Rosicrucian Writings Online
The Hour of Trial
By Raymund Andrea, F.R.C.
Grand Master of AMORC of
[From The Rosicrucian Digest November 1945]
AS MIGHT be expected, there have been many conflicting views put forth of late by students of philosophy and religion, relative to their attitude toward individual evolution in the face of world events. A prevailing one I would state concisely as follows: Many of us had worked for the best part of a lifetime toward an ideal of unity, when suddenly with the advent of World War II everything around us went to pieces. It mattered little to what particular school, cult, or society we belonged; all that these had stood for, all that they had done in the name of that ideal, was apparently swallowed up and lost in the tide of a threatened domination of materialism and the common struggle to arrest and overcome it. Never before had men so deeply questioned the cause and meaning of man's undoing in the face of the good he had striven to do. Strong and good men became silent before the catastrophe of the nations; for try as they would, they could ill-reconcile the obviously irreconcilable factors of the good being trampled upon by the evil. Even the sacred scriptures of the world seemed to have forsaken them. The golden precepts of saints and mystics somehow had not stood the test. The leaders of higher thought and culture have never been so severely interrogated by perplexed and harrowed souls seeking some ray of light, some word of stability, upon which to rest their crumbling faith. The philosophies of the schools were questioned, but no living word came forth to satisfy. The mysticism of the cloister and the highroad of occultism were alike regarded askance, and the voice of the church had lost its note of reality in the ears of the afflicted and desolate. Indeed, it became evident that a large number who hitherto had but a nebulous faith in a good providence, had lost it.
Now, there is no doubt that this attitude of mind has prevailed among us, and we cannot deny that there has been a reason for it. But does not such a pace of evolution as the present furnish precisely the cardinal test of the intrinsic value of our accumulated knowledge and of our particular belief? Is it not the aim of philosophy to initiate us into the meaning of human existence, its purpose and destiny? to initiate us into the meaning of religion, to imbue us with unswerving faith in a divine government? of mysticism, to impregnate our consciousness with the continuing presence and leadership of the Christ Spirit? of occultism, to establish our whole activity upon the unfailing working and direction of Cosmic laws?
Does any one of these paths of inner experience promise an easy ascent to its luminous summit devoid of questioning, doubt, and many a dark night of the soul? Do they not all hint at or plainly warn us of pitfalls and difficulties for the bravest traveller? Are not the conditions of ascent apt to be overlooked when the eyes are constantly fixed upon the goal, and the hours run smoothly? The very fact that there have been long intervals of relatively peaceful progress during which nothing sensational or antagonistic had intervened to interrupt the placid measure of contemplative thought or to unsettle the circumstances of daily living, is liable to unfit for trial those who rest too securely in these intervals of quietude and absence of tension--those who know little of assault from outward circumstances or from the crises of thought self-induced by the aspiring soul, through which alone the basis of character and action are tested and brought to larger estate. But when these points of crisis come, as come they must, from without and within, if any real fullness of life is to be attained, then is our philosophy, religious faith, mystical assurance, trust in the Cosmic laws, or whatever of the soul's dedication wherein we have placed complete confidence, brought suddenly to the bar of trial and called upon to face one more of the many minor initiations which stand waiting along the whole path of the aspirant to higher knowledge and insight.
The Decrees of Wisdom
However, there is abundant evidence that those who have a real faith in an overruling wisdom and justice, no matter to what doctrine they claim allegiance, still believe, against all appearances, in the decrees of that wisdom and justice. The reason for this is not far to seek. Their faith is based upon fundamental truths of the inner life as known and demonstrated in the lives of inspired and lofty characters through the ages. They, too, may be perplexed at times and find it not easy to reconcile the life of the world with the life of the soul, but they never will surrender what they have felt and known in the silence of communion to whatever incongruities and contradictions and tortures of mind and heart the frenzied world may cast against them. Whatever the appearances may be to the contrary, as seen today in many sections of society, for those who have long meditated the path of wisdom and devotedly followed the instructions of the Masters of life, there is no renunciation of the voice of the soul which has been their guide through the long years of upward striving.
When I consider the lives of those of great and extraordinary attainment on the mystic path, whether of former or of more modern times, I am impressed not only with the works of enlightenment and reform which came from their hands; I am no less impressed by the hard discipline and self-control which really made those works possible. There is a time in life when we are seized and enamoured by the work of an author who seems to have the immediate right of way to the mind and heart. We meet there with an instant recognition and understanding, and a lucid unfoldment of meaning of that which had been the content of our secret self through the years of aspiration and striving. It means so much to us that the problems which have shadowed our inward solitary journey, known but to ourselves, sentinels of challenge which we neither could dismiss nor answer and which accompanied us in silence even to the promising threshold of each new day, should be magically brought into the light of a rightful perspective and the menace of their presence be dissipated forever. We forget that those same problems were also the author's; we forget that they had to be met and challenged by him on the lonely battleground of heart, mind and soul, or they would never have been known for what they were, nor the technique of adjustment formulated which now sheds its light upon our own experience. But later, it may be, we look to the man himself and come to realize that he was what he was and did what he did through accepting the challenge of thought and circumstance and never deviating from the line of approach to the goal he had in view.
If there are some who feel tempted or constrained by adverse opinion, or the pressure of circumstance, to relax the tensity of effort and find repose in an attitude of indifference, I would remind them of the words of high philosophy: "It belongs to the wise man to direct things"--and the disciple of the Path has learned first of all to direct himself, believing that a disciplined life has its own peculiar influence in directing the tenor of circumstance. "What a master is he, therefore," triumphantly declares a Chinese scripture, "who takes hold of the Inner Life, and knows the secret of its hidden springs! In journeyings he fears no danger. In strife, he fears no weapons of war. No power can strike the Inner Life; no power can hold it; no power can penetrate." From this it is permissible to infer that there is in the aura of those who live in spirit with the Masters of life a magical influence which is stronger than armour of steel. This influence is none other than the kindling fire of the soul irradiating from the temple of the body of man. Indeed, we need not look further than the Christian scripture for a pointer and corroboration of this, although it is not elaborated and technically detailed as in other scriptures. "And the Lord whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to the temple ... for he is like a refiner's fire."
As a man ascends the path these pregnant scriptural pronouncements assume a new importance and significance and acquire the dignity of basic principles of mysticism. Not only do they reinforce and justify his early confidence in the path, but they also impress upon him the relative unimportance, the ephemerality, the imposing unreality of so much that discomposes him and threatens to imprison him within the consciousness of space and time. But if the fire of the soul, the divine afflatus, once has taken possession of the seeker and stamped its rhythm upon the personality, nothing henceforth in the illusionary world of form will have the power to hold him back.
I suggest to those who have reluctantly questioned divine governance before the shock of world events: the path of evolution is still before us; we have a place upon it and a duty to perform. If we turn away from it we but postpone the time and the opportunity. I believe that no greater opportunity is presented to man than at the time of acute crisis and trial. The path of the Great Ones has ever been thus. Every cycle of life of the advancing man is characterized by a series of rebirths of the soul into the personality. These rebirths are the crises of difficulty and readjustment resulting from a deeper and deeper fusion and blending of soul and personality. It is for us to "look for the Warrior, and let him fight in us."
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