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´╗┐Title: Self-Development and the Way to Power
Author: Rogers, L. W.
Language: English
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"We may be either the suffering slaves of nature or the happy masters
of her laws."


It is the natural right of every human being to be happy--to escape
all the miseries of life. Happiness is the normal condition, as
natural as the landscapes and the seasons. It is unnatural to suffer
and it is only because of our ignorance that we do suffer. Happiness
is the product of wisdom. To attain perfect wisdom, to comprehend
fully the purpose of life, to realize completely the relationship of
human beings to each other, is to put an end to all suffering, to
escape every ill and evil that afflicts us. Perfect wisdom is
unshadowed joy.

Why do we suffer in life? Because in the scheme of nature we are being
forced forward in evolution and we lack the spiritual illumination
that alone can light the way and enable us to move safely among the
obstacles that lie before us. Usually we do not even see or suspect
the presence of trouble until it suddenly leaps upon us like a
concealed tiger. One day our family circle is complete and happy. A
week later death has come and gone and joy is replaced with agony.
Today we have a friend. Tomorrow he will be an enemy and we do not
know why. A little while ago we had wealth and all material luxuries.
There was a sudden change and now we have only poverty and misery and
yet we seek in vain for a reason why this should be. There was a time
when we had health and strength; but they have both departed and no
trace of a reason appears. Aside from these greater tragedies of life
innumerable things of lesser consequence continually bring to us
little miseries and minor heartaches. We most earnestly desire to
avoid them but we never see them until they strike us, until in the
darkness of our ignorance we blunder upon them. The thing we lack is
the spiritual illumination that will enable us to look far and wide,
finding the hidden causes of human suffering and revealing the method
by which they may be avoided; and if we can but reach illumination the
evolutionary journey can be made both comfortably and swiftly. It is
as though we must pass through a long, dark room filled with furniture
promiscuously scattered about. In the darkness our progress would be
slow and painful and our bruises many. But if we could press a button
that would turn on the electric light we could then make the same
journey quickly and with perfect safety and comfort.

The old method of education was to store the mind with as many facts,
or supposed facts, as could be accumulated and to give a certain
exterior polish to the personality. The theory was that when a man was
born he was a completed human being and that all that could be done
for him was to load him up with information that would be used with
more or less skill, according to the native ability he happened to be
born with. The theosophical idea is that the physical man, and all
that constitutes his life in the physical world, is but a very partial
expression of the self; that in the ego of each there is practically
unlimited power and wisdom; that these may be brought through into
expression in the physical world as the physical body and its
invisible counterparts, which together constitute the complex vehicle
of the ego's manifestation, are evolved and adapted to the purpose;
and that in exact proportion that conscious effort is given to such
self-development will spiritual illumination be achieved and wisdom
attained. Thus the light that leads to happiness is kindled from
within and the evolutionary journey that all are making may be robbed
of its suffering.

Why does death bring misery? Chiefly because it separates us from
those we love. But when we have evolved the faculty of clairvoyance,
in our work of self-development, the separation vanishes and our
"dead" friends are as much with us as the living. The only other
reason why death brings grief or fear is because we do not understand
it and comprehend the part it plays in human evolution. But the moment
our ignorance gives way to comprehension such fear vanishes and a
serene happiness takes its place.

Why do we have enemies from whose words or acts we suffer? Because in
our limited physical consciousness we do not perceive the unity of all
life and realize that our wrong thinking and doing must react upon us
through other people--a situation from which there is no possible
escape except through ceasing to think evil and then patiently
awaiting the time when the causes we have already generated are fully
exhausted. When spiritual illumination comes, and we no longer stumble
in the night of ignorance, the last enemy will disappear and we shall
make no more forever.

Why do people suffer from poverty and disease? Only because of our
blundering ignorance that makes their existence possible for us, and
because we do not comprehend their meaning and their lessons, nor know
the attitude to assume toward them. Had we but the wisdom to
understand why they come to people, why they are necessary factors in
their evolution, they would trouble us no longer. When nature's lesson
is fully learned these mute teachers will vanish.

And so it is with all forms of suffering we experience. They are at
once reactions from our ignorant blunderings and instructors that
point out the better way. When we have comprehended the lessons they
teach they are no longer necessary and disappear.

Thus our evolution is going forward and has gone forward in the past.
We know that the human race has passed through a long evolution during
which it has acquired five senses by which knowledge is gained. Nobody
who has given thought to the subject will make the mistake of
supposing that this evolution is completed and that the five senses
are all we shall ever possess.

In this long evolutionary journey the next thing we shall do is to
develop the sixth sense. Some people have already done so and all are
approaching it. This dawning sense is called clairvoyance. Fair
investigation will show that the clairvoyant possesses certain powers
not common to the majority of people. This is merely the beginning of
the development of the sixth sense, and probably with the majority of
clairvoyants it goes no further than etheric and lower astral sight.
In other words, they are able to raise the consciousness only to a
grade of matter a little beyond the grasp of ordinary vision, while
the properly developed, trained clairvoyant raises his consciousness
two full planes beyond.

