WHAT ARE WE HERE FOR?
C. R. SRINIVASAYANGAR, F.T.S
(Reprinted from "The Theosophist".)
as published by “Theosophical Siftings" Volume 7- [1894-1895]
THE object of our existence here, and the work we are to do, could be better understood by looking into the general plan of the evolution of the Ego and its ultimate destiny. The Ego which started from its source (we cannot say when, because Time and Space are applicable to this our plane only) in a state of passive negative purity, has to pass through a series of existences and planes to undergo and exhaust the experiences of those planes. So it has come down through many planes of existences each more gross than the other, until we are on the physical plane, the grossest of all. This is the turning point of the evolutionary course, and from this begins a series of existences on planes each higher in point of spirituality than the preceding one, until the Egos return to the source from which they started, in a state of active perfection rich with the soul experiences gathered during so many lives. This is the course of evolution, and when well understood, we would see that the more we shorten our stay on each plane, exhausting the experiences of that plane in as short a time as we can, the sooner we attain our object (i.e.] merging into the source from which we issued.
Now to take our case into consideration: we are on this physical plane and have to exhaust its experiences. By exhausting the experiences, I mean to go personally through every form of existence, and select among the innumerable experiences of those that are concerned with the Permanent in man and which speed him on in the course of Evolution. The experience that the Ego takes with him during his various incarnations are only those connected with his Higher Self (i.e.), Sutratma. In doing this the Ego has to go through and understand the permanent experiences and discard the impermanent ones. And the latter being the majority, it is plain that there is greater destructive work than constructive. Now going through an experience can be done in two ways, either by undergoing it oneself or acquiring a determined conviction of its usefulness or otherwise. One does not know that poison causes death by tasting it himself and dying; he simply sees many suffering the consequences, and it being an immediate physical result, he is firmly convinced that he should not take poison, and he would not do so under any circumstances. But spiritual and moral results, good and bad, are not always immediate and visible, so it requires one to go through the most important of them to [Page 19] realise their usefulness or otherwise. According to the law of Karma, when one is dragged from the middle path of duty by love or hatred, he is bound to that object until he sees that there is no use in loving that or hating this. Now when a man gets immoderately fond of women, he is bound to them during so many incarnations that he gets disgusted and feels that there is no real pleasure in it; or when we shrink away from the sight of any loathsome physical disease or mental depravity, instead of pitying the object and trying to cure him of it, we are bound to the object until we are convinced that there is nothing really detestable in him. Hence we see that to obtain one experience one has to go through so many incarnations. The chief duty of an Ego while here is to go through the salient experiences, to know their bearing upon the Permanent, and to know the relation of one experience to another; also we should distinguish the soul experiences from the earthly ones and gradually mould our lives so that we may have a majority of the highest experiences when we close our account after this life. This is the end and aim of our existence here, and every other thing is but accessory to it. The four Sadhanas: distinguishing between the permanent and the impermanent; the feeling of indifference to the pleasures of all the planes of existence; the cultivation of the active and the passive virtues; and the preponderance in our life of an unceasing active desire to free ourselves from this cycle of existences, all these are but the means to that end. Again, the bearing of the Yoga practice upon this, is as follows: — Yoga practice tends to purify and paralyse the body, so that the inner senses may be developed and enable him to work upon the next plane and go through the experiences. By that he obtains also another object, i.e., by a knowledge of the relations of the astral plane he is able to know the relations of his karmic acts here, and hence to duly regulate his life here in such a way as to go through the experiences of this plane in as short a period of time as possible.
Let us now see what bearing Universal Brotherhood and unselfishly working for others, have upon, the object to be attained.
To exhaust the experiences of this plane is to go individually through
every form of existence and the innumerable varieties therein until we have gathered their experiences. Now
taking the human kingdom, there are the distinctly marked divisions (i.e.), races. Again, there are
sub-races and branch races. Again in each branch race, there are tribal varieties, and in them innumerable
individuals. In one individual there are innumerable phases of character. Now, if one were to take an incarnation
for every such experience, the number of incarnations on this earth during a round only, would be beyond human
calculation. There are seven such rounds on this chain, and this chain is only one of the solar system, and
so on ad infinitum.
Universal Brotherhood furthers our end in this way. In this race, at this time, there are the nations — Hindu, European, etc.. It is absolutely necessary that one should incarnate severally in these nations to get hold of the salient characteristics in each.
He cannot get the experiences of the European by being born a. Hindu. But in the same nation there are so many varieties and species, that were one to go on incarnating in each to get hold of the characteristics, it will never end. So Universal Brotherhood or sympathy enables us to put ourselves in the place of others in joy and sorrow, and so experience what is passing in them at that time. This increases our experiences and so decreases the number of incarnations we should otherwise have to undergo. The wider our sympathies are extended, the greater is our sphere of experiences and the less our number of births here, till we are permeated with a feeling of Universal Sympathy, and, as it were, absorbed into the Universal Law of Harmony and Order.
I may as well say a few words about evils arising from selfishness. In addition to the tremendous evil above described, the selfish man in trying to share in the pleasure derived from others, but not in their sorrow, i.e., shuts, as it were, the window into his soul through which these rays of sympathy enter. He offers a determined resistance to the natural course of the Law of Harmony and Sympathy, by which the strings at one heart respond to a corresponding vibration of joy or sorrow in the hearts of others. Every time he makes the wall between stronger, until an impenetrable barrier is thus raised. Meanwhile the feelings of sympathy in him for the sorrows of others become atrophied for want of use. But as misery preponderates in the lives of man, so even his ability to share in the joys of others become less and less, because those rays of sympathy cannot pierce the dark thick wall of selfishness raised around the person (good clairvoyants actually see it), till at last the person unable to sympathize with the joys of others, and finding no joy in himself settles down into a permanent state of hypochondriasis, if he does not commit suicide before that.
So we see that universal sympathy and unselfish working for others tends not only to our own good, but also
lightens the burdens of others and removes the thorns from their paths. And for allowing a free scope for the
souls yearning to work in that line, but that could find no co-operation, has the broad platform of the Theosophical
Society been instituted. It brings together individual earnest workers, and gives each a strength, being supported
by the rest, that stimulates him to more active work.
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