Jan 3, 2017

Self-Contentment in Theosophy

Inner Happiness is a Central
Factor Along the Path to Wisdom

The Theosophical Movement

True Contentment Does Not Depend on External Facts 



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The following  article was first
published at “The Theosophical
Movement” magazine, Mumbai,
India, in its March 2003 Edition.
Original title: “Self-Contentment”.

(CCA)

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The Second Chapter of the Bhagavad Gita [1] speaks of one who is confirmed in spiritual knowledge as being “happy and content in the Self through the Self”. How can one be happy and content “in the Self”, and what does “through the self” mean?

One thing is certain: no one who has ideals and imagination can be happy and content merely in the personality. The personality gets hurt, suffers, is frustrated, angry, etc. It has aspirations of some kind or other and is by no means content with whatever comes to pass.

Therefore, happiness and contentment come from something in us which is not affected by the personality. We can call this “something” Manas in the body - not higher or lower Manas, but that consciousness or awareness in us which is able to analyse and commune with itself from its already known premises, and therefore to understand what is happening around and within its vehicles of emotion, desire, etc., without being coloured or absorbed by them.

The “Gita” tells us what kind of a man it is who has spiritual knowledge. We do not possess this knowledge today, for our knowledge is based on intellectual understanding, on our preconceived ideas and our limitations, without due understanding of either time or space, and certainly not of Universal Law.

The happy, contented disposition or condition is our aim. In the Second Chapter, Krishna tells us how to attain it. When, for example, things go wrong, when adversity besets us, we have to make our mind steady and undisturbed. Only then can we view these troubles without letting the emotions of anxiety, fear and anger arise, and when these do not arise, contentment, if not happiness, results.

How can we view adversity with such equanimity unless we have realized, to some extent, that there is that centre in us, the Self, which is beyond these happenings and which is not fundamentally anxious that this or that should or should not happen, is not fearful of what may happen, or angry at whatever does happen! Let us search for the root of these emotions. We learn that the first thing to forsake is “desire”—not just one desire, but every desire that enters into our heart. Heart here stands for the seat of emotions and is not to be confused with the mind or thinking faculty. If we are asked to forsake every desire that arises from the emotions, then we must be distinct and separate from those desires that are thought-produced and emotion-produced. To realize this, is the first stage.

A later stage is reached when we go beyond our present thought-world. To find who we are, we have by effort to get to some point within us which remains undisturbed by our ordinary daily life of feeling-thought. There must be such a centre, for what happens in daily life to desires, emotions, etc., shows us a permanent aspect of our being which goes through all such daily happenings. We know that all passes away in time, that we move on to new surroundings each day, new desires arise, new difficulties crop up, but the same we experiences them. We, therefore, are not the desire, nor the anger, nor the anxiety, nor the fear that we experience; we remain separate from all these thoughts and feelings unless we become absorbed by them.

Thus, in time, we come to understand that no happenings, whether favourable or unfavourable, can really affect us if we are not too anxious, or fearful, or angry, about the results of actions. Hence we are told not to think of happenings as favourable or unfavourable, pleasant or unpleasant, good or evil. In time we shall be happy—not emotionally excited, but at peace and without anxiety, fear, or anger, quietly accepting all that comes, content and unruffled. The really happy person is not bothered whether things are going well or ill, for with his personal desires and dislikes at rest he receives all with an equal mind.

Likes and dislikes originate in the senses and organs. What the senses like, we call pleasure; what they do not like, we call pain. The senses have become the agents of mind-desire activity. We are thus led away by our senses instead of controlling them and getting from them just the help we need in our evolution. Having let them go astray, we now must begin to control them. The senses and organs are the horses that draw the chariot and that run away with it (producing disease, pain, etc.) and also with the driver of the chariot, leading him into all kinds of difficulties. Hence the advice to withdraw them from their wonted purposes or sensations, and make them draw our chariot where we will.

But even this control is not enough; it may lead to hatha-yoga. [2] The further stage is to understand what being happy and content “through the Self” means. Beyond that which we call “I” is the power and strength and wisdom of the Self whose ray the “I” in the body is. It is only when the “I” turns towards this Self that the real wisdom of that Self can manifest.

Tranquility of thought comes when the heart is obedient to the will, when the “I” realizes that it is no longer the actor or possessor of anything, even though it act without covetousness, selfishness or pride, having abandoned all desires. Desires will still arise in the heart, but they will no longer affect the person or disturb him, because they are not mind-fostered. If we realize that desires, lusts, etc., can never be gratified to the full, for they ever keep growing, we shall see their falsity and shall let them die as they arise in the mind.

Ceasing to be obsessed by desires and emotions, the “I” is able to become the instrument of the Self whose ray it is. It then begins to “embrace wisdom from all sides.”

This is difficult and it would seem that the effort would engage our thought and will every hour of the day, and for lives! So it will, but Krishna gives us the key to accomplishment -; dependence on the Supreme Spirit, which is even greater than the Ego. We may call it dependence on Law if we will - trust, confidence, reliance. If we look upon all these saying of Krishna as statements of law, then life becomes the laboratory where we can prove their truth. We become masters of our life; every happening is a challenge. The will always reacts to a challenge, not always to a “test”! Meeting a challenge calls for effort, and seems to take us out of the realm of likes and dislikes, emotions and feelings, and makes of the challenge a contest.

But let us beware of pride and self-confidence as we understand that word! It is altogether different from Self-confidence and SELF-confidence!


NOTES:

[1] “The Bhagavad Gita”, William Q. Judge, Theosophy Company, Los Angeles, 1986. (CCA)

[2] Not every kind of self-discipline is spiritual.   Hatha Yoga produces a sort of control of the lower self by the lower self. It is therefore limited to the lower levels of consciousness.  Raja Yoga and the original teachings of Theosophy lead students to a gradual control of the lower self by the higher self, or spiritual soul.  The situation is entirely different. (CCA)  

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In September 2016, after a careful analysis of the state of the esoteric movement worldwide, a group of students decided to form the Independent Lodge of Theosophists, whose priorities include the building of a better future in the different dimensions of life.  

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