ARTICLES CULLED FROM TSR’S REVIEWS
Rules of Life
A ‘perfect man’ is not made to order but is a product of evolution. Wisdom is not a matter of book-learning but of growth. General rules for conduct can be given, but to apply them properly, the power of discrimination is necessary.
A man who is good by the yard or according to prescription, is usually a sort of goody-goody fellow, such as we find amongst temple-goers, and who are usually the pride of congregation. They do what they believe to be good, because it is prescribed, they are in abject fear of punishment and afraid to displease God. The good they do goes very much against their own inclination, and they often pretend to hate sin, while they are actually craving for it.
The moral world may be compared to a pair of scales. Insanity sits on both ends of the beam, while wisdom rests in the middle. A person, who would give away his coat to the first one who asks for it, would be a fool, and he, who would after having received a blow on one cheek, would present his other cheek to get another blow, would be a vain idiot and a coward, and would richly deserve a good many blows.
The sayings of Christ, of Buddha, Confucius and others, are represented in the flowery language of the East, and he, who takes them in their literal sense, makes a great mistake as he who rejects them. If they preach charity, they do not want to make us spendthrifts; if they inculcate humility, they do not want to create cowards; if they teach unselfishness, they do not want us to become beggars, who have to depend on the labors of others for subsistence. Justice means justice to ourselves as well as justice to others. And he, who errs on one side, is as much in error as he who errs on the other side.
There is often the greatest similarity between a great saint and a great sinner; the former is good without being sagacious, the other is sagacious without being good. Torquemada (1420-1498), a Spanish inquisitor-general and Robespierre (1758-1794), a French revolutionist represent the opposite poles and both were unselfish. Their opinions were opposite, and yet they both committed the same crimes against nature. They were great saints and great criminals, and yet they were great men, because they acted up to a principle without taking their personal advantages into consideration.
A virtue, practiced without moderation, becomes a crime. To know how to find the point of equilibrium is the great secret of the Adept, that cannot be told but must be learned by experience, when sagacity and goodness will be united in wisdom.
There is a common error in speaking of the powers and privileges of an Adept. One who has attained this stage, can neither coin money, make bars of gold, nor create clothing for himself, nor get his food from the ether. This is the custom of the practitioners of that debased science called the Black Magic. The true Adept would cease to be such if he could apply his psychic powers to selfish ends. For the good of the deserving poor or suffering, or of Humanity in the mass, he is at liberty to make use of them under exceptional circumstances.
In point of fact, this is one chief aim in view of his adeptship, and there are crises where a number of adepts are said to combine their psychical powers for the good of a portion or the whole of the race, as upon the lowest plane of action, a number of men combine their muscular strength for a mechanical result.
The aspiration of the would-be Adept is to learn that he may teach, become wise that he may understand, and spiritually strong that he may help the weak but willing. For a specific definition of the steps of self-denying philanthropy by which one may evolve out of the brutal into the spiritual plane, the simple codes of ethics which we have inherited from all the ancient, and are endorsed by all the best modern sages - are to be pointed.
Zoroaster’s religion is distilled into three words, which mean “Good thoughts: Good words: Good deeds.” One need not care if he be in Sherman, Texas, or Madras, India, if he is minded to try the prescription.
[ As published in The Theosophist, Vol. VI, January 1885. This can also be seen at p.298-300 of the TSR:Collected Writings, vol.2]
Compiled by Dr N C Ramanujachary