There is hope and continuity implied in this paradox, though at first it might sound dismaying. Those who have reached an objective goal have often said, in retrospect, that their enjoyment ceased—turned sour—after attainment. Thereafter they had to seek new goals in order to continue enjoying.
Goal-seeking has often been defined in terms of emotional satisfaction that the search, or the work, brings. We use terms like "achievement," "success," "winning," etc., but more often than not we have in mind only the kamic-emotional aspect of our nature, our feelings of likes and dislikes, and the whole gamut of emotions they encompass. Our mind alone is able to gauge our true feelings, provided we are intellectually honest with ourselves.
Only we, the mind, can control our feelings. Often these feelings try to blind the mind's clear vision and we fail to see our lower, petty, selfish desires for what they are. We have all experienced this. All of us have at times felt uneasy, possibly disenchanted, with our lives and objectives, when we as thinking beings realize that we are being carried away by our feelings and are getting bogged down by uncertainty, disillusion and temporary expedients.
The enchantment of emotion overlays the mental faculty. It can colour our memory, distract our attention, confuse our concentration and becloud our anticipation, offering us the choice of ephemeral goals and vain achievements—all of which are selfish fantasies. None of us is free of these fantasies, since the whole course of evolution, as a coherent scheme, seems to revolve round contending "opposites"—on one side the triad of matter-emotion-delusion, and, on the other, the trinity of spirit-wisdom-discrimination; and, placed in the middle, from where the ways go up or down, is our consciousness, the feeling-mind, a consciousness that is ONE but also divided, since it can at will ally itself first with one, then with the other of these two great contestants that exist in the heart of every one of us. This is our position, here and now.
The Bhagavad-Gita speaks of this conflict and indicates that the constant "enemy" is kama-illusion. The usurper, Prince Duryodhana, represents unbridled emotion. With delusions of supremacy, self-confidence, and "I-can-do-no-wrong" megalomania, he rules the body and its acts. Dhritarashtra, the old blind king and father of Duryodhana, represents this body of ours—a "field" (kshetra) where the ruling passions hold sway. It is disturbed by its own innate instinct that kamic rule will be self-destructive and painful in the end. It warns Duryodhana, but the warning is spurned. Arjuna represents the mind. He is the permanent man, the eternal pilgrim, but denied control so long as kama rules. The mind that we are essentially, considers the selfish and self-centred goals of our personality, and, knowing innately its dharma (duty), it is mindful of others around itself; it has a sense of eternal values and laws which it can know through study and by questioning the "wise." The "wise" are represented by Krishna, who is not only the Higher Self of man ("the Ego which is seated in the hearts of all beings"), but is He "who standeth on high, unaffected," He "who was in the beginning the originator of all things." Our mind does not resent the fact that at the moment it is limited in knowledge; it is rather encouraged by the work that it is possible for it to do in time. It does not resent the fact that there are wiser beings than we are, who know all things, that there are those whom we call the Dyanis, who in the beginning were responsible for setting evolution into motion, and who are still there, doing their work and attending to their dharma.
Krishna thus stands for each of us, inwardly, as a standard of excellence. The mind's ability to refer to and converse with the "god within" gives it a sense of purpose and of continuity, of being an "eternal pilgrim" in fact. Like Arjuna—and we are all Arjunas—our true concentration is on finding and doing our rightful duties in life, on assuming the responsibilities appropriate to our self-made post in Nature's scheme. We become non-self-centred. We then endeavour to adopt and put into motion universal goals, such as can be found in the study of Nature in all her departments, and make her laws the living power in our lives. In Chapter X of the Gita, Krishna states that "of the Pandava I am Arjuna, the conqueror of wealth (Dhananjaya)." The conqueror of wealth is one who knows that he does not need material things, that he is able to live and be satisfied with the little, or the much, that Nature and his own Karma provide to him naturally—"fortuitously" is the word used in the Gita.
Universal yearnings are to be found everywhere we may look. We see them in the study of Nature, in the history of peoples, the interplay of "faiths," the discoveries of science, and the discourses and quests of philosophers. These yearnings are innate in everything around us, and in our own self. We sense that we are each a microcosm and that we mirror in ourselves the great macrocosm and the powers and potencies of all its departments. Our minds, limited as they are because of the circumscription of our desire-nature, still catch a glimpse of the intuitional, the aspirational, the ideal—those guiding lights that shine from the single Spiritual Sun, upon which our whole universe and all manifestation depends. Our duties lie in our relations with our peers, with those above and those below us, and with the "lives" that enter our bodily sphere, there to be elevated or degraded by the treatment we subject them to by out thoughts, feelings and actions. We cannot see an end to these universal yearnings. We are always somewhere between the "ignorant" and the wise." We think we know a lot, but we have much more to learn to apply much more to experience and deal with in terms of Karma generated in the past; and thus we turn these events into our fund of personal wisdom.
