THE SECRET DOCTRINE is a challenge to more effort and never an imposition of authority. Every page is a call to a voyage of discovery, and only he who sets out upon his travels can hope to begin to understand the book. It is a book which demands action, freedom from domination by conventional thinking, freedom from prejudices of all kinds, freedom from the limitations imposed by the forms in which science, religion, philosophy are for the time being expressed, freedom from the restrictions of the present stage of evolutionary advancement. It demands an adventurous spirit, the pioneer spirit, a spirit of indifference to persecution by the small-minded. It demands the spirit of one who has left behind him all attachments to numbers, to crowds, to orthodoxies, and seeks beyond all these the companionship of the few and the compelling Call of the unknown.
-- George S. Arundale, FREEDOM AND FRIENDSHIP, pages 147-48.
[From LIVING THE LIFE, pages 84-89.]
Many passages in THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE are so many direct messages to anyone who belongs to "the sacred tribe of heroes," such are "the few" to whom the Golden Precepts are dedicated. On pages 55-57 is a compact passage that begins:
Thou hast to be prepared to answer Dharma, the stern law, whose voice will ask thee at thy first, at thy initial step:
"Hast thou complied with all the rules, 0 thou of lofty hopes?"
The implication of the statement that one has to "be prepared," and not only prepare himself, is significant. The Teachings of the Esoteric Philosophy and the Great Teachers who are the custodians of those Teachings aid in preparing the earnest aspirant who has resolved to serve the Cause and determined to live the Life.
This passage emphasizes not the discharging of our debt -- a huge one -- to Karma, but rather the need for preparing ourselves to answer Dharma. It suggests a shortcut -- what to do with and how to handle Karma.
Karma knows neither wrath nor pardon and seems blind in its justice; but what is Dharma? It is called "the stern law." It is different from Karma; it reveals the right way of overcoming Karma. Whatever our karma, it can be overcome by Dharma. Karma is related to the fate aspect; Dharma, to the freewill aspect. Karma teaches us to say, " Endure, suffer, pay your debt," but Dharma says, "This is the way to learn, to pay your debt, and ascend to heavenly heights."
Action that is duty is one aspect; action according to the Code of Law and laws is another. In any state worthy of its name, a citizen is free to live his own life as he pleases, but his country's codes of law prevent his liberty from degenerating into license. Similarly, every soul is free to act as he chooses, but the Voice of Dharma warns him if he chooses wrongly, and if it is not heeded, the soul loses his caste. The Code of Law of Nature is there to help, not to hinder. It can be and should be used by the person who has the perception that the universe is governed by moral principles and is always maintained in order.
Our appreciation of the fact that we, no one or nothing else, are responsible for our present state prompts us to seek the right way to determine our duty as well as to discharge it. Ordinary men and women, even those who are well educated, are more concerned with Karma, with what they call duties, and see numerous conflicts of duties. The student of the Esoteric Philosophy and the Science of Occultism learns not to regret his present Karma, but rather to seek the right way of action, whatever his Karma. He soon finds that Dharma, the stern law, forms the inner religion of his heart.
The practice of this "stern law" implies discipline -- the discipline of raising the self by the Self. Many rules of life ramify from this basic requirement. The aspirant has "lofty hopes," and these hopes converge into the one grand hope to gain the Great Wisdom of the Great Sacrifice necessary for the Great Service. The principles and rules of the Esoteric Philosophy demand that we sincerely attempt to live by the power of Theosophy; the strength of the knowledge of the Wisdom Religion should be built into our very Prana, Life, or Vitality.
This knowledge cannot be acquired unless the aspiring practitioner honors the principle of silence and secrecy. Nature is silent; she observes profound secrecy and yet she opens her SECRET chambers, lays bare her treasures before the gaze of one who works on with her, and even makes obeisance to him. He who thinks too much of himself soon boasts of himself before others, which almost immediately tarnishes his brain, mind, and will. Man is a creator; by thought, he creates words, and the rules of the Inner Life demand that he be non-violent in thought and speech; more, that he be loving in the recesses of the mind and polite, pleasant, and truthful in the use of words. To live the Life, therefore, requires a calm reflection of and persistent attention to the practice of Universal Brotherhood. Therefore the second question that follows the one about complying with all the rules is "Hast thou attuned thy heart and mind to the great mind and heart of all mankind?"
The metaphysical aspect underlying the teachings implicit in the doctrine of Universal Brotherhood should be grasped. HPB states:
Occultly and Kabbalistically, the whole of mankind is symbolized, by Manu in India; by Vajrasattva or DORJESEMPA, the head of the Seven Dhyani, in Northern Buddhism; and by Adam Kadmon in the Kabbala: All these represent the totality of mankind whose beginning is in this androgynic protoplast, and whose end is in the Absolute, beyond all these symbols and myths of human origin.
-- THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARY, "Humanity"
The spiritual Monad is One, Universal, Boundless and Impartite, whose rays, nevertheless, form what we, in our ignorance, call the "Individual Monads" of men.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 177.
It is not difficult to comprehend, even with the lower mind, the fact that Humanity is of the same substance, spiritually and morally. At the other end, our bodies are composed of the same substances and essences -- that also is not difficult for the lower mind to accept. But the nature of the lower mind is combative, and it is most difficult for it to perceive that Humanity is a Brotherhood also intellectually. The aspirant to Divine Wisdom in living his life must learn this teaching of the Occult Science:
Each human being has his MANODHATU or plane of thought proportionate with the degree of his intellect and his mental faculties, beyond which he can go only by studying and developing his higher spiritual faculties in one of the higher spheres of thought.
-- THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARY, "Manodhatu"
The very essence of the discipline of the earnest practitioner is to fight those aspects of the lower mind that create selfishness and egotism, to consider the good of "all that lives and breathes." The lower mind raises objections and barriers to transmuting the selfish mind of desires into the mind that moves by altruism, philanthropy, and brotherhood.
THE SECRET DOCTRINE (I, 58) carries these beautiful and very useful words:
If thou wouldst believe in the Power that acts within the root of a plant, or imagine the root concealed under the soil, thou hast to think of its stalk or trunk and of its leaves and flowers. Thou canst not imagine that Power independently of these objects. Life can be known only by the Tree of Life.
-- Precepts for Yoga
These philosophical propositions are necessary subjects for reflection; they brush away the dust of illusions and bring about the blending of Mind and Soul.
But who does not know that love for the whole, vast Humanity is an abstraction? To love Humanity in the mass is as difficult as it is to feel the omnipresence of Deity in the vastness of space. Deity is to be sought in the cave of the Heart, and correspondentially our text pointedly refers to the "collective minds of Lanoo-Shravakas." For those who aspire to tread the Path of Chelaship, this verse is not only important, it is fundamental:
Disciples may be likened to the strings of the soul-echoing Vina; mankind, unto its sounding board; the hand that sweeps it to the tuneful breath of the GREAT WORLD-SOUL. The string that fails to answer 'neath the Master's touch in dulcet harmony with all the others, breaks -- and is cast away. So the collective minds of Lanoo-Shravakas. They have to be attuned to the Upadhyaya's mind -- one with the Over-Soul -- or, break away.
Each disciple is a string of the Vina, capable of echoing the tunes of the Soul. If a single string fails to answer appropriately to the touch of the Guru, it "breaks -- and is cast away." The mind of the learner and the listener must be attuned to the Teacher's Mind; this implies assimilation of the minds of co-disciples. The conductor of an orchestra demands harmony between the players and himself. But this implies that each player, with his own instrument, must play in due harmony with all other players. The unity and harmony between co-disciples and coworkers may be called the horizontal unity, and the unity controlled and used by the Master may be named vertical unity. This latter does not end with the Master; from Him the ray of unity extends onwards and upwards to His Peers and Superiors.
It is necessary to get away from diffusive and vague abstractions; otherwise, we shall not be attuned in our consciousness to "Humanity's great pain." To facilitate our task, a Great Compassionate One has given these highly practical directions:
A band of students of the Esoteric Doctrines, who would reap any profits spiritually, must be in perfect harmony and unity of thought. Each one individually and collectively has to be UTTERLY UNSELFISH, kind, and full of goodwill towards each other at least -- leaving humanity out of the question.
At first sight, this sounds strange. But Masters of Perfection are most practical and fully aware of the nature, character, and limitations of the mind of the disciple. They try to bring the minds of the aspiring learners to a concrete picture. And so it is added:
There must be no party spirit among the band, no backbiting, no ill-will, or envy or jealousy, contempt or anger. What hurts one ought to hurt the other -- that which rejoices A must fill with pleasure B.
Masters have but a single Will; all of Them have a single feeling: Compassion. A single Teaching, ancient and constant, is spread by each of Them, cycle after cycle. One Lodge or Fraternity, One School of Wisdom, exists, and Its Mighty Custodians are ever trying to reproduce a miniature copy of it in the mundane world. This is the true inwardness of the institution of the "Path of Chelaship."
By Andrew Rooke
One of the greatest challenges to world peace and progress today is the rise of religious fundamentalism. Fundamentalism is the declaration that one's own point of view in religious matters is supreme, and those of others are not of much value compared to the revelation, including the sacred books, of the spiritual teacher one follows. It is essentially a uni-dimensional view in an increasingly multidimensional world. The term first arose to describe the American Protestant churches in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when many such churches in the US violently reacted to the impact of modernism on their worldview. Particularly, such churches were aggrieved by the Darwinian theory of evolution, and new discoveries about the history of the Bible which lead to doubts about its status as purely divine revelation.
This led these churches to cling to literalism in the Bible and see modernism as a threat to the religious way of life. Such a point of view became widely known as what we now call Fundamentalism.
Modernism, with its emphasis in the supremacy of science, logic, and materialism, has been perceived also as a threat to a religious way of life by many societies in the developing world. Initially, modernism was quietly accepted by many traditional societies which were either overwhelmed by the apparent success of Western culture in comparison with their own, or they thought that somehow the modernized world would 'go away' after political independence was achieved. However, gradually Western culture began to be seen in some quarters in these countries, as directly opposed to their religious life and a tremendous threat to the future of traditional ways.
