Warrior of the Soul
into the whirlwind
David Pratt© July 2001
Part 3 The price of failure
~ 1 ~
A naked body sat perched on the edge of a rocky precipice, lashed by a cruel, icy wind. Its heartbeat was barely perceptible and it seemed on the verge of lifelessness.
But Sahula had never felt more alive.
After being met by his new guide – whose name was Dazak – they had walked in silence for over an hour until they came to a wooden building, nestled at the foot of a cliff. Dazak then told Sahula that in a few months they would travel to a secret locality where he would meet his new master. But first certain preparations were necessary.
Sahula spent the first two weeks wandering in the beautiful solitude of his Himalayan retreat. Sometimes he climbed high up into the mountains to do battle with the elements and, through the power of his will, rendered himself impervious to the biting cold. The forces that had been pouring into his physical form since his initiation at times became so intense that his whole body ached. But after a few days they began to subside and he gradually returned to a state of consciousness closer to that of his former self.
He looked back over his life, trying to unravel the self-woven thread of destiny that had brought him to where he was now. At the age of seven he had been struck by a mysterious illness and at one point he had come close to death. A benevolent figure had appeared to him in a dream and blessed him, and from that moment he had begun to recover. Shortly after his eleventh birthday, his brother Ranjit had been born, and a few days later his father had been killed in a train accident. This had come as no surprise to Sahula, who the night before had felt a strong foreboding that he would never see his father again; indeed, when he was young he frequently had premonitions of future events.
He had then gone to live at the nearby monastery. He immediately felt at home there, as he had always been quiet, meditative and introspective. One of his earliest memories in his present life was of lying awake at night, staring through the window at the vast, star-studded dome of the heavens, wondering how there could possibly be any limits to the universe, for if there was a boundary somewhere, what lay beyond?
A few weeks after joining the monastery, an older youth had taken him to an ashram in a secluded location higher in the mountains. There he was welcomed by an old man – whom he immediately recognized as the figure who had appeared to him during his illness. Sahula knew that he had found his guru. Thereafter he had visited his master regularly, sometimes alone and sometimes in the company of other pupils. He had been admitted into the inner circle on probation and, after a few years, had begun to pass on some of what he had been taught to a few fellow-monks. He was allowed to visit his family fairly frequently and during the past few years he had sometimes been sent to labour in the fields in order to supplement his mother’s income.
Sahula learned that his master belonged to an occult Brotherhood, the Great White Lodge, whose origins were lost in the night of time. It had branches in several parts of the world though at present its numbers were fairly limited. It included adepts and mahatmas of many different grades, who, through self-devised efforts over the course of numberless lives, had attained a level of spiritual advancement that the mass of humanity would not achieve for many millions of years.
The members of the Brotherhood were the guardians of the ageless wisdom; their immense store of knowledge concerning the origin, evolution and destiny of worlds and their inhabitants had been passed down through an uninterrupted chain of initiated adepts for countless ages. Each generation of seers had tested and verified the knowledge received from its predecessors by sending their consciousness into the unseen realms and learning of the inner workings of nature by direct experience.
The brothers watched over mankind, encouraging and inspiring spiritual and progressive movements and developments, and instilling uplifting ideas into the thought-life of humanity. Usually they acted from behind the scenes, but periodically they sent out messengers into the world to carry out work in different countries and among different peoples. All the most important world religions and philosophies had been founded by teachers who were in some way linked with the Brotherhood. After their death, lesser individuals had generally taken control and in time the school or religion concerned had tended to fossilize and degenerate, as its doctrines became distorted and buried beneath accretions of ritualism and dogma. Nevertheless, all the world’s sacred traditions still showed certain fundamental parallels that attested to their derivation from the primordial wisdom tradition, sometimes called theosophy – ‘divine wisdom’.
