THE NEXT STEP
Selections from the Agni Yoga Series
Presented before the Agni Yoga Society, October 9. 2012
1. It is essential not to mislead newcomers into thinking that the Teaching of Agni Yoga is easy. Truly, it is not easy, for there is much tension and danger in it. No one should be seduced by the idea of honeyed ease. Gaining mastery of the fires is a slow process. Premature and hasty steps threaten the striving one with conflagration. What seemed to be a high achievement is later seen as low, when one is on the next step. Few are the trusted builders who with self-denial accept the thoughts coming from space into the chalice of their hearts. They are not frightened of being scorched by the fires of the far-off worlds. They do not resent bearing the burden of anguish caused by surrounding imperfection. They are approached by the super-radiant fires of space and exchange thought with the sparks of spatial consciousness, silently kindling thoughts and answering questions. Weighty is the protective canopy of blessing, but it alone provides entrance into the highest Abode.
The ancient teachings use symbols of construction to represent the entrusted task. Their true meaning should be understood. Around an Agni Yogi you will always find construction, whose very difficulties are stepping stones in the overcoming of imperfection. Manifestations of Light are not easy to achieve, but then the Fire of Space illumines the far-off worlds. Do not bring weak ones near, for they cannot hold on to the treasure. It is better to entrust the task only to those few who will be able to make right decisions for correct action. They will learn to love the difficulties and will not betray.
Agni Yoga, 403.
2. The hurricane, whirlwinds, and like destructions call to mind irreparably broken vases. Therefore one must unite one's thinking with Hierarchy. Only thus will the earth not sink under foot. I assert that an earthly foundation is gradually losing its finite meaning. People will comprehend to what an extent the conditions of the world are impelling them to the next steps!
Fiery World I, 172.
3. Urusvati knows what We mean by “life.” We say that life is service for evolution. One might find it simpler to say that life is evolution, but We emphasize the idea of service. Indeed, everything is in the process of evolution, but life's full expression can come only under conditions of voluntary service. It is the voluntary quality of service that indicates the rightness of the path.
In general, people dislike the concept of service. They dream about a time when there will be no need for it, and would be horrified to learn that all of life is unending service. They prefer to hear about Us, about Our labor and Our joy, and puzzled, they ask, “What kind of continual service is it when one can hear singing in the Brotherhood?” People cannot understand that We use singing not as a pastime, but as a method for achieving harmony. It is hard for them to understand that art is a refined aid for evolution, and that We recommend the mastery of any art or craft as a rapid approach to service. A master will willingly agree to perpetual service in the perfection of his art, and feels no need to count the hours of labor. Our life is a voluntary mastership and is not concerned with limits. Even on Earth it is possible to almost forget time, and service becomes joy. I affirm that one can prepare oneself for such service under all circumstances. One need not be a sage to accept life as something important and responsible. There are examples of even simple farmers who were ready to devote themselves to the idea of service. It was the loss of this concept of service that turned earthly life into slavery and insanity. But the time is approaching when people will be looking, even unwittingly, for the purpose of life. They will first refer to evolution in scientific terms, but the next step will be the acceptance of service as the right approach to life.
The Thinker taught that the concept of service can solve the riddles of life.
Supermundane II, 305.
4. Urusvati knows that while studying the Teaching one should pay attention not only to its content, but also to the language in which it is given. The Teaching is given in a particular language for good reason. All teachings, of all times, indicate to the sensitive student which nation was meant to manifest the next step of evolution.
It is sometimes thought that the Teaching is given in the language of the one who receives it, but this explanation is incomplete. One must study the causes in their entirety. Nothing is accidental. The one who first receives a Teaching is chosen, and the language is determined according to necessity. One can observe that the Teachings were given in different languages, each of which related to circumstances of world importance. Thus, the language chosen for a Teaching is, in a sense, a gift to a particular nation. Do not think that, because of this, the Teaching loses its importance to the world as a whole. Every truth applies to the whole of humanity, yet each period has its own task, and every nation has its duty.
Much time is required for a nation to develop the crystal of its essential nature. When amidst a population it is difficult to discern the true nature of a nation. An inexperienced observer will see only superficial traits, rather than the essence. Therefore We advise patience and intelligent observation in order not to regret later one’s lightminded judgments.
Supermundane III, 468.
5. If you think that responsibility means withdrawal and independence of action, you reveal a well-concealed sense of ambition and possessiveness. And we know how all such feelings are disapproved by all Teachers. If we do not destroy within ourselves the sense of ownership in all aspects, we cannot easily reach the next step. It may be that we consider possessively not only our own section but even our pupils and acquaintances, and we would become hurt if some of our collaborators also evinced an interest in them.
Letters Of Helena Roerich I, 24 June 1930.
