Spiritual Path

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T. Subba Row wrote about this from the point of view of the Esoteric Philosophy:

This philosophy recognises two paths, both having the same end, a glorified immortality. The one is the steady natural path of progress through moral effort, and practise of the virtues. . . . The other road is the precipitous path of occultism, through a series of initiations. Only a few specially organised and peculiar natures are fit for this path.[1]

Gradual path

T. Subba Row described this gradual path of evolution as:

. . . the steady natural path of progress through moral effort, and practise of the virtues. A natural, coherent, and sure growth of the soul is the result, a position of firm equilibrium is reached and maintained, which cannot be overthrown or shaken by any unexpected assault. It is the normal method followed by the vast mass of humanity, and this is the course Sankarâchârya recommended to all his Sannyasis and successors.[2]
This school recommended as the best path for all, a devotion to virtue, a gradual withdrawal from the grosser material concerns, a withdrawal of the life forces from the outward world and its interests, and the direction of these forces to the inner life of the soul, until the man is able to withdraw himself within himself, so to speak, and then, turning round to direct himself towards the logos and the spiritual life and away from the material plane; passing first into the astral life, and then into spiritual life, till at last the logos is reached, and he attains Nirvana.[3]

Occult path

T. Subba Row described the occult path as follows:

The other road is the precipitous path of occultism, through a series of initiations. Only a few specially organised and peculiar natures are fit for this path.

Occult progress, growth along this path, is effected by the adept directing through the chela various occult forces, which enable him to obtain prematurely, so to speak, a knowledge of his spiritual nature: and to obtain powers to which he is not morally entitled by degree of his progress.

Under these circumstances it may happen that the chela loses his moral balance, and falls into the dugpa path.[4]

Because of its very nature, the chela must fulfill certain requirements if he is going to succeed:

But this path is eminently dangerous to those who do not hold the talisman which ensures safety; this talisman is a perfectly unselfish, self-forgetting, self-annihilating devotion to the religious good of mankind, a self-abnegation, which is not temporal, but must have no end for ever, and the object of which is the religious enlightenment of the human race. Without this talisman, though the progress of the chela may be very rapid for a time, a point will come when his upward advance will be arrested when real moral worth will tell; and the man who progressed along the slow and steady path may be first to merge himself in the light of the logos.[5]

Due to all these difficulties, the would-be disciple should let the path find him and not the opposite:

It is therefore wiser not to seek the path of chelaship; if the man is fit for it, his Karma will lead him to it imperceptibly and infallibly; for the path of occultism seeks the chela and will not fail to find him, when the fit man presents himself.[6]

Online resources

Articles

Notes

  1. Tallapragada Subba Row, Esoteric Writings of T. Subba Row (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980), 112-113.
  2. Tallapragada Subba Row, Esoteric Writings of T. Subba Row (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980), 112-113.
  3. Tallapragada Subba Row, Esoteric Writings of T. Subba Row (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980), 114.
  4. Tallapragada Subba Row, Esoteric Writings of T. Subba Row (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980), 113.
  5. Tallapragada Subba Row, Esoteric Writings of T. Subba Row (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980), 113-114.
  6. Tallapragada Subba Row, Esoteric Writings of T. Subba Row (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980), 114.