One afternoon when Sahula returned to the mountain hut after his solitary meditation, he was surprised to find a middle-aged woman in the building. She told him that Dazak would be away for several months on other business. Sahula assumed she must be a trusted caretaker and cleaning lady, as she had tidied up the hut and cooked him a simple meal.
After a few days Sahula saw no more of her, but then another newcomer turned up at the hut. It was Fujal, who was to play such an important role in Sahula’s life for the next five months. He was a few years older than Sahula, and he and Dazak were pupils of the same master. The two youths quickly became close friends. Neither of them spoke much about their past, and Sahula said nothing about his initiation and his brother’s murder.
Fujal was an orphan and had been involved in monastic life from a very early age. He had first met his master nearly seven years ago and since then he had travelled a great deal, visiting various monasteries, towns and villages and secret locations in several neighbouring countries, acting as messenger and teacher.
Fujal said he had instructions to take Sahula across the border into Tibet, where they would spend two months visiting several ashrams, four of them attached to monasteries and three hidden away in remote areas. Sahula was to join him in giving instruction and conducting discussions. First, however, Fujal would spend the next three months improving Sahula’s command of Tibetan and would also teach him some more Senzar, a symbolic but also a spoken language used by initiates, which Sahula had studied a little with his master.
The three months passed by quickly and the two youths spent many hours discussing what they had learned from their teachers. Sahula was deeply impressed by the extent of Fujal’s knowledge. The two of them then left for Tibet, which they entered by a secret route to avoid the Chinese border patrols.
~ 2 ~
For the next two months Fujal and Sahula participated in many discussion groups. Drawing on what they had so far been allowed to learn of the ancient wisdom teachings, they helped to shed light on the deeper esoteric truths hidden beneath the surface meaning of many ancient religious and philosophical texts.
The key concept that Sahula’s master had emphasized again and again was the fundamental unity and interconnectedness of all that exists.
‘Universal nature,’ he had said, ‘is a unity in diversity: there is one infinite divine Essence, unborn and undying, unknowable and ineffable. We may call it consciousness, life, substance, energy, force, divinity – for all of these are fundamentally one. The one Essence manifests in an endless variety of forms, on an endless variety of scales, and in infinitely varying degrees of materiality and ethereality, forming an unending series of interblending, interacting worlds within worlds. Each world is inhabited by, and in fact composed of, living, evolving, conscious entities at every conceivable stage of development – from elemental nature-forces, through minerals, plants, animals and humans, to spiritual intelligences and divinities. Each plane of nature is just as substantial to the entities inhabiting it as our own world is to us, for everything is relative; what is spirit to us would be dense matter to entities in a higher hierarchy and what is matter to us would be pure spirit to beings in the hierarchy below.’
Sahula’s master was highly critical of the western picture of ‘God’ as a supreme, anthropomorphic being:
‘The idea of an infinite “God” outside the boundless universe is absurd; there just isn’t room for two infinitudes! The God of traditional theology is supposed to be all-powerful and all-wise, and to have miraculously created everything – including himself perhaps – out of nothing. But for some reason he made most of his creatures so feeble and imperfect that they succumb to all sorts of temptations and are then punished by being consigned to eternal damnation in hell – another of his creations. Such a being must be either a monstrous fiend or a blundering idiot! Either way, he would have to be extremely limited and imperfect or cruel and unjust, and would hardly be worthy of our adoration.
‘It makes more sense to regard divinity as infinite nature itself – a shoreless ocean of consciousness, of which we are all droplets. Each of us in the heart of our being is therefore a god and it is our evolutionary duty and destiny to unfold our divine potential. Those beings in any particular world-system who have already passed beyond the human stage are, relatively speaking, “spirits” or “gods” compared with the beings trailing along behind them. But there is no god so high that there is none higher.’
Another key teaching of the ancient wisdom is that there is no such thing as chance.