The higher the consciousness is raised the further the horizon of
knowledge extends and the clairvoyant is able to hand down information
that appears quite miraculous; but it is perfectly natural. If a
certain person were born blind and had never understood any more about
eyesight than most people understand about clairvoyance; if this
person could know how many doorways were in a large building only by
groping along with his hands and thus acquiring the knowledge by
touch, and another person who could see should glance along the block
and instantly tell the blind man the correct number, that would be to
the blind man a miracle. Now, when a clairvoyant sees things at a
distance where the physical eye cannot reach he really does nothing
more remarkable. When we see a thing we receive the vibrations caused
by light. That gives the information. When the clairvoyant "sees" at a
distance through what we mistakenly call solid substances he receives
vibrations of matter so fine that it interpenetrates solids as the
ether does.

Every human being must make, and is making, this long evolutionary
journey from spiritual infancy to godlike power and perfection, but
there are two ways in which it may be done. We may, as the vast
majority do, accept the process of unconscious evolution and submit to
nature's whip and spur that continuously urge the thoughtless and
indifferent forward until they finally reach the goal. Or, we may
choose conscious evolution and work intelligently with nature, thus
making progress that is comparatively of enormous rapidity and at the
same time avoid much of what Hamlet called the "slings and arrows of
outrageous fortune."

The degree to which mind can control circumstances and dominate matter
is far greater than is generally believed. Our impressions about
matter are very illusory. No form of matter is permanent. Change goes
on everywhere at every instant, by physical laws in the physical body
and by astral and mental laws in our invisible bodies. We are not the
same being, physically, mentally or spiritually, any two days in
succession. The very soul itself is subject to this law of change. It
may expand and shine out through the physical organism resplendent, or
it may only faintly glimmer through a constantly coarsening body.

What is the law of soul growth? Through adherence to what principle
may we reach spiritual illumination? There are certain well
established facts about the laws of growth that we should not overlook
when seeking the way forward. Nothing whatever can grow without use,
without activity. Inaction causes atrophy. Physiologists tell us that
if the arm be tied to the body so that it cannot be used it will in
time become so enfeebled, that it is of no further service. It will
wither away. That is nature's law of economy. She never gives life
where it is useless, where it can not, or will not, be utilized. On
the other hand, exercise increases power. To increase the size and
strength of muscles we must use them. This is just as true of mental
and moral faculties as it is of the physical body. The only way to
make the brain keen and powerful is to exercise it by original
thinking. One way to gain soul powers is to give free play to the
loftiest aspirations of which we are capable, and to do it
systematically instead of at random. We grow to be like the things we
think about. Now, the reverse of all this must be equally true. To
give no thought to higher things, to become completely absorbed in
material affairs, is to stifle the soul, to invite spiritual atrophy.

Turning our attention to nature we shall find in the parasite
convincing proof of all this. The parasite, whether plant or animal,
is living evidence that to refuse or neglect to use an organ or
faculty results in being deprived of it. The dodder, says Drummond,
has roots like other plants, but when it fixes sucker discs on the
branches of neighboring plants and begins to get its food through
them, its roots perish. When it fails to use them it loses them. He
also points to the hermit-crab as an illustration of this great fact
in nature, that disuse means loss, and that to shirk responsibility is
the road to degeneration. The hermit-crab was once equipped with a
hard shell and with as good means of locomotion as other crabs. But
instead of courageously following the hardy life of other crustaceans
it formed the bad habit of taking up its residence in the cast-off
shells of mollusks. This made life easy and indolent. But it paid the
price of all shirking. In time it lost four legs, while the shell over
the vital portion of its body degenerated to a thin membrane which
leaves it practically helpless when it is out of its captured home.
And this is the certain result of all shirking of responsibility.
There may be an apparent temporary gain, but it always means greater
loss, either immediate or remote. So nature punishes inaction with
atrophy. Whatever is not used finally ceases to be. In plain language,
apathy, inaction, idleness, uselessness, is the road to degeneration.
On the other hand, aspiration and activity mean growth, development,

So we grow, physically, mentally and morally, by activity, by exercise
of the organs or the faculties we desire to possess. It is only by the
constant exercise of these things that we can grow at all. When this
great law of nature is understood we see at once how it is that life
is full of trouble; why it is that the whole visible world seems to be
designed to keep us constantly at work physically and mentally, to
challenge our resourcefulness in improving our physical, social and
political conditions, to continually try our patience and to forever
test our courage. It is the way of development. It is the price of

The universe is a training school for evolving intelligence--a vast
gymnasium for the development of moral fibre. We become mentally
clever by playing at the game of life. We match our courage against
its adversities and acquire fearlessness. We try our optimism against
its disappointments and learn cheerfulness. We pit our patience
against its failures and gain persistence. We are torn from the
pinnacle of ambition by opponents and learn toleration of others. We
fall from the heights of vanity and pride, and learn to be modest and
humble. We encounter pain and sorrow and learn sympathy with
suffering. It is only by such experiences that we can grow to rounded
measure. It is only in an environment thus adapted to our spiritual
development that we can evolve the latent powers within us.

Such is the universe in which we find ourselves and from it there is
no escape. No man can avoid life--not even the foolish one who, when
the difficulties before him appear for the moment overwhelming, tries
to escape them by suicide. A man cannot die. He can only choose how he
will live. He may either helplessly drift through the world suffering
from all the ills and evils that make so many unhappy or he may choose
the method of conscious evolution that alone makes life truly
successful. We may be either the suffering slaves of nature or the
happy masters of her laws.

