The Path and the Goal of Man



Ladies and Gentlemen,


it is my great pleasure to welcome you again! Today we shall be talking about the path and the goal of man, thus closing the first part of our Series "Introduction to Agni Yoga".


The following Series will deal with “The 10 Pillars of the Practice of Agni Yoga”.



1. The Goal: New Step of Evolution


The goal of man can be summed up in one sentence: To erect a new step of evolution.


This goal has two aspects, an inner one and an outer one: To create out of ourselves the New Man and out of the surrounding circumstances the New World.


Through the spirit of immortality we renew ourselves and the world.



2. The New Man


To achieve this lofty goal, each of us has to start with himself.


The success of perfection begins with self-perfection. (AUM 211) 


The major goal of Agni Yoga is to bring forth the New Man, who is closer to the image of God than today’s human beings. His most important trait is his immortality. On this basis he will develop qualities such as fearlessness, freedom, joy of being and selflessness.


A new construction is only possible with new people. Only to the extent to which we renew ourselves we will be able to renew the world.


A new banner requires new people. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden I, 375[440])


History teaches: Even the best system (for example communism) does not lead to progress if it continues to be dominated by the old, selfish human beings.


One of the most beautiful and important paragraphs of Agni Yoga says:


Spiritual ascent is the only way to individual attainment and to attainment of the Common Good. (FW III, 247)


This means: The transformation of an individual into an immortal, spiritual being serves not only his own personal progress, but is at the same time a service to the common good - namely the only way to advance human society as a whole.


In our Series "Experiment Immortality" you see more about how the New, immortal Man looks like and how you can transform yourself into him.



3. The New World


The New Man creates the New World. He produces a higher culture, a lifestyle compatible with his immortality. A society in which there is no greed, violence, hatred, destruction, war and selfishness, no poverty and no unemployment.


The more New Men there are, the more the affairs of the world will turn for the better. If more and more people live as immortals; if they serve fearlessly, entirely free, joyfully and above all selflessly the common good - then automatically the social conditions will change fundamentally.


How the New World looks like in detail and how we can build it, we shall discuss in later Broadcastings.



4. The Spiritual Path


The path that leads to the goal "next higher step of evolution", we call the spiritual path. It has, as the goal itself, an inner and an outer aspect:


In order to create the New Man, we need to establish the rule of the spirit over ourselves: We have to enforce the concerns of our higher self, of our eternal, spiritual individuality against those of our animal, transitory, material nature.


In order to build the New World, we need to establish the rule of the spirit over the world: The principles of the spiritual world (truth, beauty, justice, love) have to prevail in the human society against the resistance of ignorance, materialism and inertia.


The Teaching of how to walk upon Earth is revealed to those who consider heaven to be alive. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden II, 107[Part Two II 11])


He who steps on this track, opens up an endless field of work: Both in ourselves and in our surroundings there is at each new day so much to uplift and spiritualize that our time and energy are not sufficient to realize even a fraction of that which is urgently needed.



5. Guidepost


It is of paramount importance that you realize: Like all religions and any higher wisdom, Agni Yoga does not teach abstract dogmas, but shows a path.


It is disgraceful when someone is aimlessly vegetating and thrown here and there by the circumstances. The dignity of man requires that he goes his path unswervingly, proceeds step by step and pursues his goal with all his might.


We greatly appreciate the ability, whether in success or in failure, to steadily strive toward the chosen goal. But first one must have a goal and realize that outside of it there can be no advance. From such an attitude comes the possibility of great achievement. (Supermundane 174)


May the seeker not only ask, "What should I know?", but above all: "What shall I do? Which path am I to tread? "At all times, the decisive question for the spiritually minded man is the one concerning the dao, the right path.


To go the right way is an end in itself. This walk carries its meaning within itself. If you are staying on the spiritual path, you are approaching your goal automatically and do not even have to pay any particular attention to it.



6. Do not proselytize


Agni Yoga will not talk over anyone and will not proselytize. It can only show the path – the walking you have to do yourselves.


