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Studies in "The Voice of the Silence"
III. – The Mind of the Renouncer


© 2001 Online Teosofiska Kompaniet Malmö 

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[ 1. The Wandering Heart    2. The Slayer of the Real    3. The Mind of the Renouncer    4. The Virtuous Mind ]


The guiding principle in the Probationer's life is Discrimination between the Real and the Unreal. But these terms take on a special meaning for him; not the ordinary discrimination, between soul and sense, between mind and matter, between Beness and Being, but discrimination between Selflessness and Selfishness as ultimate cosmic principles. If he is bent on Liberation his discrimination follows one channel; if on Renunciation, it cuts a different canal. In the former case the neophyte's aspiration is for freedom from the world of erring humanity and entrance into the state of spiritual bliss. On the Path of Renunciation his whole concern is with Humanity – not with his own realization of Bliss ineffable, but with bringing the bliss of enlightenment to the minds of men. The knowledge necessary for spiritual Self- Realization is limited; but that necessary for the service of other souls is vast and complex. Esoteric Philosophy, advocating for its votaries the treading of the Path of Renunciation, requires that they obtain the latter knowledge.

The first necessary step shown in the second fragment of our textbook, "The Two Paths," is that of the Buddhi-yoga of the second chapter of The Bhagavad-Gita, with one important difference. It not only recommends seeking asylum in mental devotion and doing one's duty without caring for the fruits of action, but also adds – "Gain Siddhis for thy future birth."

Follow the wheel of life; follow the wheel of duty to race and kin, to friend and foe, and close thy mind to pleasures as to pain. Exhaust the law of Karmic retribution. Gain Siddhis for thy future birth. [The Voice of the Silence, ULT-edition p. 39]

To practise the most difficult art of doing good to others requires exceptional knowledge. It is not sufficient to gain "deliverance of mind from thraldom by the cessation of sins and faults."

Not cessation of sins, but something more; not suppression of vice but its elimination. The man who seeks and gains Mukti not only abandons humanity but leaves behind a particular set of his skandhas, which perforce must attract him back to incarnated existence, be it in another manvantara. Among the weaknesses and the conditions to be overcome by the future Adept are not only "desires for possession and power" but also "duties which, however honourable, are still of the earth earthy." Here is a subtle difference in the evaluation of Duty from that which is ordinarily made, a difference which the future Renouncer has to note. The development of right renunciation at the early stages and for the Probationer consists in the Performance of duties; in not shirking them, but discharging them. In discharging them, however, he has to learn the lesson contained in the performance and develop the power which goes with that performance. Liberation comes by the payment of our debts to all duties. But unless effort along a special line is made the powers which follow that performance will not unfold in his consciousness, and the treading of the Path of Renunciation will be impossible.

There are two kinds of Siddhis – the one lower and psychic, the other higher and spiritual. When the Probationer is told, "Gain Siddhis for thy future birth," it is the powers of the second type that are meant – powers belonging to Buddhi-Manas. In the performance of duty one should have not only detachment from the lower personal self and from the results of actions, but also attachment to the higher egoic self, so that the field of Dharma- yagna, sacrificial service, widens. He who desires liberation discharges his duties in such a fashion as to create no new causes – exhaustion of Karma is his method. But he who aspires to tread the Path of Renunciation performs actions in such a manner as to create new opportunities to serve an increasing number of human minds. Each sacrificial action of his, naturally unfolding from his congenital duties, Karma-Dharma, is like a pebble thrown in a lake – the circles of Karma made by it grow and grow. But, the aspirant is thrown back into his old sphere if, through lack of knowledge and because of limited perception, in serving he does not unfold the spiritual Siddhis. Each sacrificial deed deepens the spiritual insight, provided that both in motive and in method it is according to the teachings of the Esoteric Philosophy. Occultism teaches how to turn the forces of evil to good and unless the Probationer on the Path of Renunciation learns this and thus gains Siddhis his success will be very distant. Therefore this is said:

