THEOSOPHY, Vol. 39, No. 2, December, 1950
(Pages 60-64; Size: 14K)
(Number 5 of a 10-part series)

[Compiler's Note: All 10 articles have the same name.]

KERNELS OF WISDOM

"Nothing is easy to the unwilling."--Greek
PROVERBS and mantrams are seeds of wisdom containing in themselves the results and values of countless experiences gained by individuals, tribes, nations and races. They are the distilled essence of many generations of trial and error, failure and success. As the seed carries forward in embryo the perfect pattern of the tree that is to be, so in the mantram is locked up a magic potency for future use. Planted in proper psychic and intellectual soil, the mantram-seed may fructify and grow -- becoming in time a mighty oak of character, wisdom, usefulness. But mantrams, like all seeds, require to be planted and used, and man himself must be the planter. His mental and psychic nature is the soil, his up-rooted desires are the fertilizer, his restraints and sacrifices the rain, while his Will and devotion are the rays of heat that shine from the Sun of his Higher Ego -- the Self. But how can any growing thing prosper and increase in an atmosphere that is dark, morose, un-willing?

Some people say that the world is hard and cruel, that the trials and experiences of life present obstacles that are well-nigh impossible to surmount. Some say that duty makes of man a slave, that the responsibilities of family and home keep one bound down beyond any hope or possibility of relief. Others are of the opinion that there is little use to try, that so long as Kali Yuga lasts one may as well content himself with the unhappy role of work, duty, non-achievement. Why is it that such individuals do not take the time to question their own attitudes of mind? Why is it that so few are in any way disposed to heed the admonition of all great Sages to look within themselves, to first make clean the inside of the platter before presuming to find fault with externals? Why is it that we are so un-willing to correct ourselves, to eliminate defects, and to enlarge the ideas and emotions through which we look and feel?

Nothing is easy to the unwilling for the simple reason that such a person does not use Will. He lives by likes and dislikes, and exists in a confused array of pre-conceived notions about the universe and himself -- the karmic heritage of many centuries of religious belief and dogmatism. How can Will flow through a mind that is small, narrow, and constricted by the idea of a personal God which makes of man a puppet or a pawn, and relegates him to the position of an irresponsible, will-less creature? This idea closes the channels of the mind, and thus cuts him off from the beneficence of his Higher Self -- the universal reservoir of power, strength, and Will.

Theosophy, on the other hand, teaches that the Universe is a Unity, in the strictest sense of the term, and that there is no separateness anywhere. It holds that Man and Nature are intimately connected in every part. All ancient peoples looked upon man as being a small copy of the Universe, containing in himself every element, high or low, that exists within the Whole. They spoke of the Macrocosm and the Microcosm, of God-spirit and Man-spirit, and said that the former could never be demonstrated except by and through the latter. "Man-spirit," says H. P. Blavatsky, "proves God-spirit, as the one drop of water proves a source from which it must have come." The powers and potentialities possessed by man are a possibility because of his kinship with the Universal Soul, and they demonstrate the presence in him of Creative Force, or Will. Pagan philosophers therefore admonished the human being to assume the position of dignity that befits a Creator, instead of the weak, un-willing attitude demanded by the Church.

The man who does not use his Will has no power, for Will is Creator in the universe -- both Macrocosm and Microcosm. It is the Source of strength and energy for everything that one does, and when operating through a pure and holy mind, the will is practically omnipotent. How else is a Buddha or a Christ possible, except that they have perfected the powers latent in our common human natures? How could Avicenna, the great Persian philosopher of the tenth century, command the Spirits of the Elements, except that he had mastered the use of his Will, and developed to the full the potencies of his inner spiritual Self? The legend further tells us that owing to his knowledge of the Elixir of Life, he still lives, as an adept who will disclose himself to the profane at the end of a certain cycle.

Count St. Germain is another example of the creative power of the human Will. He is said to have been the greatest Oriental Adept Europe has seen during the last centuries. Complete master of the art of transmuting metals, he was proficient at making gold and the most marvellous diamonds -- an art, he said, he had learned from certain Brahmins in India, who taught him the artificial crystallisation ("quickening") of pure carbon. His erudition was enormous and his linguistic capacities are undeniable, for he spoke English, Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Russian, Swedish, Danish, and many Slavonian and Oriental languages, with facility equalling a native's. He never laid claim to spiritual powers, but proved to have a right to such a claim. How account for the existence of such a personage except that there resides in man the same powers of creation that are to be found in Great Nature?

One common vital principle pervades all things, and this is controllable by the perfected human will. The adept can stimulate the movements of the natural forces in plants and animals in a preternatural degree. Such experiments are not obstructions of nature, but quickenings; the conditions of intenser vital action are given.