The Teaching may open the door, but one can enter only by oneself. (Community 30)


One cannot make Agni Yogis, one can only open the path for them. (Agni Yoga 457)


Agni Yoga rejects any compulsion, both physical and mental. The freedom of will must not be violated under any circumstances.


There is no worse occupation than forcible imposition of one's creed. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden II, 330 [334; Part Three V 13])



7. The Path of the Soul


The old man orientates his path and goals along the limits of just one single earthly life. The soul has a much broader perspective: Its path goes through countless planes of existence, through the most diverse material and non-material worlds, existences and incarnations.


The New, immortal Man, therefore, has to choose a path he can walk in the upper world and down on earth, again in the upper world and on earth again, over many existences, regardless of the external circumstances.


That can only be an inner, a spiritual path; a path that nourishes, maintains, cleans, heals, trains, strengthens and lets grow larger that which is not lost, but is retained beyond all changes of existence: Namely the eternal within us, our true self, our immortal soul.


You understand that without the broadening of the heavenly ways the existence becomes vain. (Community 29)


You see: The above remarks on the new step of evolution being the goal of man are not just grey theory: Your very soul directs you to the path of spiritual growth, of unlimited ascent, of the realization of the divine within you.


Proceed irrevocably from the lower sphere to the far-off worlds. Strive unalterably toward the ascent into Infinity. (Infinity I, 57)  


The pursuit of the perfection of oneself and of the surrounding circumstances can be realized beyond death in all spaces and all times. Its goals, the New Man and the New World, are impossible to reach in only one single earthly life.


It is impossible to be a dwarf today and a giant tomorrow. (Supermundane 712) 


We can rise only gradually. It is sufficient if you get closer to the target a little bit each day. If you use every day, there are thousands of steps in front of you, so that you can end up quite high in the course of time.


Each step of the ladder of the spirit must be traversed. How majestic is the Ladder to the Fiery World, which has in a year three hundred sixty six steps by day and three hundred sixty six by night! Every step is distinct from every other, and let each one be better than the preceding one. (Fiery World II, 280) 



8. Necessity of the Spiritual Path


The decline of our time is due the fact that people have lost in recent centuries, with the loss of the higher connection, the consciousness of the infinite spiritual path and of the necessity of our ascent to higher, more enlightened levels.


Losing their perception of the great worlds, people have wandered from the understanding of perfection. (Agni Yoga 245) 


One frigthened people with hell, and at the same time they were not told about the meaning of perfectment. (Supermundane 44) 


Indeed, for him who denies everything that is higher than he himself, there is no reason to raise himself or the circumstances.


If you do not admit the existence of the best and the most luminous, then there is no need to safeguard and perfect your own Monad. (Hierarchy 212)


The teaching of the churches of redemption and grace has made us forget that we are living on earth in order to bring us closer to perfection: Closer to the image of God within ourselves and to the heavenly conditions that prevail in our true home, the supermundane world of the soul.


For the earthly sojourn, the only suitable conception is that of the path. (Fiery World II, 347)


If everything is in motion, if evolution progresses, than man, too, must move forward if he does not wish to fall behind.


Due to the motion of Cosmos, it is impossible to remain immobile. There is either backward or forward movement. (Community 127)


The earthly world is like an impasse - either ascent or destruction. (Fiery World I, 157) 



9. Only one Path


Contrary to what is pretended by the different sects and religions fighting each other, there is only one path of ascent. This path, however, as in the mountains, is easier to recognize for the one who has come already higher up, than for the pilgrim who still stands at the foot of the mountain.


When walking the mountain paths, one can go neither left nor right, but only straight ahead. One can neither jump into the abyss nor climb up a steep cliff. The path is one, and its destination is seen from above. (Heart 521)


We should seek no other path than the one that the great teachers have pointed out at all times, and on which they are walking ahead of us.


Man is ever trying to climb up to God some other way than by the way God has ordained, and he will not accept that way until disappointment and despair have driven him back to his starting point. (Teachings of the Temple, Vol. I, Lesson 231 “The Unknowable”)


All those who stand higher than we have walked this path. There is no other option for us than to follow them.


