Friday, 25 May 2018

Collective Aspects of Karma and Reincarnation

Since both of William Q. Judge’s 1888 articles on Karma and Reincarnation deal with more collective aspects of reincarnation, i.e. reincarnation with family and friends and hereditary factors, I thought it would be appropriate to include extracts from both:
Hence, if the soul that we do love inhabits another physical frame, it is the law--a part of the law of Reincarnation not often stated or dwelt on--that we will again, when incarnated, meet that same soul in the new tenement. We cannot, however, always recognize it. But that, the recognition or memory of those whom we knew before, is one of the very objects of our study and practice. Not only is this the law as found in ancient books, but it has been positively stated, in the history of the Theosophical Society, in a letter from an Adept addressed not many years ago to some London theosophists. In it he asked them if they imagined that they were together as incarnated beings for the first time, stated that they were not, and laid down the rule that the real affinities of soul life drew them together on earth.
To be associated against our will with those who lay upon us the claim of mother, father, brother, son, or wife from a previous life would neither be just nor necessary. Those relations, as such, grew out of physical ties alone, and souls that are alike, who really love each other, as well as those who harbor hate, are brought together in mortal bodies as now father and now son--, or otherwise.
So, then, with the doctrine of Devachan we have the answer. In that state we have with us, for all practical purposes and to suit our desire, every one whom we loved on earth: upon being reincarnated we are again with those whose souls we are naturally attracted to.
By living up to the highest and best of our convictions, for humanity and not for self, we make it possible that we shall at last recognize in some earth-life those persons whom we love, and to lose whom forever seems such a dreary and uninviting prospect.
(Respecting Reincarnation The Path, August, 1888)
This is the general view. Heredity is a puzzle, and will always remain one so long as the laws of Karma and Reincarnation are not admitted and taken into account in all these investigations. Nearly all of these writers admit--excepting those who say they do not know--the theological view that each human being is a new creation, a new soul projected into life on this earth.
If these two doctrines should be accepted by the supposed legislators, it would follow that no such law as I have adverted to would ever be put on the books; for the reason that, once Karma and Reincarnation are admitted, the responsibility of each individual is made greater than before. Not only is he responsible even under his hereditary tendency, but in a wider sense he is also responsible for the great injury he does the State through the future effect of his life--that effect acting on those who are born as his descendants.
The necessity for recognizing the law from the standpoint of ethics arises from the fact that, until we are aware that such is the law, we will never begin to perform such acts and think such thoughts as will tend to bring about the required alterations in the astral light needed to start a new order of thoughts and influences. These new influences will not, of course, come to have full effect and sway on those who initiate them, but will operate on their descendants, and will also prepare a new future age in which those very persons who set up the new current shall participate. Hence it is not in any sense a barren, unrewarded thing, for we ourselves come back again in some other age to reap the fruit of the seed we had sown.
The impulse must be set up, and we must be willing to wait for the result. The potters wheel continues to revolve when the potter has withdrawn his foot, and so the present revolving wheel will turn for a while until the impulse is spent.
(Is Heredity a Puzzle? The Path, November, 1888)

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Giuseppe Mazzini on Universal Brother/Sisterhood


