Soul's Instruments


The mind is the instrument of the Soul and therefore properly subservient to it. The Soul, however, requires the mind in order to manifest on this plane and to attain concentration. But the mind must be thoroughly united with the Soul before "Self-Knowledge" which is interior illumination is achieved. The ultimate conquest of this high peak of progress demands not only protracted striving but also struggles upward many times renewed.

The Voice of the Silence tells the beginner to seek to blend his mind and Soul. Even temporary success in uniting them, as in daily earnest self-examination in the light of our highest perception, makes it possible to see honestly and to judge impersonally not only our words and deeds but also our feelings and our thoughts.

Patanjali's system calls for hindering the modifications of the mind in its caseless motion towards the objects giving rise to pleasure or to pain. The mind is naturally drawn hither and thither by its response both to external things and to internal images. But when freed from desire and the objects of desire, whether observed, recollected or imagined, the mind can, as Mr. Judge puts it, be "stilled into a state of absolute calmness." This tranquillity possible to the controlled mind is referred to in The Voice of the Silence, where the tranquil mind is associated with bodily activity as well as with the "Soul as limpid as a mountain lake."

The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali plainly show the need, the possibility, the method and the fruits of control. They show also that the student of Theosophy cannot receive full benefit from the Teachings without a concentrated mind. We miss out much through inattention—hints and warnings as well as sidelights that would illuminate many points that now may seem obscure. There are two main sorts of concentration, as Mr. Judge brings out in his article on "Meditation, Concentration, Will": "One is the use of an already acquired power on a fixed occasion, the other the deep and constant practice of a power that has been made a possession." (U.L.T. Pamphlet No. 12)

Patanjali's system calls for the control of the mind by the help of the will. He does not actually refer to the will which is a universal power, devoid in itself of moral quality, which only man can impart to it, but the right following of his system will develop it. Mr. Judge in his Preface states that one reason for Patanjali's silence on the subject is that he and his school

well knew that the secret of directing the will with ten times the ordinary force might be discovered if they outlined the method, and then bad men whose desires were strong and conscience wanting, would use it with impunity against their fellows; or that even sincere students might be carried away from spirituality when dazzled by the wonderful results flowing from a training of the will alone. (p. XV)

The will is described in The Ocean of Theosophy as the greatest power in the human assemblage of complicated instruments. It is potentially all-powerful, being the very "force of Spirit in action," but it is, like the mind, properly an instrument for the Soul's use. It cannot, however, do its work if the imagination be at all weak or untrained.

Mr. Judge quotes an old Kabalistic maxim, "Behind Will Stands Desire," explains that

the desires always drawing the man hither and thither, cause him to commit such actions and have such thoughts as form the cause and mould for numerous reincarnations, enslaving him to a destiny against which he rebels, and that constantly destroys and re-creates his mortal body.

Substituting for the present multiplicity of desires, however, a few which are high, pure and altruistic will strengthen our power to call on the will which is ours, which has its seat in the higher EGO.

Whereas the will guided, with ordinary men, by desire, "in the Adepts' case the will is guided by Buddhi, Manas, and Atma, including in its operation the force of a pure spiritual desire acting solely under law and duty," writes Mr. Judge. Mr. Crosbie calls "the real and true Will...the Spiritual Will, which flies like light and cuts all obstacles like a sharp sword."

If we realize that we are Spiritual beings and think and act in the right direction, at once the Spiritual Will begins to work, the power of Concentration is strengthened, the feeling of responsibility grows, the whole nature begins to change, to be transformed—the Great Transition is going on.

Patanjali's system, Mr. Judge writes,

postulates that Ishwara, the spirit in man, is untouched by any troubles, works, fruit of works, or desires, and when a firm position is assumed with the end in view of reaching union with spirit through concentration, He comes to the aid of the lower self and raises it gradually to higher planes. In this process the Will by degrees is given a stronger and stronger tendency to act upon a different line from that indicated by passion and desire. Thus it is freed from the domination of desire and at last subdues the mind itself. But before the perfection of practice is arrived at the will still acts according to desire, only that the desire is for higher things and away from those of the material life.

Each one, H.P.B. tells us, "makes himself in the image of his desires, unless he creates himself in the likeness of the Divine, through his will, the child of the light."




A man is the creator of his own fate, and even in his foetal life he is affected by the dynamics of the works of his prior existence....This human body entombs a self which is nothing if not emphatically a worker. It is the works of this self in a prior existence which determine the nature of its organism in the next....What is lotted cannot be blotted. A frightened mouse runs to its hole; a scared serpent, to a well; a terrified elephant, to its stake—but where can a man fly from his Karma?

—Garuda Purana


to return to the table of contents