The mission of Theosophy is not to tell you that you can chase an astral orb and find your affinity or to recall a former incarnation and thus gain "power." No, the mission of Theosophy is to have you stand face to face with the serious facts of life and the serious problems that surround you; to sound the depths of your natures and find the Light. This you must do if you are to serve, and help lift the burdens of Humanity. Truly, you must know yourselves: "Man, Know Thyself!"
-- Katherine Tingley
By B.P. Wadia
[From LIVING THE LIFE, pages 113-16.]
Pious but false is the belief that the Soul enjoys eternal happiness if the person dies holding to the "right faith." By right faith, belief in churchianity is implied for the Christian, who dies believing; the Muslim considers himself faithful if he dies with the words on his lips: "There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet," and so on.
A wicked sinner, however, does not turn into a saint because his body dies; nor is an ignorant blunderer suddenly transformed by bodily death into an all-knowing sage.
Contrariwise, people believe that a heathen, an infidel, a DURVAND or a MLECHCHA is bound to suffer in hell, either never-never-ending, or terminating through metempsychosis as the sinner expiates through abject and ghastly long, long suffering.
Nature clearly indicates and Theosophy teaches that life-processes have the character of perpetual motion. Eternal heaven or eternal hell for one life's wickedness or religious belief is, on the face of it, unnatural, against common sense and moral perception.
Among the numerous crimes of priestcraft, the upholding of this false belief is a major one. But is there any explanation for this crass and crude notion? There is. Nirvana and Avitchi are terms that imply knowledge about the Eternal Bliss experienced by the emancipated Nirvani, and the eternal torment experienced in Avitchi by the lonely entity who, having lived many lives of increasing wickedness, finds himself isolated with a peculiar type of memory that gnaws at him.
Eternal Nirvana and eternal Avitchi are not eternal in the sense of never-never-ending. Eternity, however long, begins and ends. Philosophy speaks of sempiternity and eternity, and Theosophy distinguishes between Time and Duration. Nirvana and Avitchi, however long, come to an end, and the Absolute Power of Nature and Nature's Law spells continuous and never-ending progression. Beginningless and endless is the process of Perpetual Motion -- the symbol of the Supreme Spirit.
What, then, do the downward path to Avitchi and the upward gliding to Nirvana signify?
Every man and every woman is not immortal; each person has to win immortality. Writes HPB, "Personal virtue could claim no merit, unless it had passed through the furnace of temptation."
The technique is given in the third of the Ten Items of ISIS UNVEILED:
Man is also triune: he has his objective, physical body; his vitalizing astral body (or soul), the real man; and these two are brooded over and illuminated by the third -- the sovereign, the immortal spirit. When the real man succeeds in merging himself with the latter, he becomes an immortal entity.
-- ISIS UNVEILED, II, page 588.
Progression and retrogression are the eternal ways that the human kingdom ever encounters. If a man does not attempt, or attempting does not succeed, in winning his own immortality he recedes and often enters the declivity that leads to Avitchi.
How and where does this downward course begin? Both in the Bhagavad-Gita and in the Dhammapada, the downward path to destruction is described. The Gita succinctly speaks of the fatal descent:
He who attendeth to the inclinations of the senses, in them hath a concern; from this concern is created passion, from passion anger, from anger is produced delusion, from delusion a loss of memory, from the loss of memory loss of discrimination, and from loss of discrimination loss of all!
-- ISIS UNVEILED, II, pages 62-63.
Musing on objects of sense creates a concern in them and leads to a longing to possess them. By attachment, we want to yoke ourselves to them as intimately as possible. From this longing, passion is born -- not only passion for those particular sense-objects but also passion for possessing the entire world of the senses and the organs. A person has passion, not only for money, for example, but also for fame, power, etc., born of passion for money. A person does not have only sex-lust but also other lusts akin to it -- e.g., obscenity of speech arises; and so on. Kama -- passion -- is the builder and sustainer of egotism -- the lower "I"-making tendency. Failure to secure the object of desire produces anger; success in obtaining it produces covetousness; covetousness ultimately, through frustration, produces anger. Anger results in Moha -- Delusion. A deluded man parts company with his memory, which is closely allied to knowledge and experience. A man develops delusion, like other quality, gradually. Every indulgence in anger deepens delusion. Delusion begets loss of judgment, through loss of Buddhi, and the entire life process is one long line of destruction -- "loss of all."
So, by not controlling the senses and letting the desires and passions have their way, we lose the power to control and the guidance of the controller.
The twenty-second chapter of the Dhammapada offers the same truth in a different way: An evil deed is better left undone. Guard yourself within and without. Speech that reports the untrue and refrains from expressing the true drags a man downward. Better for a man to swallow an iron ball than to live unrestrainedly, eating the food of other-dependence.
Of special value is the instruction to the practitioner: the psychological demerit of false asceticism, of an act carelessly done, of a vow badly kept, of disobedience to accepted discipline, is directly pointed out. A lax practitioner scatters more and more the dust of his passions. False shame, false fear, and evil-seeing are contrasted with right shame, with what should be feared, with right handling when real evil is perceived.
The Pythagorean downward track has four steps -- Belly, Sloth, Luxury, and Rage.
Whatever way we look, we find that the senses and organs arouse desires, for the satisfying of which Kama presses the mind into its service and exploits it; loss of mental integrity causes further retrogression and delusion ensues, destroying the Soul, the Thinker.
By G. de Purucker
[From GOLDEN PRECEPTS, pages 25-40.]
You cannot see beauty outside unless you have beauty within you. You cannot understand beauty unless you yourself are beautiful inside. You cannot understand harmony unless you yourself in your inner parts are harmony. All things of value are within yourself, and the outside world merely offers you the stimulus, the stimulation, of and to the exercise of the understanding faculty within you.
There is beauty in understanding, and understanding springs only from an understanding heart, paradoxical as that may sound at first hearing. The understanding heart has vision.
The Seer trains himself to open the Seeing Eye, and Nature speaks to him in tones that grow with each year more entrancing, more wonderful, because he is growing greater inside. His understanding is broadening and deepening. The whispering of the trees, the susurrus of the leaves, their rustling, the boom of the waves on the shingle of the shore, the chirp of the cricket, the cooing of the dove, the sound of a human voice -- strident though it often is -- contain marvels for him. He recognizes his kinship with all that is, he realizes that he is but one element in a most marvelous mosaic of life in which he is inseparably bound, and that as the vision grows it becomes ever more beautiful and sublime; and he knows that the Vision Sublime is there and strives to see it ever more clearly.
Every tree, every flower, every atom of the mineral crunched under your feet as you tread the surface of the earth; everything that is, had you the Seeing Eye, you could learn from. Have you never looked into the bosom of a flower? Have you never studied the beauty, symmetry, glory, around you? Have you never looked at the rising or the setting sun, and marveled at the paintings on the eastern or western horizon? Have you never looked deep into the eye of a fellow human being, looked with a seeing eye on your own kind? Have you never found marvels there? What a wonderful world with which we are surrounded!
Yet with all the beauty that surrounds us, our hearts ache and minds are overwhelmed with the thought of the woes of mankind caused by the three dire problems -- Old Age, Disease, and Death.
Old Age need have no fear for you. One who has lived aright, one who has lived cleanly, and thought highly, as age comes on him and the body weakens and the physical veils thin, sees, and seeing knows. His vision passes behind the veils of matter, for he is slowly becoming acquainted with the mysteries beyond the veil which men call death.
For a certain period, dependent upon the interval preceding death, the soul is withdrawing from the aged body. This accounts for the so-called advance in the symptoms and physical phenomena of age, of old age. But such withdrawal of the soul, in the normal course, is peaceful and quiet, and is Nature's way of making death come as a quiet blessing of peace and harmony.
Death is birth -- BIRTH. Instead of the wrench in the case of youth when death comes, death to our old ones comes in peace and quiet, stealing like an angel of mercy into their being, releasing the bonds binding the soul to its vehicle of flesh. The passage is as quiet and gentle as the coming of the twilight preceding night, and it is a blessed sleep.
Any human being can avoid a painful old age, or at least very largely modify its troubles; and this can be attained by living humanly: by living in the Higher Self, instead of idealizing the wants and desires of the body. Then old age comes stealing upon one, bringing blessings with it, and increase in all the higher faculties and powers; so that the approach of old age is vibrant with the harmonies of another world, and beautiful with its visions of truth and glory.
