The Wisdom of Life: Our Hidden Treasure -- by Barry Bowden
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky said: “It is the knowledge of Self that is Wisdom itself.” Also from Alex A. Wilder: “Wisdom is the evolved knowledge of potencies of man's interior being.” Individuals through history, geniuses from many fields including the arts, philosophy, science and architecture, for example, have displayed remarkable attributes of wisdom. While we think they are random appearances, then we do not understand the process of which we are all a part. Humanity is guided through all steps of evolution.
In the early processes, adept kings ruled humanity with beneficence and wisdom, selfless in themselves but always in tune with nature and her laws. Today we have an adolescent humanity thinking itself wise and yet making so many mistakes. The ones who guided humanity (the Adepts) move inward away from the eyes of the world. Driven principally by desire and selfishness, yet as a teenager, humanity is allowed to make its own mistakes and pay for the repercussions. The Adepts are hidden from the world but guiding it along; not so much through individuals but through groups and even nations. However, all of humanity did not enter at the same time. On the contrary, people entered the human kingdom at different times; some individually, others in groups. There have been so many cycles in which evolution preceded us, that the time scale is beyond human conception. So it is that as some entered early, they are naturally more evolved or more experienced. There we have the genius, from all walks of life. This is where we will be also one day, some sooner, some later.
What can we do to wisely quicken this within ourselves? One thing is that we need to have gratitude for all we already have and what shall come. It takes so much from the universe to sustain us. In The Mahatma Letters we read:
The Adept, to be successful and preserve his power, must dwell in solitude and more or less within his own soul. Still less does exact science perceive that while the building ant, the busy bee, the nesting bird accumulate, each in their own humble way, as much cosmic energy in its potential form as a Haydn, a Plato, or a ploughman turning his furrow, in theirs; the hunter who kills game for his pleasure or profit, or the positivist who applies his intellect to proving that x+y+z = n, are wasting and scattering energy no less than the tiger which springs upon its prey. They all rob nature instead of enriching her, and will all in the degree of their intelligence find themselves accountable.
We live as though we are separate in the world. We all know when we live harmoniously – everything happens in its right time. Yet when we live inharmoniously, nothing seems to happen in the right way. Gratitude is essential for anyone pursuing a spiritual path. It has a strong relationship to love, and it is that which truly guides the universe. Steiner said: “Without all embracing love we can never know the universe, when we love something it reveals itself to us.” A grateful attitude, along with trying always to see the best in others, completely changes our approach to ourselves and others. While I know from experience, it is not always easy, it needs to be continuously reinforced. It sweetens life remarkably. It takes no real effort to find fault, but to see the best, though it may be well hidden, takes continuous effort. Most great souls reinforce this as a side note. Again from Steiner:
We must seek in all things around us what can arouse our admiration and respect. If I meet other people and criticise their weaknesses I rob myself of higher cognitive power, but if I enter deeply and lovingly into their good qualities, I gather in that force.
We have arrived where we are today mostly by being pushed from outside by circumstances of life and forces active in us. This has been a semi-conscious state. If we wish to achieve a super-conscious state, we need to engage our self from within; which constitutes maturity in action – seeing and feeling the need to move and then searching how. Unfortunately we look mostly in the direction we have been pushed from outside. This is the unconscious side of life; the conscious is inside. It takes almost constant effort; yet one thing is clear: the key to life is understanding, not only our self and others but also the world in which we live.
One of the beginning steps in Yoga simply stated is “Cease to do harm, do good.” Saint Paul said: “I do not do the good things I want to do, but I do the bad things I do not want to do.” This we all relate to, but why is it? Reactions, coming from the subconscious mind, form a large part of our lives. It is with the mind that we judge what is right or wrong. We see what we wish to do and not do, so why do we make mistakes? One answer is hidden in esoteric understanding and put very simply: ‘the desire or emotional body moves the muscles.’ This is really part of the answer to the problem; if we don't feel like doing something but mind wants to do it, what will happen? Nothing! If we are not aligned with what we want, then it will not happen or, if some action is driven by fear, it may start but not continue. We need to understand our self, by returning to esoteric knowledge: ‘desire is will turned outwards, this is its latent form, when active it turns within.’ Remember when we are attracted to something or someone we feel pulled – almost from outside. Will is when desires have been understood and subdued from within. That then replaces the feeling of ‘not wanting to do’, by an inner force ‘to do’, driven by morality and not because it is painful or pleasurable.
Another part of the problem is that we try to understand everything with our mind. The mind is oblivious to feelings. It may see behaviours as they appear in the world without understanding the feelings that drove them. We set a great deal on appearances – another attribute of the form mind. The abstract mind sees or rather tries to understand things from the inside. However, it should be noted that though there is only one mind, the lower mental matter appears in form, while the higher appears abstract or formless. Thus the mind is divided, to be able to perceive the forms of matter, and as yet the higher is not stimulated by nature herself in the human being, but is stimulated in the human being’s study of subjects such as maths, science or just contemplating life.