Giuseppe Mazzini (1805–72) is today largely remembered as the chief inspirer and leading political agitator of the Italian risorgimento. Yet Mazzini was not merely an Italian patriot, and his influence reached far beyond his native country and his century. In his time, he ranked among the leading European intellectual figures, competing for public attention with Mikhail Bakunin and Karl Marx, John Stuart Mill and Alexis de Tocqueville. According to his friend Alexander Herzen, the russian political activist and writer, Mazzini was the “shining star” of the democratic revolutions of 1848.[…]Mazzini was an original, if not very systematic, political thinker. He put forward principled arguments in support of various progressive causes, from universal suffrage and social justice to women’s enfranchisement. Perhaps most fundamentally, he argued for a reshaping of the European political order on the basis of two seminal principles: democracy and national self-determination. these claims were extremely radical in his time, when most of continental Europe was still under the rule of hereditary kingships and multinational empires such as the Habsburgs and the ottomans.[…]Mazzini’s ideas had an extraordinary appeal for generations of progressive nationalists and revolutionary leaders from his day until well into the twentieth century: his life and writings inspired several patriotic and anticolonial movements in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, as well as the early Zionists, Gandhi, Nehru, and Sun YatSen.[…] It was Mazzini’s conviction that under the historical circumstances of his time, only the nation state could allow for genuine democratic participation and the civic education of individuals. to him, the nation was a necessary intermediary step in the progressive association of mankind, the means toward a future international “brotherhood” among all peoples. (Stefano Recchia, A Cosmopolitanism of Nations: Giuseppe Mazzini's Writings on Democracy, Nation Building, and International Relations, 2009, Princeton, p. 1)
From The Duties of Man, Chapter Four – Duties Toward Humanity
Humanity alone, continuous in  existence through the passing Generations, continuous in intellect through the contributions of all its members, is capable of gradually evolving, applying, and glorifying the Divine Idea.
Life therefore, was given to you by God in order that you might employ that life for the benefit of Humanity, that you might direct your individual faculties to aid the development of the faculties of your brother men, and contribute by your labour another element to the collective work of Progress, and the discovery of the Truth, which the generations are destined slowly but unceasingly to promote.
Your duty is to educate yourselves, and to educate others; to strive to perfect yourselves, and to perfect others.
It is true that God lives within you, but God lives in all the men by whom this earth is peopled. God is in the life of all the generations that have been, are, and are to be.
Passed generations have progressively improved and coming generations will continue to improve the conception which Humanity forms of Him, of His Law, and of our Duties. You are bound to adore Him and to glorify Him wheresoever He manifests his presence. The Universe is His Temple, and the sin of every unresisted or unexpiated profanation of the Temple weighs on the head of each and all of the Believers. […]
The only lasting hope for you is in the general amelioration, improvement, and fraternity of all the peoples of Europe, and through Europe of humanity.
Therefore, my brothers, in the name of your duty, and for the sake of your interest, never forget that your first duties — duties without  fulfilling which, you cannot rightly fulfil those towards your country and family — are towards Humanity.
Let your words and your actions be for all men, as God is for all men in His Law and Love. In whatsoever land you live, wheresoever there arises a man to combat- for the right, the just, and the true, that man is your brother. Wheresoever a man is tortured through error, injustice, or tyranny, that man is your brother. Free men or slaves, you are all brothers.
You are one in origin, one is the Law that governs you, and one in the Goal you are destined to attain. Your faith must be one, your actions one, and one the banner under which you combat. Say not : the language we speak is different, Acts, tears, and martyrdom, are a language common to all men, and which all understand. Say not : Humanity is too vast, and we are too weak. God does not judge the power but the intention. Love Humanity. Ask yourselves, as to every act you commit within the circle of family or country : If what I now do were done by and for all men, would it be beneficial or injurious to Humanity, and if your conscience tell you it would be injurious, desist: desist, even though it seem that an immediate advantage to your country or family would be the result.
Be you the Apostles of this faith : Apostles of jthe fraternity of Nations, and of that Unity of the human race which, though it be admitted in principle, is denied in practice at the present day. Be such, wheresoever and howsoever you are able. Neither God nor man can require more of you than this. But I tell you that by becoming such, and even — should more be impossible — by becoming such to yourselves alone, you will yet serve Humanity. God measures the stages of education lie permits the human race to ascend, by the number and the purity of the Believers. When the pure among you are many, God, who numbers you, will disclose to you the way to action.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Through the Gates of Gold Chapter 4 The Meaning of Pain, Part 1





