The Theosophical Forum – May 1937

QUESTING THROUGH THE PAGES OF "THE ESOTERIC TRADITION" — Irene R. Ponsonby

[Note: page numbers cited for The Esoteric Tradition are to the 2-vol. Second Edition and do not correspond to the 1-vol. 3rd & Revised Edition.]

The heart and mind of man are ever a-seeking: searching and seeking for constructive ideas to enable him to be something better, grander, and truer than he knows himself yet to be. This search it is which draws us to libraries; that claims our interest throughout what but too often proves wearisome and futile concentration; this it is which makes our regret on turning the last page of a fine book commensurate with the effectiveness towards good its ideas have had in our lives. Men instinctively yearn to grow; and value all constructive ideas towards betterment.

The cynic will declare: "What utter nonsense! Who wants or needs help? People are quite happy if only left to themselves!" This is a lie: a lie repudiated in every kingdom of Nature: a lie denied by the scent of rain-moistened earth, by the growing plant and bursting bud of the Springtime, by the jungle-beast's trust in man before it learns the cruelty of his gun, and the utter devotion of faithful dog and horse; by the zeal, alas! sometimes fanatical, with which man embraces a chosen cause. But whence the source and inspiration of this inherent yearning?

The urge behind evolution, and the objective which this urge is impelling us towards, is simply the divine hunger in the Universe to grow greater, to advance, to unfold: Excelsior! It is innate in the Universe. Why this is so, no one can say. Perhaps the gods do not know. All we men can aver is that it is so. Everything grows and yearns to grow greater, to become grander, to rise, to advance, to evolve, and the objective is to become at-one self-consciously with the Boundless — something which never can be reached! Therein is infinite beauty, for there is no final ending for growth in beauty and splendor and wisdom and love and power. The Boundless Universe is our Home. . .

All possible things are latent in the core of the core of the being of each one of us; they are like sleeping powers of the Universe; and this core of the core of the being of each one of us is man's own inner god, the Cosmic Dhyani-Buddha within him, the Divine Christ immanent within him: the living Osiris of the Ways of Infinity. — The Esoteric Tradition, I, 303.

Man Know Thyself! is the ancient injunction; and it is in a study of what Dr. de Purucker calls pneumatological psychology as outlined in The Esoteric Tradition — and distinguished from the more limited science of Psychology — that such knowledge may be gained.

Now the true psychology is not to be learned by a diagnosis of the conditions found in the hospital, the clinic, the seance-hall, or the consulting-room of the psychoanalyst, for here are to be met but the sub- or ab-normal products of evolution, while the solution of the problem of man's complex nature lies in an understanding of the normal, the ripe and healthy product of human evolution, and the standard by which such a product may be judged must be a universal one, such as is imbodied in one or more of the tenets of Theosophy:

The Universe is a coherent and consistent Whole, one vast Organism, or more accurately still, one mighty Organic Entity, every part of it related to every other part, everything in it in relation to everything else in it, and any one part of it subordinate to the whole. — Op. cit., I, 390.

Thus, analogically, since man is the lesser within the greater — the microcosm of the macrocosm — we may define the human entity as an organism composed of many compounded souls, unified, coordinated, and guided by one Spirit, the Spiritual Monad, which is the essential Self. In other words, there are five souls in man: a divine, a spiritual, a human, an animal, and a vital-astral soul. Through every one of these points, the stream of consciousness which manifests as the man of today flows — notwithstanding the fact that the progressively deepening materiality of these vehicular points dims its pristine radiance as it descends from the realm of the divine to that of the physical. This is but one of the several possible divisions into which the constitution of man may fall, none of which should be considered as arbitrary, although custom may make the threefold the most acceptable.

We have thus before us the picture of the human constitution as a threefold entity: first, a highest principle or element of perpetual and unimaginable splendor, the product or rather the flowering of long past ages of aeonic evolution; second the intermediate part, likewise the product of past ages of evolution, but still imperfect, and therefore still more or less subject and servile to the interacting play of the various forces resident in ethereal substance surrounding it; thirdly, the vital-astral-physical element, a more or less fugitive compound. — Op. cit., II, 967.