The adept can control the sensations and alter the conditions of the physical and astral bodies of other persons not adepts; he can also govern and employ, as he chooses, the spirits of the elements. He cannot control the immortal spirit of any human being, living or dead, for all such spirits are alike sparks of the Divine Essence, and not subject to any foreign domination. Isis Unveiled, II, 590.)

There is a power in man that can accomplish seeming miracles if only it is put to use. But the greatest of all powers is the power to control one's self -- one's thoughts, feelings, attitudes and motives. This can never be realized, however, through the negative, non-willing attitude of the personality. Willpower is the force of Spirit in action, and it reaches the personality only through the perfectly-aligned channels of the Whole man, visible and invisible. Like the seven-stringed lyre of the Greeks, the human assemblage of principles is capable of producing the most wonderful harmony, once co-ordinated and attuned. But the principles of most men's natures are desperately loose and neglected, when not totally un-strung. Only the philosopher can attune them. Only the philosopher -- and all men are that, once they choose to be -- will take time to study himself, to investigate the powers of his inner being, and to trace all forces to their common root, the Universal Spiritual Will.

It is because men do not Will to accept their fate, and to assume the responsibility of their calling, that the ways of life seem hard and difficult. The tendency to complain and find fault with circumstances raises a cloud of blackness that darkens the spirit of everything that we do -- when, just as easily, with an interior change of view, all might have been light and cheerfulness. Where is the man who has not heard the story of the "second mile," as told by Jesus: If one forces you to walk a mile, then walk with him two miles. If he demands of you your coat, then give him your cloak also. The Master had no thought, in telling the parable, of encouraging dictatorship or acts of robbery in others (an objection that is sometimes made). The parable is intended for the one who hears it -- and its moral meaning is clear:

Change your attitude! Resist not evil! Accept the guerdon of the Law, and you will find peace! Matters not the environment in which you live, nor the duties you are required to perform, nor how seemingly inconsiderate the people with whom you deal -- if approached positively, willingly, and with desire to serve, peace and contentment will be the result. But men, for the most part, are un-willing to go even the first mile, let alone the second, un-willing to do the least that is required of them, to say nothing of wanting to do the most. It is our un-willingness that brings us pain.

Only with a change of attitude will ease and relaxation appear. Man must assume the position where, in his own consciousness, he crosses over the median line that divides the positive from the negative -- so that instead of always finding fault, he looks for the redeeming features in every situation; instead of suspecting the worst in others, he has faith in their best; and instead of declaring that the world owes him a living, he asks what it is he can do to help.

Nothing is easy to the un-willing. The irksomeness of any task or obligation is increased or diminished by the attitude of mind in which it is undertaken. The friendliness or un-friendliness of an individual varies in accordance with the mien in which he is approached. Have we not all had the experience of dreading a duty we have to do -- only to find, when taken hold of, that it was our dread that disturbed us, that once the determination was made, the doing of the work was nothing at all? Have we not lived in fear and distrust of a person we dislike -- only to find, after a while, that it was our own suspicion that divided us? Day after day, we quarrel with conditions, fear the future, distrust our friends, and doubt our ability to achieve. In a thousand and one ways, we key ourselves unconsciously to the dark illusory aspect of the Wheel of Life -- and then accuse the great Sphinx of devouring us -- not realizing that the sole cause of our distress is a negative attitude of mind.

It is a fundamental teaching of Theosophy that man has it within his power to affirm the eminence of his Divine Self, which is above the slough of metaphysical darkness that depresses his spirits. He can cultivate, if he wills to do so, an attitude of faith, trust and confidence -- and thus live permanently in the region of his Higher Mind, which is free from all pain, sorrow and suffering.

The way of inward peace is in all things to conform to the pleasure and disposition of the Divine Will. He who would have all things succeed and come to pass according to his own fancy is not come to know this way, and therefore leads a harsh and bitter life, always fretful and out of humor, without treading the way of peace.

COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:

FREEDOM AND LIFE'S VALUE

Freedom is won, not by counting noses, but by keeping alight the inward watch fires of liberty; and true liberty of conscience is as remote from license as it is from moral surrender.

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I believe in the challenging mind, in the unreconciled heart, and in the will towards perfection. When, in spite of all the miracles of science and religion, we seem, for the moment, to sink into deeper despair of humanity, we are reminded, it may be, that somewhere a saint has given his life for mankind, or a hero has given his life for strangers, or a lover has given his life for his friends; and then at last we comprehend that the true value of life can be measured only, as it borrows meaning, from the things that are valued above and beyond life. 


--ELLEN GLASGOW

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KERNELS OF WISDOM
"Toil is prayer."
(Part 6 of a 10-part series)

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