The path to the heart of the universe is one and yet different for every human being. The meaning is that every human being himself is that pathway — that pathway which is builded of thought and consciousness and of the fabric of your own being. It is builded of the stuff of nature's heart. — G. de Purucker
On a beautiful Sunday many people decide to hike up a mountain. There are groups of younger and older people as well as ambitious singles, all with different reasons for their excursion. They choose different ways to reach the peak, yet the goal is the same for all: to write their names in the summit book. Some may already have been to the top several times; they know the way and the difficulties. Some of these may give advice, which the less experienced can take or not — it's a matter of individual choice. Devising his or her course is in each hiker's hands.
Man's path of evolution is something like such an outing. During each cosmic day we are pilgrims journeying through a living universe, for as H. P. Blavatsky says:
The Universe is worked and guided from within outwards. As above so it is below, as in heaven so on earth; and man — the microcosm and miniature copy of the macrocosm — is the living witness to this Universal Law and to the mode of its action. . . . The whole Kosmos is guided, controlled, and animated by almost endless series of Hierarchies of sentient Beings, each having a mission to perform, . . . For each of these Beings either was, or prepares to become, a man, if not in the present, then in a past or a coming cycle . . . — The Secret Doctrine 1:274-5
At the end of each cosmic day we rest. Along these lines we might alter the Old Testament admonition to read: "You shall travel for six days and rest on the seventh" — within the highest, the divine. After the rest period, which is as long as the period of activity, another day of journeying begins with the pilgrims refreshed, renewed. And so it goes from eternity to eternity — a never-ending, never-beginning spiral of growth in which all beings participate.
At the human stage, the main factor in determining our destiny is thought. Millions of years ago our mentality was awakened by spiritual beings, and it is the activity of this principle which distinguishes us from our younger brothers the animals, plants, and minerals. Like everything else in nature, the human mind is dual. Our higher mind strives towards the spiritual, seeking unity in nature. Our lower mind, tending towards the animal side, deals mainly with the world of forms, colors, and sounds, and thus brings forth a feeling of separateness.
In The Ocean of Theosophy William Q. Judge observes that "No act is performed without a thought at its root either at the time of performance or as leading to it" (p. 103). The habits that determine so much of our life are really patterns of thinking, and shaping our destiny means shaping our thoughts. As nothing is lost in the universe, every thought we evolve eventually returns to us according to karmic law. Because all thoughts and acts are recorded in the astral light, the akasic storehouse of energies entering or leaving the earth, once they go forth from us, they can never be recalled. We must face the consequences, but as G. de Purucker reminds us, "By thinking a noble thought or doing a good deed, following upon an evil impulse, although we cannot recall the evil thought or action and undo it, we can, to a certain extent, render at least less harmful the evil that our wrong thought or act brought about" (Fountain-Source of Occultism, p. 36).
Through the ages man has evolved into an independent thinker who can carve his own destiny, and our present stage of growth may be symbolized by the hero or warrior. In legends the hero often possesses a sword, symbol of discernment, or a spear with its point symbolizing wisdom. Thus armed he goes forth into the self-created world of his lower nature. There he meets all his old habits of thought and action under the guise of enemies, even monsters; but he also meets friends, his self-made virtues, who support him in his conflicts. On his quest the hero must free himself of everything that hinders his evolutionary progress and prevents him from reaching his goal, including the monster or adversary which actually is his present self:
Shall we overcome the present self, the adversary which prevents our going higher because it is not higher, it is simply a self? If we do, then we have given the password and we ascend, we pass the portals of wisdom. The adversary is no longer a tyrant. No longer is the initiator examining our spiritual and intellectual and moral credentials, our own self, our own inspiration. The adversary becomes the divine friend, the savior of all men, the serpent of wisdom. — Purucker, Wind of the Spirit, p. 282
To become creators of our own destiny, we must become heroes who transform themselves and meet the consequences of their deeds so that the disharmony they have made is completely balanced out. This is absolute justice, and the prospect should give us hope:
You have infinity before you, eternity. Face it. Thus teaches the god-wisdom: a doctrine of hope, rich with the promise of the future. No man need ever say it is too late . . . Every instant of time is a new choice. As in the past he has made himself what now he is, so in the future he can carve his destiny and make himself to be precisely in accordance with the vision that he has of himself to become in the future. What a grand doctrine! Man is but a reproduction, a cyclical evolutionary reproduction of himself out of the past, in the present, marching into the future. There is your destiny. — Ibid., p. 30
(From Sunrise magazine, April/May 2001; copyright © 2001 Theosophical University Press)
The great struggle must be to open up my outer self, that my higher being may shine through, for I know that in my heart the God sits patient, and that his pure rays are merely veiled from me by the many strivings and illusions that I bring on outwardly. — William Q. Judge