The Secret of Regeneration

Reproduced from "The Theosophist" September 1994 issue

Physical science speaks of the principle of entropy which states that everything in the universe is running down steadily toward thermodynamic equilibrium or death and extinction. Further, this running down involves a loss of energy and that it is irreversible. Is there no way out of this grim predicament? Furtunately, there is. A brilliant scientist, still with us, Ilya Prigogine of Belgium, a Nobel laureate, gives in his book Order out of Chaos a ray of hope and cheer. Alvin Toffler in his lucid Foreword to it says:

One of the key controversies surrounding this concept has to do with Prigogine's insistence that order and organization can actually arise 'spontaneously' out of disorder and chaos through the process of 'self-organization'.
Thus the reversal of the flow of energy is possible--only in a self-organizing system and not in a mechanistic system.

A self-organizing system is one that is living. A machine cannot get back the energy-loss by itself. Fresh energy has to be given from outside. Left to itself it will become dead. It is only in a living organism that self-organization holds. A wound in a living body can and does heal itself, unlike a machine which needs outside help to restart its operations. A living system is open, not closed. There is a free exchange between itself and the environment, flexibility and no rigidity as in a machine. A living system may and does bend when required--but it soon recovers its original state. It is vulnerable, but it needs no protection from outside. In fact, a living system is extremely fragile--it looks as if it will break, but does not, due to its inherent strength. Life protects it. Thus a living system gets back its lost energy. In fact, it is the living system that contains the secret of regeneration.

J. Krishnamurti says: 'Society is always static, only in the individual can there be a radical revolution.' All organizations--social, philanthropic, idealistic--after a lapse of time lose their initial vitality, and languish. Their members lose interest and enthusiasm. They may whip up a short-lived enthusiasm by reminding themselves of their vows and obligations, their moral responsibility and so on. But these efforts are like flogging a dead horse. Organizations and societies are basically static. Regeneration critically turns on the individual member.

H.P. Blavatsky in The Key to Theosophy says:

Every such effort as the Theosophical Society has hitherto ended in failure because sooner or later it has degenerated into a sect, set up hard and fast dogmas of its own, and so lost by imperceptible degrees that vitality which living truth alone can impart.
Here HPB speaks of the entropy afflicting an organization and how only living truth can reimpart vitality to it.

Living truth is not conceptual or ideational, nor is it belief or convinction, nor even an ideal. All these are products of the mind. A living truth is a direct perception of truth. That which regenerates is not a theory nor a hypothesis. All these at best are just maps, of course, exact and detailed--but then a map is not the territory. But very often the members of degenerate organizations tend to be content with maps. But this is nothing by the side of a direct glimpse of even a little of the territory. For that fills the onlooker with zest and vitality.

In the vast theosophical literature, there are innumerable maps, detailing planes and bodies other than the physical, life after death, the levels and grades of the Path, the occult hierarchy and its functions, the Initiations, the races and rounds and many other subjects. These maps are just informative and no substitute for direct perception.

Whence comes this direct perception? The perceptive instrument we possess--our only instrument at that, is the mind. It is inherently defective. It is a faculty of consciousness which sees things and events successively and not all at once. It has no perception of the WHOLE. It sees only in fragments--it may add up the fragments--but then such adding may enable one to arrive at the total, but then that total is not the whole. HPB says in The Voice of the Silence that the mind is the slayer of the Real. The mind forever looks through a veil, through a glass darkly. The gathering of information is all it can do. It can enable us to study maps but cannot see the territory. It sees only its own projections, the shadows. It mistakes the rope for a snake. The snake has no intrinsic existence, being only a projection of the mind. Physicists also admit that they chase only the shadows--their shadows may change--nevertheless they do not know what the substance is--they are playing about with shadows like Plato's cavemen.

The Voice of the Silence says: 'The mind gathers dust while it reflects.' Reflection is mind's normal function. The discharge of that function stands primarily vitiated. By no effort of the mind, however enlightened, can one come to the direct perception of things. The mind's perception is always vitiated by the 'perceiver-perceived' duality, J. Krishnamurti defined right perception as the one where there is neither the perceiver nor the perceived. Now the perceived has no existence by itself--it is the product of the perceiver. Patanjali in his Yoga aphorisms says that it is the obserser-observed phenomenon that is the cause of man's suffering. Modern physics too is concerned with the perceiver's intrusion into every act of perception. And surely the perceiver is the mind. In its very functioning the problem of duality inheres. And where duality is, right perception cannot be. Right perception demands non-duality. The non-dual perception is the very core of mysticism. The entire upanishadic teachings are based on the non-dual experience.

Referring to the fragments chosen from the 'Book of the Golden Precepts' for The Voice of the Silence, HPB herself says in the Preface: 'It has been thought better to make a judicious selection only from treatises which will best suit the few real mystics in the Theosophical Society, and which are sure to answer their needs.' Evidently HPB gave her last gift to the world, The Voice of the Silence only to benefit the few individuals, the real mystics in the Theosophical Society. Surely along the way of mysticism the secret of regeneration lies--not along the path of sensorial knowledge nor along the path of occultism. Neither the visible nor the invisible contain the mystery of regeneration--it is the Intangible that holds the secret.

