In the service of one's country Guard Duty is so important that the guard is the only man in the army who can be shot for taking a nap. By one hour's neglect the whole army may be thrown into confusion or even captured. The same law works in regard to a man's life. We are all surrounded with enemies in the shape of temptations or allurements of one kind or another which may seize us at our weakest point. Usually it is some well-known weakness that betrays us but sometimes it is at the least suspected point that we are tried and found wanting. This applies in all the affairs of daily life, business or pleasure, public or private. I might almost say, waking or sleeping, for if we go to sleep with a wrong thought the elementals connected therewith may molest us and bad dreams or even nightmares result. We might call this psychic Guard Duty for there are all sorts of enemies of humanity, mostly of its own making, on the astral plane. The astral plane surrounds us as water surrounds a ship, and our weaknesses act as holes in our aura through which salt or dirty water may pour in and a bad dream or a bad day may result. Sometimes we may have what might be called lobster-salad or mince-pie dreams which come from indigestion and serve us right for our indulgence. Well, what are you going to do about it? The answer is easy. Guard your mind, thought and feeling before going to sleep. The wise Pythagoras gave a rule which can hardly be improved upon. I will quote it as G. de P. gave it from memory:
"Let not the setting sun reach the western horizon, nor close thine eyes in sleep, before thou hast gone over all the events of the day just past, and hast asked thyself this question: What have I done today that has been done amiss? What have I done that has been done aright? Have I injured anyone? Have I failed in my duty? Let not the setting sun reach the western rim of space, nor let thine eyelids close in sleep ere thou hast asked thyself these questions."
Then Dr. de Purucker adds the following which is pertinent to our present subject: "If only men and women would consciously follow that simple rule, ninety-nine per cent of the world's trouble, heartache, sin and anxiety would be non-existent, would never happen. And the reason is simple. The world's troubles arise from our weaknesses, not from our strength; and if we would increase our strength, and do away with our weaknesses, every human being thereafter, in proportion to his inner evolution, would become a power for good in the world. And you see what that would mean. It cuts at the tap-root of most of the thoughts and feelings and acts that bring misery amongst us."
Mme. Tingley gave us a good rule which will keep our souls from getting caught while passing through the astral plane in going to sleep or in waking. It is as follows and is for nightly repetition:
"Let us end the day with more power of thought for self-conquest than we had at the beginning of the day. Let us close our eyes tonight with a clean conscience, and with a feeling of generous love for all that breathes, which is the best side of our natures. Let us seek more knowledge, more light, more strength, in the silence of our last thoughts before retiring."
Another way of putting these same helpful rules is in what is called "The chela's daily life ledger." The last thing before going to bed or to sleep one should carefully think over the day. Note your failures and successes and how to correct the errors and how to repeat or accentuate the successes. Note your weaknesses and use your will to be strong and resolute on such points or occasions as may need reform. Especially forgive your enemies — if you have any, and if not, think kindly of those who may need it, particularly of those whom you may dislike, for they, like yourself, are travellers struggling on the Path. Above all note any tendency you may have to criticize, for criticism is one of the most insidious of inner enemies. It springs from the sense of separateness — which is the root of all evil. It is the negation of Brotherhood. See if it is not a hidden and insidious form of egotism, in which case it is the devil's way of praising himself. When this healthful self-appraisal is over take your favorite devotional book and read a chapter and/or meditate on the Higher Self. This frees you from earthly attachments and helps the soul to wing its way through the air-ways of the spirit to or near to where the Masters dwell.
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