Every single one of us must climb the same rugged path that the Masters have trod in loneliness, poverty and struggle, if we ever reach the heights on which they stand. (Teachings of the Temple, Vol II, Lesson “The Gulf between”)



10. Religion irrelevant


Your religion or denomination is of no importance for the spiritual path. Every path of spirituality leads to the heights. The divine spark burns in every human being – so there are countless individual ways of expressing it on earth.


We shall meet the approaching ones on all paths leading to the Higher World. (AUM 54)


All religions contain higher instructions as to how the spiritual path is to be tread. The faithful only need to start walking. If they practice their faith, they will find that their ways hardly differ from each other. Upon progressing, differences and apparent contradictions between the religions are dwindling: Just as in the case of the pyramid, all higher ways run towards the same end.


We shall salute those who consider only Christ as their Teacher, in the same manner that we shall salute the followers of Lao Tze, Confucius, Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, and Maitreya. But we shall ask them to truly study the Teaching of Jesus Christ and to practice it in life. Then there will be no place for discord, for, verily, all great Covenants come from One Source. (Helena Roerich, Letters Vol. II, Letter of 31.07.1937) 


Dogmas divide, but living faith connects. Compare the everyday religious practice of "pagans" like Pythagoras or Plato, of Christians like St. Benedict or St. Hildegard von Bingen with the practice of a Hindu like Gandhi: You will hardly be able to find any relevant differences.



11. The Spiritual Path as the only Way out


The ascent upwards is the only way out of the misery of the time. Where else could you turn to?


Those who search for Truth can find the significance of Be-ness only in the path of ascent toward Hierarchy, otherwise life remains a vicious circle, and for millenniums the spirit will not find its liberation. (Hierarchy 420)


We can cope with the oppressive burden of the earthly sphere only by striving to the Supermundane World.


Having searched all corners of the planet we shall find the sole path upward. (Hierarchy 153) 



12. Spiritual Path regardless of the Circumstances


The outer circumstances of our lives are coincidental and variable, they differ for each of us and are not safely to control. Read again the biblical story of Job: It teaches us:


A person may, for reasons that do not lie with him and which he cannot even recognize, be toppled into disaster from one day to the other - and yet he has to hold on to his path.


The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord! (Job 1, 21)  


It is the very purpose of the cosmic order that the spirit learns and practices to assert and to unfold itself in all earthly circumstances. An incarnation under particularly unfavourable conditions may have only one aim: To test your loyalty and to steel your strength. We had already said in the Broadcasting about the Law of Correspondence: The very circumstances are shaping themselves precisely in such a way that you can learn what you are still lacking.


We must test ourselves in the most diverse circumstances; in this is contained the secret of the variety of incarnations. (Brotherhood 218) 


Only he becomes a Master who passes successfully through all the worlds, levels, dimensions, times and forms of existence, who adapts to all conceivable conditions of life and who finds his way everywhere.


Traveling that Path means to contact consciously every point, line, surface and dimension on all the planes of being from the lowest material to the highest spiritual. (Teachings of the Temple, Vol. II, Lesson “The Geometry of the Soul”) 


A high initiate such as Plato understood that he, though one of the greatest philosophers of all times, could even in slavery learn something and continue his ascent.


The Thinker, even when He was sold into slavery, said, “This is splendid proof of the diversity of the human path.” (Supermundane 527) 


It is of paramount importance that you realize: The spiritual path as an inner way can and must be followed regardless of the external circumstances. The ascent can only be achieved starting from the existing, given life situation. All great Masters have risen amidst of a people from the rough earthly conditions.


Each Mahatma began his ascent from the very midst of the people, having only dared to choose the difficult path of the Great Soul. (Hierarchy 304)


No one can choose the conditions of his life. They are assigned to us from higher up not without reason.


Consider that one may transform the most pitiful existence into one radiant with cosmic fires. (Infinity I, 36) 


Anyone can at any time in any life situation tread the path of the soul, as taught by Agni Yoga. The way to the heights is open always and everywhere. We describe a practice that can be exercised by Western man as well, in the midst of materialistic surroundings.


