This charming little treatise bears in Sanskrit the title Tattva Bodha, which means “The Awakening to Reality,” or, to translate quite literally, “The Awakening to That-ness.” It is characteristic of Sanskrit that, in this “language of the gods,” the most vital words declare their own meanings. For example, Satya, the Sanskrit word for “truth,” by its very form announces its meaning: truth is “that which belongs to being, Sat”; and “being” is “that which endures through the three times,” past, present, future; that which is eternal. The Real, therefore, is the Eternal; and Truth is what belongs to the Eternal. So, the unreal is the non-eternal, the temporal, the transitory. To say, in the thought of India, that this world is “unreal” means not so much that it is an “illusion” as that it is not everlasting. For the thought of ancient India, for the thought of the great school to which Shankaracharya belongs, only what is everlasting deserves the name of real. Therefore the title of our text means, in its fullest sense, “the Awakening to the nature of That, which is the Everlasting.” And the knowledge of the Eternal is to be attained, be it noted, not by analysis or argument, whether deductive or inductive, but by “awakening”: by the unveiling of a new consciousness. In the same sense, Siddhartha the Compassionate, in whom the “cosmic consciousness” had revealed the secret of Nirvana, is called the Buddha, the “Awakened,” he whose eyes behold the everlasting day.
This little treatise illustrates above all things the lucidity of Shankaracharya, the clearest, serenest spirit that ever set forth the mystery of holy things; just as “The Awakening to the Self” shows the beauty, the poetry of his luminous soul. In the simplest form, question and answer, he leads us along the path of wisdom. “What is wisdom?” “The knowledge of Atman, the Self.” “What is the Self?” “That which appears as consciousness in the three bodies, the outer, the inner, the causal, but in its own nature transcends them, being, indeed, immortal, omniscient Joy.”
In order the better to bring out the content of Shankara’s teaching, we have ventured to add to the text a brief commentary, to supply to the Western reader that which is in the mind of every Eastern student, the splendid spiritual tradition of Mother India. And to bring the teaching closer to ourselves, we have added many parallels from the works of a Western mystic, Miguel de Molinos, who, perhaps, of all Christian writers, comes closest to the Oriental method and spirit.
We end this introduction with an Eastern prayer: May the work bring blessing to reader and writer alike!
The Awakening to Reality
With reverent adoration of the Logos, the Lord of those who seek for Union, the giver of Wisdom, the Initiator, this teaching of the Awakening to Reality is set forth, to give aid to those who are seeking Liberation.
The word translated here ‘the Logos’ is, in the Sanskrit Vasudeva, a name given in the Bhagavad Gita to Krishna as the Incarnation of Vishnu, who is the second Person of the Trinity, God made manifest in the world. We may realize the full meaning of our text by comparing with it these verses of the Gita:
“The seeker for Union, thus ever joining himself in Union, his darkness gone, happily attains the infinite joy of Union with the Eternal.
“He sees his soul as one with all beings, and all beings as one with his soul; his soul joined in Union, beholding Oneness everywhere.
“Who sees Me everywhere, and sees all in Me, him I lose not, nor will he lose Me.
“Who, resting in Oneness, loves Me dwelling in all beings, wheresoever he may turn this follower of Union dwells in Me.
“Who through loving all as himself beholds Oneness everywhere, whether it be in joy or sorrow, that follower of Union is deemed supreme.” (vi, 28-32.)
Compare the words of the Western mystic, Miguel de Molinos:
“There the Soul, raised and uplifted into this passive state, finds herself united to the Highest Good, although this Union costs her no fatigue. There in that supreme Region, and sacred temple of the Soul, the Highest Good delights to abide, to manifest Himself, to give Himself to the Creature, in a way transcending Sense and all human Understanding. There also, the one pure Spirit Who is God (for the purified Soul is not capable of receiving images of the senses) dominates the Soul and masters her, instilling into her His own Enlightenment; and the knowledge which is requisite for the most pure and perfect Union.” (Spiritual Guide, Book iii, Chapter 13.)
The invocation to the Logos has a close parallel in Molinos’ book:
“All holy, expert and mystic Teachers, teach this true and important Doctrine, because they have all had one and the same Master Who is the Holy Spirit.” (i, 15.)
We shall declare the manner of the Discernment of Reality, which becomes the instrument of Liberation for those who are qualified by possessing the Four Attainments.
This has been for ages a fundamental idea in the religious and philosophical thought of the East: that one must have reached a certain poise and stature, must have attained to a certain maturity of thought and experience, before the search of the Soul can be wisely and fruitfully followed. “Ripeness is all.” We are familiar with the saying: “Before the eyes can see, they must be incapable of tears.” The idea is the same. We must have learned the simpler lessons of natural life with some thoroughness, before we are ready to enter on the lessons of spiritual life. For this purpose, indeed, natural life exists, to give the soul its training in the preliminary lessons. This is the justification of the very existence of natural life. It exists, not for itself, or for any end of its own, but for spiritual life, of which it is, indeed, the reflection, the inverted image. And just because this world is the image of spiritual life, the soul can here learn the first outlines of the greater lessons only fully to be learned in spiritual life; the Soul can here begin to attain the qualities and powers which it is later to develop and use in a wider, a finer world. Therefore, only after the outlines are learned, is the soul ready for the fuller picture.
Molinos also begins his treatise with the statement of four attainments, which must be possessed before the way can be entered:
“Thou art to know, that thy Soul is the Centre, Habitation, and Kingdom of God. That, therefore, to the end the Sovereign King may rest on that Throne, thou oughtest to take pains to keep the Soul pure, quiet, void and peaceable; pure from guilt and defects; quiet from fears; void of affections, desires, and thoughts; and peaceable in temptations and tribulations.” ( i, 1.)
What are the Four Attainments? They are these:
First, Discernment between immortal and mortal being.
Second, Ceasing from the desire to feast on the fruit of our worth, whether in this world or in the other world.
Third, The group of Six Treasures, beginning with Peace.
Fourth, The longing for Liberation.
It is like setting forth on a voyage. We need four things: first, a clear knowledge of the port we seek, as our journey’s end, a realization of whither we wish to go; second, a willingness to leave behind us the harbor from which we are setting forth, with a further determination to go forward, not to be detained on our way; third, the needed supplies for the voyage, the proper provisioning of our ship; fourth, the driving power, the strong and determined going forward, once we are set forth. We must ‘press toward the mark.’