Old age is a blessing if the life has been lived aright. It brings with it things otherwise unattainable, such as an expansion of consciousness which youth knows nothing of. It brings with it increased intellectual power that because of its very reach the undeveloped person, the youth, the man of middle age, does not understand and therefore ascribes to the vague generalizations of Grandfather. Grandfather in such circumstances is nearer the truth and sees more than does the still unseeing eye of the youth. A fine old age brings an expansion of soul, not only of the intellect, but also of the spiritual consciousness and its vision.
Sometimes when the life has been lived in gross physical desires, when the bonds uniting the soul to the body have been riveted into the vehicle of flesh by self-indulgence in the gross appetites, then even in age death is painful. The natural withdrawal of the soul has not taken place, or at least to such a large degree, nor is the physical age attained so great before death finally comes.
Old age is nothing to fear. It is a blessing, for in it, the splendor of the life beyond is seen as through a veil, the life in which the higher incarnating Ego lives. Shadows: coming events casting their shadows before, the shadows of the splendor to be: such is a fine old age.
Diseases, the second of the woes that inflict mankind, are purifying processes, processes of purification, and to men of our present imperfect stage of evolution, in many instances are a heaven-sent blessing. They cure egoism. They teach patience. They bring about in their train a dwelling of the mind on the beauty of life, on the need for living rightly. They make one kindly and sympathetic.
Consider the average man in his present imperfect stage of evolution: passionate, with ungoverned emotions, with fierce desires for sensation, for ever more sensation, and still more sensation. Consider a moment: if men of today, such as they are, had bodies that could not be diseased, but could be weakened and killed by excesses. Do you not see that things as they are have a very kindly side to them? Diseases actually are our warnings to reform our evil thoughts and to live in accordance with Nature's laws.
Remember that an outside and tyrannical Nature does not brings disease upon us; disease is in every instance the result or consequence of our own wrongdoing: mental wrongdoing, and physical wrongdoing: either in this or in some past life.
Diseases, with their concomitant suffering and pain, are our best monitory friends: they soften our hearts, they broaden our minds, and they give us an opportunity for the exercise of our wills and a field for the play of our moral instincts. They also instill pity and compassion for others in our breasts.
It is true that each one of us is responsible for his diseases and his misfortunes: all the misfortunes of life we ourselves have made for ourselves. We have deserved them, because we are the parents of them. They come upon us, we ourselves receive them, and are merely receiving the reaction, the effects, of the seeds of thought and act that we have sown in the past -- a wonderful doctrine, Karma!
Yet GOOD and BAD are relative. We call things GOOD when they happen to please us, and when we do not like them, we say that they are BAD. Yet the very thing or things which you did not like at the time in some cases have turned out splendidly for you, brought you good luck, brought you happiness. At the very least, it put strength of fiber into your character, which is worth more than all worldly treasures: they gave you insight, unlocked the powers of your heart, enabled you to think, and in short made a man of you.
Nothing happens to us that we ourselves did not engender in the beginning. We sowed the seeds. Now the seeds have grown up in us, and we say, I cannot understand how such a thing could have happened to me! But it has happened, and if you take it rightly and face it rightly, and react properly, and look upon it as just the thing that you would have chosen, you become a collaborator with destiny, become happy, and grow. Strength becomes yours. Wisdom grows in your heart.
Let me illustrate with the case of an exceedingly good and noble man. Suddenly he is stricken, let us say, to make the case picturesque and pointed, with some loathsome and terrible disease. Nothing in the present life that he knows of has brought this about. He is stricken down suddenly and unaccountably, so that, for a while, he hates himself, his soul turns in agony to the gods who hear not, and he says, "What have I done to bring this thing upon me?" Shall we say that he was a bad man? No, he is a good man; but in this case, past seeds of thought, emotion, and weakness in past lives had hitherto not eventuated, hitherto had not come to fruitage, but now do so. Now they come forth. In past lives, perhaps they wanted to come forth and the man was a coward and damned them back, in some way or other by thought, postponing the agony until some later day.
When misfortune comes upon you, sorrow racks your heart, and it seems as if the entire world had turned against you, the lesson is for you to be a Man. Face it all. Have done with it, so that in the future when your character is stronger and more improved, you shall not have laid up for yourself some not worked out seed of karmic destiny then to blossom and bring you greater unhappiness by far than it could now bring.
There have been great and noble men, disciples on the path, and advanced at that, to whom such occurrences have happened. Old karmic seeds of destiny, held over, damned back, willed to disappear -- now coming forth and apparently ruining a noble life.
So when sorrow comes, when grief appears in your life, when pain comes upon you, take them to your heart, for they are the awakeners! Pleasures lull you to sleep; the so-called joys send you to sleep. It is sorrow, it is grief, and it is change that you do not like. Precisely these three things are your awakeners. Oh, seize the truth of this! It will give you strength; it will give you peace; it will enable you to meet the problems of life with an illuminated mind; it will bring you help and comfort.
Remember, it is only the finite which suffers; likewise it is the finite which loves. The finite does these, because it learns thereby. It is learning, growing; no matter how small it may be, no matter how great: insect and god, super-god and atom of earth: all are learning and growing, and therefore passing through stages of happiness and bliss, and of suffering and pain.
Everything that IS, is an opportunity to the percipient eye and the understanding heart to learn, which means to grow; and when you realize that suffering and pain are two of the means by which we grow, then come peace to the heart and rest to the mind.
What is it that makes the majestic oak such as it is? Is it the gentle zephyr and the soft-pattering rain? The oak might be weak and yielding as a willow to the blast if that were the truth. No, the tempest and the storm have their way with the oak, and the oak reacts in robustness and strength; battling the storm and tempest, it grows strong.
Human beings learn far more quickly than does the so-called insensate plant. Nothing learns as quickly and easily as does the human heart. Therefore, shrink not from suffering and pain, for they are better teachers than are happiness and smug contentment. The latter is almost spiritually suicidal -- to be so smugly content with yourself and what you are, that you sleep. But Nature will not have it thus always; finally there comes the karmic impulse, the karmic stimulus, and then you suffer a little; but in doing so you awaken and begin to grow. Bless the karmic stimulus; be not afraid of it. Look to the essential divinity within. Remember that everything that happens is transient, and that you can learn from everything, and in learning you will grow -- grow great, and from greatness pass to a larger sphere of greatness.
It is exercise that makes us strong, that makes us lithe and vigorous, ready to face still greater trials and difficulties. The greatest friend we have, the noblest cleanser of all, is sorrow, or is pain, for the heart and mind must be cleansed by pain even as gold is tried in the fire.
A beautiful, helpful rule is the following: Whatever comes to you, meet it manfully. Look upon it as the very thing that you would have willed -- and therefrom reap peace. It will pass; it will work itself out. It is a good practical rule of the moral law: repine not, keep your face to the Mystic East of the future, fill your heart with courage, and remember that you are a descendent of and kin to the immortal gods who control and guide the Universe.
There are times indeed in life when the Higher Self actually leads us into paths of trial so that we may grow by reacting successfully against the trials. The Higher Self is always with us, constantly warning us in the shape of intimations and intuitions to be courageous, to face life boldly, to be truthful, to be clean, to be strong, to be sincere, to be upright, and many other such things. These precisely are the very qualities in human nature which, when followed out continuously, protect us against disaster. The only real disaster that the spirit-soul of man knows, is weakness, is failure, is discouragement. Physical disasters and other things of physical life are often blessings in disguise; the Higher Self teaches us how to meet these in the proper mood, and how best to come forth from them triumphant.
All physical maladies have their ultimate origin in a faulty outlook on life, in a faulty direction taken by the individual will. All diseases therefore ultimately have their origin in the mind, in this or in another life, though it is in the physical body that they wreak their work of suffering and pain. Weakness of will, the giving way to bad habits breeding seeds of thought that leave thought-deposits in the mind, enfeeble the character. An evil or false thought manifests in a body and ultimately ruins it by bad habits. Criticism and faultfinding are diseases of the mind in very truth.
By Marjorie M. Tyberg
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, October 1927, pages 350-55.]
Fifty years ago when H.P. Blavatsky began to give out the teachings of Theosophy to the western world, the popular conception of Deity was that of a Creator and arbitrary Ruler, a supreme Person. He was outside the world but had absolute control over everything in it, which He was believed to have made out of nothing in a week. The majority never questioned these beliefs. They prayed to God, confident that He could if He would grant their petitions.
The first text that little children learned was "God is Love," but the picture of a great person full of love like kind parents soon gave place to that of an all-seeing One, born of the repetition of the next words learned, "Thou God seest me."