Now, all powers possessed by any human being, no matter how exalted
his position in evolution, or how sublime his spiritual power, are
latent in all human beings and can, in time, be developed and brought
into action. Of course there is no magic rule by which the ignoramus
can instantly become wise or by which a brutal man can be at once
transformed into a saint. It may require scores of incarnations to
accomplish a work so great, but when a man reaches the point in his
evolution where he begins to comprehend the purpose of life, and to
evolve the will to put forth his energies in co-operation with nature,
his rise to wisdom and power may be swift indeed. But this
transformation from the darkness of ignorance to spiritual
illumination, from helplessness "in the fell clutch of circumstance"
to power over nature, must be brought about by his own efforts, for it
is a process of evolution--of forcing the latent to become the active.
Therefore one must resolve to take oneself in hand for definite and
systematic self-development. Nobody else can do the work for us.
Certain moral qualities must be gained before there can be spiritual
illumination and genuine wisdom and such qualities, or virtues, have
to be evolved by the laws under which all growth occurs. It is just as
impossible to acquire a moral quality by reading about its
desirability as to evolve muscular strength by watching the
performance of a group of athletes. To gain muscular strength one must
take part in the physical activities that produce it. He must live the
athletic life. To win spiritual strength and supremacy he must live
the spiritual life. There is no other way. He must first learn what
mental and moral qualities are essential, and how to gain them, and
then set earnestly about the work of acquiring them.

The first thing necessary is to get a clear understanding of the fact
that the physical body is not the self but only a vehicle or
instrument through which the self is being manifested in the visible
world. The body is as much your instrument as the hand is, or as your
pen is. It is a thing which you, the self, use and a clear conception
of this fact--a feeling that this is the fact--is the first step
toward that absolute control of the physical body that lays the
foundation for success in conscious evolution. When we feel that in
managing the physical body we are controlling something that is not
ourself we are fairly started on the right road.

Now, there are three things that a person must possess to be
successful in self-development. If he has not these three
qualifications he will make but little progress; but, fortunately, any
lacking quality can be evolved and if one does not possess these three
necessities his first work is to create them. These three things are
an ardent desire, an iron will and an alert intelligence. Why are
these three qualifications essential to success and what purpose do
they serve?

Desire is nature's motor power--the propulsive force that pushes
everything forward in its evolution. It is desire that stimulates to
action. Desire drives the animal into the activities that evolve its
physical body and sharpen its intelligence. If it had no desire it
would lie inert and perish. But the desire for food, for drink, for
association with its kind, impel it to action, and the result is the
evolution of strength, skill and intelligence in proportion to the
intensity of its desires. To gratify these desires it will accept
battle no matter how great may be the odds against it and will
unhesitatingly risk life itself in the combat. Desire not only induces
the activity that develops physical strength and beauty, but also has
its finer effects. Hunger compels the animal not only to seek food,
but to pit its cunning against that of its prey. Driven forward by
desire it develops, among other qualities, strength, courage,
patience, endurance, intelligence.

Desire plays the same role with man at his higher stage of evolution.
It stimulates him to action; and always as his activity satisfies his
original desire a new one replaces the old and lures him on to renewed
exertion. The average young man beginning his business career, desires
only a comfortable cottage. But when that is attained he wants a
mansion. He soon tires of the mansion and wants a palace. Then he
wants several--at the seaside, in the city, and on the mountains. At
first he is satisfied with a horse; then he demands an automobile, and
finally a steam yacht. He sets out as a youth to earn a livelihood and
welcomes a small salary. But the desire for money pushes him into
business for himself and he works tirelessly for a competence. He
feels that a small fortune should satisfy anybody but when he gets it
he wants to be a millionaire. If he succeeds in that he then desires
to become a multi-millionaire.

Whether the desire is for wealth, or for fame, or for power, the same
result follows--when the desire is satisfied a greater one takes its
place and spurs the ambitious one to still further exertion. He grasps
the prize he believes to contain complete satisfaction only to
discover that while he was pursuing it desire had grown beyond it, and
so the goal he would attain is always far ahead of him. Thus are we
tricked and apparently mocked by nature until we finally awake to the
fact that all the objects of desire--the fine raiment, the jewels, the
palaces, the wealth, the power, are but vain and empty things; and
that the real reward for all our efforts to secure them is not these
objects at all _but the new powers we have evolved in getting them;_
powers that we did not before possess and which we should not have
evolved but for nature's great propulsive force--desire. The man who
accumulates a fortune by many years of persistent effort in organizing
and developing a business enterprise, by careful planning and deep
thinking, may naturally enough look upon the fortune he will possess
for a few years before it passes on to others, as his reward. But the
truth is that it is a very transient and perishable and worthless
thing compared to the new powers that were unconsciously evolved in
getting it--powers that will be retained by the man and be brought
into use in future incarnations.

Desire, then, plays a most important role in human evolution. It
awakens, stimulates, propels. What wind is to the ship, what steam is
to the locomotive, desire is to the human being.

It has been written in a great book, "Kill out desire," and elsewhere
it is written, "Resist not evil." We may find, in similar exalted
pronouncements, truths that are very useful to disciples but which
might be confusing and misleading to the man of the world if he
attempted to literally apply them. Perhaps for the average mortal
"kill out desire" might be interpreted "transmute desire." Without
desire man would be in a deathlike and dangerous condition--a
condition in which further progress would be impossible. But by
transmuting the lower desires into the higher he moves steadily
forward and upward without losing the motive power that urges him
forever onward.

