To be able to see clearly, one must begin to confront the "escapism" of the mind — mind being the thinking-feeling entity in the individual, in oneself. Man, you and I, the isolated human unit, is being driven by instinctual appetite and habit. Like a tiny boat on the high seas, or the feeble flame of a candle in a shifting wind, the center of intelligence in oneself is being whipped and tossed about by the primordial and uncomprehended forces of the human psyche. It is not only possible but practically the rule for man to live out his life without any perception at all of what is happening to him. Like an explorer lost in an unknown land, he either survives or dies. Survival in this sense is the reward of compromise, not a forging beyond the region of storms. It is the building of a reasonably satisfactory dwelling, where, in the midst of the storm, some peace and security may for a time be enjoyed. Death, which is in store for those who are not sufficiently resourceful to build a dwelling, is insanity, neurosis, nervous breakdown, and all the many gradations of psychological ills. Hence, unless one gives much careful thought and close scrutiny to the almost ceaseless battle that is raging in one's soul, and to the nature of whatever peace one may have found, one is doomed to live in the wilderness always. One will never reach up to the region beyond the storms where dwells man, freed of all elements of conflict. To reach that region, that truly human state in which love is free of attachment, and hence of all fear, in which man moves serenely over the turbulent sea of daily living, requires the utmost care of the mind at every moment of conscious life. To shake off or wear down the elements of conflict — hate, longing, fear, self-conceit, sloth, and all the rest of the dark demons which torment man — one must see them at work and understand the nature of their functioning within the confines of one's own nature. To see without evasion and fully comprehend the arising of any of these elements in the very first moment of their appearance in the mind is like laying the axe to a sapling before it has grown into a tree. One stroke will often cut it through. The very perception and inward acknowledgment of the thing for what it is, undermines its existence; and the continual wakefulness of aroused perception acts like a prophylactic — it kills out by degrees the limiting tendencies which have already taken root, and renders the soil sterile to the growth of like limitations. Thus man goes free through his own wakefulness; those who fail to arouse themselves will always be unhappy or contented slaves.
The Theosophical ForumTHEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ONLINE