That which in the beginning is as poison and in the end as the water of life. . . . — The Bhagavad-Gita, ch. xviii
This is an age when personality is the supreme fetish. Everywhere, in salons and offices, in marriage and in the pulpit and in almost every human relationship, we are all trying to "get by on our charm." Schools of pseudo-psychology for the cultivation of an irresistible personality flourish by the score. It reminds one of a phrase used by Katherine Tingley as a title for one of her Temple lectures: 'The World Upside Down.' For that is what it amounts to. It is an inverted psychology. It represents our failure to sense the real meaning of things, the basic elements of life and human nature which we must understand and master before we can solve the appalling problems which beset the individual and the world.
The solution of this difficulty is to turn things right side up again. Theosophy has given us the method in the teachings about impersonal love. Perhaps there is no expression in Theosophical literature which is so little understood by the inquirer as 'impersonality.' Yet impersonality is the true Elixir of Life — at first almost always a bitter draught, but cleansing, refreshing, life-renewing if often and deeply quaffed.
Impersonality means just one thing — not living in the personality. But here many will exclaim: "Where then shall I live? My personal consciousness is the only part of me I know and understand!" The answer is very simple: By not living in the personality. By setting aside even for one day the desire to shine, to dominate, even at the expense of others, or to 'put across' one's own methods or opinions, something rare and unsuspected will open up in the nature — a spiritual center of peace and well-being. It is there. We do not need to search for it. All we need is to think and feel and act so that it is possible for it to function. One can make a beginning in any moment. Just setting aside the sense of superiority which leads us to ridicule or resent or disparage, even in thought; one effort to further the welfare of a friend before our own; a quiet sacrifice that a brother or sister may have a larger share — anything that one can find to do which will set aside the insistence of me and mine — these things will accumulate into the first push against the once closed door where waits the companionship of the Inner God.
The personality is designed by evolutionary law as a marvelous psychological instrument, but, like the body, it has its un-self-governed insatiable lusts. It is complex and invisible and harder than the body to understand and control. But until we master it and dedicate it to impersonal service we shall continue to be led astray from the true goals of evolution.
Then we often see a corresponding personal dominance in the family, where one or the other parent imposes personal prejudices to the detriment of the children; or in the neighborhood where the rights of 'My family' or 'My children' cause trouble for everyone in the vicinity. Perhaps nowhere else are the qualities of impersonal love more urgently needed than in the duties and problems of the home. Yet if one were to suggest this fact to the average parent, what a stare of outraged incomprehension he would meet! Among nations it is the same — we have only to read the daily news columns to find a satiety of examples.
Some may imagine that self-forgetfulness might result in loss of individuality; but the grandest characters in history, men like the Buddha, Jesus, and Confucius have swayed enormous sections of the world's population for millenniums, just because they were the grandest exemplars of self-forgetful love.
We must of course beware of neglecting our material duties to those dependent upon us or of the tendency to feel in self-sacrifice a sense of power or complacence, for then we are robbed of the perfect result. The spiritual circulations of the individual cosmos are in this way diluted with the old familiar virus and do not pass on to us the pure essence of the Inner God.
Daily practice in impersonal love dissolves the densities that shut us into our self-wrought prison from communion with the Gods. We are permeated and surrounded in our higher natures by the divine Akasa where flow the Circulations of the Cosmos. We might, if we would, know in our own being the dazzling currents of spiritual vitality and joy which are the life-streams of those Gods, the great Nirmanakayas and Dhyani-Buddhas from whom we derive our spiritual heredity, and to whose Hierarchy of Compassion our own Inner God belongs. To find these great beings, to live where they do, to let their spiritual energies flow out through us in love and blessing, we have only to set aside persistently the self-demanding personality. As we "nourish the gods by sacrifice," the gods will nourish us.