After the Iranian revolution in 1979, the backlash against rapid social and economic changes introduced by Western society took the form of an aggressive fundamentalism in Islam that now threatens world peace.
Certainly, looking back at history all over the globe, we see endless damaging conflicts in the name of religion. From our theosophical perspective of reincarnation, we accept that we have all been on this earth many times before. We have walked in many lands and worshipped many different gods before incarnating in the here and now. How much sense does it make then to criticize others, as religious fundamentalists do, when we may have shared their beliefs in another life, or, indeed, may grow towards their viewpoint in a future one? Theosophy teaches that all great religions throughout history emanate from one source of being where truth is one.
There, various perspectives on reality coexist happily as facets of the single diamond of truth. Through the ages, great spiritual teachers have brought facets of this gem to various cultures, and people have clasped tightly to their little facet of the truth diamond and said, "See, here I have the whole diamond of Truth!" If truth shines like the sun from a single source, how much sense does it make in condemning other brothers and sisters on the Path?
The images of the destruction of the twin-towers in New York, and the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are burned into our consciousness.
Theosophists, by the very nature of our endeavor, stand for universal brotherhood, a non-dogmatic approach to religious truth, and a respect for the many Paths to the One. In short, Theosophy has a multidimensional but holistic approach to life, whereas fundamentalism is uni-dimensional and separatist. So what can Theosophists actually do about fundamentalism and its disastrous consequences?
We can try to exemplify the spirit of universal brotherhood in what we do in daily life and communicate as and when we can, the great laws of life which we all share in common. In practice this means having tolerance and understanding in a multi-cultural environment, and attempt to increase the level of understanding between various communities and religious traditions.
In all of our communities, there are a multitude of opportunities to express such inner attitudes from formal volunteering in community organizations promoting multi-cultural understanding, to simply bringing peace and harmony within our families so our children can develop with more enlightened attitudes to others. At a national level, Western countries could offer increased opportunities to study other religions at school and university and cultural exchanges for young people to better get to know conditions in troubled parts of the world and vice versa. From a greater level of empathy and understanding between religions and an understanding of the cornerstones of the Ancient Wisdom -- universal brotherhood, karma and reincarnation -- perhaps a better world based on multidimensional understanding will grow for our kids.
When asked what is our work as theosophists now and in the future, theosophical co-founder, William Q. Judge, said: "It is to start up a new force, a new current in the world," so that wise ones from long ago will "incarnate among men here and there, and thus bring back the true life and the true practices ..." "We have each one of us, to make ourselves a centre of light; a picture gallery from which shall be projected on the astral light such scenes, such influences, such thoughts, as may influence many for good, shall thus arouse a new current, and then finally result in drawing back the great and good from the other spheres beyond earth ..." Letters that have helped me II, 8,9.
Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hahn, speaks on fundamentalism:
Great suffering is caused by attachment to views of dogmatism and fundamentalism. And that is why, among the 14 mindfulness trainings of the Order of Interbeing, the training on freedom from views is in the first position. We have to free ourselves from these views -- even the views of non-self, the view of impermanence, of inter-being -- we have to let go of all of these. These are instruments to work with, but they are not to be venerated in themselves. It is like using a raft to cross the river. After you cross the river, you abandon the raft. You don't carry the raft on your head and walk around like that. That is very popular, carrying a raft around on your head. People are doing that all the time.
-- Parabola Magazine, Winter 2005, page 21
By Mark Jaqua
[Based upon the preface to THE LAMA'S LAW -- TALBOT MUNDY IN THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH. For more on Talbot Mundy, read the biography by Brian Taves, newly published in 2006: TALBOT MUNDY, PHILOSOPHER OF ADVENTURE -- A CRITICAL BIOGRAPHY.]
Talbot Mundy (1879-1940) was the author of some 40 adventure and occult novels, from RUNG HO! in 1914 to his OLD UGLY FACE in 1940, and as well of innumerable magazine articles, a bulk of these being in the popular ADVENTURE magazine. He is regarded by many to be the best western novelist on Eastern subjects, superior to Kipling in his familiarity and empathy with native perspective.
His OM, THE SECRET OF AHBOR VALLEY is generally regarded as his masterpiece. He wrote OM while a guest of Katherine Tingley at Point Loma Theosophical Community on the outskirts of San Diego, California, and was a resident of the Community for several years in the late 1920's, serving as a cabinet member. (See CALIFORNIA UTOPIA: POINT LOMA: 1897-1942, Emmett A. Greenwalt, University of California, 1955, revised Pt. Loma Publications, 1978.) Mundy had over 30 pieces in Point Loma's THEOSOPHICAL PATH magazine from 1923 through 1929. (As well as the new Taves biography, see for a nearly complete listing see the Mundy biographies: TALBOT MUNDY: MESSENGER OF DESTINY, compiled by Donald M. Grant; and THE LAST ADVENTURER -- THE LIFE OF TALBOT MUNDY by Peter Berresford Ellis, both published by Donald M. Grant -- Publisher, P.O. Box 187, Hampton Falls, NH 03844.)
Nearly all Mundy's novels have an occult and philosophic twist to them and emphasize wisdom over mere sensationalism. Mundy researcher Brian Taves writes also that, "What some folk don't seem to get is that Mundy did not write just for money. They can't understand a literary author, and one trying to disseminate theosophical beliefs, who could have made far more money by turning into a hack. But Mundy did not, and thereby lies his distinction from so many others." (ECLECTIC THEOSOPHIST, Nov/Dec, 1991)
Mundy's novels are so unique that one is tempted to ascribe to him some supernal ability. Mundy was I believe what in Theosophical terminology is called a "mediator." This is someone of unusual intellect, sensitivity, aggressiveness, lack of ego-mania and with sufficient spiritual aspiration to fall under the influence of his own "Higher Self" or even perhaps outside adept agency, to be swamped with ideas and temporarily enter another and superior realm of perception. This is an actively conscious process and has to have been earned, theosophically speaking, from previous efforts and resultant tendency. In one form, one might say it is the case in nearly all the better type of literature. It is not a "gift" but an earned ability. It should not be thought the same as "mediumship" or "channeling," as it is a completely different and superior phenomenon. Mediumship and channeling, as it is now called, is a psychologically diseased and passive condition subject to lower and psychic and unconscious conditions, while mediatorship is a condition of heightened activity of the mind, soul, and spirit.
Mundy wrote of doing the proof checks on OM, THE SECRET OF AHBOR VALLEY that such checking was usually a tedious job but that in checking OM, "I felt a solid feeling in me that I had been reading a real book. It did not seem in the least as if I had written it." He wrote elsewhere that at one point he was even "visited" by the old Lama of that story -- whatever this may mean. In his KING OF THE KHYBER RIFLES, although he had never been to the Khyber Pass, his description of the area was so true to life that a British Colonel stationed there later said in correspondence that he could not believe that Mundy had never actually traveled there. His TROS OF SAMOTHRACE set during Druid and Roman times is equally compelling and realistic. One feels he is right in that time period with no sense of the artificial or fabricated.
As it seems in some sensitives of his type (H.P. Blavatsky was another of similar type but different venue), Mundy in his younger life was eccentric and adventurous to the extreme. One of his first memories was sticking a pin into someone to see what they would do. He claimed he tried some foolishly daring stunts just to overcome the fear of so doing. Mundy's birth name was William Lancaster Gribbon and he was born in a suburb of London among a very Victorian and church-oriented family, which may have been a partial cause to his later rebelliousness. After his father's death his public school performance dropped drastically and he ran away from home at age 16 by randomly sticking a pin in a map and going to Germany with his dog. He quit his first job after his boss got drunk and killed his dog. It was then back to England, then India, Africa, Australia, Tasmania, and back to Africa.
In Africa, he was wounded by a spear while cattle rustling and assured that he was going to die by the local European doctor who even had his grave dug. During this time, he also employed himself in elephant hunting, and was wanted by the law for supposed confidence trickstering. He used several aliases and often claimed royal descent. He was supposedly also well-known for numerous affairs with native women, although he was probably just less secretive than most European men in a land where there were no European women. He was somewhat loose with facts, at least in earlier accounts, about his life history and when he was arrested and had to serve 6 months on a road gang, it later became "being contracted by the gov't to build roads." He walked the length of Africa at least once and served as crew member on one ship in which conditions were so bad that the whole crew mutinied. His real life adventures and daring served as a fertile resource for his later prolific writing. Strangely, he had done little if any writing before 1909 in New York City when he was attacked and had his skull cracked after a card game at a bar. During his recuperation, he began writing and met with immediate success. His later encounter with the Point Loma Community and Theosophy had a profound affect on his life, and his later writings show an influence or inspiration lacking in his early writing.
Mundy was acute in being able to use common-usage language in explaining theosophic concepts more often accompanied with many Sanskrit and foreign terms. Perhaps his ideas shouldn't be labeled strictly "Theosophy" but that of the wisdom-tradition that is always with man in one form or another and waiting for anyone with intuition to reach up and perceive it. The technical terms are important, but Mundy's ability was to grasp the ideas with intuition and express them plainly, as can be seen in his Theosophical articles and also in his aphorisms and between-the-lines permeating all his 40 novels.
By Leoline L. Wright
[From REINCARNATION: A LOST CHORD IN MODERN THOUGHT, pages 3-9.]
A characteristic viewpoint of Theosophy is that man is a deathless, spiritual Ego using mind and body as garment or vehicle of expression and experience in the external world. The present general tendency to regard ourselves as the product simply of physical evolution has been one of the greatest handicaps in modern life. For it has had the effect of discounting the reality of man's spiritual nature and has intensified the horror of death.