Many who were children in the 1870's and 1880's must remember their discovery that if God did see all that happened, at least no such summary treatment resulted as invariably followed the successful vigilance of other guardians.
Later, constant reading aloud of the Bible and study of the Shorter Catechism led to confusion of mind about the attributes of God and sometimes to a strong feeling of resentment. Then gentle, reverent voices stilled all inquiry by another text, "Canst thou by searching find out God?"
Truly, when we think of the sincerity and seriousness, the sterling, noble characters of these elder folks, we wonder at the certainty they felt that these teachings were the limit of human knowledge about God. We long to share with them the glorious and inspiring conceptions that we have learned from Theosophy.
H.P. Blavatsky's ISIS UNVEILED was a bombshell exploding this certainty. In this, H.P. Blavatsky showed how the conception of a personal God had been built up. She made it clear that in no other great religion has the One Supreme Source of All been reduced to personal form. This infinite Divine Essence exists from all eternity, now in a passive condition and again at regular intervals in a state of activity. And this periodical awakening of life proceeds by well-defined stages from the One Great Unmanifested to external manifestation, guided by Intelligences, but NO PERSON.
The Jews took names and symbols that referred to this cosmic evolution and applied them to the history, personages, and ideas of one people so that the Bible contains much which, as an allegory, is suggestive and conveys truth. As a narrative of "God's intercourse with His chosen people," it is misleading.
H.P. Blavatsky shows that Jehovah was perhaps ONE of the architects who were concerned in building the universe from pre-existent matter, but never was the Unknowable Cause or Deity. The Jews themselves in their esoteric works have never looked upon Jehovah as the "One God."
Augustine tells us of the Christian personal God:
[God] has by His arbitrary will, without regard to foreseen faith or good action, irretrievably ordained eternal happiness for certain persons selected beforehand, while He has condemned other persons selected beforehand to eternal punishment.
We learn that there were no real atheists in those days before God was conceived as a Person and that the Aryan nations had no Devil.
Many forces were at work in undermining these orthodox beliefs; and in the fourth quarter of the nineteenth century, they became the subject of attack by scholars, scientists, and critics. The great changes that have taken place can be measured by the statement made in 1922 that scholars belonging to almost every denomination -- Anglicans, Presbyterians, Methodists, etc. -- have abandoned the idea that the Bible in its entirety is the revealed word of God. In Great Britain at any rate, it is the modern view of the Old Testament that prevails in colleges where students are being trained for the ministry. This came less than sixty years after Bishop Colenso was tried and excommunicated for his writings on the Books of Moses, in which he advanced the views now accepted!
Scientific discovery and investigation did much to overturn the old beliefs. These proved that what had been thought to be made out of nothing by an Omnipotent Power is rather the result of eons of slow growth and evolution. The old idea of special creation had to be abandoned. The study of comparative religion revealed the fact that some of the religions older than Christianity had more scientific and philosophical conceptions of the Divine than Christianity. Increase of communication between the people of the world brought friendly tolerance and respect.
Limited notions of Deity and salvation have had to give way. A few years ago, a writer on "The Religion of the Lower Races" suggested that missionaries to a certain African tribe would do well to try to learn the point of view of these "heathen." It is clear that a more inclusive Divinity is what man is now aspiring to discover.
The lack of any such adequate conception of Divinity has led many to turn away from all thought of God. In the HIBBERT JOURNAL of July 1922, T.R. Glover is quoted as follows:
Apart from Jesus, God is little better than an abstract noun.
Other writers note that only at times of calamity do the minds of many turn to the Divine. The philosopher Harald Hoffding remarks on the consequent decay in religious feeling:
Religion was once the pillar of fire that went before the human race in its march through history, showing it the way. Now it is fast assuming the role of the ambulance that follows in the rear and picks up the exhausted and wounded.
The Rev. T.J. Hardy, in the HIBBERT JOURNAL of October 1925, asks:
Who, outside the handful of people who attend church, understand us when we speak of the "duty towards God" in things such as worship, prayer, fasting, accountability as to time, money, speech, and thought?
In another passage, he states:
[The problem is] whether we can discover any means of proclaiming the characteristic message of Christianity in such a manner as to restore in them the lost sense of God.
Dean Inge in the second series of his "Outspoken Essays" urges the necessity for religious people to find a way of reconciling their intuitive belief in the Divine with the acceptance of the facts established by science. Intuitive lovers of truth do not lose their faith in divinity because of what scientific study brings to them. This is seen in the experience of the great scientist and inventor, Michael Pupin, who finds the light of the stars to be part of the life-giving breath of deity, and states that he never looks upon the starlit vault without feeling this divine breath.
Courageous thinkers, while acknowledging the waning sense of divinity among the less intuitive, are convinced that there is no possibility of galvanizing into life the old limited idea of an omnipotent personal deity. Only a Divinity in consonance with the growing feeling of the brotherhood of man, of the equality of all races, and a cosmic divine significance in harmony with an infinite evolving universe will now be accepted. Say such a conception be presented, a Divinity that both as transcendent and immanent is in accord with what we have learned. Say that all the truths of philosophy, religion, and science were harmoniously related. Then the transition through which religious thought is passing would lead to higher levels where once more the words "union with God" would thrill the human heart with joy, wonder, and aspiration.
H.P. Blavatsky's book, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, first published in 1888, deals exhaustively with these very subjects. Many of us who have faced the changes that have taken place in Western thought concerning the Divine and the Cosmos. We have experienced a rude awakening from the limited ideas that prevailed in our childhood or though inwardly rebelling against them still found nothing satisfactory to take the place of them. We have first-hand knowledge of the fact, which Theosophy teaches, that there are cycles in human history when the truth is temporarily obscured. We know that such periods are followed by others in which a greater measure of truth can be perceived. Study of THE SECRET DOCTRINE convinces us that a time comes when the veils are drawn aside and the Light of Wisdom reveals the unity and sanctity of the larger hopes and deepest intuitions of humanity.
Of the teaching given in this book, H.P. Blavatsky says:
The Secret Doctrine was the universally diffused religion of the ancient and prehistoric world. Proofs of its diffusion, authentic records of its history, a complete chain of documents, showing its character and presence in every land, together with the teaching of all its great adepts, exist to this day in the secret crypts of libraries belonging to the Occult Fraternity.
-- I, page xxxiv
The symbols, allegories, myths, rites, and religious dogmas having to do with Divinity and Cosmos are examined and probed by H.P. Blavatsky and set forth in their relation as partial revelations and as decayed relics of the universal Wisdom Teaching once given to mankind in its childhood by the higher beings who were its Guardians and Watchers.
In THE SECRET DOCTRINE, the appearance and disappearance of the Universe are pictured as the outbreathing and the inbreathing of "the Great Breath." The Cosmos itself is regarded as an outbreathing of the Unknowable Deity; and it is this Supreme Source -- this One Reality, this Unknown and Nameless Deity -- that is looked upon by Theosophists as the Divine.
H.P. Blavatsky shows that
No account of the creation the world over, with the sole exception of the Christian, has ever attributed to the One Highest Cause, the Universal Deific Principle, the immediate creation of our earth, or man, or anything connected with these.
She reiterates the statement that never have the Jews in their esoteric Bible, their secret teaching, accepted Jehovah as the Living Divinity; and she shows that the book of Genesis when it is correctly translated and studied in the light of the Wisdom Religion is no exception to this.
The constructive work of building the universe, the bringing into external life or manifestation, is performed by countless groups or hierarchies, themselves sentient beings called Dhyani-Chohans -- or Angels, Architects, Messengers, and Mystic Watchers. Each has its own special duty in guiding the unfolding of the Divine Idea into outer form. They are all impersonal agents of Cosmic Law, either fully perfected former human beings or beings in process of becoming human. Like everything else in the universe, they are governed by that Law.
H.P. Blavatsky traces the connection between many old stories popular among various peoples and the original teachings. She shows that the Titans, "the working gods," can be recognized in every religious system, and that the restoration of esoteric knowledge enables the student to find the cosmic significance of much that has come to be looked upon as fiction suitable for the childish mind.
In these Theosophical conceptions of Deity and the Cosmos, there is no element of personality. Of the Beings who are concerned in the unfolding of the Universe, none has any personal elements. They do not love or hate; they are not jealous or wrathful; they are not amenable to persuasion by praise or by sacrifice made to them; they are themselves under the jurisdiction of immutable law.
