The Society

Editorial – A Mind that Learns

Jan Nicolaas Kind – Brazil

The Society 1 Editorial 2

Just before departing for Adyar in order to spend some time there, and to participate in the 142nd International Convention, with as theme title “From Teachings to Insight: The Altruistic Heart”, the following thoughts came to my mind:

While our world is undergoing yet more unparalleled conflicts, and the media seems to divide world- history into before and after a beloved president, or before and after the overthrow of some dreadful dictator, while disturbing lies are turned into alternative truths, while religious thought is still greatly misused, causing revolting monstrosities in many parts of the globe, just think of the Rohingya, while an entire new generation of world citizens is brought up egocentrically in front of a one-eyed monster called the computer or smartphone, being their only true companion, while new expressions added to the world’s vocabulary talk of ‘making a certain country great again’, ‘world crusades against a radical religious group’ or ‘retaliation for the sake of retaliation’, while many men, often high-up on the social ladder still haven’t figured out how to properly deal with their manhood, oppressing and assaulting women, while many have forgotten that profound listening is a typical art and therefore all they do is orate or, what is worse, simply close their eyes in boredom and fall asleep when a brilliant mind talks about love and timeless virtues; while all this and much more is happening, students of Theosophy gather at times in various places on this globe, to talk to each other about how to prepare oneself, and about a mind that learns.

In order to deepen ourselves, what is it that we have to learn, why and how do we learn, do we ever learn? Why cannot we be just contented as we are, is there a need for a renewal, a transformation; do we have to learn to master certain things, to make progress, and where or what is our starting point? We simply could consult some web-site on a computer and look for the answers there or listen to a speaker who understands it all so much better than we do and finally, yet importantly, what does our mind have to do with that inescapable learning process?

H.P. Blavatsky gave us a worthy suggestion when she wrote:

“Higher and lower Manas are figured allegorically as the two inseparable companions of man through life, the one his Guardian Angel, the other his evil Demon.” (Theosophical Glossary)

Hence, Man is a Manasic being, who, besides his other principles, has to learn to live with, and is influenced through, Buddhi Manas and Kama Manas, both of which keep him constantly busy and hopefully attentive: his higher and lower mind, making that mind dual in its potentiality. During a lifetime, and most certainly long before and after it, the process of learning is unremitting, never ending and always crucial. One never finishes learning, irrespective of one’s age, experiences, intellectual background or interests. It is said that the comprehension of our place in this universe is a first step towards the realization of a higher consciousness, which is within each one of us, and thus Theosophy gives us seven keys, through which it is possible to learn about our origin, present state, our future and our destiny. Via those seven keys we learn of Reincarnation, Karma, Hierarchies, Self-Generation/Self-Becoming, Evolution and Involution, the Path of Immortality and the Path Each One for Himself, dealing with the individuality and the personality, and finally Atma Vidya, meaning the Knowledge of the Essential Self.

Theosophy – a consistent thought system, a worldview, a philosophy that enables us to investigate ourselves, the world around us, the universe – it confronts us with who we really are. The Cis- or Trans-Himalayan teachings are there for guidance, waiting for those who are ready and willing to learn.

The Masters of Wisdom have declared that They cannot be known unless we study their philosophy, their teachings, explaining that Man in his essence is a spark of the central kosmic fire, standing at the midway point of the evolutionary ladder.

Why do these Teachings have to be studied? For many of us they seem to be very abstract. Some often remark that they don’t quite understand what the study of the more complex teachings of Theosophy could possibly contribute to the welfare of this planet. Many are convinced that one can certainly live the Life without all that excessive knowledge, so why study it?

H.P. Blavatsky wrote:

“He who studies Theosophy, studies the highest transcendental philosophy.” (CW XI, page 346) Perhaps that question arises again: Is it true then, that this highest transcendental philosophy can play a role in world politics, in our struggle against war, hunger and corruption? Will it solve environment related problems? Will it stop the alarming spreading of lethal diseases, and can it play a significant role in our search for Truth?

If indeed the Old Wisdom is studied and explored profoundly, one cannot but conclude that, to begin with, the teachings direct us to the here and now. Additionally and very unmistakably, we are faced with the reality that no one can live just for him- or herself. One will see that it is Nature’s attribute, Nature being the aggregate of all that exists, that each living being on this planet has to carry incalculable other beings with it on the Path that leads down- or upwards; there is simply no room for self-centredness.

Self-centredness is a poor dissonant in Nature’s symphony. When the learning process becomes an integral part of our daily discipline, it will become clear that, through impartial observation and reason, the individuality will reach a state whereby it is understood that it is the spiritual-intellectual, the immortal part of us, it is our very embodiment.

In some of the mystic Theosophical literature this process is described as entering the Hall of Learning, and the disciple may enter when he or she is able to stand, able to hear, able to see, able to speak, when desire is conquered and Self-knowledge attained, realizing that awareness has to be the keynote. The state of mind is of overriding importance here; it cannot be stubborn, it has to be freed of all disbeliefs or prejudices and it has to open and honest in the broadest sense.

Tolerance and compassion towards those who live, think or behave in a different manner; a true interest in the philosophies and all the religions of the world, finding fundamental truths in every one of them; a deep concern for the state our planet is in, realizing that our globe is a living entity and that its natural environment is in great danger due to man’s misconduct; an awareness that animals are kin to us because they are sentient and a part of the same Creation with a basic DNA structure of their genes that is absolutely identical to ours, and the certainty that the Esoteric Doctrine is the common possession of Mankind – all this will come about when this body of mystical and sacred teaching is truly assimilated.