What is Discernment between immortal and mortal being?
This is Discernment between immortal and mortal being: The One, the Eternal, is immortal; everything that is separated from the Eternal is mortal.
The earlier training through the life of the natural world, which we have spoken of as the necessary preliminary to the entry into spiritual life, consists essentially in this: that, through the manifold experiences of natural life, birth and death, union and separation, wealth and poverty, friendship and loneliness, the Soul may come to a certain firmness and poise, and to an intuitive understanding and certainty that there is another world, not subject to these mutations.
This intuitive sense may be reached, and perhaps is oftenest reached, through bitter suffering and sorrow, where the soul, destitute, afflicted, tormented, driven to desperation, nevertheless does not despair but finds within itself a reserve force, a divine quality which enables it to rise above sorrow, saying: “Even though all things seem to fall in ruin about me, to fail and wither away, yet I am; and, because I am, therefore God is also.” This return of the Soul upon itself is, indeed, the divine fruit and purpose of sorrow, which is the first counselor and liberator of the Soul.
Or the same result may be gained, not through weakness, but through strength. The Soul, feeling its own divine quality and temper, may say: “These things of the world have their attraction and their qualities, but they are not enough for me. I seek my own, and must seek it till I find.” But it is possible that this intuition may be the fruit of the return through sorrow, already reached in an earlier life.
The way may be found through the will. Through much assertion of one’s own will, following one’s own passionate desires, seeking one’s own satisfaction, one may come into pain and misery unendurable, and, turning in agony toward the divine power dimly felt in the darkness, may cry out: “I am lonely and miserable and wretched; take me and make of me what Thou wilt; take my will and make it Thine. Only deliver me from the intolerable burden of myself.”
Here, too, we may find the way, not through weakness, but through strength; through the intuitive sense that, for every action and work, there is a divine and excellent way, not of our making or planning, but nevertheless ever within our reach, if only we are willing to take it; thoroughly giving up our own way, that we may follow the greater, divine way; wholly laying aside our will and wish, that we may carry out the wish and will of God.
The artist’s instinct for perfection is a part of this intuition. Without reasoning, he feels within him that there is an ideal to express, an ideally best way to express it; and this he seeks, never quite attaining, but always devoutly following, in ardent self-forgetfulness.
Or the way may be found through sheer love of Those who have attained, and the desire to follow in their steps. To this end, They come again, that they make manifest the way, that they may show us how full of love, how adorable, is the Divine.
But before we can find the way along any of these lines, we must have pretty thoroughly learned the earlier lessons; we must have reached a pretty strong and matured conviction that the visible is not all, and is not enough. While we are entirely satisfied with it, content to stumble along, desiring no change nor anything better, we are not yet ready for the greater way.
What is Ceasing from desire?
It is a freedom from any wish for the feasts of this world or Paradise.
It is not enough to have an intuitive sense that there is a better world, a better way, a better will, a better self. One needs something more, and more positive than this: We must definitely and really and effectively prefer the better way, the better will, the better self. Very much of the misery of the world, a misery far keener than sickness or poverty or destitution, lies in this, that so many of us vaguely, or even clearly, feel the pressure of the better self and the better way, and yet do not effectively choose and prefer that way. We feel the leading and prompting of the diviner will, but we are not yet ready to follow; we hear, as though afar off, the divine command, but we are not yet ready to obey. So we hesitate and hold back in miserable indecision and cowardice, which is indeed the worst of all miseries. There is no cure for cowardice but courage, no cure for indecision but resolute will, no way to pass the danger zone on the path, but once for all to make up our minds to do what we know we ought to do.
This effective and sincere preferring of the divine will to our own wills is the attainment here described. It breaks the galling fetters of our indecision and hesitation, and sends us forth, warriors, to the battle.
The Western mystic expresses this attainment thus:
“Know that he who would attain to the Mystical Science, must abandon and be detached from five things: 1. From Creatures. 2. From Temporal things. 3. From the very Gifts of the Holy Spirit. 4. From himself. 5. He must be lost in God. This last is the completest of all, because that Soul only that knows how to be so detached, is that which attains to being lost in God, and thus alone knows how safely to find himself.” (Molinos, Spiritual Guide, iii, 18.)
One may notice here a curious parallel. The Eastern mystic declares that it is not enough to cease from desire for the feasts of this world. We must also cease to desire the feasts of paradise. The Western mystic tells us that it is not enough for us to be detached from creatures and temporal things. We must be detached from the very gifts of the Holy Spirit. The principle is identical. There must be genuine and disinterested love for the better way; we must seek it for its own sake, not for ours; not that we may have a new kind of enjoyment and satisfaction. This is indeed the strait and narrow gate, which he alone can pass, who is willing to leave himself behind.
We must learn to die to ourselves, before we can rise again to the immortal. There is no concealing the truth that this is a fiercely contested battle, a great and difficult victory. Happy he who fights and conquers, who dies to his own will, that he may rise in the will of the Divine. For “in His will is our peace.”
The Imitation very beautifully expresses the same teaching:
“It is no hard matter to despise human comfort, when we have that which is divine. It is much and very much, to be able to lack both human and divine comfort; and, for God’s honour, to be willing cheerfully to endure desolation of heart; and to seek oneself in nothing, nor to regard one’s own merit.”
What is the sixfold treasure beginning with Peace?
It is this: Peace, Control, Silence, Patience, Faith, One-pointedness.
This description of the sixfold treasure is derived from a beautiful passage in the greatest of the Upanishads, the ancient Sacred Books, on which all later mystical teaching in India rests, drawing therefrom ever new inspiration:
“He who knows is therefore full of peace, lord of himself; he has ceased from false gods, he is full of endurance, he intends his will, in his soul he beholds the Soul.”
The Bhagavad Gita is full of the same teaching, as, for example, in this verse:
“Quietness of heart, amiability, silence, self-control, purity of heart, this is declared to be the true penance of the mind.” (xvii, 16.)
Molinos has a passage identical in purpose, and almost identical in expression.
“In like manner Resignation is more perfect in these Souls because it springs from the internal and infused Fortitude, which grows as the internal exercise of pure Faith, with Silence and Resignation, is continued.” (i, 16.)