How can anyone be truly happy or willingly unselfish if he believes that death ends all? So long as the majority is convinced that the life of the senses is the only reality, we shall be unable to establish scientifically the fact of POST-MORTEM existence. Can a man who has passed all his life in a blind dungeon prove that there is a sun? And he certainly will not be able to go further and explain how and why his very existence in the dungeon is dependent in a thousand ways upon the sun's invisible but all sustaining life.
We must come out of the imprisoning dungeons of materialistic religion and science into the sunlight of spiritual Truth. Then we shall see that the real, inner man -- the essential core of each of us -- has always existed, is immortal at the present moment, and can no more be destroyed than can the boundless Universe of which it is an inseparable part.
Then, too, some satisfactory explanation must exist as to the prevailing injustices of life. Nearly anyone feels that life has more or less cheated him. Are not most of us born with desires and capacities that we shall never in this life have the opportunity to develop? And there are many indeed who are born with innate tendencies to evil that they are given no chance to outgrow. The glaring inequalities of modern life are in themselves enough to embitter the human heart and wither its moral initiative.
What is needed first is to demonstrate to man his significance in the evolutionary plan. We need a larger view of the purpose and destiny of the human race. Theosophy relates man to the Universe and shows that his individual consciousness is a ray of the Universal Cosmic Consciousness. It starts out by emphasizing that man is essentially a CENTER OF CONSCIOUSNESS -- not just a body to which a so-called soul is suddenly added at birth or death. Nor are we accidental products of blind, mechanical forces. Each individual is part of a living, organic Universe. That Universe itself is a product of evolution and carries forward within its own unfolding plan all that is -- atoms, men, nebulae, worlds, solar systems, galaxies -- in a grand sweep of development in which the humblest earthworm as certainly as the most godlike genius has a definite part.
The history of generations of oak-trees lies in the tiny acorn. From the heart of the acorn there slowly unfolds in response to Nature's influences a mighty tree that is an expression of an immense past of evolutionary oak-tree experience. So with the human being, the 'Manplant of the Ages.' In that divine unit of consciousness that is the inner source of our individual life is stored the essence of an immense past stretching backward across immemorial ages. And our appearance as man on this earth is but one act in the magnificent drama of our evolution.
Nor is the human race itself a recent development of Nature. Man came from former cycles of evolution and resumed a body here on Earth, which is his present training-school. Further, there has not been constant 'creation' of new souls all down the ages. The number of evolving human beings on this Earth, though immense, is yet fixed and constant. This means that, in line with the economy of Nature, men as evolving Egos have been reborn on Earth repeatedly. All of us who make up our present civilization have been here many times before. We were the men and women who formed the great civilizations of the past, and we have been embodied in the many magnificent prehistoric races that Theosophy tells us something about.
Theosophy, therefore, begins with pre-existence as a necessary part of eternity. For a thing that has a beginning must necessarily end. Nature makes that plain enough. What we call eternity or 'immortality' must stretch endlessly back into the past as well as endlessly forward into the future. The innermost Self of man is a deathless Being, a god, which reclothes itself from age to age in new bodies, or vehicles, that it may undergo all possible experiences in the Universe to which it belongs, and so reach its own most complete growth and self-expression.
Rebirth is the pathway of evolution. It is the method by which Nature progressively draws into growth or unfoldment the limitless capacities latent in all creatures from atoms to gods. Everything that has life reembodies itself -- universes, solar systems, suns, worlds; men, animals, and plants; cells, molecules, atoms. Each of these forms is ensouled by a spiritual consciousness-center that is evolving in its own degree, passing upward, and unfolding like a seed from within itself its latent potentialities.
In the human race, we call this process of rebirth or reembodiment by the word REINCARNATION, which means 'refleshing,' or taking on again a garment or body of flesh. There are various names for the different forms of reembodiment that pertain to all beings from the highest to the lowest, but here we are concerned only with that form of reembodiment that pertains to man, and that is called reincarnation.
Human life is thus seen as a necessary and highly important part of the Cosmic Evolutionary Scheme. And we naturally inquire what its purpose is, for there seems to be no clear indication in the present confusion of beliefs and theories as to why we are here and what it is all for.
Briefly, the purpose of life is to raise the mortal into immortality. Or, to expand the idea somewhat, it is to give time and opportunity for the deathless spiritual potency at the core of man's being to develop, grow, unfold, into perfection. For Theosophy tells us that the personal man -- the everyday self -- is not immortal. John Smith and Mary Brown are not deathless beings. They are mere personalities, and as such do not reincarnate. It is the units of consciousness behind John Smith and Mary Brown, of which these perhaps quite ordinary persons are but the imperfect aspects -- this root of consciousness in each, this Ego it is that reincarnates.
What man or woman has not often felt how short life is -- how inadequate to express all that one feels of inspiration and capacity within his nature? How often we hear it said, "I am only just learning to live -- now when I am old and just about to die." The Universe, however, is not run in that cruelly wasteful fashion. The very fact that we intuitively KNOW that there are large reserves of power and possibility within us seeking expression -- the fact that nearly everyone yearns to develop, TO BE, that Greater Self that he senses within -- this very urge to a larger and fuller life, is our daily witness to Nature's true purpose for man. It is only because we are so preoccupied with our limited, everyday consciousness as John Smith or Mary Brown, and live only at rare moments in that deep, divine urge of the greater being within, that we are for the most part unconscious of the larger possibilities of life for us.
Let a man, then, first try to realize that he is in his inmost nature a divine consciousness or Ego; that this Ego that is himself has always existed, and shall never cease to live and grow, and develop toward perfection. Let him set his desire and will to realize his oneness with this divine Ego and to bring it out in his daily life as a larger, deeper individuality than that of his personal consciousness. He will then enter upon a new life. He will become a creator, a self-generator of his own illimitable divine destiny. He will begin at last to work self-consciously with the real purpose of evolution.
It is through reincarnation alone that man can bring out, and use, and perfect, the fullness of that hidden wealth of power and capacity of which we are all conscious in some measure. For through reincarnation the Ego undergoes every kind of human experience that this earth affords. In each life, some new facet of character is shaped by environment. New powers and capacities are unfolded from within. Weaknesses, selfishness, and the faults of passion are corrected by suffering, that wise teacher that enables us to recognize and overcome our egoism and limitations.
Every new life gives us another chance. The criminal thus has time and opportunity to reform HIMSELF, and through restitution and self-mastery can advance to better things. One whose need to support and work for others all his life has made cultivation of his musical or other gifts impossible will, by the very strength of that dammed back energy and the moral power generated by devotion to duty, find increased capacity with freedom in another life for its development. So if we use well our opportunities we shall grow steadily from life to life until in some future reincarnation on this Earth character will flower into divine genius and we shall live and work in the fullness of our true spiritual being.
By G. de Purucker
[From a radio broadcast at Hilversum, Holland, on June 11, 1933, reprinted in WIND OF THE SPIRIT, pages 318-23.]
Friends and Brothers of Holland and of Neighboring Lands:
It was on the afternoon of September 20, 1931 that I had the first opportunity to speak over this great radio broadcasting station of Hilversum; and today, due to the great courtesy of the Directors of this Station, I am again addressing you on a few at least of the most important doctrines of Theosophy.
It is a genuine pleasure to talk to open-minded people in this our present era of rapid progress, albeit also an era of transition and very rapid change. The so-called truths of our fathers are in many instances now seen to be but half-truths, or, indeed, no truths at all; and the modern man and woman, dissatisfied with the limited ideals of our ancestors, are seeking new things, yearning for a greater light than was had before. The modern man and woman are no longer content, at least the great majority of them, with the principles of thought and conduct that the religions and philosophies of the last few hundred years once laid down as needful for a noble living and a noble dying.
Everywhere the cry goes up from hungry hearts and anxious minds: What is Truth? Where may it be found? Is there anything in the world that is stable and that can withstand the searching inquiry of scientific researchers and discoverers? And on the other hand, the more subtle and even more urgent questioning of the human spirit-soul?
We Theosophists, from our own individual experience, are convinced through every fiber of our being that the ancient spiritual and intellectual wisdom of mankind today called Theosophy, is the only systematic body of teaching known to the world today that has naught to fear from any discovery of the inquisitive science of the Occident, nor, again, from the still more searching and still more present questioning of the greatest minds of the human race.
In an age when old standards are crumbling, new standards of life and conduct are absolutely needed; and if these cannot be found and followed, there is every danger that our Occidental civilization will crash to earth. The saying of the old Hebrew writer in PROVERBS, xxix, 18, "Where there is no vision, the people perish," is true indeed. It is precisely this new vision that Theosophy gives to men, a new vision of the Universe, a new vision of the nature and character of man, showing how the Universe and man stand somewhat in the relation of parent and offspring; and hence, when we know the nature of the Universe and its structure and operations and laws, we have an infallible key by which we may understand the nature and origin and character and destiny of man, and, indeed of all other beings and things whatsoever.
One of the most interesting studies of the wonderful Theosophical philosophy deals precisely with these great questions. I urge that all those who are interested in knowing what our Theosophical doctrines have to say about these matters study our books; and they will find a field of thought, which although new to the Occident, is so old that its origin runs back into the mists of immemorial antiquity. Theosophy has no quarrel with any one of the great religions. It simply points out to the adherents of any religion the origin and real meaning of their beliefs, Christianity included among them; for we Theosophists say that the core or heart of every great world-religion or world-philosophy is precisely that system of doctrine that today is called Theosophy.
Now, what are some few at least of the main doctrines of Theosophy that will bring great help to modern men and women, which will tend to solve their intellectual questions, and that will bring hope and comfort to their hearts and a new and sublime vision to their minds? I will briefly describe a few that those who are interested can study in detail in our books. Let me take up very briefly, first, our teaching concerning the existence of a great Brotherhood of highly evolved men. They are not gods nor excarnate spirits, but just what I have said: highly evolved men, men who through many ages have brought into relatively full activity the tremendous spiritual, intellectual, and psychical powers that lie latent and therefore unused in the average man.
