Published: Fountain International Magazine, March 2019
A seeker in our modern techno-information crazed world, has access to a plethora of paths at their finger-tips. With this spiritual smorgasbord, how do you know which one to choose? Thus, many seekers wander from one path to another, feeling dissatisfied because some deeper urge in them isn’t finding any true fulfilment. So, what is the meaning of this deeper urge, and what is its source? This deeper urge exists because the Soul, the real higher self, is stirring trying to impress its ‘will’ on to the personality to guide it to the correct path. Since we live for many lives, and past actions act as the engine that drives the present, past spiritual efforts, whether disciplines, studies, or sacrifices are absorbed by Soul memory, again, at the right time become a driving force calling the personality to pick up the effort of the past in this new present. But this Soul influence is filtered through the prism of the personality.
Consequently, Soul impact is reinterpreted by the ever-changing personality. The Soul is like a hard disk drive holding the accumulated memories of all our past incarnations. “Beings bear their past written upon and in them, and one needs but to know how to read it.” (1) Everyone has experienced different things in life, thus each Soul has a different quality. The subtle unknown ‘inner life’ drives the visible outer manifested life. An example of how this works; through a friend, one comes in contact with a yoga organization that follows a popular Indian guru. In this scenario there results an immediate attraction. The individual here feels so strongly drawn to both the guru and the type of yoga discipline that is taught by this guru. They feel that they have found their path. They believe, as do the other members of this yoga organization, that this guru is enlightened. This is a very common occurrence among seekers.
What is happening and what can we learn from this example? In several past lives, this individual has lived in India and had begun to practise some form of yoga under the tutelage of a popular guru. As the cycle returns, when this individual comes in contact with this guru and the yoga he’s teaching, an old longing and a subconscious feeling of familiarity awakens plus this underlying urge of the Soul. I’m simplifying matters here, as you have to add in the influence of Karma that conditions not only the personality but also the Soul. Karma is the thread that ties everything together. What appears to be a new effort is, in fact, a recurrence, unfortunately, with many of these so-called gurus there have been numerous scandals in recent years leaving seekers frustrated in their aspirations for spiritual fulfilment. So, what to do! In fact, situations as I’ve just outlined are in the greater overall scheme of things, part of the path. Through tumultuous spiritual experiences, though the personality suffers, an impact is made on the inner self to help build a new awareness, giving the seeker more opportunity, in time, to make spiritual progress. Lives and the personality pass, but the Soul is eternal, and then a life comes where the Soul-grip on the personality is much greater. Then the inner seeker, now tired of false teachers with their large following and media-savvy, begins to search in earnest for deeper or esoteric knowledge. This search is sometimes compared to one of the Labors of Hercules in his exploits to obtain the ‘Golden 12 Apples of the Hesperides’. In this search, as outlined in the story of Hercules, the seeker has to overcome many hurtles to be a worthy vessel because esoteric knowledge has a refined subtle energy, what the esoteric adapts call “shakti”. This period of effort is called the ‘probationary path’. As this path is travelled, with all its ups-and-downs, eventually an inner stability is recognized, and the seeker becomes conscious that the growth in knowledge has to be balanced by the inner development of one’s ‘being. Too much knowledge results in a soul-strangling pride that creates a false spiritual personality. Such personalities can talk eloquently about spiritual matters and rhyme off many words of seeming wisdom. Though such beings seem sincere, they only enjoying the sound of their voices plus the adulation they so long for. On the other hand, if one only works on their being without the anchor of correct esoteric knowledge, they are prone to be swept away by forces they do not understand. Therefore, balance is the key. Soon the seeker awakens to the fact that there are only two paths: 1. the Eye doctrine 2. the Heart doctrine Both have merit. The Eye doctrine leans heavily on knowledge and is a slower path requiring less sacrifices by the seeker. The Heart doctrine is one of total commitment, where the seeker must face his fluctuating selves, and through great sacrifice purify their entire being. The Heart doctrine is the faster path, as it is more demanding. “It is the emotions which admit you to the citadel of the soul, it is through the Heart that you reach yourself”, (2) This is the path of self-knowledge known as “Atma-Vidya” in the eastern esoteric traditions. This path requires you to hold the mirror of truth and see your personality characteristics for what they really are, your faults, attachments, and illusions. All negative emotions have to be trans formed into ‘harmlessness’. There are five Soul qualities that must be awakened by the seeker for admission to the path of the Heart doctrine.
- A capacity for faith. This is not the faith that is talked about in the churches of the world but a true inner recognition, though as yet you do not truly know it, that the Soul evolves within a greater plan
which includes the Soul group one belongs to.
- Divine confidence or hope inextinguishable. When all is dark, and you feel you’ve lost your way, hope is all that remains
- The gift of Charity. In esoteric Buddhism, this is called, “Dana”, giving from the heart.
- The power of pure Love that gives without any expectation of return.
- Consciousness of the unseen, or knowledge of Super-Nature. This does not mean you need to be clairvoyant, but there must be an inner feeling of connectivity to the Masters of Wisdom, the Elder Brothers, those immortal individualities who guide us and make up the Guardian Wall that protects humanity from greater destructive forces. Plus, the Angelic evolution, or as they are called in the East, the ‘Devas’, who transmit the force of the One Life and Light throughout all evolution. When all this is realized as part of you, then you know, that all your efforts, sacrifices, and disciplines make up your Path and that the Path is within you. Then in the whirl-wind of life, the Voice of the Silence is heard deep in the heart, and then you know for sure, that you have become a knower of the Way.
(1) Mipam, Lama Yongden, pg.193, The Bodley Head, 1938
(2) When the Sun moves Northward, Mabel Collins, Theosophical Press, 1912