THEOSOPHY, Vol. 38, No. 2, December, 1949
(Pages 61-63; Size: 9K)
(Number 2 of a 24-part series)

[Compiler's Note: All 24 articles have the same name.]

"THE BHAGAVAD-GITA" -- INFORMAL ESSAYS

ON EVERYDAY QUESTIONS

IN Chapter Two, Krishna, whose advice has been asked at this troublous juncture, replies very strangely for one who is thought to represent the "Higher Self." Among the reasons he advances for Arjuna's forthright entrance into battle is that "mankind will speak of thy ill fame as infinite ... if thou wilt not perform the duty of thy calling and fight out the field." Yet what does the Higher Self care about public opinion? Or is it only public opinion to which Krishna is referring?

Perhaps there is that in every man which wishes to see Arjuna succeed in battle, for all men are veterans of similar warfares. One man who succeeds, succeeds for all. One man, failing in his battle, disheartens all others. This must be the "ill-fame" which Krishna mentions. So every disciple, while facing innumerable forms of opposition in his gradual separation from unthinking submergence in a life of impressions and sensations, will discover much force of popular opposition, while at the same time he will feel a subtle force of approval.

Further stretch of the imagination can bring us to see that Bhishma and Drona, and all the "sons" or personifications of Dhritarashtra and Duryodhana are themselves ready to see Arjuna take the field, for if there is receptive intelligence within the body and emotional nature of man, it must be awaiting, so to speak, the impression of a fully conscious being's moral energy. Such an impression will enable it to leave its repetitive rounds of habit response.

Arjuna must attempt to assess his own weakness when assuming the responsibility for leading his forces into battle. Perhaps it is for this reason that Krishna does not spare his disciple in castigating him for the Weakness of Doubt. There are many kinds of doubt, and many pitfalls for each doubter. One does not really need to doubt, for instance, the wisdom of a teacher, any more than he has to blindly believe in that teacher's authority. Man's receptivity to the quality of doubt is actually in exact proportion to the blind belief he has already indulged -- a feeling of too little security frequently drives men to accept any kind that is offered, even such as is purely illusory.

Arjuna, like all doubters, is doubting himself: doubting that his struggle is worth the sacrifice. This is really the only doubt. All others are but ramifications of it. It may be suspected that the Adept is one because he neither doubts nor believes, because he refuses to live in those jumbled areas of emotion which sweep away the power of concentration. The Adept or Mahatma does not know "everything," in one sense, and yet in another he does, for he knows it is the Law of Life to proceed always on the basis of what is known, without resorting to any of the usual forms of belief. This is the essentially scientific spirit of pure Theosophy, or, we may say, the theosophic spirit of pure Science. When one's "beliefs" are reasonable, there is no longer need nor room for doubt. Only when beliefs remain, unexamined and unimproved, are they a source of instability in the mind.

It must often seem to students that it "ill-becometh" one like Krishna to appeal to Arjuna's pride, and to speak so often of Arjuna's worldly reputation as a warrior, but is it not rather self-respect and honor of which Krishna would remind him? If pride were actually aroused, Arjuna would be a sorry candidate for Krishna's instruction. Yet there are two kinds of pride -- that pride we associate with the word "foolish," which means an over-estimation of one's capacities, and then, that pride which can be equated with self-respect and honor. Krishna calls Arjuna to proceed on the basis of the Supreme Spirit -- an impersonal spiritual principle within all things which makes the usual consciousness of self seem foolish, and shows that only consciousness of All-Self is in accord with reality. Krishna appeals to Arjuna as an individual being, which implies that individual awareness of Self is a key to human evolution.

On this basis, it should not be difficult to proceed on the assumption that belief in oneself is an absolute pre-requisite to an adequate moral sense. First, we cannot believe in others unless we can believe that we ourselves are capable of the goodness which we may expect to see manifest in them; and secondly, belief in oneself is the only protection against animosity. How could others disturb us if our belief in ourselves -- in the Self -- is firm and strong?

If we distrust ourselves, we are thrown into constant perturbation. Dissatisfactions with self cannot be conquered within unless we have sufficient self-respect and "pride" in our own moral capacity; otherwise, we externalize our conflicts. Human beings are driven to assert their moral stature, and if no other ways remain -- if by actions they are not able to claim moral stature -- they can only derogate others in the endeavor to show that, in some respects, they may be worse than themselves. Therefore, it is correct to say that the man who hates, hates only himself, while the man who can genuinely respect his own moral integrity does not need to be suspicious of others nor to derogate them.

All of the spiteful encounters between human beings have roots in a lack of self-respect, and, therefore, it may be an over-simplification to say that men should "think nothing of themselves" in order to be fully "moral" in their relations to others. At least, it would be just as true to state that the moment we are able to think of ourselves without an underlying cynicism we shall have more respect for our relationships with other humans. Carrying this line of speculation a step further, we may imagine that those who show the greatest callousness towards the lower orders of nature are also those who do not have much faith or "pride" in themselves. If man finds little to respect in his own forces of animal energy, he cannot be expected to deal intelligently with other manifestations of the same energy in the animal or plant worlds.

A teacher in an experimental school recently summed up all attitudes towards human experiences as either being "anti-life" or "pro-life." Certainly we cannot have a general feeling of regard for other forms of intelligence unless we have that regard for our own. Respect for, and belief in, our own integrity, our own qualities of heart and feeling, and our own powers of mind is a part of that universal sense of respect or intelligent love of all creatures, for which the great sages are renowned.


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:

TOWARD DISCRIMINATION

In him who knows the difference between the nature of soul and mind, the false notion regarding the soul comes to an end. Then the mind becomes deflected toward discrimination and bowed down before Isolation. 


--PATANJALI

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"THE BHAGAVAD-GITA" -- INFORMAL ESSAYS
ON EVERYDAY QUESTIONS
(Part 3 of a 24-part series)

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ON EVERYDAY QUESTIONS
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