The Path – April 1890

MEANS TO THE END — J. H. Connelly

An esteemed correspondent makes a suggestion that is doubtless good, concerning practical aids in purifying the lower nature, which, as he justly observes, is "easier said than done." He recommends that each one truly desirous of such purification should, for himself, jot down in convenient form for frequent reference such passages from books and articles that he reads, bearing upon what he knows to be his especial faults, as will be helpful in knowing and overcoming them.

It is perhaps hardly necessary that a conscientious Theosophist shall load up his diary with such entries for daily reference as: — "Monday: Mem. Mustn’t lie, steal, get drunk, commit adultery, or kill anybody today." The great laws of abstention from overt acts of conspicuous evil will doubtless be so firmly fixed in his innermost being that a special mnemonic device concerning them will be superfluous. But grievous faults, working woe not only to the doer but to others, lie deeper than manifestation in wicked deeds, and are perhaps oft-times productive of more far-reaching ill effects than what the penal code recognizes as crimes. And against these, by every means, he will do well to guard himself, who wishes to walk in the right path.

They are evil thoughts, the seeds sown by Desire, that soon or late bear fruit objectively in proportion to the energy of their conception; and they are deeds also, the wanton speech, the inconsiderate unkind act, the customary seeking of one’s selfish gain and personal good even at others loss, and indifference to the weal or woe of our fellow-creatures. But not even when these are abstained from is duty done. Good consists not in the negative virtue of refraining from evil. Purposeful thoughts for the betterment of existence for all that suffer life, and the concretion of such thoughts into action to the utmost of our individual abilities, are no less demanded of us than avoidance of positively evil deeds, and will have a beneficial effect, even upon this material plane, well worth all the sacrifice that may be involved in such thinking and doing. Man, for himself, makes benign or malign the astral photosphere surrounding him, and the basis of a true wisdom in the ordering of his relations to the Universe must be an altruism that impels him to right action without regard to his personal harvesting of the fruits thereof.

If the Theosophist finds in his reading passages that so impress themselves upon his mentality as to direct, encourage, and strengthen him in such realization of duty in both its negative and positive phases, of course he will do well to fix those excerpts in his mind and, by meditation upon them, make their thoughts a part of his own being.

One good way for this, doubtless, the correspondent has adopted. He makes up a page of such apposite selections for each day of the week, and devotes a specified time each morning to reading and contemplation upon one of those pages. Others may find superior advantages in different methods, according to their mental training, natural perceptivity, occupation, and personal requirements, and certainly each must make his selections for himself. The same words do not always mean the same things to different persons, or equally impress each of even those minds that have a common comprehension of their meaning.

Well worthy of constant remembrance by those who seek "the perfect way" is the opening of the sixteenth chapter of the Bhagavad-Gita, thus beautifully presented in Edward Arnold’s metrical translation of that inspired work:

"Fearlessness, singleness of soul, the will
Always to strive for wisdom; opened hand
And governed appetites; and piety
And love of lonely study; humbleness,
Uprightness, heed to injure nought which lives,
Truthfulness, slowness unto wrath, a mind
That lightly letteth go what others prize;
And equanimity, and charity
Which spieth no man’s faults; and tenderness
Towards all that suffer; a contented heart,
Fluttered by no desires; a bearing mild,
Modest, and grave, with manhood nobly mixed
With patience, fortitude, and purity;
An unrevengeful spirit, never given
To rate itself too high; such be the signs,
O Indian Prince! of him whose feet are set
On that fair path which leads to heavenly birth!
Deceitfulness, and arrogance, and pride,
Quickness to anger, harsh and evil speech,
And ignorance, to its own darkness blind, —
These be the signs, My Prince! of him whose birth
Is fated for the regions of the vile."

Another golden excerpt, from the second chapter of the same book, is also worthy of firm regard as a law of life:

"Find full reward
Of doing right in right! Let right deeds be
Thy motive, not the fruit which comes from them.
And live in action! Labor! Make thine acts
Thy piety, casting all self aside,
Contemning gain and merit; equable
In good or evil: equability
Is Yog, is piety!"

The Path