Resignation is that ceasing from our own wills and desires, which leaves us free to lose and find ourselves in the will of God. Fortitude, Silence, Faith are three of the six treasures, springing from within, which are the fruit of that great and difficult victory. Until we have won the victory over our hesitation and indecision and cowardice, there can be no peace for us. We are horribly uneasy and restless, weak, vacillating, miserable; almost certainly full of lamentation and complaining. Then comes, through a great effort of courage, the first act of acceptance, of resignation to the will of God; and once we have put ourselves in the line of the divine will, which is our own true will, we find that we have already attained to peace; a peace, divine, passing all understanding, full of healing, full of joy, full of promise of the treasures that are to come.
In the power of that peace, we begin to conquer ourselves. The better in us seeks to master the worse. That in us which feels that in the depths it is at one with the divine will, begins to curb and subdue the petulance of personal self-will. After long contest, the victory is won; control of the personal self is gained. Henceforth, like a good servant, like a dutiful child, the personal self obeys the deeper self, which seeks only to carry out the will of the divine. A deep and penetrating stillness then fills the whole being, a stillness in which the Soul hears the voice of the divine, and, hearing, knows itself able to endure all things, seeking no heaven and fearing no hell. Then flames forth perfect faith, the divine aspiration which, against all evidence, knows that the Eternal is, and undaunted by the darkness, seeks the Eternal; that faith, which, inwardly divining, the being and will of the Eternal, inspires the will and heart to seek that being and accomplish that will. In the East, this faith has also this more concrete meaning: firm and ardent trust in the Master, the great Initiator who stands above us, and whose love we feel; deep and loving confidence in him, who, having passed on before us, seeks to draw us also on the immortal way. Then we gather ourselves together, and, with whatever there is in us of will and force, we seek to intend our whole being toward the Eternal, toward the Master who reveals to us the Eternal. This is the true one-pointedness, the true concentration, the Sanskrit name of which means, to gather oneself together, and set oneself toward the goal.
In the Bhagavad Gita, the Master thus expresses the true spiritual concentration:
“Hear further My ultimate word, most secret of all; thou are exceeding dear to Me, therefore will I speak what is good for thee.
“Set thy heart on Me, full of love for Me, sacrificing to Me, make obeisance to Me, and thou shalt come to Me; this is truth I promise thee, for thou art dear to Me.
“Putting aside all other duties, come for refuge to Me alone; grieve not, for I shall set thee free from all sins.” (xvii, 64-66.)
The Western mystic has given an admirable description of the same treasure, spiritual concentration.
“There are other spiritual men, who have passed beyond the beginning of the Inner Way which leads to Perfection and Union with God, and to which the Lord called them by His infinite Mercy from that Outer Way, in which before they exercised themselves. These men, withdrawn into the inner parts of their Souls, resigning themselves wholly into the Hands of God, having forgotten and despoiled themselves of everything, even of themselves, do always go with an uplifted Spirit into the presence of the Lord, by the means of pure Faith, without Image, Form or Figure, but with great assurance, founded in tranquility and inner rest: in which infused Recollection the spirit gathers itself with such force, that it concentrates thereon the mind, heart, body and all the physical powers.” (Spiritual Guide.)
Shankara then proceeds to define more precisely each of the Six Treasures.
II. The Six Treasures
What is Peace?
It is mastery over the mental-emotional nature.
Molinos, the Western mystic, whose Spiritual Guide we have chosen for comparison with the work of the Eastern Master, writes thus concerning this treasure:
“Know that although exterior solitude doth much assist for the obtaining of inner Peace, yet the Lord did not mean this, when He spake by His Prophet, I will bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. But He meant the inner solitude, which together with the other conduces to the obtaining of the precious Jewel of the Inner Peace. Inner solitude consists in the forgetting of all creatures, in detachment, in a perfect abnegation of all purpose, desire, thought and will. This is the true solitude, wherein the Soul reposes with a sweet and inward serenity, in the arms of the Highest Good.”
Both the Eastern Master and the Western mystic, therefore, make the treasure of the inner Peace depend on that true detachment, which is the ceasing from self-indulgence, whether of body, mind or will, that true detachment which is one with acceptance.
This single principle of acceptance of the divine will, called in Arabic Islam, is the inspiring principle of one of the world’s great religions; and, in spite of many deficiencies in other directions, it has kept the soul of that religion strong and vital for centuries, teaching its men to sacrifice by valor and endurance, its women to sacrifice by self-surrender.
All self-indulgence is a preferring of one’s own will to the divine will, the will of the Master, in the particular event or moment we are concerned with. In essence, therefore, it is an impulse of disobedience, of rebellion. It must be overcome by submission to the divine will in that event or moment, acceptance of the divine will for that event or moment. This is not a passive but a supremely positive act, and its reward is the inner Peace.
That Peace will contain two things: a positive acceptance of the divine will, whereby, in the Western mystic’s words, we rest in the arms of the Highest Good; and a continuous victory over one’s own self-will, the rebellious and tumultuous motions of our own thoughts and feelings, the mastery of the mental-emotional nature.
What is Control?
It is mastery over the eyes and the other outward powers.
Molinos writes that,
“to be truly solitary, the soul ought to forget all the creatures, and even herself; otherwise she will never be able to make any near approach to God. Many men leave and forsake all things, but they do not leave their own liking, their own will, and themselves; and hence the truly solitary ones are few. For if the Soul does not detach herself from her own appetite and desire, from her own will, from spiritual gifts, and from repose even in spiritual things, she never can attain to this high felicity of inner solitude.”
Detachment, the conquest of self-will, comes first; from this comes inner Peace; in the serene stillness of that Peace, the soul can begin the complete training of the outer personality, the mastery of the powers of sense and the powers of action.
This does not mean that complete inner Peace must be won, before any attempt at control is made. On the contrary, the process is progressive: a first small victory, within the heart, over self-will, over our own wish; a first faint and fearful acceptance of the divine will. Then the measure of peace that flows into us, from the divine will. Then the effort of action, the exertion needed to give effect to the divine will, the exertion of obedience which will mean a certain mastery over the outer personality and its powers. This will open the way for a fresh battle, a new conflict and victory; each act of self-surrender opening the way to further self-mastery, the divine will progressively replacing self-will in us, as we seek and obey the wish of the Master, rather than our own wish.
What is Silence, Cessation?
It is bringing each power back into its own proper sphere.
