The function of Theosophy is to provide a true sense of direction for human life. The student of Theosophy therefore must realize the extreme need for becoming clear regarding this doctrine of Unity for it is the only unshakable basis for wise human living.
Expressed in the life of the individual it has two aspects – the positive or stern side and the negative or tender sympathetic side. Until an individual fully grasps both phases of the Law of Unity he will not be able to communicate the spirit of the teaching to another.
True self-abnegation is of itself exactly half of what is required. Alone, it makes a man a sort of saint but not by any means a Master of Life; the power of self-assertion is equally necessary. This is a hard thing for Western minds, nurtured in a Christian atmosphere, to realize. Meekness, humbleness, pityfulness, and self-abasement are regarded as the spiritual virtues. They are, but so are their opposites, and impersonality demands the balanced ability to assert positively and to endure unresistingly, to be diamond hard as well as to be tenderly sympathetic.
Individuals are not rare who have developed one aspect of this dual power, but when we find a man who is equally at home in both phases, we shall have discovered someone who has conquered the instinctive nature, and in whom the love of self can be completely set aside at will. Nothing less than this is Spiritual power, is Selflessness.
Some of us find it only too easy to be over tolerant of the faults of others, minimizing mistakes and weaknesses and, “Looking always for the best in people”. And we often take credit for this not realizing that we are giving way to an instinct of self-protection by seeking to disarm possible criticism of ourselves. Others, just as insitinctively, bolster up their sense of superiority by being hyper-critical at all times, making a point of telling people what they think of them.
Everyone in his early life unconscionsly builds up the attitude, through which he or she most easily faces life and maintains his sense of self-importance – the deepest, most far-reaching of all human instincts, often stronger even than the deisire for life itself. This attitude he wears as a cloak, behind which he hides and protects himself, and without consideration and almost without thought it reacts instinctively in all life’s circumstances, and the individual does and says what it dictates unless he checks this instinctive reaction and considers and acts as his intelligence directs. In all such uncontrolled instinctive actions whether the instinct be good or bad, fine or ignoble, we are not really living at all; Nature is living in us.
The Unity of Life can never be more than an intellectual idea, and Brotherhood nothing more than a sentimental ideal, until we become Self-possessed, until we incarnate our Real Self into this centre of instinctive life we think of as ourself, and control and rule it.
Selflessness is the power of the spiritually enlightened mind to hold up, control and direct Nature’s energies within us. No matter what our type, or temperament may be, the fundamental practical problem of all students is to bring the individual’s own life under the rule of intelligence. If we neglect this it will not much matter what we do. (Notes from an Orpheus Lodge Discussion)
– From The Canadian Theosophist, June 15, 1935