‘Nothing happens by chance, because nothing happens in isolation,’ Sahula’s master explained. ‘Everything is part of an intricate web of causal interconnections and interactions. Chance is no more than a fig-leaf with which people try to hide their ignorance. The teaching of karma does not just mean that every event has a cause and that every action is followed by a reaction. It also means that everything that happens to any entity is the result of causes which that entity helped to set in motion, often in some previous existence, and is of the same harmonious or disharmonious quality. Karma is an automatic, unerring process, an expression of nature’s intrinsic tendency towards equilibrium and harmony.
‘Our every thought or act is imprinted on the invisible substance of nature and sooner or later we will attract to ourselves appropriate consequences. Karma therefore means absolute justice and enables us to learn from our mistakes and slowly ascend the ladder of life, for there is a higher part of us that is able to link the pleasant and unpleasant events of our present life to things we have done in the past.’
Sahula asked how free will could exist if everything – even our ‘free’ choices – were causally determined. His master replied:
‘It’s true that even “free” choices and actions are heavily influenced by the habits of thought, feeling and behaviour arising from our long past. Nevertheless, we do possess a measure of genuine freedom. Free will certainly has nothing to do with chance: decisions and choices that just popped into our heads for no reason at all would hardly be an expression of our free will! Free will means selfconscious self-determination, but who can fathom the mystery of selfconsciousness or say where the boundaries of our self (or selves) lie?’
Sahula was told that the selfconsciousness that distinguishes humans from the lower kingdoms of nature is a ‘divine gift’ but one fraught with perils: the power of reason and free will allows us to raise ourselves ultimately to the level of the gods, or to sink far below the level of the beasts, for animals are largely instinctive creatures, whereas humans can choose to be deliberately cruel and destructive.
‘It’s the misuse of our free will out of selfishness and ignorance that is the root-cause of the world’s problems and of all real evil,’ Sahula was told. ‘But selfishness is shortsighted and self-defeating, for ultimately no one can advance at the expense of others. We are all in this together, and should therefore love one another and help one another. The idea that we are entirely separate and distinct beings is an illusion: we are really more like vortices, or whirlpools, in a river – each of us unique but inseparable from the overall flow of nature. Just as physical atoms are constantly passing from body to body, so thoughts and ideas pass from mind to mind, weaving us all into one interdependent whole. Hence the importance of purifying our hearts and minds and living cleanly and altruistically, for everything we do and think impacts on the world around us – for good or ill.
‘How people live reflects their outlook on life. It is therefore important to strengthen the realization that we are accountable for everything we do and weave our own destiny life after life – not just as individuals, but as families, nations, races and humanity as a whole. Moral and spiritual growth depends on our making universal brotherhood the keynote of our lives. Humans must learn to look beyond outer, superficial differences – beyond race, colour, sex, religion, nationality, intellect, status – and recognize that all members of the human family are kindred souls, born from the same spiritual source, with the same spiritual potential and the same spiritual destiny. We must increasingly subordinate the selfish inclinations of our limited, personal selves to the nobler, altruistic impulses of our higher, intuitive selves, which are themselves sparks of the universal Self.’
Sahula’s master explained that the universe and everything within it grows and works and is guided from within outwards, in accordance with the patterns and prototypes and karmic tendencies from previous periods of evolution. This inner guidance may be active and selfconscious, as in our acts of free will, or it may be automatic and passive, as seen in our habits and instincts, our automatic bodily functions (breathing, the beating of the heart, growth, etc.), and in the orderly, lawlike behaviour of nature in general.
Sahula was told that one of nature’s fundamental habits was cyclic, or spiral, evolution. Evolution was not primarily about changes in physical forms but about the unfoldment of consciousness: latent powers and faculties acquired in previous cycles of evolution were gradually brought into activity in response to the stimuli provided by the ever-changing environment.