This Brotherhood of the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace, as exemplified by the great Sages and Seers of the past, some of whose names are known to every civilized fireside, such as Gautama the Buddha and Krishna, in India; Lao-Tze and Confucius in China; Jesus called the Christ of Palestine, who is, as of course you know, the Christian Master; Apollonius of Tyana, Empedocles, and Plato. There are many more whose names would probably be unknown. These men are not all of equal spiritual rank, of course, but all of them have belonged and still do belong to this great Brotherhood, because they reincarnate, at least most of them, from age to age in order to bring wisdom and love and peace into the world again with their teachings.
This Brotherhood from time to time send forth one of their Messengers or Envoys into the world, to strike once more the keynotes of spiritual and intellectual truth, and to show men who have lost the great vision how once more to regain it and to set their feet on the pathway leading to wisdom and peace and progress. It was from this Brotherhood that H.P. Blavatsky came forth and founded the Theosophical Society in the city of New York in 1875, a Society that now is an organization with branches in all parts of the world, and that invites to membership all who genuinely love their fellowmen and who desire to study truth and to improve not only their own characters, but also the spiritual and social condition of their fellowmen.
Another one of our great doctrines that is closely linked with that of the existence of this great Brotherhood, is the teaching that all human beings reincarnate or reembodied themselves on earth in life after life after life, gaining experience, gaining wisdom, gaining spiritual and intellectual and moral strength in each life, and thus progressing or evolving throughout the ages of time. Each new life on earth, each new reincarnation, is, as it were, a new chance to correct the mistakes of the past lives, to live the present life nobler than the last one was lived, to grow stronger and better and wiser in every sense. It offers to us men the chance to meet once again those whom we loved in other lives; yes, and to meet those whom, alas, we may have hated, and to undo the wrongs, perchance, that once we did to them.
Just as the seasons come and go, each autumn being a season of death to the vegetation, to be followed by the next spring bringing forth a new reembodiment, as it were, of the vegetable life of the earth, just so do human beings return repeatedly. Just as the planets revolve around the sun in cyclical order, just so do men return in cyclical order to the fields of earth where once they lived, and where because of that fact they MUST return again, because they are drawn hither by attractions that are exceedingly strong and cannot be gainsaid.
Reincarnation or reembodiment is but one exemplification of Nature's law of periodicity, that is to say of recurring cycles, which means in other words that what has happened once must happen again, and because it happens again it will happen a third time, and so on indefinitely. Human life, therefore, is not measured by a single short period of human existence, nor are human hopes measured by the period between birth and the grave; for this would be impossible, and is seen to be unnatural, when once we understand Nature's universal and unfailing law of periodicity or cyclical recurrences.
Pause and think a moment, and consider the birth of a little child. Here we see a helpless infant showing in no wise when born the amazing faculties and powers, emotions and feelings, that it will manifest when it becomes adult. It is just so when we sow a seed in the earth, the seed shows in no wise the wonderful plant that it will bring forth, with its trunk and branches and twigs and leaves, beautiful flowers and fruit. All the tree is locked up in the seed, just as all the faculties and powers of a man are locked up or lying latent in the child. And yet, as the child grows, they all spring forth into activity, and we pause before that marvel of the world, a self-conscious, thinking, feeling, planning, creative man, Nature's noblest work on earth.
All man's faculties and powers come from the discipline undergone in previous lives, come from the lessons learned in previous lives, come from exercising in previous lives the imperfect faculties that make man's constitution. Just so are we in this life, we men of earth, shaping and framing what our next life on earth will be. Let us look to it that we make our characters shapely and majestic, instead of distorted and evil; because in the next life, we shall be what in this life we are now making ourselves to be.
The doctrine of Reincarnation is a noble doctrine because it is very, very just; and as one pauses in thought over it, one sees how true it is. And this leads me naturally, after this brief outline of the doctrine of Reembodiment, to a third noble doctrine of the Theosophical philosophy. We Theosophists call it Karma, that is to say the doctrine of consequences or results, meaning that what a man sows in the field of his character, that exactly will the man reap as his destiny, either in this life or in his next life, or in future lives to come. It is the doctrine of cause and effect, the doctrine that we make ourselves by our own thoughts and feelings and wills, and therefore actions, to be what we are, indeed to be WHAT WE SHALL BECOME in the future. Briefly, as I have said, it is the doctrine that what we sow we shall reap, and what we have sown in other lives we are reaping now in this present life.
When men understand this noble doctrine, then hope takes the place of despair, because we realize that we can make our lives what we will them to be, and that there is no fundamental injustice in the world. We realize that we can raise ourselves by our own efforts and self-discipline to be almost human gods; or, conversely, that we can sink almost to beastly depths, if we willfully degrade our manhood by evil thinking, evil feeling, and therefore evil acting.
There are many other doctrines of Theosophy that are equally beautiful and wonderful with these; but today I have no more time to speak to you about them. But with these three doctrines placed before you, you must see at once how closely they hang together: first, the existence of a Brotherhood of sublimely noble men who are the protectors and guardians of the human race, and who from time to time appear on earth as the guides and helpers of mankind. Second, the doctrine of Reincarnation that shows how not only these noble men whom we call the Masters have grown to be such, but it shows how all men can become nobler and greater by means of the law of Nature that the third doctrine, that of Karma or of consequences, sets forth.
Theosophy above everything else is a doctrine of hope, a doctrine that teaches the brotherhood of mankind, and that justice rules in the world. Its teachings alleviate disharmony, destroy the seeds of human disintegration, whether individual or international. Every Theosophist in his heart looks forward to the day when the Council-Chambers of the peoples of the earth will be filled with men whose minds are permeated by these noble doctrines, explaining the facts of the Universe and the laws that govern it.
Friends and Brothers of Holland, and Friends and Brothers of neighboring countries, from our International Headquarters at Point Loma, California, I have come many thousands of miles to do what I can to carry this Message of hope and peace and wisdom and brotherhood to those who are willing to hear. Our Society is very active in your own beautiful country, my Brothers of Holland, and those who are interested in Theosophy can learn more of Theosophy by coming into touch with our Dutch representatives.
Before I leave you, I would like to answer the question: What is the Pathway to the Masters, to the Great Ones? The way to come unto them is to be like them. They are listening always, watching always, casting their gaze over the face of the earth, searching out men, looking for signs of spiritual and intellectual awakening, which they, owing to their deep knowledge of Nature's laws, can see and read, and in seeing and reading, they interpret, and know just where this man or that man stands.
Be like unto them, therefore. That is the Path. Be more like unto them, and you will have advanced along that Pathway. Be still more like unto them, and you have advanced still farther along the Path; until suddenly one day you will realize that instead of being very far away, the Masters are your Brothers, and that they are with you.
It is simply a matter of becoming like unto your OWN spiritual being. Be peaceful, be kindly, be gentle, and be forgiving. Strive to know more of Nature and her wonderful laws. Cultivate your intellect as well as your spiritual intuitions. Love all things both great and small, without distinction in your mind or without difference of emotion in your heart. Be just unto all beings. Strive to polish and enlarge your intellectual sympathies, realizing, however, that a man's first duty is to love his own country, and strictly to obey its laws. Above everything else, strive to become more at one with the Divinity within you, which makes your feeling of oneness with the Universe to be an actuality in your life. Feel your spiritual unity with all things, which is a way of becoming one with all things.
Brothers of Holland, Brothers of other countries, may the vision that I have spoken of come to all of you whose minds yearn for a greater light, and whose hearts yearn for a greater love. I thank you.
By Anna Kingsford
[From LUCIFER, November 15, 1887, pages 181-85.]
I am unable to say where or when the events related in the following pages took place. Neither can I give any details concerning the personal circumstances of the narrator. All I know is that she was a young woman of French nationality, and that the "uncle" of whom she speaks -- her senior by some thirty years -- was more distinguished as a philosopher than as an enthusiast. Whether the conspiracy against the reigning authorities in which our heroine and her friends were implicated, happened to be of any historical importance or not, is also more than I can say.
As my object in reproducing the narrative is merely to illustrate the curious operation through natural channels of laws, which are usually regarded as "occult," and the activity of which on the material plane has given rise to the common notion of "miracle," I do not propose to trouble the reader or myself with any preamble of merely local interest. So, without more introduction, I leave the diary of the writer to recount the adventure set down therein by her own hand.
I was concerned in a very prominent way in a political struggle for liberty and the people's rights. My part in this struggle was, indeed, the leading one, but my uncle had been drawn into it at my instance, and was implicated in a secondary manner only. The government sought our arrest, and, for a time, we evaded all attempts to take us, but at last, we were surprised and driven under escort in a private carriage to a military station, where we were to be detained for examination. With us was arrested a man popularly known as Fou, a poor weakling whom I much pitied.
When we arrived at the station that was our destination, Fou gave some trouble to the officials. I think he fainted, but at all events, his conveyance from the carriage to the military barracks needed the conjoined efforts of our escort, and some commotion was caused by his appearance among the crowd assembled to see us. Clearly, the crowd was sympathetic with us and hostile to the military. I particularly noticed one woman who pressed forward as Fou was being carried into the station, and who loudly called on all present to note his feeble condition and the barbarity of arresting a witless creature such as he.
At that moment, my uncle laid his hand on my arm and whispered, "Now is our time. The guards are all occupied with Fou. We are left alone for a minute. Let us jump out of the carriage and run!"
As he said this, he opened the carriage door on the side opposite to the barracks and alighted in the street. I instantly followed, and the people favoring us, we pressed through them and fled at the top of our speed down the road.
As we ran, I spied a pathway winding up a hillside away from the town, and cried, "Let us go up there. Let us get away from the streets!"
My uncle answered, "No, no. They would see us there immediately at that height, the path is too conspicuous. Our best safety is to lose ourselves in the town. We may throw them off our track by winding in and out of the streets."
Just then, a little child, playing in the road, got in our way, and nearly threw us down as we ran. We had to pause a moment to recover ourselves.
