Feb 5, 2017

Undergoing All Experience

A Question on the Focus of One’s Life

John Garrigues


Editorial Note:

The following article was first
published by “Theosophy” magazine
 in the edition of February 1928, p. 177.
It had no indication as to the name of the
author. An analysis of its contents and style
shows it was written by John Garrigues (1868-1944).




We are taught that the only way to learn is by experience, and that we have to go through all experiences. Does it mean that we have to go through every experience we see in life - even the harrowing and revolting ones - in order to learn sympathy, and their opposites?


We are not only taught, but each one of us for himself knows that the only way to learn is through experience and observation.

There are three phases of experience:

(a) By inflicting it on others;
(b) By having it inflicted on ourselves; and
(c) By observing the experience itself, whether undergone by ourselves or another.

What we have to learn is the meaning of that Life which each one of us is and which all of us are - its powers, its potentialities, their development, use, and purpose.

Under the theory of Karma and Reincarnation we should understand that each one of us has already undergone countless times every possible experience in matter from its highest to its lowest states, from its simplest to its most complex forms.

No man, therefore, needs any further experience in the sense in which the word is employed in the question asked. What every man does need is to understand those experiences. Understanding comes by contrast, by comparison, by reason, by reflection, and, above all, by perception of the identical nature and law of all Life. After the middle of the Fourth Round no man can have a new experience. He only can have the repetition of old experiences, good, bad or indifferent, until he understands that they are effects, and begins to live as well as act upon the plane of causes.

This is a question that is often asked. It cannot be answered, nor the answer perceived, through any number of experiences. What we perceive is effects and these we name experiences, but the world of Spirit, or pure Being, and the world of Causation, or mental existence, are also worlds of experience quite as much as, and more so than, the world of mere effects.

Incarnated man lives in three worlds: the world of being, the world of causation, and the world of effects. Experience, in the full sense, means the harmonious realization of the unity of these three worlds. So long as any experience appears to us as “harrowing” or “revolting”, we cannot understand it, because the experience is then perceived only through our psychic nature. When experience of any kind is regarded as experience and not as either good or bad, pleasant or painful, we begin to be able to make intelligent spiritual distinctions and decisions. Realization comes from understanding the Unity of Life, not from any imaginable amount of experiences of its manifestations.


First publication of the above article in our associated websites: March 2012.


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.