Daily Self-Study and Self-Examination


“Never suffer sleep to close thy eyelids after thy going to bed, till thou hast thrice reviewed all thy actions of the day: Wherein have I done amiss? What have I done? What have I omitted that I ought to have done?

“If in this examination thou find that thou hast done amiss, reprimand thyself severely for it; and if thou hast done any good, rejoice.

Practise thoroughly all these things; meditate on them well; thou oughtest to love them with all thy heart. It is they that will put thee in the way of Divine Virtue.

“I swear it by Him who has transmitted into our souls the Sacred Tetraktys, the Source of Nature, whose course is eternal.”


“We will save ourselves all the trouble in the world if we introduce into our lives the exercise of the . . . kind of prayer which cultivates conscience. Its name is self-examination. It is a very common phenomenon that people who go to churches and temples, or pray at home, regularly commit mistakes and are no better off than many who never go to a temple or never pray. Now why is this? Because they do not know of, or do not practise, self-examination.

“Whether vicious or virtuous, those who do not examine themselves, their motives and ideas, their methods and habits, are like animals. They may live like angry tigers or happy sparrows, but they do not grow, they do not progress. What is self-examination? It has first to do with conscience; secondly, it has to do with the Soul.

“Let me first describe the practice. The most suitable time for it is at the end of the day. Nature compels us to examine the whole of our life at the time of death. We then see, in full detail, the pictures of our whole life-process. It is a phenomenon in Nature, and wise people adopt its lessons, in daily life. All soul teachers have taught and still teach this self-examination as a daily exercise or prayer.

“How do you perform that prayer? First, you must finish all that is to be done, get yourself ready for sleep, and be alone. Then begin to review all that you have enacted during the day that is just closing. Survey all your activities; they fall, for all of us, into four compartments – all our thoughts, all our feelings, all our words, and all our deeds. Some people begin with the first hour in the morning and proceed till they reach the last hour. Others reverse the process. They begin with the last act and go backwards. Others again do it in compartments, thoughts, feelings, words, and deeds. It does not matter what method you adopt, how you proceed to do your review of self-examination. The important thing is its observance. Examine yourself. Note your good points and your weak ones. Do not make excuses for your slips and blunders. Do not try to explain away your mistakes. Face the situation. Be true to yourself, be honest.

“Noting the wrongs which can be expiated, do repent and resolve to offer penance in the right way on the next day. On the other hand, do not be elated, but express humble thankfulness, that in some matters you did the right thing, spoke the truth, felt kindly, or thought nobly.

“But there will be one more difficulty. In some cases we are not sure whether it was right or wrong that we did. It is comparatively easy to note the right, and face the wrong, avoiding both elation and depression, but what shall we do when we are not sure, when we are in doubt? Even when we are not sure of our position we often find later on that we were wrong! It is very necessary therefore that we have good basis, to justify, or to criticize ourselves. Do not be an advocate or a lawyer, do not try to get your client, your lower self, to escape the punishment of his misdeeds, nor to make excuse for him. Be a judge, impartial, wise, who decides – not now – not according to his feelings but according to Law. And that brings us to a most important point. To be a good judge, to deliver correct judgments, you must possess knowledge. It is here, at this place and juncture, that we see the great value, the uttermost necessity, of study.

“Our review, our self-examination, will be somewhat barren unless knowledge of the laws of life, of growth, of good and evil, are understood. Therefore, the Buddha taught his Bhikkus to examine their conduct by the light of the Divine Paramitas, the Virtues inherent in Nature, which can be understood by a study of the Laws of Nature. Just as paying heed and attention to conscience and obeying its dictates saves us from falling prey to the voice of flesh, so on the other hand, putting our mind en rapport with great and noble ideas, and especially with the Laws of Nature, which are just, infallible, and unalterable, we are drawn towards the higher voice of our Heart, the voice of the Soul, the Voice of the God within us.”


“There is a law of our being underlying this; the Chela’s Daily Life Ledger and the Catholic confessional are based upon it.”


