Treading the Path - Becoming Soul Conscious
Articles By M.E. Haselhurst
"The place where we are is the place from which our Journey begins."
It is slightly startling to realise how aptly this symbolic phrase "treading the Path describes the esoteric effort to become soul conscious, and to move toward Monadic consciousness. An inner urge drives the personal self to make the first tentative movement, to put a hesitating and exploratory foot down in a new direction, and thenceforward each step continues the journey into reality.
There has long been a tendency to wrap this matter of treading the Path in mystery, to think of it as setting apart those who undertake the effort from other men. In fact it does no such thing. In their own way, and time, and circumstances, all men are treading the Path, because all are sparks of the one Divine Life and will eventually demonstrate that Oneness. The only difference is that some men recognise their divine destiny sooner than those around them, and so are able to take up the always present opportunity of starting to walk rather more directly towards mankind's common goal.
In taking up the challenge of this direct approach, men take into their own hands the responsibility for accomplishing their destiny. The "I" of the personality has to be stretched until it becomes the greater "I" of the soul; and that, eventually, must merge into the all-inclusive "I" of the Monad. This stretching process represents self-initiated effort. It is needful to tread the Path by one's own effort, not by hitchhiking a lift in some heavenly omnibus. One can be helped on this journey, but not carried. And it is necessary to keep moving.
The operative word here is "moving." It is extremely easy, especially after many years of esoteric effort, to slip into habits of thought, action and attitude which were helpful when initiated, but which have been transformed by time and use into comfortable arm-chairs, so comfortable, so snugly form-fitting, that the traveller is loath to move from them, or to meet experiences which demand the abandonment of such satisfying anchorages. Yet abandoned they must be. If there is any is any one thing above all others which is the deadly enemy of discipleship effort, of treading the Path, it is inertia. Only ruthlessly clear and constantly revised elevations can save one form it. Steady, undeviating work is needed, plus willingness to experiment and the capacity to explore. The age-old axiom that "when the pupil is ready the Master will appear" is no excuse for slacking effort. From his own limited viewpoint, the aspirant may be quite ready, poised, alert, watching for the wished-for signal. But from the other end of the circuit there may be obstacles, karma that has to be worn out, relationships that have to be established, or skills that have to be unfolded. If the eagerly longed-for link does not speedily appear, no aspirant has the right to sink back into inertia of discouragement. Each and every sincere student of the Ageless Wisdom, each aspirant to tread the path, is required to keep on trying, actively and constantly engaged in the task of establishing: -
a. soul consciousness
b. capacity to use this expanded awareness in world service.
It is encouraging to note the oft-repeated teaching that the master is most likely to appear in the moment when he has been completely forgotten as the man on the outer plane struggles to meet some overwhelming need.
This meeting of world need is a vital part of treading the Path. It need not be glamorous, spectacular or dramatic effort. It is not given to all men to serve grandly, writing in bold letters the history of their times. But it is given to all men to serve in the measure of their highest achieved capacity, knowing that, as need is met, the capacity to meet greater need unfolds. No man is truly treading the Path who is not, according to the present limitations of his environment, helping other men to find and tread it also.
Robert F. Kennedy once said:
"Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope and, crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring, these ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
"Few are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential vital quality for those who see a change a world that yields most painfully to change. And I believe that in this generation those with the courage to enter the moral conflict will find themselves with companions in every corner of the globe."
It needs very little translation to find in such noble words an inspiring yet realisable pattern of public action to guide all outer plane service.
Treading the path is a spiritual adventure carried forward, at our present stage of evolution, by means of the physical body, and by means of which man functions in the physical world. This involves a responsibility oft-times overlooked, that of the right and intelligent use of this marvellously constructed, living instrument. It has been said that man and the tortoise have more in common than appears at first glance. The tortoise is a life that lives within a form that is both house and vehicle. Man's physical body is both his house and his vehicle of expression. It is a unique instrument, sensitive, strong, beautiful, and definitely adaptable, designed to meet all the needs encountered in any incarnation. An instrument at once so precious and so useful merits care, but not coddling. Disciples have no right to ignore it, because there is much work to be done, and the physical instrument is necessary part of the doing. It is a part of the process of treading the Path that this house which is also an instrument be kept in proper repair, nurtured and protected within reason, and at all times held in right restraint. It is to be used, but not allowed to dominate action, or to intrude unduly on the aspirant's real affairs.