"That child may have cost us our lives," whispered my uncle breathlessly.
A second afterwards, we reached the bottom of the street that branched off right and left. I hesitated a moment, and then we both turned to the right. As we did so -- in the twinkling of an eye -- we found ourselves in the midst of a group of soldiers coming round the corner. I ran straight into the arms of one of them, who the same instant knew me and seized me by throat and waist with a grip of iron. This was a horrible moment! The iron grasp was sudden and solid as the grip of a vice. The man's arm held my waist like a bar of steel.
"I arrest you!" he cried, and the soldiers immediately closed round us.
At once, I realized the hopelessness of the situation, the utter futility of resistance. "You do not need to hold me thus," I said to the officer, "I will go quietly."
He loosened his hold and we were then marched off to another military station, in a different part of the town from that whence we had escaped. The man who had arrested me was a sergeant or some officer in petty command.
He took me alone with him into the guardroom, and placed before me on a wooden table some papers that he told me to fill in and sign. Then he sat down opposite to me and I looked through the papers. They were forms, with blanks left for descriptions specifying the name, occupation, age, address, and so forth of arrested persons. I signed them, and pushing them across the table to the man, asked him what was to be done with us.
"You will be shot," he replied, quickly and decisively.
"Both of us?" I asked.
"Both," he replied.
"But," said I, "my companion has done nothing to deserve death. He was drawn into this struggle entirely by me. Consider, too, his advanced age. His hair is white, he stoops, and had it not been for the difficulty with which he moves his limbs, both of us would probably be at this moment in a place of safety. What can you gain by shooting an old man such as he is?"
The officer was silent. He neither favored nor discouraged me by his manner. While I sat awaiting his reply, I glanced at the hand with which I had just signed the papers, and a sudden idea flashed into my mind.
"At least," I said, "grant me one request. If my uncle must die, let me die first."
Now I made this request for the following reason. In my right hand, the line of life broke abruptly halfway in its length, indicating a sudden and violent death. But the point at which it broke was terminated by a perfectly marked square, extraordinarily clear-cut and distinct. Such a square, occurring at the end of a broken line, means rescue, salvation.
I had long been aware of this strange figuration in my hand, and had often wondered what it presaged. But now, as once more I looked at it, it came upon me with sudden conviction that in some way I was destined to be delivered from death at the last moment, and I thought that if this be so, it would be horrible should my uncle have been killed first. If I were to be saved, I should certainly save him also, for my pardon would involve the pardon of both, or my rescue the rescue of both. Therefore, it was important to provide for his safety until after my fate was decided.
The officer seemed to take this last request into more serious consideration than the first. He said shortly, "I may be able to manage that for you," and then at once rose and took up the papers I had signed.
"When are we to be shot," I asked him.
"Tomorrow morning," he replied, as promptly as before. Then he went out, turning the key of the guardroom upon me.
The dawn of the next day broke darkly. It was a terribly stormy day; great black lurid thunderclouds lay piled along the horizon, and came up slowly and awfully against the wind. I looked upon them with terror; they seemed so near the earth, and so like living, watching things. They hung out of the sky, extending long ghostly arms downwards, and their gloom and density seemed supernatural.
The soldiers took us out, our hands bound behind us, into a quadrangle at the back of their barracks. The scene is sharply impressed on my mind. A palisade of two sides of a square, made of wooden planks, ran round the quadrangle. Behind this palisade, and pressed up close against it was a mob of men and women -- the people of the town -- come to see the execution. Their faces were sympathetic; they had an unmistakable look of mingled grief and rage, not unmixed with desperation -- for they were a downtrodden folk -- shone in the hundreds of eyes turned towards us.
I was the only woman among the condemned. My uncle was there, poor Fou as well, looking bewildered, and one or two other prisoners.
On the third and fourth sides of the quadrangle was a high wall, and in a certain place was a niche partly enclosing the trunk of a tree, cut off at the top. An iron ring was driven into the trunk midway, evidently for securing condemned persons for execution. I guessed it would be used for that now. In the center of the square piece of ground stood a file of soldiers, armed with carbines, and an officer with a drawn saber. The palisade was guarded by a row of soldiers somewhat sparsely distributed, certainly not more than a dozen in all.
A Catholic priest in black cassock walked beside me, and as we were conducted into the enclosure, he turned to me and offered religious consolation. I declined his ministrations, but asked him anxiously if he knew which of us was to die first. "You," he replied. "The officer in charge of you said you wished it, and he has been able to accede to your request."
Even then, I felt a singular joy at hearing this, though I had no longer any expectation of release. Death was, I thought, far too near at hand for that.
Just then, a soldier approached us, and led me, bareheaded, to the tree trunk, where he placed me with my back against it and made fast my hands behind me with a rope to the iron ring. No bandage was put over my eyes. I stood thus, facing the file of soldiers in the middle of the quadrangle, and noticed that the officer with the drawn saber placed himself at the extremity of the line, composed of six men.
In that supreme moment, I also noticed that their uniform was bright with steel accoutrements. Their helmets were of steel and their carbines, as they raised them and pointed them at me, ready cocked, glittered in a fitful gleam of sunlight with the same burnished metal.
There was an instant's stillness and hush while the men took aim; then I saw the officer raise his bared saber as the signal to fire. It flashed in the air; then with a suddenness impossible to convey, the whole quadrangle blazed with an awful light -- a light so vivid, so intense, so blinding, so indescribable that everything was blotted out and devoured by it.
It crossed my brain with instantaneous conviction that this amazing glare was the physical effect of being shot, and that the bullets had pierced my brain or heart, and caused this frightful sense of all-pervading flame. Vaguely I remembered having read or having been told that such was the result produced on the nervous system of a victim to death from firearms.
"It is over," I said, "that was the bullets." But presently there forced itself on my dazed senses a sound -- a confusion of sounds -- darkness succeeding the white flash -- then steadying itself into gloomy daylight; a tumult; a heap of stricken, tumbled men lying stone-still before me; a fearful horror upon every living face.
Then it all burst on me with distinct conviction. The storm that had been gathering all the morning had culminated in its blackest and most electric point immediately overhead. The file of soldiers appointed to shoot me stood exactly under it. Sparkling with bright steel on head and breast and carbines, they stood shoulder to shoulder, a complete lightning conductor, and at the end of the chain they formed, their officer, at the critical moment, raised his shining, naked blade towards the sky.
Instantaneously heaven opened, and the lightning fell, attracted by the burnished steel. From blade to carbine, from helmet to breastplate, it ran, smiting every man dead as he stood. They fell like a row of ninepins, blackened in face and hand in an instant -- in the twinkling of an eye -- dead. The electric flame licked the life out of seven men in that second; not one moved a muscle or a finger again.
Then followed a wild scene. The crowd, stupefied for a minute by the thunderbolt and the horror of the devastation it had wrought, recovered sense, and with a mighty shout hurled itself against the palisade, burst it, leapt over it and swarmed into the quadrangle, easily overpowering the unnerved guards.
I was surrounded, eager hands unbound mine, arms were thrown about me; the people roared, and wept, and triumphed, and fell about me on their knees praising Heaven. I think rain fell, my face was wet with drops, and my hair -- but I knew no more, for I swooned and lay unconscious in the arms of the crowd. My rescue had indeed come, and from the very Heavens!
By C.J. Lopez
[An address before the Vyasa Theosophical Society, New Orleans, published in THE PATH, May 1894, pages 52-56.]
As far as my personal interest in the Theosophical studies is concerned, it matters little if these beings do exist or not. For, if the teaching satisfies my sense of truth, if the scrutiny fails to discover in it anything that revolts my reason, what does it matter from whence it comes? Is truth less worthy of our assimilation because we are not personally acquainted with its promulgator?
But the very plan, constitution, or POLICY of the Theosophical Society demands imperatively as its foundation rock the existence of those advanced beings in order to explain, without superstitious beliefs in supernatural revelations, this new outpouring of old forgotten truths that forms the bulk of its tenets.
If the men of our race and age are ever going to make of Theosophy a practical guide in their daily life and not a mere speculation, an intellectual fad, or a sort of system of mental gymnastics, they must first conceive the Masters as ideals to imitate. They must picture them as men more advanced on the path of evolution than the best of us, nearer to perfection and freer from the many obstacles that our ignorance of the ultimate forces of nature opposes to the exercise of our will. This conception of what a Master must be should be devoid of superstition and mysticism.
It must not be supposed that they are super-human beings, whom, being entrusted with special missions and endowed with supernatural powers, are capable of violating the eternal laws of Nature to suit their own caprice. They must not be considered as exceptions, but as natural products of normal evolution, carried to a point of which we did not dream before. They must he looked upon as men who through a long series of incarnations, by willful and conscious efforts, whose motive has always been the good of others, and whose characteristic has always been self-sacrifice, have arrived at that state of perfection that would be the condition of a human being possessing at the same time mental qualities far superior to those of our greater savants, and heart qualities far beyond those of the greatest self-sacrificing heroes who honor the history of mankind.
Who shall slander humanity by saying that such attainments are impossible in a long series of incarnations? Who shall deny that there are today many obscure men and women sacrificing themselves for the good of others, doing their full duty and even more than their strict duty without discrimination, fear, nor hope; and that there are many ignored students, consuming their life in the thankless task of pushing a little further the barriers of ignorance that limit today every modern science?
Why not believe that these men and women are progressing towards Adeptship, some treading now the path of Knowledge and others the path of Compassion? When a student, after having Mastered all the secrets of Nature, not only on its material aspect but in what is called its occult side, shall become also a philanthropist capable of sacrificing himself, not for a particular set of people but for the whole of humanity, then a new Master will have evolved.
Let us see now if there are any proofs of the existence of such Masters at the present time. I will divide these proofs in three classes: logical deductions, actual sensible experiences of reliable witnesses, and direct psychical recognitions.
