The Spiritual Path
BCW H.P. Blavatsky: Collected Writings, TPH, 1950-91 Echoes Echoes of the Orient, W.Q. Judge, PLP, 1975-87 EST Esoteric Teachings, G. de Purucker, PLP, 1987 FSO Fountain-Source of Occultism, G. de Purucker, TUP, 1974 Key The Key to Theosophy, H.P. Blavatsky, TUP, 1972 (1889) OG Occult Glossary, G. de Purucker, TUP, 2nd ed., 1996 ML The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, A. Trevor Barker (comp.), TUP, 2nd ed., 1926 PoC The Path of Compassion, G. de Purucker, TUP, 1986 SD The Secret Doctrine, H.P. Blavatsky, TUP, 1977 (1888) TPM Theosophy: The Path of the Mystic, Katherine Tingley, TUP, 3rd ed., 1977 Voice The Voice of the Silence, H.P. Blavatsky, TUP, 1976 (1889) WoH The Wisdom of the Heart, Katherine Tingley, PLP, 1978 WoS Wind of the Spirit, G. de Purucker, TUP, 2nd ed., 1984
'Universal nature, our great parent, exists inseparably in each one of us, in each entity everywhere, and no separation of the part from the whole, of the individual from the kosmos, is possible in any other than a purely illusory sense. This . . . directs us to the sublime path to utter reality. It is the path inwards, ever onwards within, which is endless and which leads into vast inner realms of wisdom and knowledge; for, as all the great world philosophies tell us so truly, if you know yourself you then know the universe, because each one of you is an inseparable part of it and it is all in you, its child.
'[C]onsciousness and understanding come to the evolving entity in only one way – by unwrapping or unfolding the intrinsic faculties or powers of that entity's own inner being. . . . There is no other pathway for you individually than the pathway leading ever inwards towards your own inner god. . . . All tread the same pathway, but each man must tread it himself . . .' (OG 126)
'The pivotal doctrine of the Esoteric philosophy admits no privileges or special gifts in man, save those won by his own Ego through personal effort and merit throughout a long series of metempsychoses and reincarnations.' (SD 1:17)
'Karma creates nothing, nor does it design. It is man who plans and creates causes, and karmic law adjusts the effects; which adjustment is not an act, but universal harmony, tending ever to resume its original position, like a bough, which, bent down too forcibly, rebounds with corresponding vigour. . . . It is not, therefore, karma that rewards or punishes, but it is we, who reward or punish ourselves according to whether we work with, through and along with nature, abiding by the laws on which that harmony depends, or – break them. . . . [T]here is not an accident in our lives, not a misshapen day, or a misfortune, that could not be traced back to our own doings in this or in another life.' (SD 2:305, 1:643-4)
'[T]he first of the steps of gold which mount toward the Temple of Truth is – A CLEAN LIFE. This means a purity of body, and a still greater purity of mind, heart, and spirit.' (BCW 12:596)
'Every kindly act you do marks you as by that much ensouled, if it is an act which springs from the heart and not merely from the egoistic wish to show off. Every time you conquer a temptation, which if yielded to you know perfectly well will debase you in your own eyes, even if your fellows do not know of your fall; every time you conquer it you live in the human soul, you are by so much ensouling yourself. Every time you conquer an impulse to do a selfish act, a deed with selfish thought for your own benefit, then you are by so much ensouling yourself.' (WoS 104-5)
Mahatma KH to A.P. Sinnett: 'Does it seem to you a small thing that the past year has been spent only in your "family duties"? [W]hat better cause for reward, what better discipline, than the daily and hourly performance of duty? [T]he man or woman who is placed by karma in the midst of small plain duties and sacrifices and loving-kindnesses, will through these faithfully fulfilled rise to the larger measure of Duty, Sacrifice and Charity to all Humanity – what better path towards the enlightenment you are striving after than the daily conquest of self, the perseverance in spite of want of visible psychic progress, the bearing of ill-fortune with that serene fortitude which turns it to spiritual advantage . . .' (ML 372)
'One of [the] surmountable and unnecessary hindrances [to the doing of good work] is the prevalent habit of reading trashy and sensational literature, both in newspaper and other form. This stupefies and degrades the mind, wastes time and energy, and makes the brain a storehouse of mere brute force rather than what it should be – a generator of cosmic power. . . . Sensation temporarily succeeds in drowning the voice of conscience and the pressure that comes from the soul that so many people unintelligently feel. So they seek acute sensation in a thousand different ways, while others strive to attain the same end by killing both sensation and consciousness with the help of drugs or alcohol. Reading of a certain sort is simply the alcohol habit removed to another plane . . . People are responsible for the use they make of their brains, for the brain can be used for the noblest purposes and can evolve the most refined quality of energy . . . This does not mean that the news of the day should be ignored, for those who live in the world should keep themselves acquainted with the world's doings: but a fair test is that nothing not worth remembering is worth reading. . . .
