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Autobiography of Alice A. Bailey - Chapter II
Chapter II

Thus ended the carefree, the relatively irresponsible and the easy part of my life. It had lasted for 22 years, and was the only time in my entire life when I formed part of a family and had the background, the prestige and the security that this entailed. I had a good time; I had met many people; I had traveled a lot. I forget how often I have crossed the English Channel to the Continent and back for I have crossed so often. Fortunately I am a first class sailor and I love the sea no matter how rough. I cannot remember any personal friends except one, and she and I are still friends and exchange letters. We had met in Switzerland and together had learnt to make Irish needle-point lace. I was always proud of that achievement and specially proud when I once sold two yards of flounces for $30 a yard, the proceeds going to the Church Missionary Society, as in those days I needed no money.

But the time had now come when I felt the need to make myself of some use in the world and to justify my existence. In those days I expressed this urge in terms of "Jesus went about doing good," and I, as His follower, must do the same. So I began, furiously and fanatically, to "do good." I became an evangelist in connection with the British army.

Looking back to the time when I was working as an evangelist among British troops, I realize that it was the happiest and the most satisfactory time of my entire life. I quite liked myself and all that concerned me. I was doing what I wanted to do and I was very successful. I had not a care in the world and (apart from my chosen sphere of work) I had not a single responsibility. I realize, [47] however, that it was an important cycle in my life and that it completely altered all my attitudes. What happened to me during that period was unrealized at the time, but great interior changes took place. I was, however, so extroverted in my thinking and activities that I was relatively unaware of them. I had made a clean break with my family and had brought my life as a society girl to an end.

When I say "a clean break" I do not mean that I had severed all relations. I have always kept in touch with my family from then till now, but our paths have wandered far apart, our interests were and are widely different, and our relationship now is that of friends and not cousins, etc. Taking it by and large I believe I have had a more interesting and exciting life than they have. I have never felt that ties of physical blood amount to much. Why should people like each other and cling together because - fortunately or unfortunately - they happen to have the same grandparents? It does not seem reasonable, and I think has led to a lot of trouble. It is a happy thing when friendship and relationship coincide, but to me friendship, mutual interests and similar attitudes to life are far more important than blood ties. I want my daughters to like me because I am their friend and have proved myself friendly and worth liking. I am not expecting their confidence and liking because I am their mother. I personally love them for themselves and not so particularly because they are my children. I think once the need for the physical care of small children is no longer required that parents would do well to cultivate the friendship angle.

I was absolutely sure (how wonderful that seems to me today and how delightfully young) of everything - God, doctrine, my ability to do things, the sureness of my knowledge and the infallibility of any advice I might give. I had an answer for everything and knew just what should be [48] done. I handled life and circumstances at that time with the sure touch of complete inexperience and my answer to every problem, and my cure for every ill was always to be found in the answer to the one question: "What would Jesus do in similar circumstances?" Having decided what He would do (I wonder how I knew?) I went ahead and did it or advised others to follow the same rule. At the same time, unrealized and unexpressed, I was beginning to ask questions, though refusing to answer them, and underneath all the surety and dogmatism, great changes were taking place. I know that this period saw me take a definite step forward along the Path. Slowly, and without knowing it in my brain consciousness, I was transiting from authority to experience and from a narrow theological belief in the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures and the interpretations of my particular school of religious conviction, into a certain and sure knowledge of the spiritual verities to which the mystics of all time have borne witness and for which many of them have suffered and died.

I found myself eventually possessed of a knowledge which has stood the test of time and trouble, as my earlier beliefs did not. It is a knowledge which reveals to me steadily and continuously how much, how very much, more I need to know. Real knowledge is never static; it is but a door opening on to vaster reaches of wisdom, achievement and understanding. It is a process of living growth. Knowledge should lead from one unfoldment to another. It is as if one had climbed a mountain peak and - at the moment of gaining the summit - suddenly there stretches before one a promised land to which one must inevitably proceed; but (across that promised land and away in the distance) another peak is seen emerging, hiding still vaster reaches of territory.

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