THE WISDOM AND THE WAY
By Eric McGough
These are the full session notes from the Theosophical audio course – seven pages.
For details of this audio course and others in this series, click –
North Wales Centre for Theosophy.
SESSION FIVE - THE WAY.
We are now about to enter the field of applied theosophy. We will be looking at how the Wisdom Teaching could (if we take it seriously) effect the way that we live our lives. We should make a clear distinction regarding Theosophy and members of the Theosophical Society. To be a member of the society is not necessarily to be a theosophist in the practical sense. By practical I mean attempting to live a spiritual life according to the implications of the Wisdom Teachings. There are many people who live in harmony with one or other aspect or version of the Ancient Wisdom, and who have never come in contact with the Theosophical Society.
Members of the TS are no different to members of society in general, and why should they be? However, on the whole members are drawn from those members of the general public who are interested in finding a deeper meaning to life, and who have in some way or other started to question the ordinary values that most people follow. From this perspective I think it is fair to say that there is a general consensus in the TS that we should be attempting to live more from a spiritual impetus, and applying the teachings as best we can.
So far we have only looked at the basic teachings in respect of the creative process, and the arrival and partial development of life and form. We have seen that we humans are a part of that process, and in fact, that we are the leading wave of this particular evolution. The Wisdom Teaching contains masses more information than this. So much more that we could spend the rest of our lives studying it, and in fact that is what most serious Theosophists do. What we have looked at is comparable to a single page of the telephone directory, yet even that small part gives us plenty of pointers as to how we can live more meaningful lives.
To begin with, we must start to consider what our lives are for. Why are we living in these bodies going from day to day, month to month, and year to year until we reach our death? Are we making the most of this life situation? Are our lives of real value to our families, friends, community, country or even the world? Some people do something remarkably, such as Mandela, Mother Teresa, and Ghandi. People like these make the world sit up and take notice, they change all our lives. We can’t all do such great things but we can bring about changes in our own small environment, and whether we realise it or not, changes that we make to ourselves affect the whole of creation. Apart from any other consideration, it is in our personal lives that we have real choice. This is where we are in a position of power. Our own lives are ours to command, and the first thing that we should do is to take stock of just who or what holds the strings to our thoughts, feeling, and actions.
We can’t change the world if we can’t change ourselves.
One of the first things that the Teachings show us is that we can, and must, take control of our own evolution. The first requisite for entry to the Path that will eventually lead us to spiritual awareness and perfection is that we accept full responsibility for our own lives and spiritual progress.
This responsibility is normally born by the law of karma, which follows its steady course over our numerous lives along the cyclic path of reincarnation. This is the indirect or Long Route, ‘The Spiritual Path’ is the short or direct route, and demands positive steps to work toward future balance.
Once we have accepted that our lives and our mistakes, blindness, ignorance and so on are nobody’s fault but our own, we can start to make real progress. To realise this fact we need to think or meditate on such things as circumstance, chance, fairness, and privilege etc. We blame circumstances for many things – lost opportunities, failures, inactivity and so on. ‘It’s not my fault,’ we say, ‘I did the best I could in the circumstances’. Or ‘It was just bad luck’. To blame circumstances or chance as unfair, or to see events from the perspective that circumstances are beyond our control, therefore we are victims, is to miss entirely the opportunity to grow as human beings. We blame all kinds of things for our own inadequacies, even the families into which we are born.
Once we can see clearly over the wall of miserable excuses that make up much of our mistaken view of life, we will soon start to change our lives for the better in every respect. If we do that, others around us will also start to benefit from our newer, more real understanding. The best counsellors, for instance, are those who see life from a higher view and our help and advice becomes that much more appropriate when we take off the blinkers of blame.
The Wisdom Teaching shows us very clearly that creation is not the product of blind chance. Rather, it is an orderly, deliberate, and well managed system with a clear purpose. It shows us that this purpose is known to all higher beings and to the highest of humanity also. The fact that we can come to know and understand this purpose is privilege beyond price. But in the immediate sense it tells us that as we are a part of that purpose there can be no such thing as chance, unfairness, bad luck, and more importantly, there are no victims.
To start to see life from this perspective is to start to gain strength, because strength is used up on self-pity, blame, recrimination, self indulgence, pettiness, jealousy and a host of other negative emotions and attitudes. We do not have an abundance of time to waste on these things. Each of our lives passes so quickly, and such indulgences are a waste of the tremendous effort that so much of life goes to in order for us to incarnate.
If we were to reclaim all of the power that we lend out to various indulgences, pseudo authorities, and illusory fears we would be so much more effective in everything that we do.