To live and reap experience, the mind needs breadth and depth and points to draw it towards the Diamond Soul. Seek not those points in Maya's realm; but soar beyond illusions, search the eternal and the changeless Sat, mistrusting fancy's false suggestions. For mind is like a mirror; it gathers dust while it reflects. It needs the gentle breezes of Soul-Wisdom to brush away the dust of our illusions. Seek, O Beginner, to blend thy Mind and Soul. [Voice, p. 28]

The ordinary man has for his horizon his street; his insight is surface-deep and the points of his magnetic compass draw him to his appetites. He lives in his sense-created state, which looks to him like a real world but which is not any of the seven Worlds of Rest Eternal. His mind made subservient to his senses, and his senses to his appetites, he goes from death to death. The man who has begun to live, who recognizes that life being probationary, afflictions are opportunities, looks beyond his street. Modern education does give him some breadth of vision, but not the depth, and therefore the gap between his knowledge and his practice, between his mental and his moral life, between his sacred beliefs and his secular deeds. Theosophy educates the human mind to gain depth, to see below the surface, to penetrate into the very kernel of form. When the horizon of the student is broadened, when the insight of the practitioner has deepened, and therefore he has begun to live, he must secure the magnetic compass of the higher life. In navigation, by means of the magnetic compass the directive force of Earth, the great magnet, upon a freely-suspended needle is used and it is indispensable. Equally indispensable, nay more so, is the corresponding instrument to navigate the ocean of Samsara. The depth of insight develops Viveka-discrimination, and for the learning soul, that aspect of it which enables him to select ideas and aphorisms which, under Karma and for his particular stage, are necessary. The points of his magnetic compass show him the way to Sat – Truth. It is for the human mind to maintain the breadth and the depth gained by not allowing desires and fancies to exert their power of suggestion and to draw him away to Maya's realm. This has to be achieved by the mind blending itself with the Soul.

Daily, nay hourly, from the sphere of memory the dust rises and settles on the mind, taking away its capacity to reflect the Divine Ideas of Akasha. Therefore daily and hourly the mirror of the mind has to be dusted and study of the Esoteric Philosophy does it. Sustained effort to reflect Divine Ideas polishes the mind, transforming the mirror and giving it the superior capacity to reproduce, more and more accurately, the Living Images of Devas and Dhyanis, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. These reproductions are the real points that draw the Chela-Soul to the Vajrasattva, the "Lord of all Mysteries."

It is during the process of brushing away the dust of illusions, of blending mind and soul, of soaring into the sphere of Sat, that the choice to tread the Path of Renunciation is confirmed, because we see the hidden meanings and the occult implications of that choice. The Great Choice comes at the end, when the knowledge concerning the two Ways is obtained:

Thou hast the knowledge now concerning the two Ways. Thy time will come for choice, O thou of eager Soul, when thou hast reached the end and passed the seven Portals. Thy mind is clear. No more art though entangled in delusive thoughts, for thou hast learned all. Unveiled stands Truth and looks thee sternly in the face. She says:

"Sweet are the fruits of Rest and Liberation for the sake of Self; but sweeter still the fruits of long and bitter duty. Aye, Renunciation for the sake of others, of suffering fellow men."

He, who becomes Pratyeka-Buddha makes his obeisance but to his Self. The Bodhisattva who has won the battle, who holds the prize within his palm, yet says in his divine compassion:

"For others' sake this great reward I yield." – accomplishes the greater Renunciation.


Behold! the goal of bliss and the long Path of Woe are at the furthest end. Thou canst choose either, O aspirant to Sorrow, throughout the coming cycles!


[Voice, p. 46-47]

The student will do well to make use of The Theosophical Glossary and to reflect upon the terms (1) Pratyeka-Buddha; (2) Vajrapani; (3) Vajrasattva; and (4) Vajradhara.

From The Theosophical Movement, Vol. X, September 1940, pages 173-74.


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