the personal, animal mind of daily life with its thoughts of grubs and worms and feathers and Mrs. Jones and ice-creams and deals in business. "Mind, the great slayer of the real," says H.P. Blavatsky, referring to THIS mind.
To imagine, to have an ideal, is at once to show the presence in us of two minds, one personal-animal and one human-divine-creative. A picture of the garden in which he is accustomed to playing may come up in the mind of the dog as he lies before the fire. But he cannot add at will to his picture, cannot create to it. He cannot imagine it covered with a sheet of snow. He cannot at will combine his memories. He has seen a couple of cats fighting and may remember that. But he could not at will place the picture of the cats in his picture of the garden. Nor could he even retain at will the picture of the garden. For the mind which in us CAN do these things, can direct will according to a plan and purpose in this way, is not in him. Imagination is the WILLED combination of memories, fancy but their automatic self-arising combination. The first is human, the other animal.
We can imagine an ideal of ourselves, a new self, calling to memory and combining all our best and noblest moments of the past and making ourselves feel that for self. For the time it IS self; we have re-created ourselves. But we do not hold it long enough, do not make it clear enough for memory to grasp as a whole and carry it forward as a new life; we let our creation be dissolved by the other mind, the lower, the mind of common daily dealings.
We can imagine a divine silver-toned peace spreading like a light over the earth and touching the hearts of men with a new yearning and a new love. But we cannot hold it long enough for it to do its perfect work in actuality.
These are works of the higher mind. That mind has memories and perceptive senses as has the lower. With the ears of that mind the musician hears the inner melodies and harmonies of life, though, as for instance with Beethoven, the outer ears might be stone deaf. Then he goes to his instrument and plays aloud so that his outer ears, upon which the lower mind depends, may in their turn hear what has already sounded in his inner hearing. So the music, now present in both minds, harmonizes the one to the other, and if the lower will keep its empty thoughts for a while silent, it will become temporarily spiritualized.
A man may create very fine and noble ideals of himself in his greater or inner mind, but unless he translates them so that the lesser or outer mind can understand, they will come to very little. The outer mind understands ACTION, and so, to mold it according to the new ideal, we must at once begin putting our new ideal character into action, deeds. Then the lower mind will understand and begin to alter itself accordingly. Acting out an ideal, translating it into deeds, is the equivalent of playing the inwardly heard harmonies upon an instrument.
To live is a fine art, like music, or may be. As the current of life streams down and out over the planes of the universe, down and out to this one we see, it is touched near its source by the inner hearing of the musician and becomes the music he writes, the music he makes the gross wires render in place of their common noise.
In the same way we may feel the inner, higher ideals of ourselves, our actual radiant selves before we came down and out to incarnation. We ought to find that ideal, for it is present in us as the soul, as the higher mind. And having found it, we should render it as deeds and thoughts that correspond. To be inspired with one's own ideal of oneself is as splendid an experience as is that of the musician when he is inspired with his harmonies.
To render it into terms of our lives keeps the inspiration alive for ourselves and others as he keeps his alive for himself and others by writing it down in notes on the paper. Indeed the ideal will come to nothing, it may be to worse than nothing, unless it IS made to come forth into the deeds of daily life. And it has often perhaps unconsciously to themselves, come to birth and divine power in simple men and women who have never had time or strength or knowledge for set self-culture, showing itself in lives of self-sacrificing devotion to daily duty and daily drudgery, people often far upon a path not even entered by some of those who talk the most eloquently about it.
To get this inspiration, this splendid and exhilarating and transforming inspiration of our inner ideal of ourselves, we must learn the art, we must acquire the power, of mind-silence. Most of the mind-chatter that goes on ceaselessly in us while we work or walk about, and that floods out as lip-chatter, is quite worthless. The habit, instead, of inward feeling, of feeling inward, as it were listening inward as to hardly heard music, after our best self, our ideal, is not hard to begin upon. We can train the lower thinking mind to concentration upon ONE thing in all we do. We can hold it to its present task. We can devise and practice even some set technique of concentration. Who can look at a store window with such concentrated attention for fifteen seconds as to be able afterwards to enumerate ALL the things on which his eye rested? Who can read a paragraph in a book, or a verse of poetry, with so unflickering a mind as to be able at once to repeat it?
Well, this concentration upon ONE thing is a useful step towards the power of not allowing the mind of brain to have for a while any of its common, empty, useless day-thoughts, and holding it up in aspiration for the ideal beyond, the ever-present soul-thought. At night these common thoughts do often still themselves down with the stilling bodily currents ere sleep sets in. Take advantage of that. Read something that helps you towards your ideals, that raises the mind, and then silence and raise it still further. So entering upon sleep, the work continues; the ideal is written in upon the sleeping lower mind; and all the next days will show a working out of the ideal, or a beginning of the working out of it, into better thought and desire and deed.
