Meditation: The Slayer of the Real
The text that follows is an excerpt from the study of the mystic book “The Voice of theSilence” by H.P.Blavatsky. This short piece is part of the same series as that from which derive the Stanzas of the “Book of Dzyan”, Stanzas on which the Secret Doctrine is based.
The text that follows was written by B.P.Wadia, the well-known Theosophist and most active ULT (United Lodge of Theosophists) member.
Studies in “The Voice of the Silence”
THE SLAYER OF THE REAL
The asceticism which The Voice of the Silence advocates is that of the thinking principle – the withdrawal of the mind from its present position in which it is a slave. The mind is a victim of internal images composed of elemental-lives which form the desire-principle, and these awaken the senses to activity and make them the feeders of that principle. Man’s objective world is but a reflection – a shadowy emanation – of this subjective plane of desire-images.
In the waking state of consciousness man does not live in the world of the mind but in that of the senses ensouled by desires within which the mind is captive. Man’s so-called reasoning is not a pure activity engendered by the mind but is premised on sense- impressions which are permeated by desires. Even men of Science in using their minds proceed from sense-data to deductions, and, though in most of them personal desires in connection with the objects of observation are in abeyance, they yet suffer from their dependence on desire-shot senses. The eyes of a drunken man see things askew: the mind of one who in drawing his conclusions depends on the senses fraught with the desire-principle also sees askew. Sense-data to be true and sense-observations to be accurate must be devoid of the forces of the desire-principle. When Esoteric Philosophy calls the world of objects illusory it means that it is so not in the sense that the objects do not exist but in the sense that our valuation of them is false. The objective world may well be compared to a great bazaar in which desire-enslaved minds, not knowing the true prices of things, are taken in, have to bargain, to haggle and to wrangle for things needed and have to be tempted to want and to acquire other things. The mind thus exploited in the bazaar of the objective world gains experience and learns to evaluate each object at its proper worth, and then – and not before then – man begins to live in that world.
Our difficulty, then, as will be readily seen, does not inhere in the objects but in our ignorance of the true values of those objects, due to our desires in which the mind is imprisoned. Desires by themselves, unaided by the power of thought, would be innocuous; energized by it they make man the worst of the animal kingdom. Therefore our textbook calls this mind the Slayer of the Real and at the very outset gives the injunction to the Disciple to slay the Slayer. It also states the method – “become indifferent to objects of perception.” This mind, captivated by desire, which courses in the nervous system of the body, is called the chief of the senses, and it is this mind-sense which makes man different from the animal – capable of becoming superior to it as also of developing into the most cunning and the most carnal of beasts.
Having become indifferent to objects of perception, the pupil must seek out the Rajah of the senses, the Thought- Producer, he who awakes illusion. The Mind is the great Slayer of the Real. Let the Disciple slay the Slayer. [Voice p. 1-2 ULT-edition ]
It is the activity of this mind in the objective world which has first to be handled by the aspirant-chela. Unless we see that these objects become channels, offer food to internal images and help to satisfy our cravings we shall not be able to evaluate them correctly. We value an object in terms of the satisfaction or the delight which it gives to our desire-fraught senses. This is the cause of illusion which is ignorance – not total absence of knowledge but the false evaluation of objects, mistaking lust for love.
If thou would’st cross the first Hall safely, let not thy mind mistake the fires of lust that burn therein for the sunlight of life. [Voice, p. 7]
The Thought-Producer makes love out of lust and when this is seen in actual life-experience a real step forward is taken by the practitioner. When this is seen the weakness of the world of objects compared to the strength of the world of images is recognized. It is this seeing, when not understood, which tempts the aspirant to run away from the world to the jungle.
When a seeker after the Light within sees the activity of the outer world of objects he naturally attempts to close the windows through which the objects attack him. In that retreat, psychological or physical, a short respite from that attack is all that he obtains. Very soon he locates the root of his trouble: the attraction or the aversion which the objects exert over him are not in the external objects but in the internal images – memory pictures of the past, not only of this life but also of previous incarnations.