We have tried to show elsewhere that the whole of our morbid psychical life, the complete battery of selfish and sensual tendencies that make up our “personal” selves, spring from transgression, from carrying some natural power beyond its proper sphere, using it not for work, but for self-indulgence. The two most obvious examples are the sensual habit by which we live to eat and drink, instead of eating to live; and the abuse of the powers of sex, turning them from the simple purpose of race-continuity to degrading indulgence and sterility. Both are expressions of one sin: the turning the God-given power of will in us from its proper use, the expression of the divine will, to its abuse, the service of self-will. This is the “original sin,” which is the sin of our “first parents,” as these are symbolical of our former lives. Therefore we are really born in sin, and need to be redeemed. The divine will works our redemption, when we begin to obey.
Considered from without, this begins a long conflict, one sacrifice of our self-love and self-will opening the way to the next sacrifice; the withdrawal from one transgression making clear the need of withdrawal from another transgression; one battle opening the way for another battle.
But from within the whole process is constructive. The felling of forests without is answered by the building of the temple within, a building carried on in silence, in the field of the inner peace. The outer self may be conscious only of the pain of sacrifice and surrender, as, one after another, the ties of self-indulgence are broken; but there is another side to all this suffering, a side revealed in the inner world. What appears from without a process of destruction, reveals itself within as a process of growth. All the power which had transgressed and gone astray, all the golden grains of divine energy which were being wasted in these transgressions, are now redeemed and turned to divine uses.
The impulse of self-indulgence is the cause and source of all psychosis, all “psychical” development, in the restricted sense. So self-surrender, the silencing of all impulses which do not obey the divine will, opens the way for the creative work of spiritual life.
What is Patience?
It is the power to endure heat and cold, pleasure and pain, and all that comes from without.
The essence of the teaching of Endurance is set forth in the Bhagavad Gita (II, 11-30):
“Thou hast grieved for those who need no grief, and thou speakest words of wisdom! The wise grieve neither for the dead nor for the living;
“For never was I not, nor thou, nor these princes of men; nor shall we all ever cease to be, in the time to come.
“So the lord of the body in the body here finds boyhood, youth and age, so is there the gaining of another body; the wise err not concerning this.
“These things of matter, that bring us cold, heat, pleasure, pain, come and go again; they last not, therefore endure them, O Son of Bharata.
“Whom these perturb not, equal in pain and pleasure, wise, he builds for immortality.
“For the unreal there is no being, nor any end of being for the real; the truth as to these two is seen by those who behold reality.
“But know that to be imperishable whereby all this is stretched forth; and none can cause the destruction of the everlasting.
“These temporal bodies are declared to belong to the eternal lord of the body, imperishable, immeasurable; therefore fight, O son of Bharata!
“He who sees him as slayer, or who thinks of him as slain, both understand not; he slays not nor is slain.
“He is never born nor dies, nor will he, having being, evermore cease to be; unborn, eternal, immemorial, this Ancient is not slain when the body is slain. . . .
“This lord of the body dwells ever immortal in the body of each, O son of Bharata; therefore, deign not to grieve, even for all beings!”
The same thought is expressed in Light on the Path:
“This ordeal must be endured: it may come at the first step of the perilous ladder which leads to the path of life: it may not come until the last. But, O disciple, remember that it has to be endured, and fasten the energies of your soul upon the task. Live neither in the present nor the future, but in the Eternal. This giant weed cannot flower there: this blot upon existence is wiped out by the very atmosphere of eternal thought.”
Trials must be endured, if the spiritual man is to come to consistency and strength. The power to endure them is to be gained by living in the eternal. Therefore this power comes after the inner Peace, which is the entrance into the eternal, there to abide forever.
Molinos writes of this same stage of the way:
“So in the beginning, when God intends after an extraordinary manner, to guide the soul into the school of divine and loving knowledge of the internal law, He causes her to suffer darkness, and dryness, that He may bring her near to Himself because the divine Majesty knows very well, that it is not by the means of her own reasoning, or industry that a soul draws near to Him, and understands the divine precepts, but rather by silent and humble resignation.
“What most concerns thee, O redeemed soul, is Patience, and not to desist from prayer, though thou canst not enlarge in discursive thought. Walk with a firm Faith, and in a holy Silence, dying to thyself, to all thy natural efforts, because He that is and changeth not, neither can err, intends no thing but thy good. It is clear that he who is dying, must needs suffer; but how well is time employed, when the soul is dead, dumb, and resigned in the presence of God, there, without trouble or perplexity, to receive the Divine Influences.
“The senses are not capable of divine blessings; hence if thou wouldst be happy and wise: be silent and believe, suffer and have Patience, be confident and press on; it concerns thee far more to hold thy peace, and to let thy self be guided by the hand of God, than to enjoy all the goods of this world. And though it seem to thee, that thou dost nothing at all, and art idle, being so dumb and resigned; yet the advantage is infinite.”
What is the nature of Faith?
Faith is firm confidence in the Master and the sacred teaching.
Molinos writes thus:
“When the soul is already accustomed to reason concerning the mysteries, by the help of the imagination, and the use of corporeal images; being carried from one object to another, and from knowledge to knowledge (though with very little of that which she desires) and from these to the Creator; then God is wont to take that soul by the hand (if indeed He calls her not in the very beginning, leading her without reasoning through the way of pure Faith), and, causing the understanding to leave behind all considerations and reasonings, He draws her forward, and raises her out of this material and sensible state. Thus He causes her by means of a simple and obscure knowledge of Faith, to aspire only to her bridegroom upon the wings of love, so that in order to love Him, she has no need of the convictions and instructions of the understanding. . . .
“The more the Spirit ascends, the more it is detached from sensible objects. Many are the souls, who have arrived and do arrive at this gate; but few have passed or do pass it, for want of the experienced guide; or, if they have had, and actually have such, for want of true and complete submission.
“It may be objected that the will cannot love, but will remain idle if no clear conception be given to the understanding, it being an acknowledged maxim that that which is not known cannot be loved. To this I reply that although the understanding does not instinctively recognize certain images and conceptions by a discursive act or mental conclusion, it nevertheless apprehends and knows by a dim and comprehensive faith. And although this knowledge be very cloudy, vague and general, yet, being supernatural, it produces a far more clear and perfect cognition of God than any sensible or particular apprehension that can be formed in this life; since all corporeal and sensible images are immeasurably remote from God.”
Faith is a power of the spiritual will. It springs up, because the adventurous soul, which has already passed through so many stirring experiences, is now ready to enter a new world, in which, indeed a part of its being already dwells. From that supernal part, and from the Master who stands above the soul, come the first stirrings of faith. If the soul is to enter the new world that lies open before it, it must respond with trust. It must be able to say, with Paul: “I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision.”
