The Desertion of Discipline
Failure to Try and to Keep On
Trying is the One and Only Real Failure
B. P. Wadia
Mr. B. P. Wadia
The following text is reproduced from the book
“Living the Life”, by B.P. Wadia, Indian Institute
of World Culture, Bangalore, 1981, 156 pp., pp. 57-59.
. . . The fortunate
Is he whose earnest purpose never swerves,
Whose slightest action or inaction serves
The one great aim.
A verse in the Dhammapada says that no outer device can purify a person “who has not solved his doubts”. It is no exaggeration, then, for the poet to say that “doubts are traitors”.
People live so grossly centred in the without that they have no time to attend to the within. Sometimes the without is full or sensuality of the animal kind; sometimes, of adventure devoid of wickedness; for many the without is full of the humdrum passing of days and weeks into months and years; for a few that without is absorption in outer ceremonialism of penance and prayer and even asceticism, with many fasts and no festivals. But always it is preoccupation with matters of the mundane spheres.
The newcomer to Theosophy begins in enthusiasm and with intuitive faith; he becomes a student, then an aspirant, with devotion endeavouring to learn and to serve; he blossoms into a neophyte. In due course he is overtaken by weaknesses and the fear of difficulties. Above all he is lured by the gaiety, the pomp and the power of the world, and he feels that his life is gliding by, untouched by all that wonder. And then come failures and frustrations, followed by doubts regarding the present mode of Theosophical living, a desire for escape or for change of venue. Boredom leads to laziness as well as discontent and the mischief is done.
“My life is marred; discipline is not for me; I must change all this. To gain the soul is fine; but to lose the world for it? No.”
We ought to clear our minds about the vital Esoteric teaching that the arising of doubts in the consciousness of a neophyte, if not conquered by quiet study and calm reflection, leads to desertion from the field of battle. Small slips or great sins may occur, but the temptation to commit them is overcome when the neophyte stands firm and gives battle. Even to speculate about desertion of Discipline is to strengthen our doubts about the Wisdom and the Wise Ones, about the Divinity within ourselves, about the true Altruism by which alone man feels the Peace of the Occult World, sees the Light of the Hidden Ones, hears the sound of the Spiritual Spheres. Therefore has doubt been mentioned in the same context as hypocrisy, which is called an unpardonable sin in Occultism. When one gives up the Fight he begins to forget the rules of the Discipline of the Righteous Soldier; and in a short while he becomes careless, scoffs at the Discipline, struggles anyhow and even fails to see himself as a deserter.
Neophytes talk of their weaknesses but they let go opportunities to learn and to overcome them. What they are called upon to do is not to fail, not to be broken, but to remain true to the Way of Discipline, to be faithful to the very end. The only sin that Occultism condemns is the sin of desertion. Doubts of the spiritual and higher life ever spring from the form of sin (papa-purusha) of the personal man. Carnal forces sow seeds of doubt in us, tempt us to commit follies, goad us on to desert the good, the true and the beautiful. The temptation to desert does not come to the worldly man, for he has nothing to be tempted away from. He is free to “enjoy” his carnal appetites. But the neophyte is tempted to desert the Discipline. What is the form of this temptation? Carnal forces speak to him and say: “Why be a slave to the discipline you have accepted? Be free; make your own discipline.” This is the blackest of delusions.
The duty of the neophyte is to possess a direct ray of thought and of purpose and to use the overcoming of his weaknesses, small or big, of body or of mind, for the fulfilment of that purpose and for intensifying the power of that ray. Says an aphorism:
“Selfishness will desert you, if you do not desert the Wisdom-Word.”
How encouraging is the instruction:
“. . . Each failure is success, and each sincere attempt wins its reward in time. The holy germs that sprout and grow unseen in the disciple’s soul, their stalks wax strong at each new trial, they bend like reeds but never break, nor can they ever be lost. But when the hour has struck they blossom forth.”
But where can reward come from if after any failure no sincere attempt is made? When with some degree of failure the neophyte deserts and so is broken, is he not lost? H.P.B. has explained in more than one place the declivity which failure follows, and what this “loss” means. Failure to try and to keep on trying is the one and only real failure. Can it be turned into a success? Not until the temptation which enslaved the deserter, by the false notions of personal freedom, is destroyed; not until the doubts which caused the desertion are removed. Only then restoration to the Path of Discipline is achieved.The Desertion of Discipline
In September 2016, after a careful analysis of the state of the esoteric movement worldwide, a group of students decided to form the Independent Lodge of Theosophists, whose priorities include the building of a better future in the different dimensions of life.
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