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 SIX - continuing 'THE WAY'.
Take a look at the diagram.
- two cones or pyramids – one on top of the other. Imagine the interface between the two to be like a mirror or a pool of water. With this in mind we can see the bottom one of the two as a reflection of the top one. Using this as a model we can give our minds an aid to understanding the spiritual truth that our lower self or personality is in fact but a reflection of our higher self or spirit. However, there is much more to the relationship between the spiritual self and its reflection in the lower planes, than this simple image can portray.
The initial connection is from the spiritual self, via the higher mind to the lower mind. A thread or spark of consciousness is dropped into the vortex of the lower mind, thereby endowing the otherwise subconscious, instinctive awareness with conscious, self-awareness. It is through this deliberate involvement of the higher self, via the subjective and objective aspects of mental capacity that the spirit will gradually (over many incarnations) come to express its potential in all of the planes of existence, from the Atmic to the Physical.
Although it is true that the mind can operate independently of the physical brain, it nevertheless very rarely will during physical life. A very strong connection is established between the brain and the mental vehicle at two significant points in the development of the physical vehicle. The first occurs in the womb at seven months, this is when the lower mind is ‘wedged’ into the brain of the foetus. The second takes place at seven years when the higher mind is linked to the brain via the antakarana or causal bridge between lower and higher mind.
The antakarana is the interface between the lower and higher mind, and therefore between the higher and lower self. It is the major ‘laya centre’ of the individual monadic life. In early humans it served only as a means to promote self-awareness by providing a tenuous link to the higher will. As human intelligence develops it acts as a filter, allowing only pure harmonic vibrations to pass through to the higher self, and therefore to become part of the permanent awareness of the spirit.
It is a gross mistake to believe that spiritually we are perfect and therefore need only to extricate ourselves from our personality to return to a perfect state of oneness with all life. The wisdom teaching tells us in no uncertain terms that the process of creation is a cyclic one, the purpose of which is to unfold and develop the potential latent within the absolute and eternal Mother/Father principle. The ‘ever-becoming’ knows nothing of perfection, for that would be a contradiction; it is ceaseless motion from latency to activity, to further capacity, to latency, to activity and so on. Even the idea of ‘now’ is a contradiction; a state of now can not exist in an ever-unfolding process. There is no stopping place in an ever-becoming manifestation.
To return to the matter of the spirit and its connection to the personality, there are very potent implications that should be understood from this knowledge. Because the spirit does not have a direct connection to the brain until around the seventh year of the child’s development, the child can not manifest its latent karma (That which is carried over from its previous lives). The reason for this is that karma does not belong to the personality. All karma is the business of the spiritual self – that which is ultimately responsible for the actions of its temporary personalities from life to life. The karmic effects that do impinge on the pre-seven year child are of a family and group origin. When such effects are carried through to the seventh year and beyond, the individual aspects of the karma are added.
An interesting twist to this is that just as the individual karma can not manifest before seven, no individual karma can be generated either. All such karma would be the responsibility of family and group.
Before the child is connected to its higher self it is absolutely wrong to expect it to make its own decisions. To do so would be a gross neglect of parental responsibility. Both parents should be responsible for every aspect of the child’s life from birth to seven years old. There is a growing attitude in modern parenting that the child should be treated with all the status of a grown man or woman, and therefore should be consulted regarding every aspect and decision of its little life. What it will eat, what it will wear, what it will do, when it will sleep and when it will anything. This is absolutely unreasonable and totally unfair. How can a child of three know what is right or wrong for it to eat? Or know anything of any use to it in the question of what is in its best interest? Even if the originators of this ‘modern view’ could argue the case for equality and consideration for the child’s feelings in these matters, the stark fact remains that there is no responsible spirit influencing the child from within. And there is no connection to that spirit, which will eventually be the recipient of the consequences when IT takes charge. In the meantime, it is the parent or guardian who should assume that role. Such is parental responsibility, and in this matter most animals outshine us, simply doing what comes natural.
Looking at our diagram and at diagram one also, we should be able to understand the importance of meditation as a life enhancing practice. It is not by chance that we are collectively called ‘man’ or ‘mankind’, because the word ‘man’ is from the Greek – manas – meaning literally – mind stuff. We are the stuff of mind. It is our mental capacity and development that defines us as the highest and most powerful of the kingdoms of nature. But it is not just the thinking mind, our logical, reasoning mind that marks us out; it is our higher mind – that which gives us self-awareness. And through the upper reaches of the mental plane, of which higher mind is a conscious synthesis, our connection to spirit. Of course, I am describing this from the point of view of our personality, but it should really be the other way round. When the time comes that we can see our Self, not as personality that has a connection to a spiritual self, but as a spiritual Self that has a connection to a personality. When we have developed the antakarana, that laya centre between higher and lower mind, to its potential, and brought to activity that which is even now latent within us – the joining in full consciousness of the two halves of the mind into one. Then, and only then, will we be able to see ourselves from the true perspective.