There are all sorts of notions about mysticism. Some identify it with devotion, others with vague emotionalism. In fact, it is unveiled perception. It is that perception about which HPB speaks in The Voice of the Silence: 'A right perception of existing things, the knowledge of the non-existent.' Surely the non-existent or the unmanifest is the WHOLE and that which is manifest is partial. The unmanifest cannot be seen either with the visible or with the invisible powers of perception. Its intimations can be experienced. To feel its intimations is to have the experience of the WHOLE. It is of this that William Blake wrote 'To see a world in a grain of sand, and eternity in an hour,' which is not the product of wild fancy or heated imagination but issues from actual experience--but outside mind's ken. Brother C. Jinarajadasa says (The Nature of Mysticism) that the mystics are those 'who see man's resurrection in the midst of his crucifixion'.

Mind, needing Time as the field of its operation can only view two things in succession but not together. It knows not the coexistence of opposites. And so it regards a paradox as meaningless. How can, it wonders, resurrection and crucifixion coexist? But life functions in paradox, so says modern physics and mysticism agrees--eastern or western. Mind cannot solve a paradox, try as much as it likes. This is the basis of Zen Buddhism as of Sufism. This is the language of the Upanishads. J. Krishnamurti's approach is replete with paradoxes; for example, he very often used to speak of 'neither acceptance nor rejection'.

HPB says in The Key to Theosophy: 'Towards the close of each century, you will invariably find that an outpouring or upheaval of spirituality--or call it mysticism, if you prefer--has taken place.' We are near the end of the twentieth century. Who knows if such spiritual or mystical outpouring has taken place? But who will know, who will sense it? Not an organization nor any institution, but only an individual or a few individuals. The regeneration we are speaking of is not in the nature of a mere variation but a mutation--a psycho-spiritual mutation. Only the individuals afire with living truth can sense the advent of such an impulse. And from them the flame will spread far and wide to the organizations and movements they form part of Biologists aver that mutations are never general but isolated and individual. What holds biologically holds psychospiritually as well, in fact, even more. In our times, J. Krishnamurti has time and again spoken of such mutations.

On this subject, the French scientist, Lecomte du Nouy (Human Destiny) says:

If we apply the laws of chance to the game of heads and tails, for instance, we know that if we toss our coin often enough, we must ultimately obtain an equal number of heads and tails. However this is only true if chance alone determines the throw--and not if the coin is lopsided, if there is dissymmetry which would favor either heads or tails.
However life is indeed dissymmetrical--in fact it is symmetry in the midst of dissymmetry. And so it is not the quantity but the quality that will determine the result. What will have to be the quality of the individual who will constitute the focus of regeneration?

Du Nouy answers:

It is not the being best adapted to his environment who contributes to evolution. He survives, but his better adaptation eliminates him from the ascendant progression, and contributes to the number of more or less stagnant species that people the earth.
Psychospiritual mutations can take place only through individuals afire with constructive discontent, and not those who are well adapted to the prevalent environment. It must be a constructive discontent and not impotent dissatisfaction. Only men and women seething with constructive discontent will form the creative minority heralding a new way or dispensation. Only they will be aware of the new spiritual mystical impulse HPB had spoken of. Only they will be able to respond to the mystical call given by Light on the Path:
Hold fast to that which has neither substance nor existence. Listen only to the voice which is soundless. Listen only to that which is invisible alike to the inner and the outer sense.
These statements speak of neither the visible nor the invisible--they speak of the Intangible, that which is invisible both to the outer as well as the inner sense. While the senses understand the language of the visible, while the mind can understand the language of the invisible--it is mysticism alone that understands and speaks the language of the Intangible. Where the mind is not, there the Intangible is. Indeed, in the silence of the mind, the voice of the Intangible can be heard. Light on the Path says: 'Look for the flower to bloom in the silence that follows the storm.' It must follow the storm--the storm of constructive discontent--not before that. And the blooming of the flower is indeed the birth of regeneration. This is the moment of Inspiration.

The moment of inspiration is just a moment--not the moment by the clock nor by chronology but the moment of psychological time. It is time-less. Aurobindo Ghosh says 'The moment sees, the ages toil to express.' The right perception is in the moment, and the time process tolls to express what the moment has seen. But so long as the mind's ceaseless chatter continues there is no perception of what is. The ending of the storm demands the awareness of mind's limitations. Awareness and not mere intellectual recognition.

The awareness of mind's limitation marks the revolutionary moment. To actually know how far the mind can go, and where it must halt--in this awareness a deep silence descends--and in that silence the flower of regeneration blooms. It is in the ground of constructive discontent that the seeds of regeneration are sown. While the storm of discontent lasts, branches and leaves may appear but 'not til the whole personality of the man is dissolved...can the bloom open'.

The personality is the product of the mind, and so with the dissolution of the mind, the personality too is dissolved. Such dissolution is the moment of silence. It may last long or end immediately. Time is not the measure. As Light on the Path says: 'The silence may last a moment, or it may last a thousand years. But it will end. Yet you will carry its strength with you.' And it is this strength which will be the regenerative power. It indeed is the strength of inspiration.

Let the members of various organizations seek regeneration in the silence that follows the storm of constructive discontent. Let the creative minority grow. They shall feel the bracing air of the non-dual perception, the glow of the intangible, where the Unknown works--the miracle of regeneration.

Rohit Mehta

Mr. Rohit Mehta is a long-standing member of the Indian Section.

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