But, according to this most ancient teaching, Man is of divine origin, has a spark of that divine ideation that is reflected in the plan of life, and being one with these Creative Intelligences, has the possibility of awakening this inner Selfhood and learning to work consciously with the Cosmic Powers. When he has identified himself with his Higher Self, having realized his non-separateness from the One Great Self, he partakes of the spirit of union and harmony that characterizes these impersonal Hierarchies. This abides with him and is protection in the very highest sense of the word.
The question naturally arises: Is there none among all these Creative Agencies in the Universe to whom an appeal may rightfully be made? Jesus, who knew the Ancient Wisdom answers, "When thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are ... but enter thine own inner chamber and having shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret." He knew that prayer is communion with the God within, and worship the invocation of that Divine Self in each man. Furthermore, restored by the Wisdom-Religion to majesty, awe, and mystery, energizing everything in the universe and again rising out of it, the Great Unknowable Source of all is a worthy object of our reverence.
This conception of Deity, given by "exalted beings who watched over the childhood of Humanity," was common to the most ancient antiquity.
H.P. Blavatsky points out that:
As systems began to reflect with every age more and more the idiosyncrasies of nations; and as the latter after separating, settled into distinct groups, each evolving along its own national or tribal groove, the main idea gradually became veiled with the overgrowth of human fancy.
As time passed, the idea of the Cosmic Living Source of All became vague.
[Some nations] began to transfer the abstract attributes of the causeless cause to the caused effects -- become in their turn causative -- the creative Powers of the Universe. The great nations, out of fear of profaning the IDEA, the smaller, because they either failed to grasp it or lacked the power of philosophic conception needed to preserve it in all its immaculate purity.
After her exhaustive examination and comparative analysis of the ancient cosmogonies and religions, H.P. Blavatsky asserts that all the PERSONAL gods known to history belong to the later stages of cosmic manifestation, while in every religion can be traced the idea of the hidden Divinity, the Source of All.
The conception of the Divine presented in THE SECRET DOCTRINE is not of an arbitrary, supernatural, extra-cosmic God whose forgiveness can be won only by accepting the sacrifice of a Redeemer, His Only Son, and with this a theory of special creations to account for man and the universe. It is not a negation in a world with brain-mind reigning and all Nature evolving because of blind forces in matter. Rather, it is a metaphysical Deity ever remaining transcendent while outbreathing the visible world. The Divine Intelligence directs every step of the descent from subjective existence into materiality. Divinity is transcendent yet immanent in Nature. In man, Divinity is present, however hidden and unguessed, giving the wondrous possibility of self-transcendence and conscious union with the Highest, making man a being whose responsibility is of universal extent and whose sphere of duty is infinite.
The idea is heartening. The universe is animated throughout by willing Messengers of Divine Law. Men may, by self-discipline and impersonal, compassionate service, learn the laws governing life and may climb to that stage of perfected humanity, where, as a Nirmanakaya, they may incarnate where and when the divine purpose calls for the guiding principle to direct and to further the highest possibilities of the human race.
The Theosophical teachings as expounded by H.P. Blavatsky fill the world with life, intelligence, harmony, justice, and Divinity.
By Henry S. Olcott
(From OLD DIARY LEAVES, III, pages 350-51)
Baron Ernest von Weber had gone on a short tour at the close of the Convention, but returned on 11th January and sailed for Calcutta on the 17th. He was a good-natured man, and heartily entered into a joke of mine for the amusement and instruction of the resident Indian members of the Headquarters staff.
On the evening of the 15th, he donned his gold-embroidered court dress, with his orders, cocked hat, silk stockings, pumps, sword, and all, and pretended to have been sent to me as special Ambassador from his Sovereign, to convey to the President of the Theosophical Society His Majesty's compliments and congratulations on the completion of our first decade.
I made the Hindus take up positions to the right and left in the vestibule, advanced as Marshal of Ceremonies to the columned front entrance to receive and conduct the Ambassador, led him up the vestibule, and announced his name, dignities, and functions. Then I wheeled around to face him as PTS, heard his (coached) address, responded to it with solemn gravity, and hung on the Baron's button a small tin shield emblazoned with HPB's escutcheon, to which I gave the dignity of an order with a fanciful name. I begged him to wear it as a proof to his august Master of the value I placed upon his brotherly message.
The mock levee being then broken up, the Baron and I had to laugh heartily on seeing the unsophisticated wonder displayed by the auditory at his whole "outfit," every article of which they successively inspected and asked about. His white kid gloves surprised them quite as much as anything else did. They did not know what to make of them, but said they were very strange things to wear, "very soft and smooth."
Of course, I know that this innocent bit of tomfoolery will be deprecated by those of our members who take life lugubriously and fancy that the PTS must be a yogi-ascetic, but it would have been just the thing to suit HPB's temperament, and she would have entered into it with zest. In how much of such harmless nonsense did she not indulge in those old days, when we laughed and joked while carrying our heavy burden up hill! In truth, but for our light-heartedness it would perhaps have crushed us: a good laugh is more restful than laudanum, and mirth than morphia. I know Mahatmas, my lugubrious friend, who actually laugh!
By G. de Purucker
[From WIND OF THE SPIRIT, pages 138-42.]
It is my earnest conviction that the so-called spiritual problems of the young are no greater today than ever they have been -- not a whit greater, nor are they different or more embarrassing for children and parents alike. Human character does not change over night. The Great War, supposed to have destroyed all old moralities, was simply the bursting of a dam, the flood sweeping away certain restrictions and limitations that nevertheless were good, and we have not yet learned how to build up other fences of protection around our homes and our young people. But our young people are no worse and no better than we were, and the same fundamental problems of human character that faced us, face them. And it is somewhat as an old boy that I myself write, for I believe that children are old folks not yet grown up, adults not yet matured, and that adults are still boys and girls.
I think one of the greatest spiritual problems for youth is their parents; and this is saying nothing against the parents, because they were youths at one time and had their parents. And the youths today will grow up and be parents equally relatively futile, and, alas, relatively inadequate! If there are any spiritual problems affecting the youth at any time, it is largely the fault of the parents, and I will tell you why I think so. The parents do not err from lack of love. They err from lack of common sense as to how to treat growing youngsters -- just common sense.
If you want to correct a fault in some other man, you cannot do it by going to him and preaching at him, laying down the law. The chances are nine out of ten that he will resent it instantly. But by example you can make your words good to that man's mind and he will begin to admire you and respect you for exemplifying what you yourself talk about.
Nothing fascinates the mind of the growing youth so much as a striking remarkable example seen daily before the eye. It is worth years of talking and preaching, years and years of reading books that are stuck under its nose until it learns to hate these books. In the home, a child may see snappy speeches from side to side, little selfish actions, unkindness done by father to mother, or vice versa, quarrels perhaps, short, irritable speeches, perhaps no words at all but the obvious habit of self-seeking in taking the easiest chair, the better light, the larger portion, in lack of courtesy to the other. When a child sees these things, it remembers. These things hurt the child. You older ones, put yourselves back into your childhood and remember whether you have not seen things in your own parents that hurt like the very dickens when you discovered them -- and you wondered ... Yet your parents may have been half saints. I do not mean to say that parents are bad. Not at all. But parents lack common sense. They wonder why their children go wrong sometimes. Here I speak of the normal child; if a child is born degenerate, he needs special treatment.
You have no right to have children unless you honestly feel in your hearts that you can bring them up properly. It is of infinite importance to make a child love and respect you, not for what it receives from you as gifts, which are often bribes to keep it from shrieking or making a noise, but love and respect you for what you are.
In my opinion, subject to correction by wiser minds than mine, the best way to solve most of the so-called problems that face children is to let them see daily examples of unremitting courtesy at home. We just need that one thing, which is unremitting kindliness and courtesy. Now what does that involve? It first involves self-control and next kindliness, which means thoughtfulness for others.
This is a wonderful discipline that a child understands, admires, and loves to see. It sinks into the child's mind and heart; and these things are not forgotten. When a child is brought up in a home where there is slackness, lackadaisical conditions, not bad but little selfishness of the home combined with emotional outbreaks of any kind, it in turn, because very imitative, becomes lackadaisical, emotionally unstable, not ambitious to improve itself, slow in mind, discourteous to others, because too lazy to be courteous. It does not care. In a home where courtesy rules, everyone is happy. The child remembers the things it sees, and learns, because the example sinks into the mind. It becomes habitual in the child's thought. The child begins to pride itself on being courteous to others.
