Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Jean-Marie Ragon on Universal Masonry and Brother/Sisterhood

Blavatsky had great respect for the legendary founder of the Lodge of Trinosophists and his erudite works are remarkably close in spirit to the later Theosophical movement. (See for example, Isis Unveiled 2, chapter 8)Could there be a mysterious connection between the two? This remains a mystery, as is his trip to the United States later in his life. There has happily been an English translation of La Messe et ses Mystères recenlty, a first. This inspired text from the introduction to Cours philosophique et interprétatif des initiations anciennes et modernes, 1841.

It is said that a building is ready to crumble when you can see its foundations. In that regard, masonry is imperishable; because for a long time it has been agreed and repeated that its origin is lost in the dawn of time. Its temple has time for duration and the universe for space. An instrument of civilisation, that dates from the first civilised people, Masonry proceeds with art, its means are sure, its term remains unknown until one has arrived at it. It has as a basis the gratitude towards the first Being and the study of nature; as appeal and as a veil,  mystery; as a key, allegory; as a bond, morality; as a goal, the perfection and happiness of humankind; and as result, good actions.

Working towards the emancipation of human intelligence, and wanting to escape the shadowy suspicions of civil authority and sacerdotal intolerance of all ages, it has had to surround itself in mystery, precautions and often pointless ceremonies. Always campaigning to break down the obstacles that are opposed to the progress of enlightenment, it has not always had the leisure to build, because of the silence and precautions that have accompanied its march through the centuries; perhaps now we are arriving at a period where its theories will in part be realized. Villains have said, divide and conquer, the first masons said unite to resist; and, under the allegory of the immaterial temple erected to the Great Architect of the Universe by the wise of all climates, and which columns, symbols of strength and wisdom, are everywhere crowned with the pomegranates of friendship.

Masonry is comprised of the elite of generous and beneficient people  from every nation, taken from all social classes. Ignoring distinctions of pre-eminence, it only recognizes those that shine through talents and the virtue of perseverance in a common work is the condition of its existence. A body does not exist without a soul, a society without a fundamental principle of association, and so masonry presents by its affiliations a universal hierarchy based on fraternity, liberty, and equality. The words liberty, equality used by our lodges have a meaning that is foreign to politics, and are purely moral. The liberty of the masons is the reasoned obedience which is opposed to passive obedience, which is slavery.Without equality, masonry falls into inertia; but it is not that monstrous equality, daughter of anarchy, that only brings destructive licence. The regeneration of primitive equality, approved by reason and demanded by social ties, is one of the fundamental principles of its institution, its indestructible principle.

Moreover, masonry never gets involved in questions of government or civil and religious legislation and, while guiding its members towards the perfection of all the sciences, it positively excludes, in its lodges, two, although the most beautiful, politics and theology, because those two sciences divided people and cultures which Masonry constantly strives to unite. Amongst the social confederations and in the shadow of political governments, it founded a confederation of people that established a universal government, always even and peaceful, and which was maintained without coercive laws. It captivates the spirit and the heart by gentleness and the wisdom of its maxims, which are based in the love of humanity. Admitting any virtuous individual to share its benefits, and drawing its members from all nations, friend or enemy, it makes its empire universal.
The rich learn the generous aversion to gold; the military, that they are more fit for loving and protecting people than for destroying them; the politicians, that customs, opinions, and patriotism, and not armies, are the force of States; but that there is no bond without trust, and no trust without just, impartial, and irrevocable laws for all; despots and those inclined to despotism, that the equal to the equal cannot be master of their equal, and those who are obliged to enforce laws are themselves under those laws; citizens, that they must be left to their own devices, to their own merit so that everyone, on their own, can become what they can be. Masons, that they are, in Masonry and in the world, but students of the law; that they cannot nor must they change it; they need only desire it clear and formal, so that it will never need commentary or interpretation, and finally the high initiates, that they must derive from Masonic morality that same advantage that Aristotle was said to have derived from philosophy, and made him do, without being ordered, what others do only through fear of the laws.

