Watch the quick changing mind! The unruly member taking upon itself the mould of its environment. In one aspect we are indeed animals. Let us not deny it. Note the daily life of this our body; starve it, and it becomes mad; feed it unduly and it becomes a sensualist. Yes! in a part of our nature, we are animals. But the opposite is also true; we are Gods! and capable of divine acts of judgment and compassion. Note the real self-abnegation at critical moments, when life and death are forgotten in some heroic act that commands the admiration of the world.
If then we are animals and at the same time Gods, what is the man himself who is between these, with power to identify himself with either; and what his relation to this paradox? This is only solved by a study of the Wisdom-Religion — Theosophy, and it is only the realization of the truths thereof that can help mankind to redeem itself. So there are two realms of consciousness, the one Divine and the other earthly, and the real man stands between — Manas, mind, man, a powerful thinking creature, at one time uniting himself to the low and desire-loving animal, at another aspiring to live with the Gods. The mind is thus dual; the one part pledged to the highest; the other, the prodigal son, seeking self-gratification, eating the husks of sensual desires, until brought into subjection by the higher. Until this is done, man's consciousness fluctuates between the two, but having once recognized the higher divine nature, the choice thenceforth is ever presented between it and the lower life. Such choice must come to all at some time and having once come, knocks ceaselessly, till sufficient inherent strength is gained to face the truth, destroy the tempters, and march fearlessly to the realms of bliss.
It must be a dreadful awakening to all students of life, to find how easily we revert, after reaching to the realms of peace and freedom, to the old ways, the old weaknesses and stupidities. But let us take courage, and while such reversions do occur, let us always press forward, always battle against the opposing forces which are themselves a proof of our onward march. If only occasionally we can so still the Brute that we can hear the "still small voice" and grasp the hand of the Silent Warrior, let us remember that He is always near; let us realize that all our trials and temptations and failures even, are but so many lessons for the Soul.
But wherein lies the cause for these failures? Why after a special exhibition of some high sentiment, some great aspiration after self-conquest, do we find ourselves baffled, bruised and smitten to the ground? Because surely we have invoked the battle and brought before us the very powers of darkness that we are pledged to fight. Because, perhaps more than aught else, we have not yet fully recognized the subtle forces of the mind which, for so many centuries, has been the slave to the lower self of vanity, to acquisition of temporal power, comfort and sensual enjoyment. It is no wonder that we should find some difficulty in staying the gravitation of it towards these objects. Perhaps when we know better the power of the spiritual will that gives direction to the mind, we shall be more able to use this power for the salvation of the mind itself.
In the meantime let us always strive to give the proper occupation to the mind. This we do know, that it is ruinous to subscribe to a mere passing personal whim, for we know its old haunts. If we could but acquire the habit of looking at the personal mind as a wayward child, and then gently but firmly direct it to the desirable objects for its contemplation, it would soon acquire the habit itself of contemplation of these objects and forget the old haunts. When it reverts to the old pleasures the powerful suggestion of the opposite will greatly help to wean it from them. The mere forceful attempt at suppression of what we consider evil habits per se, without the supplanting of something else is useless and will fail. The mere aspiration to be angels without true devotion is useless. But the powerful direction of the mind to contemplate right subjects and objects that may be distasteful to it is useful discipline. "Ah," once said an American general to himself, when riding into a dangerous position, "you do not like this; you fear to go; all right, we will press on still further." When we know ourselves to be souls, the mere changes of death and life, of agreeable and disagreeable, of pain and pleasure what are they but the little scenes through which we move on the great pilgrimage? Take courage then, my soul, for in Time's fullness all victories will be thine!
We ofttimes feel disposed to treat our resolutions with a relapse. The God is forgotten and the fool pampered. These quick changes surely must always be remembered in the pilgrimage. Have we not all experienced at times that, after a few days of peace and blessedness and high endeavor, a small voice has whispered, would ten minutes' enjoyment injure us? let us relax for one small hour! Thus the lower personal man subtly argues. Then all the powers of selfish gratification hasten to the field, and the soul is surrounded by the host. The illusive picture of pleasure or ambition fills our horizon, our steadfastness is tried to the utmost. Why should we not let ourselves go; why should we not gratify our desires? Oh, if only at such moments we can call to our aid the divine side of our natures and send a shaft of light down to the mind! Oh, that we then may draw the sword of will, that we may be strong and steadfast. Not till we have been tempted, and have resisted, can we say we are strong, and in our strongest moments, as in our weakest, we need to be watchful. How needful that we should ever remember the watchword given us by our Leader, Eternal Vigilance! Eternal Vigilance! Let us answer it back again — Eternal Vigilance.