What is One-pointedness?
It is singleness of heart and thought.
The best description of this power is Paul’s:
“I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark.”
“The way is not found,” says Light on the Path, “by devotion alone, by religious contemplation alone, by ardent progress, by self-sacrificing labor, by studious observation of life. None alone can take the disciple more than one step onward. All steps are necessary to make up the ladder. . . . The whole nature of man must be used wisely by the one who desires to enter the way. Each man is to himself absolutely the way, the truth, and the life. But he is only so when he grasps his whole individuality firmly, and, by the force of his awakened spiritual will, recognizes this individuality as not himself, but that thing which he has with pain created for his own use, and by means of which he purposes as his growth slowly develops his intelligence, to reach to the life beyond individuality.”
This firm grasping of one’s whole individuality, this pressing toward the mark, with every power of one’s being, seeing in the divine relation the whole purpose of life and of all one’s powers, is the true onepointedness, the real concentration.
What is the longing for liberation?
The ardent desire: “May Freedom be mine!”
The best description of this power is this:
“Grow as the flower grows, unconsciously, but eagerly anxious to open its soul to the air. So must you press forward to open your soul to the eternal. But it must be the eternal that draws forth your strength and beauty, not desire of growth.”
The Imitation beautifully indicates the same effort of the soul:
“Others there are who, being illuminated in their understanding, and purged in their affection, do always pant after things eternal, are unwilling to hear of the things of this world, and serve the necessities of nature with grief; and these perceive what the Spirit of truth speaketh in them. For He teacheth them to despise earthly, and to love heavenly things; to neglect the world, and to desire heaven all the day and night.”
III. Bodies Terrestrial and Celestial
Such is the group of four Attainments, or Instruments; through them, men gain the power to discern Reality.
We must live the life, we must do the will of the Father, before we can know the doctrine. Before we have gained the moral and spiritual qualities included under the four Attainments, it is impossible for us to discern Reality. One of the deep-seated delusions of our time is the general conviction that truth may be gained through the mind, through the intellect alone, whether it be the truth of science or of philosophy. Teachers like Kant, who tell us that the intellect, so far from revealing, conceals the truth; or like Bergson, who shows that knowledge of reality comes, not through the intellect, but through the will, are of the utmost value, because they point the way to the vital truth, that we must live the life, before we can know the doctrine.
Here is another expression of the same law, from a different angle. It is taken from Letters That Have Helped Me:
“If you were now fitted to become an accepted chela [add footnote], you would of yourself know how, where, and to whom to apply. For the becoming a chela in reality consists in the evolution or development of certain spiritual principles latent in every man, and in great measure unknown to your present consciousness. Until these principles are to some degree consciously evolved by you, you are not in practical possession of means of acquiring the first rudiments of that knowledge which now seems to you so desirable.”
If at this point the question arises in the mind of one who reads: what, in sum, are these means, these four Attainments, without which progress on the path cannot even be begun, it must be answered that they can be really known in one way only: by acquiring them; by fighting for them and conquering them inch by inch. This is what life will compel us to do, whether by the slow way which the bulk of humanity follows, or more rapidly, if our aspiration is strong enough to arouse the sleeping life-force in our inner selves.
It would be wholly consistent, if this little Catechism of wisdom, having enumerated the qualities needed before practical learning can begin, were to let the matter rest there, and say no more. This is, in fact, what life does, for there is no real learning, no discerning of the Real, until these qualities are gained. But there can be an unlearning of the unreal; and this is of the utmost importance.
The truth is, that our minds are so restless, so vain, so full of prying curiosity, that, whether we consciously wish it or not, they are ceaselessly forming systems and views of life, and these views presently begin to constrict us, and react upon our moral and spiritual life, checking the growth of the very qualities which would make true knowing possible. It is a question, therefore, of giving the mind a bent which shall be as little harmful as possible; which shall be even helpful; and this the Vedanta does, with wonderful lucidity and cogency, so that the mind is made to serve the soul, instead of thwarting it.
This little Catechism of wisdom goes on, then, to sum up the conclusions of Vedantin thought, with limpid clearness and lucidity. After enumerating the powers, by gaining which we begin to be able to discern Reality, the Catechism asks:
What is the discernment of Reality?
The answer follows:
That Atma, the Self, is real Being; that everything other than Atma, the Self, is delusive.
This is the truth which is contained in the more familiar words:
“What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
The divine spiritual consciousness, which comes through obedience to the divine will, is the only good; every other mood, which comes through waywardness and self-seeking, is the dust and ashes of Dead Sea fruit.
The Self, the divine consciousness, is the goodly pearl of the merchantman, “who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.”
The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad has a beautiful passage of like import:
“This is Atma, the mighty Self unborn, who is consciousness among the life-powers. This is the heaven in the heart within, where rests the ruler of all, the master of all, lord of all. He is lord of all, overlord of beings, shepherd of all beings. This is he whom the followers of the eternal seek to know through scriptures, sacrifices, gifts and penances, through ceasing from evil toward others. This is the goal in search of which pilgrims go forth on pilgrimages.”
The Bhagavad Gita adds this:
“Know That to be imperishable whereby all this is stretched forth; and none can cause the destruction of the everlasting.
“These temporal bodies are declared to belong to the eternal lord of the body, imperishable, immeasurable; therefore fight, O son of Bharata!
“He who sees him as slayer, or who thinks of him as slain, both understand not; he slays not nor is slain.
“He is never born nor dies, nor will he, having being, evermore cease to be; unborn, eternal, immemorial, this Ancient is not slain when the body is slain.”
In the Crest Jewel of Wisdom, Shankaracharya himself speaks thus:
“There is a certain selfhood wherein the sense of ‘I’ forever rests; who witnesses the three modes of being, who is other than the five veils; who is the only knower in waking, dreaming, dreamlessness; of all the activities of the knowing intelligence, whether good or bad, this is the ‘I’;
“Who of himself beholds all; whom none beholds; who kindles to consciousness the intelligence and all the powers; whom none kindles to consciousness; by whom all this is filled; whom no other fills; who is the shining light within this all; after whose shining all else shines;
“Here, verily, in the substantial Self, in the hidden place of the soul, this steady shining begins to shine like the dawn; then the light shines forth as the noonday sun, making all this world to shine by his inherent light.”
