Ten Aspects of a Long Term Effort
Carlos Cardoso Aveline
1. The Power of Inner Will
In order to follow the path to wisdom, one must have an accumulated will. It is a good idea to be daily alone for some time, in silence, calmly examining the highest and most inspiring dimensions of life.
Willpower is a form of magnetism. We accumulate it by constantly trying to do our best. It is also expanded as we face obstacles with a positive attitude.
Whenever someone decides to study theosophy or tread the Path, the whole magnetism of established routine needs to be disrupted. And nothing can be better than this, if one wants to develop his willpower, for it is not easy to destroy the complex cobweb of interdependent routines.
On the physical, emotional and mental planes of life, routine will “defend itself” in every form, direct and indirect, visible and invisible, predictable and unpredictable. The struggle is largely subconscious, especially in the beginning of the Path. Strange as it may seem, one of the main forms of routine to be unmasked and destroyed is the search of novelties. Perseverance and determination are necessary to dismantle the circle of subtle immobility.
When the inner and higher willpower starts to prevail over the blind logic of oscillating circumstances, the life of the student of philosophy adopts a course of its own, and time, seen as a natural resource, is used with efficiency.
Willpower permeates the whole world and sustains everything in it. The way to wisdom consists in developing an elevated will which operates on the plane of universal intelligence and consciously obeys to three laws:
1) The law of karma;
2) The law of unity of all that exists;
3) The law of cycles, which includes the law of reincarnation.
These three are, in fact, aspects of the One Universal Law.
2. The Sun of Attention and Its Light
The path to wisdom is not unilineal.
Each pilgrim must combine in the best possible way stability with transcendence; firmness and flexibility, the establishment of good habits, and unexpected innovation.
Attention is what enables the pilgrim to bring together such different and opposite factors. He must see the one and the many. The phrase “being vigilant”, in Theosophy, has no transitive verb. It goes beyond paying attention to one or two aspects of reality.
The challenge is being vigilant as an intransitive verb. To pay attention, simply. To be aware of the Whole, to be aware of Nothing, of the Silence, of the Void, and not of anything exclusively. For the void and the nothing include each and every aspect of reality. Attention transcends circumstances. Vigilance produces willpower, but one can also say that willpower produces vigilance.
Qualities like firmness and creativity are different and opposite skills. Their combination allows the pilgrim to respond to the many challenges created by oscillating tides in life. Daily uncertainties are governed by the Moon, into a large extent.
Right Attention sees across every tide. It enables us to transcend any particular circumstance, pleasant or unpleasant as it may be, and every oscillation in the ocean of life. The act of internal Attention corresponds to the light of the Sun, the central point of our solar system, the axis of the wheel of existence.
The brilliance of understanding is impartial. It does not change with cyclic ups and downs. It knows no attachment or rejection. The light of the Sun shines for all. It enlightens and inspires each one according to his Karma. It is perceived in consonance with one’s Dharma, or essential nature. Just like the light of the Sun, correct attention shines in every direction and makes no noise.
3. Lessons Endure, Mistakes Are Corrected
While intellectual and cultural aspects of treading the Path are important, they are far from enough. The pilgrim must walk along the road of original theosophy by developing self-knowledge, self-respect and self-control.
As the student looks at the amount of obstacles in front of him, he may ask himself whether he will be ever able to pass through them.
The very act of formulating the question shows he has in himself the seeds of victory. The mystery and key to his ability to win are in the time framework he adopts. Nobody completes the journey in one weekend. Thirty or forty years may pass with no spectacular results, and there is nothing wrong about this. Victory does not belong to the lower self. However, each step taken along the Right Path is valid in itself, bringing about an immediate relief and a lesson whose value is permanent.
The effect of each lesson will remain for future lives. Sooner or later, mistakes are corrected. And every right action, once it is firm, becomes part of the permanent legacy belonging to the immortal soul.
4. The Three Yogas of Theosophy
To be a Theosophist is one thing, and being a member of the theosophical movement is another one. There are members of the movement who are not theosophists, and theosophists who are not members of the movement.
Theosophist is he who acts as much as possible according to the ideal of human progression and perfection. The truth-seeker is human and imperfect, and yet he improves himself. He knows he is a being under construction. Being a Theosophist consists in trying one’s best, and this is not a lifelong assured achievement. It means one has the karmic right to be tested and confirmed every new day.