It is essential that the art of thinking again rise above the external conditions, which are subordinate factors of existence. (Brotherhood 510) 


You have to understand the circumstances into which you were put as opportunities to advance your ascent.


All conditions in life offer possibilities for creative acting. (Supermundane 881)


The pilgrim takes the difficulties on the way as they come. He is progressing relentlessly towards his goal. Whether he can improve the situation, he does not know. That depends not only on him. But he can always continue to spiritualize himself and his own life!


It is imperative that this process of becoming a warrior of the faith be accomplished consciously, outside of fortuitous external conditions. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden II, 319 [323; Part Three V 2])


The decision to embark on the spiritual path, and the mental attitude resulting therefrom, have to prevail over the adverse material conditions. Overcoming matter by the spirit is precisely the purpose of the warrior of the spirit. Our decision would be worth nothing if external circumstances could dissuade us from it.


Walk light of heart, rejoice, follow the higher path! (Leaves of Morya’s Garden I, 43 [46])


We must not turn out to be weaker than the conditions into which we were set. A king of the spirit forces the circumstances by the power of his spirit to submit to him.


If you are unfit to pass your first probation and assert your rights of a future Adept by forcing circumstances to bow before you – you are as totally unfit for any further trials. (C. Jinarajadasa, Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, 2nd Series, 69) 



13. Circumstances no Excuse


Let no one imagine that he could take the path of the soul only when first certain external conditions are satisfied: Such as financial independence, the children becoming of age, the consent of the spouse, moving out of the city into nature, or other things more:


On your mission point out that neither the cares of the house nor want have kept you from the path to Us. They will make excuses to you that poverty and children impede their way. But children are flowers of the earth and poverty is the gift of purification. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden I, 154 [172]) 


The connection with the opposite sex, the raising of children and the earning of a livelihood by one’s own work are necessities of the human nature. No one in a material world can exist without work. These needs cannot and must not hinder a spiritual life.


Some are disturbed by the family, some by a distasteful occupation, some by poverty, some by attacks of enemies. Every impediment must be made the birth of a possibility. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden II, 349 [353; Part Three VI 12])


To supply your fellow human beings with what they need to live - for example, physically with food, clothing, shelter and health, or spiritually with truth, justice and beauty: This is unworthy neither of a student nor of a teacher. What happens to be inevitable in a material world, cannot preclude the spiritual path.


Do not be unhappy because of the necessity for spending so much time earning your living. We must all earn our bread. Indeed, all should be accomplished without retiring from life and by earthly hands and feet. Therein lies great beauty. All the giants of thought created amidst most trying circumstances. All earthly burdens are necessary for the growth of the spirit. In time, new conditions will come into existence and the tasks will become broader. Possibly there will no longer be worries about earning a living, but there will be new problems, far more complicated and difficult. (Helena Roerich, letter of 24.09.1935) 


The alleged obstacles which some plead as an excuse, are all illusion: Either an obligation or burden is part of your destiny (Karma) - then coping with it is indeed an essential part of your spiritual path. Or it is a trifling triviality - then you need to repel it unhesitatingly if you are serious about a higher life. So you see: The solution lies within yourself!


Some will say to you, "We are prepared to understand the Fundamentals of Brotherhood. We are ready to build up cooperation, but we are surrounded by such intolerable conditions that it is impossible to manifest greater readiness." Can there really be conditions that do not permit putting into practice that for which the heart is ready? (Brotherhood 582)


Wherever you stand, you have to hold up the banner of the spirit! Amidst the overwhelming hustle and bustle of a big city, suffocated by the concern for the livelihood, despite countless obligations, exhausted by work and family, by the requirements and distractions of everyday life. The Mahatmas have to take care of the welfare of the world – so our burden is certainly less weighty.


