Cyclic Ebb and Flow
From A Treatise on White Magic (p.242-247)
By Alice A. Bailey
Let us consider now the words "the ebb and flow of the waters."
In the understanding of the law of cycles, we gain knowledge of the underlying laws of evolution and come to a realization of the rhythmic work of creation. Incidentally also we gain poise as we study our own life impulses, for they also have their ebb and flow, and alternate between periods of light and periods of darkness.
We have with us always that symbolic daily occurrence wherein the part of the world in which we live swings out into the clear light of the sun, and later returns into the healing dark of the night. Our very familiarity with the phenomenon causes us to lose sight of its symbolic significance and to forget that under the great law, periods of light and dark, of good and evil, of submergence and emergence, of progress into illumination and apparent betrayal into darkness, characterize the growth of all forms, distinguish the development of races and nations, and constitute the problem of the aspirant who has built for himself a picture of walking in a constant illumined condition and of leaving all dark places behind.
In these Instructions, it is not possible for me to deal with the ebb and flow of the divine life as it manifests in the various kingdoms in nature and through the evolutionary growth of humanity, through experience in races, nations and families. I seek, however, to elaborate somewhat the cyclic experience of a soul in incarnation, indicating the apparent ebb and flow of its unfoldment.
The outstanding cycle for every soul is that of its forth going into incarnation and its return or flowing back into the centre from whence it came. According to the point of view will be the understanding of this ebb and flow. Souls might esoterically be regarded as those "seeking the light of experience" and therefore turned towards physical expression, and those "seeking the light of understanding", and therefore retreating from the realm of human undertaking to forge their way inward into the soul consciousness, and so become "dwellers in the light eternal". Without appreciating the significance of the terms, the psychologists have sensed these cycles and call certain types, extraverts, and others, introverts. These mark an ebb and flow in individual experience and are the tiny life correspondences to the great soul cycles. This passing into, and passing out of, the web of incarnated existence are the major cycles of any individual soul, and a study of the types of pralaya dealt with in The Secret Doctrine and in A Treatise on Cosmic Fire would be found of real value by the student.
There is also an ebb and flow in soul experience on any one plane and this, in the early stages of development, will cover many lives. They are usually quite extreme in their expression. A study of the racial ebb and flow will make this clearer. In Lemurian days the "flow", or the outward going cycle, spent itself on the physical plane and the ebb carried the life aspect right back to the soul itself, and there was no secondary ebb and flow on the astral or mental planes.
Later, the tide broke on the shores of the astral plane, though including the physical in less degree. The flow directed its attention to the emotional life, and the drift back to the centre took no account of the mental life at all. This was at its height for humanity in Atlantean days and is true also of many today. Now the ebb and flow is increasingly inclusive, and the mental experience has its place so that all three aspects are swept by the life of the soul; all are included in the outgoing energy of the incarnating soul, and for many lives and series of lives this cyclic force spends itself. Within the aspirant there arises an understanding of what is going on and he awakens to the desire to control consciously this ebb and flow or (to put it in simple words) to turn the forces of the outgoing energy in any direction he chooses, or to withdraw to his centre at will. He seeks to arrest this process of being swept out into incarnation without having any conscious purpose, and refuses to see the tide of his life beat out on emotional or mental spheres of existence, and then again see that life withdrawn without his conscious volition. He stands at the midway point and wants to control his own cycles, the "ebb and flow" as he himself may determine it. With conscious purpose he longs to walk in the dark places of incarnated existence and with equally conscious purpose he seeks to withdraw into his own centre. Hence he becomes an aspirant.
The life of the aspirant begins to repeat earlier cycles. He is assailed by a sudden stimulation of the physical nature and violently swept by ancient desires and lusts. This may be succeeded by a cycle wherein the physical body is conscious of the flowing away from it of vital energy and is devitalised, because not the subject of attention. This accounts for much of the sickness and lack of vitality of many of our most cherished servers. The same process can affect the emotional body, and periods of exaltation and of highest aspiration alternate with periods of the deepest depression and lack of interest. The flow may pass on to the mental body and produce a cycle of intense mental activity. Constant study, much thought, keen investigation and a steady intellectual urge will characterize the mind of the aspirant. To this may succeed a cycle wherein all study is distasteful, and the mind seems to lie entirely fallow and inert. It is an effort to think, and the futility of phases of thought assail the mind. The aspirant decides that to be is better far than to do. "Can these dry bones live?" he asks, and has no desire to see them revitalized.
All true seekers after truth are conscious of this unstable experience and frequently regard it as a sin or as a condition to be strenuously fought. Then is the time to appreciate that "the midway spot which is neither dry nor wet must provide the standing place whereon his feet are set."
This is a symbolic way of saying that he needs to realize two things:
1. That states of feeling are quite immaterial and are no indication of the state of the soul. The aspirant must centre himself in the soul consciousness, refuse to be influenced by the alternating conditions to which he seems subjected, and simply "stand in spiritual being" and then "having done all, stand."
2. That the achievement of equilibrium is only possible where alternation has been the rule, and that the cyclic ebb and flow will continue just as long as the soul's attention fluctuates between one or other aspect of the form and the true spiritual man.
The ideal is to achieve such a condition of conscious control that at will a man may be focused in his soul consciousness or focused in his form aspect, - each act of focused attention being brought about through a realized and specific objective, necessitating such a focusing.
Later when the words of the great Christian teacher have significance, he will be able to say "whether in the body or out of the body" is a matter of no moment. The act of service to be rendered will determine the point where the self is concentrated, but it will be the same self, whether freed temporarily from the form consciousness or immersed in the form in order to function in different aspects of the divine whole. The spiritual man seeks for the furthering of the plan and to identify himself with the divine mind in nature. Withdrawing to the midway spot, he endeavours to realize his divinity and then, having done so, he focuses himself in his mental form which puts him en rapport with the Universal Mind. He endures limitation so that thereby he may know and serve. He seeks to reach the hearts of men and to carry to them "inspiration" from the depths of the heart of spiritual being. Again he asserts the fact of his divinity and then, through a temporary identification with his body of sensory perception, of feeling, and of emotion, he finds himself at-one with the sensitive apparatus of divine manifestation which carries the love of God to all forms on the physical plane.
Again he seeks to aid in the materializing of the divine plan on the physical plane. He knows that all forms are the product of energy rightly used and directed. With full knowledge of his divine Sonship and a potent mind realization of all that that term conveys, he focuses his forces in the vital body and becomes a focal point for the transmission of divine energy and hence a builder in union with the building energies of the Cosmos. He carries the energy of illumined thought and sanctified desire down into the body of ether, and so works with intelligent devotion.
Keywords: Cyclic Ebb and Flow, work of creation, consciousness, Soulful, Alice A. Bailey, Intuition, Intuitive, Articles, UK, South Africa, Cape Town