Then the Catechism, in order to make clear the being of the Self, picks up the thought of the Bhagavad Gita:
“These temporal bodies are declared to belong to the eternal lord of the body”:
What is Atma, the Self?
He who stands in contrast with the physical body, the finer body, the causal body; who transcends the five veils; who is witness of the three realms of consciousness; being, in his own nature, Being, Consciousness, Bliss: this is Atma, the Self.
This is a condensation from the Upanishads, and especially of the first part of the Mandukya Upanishad:
“All this is the Eternal, and Atma, the Self, is the Eternal. And this Atma, the Self, stands in four worlds:
“In the world of waking consciousness, objectively perceiving, of sevenfold form, with nineteen mouths, an enjoyer of gross substance, this is the physical self, Vaishvanara, the first foot.
“In the world of dream consciousness, subjectively perceiving, of sevenfold form, with nineteen mouths, an enjoyer of finer substance, this is the finer self, Taijasa, the second foot.
“Where, entered into rest, he desires no desire and dreams no dream, this is dreamless consciousness. Dreamless consciousness, unified, collective perception, made of bliss, an enjoyer of bliss, perceiving through the heart, this is the spiritual self, Prajna, the third foot. This is the all-lord, this is the all-knower, this is the inner ruler, this is the womb of all, the forthcoming and indrawing of beings.
“Neither subjectively perceiving, nor objectively perceiving, nor perceiving in both ways, neither collective perception, nor perception nor non-perception; unseen, not to be apprehended, not to be grasped, without sign of separation, unimaginable, unindicable, the essence of the consciousness of the Self, in which the manifest world ceases, full of peace, benign, secondless, this is held to be the fourth consciousness, this is Atma, the Self, this is the goal of wisdom.”
We may express the same thing in another way: the first step is the consciousness of the mortal; the second step is the consciousness of the disciple, which, from the standpoint of the mortal, is dream-consciousness, but which the disciple knows to be of finer substance, more real than the consciousness of the physical world; the third step is the consciousness of the Master, the spiritual self, the all-knower, the inner ruler; the fourth step is the ultimate divine consciousness, complete oneness with the Eternal.
The Catechism takes the four steps up, one by one:
What is the physical body?
It is composed of the five states of substance, five-folded; it is born through Karma, the power of works; it is the abode in which pleasure and pain are tasted; it has these six changes: it comes to being, enters into birth, waxes, reaches the turning point, wanes, falls; this is the physical body.
The five states of substance, five-folded, will be fully explained later. The underlying idea is this: we have five senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell. Each, we may say, opens up to us a realm of being, a state of substance, in the world about us. So we may say that, through the senses, we are brought into touch with five realms of being, five states of substance. But these substances are not simple; they appeal, not to one sense only, but to several: we can see a fruit; we can also touch it, taste it, smell it; if it falls to the floor, we can hear it fall. So with other things. They have in them that which appeals to several senses; they are compounded of the hypothetical substances that excite the perceptions of the senses. This is true of the physical body itself. Therefore it is said to be composed of the five substances, five-folded.
It is born through Karma: the body which we now wear is the direct result of our own former actions. It is the expression of the will and desire, the effort and abstinence, of past lives. We were brought, by spiritual gravitation, to the parents of this body, because they were fitted to bring into being just the body that our karmic impulses required. Thereafter, the body is, physically even, of our own making. It contains only what we take into it, whether in the simple sense of eating, or in the more complicated sense, of experience and effort. We are the sculptors of our own features, writing on our faces the story of our desires or of our sacrifices.
The physical body is born, waxes, wanes, dies. We must look deeper for an enduring dwelling-place.
What is the finer body?
It is made of the five states of substance not five-folded; it is born through Karma, the power of works; it is the instrument for the tasting of pleasure and pain; it consists of seventeen divisions: five powers of perception, five powers of action, five vital powers, the emotional nature, the understanding; this is the finer body.
The key to the nature of this finer body is contained in the words of the Prashna Upanishad:
“So this bright one in dream enjoys greatness. The seen, as seen he beholds again. What was heard, as heard he hears again. And what was enjoyed by the other powers, he enjoys again by the other powers. The seen and the unseen, heard and unheard, enjoyed and unenjoyed, real and unreal, he sees it all; as All he sees it.”
The meaning of this seems to be that the life of the finer body begins as a replica of the life of the physical body, being built up of images of what the outer eyes see, what the outer ears hear, what the outer understanding perceives. At this stage, it is a dream-body, the unregenerate psychic body, as Paul called it. But this mirror-consciousness can reflect from above, from the spiritual life, as well as from below, from the physical life: “The seen and the unseen, the heard and the unheard, the enjoyed and the unenjoyed, the real and the unreal.” The light from above, the divine light, in time outshines the lesser light of earth, and the hour of regeneration draws nigh, the new birth from above, which shall usher the disciple into the kingdom of heaven.
Then, after the new birth, comes a period of growth, of building up, through the creative power which is beautifully described in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad:
“When the spirit of man enters into rest, drawing his material from this all-containing world, felling the wood himself, and himself building the dwelling, the spirit of man enters into dream, through his own shining, through his own light. Thus does the spirit of man become his own light.
“There are no chariots there, nor steeds for chariots, nor roadways. The spirit of man makes himself chariots, steeds for chariots, and roadways. Nor are any delights there, nor joys and rejoicings. The spirit of man makes for himself delights and joys and rejoicings. There are no lotus ponds there, nor lakes and rivers. The spirit of man makes for himself lotus ponds, lakes and rivers. For the spirit of man is creator.”
The great transition is thus described by Paul:
“It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: it is sown a psychical body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a psychical body, there is also a spiritual body. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is of heaven. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”
The transformation of the psychical consciousness into the spiritual consciousness, whereby the interior nature receives the things from above, and remoulds itself on these, is begun by what we call “conversion,” a process thus indicated in the Katha Upanishad:
“The Self-Being pierced the openings outward; hence one looks outward, not within himself. A wise man with reverted sight looked toward the Self, seeking immortality.”
Conversion, or whatever we may call the change of direction from the below to the above, from the earthly to the heavenly, is only the beginning, the new birth, of which it has been said:
“Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
Commenting on a passage of the Upanishads, Shankaracharya says: “The waters, that is, the currents of Karma.” If we were allowed to interpret the passage just quoted in the same way, taking “water” to mean the currents of Karma, then we should have the teaching that the spiritual body is born of Karma, as mother, engendered of the Spirit, as father. Then one who comes to birth through spiritual power alone, unconstrained by Karmic necessity, might be called Virgin-born, conceived of the Spirit.