When the Egyptian priests said All for the people, nothing by the people, they were right when a people is ignorant; the truth must only be told to good people; but with an enlightened people, that maxim, that formed the basis of the twofold Egyptian doctrine and was perpetuated in Europe until the seventeenth century, is absurd. We have seen in our time, All by the people, nothing for the people, a false and dangerous system. The true maxim is this: All for the people and with the people. It is applicable today. (pp. 17-22)

Masonry is not a religion. Those who make it a religious belief falsify and distort it. The Brahman, the Jew, the Muslim, the Christian, the Protestant, that have their religion sanctioned by the laws, the times, and the climates must conserve it, and their cannot be two religions because the social and sacred laws appropriate for the needs, customs and prejudices of whatever country, are human products. Masonry, whose inspirations are of high import, is the summary of divine and human wisdom, that is, of all the perfections that can bring people the closest to Divinity.

It is a universal morality that fits all inhabitants of all climates, people of all cults. Like them, it does not receive the law, it gives it, because its morality, one and unchageing, is more extensive and more universal than those of local religions, always exclusive, because it classifies individuals as pagans, idolaters, sectarian schismatics, infidels while Masonry only sees, in all those religionaries but people, brothers and sisters to which it opens its temple to free them from the prejudices of their countries, of the mistakes of the religions of their ancestors, by bringing them to love and help one another: because Masons deplore and flee error, but neither hate nor persecute it. (p. 37)

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Theosophy Basics: Will, Force, Matter

Probably one of the most difficult aspects of Blavatsky’s writing are the instances where she presents comparative examples of ancient mythology/theology. It helps to organize this information in charts and tables. On page 56 of Isis Unveiled vol. I, we encounter one of the first instances of these challenging passages – it presents an introductiory explanation of the basic theosophical trinitarian metaphysics, sometimes called the triple logos in later writings, here designated as Will, Force and Matter. The examples can be found mainly in middle platonic and neoplatonic sources.
"the Will which becomes Force, and creates or organizes matter"
1a- Plato Timaeus
** See Movers' "Explanations," 268
Demiurgic Mind (Nous)    
Primal Being   
Idea of the to be created world
1b- Plato
Plutarch, "Isis and Osiris," i., vi.
Father – Divine Thought
Mother - Matter
Cosmos, the Son
2a- Chaldean Oracles
* Cory: "Chaldean Oracles," 243.
Intellectual, spiritual Light of the Father
Soul that adorns great heaven(works of nature)
2b- Chaldean Oracles
Cory: "Fragments," 240.
Mundane God, old
Winding form Aether/astral light
Mundane God, young
3- Philo
** Philo Judaeus: "On the Creation," x.
Divine Reason 
Incorporeal world
4- Theogony of Mochus
Movers: "Phoinizer," 282.
Ulom (intelligible God –visible universe of matter)
5- Orphic Hymns
K. O. Muller, 236.
Spiritual Egg
Aethereal Wind (Spirit of God)
Divine Idea - Eros-Phanes
6- Katakopanisad
Weber: "Akad. Vorles," 213, 214, etc.
Purusha Divine Spirit
Original Matter
Soul of the World (Atma, Brahm, Spirit of Life)
7- Egypt
"Spirit History of Man," p. 88
(Demiurgic Mind)
Older Horus -  Idea of world in Demiurgic Mind
Younger Horus - Idea from Logos clothed with matter

