THEOSOPHY, Vol. 21, No. 12, October, 1933
(Pages 529-534; Size: 14K)
(Number 12 of a 12-part series)
[Compiler's Note: All 12 articles have the same name.]
THE PURSUIT OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE
"ALL experiences have to be lived out in the mind." Chelaship, as such, could never be other than a psychological evolution carried out by each incarnating Ego on its own responsibility. Body and senses, one's place in human life, all external relations, even the most intimate, and even conscious communication between Guru and Chela --all these are but ways and means, instrumentalities and material out of which each Pilgrim-Soul must weave for itself the garment of individual immortality -- the Nirmanakaya vesture. This is conscious existence in Spirit while yet maintaining active beneficent contact with the world of Matter. So the Masters of Wisdom have become what They are. So the Chela in pursuit of Self-Knowledge must cherish in his heart the "ideal of human progression and perfection" which the Master has realized; must little by little make all his thoughts, all his desires, all his words and acts, center upon and conform to that ideal -- "the Heavenly Man." Even as he strives to live in that Divine Radiance, so must his life illumine the way for those who feel not, hear not, see not, beyond the narrow circle of self-interest. The Mahatmas have the whole of Nature for Their object. He must learn to emulate the example set, if he too is to fulfill his mission on earth. On this, H. P. Blavatsky has quoted in the "Secret Doctrine" from the Commentary:"Every form on earth, and every speck in Space strives in its efforts toward self-formation to follow the model placed for it in the 'HEAVENLY MAN.' ... The atom's involution and evolution, its external and internal growth and development, have all one and the same object -- man; man, as the highest physical and ultimate form on this earth; the MONAD, in its absolute totality and awakened condition -- as the culmination of the divine incarnations on Earth."The daily life of every man is crowded and choked with experiences of every kind from continuous interchange and reciprocal impressions and expressions on every plane of manifesting nature. Every conscious sensation of any kind makes an immediate "mental deposit" -- a seed of memory, of imagination, which may lie dormant for ages, but which sooner or later, in this life or some other, will be impregnated by some polarizing contact of the enduring Soul, germinate, and in its expansion form the energic and moral center and basis for a whole life-time's experience of good and evil. The after-death existence of each Ego is the unconscious sifting and separation of the mental deposits of the just closed earthly career.
Actual Chelaship of any degree is the conscious admission or rejection from moment to moment of the impressions which throng the corridors of the senses; the conscious weighing, before expression, of every "impulse to action" of any kind. Few men even regard, let alone cultivate, the control of the senses as the doors of human impression and expression. The eye incessantly wanders, the ear is incessantly open, to every vagrant object of perception except when fixed by attraction or by will. So with the other physical senses.
What is true in our habitual sense-relations is still more importantly the case with our inner senses which we name thought, desire, sensation, memory and imagination. What are all these but the Soul's invisible contact with its mental deposits? These astral or inner senses are of a far finer and more responsive nature than the outer, because of the far more sublimated character of the objects with which they deal. In them rather than in the world of the physical senses does each man "live, and move, and have his being" as a human- instead of animal-consciousness. Men have not yet wholly lost the power of will to control their sense-consciousness, but who even desires to control his astral-consciousness? And who takes note of the reciprocal nature of sense- and "mind"-consciousness, alternately serving, each the other, in the relation of cause and effect? The wandering eye and the wandering mind go together, so that control of the one is impossible apart from the control of the other. Living in the outer and inner senses, absorbed in them and in the enjoyment or suffering of the fruits of such absorption, the Soul does not even dream that it is a prisoner in its house of life save as it finds its efforts to hold on to the one, to escape from the other, to be futile. So some men take to suicide, some to drink, some to materialism, some to religion, some to philosophy -- all seeking some palliative, some relief from Soul-responsibility. What they are in fact doing is to cut themselves off from the inescapable urge of Soul-knowledge and Soul-memory. Even among those who cloak themselves in the name and the words of the Great Teachers from the earliest to the latest have but to be observed in their conduct rather than their claims and promises to be seen for what they are -- vendors of Spiritual narcotics and intoxicants, not givers of the bread of life.
