Human Soul Can Become Fully
Conscious of Its Unity with the Universe
Carlos Cardoso Aveline
It is generally considered that the vitality of the esoteric or theosophical movement depends on the purity of commitment of its members, which in some cases directly involves one’s higher self and invokes one’s relation to the universal law of justice.
If this is correct, whenever one wishes to discuss and evaluate the real strength of the esoteric movement, it is necessary to examine the vitality of the vows, commitments and intentions of theosophists, starting by oneself. These may be formal or informal, it does not matter.
Samuel Pufendorf says that “an oath is held to lend conspicuous support to our speech and to all acts which involve speech”, for “it is a religious affirmation, by which we give up our claim” to the divine mercy, and “call down divine punishment if we shall not speak truth”. [1]
“An oath”, he says, “raises a presumption of truth by invoking an omniscient and omnipotent witness and avenger” – one’s higher self, a divine teacher, the universal law.  Because we find it hard to believe that anyone would be so impious as boldly to call down upon himself – if I can use theosophical terms –  the negative retribution of universal law.
However, says Pufendorf, there is no real compulsion in an oath taken by a divinity in whom one does not believe and for which there is no fear or respect. [2] The oath is only real if taken while one evokes as a witness some form of divine intelligence in which one sincerely believes.
Pufendorf adds:
“This is also the reason why if a man swears by false gods whom he believes to be true gods, he is undoubtedly bound, and if he is false to his oath he is in fact committing perjury. For it was the general notion of deity that he had before his eyes under whatever particular form, hence in knowingly committing  perjury he has, so far as in him lay,  violated the reverence  [due to a divine intelligence].”[3]
How could one explain then the fact that since the 1880s many a theosophist has failed to fulfil his inner promise to himself in spite of the fact that in making it he invoked the secret presence of the universal Law, and of his own higher levels of consciousness?
In such circumstances, one may have to infer that they did not really believe in the Law, and their conscious connection to their own higher selves was not strong enough.  As a result, their commitment had not real or practical value for them.
Life is a stern teacher.  No doubt about that.  Yet failures can always be healed, as long as sincerity to oneself remains alive; and even in unfavourable short term scenarios, other chances will present themselves in future lives.
The Nature of a Spiritual Commitment
In order to be effective, one’s oath, vow, or word of honour must be pronounced with a deliberate intention, says Pufendorf.
“… A man will certainly not be bound by an oath”, the German thinker adds, “if he simply enunciates it while reading it over or merely tenders its words (couched in the first person) to someone else. But one who gives the appearance of swearing in earnest will certainly be bound, whatever was going on in his mind while he was swearing. For the whole usefulness of the oath in human life would be destroyed, and so indeed would any means of binding oneself to an obligation by the use of signs, if by a tacit reservation one could prevent the act from having the effect it was designed to produce.”
Pufendorf says that vows do not create a new or additional obligation. They act as an extra bond to an obligation which must be valid in itself. No vow to commit misdeeds is legitimate. The effect of a solemn commitment ceases if one comes to know that the action one is supposed to do is fraudulent, vicious, or morally wrong.
On the other hand, the oath must add strength to a feasible duty, not to an impossible task.[4] In philosophy, one’s own conscience is the main judge of one’s actions, of one’s commitments and efforts to attain a sacred goal.
Karma will operate as the law of action and reaction regarding whatever I do in visible and invisible realms of life. Yet it is up to me to be responsible for my commitments, and no external authority can do that for me, as long as the spiritual path is concerned.  The Jesuitical practice of acquiring authority over people by inducing them to make religious vows must not be accepted in theosophy. The pilgrim should receive correct information as to the nature and the implications of making a serious commitment to himself and to his higher levels of consciousness. However, no external “authority” can decide for a pilgrim on such matters. Nobody has the right to induce him to this or that decision. [5]
Of course, the active energy of a spiritual commitment is markedly strong. It invariably unsettles the structures of one’s routine and past Karma.
Managing the magnetic waves of tests is no easy matter. The preservation of the purity and strength of one’s decision to expand contact with the higher self requires a specific kind of knowledge. Studying the experience accumulated by different pilgrims in various circumstances can be useful to those who are aware of the unavoidable law of self-responsibility. 
An Intention That Is Constantly Reborn
Life has shown that individual decisions based on the practice of altruism need to be regularly reexamined and reaffirmed.  
A vow to improve oneself requires a daily struggle against old habits, individual and collective. The structure of professional relations will change from within, whether one likes it or not. Family and friendship relations will be tested and transformed. The transfiguration is now slow, then sudden. The path to divine knowledge includes every dimension of life and brings uncomfortable forms of outward change.
Progress is often invisible, while obstacles easily call our attention. Various yearly and daily forms of confirming the sacred decision can be practiced so as to gradually strengthen one’s will. 
Blind obedience and mere attachment to this or that ritualistic procedure will be mainly useless. The seedling of wisdom – one’s commitment to do good – must be taken care of and protected in constantly renewed ways.
There is no handbook on how to manage life after a firm decision is made to search for divine wisdom. The patience of a turtle is as necessary as the speed of lightning. What to do and how to act depends on many factors. At all times, learning in one’s innermost heart is more important than outward activities. Success or failure in the realms of appearance means nothing for life of the inner vow.  Personal defeat can be a source of great and sacred lessons. Victories often pave the way to internal failure.
Leaving aside the attachment to comfort and concentrating mind and heart on the work ahead is extremely important if one wishes to preserve his loyalty to the goal of self-improvement. Two factors help the pilgrim in remaining humble and improving his ability to learn:  one is seeing the scarce value of some personal feelings. The other is practicing self-observation from the point of view of his sacred potentialities.
Self-forgetfulness certainly purifies the way one looks at life. It prepares the soul to learn the philosophy of universal altruism.  Yet nothing on the path is as easy as the pilgrim might hope and anticipate.
For many years, after his decision to do his best, he will have to patiently identify and neutralize the energy of selfishness infiltrated in his own and other people’s noble intentions. The same is true of his altruistic feelings and generous thoughts, and those of the individuals around him. “No one is entirely your friend, no one is entirely your enemy, all are your teachers, in one way or another”, says esoteric philosophy.
Spiritual ignorance uses to disguise itself under the appearance of profound legitimacy. In individuals, as in esoteric groups and religious institutions, disloyalty to the spiritual soul uses a thousand and one elegant masks. Each time the pilgrim gets proud of his spiritual progress, an alarm bell should sound for him. And the other way around: whenever despondency appears, he must remember the reasons he has to be happy with his long-term decision for self-improvement.
Decade after decade, as the pilgrim daily practices right action, an old Self of his gently dies, and the future Self gains territory, inch by inch. Such a resurrection takes place with each new inhalation and exhalation. It also involves various lifetimes, while the Soul slowly unfolds the process of conscious unity with universal law.
[1] From the book “On the Duty of Man and Citizen According to Natural Law”, by Samuel Pufendorf, Cambridge University Press, UK, 1991, 183 pages, see p. 80.
[2] “On the Duty of Man and Citizen According to Natural Law”, pp. 80-81.
[3] “On the Duty of Man and Citizen According to Natural Law”, p. 81.
[4] “On the Duty of Man and Citizen According to Natural Law”, by Samuel Pufendorf, Cambridge University Press, UK, 1991, 183 pages, see pp. 81-82.
[5] See in our associated websites the articles “Pledges in Theosophy, Real and Phony”, “Whether Crosbie Broke His Vows”, and “The Fraud in Adyar Esoteric School”.
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. Two of the priorities adopted by the ILT are learning from the past and building a better future.