'The usual worldly custom is to bring up for conversation unimportant matters, often in regard to persons, not infrequently to their detriment, or in regard to transient events, and to discuss these without relating them to permanent and basic principles. Many people talk for the sake of talking, as others read for the sake of reading . . . To babble out words does not help on the evolution of humanity or inspire any other idea but the natural one that such conversation borders on the idiotic. Nor is there any reason why conversation should not be at once interesting and instructive. . . . There is a right time and a wrong time for the discussion of games, clothes, food, and so forth, and there is a decided limit to the usefulness of such discussion. Other topics should be dealt with when fellow students are so fortunate as to meet together. They at least should never part without conversing on some ennobling and uplifting subject . . .' (Echoes 1:483-4)
'There is a road, steep and thorny, beset with perils of every kind, but yet a road, and it leads to the very heart of the Universe: I can tell you how to find those who will show you the secret gateway that opens inward only, and closes fast behind the neophyte for evermore. There is no danger that dauntless courage cannot conquer; there is no trial that spotless purity cannot pass through; there is no difficulty that strong intellect cannot surmount. For those who win onwards there is reward past all telling – the power to bless and save humanity; for those who fail, there are other lives in which success may come.' (BCW 13:219)
'[Many theosophists] feel an irresistible attraction toward occultism and the Higher Life, and yet are too personal and self-opinionated, too much in love with the deceptive allurements of mundane life and the world's ephemeral pleasures, to give them up; and so lose their chance in their present birth.' (Key 217-8)
'[The will] is the one irresistible power in nature and in the psychic world; whatever the phantom or demon, it may be swept into nothingness by concentrating upon it this Will and bidding it go.' (BCW 12:713)
'Conquered passions, like slain tigers, can no longer turn and rend you. Be hopeful, then, not despairing. With each morning's awakening try to live through the day in harmony with the Higher Self. "Try" is the battle-cry taught by the Teachers to each pupil. Naught else is expected of you. One who does his best does all that can be asked. There is a moment when even a Buddha ceases to be a sinning mortal and takes his first step toward Buddhahood. . . . It should be the aim of each and all of us to strive with all the intensity of our natures to follow and imitate [the masters].' (BCW 12:504-5)
'[S]elf-criticism prevents unkind criticism of others, and those who know their own weaknesses, and are striving to mend them, are always the most compassionate towards the weaknesses of others.' (Echoes 3:384)
'We may "fail" in specific acts or endeavor, but so long as we continue to persevere such are not "failures" but lessons necessary in themselves. Through resistance and effort we acquire fresh strength; we gather to ourselves – and by occult laws – all the strength we have gained by overcoming. Entire "success" is not for us now, but continuous, persistent effort is, and that is success and not the mere carrying out of all our plans or attempts. Moreover no matter how high we go in Nature, there are always new rungs of the ladder to mount – that ladder whose rungs are all mounted in labor and in pain, but also in the great joy of conscious strength and will. Even the Adept sees fresh trials before him. Remember also when we say "I have failed" it shows that we have had and still have aspiration. And while this is so, while we have before us loftier heights of perfection to scale, Nature will never desert us. We are mounting, and aspiring and the sense of failure is the surest proof of this. But Nature has no use for anyone who has reached the limits of, or outlived, his aspirations. So that every "failure is a success." At the outset the greater your aspirations the greater the difficulties you will encounter. Forget not then that to continue to try even when one constantly fails is the only way to come to real success.' (W.Q. Judge, FSO / PoC 55)
'Do not stop to mourn over your faults; recognize them and seek to learn from each its lesson. Do not become vain of your success. So shall you gradually attain self-knowledge, and self-knowledge shall develop self-mastery.' (W.Q. Judge, EST 1:48)
'Know yourself, control yourself, and then you will be a Master of Life.' (EST 2:76)
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The Voice of the Silence
'Before the soul can see, the Harmony within must be attained, and fleshly eyes be rendered blind to all illusion. . . .