Meditation helps us to achieve that goal. It helps us to take control of the central energy of our being – mind. Through meditation we can learn to master our emotions and our thoughts. We can learn to see them as they really are. We can penetrate to the heart of things, thereby coming to know external things from their inner qualities, rather than from their outward appearances. In meditation we can come to know the higher mind through the realisation and experience of that higher awareness in its role as observer. Through the practice of meditation, we can achieve a gradual shift from actor to observer in our daily lives. With this higher view our lives and the events that populate them will become clearer to us. Meditation turns knowledge into wisdom by the process of opening awareness to include a higher view.
The Ancient Wisdom contains the record of the origins of our intelligence, but this basic course is not the place to go into such detail. Suffice it to say that human intelligence is not all the consequence of the gradual development of the mammalian throughout the millions of years of earth’s growth. If that were so, we would still not have developed much beyond the level of the instinctive mind of present day domestic animals. Our species benefits from the involvement of the First Logos at the higher mental level, and then from higher beings whose special development in previous manifestations has been the fifth principle – mind.
These factors result in realignment from unconscious spiritual purpose to conscious spiritual will. In other words, we were unconscious rays of Monadic Essence, attached to evolving material forms, evolving slowly towards an awakening of that essence. With the coming of the First Logos and the involvement of the Beings of Mind, our Monadic Essence receives a great boost – a wake up. Involvement, directly in the life of the personality through the enriched higher mind gradually awakens the individual Monad. And so, with conscious effort, the goal of INDIVIDUAL SPIRITUAL AWARENESS becomes realised.
The prior state of unconscious group unity then becomes background awareness, but it is still available to our spiritual consciousness by specific focus - something like our peripheral vision.
Once we understand this aspect of the Wisdom Teaching we should endeavour to refocus our view from the personality to the higher self. We should try to see ourselves not as physical beings, with emotions, minds, and some sort of spirit, but as spirits that are using body, emotions, and mind as vehicles of spiritual expression. Our lower selves are truly a focusing of spiritual awareness in the restricting worlds of gross matter for the purpose of developing spiritual individuality – initially through isolation and self preservation and eventually through co-operation and service.
The long process of development, which of necessity takes us through countless lives from primitive man to Masterhood, inevitably results in much baggage being accumulated along the way. That baggage becomes built into us – becomes us, in our everyday expression. Being of long duration, this ‘baggage’ is hard to eject, and can well be described as ‘squatters in the house of the spirit’. Try to evict them – they won’t go. They have the law on their side, the law that says ‘they have a right to be there, since we invited them in and made them well and truly at home.’ These are our attitudes, self-importance, preference to indulgence, temper, jealousy, greed, bigotry, superiority etc. Paramount among these is our self-image, which very firmly marks us as physical and mortal beings.
When we study the Ancient Wisdom we gain a totally different view. Without this higher view we stand very little chance of removing our squatters because the ways of the world are all geared to re-enforcing those impostors and keeping the real owner – the spirit – out. It’s as though our minds are so cluttered with the business of the mundane world and the concerns of the little self that there is no room left for the spiritual being whose mind it really is. Life can be dull and very ordinary, taken up almost entirely with pointless routines. Or it can be vibrant and awesome, with magic and the power of spiritual beauty on every hand. But it can not be full of magic if our minds are full of out worn junk, held onto out of insecurity and fear.
We are misinformed, misguided, and very much mistaken. We adopt these squatters because everybody else does. We do everything, initially, because others do. This is due to our early development when we were not the thinkers that we are now. We adopted the safe option of the herd mentality – a hang over from the animal kingdom. Now we are stuck with that pattern like it or not. It takes time to break the habits of many lifetimes, and it takes the will to do so. We will not give up our mass conformity unless we have a very good reason to do so. However, nothing could be more rewarding or bring spiritual awareness nearer than the completion of this task.
Great people have all been great individuals. Great achievements are not the product of the herd mentality. Self-mastery is the greatest personal achievement that we can attain. All attempts to master others, situations, or natural forces and so on are misguided substitutes for the higher task of self-mastery.
The Theosophical Society in Wales