What do we really know about this intermediate nature of man? The Greeks called this part of the composite man psyche, a noun formed from the verb "to grow cold," "to be chilled," and we may imagine the human soul as a wanderer whose roaming has led it beyond the warmth of its spiritual home and in bewilderment it yearningly gropes towards the peace and the security which re-union with the Spiritual Soul means, the while it is dazzled, and strays in the realm of material illusion. Here, then, in the human soul, the product of heaven and earth, is the critical point in the human constitution, because it is the scene of the choice which decides the issue of all evolution. If the human soul responds to the impulse of the hour — our present cycle of growth — and spurning the call of matter and its illusory desires, gives its heart and mind resolutely to the behests of Spirit, regeneration is won for the entire man, for fundamental unity inheres and rules in the universe of man just as it co-ordinates the Kosmic Universe! Therefore the growth and expansion of the part must benefit the whole organism. True Psychology, then, treats of the construction, the evolution, and the destiny of the human soul.

Therefore, it will be readily understood that a study of the past evolutionary progress towards manhood of the human entity is a vital factor in defining his future destiny, which, because it leads the expanding consciousness into the spiritual realms of man's constitution, may be called the sphere of Pneumatology.

. . . All have existed since the very beginnings of our planetary chain in time and space; nay, more, as already stated, we are coeval not only with our solar system, but likewise with the Galaxy; . . .

We were with the Sun, with the Earth, in the very morning of Time, though not then in bodies of flesh; and we helped to build this planetary chain as well as this Earth of ours, because, not only are we its children but we are collectively and individually integral parts thereof. — Op cit., I, 278-9.

We humans are now where we are, and are what we are, having become such, in the beginning more or less unconsciously to ourselves, by exercising our inner faculties and powers of intelligence, of will, of judgment, of choice, of discrimination, and of such parts of wisdom as we have. — Op cit., I, 2 54.

The various processes by which we exercise our inner faculties, and become what we are, may be classed, speaking generally, under the one descriptive term, "the Chain of Causation," which, lasting from eternity to eternity, is comprised of interlocked events, each linked to each and all by the habit of universal being — that habit recognised by Science today as the law of cause and effect — and each and all not only springing from the entity itself, but, in the last analysis, composing that entity. This "law" it is which manifests in Reincarnation — reimbodiment in flesh — when in the events of life on earth the human being reaps the harvest of past sowing on the physical plane, and in reaping sows again for future harvesting on this and other and invisible planes. But more specifically it is through exercising the power of choice in daily life that we develop and expand the powers of will, judgment, and discrimination. The man of character makes a definite choice at every point, a choice which is his own, irrespective of public opinion or convention, and as long as he himself is satisfied with his choice, he sticks to it through thick and thin; but should experience prove to him that his choice is wrong, he should be ready to choose again. This is the fundamental principle of "self-directed evolution': never to shirk making a choice, your own choice. By so doing the will is strengthened, judgment and discrimination learned, and wisdom won. In yearning towards the desired, man enters into an understanding of it which is true knowledge, because he becomes the desired object.

'Man gets precisely and exactly what he himself desires"; for "Behind Will stands Desire." The divine consciousness which permeates the entire man and is the higher part of his constitution seeks to express itself in the less highly evolved intermediate nature of man, and with the attainment of self-consciousness at the midpoint of evolution man's future destiny calls for ever greater effort towards union with the divine source of its being on the part of the human soul.

Since cases of the influence of one mind over another are not only frequent but accepted as natural fact, why should it be either reprehensible or improbable that an influence or influences emanating from or through one of the higher centers of consciousness in the human constitution should find in the tranquil and voluntarily pellucid intermediate nature of its own composite organism, a perfect instrument for the fuller, and relatively speaking, fullest expression of the highest spiritual attributes and powers? That such a state of receptibility is possible to the intermediate nature, the seat of man's egoity, the evolution of which has been the goal of aeons-long effort, does present a mystery, but it is nevertheless a verifiable and withal explainable — in the terms of ancient languages certainly — fact in human history; nor is the inference that the intermediate nature of such an enlightened man loses by so much as an iota in such a state of receptivity to the higher forces of its constitution. On the contrary such deliberate forgetfulness of self wins the protection and guidance of the Self, which as it permeates the fabric of the entire man strengthens and raises every evolving atom in its progress towards divinity. All the higher stages of "self directed evolution" depend on the power of the intermediate nature — the human soul — to make itself into a pure, willing vehicle for transmitting the transcendent forces flowing through the Divine Soul. This fact is exemplified in the lives and work of all the World-Teachers and it is to this sublime state or attitude which the mystical words of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane refer: ". . . O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt. . . . O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done." — Gospel accord, to St. Matthew, ch. xxvi, 39, 42


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