'If through the Hall of Wisdom, thou would'st reach the Vale of Bliss, Disciple, close fast thy senses against the great dire heresy of separateness that weans thee from the rest. . . .
'The Self of matter and the SELF of Spirit can never meet. One of the twain must disappear; there is no place for both. Ere thy Soul's mind can understand, the bud of personality must be crushed out, the worm of sense destroyed past resurrection. Thou canst not travel on the Path before thou hast become that Path itself.
'Let thy Soul lend its ear to every cry of pain like as the lotus bares its heart to drink the morning sun. Let not the fierce Sun dry one tear of pain before thyself hast wiped it from the sufferer's eye. . . .
'Desire nothing. Chafe not at Karma, nor at Nature's changeless laws. But struggle only with the personal, the transitory, the evanescent and the perishable. Help Nature and work on with her; and Nature will regard thee as one of her creators and make obeisance. . . .
'Kill thy desires, Lanoo, make thy vices impotent, ere the first step is taken on the solemn journey. Strangle thy sins, and make them dumb for ever, before thou dost lift one foot to mount the ladder. Silence thy thoughts and fix thy whole attention on thy Master whom yet thou dost not see, but whom thou feelest. . . .
'[B]e of clean heart before thou startest on thy journey. Before thou takest thy first step learn to discern the real from the false, the ever-fleeting from the ever-lasting. Learn above all to separate Head-learning from Soul-Wisdom, the "Eye" from the "Heart" doctrine. . . . For mind is like a mirror; it gathers dust while it reflects. It needs the gentle breezes of Soul-Wisdom to brush away the dust of our illusions. Seek O beginner, to blend thy Mind and Soul.
'Shun ignorance, and likewise shun illusion. Avert thy face from world deceptions; mistrust thy senses, they are false. But within thy body – the shrine of thy sensations – seek in the Impersonal for the "eternal man"; and having sought him out, look inward: thou art Buddha. . . .
'Sow kindly acts and thou shalt reap their fruition. Inaction in a deed of mercy becomes an action in a deadly sin. . . .
'Shalt thou abstain from action? Not so shall gain thy soul her freedom. To reach Nirvâna one must reach Self-Knowledge, and Self-Knowledge is of loving deeds the child. . . .
'The Selfish devotee lives to no purpose. The man who does not go through his appointed work in life – has lived in vain. Follow the wheel of life; follow the wheel of duty to race and kin, to friend and foe, and close thy mind to pleasures as to pain. . . .
'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. . . . Of teachers there are many; the MASTER-SOUL is one, Alaya, the Universal Soul. Live in that MASTER as ITS ray in thee. Live in thy fellows as they live in IT. . . . Hast thou attuned thy heart and mind to the great mind and heart of all mankind? . . . Hast thou attuned thy being to Humanity's great pain, O candidate for light? . . .
'The more thou dost advance, the more thy feet pitfalls will meet. The path that leadeth on, is lighted by one fire – the light of daring, burning in the heart. The more one dares, the more he shall obtain. The more he fears, the more that light shall pale – and that alone can guide. . . .
'The PATH is one, Disciple, yet in the end, twofold. . . . At one end – bliss immediate, and at the other – bliss deferred. Both are of merit the reward: the choice is thine. . . . The Open PATH leads to the changeless change – Nirvâna, the glorious state of Absoluteness, the Bliss past human thought. Thus the first Path is LIBERATION. But Path the Second is – renunciation, and therefore called the "Path of Woe." . . .
