One night, I watched with my dead.
This comrade was smitten in departing; his soul cried out through the body, "Oh! my wasted life" Silence followed, for him the silence of high spheres; for us, the silence of the grave in that dark hour above which exhausted faith could not lift us. It was an hour of bleak despair, and, beneath that, an icy blank.
Yet other hours dawn for the student when a voice out of negation cries, "Look in thy heart and write." In such an hour, the cry of the departed one was illumined as by the awful torch of Truth. For there is terror for the human soul in that great glory; it blinds as with tempest and pain.
"Oh! my wasted life." Yet he had worked, striven, done, apparently, all. But the high soul knew well indeed that all had not been done; the conscience-stricken mind confessed its failure.
I wish, my comrades, that we could live our lives, as it were, upon the slopes of death, trying their issues by the light of the new dawn of consciousness. Think you we should not find, by that test, that these lives are full of small issues, tortuous, involved, guided by the opinions of the mass and the needs — not so much of our own bodies and minds, but of those of a complex civilization? The unseen currents pour upon us, through us; the pictures and suggestions thrown upon us by them, as upon a screen, are mistaken for "our own" thoughts and wishes. These are the traps of nature to detain us, as matter attracts and detains spirit. Can we not wish and think what we will, from our own centres, in accordance with the impulse of our higher mind? Is it not our first duty to do this; our duty to mankind and to ourselves; to the Law above all? What avails it, think you, to creation or to ourselves, if we allow so-called consideration for others to imbed us more deeply in the material life? Is it not for the higher good of all that we should remain apart from it, even while in it? Apart in thought, in heart. To yield to another is sometimes to assist that other in encumbering his higher soul and our own with details the mind should outgrow, but to which, lacking strength, it still clings. It clings for fear of loss, forgetting that it cannot lose its own. Could we not simplify, think you, if we saw death drawing near, a sheaf of wasted years in his hands? In the death moment, when those years flash across the abnormally quickened brain; when the evolutionary purpose stands clearly forth; when the life result is tested by that purpose and we see that the intent and impulse of the reincarnating ego have been crushed under innumerable petty details of a life foreign, for the most part, to the real needs of souls, how is it with us then? A dread accountant appears, the scales of justice in his hands, a look of alienated majesty on his brow. It is the Master, the Higher Self, denied, outraged, to whom we cry: "I have sinned before heaven and against thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son."
What, then, is this evolutionary purpose? Listen! We are the Sons of God. May we reverently consider the Deity.
There are things too mysterious, too awful for expression. Therefore when speech is attempted, others say, "But I know that." They do not know it, for to know it is to be and do it. Therefore they only know some minor differentiation, which they still neglect.
Consider with me the One Life. "The One Ray multiplies the smaller rays. Life precedes form, and life survives the last atom of form. Through the countless rays proceeds the Life-Ray, the One, like a thread through many jewels." This Ray is the Mystery. It is a conscious Flame. It vibrates in the Dark Centre; it arises; it flashes forth; it is the Knower; it swallows up the merely human consciousness and sets itself on high, the Crest jewel of Wisdom.
There is only one way of study. It is this. We must permit that Power to set the lower mind aside. It is ready, every hour of our lives, to declare the evolutionary purpose, the next step; our part is to listen. How then shall we listen and how attract the voice of the Power?
The first step is Resignation. That we know. It is the instant, unceasing acceptance of all results, as fruits of the Law. The next step is Devotion. It evolves causes of a nature sufficiently selfless and pure to ensure higher results. They are higher, insomuch as they make nearer approach to the universal. This Devotion is the interior preparation of a ground in which the spirit can freely act. By it we hold the mind in concentration upon the Supreme. We encourage it to remain there. Surface waves come and go, but the deep inner attitude invites the Power. Even in the outward it acts, as such thought directs the attractive and assimilative processes of bodies and organs. The myriad atoms, each a life, which we absorb every instant, are for or against the evolutionary purpose as our thought is with it or withdrawn from it.
