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Spiritual Evolution - Part 1

From: "14 Lessons in Yogi Philosophy & Oriental Occultism" - By Yogi Ramacharaka

The beautiful doctrine of Spiritual Evolution - that gem in the diadem of the Yogi Philosophy - is sadly misunderstood and misinterpreted, even by many who are its friends. The mass of uninformed people confuse it with the crudest ideas of the ignorant races of Asia and Africa - believe that it teaches that the souls of men descend into the bodies of the lower animals after death. And under the guise of high teachings regarding Reincarnation, many promulgate theories holding that the soul of man is bound to the wheel of human rebirth, and must live in body after body - whether it will or not - until certain great cycles are past, when the race moves on to another planet. All of these misconceptions, however, are based upon the real truth - they are the truth, but not the whole truth. It is true that the soul of a brutal, selfish, bestial man, after death, will be drawn by the force of its own desires toward rebirth in the body of some of the lower and more beast-like races of man - it has failed in its class-work, and has been sent back to a lower grade. But the soul that has once reached the stage of even primitive Manhood, never can sink back into the plane of lower animal-life. As bestial as it may be, it still has acquired something that the animal lacks, and that something it can never lose. And likewise, although the race - as a race - must wait until certain periods are reached before it may move onward, yet the individual who has risen beyond the need of immediate rebirth, is not compelled to reincarnate as a man of the present stage of development, but may wait until the race "catches up" to him, as it were, when lie may join it in its upward swing, the intervening period being spent either in the higher planes of the Astral World or in conscious temporary sojourn in other material spheres, helping in the great work of the evolution of all Life.

And, so far from the spiritually awakened Man being compelled to suffer continuous involuntary rebirths, he is not reborn except with his own consent and desire, and with a continuance of consciousness - this continuance of consciousness depending upon the spiritual attainment reached. Many who read these lines are partially conscious of their past existences in the flesh, and their attraction to this subject is due to that semi-consciousness and recognition of the truth. Others, now in the flesh, have varying degrees of consciousness, reaching, in some cases, a full recollection of their past lives. And, rest assured, dear student, that when you reach a certain stage of spiritual awakening (and you may have reached it even now) you will have left behind you unconscious rebirth, and, after you have passed out of your present body - and after a period of spiritual rest - you will not be reborn, until you are ready and willing, and you will then carry with you a continuous recollection of all that you choose to carry with you into your new life. So cease this fretting about forced rebirth, and stop worrying about your fancied loss of consciousness in future lives. Spiritual attainment is slow and arduous, but every inch gained is so much further on, and you can never slip back, nor lose the slightest part of what you've gained.

Even those who are reborn, unconsciously, as are the majority of the race, are not actually reborn against their will or desire. On the contrary, they are reborn because they desire it - because their tastes and desires create longings that only renewed life in the flesh can satisfy, and, although they are not fully conscious of it, they place themselves again within the operation of the Law of Attraction, and are swept on to a rebirth, in just the surroundings best calculated to enable them to exhaust their desires, and satisfy their longings - these desires and longings thus dying a natural death, and making way for higher ones. So long as people earnestly desire material things - the things of the flesh and the material life, and are not able to divorce themselves from such things at will - just so long will they be drawn toward rebirth that these desires may be gratified or satisfied. But when one has, by experience in many lives, learned to see things as they are, and to recognize that such things are not a part of his real nature, then the earnest desire grows less and finally dies, and that person escapes from the operation of the Law of Attraction, and need not undergo rebirth until some higher desire or aspiration is appealed to, as the evolution of the race brings new eras and peoples. It is as if one were to soar away up above the atmosphere of the earth - beyond the sphere of the earth's attraction - and would then wait until the earth revolved beneath him and he saw, far below, the spot which lie wished to visit, when all lie would have to do would be to allow himself to sink until the force of gravity exerted by the earth would draw him to the desired place.

The idea of compulsory rebirth is horrible to the mind of the average man, and rightly so, for it violates his intuitive sense of the justice and truth of this great law of Life. We are here because we wished to be - in obedience to the Law of Attraction, operating in accordance with our desires and aspiration - yes, often, longings - after our departure from our last fleshly tenement, and the period of rest which always follows a life. And we will never be anywhere else, or in any other life, unless by reason of that same law, called into effect in the same manner. It is quite true, that the period between lives gives us an opportunity to receive the higher knowledge of the Spirit more clearly than when disturbed by material things, but even with this additional aid, our desires arc often sufficiently strong to cause us to reject the gentle promptings of the Spirit, as to what is best for us (just as we do in our everyday lives) and we allow ourselves to be caught up in the current of desire, and are swept onward toward rebirth in such conditions as to allow us to manifest and express those desires and longings. Sometimes, the Spirit's voice influences us to a degree, and we are born in conditions representing a compromise between the Spirit's teaching and the grosser desires, and the result is often a life torn with conflicting desires and restless longings - but all this is a promise of better conditions in the future.

When one has developed so far as to be open to the influence of the Spiritual Mind in his physical life, lie may rest assured that his next choice of rebirth will be made with the full approval and wisdom of that higher part of his mind, and the old mistakes will be obviated.

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