'Now bend thy head and listen well, O Bodhisattva – Compassion speaks and saith: "Can there be bliss when all that lives must suffer? Shalt thou be saved and hear the whole world cry?" . . .
'Sweet are the fruits of Rest and Liberation for the sake of Self; but sweeter still the fruits of long and bitter duty. Aye, Renunciation for the sake of others, of suffering fellow men. . . . The Bodhisattva who has won the battle, who holds the prize within his palm, yet says in his divine compassion: "For others' sake this great reward I yield" – accomplishes the greater Renunciation. A SAVIOUR OF THE WORLD is he. . . .
'Thou art enlightened – Choose thy way.'
(Voice, 2, 8-9, 12-14, 16, 25-6, 31, 35-6, 45, 49-51, 54, 41, 71, 43-4)
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The Path of the Mystic
'[H]uman nature is dual and . . . a battle is ever going on between the higher self and the lower, the angel and the demon in man. . . One of these in the end must prevail over the other, and one or the other is strengthened by every act and thought of his life. . . . When the higher, immortal part dominates, there is knowledge and there is peace. When the lower rules, all the dark despairing elements of human life rush in upon the unguarded soul. . . .
'Victories are won first in thought; and the habit of substituting a good thought or picture that arouses compassion or any part of the spiritual nature, or a grander idea in any way going beyond the limited selfhood, for a selfish or personal or sensual one, is easily learned. . . .
'Visualize! You touch a mystic law when you create in imagination the picture of mighty things, for you open a door to new powers within yourself. Something in the way of potent energies is awakened and called into life and strength both without you and within. If you aspire, visualize your aspirations. Make a mind-picture of your spiritual ideals, . . . and carry that picture with you day by day. . . . Before you know it the ideal has become the real and you have taken your place as a creator, truly, in the great, divine scheme of life. . . .
'You must take time for self-analysis. There must be time for the calm, reflective attitude of mind. Study the conditions surrounding you, the motives that actuate you in this or that effort or work, and determine with absolute honesty, whether they are selfish, unselfish, or mixed. This will be an uplifting, a clarifying process, for the conscience is at work. It is a confession, really, to the higher self, the divinity within you. . . .
'Dismiss the things of the world, its ways, its interests and its limited habits of thought. Kill out in yourselves the desire for these and find the larger life. Truly, these selfish desires and demands are but phantoms placed in your way by karma, called up by karma out of the past of yourselves and revivified with a false and seeming life by the very force of your aspirations. Why not recognize them as such, see them for what they are, dismiss them once and for all, and look through the mists of self and desire to the sublime reality beyond?
'The very fact that you find stumbling blocks in your way should give you an influx of courage, a positive joy, because of the opportunity thus presented to you to cast them away forever. Self-conquest! Is that not what you are here for? . . . Every time you compromise on this vital point, remember, you are holding back the world's great reconstructive work and just so many more hungry souls are left starving for the bread of the spirit. Move away from limitations and delusions and step into the larger life! . . .
'Fear nothing, for every renewed effort raises all former failures into lessons, all sins into experiences. . . . Not for thousands of years have the opposing forces been so accentuated. Not one of you can remain neutral; if you think you can, and seek to do so, in reality you are adding your powers to those of darkness and lending your strength to the forces of evil. The cry has gone out to each, and each must choose. This is your opportunity. . . .
'To gain freedom, you will have to accentuate the spirit of brotherly love; to gain it you will have to work for it, also, and work understandingly. And yet it is so easy, so simple. If you hold close to duty, and keep a sweet, impersonal love burning in your heart, all the rest will come; and that has its practical application in many ways. For example, if you do not like another, if you do not like to work with him when it is a duty to do so, consider that a challenge, and stand up and meet the test. That is practical brotherhood. . . .
'It matters not how much money we may accumulate, how much scholastic learning we may possess, how many magnificent structures we may erect in the name of civilization. Unless we arrive at a better understanding of brotherly toleration, we are working in vain for the future. . . .
'In offering suggestions to others, remember that every suggestion carries in it a measure of criticism. Let your criticism begin at home. As H.P. Blavatsky says: "Be more severe with yourself than with others; be more charitable towards others than towards yourself." . . .