The most commonly used logical proof is that derived from evolution. If we admit that a stone becomes in the course of ages a plant, that this plant becomes an animal, and this animal a man, why shall we be conceited enough to think that men, such as we, are the ne-plus-ultra of terrestrial evolution? To all those who have studied and not merely read about the sciences of chemistry, physics, astronomy, and physiology, it is plain that our civilization has wrested from Nature many a valuable secret. It is equally plain that we only know one aspen of Nature, the physical or grossly material, and that very imperfectly yet, since the ultimate laws upon which those sciences are based are far from being understood.
We find in each one of those realms of human knowledge some of the greatest authorities, not the lesser lights, frankly admitting that when they reach the very bottom of academic orthodoxy in their favorite science, they get glimpses of a rich realm far beyond, with new laws more universal and complete in their play than those of physical matter, with new forces far superior and more refined than those hitherto known, and new possibilities far surpassing the wildest conceptions of the most poetical dreamer.
Some men, removed from the hurried struggle for self-gratification of the occidental world, have more time and more energy to devote to the purest investigations of science, communing with nature in its unspoiled grandeur and concentrating their efforts not on self-aggrandizement but rather on self-improvement. Is it not logical to admit that under such conditions, they must certainly have mastered these occult sciences of which even we are beginning to stammer it's A-B-C's, and that using those sciences practically, as we do those that we know, they are capable of producing effects that we do not understand any more than the Eskimo at the Fair understand the modus operandi of the electric plant?
Another logical proof is that derived from the nature of the Theosophical teachings themselves. They provide doctrines that embrace the Divine Principle, Nature, and man, condensing in one harmonious whole the fragmentary knowledge of the Orient and the Occident, of the ancient sages and prophets, the medieval philosophers and seers, and the modern scientists and metaphysicians. They explain satisfactorily the physical, psychical, and spiritual phenomena. They cover the triple ground of science, philosophy, and religion, not only without omissions and without shortcomings but, on the contrary, filling the gaps that we had found in that triple realm of human knowledge and uniting the three in one. Such doctrines cannot be the invention of ordinary men, much less the offspring of unscientific minds like those of A.P. Sinnett, Madame Blavatsky, and Col. Olcott. What else can it be? The revelation of a personal God, the inspiration of dead personalities, or the instruction of perfected living human beings, such as the Masters are.
The first supposition is untenable because a personal God is an absurdity. The second is untenable also because death is no initiation and the fact of dying cannot by itself confer superior knowledge; therefore by the simple logical process of reductio ad absurdum, the existence of the Masters is proven by the very nature of their teachings, just as a tree is recognized by its fruit.
But there are still more material proofs in the testimony of trustworthy witnesses. Without counting hundreds of Hindus to whom their existence is a simple matter of fact, we have the volunteer affirmations of A.P. Sinnett, Madame Blavatsky, Col. Olcott, Countess Wachtmeister, Annie Besant, William Q. Judge, and many others. Some have seen the Masters several times even in their physical bodies, and one of whom (Olcott) has still a material tangible object given to him by a Master as a proof that he was not dreaming.
Note that all these people are well known and trustworthy, that they have repeated their experiences and asserted the same thing for eighteen years, that they cannot possibly mistake, and that they are either lying or telling the truth. Why should they lie? There is no material interest involved; they have nothing to gain by their assertions except the unenviable position of targets for every scoffer's ridicule.
In fact, their social standing would be rather ameliorated by a contrary assertion, for then they would appear as mighty reformers and not as mere instruments.
Is it possible that they lie for the sake of disowning the authorship of books that are in the hands of thousands of admiring readers? If such were the case, it would be more wonderful than the existence of the Masters, and certainly there is no court of justice that would not render a favorable decision upon such testimony.
Unfortunately, we have to deal not with frank deniers, but with reserved doubters, whose favorite argument is that the experience of others cannot be proof for them.
To these I will dedicate my last series of proofs, and I will say that the Masters have never refused to manifest their existence to those who place themselves in the proper conditions.
They do not show themselves promiscuously to curiosity seekers; they do not mix with the ordinary daily life of men, because they would have no object in doing so and no good would ever come out of it; but they do not hide themselves or try to monopolize the state of Adeptship by preventing others from reaching them. On the contrary, there are no obstacles outside of us on the path leading to the Masters. There are no barred doors, no whimsical initiations. They have affirmed several times that they are ready to help those who seek to approach them with purity of motive by raising themselves up to them, that is to say, by following the same route that they formerly traversed.
There is such a thing as direct apprehension of a fact or a truth without any intervening process of reasoning and without any extraneous intervention. The occidental world is beginning to make its first blundering experiments in psychometry, mesmerism, clairvoyance, etc., and already there are sufficient scientific facts to formulate the opinion of a possible psychical intercourse between kindred souls without any physical or even astral manipulations. This faculty is not the property of any man or set of men. It is common to all. It is latent in all human beings. The only obstacles to its developments are our own wrong habits and accumulated impulses in a more material direction.
As we are free agents, all that we have to do, if we want to remove the mist of our own manufacture that beclouds our higher perception, is to cultivate more our better and more elevated faculties and live less within the narrow limits of our personality.
Of course, the process is a long one, not always achieved in one earthly life. Of course, there are dangers to be encountered, but even in physical training, there are dangers. How many would-be athletes have broken their necks? How many chemical experimenters have been diseased for life by poisonous fumes or maimed by unexpected explosions? How many electricians have been killed by the subtle current? These dangers arise mainly from precipitateness, lack of accuracy, and imperfect knowledge.
Let us learn thoroughly, let us be accurate in every act and thought. Let us progress with patient coolness. Let us be unselfish in the sense of being always actively at work for the benefit of others, purifying our own lower planes to give no hold to those astral influences that have converted so many weak mediums and unprepared wonder-seekers into moral wrecks or silly maniacs. Then I think that we shall naturally evolve, step by step, until our highest perceptions (call them intuitions if you will) shall be sufficiently open to permit to us a direct cognizance of the Masters' existence.
Bear in mind that they have reached their present high state of evolution mainly by active altruism and self-denial, that their only aim is to help humanity as a whole; therefore, if we imitate them as best we can, we will become in our humble way kindred with them, and then, and only then, shall we know their existence.
Let us wipe out the vapors of selfishness that dim the mirror of our higher consciousness. Let us become willing and efficient cooperators in the Masters' altruistic work for the sake of humanity as a whole. Let us do the work assigned to us by our Karma well and thoroughly, without hope of personal reward. Then the Masters will reveal themselves to us, not by wonderful physical phenomena, but rather by simple, direct communion through the highest planes of our being, those planes that are the true field of their activity.
[From THE ARYAN PATH, January 1938, pages 1-4. Note that references to other articles "in this issue" refer to that magazine and not to the current issue of THEOSOPHY WORLD.]
The only God man comes in contact with is his own God, called Spirit, Soul and Mind, or Consciousness, and these three are one.
-- H.P. BLAVATSKY
The invisible has ever haunted the human instinct and lured the human mind. As a scientific reaction to religious superstition, however, the very existence of the invisible was denied in the last century. The phenomena of Spiritism or Spiritualism divided the ranks of the scientists, some of whom began to investigate them.
The Society for Psychical Research was founded in 1882, but its investigations have not taken the public far. It has collected many data but has been unable to give any definite knowledge. Compared to half a century of achievements by physicists or physiologists, astronomers or chemists, those of the psychical researcher are worse than negligible. What is wrong with their prodigious labor?
The founders and early workers of the Society for Psychical Research committed numerous errors, two of which appear to us serious blunders. First, brought up to regard their method of research by the aid of the five senses as the only reliable one, these investigators applied it to their study of the invisible and the psychic aspects of man and the universe. Even today, the Psychical Researcher suffers from the limitations of that method. Secondly, not accustomed to looking for information and knowledge gathered by those outside their own scientific school, they failed to take advantage of the available instruction. For example, H.P. Blavatsky's ISIS UNVEILED was published in 1877 and the two volumes contained not only a very complete record of abnormal phenomena, workings of psychic faculties, etc., but more -- they offered logical, convincing, and reasoned explanations of all of them.
These teachings were rejected offhand because they were obtained by a method and in a manner unfamiliar to science then, and even now, though to a slightly less extent. The Psychical Researcher did not even take the trouble to verify Madame Blavatsky's repeated statement that the ancient Eastern world knew very fully about psychic faculties and forces; he never thought of using data available in the East. Proceeding along their own line, they soon made a groove for the Society for Psychical Research, and in that narrow groove, most of their successors have been going round and round.
Spiritists and Spiritualists have put forward the evidence of thousands of phenomena, but they fail to give a rational explanation of how they occur, what they signify, and more -- they do not either inspire or instruct people to a more enlightened living. They too did not and do not like the views of Madame Blavatsky, but for a different reason. They traced all abnormal phenomena to the "spirits of the dead, the dear departed." But in their ranks, the reiterated single-word explanation -- "Spirits" -- is being abandoned.
Outside the fold of Spiritists and of Psychical Researchers, a large body of people shows a more than detachedly academic or fashionably social interest in the invisible and the abnormal.
No educated person doubts today that phenomena do occur and that psychic forces and abnormal powers exist. It is admitted on all hands that there are no miracles in Nature and that everything that happens is the result of law -- eternal, immutable, ever active. Apparent miracle is but the operation of forces unknown to the modern world. Only those who exploit the ignorance of the unlettered masses uphold miracles, and then only in their own church and by their own members, decrying "miracle-workers" of other denominations.
The range of these supernormal, not supernatural, phenomena almost defies classification by the ordinary investigator, and the simplest of them -- a table-rap, for example -- remains an unexplained mystery. The raps are heard, the tables move, the spooks are seen, and a score of other manifestations are perceived. In spite of fraudulent mediums, there is enough evidence that there are genuine ones, through whose agency these phenomena do take place. But HOW do they occur? It is not known.
