CHRISTINA ROSSETTI's well-known lines:
Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
are like an epitome of the life of those who are truly treading
the path which leads to higher things. Whatever differences
are to be found in the various presentations of the Esoteric Doctrine,
as in every age it donned a fresh garment, different both
in hue and texture to that which preceded; yet in every
one of them we find the fullest agreement upon one point--the
road to spiritual development. One only inflexible rule
has been ever binding upon the neophyte, as it is binding
now--the complete subjugation of the lower nature by the
higher. From the Vedas and Upanishads to the recently published
Light on the Path, search as we may through the
bibles of every race and cult, we find but one only way,--hard,
painful, troublesome, by which men can gain the
true spiritual insight. And how can it be otherwise,
since all religions and all philosophies are but the variants
of the first teachings of the One Wisdom, imparted to men
at the beginning of the cycle by the Planetary Spirit?
Yes, to the very end.
Does the journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night, my friend.
The true Adept, the developed man, must,
we are always told, become--he cannot be made. The
process is therefore one of growth through evolution, and
this must necessarily involve a certain amount of pain.
The main cause of pain lies in our perpetually seeking the permanent
in the impermanent, and not only seeking, but acting
as if we had already found the unchangeable in a world of which
the one certain quality we can predicate is constant change;
and always, just as we fancy we have taken a firm hold
upon the permanent, it changes within our very grasp,
and pain results.
Again, the idea of growth involves also the idea of disruption:
the inner being must continually burst through its confining shell
or encasement, and such a disruption must also be accompanied
by pain, not physical but mental and intellectual.
And this is how it is, in the course of our lives.
The trouble that comes upon us is always just the one we feel
to be the hardest that could possibly happen--it is always the
one thing we feel we cannot possibly bear. If we look at
it from a wider point of view, we shall see that we are
trying to burst through our shell at its one vulnerable point;
that our growth, to be real growth, and not the
collective result of a series of excrescence, must progress
evenly throughout, just as the body of a child grows,
not first the head and then a hand, followed perhaps by
a leg, but in all directions at once, regularly
and imperceptibly. Man's tendency is to cultivate each
part separately, neglecting the others in the meantime--every
crushing pain is caused by the expansion of some neglected part,
which expansion is rendered more difficult by the effects of the
cultivation bestowed elsewhere.
Evil is often the result of over-anxiety, and men are always
trying to do too much, they are not content to leave well
alone, to do always just what the occasion demands and
no more; they exaggerate every action and so produce karma
to be worked out in a future birth.
One of the subtlest forms of this evil is the hope and desire
of reward. Many there are who, albeit often unconsciously,
are yet spoiling all their efforts by entertaining this idea of
reward, and allowing it to become an active factor in their
lives, and so leaving the door open to anxiety,
doubt, fear, despondency--failure.
The goal of the aspirant for spiritual wisdom is entrance upon
a higher plane of existence; he is to become a new man,
more perfect in every way than he is at present, and if
he succeeds, his capabilities and faculties will receive
a corresponding increase of range and power, just as in
the visible world we find that each stage in the evolutionary
scale is marked by increase of capacity. This is how it
is that the Adept becomes endowed with marvellous powers that
have been so often described, but the main point to be
remembered is, that these powers are the natural accompaniments
of existence on a higher plane of evolution, just as the
ordinary human faculties are the natural accompaniments of existence
on the ordinary human plane.
Many persons seem to think that adeptship is not so much the result
of radical development as of additional construction; they
seem to imagine that an Adept is a man, who, by
going through a certain plainly defined course of training,
consisting of minute attention to a set of arbitrary rules,
acquires first one power and then another; and,
when he has attained a certain number of these powers is forthwith
dubbed an adept. Acting on this mistaken idea, they
fancy that the first thing to be done towards attaining adeptship
is to acquire "powers"--clairvoyance and the power of
leaving the physical body and travelling to a distance are among
those which fascinate the most.
To those who wish to acquire such powers for their own private
advantage, we have nothing to say; they fall under
the condemnation of all who act for purely selfish ends.
But there are others, who, mistaking effect for
cause, honestly think that the acquirement of abnormal
powers is the only road to spiritual advancement. These
look upon our Society as merely the readiest means to enable them
to gain knowledge in this direction, considering it as
a sort of occult academy, an institution established to
afford facilities for the instruction of would-be miracle-workers.
In spite of repeated protests and warnings, there are some
minds in whom this notion seems ineradicably fixed, and
they are loud in their expressions of disappointment when they
find that what had been previously told them is perfectly true;
that the Society was founded to teach no new and easy paths to
the acquisition of "powers"; and that its only
mission is to rekindle the torch of truth, so long extinguished
for all but the very few, and to keep that truth alive
by the formation of a fraternal union of mankind, the only
soil in which the good seed can grow. The Theosophical
Society does indeed desire to promote the spiritual growth of
every individual who comes within its influence, but its
methods are those of the ancient Rishis, its tenets those
of the oldest Esotericism; it is no dispenser of patent
nostrums composed of violent remedies which no honest dealer would
dare to use.