Part 1

Part One is kind of a short prelude to the next three longer parts; but full of interesting considerations: Pain and despair are always hovering in the background of our lives; we ourselves are the cause of this pain and suffering, albeit unconsciously so; we need to regulate our inner life in order to manage these pains (an anticipation of modern psychology); pain can be used for purposes of healing and harming; we are constantly waging an inner battle between pleasure and pain, at one level; but in reality pleasure and pain are co-rulers, so at a deeper level, the pain we experience is self-inflicted and voluntary; this raises the question as to why we do so, the answer being that it is part of the trial and error learning process of balancing pleasure and pain.
"LOOK into the deep heart of life, whence pain comes to darken men's lives. She is always on the threshold, and behind her stands despair.
What are these two gaunt figures, and why are they permitted to be our constant followers?
It is we who permit them, we who order them, as we permit and order the action of our bodies; and we do so as unconsciously. But by scientific experiment and investigation we have learned much about our physical life, and it would seem as if we can obtain at least as much result with regard to our inner life by adopting similar methods.
Pain arouses, softens, breaks, and destroys. Regarded from a sufficiently removed standpoint, it appears as medicine, as a knife, as a weapon, as a poison, in turn. It is an implement, a thing which is used, evidently. What we desire to discover is, who is the user; what part of ourselves is it that demands the presence of this thing so hateful to the rest?
Medicine is used by the physician, the knife by the surgeon; but the weapon of destruction is used by the enemy, the hater.
Is it, then, that we do not only use means, or desire to use means, for the benefit of our souls, but that also we wage warfare within ourselves, and do battle in the inner sanctuary? It would seem so; for it is certain that if man's will relaxed with regard to it he would no longer retain life in that state in which pain exists. Why does he desire his own hurt?
The answer may at first sight seem to be that he primarily desires pleasure, and so is willing to continue on that battlefield where it wages war with pain for the possession of him, hoping always that pleasure will win the victory and take him home to herself. This is but the external aspect of the man's state. In himself he knows well that pain is co-ruler with pleasure, and that though the war wages always it never will be won. The superficial observer concludes that man submits to the inevitable. But that is a fallacy not worthy of discussion. A little serious thought shows us that man does not exist at all except by exercise of his positive qualities; it is but logical to suppose that he chooses the state he will live in by the exercise of those same qualities.
Granted, then, for the sake of our argument, that he desires pain, why is it that he desires anything so annoying to himself?”

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Theosophy Basics: Ethical Principles


This post is uber-basic. Most of the quotes are very-well known ; (googling virtually any sentence in this post will yield a plethora of fine expositions), the only claim to originality being perhaps the particular combination in which this nosegay was assembled:
1-The Theosophical project aims to develop a universal system of ethics based on comparative studies:

The chief aim of the Founders of the Eclectic Theosophical School was one of the three objects of its modern successor, the Theosophical Society, namely, to reconcile all religions, sects and nations under a common system of ethics, based on eternal verities. (Blavatsky, Key to Theosophy, p.3)
 
2-Consulting the great ethical teachings of history from different traditions is important:
The ethics are there, ready and clear enough for whomsoever would follow them. They are the essence and cream of the world's ethics, gathered from the teachings of all the world's great reformers. Therefore, you will find represented therein Confucius and Zoroaster, Laotze and the Bhagavat-Gita, the precepts of Gautama Buddha and Jesus of Nazareth, of Hillel and his school, as of Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, and their schools.key (Key, 48-49)

3-The key aspect of its ethical approach is the relief of human suffering and anything that is helpful in improving the human condition:
Its aims are several; but the most important of all are those which are likely to lead to the relief of human suffering under any or every form, moral as well as physical. And we believe the former to be far more important than the latter. Theosophy has to inculcate ethics; it has to purify the soul, if it would relieve the physical body, whose ailments, save cases of accidents, are all hereditary. (Key,24)

Nothing of that which is conducive to help man, collectively or individually, to live--not "happily"--but less unhappily in this world, ought to be indifferent to the Theosophist-Occultist. It is no concern of his whether his help benefits a man in his worldly or spiritual progress; his first duty is to be ever ready to help if he can, without stopping to philosophize.
(WHAT SHALL WE DO FOR OUR FELLOW-MEN? Lucifer, Vol. V, No. 26, October, 1889, pp. 156-165, Collected Writings, vol. XI, p. 465 (October 1889)

Theosophists are of necessity the friends of all movements in the world, whether intellectual or simply practical, for the amelioration of the condition of mankind. We are the friends of all those who fight against drunkenness, against cruelty to animals, against injustice to women, against corruption in society or in government, although we do not meddle in politics. We are the friends of those who exercise practical charity, who seek to lift a little of the tremendous weight of misery that is crushing down the poor. (Letter I — 1888 Second Annual Convention — April 22-23, CW 9:247)

4-A practical, ‘practice what you preach’ approach is stressed, with a duty-based aspect in a spirit of tolerance, charity and love:
"Theosophy must not represent merely a collection of moral verities, a bundle of metaphysical Ethics epitomized in theoretical dissertations. Theosophy must be made practical, and has, therefore, to be disencumbered of useless discussion . . . It has to find objective expression in an all-embracing code of life thoroughly impregnated with its spirit -- the spirit of mutual tolerance, charity and love. Its followers have to set the example of a firmly outlined and as firmly applied morality before they get the right to point out, even in a spirit of kindness, the absence of a like ethic Unity and singleness of purpose in other associations and individuals.

