Theosophy being a synthesis of religion, science and philosophy has a power of its own, dynamic and vibrant, which can be applied in daily life, to all spheres of activities. Theosophy is not a mere speculative system, but is essentially practical. It is meant for all, high and low, scholarly and illiterate. It is based on the fundamental principles of the eternal verities, the divine wisdom preached by all the great teachers down the ages. It is sometimes taken to be dry philosophy, meant only for the learned who can grasp metaphysical principles and cosmic ultimates, but this is not so. Many a time simpler minds and purer hearts show forth a better capacity for grasping the ideas that Theosophy presents. Mr. Judge begins The Ocean of Theosophy by stating that "Theosophy is that ocean of knowledge which spreads from shore to shore of the evolution of sentient beings; unfathomable in its deepest parts, it gives the greatest minds their fullest scope, yet, shallow enough at its shores, it will not overwhelm the understanding of a child." This is very evident in Theosophy School groups, where we see children responding from within themselves to the great ideas presented to them. Yet, Theosophy, like the ocean, "gives the greatest minds their fullest scope"; the higher one rises and the deeper one penetrates, vistas upon vistas open up, not from outside, but from within oneself.
In our modern civilization, religion and science conflict with each other on all points, from an atom to god, because they have entirely different lines of approach. In ancient times, true religion was meant to be a unifying force binding all together in a harmonious whole. It taught that divine life and light was the root and source of all, the guiding spirit. And true science began its search on that invisible, universal plane, coming down to the human and the terrestrial and objective. In those days, different branches of knowledge were not divorced from one another but all followed the same pattern, from the universal to the particular, from the immortal to the mortal, from the subjective to the objective.
The living power of Theosophy is gradually perceived and expressed as its worth and value become known. The Voice of the Silence states: "O fearless Aspirant, look deep within the well of thine own heart, and answer. Knowest thou of Self the powers, O thou perceiver of external shadows?" The power of Theosophy is the power of the great Self, the supreme Spirit; it is within each one of us, but we perceive it not, occupied as we are with chasing external shadows, impermanent and perishable. So the first step is to look within and recognize that power within us. This implies the assuming of a firm position. Next, we have to recognize the difference between the real Self and the fleeting shadows, perceive that true life is in the spirit and its approach is only through the avenue of the higher mind. "Give up thy life, if thou would'st live," we are told. And the life we have to give up is the life of physical personality, in order to live in spirit. It is necessary to give up all personal desires and sense inclinations and make of the personality a fit and useful instrument for the work of the spirit in us. This living power of Theosophy is constantly in motion; it is dynamic, uplifting, elevating and inspiring, and it takes the individual from the tamasic plane of laziness and indifference, as also from the restlessness and turbulence of rajas, to the sattvic plane of light and truth.
It is not a different kind of life but rather a different attitude to life that is needed. Light on the Path instructs in the very beginning: "Kill out ambition. Kill out desire of life. Kill out desire of comfort. Work as those work who are ambitious. Respect life as those do who desire it. Be happy as those are who live for happiness." These injunctions need to be reflected upon carefully. It is a dual task: we are asked to give up all ambitions along worldly lines—for the gaining of possessions, popularity, power and position in life, and, at the same time, we are not to be passive and blank, dull and gloomy, but have to work with real zest. Thus, we are centred no longer in the petty personal self, but in the great Self of all creatures. Krishna instructs Arjuna in the Ninth Discourse of the Bhagavad-Gita: "Whatever thou doest, O son of Kunti, whatever thou eatest, whatever thou sacrificest, whatever thou givest, whatever mortification thou performest, commit each unto me." There remains no room for personal ambition; everything is dedicated to the supreme Self, without any self-interest.
Then, we are asked to "kill out desire of life"; and yet—"respect life as those do who desire it." To respect life means to understand its sanctity—how sacred it is and what an opportunity it affords to live usefully and harmoniously. People cling to life for sensuous gratification. That kind of life is an obstacle on the spiritual path. When life is looked upon as a teacher, yielding important lessons, bringing useful experiences, it breeds in us true gratitude and respect. What a wonderful opportunity life has afforded us by bringing us in contact with Theosophy! We are not to fritter away our life, not to dissipate its wonderful energy in ceaseless chase after ephemeral things, but are to regard it as a wonderful, melodious song that always instructs and inspires us towards truth, goodness and beauty. The living power of Theosophy can enable us to fulfil the aim of life and reach the goal.
Next, we are asked to "kill out desire of comfort"; and yet, "be happy as those are who live for happiness." People seek happiness according to their ideas and ideals, but it always eludes them: it never brings them soul-satisfaction. Soul happiness alone is permanent. The more happiness is pursued, the more it recedes. Lord Buddha teaches in the Dhammapada: "Victory breeds hatred; the vanquished dwell in suffering; but the tranquil man disregarding both victory and defeat lives happily." Only when we rise above victory and defeat and all other pairs of opposites does true happiness result. Otherwise the pendulum swings from the one to the other side, without any lasting benefit.
For an altruistic life, the cultivation of virtues is absolutely essential. Whether things go right or wrong, under easy or difficult circumstances, for joyous or sorrowful occasions, divine virtues have to be built into the very fabric of our being, so that at any moment, in any circumstance, one or another of the divine Paramitas can be used. The moral nature has to be enriched and trained to lead, more than anything else, an altruistic life. This can be achieved by daily reflection upon the Paramitas, which, if practised, would transform a man into a superman. The living power of Theosophy gives a new meaning to all our daily affairs, our small, plain duties, which many look upon as drudgery. It is our attitude to our tasks that makes drudgery divine.
All have their own individual duties to perform, the so-called mundane duties, but their value is enhanced when they are performed with mind, heart and understanding, in the true spirit, with the help of the living power of Theosophy. Theosophy being godlike wisdom, or the wisdom of the gods, it alone can give us the godlike power to do deeds of charity and love, of nobility and generosity, of service and sacrifice. That power cannot be extinguished as long as there is true shraddha-faith in the heart and equanimity of mind to fulfil our duties at all times and to carry on the task of the spiritual elevation of the race through steadfast study, application and promulgation of the immortal, eternal ideas of Theosophy. The mind has to be given another bent, in the upward direction, towards its owner, the human soul, which should ever be under the guidance of its divine parent, Atma-Buddhi. Buddhi and higher Manas have to be in close proximity. This is well explained by Madame Blavatsky in The Key to Theosophy:
The whole responsibility lies with Manas to take steps deliberately in the direction of Buddhi, and be guided by the living power of Theosophy. We must always remember not to break or damage the motion of the human soul tending towards Buddhi; nor must we arrest its progress by clogging it with a heavier weight of material attractions and temptations, but must lead the life necessary so that the living power of Theosophy may shine through it and spread its beneficence everywhere. Heroic deeds of valour and glory seldom come our way, but humble deeds are ours always and it is through them that we can cross the ocean of sansara and reach the other shore where peace and joy abide.