To transmute desire, to continually replace the lower with the higher,
really is killing desire out but it is doing it by the slow and safe
evolutionary process. As to crushing it suddenly, that is simply
impossible; but substitution may work wonders. Suppose, for example,
that a young man is a gambler and his parents are much distressed
about it. The common and foolish course is to lecture him on the sin
of gambling and to tearfully urge him to associate only with very
proper young men. But the young gambler is not in the least interested
in that sort of a life, which appears to him to be a kind of living
death, and such entreaty does not move him. His parents would do
better by looking more closely into the case. Why is he a gambler? He
desires money. He seeks excitement. He wants to live in an atmosphere
of intense life and activity. Very well. These desires are quite right
in themselves. It is useless to try to crush them. It is nonsense to
argue that he does not want these things. Clearly enough he does want
them and that is precisely why he gambles. Then do not attempt the
impossibility of killing the desire but change the objects of his
desires. Say to him: "You desire money and a life full of turbulence
and excitement. Well, you can get all that in a better and a
legitimate way and have the respect of your friends besides. You can
go into politics. That is a field within the pale of the law and in it
you can have scope for all the energy and activity and intensity of
life you long for, with all the element of chance which you find so
attractive." And when the young man has had his fling there and tires
of it then something else can be attempted. But to try to crush desire
and curb the outrushing life is both foolish and impossible. We can
only direct it.

There are, of course, certain gross desires that must be gotten rid of
by the most direct and least objectionable method, and when one really
desires to be free from a given vice or moral weakness and sets
earnestly and intelligently about it his release is not so difficult
as the complete tyranny of most vices would lead one to suppose. There
is a process by which any of us may be free if we will take the
trouble to patiently put it into practice. This method will apply to
any desire from which we wish to be released. For example, let us take
the person who has a settled desire for alcoholic stimulants but
really wishes to be rid of it forever. Many people who are thus
afflicted to the point where they occasionally become intoxicated
feel, when they recover their normal condition, that no price would be
too great to pay for freedom from this humiliating habit. As a rule
such a man tries to close his eyes to his shame and forget it,
promising himself that he will be stronger when the temptation again
assails him. But it is just this putting it aside, this casting it out
of his mind, that perpetuates his weakness. He instinctively shrinks
from dwelling upon the thought of whither he is drifting. So he puts
the unpleasant subject aside altogether and when the inner desire
asserts itself again he finds himself precisely as helpless as before.

Now, his certain method of escape from this tyranny of desire is to
turn his mind resolutely to an examination of the whole question. Let
him look the facts in the face, however humiliating they may be. He
should call his imagination to his assistance. It should be used to
picture to himself his future if he does not succeed in breaking up
the unfortunate slavery of the desire nature. He should think of the
fact that as he grows older the situation grows worse. He should
picture himself as the helpless, repulsive sot, with feeble body and
weakening mind, and reflect upon the humiliation he must endure, the
poverty he must face, and the physical and mental pain he must bear in
the future if he now fails to break the desire ties that bind him.
This creates in him a feeling of repulsion toward the cause of it all;
and if he continues to think daily upon this hideous picture of what
he is slowly drifting toward--if he daily regards it all with a
feeling of slight repulsion--then even within a month or two he will
find that his desire for drink is slowly fading out.

This is as true of all other desires that enslave us. The desire for
alcoholic stimulants merely illustrates the principle involved. Any
desire from which one wishes to be free may be escaped by the same
method. But one who would free himself from the desire-nature should
not make the mistake of creating a feeling of intense hostility toward
the thing he seeks to escape; for hatred is also a tie. He should
merely reach a position of complete indifference. He should think of
it not with settled hostility, but with slight repulsion; and if he
does that daily, mentally dwelling upon the pain and humiliation it
causes, he will find the ties loosening, the desire weakening.

Desire is a force that may be beneficial or detrimental, according to
its use. As we may eradicate a desire so may we create a desire. How,
then, may one who seeks the highest self-development use desire, this
propulsive force of nature, to help himself forward? He should desire
spiritual progress most earnestly, for without such desire he cannot
succeed. Therefore if the aspirant does not have the ardent desire for
spiritual illumination he must create it. To accomplish this let him
again call imagination to his assistance. Let him picture himself as
having his power for usefulness many times multiplied by occult
development. He should think of himself as possessing the inner sight
that enables him to understand the difficulties of others and to
comprehend their sorrows. He should daily think of the fact that this
would so broaden and quicken his sympathies that he would be
enormously more useful in the world than he can now possibly be and
that he could become a source of happiness to thousands. Let him
reflect that as he gets farther along in occult development and in
unselfishness and spirituality he may have the inestimable privilege
of coming into contact with some of the exalted intelligences that
watch over and assist the struggling aspirants on their upward way. He
should daily recall the fact that he is now moving forward toward a
freer, richer, more joyous life than he has yet known and that every
effort brings him nearer to its realization. Thus dwelling on the
subject in its various aspects he creates the ardent desire that
serves to propel him forward.