‘Everything, from atoms to humans to stars to universes, advances through never-ending cycles of activity and rest,’ Sahula was told. ‘All entities periodically embody on lower planes, then “die” and rest on higher planes and finally reembody. Every consciousness-centre or monad, every spark of divinity, is destined to pass through all the various kingdoms of nature, through every stage of evolutionary awakening, again and again, in different worlds, on different planes, in different spheres, gaining knowledge and experience. And our evolutionary pilgrimage is eternal. Nothing comes from nothing and nothing can be annihilated into nothing; everything exists because it has existed before – in some form and on some plane. And everything that exists will always continue to exist – in some form. But nothing, not even our spirit-soul, remains for two consecutive instants the same, for everything is constantly changing, being part of an endless chain of causation stretching from eternity to eternity.’
Sahula understood that every entity, from atom to cosmos, was composed of energy-substances of many different grades. The human constitution could be divided into a physical body, an astral model-body, a lower animal-human self, a higher human self (or reincarnating soul) and a spiritual-divine self. Sahula’s natural clairvoyance enabled him to catch glimpses of the normally invisible astro-ethereal aspects of the people and things around him. But his master warned him not to cultivate this power at this stage. If he concentrated on purifying his moral nature and living selflessly, such powers would unfold naturally and he would also acquire the wisdom and strength to resist any temptation to misuse them for selfish ends. Anybody with sufficient determination could force the development of lower psychic powers, but such practices could disturb the natural balance of life-energies, open the doors of the mind to malignant lower astral entities and lead to ill health and mental instability.
Sahula learned that just as our physical bodies are manifestations of our inner, invisible nature, so the visible physical globe on which we live is a manifestation of astral, mental and spiritual realms, which to our outer senses are invisible. Furthermore, it is the lowest and most material of twelve globes, or interlocking spheres of consciousness-substance, that make up the earth planetary chain. Our own globe and the topmost globe exist on the lowest and highest planes of our hierarchy or world-system respectively, while the other ten globes exist two by two on the intervening five planes. This teaching of planetary and solar chains explained why the vast majority of visible stars in our galaxy were binary stars; such suns were part of a solar chain whose lowest globe was on a plane below ours.
The ancient wisdom sketched a vast panorama of evolution. During the lifetime of a planetary chain, the kingdoms or life-waves of beings evolving on it and forming it made seven great circlings or rounds through the globes, and in each round they went through seven stages of development on each globe. During the first half of a planet’s life, known as the downward arc, its energy-substances tended to materialize and become more condensed, while during the subsequent upward arc of evolution, the overall tendency was towards etherealization and spiritualization. Sahula and Fujal had learned that the earth was now in its fourth round and the human kingdom was currently passing through its fifth root-race or phase of consciousness. During their work in Tibet, much time was spent discussing the teachings on the different root-races, their subdivisions and time-periods, their characteristics, and the rise and fall of their civilizations, i.e. the failures and successes of their inhabitants – who were ourselves.
~ 3 ~
Their tour of duty was over. Neither Sahula nor Fujal knew what lay before them; Fujal said that his only instructions were to take Sahula back to the mountain hut.
The evening before they were due to depart, Sahula wandered alone to an outcrop of rocks near the monastery at which they were staying. He looked back on the past two months with satisfaction. He always loved sharing ideas with others, especially his codisciples. He hoped he would be able to remain in the company of Fujal, from whom he had learned so much. He was full of admiration for his agile mind and great store of facts. In many ways, he looked upon his friend as his superior and mentor.
Travelling with Fujal, usually in civilian clothes, had been an eye-opening experience. Fujal was familiar with the ways of the world and able to fit in wherever he went, whether chatting with townsfolk, haggling over prices or joking with Chinese soldiers. He seemed to possess a unique blend of down-to-earth practicality, penetrating intellect and spiritual devotion.
Sahula sat staring into space. Suddenly his reverie was brought to an abrupt end by a shimmering form that began to materialize before his eyes: it was Dazak. Sahula felt delighted to see Dazak again, for the first time in five months. He jumped to his feet and bowed to him. Dazak looked at him solemnly.