The whole root of the so-called difficult problem is this: we older people try to preach at the younger ones in giving them brain-mind thoughts: schemes to do this, and schemes to do that, which the children see the parents themselves do not practice. How can anyone respect something preached at him all the time and that he sees nobody else following or practicing? It is a very lovely idea when parents, for instance, want to have their children study beautiful books that give noble thoughts. They consider it a method of training, no doubt, presenting beauty to the mind of the child. But my opinion is -- well, if I had children and I made them read for example the Bhagavad-Gita or similar book all day long; or if whenever they wanted to read they were given the Bhagavad-Gita, before they were even fifteen years old, I know that they would hate that book like nothing else on earth. They would have to grow to be eighty years old before they would see the wondrous beauty of books like that. The child is quick to see that Daddy and Mother do not pass all their time when they have a little leisure at home in reading the Bhagavad-Gita. They see that in their leisure they read books of a lighter character. There is an instance. You cannot expect your child to do what you yourself do not do. You as parents have to set the example. Now it is right to keep out of the home books that are obviously wrong, lewd or obscene or pornographic in tone. It is obviously wrong for adults or children to go to movies that picture the same ignoble things, precepts, or examples. But I am not speaking of things that everyone condemns, nor am I decrying really good and elevating movies.
The minds of children are especially susceptible to suggestion and example. Precept is excellent, but precept comes afterwards when the child begins to ask questions: Why? Then is the time to give the precept, to explain. But the child never forgets an example, and for the reason that children are old souls in immature bodies, souls coming to us out of the past, ages and ages of the past, having lived time and time and time again. They are wonderfully instinctive in catching things in you that finally become habitual in their thought and growth. They actually reason; and commonly do they intuit things.
One of the greatest follies that parents commit is to bribe their children, is to talk to them and act towards them as if they were not reasoning beings. I believe it is all wrong. And in fact, I know it is, because I have seen how children despise in their hearts actions that their parents do in order to win acquiescence, approval, or a sweet smile from the child. What kind of love is it that the child gives to its parents that has to be bought or bribed? You do not need anything of that sort. The character of youth is intrinsically that of the hero-worshiper; it loves the ideal, the beautiful, what strikes it as strong and grand. I believe that youth loves these things more than we sophisticated older people do that have lost that appreciation.
Half the fear in the world begins in the home. It is a psychical injury to the child's mind, originated or brought about often by some circumstance or some ghastly thing that it has seen, that hurts, shocks. And the mind, by so much, is warped, hurt, and injured with fear. It is -- I do not want to be uncomplimentary to the youth -- but it is exactly the same principle by which a dog is trained, or a horse. You can make a dog or horse a vicious beast by ill-treating him. But if you treat a dog as you would a human being, in courtesy and kindliness and considerate action, you make that dog gentle towards others, as well as towards you. That dog actually is in degree humanized. And the only difference in principle between the beasts and us is that we are far more evolved.
Make your homes centers of kindliness and courtesy -- the parents to each other. That is the main thing. I do not mean manners only. That is only a part. I mean the actual instinctual wish to be kindly and courteous to the other; make this wish so strong in you that it takes action. The children sense it, see it, and copy it, and they learn as they copy that it takes self-control to do it, to give up what 'I' want in order to do a courteous act to others. This discipline teaches self-control, self-abnegation, and self-respect; and when children discover that they win the respect of others for being this way, instinctively that self-respect is added to; they begin to see and feel that others have the same feeling that they have, that others too admire and respect kindliness and courtesy. Then there grows in youth the feeling of fellowship, of brotherhood. See how it works all around!
The old idea of a child honoring its parents and obeying them is a beautiful ideal, and is as valid in human conduct as ever it was. But the basis upon which this honor of parental dignity and standing should lie, is the instinctive respect born in the minds of children and youth for their parents, because the parents themselves are seen by children to honor honor, respect respect, and revere reverence.
By G. de Purucker
[From MESSAGES TO CONVENTIONS, pages 183-85.]
Why do Theosophists devote so much time, energy, and intelligence to a study of recondite doctrines? What is the use of it? To be very Occidental, "does it pay?" It will not pay a particle if your mind is directed downwards. But if you are a normal human being, with normal human aspirations, and want to be more and greater than you are, if your mind is directed upwards, it will "pay" enormously. Why is this? I will tell you why.
The Theosophical Society was founded by the Masters of Wisdom for one purpose mainly. The secondary purpose was to give priceless comfort and help to human individuals, giving them courage and hope and a sublime objective in life. But the main purpose was to give to mankind a religio-philosophical and scientific explanation of life's riddles, based on the natural fact of Universal Brotherhood, which would bring about a moral and spiritual revolution in the world.
The Masters knew that the world was entering upon conditions which if not checked would lead us to hell, conditions spiritual and intellectual, social, political, conditions of all kinds, of which the psychical outbreaks are only symptomatic.
The purpose of the Theosophical Society therefore, principally, is to establish a nucleus of a true Universal Brotherhood, and to give unto thinking men and women the reasons for this. When you can persuade men's and women's reason, and charm their hearts, you have won; and you cannot persuade thinking man that a thing is right if all his instincts rebel against it, instincts intellectual and other. So the Masters founded the Theosophical Society once more in our age in order to give anew to a very materialistic and discouraged world, the teachings of the God-Wisdom of all the ages, man's heritage. Now understand that clearly. And we study these Theosophical doctrines so that we, becoming acquainted with them, understanding them, and ourselves persuaded by them, our minds and hearts captured by their grandeur and completeness, will change our own lives. Then we shall be able so to present them to other men that they too will see the Vision Sublime of which we at least have caught glimpses.
That is why we study the Theosophical Doctrines. Had it not been for the perilous conditions the human race began to go into with the downfall of the so-called Pagan religions and philosophies of two thousand years ago and had it not been for world conditions, I doubt the Theosophical Society would have been founded for two, three, or even six thousand years. Individuals would have been helped in the silence and privately. Conditions were such that help from above, from wiser heads than ordinary men, was needed. It was given.
I will tell you, the problem in the world today is not with the men on either side of the fence, or any side of the fence. Men are human beings. The trouble is which make wrong conduct. You change ideas and you have conduct in conformity therewith. If you can set men going crazy about some fad or other, you can just as easily fire and enthuse them with the love of something sublime, and change the whole course of life: bring peace on earth and goodwill to men.
You have to know how to persuade men. You have to give them a philosophy that they can study, respect, have conviction in, and will grow upon them as they study it the more -- the greater the study, the greater belief. Truth is marvelously persuasive in itself. Men are inherently decent and good; and a good many, I do believe, of the so-called criminals of the past and of the present are people, men and women, who have become so discouraged that they have lost their grip. If they had had a decent chance, the inherent weaknesses in their characters might probably not have overpowered, paradoxically as it sounds, the higher part.
I believe in my fellow human beings. I know men, and I know that men think and feel -- no matter what their race, no matter what their beliefs. Men are men the world over, and fundamentally decent, and they love decency and grand things. See how the appeal of a heroic action runs like wild fire in all countries; all men respond. That shows the inherent right and decency in the human heart. It is to these things that we appeal. Consider how fads can sweep over not only one people but also the whole world and fascinate humanity for a thousand years or more making them all kinds of things that we now look upon as crazy. You can just as well and with just as much hope and with infinitely more chance of permanent success appeal to the decency in men, to the good in men, to the common fellow-feeling that we are human beings, that we at least will learn to respect each other's convictions in harmony and in peace. There is where real decency comes out and not in the attempt to convert with violence, always bringing forth more violence and resentment.
There is the pathos of the situation. I personally have never yet found it to fail in my own dealings with my fellow humans; I have never found kindliness, consideration, and the appeal to the decency in other men. I have never found these to fail. If the response has not always been what I have wished for, then I have questioned myself, whether I myself have longed for the things I have wanted, longed for them strongly enough.
That is one reason why the Theosophical Society admits to its Fellowship men of all races, of all creeds. There is no distinction of race, caste, creed, or color in our organization. Remember the main objective of the Theosophical Society: to establish a nucleus of a genuine Universal Brotherhood, a nucleus that is absolutely and throughout non-political, based on no sentimental reasons. This perhaps may never make an appeal to some of the hardheads, those willfully blind, who simply will not see. Our appeal is to intellect and decency in moral instincts, and points to the laws of the universe as the foundation on which life is built. That is why we study Theosophy and its sublime religio-philosophic-scientific doctrines. The Occult Hierarchy sent our HPB to establish the Theosophical Society, whose work is not to labor spectacularly, showily, theatrically, but to work steadily, untiringly, to change the hearts and minds of men. Secondarily, the work of the T. S. is to help us as individual Theosophists.