If he feels that these things make an ideal a little too high for him
at present he may reach that point by degrees. He may at first dwell
in thought upon the personal satisfaction that would come from the
possession of astral sight. Let him reflect upon what it would mean to
be conscious of the invisible world; to have all its wonders laid open
before him; to be able to consciously meet the so-called dead,
including his own friends and relatives; to be able to have the
positive personal proof that we survive the death of the physical
body; to be able to become one of the "invisible helpers" of the
world; to have available the priceless advantages of the astral region
and to bring the consciousness of all this into the physical life.
That is certainly something worth all the time and effort required to
attain it. Thus thinking constantly of the widened life and added
powers it would confer, the desire to move forward in self-development
will be greatly stimulated. But the student should always keep it in
mind that the real purpose of acquiring new powers is to increase his
capacity for service to the race, and that he who falls short of that
ideal walks upon dangerous ground.

The second requisite is a firm will. It should not be forgotten that
an unusual and difficult thing is being attempted in which a person of
weak will cannot possibly hope to succeed. Even in the ordinary life
of the world considerable will power is essential to success. To
succeed in business, to become expert in a profession, or to
completely master an art, requires strong will, determination,
perseverance. The difficulties in occult development are still greater
and, while it is true that any degree of effort is well worth while,
the weaklings will not go far. Only those with the indomitable will
that knows neither surrender nor compromise may hope for a large
measure of success. Once the will is thoroughly aroused and brought
into action every hindrance in the way will be swept aside.

     "The human will, that force unseen,
        The offspring of a deathless soul,
        Can hew a way to any goal
      Tho' walls of granite intervene.

       *       *       *       *       *

      "Be not impatient of delay,
        But wait as one who understands.
        When spirit rises and commands
      The gods are ready to obey."

Mighty, indeed, is this force when aroused. But a person may be easily
deceived about his will. He is likely to think that his will is much
stronger than it really is. He may say to himself, "Oh, yes, I would
go through anything for the sake of the higher life and spiritual
illumination." But that is no guarantee that after a few months of
monotonous work he may not abandon it unless he adopts the wise plan
of strengthening his will as he moves forward. Let him begin this by
testing his present strength of will, but let him not be discouraged
by the result. He should remember that whatever he lacks in will power
he can evolve by proper effort.

To find out whether he really has much strength of will a person may
begin to observe to what extent he permits his daily plans to be
modified, or entirely changed, by the things that run counter to his
will. Does he hold steadfastly to his purpose or does he weakly
surrender to small obstacles? Has he the will power to even begin the
day as he has planned it? The evening before he decides that he will
rise at six o'clock the next morning. He knows there are certain
excellent reasons why he should do so and he retires with the matter
fully decided. It is positively settled that at exactly six o'clock
the day's program shall begin. But when the clock strikes that hour
the next morning he feels strongly disinclined to obey the summons. It
involves some bodily discomfort to rise at that moment and he
concludes that, after all, perhaps he was a bit hasty the evening
before in fixing upon that hour! Whereupon he reconsiders the matter
and makes it seven; and when that time arrives he generously extends
it to eight o'clock. The hour, of course, is unimportant. But whatever
may have been the hour that was previously determined upon the keeping
of that determination is of the greatest importance and the failure to
put the resolution into effect is evidence of the possession of a weak

Now all this proves that such persons have very little real will
power, for they permit the desire for trifling bodily comfort to set
their plans aside. Such persons are still slaves to the physical body
and weakly permit it to upset carefully outlined programs. They are
not yet ready for good work in occult development, where real success
can come only to those who have steadfast strength of purpose.

People who fail to assert the will and bring the body into complete
subjection probably little realize what a price they pay for a
trifling physical pleasure; for until we voluntarily take the right
course we have not escaped the evolutionary necessity of compulsion
and may reasonably expect sooner or later to be thrown into an
environment that will apply the stimulus we still need to arouse the
will. It may be unpleasant while it is occurring, but what better
fortune could befall an indolent man than to find himself in
circumstances where his poverty or other necessity compels him to
subordinate bodily comfort to the reign of the will? Nature provides
the lessons we require. We may wisely co-operate with her and thus
escape the sting. But so long as we need the lesson we may be quite
sure that it awaits us.

All the business activities of the world are developing the will.
Through them will and desire work together in evolving latent powers.
Desire arouses will power. A man desires wealth and the desire plunges
him into business activities and stimulates the will by which he
overcomes all the difficulties that lie in his way. Ardent desire for
an education arouses the will of the student and the awakened will
triumphs over poverty and all other barriers between him and the
coveted diploma. If a man stands at a lower point in evolution where
he has not the ambition for intellectual culture nor for fame nor for
wealth, but only the desire for shelter and food, still that primitive
desire forces him into action; and while his will power will be
evolved only in proportion to the strength of the desire that prompts
him, it must nevertheless grow. Instead of rising at a certain hour
because the will decrees it he may rise only because he knows his
livelihood depends upon it. But he is learning the same lesson--the
overcoming of the inertia of the physical body--albeit it is
compulsory instead of voluntary. But all this is unconscious
evolution. It is the long, slow, painful process. It is the only way
possible for those who are not wise enough to co-operate with nature
in her evolutionary work and thus rise above the necessity of

How, then, may we develop the will when it is so weak that we are
still the slaves of nature instead of the masters of destiny? Will
power, like any other faculty, may be cultivated and made strong. To
do this one may plan in advance what he will do under certain
circumstances and then carry out the program without evasion or
hesitation when the time arrives. His forethought will enable him to
do this if he does not undertake things too difficult at first. Let
him resolve to do at a certain hour some small thing which, in the
ordinary course of his duties, he sees is necessary but unpleasant;
and then firmly resolve in advance that exactly at the appointed time
he will do it. Thus fortified before the trial comes he will probably
go successfully through with it. After once deciding upon the time
there should be no postponement and not an instant's delay when the
moment arrives.