Withhold thy mind from all external objects, all external sights. Withhold internal images, lest on thy Soul-light a dark shadow they should cast. [Voice p. 20]
This is the formidable work compared to which retreating from the objects of the senses is easy. If in the first exercise the chela learns the illusory nature of the objective world, now he encounters the delusive nature of his own subjective world. Looking for the God within he comes upon the devil; seeking soul- light, he finds darkness – so thick that he does not realize that it is a shadow. “O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon.” [Milton, Samson Agonistes line 80] It is in that dark that we meet our fancy-created idols, our thought-created images, our desire-created phantoms. But that darkness has the peculiar power of deluding our consciousness. Very soon the sphere of darkness looks to us the region of pearly light – of soothing, restful, twilight sleep. The Maya of the objective world is but an effect caused by the Moha-delusion of this sphere of self-created subjectivity, lighted up by human passions. This is the world of Probationary Learning, which the Chela has to abandon, and he cannot do so till he understands it. The first real pitched battle of the greatest of all wars is in this region, called the Astral Light. When the Power of his Vow, made in the objective world, stirs in him, the fighter in the Astral Light feels that he is in a place where he ought not to be; that he must not listen to the sounds of these images, but to the word of the Soul within.
Theoretically every student knows that Lower Manas is different from Higher Manas, that Kama-Manas is demoniac and Buddhi-Manas divine. But the truth has to be experienced and we know the nature of the Soul’s mind when we overthrow some of the enemy troops, i.e., when we destroy some of our thought-created images. The great temptation for the Probationary Chela issues forth from the enhanced sense-delight when the plasticity of astral light is handled and absorbed; it is like the exhilarated state of the person who has just taken strong drink. Often, instead of fighting right away the already created images, he falls prey to the temptation of creating new ones. In the objective world we have to control the wandering mind, but here we have to fight the creative mind. Thus come a period of intense fight, and victory ensues when the soldier-soul has grasped this truth:
Ere thy Soul’s mind can understand, the bud of personality must be crushed out; the worm of sense destroyed past resurrection.[Voice, p.13]
The grasping of this truth means that the Probationer has seen that he is other than the Personality, that the worm which early and late feeds upon the senses, once crushed, would lead to the death of the separative and ever-separating self which makes the Personality the supreme enemy. The glimpse of the Soul which uncovers the inimical nature of the Personality makes the fighting Probationer take refuge in that Inner Soul. And this implies some knowledge of the nature and the powers of that Soul.
Silence thy thoughts and fix thy whole attention on thy Master, whom yet thou dost not see, but whom thou feelest. [Voice, p.17]
Thyself and mind, like twins upon a line, the star which is thy goal burns overhead. [Voice, p.21]
The Master is the Higher Self, “the equivalent of Avalokitesvara, and the same as Adi-Budha … Christos with the ancient Gnostics.” [Voice, p.3, fn. ] Unless this Master is felt as a Presence in Hall the second, that of Probationary Learning, entrance into the third, the Hall of Wisdom, remains closed. It is through the mind of the Soul that we touch the radiance of the God within, and it is through contact with the great Gurus that we touch the radiance of the God within Nature – Compassion Absolute.
When the mind-activity is silenced, the soul, aided by the Light of the Spirit, perceives itself as distinct and separate from the mind. Freed from Kama, it sees the possibility, nay, the certainty of a perfect unison with its Star – its Father in Heaven. In the translucent lake of the pure mind the star in high heaven reflects itself, and even that reflected influence stirs the mind to behold the glory that is – the greater glory to be. It is not sufficient to silence the thoughts; it is necessary to perceive the Star of Hope – the Parent Star, the Dhyani-Buddhic Source of our existence.
The obliterating of the internal images is the same as crushing the craving for sensuous existence. The process demands that we centre our attention on the inner Light. But turning away from internal images is not to be accompanied by turning away from the objective world. To be in the midst of objects but not to be their slave makes the fight a long one; for, in the long past we have created a whole army of personal thought-images; by our moods we have given birth to a brood of vices; by our mental indulgence we have committed many sins. One by one we have to slay them.