Years ago the old German philosopher, Schopenhauer, disposed of this force and matter at the same time; and since the conversion of Mr. Wallace, the great anthropologist has evidently adopted his ideas. Schopenhauer's doctrine is that the universe is but the manifestation of the will. Every force in nature is also an effect of will, representing a higher or lower degree of its objectiveness. It is the teaching of Plato, who stated distinctly that everything visible was created or evolved out of the invisible and eternal WILL, and after its fashion. Our Heaven — he says — was produced according to the eternal pattern of the "Ideal World," contained, as everything else, in the dodecahedron, the geometrical model used by the Deity.* With Plato, the Primal Being is an emanation of the Demiurgic Mind (Nous), which contains from the eternity the "idea" of the "to be created world" within itself, and which idea he produces out of himself.** The laws of nature are the established relations of this idea to the forms of its manifestations; "these forms," says Schopenhauer, "are time, space, and causality. Through time and space the idea varies in its numberless manifestations."
* Plato: "Timaeus Soerius," 97.
** See Movers' "Explanations," 268.
 [[Vol. 1, Page]] 56 THE VEIL OF ISIS.
These ideas are far from being new, and even with Plato they were not original. This is what we read in the Chaldean Oracles:* "The works of nature co-exist with the intellectual [[noerio]], spiritual Light of the Father. For it is the soul [[psuche]] which adorned the great heaven, and which adorns it after the Father."
"The incorporeal world then was already completed, having its seat in the Divine Reason," says Philo** who is erroneously accused of deriving his philosophy from Plato's.
In the Theogony of Mochus, we find AEther first, and then the air; the two principles from which Ulom, the intelligible [[noetos]] God (the visible universe of matter) is born.***
In the Orphic hymns, the Eros-Phanes evolves from the Spiritual Egg, which the AEthereal winds impregnate, Wind**** being "the spirit of God," who is said to move in AEther, "brooding over the Chaos" — the Divine "Idea."
In the Hindu Katakopanisad, Purusha, the Divine Spirit, already stands before the original matter, from whose union springs the great Soul of the World, "Maha =Atma, Brahm, the Spirit of Life";***** these latter appellations are identical with the Universal Soul, or Anima Mundi, and the Astral Light of the theurgists and kabalists.
Pythagoras brought his doctrines from the eastern sanctuaries, and Plato compiled them into a form more intelligible than the mysterious numerals of the sage — whose doctrines he had fully embraced — to the uninitiated mind. Thus, the Cosmos is "the Son" with Plato, having for his father and mother the Divine Thought and Matter.******
"The Egyptians," says Dunlap,******* "distinguish between an older and younger Horus, the former the brother of Osiris, the latter the son of Osiris and Isis." The first is the Idea of the world remaining in the Demiurgic Mind, "born in darkness before the creation of the world." The second Horus is this "Idea" going forth from the Logos, becoming clothed with matter, and assuming an actual existence.********
Older Horus Idea of world in Demiurgic Mind –- Logos  Younger Horus Idea from Logos clothed with matter
"The mundane God, eternal, boundless, young and old, of winding form," ********* say the Chaldean Oracles.
This "winding form" is a figure to express the vibratory motion of the Astral Light, with which the ancient priests were perfectly well acquainted, though they may have differed in views of ether, with modern scientists; for in the AEther they placed the Eternal Idea pervading the Universe, or the Will which becomes Force, and creates or organizes matter.
* Cory: "Chaldean Oracles," 243.
** Philo Judaeus: "On the Creation," x.
*** Movers: "Phoinizer," 282.
**** K. O. Muller, 236.
***** Weber: "Akad. Vorles," 213, 214, etc.
****** Plutarch, "Isis and Osiris," i., vi.
******* "Spirit History of Man," p. 88.
******** Movers: "Phoinizer," 268.
********* Cory: "Fragments," 240.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Through the Gates of Gold, Chapter 1, The Search for Pleasure, part 7

We have arrived at the concluding part of Chapter 1, The Search for Pleasure, which is a long one because besides discussing the concept of pleasure, there is also a general exhortation to consider the path leading to the Gates of Gold. There is an alchemical style adopted here, with references to the search for immortality via the elixir of life and the making of gold.

The dangers of pursuing sensual pleasures are explained, which is akin to developing an addiction:
When a man drinks his first cup of pleasure his soul is filled with the unutterable joy that comes with a first, a fresh sensation. The drop of poison that he puts into the second cup, and which, if he persists in that folly, has to become doubled and trebled till at last the whole cup is poison, — that is the ignorant desire for repetition and intensification; this evidently means death, according to all analogy. The child becomes the man; he cannot retain his childhood and repeat and intensify the pleasures of childhood except by paying the inevitable price and becoming an idiot. The plant strikes its roots into the ground and throws up green leaves; then it blossoms and bears fruit. That plant which will only make roots or leaves, pausing persistently in its development, is regarded by the gardener as a thing which is useless and must be cast out.