By Daniel H. Caldwell
In the public marketplace of ideas, which can be seen, for example, on the WWW, on television, in books, etc., there are many, many competing and contradictory ideas, teachings, supposed "truths", etc.
For example, there are persons who tell you that you have only one life to live and after that, you go to either heaven or hell, to enjoy heavenly delights for all eternity or to suffer forever in hell.
There are those who tell you that you have only one life to live and after that, you will enter either the kingdom of God which will be this physical world reborn or you will be (as a soul) utterly destroyed and annihilated in Gehenna.
There are those who tell you that science shows that there is no life after death.
Once our physical body is dead, our psychological life also ceases. We are merely material physical entities and the concept of a soul is sheer nonsense.
There are those who tell you that this is the first life of many "lives", but that our
future lives with all be in higher non-physical realms.
There are those who tell you that we live many lives besides this life, but that many of these lives are actually on other planets in our solar system or even on other star systems.
There are those who tell you that there is a ceaseless round of births, deaths, and rebirths for each of us but that we will be trapped in these lower worlds UNTIL we find a true physical guru who can help us to escape this suffering round of births and deaths.
There are those who tell you that we do not need to reincarnate after death in another physical body in this world, but that we can choose any kind of life we want. We need only to believe it is true and it is!
There are those who tell you that we belong to different group souls and that we will not necessarily exist after the death of our physical body as a separate entity but will be absorbed back into a certain group soul. The essence of our being will merge with the group soul.
The list goes on and on.
Even in Theosophical teachings, there are many conflicting and contradictory ideas depending on the Theosophical book you happen to read.
Where is the truth in this morass of beliefs, of claims and counterclaims?
By Grace F. Knoche
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, February 1929, pages 165-70.]
"But," some judicial mind may say, "How can we hold the nations of the world at peace when differences exist, seemingly irreconcilable differences?"
My reply must be, "What holds together a family when differences arise? Kinship, the basic love of brother for brother that is teeming within its life. That will suffice to hold it together always if it has grown and evolved in the spirit of justice. Why not, then, the larger family of the world?"
Brotherhood is the way; that is the keynote of the new age. Universal Brotherhood means Universal Peace.
-- Katherine Tingley, THEOSOPHY: THE PATH OF THE MYSTIC
No one denies that spiritually the world is in arrears. Many are beginning to feel that it cannot be kept this side of spiritual bankruptcy unless some calm new greatness enters in. But through what channel? By what means? Peace-plans -- and more peace-plans? Nations, societies, individuals are evolving these year after year, as though they held some magic in themselves. Yet do they? Obviously not, for no one is able to make the plans work.
The prospect for world-peace is exceedingly tenuous. Every thinker will admit as much, yet everyone, thinker or otherwise, wants peace. The nations want it. Their diplomats and statesmen are hammering away, as never before in written history, trying to forge it. But the fire is not there; nothing melts and you cannot forge a thing till its elements, its ingredients, are melted down.
If the advance guard could win the battles for the army, the world would have stepped into sunshine and happiness long ago, and if political efforts could suffice to lift humanity into virtue, we might afford to shirk the burden of thinking for ourselves. But the two or three, the leaders, can no more than point the way. Political means are futile as long as human nature does not change. These are facts, older than history and as old as thinking man is.
Virtue and contentment are qualities of mind and heart, and no fiat from whatever source can create them for humanity. In the templed inner world of these great things, man alone, individual man, is the creator, though he may be fortunate enough in some eras to have, it is true, the fine bulwark of good treaties and just laws. But these latter, of themselves! -- We need not bring up that old issue.
The record of treaties and treaty making, not in one or two nations but in all of them, is a delicate subject. Naturally, for treaties, laws, plans, whatever, that discount the supreme value of the personal equation, are handicapped from the start. It is well known that every attempt to legislate men into virtue is followed by a mad flaring up of the very evil sought to be suppressed. This never proves that the lawmaking method is wrong; however, merely that something else is needed.
So that however we deviate or twist and turn, we are brought up finally flat against the adamantine fact that human nature is the crux of the matter. It strikes its roots into deeper levels than legislation of itself can ever hope to reach -- levels of conduct, of our relations with each other and our attitude towards ourselves.
When Seneca 'discovered' that conduct was "three-fourths of life," he missed it, according to Katherine Tingley, by just twenty-five percent. Levels of conduct are the only levels upon which the world's moral foundations can rest without danger of 'settling' or worse. They are the only levels upon which real regeneration can rise with no fear of an ultimate fall. They are the levels into which the Peace-Tree of the ages is waiting to strike root. The problem is how we can reach them.
Back of all problems lie principles, and the thinker who grasps them can unravel the worst enigma, if he does not lose heart and will persist. Now obviously governments, special committees, or religious convocations cannot solve problems of human nature and character building for us. They cannot be solved for us at all. They must be worked out by each one for himself, but the principle by which a solution is arrived at may be received by us from another source -- from a teacher, from books, from our own inner and wiser Self. Once received, once grasped, they must be respected and applied; else, it is only a scramble in the dark.
The actual processes of that very practical thing called the application of principle to practice will differ with each human being, but with a sacred difference. We stand here, in truth, in the sacred tribunal of the soul, wherein no person, no agency, has any least right to intrude.
Comparatively few, as the world goes, have the hero-stuff in their makeup that will give them grasp of the principles of things and then compel them, at whatever cost, to test these principles out. Most of us sit back and clamor for a receipt -- which shows how spiritually crippled we are, for such a course is a virtual denial of the Divinity within. If we know the principle involved, we can make our own receipts. Clear understanding of principles is a sort of celestial mortar, holding the bricks of our ideal in their place.
We are in an era of cruel pressure and heavy loads. It is heartless to fold our hands and wait for the few to fix things up for us. Every back should be bent to the burden, not just a few, and that burden of burdens today is how to create world-peace.
It is criminal to sit down meekly and say, "Greater minds than my own will have to settle this. I will wait and see what they say about it -- and meanwhile take my ease." It shows ignorance of our own nature, ignorance of the powers and possibilities of the mind itself, and greater still, ignorance of the infinite resourcefulness of the Divinity that resides in our perambulating bodies and can kindle and illumine the mind with holy fire -- if only we allow it. Ignorance of one's resources as gross as this would not be tolerated in the world of the dollar. Dwellers in that world would wipe you out very nicely and very soon.
Those who have studied most deeply into the nature of mind -- and Theosophy alone can throw real light upon this -- know that no limit can be set to its service in respect to world-needs excepting those set by that quantity known as human nature -- in a word, by selfishness, conceit, passion, prejudice, hatred, extremism, insularity, or fear.
The mind in its nobler aspect is a river of light and fire, flowing down into us, to the extent that we permit it to inflow, from its source in the Divine. Our task, obviously, is to clear out the streambed of character, so that the former may flow unimpeded in its course.
This does not square with theories of modern psychology, but no one can say anything as to that, for they do not square with themselves. They do square with conditions as we find them in bedrock life, however. That ought to be enough, for here is the why of what is today such a pitiful anomaly: the fact that a certain few who pose as leaders of thought, who hold great theories and can talk you into unconsciousness on the now popular ideas of brotherhood and international fraternity, utterly fail to make good when confronted by the practical test.
Obstructed by the debris in the character, the great tides of spiritually illumined thought -- which sweep round us all, all the time, seeking ingress -- are stopped before they can get to the fields of practical work and application, either to stagnate and be dissipated (how often we can observe just this) or -- and the world has far-flung examples of this, too, alas! -- to burst all barriers and spread death and destruction around. And thus, with channels of character so clogged that truth cannot flow through in its large purity, instead of an orderly progress, with problems all taken care of and beneficent, constructive results, we have no describing what stagnation, destructive, and mischievous results.
The remedy for all this miscarriage must be apparent, and Theosophy would suggest that it is not too soon to begin to apply it.
It may be objected that with stricken millions in China, in Russia, in India, at our own doors, crying out with famine, urgently needing medical help, housing, and bodily care, there is not time to think of anything but how quickest to hand out bread. But is that all there is to do? Bread -- yes. But then what? Over and above the cry for bread, more heart-breaking and more shrill, is the cry for the bread of the spirit -- for some explanation of what seems like hideous injustice, for some real basis on which to build a new hope, for something to nourish the heart-life, something that one dare trust.
According to those who stand near the center of things, outwardly, this appeal is not being met. To quote but a single expression: in an address given by the Honorable Newton D. Baker, former Secretary of War, while on a visit to San Diego, he said, " The war was a simple matter compared with what is to follow. The world is full of despair; man has lost faith in government."
