Self-directed evolution becomes a reality when an individual takes it upon himself to wilfully direct his course of action along chosen paths. While evolution from the rocks to the stars does take place through the urge from within yet self-directed evolution is a self-conscious function. Indeed could not this be the end and purpose of self-consciousness?
Patanjali states in his Yoga Aphorisms, Book IV:
The mind, though assuming various forms by reason of innumerable mental deposits, exists for the purpose of the soul's emancipation and operates in co-operation therewith.
Likewise the Maitri Upanishad asserts that mind is the means of release for mankind while it can also be a bondage if it is directed to the material and objective state of things. Self-directed evolution can become a reality in our lives only if we have the strength of will to make it so.
As the driver of the car today controls its course by the mechanism of the steering wheel so can the occult student control his course of activity by attitudes of mind. The gas of the car corresponds to our will and the divine urge, the road to the path that has been blazed by those who have gone before, the car to our living temple, and the driver to the self-directed manas.
It is from the higher part of our constitution that we draw the necessary intuition and insight required to map out a course of action in the process of conquering self and to meet the many obstacles that are sure to come. We need the influence of the "thread self." As The Voice of the Silence has it:
Ere the gold flame can burn with steady light, the lamp must stand well guarded in a spot free from all wind. Exposed to shifting breeze, the jet will flicker and the quivering flame cast shades deceptive, dark and ever-changing, on the Soul's white shrine. And then, 0 thou pursuer of the truth, thy Mind-Soul will become as a mad elephant, that rages in the jungle. Mistaking forest trees for living foes, he perishes in his attempts to kill the ever-shifting shadows dancing on the wall of sunlit rocks.
One must have great strength of will otherwise failure is insured from the start. The mind is but a burden unless it is brought under control and made into a servant. Side by side with mind control must come a deep insight and understanding of the emotional aspects of the personal man. Theosophy is the great illuminator and with its help we can easily see the personal side of our natures for what it is. Understanding brings control. With control comes confidence and faith in ourselves, which is a necessity. Thus equipped we shall have started a task that requires as much vigilance as would be required to drive a racing car at high speed. Yet speed is an unhealthy state of affairs as we can see in our world today. Every student knows that it is best to make haste slowly. It is not speed that is required but vigilance. Indeed eternal vigilance is the price of victory!
The Theosophical ForumTHEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ONLINE