He outlines a path of deeper pleasure, which is the path of the elixir of life:
”The man who chooses the way of effort, and refuses to allow the sleep of indolence to dull his soul, finds in his pleasures a new and finer joy each time he tastes them, — a something subtile and remote which removes them more and more from the state in which mere sensuousness is all; this subtile essence is that elixir of life which makes man immortal. He who tastes it and who will not drink unless it is in the cup finds life enlarge and the world grow great before his eager eyes.” 
One can uses the senses, but in a more spiritualized perspective:
He recognizes the soul within the woman he loves, and passion becomes peace; he sees within his thought the finer qualities of spiritual truth, which is beyond the action of our mental machinery, and then instead of entering on the treadmill of intellectualisms he rests on the broad back of the eagle of intuition and soars into the fine air where the great poets found their insight; he sees within his own power of sensation, of pleasure in fresh air and sunshine, in food and wine, in motion and rest, the possibilities of the subtile man, the thing which dies not either with the body or the brain. The pleasures of art, of music, of light and loveliness, — within these forms, which men repeat till they find only the forms, he sees the glory of the Gates of Gold, and passes through to find the new life beyond which intoxicates and strengthens, as the keen mountain air intoxicates and strengthens, by its very vigor.

It leads to immortality:
But if he has been pouring, drop by drop, more and more of the elixir of life into his cup, he is strong enough to breathe this intense air and to live upon it. Then if he die or if he live in physical form, alike he goes on and finds new and finer joys, more perfect and satisfying experiences, with every breath he draws in and gives out.

Relevant Passages from Light on the Path:

To obtain the pure silence necessary for the disciple, the heart and emotions, the brain and its intellectualisms, have to be put aside. Both are but mechanisms, which will perish with the span of man's life. It is the essence beyond, that which is the motive power, and makes man live, that is now compelled to rouse itself and act. Now is the greatest hour of danger. In the first trial men go mad with fear; of this first trial Bulwer Lytton wrote. No novelist has followed to the second trial, though some of the poets have. Its subtlety and great danger lies in the fact that in the measure of a man's strength is the measure of his chance of passing beyond it or coping with it at all. If he has power enough to awaken that unaccustomed part of himself, the supreme essence, then has he power to lift the gates of gold, then is he the true alchemist, in possession of the elixir of life. (Comments, 2)

There are four proven and certain truths with regard to the entrance to occultism. The Gates of Gold bar that threshold; yet there are some who pass those gates and discover the sublime and illimitable beyond. In the far spaces of Time all will pass those gates. But I am one who wish that Time, the great deluder, were not so over-masterful. To those who know and love him I have no word to say; but to the others — and there are not so very few as some may fancy — to whom the passage of Time is as the stroke of a sledge-hammer, and the sense of Space like the bars of an iron cage, I will translate and re-translate until they understand fully. (Comments, 1)

Here’s a link to a related text, using the same alchemical themes, The Elixir of Life by Godolphin Mitford, which appeared around the same time as Light on the Path:


Wednesday, 27 September 2017

The 8 Confucian Virtues

From the Perfect Book of Emperor Guan's Enlightenment. Other teachings from Chinese culture provide similar guidance on conducting ourselves. Taoism talks about the Five Beauties [of the human character]: Kindness; Proper Conduct; Propriety; Wisdom, Trustworthiness.
1- Filial Piety - (xiào):  Reverence and loving care of our parents – teachers – elders.
2- Harmony -   (hé):  Sibling Harmony, respect for your brothers, to live at peace as brothers and sisters, respectful of others.
3- Loyalty -   (zhōng): Unswerving allegiance in everything you do, dedication, faithfulness, commitment.
4- Trust -   (xìn): Trustworthiness, keeping promises, integrity,sincerity, honesty.
5- Propriety -    (rén) :  Courtesy, etiquette, politeness, manners.
6- Righteousness -  (yì):  The moral disposition to do good, justice.
7- Integrity - (lian):  Being non-corrupt, incorruptible,  taking only what you deserve, having earned it.
8- Shame -  /  (chǐ ): Judge and sense of right and wrong, sense of shame, shamefulness, conscientious, cognizant of shameful action and avoiding it.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Astrology: Fall Equinox - September 22, 4:02 pm 2017

