The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
November 2000 Vol. 3 Issue 9
In the Mystery schools, those ancient centers of training that the philosophers attended in order to learn things not ordinarily given out, the complete constitution of both man and the universe was studied.
Sometimes man was divided into four elements, at other times into five, but more generally either the three basic principles were stressed, as did St. Paul, or they were expanded into seven. The particular method used is secondary to the fact that all Scriptures tell the selfsame story of God or Divinity periodically manifesting a part of Itself, a portion of Its qualities, for the benefit of all creation. That is why we are here: to give our individual god-spark an opportunity to have further experience through what we may call the hierarchies of life. That god-spark is the very highest pinnacle of our being, but at this stage in our evolution has many encasements of varying degrees of materiality.
The symbol of a chariot has been used to explain the nature of man. The master of the chariot is the divine Self; the driver or charioteer is the spiritual will, the intuition, and the reins represent the human will, the mind. The horses are the desires and senses; the roads over which the horses draw the chariot are the objects of our sense-desires, while the chariot itself stands for the body, the vehicle of our personality on earth. This to me is a striking analogy because of the entirely fresh light it throws on our struggles.
Know the Self (atma) as the master sitting within the chariot which is the body (sarira),
Know again the understanding (buddhi) as the charioteer and the mind (manas) as the reins.
He who is ever of unrestrained mind, devoid of true understanding,
His sense-desires then become uncontrollable like the wild horses of a charioteer.
But he who is ever of controlled mind, and has true understanding,
His sense-desires then are controllable like the good horses of a charioteer.
The desires are superior to the senses, the mind is superior to the desires,
The intuition (understanding) is superior to the mind, the great Self is superior to the intuition. – Katha-Upanishad, I. 3. 3, 5, 6, 10
Simply put, the enlightened man, the charioteer, restrains the horses or sense-desires by intelligent manipulation of the reins, the mind, bringing the senses under the guidance of the intuition or spiritual self, and keeping the chariot on the course indicated by the master of the chariot, the divine Self. We see at once that man is not only guided by his mind but may receive, if he will, the guidance and protection of his Father within. To the degree that our human will obeys the impulses of the charioteer, it will be the servant of the spiritual forces of our nature; just as the charioteer or intuitional aspect is the direct servant of the divine will, the master of the chariot.
Now what does all this mean? Viewing man in relation to the larger picture, the prime factor is that this spark of godhood, the master of the chariot, is at the root of all evolutionary effort. Within man is the power to choose – and we can be certain that the way ahead, whether smooth or rough, will be the very roadbed of experience that we need in order to bring into expression our divine potential.
Withdraw unto yourself and look about. If you do not find yourself beautiful yet, act as does the artist who is creating a beautiful statue. He cuts away, he straightens, he makes this outline less heavy, that one he purifies, until a lovely image shines forth. So should you do. Cut away what is gross, straighten out what is crooked, lighten the over-heavy, labor to bring forth one glow of loveliness. Never cease working until there shines out from the center within you the Divine splendor. – Plotinus
Monthly Discussion Group
"Our Spiritual Strength" is our subject. We will be discussing such questions as: Who are we as human and spiritual beings? Where does our spiritual strength come from – from within us or from something outside us? What can we do to bring this strength more fully into our lives? How can we meet problems, conflicts, illness, fear, anger, grief, and other challenges in a positive way? Why do things happen, to us and to others? Does life ever give us more than we can handle? What is our destiny as human beings? Come and share your ideas!
Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge.
There is a path, referred to time and again by ancient scriptures and sages, through which we may travel to higher worlds, by which we may achieve wonderful things, and by which we may reach God, whatever our personal conception of such a being may be. They say the path is not a short, clear way, but a long and winding road which we must find and tread until the very end. Where can we find this path which promises to be filled with danger, but which we desire to travel and to search for the promise of gold at the end?
Masters of wisdom have taught humanity throughout history that this path is hidden and that we must constantly seek to find it, though it is very near us. While looking for outward ways leading closer to divinity, we often become distracted by those worldly stimulations which seem so uplifting. Physical and psychic ecstasy and intoxication play with us, seeming to transport us to another world where all is delightful, apart from our mundane woes. But the path is much closer than any exteriorly induced exhilaration. It is not found in foreign countries, nor high on a mountain, nor clothed in any outward guises, waiting there for us to find it. It is closer than any roads we may find before us, because it is inside each of us: the path is within.
The secret place spoken of in so many ancient religious writings is actually the interior chambers of our heart – not the physical heart, but the seat of the light within each of us which is the path leading to the core of the universe. Therefore, it is always there, wherever we go, wherever we are. Being within, this path may lead us to higher ways, to higher worlds, to a more compassionate manner of living. All things evolve out from within, an evolution of inner qualities becoming manifest in our life.
At the same time this path, overgrown with the tangles of earthly life, suggests formidable foes we must meet and reckon with as we attempt to reach the summit. These, however, are not visible opponents, enemies without, but opposition within: opposing forces and desires which come from our self. The long battle between our lower and higher natures echoes the eternal duality in the universe. Each time we take a step, we have before us a fork in the road. Always this or that, up or down, in or out – we literally make ourselves by the minute choices made each moment of our life.
To travel the inner path we must be wary of the dangers along the way, but not fearful of them, for we ourselves have placed those obstacles there in this or a previous life. "It is not 'the fear of God' which is 'the beginning of Wisdom,' but the knowledge of SELF which is WISDOM ITSELF," H. P. Blavatsky explained (Studies in Occultism, p. 9). Inherent in that portion of us which reimbodies are the latent effects of causes we have set in motion. These effects are worked out through the personality we assume in each new life.
How do we find this path within us and pursue its winding way? "None can grow in the truest sense spiritually, unless he has suffered till his heart and mind are attuned to the heartache of the world," Katherine Tingley asserted, adding that "Love is the greatest power in the world and self-control is the magic talisman. With love in our hearts, and self-control, we are on the path that leads to the relative perfection of man." The key, then, is love – not personal, selfish, sensual, or sexual love, but wise, unselfish love for all humanity, indeed for all beings, as the Buddha taught.
Once we enter and become responsible, we find it hard to turn back and walk in our old ways. Our motive – the desire to raise the consciousness of all humanity – being pure, we continue on, putting one foot in front of the other, slowly making our way, with determination, to the very end. And what is that end? Gottfried de Purucker tells us that those who follow this path
finally come into direct connection with the all-wise and calm-eyed gods, for that path leads us directly into those spiritual, and divine, regions where is the core of the being of each one of us. – Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, p. 497
So the path within is the same for all, yet unique for each. Speaking of this self-directed path, the Zen master Basho leaves us with a final thought: "Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought."