The Path – July 1889


All motion runs in cycles; all creation ebbs and flows. If we listen attentively and observe carefully, we may detect the pulse-beats of the world. The inebriate who waits for his bed to whirl around in order that he may jump in, is, after all, more sane than he who blindly runs counter to destiny, and is forever "kicking against the pricks." He who knows nature's cycles and who waits calmly for the rising tide and takes it at its height, is indeed a magician. Indolence and idleness are like mildew to the soul; and yet is the paradox also true, "He also serves who only waits." Men differ less in the sum of their energy than in their methods of expending and utilizing it. Many persons are both intellectual and spiritual spendthrifts: these far outnumber the parsimonious and imbecile on these two planes of action, the intellectual and the spiritual. In much of the instruction in occultism the word "meditation" should read "concentration." Meditation may lead only to inaction and result in imbecility. Concentration may only give rise to audacity. The one may leave the soul to rust; the other to squandering its energy. Only right knowledge can so blend meditation and concentration, repose and action, as to bring about the highest results.

To act and act wisely when the time for action comes, to wait and wait patiently when it is time for repose, put man in accord with the rising and falling tides, so that, with nature and law at his back and truth and beneficence as his beacon light, he may accomplish wonders.

If these principles are true in the field of action and in the world at large, they are equally true in the life of man and in all private affairs. Ignorance of this law results in periods of unreasoning enthusiasm on the one hand, and depression and even despair on the other. Man thus becomes the victim of the tides, when he should be their master. The greatest magician, the highest adept, is never divorced from or independent of nature. He steps aside till the tides of evil omen have spent their force and passed; he stoops to conquer, and presently finds his head among the stars, where one ignorant of the signs of the times meets force by force, anger with anger, and is borne away like drift-wood in the swollen tide.

Hundreds of students have started into the study of occultism or theosophy full of enthusiasm. For a time all has gone well with them. They have breathed a new atmosphere, and for a time seemed to inhabit a new-world; but alas! the tides receded, and they have been carried far out on the sea of doubt, blinded by the winds of fate and overwhelmed by the waves of passion. Their enthusiasm was all feeling, their zeal only emotion. The question always arises with those who know these treacherous tides, "Has he come to stay?"; and it were well if every seeker would ask of his own soul this question before committing himself to any action. Having once set sail on this ebbing and flowing sea, it would be well to remember that low tide is sure to come. One is apt to imagine at these times of depression that the inspiration is gone forever, and that the rocks thus left bare and the beach strewn with wrecks will never again be covered by the life-giving waves. The searcher must learn to hold steady, and to sit still and wait. Presently he will hear the murmur of the coming tide. It will not meet him far out on the barren shoals and so engulf him all unprepared, for he will have waited its coming, knowing that it responds to law. It is thus that knowledge directs enthusiasm and prevents discouragement. It is thus that the helpless victim of the tides may become indeed their master.

Enthusiasm thus wedded to despair, by real knowledge becomes intelligent power. Such power is available at all times. It triumphs in the midst of apparent defeat, and in the hour of victory is not puffed up with the winds of pride, but, like a brave ship with the hand of a master at the helm and the compass well in view, baffles both wind and tide.

But for the winds and tides the ocean would be but a stagnant sea of death. Even so with human life. Action without motion would be impossible, and both of these also imply rest. We should not be like dead leaves borne up and down by the tides, but like brave swimmers, borne high by crested wave, grasp firmly the vantage gained and wait patiently the returning tide.

The Path