Thus living, we gradually transform ourselves. We become more potent thinkers. Our creative energies do their spiritual work far and wide. Our ideals radiate from us in greater and greater strength. Unconsciously we become helpers of the race. And some time will come the hour of full awakening, of completed self-redemption. The lead will have passed into gold. Life will have begun. In the words of Katherine Tingley:
The science of life is Theosophy. Let us clear the way for the coming generations; let us through the knowledge that can be gained of ourselves, cultivate that quality of understanding that shall purify human nature arid evolve soulful beings.
By Sramanera Sangharakshita
[From THE ARYAN PATH, May 1950, pages 200-5.]
Religion is not a matter for blind belief or intellectual assent, but for living faith and energetic practice. It consists not in the acceptance of any creed or dogma but in the achievement of an experience, or rather in the achievement of a number of experiences. These experiences link up into a series. This continuous series of experiences forms a Path or Way. When we consider it with regard to its direction, it appears as an inward-going rather than an outward-going Way, as a Path of the Inner rather than of the Outer Life.
Since it is a matter of immediate personal experience within the heart-depths of the individual devotee, and since such experience is by its very nature incommunicable, it is spoken of as an Esoteric rather than an Exoteric Path, as a Doctrine of the Heart rather than as a Doctrine of the Eye. When we realize that those experiences are not simply aggregated round any unchanging ego-entity or permanent core of separative selfhood, but that they are, on the contrary, processes of progressive self-impoverishment, self-annihilation, the Path appears as a Way of Emptiness; but since the "seeming void" is in reality "full," it also appears as a Way of Compassion. Finally, when we regard it as a Path which runs not only between but also above all mind-made dualities, it is seen as the Middle Way.
When speaking of the Path of the Inner Life, we automatically contra-distinguish it from the Path of the Outer Life. The distinction consists not so much in a difference of position as in a difference of direction. That is to say, it is to be understood not statically but dynamically. The Path of the Inner Life is also known as the Nirvritti Marga or inward-circling path and that of the Outer Life as the Pravritti Marga or outward-circling path. That which "circles" either inwards or outwards is the mind.
The natural tendency of the mind is to spread itself out fan-wise, as it were, over the five objects of the senses. This outward-circling or fan-wise-spreading movement of the average human mind is naturally accompanied by a corresponding disturbance of the psychic harmony of the subject and a diminution of the sum total of his psychic energy. Just as the brilliance of a beam of light diminishes as it is spread out over a wider and wider area, so the power of the mind decreases as it is scattered over a larger and larger number of objects.
The more concentrated the mind becomes, the more powerful it grows and the more deeply it is able to penetrate into the fathomless abyss of Truth. The mind which is engrossed in the pleasures of the five senses is unconcentrated and therefore impotent. It is unable to see things as they really are. The Buddha and His enlightened disciples of all ages and climes proclaim as though with one voice that Prajna or transcendental wisdom arises only in the concentrated mind, and that the mind becomes concentrated only when it is purified of all taint of earthly desires.
The first step along the Path of the Inner Life, without which no other step can be taken, is to become "indifferent to objects of perception." Such indifference is never the result of satiety, but is on the contrary the slowly-ripening fruit of constant perseverance in stern renunciation. "Do not believe that lust can ever be killed out if gratified or satiated, for this is an abomination inspired by Mara," warns THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE.
The early stages of the career of a spiritual aspirant are a period of unceasing struggle between the lower and higher impulses of his nature. On the outcome of this struggle depends the success or failure of his vocation. If he is able to resist the solicitations of the objects of perception and turn his senses as it were inside out, like the five fingers of a glove, thus reversing their direction, they will merge into a single inner sense, and with this subtle inner sense he will be able to perceive spiritual realities.
Mystical religion has therefore ever stressed, as indispensable preliminaries to any attempt to know the Truth that will make us free, the killing out of all desire for sense-pleasures and the withdrawal of the scattered forces of the mind into a single unified focus of attention. Only by becoming deaf and blind to the outward illusion can we develop that subtle "inner touch" that will enable us to intuit the Truth that sounds and shines within.