'In studying themselves men and women should first of all study their nature in its duality – the play and interplay of the higher and the lower self. This step taken, they should then search out their greatest weaknesses, as revealed in the light of such study, and courageously begin to overcome them. This initiates a great process of purification . . .
'The path of the mystic is a path of self-mastery and service. . . . Climb! Ever keep climbing! The path winds upward – this wonderful path of self-mastery – but to the unselfish and courageous it is a path of victory and joy.'
(TPM 17, 21, 30, 46-7, 50-1, 63-4, 68-70, 85-6, 75, 122, 108, 77)
'A pure, strong, unselfish thought, beaming in the mind, lifts the whole being to the heights of Light. From this point can be discerned, to a degree, the sacredness of the moment and the day. . . .
'Rest within yourself. Do not depend upon another for your happiness. . . .
'When rising in the morning our first thought shall be, I shall make the day one of sunshine. I shall put into each duty no matter how small unselfish thought. . . . Remember how great is the creative power of the imagination. Build up with it, upon waking, a picture of hope and joy. Lay aside all that belongs to the lower self, and going up into the temple of the heart, dedicate the day to self-purification. Do this and you invite an invasion of the gods. But rise with the brain-mind dominant, and a day of perplexing difficulties awaits you. . . .
'At night it is helpful to go over the day in thought. It is the old neophyte way. You will suffer in noting lapses and omissions; but if your motive is pure and unselfish you will learn and pass on. . . . We cannot reap the real benefit of sleep if we enter upon it negatively, in ignorance, carrying to bed with us our fretfulness and dislikes, despairs or hatreds. Let us end the day with more power of thought for self-conquest than we had at the beginning of the day. Let us close our eyes tonight with a clean conscience and with a feeling of generous love for all that breathes . . .'
(WoH 61, 55, 51-2, 55-6)
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The Path of Compassion
'Anyone can enter upon the path, if his will, his devotion and yearnings are directed toward being of greater service to others. The only thing that prevents him from taking that most beautiful step is his convictions, his psychological and mental prejudices which distort his perspective. We are all learners, all of us have illusions. . . . The quickest way to overcome these illusions is to cut the root of them, and that root is selfishness in its multimyriad forms. Even the . . . ambition to succeed, unless it be washed clean of all personality, will inevitably defeat itself, for the way of inner growth is self-forgetfulness, a giving up of personal ambitions and longings of any and every kind, and a becoming an impersonal servitor of all that lives. . . .
'The lower self must be wiped out – not killed, but wiped out, which means withdrawn inwards and absorbed by the higher self. . . . To give up the things that belittle, that make one small, petty, and mean, is to cast away our fetters and take on freedom, the richness of the inner life and, above everything else, self-conscious recognition of one's essential unity with the All. . . . [B]y allying ourselves with the noblest within we are allying ourselves with the spiritual forces which control and govern the universe. . . .
'The neophyte's life is a very beautiful one, and grows steadily more and more so as self-forgetfulness comes into the life in ever-larger degree. It is also a very sad one at times, and the sadness arises out of his inability to forget himself. He realizes that he is very, very lonely; that his heart is yearning for companionship. In other words, the human part of him longs to lean. But it is just the absence of these weaknesses that makes the master of life: the ability to stand alone, erect and strong in all circumstances. . . .
'[T]he grandest rule of life is to foster within one's own being undying compassion for all that is, thus bringing about the winning of selflessness . . .
'All the mysteries of the universe lie latent within us, all its secrets are there, and all progress in esoteric knowledge and wisdom is but an unfolding of what is already within.
'How little our human troubles which plague us so greatly – such a burden of sorrow – seem when we allow our minds to dwell upon these infinitely comforting realities. . . . Even this world of phantasmagoria and shadows is an intrinsic and inseparable part of the Boundless from which we sprang, and towards the divine heart of which we shall one day return on the wings of the experiences that we have been through, wings that will carry us over the valleys to the distant mountain peaks of the spirit. . . .
