Listen to the Salutation of the Dawn! Look to this Day, for it is Life, the very Life of Life! In its brief course lie all the possibilities and realities of your existence — the Bliss of Growth, the Glory of Action, the Splendor of Beauty. For yesterday is already a dream and tomorrow is only a vision; but today well-lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope. Look well therefore to this day! Such is the Salutation of the Dawn!
Let us conduct our lives as though each moment were the most precious in eternity: keeping an endless sacred festival in our hearts and living all the year in the joy of service to humanity. No day is commonplace if only we have eyes to see its splendor. With every nightfall a door is closed for the soul. Other lives and myriads of days will come to us, but never just the day that is ending: never that environment, those moments, those opportunities. They are gone, and long cycles of effort must be traversed before what they offered can return. This very day we can make or mar our lives. We can fill all the hours of it with such powerful affirmation of our hopes that they will become the world's hopes and the illumination of all life. No duty can come to our hands in it but will bring us the possibility of doing kingly service.
Hence the importance of our first thoughts upon waking. If one rises in the morning in a mood through which the soul can express itself, one is at peace during the whole day. Remember how great is the creative power of the imagination. Build up with it, upon waking, a picture of hope and joy, lay aside all that belongs to the lower self and, going up into the temple of the heart, dedicate the day to self-purification — and you invite an invasion of the gods. But rise with the brain-mind dominant and a day of perplexing difficulties awaits you.
Many of the greatest minds, in spite of all their knowledge, have come down in history as failures because they never found the inspiring light of the soul. They faltered and failed because they had been straining the brain-intellect — living wholly in that side of their nature and ignoring the sustaining spiritual power. The brain-mind is apt thus to exhaust itself in research and vain endeavor. We lose our way when we turn from the path of spiritual discovery.
Others, again, advance to a certain point and then hesitate and fall away because in the limitation of their lower mentality they expect results at a certain time: they must have their rewards, as they must have their dessert after dinner, or they would lose their peace of mind. But the real seeker is indifferent to results, forgets himself altogether in the service of others, nurses in his nature the gentle and earnest spirit of justice, and treads the path carefully lest he should place one stumbling block in the way of those who follow after.
Some are burdened and aged by the consciousness of their failings. To me, to give way thus is the sin against the Holy Ghost. Remember, two things cannot occupy the same place at the same time, and of the two companions, either the angel or the demon must win; they cannot both be in possession. There is great danger for the one who in working towards his higher nature permits himself to dwell too long upon his failings — indeed, to think of them at all is a mistake and a sign that the courage is weakening.
Do not obscure from your vision the glory of your tomorrows by brooding on the gloom of your yesterdays! The brightest of us undervalues his powers. One half our battles are defeats because we have so cultivated fear that we dread to undertake them. The human mind, conscious of its unworthiness, enters the path half afraid and with hesitation and is eternally looking towards the goal instead of taking each day as it comes with affectionate determination. There is a great lesson to be learned from these experiences: dealt with in time they often lead to splendid victories.
So if you are looking for rest and relief and peace, or for the love of your comrades, find what you desire by giving it forth out of the treasure chambers of yourself. Thought is of little value unless it generates thought: by the power of imagination create within yourself the divine warrior. Begin to fashion your tomorrows by shutting out your yesterdays' weaknesses. Go forth into the day and its duties with mind open to the light and trusting in the god within, the divinity at the heart of things, saying of that higher self, I will arise and go to my Father, and to the lower, Get thee behind me, Satan!
There must be shadows, but we have the power to dispel them. When discouragement comes, and doubt and lack of faith, that is the time to bring imagination into play, to invoke the power of silence, to dig into the inner depths of one's own nature and discover there the beauty and grandeur of life, the glory of the law.