But this purely spiritual perception of spiritual realities by the inner spiritual sense differs from that of our other states of consciousness inasmuch as it does not take place within the framework of the subject-object relation. The chasm which ordinarily yawns between the experiment subject and the object of his experience becomes more and more narrow until finally it disappears and he knows the Truth by becoming one with it. Therefore it is written: "Thou canst not travel on the Path before thou hast become that Path itself." In the vigorous words of the Buddha, we have to "make the path become." This path-becoming is therefore also a self-becoming, a process of self-development, self-transformation, self-realization. The Goal of the Path, the Ultimate Experience in which the whole long series of experiences eventually culminates, is the state designated as Nirvana.
Since the Path of the Inner Life consists essentially in a series of experiences, and since all experiences are by their very nature ineffable, it is also an Esoteric as opposed to an Exoteric Path. Nothing in the religious life is truly esoteric save spiritual experience. The most private ritual, the most abstruse philosophical doctrine, the most jealously guarded scripture, the most secret society or organization, are all exoteric. They belong to the domain of "Head-learning" rather than to the domain of "Soul-wisdom," and as THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE so emphatically admonishes us, it is above all things necessary to learn to separate the one from the other, to learn to discriminate between "The Doctrine of the Eye" and "The Doctrine of the Heart."
Many, unfortunately, think that the secret teaching consists of some piece of information about the evolution of the universe or the constitution of man which has not been communicated to the world at large, and that it is necessary to acquire this information from certain mysterious personages supposed to be hiding themselves in inaccessible corners of the earth.
Such "secret teachings," or for the matter of that whole libraries of secret scriptures and orders of secret teachers, may indeed exist, but they all belong to the Exoteric Path, to the domain of Head-learning, and are of little value in the spiritual life. Indeed, they are often in the highest degree harmful to it, for those who believe that they have learned the "esoteric doctrine" and become "initiates" generally grow so proud of their fancied superiority to the rest of mankind that for them progress along the true Esoteric Path is barred for a long time to come. That is why THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE is "Dedicated to the Few."
The Hridaya Dharma or Heart-Doctrine which was transmitted by the Lord Buddha to His immediate disciples, and which was handed on by them to their disciples and their disciples' disciples, even down to the present day, does not consist of any formulated doctrine, much less still any written scripture, but was simply His own ineffable experience of Nirvana. The true Esoteric Path, the true Secret Teaching, the true Doctrine of the Heart, the true Master, is not to be found in any book or indeed anywhere at all in the outside world, but in the heart-depths of the spiritual experience of the individual devotee.
Although the Path of Inner Life, the Esoteric Path, consists of a series of experiences eventually culminating in the Supreme Experience designated Nirvana, these experiences are not "acquisitions" of the subject in the sense that material things and even learning are acquisitions. There is one root-illusion which prevents us from seeing things as they really are and which it is the primary business of spiritual practice to remove. It is the belief in us as separate, perduring individual selves or ego-entities. Inseparably linked with this belief is the feeling of possession, the desire for acquisition.
The concepts of "I" and "mine" are simply the two sides of a single coin. As, therefore, the aspirant progresses along the Path of the Inner Life or better still as he more and more becomes that Path, the false sense of separative selfhood, the feeling of possession and the greed for acquisition are simultaneously attenuated and eventually disappear together.
The further, therefore, the aspirant progresses along the Path, or the more truly he becomes it, the harder it is for him to dichotomize his experience into a subject and an object and to speak of the latter as though it was a possession or acquisition of the former. In the Supreme Experience of Nirvana, such a claim would have become a complete impossibility. The Buddha therefore declared that those who laid claim to any spiritual attainment as though they had made it their personal property thereby only betrayed the hollowness of their pretensions.
The decisive test of whether any experience is truly spiritual or not consists in ascertaining whether it is possible to speak of it as "my" experience or not. If it is possible truthfully to speak of it in this way, it is simply an addition to the mental or emotional furniture of the ego and as such is merely mundane. This is the meaning of the choice which the aspirant is called upon to make between the "Open Path," the Path of the pseudo-Arahant, and the "Secret Path," the Path of the Bodhisattva.
The Arahant is popularly supposed to be one who is indifferent to the miseries of sentient beings and therefore does not remain on earth to help them but disappears into the private bliss of a purely individual Nirvana; whereas the Bodhisattva is supposed to be one whose heart is so profoundly moved by the woes of the world that he decides to renounce the "sweet but selfish rest" of Nirvana and to devote himself to the alleviation of human misery even to the end of time. The choice which the aspirant has to make between these two Paths constitutes his severest test and final initiation.
Although the popular doctrine represents both the Open Path and the Secret Path as genuine alternatives, the Way to Nirvana is in fact only one. The Path of pseudo-Arahantship, of individual liberation, in fact represents the temptation to think of the Supreme Experience as something which can be possessed privately by the individual subject. The renunciation of the thought that Nirvana is something to be attained is the last condition precedent for the "attainment" of Nirvana.