‘Sahula, listen carefully. I have been told by my master to convey to you the following instructions. You are to go at once to Fujal. You are to tell him that he has failed his probation and has been expelled from the inner circle; he must immediately cease all his duties. Tell him that nothing can be hidden from the eye of a master.’
Sahula was utterly stunned.
‘You can’t be serious!’ he exclaimed. ‘What’s he done wrong?’
‘That is all you need to know.’ Before Sahula could question him further, Dazak’s astral form melted into invisibility.
Sahula was in turmoil. There was no way he could carry out these instructions. There must be some mistake. What could Fujal possibly have done to deserve this? No doubt he was not perfect. Perhaps he was sometimes a little boastful of his learning and hard-working devotion. And he occasionally spoke rather slightingly about Dazak and some of his other colleagues. He also seemed to enjoy the admiration he received from others, especially the younger monks. But these were hardly grounds for expulsion. True, Sahula had no idea what Fujal might have got up to when he was not in his company. But whatever he might have done, this was a strange way to treat such a devoted worker – to let him hear of his expulsion at third hand!
Yet Sahula’s instinctive trust in Dazak was absolute and he knew he had no choice but to obey his instructions. No doubt it was all designed to puncture Fujal’s self-importance and deflate his ego. Sahula had never been able to share the view of some of his former companions who looked upon the inner circle as something very special. After all, his own master had not been a member and nor was Dazak. So how many inner circles were there? His master had warned him that as soon as any chela began to think of himself as important, or even indispensable, their downfall was generally only a matter of time. He advised Sahula to attach no significance to ‘status’, or to the length of a person’s hair, and to concentrate on doing his duty to the best of his ability every minute of every day.
But now Sahula had to break the news to Fujal, whose greatest trial was about to begin. And Sahula had been chosen as the instrument to set it in motion . . .
When Fujal saw Sahula’s anguished expression, he was gripped by a feeling of panic. Perhaps, deep down, he already knew what he was about to hear. As Sahula mechanically repeated the message, a look of horror and consternation, of blank and hopeless despair descended upon Fujal’s face. He staggered to his bed, unable to speak. For a moment he looked up at Sahula like a lost child. Then he put his head in his hands and sat there silently, his body trembling. He did not doubt for an instant that his master’s judgement was absolutely final. Sahula resolved that he would relinquish his place in the inner circle in order to look after Fujal. He told Fujal he could always rely on his friendship and support, but Fujal waved him away.
Sahula returned to his own quarters and finally dropped into a fitful sleep. He dreamed he stood face to face with Dazak and was pleading that Fujal be given another chance.
‘How many chances should he be given?’ Dazak asked calmly.
‘Just one more – please.’
‘Do you know how many chances he’s already had?’
Sahula shook his head.
‘Then don’t jump to conclusions. The rules of our Brotherhood have stood for millions of years. They cannot be bent for anybody. Everyone is tested: most fail, very few succeed. In the early stages all sorts of transgressions are tolerated, for no one can transform themselves overnight. But the further we advance along the path, the more inflexible the rules become and the higher the standards we have to meet. Our aim is self-conquest and self-mastery, not selfish and shameful indulgences of any kind.’
‘But what has Fujal done to deserve this sort of punishment?’
‘That is not for me to say. Just remember what your own master once told you: that the only reason you have experienced so few temptations from the lower passions in this life is because you have battled them in previous lives and after many failures you eventually conquered them, by putting the energy wasted on them to better use. But the magnitude of our sins is in no way diminished by the fact that everyone will commit similar errors at some point in their long evolution. To understand human frailties does not mean condoning them.’
‘Well, I’m going to leave the inner circle to take care of Fujal and help him,’ Sahula heard himself saying.
‘You must make your own choice,’ came the reply. ‘But remember that you have pledged yourself to work for the Brotherhood and serve humanity – not to pay the price for somebody else’s failure.’