As said before -- no Theosophist should blame a brother whether within or outside of the association, throw slur upon his actions or denounce him {….} lest he should himself lose the right of being considered a theosophist. Ever turn away your gaze from the imperfections of your neighbour and centre rather your attention upon your own shortcomings in order to correct them and become wiser . . . Show not the disparity between claim and action in another man but -- whether he be brother or neighbour -- rather help him in his arduous walk in life . . .

The problem of true theosophy and its great mission is the working out of clear, unequivocal conceptions of ethic ideas and duties which would satisfy most and best the altruistic and right feeling in us; and the modelling of these conceptions for their adaptation into such forms of daily life where they may be applied with most equitableness . . . . Such is the common work in view for all who are willing to act on these principles. It is a laborious task and will require strenuous and persevering exertion, but it must lead you insensibly to progress and leave no room for any selfish aspirations outside the limits traced . . . . . Do not indulge in unbrotherly comparisons between the task accomplished by yourself and the work left undone by your neighbour or brother, in the field of Theosophy, as none is held to weed out a larger plot of ground than his strength and capacity will permit him . . . Do not be too severe on the merits or demerits of one who seeks admission among your ranks, as the truth about the actual state of the inner man can only be known to, and dealt with justly by KARMA alone. Even the simple presence amidst you of a well-intentioned and sympathising individual may help you magnetically . . . You are the Free-workers on the Domain of Truth, and as such, must leave no obstructions on the paths leading to it." . . .
[(Some Words on Daily Life)The Original Programme of the Theosophical Society, Ostende, October 3, 1886, CW 7, 173-74]

5-A developmental approach of moral elevation, striving for self-improvement to the best of one’s ability is an important aspect:
ENQUIRER. Is moral elevation, then, the principal thing insisted upon in your Society?
THEOSOPHIST. Undoubtedly! He who would be a true Theosophist must bring himself to live as one.
ENQUIRER. If so, then, as I remarked before, the behaviour of some members strangely belies this fundamental rule.
THEOSOPHIST. Indeed it does. But this cannot be helped among us, any more than amongst those who call themselves Christians and act like fiends. This is no fault of our statutes and rules, but that of human nature. Even in some exoteric public branches, the members pledge themselves on their "Higher Self" to live the life prescribed by Theosophy. They have to bring their Divine Self to guide their every thought and action, every day and at every moment of their lives. A true Theosophist ought "to deal justly and walk humbly." (Key, 52)

6-The spiritual aspect of ethics is considered essential and the doctrines of karma and reincarnation are key facets of the ethical perspective:
What I said last year remains true today, that is, that the Ethics of Theosophy are more important than any divulgement of psychic laws and facts. The latter relate wholly to the material and evanescent part of the septenary man, but the Ethics sink into and take hold of the real man — the reincarnating Ego. We are outwardly creatures of but a day; within we are eternal. Learn, then, well the doctrines of Karma and Reincarnation, and teach, practice, promulgate that system of life and thought which alone can save the coming races. Do not work merely for the Theosophical Society, but through it for Humanity. (Letter III — 1890 - Fourth Annual Convention — April 27-28, CW 12, 156))

7-A kind of spiritual evolutionary humanist philosophy is considered fundamental to improving the human condition:
The function of Theosophists is to open men's hearts and understandings to charity, justice, and generosity, attributes which belong specifically to the human kingdom and are natural to man when he has developed the qualities of a human being. Theosophy teaches the animal-man to be a human-man; and when people have learnt to think and feel as truly human beings should feel and think, they will act humanely, and works of charity, justice, and generosity will be done spontaneously by all. (Letter I — 1888 Second Annual Convention — April 22-23, CW 9, 247)





Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Top Posts of 2016


1- Theosophy Basics: Gupta Vidya, Atma Vidya, Brahma Vidya
https://theosophyproject.blogspot.ca/2016/05/theosophy-basics-gupta-vidya-atma-vidya.html
 
2- Persian-Iranian Wisdom - The Javidan Khirad
https://theosophyproject.blogspot.ca/2016/12/persian-iranian-wisdom-javid-kharidan.html
 