Those who are no longer young in years have a peculiar duty in this connection. It must be remembered that the soul works more easily through the older, experienced body, than that is young and inexperienced, provided there is right motivation and a complete lack of selfishness, pride and prejudice. The Master Djwhal Khul tells such disciples to "Face the future with the same joy as in youth, yet with an added usefulness, knowing that you have the wisdom of experience, and the capacity for understanding that no physical limitation can prevent a soul from useful expression and service. The soul knows no age, and can use its instrument for as long as the instrument is held ready and available for service."
It is wise to give penetrative thought as to just how treading the Path fits into daily life patterns, which are, for most men, fixed and inescapable. It is not always realised, for instance, that there was a period in the life of Jesus when he lived quietly at home with his parents, undergoing the most difficult experience of home life, with its monotony, its unvarying usualness, its subordination to group need, and its lessons of sacrifice, understanding and service. This is the point from which every disciple has to start. Until divinity has been expresses in the home, and amongst those who know us well, it cannot be expected to express itself elsewhere. "The place where we are is the place from which our journey begins, and not the place from which we escape." It is here, in the place where he now stands, that man faces the real test of discipleship. A test is something which tries one's strength, and daily life does this with searching thoroughness. It is extremely easy for men to imagine they would make a spectacular success of treading the Path being a disciple, living the spiritual life, if only they had different opportunities, somebody's else's capacities, some other person's circumstances. In actual fact, each man has exactly the environment, the type of body and the set of circumstances, best designed to call into active expression the divinity hidden deep within his own being. Every man has those contacts in the world, the kind of work and opportunity, which he needs to enable him to take the next step upon the path of discipleship. It is by taking this next step, and then another and another, that men learn to tread with surety the Path that leads from the unreal to the Real.
With life firmly rooted in simplicities such as these, it becomes possible to achieve more definitely esoteric recognitions. The next necessary steps, easily measured in talking, lead to goal so high that the human mind cannot fully comprehend them. None-the-less, it is wise to give thought to these mountaintop objectives, for toward them the Path inevitably leads. Each effort to comprehend, to visualise, however faintly, the objectives of the journey, sends forth-tenuous threads of understanding. Such threads will eventually strengthen into bridges by means of which man enabled to pass to transcendental experience.
Total Life Expression
This makes clear that the really major step to be taken is a shift of consciousness, a re-orientation of the whole life, a stepping-up of the vibration quality of the total life expression. It is not given to serious students of esotericism to stand still. A recognition achieved, an expression undergone, is the point from which the next expansion of consciousness must be initiated.
The Tibetan Master points out that "some very sincere devotees and promising applicants are so pre-occupied with form and its disciplining that they have no real time to give to soul expansion. They are so interested in their reactions to their self-imposed discipline, that the spiritual truths, seeking entrance into their hearts, fail to make such an entrance. Temperance in all things, the wise use of all sustaining forms, and self-forgetfulness are the hallmarks of the disciple . . . Many disciples are still so earnest over the physical disciplines that the discipline of the soul is ignored."
That this is an aspect of treading the Path which is of over-riding importance is emphasised by further comment of this Master to the effect that "one the world of the soul is entered, the disciple uses all forms wisely, with understanding of their purpose, and with freedom from excess. He is not preoccupied with them or fundamentally interested in them. His eyes are off himself and are fixed on the world of true values. He has no sense of self-interest because a group awareness is rapidly superseding his individual consciousness."
Having thus jolted the mind out of its accustomed self-complacency, the same Master makes things a little easier by pointing clearly to the great shifts of consciousness which will be achieved, and the goals which will be reached and passed, as the disciple treads patiently this ever-climbing Path. "The goal ahead of the aspirant is the consciousness of non-separateness and the recognition of a universal inclusiveness; the secondary goal is the ability to reveal the nature of that reality, Unity; the third goal is the ability to take those measures in the three worlds which will facilitate mankind's apprehension of these fundamentals."
Then, ensuring that the student is under no misapprehension concerning the task in hand, there is the further statement: "You will note how this last definition of the goal removes inevitably the factor of self-interest in its entirety. It might be said that revelation concerns Oneness and nothing else. The practical nature of this truth is only recognised when the disciple attempts to do two things: to realise it individually, and to bring the nature of planetary unity and of non-separateness to the minds, and into the lives of men everywhere . . The disciple must reveal to humanity the essential unity underlying all creation."
