The Theosophical Forum – December 1940

LIFE'S DAILY BREAD — Irene R. Ponsonby

Thomas Mann defines "Truth, and the freedom to seek it as "life's daily bread"; thus simply expressing a series of profound ideas which claim further consideration.

How much we lose when we limit the term 'daily bread' to nourishment for the physical body alone! Experience in various fields of investigation has proved that food is not the all-important need we often think it is. Man has many vital needs which food for the body does not satisfy. And here the septenary man is meant. Water and air are vital to life, but creative occupation for the mind and hands is also of paramount importance. Had we cyclic perspective we would realize that soul-starvation is a far greater menace to this generation than is physical malnutrition. Man's mind and body are the pampered darlings of our age: his soul has long been called the orphan of the ages by the wise! Our bodies are the periodic earthly vehicles of our souls. They merit our care, and cannot be held responsible for the sins of the desire-ridden mind-man; yet they last but a single life-span as bodies, whereas the human soul or ego exists in progress or deterioration throughout the entire series of cycles of a planetary manvantara. An evolved soul can function without marked limitation in a frail body, but an impoverished soul is incapable of fashioning a healthy body, however well nourished the actual physical atoms may be. The body often gains more from our casual neglect than it gains by our ignorant interference; and definitely benefits when freed from the wear and tear of our undisciplined minds, as is evident in some cases of insanity.

If truth be the bread of life, it stands to reason that that in man which is nourished by truth must be akin to truth. This points to a fundamental teaching of Theosophy voiced by the intuitive of all ages and cultures:

Truth is within ourselves; it takes no rise
From outward things, whate'er you may believe.
There is an inmost center in us all
Where truth abides in fulness; . . .

wrote Robert Browning in Paracelsus. There in that divine center, the core of man's being, all the qualities and capacities of the Universe inhere, for the most part in latency. It requires the stimulus, the nourishment of the good, the true, and the beautiful, to bring these faculties and attributes which imbody Truth in its cyclic manifestation, into fruition. The recognition of Truth and the freedom to seek it are quickening forces.

Truth per se is as all pervasive and all encompassing and eternal as Life itself, but man's immediate conception is limited to the confines of his not yet fully evolved consciousness, which for most of us extends little beyond the scope of the manifested world. The vision of the sage is commensurate with the Galaxy, and tracing its horizons his gaze keeps pace with the cycles.

Therefore freedom in which to seek truth means not merely the possession of leisure, the opportunity for research in a favorable environment, and a will set to attain. It implies judgment, discrimination, and altruism, for one blinded and misguided by ignorance and prejudice is enslaved. It presupposes freedom to receive, receptivity, and to give; a mutual sharing in the benefits of the Universe. Only Truth so acquired can be life's daily bread!

Let us build for the day when this definition will form the criterion upon which civilization will be judged.

Theosophical University Press Online Edition