Woe, then, to thee, Disciple, if there is one single vice thou has not left behind … . Woe unto him who dares pollute one rung with miry feet … .His sins will raise their voices like as the jackal’s laugh and sob after the sun goes down; his thoughts become an army, and bear him off a captive slave. [Voice, p.16-17]
This does not mean that the Probationer is expected to be flawless ere he starts, but he has to learn and attain purity ere he passes through the Golden Gate into the Hall of Wisdom, and has won the right to abide therein permanently. As a Probationer he has his day when he basks in the radiance of the Spiritual Sun, and then his night – the dark night of the Soul, during which his mind-sins laugh the jackal’s laugh which is the cry of agony, terrifying to him, tempting him to his fall, nay, to his very doom. The jackals move in packs and therefore are able to hunt down sheep and even antelopes. When unable to obtain living prey they feed on carrion, and cunningly they follow cheetahs and even lions in order to finish the carcase after the latter have eaten their fill. The comparison of our lower thoughts to jackals is most apt, for they attack in packs our high thoughts and our noble aspirations, and when they cannot prey upon these living images they sniff out slumbering and dying ones and gorge on the latter – a phenomenon which is related to precipitation of Karma and the like. Also, like the jackal, our lower thought-images have an offensive odour, for they, too, like the jackal, secrete foulness from the base of their tails.
Now, we are told how we should deal with these our past creations:
One single thought about the past that thou hast left behind will drag thee down and thou wilt have to start the climb anew. Kill in thyself all memory of past experiences. Look not behind or thou art lost. [Voice, p.18]
If we do not choke off the memory of the past, if we dwell in it, we re-live the past subjectively and rejuvenate the thought- images. But now we have increased our power of thought and so those images express themselves more strongly. All students of Theosophy know that a storehouse of past Karma exists, but all do not know that in the subjective realm ghosts and elementaries of dead objective actions often work havoc.
The last quotation of the first Fragment of our textbook that we should consider is this:
Before the path is entered, thou must destroy thy lunar body, cleanse thy mind-body, and make clean thy heart. [Voice, p.12]
In a footnote H.P.B. explains that the astral form produced by Kama has to be destroyed. The Kama-rupa, ordinarily, is formed after the death of the body and ere the Ego goes into Devachan, freeing itself from that form. But in the life of the Probationer, as he enters the kingdom of the quickened, leaving behind that of the dead, there is the Kama-rupa phenomenon related to that of the Dweller on the Threshold. The quickened soul becomes consciously alive when, by chasing away from the field of the mind all Kama-fed thought-images, he begins to live by the power of the clean heart, i.e., by the influence of Buddhi. For this dual process – dispersing the Kama-rupa and awakening Buddhi so that it can ensoul Manas, the objective world proves of great benefit.
The objective world of actions is not only valuable for enabling us to compare, to contrast and discriminatively to learn to concentrate, but it also proves a most helpful sphere when the strife of the subjective kind is on, of which mention is made above. The way the Probationer has to learn to make use of the objective world is through the right performance of duty. Duty is the axis round which his objective world rotates: mistakes made about Duty, neglect of or dilatoriness in that which should be done, undertaking that which is not our business, etc., all become sins of omission and of commission. If a Probationer is rightly busy with real duty he finds no time for “mischief” – unconsciously done. Furthermore when attacks come from the subjective side of his lower nature, a wise engagement of the senses and the brain in objective functioning weakens the attack. Occultism advocates that we do not strengthen the enemy by brooding about him, nor by directly fighting him. Take no particular notice of the enemy, but keep the consciousness busy with protective and profitable mental and physical work. No Probationer can meditate and study hours on end and therefore calls of mundane duty like the earning of livelihood, etc., are highly beneficial and very necessary. Not the invention of special work but the doing of what there is to do expands the field of duty till humanity becomes our family and the world our country. Duty is the Divinity that shapes our objective world to perfection: Dutyis the God of the objective world – that is the Truth: OM TAT SAT.
B. P. WADIA
From The Theosophical Movement, X, August 1940, pages 151-54.