The Law of Repulse and Desire
The section with which we have now to deal will concern itself specifically with the major problem of humanity. We shall, however, touch upon it most briefly, and will deal particularly with the aspect of it which shifts from the problem as it concerns the aspirant to the problem of the disciple. Underlying the entire psychological problem of humanity as a whole lies that major attitude towards existence which we characterize as Desire. All lesser complexities are based upon, subservient to, or are emergent from, this basic urge. Freud calls this urge “sex,” which is, nevertheless, only another name for the impetus of attraction for the not-self. Other psychologists speak of this dominant activity as the “wish-life” of humanity, and account for all allied characteristic tendencies, all emotional reactions and the trend of the mental life, in terms of the underlying wishes, longings and acquisitive aspirations as “defence mechanisms,” or “ways of escape” from the inevitability of environing conditions. To these longings and wishes and the labor incidental to their fulfilment, all men give their lives; and everything done is in an effort to meet the realized need, to face the challenge of existence with the demand for happiness, for heaven, and for the eventual fulfilment of the hoped-for ideal state.
Everything is governed by some form of urgency towards satisfaction, and this is distinctive of man’s search at every stage of his development – whether it is the instinctual urge to self-preservation, which can be seen in the savage’s search for food or in the economic problems of the modern civilized man; whether it is the urge to self-reproduction and the satisfaction of that appetite which works out today in the complexity of the sex life of the race; whether it is the urge to be popular, loved and esteemed; whether it is the urge for intellectual enjoyment and the mental appropriation of truth, or the deep seated desire for heaven and rest which characterizes the Christian, or the aspiration for illumination which is the demand of the mystic, or the longing for identification with reality which is the “wish” of the occultist. All this is desire in some form or another, and by these urges humanity is governed and controlled; I would say most definitely controlled, for this is only a simple statement of the case.
It is this realization of man’s fundamental bias or controlling factor that lies behind the teaching given by the Buddha, and which is embodied in the Four Noble Truths of the Buddhist philosophy, which can be summarized as follows:
The Four Noble Truths
- Existence in the phenomenal universe is inseparable from suffering and sorrow.
- The cause of suffering is desire for existence in the phenomenal universe.
- The cessation of suffering is attained by eradicating desire for phenomenal existence.
- The Path to the cessation of suffering is the noble eightfold path.
It was the realization of the urgency of man’s need to be delivered from his own desire-nature which led Christ to emphasize the necessity to seek the good of one’s neighbor in contradistinction to one’s own good, and to advise the life of service and self-sacrifice, of self-forgetfulness and love of all beings. Only in this way can man’s mind and “the eye of the heart” be turned away from one’s own needs and satisfaction to the deeper demands of the race itself.
Until a man stands upon the Path of Perfection, he cannot really grasp the imperative demand of his own soul for release from the search for outer, material, tangible satisfaction, and from desire. It has been this demand which indicated the soul’s need to incarnate and to function, for a needed period, under the Law of Rebirth. As the work of purification proceeds upon the Path of Purification, this demand for release becomes stronger and clearer, and when the man steps out upon the Path of Discipleship, then the Law of Repulse can, for the first time, begin to control his reactions. This takes place unconsciously at first, but it becomes more potent and more consciously appreciated as the disciple takes one initiation after another, with increasingly pointed understanding.
It is not our intention in this Treatise to deal with the development of the unevolved and undeveloped man in connection with these Laws of the Soul. I seek only to clear the way of the highly intelligent man, the aspirants of the world and the world disciples. The progress of the undeveloped and the average man can be covered by the following statements, taken sequentially and describing the stages of his progress under the promptings of desire:
- The urge to experience, to exist, and to satisfy the instinctual nature.
- Experience, grasping, existing, followed by renewed demand for more satisfying compliances of fate or destiny.
- Cycle after cycle of demand for satisfaction, a period of satisfaction of a temporary nature, and then further demands. This is the story of the race.
- Experience, steadily sought and pursued upon the three planes of human evolution.
- Then the same experience, but this time as an integrated personality.
- Demand met until satiety is reached, for in time all men do eventually achieve that which they demand.
- Then comes the demand for inner spiritual compliances, happiness and bliss. The “heaven wish” becomes powerful.
- A vague realization that two things are needed; purification and the power to choose aright, which is right discrimination.
- A vision of the pairs of opposites.
- The realization of the narrow path which leads between these pairs of opposites.
- Discipleship and the repulsing or repudiation (over a long period of time), of the not-self.
Such, briefly and inadequately stated, is the story of man as he searches for happiness, for joy and for bliss, or (expressing it in terms of realization) as he progresses from the life of the instincts to that of the intellect, and then from that intellectual apprehension to the stage of illumination and final identification with reality, when he is henceforth freed from the Great Illusion.
Two things determine the rapidity with which he can – upon the Path of Discipleship – bring the Law of Repulse into play. One is the quality of his motive. Only the desire to serve is adequate to bring about the necessary reorientation and subjection to the new technique of living. The other is his willingness, at all costs, to be obedient to the light which is in him and around him. Service and obedience are the great methods of release, and constitute the underlying causes which will bring the Law of Repulse into play, thus aiding the aspirant to attain the longed-for liberation. Service releases him from his own thought life and self determination. Obedience to his own soul integrates him into the larger whole, wherein his own desires and urges are negated in the interest of the wider life of humanity, and of God Himself. God is the Great Server and expresses His divine life through the Love of His heart for humanity.
Yet, when these simple truths are enunciated and we are urged to serve our brother and to obey our soul, it seems to us so familiar and so uninteresting that it can evoke but little response. If we were told that the following of a prescribed form of meditation, the practicing of a definite formula of breathing, and regular concentration upon a specific center would release us from the wheel of life and identify us with the spiritual self and its world of being, gladly and willingly and joyously would we follow out instructions. But when, in the terms of the occult science, we are told to serve and obey, we are not interested. Yet service is the mode, par excellence, for awakening the heart center, and obedience is equally potent in evoking the response of the two head centers to the impact of soul force, and unifying them into one field of soul recognition. So little do men understand the potency of their urges! If the urge to satisfy desire is the basic urge of the form life of man, the urge to serve is an equally basic urge of the soul in man. This is one of the most important statements in this section. It is as yet seldom satisfied. Indications of its presence are ever to be found, nevertheless, even in the most undesirable types of human beings; it is evoked in moments of high destiny, or immediate urgency, and of supreme difficulty. The heart of man is sound, but oft asleep.
Serve and obey! These are the watchwords of the disciple’s life. They have been distorted into terms of fanatical propaganda and have thus produced the formulas of philosophy and of religious theology; but these formulas do, at the same time, veil a truth. They have been presented to the consideration of man in terms of personality devotions and of obedience to Masters and leaders, instead of service of, and obedience to, the soul in all. The truth is, however, steadily emerging, and must inevitably triumph. Once the aspirant upon the Probationary Path has a vision of this: (no matter how slight it may be), then the law of desire which has governed him for ages will slowly and surely give place to the Law of Repulse, which will, in time, free him from the thralldom of not-self. It will lead him to those discriminations and that dispassionate attitude which is the hallmark of the man who is on his way to liberation. Let us remember, however, that a discrimination which is based upon a determination to be free, and a dispassion which is the indication of a hard heart, will land the aspirant in the prison of a crystallized shell, which is far harder to break than the normal prison of the life of the average selfish man. This selfish spiritual desire is oft the major sin of so-called esotericists and must be carefully avoided. Therefore, he who is wise will apply himself to serve and obey.