The Path – March 1889

GET YOUR LUGGAGE READY — J. Campbell Ver Planck

One night I seemed to see a great and populous country. It teemed with life and wealth, yet no sound, no motion arose from it. It was a petrified land. Rich harvests turned the earth to gold, but no reapers came forth. Fruits of the purple, the rose, and every splendid hue, weighted the orchard boughs, but not a hand was raised to pluck them. The flowers shone unseen; the dead air could not woo forth their perfume. The waters had no song; the birds, no flight; the clouds, no rain; the sun, no beams in that leaden atmosphere. The march of the seasons was arrested. Never was land more fertile, more beautiful. It needed but the heart and hand of man to continue its prosperity. High mountains, too, were there, where the gods abode, hovering so near to men that I cried aloud, to see these divine opportunities neglected or forgotten.

Pondering upon a sight so mournful, I saw that the inhabitants of this country had all a strange kind of mental atrophy which annulled all efforts, frustrated every activity. Surrounded by everything which could secure usefulness, happiness, and the fullest development of their natures, they did not know how to set about securing these ends. Their minds were under a spell. In an intellectual darkness, they were dimly conscious of their wretched condition, and called for some one to come and remove the torpor of their minds, to tell them how they might enter into this splendid Life and possess it. At times they did what work they must, then sank into quiescence again, while the glory of Life seemed to taunt and mock them. In truth it did not do this. These glorious opportunities were there to urge them on, but could not rouse them.

The anguish of this paralyzed and waiting multitude was so great, that I too began to share their pain and their expectancy as I looked on, and I called aloud anxiously, "Will no one come to help them?"

Some unseen person promptly answered me, "Helpers have already set out for this country, which is called 'The Future.'" "Will they soon arrive?" I asked. My informant replied, "Look, and judge for yourself."

At this I felt impelled to turn around, and saw great masses of clouds breaking open before me, making a rift through which I could look. The view was so misty that I understood, in some mystic way, that I was about to see into the Past. What I perceived was a long railway train starting on a journey to some very distant point. There was great confusion about it. Some of the travellers were leaning out of the slowly moving train, gesticulating towards huge piles of luggage left behind. Others were endeavoring to turn the air brakes. Some had reached the engineer, and were arguing briskly, urging him to stop the train or to go back. Many others slept, and by their feverish rest I could see that their thoughts were on the baggage vans. Meanwhile, back in the station, were travellers absorbed in checking and marking their luggage, or wandering about half dazed, trying to find their personal effects, and to keep them distinct from the rest. People were arriving, too, in a constant stream, belated by their overladen coaches, and, in far homes, I saw others bustling hither and thither, packing and repacking. All of these were so absorbed that they did not know the hour was past, or that the train had set out for the land where they were all bound to go.

"Are these the helpers?" I asked. My unseen friend said that they were.

"But why do they not make haste when they are so sorely needed?"

"You see they are willing enough, but their luggage detains them."

"Could they not do with less, and arrange it more rapidly! or even discard much of it, which seems to consist of mere personal luxuries fostered by habit?"

"They could indeed, but this they do not understand."

"And, will no one reach that unfortunate country?" I exclaimed.

"Yes; the train will arrive there, but it will be detained. And many of the people in it are so harassed by their thoughts of their lost or strayed luggage, or so preoccupied in keeping it together, that they will not be able to set to work promptly on their arrival. Thus they will not resist the peculiar lethargy which prevails in that land, and they will swell the numbers of the unfortunates, who, like them, originally started out hoping to reach a happy Future."

"Are there, then, no persons of clear and unencumbered minds," I asked, "who can be of use to the rest?"

"Indeed there are, but they are comparatively few, and are swallowed up in that great crowd. There in the train you may see an occasional traveller who is tranquil, whose thought is fixed upon his errand. There are such also in the city, and they are putting forth all their strength. Who shall say whether they can do much? What is needed is that the great majority of men should try with one accord to think of The Future, to prepare to enlighten and free it. They cannot attain the great prizes here and now, but they can do something; they can prepare for it."

This person spoke so quietly that his even tones annoyed me. "And you," said I, "you appear to take all this suffering and possible disaster very coolly. To think that a land so fertile, one with such glorious, and even divine possibilities through its Humanity, should lie extinguished in darkness because of the delays of these travellers! It is enough to break any heart."

