Quality Makes the Difference, Not Quantity
Carlos Cardoso Aveline
What gives any action legitimacy: its contents, or appearance?
In the Jewish symbolism of the struggle between David and Goliath – narrated in the chapter 17 of the first Book of Samuel – we see that the principle of spiritual intelligence is more valuable than material strength. However, not everyone can correctly interpret the fight between David and Goliath.
Many find it difficult to accept that financial, political and institutional forms of “power” all are varieties of that strength which Goliath possessed, according to the Bible, and that they lead people to ultimate defeat.
If a radio station wants to obtain more audience than consistency or quality, what does it do? It makes the level of its shows go down and chooses the way of the giant Goliath.
When a politician follows the game of easy popularity and leaves aside the search of an ideal, what does he do? He abandons in his heart the goal of common good. He leaves ideas aside and prefers adopting the practices of hand-shaking with everyone, smiling to all, buying votes and offering or taking bribes while keeping the outer appearance of a pious idealist. Although he may have his years of personal glory, he shares his final destination with Goliath, who was hit in the head and lost his mind before falling to the ground.
When a spiritual or theosophical group wants to obtain strength in the visible world, instead of expanding its inner life and consistency, its option is also for the easy path.
Its leaders start to “talk to Masters”, the group fabricates an Avatar, “channeling” takes place, extraordinary things are shown to naïve people, and every nice thing the group has is included in its propaganda campaign for everyone to see, side by side with other things that seem to be good but which the group does not possess in fact, or which are not good at all except in their outer aspect.
These are well-known mechanisms of illusion, psychological and psychosocial. They occur on an individual plane as well as collectively. Thanks to them many different actions and social initiatives obtain an apparent “success” and false legitimacy in materialistic societies. Failure is their destiny.
As one makes progress along the spiritual path, on the other hand, one must choose once and again to seek the truth and not applause. This first definition has extreme importance. It constitutes the solemn Door of Transition from make-believe euphoria to the true Path.
The task is to pursue inner improvement. Whoever decides to go along this path must completely abandon the search for visible power or praise. He must have realized that these are not valid goals. He will have to develop instead that power that makes him appear as nothing in the eyes of others. This principle is taught in the classical teachings of theosophy , and symbolized in the New Testament legend which presents the narrative of Jesus’ persecution and crucifixion. In that truthful legend, the power of the Initiate is not only considered as “nothing”. Since it is “invisible” to the world, it is condemned as worse than nothing, id est, as something that must be eliminated by the use of force.
Of course, Jesus’ sect was a Jewish school of thought. He and all of his disciples were Jews. Jesus never created a church and he respected the independence of the learner.
If someone wants to improve himself and decides to follow the example given by the great sages of mankind, he must have in the first place the courage to think in clear terms.
By being essentially indifferent to applause or criticism coming from the external world, he can remain – up to a certain extent – free from social manipulations, emotional blackmailing and other group-induced illusions. He will be able to directly look at and identify what is ignorance and wisdom, both inside and outside him.
The learner is then mainly afraid of being despised by the spiritual soul which lives in his own consciousness, and whose wordless voice he is learning to hear. He seeks above all the silent approval from his higher self or spiritual soul. Once the learner can see behind appearances, he is ready to take the next step in the alchemy of learning. The task now is to effectively make room for the symbolic gold and silver, mainly within himself, and up to a certain point in the outer world, too. Thus he slowly strengthens the noblest and the highest in human nature. The lead of gross materials is little by little transmuted into noble metals like Silver (a clear mind) and Gold (the heart, the sun, the spiritual Monad).
The alchemist must be willing to wait, and this is not enough. While he adopts Time as his friend and master, he must also plant, and to plant all that is fair and correct. His duty is to sow goodness and wisdom even as he harvests sour fruits under bad weather.
Such a perseverance emerges from the right perception of life-cycles, long and short. By understanding the spiraled circles of Time, he can have confidence on the law of planting and harvesting.
The agricultural metaphors are as good as the alchemical ones: a seed of mustard repeats in its own way David’s struggle, successfully defeating that which seems to be great. Just as the power of the initiate, a seed is almost invisible for those who look for big and obvious fruits in the world of appearances. The New Testament Jesus teaches:
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like this. A man takes a mustard seed and sows it in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it grows up, it is the biggest of all plants. It becomes a tree, so that birds come and make their nests in their branches.” (Matthew, 13: 31-32)
Such is the power of life, and of the Initiates. The lesson is present in different traditions. “Many who now are first will be last, and many who now are last will be first.” (Matthew 19:30)
That which is small will become big. The whole is present in each of its parts. Heaven and Earth interact all the time. Extremities live together: the middle way integrates the extremes. It establishes a balance between them: therefore it endures.
All life is cyclic, and evolves through transmutations. Just like the alchemist’s lead becomes gold, the seeds sown germinate on the physical plane so that life can adopt new forms in its search for the light from the Sun.
However, one must have eyes to see, for gold can also become lead, and all that glitters is not gold.
In the symbolism of sowing, both the wheat and the tares are part of the process. Not all that is small is a seed, and not every seed is good. An intense vigilance constitutes a master-key in the search. Discernment is inseparable from detachment, and both factors have a decisive importance in one’s effort along the road.
 “Light on the Path”, by M.C., Theosophy Co., India, 90 pp., see Rule 16, first set of rules, p. 4.
On the role of the esoteric movement in the ethical awakening of mankind during the 21st century, see the book “The Fire and Light of Theosophical Literature”, by Carlos Cardoso Aveline.
Published in 2013 by The Aquarian Theosophist, the volume has 255 pages and can be obtained through Amazon Books.