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Spiritual Will


 The vital interrelationship of nature and of man, as well as the complex process of evolution and of history, is essentially the manifestation of unity in diversity. Man is a compact kingdom with manifold centres of energy that are microcosmic foci connected with macrocosmic influences. There is a fundamental logic to the vast unfolding from One Source through rays of light in myriad directions into numerous centres that are all held together by a single Fohatic force, an ordering principle of energy. The logic of emanation is the same for the cosmos and for man. The arcane teaching of the divine Hierarchies, of Dhyani Buddhas, of the three sets of Builders and of the mysterious Lipika conveys intimations of invisible, ever-present, noumenal patterns that underlie this immense universe of which every human being is an integral part. The ordered movement of the vast whole is also mirrored in the small, in all the atoms, and is paradigmatically present in the symmetries and asymmetries of the human form with its differentiated and specialized organs of perception and of action.

 Modern man, burdened by irrelevant and chaotic cerebration, often fails to ask the critical, central questions: What does it mean to have a human form? Why does the face have seven orifices? What does it mean to have a hand with five fingers? Why is one finger called the index finger and what is the purpose of pointing in human life? What is the significance of the thumb and what is its connection with will and determination, which must be both strong and flexible? Can flexibility and fluidity be combined in human life in ways analogous to what is exemplified in the physical world by all the lunar hierarchies impressed with the intelligence that comes from higher planes? What is the function of the little finger, which is associated with Mercury? What is the connection between speech and this seemingly unimportant digit which is important for those who have skill in the use of hands, whether in instrumental music or in craftsmanship? When one is ready to ask questions of this kind, taking nothing for granted, then one can look at statues of the Buddha and of various gods in many traditions, where the placement of the hand is extraordinarily significant: whether it is pointing above, pointing below, whether it is extended outwards, whether it is in the form of an oblation or receiving an offering, or in the familiar mudra of the hand that blesses. What is the meaning of joining the thumb and the central finger, which is given great importance in ancient mystical texts?

 The moment one begins to raise such innocent questions about the most evident aspects of human existence, it immediately becomes clear that pseudo-sophisticated people are prisoners of the false idea that they already know. And yet self-reliance and spontaneous trust are so scarce in the world of the half-educated. Many people are so lacking in elementary self-knowledge that when a person meets another, instead of a natural response of receptivity and trust, there is an entrenched bias engendered by fear and suspicion. This has been consolidated through the establishment of a Nietzschean conceptual framework in which all human relationships are viewed simply in terms of domination and being dominated. This obsessive standpoint drains human relationships of deeper content, of spiritual meaning and moral consciousness. All moral categories and considerations become irrelevant when one entirely focusses upon an ethically neutral and colourless conception of the will. To assume and act as if everything turns upon the master-slave relation is a major block to the development of self-consciousness, as Hegel recognized. Humanity has left behind its feverish preoccupation with false dominance in formal structures. The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries witnessed the emergence of a higher plateau of individual and collective self-consciousness. All men and women are the inheritors of the Enlightenment, with its unequivocal affirmation of the inalienable dignity of the individual, who can creatively relate to other human beings in meaningful dialogue and constructive cooperation.

 Rooted in a simplistic but assertive mentality, dissolving all moral issues, the language of confrontation and of submission is irrelevant to the universal human condition and to the hierarchical complexity of nature. Any person with a modicum of thought who begins to ask questions about the marvellous intricacy and dynamic interrelationships of nature – questions about the sun and the stars, the trees and forests, the rivers and oceans, and above all about human growth – will readily recognize that no real understanding of the organic processes of nature can be properly expressed in terms of such jejune categories as dominance and submission. Nor can any meaningful truths about the archetypal relations between teachers and disciples, parents and children, friends and companions, be apprehended through the truncated notion of an amoral will. Human life is poetic, musical and poignant. It has an open texture, with recurrent rhythms, and it continuously participates in concurrent cycles. To know this is to recognize, when viewing the frail fabric of modern societies, that human evolution has not abrogated the primordial principles of mutuality and interdependence, but indeed abnormal human beings and societies have become alienated from their inner resources of true strength and warmth, trust and reciprocity. The Golden Rule remains universal in scope and significance. There is not a culture or portion of the human race, not an epoch in history, in which the Golden Rule was not understood. Without this awareness there would be no social survival, let alone its translation into the language of roles and obligations and into the logic of markets. Reciprocity is intrinsic to the human condition.

