THE heart of man pants for many things. Desire moves man more than aught else. Passions may lash up the lake of his mind into a thousand pulsations; grief may burn the iron of despair right into his brain, and make him feel as one stranded; all his emotions and feelings may play upon him; the world outside may fasten its grip upon him, toss him up from pillar to post and beat him flat; yet the impress left by these is sooner or later wiped out and man rises to his feet once more. But not so the iron grip of desire. It holds on to him like grim death. It drags out the soul minute after minute of our existence, electrifies the unwilling hand to exertion and stimulates the brain to accomplish its ends.
From the hoary, venerable sage, standing triumphant upon the heights of spirituality, down to the most animalized, coarsened man—the Bushman, the Central African savage—this phenomenon makes itself clearly visible to the observant eye.
Now, there come moments in our lives, when even the greatest money-spinners; the most
to a voice within them which is constantly asking, "Man, where art thou from? Where art thou drifting along? To what end is all this?—Money, wife, children, and all that you hold next to your heart. "What has a man gained, if he has gained the whole world and lost his soul?"
These and similar other questions beat upon our brains in spite of all our contrary partialities, our thorough worldism.
All this unrest and discomfort is quite in the nature of things. Man cannot always be building mud-pies and swallowing "goldpills." Something more abiding, more permanent, is wanted. This yearning after the Eternal makes us call a halt upon the pursuit of blind passions, the hunt after pleasure,—which is the vanishing point between satiety and reaction.
The son wants to be united to the Father, his primal source. God becomes an indispensable necessity. Without Him, life seems to be a dance after fleeting shadows. Each word of advice, of guidance and of spiritual help comes as a cup of cold water to the thirsting soul.
Life is simplicity itself. It is governed everywhere by One Life, One Law, One Word,—such is the grand teaching of the Ancients. And as we, by knowledge, experience and observation, get a clearer grasp of this doctrine of Unity, we approach Truth.
As our vision of God grows more and more distinct, Life with its million, million tongues, seems all music.Fear is sloughed off like a dead skin. Peace, poise and power are all attracted to us by the subtle magnetism of pure thoughts. Man eyes man with Love, Compassion and Pity. The fibres of the mind have grown too finely strung to stand the shock of evil thoughts and desires, and these latter fly off from the keenly vibrant mind. Listen to Yogi Ramacharaka:
"From this point you will gradually develop into that consciousness which assures you that when you say "I" you do not speak of the individual entity with all its power and strength but know that the "I" has behind it the power and strength of the spirit and is connected with an inexhaustible supply of force, which may be drawn upon when needed. Such an one can never experience Fear—for he has risen far above it. Fear is the manifestation of weakness and, so long as we hug it to us and make a bosom friend of it, we will be open to the influence of others. But by casting aside Fear we take several steps upwards in the scale. . . . When man learns that nothing can really harm him, Fear seems a folly. And when man awakens to a realisation of his real nature and destiny, he knows that nothing can harm him and consequently Fear is discarded.
"It has been well said, "There is nothing to fear but fear." . . . The abolition of Fear places in the hands of man a weapon of defence and power which renders him almost invincible. Why do you not take this gift which is so freely offered you? Let your watchwords be "I am;" "I am fearless and free."
The italics are mine. It is a lengthy quotation but each word will repay perusal.
Thus we see that "Spiritual Unfoldment" means a gradual stripping off of the dense and subtle sheaths in which man is clothed for the manifestation of the spirit.
What is the Spirit? I can give you but a very poor idea. The spirit is the highest principle, the most sublime attribute of Man. According to the teachings of advanced occultists and the great sages of India. Man is a sevenfold creature; is also in seven sheaths; manifests on seven planes of being.
These are according to Yogi Ramacharaka's classification: 7 Spirit; 6 Spiritual mind; 5 Intellect; 4 Instinctive Mind; 3 Prana, Vital Force; 2 Astral Body; 1 physical body.