Early the next morning, Sahula was told by one of the lamas that Fujal had already left the monastery without saying where he was going. Sahula decided to go and look for him. He walked to the monastery gates and was surprised to see Dazak standing there. Assuming that this was another of Dazak’s astral visits and having no desire to speak to him, he decided he would ignore him and walk straight through his illusory form. He received something of a shock when he walked straight into Dazak’s physical body, knocking him to the ground.
Sahula mumbled that he was sorry, as Dazak picked himself up, looking bemused.
‘Do not go after him, Sahula.’
‘Mind your own business,’ Sahula retorted. ‘He’s a human being too, you know. Which way did he go?’
Dazak pointed to the northeast and walked away.
After travelling hurriedly for two hours, Sahula came to the crest of a hill and caught sight of Fujal far off in the distance, climbing a slope. Suddenly a feeling of doubt swept over him. And as he stood there, he knew that he had made a terrible mistake. Whatever he might be able to do to help Fujal, he could not rob him of his learning experiences, of the suffering and pain that inevitably accompanied growth and self-evolution. He could do little more than send him positive thoughts.
Fujal had reached the top of the hill and stood motionless. Sahula felt he was looking at him. Then the distant silhouette moved off and faded away.
Sahula’s mind was filled with anguish and foreboding. Oh, the snares and delusions of personal entanglements and sentimental attachments! What had happened to him? Was he really the same person who just a few months previously had successfully passed through his initiation? He felt serenely miserable. He was fairly sure that he himself had failed by now, since he had treated Dazak – who was obviously a very high chela – with disrespect if not contempt. Well, he had an eternity ahead of him, time enough to achieve all he wanted. And yet what a wasted opportunity! He had thrown away a unique chance to work with the masters, all because of his rash and impulsive action.
What a mess the world was in! If only by sacrificing himself he could bring peace and happiness to the whole human race. He felt powerless. He could have achieved so much more if he had not abandoned his place in the inner circle. All he could do now was to face the consequences as bravely as possible.
He decided he would go back to the mountain hut across the border. Perhaps he could stay there while he was deciding what to do with the rest of his life. At least he would be able to see his mother and sister again. And perhaps he would be allowed to live at one of the monasteries. He still hoped for a final meeting with Dazak, even if it was only to be told he had failed. And whatever happened, it would not alter the direction of his life and his determination to fulfil to the best of his ability the sacred pledge he had made to his master and to his own higher self all those years ago . . .
Sahula set off, trusting that his sixth sense would lead him unfailingly to the hut. And if he fell into the hands of the Chinese, so be it. He walked for the rest of the day and, after a brief rest, continued by moonlight.
Early the next morning he found himself back at the hut. The maid was sitting outside reading a book.
‘Sit down, Sahula.’
Sahula was a little surprised at her commanding tone, but did as she ordered.
‘Serapis told me much about you.’
Sahula was dumbstruck. ‘Serapis’ was the name of his master – a name he had never breathed to anybody as he considered it to be too sacred. How did this cleaning lady . . .
The woman smiled.
‘My name is Helita.’
Another wave of dismay rushed through Sahula’s mind. His master had told him that although most adepts preferred to incarnate in male bodies for certain physiological reasons, there were a few female adepts in their Order and one of the highest was called Helita. Sahula was appalled by his stupidity and lack of intuition. Not only had he treated Dazak contemptuously, he had also shown disrespect to one of the higher adepts. His life as a chela was certainly over.
‘You are as humble and pure and devoted as a child, Sahula. And these are rare qualities that outweigh your weaknesses.’
Sahula gazed into her kind eyes, wondering what was coming next.
‘Tomorrow you leave for Shambhala.’
Sahula could not believe his ears.
‘With me,’ said a voice behind him. Sahula looked round to see Dazak walking towards him. ‘And in case you’re wondering – this is my physical body.’
They all laughed.
Warrior of the Soul - 1: Part 4
Warrior of the Soul: Contents