Life after Life

Marie Harkness – Northern Ireland

“Be brave for Truth and Brotherhood, and We shall be with you throughout the ages”

Today many people believe they live only once on this earth and that when they die, a tally is taken of their good and bad deeds meriting reward or punishment. All who think deeply about life, who have seen for themselves numerous examples of exceptional childhood talent, must wonder why life bestows gifts on one person and not on another. Why some people have an aptitude for certain subjects, have a certain type of brain, can take life and whatever life throws at them in their stride and others cannot. Why some are born perfect, others with terrible afflictions. After some serious thinking, we `come to realise that the only answer to this is…. that existence is a long, long journey to perfection, encompassing many lives. We realise that the gifts and skills that some people possess have been acquired by hard graft in former existences. Those possessing a certain detachment, wisdom and compassion have not suddenly acquired these virtues, but have through experience in past lives, evolved to their present state, an on-going process. We realise that in each lifetime we accumulate greater mental power, discrimination and coping skills and in time true spirituality.  The Master M. has written:

“The pathway through earth-life leads through many conflicts and trials, but he who does naught to conquer them can expect no triumph’.”

As Theosophists we realise that with each birth, all capacities and noble accomplishments are latent in us and manifest when conditions are right. In each lifetime we have to work out the samskaras. We have spent many lives acquiring and accumulating thus satisfying the small ego. With spiritual progress such attitudes, which we may like to think are behind us, can resurface in more subtle forms such as in seeking acknowledgement for energies spent, thanks for altruistic work done for the Society or a desire for recognition from the Masters or other Higher Beings. Through diligent efforts of study, meditation and service, and being inspired by the Masters’ selflessness and Their deep compassion for humanity, we align ourselves with Them and become co-workers for Their cause, for Theosophy, not now by choice, but because there is simply no other way to go. We trust and follow our intuitions, and the driving force within us. Master KH advises: 

“Try to realize that in occultism one can neither go back nor stop. An abyss opens behind every step taken forward’.”

Then instead of the focus being on… our feelings, on absorbing and accumulating for ourselves, even in subtler forms, it becomes second nature to harmonise, to pour outwards, to give of ourselves in all ways possible without expectation of return. We realise we have a duty to look after the health of the body giving it sufficient rest and nourishment, for it is a precious gift and instrument. It is said that there is more progress made spiritually while living in a body than without one. For significant spiritual development, what is needed is the threefold body, mind and spirit. The Buddhists call a lifetime on this earth ‘The Great Opportunity’. Our task now is to align with the Higher and partake inThe great plan of the Hierarchy for the upliftment of humanity’s consciousness and that of all the kingdoms of nature. Firstly there is conscious cooperation and pouring forth….and then, through time, meditation and sincere effort, it becomes a part of our very nature.

Reincarnation explains all the incidents of people being born with certain capacities and benefits or the lack thereof. Lifetime after lifetime the soul gathers experience and through the strengthening of the mind as a valuable instrument, and its  capacity to receive and retain knowledge, eventually the higher and lower consciousness become one as is the case with all the Masters of the Wisdom. They have blazed a trail or path for us to follow in Their footsteps.

We are all at different stages of life’s journey and will be led to the Path  best suited to us. T. Subba Row, an eminent occultist in HPB’s time, spoke of  two paths open to us, one the natural path of steady progress which the bulk of humanity take ‘on which there is all-round and sure growth’ and the other suited only ‘for a few and specially organised and peculiar natures’. Those who travel the natural path at their own pace do not ‘suffer in the same way’ and they will eventually succeed. The second Path, the Path of Initiation, is ‘meant only for certain people because it is a forcing process.’ The pupil receives assistance to attain prematurely a ‘knowledge of his spiritual nature’. Through a special relationship between Master and pupil, the ‘Adept directs through the pupil various occult forces’ which hasten his growth. He gave an analogy explaining how the natural route, taken by the majority, goes around the mountain and keeps going round in a spiral until the top is eventually reached. The quicker Path goes straight up the mountain and at each point where the straight route dissects that of the round path, there is an initiation, and so on and upwards until the summit is reached. It is said that it is better for us not to seek this ‘razor-edged’ Path with more intense suffering and a faster settling of accounts, as one must be ready for it but ….‘if it finds you well and good’. What is needed is the talisman of ‘a perfectly unselfish, self-forgetting, self-annihilating devotion to the religious good of humanity, a self-abnegaton which has no end forever.’

Today our readiness for the Path, for Initiation, is assessed by how we cope with life’s daily tasks and trials. C.W. Leadbeater once said that it wasn’t what circumstances are to us that’s important, it’s what we are to them. We are encouraged, not to retreat to some cave or mountain top, as has happened in former times, but to be in the thick of things, to mingle and work with and for other people and by so doing we are helping them, the community and the surrounding area. When we are ready we sound a password, which in reality is a soul vibration of absolute brotherhood of life sounded through our daily service. It is this vibration that links us with the Masters and the Angelic Realm.

Meantime we must grow ‘unconsciously as the flower grows’. In Light on the Path we find:

“It must be the Eternal that draws forth your strength and beauty, not desire of growth”. 

Yet we must have courage and trust that strengthening guiding light within us. Instruction and guidance will come as we need it. Master M. Said

“Have faith in your soul power, and you will have success”.’

It may take us many lifetimes to attain perfection but the daily striving to live each moment with full awareness, with heartfelt gratitude for opportunities, experience and blessings received, makes it a journey well worth living. We can but try our best and pay heed to the words of the Lord Maha Chohan:

“No messenger of truth, no prophet has ever achieved during his lifetime a complete triumph, not even Buddha.”


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