Von jener Macht, die alle Wesen bindet,
Befreit der Mensch sich, der sich
So many people show hostility to the mere word, "Theosophy", because, in complete
ignorance of its real meaning, they look upon it as the representative of classical
infidelity, and loudly condemn every one pursing studies in that direction.
It may, therefore, not be amiss to direct a few words of explanation to the
general public in the hope that this modest endeavour to throw some light upon
a misunderstood subject into prejudiced minds may meet with some response.
Let us divide man into his "seen"
and "unseen" parts, viz, his physical and psychical nature, his body and
his soul. We have no concern here with his body or its various components
parts, but his soul we will consider un its three aspects: —
1. The "animal" soul, comprising our passions and all lower emotions.
2. The "human" soul, or our intelligent or reasoning mind.
3. The "spiritual" or higher soul, whence arise the dictates of our conscience,
all our aspirations towards the divine and the general promptings of our
Far from these groups representing so many distinct layers or strata, they
must be conceived as interpenetrating and reacting upon each other, thought
we must constitute a gradation from lower to higher, as this forms one of the
essential bases of theosophical teaching.
The "animal" soul is so-called because it is in close connection with all
the wants and desires of the body; it is under our carnal and sensuous influences,
and constantly yielding to their power, unless controlled by superior checks.
The "spiritual" soul, on the contrary, is farthest removed from the material
plane, ever trying and yearning for an inward flight in the direction of the
ideal or divine, yet incessantly hampered and weighed down by the powerful
attractions originating in the "animal" soul.
In this struggle between the two, and alternately lending its help to either,
we have the "human" soul, full of resolve or hesitating by fits and starts,
whether it is to throw its entire weight into either scale, or allow itself
to be carried along, almost passively, in the swaying movements of the fight.
Yet is the "human" soul, under its
aspect of "reasoning mind", which has to decide in the end, whether or not
it is to enlist in the service of the self-willed lower soul, or whether,
listening to the inner voice of conscience, it will devote all its energies
to the development of our higher nature and bring it within the borderland
of the divine.
In this battle of our various natures, success would mean the evolution of
our higher principles and the crushing out of our lower ones, for victory can
only be achieved when the powerful influences of our material desires have
been so far conquered, that they can no longer offer any lasting resistance
to the soul's upward progress.
There is no desire to advocate asceticism or seclusion of a rigid kind to
enable the aspirant to reach this stage of self-conquest; our "animal" soul
is not to be killed, but its powers are to be brought under such complete subjection
to the purified will that they can be used as active levers for our
ascent, though, undoubtedly, before they can be rendered serviceable for higher
purposes, "transmuted", as it were, their energies for doing harm must be reduced
within the smallest limits, and various methods for achieving this end will
be found best suited to the requirements of different individuals. The practical
lesson to be learnt, above all others, is the conquest of our selfish desires
and the devotion of our best energies to the services of our fellow-men.
When the hold of matter,or, to use an equivalent, when the love of self has
been sufficiently subdued within us to cause a state of even temporary balance
between our lower and higher soul, evolutionary progress has reached a stage,
when our consciousness fully realizes the momentous issues placed within our
range, and the occasional victories obtained, moreover, fill the soul, not
only with brighter confidence in its power, but also with a clearer perception
of the methods of action required for attaining the goal.
The centre of our soul-life must,
we are told, be made to gravitate on a steadily rising plane of consciousness,
for thus only, by infusing a higher and purer purpose into every thought
and action of our daily life, can the great aim, the spiritualization of
our soul, be achieved. By this spiritualization we eventually attain to
that inner illumination which reveals "the Christ in us".
We shall be told that these views
ar purely visionary, as proof for such a theory is nowhere to be found; and
undoubtedly it is true, that belief is
necessary at one stage or other of our soul's upward career, for, before we
can choose the road of our pilgrimage leading through unknown regions, we must
trust for guidance to the loving advice of those who have trodden the path
before us. Yet how small is the amount of blind faith, that is required
to us! Anyone, by trying earnestly and perseveringly to take a few steps in
the indicated direction and conforming to the prescribed road, can, step by
step, and without difficulty, verify the fact that the aim he pursues is not
an imaginary will-of-the-wisp, but that the results of his development, gradually
but surely brought within range of his consciousness, prove to him the possibility,
nay probability, of attaining the`higher grades. Look back to his earliest
starting point, he will see in vanishing distance all the obstruction which
at the time appeared unsurmountable, and as long as they existed, shut out
all further progress from his view. After such self-gained experiences, are
we not justified in trusting to the testimony of saints, the assurances of
initiates, and to the general teachings of Theosophy, that by stead perseverance
on the upward path, the inner light, whose attraction we already dimly and
fitfully feel, will more and more come within our reach, and eventually make
us partakers of "the eternal life"?
All religions teach this great truth and proclaim their ultimate aim to be
the complete union of the soul with the Divine spirit; but Theosophy asserts
that, while no single religion possesses a patent key for opening the heavenly
gates, it is the birthright of every human soul to claim and to receive admittance,
as soon as in the process of its spiritual evolution it has reached the required
To this stupendous work many terrestrial
lives must be necessary — lives of
incessant struggle, of unselfish strife and high aspiration; but once the light
is kindled in our hearts and steadfastly kept alive, it is the sure beacon
which will safely lead us through ages of darkness to the eventual "salvation"
of our soul, the glorious goal and end of our pilgrimage.