THEOSOPHY, Vol. 40, No. 4, February, 1952
(Pages 168-171; Size: 11K)


[Article number (3) in this Q&A Department]

SHOULD we look for difficult situations in which to place ourselves, in an attempt to stir up our Karma for more rapid learning?

Taking hold of oneself, consciously and willingly putting oneself into difficult situations, can be a step in soul evolution. By deliberately taking a step which part of our nature says is too difficult and insecure, we have to call on the strength of our higher nature. A will to abandon peace and security of the senses as the supreme goal leads toward regarding man as an eternal pilgrim who goes through experiences.

In examining history we find that all progress, whether in religion, science, or philosophy, was made by men who deliberately gave up a "normal," secure life for one of uncertainty and hardships. We instinctively admire such men. We admire their courage and their embodiment of the conviction that there is something more to life than merely existing.

There is a point which shouldn't be overlooked when considering whether or not to "look for difficult situations in which to place ourselves." The actual "putting" into situations is done by the attitude of the individual. If he wishes to be more observant, bring out hidden prejudices in himself more quickly than just "letting things happen," he must be sure he is not getting involved in the experience for the experience's sake. A man who finds himself choosing a difficult situation rather than an easy one may at times find complications of Karma snowing him under. But since we are always responsible to the whole universe under law, we must not forget to do things thoughtfully -- slowly and thoroughly.

When we find ourselves in situations which demand a great deal of thought and self-examination, we discover many undesirable as well as desirable tendencies in ourselves which we never before knew existed. Often such a self-examination may change the course of a life. The more the creative mind is kept active and reaching for further awareness, the closer it comes to a fully self-conscious evolution. The strong tendency to be lazy and let things come as they will predominates too much. Such action -- or inaction -- is that of the lesser beings of consciousness. Since we are beings of choice and will, we should take our lives into our hands and quit the easy path for the one which demands the best of ourselves.

What did Mr. Crosbie mean when he said we should work to transform personalities into living souls? Does this mean that the personality hinders soul development?

What is a "living soul"? If you were to ask ten people for their conception of a living soul, it would be like asking them to tell you the best way to live -- and you would probably receive ten very different answers. Perhaps even more than with other ideas, a conception of what the soul is must grow and deepen with the years. For these two words, "living" and "soul," are words of force which, when thus written together, stimulate thought and imagination.

A "living soul" must be alive and intelligent in all parts of his nature. He must, for instance, strive to be rational at all times, and would endeavor to choose as wisely as possible to gain a clear and unprejudiced conception of all the issues involved in any situation. But besides the purely rational in man which must be cultivated, there is another plant which can only grow quietly and delicately. It is "the sense of the fitness of things." It is that sense which enables us to look at a situation as a whole, and to feel instinctively what actions of our own will be in harmony both with the needs of the situation and with our highest desires. The continuous, intuitive perception of true relationships can only come about, perhaps, when the whole individual, in all his parts, is informed with "the intelligence from above" -- the Higher Self. For when the being is "aligned," from top to bottom, he is open for this light to shine through.

The ever-present desire of soul to become more than it is, to grow in balance and understanding, is obviously interrupted and obscured by the vagaries of the particular body, psychic nature, and mind which make up the personality it uses. We may despair at times at its heedlessness and its irrationalities, and it may well seem to be a hindrance to the soul's development. First and foremost, however, the individual personality is a place of action. It was Arjuna's battleground, and is our own. It is there that unworthy thoughts and deeds must be reduced to ashes; there we can change our natures as we will. We are checked by the Karma by which we have formed the character of our instruments, but we have made our excellences as well as our shortcomings.

Should there be provisions made for religion in our public school system, for the individual students who would want this?

A study of the many different denominations of religion would certainly seem worthwhile, especially for a group of students bent on learning the truth that lies within religion in its entirety. Probably the most important realizations in this study would be, first, that there are many religions which are either equal or even greater in number of believers than the Christian religion, and second, that a venture in this direction by our educational system would have to be completely unbiased.

This is apt to be far from the case in our public schools. The emphasis seems to be placed more on the gaining of numbers in the Christian religion than on the benefits from a course of impartial religious study. If we are to start with the hypothesis that there should be some kind of cooperation with religion, as assumed by the Board of Education in Los Angeles -- "Schools must work with home, church, and places of employment" -- it would seem unfair to the student to have only the Christian religion represented. While our public school system does not seem the place for religious activities, a place for education in religion could possibly be fitted into our secondary schools on a voluntary basis. But such a course, obviously, should not be prejudiced towards any particular religion.

Another important factor entering this question would be the effects of group pressure on individuals of different denominations. Some would think this would be especially true in our primary schools, while others would fear the danger more in high school. Group exclusion can cause the beginnings of inferiority complexes.

The writer has observed that "religion in the schools" can generate emotionalism, as for example, through self-confessions in "How I found God" auditorium sessions. Since the public schools are supported by the state, we would definitely mix church and state by allowing religious institutions to enter our schools. This may be the aim of different religions, but is not the aim of people truly concerned with education in harmony with the Constitution.

In the book, THE UNINVITED, a well-known novel of psychic experience by Dorothy Macardle, a "spirit" at a séance keeps inventing untruths. Can a "spirit" actually do this, since I understand that the astral shell, or kama-rupa, can only repeat, and not create?

Messages from the "spirits" come through a medium -- a person, that is, whose passive nature makes him sensitive to the vibrations from the "spirit world." Actually, it is not the spiritual nature of the deceased person which is contacted, but rather the combined astral body and passions and desires which, in life, were associated with the physical body. In combination, after death, these principles are called the kama-rupa, and although it is devoid of mind or conscience, it does retain memory and a kind of reflected consciousness. The whole atmosphere of the séance is one of bewilderment, passivity, indiscrimination. The sitters are easily fooled, and the medium himself unknowingly blends his astral body with the kama-rupa. It is because of this blending of the matter of the living and the dead that there is sometimes produced a visible shape.

Unfortunately for the séance, the absence of the deceased person's higher and nobler qualities leaves a bundle of undesirable elements in the kama-rupa, which, with nothing to control it, can play havoc with the medium and sitters. In certain respects, then, the kama-rupa can seem to "create" formulations of thought. And, while it must always be kept in mind that the condition of the people seeking contact makes them gullible and apt to color their observations with their own imaginings, there are also those evil "spirits" which enter the séance room with the desire to inflict their evil on others. They are the shells of debased people who, during life, steeped their lives in matter and physical lusts, with no regard for their higher nature. Their consequent after-death states lead them through a slow, half-conscious, disintegration, and since it is a prolonged process, the "spirit" has much more time to inflict its diabolical influences on the living. Perhaps such a kama-rupa attended the séance in the story in question, desiring to mislead and confuse the medium and sitters.

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(March 1952)
[Article number (4) in this Q&A Department]

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