The city dweller may be oppressed by the bustle of his surroundings, and be unable to think about a harmonious life. Even a refined philosopher can be crushed by the cares of supporting himself. Thus the fundamental law of harmony is forgotten. People do not understand that the way to harmony is in the art of thinking. Deep contemplation is needed for the realization of harmony. (Supermundane 341)


Spiritual progress can be achieved always and everywhere.


One may learn everywhere and always. (Brotherhood 41) 


In the course of the day each one can apply something from the Teaching. (Brotherhood 222) 


We must not seek excuse for disregarding the spiritual laws in the external circumstances.


People are attempting to justify themselves by the complexity of life. (Brotherhood 330) 


For a real spiritual fighter, there is no unusable condition - he makes use of every situation in order to continue to rise. Life is to him, as the material for an artist, a substance to be trained and formed in order to create something higher therefrom.


Poor is the master craftsman who does not make use of all the riches of nature. For the skillful carver, a bent tree is a precious treasure. Only an impoverished imagination is satisfied with the limits set by others. (Fiery World I, 472)


In an attempt to be wily people frequently say that many conditions prevent them from creating good. Whereas in each and every condition man can create good. This is the privilege of the human state. (Brotherhood 281)


You should recognize: Exactly the hostile circumstances of our times offer the best opportunities to rise! The more difficult the situation is, the greater will be your achievement!


Your karma has brought you into the thick of the fight of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and has given you opportunities for advancement spiritually, mentally and physically, far beyond those given to any other race. Not a day passes over your heads which does not bring to you tests and opportunities, which, if taken advantage of, may place you far on the path leading to Adeptship. (Teachings of the Temple, Vol I, Lesson 14 “Dangers of the Astral Plane”)



14. Expect no Improvement of the Circumstances


The realist takes the world as it is. We should not complain about the sphere in which we are exiled: The next level of our everlasting path might prove to be still more difficult! One must not hope for an improvement in the external circumstances. That would be a serious self-delusion: Things might yet get worse!


He who hopes for better conditions, makes his development dependent upon things which he cannot control. What fate has in store for you tomorrow, you do not know. If the expected improvement does not come true – do you then want to allow yourself to be diverted from the spiritual path?


People hope that that which is most difficult will pass, and beyond it will begin blissful Amrita. What will they think if they are told that after the difficult comes the still more difficult? Perhaps people will attempt to leap away from the human path? But whither can they depart? (Brotherhood 304)


It is wiser to assume that the difficulties will grow when you move forward on the path: The further you advance, the more furious will be the attempts of the dark forces to throw you off the track.


They knew that with their gradual ascent the ferocity of the attacks would increase. (Supermundane 562)


Mankind has only just left behind itself the lowest point of the cycle of evolution. Therefore, there will continue to prevail on earth for quite a long time adverse, almost unbearable conditions for the spirit. This must not prevent us from laying the first foundations for the resurgence. But it should remove any illusion as to a rapid improvement in the external circumstances.


We do not work for us. We are working for the future, for our children and grandchildren!



15. Determine yourself your Progress


The immense advantage of the inner path is: Because the external circumstances are irrelevant, it depends solely on you yourself whether you move forward. No one and nothing, no outside conditions and no other person can stop your progress.


The yogi's liberation: Nothing hinders his progress. (Agni Yoga 259) 


On the material level, many fail with their dreams, because the circumstances do not allow their realization. Such a mishap cannot befall the warrior of the spirit. He can only fail through himself: By being unfaithful, by being overwhelmed by the circumstances, or by deviating from the path. If you do not leave the path of the soul, your ascent is guaranteed.


Do not be displeased except with yourself. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden II, 292 [296; Part Three III 5)


What do you dream of? On the spiritual path, you alone determine whether you reach your goal.


When joy keeps its glow even under the most difficult circumstances, the Agni Yogi is filled with unbreakable power. There, beyond the most difficult ascent, the Fiery World begins. A Yogi knows that nothing can stop him from attaining the Fiery World. (Fiery World I, 561) 



How do the first steps on the path of the soul look like practically? This we shall discuss in the following Series, entitled "The 10 Pillars of the Practice of Agni Yoga".





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