By being a part of the theosophical movement, the student has access to better stimuli and tools in a long term effort which must be continuously renewed. The process by which one corroborates his condition of learner brings about daily tests. Obstacles usually emerge when and where they are least expected. Tests are unpredictable in time and space (including psychological space). In order to overcome them, it is correct to combine the practice of three Yogas:
A) The first one is Jnana Yoga - the Yoga of study, of understanding and the contemplation of universal truths. Such truths are living realities.
B) The second one is Raja Yoga. This is the Yoga of self-knowledge, self-respect, self-control and self-responsibility.
C) The third Yoga is the most external one in appearance. It’s Karma Yoga, the Yoga of altruistic action and of brotherly work, which includes the effort for building a theosophical and philosophical movement that is authentic. The task is sharing with a number of persons the karmically given Opportunity to obtain some wisdom.
The three Yogas are equally unavoidable and each of them gives strength to the other two. The contemplation of universal truths, the process of self-control and altruistic action correspond to the three sides of an essential pyramid. The base of the soul’s pyramid is the sincerity to oneself. Yet a great amount of detachment regarding illusions is also necessary to its foundations. The three sides of the pyramid meet at their highest points.
In this way the student is better able to deal with the fact that being a theosophist is a process open to accomplishments and mistakes, and therefore probationary. It is something in constant movement. It is never a fossilized certainty, but only a living, challenging possibility.
5. Potentialities Available to Every Student
The same obstacles which paralyze a despondent individual are stimulating factors to him who relies upon himself. Those factors which allow some to have the necessary rest lead others to extreme levels of laziness and absence of vigilance.
Criticism may defeat the weak; they strengthen even more him who has inner strength. Applause may correctly stimulate one person, and destroy the appearance of common sense of another one.
Thus, it often does not matter what exactly it is that life places before us. A decisive factor is in our decisions regarding what to do about the facts and circumstances. One must examine how we look at life, how we interpret events and the way we deal with the possibilities at our disposal.
6. Reexamining the Facts
Obvious things must be rediscovered at each new step.
Full attention is circular. It involves everything around us, including that with which we are familiar, and that with which we are not.
It is easy to pay attention to situations we know that we don’t know about. It is much more difficult to pay attention to that which we think we know.
There are several practical reasons why this axiom is decisive. In the fraction of a second, whatever seems to be unknown may be understood by intuition. And that which we think we know can suddenly change, destroying old certainties and unquestionable views.
The inner stability granted by contact with one’s conscience makes it possible to look at a constantly changing world with both Attention and Detachment.
7. That Which Does Not Oscillate
A deviation or detour from the Path is rarely presented as such. It usually presents itself as the very Path, only easier, better, and more brilliant. It looks likes the authentic road, and at the same time fascinating. Sometimes it presents itself as a little detour, while it is a profound deviation; or a brief moment of rest, when it is the door that leads to suffering and defeat.
Working amidst many false lights, perseverance along the way must accept the external appearance of unpleasantness and unattractiveness. In the short and medium term, it seems to be a renunciation, and even a loss or defeat.
Tapah, austerity, is necessary for the pilgrim to act in a consistent way.
He who perseveres will be seen and labelled a thousand times as a meaningless failure. In some occasions he may be applauded: if he wants to win, he must not change course because of praise or criticism. He has to listen to his conscience.
Why is it then that life has so many ups and downs?
The answer is simple. The ups and downs of life exist to help the pilgrim find in himself that which does not oscillate.
8. Intuition is Inseparable from Reason
The right use of words is a meditational function. It depends on the ability to listen to the wordless voice of one’s higher self. In the silence of the mind, we see the best way to use them.
Reason is not the same as reasoning, because it transcends thought. It uses ideas as instruments of its expression. Reason is a proportion, a balance and a harmonious relation among dynamic factors. It is a geometrical, mathematical and Pythagorean function tending to the perfectioning of the Whole. It can take place before the action of thinking, as well as during it and after it. While inspiring ideas, Reason is never their prisoner.
Originally, the word “Intellect” also refers to the higher self. Reason and Intellect belong to mankind and constitute the Divine Flame that came from above to reclaim our evolution. It is our duty to acknowledge the fire of consciousness as sacred. Our mind is a Temple and must be respected as such.
