THEOSOPHY, Vol. 22, No. 10, August, 1934
(Pages 465-468; Size: 11K)
TO MANY people Theosophy appears at first sight to make astonishing claims. It involves, some hold, as blind a belief as any church and they can see no difference between the Theosophical student's attitude to The Secret Doctrine and theological acceptation of the Bible. Others dismiss the citation of a system of Law as "a mere Eastern hypothesis". There is a difference, however, unless we students are accepting the written statements in our text-books or verbal statements from our platforms without verification for ourselves. Failing this, then most assuredly we are on the way which leads to making a sect in which a narrow and stereotyped creed will take the place of the living and breathing spirit of Truth and an ever growing Knowledge.
It is all important to know how we can verify the teachings for ourselves. Perhaps the idea makes us sigh as we reflect over the several points in the First Item of the Secret Doctrine's "Summing Up" -- how can we prove them to ourselves?
The latter part of a statement made by W. Q. Judge has puzzled some students for years. "By living according to the dictates of the soul the brain may at last be made porous to the soul's recollections" -- porous to the soul's recollections. If only that may be accomplished, knowledge is ours. But now comes a paradox: we cannot "take for granted" even this phrase. What are we to do, then? Why, test it out. See if there is truth behind it. Set a period in which to ascertain whether one's brain can be made porous to the soul's recollections and if nothing has happened by the end of that time, away with it or we are not intellectually honest thinkers but blind believers -- and Theosophy will have naught to do with them.
So we now have to put first things, first. The second part follows only if the first is essayed: "By living according to the dictates of the soul." Like warrior souls we set out fearlessly, and so begins the greatest of all experiments, an experiment with heart and mind in the living laboratory of life. No one has ever tried a greater psychological experiment, yet each of us has it in his power. Thus each for himself according to the strength of his own efforts, more or less speedily, we find out by living, how the brain is actually made porous to the soul's recollections.
Attempting to live according to the dictates of the soul is the most strenuous task ever undertaken. So we must not lose heart at our innumerable failures. Like the little child learning to walk, each of us has to pick himself up after every tumble and forgetting bruised hands and skinned knees essay a few more steps, striving to live Theosophy in everyday life. This means altruism, and we cannot repeat it too often, brotherly love, mutual help, unswerving devotion to truth. Since, as we are taught, "self-knowledge is of loving deeds the child," we have to learn to distinguish between true sacrifice based on discrimination and a giving-in because peace is preferable to war. We have taken ourselves in hand and the Royal Soul will not allow himself to be cheated and deluded by a weary body, flagging emotions or a tired mind, into intermission of that periodic undertaking.
Thus we check our daily living by our daily study and from our study gain inspiration for living the arduous life which gives insight to our study. Humility comes because we see how very often we are unconscious hypocrites, false to the very test we set out to make -- living according to the dictates of the soul. If despite all our failures we do go on striving, we find slowly and gradually that something has happened to our brain. It is becoming porous to the soul's recollections. Behold! Theosophy works. After that discovery, nothing can daunt us. The key to Life itself we know to be in our hands, once we have proved to ourselves even a single statement.
Every Theosophical student who has gone over his text-books year by year, and who has discovered -- as every earnest seeker after Truth inevitably does discover -- that formerly obscure passages are clearer and that now and again a flood of light illuminates erstwhile puzzling sentences, has already begun to prove to himself that the brain can be made porous to the soul's recollections. No matter how slowly, he is surely undertaking the great change which transforms not his brain only. He is learning little by little how to become a knower of the essence of things -- no more a believer. He is fitting himself to join that noble company enumerated in the First Item of the "Summing-Up" of the Secret Doctrine. Theosophy works; we have only to put it to the test of not daily, not hourly, but continuous living to know this for ourselves.
Living according to the dictates of the soul means unswerving and unceasing endeavour. It leads to some little conception of Theosophy being a science, a science so exact that it leaves nothing out -- neither Universe, Man, Atom, nor things invisible or visible. Under the appropriate heading "Problems of Life", H.P.B. once quoted Dr. Pirogoff.(1) "An unbridled license of thought and will," wrote this eminent Russian surgeon and pathologist, "is a terrible disease, from the development of which every man, who would not end by suicide or folly, has to guard himself."
Altruism in thought comes as we gain control of the mind by ever striving to keep the highest and purest and noblest ideas in it. It is an unremitting watch, said Damodar K. Mavalankar, so that no conscious or unconscious thought may attract atoms unsuited to the progress of the Inner Man. We see the exactitude in these processes and the wisdom that has arranged study classes week in and week out for which we necessarily brood over the Three Fundamentals, the First Item of the "Summing-Up" of the Secret Doctrine, the Ten Items of Isis Unveiled; we study the assignments to render ideas with faithful loyalty, if on the platform, or to ask worthwhile questions for the help of all in the audience. In a living whole like a Theosophical study-class everyone's work counts and helps to make the class richer or poorer, according to the efforts made for it. We memorise great passages like the Golden Paramitas of the Voice of the Silence. This effort leaves no room for small and trivial and selfish thoughts, for when not immediately occupied with some task, there are sublime ideas in readiness to flood the mind with their one light and life and power.
Striving thus to live according to the dictates of the soul, we slowly learn that ours is an ever-growing knowledge. It comes, as many of us have found, in greater light on difficult passages in the teachings. The text-books open out ever more the depths of their meanings. Not a single statement can be taken at its surface meaning only; not a study-class but someone -- often the "newest" because the humblest student -- illuminates our way. "Be humble if thou wouldst attain to wisdom," taught H.P.B.
None of our routine now is stale whether in office or class-room or home or Lodge. Behind this great psychological experiment is the living and breathing spirit of Truth itself. As Dr. Pirogoff brought out in another passage in that same series (commended by H.P.B. in a footnote as in harmony with "esoteric mysticism") -- "This 'some one' attuning my organ into unison with the universal harmony becomes my 'I'. And then the laws of the design and causation of the actions of universal ideation become also the laws of my 'I' and I find them within myself, passing their manifestations from without, within myself, and from myself back into infinite nature."(2)
It is along the lines of such a psychological experiment as this -- the test of living according to the dictates of the soul, by which the brain is made porous to the soul's recollections -- that the first steps in Soul-Wisdom are essayed. The checking and testing and verifying goes on through countless generations in this accumulation of the Wisdom of the Ages. Even in our initial stages, we are able to prove a little of the worth of the great Work, each working for all, as all must work for each. This is the difference between creedalism and the true student's attitude to Theosophy.
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 TRUE ATTITUDE
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 you now 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 anyone 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. --W.Q.J.
TWO (2) FOOTNOTES LISTED BELOW:
(1) Lucifer, VII, 398.
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(2) Lucifer, VII, 472.
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