 By rethinking fundamentally what it means to confer the potency of ideation upon primal facts such as the conscious use of the human hand, one can discard much muddled thinking which is the prolific parent of a vast progeny of distrustful, fearful, weak and wayward thoughts that are constantly tending in a downward direction. Spiritual will can be strengthened when a person meditates upon the cosmic activity which is partly conveyed through creation myths, and may be grasped metaphysically in terms of the abstract becoming more and more, yet only incompletely, concrete. There must be a firm recognition of the necessary gap – inherently unbridgeable – between the unconditioned and the conditioned, between noumenal light and its phenomenal reflections. For those who begin to sense this in the ever-changing world, it can help to initiate a revolution in their everyday relationships. The true occultist starts at the simple level of constant thoughtfulness and moves to a mode of awareness whereby he can effortlessly put himself into the position of another human being. It is the hallmark of spiritual maturity that one has no sense of psychological distance from another, that one can not only salute but also share the unspoken subjectivity of another human being. When a thoughtful person begins to look at others in this way, the need for involuntary karma and mere extensions to superficial human contact will be replaced by the inward capacity, through every opportunity that comes naturally, to discover the universal meaning of human evolution, the potential richness and actual limitations of human nature, and the shared pathos of the spiritual pilgrimage of humanity. As depth of awareness is gained, it is possible to educate one's perceptions and one's responses to the world, cleansing the mind and the heart, and releasing the spiritual will. One can cultivate a real taste for the rarefied altitudes of Himalayan heights whereupon sublime truths are experienced as noumenal realities.

 The awakening of intuitive insight is an essential prerequisite to authentic participation in human life. Noetic awakening presupposes that one learns to take nothing for granted, and repeatedly re-creates a sense of wonder and openness. It is necessary to increase silence in relation to speech, contemplation in relation to action, and deliberation in relation to impetuous response. Living from within, each day becomes charged with rich significance and is a vital link in a continuous thread of creative ideation. So immense are the potentials of human consciousness that for a true yogin a single day is like an entire incarnation. When individuals truly kindle the spark of Buddhi-Manas, they can rapidly move away from the nether region of dark distrust and abject dependence, and actively think in terms of the high prerogatives and vast possibilities of human life. Through calm contemplation they can come closer to the highest energies in the cosmos. Through proper alignment with what is above and within, they readily perceive the world as a shadowy reflection of reality, and also see beyond fleeting images to the hidden core of what gives vitality and continuity to the stream of consciousness. The restoration of Buddhic perception gives a preliminary understanding of what it is like to become constitutionally incapable of distrust, delusion, cowardice and craving. The mental portrait of the self-governed Sage, who ever remains in effortless attunement to the parentless Source, becomes a transforming reality in daily life. One no longer inhabits the terrestrial region of time and space in which linger many deluded souls for whom one feels true compassion, but one ascends to the empyrean of divine ideation.

 Noble resolves and self-binding commitments are accessible to the spiritual will that is allied with the active aspect of Buddhi, which is Kundalini. In the manifest world Fohat is cosmic electricity, which vitalizes everything and is the intelligent guiding force behind all combinations, permutations and separations which occur throughout all the kingdoms of nature. But in the unmanifest realm Fohat is pure consciousness, the energy of potential ideation. This plane of spiritual unity and volition cannot be approached except by intensely developing the power of abstraction. Suppose that a person starts simply with the difficult but necessary meditation upon the corpse. Every human being knows that one day the body will be stiff like a log of wood, and whether it is burnt or buried it will have already begun to disintegrate from what is arbitrarily called the moment of death, about which there is much uncertainty. When is that moment of death? Is it when the heart ceases to beat and the breathing stops, or is it when electrical activity in the brain subsides? Theosophically, there are further critical questions about the progressive withdrawal of the immortal monad from its different vestures. The astral that is bound up with the physical body must go with the disintegrating body because even for disintegration there must be an invisible basis of intelligence, provided by the gross astral. But there are other aspects of the astral that are connected with the departing principles. Profound meditation upon one's corpse and the moment of death can result in a critical distance and increasing freedom from personal anticipations about the coming weeks, months and years. If a person finds anything morbid in this meditation, it is because consciousness has become escapist, delusive and pleasure-oriented. But if one is ardently concerned with meaning and significance, with ethical considerations of right and wrong, with obligation and responsibility, then one may calmly and detachedly see the moment of death as the completion of a cycle of fulfilment of earthly duties and spiritual exercises.

 It is necessary to move in thought far beyond this initial meditation upon death. One must think of oneself as having lived through and relinquished a wide range of mortal bodies, as having been through innumerable sets of experiences in many different contexts, enacting myriad roles. For the immortal soul the only significant question is whether one learnt anything deeply meaningful about the world and from any opportunities for the elevation of consciousness that it offered. How many times was one able to come into contact with spiritual teachers, and in how many lives was one able to intuit something of the meaning of initiation? As one persists in such questions, one begins to live in and through other people, experiencing an intense interest in the human condition as a whole. Seeing the world through many eyes, one identifies with the standpoint of myriad souls. One begins to discover the secret of the yogin and the Adept: that the more one withdraws within, the more one can universalize one's own concern for the human race. By giving up the false idea that what is visible is necessarily more real than what is invisible, that one has more pressing obligations to those one sees than to those one does not see, one realizes that human evolution could not have continued, that people would not have planted trees for their descendants, without some awareness of the hidden basis of human solidarity. When one has attained some appreciation of this vital fact, it would be of great benefit to meditate upon the sacred Catechism in The Secret Doctrine:

 The Master is made to ask the pupil:
"Lift thy head, oh Lanoo; dost thou see one, or countless lights above thee, burning in the dark midnight sky?"
 "I sense one Flame, oh Gurudeva, I see countless undetached sparks shining in it."
 "Thou sayest well. And now look around and into thyself. That light which burns inside thee, dost thou feel it different in anywise from the light that shines in thy Brother-men?"
 "It is in no way different, though the prisoner is held in bondage by Karma, and though its outer garments delude the ignorant into saying, "Thy Soul and My Soul"."

