Saturday, 14 January 2017

Through the Gates of Gold 2 - Chapter 1 – Part 1 - The Truth of Suffering

This opening section is a kind of subtle updated formulation of the Buddhist Four Noble Truths (the questioning of the nature of sensation, pleasure and pain was prevalent in all of the ancient western schools of philosophy as well, from Socrates to Epicurus). We want to avoid the pains and miseries of life; but one cannot accomplish this by becoming indifferent and negating feeling and sensation. We crave life because of the sensations we experience. Therefore the key is to consider how to deal with this desire for sensation. And so there is proposed the path of the science of life:

”Would it not be a bolder policy, a more promising mode of solving the great enigma of existence, to grasp it, to take hold firmly and to demand of it the mystery of itself? If men will but pause and consider what lessons they have learned from pleasure and pain, much might be guessed of that strange thing which causes these effects. But men are prone to turn away hastily from self-study, or from any close analysis of human nature.”

”Yet there must be a science of life as intelligible as any of the methods of the schools. The science is unknown, it is true, and its existence is merely guessed, merely hinted at, by one or two of our more advanced thinkers. The development of a science is only the discovery of what is already in existence; and chemistry is as magical and incredible now to the ploughboy as the science of life is to the man of ordinary perceptions.”

”Yet there may be, and there must be, a seer who perceives the growth of the new knowledge as the earliest dabblers in the experiments of the laboratory saw the system of knowledge now attained evolving itself out of nature for man’s use and benefit.”

Some relevant passages from Light on the Path:

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. (Part 2, Comment 1)

No man desires to see that light which illumines the spaceless soul until pain and sorrow and despair have driven him away from the life of ordinary humanity. First he wears out pleasure; then he wears out pain — till, at last, his eyes become incapable of tears.
This is a truism, although I know perfectly well that it will meet with a vehement denial from many who are in sympathy with thoughts which spring from the inner life. To see with the astral sense of sight is a form of activity which it is difficult for us to understand immediately. The scientist knows very well what a miracle is achieved by each child that is born into the world, when it first conquers its eyesight and compels it to obey its brain. An equal miracle is performed with each sense certainly, but this ordering of sight is perhaps the most stupendous effort. Yet the child does it almost unconsciously, by force of the powerful heredity of habit. No one now is aware that he has ever done it at all; just as we cannot recollect the individual movements which enabled us to walk up a hill a year ago. This arises from the fact that we move and live and have our being in matter. Our knowledge of it has become intuitive. (Part 2, Comment 1)