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Light on the Path, part one
These rules are written for all disciples: Attend you to them.
Before the eyes can see they must be incapable of tears. Before the ear can hear it must have
lost its sensitiveness. Before the voice can speak in the presence of the Masters it must have lost
the power to wound. Before the soul can stand in the presence of the Masters its feet must be
washed in the blood of the heart.
1. Kill out ambition.
NOTE - Ambition is the first curse: the great tempter of the man who is rising above his fellows.
It is the simplest form of looking for reward. Men of intelligence and power are led away from
their higher possibilities by it continually. Yet it is a necessary teacher. Its results turn to dust and
ashes in the mouth; like death and estrangement, it shows the man at last that to work for self is
to work for disappointment. But though this first rule seems so simple and easy, do not quickly pass
it by. For these vices of the ordinary man pass through a subtle transformation and reappear with
changed aspect in the heart of the disciple. It is easy to say: "I Will not be ambitious"; it is not so
easy to say: "When the Master reads my heart, He will find it clean utterly." The pure artist who
works for the love of his work is sometimes more firmly planted on the right road than the
occultist who fancies he has removed his interest from self, but who has in reality only enlarged the
limits of experience and desire, and transferred his interest to things which concern his larger
span of life. The same principle applies to the other two seemingly simple rules. Linger over them,
and do not let yourself be easily deceived by your own heart. For now, at the threshold, a mistake
can be corrected. But carry it on with you and it will grow and come to fruition, or else you must
suffer bitterly in its destruction.
2. Kill out desire of life.
3. Kill out desire of comfort.
4. Work as those work who are ambitious. Respect life as those do who desire it. Be happy as
those are who live for happiness.
Seek in the heart the source of evil and expunge it. It lives fruitfully in the heart of the devoted
disciple as well as in the heart of the man of desire. Only the strong can kill it out. The weak must
wait for its growth, its fruition, its death. And it is a plant that lives and increases throughout the
ages. It flowers when the man has accumulated unto himself innumerable existences. He who will
enter upon the path of power must tear this thing out of his heart. And then the heart will bleed,
and the whole life of the man seem to be utterly dissolved. This ordeal must be endured; it may
come at the first step of the perilous ladder which leads to the path of life; it may not until the last.
But, O disciple, remember that it has to be endured, and fasten the energies of your soul upon the
task. Live neither in the present nor the future, but in the Eternal. This giant weed cannot flower
there; this blot upon existence is wiped out by the very atmosphere of eternal thought.
5. Kill out all sense of separateness.
NOTE - Do not fancy you can stand aside from the bad man or the foolish man. They are yourself,
though in a less degree than your friend or your Master. But if you allow the idea of separateness
from any evil thing or person to grow up within you, by so doing you create karma which will bind
you to that thing or person till your soul recognizes that it cannot be isolated. Remember that the
sin and shame of the world are your sin and shame; for you are a part of it; your karma is
inextricably interwoven with the great Karma. And before you can attain knowledge you must have
passed through all places, foul and clean alike. Therefore, remember that the soiled garment you
shrink from touching may have been yours yesterday, may be yours tomorrow. And if you turn
with horror from it, when it is flung upon your shoulders, it will cling the more closely to you. The
self-righteous man makes for himself a bed of mire. Abstain because it is right to abstain - not that
yourself shall be kept clean.
6. Kill out desire for sensation.
7. Kill out the hunger for growth.
8. Yet stand alone and isolated, because nothing that is embodied, nothing that is conscious of
separation, nothing that is out of the Eternal, can aid you. Learn from sensation and observe it,
because only so can you commence the science of self-knowledge, and plant your foot on the first
step of the ladder. Grow as the flower grows, unconsciously, but eagerly anxious to open its soul to
the air. So must you press forward to open your soul to the Eternal. But it must be the Eternal that
draws forth your strength and beauty, not desire of growth. For in the one case you develop in the
luxuriance of purity; in the other you harden by the forcible passion for personal stature.
9.Desire only that which is within you.