This is work of an urgent nature. There is no over-all blue print giving details as to how it is to be accomplished. Each aspirant, each student, must make his own choices, implement his own decisions. He must take that inescapable first step, lift a foot and put it down and put it down pointing in the direction it appears to him is the right one; and keep going. It does not matter, in any essential sense, if he gets a little off course now and again. There is always the fixed point of intention within his own consciousness to which he can return. Direction can be altered so long as the goal remains paramount, and the will to achieve it does not falter. It is sloth, not ignorance or ineptitude, which is the greatest enemy to progress. Lack of achievement stems from inertia, plus reluctance to face misjudgement or the possible failure of an envisioned project.
Soul expansion (which, curiously enough is a contradiction in terms) suggests a movement within thought or, perhaps, within consciousness. When men first set out to tread the Path they are like children building sand castles, or making magnificent edifices with brightly coloured blocks. It is work by means of which the inner Self comes to expression because creative imagination is made active in form. But tides wash away the sand castles, and, for sundry reasons, the blocks have to be tidied away. Man has to learn to give expression to these capacities for creation on subtler levels, working in the realm of mind, using thought as his medium of expression. The book Aum contains many evocative hints and suggestions concerning the recognition and use of the energy of thought. "Let thought continue to work. People do not keep pace with the flight of thought, yet none the less thought leads the world." And again: "It is almost impossible to find people who are devoted to the art of thinking. In the simple matter of Olympic Games people are ready to award crowns to winners. But where is there recognition and encouragement of thought?" "Thought has no tongue yet it is all-pervading."
Disciples, individually and in groups, are required to develop the capacity to think sanely, evading no issues, but preserving always a calm, dispassionate and loving understanding.
This type and quality of thought not only leads to creative activity within the life of humanity; it also fosters recognition and realisation of the soul as the dominating influence within man's individual life. Here, on a higher octave, the positive, active nature of this project of treading the Path is demonstrated. The soul needs the mind and brain as instruments of expression. The more these are sensitised and brought into synchronous vibration with the soul, the smoother and more effective will be the interplay between them.
It must always be remembered that man treads the Path; he does not have nay swift and easy passage over it. When the effort is lifted to the mental plane it is pertinent to recognise that "a trained mind, a well stocked memory will greatly facilitate the work of the soul in gaining a right record and an accurate registering of its knowledge."
With the mind steadily oriented towards abstract mental levels, it gradually becomes possible to perceive the significance of the phrase, right meditation. This meditation, when man is truly treading the Path, becomes a continues expression of soul life. As Mr C.W. Leadbeater points out (The Masters and the Path, p 359):
"We cannot always have our consciousness drawn away from the physical plane to higher levels; yet it is possible to live a life of meditation in this sense, that the higher things are always so strongly present in the background of our minds that they may instantly come to the front when that mind is not otherwise occupied. Our life will then be really a life of perpetual meditation upon the highest and noblest objects, interrupted now and then by the necessity of putting our thoughts into practice in daily life."
The Master Djwhal Khul sends the concept deeper, drives thought higher. "Meditation," he tells us, "is essentially the highest instrument and the perfected consummation of the third divine aspect, that of intelligent activity, and is from every possible angle carried on within the ring-pass-not of the Universal Mind . . . "Meditation brings into alignment instinct, intellect and the intuition, as well as conscious identification. It relates in an indissoluble unity the so-called lower or concrete mind, the group mind, the hierarchical mind and the Universal Mind; it leads to a conscious alignment of the disciple's centres and also the three planetary Centres; it is invocative, demanding, fusing, receptive and distributory in nature." He also says that meditation is the outstanding creative agent on our planet.
In the light of these indicated possibilities, giving due weight to the recognitions and realisations which lie open to the serious and persistent student, treading the Path becomes an enterprise so splendid, so creative, so demanding, that nothing less than total commitment to it is possible. Those who would essay the venture are offered opportunity, made aware that they are needed, and assured of significant results. Decision, the actual taking of the required steps, is a matter of individual concern.
The Path is there. It is not found easily, though approaches leading to it are many and various. It is not trodden easily, despite the many sign-posts and directives available for the help of earnest travellers. Yet it can be found, and it can be trodden, and those who follow it, putting one foot after another with purposeful persistence, find eventually the truth of the ancient Scriptures which says:
"Ever the radiance groweth till the Path ends within a blaze of glory, and the wanderer through the night becomes the child of the sun, and entereth within the portals of that radiant orb."
Keywords: Treading the Path, Becoming Soul conscious, esoteric effort, M.E. Haselhurst, Intuition, Intuitive, Articles, UK, South Africa, Cape Town