Locked and Loaded
Coming off a nice kite formation and an overall very harmonious chart the week before, after a very intense month prior to that, this chart sends us back into an intense two-month period – as the Pluto-Uranus-Jupiter T-Square aspects are winding down. The summer aspects really shook things up, notably with the so-called great American eclipse on August 21st with events such as Robert E. Lee affair, the North Korean missile crisis, the Texas flood, hurricane Irma and so the chart for the Autumn equinox is less volatile but still quite tense.
Jupiter -Uranus opposition
The Jupiter-Uranus opposition can signify release from restrictions, hence ruptures or departures that bring liberating changes, as well as restlessness leading to drastic changes and as this opposition has marked much of the year, it’s final two months can be an opportunity to pursue, complete and consolidate changes in one’s life.
The kite formation is no longer complete, but there are still many positive aspects around this opposition. Mars, Mercury, and Venus close-knit in Virgo, sextile and trine to Jupiter and Uranus. Moreover, Saturn, highly charged on this chart, also has two strong Trines with Jupiter and Uranus respectively favor many qualities to help this change: Solitude, reflectiveness, expansiveness, pragmatism, clarity, sharpness, contentedness, benevolence, optimism, talkativeness, and creative intellect.  
 I think that these aspects denote overall favorable conditions to manage the changes and reforms called for in personal and societal levels.
Neptune – Mercury - Saturn T-Square
This aspect, however, brings a strongly challenging inhibition to the transformation process with moods such as mental confusion, pessimism, uncertainty, frustrations, dissension, lack of realism, and discouragement. Although the Neptune opposition brings confusion to the normally precise, accurate Virgo sign (Mercury is ruler of Virgo, while Venus is its fall - and the Moon in Scorpio Opposite Uranus, conjunct with Jupiter can bring more confusion) ; this can be attenuated by the Pluto trines and a sextile with Neptune, that bring impetus for new activities, risk, stimulation, alertness, deep solutions, altruism, spiritual searching, psychological insights, and strong love.

Sun -Saturn - Chiron T-Square
Interestingly, Saturn and Chiron are square to each other right close to the solstice and equinoctial points and hence compose difficult aspects with the Sun at both equinoxes and solstices this astrological year. Besides the provocative Mars aspects, this Chiron – Saturn square marks the year with strong challenges to self-esteem, stirring up deep wounds and raising issues that call for strong healing impetus.
So we are dealings with problems of strong impetus for deep structural changes resulting in power struggles, that are challenged by inhibitions and insecurities. As this Pluto – Jupiter- Uranus T-Square fades out over the next two months, it will end with a bang as Mars joins the fray to form a combustible Mars- Pluto – Uranus T-Square to shake things up in November finally fading by mid-December when the holiday season brings less intense new energies marked by Jupiter’s moves into Scorpio. It could be good to consider this very tough Mars aspect as a final shaking of the house, to test its strength, as it were. If solid foundations were built during the year, then the house should be able to withstand the storm.
Although the aspects this year are quite intense and volatile, for those concerned with self-transformation, it is good to keep in mind that it is these types of aspects that allow one  to look at oneself in a deeper way, and to undertake meaningful problem-solving initiatives, and so, if one works at it, they often provide very useful situations for effective self-transformation and individual growth - it is in difficult situations that one's true mettle comes through. In that sense, this chart fits well with the "journey to the underworld" symbolism linked to the Fall season, a period of introspection and facing the darkness within before discovering the inner light.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