One of the things we have to learn is to overcome the inertia of the
physical body and many people are not really awake on the physical
plane because they have not done so. To a certain extent they are
"dead" within the physical body for it is a condition much nearer
death than that supposed death of one who no longer has the physical
body. The inert mass of physical matter in which such people are
functioning leaves them only half alive until they have aroused
themselves from its domination. They remind one of the lines:

     "Life is a mystery, death is a doubt,
      And some folks are dead
      While they're walking about!"

This inertia of the physical body that so often renders people nearly
useless is very largely a matter of habit and can be overcome to a
surprising degree by simply using a little will-power. Everybody is
familiar with the fact that it is sometimes much easier to think and
act than at other times. But perhaps it is not so well known that the
dull periods can invariably be overcome by an effort of the will and
the physical body be made to do its proper work. An actor or lecturer
after months of continuous work may find the brain and body growing
tired and dull. He may feel when going before his audience that he has
not an idea nor the wit to express it were someone else to furnish it.
Yet by an effort of the will he can quickly overcome the condition and
change from stupidity to mental alertness and intensity of thought.
The self is never tired. It is only the physical body that grows
weary. It is true that it has its limitations and must not be
overtaxed and driven beyond endurance as a tired horse is sometimes
cruelly urged forward with whip and spur. Judgment must always be used
in determining one's capacity for work. But that which is to be done
should never be done draggingly, with the inertia of the physical body
marring the work. We should be fully awake instead of "dead" while we
"are walking about." If a person resolves to be the master of the body
he may soon acquire the power to arouse it to activity and alertness
during all his waking hours, very much as one may acquire the habit of
keen observation and be conscious of what is occurring in his vicinity
instead of being carelessly unconscious of the major portion of what
is going on immediately about him.

This matter of giving attention to the things that may properly engage
the mind, and of using the will to arouse and control it, is of very
great importance. Is it not what we call "paying attention" that makes
the connection between the ego and the objective world? Giving
attention is a process of consciousness. The person who fails in
attention misses the purpose of life and throws away valuable time and
opportunity. To give attention is to be alive and awake and in a
condition to make the most of limited physical life. Yet many people
cannot give sustained attention to an ordinary conversation nor direct
the mind with sufficient precision to state a simple fact without
wandering aimlessly about in the effort, bringing in various
incidental matters until the original subject, instead of being made
clear, is obscured in a maze of unimportant details or lost sight of

Such habits of mind should be put resolutely aside by one who would
hasten self-development. The attention should be fixed deliberately
upon the subject in hand, whatever it may be, and nothing should be
permitted to break the connection between that and the mind. Whether
it is a conversation or a book, or a manual task, or a problem being
silently worked out intellectually, it should have undivided attention
until the mind is ready for something else.

Perhaps few of us give to any subject the close attention which alone
can prove its own effectiveness and demonstrate the fact that there
goes with such steadily sustained attention a subtle power of
extended, or accentuated, consciousness. When ten minutes is given to
a certain subject and other thoughts are constantly intruding, so that
when the ten minutes have passed only five minutes have actually been
devoted to the subject, the result is by no means a half of what would
have been accomplished had the whole of the ten minutes been given to
uninterrupted attention. The time thus spent in wavering attention is
practically without effect. The connection between mind and subject
has not been complete. Mind and subject were, so to say, out of focus.
Attention must be sustained to the point where it becomes
concentration. The mind must be used as a sun-glass can be used. Hold
the glass between sun and paper, out of focus, for an hour and nothing
will happen. A yellow circle of light falls on the paper and that is
all. But bring it into perfect focus, concentrating the rays to the
finest possible point, and the paper turns brown and finally bursts
into the fire that will consume it. They are the same rays that were
previously ineffective. Concentration produced results.

The mind must be brought under such complete control of the will that
it can be manipulated like a search-light, turned in this direction or
that, or flung full upon some obscure subject and held steadily there
till it illuminates every detail of it, as the search-light sends a
dazzling ray through space and shows every rock and tree on a hillside
far away through the darkness of the night.

The third necessity is keen intelligence. The force of desire,
directed by the will, must be supplemented by an alert mind. There is
a popular notion that good motives are sufficient in themselves and
that when one has the desire to attain spiritual illumination, plus
the will to achieve, nothing more is needed but purity of purpose. But
this is a misconception. It is true that the mystic makes devotion the
vital thing in his spiritual growth; and it is also true that the
three paths of action, knowledge and devotion blend and become one at
a higher stage. But while there are methods of development in which
intellect is not at first made a chief factor it can by no means be
ignored in the long-run; nor are we now considering those methods. A
good intellect, therefore, is a necessary part of the equipment.