This is the evolution of the mind-principle, the transformation of Kama-Manas into Buddhi-Manas, that gives us our base of character, talent and intuition at every incarnation. Our Kamic nature shares in this evolutionary experience along with its twin, the manasic nature. Its objectives may be generally stated as "endless enjoyment in material nature." But, since nature, as matter, constantly changes, there can be no permanence, no stability for kamic goals. A constant, febrile activity to maintain its balance and continuity is seen to be evidence of kamic dominance in our nature. Doubt, hope, schemes to achieve special positions, to acquire wealth, position, power and recognition; a resentment of innovation, an aversion for truth, which is generous, tolerant and all-sharing, characterize the kamic nature in control—in a word, it lacks a sense of that which is truly permanent and which can only be found in spiritual things. These are immaterial, and forever concealed in the inner nature of the true man.
A little thought will whow that we must study and review the metaphysical basis and processes of manifestation as given in The Secret Doctrine. When the Absolute is periodically the playground of the "manifesting stars," the separation of the two opposites—Spirit (force, energy, light and life), and Matter (form, limitations, sloth, darkness and delusion)—occurs. These are reflected in man's consciousness as Manas and Kama. The Higher Mind, Buddhi-Manas, does not incarnate in man's personality, but only overshadows it. Cycles (Law and Karma) begin to operate at the dawn of the new manifestation. The Absolute remains unaffected as the "eternal background." Krishna refers to this aspect of himself—the eternal, indestructible, unprovable Spirit—as that which "remains separate." All creatures, as forces of the evolutionary scheme of a previous Manvantara, now emerge to assume their places under Karma. They arise from the sleep-assimilation-preparation of Pralaya (non-manifestation), and, just as we resume our life every day after a night of energy-restoring sleep for our brain-consciousness, so they recommence working with one another and with their inner selves at that stage and on that plane of life where the previous period of manifestation had closed for its rest and the general "rest" (Pralaya) of all the lives involved in and with it.
We are self-made. The real "fight" is in the mind. The "enemy" is our own self-made and self-grown kama, our emotional lower self (our own personal Duryodhana). We live in it. We are trying to transform it. We are trying to elevate its consciousness to that of a "god," from that of a "demon." In a way, we are like Sanjaya, able to witness and report on events. To make order out of chaos, is our work and discipline. Success for our own evolution is seen to be the gradual, gentle, but firm transmutation of kama-life into manasic-life. This is the next evolutionary stage for the now individualized sensitive material that kama really is. It becomes for it a change in consciousness, from self-centred to universally-centred; from the death of the lower manasic soul to the eternal life of the Spirit-Soul. This whole process of self-realization, of self-development, is in reality an unfoldment. It is the exhibition in and on "matter." It is a difference in the quality of the consciousness which is innate. Our true goal, union with the Divine within, can only be achieved, in practical idealism, by study, which is self-education; by self-discipline, which is control of the lower by the higher; and by constant practice in devotion, which is work.
Talents and abilities, which are all unique to us, can now be seen as those on which we concentrated our will in previous incarnations. We have trained the "lives" that make up our personalities, using the force innate in our kamic nature. Our kamic nature can now be controlled and trained by the vigilance of the awakened mind into paths of virtue and of brotherliness. Vices are called virtues that have been exaggerated. They are unbalanced because of non-regulation. Their roots can always be traced to some real need, a virtue that all ought to emulate, but which we do not employ. Reaction to a sense of oppression or lack of fair treatment causes the pain-filled kamic nature to react against the oppressors—as they are the obvious causes of immediate suffering. They realize that some persons may lend themselves to becoming "karmic agents" for the disciplining of others. This is not natural. No one who is aware and awake should consciously make himself a tool for the karmic misfortune of anyone else, for whatever reason. One may be sure, when this has happened, that the kamic nature of the oppressor has beclouded the mind and the sense of brotherhood for a while.
Control of the kamic nature and of lower Manas comes from the Antaskaranic thread that links the mortal man involved in assisting Nature's evolutionary plan in matter, with the Divine Man—Atma-Buddhi-Manas. It is the pathway of that divine control or discipline. All experience is stored in the Akashic records of Buddhi, and, when this is used by the higher aspect of the mind, divine acts are performed in daily life.
Unity on the material plane is voluntarily achieved by tolerance, generosity and harmonious work with others following Nature's laws. When this evolutionary discipline is adopted by us as a way of life, we begin to make of ourselves a centre for the operation of Universal Brotherhood. The Universal Mind now comes within our sphere of perception, however slightly. We have placed our feet on the old, old path that leads to the Ashram of the Gnyanis. Let us make a vow this day to seek; and having found the way, let us point to it in humility and with encouragement for others to tread while we stand aside, performing our own perceived duties and work.
The great philosophy of Theosophy, then, presents a basis from which the truest kind of morality can be perceived. True morality does not depend upon words, phrases, or conventions, but upon a universal perception of all things, whereby everything is done for good, every thought and feeling expended for the benefit of others rather than for one's self. A clear perception of one's own spiritual nature, and the motive to benefit mankind in every direction and in every case, without self-interest, are the two essentials for true morality. True morality is, in fact a universal existence, and the beginning of it is in the desire to live to benefit mankind without self-interest or hope of any reward whatever; then, to practise and to help those who know still less than we do.