THEOSOPHY, Vol. 37, No. 3, January, 1949
(Pages 120-122; Size: 9K)
[Article number (16) in this Q&A Department]
IT has been said that the Astral Light is "young and strong" in the first part of the year. How can this be, if it has all the records of the past? Surely it doesn't start off new each year, does it?
The statement referred to is from an article of H. P. Blavatsky's called "The New Year," and reads, fortunately, a little differently from the way it is quoted. Were this not so, there would be, as the questioner suggests, a contradiction. H.P.B.'s statement is that "the astral life of the earth is young and strong between Christmas and Easter." This, we can see, is as natural as saying that after a good night's sleep, a man's vitality or magnetism is "young and strong" for the day ahead, and at the end of his day's work, his energy is more or less depleted. The daily revival of energy does not affect his memory of preceding days and events.
There are other parallels. The Theosophical philosophy states that a man falls asleep when he is weary, not because he does not have enough life in him, but because he has passively absorbed too much from the "ocean" of Life-Energy called Prana-Jiva, and is actually overpowered by life itself. In the same way, the physical form would be crushed by atmospheric pressure if there were no resisting "pressure" within the body. When a man feels vital and alive, he is most powerfully throwing off currents of life. Therefore there would be no human activity -- though there would be Life in plenty -- if human will and intelligence did not resist and itself direct the pulsation of universal life-energy.
So, when we read that the astral life of the earth is young and strong at one season of the year, we can believe, on the analogy of man's life, that this renewed vitality is not caused by the ocean of life "acting upon" the earth. Rather, the "new life" springs from the activity of certain intelligences who resist the numbing effect of Life, and thus produce energy. So we are logically led to the conclusion that the earth itself is not a mere lump of gross matter, any more than the human being is simply a mass of flesh, bones, muscles, nerves, blood, etc. Motivated by intelligences of various grades and degrees, the earth is an entity, just like the human body.
Read in The Secret Doctrine (I, 655-6) of the belief that at Christmas-time the incarnation of the sun-gods occurs. This myth is based on the doctrine that at the end of a Pralaya -- universal "Night" -- a new Sun rises triumphantly over the new period of activity. Mr. Judge speaks of the "Sun, who is the real man," and this may suggest the idea of intelligences behind the visible Sun. All cycles -- of sun, earth, and man -- are established and constantly re-energized by intelligences of some order and degree.
Is it better to be strict -- even harsh, sometimes -- with children in order to make them behave, or should one be easy with them, hoping that they will behave well of their own accord?
The relative advantages of these two methods have been debated ad infinitum with little advantage to anyone, that we can see. It is evident that much depends on the temperament of the person involved. When a normally easy-going person attempts a course of strictness with others, he may go to an extreme of harshness. By the same token, a strict person in a fit of compunction may become over-indulgent. There is one criterion, however, that can safely be proposed. Whatever our attitude to others, laxity, strictness, or something between the two, it should be consistent with our attitude to our own behavior: we have no right to expect from other people what we do not ask of ourselves -- or even, perhaps, as much as we ask of ourselves. Strictness is least resented, and may even be appreciated, when it is simply the reflection of a person's attempt to be strict with himself.
What is it that causes us sometimes to wake up in the morning feeling as if we hadn't really rested at all?
There must be as many answers to that as there are human beings, since the world we move in when asleep is, like the states after death, peculiarly individual and subjective. But one explanation might be suggested by the fact that human beings spend too many moments as either worriers or regretters. That is, they tend to live unsatisfactorily and incompletely in the past and in the future. How many times does anticipation of something blot out the present moment? How many times a day are we immersed in regret for something we have done and feel we shouldn't have done? Such memories can poison a whole day, sometimes -- why not a night, too?
The idea that we can be purified by any chastisement inflicted by ourselves or someone else is part and parcel of the doctrine of Original Sin, and should be "expurgated." Remorse, punishment, and penitence have no connection with Karma, and therefore do not make for understanding or progress. If left unhampered, the emotional nature delights as much in dwelling on a fault committed as it does in perpetuating any sensation -- and the kind of "breast-beating" it moves the person to indulge in is of no intrinsic value, once the man's attention has been called to the existence of error. To attempt to substitute active reparation for passive remorse will help restore self-respect, and detached appraisal of events and actions will eventually enable a man to have clear nights, no matter how confused his day may have seemed.
Is not hate just as eternal as love, since the two are opposites, and therefore equal? Yet it is often said that good has more power than evil, and that it will eventually prevail.
If love and hate are thought of as expressions of the cosmic opposites of attraction and repulsion, then, as characteristics of the manifested universe, these two will endure "forever" -- until the dissolution of all material forms. But considered as emotional states, neither love nor hate can be called eternal, since we know that they are constantly changing in intensity and direction. The evil part of evil, or hate, lies in the fact that it is separative. Many times, too, what we call love, and think of as an asset to humanity, is selfish, possessive, unbalanced; in this case, love is separative, also, and becomes as detrimental in its way as outright "evil."
There is a powerful passage in the Judge Letters (p. 161) which pertains: "A deed of kindness done with partiality may become evil, e.g., by stirring up animosity in the mind of others. It is necessary, when acting, to lose all sense of identity and to become an abstract power. Justice is the opposite of Partiality...." This can help us to learn to check our impulses with our minds and motives, for impulses are usually the promptings of partiality. The only really eternal state is that which the sage attains when he perceives and does nothing but complete justice.
[Article number (17) in this Q&A Department]
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