There is a battle raging inside us all every minute of the day! It is the common experience of being human that the finer and baser aspects of us are always battling for supremacy. This is an old story, as old as self-conscious humanity itself. More than 5,000 years ago Krishna in the Indian religious classic, The Bhagavad-Gita, perfectly summarized the human condition when he said to his companion Arjuna: “The Self is the friend of self, and in like manner, Self is its own enemy”.

Arjuna represents ‘everyman/woman’ standing between the opposing armies of the Higher and Lower Self, reluctant to engage in the inevitable struggle for control of our consciousness. Krishna, his charioteer, advises him on the various paths by which identity with the Higher Self can be achieved, including good works, spiritual knowledge, asceticism, self-restraint, spiritual discernment, discrimination between godlike and demoniacal natures, the three kinds of faiths, and others. Krishna stresses that all such paths are valid ways to the Higher Self, and to the extent that people sincerely apply themselves to the search, they shall be repaid spiritually. The important thing is to follow our duty without thought of results. The result will follow in the fullness of time if we do the best we can. As Krishna says: “Seek this wisdom by doing service, by strong search, by questions, and by humility . . .”

But do we need to enter into a battle with the Lower Self in order to identify with the Inner God? The Bhagavad-Gita and many mystical writers seem to answer yes, stressing the need for absolute conquest of the Lower Self if we are to approach the temple of the god within. Yet this “battle” might be more along the lines of the transmutation process pictured by the alchemists of medieval Europe. They spoke of finding the Philosopher’s Stone which would allow us to transmute the lead of the Lower Self into the gold of the Higher Self. According to G de Purucker:

“… the best way to overcome the lower nature is not by “battling” it and “fighting” it, thus exercising it and making it strong and vigorous, but by understanding it to be a part of yourself and by resolutely putting it in its proper place with inflexible and impersonal kindness and gentleness. Sometimes and very often indeed the best way to begin to do this is by completely ignoring it, turning the back upon it. . . . ally yourself with the higher parts of your nature, and, in consequence you identify yourself thereby with the higher parts of the Universe… — Dialogues 3:19, 21

Most importantly, on our journey of self-discovery/conquest we should pause to ask why we commenced this pilgrimage in the first place. Is this a cosmic vacation designed for our own gratification, or do we mean to offer the fruits of our discoveries to other travellers? In her, Voice of the Silence, H. P. Blavatsky enjoins us to be ever mindful to avoid the ranks of the spiritually selfish who seek the power and blissful peace of communion with the inner god for themselves alone. Although many schools teach spiritual development for one’s own sake, ignoring the suffering of others, the path of compassion was blazed by Great Ones who, though far ahead of us, stopped to offer assistance to all those in their wake.

It is also our responsibility to travel the still small path to the Higher Self mindful of our responsibilities to others. We can offer the lessons we learn, when appropriate, to our fellows and help uplift the crushing weight of suffering bearing down on humanity, largely caused by humanity’s ignorance of the great Laws of Life. If we consistently make this effort, our spiritual light will gradually glimmer, then shine in the world for the benefit of others, and we will begin to understand the essence of Theosophy.

The Bhagavad-Gita and Essays on the Bhagavad-Gita by William Q Judge are available in full text on line from our Society at:

 “The mind is dual in its potentiality, it is physical and metaphysical. The higher part of the mind is connected with the spiritual soul or Buddhi, the lower with the animal soul, the Kama (desire) principle….The plastic power of imagination is much stronger in some persons than in others. …That is why it is so very difficult for a materialist – the metaphysical portion of whose brain is almost atrophied – to raise himself – or, for one who is naturally-spiritually minded to descend to the level of the matter-of-fact vulgar thought. But the habit of thinking in the higher mind can be developed, otherwise would there be hope for the persons who wish to alter their lives and raise themselves?…” –
HP Blavatsky.