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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
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
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 shall have.
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: Pea
ce be with you "My peace I give unto you," can only be said
by the Master to the beloved 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 completeness.
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
PEACE BE WITH YOU
1 The 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 punishment."
"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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