The Secret Doctrine, i 120

 Any person who begins such meditations and persists in them will experience a tremendous cleansing preparatory to the re-education of the powers of perception and action. Eventually, one no more sees the world as the world sees itself, in terms of separation and contrast, dominance and distrust, dependence and change. Instead one learns to see the world in terms of the continuity behind the change, in terms of that which is deathless within that which is ever dying. One begins to sense the noumenal reality of divine ideation behind the flux of fleeting phenomena. When a person starts to think, feel and respond in the light of this transformed way of looking at the world, deliberately choosing ideas, lines of thought, self-reliant acts of service, feelings of compassion, benevolence and trust, then one's whole conception of reality is altered. Even the sense of being bound down by the persona begins to loosen up gradually.

 Through this regenerative experience one comes to recognize that the motion that is visible is only a surface phenomenon and that the highest energy resides only where all external forces are gathered and withdrawn to a still centre. By the mystic power of ideation one has supersensuous insight and a much sharper sense of the universe as unitary. Until there is Buddhic awareness of the omnipresence and radical unity of unmanifest Fohat, there can be no truly free will and self-reliance, but only compulsive restlessness and passive reaction. Free will in the spiritual sense only begins when one enters into a realm of pure freedom from form, flux and change, and from the temporal succession of states of consciousness. This can be readily tested. If one feels that the first moment that one contacted the Divine Wisdom is now, then one is free, but if it seems years ago, then one is enslaved by the past. If one feels that one's moment of death is now, one is free, but if it seems to lurk in the future, one is mesmerized by change. When one can burst the artificial boundaries of past and future within the present moment, then one begins to experience the spiritual will that is free, powerful and beneficent, and which, because it is unbounded, can lend enormous courage and confidence to the deliberate choice of thoughts and the continuous direction of attention.

 Where the attention or the eye of the Adept falls there is a tremendous intensification of noetic life-currents. There is an intimate relation between the Fohatic energies of ideation and attention focussed in the Eye of Shiva and the Kriyashaktic power of quickening spiritual and material life. In their self-training all disciples must progressively learn to master the power of attention preparatory to any real initiation. First, one has to learn to withhold attention, and one has to do it many times over until it becomes a totally natural process. Lowering one's eyes when going out into the world, holding one's tongue when in company, restraining one's hands from grasping at objects, the disciple learns by withdrawing and withholding attention how it is possible to choose a great idea out of the voidness and how to choose by acceptance what comes under karma in the world. There is nothing personal in this because through heightened awareness one sees that what is chosen at any given time is but one out of myriad possibilities. In this way one is not caught in the delusions resulting from a sensationalist fuss about events. Events do not have any such exaggerated meaning because one always sees that about which Gurudeva speaks – the one undivided Flame. One hears all the time that which is inaudible, like that which is in the fathomless depths of the ocean and in the farthest reaches of space – "the VOICE unbroken, that resounds throughout eternities, exempt from change, from sin exempt, the Seven Sounds in one, THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE".

 Once one becomes a witness to the incredible ordering of life-atoms and a Buddhic perceiver of the immense possibilities they represent, they truly become one's pupils, friends and servants in the great work of universal evolution. Ultimately, one can even overcome the contrast between subjectivity and objectivity, between spirit and matter. Because people do not do this voluntarily, Fohat at one level makes incarnation possible, binding Atma-Buddhi to Manas. When Manas manifests as a man of mighty meditation, it becomes one with Atman, and Buddhi generates that subtle breath of silent Fohatic energy whereby one withdraws from all reflections of light into the empyrean of Divine Truth. The less one is caught up in the agitations of manifested Fohat, the more one feels the intensity of strength of the field of inaudible, unexpressed feeling-energy of Atma-Buddhi radiating from the eternal realm of Sat.

 This "World of Truth" can be described only in the words of the Commentary as "A bright star dropped from the heart of Eternity; the beacon of hope on whose Seven Rays hang the Seven Worlds of Being." Truly so; since those are the Seven Lights whose reflections are the human immortal Monads – the Atma, or the irradiating Spirit of every creature of the human family.

The Secret Doctrine, i 120

Hermes, July 1980
by Raghavan Iyer

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