Students of Esoteric Philosophy
Should Preserve Their Inner Strength
Theosophy Magazine
In simpler days, before the age of specialization and travel, the issues of life seem to have been fewer and less complex. The battles men waged were nearer home. Except for occasional outbursts of controversy at times of national elections, the topics they discussed were usually those of the land, the family, and the community in which they lived.
But with the advent of the news-gathering agency, everyone’s business became everyone else’s, both individually and nationally. Radio, television, and the newspaper broke down the walls of isolation, it is true, but in so doing opened a Pandora’s box of issues which literally clamor for solution, and which few individuals seem either qualified to solve or concentrated enough to ignore.
One of the most difficult problems of this age, it may be, is that of knowing what is important and what is not, of determining which of the issues that confront mankind should receive attention, and which should not – of deciding, in short, just where, in one’s private and individual life, to draw the lines of battle. For it seems clear that no ordinary mortal can possibly undertake the burden of grappling with all the woes of the race, nation, and community to which he belongs.
Here, perhaps, lies the main trouble: too many people are attempting to do too many things, are trying to be authorities on too many subjects, are venturing too far from home, both intellectually and bodily, dissipating instead of conserving their energies. The adage that “every man’s business is no man’s business” leads one to question whether the mounting hosts of problems might not be due to the fact that we are overly-inclined to burden ourselves with the duties of other men, thus neglecting our own. “The duty of another is full of danger.”
Psychic energy [1], says H. P. Blavatsky, is like capital, so that if a man have a dollar a day and spend two, his account will show a $30,00 debit at the end of the month.
The point of the simile is obvious. For where is the individual who has not experienced the need, at some time in his life, for economizing? Where is the person who has not felt the pinch of over-spending, and resolved to live more simply and frugally in the future? Present-day emphasis upon business, however, makes it unusual for the average Western mind to make more than a single application – the monetary one – of the principle of economy, although it is absolutely universal in its nature. It is the law of sowing-reaping, of supply-and-demand, which is but an aspect of the one universal Law of Balance, or Karma.
The expenditure of psychic energy would yield greater return, no doubt, if men would apply the same principles of economy to their psychic, mental and emotional lives that they daily and yearly apply to their finances.
Where, then, shall the lines of battle be drawn? Where shall one’s energies be used? Shall one take up arms in the cause of better politics, and declare private war against each and every abuse he discovers in the hundred and one branches of government? Shall one fight for food reform, and awaken men’s minds to the fact that they are gradually being poisoned, all unconsciously to themselves, by the merciless prostitutes of chemistry? Shall he take up the pen against drunkenness, juvenile delinquency, war? Several lifetimes of devotion, a veritable fortune of psychic and creative energy, could be expended, no doubt, in the cause of better physical health; other lifetimes in the thankless task of trying to improve family life; while crusades against corruption in business could sap the vitality of the most energetic men.
Students of Theosophy have occasionally been criticized for not entering the fields of conflict that engage the attention of other men, for their “fanaticism”, as it is sometimes called, in devotion to their Cause.
“You Theosophists”, one man was heard to say, “are too much wrapped up in your philosophy, too indifferent to the issues of the day, too ready and willing to relegate a problem to the status of what you call a side issue. And these Mahatmas of yours, how can they remain so unconcerned about politics, having little care, evidently, as to which of the parties or candidates come into power?”
The answer seems simple.
Neither the Mahatmas, nor their humble students and co-workers, the Theosophists, are indifferent to anything. It is only that they are applying, or attempting to apply, the laws of economy, and have learned, at least in some measure, where their energies can best be expended for the greatest good to the greatest number of souls.
Individually, Theosophists are at perfect liberty – even if in their joint work for the Cause of Theosophy they are not – to sponsor any social or religious reform they may feel to be necessary, to campaign for any political party or candidate of whom they may approve, and to fight whatever battles they will. And some Theosophists, indeed, do engage themselves in the issues of the day and devote their energies, often-times to their regret, to causes which they have felt to be worthy.
But does this nullify the reality of the law of economy? Does it mean that every good cause, of which there are many in the world at all times, must have the personal and active support of everybody, regardless of karma, duty, and freedom of choice? Does it do away with the fact that psychic energy is limited in every man? Theosophists, of necessity, are the friends of all worthwhile movements in the world, and give moral support to every endeavor, by whomsoever made, that leads in the direction of human freedom and brotherhood. But once an individual has had some perception of the aim, purpose, and teaching of the present Theosophical Movement, once he gains the conviction that every man, karmically, has a duty to perform and that the law requires of each only that which he can and should do, he will realize the value of discrimination, frugality, and one-pointedness. He will then know the meaning of “side issues”, and will see the need for conserving his energies.