(Detail from Reginald Machell's painting, "The Path")
System, self-discipline, orderly habits: these are the things that set the soul free and allow the mind to gather such breadth from its experiences that it comes to see itself a factor in the infinite harmony of law-governed manifested being. We have to learn to conserve our energies if we are to do our whole duty by the world. How much we waste in a day for lack of this knowledge! How we talk ourselves to death on trifles and die of chattering long before our time! What scrapings, tearings, worryings, and confusion the poor brain-mind suffers where there has been no self-training in disciplined methods of thought. The time is coming, not in this life perhaps but someday, when we shall find it difficult to talk at all. Then what wonderful energies we shall conserve for use, in our own homes and day by day. We shall realize how great is the power that lies dormant in us and establish a royal acquaintance within the higher self. We shall no longer worry our brains into uselessness.
Refuse to lose hold of your trust. Preserve it especially at night. We cannot reap the real benefit of sleep if we enter upon it negatively, in ignorance, carrying to bed with us our fretfulness and dislikes, despairs or hatreds. To retire in the right spirit is to set aside the worries that have followed us during the day, to shut all doors that have invited us into realms of unreality, to pass into sleep resting on the true in a mood of utter trust in the wonderful law and mystery of universal life, holding within a clearly defined aspiration for a better tomorrow that we may wake fortified in the strength of the soul's majesty.
Learn thus to conserve energy and the days and moments become ever more and more laden for you with beauty and meaning, until presently the great flower of enlightenment will bloom. At first all may be mystery and a conundrum, but hold the aspirations at heart and the great ideals ever before you, and the knowledge latent in you will open to your search. You will take your position and find in due time the peace that brings with it perfect understanding. Remember that these minds of ours that do so much thinking and cross-thinking and twisted thinking, and lamentable thinking sometimes, are but instruments for the soul, the master of all music, to play upon.
Rest within yourself: do not depend upon another for your happiness. The moving away from the central source of one's inner life and from the duties near at hand has prevented spiritual growth in thousands. It is by endeavoring to do the great things rather than the small that we fail to find and follow the law and to realize that our hearts are pulsating every moment in harmony with the finer forces of nature and the inexpressible vibrations of divine life. It is ignorance of these facts that causes so much unrest in the nature of man.
One of the greatest obstacles on the upward path is extremism: where the brain-mind has fashioned the way and the method, and worked out its comparisons and put forward its severe criticisms of life. There is always a danger in such cases of the dogmatic attitude, and of finding oneself in a rut instead of swinging far out into the universal thought and moving forward along the broad road of spiritual effort. The strain that exists upon the body and mind of the extremist is terrible. Though there may be no motive to do wrong or get away from the true, where there is that intense impulse to be doing something — to be getting a result without learning how or bringing about some quick action contrary to one's better judgment — there at once the whole make-up begins to deteriorate. In weeks perhaps, or months, something may happen that will cause its complete undoing. This extremism becomes in time a mania — a kind of insanity — and the brightest minds are often caught in the reaction.
Safety lies in keeping to middle lines. Do not look for phenomenal occurrences nor expect any startling manifestation through or for yourself. The divine laws do not work that way, but in silence in the inmost part of our being. One must not take a yardstick to measure one's spiritual advancement. And remember that if you drop a single note in a melody, the whole piece is spoiled. So it is in our lives: the perfect harmony cannot exist if a false note is struck anywhere.
A new life must come to humanity, else it will surely go down in darkness. We must be impatient in the knowledge that we have within ourselves divine potentialities and that to serve is to do what our souls long to do, so that all mankind may have glimpses of the blue of the future, and out beyond the shadows and horrors of the present behold the morningstar of a brighter day arisen. For we plow the way for the human race. We cannot move along this path by ourselves, nor advance alone towards the great peace. We may not rest in the joy of being blessed, for that is selfish, but by our devotion must bless the whole world.
(From Sunrise magazine, April/May 1998. Condensed from The Wine of Life. Copyright © 1998 by Theosophical University Press)
Quite possibly our present ordeals may help open our eyes to the reality of spiritual forces in a material world and make us better able to appreciate the deeper springs of the creative arts, which actually are linked to the latent spirituality in ourselves. — Reginald W. Machell