Few, almost none of the present race, have achieved the seventh principle. The spirit in man is a spark from the Divine Flame. It establishes a psychic connection, if I may so put it, between Man and the Absolute. The noblest of men, the most wonderful geniuses, the most brilliant master-minds, were the fortunate recipients of a few flashes of the spirit, which is the Invincible Controlling Power in Man. In moments of deep abstraction, the human consciousness, if concentrated upon high ends, finds messages from the Spirit flash downwards, like a streak of lightning; and the world is startled by the revelation.
As I have remarked before, Man is not a finished
product of nature. He is a developing creature. He has to master all these sheaths and realise the spirit within—Himself.
It is a long and serious task. Those that take it up consciously, undertake the most trying task of life. Yet we are all going that way.
Here are three words:—Instinct, Reason, Intuition. These are the three phases of mind, from the lowest up to the highest. They develop into each other. Instinct dovetails into Reason, and Reason into Intuition. Let us consider them categorically.
The instinct is a subconscious intelligence. There is a self-preserving principle of the mind. The animal world illustrates this. One animal fights another, kills another, to maintain its life. The duckling rushes to the water as its natural element; the newly-fledged bird wants to be on the wing; the child seeks the mother's breast as its source of nourishment; our feet run away with us in moments of peril in spite of ourselves;—it is all Instinct. The various work of the body, digestion, assimilation, tissue change, etc., are all carried on along this subconscious line of mentation. Passion is said to be blind, because it is a part of the Instinct.
This lowest phase of the mind is most developed in man. It has no reason, no volition.
As man grows, he begins to think, to compare himself with others, to analyse things, to classify, to judge, and so on. This is Reason. It is the Intellect, with the conscious entity, "I" as its monarch. The baby ego,
the hitherto sleeping soul, begins to wake up at its magic touch. The will becomes rationalized. It shows itself by assertions, demands and commands.
Through the intellect man learns to recognize his developing manhood. His self-consciousness, the "I am" consciousness, expands and learns to regard himself as a distinct, living, reasoning being.
The intellect controls the Instinctive mind. It checks it from picking up suggestions dropped by others. The will as it develops swings brain and body, the "lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life" round to its own mandates. The half developed intellect is a source of misery. It sends fear thoughts, adverse suggestions, into the Instinctive Mind, which, slave-like, carries out orders blindly.
Into the Intellect, when it has touched its zenith shades the Spiritual Mind, Intuition. Intuition passes beyond, transcends the intellect. It is the "Super-conscious Mind." All that is considered noble and lofty in the mind comes from the spiritual mind. The "brotherhood" of man and the "fatherhood" of God: "True religious feelings, kindness, humanity, justice, unselfish love, mercy, sympathy, etc., come to us through slowly unfolding spiritual mind"
Intuition is the highest phase of the human mind. it sees truth by direct perception. It is the seat of prophesy, inspiration and spiritual insight. As the mind becomes calm and controlled, rays of light penetrate it from the realms of the spirit. Prophesy, the
intuitive perception of some future event, often shows itself. It is a faculty which belongs to the spiritual side of consciousness. It is superior to our physical, astral and mental selves. It transcends the human and shades into the Divine.
Such, in brief, is a crude conception of Spiritual Unfoldment. It does scant justice to this subject, yet it may go to throw some light on some dark problems.
Man is not a sack of flesh, blood and bones. We are all of us traveling God-wards. We have not been born to dance to the orders of others; nor is enjoyment the aim of. life.
Some people, who have developed a little intellect, regard themselves as the créme de la créme of the universe. "We are in a higher sphere." Such is the blindness of conceit. Those that cultivate such ideas will find the ground cut from under their feet.
Let us pick out our line of action carefully. Let us not go into society an Ishmael with our hand raised against every one. Selfish, grasping men are the most unhappy of the whole lot of us. Harm watch, harm catch.
None of us are spotless. If there is any one who repels us, let us not hate him. There is nothing to hate but hatred.
Wisdom and an understanding of our place in the vast cosmic Evolution alone can rob Death of its terrors.
The warm, living impulses of the heart, if carried