Two thin lines of thought, however, indicate the "progress" made by the student of the occult, who is not also a student of the Esoteric Philosophy recorded by H.P. Blavatsky. First, it is now accepted that "Spirits" of many different kinds exist. Second, that every man and every woman is a psychic to some extent, and that there is as much of psychic contact among the living themselves as between the living and the dead. Further, each man is an embodied spirit, who whispers his message to the brain-mind, speaks as the voice of conscience, and so on. This is once more brought out in a recent volume, HORIZONS OF IMMORTALITY by Baron Erik Palmstierna, the Swedish Ambassador at the Court of St. James, reviewed in this number by John Middleton Murry. It is brought out that "not all the spirits who have communicated with them have had mortal existence."
That all "spirits" are not surviving invisible relics of mortals is one of the teachings reiterated and emphasized by H.P. Blavatsky in the last century, only to be ridiculed and rejected. Writing in May 1890, she repeated the view she had expressed and explained in 1877:
Years have been devoted by the writer to the study of those invisible Beings -- conscious, semi-conscious, and entirely senseless -- called by a number of names in every country under the sun, and known under the generic name of "Spirits."
-- "Raja-Yoga or Occultism," page 75.
She has fully explained their natures and functions and in doing so repeatedly said to the Spiritists or Spiritualists -- "Do not insist that at all seances all that takes place is the work of the spirits of the dead." Baron Palmstierna and his friends accept that view, but unless he and they study with care the teachings of the Eastern Wisdom-Religion, they will not be able to determine what or whom they contact, or to distinguish between "spirit of health" and "goblin damned," between mischief-loving sprite and soulless spook.
Judging the book, as it should be judged, on the merit of its actual contents, we cannot but agree with our esteemed reviewer:
I am inclined to doubt whether his [Baron Palmstierna's] systematic inquiries have yielded him any knowledge which he did not, in some sense, already possess, and which he might not have been better advised to produce out of his own depths.
But that raises the important question: can a living man, i.e., embodied spirit, develop his own psychic mechanism and thus receive knowledge from within himself? The quick answer is -- "Of course." Mr. John Middleton Murry describes his own psychic experimentation according to "the only technique of the kind of which I have personal experience." He was "amazed and disturbed by the relevance and apparent profundity of many of the answers I received." Mr. Murry offers two likely explanations about one communication he obtained; it may have been "a higher power" who communicated, or "some unknown organ in my friends." But why cannot it be the function of his OWN "unknown organ?" Why cannot he have produced it "out of his own depths?"
There is a sort of conscious telegraphic communication going on incessantly, day and night, between the physical brain and the inner man. The brain is such a complex thing, both physically and metaphysically, that it is like a tree whose bark you can remove, layer by layer, each layer being different from all the others, and each having its own special work, function, and properties.
The mood in which Mr. Murry was when he experimented and the procedure he adopted in asking his questions and receiving his answers can well be described as -- Mr. Murry speaking to Mr. Murry. Grant that within the normal consciousness of Mr. Murry is an Immortal Ego who functions super-normally, however intermittently, causing certain mystical experiences, and it becomes clear why the receiving of the message told "me, indeed, nothing that I did not know, in some sense, already."
Turn to a psychic like Emanuel Swedenborg, the seer of Stockholm. By some, he is looked upon as a Prophet; others respect Swedenborg for his scientific and philosophical knowledge while rejecting his "visions" as childish foolishness. In his article in this issue, Mr. George Godwin favors the description of H.P. Blavatsky who said that Swedenborg was a natural-born seer, which does not make him an infallible Prophet on the one hand or a deluded mind on the other, but explains why he displayed such phenomenal powers. Swedenborg was a genius of a particular type. He was one whose psychic senses, latent in most men, began functioning on their own, so to speak, and without the deliberate training which makes a man an Adept.
The phenomenon of Genius is very intimately related to the psycho-spiritual structure of man. There are geniuses and geniuses -- not only are there different instruments through which genius expresses itself, but also there are differences in the degree in which it expresses itself. Baron Palmstierna is a genius and so is Mr. Murry, and also Swedenborg -- each in his own line and each in his own degree. There are greater and lesser diplomats than the Swedish Baron, as there are greater and lesser psychics than the Swedish seer, and again greater and lesser writers than Middleton Murry or George Godwin, but there is "genius" at work in them as in every creative artist and every true philanthropist.
The quality of consciousness dwelling in the brain determines whether a person is, shall we say, spiritually speaking, one-dimensional or two or three or four, or -- seven. Occultism teaches that physical man is one, but the thinking man septenary, thinking, willing, feeling, and living on seven different states of being or planes of consciousness, and that for all these states and planes, the permanent Ego (not the false personality) has a distinct set of senses.
The article elsewhere, which surveys George Duhamel's views about genius, indicates that genius is capable of development, and that not by psychic exercises and subnormal habits bordering on vice, but by virtuous habits, moral discipline, and mental devotion perseveringly observed from day to day. The enthusiast for the higher life has enough work to do with himself, if abandoning the dangerous way of mediumship he takes the path of Discipleship leading to Adeptship. Everyone within himself is a budding genius and can develop into a seer; but unless he instructs himself, theoretically and practically, in the Wisdom of the Sages of old, his seership will be not only faulty and mislead him and others, but will also prove highly dangerous.
Every seer, every genius, every psychic, therefore almost every man, has two roads before him -- that of the medium who becomes the passive instrument of foreign influences, mostly of a degenerating kind, and that of the Adept who actively controls himself and all inferior potencies, but who never interferes with the free will of any human being.
By Charles Johnston
[From LUCIFER, December 15, 1887, pages 252-57.]
'Tis thus at the roaring Loom of Time I ply, And weave for God the garment thou seest Him by.
-- Faust, ERD. GEIST
The sunset, to the boor a mere mass of evening vapors, presaging rain for his fields or heat for his harvest, expands for the poet, standing beside him and beholding the self-same firmament, into a splendid picture, rich in crimson and purple, in golden light and gleaming color, mingled in harmonious purity.
Whence so great a difference?
The poet has finer eyes; and within the mere material forms perceives a subtle essence, which flows everywhere through nature, adding to all it touches a new wealth of joy and power. The poet's eyes have opened to a new reality; he no longer values things for themselves; but in proportion as they contain this quality, they become dear to him.
But beyond the poet, there is yet a third rank. The poet, it is true, rejoices in nature, and perceives its beauty and symbolic character. But he rests in the beauty of the symbol, and does not pass to the reality symbolized. Rapt in adoration of the beauty of the garment, he does not pierce through to Him who wears the garment. This remains for the philosopher -- the sage. Yet the boor has his place in Nature. He has tilled and subdued the soil, has brought its latent powers into action; in command of nature, he is far in advance of the mere nomad savage, for whom nature is a maze of uncertain and unconquered forces.
The savage, the boor, the poet; these types have their parallels in mental life.
When the crude conceptions of nature, which mark dawning civilization give place to those fair and truer, because more harmonious view that bear the name of Science; when the principle of Continuity, the reign of Universal Law, have displaced the first notions of Chance and Discord, the work of the physical scientist is done. He must stand aside, and make way for the philosopher, the transcendentalist. Modern Science has replaced the crudities of medieval theology by the idea of an orderly universe permeated by Law, binding alike the galaxy and the atom, as the tillage of the farmer has replaced the nomadism of the savage.
But within the world of the boor nestles the poet's world, and within the world of the physical scientist lies an ethereal, spiritual universe, with its own powers, its own prophets. The great trilogy of friends at the beginning of this century, who rose like three mountain peaks above their contemporaries, Goethe, Carlyle, and Emerson were chosen by Destiny as prophets of this nature within nature.
Their gleanings have been rich enough to tempt many to enter the same field, though they have no more exhausted its wealth than Homer and Shakespeare have exhausted poetry.
The new world they have explored is the land of hope of the future, for which we must leave the impoverished soil of theology, and the arid deserts of materialism.
What these three masters taught, Occultism teaches; and we propose to show them as great natural masters in the mystic knowledge.
To do this with any completeness in the space at our disposal is necessarily impossible; for the present, we must content ourselves with showing from the writings of one of the masters -- Emerson -- that he recognized some of the chief laws announced by Occultism.
The first truth to be insisted on, concerning this nature within nature, the spiritual universe, is that it exists for its own ends, and not as an adjunct to the material world; in other words, the end of morals is to make archangels rather than good citizens.
Spirit is the reality; matter, the secondary; or, as Goethe says, the GARMENT of God.
No occultist could insist on the subordinate character of matter more vehemently than Emerson could. He writes:
Nature is a mutable cloud, which is always and never the same. Through the bruteness and toughness of matter, a subtle spirit bends all things to its own will. The world proceeds from the same spirit as the body of man. IT IS A REMOTER AND INFERIOR INCARNATION OF GOD, a projection of God into the unconscious.
The Occultist sees in this world of spirit the home of that true joy of which all earthly happiness is the shadow, and whispered intimation. There all ideals find their realization, all highest hopes their fulfillment; there flow abundant fountains of celestial bliss, whose least presence makes earthly things radiant.
Of spirit, Emerson writes:
But when following the invisible steps of thought, we come to enquire, whence is matter, and where to? Many truths arise to us out of the recesses of consciousness. We learn that the highest is present to the soul of man, that the dread universal essence that is not wisdom, or love, or beauty, or power; but all in one and each entirely, is that for which all things exist, and that by which they are; that spirit creates; that behind nature, throughout nature spirit is present. As a plant upon the earth, so a man rests upon the bosom of God. He is nourished by unfailing fountains, and draws, at his need, inexhaustible power.
But to obtain a footing in this world of essential being, is to be emancipated from the domination of Time and Space, to enter a universe where they do not exist; for Space and Time are no realities, but, as Carlyle says, the "deepest of all ILLUSORY APPEARANCES." Emancipation from Space and Time; how much more this implies than is at first sight apparent. The first fruit of this freedom is a feeling of eternalness, the real basis of the doctrine of immortality. It is an attainable reality, this sense of eternalness; let the skeptic and materialist say what they will.