A formula cannot be given, but we can make an approach to one. Krishna said: "With all thy heart place all thy works on me; prefer me to all things else; depend upon the use of thy understanding and think constantly of me; for by doing so thou shalt, by my divine favor, surmount every difficulty which surroundeth thee." Even in the tumult of our lives this can be done. We must treat our bodies and minds as weak places to be strengthened and upheld. Therefore religious observance is useful. Begin the day with an instant of devotion, and end it so. Standing, with reverential attitude of body and mind, repeat aloud some verse of the scriptures, the mind fixed on the Higher Self, or on the One Life, the aggregate of these selves. Such texts have a life of their own; their spoken word will quicken ours. "The ever unknowable and incognizable Karana alone, the Causeless Cause of all causes, should have its shrine and altar on the holy and ever untrodden ground of our heart — invisible, intangible, un-mentioned, save through 'the still small voice' of our spiritual consciousness. Those who worship before it ought to do so in the silence and sanctified solitude of their Souls, making their spirit the sole mediator between them and the Universal Spirit".. (1) It is useless to say that we must take others with us. "The soul goes alone to The Alone." Having thus set the vibrations for the day, let the student consider the One Life in all life. Let him study every event, referring all to the action of the currents of that Life, and not to the centres through which it speaks. Men are but ganglionic centres, repeating the nerve-auric impulse and passing it along. That is to say, they are this for the most part: there are souls who have achieved their higher being. The student should form the habit of observing the Life waves, the manifestations of Life, as one. Consider the action of the Life principle in all things. In food, in air, light, sound, persons, events, the human heart; let him refer all things back to it, back to the plane of force, and try to sense them on that plane, to see Krishna in all. This service is no sinecure. But the Lord will repay. Strange lessons will be learned. Life will be seen as made up, not of persons and events, but of manifesting currents, some of which may be rejected and some accepted at the bidding of the inner voice. It alone should command, and not probabilities, eventualities, or temporizing. He who asks, of every crisis, but the simple question, "What is my duty?", and does that regardless of events, to that man the gods appear. He will often find that we do many things because the Life impulse is checked by some counter current of sympathetic attraction, which, by contrary vibration in specific centres, blocks its way. Then the general current urges the accomplishment of the thought or action, in which accomplishment the counter current finds equilibrium, is neutralized, and the main current is re-established. This is the impulse of Nature. If we recognize the counter attractions as Karmic illusion, and do not pour our mind into their moulds, the attractions disappear because we have fallen back upon the higher one, the Universal Life, whose flow in us we have increased until it sweeps all obstacles away.
Thinking thus always of the One Life in the outer circumstances of our days, there is still another thing we can do. The Deity is always manifesting in us, as everywhere. It impels us by means of impulses springing deep within us and registered upon the consciousness; registered further upon the brain in the proportion in which that brain is prepared to receive it. This preparation consists in keeping the thought turned expectantly toward The One. We need to keep watch for its commands; to learn to distinguish these from lower impulses, suggestions from without, so to say. Above all, we need to obey them. Increase and continuance come from use. While we fulfill the real duties of external life (which are fewer than we think), this interior watch can be kept up. We can be observant of all the impulses arising in us. Who has surprised the swift Will upon its hidden throne, or Motion, the power behind the throne? Only the man who has waited upon the gods. We are here for the purposes of soul.
At first we shall make mistakes in action, but soon an uneasy, subtle undercurrent of warning or dissatisfaction will accompany action which has not been suggested by the true Source. In practical occultism, regular chelas of a group set down all the events of each day; these are compared, and a guiding current is soon seen. Soon they distinguish this from every other by its tendency; in the unencumbered field it manifests in glory and power. This course must be followed by him who desires to avoid the death cry of a wasted life. He must also give a fixed time daily, were it but five minutes, to the consideration of The One. He must hold this ground sacred against every invasion. If he be so fortunate as to know the face of a Master, let him bring that before him as an embodiment of the Deity, trying to see it clearly before him in every free moment. "If it be a real Master, he will send his voice. If not, it will be the higher self that will speak." This subconsciousness, this undercurrent of fixed attention, of revolution around the One Life, can be cultivated and enlarges our orbit.