It seems seldom to have occurred to many people, even to some students of occult philosophy, that the battles most men wage nowadays are, for the large part, personal – having their beginnings and endings on the plane of Lower Manas – that is to say, on the plane of personal desires, emotions and half-truths. Rarely is a crusade undertaken in the cause of pure and equal justice for all, without regard for self, and without distinction of race, creed, sex, condition, or organization. Our battles, almost without exception, are instigated and sustained by personal, organizational, or national self-interest. Where is the nation, for example, which, in its cry for justice, is as solicitous of the rights of others as of its own? Where is the individual who, in his daily and hourly dealings with others, reduces personal feelings and opinions to a minimum, and commits himself solely to the cause of understanding, cooperation, and good-will? Where is the man or woman, of any race or nation, who proceeds on the principle that all true progress must have a spiritual or soul foundation, and that all issues are essentially moral? Controversy and argument, the pitting of one personal viewpoint against another, even when victorious, can only result in change – change from one lower manasic position to another. And “change”, said Abraham Lincoln, “must not be mistaken for progress.” “True progress”, he said, “is always in relation to the hearth.”
Many are the avenues through which the spiritual and dynamic energies of soul are dissipated – chief of these, perhaps, being the avenue of speech. Controversy, argument, fault-finding, gossip – each and all are manifestations of the lower mind, and each finds its expression through speech. And what of the almost universal habit of talking much, with little or nothing to say – is this a small and insignificant leakage of psychic force, do we think? Was it only for rhetoric that Krishna, in the twelfth chapter of the Bhagavad-Gita, praises his beloved servant “who is of little speech”? To pronounce a word, according to the Secret Doctrine, is to evoke a potency – spiritual, psychic, and physical – for speech is sound, and sound is one of the fundamental forces of the universe.
Control of speech has long been considered an essential discipline on the path of moral and manasic evolution, a powerful factor in the conservation of soul-force. Success on this path may well be measured in terms of the degree to which energies formerly placed upon irrelevant or unnecessary pursuits are re-directed into channels of usefulness. For how can the individual who squanders his resources be equal to an emergency when it arises? How can the bankrupt, or the invalid, be expected to do his best and most efficient work? Students of esoteric philosophy owe it to themselves and to others to effect a balance in all departments of their being, to make it part of their discipline to obtain proper sleep, recreation and rest – “neither too much nor too little”, in the words of the Gita – and to extinguish their kama-manasic flares.[2] The energies of Soul may then be directed from the position of the Perceiver.
“He, O son of Pandu, who, like one who is of no party… who is of equal mind with those who love or dislike, constant… the same toward friendly or unfriendly side, engaging only in necessary actions, such an one hath surmounted the qualities.” (Bhagavad-Gita.)
It is not necessary action that wastes soul energy, but only those activities that are unnecessary. It is not the legitimate undertakings of men that lead to anxiety, worry, and fear, but only those pursuits they have taken upon themselves indiscriminately. Nor is karmic and obligatory duty ever a burden to the soul. Men create their own problems and exhaust their psychic capital daily by involvement when they should properly be detached, by speaking when they should remain silent, by taking sides when they should be “of no party”, and by arguing and contending on the plane of kama-manas when they should be seeking orientation in the true Self. Yet, it is possible, in the words of Walt Whitman, to “walk silent among disputes and assertions, but reject not the disputers nor anything that is asserted.” It is possible for any man, even amidst the turmoil of twentieth-century life, to rise internally above the din, to learn to discriminate vital issues from “side issues”, and thus consecrate one’s energies to the good of mankind.
Ishwara, the Higher Self, is perfectly aware of the numberless issues and problems that sap the vitality of ordinary men, but knowing them to be productions largely of the lower mind, is not concerned with them. Lower Manas is the dissipator of soul energy – Higher Manas the conserver.
“A hundred and one are the heart’s channels, of these, one passes to the crown. Going up by this, he comes to the immortal. The other leads hither and thither.”  (Katha Upanishad.)
[1] In theosophy, the word “psychic” refers to the lower self or mortal soul. The higher self or immortal spirit corresponds to the “noetic” level of a being.  While the word “psychic” comes from the term of Greek origin “Psyche”, the word “Noetic” derives from Greek term “Nous”. This article examines therefore the issue of the conservation of the energies of the lower self, or mortal soul. (CCA, in 2017)
[2] “Kama-manasic flares” –  the impulses created by lower feelings and thoughts. (CCA, in 2017)
The above text is reproduced from “Theosophy” magazine, Los Angeles, February 1961, pp. 168-172.