When we look at the human kingdom, we find three classes of men and women: (a) those who live without a purpose; (b) those who live with a purpose which proves false; (c) those who live with a purpose which is true.
It is in our purpose of life that we find our motive for action. If no purpose is conceived, no motive exists. Our motive is the motorforce, and with it life's car is driven.
When we have a definite purpose, our life is a concentrated life. Concentration requires an object as centre. If we want to concentrate our mind, we must have a point to which all mental forces are gathered together. This point is provided by our conception of the purpose of life.
Let us study the three classes of people mentioned above.
Thus concentration or its lack is intimately related to our perception of the meaning and purpose of existence.
Concentration does not mean only fixity of mind on any given subject. Culture which produces successful concentration has to be examined. The wandering mind will not come under our control till we examine the principles involved in concentration.
So how shall we determine what is the purpose of life for each one of us? There is a phrase which Mr. Judge uses and which is in the form of a question. If we answer that, we shall find for ourselves the purpose of our own present existence. The question is: "What is the secret desire of your heart? It is not the expressed desire: "I want to be happy, or I want to do this or that." There is at the back of expressed desires our secret desires. Now let us apply this question to the three classes of people mentioned above. These three divisions are not fanciful. We can examine and evaluate the entire human kingdom in the light of this central question. What are the answers that we get when we ask people: "What is the secret desire of your heart?" According to the "secret desire," knowingly or unknowingly, consciously or unconsciously, we live our life. We may not like the pattern of our own life, but it is our own secret desire that has built that pattern.
It is often said, "As we think, so we become." This is true. But we think in a particular way because of our secret desire. The Rig-Vedic hymn says that "Desire first arose in It," the Brahman; and in response to that Primal Desire, Mahat or Divine Mind manifested its activity. So it is our own secret desire which impels our mind to activity.
If we ask everyone that question, there will be, broadly speaking, three answers:
We often say, "Theosophy is for all," and we include even the illiterate who may not be able to read and write but who have a culture of their own. Theosophy is also for those who have ambitions. And it is for the spiritual aspirant who feels the urge of divinity within himself. Theosophy is for all who want it. Whatever our station in life, whatever the state of our mind, there is help for us in Theosophy; but we must want it—want to study it, want to use it for ourselves.
Let us see how Theosophy helps in a practical way. First, Theosophy reveals the true purpose of life and thus provides the true motive for concentration—to raise the self by the Self. For the simple folk and for the highly educated, for all and not only for the aspirant, that is the purpose of life. To the simple-minded who have not erected false purposes, this comes easy; to the complex-minded it proves difficult; to the aspirant, because of Karma, it comes as an overwhelming conviction. The "secret desire" of the human heart is—altruism and philanthropy; everyone, even the most selfish, has this innate idea burnt imperishably in his consciousness. But, while the simple-minded have forgotten and are easily reminded, the sophisticated have become cumbersome and in devious ways contrive to practise altruism and philanthropy along with selfishness, ambition, greed and so forth. Real altruism and philanthropy cannot possibly be practised without a grasp of the teaching—"Raise the self by the Self." Knowledge of psychology is required, which Theosophy provides.
Secondly, knowledge of what is to be raised and who raises it is necessary. Theosophy explains what the higher and lower selves are—Atma-Buddhi-Manas, or the Triad, versus body-energy-desires-lower mind, or the Quaternary. No one can adequately help another who has not in some measure raised his lower self by his Higher Self. Culture of concentration means this—the process of raising.
Thirdly, Theosophy teaches the right technique of praying. Prayer is dual: personal prayer, that used by us for our own improvement; and impersonal prayer used for the good of others. Prayer is not mere muttering of words; prayer is the formation of thoughts. Whether we desire self-improvement or the helping of others, for both "formation of thoughts" is necessary. As far as our minds are concerned, we are like babes—we howl and cry and try to articulate, but can only make futile noises. Unless the mind is trained by correct technique in concentration we cannot formulate thoughts. The baby tries to learn to speak; we have to do that with our minds.
Concentration is the first step for both kinds of prayer.
How shall we use concentration for the first kind of prayer—prayer for self-improvement? It is a twofold process: purificatory prayer which cleanses the lower nature, and invocatory prayer which brings the Inner God (Higher Self) down into the temple of the body. The body or temple must be clean and pure and the God established there must radiate beneficence. In other words, what is required is (i) self-examination, and (ii) Ideation-Imagination which uses knowledge about the nature of the Higher Self. The body will not become pure nor will the Divinity in us enter the brain and the heart just by our wishing it. Thought has to be purified, and by thought the road is built for the Higher to infuse itself into the temple of the body.
The second kind of prayer, which is for the good of others and for which deeds and actions are necessary, does not become possible without the first kind of prayer. People do not get response to their prayers for others, even when unselfishly uttered, because they are uttered by those who lack inner purity. Even doling out alms, without inner purity, will avail us nothing.
What practice shall we adopt? (a) Study; without it no good and much harm will accrue. (b) Self-examination—of the lower self by the aid of the Higher and also by searching the scriptures. This is real vesper, the evening prayer. (c) Invocation of the Higher by the mind which has subdued lower desires and passions, with the aid of Imagination and Ideation—the company of Ideas and Idea-Builders. This is real matin, the morning exercise.
But these three are of little avail unless the secret desire of the heart is for nothing else but raising the self by the Self. Theosophy reiterates true Ideas given out by great Idea-Builders—the real Gurus, not of this caste or that class, but of the whole human race. The Ideas which They always and ever project on the Screen of Space and Time become the real food of our souls in waking days as in nights when the body sleeps. "Dreams" are futile as prayers are futile; but true dreams can be made aids and inspiration, as true prayers are. False dreams confuse, true ones help. Concentration is required for both prayers and dreams. The Gurus pray for us, dream for us; let us make ourselves worthy of Them.
The constant verification of geological and meteorological predictions besides its scientific value is of the utmost philosophical importance to the student of Theosophy. For it shows: (a) that there are few secrets in nature absolutely inaccessible to man's endeavours to snatch them from her bosom; and (b) that Nature's workshop is one vast clockwork guided by immutable laws in which there is no room for the caprices of special providence. Yet he, who has fathomed the ultimate secrets of the Proteus-nature—which changes but is ever the same—can, without disturbing the LAW, avail himself of the yet unknown correlations of natural FORCE to produce effects which would seem miraculous and impossible but to those who are unacquainted with their causes. "The law which moulds the tear also rounds the planet." There exists a wealth of chemic force—in heat, light, electricity and magnetism—the possibilities of whose mechanical motions are far from being all understood. Why then should the theosophist who believes in natural (though occult) law be regarded as either a charlatan or a credulous fool in his endeavours to fathom its secrets? Is it only because following the traditions of ancient men of science the methods he has chosen differ from those of modern learning?