Researched Author Sir Godfrey Gregg OHPM, ROMC
Certain aspects of the environment in which we live can be changed for the better.
For example we can, through participation in public life, play a leadership role in improving the economy in which we live and thereby improve the quality of live for ourselves and our all our fellow citizens. We can, likewise, improve the physical characteristics of our city or region, and certainly we can improve those of the home in which we live. Able people can educate and apply themselves and thereby rise out of a lowly socio-economic environment in which they live
However, the environment in which we live goes further than the physical and socio- economic conditions EXTERNAL to our bodies.
As seen in the chapter on man’s constitution, the soul clothes itself in a number of bodies (the higher and lower mental bodies, the astral or emotional body, the etheric body and the physical body), none of which is reincarnated. It will thus be understood that it is the soul alone (the indwelling point of the Planetary Spirit’s Light, individualized through being clothes in its shell of karma) which lives on from incarnation to incarnation, AND WHICH IS THE MAN HIMSELF.
His earthly life is affected by the clever (or slow) mind he is given for the current incarnation; by his calm (or passionate) astral or emotional body in which he lives, as much as by the family, community, city, nation, climate and socio economic circumstances that form his wider environment.
Consequently it will be understood that since, in each incarnation, a man receives a new set of bodies from highest to lowest, these bodies – which he uses as vehicles and tools also form part of the environment in which the man must live and gain experience. This is so important that it bears repeating in different words, personalised for the reader: Your physical body, your emotions and your mind are not YOU they are a part of the environment in which YOU live!
They are, in effect, part of the path the obstacle-strewn path which you must tread on the way back to spirit!
This lends meaning to the Eastern injunction: “Don’t only tread the path of return; become that path yourself!” We become that path by becoming aware that what we had thought of as “ourselves” is in fact part of the path to be trodden. The reader is enjoined to go back and re-read the above four paragraphs to make sure their import is fully grasped and appreciated.
The import of this astonishing discovery about what we had always taken to be ourselves is that, just as we have the opportunity and indeed the injunction to work for the improvement of our wider environment, in the interests of humanity, so too are we able and indeed obliged to improve the intimate environment formed by the mind, emotions and physical body through which we relate to the world and the people encountered during our successive incarnations.
It is widely appreciated that the Western injunction “man, conquer thyself” is far more difficult to obey than is the task of conquering and improving the wider environment in which we live. Indeed, some of the people who have achieved the greatest success in the wider world, in the sense that they have built political, financial, commercial or industrial empires, have failed dismally to control their own emotions!
Some might ask how it is possible to “conquer myself”. “I was born with a lack of mental concentration (or slothful, or with a fiery temper or a natural prediction for drugs, excessive intake of food or alcohol etc).”
Two observations may be made to help such folk.
The first is that most people recognise instinctively (i.e. with the wisdom acquired through observation of successful personalities in the present and past incarnation), that superior people are self-controlled. They are mentally well organised, have their emotions under control, and do not abuse their bodies through the unwise intake of food, liquids, drugs etc, or through otherwise foolish ways of life.
The second observation is that it is easier to “conquer thyself” if you bear in mind that that bundle of unruly thoughts (your mind), that irritable nature or wandering eye (your emotions) and that “natural” slothfulness combined with a gluttonous nature, etc, are NOT YOU.
Think of your mind, emotions and physical body as vehicles and tools, and of YOURSELF – the real, inner you – as the “driver” of those vehicle, the “workman owner” of those tools. Then just as you would in your workaday life, set about using your tools to improve the condition of your vehicles.
Take conscious, intelligent decision to start controlling your mind and bringing order into your life. Use your controlled mind to recognise emotional flab, and set about a program of controlling slack or unruly emotions; and do the same about physical flab and gluttony etc. You might have to seek help from others, such as by taking a course in mental control; embarking upon a diet program with other people or joining a gym to get yourself into physical shape; perhaps, in serious cases, even seek professional help such as Alcoholics Anonymous or an anti-drug program to curb addictive problems, or a counselor to resolve the many emotional and stress problems that afflict people. This book does not pretend to solve your personal problems. Only you yourselves can do that. All that the above strategy seeks is tell you, if you did not already know it, is that YOU are the DRIVER and WORKMAN ( and that you are NOT the mind, emotions and body with which you have been equipped for this particular incarnation and which have not yet been brought under control); and that you CAN and SHOULD take control of them rather than let THEM continue to control YOU.
How you set about this program of self-development is part of the test lying before you in the present incarnation! Your program might occupy your energies for the remainder of your present incarnation, and there will be setbacks. However, if you persevere, the first results will become apparent very soon, and will continue to manifest themselves commensurately with the effort which you expend. Within a few years your life will have improved out of all recognition.
When your time comes to depart the manifested plane you will do so a measurably better person than you are now. Your term on the unmanifested plane will be pleasurable in that you will recognise the progress made; and when you return to manifestation in your next incarnation, you will do so in a progressive environment created by yourself in the present incarnation, and build on the foundations thus laid. Further, by taking a conscious decision to embark upon a personal improvement program, and persevering with it, you will become an example to others in the same situation as that in which your formerly wallowed. This, in itself, is a form of service to humanity.
The rewards for consciously undertaking a program of self-development are unspeakably profound. To recap, in the words of the West: “man, conquer thyself!” In the words of the East: “don’t only tread the path of return; become that path yourself!”