The Path of Action
The Path, November, 1887
The Mohammedan teacher directs his disciples to tread carefully the razor’s edge between the good and the bad; only a hair line divides the false from the true. In this the Asiatic took an excellent illustration, for the “hair line” is the same stroke alif, which, placed in a word, may alter the sense from the true to the false.
In chapter four of the Bhagavad-Gita, entitled, “JnanaYog,” or the book of the Religion of Knowledge, the blessed Krishna instructs Arjuna upon the nature of action, saying:
“Renunciation of and devotion through works, are both means of final emancipation; but of these two, devotion through works is more highly esteemed (by Him) than the renunciation of them,” and, “the nature of action, of forbidden action, and of inaction must be well learned. The Path of Action is obscure and difficult to discern.”
In ordinary humdrum life these words of Krishna are true enough, but their force is strangely felt in the mind of the devoted student of Theosophy, and especially if he happens to be a member of the Theosophical Society.
That body of investigators has now passed its probationary period, so that, as a whole, it is an accepted chela of the Blessed Masters who gave the impulse that brought it into being. Every member of it, therefore, stands to the whole Society as every fibre in the body of any single chela does to the whole man. Thus now, more than ever before, does each member of the Society feel disturbing influences; and the Path of Action becomes more and more likely to be obscured.
Always existing or coming into existence in our ranks, have been centres of emotional disturbance. Those who expect that these perturbations ought now to cease and grow less likely to recur, will find themselves mistaken. The increase of interest that is being taken in the Society’s work, and the larger number of earnest students who are with us than at any previous period, constitute elements of agitation. Each new member is another nature added, and everyone acts after his own nature. Thus the chances for being discomposed are sure to increase; and it is better thus, for peace with stagnation partakes of the nature of what is called in the Bhagavad-Gita, Tamagunam. or, of the quality of darkness. This quality of darkness, than which there is nothing worse, is the chief component of indifference, and indifference leads only to extinction.
Still another element in this equation that every earnest Theosophist has to solve, and which in itself contains the potency of manifold commotions, is a law, hard to define, yet inexorable in its action. For its clearer comprehension we may say that it is shown in nature by the rising of the sun. In the night when the moon’s rays flooded the scene, every object was covered with a romantic light, and when that luminary went down, it left everything in a partial obscurity wherein many doubtful characters could conceal their identity or even masquerade for that which they were not. But on the sun’s arising all objects stand out in their true colors; the rugged bark of the oak has lost the softening cover of partial day; the rank weeds can no longer be imagined as the malwa flowers. The powerful hand of the God of day has unveiled the character of all.
It must not be supposed that a record has been kept by any officials, from which are to be taken and published the characters of our members. There is no need of that; circumstances taking place in natural order, or apparently from eccentric motion, will cause us all, whether we will or not, to stand forth for what we are.
Every one of us will have to stop and learn in the cave outside of the Hall of Learning, before we can enter there. Very true that cave, with all its dark shadows and agitating influences, is an illusion, but it is one that very few will fail to create, for hard indeed to be overcome are the illusions of matter. In that shall we discover the nature of action and inaction; there we will come to admit that although the quality of action partakes of the nature of badness, yet it is nearer to the quality of truth than is that which we have called darkness, quietude, indifference. Out of the turmoil and the strife of an apparently untamed life may arise one who is a warrior for Truth. A thousand errors of judgment made by an earnest student, who with a pure and high motive strives to push on the Cause, are better than the outward goodness of those who are judges of their fellows. All these errors made in a good cause, while sowing good seed, will be atoned by the motive.
We must not then be judges of any man. We cannot assume to say who shall or shall not be allowed to enter and to work in the Theosophical Society: The Masters who founded it, wish us to offer its influence and its light to all regardless of what we may ourselves think; we are to sow the seed, and when it falls on stony ground no blame attaches to the sower.
Nor is our Society for good and respectable people only. Now, as much as when Jesus of Nazareth spoke, is it true that there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repenteth, than over ninety-nine just men who need no repentance.
Remembering then, that the Path of Action is obscure and difficult to be discerned, let us beware of the illusions of matter.