William Q Judge on Karma

William Q Judge remains one of the most prolific and insightful western writers on karma and reincarnation in modern times. The following are extracts from an early, classic article:
It is therefore necessary in order to understand the nature of Karma and its relation to the individual to consider action in all its aspects. Every act proceeds from the mind. Beyond the mind there is no action and therefore no Karma. The basis of every act is desire. The plane of desire or egotism is itself action and the matrix of every act. This plane may be considered as non-manifest, yet having a dual manifestation in what we call cause and effect, that is, the act and its consequences.
In reality, both the act and its consequences are the effect, the cause being on the plane of desire. Desire is therefore the basis of action in its first manifestation on the physical plane, and desire determines the continuation of the act in its karmic relation to the individual. For a man to be free from the effects of the Karma of any act he must have passed to a state no longer yielding a basis in which that act can inhere.
The ripples in the water caused by the action of the stone will extend to the furthest limit of its expanse, but no further; they are bounded by the shore. Their course is ended when there is no longer a basis or suitable medium in which they can inhere; they expend their force and are not. Karma is, therefore, as dependent upon the present personality for its fulfillment, as it was upon the former for the first initial act.
The first great result of Karmic action is the incarnation in physical life. The birth-seeking entity consisting of desires and tendencies, presses forward towards incarnation. It is governed in the selection of its scene of manifestation by the law of economy. Whatever is the ruling tendency, that is to say, whatever group of affinities is strongest, those affinities will lead it to the point of manifestation at which there is the least opposition.
It incarnates in those surroundings most in harmony with its Karmic tendencies and all the effects of actions contained in the Karma so manifesting will be experienced by the individual. This governs the station of life, the sex, the conditions of the irresponsible years of childhood, the constitution with the various diseases inherent in it, and in fact all those determining forces of physical existence which are ordinarily classed under the terms, "heredity," and "national characteristics."
It must, however, be remembered that there are many tendencies which are not exhausted in the act of incarnation. It may happen that the Karma which caused an entity to incarnate in any particular surrounding, was only strong enough to carry it into physical existence. Being exhausted in that direction, freedom is obtained for the manifestation of other tendencies and their Karmic effects.
For instance, Karmic force may cause an entity to incarnate in a humble sphere of life. He may be born as the child of poor parents. The Karma follows the entity, endures for a longer or shorter time, and becomes exhausted. From that point, the child takes a line of life totally different from his surroundings. Other affinities engendered by former action express themselves in their Karmic results. The lingering effect of the past Karma may still manifest itself in the way of obstacles and obstructions which are surmounted with varying degrees of success according to their intensity.
These three, physical, intellectual, and emotional, deal entirely with objects of sense perception and may be called the great battlefield of Karma.1 There is also the plane of ethics, the plane of discrimination of the "I ought to do this, I ought not to do that." This plane harmonizes the intellect and the emotions. All these are the planes of Karma or action: what to do, and what not to do. It is the mind as the basis of desire that initiates action on the various planes, and it is only through the mind that the effects of rest and action can be received.

If on the other hand the interest is detached from the plane of sense gratification, if there is a constant effort to fix the mind on the attainment of the highest ideal, the result will be that the past Karma will find no basis in which to inhere on the physical plane. Karma will therefore be manifested only in harmony with the plane of desire. The sense energy of the physical plane will exhaust itself on a higher plane and thus become transmuted in its effects.

It will appear, therefore, that although absolutely true that action brings its own result, "there is no destruction here of actions good or not good. Coming to one body after another they become ripened in their respective ways." Yet this ripening is the act of the individual. Free will of man asserts itself and he becomes his own saviour. To the worldly man Karma is a stern Nemesis, to the spiritual man Karma unfolds itself in harmony with his highest aspirations. He will look with tranquility alike on past and future, neither dwelling with remorse on past sin nor living in expectation of reward for present action.

