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A Commentary On ‘Light On The Path’
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Pages (PDF): 298
Publication Date: 1947
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This is a commentary by Annie Besant and C. W. Leadbeater on 'Light on the Path', a perennial favorite of Theosophical literature written by Mabel Collins in 1885.
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It is eminently wise to take all the opportunities available in this life. If we do that, and thus show the Lords of Karma that we are taking advantage of them, that will seriously influence the incidence of karma upon us in the next life. It will constitute a sort of claim for good surroundings. It is not wise because we have many opportunities in this life, to assume that we shall have them again in our next life. We may or we may not. I do not like to hear people say: “I am too old to do anything in this life.” If we make good use of what we have, and advance ourselves as far as possible, we create a condition of affairs in which it would be difficult for the karmic deities not to give us opportunities again; we can make such karma along a particular line that we may take the kingdom of heaven by storm – we can force the Lords of Karma to so arrange our karma that the opportunity must come because the causes we have set in motion cannot work themselves out except along a similar line. Most assuredly it is well to make full use of every good opportunity that comes to us, lest by chance by neglecting it we might make a difference of a few thousand years in our evolution.
A few thousand years are as nothing in the long life of the soul, but we do not want to be delayed in that way. In the Lives of Alcyone we find, for example, the case of one young man who had remarkably good opportunities in connection with one, of the great Masters in a temple in Egypt.
He foolishly wasted his time, threw away his opportunities and lost them. The Master said then that He would always be ready to take him again when he came back. It is only in this life, six thousand years later, that he has come back. That carelessness lost him a good deal of time. Think of what might have been done in that six thousand years, if he had taken the offer. At that time the Master who made it had not yet attained Adeptship. Certainly if the pupil had accepted, he might have now been very far on the road to Adeptship himself. It cannot be a matter of indifference whether a man takes such a step as that six thousand years earlier or later. The man who took it so much earlier would have all the work of intervening years on the very highest levels to his credit – it seems impossible that it can be the same thing.
I do not know how far in the counsels of the Eternal what we call time matters. There is a point of view to which one may rise in which past and present and future all seem one eternal now, but even in that eternal now there are some things which are more opened and others which are less opened, and therefore the acceptance or the neglect of an opportunity must make a difference, though there may be some way in which a mistake of that kind may be adjusted in the future, in which somehow the man’s regret that he did not succeed may be a force enabling him to work doubly well to try to overtake the past. One can only guess at it, only attempt to imagine how such a thing would work; but there is very distinct reason to suppose that there will be a position in which the past can be rectified.
It envisages itself on higher levels in a way something like this. We say the past was so-and-so and we cannot alter it. That was how it was when we were at it. How do we know what it is now that we have passed away from it? That past still exists; it is the present to someone else somewhere. That idea is difficult to understand. On the physical plane, we know that we see an object; we know of it by the light which comes from it. The light which showed us something yesterday is now many millions of miles away, and it is now showing that same thing far away; our yesterday may be the present for someone else as far as the message of that light is concerned. Whether that analogy holds good I do not know, but something like that seems to be true. The past is somehow progressing.
Looking down from the higher plane on the life down here is something like standing on a mountain and watching a’ railway train moving in the valley below. The train has passed certain points as far as the people in it are concerned. The points are passed, but they are still there. The trees and animals they saw at those points are still alive. The past is still active, but because they are not in it any more most people imagine that their share in it is done with. I am not sure of that. I do not think that it is very profitable to try to understand that point, because one cannot make any coherent sense of it down here. But I believe that the past is not irrevocable, and that when we in our turn reach the stage where we can look down upon it all, it will appear very much better than our present memory of it would indicate, because somehow all that past also is moving onward as part of the divine reality of things, and that also will become glorified and will blossom out into what it should have been – I cannot pretend to say how. Still the idea is a stimulating one – the possibility that the things which we have failed to do, the mistakes which we have made, may not be so in the end, though they are so to us now. It is an idea which is difficult to understand down here, but I am sure there is some truth behind it.
Desire possessions above all.
But those possessions must belong to the pure soul only, and be possessed therefore by all pure souls equally, and thus be the especial property of the whole only when united. Hunger for such possessions as can be held by the pure soul, that you may accumulate wealth for that united spirit of life which is your only true Self.
C.W.L. – The possessions which we are to desire are qualities which shall be of use to all humanity. Every victory we gain is to be gained for humanity, not for ourselves. The desire to possess must be one to possess with all others – a desire that all shall share the same inheritance. That is the old story of impersonality in another form. We see that beautifully illustrated in the lives of the Masters. I remember long ago feeling considerable wonder as to how it could be that the Masters appear without karma. They are even spoken of in some of the sacred books of the East as having risen above karma. I could not understand it, because karma is a law just as much as gravitation is. We might rise as far as the sun itself, but we should not get beyond gravitation; on the contrary we should feel it very much more strongly. It seemed to me just as impossible to escape from the law of cause and effect, since under its operation every person receives according to what he does. If the great Masters are all the time doing good on a scale which we cannot in the least hope to equal, and yet They make no karma, what then becomes of the stupendous result of all Their outpourings of energy?
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