3- 10 Theosophical books that changed the 20th Century
https://theosophyproject.blogspot.ca/2016/07/10-theosophical-books-that-changed-20th.html
 
4- The Mahabharata and the Iliad compared - a symbolic interpretation
https://theosophyproject.blogspot.ca/2016/01/the-mahabharata-and-trojan-war-compared.html
 
5- Dr. Trungram Gyaltrul Rinpoche Sherpa – Buddhist Social Action
https://theosophyproject.blogspot.ca/2016/11/dr-trungram-gyaltrul-rinpoche-sherpa.html
 
6- Blavatsky on the I-Ching or Book of Changes
https://theosophyproject.blogspot.ca/2016/04/blavatsky-on-i-ching-or-book-of-changes.html
 
7- Blavatsky's Influence 3
https://theosophyproject.blogspot.ca/2016/05/w.html
https://theosophyproject.blogspot.ca/2016/05/blavatskys-influence-2.html
https://theosophyproject.blogspot.ca/2014/07/blavatskys-influence-i.html
 
8- Gauri Viswanathan on the Mahatma Letters
https://theosophyproject.blogspot.ca/2016/03/gauri-viswanathan-on-mahatma-letters.html
 
9- Seneca's Daily Examination of Conscience
https://theosophyproject.blogspot.ca/2016/10/senecas-daily-examination-of-conscience.html
 
10- 12 Theosophical Books that Changed the World
https://theosophyproject.blogspot.ca/2016/04/12-theosophical-books-that-changed-world.html
 
11- Introduction to the Epistemology of Proclus
https://theosophyproject.blogspot.ca/2016/06/introduction-to-epistemology-of-proclus.html
 
12- Spiritual Aspects of Hair
https://theosophyproject.blogspot.ca/2016/06/spiritual-aspects-of-hair.html
bonus - top views by country:
1-United States
2-Canada
3-Russia
4-Ukraine
5-France
6-China
7-Germany
8-Brazil
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10-India

Monday, 16 April 2018

Meditation: The Four Brahma Viharas


The four Brahma Viharas, variously translated as Sublime Moods or Divine States (of mind) have come to occupy such a central position in the field of Buddhism that they cannot be omitted from a list of subjects for meditation, especially as they are included in the forty subjects mentioned in the Pali Canon.

The four meditations are examined and compared in the ninth chapter of the Visuddhi magga of Buddhaghosha, but the following quotation from the Maha-Sudassana Sutta summarizes the nature and purpose of the exercise. "And he lets his mind pervade one-quarter of the world with thoughts of Love, with thoughts of Compassion, with thoughts of sympathetic Joy and with thoughts of Equanimity; and so the second quarter, and so the third, and so the fourth. And thus the whole wide world, above, below, around and everywhere does he continue to pervade with heart of Love, Compassion, Joy and Equanimity, far-reaching, great, beyond measure, free from the least trace of anger or ill-will." In the Love meditation the meditator radiates his thought-force as it were horizontally; Compassion looks downward towards the world of suffering, just as joy looks upward to the world of happiness, leaving Equanimity to restore the balance disturbed by self-identification with these two extremes.

Love 
Buddhism has been described as a cold religion, but it is easy to collate passages from the Pali Canon which shows the high place that Metta, loving-kindness, held in the Buddha's teaching, and this in spite of the fact that Buddhism is essentially a way of enlightenment and not of emotional mysticism. Moreover, loving-kindness as practised by the Buddhist is a deliberate and sustained attitude of mind, as distinct from a spontaneous exhibition of feeling. Love that springs from centres lower than the creative mind is all too easily replaced by hate, or at least capable of so narrow a focus that hatred of some other person may exist in the mind at the same moment. Not so with the Buddhist who practices the first of the four Brahma Viharas. He first suffuses his own being with unbounded love, partly, as the cynical commentator puts it, because oneself is the easiest of all persons to love, and partly because love must first be built in as a quality of the meditator's mind before he can habitually broadcast it to the world. Having suffused himself with the quality of love he turns in thought to a friend, and finds it easy to suffuse his friend with the same quality. It is suggested by the commentator that for various reasons it is best that the friend chosen should be of the same sex and still living.

