T E S T S   A N D   T R I A L S
Selections from the Agni Yoga Series
(All selections copyright Agni Yoga Society)

Presented before the Agni Yoga Society, November 23, 2010
(Originally presented by Sina Fosdick, October 27, 1977)

“If in a moment of weakness
you falter on the way,
stretch out your hand,
and help will come.”
The Call, 321

     The call to action and the acceptance of responsibility rings out from the first book, The Call, and follows through all the books of the Teaching. The wings of the spirit grow as the Master repeats that it is better to make mistakes in action than remain inactive.
     As our consciousness comes closer to the essence of Agni Yoga, a question arises: How can one absorb the Ocean of Wisdom during one life? One more question may also be asked: Who said it was to be accomplished in one life? Let us picture a chain of lives that must be lived by each one of us. Testing ourselves, recognizing the tests and trials as necessary for the spirit’s growth, we crystallize our motives and thus write our own book of life. This unending process creates an inner tension so that we can work creatively on the Path of Service. The work is chosen in accordance with the awakened keenness of the spirit. “Verily, work can be accomplished by both joy and inspired thought. But one must test oneself for everything.“ Brotherhood, 17

     Further, Master advises: “Let us not take obstinacy along with us. There is no more intolerable burden than stubbornness. People do not choose a headstrong horse; they will not even take an obstinate dog on a journey… Reason and wisdom contain no restrictive stubbornness… Touchiness is not suitable for a long journey. This does not mean that We seek only supernal perfections. We merely forewarn as to what load should not be taken along. One should succeed in being fortified with joy, and in testing it in diverse circumstances... One can deprive oneself of courage and steadfastness when one begins to repeat about difficulties of fulfillment… Instead of speaking about broken courage, it would be better for people to call this condition simply faint-heartedness. Bones and muscles can be broken, but the spirit is unbreakable!” Brotherhood, 19, 20, 18

     The path of Service is an endless road, and frequently problems arise which may even demand self-renunciation. The need comes to forego petty desires, personal comfort, ambition, in order to bring help to a fellow man. There come to mind renowned personalities, great saints, spiritual toilers, who labored untiringly in self-abnegation, elevating man’s spirit toward knowledge and better destiny. They brought hope and strength to the weak and despairing ones. Yet their own lives were filled with continuous trials. Let us pause in reverence before some of these spiritual helpers of humanity.
     “Many times must you sink and struggle in water before you learn to swim. So none can enjoy at once the felicity of swimming calmly on the ocean of Divine Bliss, until he has made himself fit for it by wearisome struggle and trials.” The Sayings of Ramakrishna, 4th edition, 460

     “There is no doubt that in every temptation we are given a power of bearing it, if only we use to the full the power thus granted. For to have the power to conquer is not the same thing as to conquer, as the apostle pointed out in carefully chosen language, when he said that ‘God will give a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it,’ not, that you may bear it. (1 Corinthians. X, 13) Many do not bear it, but are conquered by temptation. But what God gives us is not the certainty that we shall bear it, in which case there would appear to be no struggle at all, but the possibility that we may be able to bear it.” Origen, On First Principles, p. 216

     “Without renunciation of all worldly aims, what gain is it to meditate on the Chosen Teachings? … Unless all partiality, all likes and dislikes, be abandoned, what gain is it to offer worship?” W.Y.Evans-Wentz, Tibet’s Greatest Yogi, Milarepa, p.263

     St. Sergius taught: “And he who is silent before a manifested miracle shall pay penalty with his sight. And he who forbears to aid his brother shall not draw the thorn from his foot.” Helena Roerich, On Eastern Crossroads, p. 77

     Let us recall the messages sent to the young disciples by Helena Roerich in 1935, when she and Professor Roerich went through their own cruel trial, having been betrayed by several close workers who had worked for fourteen years in seeming unity under their guidance. “Courageously accept vigilance, and strong faith in the Leading Hand will carry you over any and all abysses... I send joy to you, but this is a special joy, it is the joy of difficulties. When we learn not to be frightened by difficulties, we will come close to the bearing of achievement.” Letters of Helena Roerich II, 22 July 1935

     “The true natures of people are now being revealed everywhere, and this could be called the purification of space… Nevertheless, great is our grief when we see how, under the dark hand of the obsessor, the flower of the spirit withers and terrible betrayal creeps into the very heart of the structure of Light. But we shall live through this also… Thus, in spite of everything, courage and the joy of a new battle for Light abide in our heart. And is podvig possible without difficulties? …
     And so, we drink the chalice of poison tendered by the hands of our former co-workers. But in spite of this, strength and courage live in our hearts… Our spirit cannot be frightened by any battles; we even have learned to love them, because what else can so temper the spirit and test our abilities and bring us great experience for the crown of fulfillment? And so, we may once more say, ‘Blessed are the obstacles; by them we grow.’” Letters of Helena Roerich II, Letters 9 & 10, 1 October 1935

     Another test of our consciousness is that of encountering worn-out decayed traditions that have no place in evolution. It demands the courage of one’s convictions to fight them. “The first task of the Living Ethics is to broaden the consciousness, therefore, let us not pin ourselves down by thought to one accidental, small place and one group of people. Broad is the Universe, and the Light is not weak. While in one place slander is expressed, in another the new thought is assimilated a thousandfold.” Letters of Helena Roerich II, 26 May 1936

     Master says: “The significance for Us lies in the state of consciousness and action… We pay no attention to verbal assurances, but weigh the quality of action. Ancient methods of testing are used by Us. The testing is of long duration and unexpected… Could unexpectedness test fear or falsehood? Precisely, unexpectedness. Necessity will not be the deciding factor. A thief before a judge seems a model of honesty. Look at him not before the judge but in the darkness of an alley. Do not reject testings, for the solution of life's achievement must be tested by the fire, as steel.” (Community, 179) “When it is dark and threatening, keep the consciousness upon the future. We call the future a flying carpet. Teach children to fly high. Replace the legend about the ark with one about the air ship.” Community, 189

     When the neophyte approaches the Teacher he is told, “Apply all your efforts. By your own hands will the power of the future be built. I will help, I will help, but add your own efforts.” “Let him not approach for whom the probation seems too long.” The Call, 230, 287

     While a path of tests is being trod one is often accosted by all kinds of fears. “We constantly insist upon the conquest of every aspect of fear. This demand is not an abstract one, but is connected with one's immediate ascent… If a man fears anything he will inevitably be compelled to cross precisely the path of this horror, until he exhausts his fear. Therefore it is useful that a man, having realized the invulnerability of his spiritual essence, should liberate himself from all fears, for all threats are insignificant. Even the encounter with powerful dark entities is not dangerous if the firm link with the Hierarchy is safeguarded.” Heart, 222

     “The trial by patience is one of the highest tests.” Heart, 212