THEOSOPHY, Vol. 17, No. 2, December, 1928
(Pages 70-71; Size: 7K)
THE world is inclined -- at least in this Kali Yuga (the Dark Age) -- always to begin at the wrong end of anything and direct all its faculties to the perception of effects and not of their causes. So the ideas of "renunciation," "asceticism" and of the "true feeling of universal Brotherhood" (of "mercy," as I call it, in accordance with South Indian Ethics), all of which are compatible with Gnanis, or the most exalted of Mahatmas, all these have come to be recognized by all our Theosophists, in general, as the means of progress for a beginner; while the real means of progress for us mortals -- duties to our own families and to our own nation, or "kindness" and "patriotism" in the highest and ethical sense of the terms -- are discarded. Ramaswamier rushed off into Sikkhim to try and find Master, and met someone who told him to go back and do his duty. That is all any of us can do; often we do not know our duty, but that too is our own fault; it is a Karmic disability.
Duty and the final imperative -- the "what ought I to do" -- comes in here and becomes a part of the process. The actions to be performed are not any and every one. We are not to go on heedlessly and indiscriminately doing everything that is suggested. We must discover what actions ought to be performed by us and do them for that reason and not because of some result we expect to follow. It is not that you must rush madly or boldly out to do, to do. Do what you find to do. Desire ardently to do it, and even when you shall not have succeeded in carrying anything out but some small duties, some words of warning, your strong desire will strike like Vulcan upon other hearts in the world, and suddenly you will find that done which you had longed to be the doer of. Then rejoice that another had been so fortunate as to make such meritorious Karma.
So I would point out to you the only royal road, the one vehicle. Do all those acts, physical, mental, moral, for the reason that they must be done, instantly resigning all interest in them, offering them up upon the altar. What altar? Why, the great spiritual altar, which is, if one desires it, in the heart. Yet still use earthly discrimination, prudence, and wisdom.
The very first step towards being positive and self-centered is in the cheerful performance of duty. Try to take pleasure in doing what is your duty, and especially in the little duties of life. When doing any duty put your whole heart into it. There is much in this life that is bright if we would only open our eyes to it. If we recognize this then we can bear the troubles that come to us calmly and patiently, for we know that they will pass away. All help you extend to any other soul is help to yourself. It is our duty to help all, and we must begin on those nearest to us, for to run abroad to souls we might possibly help we again forsake our present duty. It is better to die in our own duty, however mean, than to try another one. However, our duty is to never consider our ability, but to do what comes to be done in whatever way we can, no matter how inadequate the work appears to others. When we stop to consider our weakness, we think, by comparison, of how another would do it. Our only right is in the act itself. The consequences are in the great Brahm.
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:
H.P.B. ON DUTY
... our philosophy teaches us that the object of doing our duties to all men and to ourselves the last, is not the attainment of personal happiness, but of the happiness of others; the fulfilment of right for the sake of right, not for what it may bring us. Happiness, or rather contentment, may indeed follow the performance of duty, but is not and must not be the motive for it. ... The ethics of Christianity are grand, no doubt; but as undeniably they are not new, and have originated as "Pagan" duties. ... Duty is that which is due to Humanity, to our fellow-men, neighbours, family, and especially that which we owe to all those who are poorer and more helpless than we are ourselves. This is a debt which, if left unpaid during life, leaves us spiritually insolvent and moral bankrupts in our next incarnation. Theosophy is the quintessence of duty. ... Those who practise their duty towards all, and for duty's own sake, are few; and fewer still are those who perform that duty, remaining content with the satisfaction of their own secret consciousness. ... Finally: if you ask me how we understand Theosophical duty practically and in view of Karma, I may answer you that our duty is to drink without a murmur to the last drop, whatever contents the cup of life may have in store for us, to pluck the roses of life only for the fragrance they may shed on others, and to be ourselves content but with the thorns, if that fragrance cannot be enjoyed without depriving some one else of it.--The Key to Theosophy, 228-230.
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(1) Excerpted from the writings of William Q. Judge.
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