In this connection we would warn all our members, and others
who are seeking spiritual knowledge, to beware of persons
offering to teach them easy methods of acquiring psychic gifts;
such gifts (laukika) are indeed comparatively easy of acquirement
by artificial means, but fade out as soon as the nerve-stimulus
exhausts itself. The real seership and adeptship which
is accompanied by true psychic development (lokothra),
once reached, is never lost.
It appears that various societies have sprung into existence since
the foundation of the Theosophical Society, profiting by
the interest the latter has awakened in matters of psychic research,
and endeavouring to gain members by promising them easy acquirement
of psychic powers. In India we have long been familiar
with the existence of hosts of sham ascetics of all descriptions,
and we fear that there is fresh danger in this direction,
here, as well as in Europe and America. We only
hope that none of our members, dazzled by brilliant promises,
will allow themselves to be taken in by self-deluded dreamers,
or, it may be, wilful deceivers.
To show that some real necessity exists for our protests and warnings,
we may mention that we have recently seen, enclosed in
a letter from Benares, copies of an advertisement put forth
by a so-called "Mahatma." He calls for "eight
men and women who know English and any of the Indian vernaculars
well"; and concludes by saying that "those who
want to know particulars of the work and the amount of pay"
should apply to his address, with enclosed postage
stamps! Upon the table before us lies a reprint of "The Divine
Pymander," published in England last year,
and which contains a notice to "Theosophists who may have
been disappointed in their expectations of Sublime Wisdom being
freely dispensed by HINDOO MAHATMAS";
cordially inviting them to send in their names to the Editor,
who will see them, "after a short probation,"
admitted into an Occult Brotherhood who "teach freely
and WITHOUT RESERVE all they find worthy
to receive." Strangely enough, we find in the
very volume in question Hermes Trismegistus saying:
"Herein is the only way which leads to Truth, which,
indeed, our ancestors trod, and by which they arrived
at the attainment of the Good. This way is beautiful and
even; nevertheless, it is difficult for the soul
to walk therein so long as she is immured within the prison of
the body. . . . Therefore, abstain from the crowd,
so that by means of ignorance the vulgar may be kept within bounds,
even through fear of the unknown."
It is perfectly true that some Theosophists have been (through
nobody's fault but their own) greatly disappointed because we
have offered them no short cut to Yoga Vidya, and there
are others who wish for practical work. And, significantly
enough, those who have done least for the Society are loudest
in fault-finding. Now, why do not these persons
and all our members who are able to do so, take up the
serious study of mesmerism? Mesmerism has been called the Key
to the Occult Sciences, and it has this advantage that
it offers peculiar opportunities for doing good to mankind.
If in each of our branches we were able to establish a homeopathic
dispensary with the addition of mesmeric healing, such
as has already been done with great success in Bombay,
we might contribute towards putting the science of medicine in
this country on a sounder basis, and be the means of incalculable
benefit to the people at large.
There are others of our branches, besides the one at Bombay,
that have done good work in this direction, but there is
room for infinitely more to be done than has yet been attempted.
And the same is the case in the various other departments of the
Society's work. It would be a good thing if the members
of each branch would put their heads together and seriously consult
as to what tangible steps they can take to further the declared
objects of the Society. In too many cases the members of
the Theosophical Society content themselves with a somewhat superficial
study of its books, without making any real contribution
to its active work. If the Society is to be a power for
good in this and other lands, it can only bring about this
result by the active cooperation of every one of its members,
and we would earnestly appeal to each of them to consider carefully
what possibilities of work are within his power, and then
to earnestly set about carrying them into effect. Right
thought is a good thing, but thought alone does not count
for much unless it is translated into action. There is
not a single member in the Society who is not able to do something
to aid the cause of truth and universal brotherhood;
it only depends on his own will, to make that something
an accomplished fact.
Above all we would reiterate the fact that the Society is no nursery
for incipient adepts; teachers cannot be provided to go
round and give instruction to various branches on the different
subjects which come within the Society's work of investigation;
the branches must study for themselves; books are to be
had, and the knowledge there put forth must be practically
applied by the various members: thus will be developed
self-reliance and reasoning powers. We urge this strongly;
for appeals have reached us that any lecturer sent to branches
must be practically versed in experimental psychology and clairvoyance
(i.e., looking into magic mirrors and reading
the future, etc., etc.). Now we consider
that such experiments should originate amongst members themselves
to be of any value in the development of the individual or to
enable him to make progress in his "uphill" path,
and therefore earnestly recommend our members to try for
H. P. BLAVATSKY
Theosophist, May, 1885
"No Religion Higher Than Truth"
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