The Theosophical Forum – May 1949


We have all of us sometimes experienced that feeling of slight disappointment when we finally did get a thing that we had long wanted to possess and keenly looked forward to possessing. There is at first, of course, a sense of elation, of achievement and gratitude. But then, with a little pang of regret, we may have felt that momentary sensation of a void, that feeling of something irrevocably lost. Never again to be warmed by that glow of expectancy, that watching of the unfolding of the petals of this flower, the seeds of which we planted ourselves — let us admit it — with such tender care in our mind.

Now there is a particular significance in this. A significance which, under the law of correspondences, we see repeated in other fields of human consciousness. It is briefly this, that our comprehension can only encompass a state of being, not what H. P. Blavatsky in another connection has called a state of be-ness. We can understand an active growing-into, not the state of utter, passive attainment. Action is our sphere of human endeavor. At the end of action there looms up the distant, ultimate goal, which to us is an impenetrable and implacable void, a nothingness of which we cannot even say that it is not because there is nothing there that can either be or not be.

When deep in ourselves we sink the plummet of our searching mind to find the essence of our being, we find beyond the heavy layers of our emotions and our habit-conditioned thinking, something that forever observes our very observations and all the varied field of our thoughts and actions — our true, eternal self. Somehow it is loose from, and yet tied to, this body of ours. It is like a star in heaven tied to the dragnet of our physical, emotional and mental body.

Why, we ask ourselves, should it be necessary for this heavenly body to be tied to such mortal ballast? Is it that everything that is in itself perfect has a natural tendency to purify whatever it comes in contact with, and that mankind is thus given the chance of rendering its lower vehicles perfect through the purifying agency of the kernel within us that is of God? But this is not an altogether satisfactory answer, for why should it be necessary for the immaculate kernel to be mixed up in the first place with these lower vehicles and be contaminated with the imperfections of the unachieved?

Is it not rather that the Universe can manifest itself to us only within the limits of our comprehension, or, to put it more correctly, that we can take mental cognizance only of that aspect of the manifested Universe that we, with our limited understanding, can comprehend?

Of the stars we have no immediate cognizance. There may have been other races of men that had some understanding of the heavenly spheres as we understand our fellow beings who are near and dear to us. But if such a "feeling" ever existed, mankind as a whole has now lost it. Our senses are only able to translate the radiations of the stars into impressions of physical size and luminosity. And so would the "star" of our ego to which we are "hitched" be wholly incomprehensible to us in the ultimate perfection of its God-like essence, but for our striving towards that perfection, but for the evolution of our imperfect being in a specific and discernible direction, which alone makes the far-away goal intelligible to us. Without this action, without this constant development and growing-into, which gives meaning to our life, there would be no consciousness of the spirit of God. There would be no consciousness at all, for consciousness in its essence is one and indivisible. Our actions would have the mechanical causality of the toy and the robot. For it is only in the consciousness of the whole that we can understand the parts.

This then is the law of our human understanding. Our brain is but attuned to an approximation of the ultimate values. We can never comprehend the ultimate. We can only understand the action which draws constantly nearer, but never reaches its goal. The principle involved in the differential calculus illustrates this quite effectively.

The ultimate goal is to us a mysterious and almost frightening void from which the causal mind shies away.

This is so much part and parcel of our mental make-up, that our mind rebels at inactivity of any kind. And this is what causes the wishing for a thing to be sometimes sweeter than the actual possession, when the wishing has come to an end and we can look forward no more to the miracled delight of fanciful anticipation.

However, even if we do feel at times that certain momentary pang of slight and undefinable disappointment, there are fortunately compensations. For having a thing is not by any means fully knowing and possessing it, and every day we can discover it anew. In every unseen angle of it, in every new use, in every new appreciation of it, again we receive it as a new gift to us. Not until the day has come that we do not notice it any more, that we use it mechanically and fail to derive from it any new delight, does it become a dead thing to us. What we have gained in the acquiring, we shall then have lost in the possession of it.

Theosophical University Press Online Edition