There are no insignificant events in life, but all have to be understood and taken in hand, for there is a clear-cut path, a well-defined road from ignorance to enlightenment, could we but find it. In an ancient treatise called the "Book of the Golden Precepts," it is written: "Thou canst not travel on the Path before thou hast become that Path itself." And three basic truths are indicated:
Man is part of the world process, and therefore a responsible being, and in the final analysis is expected to be a co-worker with Nature. But man is a complex bundle of warring elements, it would seem. There is not only our physical body to contend with and train to work harmoniously with the laws of Nature, but there is the thinking, feeling center of our everyday being, which again has its roots in the divinity which is our source.
Most of us need purification through suffering, but the cleansing of the heart is no light task. As William Q. Judge wrote: "All must be overcome, for in this battle, there is no quarter asked or given."
The first step is to do something to lessen human misery, ignorance and degradation; yet only those in whom the flame of compassion is alight past all extinguishing can appreciate that to live to benefit mankind is the first step. Most of us are a mixture of kindness and cruelty. Yet the only lasting peace that the heart can know is born of the union and harmony between our inner lives of idealism and our outer lives. The essential factor for us all then is to face our cruelties and discard them, making our outer lives truly representative of our inner ideals.
To become the controller of life means learning its laws and working in harmony with them. The causes of our individual slavery reside in our lack. Constantly, daily, we are faced with the choice, either of slavery to that which is below, or service to that which is above. When the whole strength of the will is bent towards unselfish purposes, the unruly lower vehicles are slowly brought into alignment, thus permitting an uninterrupted flow of life from the highest to the lowest, making of man a channel of enlightenment and service, a fountain of spiritual strength to his fellowmen.
Nothing is of any consequence but our inward purpose. We are enjoined "to work out our own salvation with diligence." True progress then consists in eliminating that which is imperfect. It has been said that during many lives on earth we experience Passion, Dis-passion and finally Compassion — that impersonal yet ever beneficent law whose workings are thrown into confusion by discord and greed. The practice of altruism requires neither creed, dogma, nor authority, as it resides in the heart of every man. As the Light on the Path has it: "Within you is the light of the world — the only light that can be shed upon the path." Truly, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
(From Sunrise magazine, March 1952; copyright © 1952 Theosophical University Press)
All the great Teachers have laid stress upon the importance, not of envisaging an enormous period of time before you to do the difficult things of the spiritual life, but to pay attention to the little passing moments, the minutes and hours of each day. Therefore they taught: fill the day full; watch over it, guide it; regard each single day as if it were the last day that you knew you were going to live. It has a wonderful effect upon the inner spiritual life, if we live each single moment with that awareness, that watchfulness, which has the feeling in it that after all we would not wish to leave an inharmonious impression upon those with whom we are associated, if at the close of the day we were leaving them not to return. It is an idea that is worth remembering and bringing to bear on every single moment and every single hour of the day.
— A. Trevor Barker