“All Probationers [Note: This refers to probationary aspirants for chelaship but can be equally applied by all.] are called upon to examine themselves by the light of their own Inner Ego and with the help of the divine virtues – the paramitas. Ordinarily, virtues are considered to be attributes of the heart; we do not usually speak of mind-feelings; integration or yoga-union between mind and heart demands that the mind become virtuous. We have to learn to think of virtues and to use our reason and our intelligence, our discrimination and our discernment, in practising the paramitas, with which deals the third fragment of our textbook, called “The Seven Portals.” It is from the point of view of the relation between mind and morals that we want to examine the golden Keys.” 

“THE GUPTA VIDYA” VOL. 2, p. 328-329

“All must engage in individual self-study, asking again and again, “What is important to me? What am I prepared to let go? Have I the courage to die and be reborn?” A person who is in earnest will, without losing a sense of proportion and humour, set aside periods in which to take specific steps in the direction towards the Path. This centres upon what H. P. Blavatsky called the mystery of the human ego, the mystery of each human being.

“The need for self-study bears directly upon the discovery of the thread of individual continuity, the sutratman. This thread of consciousness in every person is only an aspect of the monadic essence of which one is a ray. It is what makes of a person a monad, a particular being or an individual, separate only in the functional capacity to reflect the universal. Every human being is a unique lens capable of self-consciously reflecting universal light. If that is what all individuals are in essence, when they are manifesting through personalities bound up with name and form and involved in the world of differentiated matter, they become caught up in a psychic fog that obscures the clarity of the monadic vision of the true meaning and purpose of the pilgrimage of life. Nevertheless, in that fog there remains a residual reflection of what the monad in its fullness knows. This is what may be called the golden sutratmic thread within every human being. The thread is activated during deep sleep, but during waking life it cannot very easily be activated. It is involved in the baby’s first cry at birth, and is glimpsed at the moment of death. It can be self-consciously activated in meditation. . . .

“Self-study becomes a way of studying the lesser self with firmness and honesty, together with a sense of humour towards the ridiculousness of the lesser self, the impostor that shuts out the richness and potentiality of the Self. True self-study takes the form of studying those periods of waking life where there is a forgetting and therefore a denial of the Self. Self-study is a way of minimizing the propensity to forget and the need for too many reminders, and above all, safeguarding against the need to have one’s knuckles rapped by admonitions that come from the life process. To choose one’s reminders rather than have them come from outside is to adjust the ratios of moments of time that are well spent to those that are wasted through being caught in forgetfulness of the golden thread. These wasted moments constitute the tragedy of the crucifixion of the Christos. The more one finds this happening, the greater the necessity to get to the root of the problem. Self-study can never be made the object of schemata because it must vary for every individual, and any person may find that repeated efforts yield only limited results. There may be particular moments when there is a brilliant flash, and one sees through so much in the masquerade that one is freed. But this is something about which no general rules can be made because it involves the interaction of complex variables and the emanations of consciousness in the life of every man, and so it constitutes part of the mystery of the ego itself. As taught and exemplified by Socrates, philosophic self-study during life is an integral part of a continual preparation for the moment of death.”


“It is supposed by some that initiation is always and in every case a set and solemn occasion for which the candidate is prepared and notified of in advance. While there are some initiations surrounded by such solemnities as these, the daily one, without success in which no aspirant will ever have the chance to try for those that are higher, comes to the disciple with almost each moment. It is met in our relations with our fellows, and in the effects upon us of all the circumstances of life. And if we fail in these, we never get to the point where greater ones are offered. If we cannot bear momentary defeat, or if a chance word that strikes our self-love finds us unprepared, or if we give way to the desire to harshly judge others, or if we remain in ignorance of some of our most apparent faults, we do not build up that knowledge and strength imperatively demanded from whoever is to be master of nature.

“It is in the life of everyone to have a moment of choice, but that moment is not set for any particular day. It is the sum total of all days; and it may be put off until the day of death, and then it is beyond our power, for the choice has then been fixed by all the acts and thoughts of the lifetime. We are self-doomed at that hour to just the sort of life, body, environment, and tendencies which will best carry out our karma. This is a thing solemn enough, and one that makes the “daily initiation” of the very greatest importance to each earnest student. But all of this has been said before, and it is a pity that students persist in ignoring the good advice they receive.”

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