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A Textbook of Theosophy by C W Leadbeater


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This life of the ego in his own world, which is so glorious and so fully satisfying for the developed man, plays but a very small part in the life of the ordinary person, for in his case the ego has not yet reached a sufficient stage of development to be awake in his causal body. In obedience to the law of Nature he has withdrawn into it, but in doing so he has lost the sensation of vivid life, and his restless desire to feel this once more pushes him in the direction of another descent into matter.

This is the scheme of evolution appointed for man at the present stage--that he shall develop by descending into grosser matter, and then ascend to carry back into himself the result of the experiences so obtained. His real life, therefore, covers millions of years, and what we are in the habit of calling a life is only one day of this greater existence. Indeed, it is in reality only a small part of one day; for a life of seventy years in the physical world is often succeeded by a period of twenty times that length spent in higher spheres.

Every one of us has a long line of these physical lives behind him, and the ordinary man has a fairly long line still in front of him. Each of such lives is a day at school. The ego puts upon himself his garment of flesh and goes forth into the school of the physical world to learn certain lessons. He learns them, or does not learn them, or partially learns them, as the case may be, during his schoolday of earth-life; then he lays aside the vesture of the flesh and returns home to his own level for rest and refreshment. In the morning of each new life he takes up again his lesson at the point where he left it the night before. Some lessons he may be able to learn in one day, while others may take him many days.

If he is an apt pupil and learns quickly what is needed, if he obtains an intelligent grasp of the rules of the school, and takes the trouble to adapt his conduct to them, his school-life is comparatively short, and when it is over he goes forth fully equipped into the real life of the higher worlds for which all this is only a preparation. Other egos are duller boys who do not learn so quickly; some of them do not understand the rules of the school, and through that ignorance are constantly breaking them; others are wayward, and even when they see the rules they cannot at once bring themselves to act in harmony with them. All of these have a longer school-life, and by their own actions they delay their entry upon the real life of the higher worlds.

For this is a school in which no pupil ever fails; every one must go on to the end. He has no choice as to that; but the length of time which he will take in qualifying himself for the higher examinations is left entirely to his own discretion. The wise pupil, seeing that school-life is not a thing in itself, but only a preparation for a more glorious and far wider life, endeavours to comprehend as fully as possible the rules of his school, and shapes his life in accordance with them as closely as he can, so that no time may be lost in the learning of whatever lessons are necessary. He co-operates intelligently with the Teachers, and sets himself to do the maximum of work which is possible for him, in order that as soon as he can he may come of age and enter into his kingdom as a glorified ego.