The Theosophical Forum — December 1943

ADVENTURE IN LEARNING — M. G. Gowsell

One of the most serious drawbacks in the way of learning anything, as far as grown-ups are concerned, is inattentiveness. This may, in some cases, be due to insincerity, but more commonly to wool-gathering, as we called it at school. It is a condition which is all too prevalent, not so much in the school room, as elsewhere most of the waking hours. So apparent is this that the several witnesses to any given event will seldom if ever agree in their testimony as to what actually took place at the moment. That this can be so common an occurrence is evidence of our absent-mindedness. It is this very thing which makes it more than probable that, should one desire to get by with something on the q. t., that is, without calling attention to what is being done, the chances are in favor of its being entirely unnoticed, albeit performed under the very noses of the usual run of witnesses. Hence any accurate, detailed, agreed-upon observation will be exceptional.

All of this stands in the way of one of the most interesting and intimate adventures in learning possible to mortals, for it prevents the thinning away of the partition between the higher and the lower mind. Of course there are those so-called "gifted" individuals who seem to possess what we call photographic memories, or rather should we say, the power to recollect impressions, however fleeting or faint such may have been. This unusual faculty will of course be due to training, a matter of self-discipline, either in this or in past lives. The human mind is naturally inconstant, restless, fugitive and diffusive. Discipline is needed that it may become an efficient instrument. "To whatever object the inconstant mind goeth out, he should subdue it, bring it back, and place it upon the Spirit," said Krishna to Arjuna. Change the word "spirit," which the average mortal knows little or nothing about, to "the job in hand," and you have a piece of practical advice the value of which cannot be overestimated. This would be concentration of mind. An occultist or real mystic will, as an almost inflexible rule, never allow himself to do anything absent-mindedly. He would not even wash his hands and allow himself to be thinking of something else at the same time. But should he be so inadvertent at any time as to do so, he would go right back and do whatever it was over again, keeping his mind on it.

Now this is quite of a piece with memory training. It is a practice that is within the province of anyone who desires to grow, one which, if faithfully followed, would bring one ever nearer the goal. It is the linking of the purely personal consciousness with the individual consciousness, thereby ultimately accentuating the latter a thousandfold. Herein too is the gateway to intuition, and to the child-state of awareness, before the link becomes fractured or completely broken: a gateway to many things, not least of which would be to a definite realization that man is composite in his make-up: that he is a congeries or collection of entities, each one of which is evolving upon its own plane of being. Thus Man, as a collective aggregate, is said to be a stream or river of consciousness.

Under certain conditions, a linking or raising of the purely personal, brain-mind, normal consciousness of the human being to that of the individual or higher-mind consciousness may take place temporarily, and become a real adventure. But only occasionally. With some people, perhaps only once or twice in a lifetime. These experiences would occur during rare circumstances, at rare moments in life, at some outstandingly crucial parting of the ways: some event where one's life, or whole future destiny, might be in jeopardy. It would be at such times that every smallest detail, of even one's material surroundings, might become so indelibly registered, so etched into the consciousness, as never to be effaced.

It is at such signal moments that a higher part of man's composite nature and consciousness is activated and made to function on this plane as an intense awareness, a god-like presence of mind. The bodily or brain-mind apparatus, what is referred to by H. P. B. in The Voice of the Silence, as the "lunar form," will have been slain, put out of action for the time, a feat which, with a certain spiritual faculty gained, may be accomplished at will, we are told, but under ordinary circumstances is always more or less involuntary. In any one of the instances referred to we have unimpeachable testimony, real evidence, of the nearness and availability of the purely manasic, or what is usually called the higher-mind part of man's constitution.

This momentary apotheosis of consciousness may be in the nature of a true apocalypse, a revelation and a warning to one as some desperate parting of the ways, where the moral fate might be at hazard. It should not be inferred, however, that this activation of a higher part of the inner constitution is evoked only during moments of dire peril. It is more readily available to those who have, perhaps but for a moment, set their feet upon the borders of the supernal, which would only be effected through the region of the higher mind. One who has had this experience is nevermore the same. There will have been an awakening. He will never lapse again so deeply into his former slumber. An analogy will be found in ordinary life, where every now and again a man's mind is stretched by some new idea or understanding, never to go back to its former dimensions.


The Theosophical Forum

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