The meditator then turns to a more difficult task, the suffusing of some person towards whom he feels indifferent, neither affectionate nor hostile, yet the same quality and quantity of affection must now be sent to him as was more gladly sent to the friend. Next, and most difficult, he visualizes an enemy, should there still be a fellow being for whom he feels antipathy, and even though at first it is difficult to do so without a feeling of hypocrisy, suffuses him with the warmth of generous and  pure affection. In so doing he has no ulterior motive in his mind, though the effect of his action will be to slay the enmity. Finally, he radiates his loving-kindness to all mankind, then to all forms of life, and so through all the Universe until with an intensive effort of the will which carries him far into the Jhanas, or higher states of consciousness, he becomes as it were the very spirit of love, and on return to normal consciousness continues to radiate this power to all around him. He thus, from the plane of thought, joins hands with the Bhakti Yogi and the Western religious mystic, many of whom achieve the same result through purified emotion and desire. 

Compassion 
To the extent that Karuna, compassion, is an emotion at all, it is the Buddhist emotion par excellence. Not without reason is the Buddha called the All-Compassionate One as well as the All-Enlightened One. Yet Compassion is no mere attribute of mind. At its higher levels it includes both love and joy, and even equanimity, for it consists in an understanding love, a blend of emotion-intellect illumined by the intuition. Wherefore is it said in The Voice of Silence, "Compassion is no attribute. It is the LAW of Laws—eternal Harmony, a shoreless universal essence, the light of everlasting Right and fitness of all things, the law of love eternal." Again, in a footnote it is described as "an abstract, impersonal law whose nature, being absolute Harmony, is thrown into confusion by discord, suffering and sin." 

Buddhism has been fairly described as the religion of suffering, for it realizes as none other that suffering is a quality inherent in all forms of life, however blinded those immersed in the illusion of pleasure may be to the limitations inherent in the world of becoming. It is true that suffering is too strong a term to use as the sole equivalent of the Pali dukkha, for the term is, of course, only relative, and covers conditions ranging from the most acute physical and mental agony to a purely metaphysical understanding of the state of incompleteness or imperfection which is a necessary corollary to the law of anicca, the law of change.

But every form of life is subject to the sway of dukkha, and the meditator who is radiating compassion is advised by the commentator to begin with persons in the depths of misery, towards whom the springs of compassion flow easily, and then to enlarge the ambit of his thought to include ever more varied and subtle forms of disharmony, maladjustment and dis-ease, mental and emotional as well as physical, until once more his range is commensurate with the Universe. In such a way he will draw just so much nearer the incomparable ideal set forth in The Voice of the Silence: "Let thy Soul lend its ear to every cry of pain like as the lotus bares its heart to drink the morning sun. Let not the fierce Sun dry one tear of pain before thyself hast wiped it from the sufferer's eye. But let each burning human tear drop on thy heart and there remain; nor ever brush it off until the pain that caused it is removed." 

Joy 
The value of this exercise lies in the effect it has on envy and jealousy, modes of thought which definitely cramp the thinker's mind. The mind which responds whole-heartedly at news of a friend's success or happiness, even though it be attained at the expense of its own, is free from the destructive jealousy which, rooted in egotism, is too often the father of hate. The essence of the exercise lies in being glad on another's account, and is thus an excellent antidote to the narrow claims of self; hence the translation of mudita as "sympathetic joy." Here again, begin the exercise by thinking of a friend who is filled with joy at some good fortune, whether physical or mental, and then enlarge the scope of thought to cover all who rejoice for any reason, whether the cause for rejoicing be in your eyes sufficient or no. 

Equanimity
It is difficult to find an English word to represent upekkha. Detachment is sometimes used, as also dispassion and serenity. The idea is conveyed in the stanza of the Sutta Nipata. "A heart untouched by worldly things, a heart that is not swayed by sorrow, a heart passionless, secure, that is the greatest blessing." The same idea is echoed in Kipling's immortal lines "If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat these two imposters just the same." Its essence lies in rising above the self-identification with others' feelings which is to some extent involved in the radiations of compassion and joy. As the commentator says, "The salient characteristic of equanimity is evolving a central position towards others, its function is seeing others impartially, its manifestation is the quenching of both aversion and sycophancy, its proximate cause is the seeing how each belongs to the continuity of his own karma."

