The Weekly Sibyl

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Book Divination

Madame Helena Blavatsky {{PD-1923}}

One of my favorite forms of divination is the “random-opening-up-of-a-book-to-just-the-page-with-the-most-appropriate-message-on-it” form. We can also call it “Synchronicity,” or “Coincidence,” or “Huh!”

Yesterday, I was rearranging books on my shelves and found a couple that needed to move to another section; one was Essays By Blavatsky, a collection of writings on spirit and theosophy by the acclaimed nineteenth century scholar, mystic, and co-founder of the Theosophical Society, Madame Helena Blavatsky. Not having seen the book for some time, I curiously opened it, “at random,” to the essay entitled, “Spiritual Progress,” which begins with this poem by Christina Rosetti:

Does the road wind uphill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.
Does the journey take the whole long day?
From morning till night, my friend.

This brought forth a chuckle and a knowing nod; only the day before, I had proclaimed the one-word description of July 2012 to be “Frustration,” its theme song to be “The Long and Winding Road”.

Here are some of Blavatsky’s words of wisdom on the process of spiritual growth. Isn’t it reassuring that, through all the chaos of fast-paced change, the truth remains? Doesn’t it help to understand it as a natural process of development?

From the Vedas and the Upanishads to the recently published Light on the Path, search as we may through the Bibles of every race and cult, we find but one only way– hard, painful, troublesome–- by which man can gain the true spiritual insight. And how can it be otherwise, since all religions and all philosophies are but the variants of the first teachings of the One Wisdom, imparted to man at the beginning of the cycle by the Planetary Spirit?

The true adept, the developed man, must, we are always told, become–-he cannot be made. The process is therefore one of growth through evolution, and this must necessarily involve a certain amount of pain. The main cause of pain lies in our perpetually seeking the permanent, and not only seeking, but acting as if we had already found the unchangeable in the world of which the one certain quality we can predicate is constant change; and always, just as we fancy we have taken a firm hold upon the permanent, it changes within our very grasp, and pain results.

Again, the idea of growth involves also the idea of disruption; the inner being must continually burst through its confining shell or encasement, and such a disruption must also be accompanied by pain, not physical, but mental and intellectual.

And this is how it is, in the course of our lives, the trouble that comes upon us is always just the one we feel to be the hardest thing that could possibly happen–-is always the one thing we feel we cannot possibly bear. If we look at it from a wider point of view, we shall see that we are trying to burst through our shell at its one vulnerable point; that our growth, to be real growth, and not the collective result of the series of excrescences, must progress evenly throughout, just as the body of the child grows; not first the head and then a hand, followed perhaps by a leg, but in all directions at once, regularly and imperceptibly. Man’s tendency is to cultivate each part separately, neglecting the others in the meantime; every crushing pain is caused by the expansion of some neglected part, which expansion is rendered more difficult by the effects of the cultivation bestowed elsewhere.

Thank you, Mme. Blavatsky.

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