Good motives play a most important part, indeed, in occult progress.
They safeguard the aspirant on his upward way. Without pure motives,
without a large measure of unselfishness, the greatest dangers would
encompass him. But good motives cannot take the place of good sense
and relieve him of the necessity of thinking. He must develop judgment
and discrimination. There are things he must know, and he must use his
knowledge, or difficulties will follow no matter how noble may be his
intentions. Suppose, for illustration, that two men set out upon a
dark might to cross a wild and rugged piece of ground--one with bad
motives and the other with good. One is going out to rob a house and
if need be, to kill anybody who might try to interfere with his plans.
His motives are very bad but he has perfect knowledge of the dangerous
ground he is to cross and he will therefore travel over it in safety.
The other man has the best of motives. He is going to spend the night
with a sick and helpless neighbor. But he has no knowledge of the
rough and treacherous ground he must cross in the darkness and his
good motives will not insure him against stumbling over the stones or
falling into a ditch and breaking his arm. Good motives are not
enough. We must know! Progress in occultism is impossible without

But how is a keen, alert intelligence to be acquired if we do not
possess it? Like any other latent faculty or power it may be evolved.
As the physical strength may be steadily increased by constant
exercise of the muscles, so mind may increase in power by systematic
work. It should be exercised in original thinking. A stated period, if
only a quarter of an hour daily, can be set aside for the purpose. A
book on a serious subject will furnish material but the too common
method of reading, of following the author lazily and accepting
whatever he sets forth as a matter of course, is of little value. One
must read with discrimination, receiving the ideas offered as a
juryman would receive testimony from a witness, considering it from
every possible viewpoint, examining it in the light of known facts,
turning it over in the mind, weighing it thoughtfully, and accepting
or rejecting according to its reasonableness or its lack of reason. In
such mental work for intellectual growth each paragraph can be
considered by itself and only a small portion of the time should be
given to the reading while the remainder is devoted to pondering over
what has been read. Of course a specific study is an advantage and
perhaps nothing is better than to study occultism, thinking deeply
upon the problems of human evolution.

Another method that goes admirably with such work is the close
observation and study of all the life in manifestation about us. We
should try to comprehend people, to observe and understand them. Every
word, act and facial expression has its meaning to be caught and
interpreted. All this will not only sharpen the wits but also
strengthen human sympathy for it enables us the better to know the
difficulties and sorrows of others. If such practices are followed
faithfully day by day the growth will be steady.

Still another useful practice is to exercise the imagination, the art
of creating mental pictures with no physical object present. The face
of an absent friend can be called up in the mind and reproduced in
every detail--the color of the eyes and hair, the various moods and
expressions. Or one's childhood home can be recalled and the
imagination made to reconstruct it. The house being complete the
landscape can be reproduced, with the hills, trees and roads. Repeated
practice at "seeing mentally" is of the greatest value in occult

While the aspirant is thus working to improve the three essential
qualifications of desire, will and intelligence--to intensify his
desire to possess powers for the helping of others, to strengthen the
will to get such powers, and to steadily improve the intellect--he
should also be giving most earnest attention to meditation, for it is
through this practice that the most remarkable results may be produced
in the transformation of his bodies, visible and invisible, through
which the ego manifests itself in the physical world. In the degree
that these are organized and made sensitive and responsive they cease
to be limitations of consciousness. Such sensitiveness and
responsiveness may be brought about by meditation, together with
proper attention to the purification of the physical and astral
bodies; for purity and sensitiveness go together.

Meditation is a subject so very important to the aspirant that
specific instructions should guide him. The average person, used to
the turbulent life of occidental civilization, will find it a
sufficiently difficult matter to control the mind, and to finally
acquire the power to direct it as he desires, even with all the
conditions in his favor. The serene hours of morning are the most
favorable of the twenty-four for meditation. Regularity has a magic of
its own and the hour should be the same each morning. To be alone in
surroundings as quiet as possible is another essential. The most
desirable time for meditation is soon after awakening in the morning.
Before turning the mind to any of the business affairs of the day let
the aspirant sit calmly down and mediate upon any wholesome thought,
like patience, courage or compassion, keeping the mind steadily upon
the subject for five minutes.

Two very important things are being accomplished by such meditation.
First, we are getting control of the mind and learning to direct it
where and how we choose; and, second, we are attracting and building
into the bodies we possess certain grades of imponderable matter that
will make thinking and acting along these lines easier and easier for
us until they are established habits and we actually become in daily
life patient, courageous and compassionate. Whatever qualities or
virtues we desire to possess may be gained through the art of
meditation and the effort to live up to the ideal dwelt upon daily by
the mind.

While it is absolutely true that any human being can make of himself
that which he desires to be--can literally raise himself to any ideal
he is capable of conceiving--it must not be supposed that it can be
done in a short time and by intermittent effort. We sometimes hear it
said that all we need do is to realize that all power is within us,
when, presto! we are the thing we would be! It is quite true that we
must realize their existence before we can call the latent powers into
expression; but the work of arousing the latent into the active is a
process of growth, of actual evolutionary change. The physical body as
it is now is not sensitive enough to respond to subtle vibrations. Its
brain is not capable of receiving and registering the delicate
vibrations sent outward by the ego, and the task of changing it so
that it can do so is not a trifling or easy one. But every effort
produces its effect and to the persistent and patient devotee of
self-development the final result is certain. But it is not a matter
of miraculous accomplishment. It is a process of inner growth. There
are, it is quite true, cases in which people who have entered upon
this method of self-development have, in a short time, attained
spiritual illumination, becoming fully conscious of the invisible
world and its inhabitants while awake in the physical body; extending
the horizon of consciousness to include both worlds, and coming into
possession of the higher clairvoyance that enables one to trace past
causes and modify impending effects. But such people are those who
have given so much attention to self-development in past lives that
they have now but little more to do in order to come into full
possession of occult powers. Sometimes it requires little more than
the turning of their attention to the matter. Becoming a member of the
Theosophical Society or seriously taking up theosophical studies is
sometimes the final step that leads to the opening of the inner sight.

