The Theosophical Forum – February 1936

THE PHILOSOPHY OF PAIN — William S. Flathe

Theosophy should be studied with the idea of taking time by the forelock and hewing out one's own evolutionary pathway — consciously. The one who does not have such a comprehensive, complete philosophy as this Ancient Wisdom of ours suffers an irreparable loss, for, having no adequate idea of what life is all about, no insight into the plan and method of evolution, or the teaching that we are here to progress upward, ever onward, until we realize and express our innate divinity, he will be the one who must suffer thereby. He is the one whom Nature must prod on, or he goes to sleep in personal pleasures and self-sufficiency. But do we who have this marvelous, this golden philosophy of life, test its utilitarian aspects by putting it to use in our daily affairs? Each individual knows the answer to this for himself, and if not, he is no better than the man on the street who thinks personal pleasures are the summum bonum of existence.

Theosophy is nowhere more noble and stimulating than in its philosophy of pain. We see so much of it in this day that we conclude that suffering must play a necessary part in the great drama of life; and this is so. Man may be compared to a diamond in the rough. His personality, or that part of him that we meet in our daily affairs of life, is like the rough, uninteresting exterior of the diamond. Now to bring forth or expose the true brilliancy and beauty of the diamond this rough coating must come off. In other words, if man is to evolve and show forth his true divinity he must break away from his personality, and Nature is the great lapidary who presses this ugly coat of personality against the wheel of terrestrial existence — and man emits a shriek of pain. Yet after each application to the wheel man dispenses with some of his grosser self and exposes something of the brilliancy, the beauty, of his divine self which lies underneath. In this way Nature breaks up that accumulated, crystallized mass called 'personality.'

Oh, that man could only see that Nature is never so prodigal of her kindness, so bounteous of her benefits and cares, as when she is applying the whip-lash of adversity and making him suffer! How often is it only through pain that rends his whole being, through sorrows that blacken the day, through anguish that seems to make life a veritable hell, that man is made to learn, as on the dead ashes of these he rises to higher things. Apotheosis is ever by way of the Cross; pain and sorrow but lift us higher, for these are the travail of the soul. All birth entails suffering and anguish, and the birth of the soul is a thousandfold more intense. Let us, therefore, not eschew suffering when it comes. Pain is the great teacher, and this is the only way the unawakened man is saved from himself, from his enervating, restricting ways of living.


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