Man had lost a nobler faith than that, we think, and it is still far from him. He has lost faith in self-government. It is that which complicates the problem of world-peace, which is the world-problem now. Restore that and faith in government will be restored automatically, for government is only man's creation, bearing his image, his very mood, his stamp.
We may hand out legislation by the volume and bread by the million loaves, but until man is aroused to search for the essential Divinity within himself -- how plain it is now: the purpose and single aim of the Theosophical Leaders, H.P. Blavatsky, William Q. Judge, and Katherine Tingley -- until it dawns on man with the power and force of conviction that he can believe in himself, he is only building houses on the sand. The next storm will blow them down or sweep them into the sea, just as the next excuse -- oh, how many both admit and fear it! -- will precipitate another war.
To bring about universal peace -- one of the aims of the Theosophical Society from the beginning as its history amply shows -- is a very large order, but surely, it will have to be filled.
No one is ready to say, in spite of the pessimism afloat and all the excuses for pessimism, that the tide cannot be turned, that civilization must go out, as civilizations have gone out before, "like a torch dipped in water."
We hear more or less about the melting pot of the nations, and America in particular is called the melting pot of the world. What is needed more -- and how many times Katherine Tingley has pointed this out, as H.P. Blavatsky did before her -- is a melting down of the diverse and warring elements in the individual character to the end of a simple harmonious blend or quantity marked by wisdom and power and love. And there is no reason why this cannot come to pass save the unreason of man himself. No wonder the Spirit of Peace has to wait, as the deadlock of disagreements over peace-plans is waiting for the hammer-stroke of some great, resourceful, new idea to break it.
Great hope lies in the fact that ideas of Brotherhood are in the air; and with increasing numbers, Service, from being the impulse of a moment, has become the habit of a life. It begins to look as though Theosophy spoke with authority after all, and not as a harmless scribe. Katherine Tingley declared that had Theosophy -- which be it remembered is the philosophy of Universal Brotherhood and whatever of power and wisdom may be incidental to it -- been made a living power in men's lives prior to 1914 the great war would not have occurred. Of course it would not have occurred. We all can see that now.
Brotherhood is a popular theme in our pulpits, now, at our conferences, in the diplomacy of the world. Brotherhood is exactly the key with which the world is now eagerly locking up the stable-door. Perfectly clear, afterwards, for where Brotherhood is a living power there nations will learn to settle their little differences, as you and I would do, without cutting each other's throats.
What is the matter then? It is simply this (again Theosophy): that it is one thing to accept Brotherhood in the mind, and quite another to believe in it in the heart. The heart is greater than systems, greater than all the schools. And Theosophy -- what has it been called from the beginning but the Doctrine of the Heart?
Now we see why peace-plans, skillfully thought out, laboriously evolved, perfect -- as plans -- are not pulling us out of the mire at all. The wheels are settling all the time. The heart-touch of soul is not in them. The world can be taken for Brotherhood only by the strategy of the soul. Systems and nations both would surrender before the sheer surprise of such an attack, but its generalship is not in parliaments, not in council-halls or convocations, but in conduct -- the conduct of you and me, the conduct of nations that are only you and me larger grown.
And life itself is getting out of patience. It is demanding something more than has been given it in the past -- not temporal but rather permanent peace, not a few decades of civilized behavior, but rather a whole perpetual future of it. The soul is that calm new greatness that, entering in, will bring peace home to stay.
By Abbott B. Clark
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, March 1928, pages 253-56.]
This is a question asked by millions of people throughout the ages, and Theosophy answers: "Man, in fact, is a Soul. He can prove it for himself. Theosophy points the way in which one can find the answer."
Viewed from the standpoint of material life, the soul is subjective and within the man himself, so that the 'proof' must be entirely within himself. No one else can 'prove' it for him. He must think for himself, digest his own food. But it should not be too difficult for every man to have the satisfaction of finding his own soul -- that is, himself -- the Center of his being. Or, at least, finding the way to it.
If man gave half as much attention to his conscience and intuition as he gives to his outer senses, he would find that conscience and intuition are channels of knowledge leading to direct perception of spiritual values.
No arguments about conscience and intuition affect the soul and its light any more than arguments about astronomy affect the sunshine. They only confuse or clarify, as the case may be, the brain-mind. The soul in man keeps on shining, ever trying to warn and guide. Who follows the light is wise according to the degree of his evolution.
The trouble is that our instruction has been such that all our ideas about soul and spirit are indefinite, hazy, confused. It will take a generation or two to clear up the public mind on such matters. But meanwhile, any man having interest in his own soul or in the higher values of life should be able to attain knowledge: at least to attain his full capacity for knowledge.
The way to do it is to give attention to such things. He should establish the habit of noting where his thoughts come from, and which are inspired by the Higher nature and which by the Lower: two entities within man of which he is as ignorant as he is of the mystery of sleep, or of digestion, or of what makes the heart beat and the blood circulate.
The soul is a mystery for the same reason that the circulation of the blood was a mystery -- in Europe -- before Harvey's time. People have not found it out. When people with one accord turn their attention to their higher nature, they will acquire spiritual knowledge with less pain and effort than they have expended in material accomplishments. In fact, the pursuit of spiritual knowledge leads directly away from pain and strain to an ever increasing joy. Its pursuit is a form of practice, training, a self-directed habit, which, once formed, is easy. The right way is the easy way. The wrong ways make the trouble. Conscience does not trouble a man unnecessarily. It tries to keep him OUT of trouble. It is a sort of inner traffic-officer!
To hear a nineteenth-century man talk, one would think that spirit was some sort of gas arising out of matter. It is not. Spirit is the foundation of matter. Matter in that ocean of life much as the earth floats upon the free and fluid ether. It is the animating consciousness guiding the motions of matter -- of all things, each in its own proper degree and order. All nature is animate with life if we could only accustom our eyes to see it.
As the ancient Chinese sage Lao-Tse said, all that is good and true and beautiful in nature is Tao -- the Divine shining through. This is the message that our present Teacher, Katherine Tingley, is trying repeatedly in every lecture and book to bring us to open the windows of our soul and let the divine light shine in and flood our whole being with glory. It is so simple that we cannot believe it, but we go on straining for something afar.
Acquiring spiritual knowledge is very much like waking up. It is a CONSCIOUS clarifying or expanding of consciousness. It may come in a moment of time or it may take years, but in either case, it will be a natural growth -- the result of long continued sincere effort in which the virtues have been practiced. For the soul of man is that center from which all the virtues arise, even as light and electricity come from the sun. All the virtues put together do not make the soul, any more than its rays of light make the sun. The man who finds the Soul within himself will overcome weaknesses and radiate virtues more or less, as naturally as fire radiates light and heat. The soul is the center of all the virtues at once and much more. It is the center of continuity: that center from which the sense of spiritual immortality arises. Faith, hope, trust, and knowledge, are its rays. The presence of the virtues is the proof of the soul. No other explanation will meet all the facts -- stand all the tests.
As the virtues radiate from the soul, they make an atmosphere congenial to the soul. The soul cannot come in and abide in a house darkened by vices. The presence of the one excludes the other, as darkness excludes light and light dissipates darkness. The light is the positive quality; the soul is the real. The vices are negative, hypnotic. They result from weakness. The virtues are an active positive quality and require self-directed spiritual will and constant exercise. If indolence, pride, and self-righteousness creep in, the virtues stagnate and the moral nature decays.
The path of effort is the easy path. The path of self-indulgence becomes harder with every turn and leads to endless difficulties. The selfish path is a rough and rocky road because it is one against all. Unselfishness is constructive, co-operative: one with all and all with one.
The virtuous man seeking his own soul is the strong man: as naturally strong as light, heat, and electricity are strong. He meets the difficulties of life as the mountain-climber surmounts the rocks in his path. Each step is one of vigor, resolution, victory. Climbing is exhilarating, but falling is painful, oh, how painful!
When in control, the lower self is a blind thing, a mere brute having only instinct to guide it. Controlled, it is a priceless instrument: a dynamo transforming the coarse energies of nature into higher mental, moral, and spiritual currents of force. Spiritual currents are established by the HABIT of spiritual aspiration carried out in appropriate action. The repeated aspiration and action form the habit and produce the result. The result is a man who radiates spirituality -- more or less. Sunny, strong, kind, well balanced, and having common sense. He makes few mistakes and those not often serious. His optimism seems to transform mistakes into good lessons, failures into successes. Should he fall, he will not fail.