It must not, however, be confused with indifference, which is the outcome of a closing of the mind to others' suffering and joy, and therefore the very opposite of the virtue of compassion. It is in the words of the Bhagavad Gita, "A constant unwavering steadiness of heart upon the arrival of every event whether favourable or unfavourable," and is achieved by moving in consciousness towards a central point of view, so that events are viewed from the source of causes instead of the circumference of the circle where they show forth as effects. Strive to infuse your own mind with this quality, then feel it equally towards a friend and enemy, and so by gradual stages to all forms of life, thus, after passing through love, compassion and sympathetic joy, returning to that inner equilibrium which the outward events of daily life should be unable to destroy.  (Concentration and Meditation, Christmas Humphreys, 106-111)

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Through the Gates of Gold - Chapter 3 – The Initial Effort - Part 3

Here the author delves into the process of growth on the subtle planes:
And now let us consider how the initial difficulty of fastening the interest on that which is unseen is to be overcome. Our gross senses refer only to that which is objective in the ordinary sense of the word; but just beyond this field of life there are finer sensations which appeal to finer senses.


An interesting description  in terms of radiation is given:
Here we find the first clew to the stepping-stones we need. Man looks from this point of view like a point where many rays or lines center; and if he has the courage or the interest to detach himself from the simplest form of life, the point, and explore but a little way along these lines or rays, his whole being at once inevitably widens and expands, the man begins to grow in greatness.


An important point is raised concerning balanced growth, one needs to work on all aspects of one’s being, and not favour one aspect over another,  the image of a tree that grows unimpeded is used:
But it is evident, if we accept this illustration as a fairly true one, that the chief point of importance is to explore no more persistently on one line than another; else the result must be a deformity. We all know how powerful is the majesty and personal dignity of a forest tree which has had air enough to breathe, and room for its widening roots, and inner vitality with which to accomplish its unceasing task. It obeys the perfect natural law of growth, and the peculiar awe it inspires arises from this fact.


And then the question is asked:
How is it possible to obtain recognition of the inner man, to observe its growth and foster it?
Let us try to follow a little way the clew we have obtained, though words will probably soon be useless.


It is specified that it must be done alone and the image of climbing a mountain is used:
We must each travel alone and without aids, as the traveller has to climb alone when he nears the summit of the mountain. No beast of burden can help him there; neither can the gross senses or anything that touches the gross senses help him here. But for a little distance words may go with us.


Next is described a kind of essentialist dialectical ascension similar to the one described in Plato’s Symposium, climbing the ladder of divine love to arrive at the contemplation of universal beauty:
The tongue recognizes the value of sweetness or piquancy in food. To the man whose senses are of the simplest order there is no other idea of sweetness than this. But a finer essence, a more highly placed sensation of the same order, is reached by another perception. The sweetness on the face of a lovely woman, or in the smile of a friend, is recognized by the man whose inner senses have even a little — a mere stirring of — vitality. To the one who has lifted the golden latch the spring of sweet waters, the fountain itself whence all softness arises, is opened and becomes part of his heritage.


Contemplation of an essential idea is described as a fountain of waters of life and this process is what lift the iron bar on the heart previously mentioned:
But before this fountain can be tasted, or any other spring reached, any source found, a heavy weight has to be lifted from the heart, an iron bar which holds it down and prevents it from arising in its strength. The man who recognizes the flow of sweetness from its source through Nature, through all forms of life, he has lifted this, he has raised himself into that state in which there is no bondage.


This accomplishment makes one realise that we are a part of the great whole, that we are in touch with all life, that the whole is contained within ourselves.
He knows that he is a part of the great whole, and it is this knowledge which is his heritage. It is through the breaking asunder of the arbitrary bond which holds him to his personal center that he comes of age and becomes ruler of his kingdom. As he widens out, reaching by manifold experience along those lines which center at the point where he stands embodied, he discovers that he has touch with all life, that he contains within himself the whole.


And this realization carries us to the great waters of life, which are eternal and infinite:
And then he has but to yield himself to the great force which we call good, to clasp it tightly with the grasp of his soul, and he is carried swiftly on to the great, wide waters of real living. What are those waters? In our present life we have but the shadow of the substance. No man loves without satiety, no man drinks wine without return of thirst. Hunger and longing darken the sky and make the earth unfriendly. What we need is an earth that will bear living fruit, a sky that will be always full of light. Needing this positively, we shall surely find it.