It is remarkable how even the teaching of the cyclic nature of creation as outlined in the second and third fundamental propositions can open our eyes to a higher view of every day living. On the face of it, this aspect of the teaching seems to be rather mechanical. It is a process – all aspects and all processes move in cycles even as the great cycle of being/non-being does at the Cosmic level. But the fact is that this is not a particular part of creation, it is all of it, every thing. How then can we apply it in our lives?
When we think, feel, or act badly towards someone that thought, feeling, or act goes out from us under the force of the energy that we have spent on it, and we think that it is done, past, history. In time we will forget all about it. But the law of movement – the law of cycles – ensures that in due course that thought, feeling, or action will return to us. When it does we will be the recipient of all of the badness that we intended for our original target, and in some cases the harmful content will have multiplied. The words – ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ come to mind. We would assume that this advice is based on the idea that if we want people to be nice to us we should be nice to them, and this is obviously good advise as far as it goes, but we all act, feel, and think towards others without their knowledge and this is not the same thing. The one is exoteric, simple morality for the masses. Be good to others or they will not be good to you. The other is esoteric, known only to the student of the Wisdom or the disciple. The cyclic law will return all to its creator.
It is obvious that it is not only the bad, but the good also that will come home to roost.
To obstruct another is to obstruct ourselves, to hurt another is to hurt ourselves, to help another is to help ourselves, and to teach another is to receive learning for ourselves.
In applying the Wisdom Teachings in our lives we are working with the law of karma at first hand. Only through conscious effort to balance all aspect of living can we come to understand the intricate workings of this central law of evolution. Karma strives always to bring about balance in all things, and to that effect it must bring all deeds, feelings, and thoughts to account. This it does through the law of cyclic motion. Truly has it been said that what goes around comes around. Students of theosophy know that what comes around may be from yesterday or from last year, or from a previous life. The origin matters not. What matters is that we start right now to send around positive energy, which will not deplete us because it will be repaid with interest: in this way, as we live so our energy levels grow, and therefore the greater the awareness that we can sustain. Otherwise, as we live, our energy levels are steadily depleted resulting in less awareness and even premature ageing.
The examples we are considering are from the implications of sessions 1 – 4 so that you have the necessary information from both the talks and the notes to see the connections and the rational behind them. In sessions 2 and 3 we talked about the different kingdoms of nature and the separate life-waves working in and through them. We understood that the 2nd Logos, working in the 2nd outpouring, builds the forms and ensouls them, building ever more complex forms as its capacity to express the divine plan grows. The life-waves are so called because they flow one after another like the waves reaching a shore. Yet all of the seven life-waves are expressions of the one divine life, just as each of your thoughts is an expression of your single mind though they flow in succession.
Applying this knowledge to our lives, we should look upon the lower kingdoms of nature as parts of us. It is not the case that we - the superior humans - have the right to do as we please with the rest of the life on this planet. Even the Bible has been twisted to make it seem that we can do what we want because we have ‘dominion’ over the rest of creation. This has encouraged man’s terrible arrogance and his evil treatment of all other species from the animals and plant life, to the earth itself. At a certain point in our evolution we humans were given the ‘custodianship’ of the rest of nature from the Devic Hosts, who had held its care in there capable hands since the beginning of life on Earth. The fact that we have betrayed that trust is a sad reflection on our moral and spiritual state.
We should care for the other life-waves and their forms as we would our own children. We should give them every means to grow and express their potential, just as we have done in our distant past, and without which we would not have reached the human stage of evolution. The very least that we can do for them is to show them real respect. This means not exploiting them for our own ends (personal wealth), and not subjecting them to unnatural living conditions. We breed billions of animals in the most disgusting conditions just to feed our perverted taste buds. We grow untold tons of vegetables covered in poisonous chemicals just to make more and more profit. And we rip the Earth apart laying waste to whole areas to support these and many other wrongs.
But how will we ever take responsibility for the lives of the lower kingdoms if we can’t accept responsibility for our own? This is surely the central issue in the whole question of spirituality and leading a meaningful life. A practising Theosophist does not blame anyone else for what ever comes his or her way. A Theosophist attempting to live by the implications of the Wisdom Teaching will not always succeed. Mistakes will be made, and lessons learned. It must take several lifetimes of this learning to reach a stage where real wisdom prevails over ignorance. We may be just starting those lives or be some way along them. Be that as it may, our task is surely to reach for deeper understanding and higher realisation of spiritual truth whatever stage we are at.
We will continue to examine ways to live the Wisdom in session six.
The Theosophical Society in Wales