The true student will not speak of the Unknown One. He will be devotional in attitude and in manner when studying high themes. Such habits train the body and free the mind. The place of study should be as simple as possible, and due regard should be had to the making or breaking of currents, for these are the messengers of the gods. At such times all externalities should be firmly set aside, and a place cleared in life for the use of the Deity, nor should others be permitted to overrun this place, whether in opposition or in love. Example is our highest duty. We must point out the Star of the Law. If we allow the pain of another — pain unrighteous — to draw us from our duty to that other and to all, we have in so far helped him along the path of future despair. True Love is Wisdom. Is not my best goal that of my comrade also? Then I am not to linger in delights of self with him, but to draw him up to the light. Will he not come? Then I must go on and do my duty. His pain is resistance to Law,
It is a sad truth that the love of friends and associates often binds them and ourselves. A true lover of humanity says to the Beloved: "The Soul is free. Be free, Beloved! Wait upon the inner impulse; follow it alone. If thou art mine, I cannot lose thee. Spiritual gravitation makes for us. If not mine, I relinquish thee to thine own ray. Even so, thou art mine, as all are myself and thee in the One. I question not thine impulse, thine act. Come; go; do; abstain. The same law is mine." Rich rewards, revelations unguessed await him who loves thus. It is the only right Love. For if I tell another he is free to do as he will, and yet question the wisdom of his impulse or display my pain, is the liberty real? Not so. If I feel pain, it is my service to conquer that ignorance. If he errs, then he learns that lesson. Oh! for a wider trust in the Law. Then the Deity would speak. The life would not be overlaid with material shapes and forms of fear. It congests in these moulds. Obeyed every hour, the evolutionary law would manifest. Alas, my comrades! These friends cling to old observance and diurnal habit because in them they know us; they take these to be our established character, the guarantee of our love, and fear to lose us by losing these. And we do the same thing.
I make a great call for Freedom. I raise this standard reverently. Not license attracts me, but Freedom under Law. Freedom to clear a spot where we may listen, hear, obey. That spot Arjuna was told to sit upon because it was his own. Freedom to lop off the excrescences of life; errors of action, errors of thought. Freedom to speak the real mental fact now present to us, without encountering the wounds of affectional habit. Freedom to accept facts as they are, without personal tincture or emotion, so that we may study their meaning with our comrades, accomplishing thus a higher bond, with hearts that accept the freedom of soul. If any others are pained by the Soul's obedience to the laws of her Being, it is our slavery and not our souls they love. Each should see and desire to unveil the higher nature of the other, that God may become manifest in him. The Power only manifests in the free. A soul denied essential freedom, in escaping at death, appeals to the great ones to witness its wrongs, and the Lipika record the penalties of the Law. Mistakes made through "Love" (too often mere attraction or synchronous vibration on one or several planes, without root in the highest bond) do not save us from Karmic retribution. True Love is Cohesion. The One Ray is known also as Eros, because it expands freely to all; freely expands, freely obeys the impulse given by the Eternal. No Love is worthy of the name which is not a sub-ray or copy of That, and "perfect Love casteth out fear." No life so environed that it cannot prepare for the Power. We say we desire the Light and the Path, but we do not use the keys given us, while yet we ask for more, for other ways. There is only one way, and it will be harder to take in each successive life after man has been offered the keys and refrains from using them. We can never break away from the Material, to turn upward, without a shock. It will never be easier than it now is, to cut our way through. Thus in the death-watches spoke a voice to me. The eloquence of wasted lives cries aloud to all the nights of Time. It has cost others blood and tears to learn these things. May you learn at less cost. May the One Ray shine upon us. May we know our whole Duty. AUM.
1. Secret Doctrine, I, 280 (return to text)
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