10. Desire only that which is beyond you.
11. Desire only that which is unattainable.
12. For within you is the light of the world - the only light that can be shed upon the Path. If you
are unable to perceive it within you, it is useless to look for it elsewhere. It is beyond you, because
when you reach it you have lost yourself. It is unattainable, because it for ever recedes. You will
enter the light, but you will never touch the Flame.
13. Desire power ardently.
14. Desire peace fervently.
15. Desire possessions above all.
16. But those possessions must belong to the pure soul only, and be possessed therefore by all
pure souls equally, and thus be the especial property of the whole only when united. Hunger for such
possessions as can be held by the pure soul, that you may accumulate wealth for that united spirit of
life which is your only true Self. The peace you shall desire is that sacred peace which nothing can
disturb, and in which the soul grows as does the holy flower upon the still lagoons. And that power
which the disciple shall covet is that which shall make him appear as nothing in the eyes of men.
17. Seek out the way.
NOTE - These four words seem, perhaps, too slight to stand alone. The disciple may say: "Should I
study these thoughts at all, did I not seek out the way?" Yet do not pass on hastily. Pause and
consider awhile. Is it the way you desire, or is it that there is a dim perspective in your visions of
great heights to be scaled by yourself, of a great future for you to compass? Be warned. The way is
to be sought for its own sake, not with regard to your feet that shall tread it.
There is a correspondence between this rule and the seventeenth of the second series. When
after ages of struggle and many victories the final battle is won, the final secret demanded, then
you are prepared for a further path. When the final secret of this great lesson is told, in it is
opened the mystery of the new way - a path which leads out of all human experience, and which is
utterly beyond human perception or imagination. At each of these points it is needful to pause long
and consider well. At each of these points it is necessary to be sure that the way is chosen for its
own sake. The way and the truth come first, then follows the life.
18. Seek the way by retreating within.
19. Seek the way by advancing boldly without.
20. Seek it not by any one road. To each temperament there is one road which seems the most
desirable. But the way is not found by devotion alone, by religious contemplation alone, by ardent
progress, by self-sacrificing labour, by studious observation of life. None alone can take the disciple
more than one step onwards. All steps are necessary to make up the ladder. The vices of man
become steps in the ladder, one by one, as they are surmounted. The virtues of man are steps
indeed, necessary - not by any means to be dispensed with. Yet, though they create a fair
atmosphere and a happy future, they are useless if they stand alone. The whole nature of man must
be used wisely by the one who desires to enter the way. Each man is to himself absolutely the way,
the truth, and the life. But he is only so when he grasps his whole individuality firmly, and by the
force of his awakened spiritual will, recognizes this individuality as not himself, but that thing
which he has with pain created for his own use and by means of which he purposes, as his growth
slowly develops his intelligence, to reach to the life beyond individuality. When he knows that for
this his wonderful complex separated life exists, then, indeed, and then only, he is upon the way.
Seek it by plunging into the mysterious and glorious depths of your own inmost being. Seek it by
testing all experience, by utilizing the senses in order to understand the growth and meaning of
individuality, and the beauty and obscurity of those other divine fragments which are struggling
side by side with you, and form the race to which you belong. Seek it by study of the laws of being,
the laws of Nature, the laws of the supernatural, and seek it by making the profound obeisance of
the soul to the dim star that burns within. Steadily, as you watch and worship, its light will grow
stronger. Then you may know you have found the beginning of the way. And when you have found
the end its light will suddenly become the infinite light.
NOTE - Seek it by testing all experience; and remember that when I say this I do not say: "Yield
to the seductions of sense in order to know it." Before you have become an occultist you may do
this; but not afterwards. When you have chosen and entered the Path you cannot yield to these
seductions without shame. Yet you can experience them without horror; can weigh, observe, and
test them, and wait with the patience of confidence for the hour when they shall affect you no
longer. But do not condemn the man that yields; stretch out your hand to him as a brother pilgrim
whose feet have become heavy with mire. Remember, O disciple, that great though the gulf may be
between the good man and the sinner it is greater between the good man and the man who has
attained knowledge; it is immeasurable between the good man and the one on the threshold of
divinity. Therefore be wary lest too soon you fancy yourself a thing apart from the mass. When you
have found the beginning of the way the star of your soul will show its light; and by that light you
will perceive how great is the darkness in which it burns. Mind, heart, brain all are obscure and
dark until the first great battle has been won. Be not appalled and terrified by the sight; keep your
eyes fixed on the small light and it will grow. But let the darkness within help you to understand
the helplessness of those who have seen no light, whose souls are in profound gloom. Blame them
not. Shrink not from them, but try to lift a little of the heavy karma of the world; give your aid to
the few strong hands that hold back the powers of darkness from obtaining complete victory. Then
do you enter into a partnership of joy, which brings indeed terrible toil and profound sadness, but
also a great and ever-increasing delight.
