Compassion - The Spirit of Truth

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Compassion - The Spirit of Truth

By Helena Petrovna Blavatsky

Head Learning Versus Soul Wisdom

Worldly mind and higher mind 4 are miles apart. The lower cannot even beg the higher for help since any calculating thinking strengthens the very beast to be defeated. And because the former understands that such a prospect will spell its own demise, it puts up an amazing web of evasion, procrastination, hide-and-seek.

Search for the Paths. But, O Lanoo, be of clean heart before thou startest on thy journey. Before thou takest thy first step, learn to discern the real from the false, the ever-fleeting from the everlasting. Learn above all to separate Head-learning from Soul-Wisdom, the “Eye” from the “Heart” doctrine.1

Only the pure in heart can overcome the chimera of head-learning and with the sword of Truth admit their selfless souls to the adytum of Love: 

The inventor, the mechanician, the artist, painter, sculptor, or musician, the man of learning, the scientist, the poet, the orator, the journalist, the lawyer, the man of letters, as such, is never called wise. He may be called clever, talented, brilliant, able, skilful, encyclopædic, charming, elegant, fascinating, powerful, masterly, or a genius, but not wise — unless and until he combines philanthropy with his knowledge and ability of whatever kind, and, also, unless and until his knowledge includes knowledge of the workings of the human heart. . . . Cleverness is not enough. Brilliant glibness of the tongue, is not enough. Intellectual fitness is not enough. Ethical fitness is needed ever more. Intellectual fitness plus ethical fitness, knowledge plus love of humanity, is Wisdom, the cardinal virtue pre-eminently needed by philosopher-legislators, by scientist-priest-educators, true Brahmanas, (in the etymological and not the ossified hereditary sense of the word), of every race and creed and clime.2

Cramming knowledge into the head does not lead it anywhere, apart from inflating its size. 

According to Indian conviction, Brahma-vidya, the realization of being . . . is not attainable by the process of thinking. Thinking is believed to move in its original sphere, without ever leading beyond it. Just as no amount of development can lead the senses to perceive thought, so no amount of thinking could lead to metaphysical realization.3

The common belief that the more we learn the less we know is true but it applies exclusively to “head-learning” and the endless cerebrations of an irrational mind, “senseless to feel, and with seal’d eyes to see.” 4 

Franz Hartmann blames the general lack of zest for higher knowledge on the narrow outlook of curricula and the spiritual aridity of a rotting age:

The reason why so few can realise the meaning of the term “selfknowledge,” is that the knowledge obtained in our schools is exclusively of an artificial kind. We read that which other men have believed and known and we imagine we know it. We fill our minds with the thoughts of others and find little time to think for ourselves. We seek to arrive at a conviction of the existence of this or that object by means of arguments and inferences, while we refuse to open our eyes and to see ourselves the very thing about whose existence we argue. Thus from a theosophical point of view we should appear to a higher being like a nation of people with closed eyes arguing about the existence of the sun and unable or unwilling to look at it for ourselves.1

And he argues that our relentless obsession with facts and figures hinders access to spiritual knowledge: 

The more the mind analyses a thing and enters into its minor details the easier does it lose sight of the whole; the more man’s attention is divided into many parts, the more will he step out of his own unity and become complicated himself. Only a great and strong spirit can remain dwelling within its own self-consciousness, and, like the sun, which shines into many things without becoming absorbed by them, looks into the minor details of phenomena without losing sight of the truth which includes the whole. The most simple truths are usually the ones which are the most difficult to be grasped by the learned, because the perception of a simple truth requires a simple mind. In the kaleidoscope of ever-varying phenomena the underlying truth cannot be seen upon the surface. As the intellect becomes more and more immersed in matter, the eye of the spirit becomes closed; truths which in times of old were self-evident have now been forgotten, and even the meaning of the terms signifying spiritual powers has become lost in proportion as mankind has ceased to exercise these powers. Owing to the conceit of our age of selfishness, which seeks to drag spiritual truths down to the scientific conception of a narrow-sighted animal rationalism, instead of rising up to their level, the character of modern popular science is shown in the amount of cleverness with which illusory self-interests are protected; “faith,” the all-saving power of spiritual knowledge, is believed to be superstition; “benevolence” folly, “love” means selfish desires, “hope” is now greed, “life” the creation of a mechanical process, “soul” a term without meaning, “spirit” a nonentity, “matter” a thing of which nothing is known, etc.2 

The common curse of mankind — folly and ignorance.3

In his analysis of Simon’s soteriology, GRS Mead hints at some implications of Man being the “Mirror and Potentiality of the Cosmos, the Macrocosm”: 

Whatever was true of the emanation of the Universe, was also true of Man, whatever was true of the Macrocosmic Æons was true of the Mi- crocosmic Æons in Man, which are potentially the same as those of the Cosmos, and will develop into the power and grandeur of the latter, if they can find suitable expression, or a fit vehicle. This view will explain the reason of the ancients for saying that we could only perceive that of which we have a germ already within us. Thus it is that Empedocles taught:

“By earth earth we perceive; by water, water; by æther, æther; fire, by destructive fire; by friendship, friendship; and strife by bitter strife.”

And if the potentiality of all resided in every man, the teaching on this point most forcibly has been, Qui se cognoscit, in se omnia cognoscit — He who knows himself, knows all in himself — as Q. Fabius Pictor tells us. And, therefore, the essential of moral and spiritual training in ancient times was the attainment of Self-Knowledge — that is to say, the attainment of the certitude that there is a divine nature within every man, which is of infinite capacity to absorb universal Wisdom; that, in brief, Man was essentially one with Deity.1

Blavatsky pronounces three prerequisites for those after self-knowledge: The first necessity for obtaining self-knowledge is to become profoundly conscious of ignorance; to feel with every fibre of the heart that one is ceaselessly self-deceived. 
The second requisite is the still deeper conviction that such knowledge — such intuitive and certain knowledge — can be obtained by effort. The third and most important is an indomitable determination to obtain and face that knowledge. 
Self-knowledge of this kind is unattainable by what men usually call “self-analysis.” It is not reached by reasoning or any brain process; for it is the awakening to consciousness of the Divine nature of man. To obtain this knowledge is a greater achievement than to command the elements or to know the future.2

And warns those who are not able to distinguish between the “still small voice” and the “sweet-tongued voices of illusion”: 3 

Self-abnegation is possible only to those who have learnt to know themselves; to such as will never mistake the echo of their own inner voice — that of selfish desire or passion — for the voice of divine inspiration, or an appeal from their MASTER. 4

We may think that we can approach our inner self by reaching some towering level of consciousness. But mere introspection can be treacherous without the safety of self-giving action. Moreover, Theosophy affirms that no single rung of the ladder to higher knowledge can be skipped. No personality can ever reach, or bring itself into communication with its Atman, except through Buddhi-Manas. In other words, lower Manas cannot by-pass itself. 1 Only out-and-out devotion to the well-being of all that lives can check the mind’s proclivity for pomp and delusion and help it to surmount itself. Setting time aside to reflect regularly upon what we can do for our fellows — and, then, doing it — and displacing preoccupation of self with concern for the welfare of the planet and its inhabitants, are the first steps to bring the soul closer to repatriation.

Every act proceeds from the mind. Beyond the mind there is no action, and therefore no Karma. The basis of every act is desire. The plane of desire, or egotism, is itself action and the matrix of every act. Karma will therefore be manifested only in harmony with the plane of desire. A person can have no attachment for what he does not think about, therefore the first step must be to fix the thought on the highest ideal.2




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