6. Thus, let us acquire the joy of constant watchfulness and striving. They are among the foundations of the Teaching and of life. Only striving carries us toward the next steps. Only vigilance enables us to overcome successfully all obstacles. The Teacher calls us to pressing labor for the sake of victory. All victory depends upon the strength of our striving. Therefore, if striving decreases either because of the short-sightedness of a limited consciousness or because of internal discord and disunion in the actions of the warriors, defeat will be unavoidable. Therefore, I ask you not to weaken yourselves by internal discord when approaching a dangerous passage. It is also fatal to push each other because the one who pushes may very easily share the fate of the one pushed.
Letters Of Helena Roerich I, 17 December 1930.
7. Peoples and countries must learn to preserve their character and individuality by enriching themselves with all the flowers that grow in their meadows! But every forced isolation in this age of cooperation and unification (even if in its present stage this unification takes place mostly in mechanical achievements) is ruinous. But the time is not far off, during the next step, when whole countries will aspire toward cultural, spiritual cooperation and exchange, each one offering its flowers of achievement. For this new step the Teaching of Life is preparing us. Thus, wisely, we must wait until the inevitable period of exaggerated nationalism is outlived, and in the meantime try our best to unify and never to disrupt.
Letters Of Helena Roerich I, 14 June 1934.
8. A person free from prejudices, foreseeing the future, already participates in creating that future and thus facilitates the life of the present. Technical knowledge and all sorts of comparisons are quite useful, but there comes the time when all such informative sources become useful only for certain technical inquiry. The true knowledge comes, however, only when the indications given in the Teaching are assimilated and applied; when this process does not stop for a single day; when the fiery formulae of the Teaching are leading forward, pointing toward the next steps of the broadening of the consciousness and further achievement, and opening wider the curtain into the Great Infinity.
Letters Of Helena Roerich I, 30 June 1934.
9. Thus, all of us are guilty for ourselves and others, for we cannot isolate ourselves from the rest of humanity and from the Cosmos. Verily, the Cosmos is in us and we are in it. But only the realization of this unity makes it possible for us to join in such an existence. The fundamental problems of the meaning of our existence were resolved long ago, but people do not wish to accept this, for no one wants to take RESPONSIBILITY for each thought, each word, and each deed. And we shall return to Earth until we fulfill this accepted responsibility -- by perfecting ourselves, Earth, and also all its surrounding spheres. After concluding our earthly perfectment, we shall cross in a glorious radiance of manifold Beauty to the far-off worlds, the next step of evolution upon the ladder of infinite perfectment.
Letters Of Helena Roerich II, 7 October 1935.
10. Spiritual unity, first of all, implies the toleration of many and various degrees of consciousness, but never forcing one's own upon others. The desire for some sort of conciliation is already such importunity. The example of nature should be laid in every foundation, for nature contains all things, yet brings into close proximity only that which is harmonious. Therefore, let us accept the expression of life in all its multiformity, since therein is all power and beauty. Hence, whatever is nearest to our heart reveals our true degree. The time will come when our spirit will indicate the next step. My advice is not to attempt an artificial conciliation, but to practice benevolent toleration and follow sincerely what is closest to you.
Letters Of Helena Roerich II, 4 November 1935.
11. You have pointed out beautifully that the improvement of the people's condition is not just because of changes in the norms of the government, but because of the changes (and I would call it perfectment) in the human thinking. Many old concepts are not suitable for the new national consciousness and are unfit to enter the dictionary of the future. The New World demands new concepts, new forms, and new definitions. All the events clearly indicate the direction of evolution. The epoch of work in common, cooperation in common, and collective solidarity of all workers without any class distinctions is now being created. And the most essential problem which humanity is now facing is precisely the synthesizing of the spiritual with the material, the individual with the universal, and the private with the public welfare. Only when the one-sidedness of the narrow, material, earthly experiments shall be realized, will the next step come -- the striving to unify the material world with the Subtle World. And the new achievements in science, new explorations, and discoveries of the laws of psychic energy will demand from humanity not a renunciation of the “heavens,” but a new revelation and understanding of them.
Letters Of Helena Roerich II, 15 April 1936.
12. But until humanity realizes its place and destination in the cosmos, until the law of reincarnation and the law of karma are accepted, until the interdependence of all that exists and the correspondingly great responsibility of man is realized, until the supermundane worlds and the Hierarchy of Light are cognized and perceived, until thought is acknowledged as the main moving force and spiritual synthesis is given priority in the life of the state -- until then the peace, freedom, and happiness of man, and the great Service for the General Good will remain in the realm of the abstract. But the spirit of man will not cry out and turn to the Highest Guidance until he has passed through all the terrors of the calamities and cataclysms caused by his own madness. Verily, in this madness of frightful disunity and intolerance, in this refusal to accept the new higher energies that are directing the whole world to the next steps of evolution one should seek the cosmic cause and meaning of all the upheavals which periodically affect our unfortunate planet.
Letters Of Helena Roerich II, 31 July 1937.
13. I realize that it is impossible to altogether avoid opposites, because the coarse physical manifestations are so immeasurably removed from their origins. Besides, precisely while comparing pairs of opposites, we lay the first steps of knowledge; and upon the next steps we already learn to combine these opposites.
Letters Of Helena Roerich II, 29 January 1938.