He who undertakes the pursuit of Self-knowledge must come to see for himself at whatever cost in humiliation of his self-esteem that he has to face his inner and outer nature as "not himself, but that thing which he has with pain created"; must resolve to take it as it is and convert it to the Soul's use as his growth slowly develops his Self-knowledge, if he is to reach the Life of Unity in the midst of the life of self and selfishness. This resolution is the very first step consciously taken in the direction of Universal Brotherhood. To make that resolution good upon and within himself, in order to fit himself the better to help and teach others, is the second. No wonder "Light on the Path" declares that the "first two steps are negative." They are the negation, the reversal of the motive and the will to live which dominates mankind; they are the polar antitheses to the use of the senses and the mind as hitherto practiced or tolerated. "Not for himself but for the world he lives" is true of the Mahatma; it must be made equally true of the motive, the will, the intent and the efforts of the would-be Chela. The humblest aspirant can do that for himself; the greatest Master cannot do it for him. If ever he is to "stand in the presence of the Master" it must be upon his own feet, and it is his own feet which must bear him there "where the light of Truth shines in unfading glory." Only by the active Presence of the Truth in himself can he hope to recognize the Truth in another, whether man or Master. Never can Truth be seen in any other vesture than honesty through and through, with one's self and with all others and all else. Though Hamlet failed to profit by the teaching of Polonius, the Disciple must profit by it, or fail as Hamlet failed. "To thine own Self be true; and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man."
In measure as body and mind, the physical and astral senses, are momently held steady or subjugated, it is realized that these have their own as well as their acquired natures, the same as every other form of life; that they represent elements, principles, powers in great Nature; that they are therefore living channels. Then only is it possible to see the "mind" as something wholly apart from the deposits of impressions from mortal physical existence; to see it as potentially and to some extent actually the storehouse of thought, the repository of impressions from within and beyond human consciousness, as well as from below that level; finally, as itself a creative, preservative, destructive or regenerative Principle, a Spiritual Power with its own inherent and acquired characteristics.
Henceforth the outward life will more and more naturally grow into a beneficent force within the sphere of human relations; but the inner life enters as naturally into the world of pure thought. This leads to the quickening of all the latent germs, the "deposits of all lives," and to their sifting with ever-increasing thoroughness. In both the outer and the inner life the Soul will be too much engaged to have energy or inclination to devote to self. As these incredible stores of incredibly ancient impressions resurrect they, too, must be seen for what they are, dealt with accordingly. The tendencies implanted in them by our long abuse and misuse are in time transformed by right understanding and activity in their employment in their own proper plane of nature, in their own department of being. Self-purification is the long-drawn-out process of restoring order in the individual cosmos. Manas, so long the debased and debasing slave of the lower elements, will be found to be what the ancient books declare, the mirror of Spirit as well as of Matter, of Soul-Wisdom and Soul-Memory as well as of human fantasy and experience. Nowhere in all the literature of Theosophy is there more practical instruction on true Occultism for the man seriously engaged in the pursuit of Self-knowledge than is to be found in the Ocean of Theosophy, the Notes on the Bhagavad-Gita, and Mr. Judge's renditions of the Gita itself and of Patanjali's Yoga Aphorisms. They are the same "Link" or Antaskarana to the Secret Doctrine and the Voice of the Silence that Judge himself was to H.P.B. as Messenger. If we cannot recognize the Voice of the Master in the writings and the life of H.P.B.; if we cannot recognize the faithful Chela and his faithful transmission of the Message received, in Mr. Judge; if we cannot feel their influence in our own hearts as well as minds; if we are not faithful to them and to their work in the visible world -- how shall we recognize the "mystic form" in the world invisible? If we cannot distinguish true from false, the Voice of the Silence from the voice of self in our most inmost longings and imaginings while yet in the position of perceiver of our own "divided opinions", who or what shall protect if we force our way outside our shell of matter into the borderland of shadows, where there are no contrasts, and where each being in that world of gestation or disintegration must see by its own light?
Chelaship must be seen and known for what it is, a life or death matter to the Soul, by that Soul itself in its quest for Self-knowledge, and self-purgation undertaken and completed here in waking human life. The Gates of Gold cannot be forced or violated from their hither side. They open only from within. "When the pupil is ready, the Master shall appear."
COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:
THE SURE ROAD
The Past! What is it? Nothing. Gone! Dismiss it. You are the past of yourself. Therefore it concerns you not as such. It only concerns you as you now are. In you, as now you exist, lies all the past. So follow the Hindu maxim: "Regret nothing; never be sorry; and cut all doubts with the sword of spiritual knowledge." Regret is productive only of error. I care not what I was, or what any one was. I only look for what I am each moment. For as each moment is and at once is not, it must follow that if we think of the past we forget the present, and while we forget, the moments fly by us, making more past. Then regret nothing, not even the greatest follies of your life, for they are gone, and you are to work in the present which is both past and future at once. So then, with that absolute knowledge that all your limitations are due to Karma, past or in this life, and with a firm reliance ever now upon Karma as the only judge, who will be good or bad as you make it yourself, you can stand anything that may happen and feel serene despite the occasional despondencies which all feel, but which the light of Truth always dispels.
--William Q. Judge
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