THEOSOPHY, Vol. 32, No. 6, April, 1944
(Pages 255-256; Size: 7K)
(Number 6 of a 6-part series)
ANTIPODAL POWERS OF MANAS
THE concept of freedom brings up in the mind many strange and unacceptable ideas and, though freedom is the common goal towards which all men strive, each has his own ideas as to how that goal is to be attained. By some, it is through economic equilibrium, where each will share bountifully in the world's goods. This is commonly expressed as freedom from want. By others, social mal-adjustment is thought to lie at the root of all our troubles. Through the establishment of certain systems and the bettering of environment, the cause of human bondage, it is believed, will be removed. But how is it possible, in a world of changing standards, among peoples of varying intelligence, to provide conditions suited to the needs of all? How is it possible to adopt fixed systems, when the essence of all progress is change? In any given situation, the constant process of growth, the expanding horizons of mind, will produce in time the feeling of constriction. In the wake of growth, all forms and systems, however "perfect," must change.
Others say that the only sure road to freedom is down the modern speedway of science, with new inventions, new means and devices for making life easier. But who is not able to see that the more things we have and depend upon for personal comfort, the more enslaved we become? What greater bondage can there be than dependence of the human spirit upon gross and material possessions? It is not more things that are needed, but a higher use of those we have.
For most men, freedom is mere license, or privilege, an ideal relating wholly to the personal man. Based upon present ideas of personal ease and comfort, "freedom" is an idle dream conceived largely in relation to present enslavement. While the spirit of the word means detachment, without encumbrance, we think of freedom only in terms of getting something -- freedom to have this, that, or the other object of desire. Men live their lives almost entirely from the point of view of the personality, or lower mind, that is, from the plane of desire, with its manifold avenues of expression. Does, then, the personal man really want freedom? Where is the man who, in the words of the Gita, could be "happy and content in the Self through the Self," who is ready and willing to let go of earthly attachments? That which the personality seeks is license, or liberty to move unrestrained in the direction of its desires.
Freedom, theosophically considered, is a term relating wholly to the nature of Soul, or higher Manas. That which is bound is the Soul. The subject of the Gita, as of all sacred texts, is the freeing of the Soul from the bonds of conditioned existence. Not till this has been achieved, not till final liberation is attained, can true freedom be known, for "Manas is bound by innumerable electrical magnetic threads to earth by reason of the thoughts of the last life, and therefore by desire, for it was desire that caused so many thoughts and ignorance of the true nature of things."
Through desire the Soul is bound, and through the purifying of the desire principle will final freedom come. Desire, as presently operative, is the great Deluder, the evil Tempter of the human mind. Like a hungry demon whispering into the ears of man, it leads the unwary soul into all sorts of entanglements. "Get me this," it says, "and I will make you happy. Get that, and of all men on earth you will be the most contented." Greater delusion there has never been. Has not all human experience shown that the fulfillment of desire never brings peace or contentment? Have we not learned that desire is like a raging flame, -- insatiable, -- that each desire attained only whets the appetite for something more to come? "Do not believe," says The Voice of the Silence, "that lust can ever be killed out if gratified or satiated, for this is an abomination inspired by Mara. It is by feeding vice that it expands and waxes strong, like to the worm that fattens on the blossom's heart." One desire attained leads only to another. Fulfillment never brings more than momentary satisfaction, but like dead sea fruit, turns to dust and ashes in the mouth. "True happiness," said the Buddha, "comes not from an abundance of things, but from the fewness of wants."
Real freedom is desire regulated by moral fitness, a spiritual quality of the Higher Mind. Unregulated desire is license, a psychic quality of the lower, separative mind, leading to absorption in selfish and personal ends. The former alone leads to true liberation, while the latter, giving the appearance of freedom, binds the Soul to greater and greater ignorance. When the principle of desire has been thrown into its own sphere, Buddhi becomes the mover of the Will. This is desire regulated to the higher needs of the Soul in order that Its Law may be fulfilled. The Soul then has power to live and act consciously on higher planes than the physical, in finer bodies than the material. On higher planes, "he sees and feels and hears and speaks and acts (as he does on the physical plane) but he can be here, there or elsewhere, wherever his thought brings him, wherever his desire is; he can move freely and unhampered by gross physical material.... There he has freedom."
The ideal of freedom all men seek must be had by man while on earth but it will be freedom not of the body but of the Soul.
[Reminder: The ANTIPODAL POWERS OF MANAS series has now ended.]
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