THEOSOPHY, Vol. 21, No. 1, November, 1932
(Pages 1-4; Size: 11K)
(Number 1 of a 12-part series)

[Compiler's Note: All 12 articles have the same name.]

THE PURSUIT OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE

THOSE superficially attracted to Theosophy and thence to Occultism are becoming with every day more numerous. In every one of these inquirers is the potency if not the promise of genuine spiritual evolution. Remembering always the source and sustainer of the Theosophical Movement throughout the ages, the Masters of Wisdom, the humblest searcher will never be utterly discouraged either by the growing sense of his own shortcomings or by the perception of the immensity of the difficulties which confront him at every step on his journey in the direction of the Unknown.

The Mahatmas themselves set up no barriers against any one's approach. They make no distinctions of race, creed, sex, condition, or organization. Their philosophy and their efforts are not limited to adepts, saints, and the "pure in heart." Among them it is literally true that "there is more joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth than over ninety and nine just men made perfect." It was the characteristic quality of H. P. Blavatsky, of William Q. Judge, of Robert Crosbie, as it must ever be of every true disciple of the Wisdom-Religion, that they met each newcomer as a long-lost brother, as one new-born, not as a prodigal son who needed reminding of his past mistakes and consequent wanderings.

If we could forget, utterly and completely, our own past sins of omission and commission, then would Chelaship become for all of us, in the quaint phrase of Patanjali, a "posture easy and pleasant." The Masters are able to do this because they have no interest in our past, not, indeed, in our present nor our future. Their interest is in us as Souls, in each of whom is the indestructible possibility of becoming what they themselves are, Great of Soul. They are beyond Karma in the human sense of that term, as all men are beyond Karma in its still lower meanings and restrictions.

It is Karma in its spiritual value that brings every man to Theosophy, or shuts him out from its radiation; that sustains him through all his efforts to come again in contact with that knowledge which was his in former lives, or that defeats those efforts. Knowledge and memory both are to the individual Soul its own acquisitions. They are the very roots of all Karma, whether spiritual, intellectual, psychic, astral, or their existing combination in the presently living human being. They are the real embodiment, the real vehicle, the real environment, of all manifested life and hence of every being, great or small. The Soul cannot act without a basis and through an instrument. The basis is Soul knowledge, the instrument, Soul memory. To the degree that any being has Soul-knowledge it is its own master, and hence is "pure, bright, bodiless, and free." To the extent that it lacks Soul-knowledge, it is its own creature and victim, imprisoned in Soul memory. The two words, Spirit and Matter, freed alike from their theological and scientific definitions and perversions, represent the ideal and impersonal Principles of all action, or Karma, as the words Soul-knowledge and Soul-memory represent those principles individualized. Immortality, whether conscious or unconscious, which is to say, immortality in Spirit or immortality in Matter, are both alike the everlasting fact of all Life irrespective of its changing forms. No wonder, then, that H. P. Blavatsky in her Secret Doctrine takes such pains to make clear the fundamental propositions of the Wisdom-Religion; that she continually repeats and reiterates them throughout all her recorded teachings in order to impress them durably on our memory.

Her method could only be to deal with the mind of the race as she found it, and that mind is based on Soul-memory, not on Soul-knowledge. This is the distinction between the higher and the lower Manas, or Mind; the "Individuality" and the "Personality;" the "Higher Self" and the "Lower Self," and many other similar contrasting terms applied to the Ego in man the human being. In the same way, the fruits of our actions proceeding from one or other of these sources in us, necessarily yield the "pairs of opposites" that we name good and evil and so on, and that constitute our definitions of Karma.

Constantly and consistently her efforts are directed to encouraging and assisting us to look behind the veil of this maya or illusion which sees Spirit and Matter, Individuality and Personality, Life and Death, Good and Evil, as differences instead of distinctions, as separate realities instead of contrasted states in Soul-evolution. The whole of Isis Unveiled, her first work, in all its discussion of "Science" and "Theology," is a dealing with this pair of opposites which embody the fixed conclusions beyond which the human mind unaided can find "no thoroughfare." Over against these two culs de sac she places again and again the evidences of history and tradition accessible to any and every man, which verify and buttress her declaration of the unbroken existence and continuity of a Secret Doctrine, which treats of Life in all its manifestations from another basis altogether than that of any religion or science -- the basis of Soul-knowledge. She takes at all times the position of an investigator, a student, not that of a revealer or discoverer whose claims are to be either accepted or rejected out of hand on her ipse dixit. Her direct, arduous, long-continued personal relations with Spiritualists and Spiritualism show the same method and modulus. The formation of the Parent theosophical society with its three Objects was the third concurrent channel of the policy initiated by her and pursued to the very end of her mission. Her long antecedent wanderings; her journeying to America, to Asia, to Europe; the establishment of her two magazines, the foundation of the "Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society" -- all testify the same unflagging devotion to one aim, one purpose, one teaching throughout her entire career. Her personal conduct toward family or stranger, friend or foe, follower or antagonist to her teachings and herself, bear witness to one thought, one will, one feeling inspiring her every word and act. Whether regarded from the standpoint of precept or example, her human actions and her writings alike evidence the more as they are more studied that she was herself the embodiment of what she taught, as of the great Objects of the Theosophical Movement.

The course pursued by her, no less than her writings and her life, contains a great lesson. Indeed her method is the key to her teachings, as both are the key to her life as well as to our own. Many are those who have read the cryptic sayings in Light on the Path:

Each man is to himself absolutely the way, the truth, and the life.... The way and the truth come first, then follows the life.
The whole history of the Theosophical Movement, in our own no less than in all former times, shows how many are "called," and how few are "chosen" in any generation. The many are called, or attracted, by the restoration among men of that "Light which lighteth every man who cometh into the world," but which is soon lost in the prevailing darkness of human credulities and scepticisms. The chosen are those who elect of themselves to hold fast to the new-old Light according to the precept and the example set, by following in the way of the Teacher. Thus they follow a line and not a leader. That way or method, no less than the teaching and example provided them, does in fact give them their first direct realization of the meaning of "universal brotherhood" in its spiritual value and efficacy. They see for themselves something of the "undisclosed Veda," and they commence to deal with themselves, with their fellow men, in all the relations and complexities of human existence, on the basis of things as they are, not as they have been or as they may become. They do this on the same principles that actuate the Masters of Wisdom, and with the same great Objects in view. To do this is to constitute one's self a Chela whose probation is in his own hands. To do this is to set up of one's own volition something very much more than formal alliance with or allegiance to any society or leader; something far transcending any intellectual or psychic interest in Theosophy and Occultism. To do this is to establish of one's own Spiritual Will a communal tie with the Lodge of Masters on their own basis. The "three objects" of the Theosophical Movement become one's own, not by persuasion or adoption, but by direct perception and deliberated choice. One is pledged to them in a sense and with an intelligence and a will unknown to those who have yet to find the Way. He seeks his instruction on the hidden meaning, the occult significance, in all things by following as best he can the Path of self-knowledge pursued by the Predecessors.

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