A Practical Way to Widen Your View of Life
Carlos Cardoso Aveline
For millennia now, the practice of regularly writing down one’s insights about life has been a central aspect of the search for truth. Theosophy invites each student to put on record the lessons learned about the ideal of human progression and perfection, and a Master of the Wisdom wrote:  
“How can you know the real from the unreal, the true from the false? Only by self-development. How get that? By first carefully guarding yourself against the causes of self-deception. And this you can do by spending a certain fixed hour or hours each day all alone in self-contemplation, writing, reading, the purification of your motives, the study and correction of your faults, the planning of your work in the external life.” [1]
Along the path to wisdom, taking notes means talking to one’s conscience and also listening to it. In writing we both learn and teach. Different inner voices have a dialogue as we examine life from various points of view. One of the greatest Brazilian philosophers of all time, Farias Brito, confessed:
“As an individual, I keep many men within myself: some of them are utterly mild,  acquiescent and humble, always shy, unassertive and full of doubts regarding their own value; others, however, are violent, passionate, almost aggressive; some of them are inclined to solitude, being rather idealistic poets and dreamers; others are pessimistic, tempestuous, always ready for struggle and revolution; some are metaphysical and visionary truth-seekers, constantly interested in investigating the unknown and looking for opportunities to fight in battles of thought; others see everything as luminous, positive and full of  love and goodness;  some of them see everything as dark, full of evil and hatred: almost all of these men are sad, even bitter, and have no confidence in human beings or faith in justice…” [2]
Writing is a slower form of thinking, and can take place as we observe the different aspects of our consciousness. 
Our thoughts become wider and deeper as they unfold in a careful way. That which we write down tends to endure. Since we know that written words remain in time, we choose them with care.
As you write, you are free to revise the text and build better paragraphs. Every sentence under construction is a living mirror. It reveals potential mistakes to be avoided, and correct ways to transmit truth. 
Taking notes on the science of life is a form of being in the presence of a sacred silence. The act of reading and revising a text once and again has a meditative effect. The notes reflect the state of mind of the pilgrim as he searches the point of equilibrium that reconciles the different factors of life, in the healing consciousness of eternal space and infinite time.
When one is in contact with the higher levels of his consciousness, his mind liberates itself from old contents and becomes creative. On the other hand, the excessive influence of external pressure threatens the inner blessing. German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer wrote:
“A spring never free from the pressure of some foreign body at last loses its elasticity: and so does the mind if other people’s thoughts are constantly forced upon it.” [3]
The statement by Schopenhauer is partially correct, since it indicates the need for the student to think by himself. Yet the main question is not in how much one reads. Reading is not necessarily bad. It is the way one reads that makes the difference. External stimuli can be extremely positive. Reading is most valuable as long as it is combined with contemplation and independent thinking.
A regular examination of the silence between sentences expands the strength and legitimacy of the reading. Constant interaction with noiselessness allows the student to listen to his own soul. In the right kind of reading, the student re-writes the text as he records it in his own consciousness. There is a communion of thoughts among human beings: a good author reveals facts that take place in the souls of all men.  Each reader can learn to see and duly appreciate the universal value of the works of great thinkers.
Of course, whenever a pilgrim reproduces in writing the thoughts of another individual, he must carefully indicate the source. In having respect for the author he reads and quotes from, he abstains from stealing and thus preserves the feeling of respect for himself. [4]
With these conditions, he has the right to share with his fellow men what was written by any noble thinker.
As long as the study of theosophy is made from the point of view of its practice, it is both challenging and stimulating. The act of taking notes constitutes a tool with which one builds his own liberation.
Everything in the pilgrim’s life must be observed in the wider context of his essential goal.  The notes he takes are the testimony of a battle. They result from a long-term confrontation with the eternal wisdom, with human ignorance, and with that transmutation of the lower self that leads the truth-seeker to celestial consciousness. 
[1] “Letters From the Masters of the Wisdom”, compiled and edited by C. Jinarajadasa, TPH, Adyar, India, First Series, 1948, Letter II of “Letters to and About Mrs. Laura C. Holloway”. The book is available in our associated websites: see p. 203.  In the Adyar edition of 1973, the passage is on p. 149.
[2] Translated from the book “Inéditos e Dispersos”, Farias Brito, Editorial Grijalbo, São Paulo, Brazil, 1966, 550 pp., see p. 184.
[3] “Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer”, by Arthur Schopenhauer, A. L. Burt Co., Publishers, New York, 1893, 455 pp.; see the essay “The Art of Literature”, pp. 243-244.
[4] The most valuable asset of a pilgrim is the honesty of his soul.
An initial version of the above article was published at “The Aquarian Theosophist”, March 2016, p. 09. It had no indication as to the name of the author.
On 14 September 2016, after examining the state of the esoteric movement worldwide, a group of students decided to found the Independent Lodge of Theosophists. Two of the priorities adopted by the ILT are learning from the past and building a better future.