Where there is the feeling of possession, of "my-ness," there also the sense of separative selfhood, of "I-ness," and so long as this sense of separative selfhood persists, liberation is impossible, for liberation is fundamentally nothing but liberation from this same root-illusion of separative selfhood. Neither Arahantship nor Bodhisattvahood, which are simply the same realization in predominantly intellectual and predominantly emotional perspectives, can be attained without the complete renunciation of the ideas of "I" and "mine."
The Path of the Inner Life is spoken of as a Way of Emptiness because it consists in the progressive attenuation of the ego-sense, and the gradual intensification of the realization that everything is devoid of separative selfhood, that all is intrinsically pure and void. This void is not, however, a zero or nothingness. Buddhists express this truth by saying that the Void is itself void. Just as the "seeming full" is void, so also the "seeming void" is full. This fullness or rather overflowing-ness of the seeming void is what we call Compassion. Since Compassion is not an inert principle or a static somewhat but a purely transcendental activity, it is frequently personified as Amitabha Buddha, Avalokiteshwara, or Kwan Yin. In the magnificent but still inadequate words of THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE,
Compassion is no attribute. It is the Law of LAWS -- eternal Harmony, Alaya's SELF; a shoreless universal essence, the light of everlasting right, and fitness of all things, the law of Love eternal.
The more attenuated the ego-sense becomes, the more abundantly will selfless activities be manifested, for the Way of Emptiness is also the Way of Compassion, and to become one therefore means to become the other also. Emptiness and Compassion, Wisdom and Love, are the static and dynamic aspects, respectively, of the one Supreme State of Nirvana. The Arahant ideal stresses the former, the Bodhisattva ideal the latter; but the goal is the same for both, and the eradication of the ego-sense is indispensably necessary in either path.
Self-enlightenment and compassionate activity for the sake of all sentient beings are mutually exclusive alternatives only on the level of the dichotomizing intellect. In reality they are the intension and extension, the depth and the breadth, of a single realization which is at once both emptiness and compassion.
The Arahant-ideal is unattainable by him who imagines that he has an individual self which is in bondage and which must be liberated: the self IS the bondage. The Bodhisattva-ideal is unattainable by him who imagines that there are separate individual beings for him to save.
Buddha said: "Subhuti, all the Bodhisattva-Heroes should discipline their thoughts as follows: all living creatures ... are caused by Me to attain Unbounded Liberation, Nirvana. Yet when vast, uncountable, immeasurable numbers of beings have thus been liberated, verily no being has been liberated. Why is this, Subhuti? It is because no Bodhisattva who is a real Bodhisattva cherishes the idea of an ego-entity, a personality, a being, or a separated individuality."
-- THE JEWEL OF TRANSCENDENTAL WISDOM, page 26
Emptiness and Activity, Prajna and Karuna, Wisdom and Compassion, are in reality not two but one, which is ineffable Nirvana, and the paths which lead thereto, the Path of the Arahant and the Path of the Bodhisattva, are also one, which is the One Way (Ekayana), the Way of the Buddha (Buddhayana).
Finally, since the Path of the Inner Life avoids such extremes as those of self-indulgence and self-torture, Nihilism and Eternalism, self-reliance and other-reliance, individualism and altruism, together with the mutually exclusive deformations of the "Arahant" and "Bodhisattva" ideals, it is spoken of as the Majjhima Patipada or Middle Way. It should not, however, be supposed that as such it is simply a compromise between two antagonistic positions or an effort to solve antinomies on the same level of experience at which they arise. The Middle Way is found not so much between extremes as above them. It is not the lowest common denominator of two contradictory terms but the Higher Third wherein both find perfect mutual solution.
The numberless antinomies which arise on the ordinary levels of human experience can be resolved only by attaining to a relatively higher level of experience. Intellectual problems are finally solved only by spiritual realization. To follow the Middle Path means to cultivate the practice of solving the conflicts of life and the contradictions of experience by rising above the level at which they are possible. The Middle Way is therefore essentially a Way of Spiritual Experience, and as such coincides with the Path of the Inner Life.
Since all such conflicts and contradictions are products of the ego-sense and can be solved only by rising above it, it also coincides with the Way of Emptiness, and therefore with the Way of Compassion too.
When we see that the Path of the Inner Life, the true Esoteric Path, the Way of Emptiness, the Way of Compassion, and the Middle Way are all aspects of the One Way, the Way taught by the Buddha, we begin to glimpse the profound truth of the saying that "The Path is one for all, the means to reach the goal must vary with the Pilgrims."