We come now to the detailed description of the finer body. First, “it is made of the five states of substance not five-folded.” This has been expressed in an analogous way, by saying that this finer body is not molecular, like the physical body, but atomic. Its birth from Karma, we have already considered.
Next, it is “the instrument for the tasting of pleasure and pain”; it is the real personality, for whose training all experience exists. The physical personality is but a wraith, a forecast of that which is to come into being through the second birth. Again, “it consists of seventeen divisions: five powers of perception, five powers of action, five vital powers, the emotional nature, the understanding.” We shall best comprehend this, if we begin from above, with the Spirit, the one Self. That Self may be regarded as consciousness, as will, as life. It is not that the Self has consciousness, will and life; but that the Self is consciousness, will and life; or, perhaps better, that consciousness, will and life are the Self, according to the point of view from which we regard it. It is all three in one.
In the personal self, which is but the projection or expression of the Self, each of these three aspects becomes fivefold; so that, instead of unitary consciousness, the pure power of knowing, we have the five powers: visual consciousness, auditory consciousness, tactile consciousness, and the consciousness of taste and smell. So, instead of unitary will, pure creative power, we have five powers of action: speech, handling, walking, reproduction, rejection. Creative force manifests itself in these five ways. In like manner, we have, instead of unitary life, five life-powers: the forward-life, which impels the perceptive powers; the distributive life, which impels the circulatory powers; the binding life, which impels the assimilative powers; the downward life, which impels the rejective powers; the upward life, which impels the power of aspiration. Their qualities are set forth in the Prashna Upanishad:
“From the Self is the Life born. And as the shadow beside a man, this is expanded in that. By mind’s action it enters this body. And as a sovereign commands his lords: These villages and these villages shall ye rule over! Thus also Life disposes the lesser lives. For the lower powers the downward life; in sight and hearing, in mouth and nose, the forward life; and in the midst the binding life; this binds together the food that is offered; and thence the seven flames arise.
“In the heart is the Self. Here are a hundred and one channels. In these the distributing life moves.
“And by one, the upward, rises the upward life. It leads by holiness to a holy world, by sin to a sinful world, by both, to the world of men.”
The Katha Upanishad says:
“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.”
All these powers, perceptive, active, vital, are destined to be reborn into the spiritual man, who, in his turn, shall hear and see, and stand and speak.
What, then, of the two remaining powers which, with these thrice five, make up the seventeen, the powers of feeling and understanding?
They too are to be transformed from the likeness of the earthly to the likeness of the heavenly, so that, instead of emotion, the spiritual man will possess the noetic power of the heart; instead of argumentative reason, he will possess intuitive understanding, the certain knowledge which springs from inspiration.
This, then, is, in outline, the story of the finer body, and its transformation from the psychical to the spiritual, through the new birth from above.
Here a word of caution: as was already pointed out, this process of regeneration can be really known in one way only: by experiencing it. It cannot even be truly understood until the four Attainments are in large measure possessed, for the new vista opens only to those who occupy the standpoint gained by mastering the four Attainments. No amount of intellectual effort, in itself, will avail to give that understanding, no matter how keen and able the intellect may be, which seeks it, no matter how eager and protracted the effort.
We do not seek, therefore, to make the great transformation understood. Our hope is humble: by citing the testimony of those who have passed through it, to give such information as may at least diminish misunderstanding, and in this way make the conquest of the four Attainments easier; for the great barrier is the lower mind; by stilling the questionings of the lower mind, we may open the way for that moral and spiritual growth through which alone comes the light of real understanding.
IV. The Causal Body
Hearing, touch, sight, taste, smell: these are the five powers of perception.
Space is the divinity of hearing.
The great Breath is the divinity of touch.
The Sun is the divinity of sight.
The Lord of the waters is the divinity of taste.
The twin heavenly Horsemen are the divinities of smell.
These are the divinities of the powers of perception.
The object of hearing is the grasping of sounds.
The object of touch is the grasping of contacts.
The object of sight is the grasping of forms.
The object of taste is the grasping of tastes.
The object of smell is the grasping of odors.
Here, in brief, is the outline of the physics of the Vedanta, and also a suggested clue to much of the symbolic religion of India, from the Rig Veda onward. Vedantin physics is closely related to metaphysics. Vedantin physics is deductive, not inductive like ours. It is the result of a “leading down” from above.
We shall gain insight into its essence if we recall what has been already said, as to the expression of the One Being in the three modes: consciousness, will, life. Then each of these three is conceived as further divided into five (or, from another point of view, seven) powers: five powers of perception, five powers of action, five vital powers.
We have an analogy in our own physics. The radiant power of the sun is conceived as divided into three great groups of rays: the light-bearing, the heat-bearing, and the actinic, which carry the power of chemical action, as, for example, in photography. The light-bearing rays are then divided into seven: violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, red. Doubtless an analogous division may exist in the heat-rays, which include the ultra-red, and the actinic rays, which include the ultra-violet. Sounds are also divided into seven, the seven notes of the musical scale.
To come back to the Vedanta: these fivefold or sevenfold powers are summed up in the Heavenly Man, who contains within himself the Heavenly Host. Of Him, the universe is the divine incarnation; the earthly man is made in His image. Therefore, each of our powers has its corresponding divinity, its regent in the Heavenly Host. From one of these great Beings, each ray comes down, in its threefold nature: perceptive, active and vital power.
Or, to put the matter in another way: We should regard our physical powers as but the first sketch and forecast of spiritual powers, the destined powers of the spiritual man, who comes into being through the second birth, the birth from above.
Voice, hands, feet, the powers of reproduction and rejection: these are the five powers of action.
Of voice, the Fire-god is the divinity.
Of hands, the Ruler is the divinity.
Of feet, the Pervader is the divinity.
Of reproduction, the Creator is the divinity.
Of rejection, Death is the divinity.
These are the divinities of the powers of action.
The object of voice is speech.
The object of hands is the grasping of things.
The object of feet is going.
The object of rejection is the removal of waste.
The object of reproduction is creation.
This must be taken with what has been already said. After the perceptive, we consider the active side of the fivefold powers, each flowing from a divine power in the Heavenly Man.