Right thought is not distorted by fear, ambition and other animal emotions. Once the clouds of lower self are dissipated, thoughts and ideas shine as Sun rays in the mind’s sky. The limitations are not in the action of thinking, but in the blocks of emotion that disturb it.
An effective intuition transcends the animal soul’s precognition and is united to Reason and Thought, because it comes from higher self. Before a wise decision can be made, intuitive perceptions must be tested on the rational plane. The lightning of intuition has to wait, whenever this is possible, for the examination of critical thought. On the other hand, intuition must not be artificially sought for. It must come from within, in a natural way and its own timing. It cannot be seen as the goal in itself, if the student wants to have real contact with that truth which transcends the five senses and subconscious imagination.
Esoteric philosophy leads one to adopt a universal view of life and transfer the average focus of consciousness to Buddhi-Manas, the mind that thinks and perceives from the point of view of the higher layers of mental plane, thus producing thoughts whose substance is immortal.
Theosophical ideas are essentially imperishable. The study of topics like the law of Karma, the law of analogy, reincarnation or the unity of all beings was perfectly valid one million years ago, and will be up-to-date within 200 thousand years. Thus, by studying classical theosophy we not only improve the quality of life in the present incarnation, but also facilitate the tasks of next phases in our evolution.
The higher mental plane transcends death and flows above physical cycles: on its blessed territory, true intuition takes place with no need to “look for it”.
9. The Sound of Thoughts
The Upanishads - the culminating point of the Vedas - attribute an extraordinary significance to mantras. The power of mantras is unquestionable in theosophy, and Helena Blavatsky wrote that her life was saved in more than one occasion by a sage of the Himalayas, through their use.
However, the conscious use of mantric energy is but one aspect of the issue. There is also the power present in every sound emitted any moment by an individual, regardless of his wisdom or ignorance: and this power is known by few.
Human beings can physically hear a limited range of sounds. Below the lower limit of audibility we have the infrasounds. Above that range, the ultrasounds flow. But sounds also have more distant levels of subtlety and density, far beyond the limits of physical sound, audible or inaudible.
Our thoughts take place at a subjective level of sound. To think is to mentally “listen” to our voice. When we read a book, we “hear” the voice of the writer, or our own.
Thoughts have always an emotional magnetism of varying strength. For this reason we may say that the “sounds” of thoughts include the plane of emotions.
Elevated thoughts work as mantras, especially when they point to a constant and definite direction. If noble thoughts have a power of their own, then thinking spiritually - that is, thinking from the point of view of the spiritual soul - is like emitting mantras. It produces mental sounds from the center of active peace in our consciousness: the sounds of inner silence, of justice, and equilibrium.
This is how the mystery of altruism flows. The sound that vibrates with consistency on all levels - not being limited to the physical realm - is magic. There is a purity or singularity of purpose in its vibration. It must be carefully dealt with, and in a responsible way.
10. The Seven Levels of a Mantra
The use of sounds whose frequency is harmonious with the law of the universe purifies the subtle levels of atmosphere and improves the state of the individual aura. Good classical music is one example of the fact, among many.
Physical sound must be used taking into consideration that sounds are septenary. As all things in Nature, sound vibration occurs on seven planes of reality. In order to describe this in a very simplified way, we might say that physical silence enables one to perceive the substance of sound and silence as they occur on the immediately higher plane, of emotions.
Emotional silence, on its turn, opens the door to seeing the nature of sound and silence in the next plane of thoughts and ideas. The mental and emotional silences combined allow one to perceive the music of the spheres, the voice of the silence, the higher self, the impersonal soul.
Of course, this is but a partial view. In fact, all planes of reality interact among them all the time in multiple ways according to Karma.
The healing power of some mantras derives from the fact that, because they are septenary, they also flow on the plane of the second and third principles of consciousness, Prana and Linga-Sharira, which relate to physical health. A good mantra makes the vital energies get harmonized on various levels, thus producing a balance and well-being which irradiates to the physical plane.
Right thought is truthful and elevated, and works as a mantra generating peace on different dimensions of life.
However, a correct thinking does not occur by chance. It is obtained in a gradual way through a learning process that is probationary. Its higher degrees will be obtained a few incarnations after the beginning of consistent efforts.
In this long term project, each small step grants some amount of freedom and insight to the pilgrim. Any time, the immediate results in self-knowledge are more than enough to show that the long, uphill journey is worthwhile.
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