THEOSOPHY, Vol. 47, No. 3, January, 1959
(Pages 127-128; Size: 7K)


IT has often been said from the ULT(1) platform that we could not stand to know of or remember our past life or lives. We constantly find ourselves involved in the complexities of our personal nature which seem extremely baffling and confounding, since we do not know of their ultimate origin or what first impulse initiated their coming into being and becoming a part of our personality. Psychology helps to a great degree, but obviously, as we know from Theosophy, does not go deep enough to uncover any "first causes." Could there not be some value in being able to see past lives, enough to outweigh any possible shocks--providing, of course, that one were able to maintain a true student's attitude toward such a revelation?

In the first place, the assumption that at our stage we would be able to maintain a true student's attitude toward a revelation of past lives is, I believe, an obvious fallacy, in the light of our inability to maintain such an attitude toward our present life. If the present is "baffling and confounding," how baffling and confounding would a view of past lives be, and how able would we be to select "first causes" out of the array of events which such a revelation would portray?

Should not the very fact that we are involved in the complexities of our personal nature show us that the cause of our confusion lies in that involvement? The question, then, must be how to become less involved so that we can more intelligently deal with the present, as a start toward uncovering the so-called "first causes." Theosophy gives us a vision of the ultimate First Cause of the evolution of the whole of life and of our part in it. What better way to become less involved in our personal nature than to try to ever widen the circle of our understanding of the purpose of all life? The example of the assembly-line worker having to put together the same small, seemingly insignificant parts of a great machine, day after day, seems a good one here. If he sees no further than his own personal task, he must inevitably at some point experience confusion and frustration. But show that man the finished machine, in the building of which his small part is an integral factor, and he will gain an understanding and a sense of purpose impossible without that whole view.

So it is in our personal lives, if we but widen our circle of understanding of what we do day by day, and why it is for us to do as our particular function in the whole scheme. We are one with the whole of life, but we see ourselves as separate units, and probably the first cause of all our difficulties is in this great heresy of separateness. Essentially, then, is not the Karmic indication of this life that we should struggle to overcome separateness by tackling our problems from the point of view of our relation to them as well as to all beings? Would not the gradual achievement of a sense of unity unfold, in corresponding degree, the latent power of the Soul to see past, present, and future as One Life? Such is the vision of the man called Adept; such must be the goal of all men.

Certainly there must be value in seeing past lives, but just as certain is it, in the light of Theosophy, that this is a faculty to be earned. Arjuna had earned the right to the Divine Vision in the eleventh chapter of the Bhagavad-Gita. Even at that, let us remember, Arjuna was terrified by it. Mr. Crosbie gives us sound advice when he says that if things were different, they would be different. Lafcadio Hearn in "Within the Circle" describes the effect of his own vision of past lives: "I can say only that no combination of suffering possible to individual being could be likened to such pain, -- the pain of countless lives interwoven." Here was a rare soul, yet unready, in his own words, to stand the sight of past lives. How can we, then, hope to use intelligently even the smallest revelation until we have built upon the rock-foundation, made up of the strength of knowledge and simple virtues, a perfect house for Mind to dwell in and the Power of Spirit to work through?

Only when we are ready, we may be sure, will kind Nature reveal her mysteries within us -- and the way of readiness, we are taught, is to help Nature and work on with Her -- each moment, each hour, each day in all the years of our life. "Fortune's favored soldiers" are we, to have earned the key of Theosophy, and the duty to use it, in dealing at our present level with our present problems, and thus with right motive to raise the level of achievement of the whole of life. It is not an easy task to apply the principles of Theosophy in daily life, but from the viewpoint of Soul, it is the one task worth doing.

Next article:
Right and Wrong


COMPILER'S NOTE: I added this footnote; it was not in the article. If it doesn't paint an accurate enough picture, or is incorrect, I hope the Editors of THEOSOPHY magazine will spot it and point it out to me, so that I can make the necessary corrections.

(1) "ULT" is The United Lodge of Theosophists.
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