Of this truth, also, we may bring Emerson as witness. He writes:
To truth, justice, love, the attributes of the soul, the idea of IMMUTABLENESS is essentially associated. In the flowing of love, in the adoration of humility, there is no question of continuance.
Once recognize the truth that we can gain a footing in a world free from the tyranny of time, that the soul exists in such a world, and a new philosophy is at once required. Freedom from Time implies the eternity of the soul, and the facts of life and death take a new position and significance. If the soul were eternal, death must be an illusion, a garment in which Nature wraps some hidden law.
In the following words of Emerson, on this subject:
It is the secret of the world that ALL THINGS SUBSIST AND DO NOT DIE, but only retire a little from sight, and afterwards return. Whatever does not concern us, is concealed from us. As soon as a person is no longer related to our present well-being, he is concealed or DIES, as we say. When the man has exhausted for the time the nourishment to be drawn from any one person or thing, that object is withdrawn from his observation, and though still in his immediate neighborhood, he does not suspect its presence. Nothing is dead; men feign themselves dead, and endure mock funerals and mournful obituaries, and there they stand looking out of the window, sound and well, in some new disguise. Jesus is not dead; he is very well alive; nor John, nor Paul, nor Mahomet, nor Aristotle.
We have an accurate exposition of the occult doctrine of Reincarnation -- the progressive discipline of the soul through many lives -- that has been parodied in the popular fable of metempsychosis.
The true occult doctrine does not picture a series of bodies in each of which the soul makes a temporary sojourn. In this, as in all else, it begins with spirit and then descends to matter. It depicts that vital energy that we call a soul, alternately exuding from itself and reabsorbing into its own nature an environment or physical encasement, whose character varies with the increasing stature of the soul. According to the teaching of occultism, the successive formations of this objective shell -- whose purpose is to provide for the development of the animal nature -- alternate with periods of subjective life, which give expansion to the powers of the soul.
As corollary to this doctrine, occultism postulates a second. The incidents of each objective environment or physical life are not fortuitous and isolated, but rather are bound to all that precede and follow them. Moreover, "the future is not arbitrarily formed by any separate acts of the present, but that the whole future is in unbroken continuity with the present, as the present is with the past."
To the various developments of this law, eastern philosophy has given the name of Karma; the west has yet no name for it. But though unnamed, its leading ideas have not been unperceived by those western minds that have penetrated into the world of super-nature.
Thus, we find Emerson writing:
Every secret is told, every crime is punished, every virtue rewarded, every wrong redressed, in silence and certainty. Crime and punishment grow on one stem; punishment is a fruit that unsuspected ripens within the flower of pleasure that concealed it. You cannot do wrong without suffering wrong. The thief steals from himself; the swindler swindles himself. Everything in nature, even motes and feathers, goes by law and not by luck. WHAT A MAN SOWS, HE REAPS.
The picture of an orderly universe, where matter is the garment of spirit -- spirit visualized -- where souls march onward in orderly procession to boundless perfection; where the life of each permeates and flows through the life of all; where the wrong of each is turned to the benefit of all by the firm hand of an invisible and ever active law, incessantly disciplining and correcting, till the last dross of self and sin is purged away, and instead of man there remains God only, working through the powers that were man's; such is the conception Occultism holds.
I know not whether there be, as is alleged, in the upper region of our atmosphere a permanent westerly current, which carries with it all atoms that rise to that height, but I see that when souls reach a certain clearness of perfection, they accept a knowledge and motive above selfishness. A breath of Will blows eternally through the universe of souls in the direction of the Right and Necessary. It is the air that all intellects inhale and exhale, and it is the wind that blows the world into order and orbit.
Let us build altars to the Beautiful Necessity that rudely or softly educates men to the perception that there are no contingencies, that Law rules through existence, a Law that is not intelligent but intelligence, not personal nor impersonal -- it disdains words, and passes understanding; it dissolves persons; it vivifies nature, yet solicits the pure in heart to draw on its all, its omnipotence.
Discipline always and everywhere throughout the universe; to discipline, development, all other facts arc subordinate; for their sake, all laws are enunciated, all spiritual facts are insisted on; all truths that tend not to the melioration of human life -- if any such there be -- are worthless. Discipline, development. What development does Occultism predict for man? Man's future destiny, in the view of Occultism, is so stupendous, that we prefer merely to erect a fingerpost pointing out the direction of the path, using the words of Emerson:
The youth puts off the illusions of the child; the man puts off the ignorance and tumultuous passions of the youth; proceeding thence, puts off the egotism of manhood, and becomes at last a public and universal soul. He is rising to greater height, but also to realities; the outer relations and circumstances dying out, he is entering deeper into God, God into him, until the last garment of egotism falls, and he is with God, shares the will and the immensity of the First Cause.
From first to last, Occultism has preached no doctrine more emphatically than the necessity of dependence on the intuitions, and the reality of interior illumination. "Seek out the way by making the profound obeisance of the soul to the dim star that burns within; within you is the light of the world," writes the Occultist.
And this doctrine is repeated again and again in the writings of the philosopher we have been quoting from. He writes:
A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light that flashes across his mind from within, more than the luster of the firmament of bards and sages. From within or from behind, a light shines through us upon things, and makes us aware that we are nothing, but that the light is all. The consciousness in each man is a sliding scale, which identifies him now with the First Cause, and now with the flesh of his body; life above life, in infinite degrees. There is for each a Best Counsel, which enjoins the fit word and the fit act for every moment. There is no bar or wall in the soul where man, the effect, ceases, and God, the cause, begins. The walls are taken away; we lie open on one side to the deeps of spiritual nature, to the attributes of God. The simplest person, in his integrity, worships God, becomes God; yet for ever and ever the influx of this better and universal self is new and unsearchable.
The life of one is the life of all. The good of one reacts on all. The walls by which selfishness conceives itself enclosed and isolated, are unreal, have no existence. Spirit is fluid and all pervading; its beneficent power flows unchecked from soul to soul, energizing, harmonizing, purifying. To resist all discordant tendencies that check this salutary flow, this all-permeating love, is to come under the reign of Universal Brotherhood; and to the honor of Occultism be it said that Universal Brotherhood is blazoned highest on its standard.
Thus, [writes Emerson] are we put in training for a love that knows not sex nor person, nor partiality, but which seeks virtue and wisdom everywhere. One day all men will be lovers, and every calamity will be dissolved in universal sunshine. An acceptance of the sentiment of love throughout Christendom for a season would bring the felon and the outcast to our side in tears, with the devotion of his faculties to our service.
But to the axiom "Kill out the sense of separateness," Occultism adds another, "Yet stand alone." Before the lesson of life can be learnt, the soul must in some sort detach itself from its environment, and view all things impersonally, in solitude and stillness. There is an oracle in the lonely recess of the soul to which all things must be brought for trial. Here all laws are tested, all appearances weighed.
About this truth always hangs a certain solemnity, and Emerson has given it a fitting expression in the following words:
The soul gives itself alone, original, and pure, to the Lonely, Original, and Pure, who, on that condition, gladly inhabits, leads, and speaks through it. Then it is glad, young, and nimble. Behold, it saith, I am born into the great, the universal mind. I, the imperfect, adore my own Perfect. I am somehow receptive of the great soul, and thereby I do overlook the sun and the stars, and feel them to be the fair accidents and effects that change and pass. More and more the surges of everlasting nature enter into me, and I become public and human in my regards and actions. So I come to live in thoughts, and act with energies, which are immortal.
The last words of this sentence lead us to the occult idea of Mahatma-hood, which conceives a perfected soul as "living in thoughts, and acting with energies that are immortal."
The Mahatma is a soul of higher rank in the realms of life, conceived to drink in the wealth of spiritual power closer to the fountainhead, and to distil its essence into the interior of receptive souls.
In harmony with this idea, Emerson writes:
Truth is the summit of being; justice is the application of it to affairs. All individual natures stand in a scale, according to the purity of this element in them. The will of the pure runs down from them into other natures, as water runs down from a higher into a lower vessel. This natural force is no more to be withstood than any other natural force. A healthy soul stands united with the Just and the True, as the magnet arranges itself with the pole, so that he stands to all beholders like a transparent object betwixt them and the sun, and whoso journeys towards the sun, journeys towards that person.
Occultism conceives the outer world and all its accidents to be so many veils, shrouding the splendor of essential nature, and tempering the fiery purity of spirit to the imperfect powers of the understanding soul. The illusory power Occultism considers to be the "active will of God," a means to the ends of eternal spirit.
In the view of Occultism, life is a drama of thinly veiled souls. As Shakespeare writes:
We are such stuff As dreams are made of, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep!
We shall conclude with two passages from Emerson's essays, on the subject of illusions:
Do you see that kitten chasing so prettily her own tail? If you could look with her eyes, you might see her surrounded with hundreds of figures performing complex dramas, with tragic and comic issues, long conversations, many characters, many ups and downs of fate; and meantime it is only puss and her tail. How long before our masquerade will end its noise of tambourines, laughter, and shouting, and we shall find it was a solitary performance?
We must supplement this rather playful passage with one in a higher strain:
There is no chance, and no anarchy, in the universe. All is system and gradation. Every god is there sitting in his sphere. The young mortal enters the hall of the firmament; there is he alone with them alone, they pouring on him benedictions and gifts, and beckoning him up to their thrones. On an instant, and incessantly, fall snowstorms and illusions. He fancies himself in a vast crowd that sways this way and that, and whose movement and doings he must obey: he fancies himself poor, orphaned, insignificant. The mad crowd drives hither and thither, now furiously commanding this thing to be done, now that. What is he that he should resist their will, and think or act for himself? Every moment new changes and new showers of deceptions baffle and distract him. And when, by-and-bye, for an instant, the air clears, and the cloud lifts a little, there are the gods still sitting around him on their thrones -- they alone with him alone.