"The Soul Sets to no Man a Greater Task than He Can Perform."
The Theosophical Philosophy is a philosophy of Strength, and the above quotation from William Quan Judge epitomizes this fact, showing the relationship between the life a man leads during any one existence on earth, and whatever faces him in that life, whether it be obstacles and difficulties or the more "fortunate" circumstances of existence. There is no place in our philosophy for unburdening ourselves of our karmic heritage and placing it on the shoulders of another. Nor is there any possibility of our evading what is our just due, whether good or bad.
Far from this being a discouraging teaching, it is one filled with great optimism. We realise, firstly, that we are going to get exactly what we deserve and nothing that we don't deserve — whatever we have sown whether good or bad. In other words we will have the opportunity to pay all our debts to life and reap all its rewards. Secondly we realise, that in any one life it is we ourselves, our Higher Selves, who have chosen just what we shall do or be. Thirdly, as said above, we realise that we have the strength innate within us to meet whatever life brings. Then we feel that we are the masters of our own lives, not driven hither and yon by some outside force, and that we can intelligently direct our own evolution towards the goal of greater achievement which in turn brings its reward of greater ability to help our fellowmen.
Let us see how this is brought about: In any one life we are continually sowing seeds of future karma, and some of these seeds take many incarnations to come to fruition. The result is that when we are on the threshold of any new life, there is a vast accumulation of "unexpended" karma, both good and bad, which faces us. The Higher Self of man has a chance at this time to pass in review this accumulation and to choose how much of it shall be reaped in the life just ahead A soul that has great strength, that is urged by the longing to progress and help others likewise, will very probably want to clear away a great deal of this accumulation, and will choose an existence (always limited of course by its karmic heritage) which will give it the greatest opportunity to bring these things to fruition; while a soul which has not developed the innate strength earned through lives of suffering and endeavor, will probably choose an easy existence or a colorless one, devoid of obstacles and difficulties.
So naturally when that soul comes into incarnation again, what is it faced with? Firstly, nothing but what itself has sown in the past. Secondly, only that portion which it itself has chosen to meet, and thirdly, the knowledge, having made the choice itself, that it can meet what life offers it.
But why do we not remember this experience and realise that what comes to us is of our own making and choosing? It is because it is the higher part of us that sees this picture and makes this choice, and unfortunately all too few of us are able during life to live continuously in that higher part and to retain its consciousness. But the first step is taken if we know the teaching, just as on a strange journey with the path ahead entirely unknown to us, we can proceed intelligently if our course is mapped out in advance.
So when we come to times in life that are hard, when the way seems obscure and the going difficult or well nigh impossible, let us remember that there is something within us that knows the way, that has the strength to follow it, and that it is nothing more or less than what we have earned for ourselves.
This same teaching is also expressed in a beautiful quotation which appeared in Madame Blavatsky's magazine Lucifer shortly after her passing, which runs: —
There is no danger that dauntless courage cannot conquer
There is no trial that spotless purity cannot pass through
There is no difficulty that strong intellect cannot surmount
For those who win onward, there is reward past all telling the power to bless and serve Humanity. For those who fail, there are other lives in which success may come.
1. Reprinted from Y Fforum Theosoffaidd (The Welsh Theosophical Forum), March-April, 1944. (return to text)