Strangely, one of the fastest methods of stimulating the higher mind is by sitting in silence which is absolute cessation of thought and feeling. Although difficult to do in our world, it is transcendent in its nature. The way we can do this, is by really feeling what we are feeling. We stop analyzing these feelings. Having the heart and mind working harmoniously together is really the next evolutionary step for humanity – having the mind allowing itself to be there when the heart is feeling, but not trying to name or judge everything. How we lead life mostly is that life is one series of events linked together by memory and emotional responses we call pleasurable and painful. This is different for each of us based on our experiences.
Our attitude towards pain is also an interesting one: with understanding, when we look back at painful experiences we can often see later (sometimes years later) that we learned a great deal, that the experience was life changing. If this is the case and pain is a great teacher, we need to examine our relationship with pain: why we need it, and why we run from it. When we avoid pain we increase the time before we gain insight and learn acceptance – which is when the pain finally stops and we start to ‘understand’. If we welcome pain as a great teacher, it quickly goes, and insight follows. This takes some practice but frees us to live our life! Then most difficulties of life will subside. When we allow harmony with life to happen, the almost continuous internal struggle within is replaced by peace.
One of the biggest lessons of life for me was that peace does not come from outside me or from things or even people. After this AH-HA! moment, the work really started. If I am making this sound easy, it is not. It has only been by my continuously looking within, that this peace was allowed to happen. In order to do anything we must engage our self. This is what self-knowledge is. Engaging is one of the struggles, and it allows the clouds to clear. Finally we begin to experience our higher nature, resplendent as it is, has been and always will be.
However, this is only part of the picture. It is not all about us. Krishnamurti said “Enlightenment has little to do with us and everything to do with the universe.” Really awakening is that we are not ‘alone’, rather ‘all-one’. Acting in harmony with the universe is when we start to see the need to help others. Yet we are all so busy, how is this to be changed? Our idea of help is usually seeing our self physically helping others. When we understand the power we all have, it is remarkable to realise that we can affect anyone anywhere in the world by our feelings and thoughts. Every time we think, we engage part of the universe, the elemental kingdom. This is what angels and demons are made of, just finer and coarser material and driven by the same forces with a different polarity.
From The Mahatma Letters:
Every thought of man, upon being evolved, passes into the inner world and becomes an active entity by associating itself – coalescing, we might term it – with an elemental; that is to say with one of the semi-intelligent forces of the kingdoms. It survives as an active intelligence, a creature of the mind's begetting for a longer or shorter period proportionate with the original intensity of the cerebral action which generated it. Thus, a good thought is perpetuated as an active beneficent power; and an evil one as a maleficent demon. And so man is continually peopling his current in space with a world of his own, crowded with the offspring of its fancies, desires, impulses and passions, a current which reacts upon any sensitive or and nervous organisation which comes in contact with it in proportion to its dynamic intensity. The Buddhist calls this his Skandha, the Hindu gives it the name of Karma; the Adept evolves these shapes consciously, other men throw them off unconsciously.
We have power that we do not know. The mind is potentially capable of incredible abilities. In the far off future the mind will use imagination to shape conscious forms, and will ‘Know it or perceive it’. When we think of a house, another will see what it looks like. This will drive away deceit from the future humanity. It can be quickened today with the right practice. Once understood we can help anyone anywhere in the world right now by using either or together, thought and feeling. It was said by HPB, “One may be in jail and still be a worker for the cause.”
There are, however, some primary steps that need to be understood with all this. The first is that ‘whatever comes to us is from us’. Once this is firmly understood in its depth, requiring contemplation and possibly some study to really grasp, we can stop looking outside for the answers to our problems and begin to look inside. A friend of mine cleverly said, “The only way out is in!” One of the illusions of life is that our problems come from other people or things, yet we set forces in action eons ago that are just now rebounding upon us. Once we understand we will perceive not only the problem which is really a blessing, but also the answer. To do this, it takes time, patience and love for our self and the world in which we live. To find this hidden treasure we must first look in the right place.
We learn to feel, think and to perceive, it is a life's work but one that we come back to in the next life. Progress we make in this life comes back easily to us in the next, which explains the child prodigy and genius. It has been said that birth and death are recurring incidents in an endless life. Life's journey is to learn. If we do not learn we hurt. If we learn, there is joy and expansion of consciousness.
Simply put, it is an evolution of consciousness through form. Life guides us slowly to realisation, taking eons and many lives. By self-determined effort we speed up our journey and soften it with love and wisdom, which is really the hidden treasure, one that nature brings on slowly. We then help all of humanity and nature in the process through an immense love for humanity as a whole. For it is Humanity which is the great Orphan, the only disinherited one upon this earth, my friend. And it is the duty of every person who is capable of an unselfish impulse to do something, however little, for its welfare. Poor, poor humanity!
-- Published in Theosophia magazine, September 2014