THEOSOPHY, Vol. 36, No. 11, September, 1948
(Pages 507-509; Size: 9K)
[Article number (12) in this Q&A Department]
SOMETIMES there are so many things we ought to do that we don't find time or feel free to do the things we really want to do. How are we to resolve this situation? It seems to be the basis for all we hear about "frustration."
If we ourselves have arrived at the conviction that we ought to do a certain thing, it will also be that which we want to do. The word "ought" implies a perceived necessity, and we cannot be frustrated when we are doing what we see needs to be done. If, however, we act according to another's convictions -- submitted to, but not shared -- we are denying our own. This is the basis for one kind of frustration, and can only be eliminated by a determined stand on the basis of what we really believe.
Freedom from undue influence by other men is only part of the process, however. Each man must keep himself free from the domination of his own lower nature, lest it becloud his real convictions. If a man is going to work with or for other men, if he is going to really enjoy living with himself, he will have to thwart certain impulses -- but this does not mean that the man has to be in any way frustrated. He is undertaking a course of discipline with a definite end in view. When a man gives up what he sees are unconstructive wants, he creates -- not frustration -- but friction by means of which he may travel into a larger world than the one he has been living in. Expansion in ideas and outlook is a process of growth which inevitably shatters the structure of many "wants."
Is betting contrary to theosophical principles? Some say you can't bet if you know about Karma, since betting is just a way of trying to "get something for nothing." Yet from another viewpoint, you couldn't win any money that wasn't karmically yours.
It is possible to have too wooden an idea of Karma, to think that somewhere there is a special package marked with our name and containing a certain sum of happiness or sorrow, money or the lack of it, which is going to be, someday, "karmically ours." Now, if man is a creator, he actually owns nothing, but he can force nature to give him all that he desires, whether it be gold ore from the earth, or gold from his fellows. We have, eventually, unlimited power -- to take, or to give. The choice between these alternatives is the final business of the human being.
Everything that comes to us is karmically ours, but each time Karma brings it, we have to decide if it is morally ours. A thief may steal $20, for instance: it was karma, in the form of his own actions, which brought him the money, but this does not mean that justice was done. "Karma creates nothing, nor does it design. It is man who plans and creates causes, and Karmic law adjusts the effects." Money gained or lost indicates nothing in itself as to the moral quality of the act, and it is mere sophistry to defend gambling as a reliance on the law of justice. We can decide the question only in terms of what we think we are; where we are going, and whether we go by and for ourselves alone, or with and for all others too.
The story is told of an old Italian immigrant who, unable to get a job during the depression, was on relief; yet every day he could be seen sweeping the streets of a certain section of the city. Someone asked him once why he did that, since he didn't need to in order to eat. His answer was: "My bread is sweet." Do not most people have inherent in them an integrity which demands that they take only what they can see they have earned?
It often happens that two different people making the same criticism can affect us in entirely different ways. Why should this be? It doesn't seem to be a good thing at all.
No, it doesn't. In the Transactions (p. 44), H. P. Blavatsky speaks of "sounds which taste exceedingly acid in the mouths of some sensitives, while others generate the taste of sweetness." Every person puts into his remarks his own particular quality, and this motivation of speech makes itself felt in others, since all men are sensitives and clairvoyants to some extent. We know that what people resent more than criticism itself is a supercilious or derogatory attitude. The converse is true, also, and makes understandable the statement of one of Mr. Judge's students, who said that many would rather have been scolded and corrected by Mr. Judge than praised by anyone else.
But specific feelings can also be "read into" another's speech: self-interest or self-centeredness may cause a man to suspect a personal attack in a well-meant suggestion. If a man would be a truth-seeker, he must be more interested in the truth than in the apparent perfections or imperfections of the person who voices it. Isn't this one meaning of impersonality -- the ability to consider ourselves and others as we are now, carrying over no warping psychic prepossessions from the past?
A common tendency, for example, is to form a snap judgment of a new acquaintance -- or to make a "permanent print" of a familiar companion -- and thereafter think of that person in terms of the picture we have made of him, rather than as he presently is. Mr. Judge once wrote, "I care not what I was, or what any one was. I only look for what I am each moment." We can never, with justice, click the shutter on a final picture of another man. This would mean a stoppage of forward motion -- for ourselves. A manasic memory of past experiences and relations with others yields discrimination, but a residue of prejudice and preconception can lead only in the direction of a feud.
Many people are interested in Theosophy when they find that it postulates "spiritual" evolution, but they balk at the idea of the permanence of soul. Is there any way to get around this reluctance?
This skepticism of scientific minds is not surprising, when we consider the idea of soul which has been put forward by religion. If souls are created by God, and endowed by him with their various qualities, evolution in any meaningful sense goes out the window. It would be as ridiculous as saying that a child was progressing when he was only being led on a tether. Rather than approaching a scientific student with the idea of the individual soul, then, it might be more appropriate to point, with him, to the patent fact of evolution in every kingdom of nature and deduce from such universal testimony the necessary presence of an inherent power to move and grow in every form and being there is. This power is "manifested" in man as the soul -- and this progresses, as does everything which science has so far discovered, by an orderly process of law. This is Karma, and from a perception that this law applies as much to the thinking nature as it does to the body of man, reincarnation becomes a necessary doctrine.
[Article number (13) in this Q&A Department]
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