The Power and the Glory

Orline Barnett Moore

OCCULT science is preoccupied with the details of the manifested universe, but to a degree far deeper than ordinary science, for it is not limited to the world of the five senses. Nevertheless, we should bear in mind that, although occult, it remains still a science dealing with the facts of Nature, with the mechanism of worlds, planets and the inhabitants thereof. This science known to the modern world as Theosophy tells the story of orderly evolution in terms of progress through time and space; the story of a process that moves by immutable laws from simple forms to complex forms, from limited consciousness as expressed through matter to wider consciousness having mastery over matter. We come into a knowledge of Theosophy and are astounded and fascinated by the vastness and the intricacy of Nature’s plan. At first we strive to grasp innumerable details of life-waves and rounds, of elemental kingdoms, of evolving forms, of individualization, and of the long, tedious pilgrimage through the human kingdom, governed always by the laws of reincarnation and karma. These things present to us a panorama of knowledge, a scheme that explains the why and the how of life’s problems. We are thrilled by the Great Plan; we are insatiable in our thirst to know more. But there comes a time when Theosophy must be turned to practical account; when knowledge must be superseded by wisdom; when all we have learned clamours to be applied, for after all we are most concerned with ourselves, and our view of the universe begins with the little ‘I’.

 ...the ego is an illusion because it is built up by man himself through time and will dissolve in time.

Probably the most valuable starting point to comprehend the meaning of the Great Plan is an understanding of the constitution or mechanism of man himself. If we have such a comprehension we have also a plan of the universe, for man is a microcosm and but repeats in himself the same process through which the universe is progressing. Let us try to disregard the mass of detail for the moment and find the underlying principle. Man’s ego is an individual unit, a focalized point, which acts like a lens through which life shines. From the standpoint of strict accuracy, the ego is an illusion because it is built up by man himself through time and will dissolve in time. Technical Theosophy speaks of the causal body as the densest point of egoic consciousness, and most students think of that body as permanent so far as this world of reincarnation and personal experience is concerned. About greater worlds few of us know anything; our outlook in this one is extremely limited. Theosophy does much to widen that limitation, and yet the knowledge of the plan that Theosophy gives will not of itself free us from the slavery we serve to the little ‘I’. Indeed it is most difficult for most people to conceive of being ‘I-less’. The loss of a sense of individuality is to them nothing but annihilation, and certainly no amount of reasoning, no process of the intellect, will yield any comprehension of what ego-less consciousness is like.

...the whole trend of evolution is towards producing better instruments whereby we may work to free ourselves from the wheel of birth and death.

Yet the whole trend of evolution is towards producing better instruments whereby we may work to free ourselves from the wheel of birth and death. Because evolution does us this service - the perfecting of instruments - we must not jump to the conclusion that evolution leads to liberation. Evolution leads to more finely developed forms. Although an astral body is invisible to physical senses, it is no less a form; although a mental body acts with incredible speed and power and yet intangible, it is no less a mechanism. The whole span of evolution is an interplay of spirit and matter, of incarnated consciousness working through instruments of various grades and in various fields of expression. This interplay of spirit and matter, the great opposites, constitutes manifestation, whether considered from the individual standpoint or the universal. The end of evolution is the mastery by indwelling consciousness of the materials in which that consciousness works. Out of this interplay moksha or liberation is born, the product of this mastery. Evolution does not give liberation nor does expansion of spirit, but the interplay of the two; the ‘pairs of opposites’ will not of themselves lead to moksha but the spark of understanding which is born out of their interplay will.

So to put the matter very simply, the whole problem is that of life gaining control over matter, becoming actively conscious of its own nature. To be conscious of its own nature is to transcend all sense of ‘I’, to rise beyond all the pairs of opposites, to completely master the human mechanism. This is the allegorical meaning of the myth of Prometheus who being bound won freedom. This is the meaning of the human predicament in all its phases. This is the power and the glory.

