The Theosophical Forum – March 1938


In the March Forum I spoke of those Great Ones who are fully ensouled men, and also of the majority of men and women who are as yet soulless; and by this latter term I did not mean "lost souls." Now when you understand what "ensouling" is, you understand the meaning and substance of the chela-path. The chela is one who is ensouling himself. The Master is a fully ensouled man. The Buddha is a Master with the light of the Spirit illuminating his soul, one in whom the Spirit with its refulgent glory increases the already great splendor of the ensouled man.

The path of chelaship is a process of ensouling "soulless" people. Such "soulless" people fill our cities, our towns, our hamlets, our homes. Every one of us, in those moments when he is no longer a "soul" but lives only in the four lower principles of his being, is for the time soulless; that is the meaning of it: the human monad is no longer active in him. A lost soul, on the other hand, is one who no longer has even the possibility of reunion with the divine, the Spirit, the Buddha, the Christ, within himself. A lost soul drops to the Pit. When the great Syrian Sage, Jesus, said, "He who gives up his life for my sake" — for the sake of the Buddha, the Christ, within himself, within each one of us — "shall find his life," he meant that even in the most ordinary of us, feebly in the beginning, lives the Christ within, continuing to live as an inmost being; and that as time passes and the man draws nearer to the inmost center of his being, he becomes gradually ensouled, a leader; then a Buddha; and upon the Buddhas shines the light of eternity. It is as simple as that.

Soulless people are not wicked. They are just drifting, sleeping, unawakened. They live more or less in the four lower principles of the constitution. But the chela is the man who begins by will and effort and thought and devotion and love for all that is, great and small, to ensoul himself; and he rises along the chela-path precisely in the ratio in which he ensouls himself ever more greatly.

I use the term "ensouling" because it is a simple term amenable to understanding. I have deliberately avoided using a term which might require lengthy explanatory comment. The desire is to suggest rather than to give an explicit teaching.

I will try to give you what to me at least seems to be a graphic illustration of what ensouling means. We human beings are composite entities. We have a divine and a spiritual and a human and a beastly side to us, as well as the wretched physical body which suffers so often unjustly because of the crimes committed upon it by our erratic, vagrant, wandering, passionate, lower human aspect: the lower emotional and mental principles in us. These four lower principles are the human animal. Pause a moment in thought. Being a human animal it is superior to the beast-animal, because throughout the former there is an instinct of humanity. Nevertheless this human animal, when the man lives as a man, should be ensouled by the humanity of the man. When a man lives solely in his four lower principles he is less than a true man. He merely vegetates. He exists. He has no chance for immortality, none whatsoever, because there is nothing immortal in the four lower principles of us. But the Human Monad, the vehicle of the Spiritual Monad, or to put it otherwise, the Human Soul, the vehicle of the Spiritual Soul, has a great chance for conscious immortality.

When a man lives in his Human Monad the four lower principles are ensouled. He is a full man then, consciously living and happily living in such fashion as to bring no bitter regrets. There is the test. It does not mean a man who is perfect, or that the man has no temptations. Certainly not; because we are all human. The four-principled man succumbs to temptation usually because he is not ensouled by the humanity of himself. The humanity-part of ourselves, to use easily understood language, the Human Monad, has more chance of conquering temptation than of succumbing to it; and when I say temptation I do not mean passion only; I do not mean physical passion only; I mean all kinds of temptation. Overweening ambition, only to be gratified at others" cost is one common vice today; selfishness in any of its manifold forms; egoism, a hydra-headed thing; uncontrolled anger — all these things are less than human, but are the lower human; less than the higher human, less than the truly human.

So then, ensouling means living those things which we intuitively and instinctively sense belong to the better part of us. That is all there is to it: living in the Human Soul instead of in the human animal soul: to speak technically, living in the Buddhi-Manas instead of in the Kama-Manas.

Our streets are packed with soulless beings in this sense, vacillating in character like the winds of heaven, without firmness of will, without even convictions, moral convictions especially, changeable as weather-cocks, pulled hither and yon by every passing gust of temptation of any kind. They are less than human. They are soulless — which does not mean that they have no soul; but it means that the soul within them is not operative; it is not active; it does not manifest itself. Look into the eyes of these people: there lacks the wonderful shine of the soul which, once seen, you will always recognise.

Every kindly act you do marks you as by that much ensouled, if it is an act which springs from the heart and not merely from the egoistic wish to show off. Every time you conquer a temptation, which if yielded to you know perfectly well will debase you in your own eyes, even if your fellows do not know of your fall: every time you conquer it you live in the human soul, you are by so much ensouling yourself. Every time you conquer an impulse to do a selfish act, a deed with selfish thought for your own benefit, then you are by so much ensouling yourself.

We shall be fully human, fully ensouled, in the Fifth Round. At the present time we can be so by effort and aspiration. The vast majority of mankind are soulless in the technical sense that we understand. The soul is there but they won't live in it; they won't make it themselves. They prefer to live in the animal. And mark you, the animal does not only mean sex. That is only one side of it and a relatively unimportant side. The animal means the grasping, acquisitive, selfish, appetitive, indulgent, part of us, running after this and running after that, without stability of character, in other words without soul.

Set about ensouling yourself with the soul which is yourself; that is the chela-path. The man who succeeds in doing so is a chela. The path is the same for all men, yet distinctive for each individual. Find it.

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