There is a saying that future events cast their shadows before them. This is true, for it could not be otherwise. Events must take place in the more ethereal worlds before they can enter the physical, for every single effect is the result of a chain of causes. It is thus too late to prevent a happening after it has already reached the state of physical manifestation. However, even while it is occurring we have the free will of choice as to how we will meet the consequences. Nevertheless, it would be far better to control the causes in the ethereal worlds, before they reach the physical as effects.
We have heard people say: "Why did I do this thing?" They seemed powerless at the time to resist, even though they knew it was wrong. Instead of guarding every single thought, they let their thoughts roam as untamed horses. Then, after the effects from these wanton thoughts took a definite shape in the inner worlds, the actors strove to prevent their physical manifestation. However, it was then a little too late to prevent some of the effects, for the lines of the play had already been spoken and the recorder had heard them.
While it is true that a considerable portion of ancient causes and their consequences enter into our lives, yet a very vital part of our present circumstances depends upon our every day actions. It is, then, every single thought and emotion which we must either discourage or encourage. This requires a positive and forceful awareness. Without the development of this faculty we can expect little control over the influences arising from the animal man and its treacherous astral denizens.
It is easy to discuss intellectually the doctrine of consequences or the law of karman, as well as self-directed evolution. However, the putting of these teachings into actual practice is as highly skilled an art as we could expect to find anywhere. Without a doubt one will fail many times while striving to attain this state of self-control. Yet if, after each fall, we remain humble, and sincerely seek out the source of our mistakes, we will arise stronger and more sure of foot. The art of putting our Theosophical teachings into actual practice is like walking upon the keen edge of a sword. We must have self-awareness and self-analysis, while at the same time being self-forgetful. Thus one will strive to attain, while at the same time being more interested in the weal and woes of others than in his own. Be it as it may, your every thought is casting its shadow upon the future. Let each thought be more self-sacrificing, humble, and forgiving, and less egotistical, than the last.