'[T]he West is being misled by psychical teachings . . . He who enters the path with the hope of gaining powers of any kind, regarding them as something of paramount importance, is destined to failure. Indeed, he is embarking upon a very hazardous and questionable road, which at worst could lead to sorcery and black magic, and at best will bring to him only the Dead Sea fruit of disappointment. Powers as such, whether spiritual, intellectual, or psychic, will develop in due course and in a perfectly natural way as we progress, provided that we have the unflinching determination to achieve, and, above all, that our heart is forever brightened and filled with compassionate love . . .
'No chela is ever permitted to cultivate any psychical powers at any time, until the great foundation has been laid in the evocation of the spiritual and intellectual energies and faculties: vision, will power, utter self-control, and a heart filled with love for all. . . .
'Chelaship is exchanging the darkness of personality for the glorious sunlight of impersonality. It is a passing out of the mire of material existence, with its phantasms of thought and emotions, into the clear splendor of the inner spiritual sun, leading ultimately to a becoming-at-one with the soul of the universe. It is the age-old path that will lead the aspirant to become at one with his own spiritual essence, which means the attaining of an enormously increased range of consciousness and life. . . . We reach the heart of the universe by losing ourself in order to gain the cosmic Self seated in our inmost essence. The pathway that we travel is long and may be arduous, but it is also bright with joy, and lighted with the fires of the spirit. . . .
'The basis of . . . discipline is self-forgetfulness, which is the same as impersonality; and in order to achieve this, other minor rules have been introduced . . . One such rule is never to strike back, never to retaliate; better to suffer injustice in silence. Another is never to justify oneself, to have patience, and leave the karma to the higher law to adjust. And still another, and perhaps the greatest rule of this discipline, is to learn to forgive and to love. Then all else will come naturally, stealing into the consciousness silently, and one will know the rules intuitively, will be long suffering in patience, compassionate, and great of heart. . . .
'Among other good and simple rules is to think impersonally all the time; in our daily acts to try to detach our interest from them so far as any benefit to our own person is concerned. . . .
'[W]hen we are bothered, tormented perhaps, with selfish and personal impulses and thoughts, we should immediately think of their opposites, holding them steadily in our mind's eye. If we have a thought of hate, we should conjure up a picture of affection and kindness; if of evil-doing, vision a magnanimous and splendid act; if a selfish thought, then imagine ourselves as doing some deed of benevolence, and at all times doing this impersonally. . . .
'Impersonality, altruism and selflessness: these are magical in their effect upon our fellow men. When we can learn truly to forgive, and to love, the longing of our soul will be self-forgetful service for mankind. . . . Singlehanded we may have the world to battle; but even though we go down again and again, we can stand up and remember that the forces of the universe are back of us and on our side. The very heart of Being is with us and we shall win, ultimately, for nothing can withstand the subtle and all-penetrating fire of impersonal love. . . .
'Esoteric training . . . means accelerated growth . . . It is painful at times because, instead of slowly growing to see the beauty and harmony of life everywhere, one must learn to master oneself with an iron will; to forget oneself utterly, to serve all: to give up one's self for the universal self, to die daily so that one can live the cosmic life. . . .
'One cannot trifle with occultism with impunity. The entire nature is aroused, and the battle with the lower self at times may take on the character of desperation, for the neophyte instinctively feels that he must conquer or fail. But if he perform faithfully the first duty that comes to hand, no matter how humble and simple, that is his path. In conquering our own weaknesses, we help not only our own nature, but all mankind; more, we help every sentient, living thing, for we are at one with the very forces which are the circulations of the universe. . . .
'All the great sages have taught the same verity: "Man, know thyself," which means going inwards in thought and feeling, in ever-greater measure allying ourselves self-consciously with the divinity at the core of our being – the divinity which also is the very heart of the universe.'
(FSO / PoC 14-19, 10, 30, 26, 31-2, 34-6, 54, 61-2)
'[T]he first rule of chelaship is "To live to benefit mankind," combined with a pure life, a clean heart, an eager intellect, an unveiled spiritual perception. Where these are, there you will find the Masters with you.' (EST 2:108)
compiled by David Pratt. May 1998.
Spiritual Progress by H.P. Blavatsky
Changing the world