Spiritual Guard Duty

By Abbott Clark
Let us end the day with more power of thought for self-conquest than we had at the beginning of the day.
Let us close our eyes tonight with a clean conscience, and with a feeling of generous love for all that breathes, which is the best side of our natures.
Let us seek more knowledge, more light, more strength, in the silence of our last thoughts before retiring. -- Katherine Tingley

In the service of one's country, guard duty is so important that by one hour's neglect the whole army may be thrown into confusion or even captured. The same law works with regard to human life. We are all surrounded with inner enemies: usually it is some well-known weakness that betrays us, but sometimes it is at the least suspected point that we are tried and found wanting. This applies in all the affairs of daily life, business or pleasure, public or private. I might almost say, waking or sleeping, for if we go to sleep with a wrong thought, the living forces connected therewith may molest us and bad dreams or even nightmares result, for there are all sorts of enemies of humanity, mostly of its own making, on the astral plane. This plane surrounds us as water surrounds a ship, and our weaknesses act as holes in our being through which salt or dirty water may pour in and a bad dream or bad day result.

What are we going to do about it? The answer is easy: guard our mind, thoughts, and feelings, especially before going to sleep. The wise Pythagoras gave a rule which can hardly be improved upon:

Let not the setting sun reach the western horizon, nor close thine eyes in sleep, before thou hast gone over all the events of the day just past, and hast asked thyself: What have I done today that has been done amiss? What have I done today that has been done aright? Have I injured anyone? Have I failed in my duty? Let not the setting sun reach the western rim of space, nor let thine eyelids close in sleep ere thou hast asked thyself these questions.

Another way of putting this same helpful rule is what has been called "the daily life ledger." The last thing before going to sleep, as one carefully thinks over the day, note how to correct the errors and how to repeat or accentuate the successes. Note also weaknesses, and use your will to be strong and resolute on such points or occasions as may need reform. Especially forgive your enemies -- if you have any; and if not, think kindly of those who may need it, particularly of those whom you may dislike, for they, like yourself, are travelers struggling on the Path. Above all, note any tendency you may have to criticize, for criticism is one of the most insidious of inner enemies. It springs from the sense of separateness, and is the negation of brotherhood, a hidden and tenacious form of egotism. When this healthful self-appraisal is over, take a favorite devotional book and read a chapter, or meditate on the higher self. This frees the mind from earthly attachments and helps the soul to wing its way through the airways of the spirit. As Dr. de Purucker remarked about the Pythagorean injunction:

If only men and women would conscientiously follow that simple rule, ninety-nine percent of the world's trouble, heartache, sin, and anxiety, would be non-existent, would never happen. The reason is simple. The world's troubles arise from our weaknesses, not from our strength; and if we would increase our strength, and do away with our weaknesses, every human being thereafter, in proportion to his inner evolution, would become a power for good in the world. And you see what that would mean. It would cut the taproot of most of the thoughts and feelings and acts that bring misery amongst us. -- Wind of the Spirit, p. 48

 (From Sunrise magazine, June/July 2002; copyright © 2002 Theosophical University Press)

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