[from the book LIVING THE LIFE ]
by B.P. Wadia
© 2009 Online Teosofiska Kompaniet Malmö
In our last article we spoke of the Path of Woe which all must tread without exception, and indicated that it is a common and a universal experience. But why, oh why, a Path of Woe? – ask a hundred good friends. Why not share our joys and our lights and calI it a Path of Weal?
It is the Path of Woe because what we have gathered in the past are seeds of anguish from which pleasure and peace do not sprout forth. The Path of Woe is the other half of the Path of Pursuit; to give up what we gathered with pain, labour and mighty effort is a Karmic retribution and in proportion as we pained others in gaining our ends, in securing our possessions, and using what was gained and secured, pain now comes back to us.
There is, however, another factor; our sincere desire for spiritual living, being an energy of the Occult World, where Life is eternal and immortal, forces into smaller fields of space and shorter spans of time the process of quick payment of debts incurred during generations of lives, all over the world. Spiritual birth is attended with its pangs, and inner growth has its pains of teething, walking and all the rest. For the earnest and enthusiastic aspirant these uncomfortable experiences are crowded together, and thus the sum total of previous Karma shows the balance in the currency of woe on our debit side.
The method of the payment of past debts is mercifully devised by Wisdom; it enables us to transform woes into joys in the very process of payment. That method, to be pursued as we tread the Path of Woe, is living the life of self-expression. In fact, the debt. in question cannot be met otherwise. Deliberate practice at living differently than we have hitherto done has to be undertaken. Leaving alone the life of the senses and the mind, refusing to be energized by feelings and emotions, ever watchful, continuously heedful, to live in terms of the soul is the high enterprise in which we are engaged. To pursue that task by the old method of haphazard and ever-moving, ever-changing existence is an error many of us commit. Self-collectedness is the watchword of the new method. To move in a deliberate manner from within, which is the region of the Soul, to the without, which is the sphere of sensuous existence, is the first necessary qualification. To collect together the scattered forces, and to reflect on them by the aid of the Light of the Higher Self, so that they are animated and enlivened by it, is our Dharma. All of us understand this in some measure, but what most of us do not seem to grasp is the fact that this process has to be regular, persistent and continuous. They are not religious ceremonies to be performed periodically nor are they like sacred festivals which fall on a few occasions in the year. They are not even like unto heroic acts which men perform to their glory and renown once, perhaps twice, in their lives. This watchfulness and this self-collectedness have to be observed and applied every hour of the day, fifty-two weeks in the Year; they must manifest their power in all our labour undertaken for profit or pleasure, in work or recreation, in small activities or in important ones. All the while to energize our environment by the Power of Wisdom within us is the first step which aspirants have to take. This no doubt is irksome, exhausting to the feelings and fatiguing to the mind. To persist successfully is to pass the first great test that the Wardens of the Portals of the Occult World present to us; they do so, because of our resolve, our enthusiasm, our earnestness, our sincerity – because we ourselves put ourselves on the Path, and are attempting to ”force” the Masters to accept us as their pupils and servants.
We should so live and act, so love and labour that every experience is perceived by our Inner Ruler and is forthwith assimilated by him. All our experiences ought to be flowers from which the bee sucks the honey of knowledge and stores it away for feeding in sweetness and in strength the hungry and the weak. Here is another factor to be noted. Aspirants miss assimilating their experiences. How many of us truly assimilate what we contact in the world? To assimilate in as full a measure as possible what we contact, is a necessity of the spiritual life ; thus the life of self-expression begins.
Then, welcome each rebuff
That turns earth's smoothness rough,
Each sting that bids nor sit nor stand but go! Be our joys three-parts pain!
Strive, and hold cheap the strain;
Learn, nor account the pang: dare, never grudge
For thence – a paradox
Which comforts while it mocks –
Shall life succeed in that it seems to fail:
What I aspired to be,
And was not, comforts me :
A brute I might have been, but would not sink i' the scale.
What is he but a brute Whose flesh hath soul to suit,
Whose spirit works lest arms and legs want play ?
To man, propose this test –
Thy body at its best,
How far can that project thy soul on its lone way?
Yet gifts should prove their use:
I own the Past profuse
Of power each side, perfection every turn:
Eyes, ears, took in their dole; Brain treasured up the whole;
Should not the heart beat once ”How good to live and learn” ?
In these lines from Robert Browning's ”Rabbi Ben Ezra” we come across the gospel of self-expression which is a requisite of the spiritual life. Pondering over them we see how mistaken are the notions in people's minds who glibly talk of self-expression. It is not a matter of one of the fine arts – it is a matter of daily life, which people name drudgery, and desire to run away from. The life of self-expression is Drudgery made Divine.
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