It is significant that here, as on the day of Pentecost, the divine power of speech, the creative Word, is symbolized by the tongued flame of the Fire-god.
What is the causal body?
That which is formed through ineffable, beginningless unknowing; the cause and material of the two bodies; as to the proper nature of the Self, unknowing; taking form through differentiation: this is the causal body.
We have here the metaphysics and physics of the causal body set forth in a few enigmatic sentences, which, without some explanation, are almost unintelligible.
Before we consider them in detail, let us try to get a general understanding of the teaching.
Atma, the divine Consciousness, is eternally One; the oneness of Atma, the supreme Self of all beings, is, indeed, the cardinal doctrine of the Vedanta as set forth by Shankaracharya. On this ultimate oneness, our hope of salvation, of perfection as of the Father, finally rests. We can become one with God, because, in the last analysis, we are one with God already. It is a question of corning to consciousness of our oneness.
Yet we are separate individuals, with separate perception and will; and of such separate persons, making up humanity, there are countless multitudes. There must, therefore, be a point at which the One, while remaining the One, becomes the many.
The best symbol is a diamond, cut in many facets, each of which is an entrance to the diamond, and to all of it; a door into the whole of its inner splendor. In some such way, Atrna, the Eternal, the One, may be conceived as having a multitude of facets, as the one sun has a multitude of rays.
What are we to say of the boundary-line of each facet? Is it real or unreal? It is real, in that it is a part of the substance of the diamond. It is unreal, in that it has not, and cannot have, any existence of its own, apart from the diamond.
The power, which makes the facets on the diamond; or which, to drop this illuminating metaphor, makes for the separation of Atma into our separate selves, is called, in the Vedanta, avidya: “unknowing,” since its essence is, to conceal from us the reality of our oneness with the Eternal, and therefore with each other. It is ineffable, indefinable by any individual mind, since it is the cause of that individual mind’s separate individuality; and the mind, which is the effect, cannot go behind its own cause, to understand and define it.
Therefore, it is said that the causal body, which is the principle of separate individuality, is “formed through ineffable, beginningless unknowing.”
It is also “the cause and material of the two bodies”; that is, of the finer body and the physical body, which have already been described.
Let us see what this means.
The causal body is the basis of individual existence, the driving power of individual evolution. This evolution is carried forward by a process of mirroring the qualities and powers of Atma, the Ineffable One, in the individual self; by externalizing these powers and qualities in the outer personality, so that, through using and contemplating them, there may come, first self-knowledge, and at last knowledge of the Self; first, self-realization, as the personal man, and at last, as the great consummation, Moksha, Nirvana, realization of one’s life as Atma, the infinite Divine Eternal.
In the causal self is embodied and stored up, so to speak, the plan of this evolution, as well as the driving force to carry it forward. For this reason it bears the name “causal”: it is the dwelling place of the causes of the evolutionary process, in some such sense as the tree is the cause of the leaves, which are put forth each year in spring, to fall each year, by a vital act of putting off, in autumn. The leaves come forth from the tree, which furnishes at once their driving power and their substance. The tree is the “cause and material” of leaves and flowers.
The causal body, then, puts forth the finer body, on the mould of which, through the intervention of the parental life-process, the material body is built. And, as the body grows, year by year, new powers are introduced into it from above and within, through the energy of the causal body, which is thus the ruler and unfolder of the individual Karma, adjusting each life to the needs of its evolution, and ordaining its setting in such a manner that the errors and aberrations, the excesses and deficiencies, of the preceding life, and of earlier lives, may be repaired.
We must now remind ourselves of what has already been said of the finer body: that it has two sharply contrasted states, before and after regeneration. It is, first, the psychical body, the body of dreams; it is reborn as the spiritual body, the body of the spiritual man.
In a far wider reach, the causal body has also two contrasted stages: the first is that which we have tried to outline, where it is the plan and driving-power of the psychical and physical bodies, directing the life of these toward the great event of regeneration. Then, when the life-tide turns back, through regeneration, and flows once more toward Atma, when
that which flowed from out the boundless deep
turns again home,
when the psychical body has become the spiritual body, and the fuller and more central consciousness dwells in the spiritual man, the time has come for the causal body also to undergo a change. Instead of being the unseen director behind the veil, sending forth the personal self as its ambassador, the causal body is now to become the home, the vesture, of the full individual life, illuminating the spiritual body from within, as this has already illuminated the natural body.
First the focus of individual consciousness was in the physical body. Then, through regeneration, it ascended to the psychical body, transforming it into the spiritual body. The process is to continue, and the focus of consciousness will rise to the causal body, the individual becoming thereby a Master, an adept. As Master, he dwells, as it were, in the midst of the divine, creative forces that have hitherto shaped the life and destiny of many, many incarnations. Those divine life-currents of creative spiritual power are now his blood, so to speak, the forces which run throughout his being; in their midst he dwells, able to draw on the wisdom and power of the Eternal; able to wield the powers of the Eternal as powers of his proper nature. For he is the individual epitome of the Eternal, creative as that is, divine as that is.
Therefore the regeneration of the psychical body, whereby it becomes the spiritual body, makes the man a disciple. The regeneration, if such a term may rightly be used for the return-tide of spiritual life, of the causal body, makes the disciple a Master, an adept.
In each of these great regenerative acts, the way lies through perfect self-abnegation, a complete resigning of all the wills of self, a filial obedience to each least will of the Eternal, the Father in heaven: “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, as I have kept the Father’s commandments and abide in his love,” says the Master to his disciples.
It is, therefore, in measure as the personal man obeys each least dictate of spiritual law, that he becomes the spiritual man, the disciple. And in measure as the disciple obeys each least behest of the divine law, expressed through the will of his Master, he grows towards the great consummation which makes him, in his turn, the adept, the Master.
The law of his growth is obedience. The first practical steps have already been set forth, in the description of the four Attainments and the Six Treasures, since these are the qualifications for discipleship.
Shankaracharya, in his Catechism, then sets forth with admirable brevity the relation of these vestures to the ascending degrees of consciousness. It will be our task to follow him in these explanations, at the same time supplying the background from the Upanishad texts, in which the teaching was first given to the disciples of his land, in the far-off golden days.
(To be Continued.)1
1. The continuation of this translation and commentary was never completed. However, Johnston had formerly completed a full translation in 1895, under the title Shankara’s Catechism. [ED.]