21. Look for the flower to bloom in the silence that follows the storm; not till then.
It shall grow, it will shoot up, it will make branches and leaves and form buds, while the storm
continues, while the battle lasts. But not till the whole personality of the man is dissolved and
melted - not until it is held by the divine fragment which has created it, as a mere subject for grave
experiment and experience - not until the whole nature has yielded and become subject unto its
higher Self, can the bloom open. Then will come a calm such as comes in a tropical country after the
heavy rain, when Nature works so swiftly that one may see her action. Such a calm will come to the
harassed spirit. And in the deep silence the mysterious event will occur which will prove that the
way has been found. Call it by what name you will, it is a voice that speaks where there is none to
speak - it is a messenger that comes, a messenger without form or substance; or it is the flower of
the soul that has opened. It cannot be described by any metaphor. But it can be felt after, looked
for, and desired, even amid the raging of the storm. The silence may last a moment of time or it
may last a thousand years. But it will end. Yet you will carry its strength with you. Again and again
the battle must be fought and won. It is only for an interval that Nature can be still.
NOTE - The opening of the bloom is the glorious moment when perception awakes; with it comes
confidence, knowledge, certainty. The pause of the soul is the moment of wonder, and the next
moment of satisfaction - that is the silence.
Know, O disciple, that those who have passed through the silence, and felt its peace and retained
its strength, they long that you shall pass through it also. Therefore, in the Hall of Learning, when
he is capable of entering there, the disciple will always find his Master.
Those that ask shall have. But though the ordinary man asks perpetually, his voice is not heard.
For he asks with his mind only; and the voice of the mind is only heard on that plane on which the
mind acts. Therefore not until the first twenty-one rules are passed do I say that those that ask
To read, in the occult sense, is to read with the eyes of the spirit. To ask is to feel the hunger
within - the yearning of spiritual aspiration. To be able to read means having obtained the power in
a small degree of satisfying that hunger. When the disciple is ready to learn, then he is accepted,
acknowledged, recognized. It must be so, for he has lit his lamp, and it cannot be hidden. But to
learn is impossible until the first great battle has been won. The mind may recognize truth, but the
spirit cannot receive it. Once having passed through the storm and attained the peace, it is then
always possible to learn, even though the disciple waver, hesitate, and turn aside. The Voice of the
Silence remains within him, and though he leaves the Path utterly, yet one day it will resound, and
rend him asunder and separate his passions from his divine possibilities. Then, with pain and
desperate cries from the deserted lower self, he will return.
Therefore I say: Peace be with you "My peace I give unto you," can only be said by the Master to
eloved disciples who are as Himself. There are some even among those who are ignorant of
the Eastern Wisdom, to whom this can be said, and to whom it can daily be said with more
Regard the three truths.1-They are equal. These written above are the first of the rules which are
written on the walls of the Hall of Learning. Those that ask shall have. Those that desire to read
shall read. Those who desire to learn shall learn.
PEACE BE WITH YOU
1The Three Truths are thus given in the eighth chapter of The Idyll of the White lotus :
"There are Three Truths which are absolute, and cannot be lost, but yet may remain silent for lack of speech.
"The soul of man is immortal, and its future is the future of a thing whose growth and splendour has no limit.
"The principle which gives life dwells in us, and without us, is undying and eternally beneficent, is not heard, or seen, or smelt, but
is perceived by the man who desires perception.
"Each man is his own absolute law-giver, the dispenser of glory or gloom to himself; the decreer of his life, his reward, his
"These Truths, which are as great as is life itself, are as simple as the simplest mind of man. Feed the hungry with them."
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