9 + special quote

The Path of Woe

from the book LIVING THE LIFE ]

B.P. Wadia 
© 2009 Online Teosofiska Kompaniet Malmö 




             Prepare thyself, for thou wilt have to travel on alone. The Teacher can but point the way.
The Path is one for all, the means to reach the goal must vary with the Pilgrims.


The Path of Woe

Students of Theosophy, having grasped the tenets of Reincarnation, Karma, and the Path to the Masters, naturally endeavour to make practical application in their own lives and circumstances. They want to live. Earnestly they attempt to manifest in their daily actions the results of their mental acquisitions of the great teachings. Seeing the sweet reasonableness and merciful justice of the laws of manifested Nature, they desire to co-operate with the Divine Will in evolution. Let us apply Theosophy, they say, and forthwith they begin.

A dozen things instantly overpower their budding enthusiasm. A hundred small things of life conspire to defeat their earnest purpose. Girding their loins and more determined than ever they stand up, Arjuna-Iike, resolute to fight. Between petty triumphs and many failures, blaming their own Karma and doing what they can, most of them spend their days hugging small satisfactions and hoping that something sure will happen some day – and they add, if not in this life, then in the next.

Long experience and continued observation of such Theosophic efforts of earnest and devoted individuals enable us to answer, albeit partially, the question that is sometimes asked: ”What is wrong with us? ”

Let us try to find an adequate reply.

 That the Spiritual Path is uphill and steep, that it is the Path of Woe, that the gateway to it is strait and narrow, that it is sharp as the razor's edge and can shave human natures all too fine, is not fully comprehended by the enthusiastic neophyte. All have read
these statements but each one of us thinks that by some special decree of Providence ”it will be different with me.” We profess belief in brotherhood, but with most it is profession and not life; for in this, too, as in all else, we, are brothers and the Path of Woe is for all; the razor, will shave all. When the Buddha instituted shaving the head for his mendicants, he did not make himself an exception, nor say to his favourite disciple, ”Ananda, thou mayst retain thy lovely locks.” The Law of Brotherhood manifests everywhere at all times, but more than at any other place does it, work its miracle in the heart of the would-be aspirant to Perfection and Wisdom and Sacrifice and Service. That great Law is at once the expression and the gauge of spiritual unfoldment. It sings its perfect song in the Hearts of Compassion of the Great Ones. Next, naturally, it envelops men and women who desire to be Their disciples and servants. We who are resolved to tread that Path must expect not to be exceptions; if our path is all smooth for us then it is not the Path of Woe. Each one on the Path gets his share of woe, and it is an equal share; for all those who are aspirants to Wisdom, who have resolved to tread the Path, have to learn the initial lesson that there is but one melting-pot of Karma in which all the Karma, good, bad and indifferent, of every true aspirant is thrown. To ”stand alone and isolated” but at the same time to ”kill out all sense of separateness” is a truth to be practised, and this is not grasped.
If at the very beginning the above is understood, many unnecessary heart-burnings will be avoided. The way is difficult – the Path is the Path of Woe. We need not take it if we do not desire. ”None else compels.” Each one in his freedom of choice elects to tread it, and it would be the part of wisdom to recognize that henceforth woes are our lot, that when we have conquered our own woes, we have got to help others to conquer theirs, and that under the Law of Brotherhood the individual weal is dependent on the common weal and in proportion as we overcome our woes others are helped to overcome theirs.
Thus we learn so to behave that the quantity and quality of Karma in the great melting-pot of aspirant-ship may react to the benefit and advantage of all, including ourselves. In this connection let us remember the admonition in the Gospel of St. Matthew (xviii: 7): ”Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! ” We often approach the problem of Karma from an individualistic point of view and find it an appalling prospect. We gain a new confidence when we see that there is a common woe and a common weal, that we affect and are affected by comrades as weak as ourselves and as virtuous, too. We are united by the bonds of brotherhood and the woes are our common property.
Thus spiritual life begins at once to unfold its basic Law-Brotherhood. As we practise yoga, union, with the energy and activity of that Law we succeed. The moment we give up the practice we are thrown out of the Occult world into the visible world. ”Come out of your world into ours,” said a Master once. Here is the first step – Recognition of the Law of Brotherhood as it touches the woes of devotees, sacrificers, warriors for the Kingdom of the Spirit.



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