(Karma, The Path, December 1886)

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Through the Gates of Gold, Chapter 1, part 6

The problem of laziness, idleness, inactivity, inertia is considered to be a grave one.
“Indolence is, in fact, the curse of man. As the Irish peasant and the cosmopolitan gypsy dwell in dirt and poverty out of sheer idleness, so does the man of the world live contented in sensuous pleasures for the same reason.”
The problem is thinking that there is a point that one can stop at when one feels satisfied. But one is mistaken in thinking that this satisfaction will last.
“There can be no final point, for life in every form is one vast series of fine gradations; and the man who elects to stand still at the point of culture he has reached, and to avow that he can go no further, is simply making an arbitrary statement for the excuse of his indolence.”
Of course there is a possibility of declaring that the gypsy is content in his dirt and poverty, and, because he is so, is as great a man as the most highly cultured. But he only is so while he is ignorant; the moment light enters the dim mind the whole man turns towards it. So it is on the higher platform; only the difficulty of penetrating the mind, of admitting the light, is even greater.
The man suffers the final penalty for his persistent ignorance of a law of nature as inexorable as that of gravitation, — a law which forbids a man to stand still. Not twice can the same cup of pleasure be tasted; the second time it must contain either a grain of poison or a drop of the elixir of life.
There is actually little difference between coarse pleasures and more refined ones. The same sense of attachment pervades them all.
“Like the boor he is deluded by a mirage that oppresses his soul; and he fancies, having once obtained a sensuous joy that pleases him, to give himself the utmost satisfaction by endless repetition, till at last he reaches madness. The bouquet of the wine he loves enters his soul and poisons it, leaving him with no thoughts but those of sensuous desire; and he is in the same hopeless state as the man who dies mad with drink.”
A serious crisis occurs when the body begins to falter and one cannot keep on the groove one has set for oneself. Here the author describes what could now be termed the mid-life crisis – one realizes that the body can no longer has the vitality and capacity it used to, and so a yearning to try to maintain the previous levels of sensual pleasure occurs.
“Then comes the barrenness and lack of vitality, — that unhappy and disappointing state into which great men too often enter when middle life is just passed. The fire of youth, the vigor of the young intellect, conquers the inner inertia and makes the man scale heights of thought and fill his mental lungs with the free air of the mountains. But then at last the physical reaction sets in; the physical machinery of the brain loses its powerful impetus and begins to relax its efforts, simply because the youth of the body is at an end. Now the man is assailed by the great tempter of the race who stands forever on the ladder of life waiting for those who climb so far. He drops the poisoned drop into the ear, and from that moment all consciousness takes on a dullness, and the man becomes terrified lest life is losing its possibilities for him.”
All of this results from getting attached to sensual pleasures and thinking these to be the goal. Whereas one would do better to keep on and strive to find pleasures that have lasting, edifying value. Further, the problems of aging are outlined. By clinging to material comforts and refusing to accept the process of ageing, one enters into a continuing state of denial and delusion and the anxiety increases when faced with the prospect of dying. However, at this point, an opportunity for spiritual growth arises as well, the concluding section explains how to deal with this.
Related passages from Light on the Path
If grief, dismay, disappointment or pleasure, can shake the soul so that it loses its fixed hold on the calm spirit which inspires it, and the moisture of life breaks forth, drowning knowledge in sensation, then all is blurred, the windows are darkened, the light is useless. This is as literal a fact as that if a man, at the edge of a precipice, loses his nerve through some sudden emotion he will certainly fall. (Note 1)
Those who are the subjects of Time, and go slowly through all his spaces, live on through a long-drawn series of sensations, and suffer a constant mingling of pleasure and of pain. They do not dare to take the snake of self in a steady grasp and conquer it, so becoming divine; but prefer to go on fretting through divers experiences, suffering blows from the opposing forces. (Note 1)
In the same way that "tears" in the language of occultists expresses the soul of emotion, not its material appearance, so blood expresses, not that blood which is an essential of physical life, but the vital creative principle in man's nature, which drives him into human life in order to experience pain and pleasure, joy and sorrow. (Note 2)