Now the limitation of matter can be transcended only by the god within attaining skill in the manipulation of that matter. Matter is presented to us in various forms throughout our evolutionary process; part is physical, part astral, part mental. But all is evolving, subject to the worker within the vehicles. Life, focused for the evolutionary period in the ego, is pushing, working, stimulating, changing, constantly striving against all the mechanisms it wields from time to time. It builds one type of body only to find it imperfect for its needs, but is required to build a new one out of the materials of the old; so that the process is a constant learning to control and guide and manipulate, physically, emotionally, mentally. The god within handling materials, the god within discarding, choosing, governing; and for every successful attempt the ego feels power.

Power of itself is not evil, and the greatest power comes from selfless pursuits.

The lust for power has been spoken of as a great root of evil, because the desire to feel power drives men to exploit others through cruel and selfish methods. Yet a sense of power need not come from such selfish means; with those who possess some degree of spiritual perception, power is no less an urge than with primitive men. Power of itself is not evil, and the greatest power comes from selfless pursuits. Why is it that achievement along any line gives a sense of expansion and satisfaction? What is it that drives men to action towards triumph?

There is an urge within all living things that is constantly pushing towards expansion and growth, from the flower which seeks greater expression through sun and soil to man who seeks it through self-expression and self-mastery. Something hidden at the very core of life is continuously driving, and for every step in achievement there is an inflow of power-sense that gives fullness and enthusiasm and expansion of capacity. The deep-rooted satisfaction and joy, which such mastery of material produces, is part of the expression of life itself and is a potent means for driving men into greater skill in action.

For the achievement of skill in manipulating matter, which is the problem ever before the indwelling god in human form, is a technique as definite as that of painter or musician, of baseball-player or golfer. Anything that involves skill in handling tools or implements - and the bodies of man are no less than these - produces a technique. There is a technique of the carpenter’s level and square, of the tennis-player’s racket, or of the violinist’s bow, the sculptor’s chisel, the painter’s brush. Technique has always to do with forms, with mastery of materials.

...the perfect balance of thought and feeling gives freedom.

The process of evolution, viewed from the standpoint of the indwelling god, is a technique. But whether it is the technique of a Logos manipulating his universe or an ego governing his bodies, there must always be an executive, and indwelling director. The relation between the director and his tools lies in the action itself which uses or applies these tools. The action is composed of thought (ideal) and feeling (enthusiasm, the urge to express) properly balanced. Mastery of technique is obtained when this relationship is perfect. That is why the perfect balance of thought and feeling gives freedom. But freedom can only be obtained when the director and his tool are so perfectly coordinated that the action itself is complete or perfect.

In one sense, all technique is a form of yoga, a binding back of the form to the indwelling life, a connecting of the instrument to the player. Inevitably, through this perfected connection there springs perfect action, and the result of completed or perfected action is freedom or liberation. The specific liberation, called moksha in occult books, is that freedom obtained through the mastery by man of his vehicles, or bodies; all lesser techniques, such as the mastery of pianoforte or violin, the mastery of pigments, the mastery of swimming, and so on, are reflections of the same principle. Hence all techniques are related. The lesser ones contribute, each in its turn, towards the skill that comprises the technique of life itself.

All creative artists will tell you that in direct proportion to their mastery of craft can inspiration flow; and that in every case where mastery is great, the sense of power is great. Here is a practical mystery. It is the reason why creative work of any kind is life-building. It is the secret of release obtained through doing. It is the practical yoga of work.

Man the microcosm creates within his own minute universe as the Logos creates within the cosmos. Man the microcosm approaches perfection through skill in action, manifests balance through mastery over his materials, experiences the ecstasy of power released, of divine potentiality fulfilled.

Through little victories he learns the technique to achieve the great victory. Through little comprehensions he grows toward the great understanding. Through realization of power from crudest physical brawn to greatest spiritual release, along the difficult way of time and evolution, he passes to the glory of fulfilment, the perfection of completed action, the perfect balance of all his component vehicles, the mastery of the pairs of opposites. This is the power. This is also the glory.

As published in "The Theosophist" magazine - 1997


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