Rules 2 to 4
Rules 6 to 8
Rules 9 to 12
Rules 13 to 16
Rules 18 to 20
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Yet it is a necessary teacher. Its results turn to dust and ashes in the mouth. Like death and estrangement, it shows the man at last that to work for self is to work for disappointment.
But though this first rule seems so simple and easy, do not quickly pass it by. For these vices of the ordinary man pass through a subtle transformation and reappear with changed aspect in the heart of the disciple.
It is easy to say: "I will not be ambitious"; it is not so easy to say: "When the Master reads my heart, He will find it clean utterly".
The pure artist who works for the love of his work is sometimes more firmly planted on the right road than the occultist who fancies he has removed his interest from self, but who has in reality only enlarged the limits of experience and desire, and transferred his interest to things which concern his larger span of life.
The same principle applies to the other two seemingly simple rules. Linger over them, and do not let yourself be easily deceived by your own heart. For now, at the threshold, a mistake can be corrected. But carry it on with you and it will grow and come to fruition, or else you must suffer bitterly in its destruction.
Note — Seek in the heart the source of evil and expunge it. It lives fruitfully in the heart of the devoted disciple as well as in the heart of the man of desire. Only the strong can kill it out. The weak must wait for its growth, its fruition, its death. And it is a plant that lives and increases throughout the ages. It flowers when the man has accumulated unto himself innumerable existences. He who will enter upon the path of power must tear this thing out of his heart. And then the heart will bleed, and the whole life of the man seem to be utterly dissolved. This ordeal must be endured; it may come at the first step of the perilous ladder which leads to the path of life; it may not until the last. But, O disciple, remember that it has to be endured, and fasten the energies of your soul upon the task. Live neither in the present nor the future, but in the Eternal. This giant weed cannot flower there; this blot upon existence is wiped out by the very atmosphere of eternal thought.
Yet do not pass on hastily. Pause and consider awhile. Is it the way you desire, or is it that there is a dim perspective in your visions of great heights to be scaled by yourself, of a great future for you to compass?
Be warned. The way is to be sought for its own sake, not with regard to your feet that shall tread it.
There is a correspondence between this rule and the seventeenth of the second series. When, after ages of struggle and many victories, the final battle is won, the final secret demanded, then you are prepared for a further path.
When the final secret of this great lesson is told, in it is opened the mystery of the new way — a path which leads out of all human experience and which is utterly beyond human perception or imagination. At each of these points it is needful to pause long and consider well. At each of these points it is necessary to be sure that the way is chosen for its own sake. The way and the truth come first: then follows the life.
Note — Seek it by testing all experience; and remember that when I say this I do not say: "Yield to the seduction of sense in order to know it".
Before you have become an occultist you may do this; but not afterwards. When you have chosen and entered the Path, you cannot yield to these seductions without shame. Yet you can experience them without horror; can weigh, observe, and test them, and wait with the patience of confidence for the hour when they shall affect you no longer.
But do not condemn the man that yields; stretch out your hand to him as a brother pilgrim whose feet have become heavy with mire. Remember, O disciple, that great though the gulf may be between the good man and the sinner, it is greater between the good man and the man who has attained knowledge; it is immeasurable between the good man and the one on the threshold of divinity.
Therefore be wary lest too soon you fancy yourself a thing apart from the mass. When you have found the beginning of the way, the star of the soul will show its light; and by that light you will perceive how great is the darkness in which it burns. Mind, heart, brain all are obscure and dark until the first great battle has been won. Be not appalled and terrified by the sight; keep your eyes fixed on the small light and it will grow.
But let the darkness within you help you to understand the helplessness of those who have seen no light, whose souls are in profound gloom. Blame them not. Shrink not from them, but try to lift a little of the heavy karma of the world; give your aid to the few strong hands that hold back the powers of darkness from obtaining complete victory. Then do you enter into a partnership of joy — which brings, indeed, terrible toil and profound sadness, but also a great and ever-increasing light.
It shall grow, it will shoot up, it will make branches and leaves and form buds while the storm continues, while the battle lasts. But not till the whole personality of the man is dissolved and melted — not until it is held by the divine fragment which has created it, as a mere subject unto its higher Self, can the bloom open. Then will come a calm such as comes after the heavy rain, when Nature works so swiftly that one may see her action. Such a calm will come to the harassed spirit. And in the deep silence the mysterious event will occur which will prove that the way has been found. Call it by what name you will, it is a voice that speaks where there is none to speak — it is a messenger that comes, a messenger without form or substance; or it is the flower of the soul that has opened. It cannot be described by any metaphor. But it can be felt after, looked for, and desired, even amid the raging of the storm. The silence may last a moment of time or it may last a thousand years. But it will end. Yet you will carry its strength with you. Again and again the battle must be fought and won. It is only for an interval that Nature can be still.
Note — The opening of the bloom is the glorious moment when perception awakes; with it comes confidence, knowledge, certainty. The pause of the soul is the moment of wonder, and the next moment of satisfaction — that is the silence.
Know, O disciple, that those who have passed through the silence, and felt its peace and retained its strength, they long that you pass through it also. Therefore, in the Hall of Learning, when he is capable of entering there, the disciple will always find his Master.
Those that ask shall have. But though the ordinary man asks perpetually, his voice is not heard. For he asks with his mind only; and the voice of the mind is only heard on that plane on which the mind acts. Therefore not until the first twenty-one rules are passed do I say that those who ask shall have.
To read, in the occult sense, is to read with the eyes of the spirit. To ask is to feel the hunger within — the yearning of spiritual aspiration. To be able to read means having attained the power in a small degree of satisfying that hunger. When the disciple is ready to learn, then he is accepted, acknowledged, recognized. It must be so, for he has lit his lamp, and it cannot be hidden. But to learn is impossible until the first great battle has been won. The mind may recognize truth, but the spirit cannot receive it. Once having passed through the storm and attained the peace, it is then always possible to learn, even though the disciple waver, hesitate, and turn aside. The Voice of the Silence remains with him, and though he leaves the Path utterly, yet one day it will resound, and rend him asunder and separate his passions from his divine possibilities. Then, with pain and desperate cries from the deserted lower self, he will return.
Therefore I say: Peace be with you. "My peace I give unto you" can only be said by the Master to the beloved disciples who are as Himself. There are some, even among those who are ignorant of the Eastern Wisdom, to whom this can be said, and to whom it can daily be said with more completeness.