The Spiritual Life is Not One of Subtle Rest
But Of Increasing Creative Activity and Real Joy
B. P. Wadia
Mr. B. P. Wadia (1881-1958)
The above text is reproduced from the
book “Living the Life”, by B.P. Wadia,
Indian Institute of World Culture,
“If our thoughts and deeds
enlighten our own minds and bring
peace and joy to our own hearts, they
are the natural expressions of the inner light.”
In work or play, in business as in sport, men prepare themselves by constant practice. The student-server of Theosophy also realizes that he has to prepare for growth, and perceives the fact that growth is through service.
In gaining this perception and in practicing, he makes mistakes. The ways of the higher life are so different, the mode of inner unfoldment at such variance with the methods of what is called modern progress, that invariably there ensues waste of time - the most costly of all commodities in any market.
It is necessary to seize certain ideas which facilitate our endeavors at preparation. The very first of these is like a mirror in which we can measure the stature of our growing inner nature. The spiritual life is not one of subtle rest but of increasing creative activity which begets real joy. Do we feel the zest of life, and contentment in work?
In all things and at all times, do we feel uplifted naturally, that is, without any effort? This is the test. We are apt to judge ourselves from the praise or blame which others bestow. We often value our work entirely in the light of the reputation which it evokes; this is not the test. Spirit-unfoldment registers its strength in light to the mind and repose to the ever-active consciousness. If our thoughts and deeds enlighten our own minds and bring peace and joy to our own hearts, they are the natural expressions of the inner light. Discontent proceeds from absence of bliss, Ananda, which is the very nature of Buddhi.
The affinity subsisting between our inner and outer natures provides the second of the rules for our consideration. Reliance on Atma grows with the denial of ahankara. In that word “denial” lies one of the main practices of the life of the warrior-soul. The life of the senses gives birth to Egotism. The powers and forces of mind are prostituted for the gratification of desire in all relations of life. The marital tie, sacred and beneficent, subsists between mind-powers and the human Spirit, divine in nature. What happens in modern society is symptomatic of what takes place in the life of many a student of Wisdom. The debasing of the marriage life so rampant in our civilization flows from the same archetype whence emerge the divisions in individual life whereby we live in turns the lower animal and the higher divine lives. Between the two, however hidden or obscure, there exist a sure relationship which is expressed in the second rule we are examining.
In preparing ourselves for the Path of Holiness, we have to practice denial of ahankara-egotism by a constant appeal to Atma, the God within. Thus, Self-reliance grows. Atma is altruistic, in the small man as in the large universe. It is everywhere because of its altruistic nature. To rely on It is to see in true proportion the multitudinous effusions of ahankara-soul, the lower self. The light of Atma enables us to determine the real values of the different component parts of the lower self.
Hence, contemplation on Atma becomes necessary; the pure Heart pervades not only heaven but hell. The descent of Jesus into the nether regions is a dramatized version of the psychological experiences every neophyte goes through. In the conquest of flesh, in the holy crusade, the Jehad of the Muslim, pure Atmic altruism pervading the field of battle subdues both good and evil, heaven and hell, rising superior to both. One of the pairs of opposites, pleasure is often mistaken for Bliss for the same reason that the lower self and ahankara are mistaken for the higher self and Atma. In getting ready, the light of Atma which is Bliss, the love of Atma which is Wisdom, and the Labor of Atma which is Sacrifice have to be seen as superior to the pleasure, the knowledge, and the activity of the lower self. With this perception comes the strength to “slay”, that is, to regenerate the animal-man.
The alchemical power to transform the baser metal of the lower self into the gold of the higher abides in the Heart of man. This mighty Shakti-Power lies dormant and asleep - a coiled Dragon of Wisdom. Elsewhere in the human constitution is the venomous snake of self, that eternal foe of every aspirant to Wisdom and Altruism. Snake and Dragon are of the same species and so the injunction - “be merciful to the foe; against its treacheries be on guard”. To subdue the lower but avoid irritation to it is skilful action. The two characteristics necessary for this enterprise are a sense of humor for the foibles of the lower self and a never-failing watchfulness over its insidious ways.
In this holy war of regeneration, the purifying power of knowledge has to be used. This is where Theosophy, as a body of knowledge, sure and infallible, founded and reared on the accumulated experience of the sages, proves useful. Every decent-minded individual wants to better his life; many an enthusiast is willing to practice rules of conduct which will bring success to him. But very few indeed study the science of the soul, even theoretically, for the law of reliance on Atma by the denial of ahankara frightens or discourages them.
Those who mentally understand the teaching often lapse into old ways and modes of denial of Atma and reliance on ahankara. Time is not allowed, such is the rushing nature of our race, for the assimilation of what is studied. The spontaneous generation of the Dragon of Wisdom in the cave of the Heart can take place only in the passage of time. If in that period we are disturbed by events or are wearied to disgust with things, we identify ourselves with those events and things. “Kala (time) alone survives Yama (death) ; Atma (Self) is made of Kala (time).”
To be the better able to help and teach others, we should use time to study, and let time use us for the process of assimilation. Thus yoga with Time is achieved.
Knowledge in the passage of time will purify the lower self of its dross and give birth to compassion by the aid of which others can be truly helped. Compassion replaces Knowledge with Wisdom, makes all actions sacrificial, all existence blissful. Thus yoga with Space is attained.
By a study of Theosophy, we acquire Wisdom; by the practice of Theosophy, we acquire Compassion; these two lead to the attainment and realization of the Bliss of the inner Life.
To be blissful, to be compassionate, and to be discerning - these constitute the eternal triad of preparation for the life of Spiritual service. In this attempt, speaks the Teaching, “Beware of settled security; it leads to sloth, or to presumption.”
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