How few, even among the thoughtful, ever suspect the real and intense happiness which follows upon the determined practice of self-forgetfulness! In our wrong-headed civilization the very words have come to signify an outworn if not impossible ideal. Yet self-forgetfulness actually results not only in the power to bless and bestow but in the transmutation of our ignorance, unrest, and miseries into knowledge, power, and peace. For we have the assurance that the wise practice of daily self-forgetfulness will bring to us a sacred companionship with the Inner God and set our feet upon the pathway to divine adventure in the inner worlds.
There are, however, certain states of mind which might pass for self-forgetfulness with the unthinking but which are most emphatically the opposite. One of these is a practice which has become nearly universal, in this day at least, and that is self-evasion. We are all familiar enough in our own experience and that of our associates with the itch to escape from ourselves. And the insane lavishness of this mechanical civilization pours out the means: novels, cinemas, auto-trips, "parties," the bridge game, and a hundred other diversions. Yet most of our amusements are legitimate enough when they are intelligently used. They are harmful only when allowed to become a demanding habit. Even philanthropic work, if undertaken as such a soporific, is but another road to self-evasion. It is motive that colors the deed and automatically brings about the result. Service of others is naturally better for anyone than slavery to amusements, but in the case of using it to evade our own problems it is a neglect of one's essential duty. It may even result in a worse tangle of our personal affairs than before.
Why not say to ourselves when some of our intimate problems torment us by our inability to solve them: "Well, after all, does it matter so much about me? Isn't it the burden of the world that really matters — the tragedy of crime, the miseries of the poor, seeking hearts everywhere that cry out for light and help? Here is Theosophy with its grand diagnosis, its power of prevention and cure. I will set aside for a time this trouble of my own heart and see what I can do for the spreading of a knowledge of this panacea, acting in the meanwhile also as a good neighbor, a sympathetic "home-fellow and friend." When a Theosophist, or anyone else for that matter, carries such a thought into action, mysteriously his personal problem is likely to begin to solve itself. This happens often. Nature objects to our constantly pulling the plant up by the roots to see how it is coming on. But if we trust her with a divine impersonal carelessness as to our own well-being, and will work unselfishly for others, she will come to make obeisance and work on our side.
Here the motive creates the apparent contradiction and gives to service that is truly self-forgetful, but never self-evasive, its often immediate reward. And the further "rewards" which accrue more slowly, flow from the crystal fount of the Cosmic Heart — a beautiful happiness and a serenity whose harmonies pervade in blessing and help the lives of all about us. And some day, suddenly, we ourselves shall awaken to a new dawn breaking in splendor before our inner vision, and discover that our feet are set upon Amrita-Yana, the secret pathway to the gods.
The Theosophical ForumTHEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ONLINE