But how can one know to what point he may have advanced in the past
and where he now stands? How may we know whether there is but a little
work ahead or a great deal? We cannot know; nor is it important to
know. The person who should take up the task merely because he thinks
there is little to do would certainly fail. The very fact that he
would not venture upon the undertaking if he thought the task a
difficult one is evidence that he has not the qualifications necessary
for the success of the occult student. Unless he is filled with a
longing to possess greater power to be used in the service of
humanity, and fired with an enthusiasm that would hesitate at no
difficulties, he has not yet reached the point in his evolution where
he awaits only the final steps that will make him a disciple. But even
the absence of the keen desire for spiritual progress, which is the
best evidence of the probability of success, should not deter anybody
from entering upon the systematic study of theosophy and devoting to
it all the time and energy he can; nor should the thought that many
years might pass without producing any very remarkable results lead
him to conclude that the undertaking would not be a profitable one.
The time will come with each human being when he will step out of the
great throng that drifts with the tide and enter upon the course of
conscious evolution, assisting nature instead of ignoring her
beneficent plan; and since it is but a question of time the sooner a
beginning is made the better, for the sooner will suffering cease.

There should be a word of warning about the folly of trying to reach
spiritual illumination by artificial methods. Astral sight is
sometimes quickly developed by crystal gazing and also by a certain
regulation of the breathing. For two reasons such methods should be
avoided. One is that any powers thus gained can not be permanent, and
the other is that they may be more or less dangerous. Many people have
made physical wrecks of themselves or have become insane by some of
these methods.

There are those who advertise to quickly teach clairvoyance, for a
consideration, as though spiritual powers could really be conferred
instead of evolved! It is true that efforts toward the evolution of
such powers may be enormously aided by teachers, but such instruction
can not be bought, and the offer to furnish it for money is the best
evidence of its worthlessness. Those who teach this ancient wisdom
select their own pupils from the morally fit, and tuition can be paid
only in devotion to truth and service to humanity. That is the only
road that leads to instruction worth having, and until the aspirant is
firmly upon that sound moral ground he is much better off without
powers, the selfish use of which would lead to certain disaster.

But how shall the pupil find the teacher? He need not find him, at
first, so far as the limited consciousness is concerned. Long before
he knows anything of it in his waking hours he may be receiving
instruction while he is out of the physical body during the hours of
sleep. The teacher finds the pupil long before the pupil suspects that
the teacher exists; and since it is the pupil who has the limited
consciousness it is quite natural that it should be so. Thus it is
inevitable that all who enter upon the way that leads to spiritual
illumination must long remain ignorant of the fact that any teachers
are interested in them or that anybody is giving the slightest
attention to them. Naturally enough one cannot know until the moment
arrives when his brain has become sufficiently sensitive to retain a
memory of at least a fragment of his superphysical experiences.

But what leads to the selection of the pupil? His earnestness, his
unselfishness, his devotion, his spiritual aspirations. There is an
old occult maxim to the effect that when the pupil is ready the Master
is waiting. They have need of many more than are ready to be taught.
Those who lead and enlighten watch eagerly for all who will qualify
themselves to enter upon the upward way. Every human being gets
exactly what he fits himself to receive. He cannot possibly be
overlooked. By his spiritual aspiration each lights the lamp in the
window of his soul and to the watchers from the heights that light
against the background of the overwhelming materiality of our times
must be as the sun in a cloudless sky. Other things come later but
these simpler things, to realize the necessity for conscious
evolution, to comprehend the method of soul development, to take full
control of the mind and the physical body, to resolutely curb the
grosser desires and to give free rein to the higher aspirations are
the first infant steps in the self-development that leads to
illumination. Then we begin to discover that this very desire for
greater spiritual power is generating a force that carries us forward
and upward. We soon begin to observe actual progress. The brain
becomes clearer, the intellect keener. Our sphere of influence grows
wider, our friendships become warmer. Aspiration lifts us into a new
and radiant life, and the wondrous powers of the soul begin to become
a conscious possession. And to this soul growth there is no limit. The
aspirant will go on and on in this life and others with an
ever-extending horizon of consciousness until he has the mental grasp
of a Plato, the vivid imagination of a Dante, the intuitive perception
of a Shakespeare. It is not by the outward acquirement of facts that
such men become wise and great. It is by developing the soul from
within until it illuminates the brain with that flood of light called

And when, through the strife and storm, we finally reach the
tranquility of the inner peace we shall comprehend the great fact that
life really is joy when lived in the possession of spiritual power and
in perfect harmony with the laws of the universe. With even these
first steps in occult achievement the aspirant enters upon a higher
and more satisfactory life than he has ever known. Literally he
becomes a new man. Gradually the old desires and impulses fade away
and new and nobler aspirations take their place. He has learned
obedience to law only to find that obedience was the road to conquest.
He has risen above the gross and sensuous by the power of conscious
evolution; and, looking back upon what he has been with neither regret
nor apology, he comprehends that significant thought of Tennyson: On
stepping stones of their dead selves men rise to higher things.

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