In spite of its duality, the mind definitely recognizes virtues, but we have to be cautious.

In The Voice of the Silence, we read about Shin Sien’s Doctrine, who teaches us that the human mind is like a mirror that attracts every atom of dust, and has to be, like that mirror, watched over and dusted every day, especially when we start to explore the terrain of morals and ethics. An occultist knows that a life without ethics is an unnatural life wherein the basic rules that reign in the Universe are violated. One builds a castle in the air when one thinks that the wisdom-religion can be comprehended without a wholehearted recognition that ethics are an inseparable part of it. Ethics in the theosophical philosophy are not merely the product of human thought. They are founded on the very structure and character of the universe itself. The heart of the universe is wisdom-love, and these are intrinsically ethical, for there can be no wisdom without ethics, nor can there be ethics deprived of either love or wisdom.

A mind that learns, and, as stated earlier, a mind freed from all disbeliefs and prejudices, a mind that is not occupied, makes many discoveries when it deeply ponders on ethics or morals. It will ascertain that these universal rules are literally universal. Thus, they also apply to each one of us, wherever we might be on this planet. Consequently, the ethics in Lapland in northern Finland or Keflavik, Iceland are identical to those in Varanasi-India, Hobart-Tasmania, Amsterdam, the Netherlands or Brasilia, the capital of Brazil. When the mind discovers that man is embodied consciousness, one with all, from what the eye perceives to the intuitive awareness of the fusion of all atoms in his body, composing an everlasting spiritual totality, then it starts to grasp that Truth is all that is.

However, when the mind functions with logic and mathematics only, when it measures, calculates, when it is constantly on the alert and pragmatic, then it is what some people call a sharp mind. It will measure with great eagerness even those things that are immeasurable. In this instance, the mind as an instrument is taken to an area where measurement is impossible, and it might have to accept that logical propositions cannot explain everything. Therefore, it must learn to use logic only where logic can be applied. The eager-mind undoubtedly is very much able to absorb the Esoteric Doctrine, primarily in schemes, technicalities and purely intellectual aspects. It will remember texts, theses and authors, it will know of wise people and their quotations, and it may even convey their message, but inwardly it cannot distinguish, it is highly incompetent and caught in an illusion.

When the mind is used as an instrument and led by the desire for supremacy and cleverness, then there is only so-called spirituality. The level it reaches is superficial and acquisitive. There is one one-way communication with others and no dialogue. The immense knowledge contained in the Teachings is used as a hunting ground. Here the mind is searching for self-perpetuation and self-expansion, and it is in need of an audience to relate to, in order to demonstrate its technical skills. The result is a career-mind, soaked in spiritual materialism aiming for material results only and a high-ranked position in any vehicle that promulgates certain objects and ideas. It flourishes through recognition, appreciation, and what makes it worse, it demands to be pleased.

The mind, when controlled by Kama, has no true connection with the higher faculties, and it will not really learn at all, since it is a hostage in its own house of thought. It has to break out of it, to liberate itself, restructure itself drastically. Man is both his own creation and creator, his destiny lies within himself.

Theosophical literature often refers to human beings as one class of young gods incarnated in bodies of flesh at the present stage of their particular evolutionary journey. Therefore, the breaking down of the walls of the old house is a part of that process. Mind, in this undertaking, is the key to regeneration, which results in the birth of a New Man. To get out of the impasse and in order to allow the mind to be a mechanism whereby the inexhaustible learning process is practically implied in order to come to a state whereby self-centeredness is eliminated and substituted by altruism, many steps have to be taken.

Like a pioneer cultivating the wilderness, the New Man will create other landscapes and horizons. Man the thinker has to find a silent place where the racing-mind is brought to rest. When it is not after an immediate outcome, in quietness and serenity, it will observe and discover its latent strength. Not through suppression, but through real insight and love, the lower levels will be abandoned and awareness will arise.

The world’s chaos lies in man himself. This awakening of intelligence, which cares for wisdom and not for personal gain or short-term advantages, is a holistic experience.

It will not only intensify the bond that man has with all that surrounds him, but also the union he is bound to have with himself, since all that exists in the outer world is present in every particle of his body.

A mind that learns will find that dealing with symptoms often ends in a pointless struggle, so it patiently, thoroughly and freely commences a discriminative search for causes. Once a cause is found, it will deal with it, if necessary do away with it, not in condemnation or in rigidity, but in a frank openness, because it does not allow itself to compromise when Truth is involved. The higher Self will act as a counsellor, since the personality is unable to unravel the entire knot that obstructs growth, and as a result forms a formidable opponent. Commitment, devotion, broad-mindedness, a willingness to stand up and speak out against falsehood, oppression or corruption, and the sincere desire to learn from past mistakes, it all will unfold.

Along this Path of unfoldment, disappointments and failures are bound to happen. To think on a higher plane and act in the spirit of Brotherhood, to go out into the world and courageously turn inwardly in search for Truth is neither an easy nor a safe task. Yet a mind that learns is aware of this, although it seems at times that the impediments are insurmountable.

The whole process eventually will reveal that it is not only for the purification of the higher Self that the mind learns. Ultimately, it will induce the teacher that dwells within each individual how to teach, since one of the main purposes of learning is that in due course one is able to share, to pass on that which one has learned, to others.

Every day offers countless opportunities to learn. Looking around with an eye for detail, amazed and always with intense admiration, man will build a basis for unending growth.

A mind that learns has but one aim: to model the Divine in daily life.

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