by B P Wadia 

© 2003 Online Teosofiska Kompaniet Malmö 

The Will to live is a most tenacious power and manifests as the Lust for Living, then as the Love of Life, and then as the Love of Life Immortal. The great Buddha said that Tanha, the unquenchable thirst to live, by the way of the senses, and by the way of the mind, was a curse. Love for life created the fear of death. The great teaching is given:— 

"Kill love of life; but if thou slayest Tanha, let this not be for thirst of life eternal but to replace the fleeting by the everlasting. 
"Desire nothing. Chafe not at Karma, nor at Nature's changeless laws. But struggle only with the personal, the transitory, the evanescent, and the perishable. 
"Help Nature and work on with her; and Nature will regard thee as one of her creators and make obeisance."

Man has debased the love of life into the lust for living. This is more due to false knowledge than ignorance. Most suffer from the lust for living. There is a struggle. While man craves to satisfy the flesh, the Native Soul, awake in the innermost recesses of his being, whispers, insists, when disregarded torments and when submerged afflicts the carnal nature. Evil and wickedness of sensuous life cause pain, decay, and death. 

The passage from the life of greed, lust, and selfishness to the True, the Good, and the Beautiful is forced upon man by the God of Suffering, a servant of Yama, the God of Death and therefore of Renewal. 

One major experience of  the man who is passing  from the life of selfishness and evil to the good life is the clear perception of  his past errors and blunders. This, Committed unconsciously and in ignorance, these appear not as mistakes but as crimes and sins. He repents, but he repents in ignorance, or, because he has only false knowledge, repents in a wrong manner. The lust for living takes its revenge on him. It tempts him to his fall. He does impulsively what he did not mean to do. In its turn, this activates his conscience, which sometimes assumes an exaggerated tone that confuses and torments him. This is the stage of transition. Often it is long, lasting for years. 

If ignorance and false knowledge create sin, ignorance of the modus operandi of the Law of Karma prolongs the period of Repentance that leads to permanent cure. The period is shortened by the blessed knowledge of Karma, which is just, and infallibly so, but which also is merciful, inasmuch as it shows us how to wipe out the evil effects of past misdemeanors and even of felonies. This important theme is the basis of the remarkable new novel of Sholem Asch. He deals with the important psychological problem of sin and repentance in A Passage in the  Night. The Voice of Conscience neglected in the committing of blunders exaggerates to the point of inducing morbidity and melancholia. We draw the reader's attention to this novel. Below we quote a few sentences to attract him to self-examination. Unconsciously to himself, is he gliding into the sphere of sin? Aware of his past blunders, is he repenting in the wrong way? What is right repentance? 

Says Sholem Asch:

"Like you, I had to start earning my living early, and like every one of us, I encountered temptations and pitfalls. Well, I did certain things that I would certainly not do today. And yet, I  don't let them tower up and overshadow my life. 
"Human beings like to torment themselves in order to appease their  conscience. Man's conscience has an enormous appetite; give it a  finger, it will swallow a hand. 
"Certainly one must repent, and determine not to sin again; but one must repent and dismiss the matter. 
"With your concentration on your sin, you sin greatly against God. 
"A man must not speak evil even of himself."

Sholem Asch does not give final or complete answers. His prescription will lead to that Soul-Discipline which the Sages of the Orient have always taught and teach today:

"Do not believe that one can ever kill out lust by gratifying or satiating it. This is an abomination inspired by Mara. It is by  feeding vice that it expands and waxes strong, like to the worm  that fattens on the blossom's heart. 
"Kill in thyself all memory of past experiences. Look not behind  or thou art lost."

From "Thus have I heard", pages 257-59. Utgiven av Indian Institute of World Culture, 1959.


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