"I am not 'cool,' as you say, but I am calm. I am obliged to be, for I have seen this sight for many an age; I shall see it for many more. In all time the sad lesson repeats itself, and Time is one. What you have seen is what takes place age after age. The waiting races are always delayed by the impediments of those who start out to reinforce and to help them."

"And what luggage is this that they cherish so much as to let it stand between them and their highest impulses, their noblest endeavor? Why do they not cast it aside?"

"This luggage is needed by every traveller if he would not arrive in that distant country utterly helpless, to be himself a burden to the community. Know the truth, my friend. This luggage which every man and woman carries is the mind. They cannot cast it away. What they need to do is to set it in order; to cast all useless thoughts and energies, all personal mental habits aside; to concentrate and strengthen it; above all, to hold it in readiness to start on the journey to the Future, so that when they arrive they may at once begin, without loss of time, to redeem and lift that Age. Then the journey will be more swiftly made; then there will be no such long waits between stations, no obstructing of trains. I and my companions are set apart to endeavor to teach men this; we learned it through our own experience many cycles ago. And in your age as in ours, men are slow to comprehend; slower even, for in yours the darkness has settled down like a pall. Yet Hope is the very nature of Life itself, and hence, we hope." He said no more to me then, and the vision came to an end. I saw how true was all that I had heard, and each day bears fresh witness to its truth.

The mind of man is a tremendous Force, capable of engendering many energies, of various grades, correlating and interacting. The highest of these act on every plane; the lower upon lower planes only, where they tend to beget obstructive consequences by, so to say, intensifying or thickening — condensing too — the one substance of which all things are made, into gross and material strata, which greatly impede the entrance of higher force to our planet and isolate it and us by degrees.

What then determines the quality of a mental energy, so that it becomes of a "high" or "low" order? Its relation to the personal self determines it. The free will of man has its point of departure in the mind. He can generate thoughts which) by concentration upon or relation to the self, tend to contract his sphere (in more senses than one), and to preserve his Being intact in the life of separateness Or he can evolve thoughts which relate to the whole world; which flow out towards the Unity, and, by their action and interaction upon the highest forces, a part of which they are, tend to dissolve his personal life as such, to unite all his principles to their cosmic sources, and reveal the beauty, power, and wisdom of Being to his enraptured soul.

Very many of us can find but little work to do for Humanity, though work is here, pressing enough, tangible enough. But circumstances of iron control many, and these are Karma. What each one can do, however, is to purify the mind, and to develop in it such affinities, such tendencies and habits, as may be drawn up into the higher nature. These, then, will guide our soul's course after death, leading the Ego to reincarnate there where it can at once begin the work for Humanity. The predominating love spun by our nature is like the stray end of the spider's web, cast loose upon the air. It reaches across to some branch to which it instantly adheres, and upon it the Ego, the mysterious weaver of Life's web, crosses the gulf we call Death, and finds each life in strict continuity with the preceding one.

These few thoughts cannot be better illustrated, or more fitly closed, than by an extract from a private letter written by H. P. Blavatsky:

"What is this about the soldier not being free? Of course no soldier can be free to move about his physical body wherever he likes. But what has the esoteric teaching to do with the outward man? A soldier may be stuck to his sentry-box like a barnacle to its ship, and the soldier's Ego be free to go where it likes, and think what it likes best. * * No man is required to carry a burden heavier than he can bear, nor do more than it is possible for him to do. * * If one cannot, owing to circumstances or his position in life, become a full adept in this existence, let him prepare his mental luggage for the next, so as to be ready at the first call, when he is once more reborn. What one has to do before he pledges himself irretrievably, is to probe one's nature to the bottom, for self discipline is based on self knowledge. It is said somewhere that self-discipline often leads one to a state of self-confidence which becomes vanity and pride in the long run. I say, fool is the man who says so. This may happen only when our motives are of a worldly character, or selfish. Otherwise, self-confidence is the first step to that kind of WILL which will make a mountain move.

'To thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou cans't not then be false to any man.'

"The question is whether Polonius meant this for worldly wisdom, or for occult knowledge; and, by 'own self,' the false Ego (the terrestial personality), or that spark in us which is but the reflection of the One Universal Ego."

It appears, then, that our best course of action is to get our mental luggage ready, and especially to free it from the thought of self, or the "terrestial personality" living in a dream of separation.

The Path