Man himself being of an essentially spiritual nature, it is the mistake of the ages to think that he can satisfy himself with the things of matter. He gets them and they are gone again. Satisfaction seems ever within his grasp yet ever eludes him.
The Soul -- the power behind evolution -- urges him on, and the lure of Nature ever seeks to sidetrack him. So this pursuit and disappointment, unrest and change, continue as long as selfish desire rules. At last, man recognizes that selfish desire is an eternal Cheat, that there is no material goal -- no final home -- in matter. Being spiritual, he must seek the spirit. Then the whole plan of life changes.
When a man finds Tao, he sees the light shining through the form he loves. He sees the soul within the one he loves, and passion becomes peace. Fixing his attention on Tao, the Eternal, his desires lose their hold. The storms of life become but passing shadows. Even the shock of death itself seems a mere cloud flitting across the sky inviting him to turn his eyes sunward and seek the light into which his loved one has vanished.
The higher the mountain-climber ascends, the broader the view. So the pursuer of the truth becomes of broad, clear-sighted mind, charitable and tolerant, kind, and courteous. He becomes able to see the truth from the standpoint of others and blend his consciousness in mental sympathy with theirs. This is real brotherhood. It is not sentimentality but rather wisely directed and intelligent love and kindness.
When this condition is established in a man's character, it forms an atmosphere into which the presence of the Higher Self can enter and abide, filling his life with truth, light, and joy.
Tao is the spiritual light within. Tao is 'the Path.' Fixing the attention on this light and following it is 'treading the Path.' It is so simple that a child can understand it. It takes more courage than most men willingly use!
By Margaret Barr
[From THE ARYAN PATH, August 1947, pages 348-52.]
The question of religious instruction for children is always before the public mind, and it would seem that the majority who has any views on the subject incline to one of two camps.
On one hand, secularists feel the harm done by religion throughout history so far outweighs the good that we best disown it completely. Leaving our children entirely without religious instruction, they are free to live out their lives untouched by religion or to evolve a faith for themselves when they reach the age to do so.
On the other hand are those who believe that their primary duty in life is to proselytize for the faith to which they happen to belong and who consequently make the most of every opportunity that comes their way for influencing the unformed and pliable minds of children and young people.
If a tree is to be judged by its fruits (and how else can it be judged?), it would appear that both of these attitudes are tragically wrong. Surely, the absence of religion is one of the root causes of the materialism, selfishness, and restlessness that prevail throughout the world at the present day, whereas communal conflict, intolerance, and bigotry are some of the fruits of the dogmatic, proselytizing attitude.
Let us look a little more closely at both of these. The secularist argument is plausible and cogent. It is difficult to deny that religion has been either the cause or the pretext of many black chapters in human history and will continue to be a very dangerous rallying-cry so long as the masses remain either ignorant and superstitious or bigoted and fanatical. Therefore, say the secularists, let us be rid of it once and for all; and if, as the religious people claim, religion has any intrinsic value or importance, it will rise again from the ashes of the old faiths in the hearts and minds of people who have been left free and unprejudiced in childhood.
Such a theory rests on the assumption that religion is in a class by itself and differs radically from all other activities of the human mind. And it is in conflict with educational theory in all other branches of knowledge. We do not say that if Mathematics and Science have any intrinsic value, people will discover them for themselves in adult life without any teaching when young. Doubtless, in the future as in the past, if these subjects were left untaught, an occasional rare mind, a Euclid, a Galileo, a Newton, would arise to make the discoveries all over again. But because the average human being is not a gifted creature like these, does that mean that Mathematics and Science have no value for him? How much of the knowledge that is put to daily use in the healing of the sick by the average practitioner would ever have been acquired by him without guidance, teaching, and the knowledge of the findings of his predecessors? And even in the less specifically rational and more imaginative activities such as Art and Music, surely it is only the very greatest who can achieve anything without instruction and in utter independence of all that has gone before, if indeed anybody ever can.
And in religion, though it is true that saints and mystics cannot be made by teaching any more than musicians and artists can, it is true that the lives of ordinary, average people can be enriched and ennobled by contact with religious genius. This is done in just the same way, by contact with the world's great works of art and music and literature. It would seem, therefore, that the secularists are insisting upon an unwarranted impoverishment of the educational environment when they press for complete secularization.
The people in the other camp, on the contrary, believing that religion is the most important thing in life, leave no stone unturned in their endeavor to persuade or compel everyone to join their particular organization and profess their creed. Also by them, though in a different way, the accepted canons of educational theory are discarded. In all other subjects, education teaches children to think for themselves and to understand the things that they study, tracing the development of a subject systematically. But in religion, what matters is the acceptance of truths miraculously revealed in a book that under no circumstances is to be submitted to the ordinary processes of rational criticism but is to be venerated blindly as being entirely different from all other books, the ipsissima verba of God.
Surely, it is possible to find a middle path between these two extremes, one that shall neither disregard nor contradict the findings of enlightened educational theory.
The secularists are right in demanding that children's minds be left free and unprejudiced. But is it not possible to introduce the study of religion, as to Natural Science and Geography, without either fettering their minds or filling them with prejudices?
The other camp is right in asserting the tremendous importance of religion and the harm that is done by leaving it out of a child's education. But that does not mean that religion should be presented to the child mind as something wholly different from all the other things he learns, something which he must just accept blindly and on no account question or seek to understand.
It is true that no amount of teaching can give religious experience to either child or adult, any more than it can create a poet, artist, or musician. But it is also true that even the least gifted can derive great inspiration from the achievements and example of the great. It is also true that children are by nature hero-worshippers, and if encouraged in their early years, can grow up to revere those who are great in spirit above those who are merely great in martial prowess -- the warriors and conquerors of history's sorry tale. And people taught to know and love, not one only but also all of the world's great spiritual leaders, will have a far better foundation on which to build their own religious life than those brought up in either the secularists' or the dogmatists' camp.
In approaching the question of religious instruction for children, keep in mind certain basic principles.
First, that the capacity for clear, honest thinking is one of man's greatest and rarest capacities, and that no matter what the subject of their study, children should be encouraged to develop this capacity to the utmost and to be as honest in their doubts and questionings as in their beliefs and acceptances. Such honesty will not lead them astray but will help them to sift the gold from the dross and to distinguish between superstition and faith.
Second, that, great though thought is ("the light of the world and the chief glory of man," as Bertrand Russell has called it), it is not man's only gift, and in the study of religion, as of other subjects, imagination, idealism, and reverence should be allowed full play. Encourage children to think and reason and ask questions about the tenets and teachings that have come down from past ages, but let them be encouraged also to love and revere the great souls who have set examples of unselfishness and tolerance and devotion and courage, of love for God and their fellows. For it is only such love and reverence that can awaken in them the desire to explore for themselves the path which those great ones trod and to test for themselves the truth of their religious message.
What then is the answer to our question, "What religion shall we teach our children?" Far be it from the present writer to attempt any final or dogmatic answer. And before attempting even a tentative one, let me first reiterate and stress some negative points that must never be lost sight of.
First, that we should not confine our teaching to any one of the religious and theological systems of the world. Second, that when teaching children, we should avoid everything controversial. And third, that the teacher should remember always that, strictly speaking, he cannot teach religion at all. What he is will always speak more loudly than what he says. The utmost he can hope to do is, by his own example and by the inspiration that he can put into his teaching, is to make his pupils want to embark upon the quest for themselves.
Having made these points clear, the writer's own answer as to what the content of the teaching should be can be summarized shortly.
Teach young children, suitable stories, both scriptural and traditional, from all the world's religions.
At the next stage, teach outlines of the lives and teachings of the founders of the living religions, and perhaps even of the founders of some religions no longer living, such as Akhnaton of Egypt.
At the next stage, teach studies of outstanding passages in the world's sacred books.
Like trees, religions must be judged by their fruits, and since no one of the world's faiths can claim a monopoly of good fruits, children should be taught the facts about them all, in order that they may grow up free from the bigotry and superiority complex that cripple the minds of those whose early instruction is narrow and dogmatic.
In other words, they should be taught, not just this or that particular religion, but the perennial, universal truths that are at the root of all. And since it is useless to expect that teaching such as this will be given in the home, it would seem that all religious instruction given in schools should be along these lines. So long as school instruction also remains in the hands of people whose chief concern is to proselytize for one particular faith, just so long will children continue to grow up either with narrow, exclusive notions about religion or with no interest in it at all as at present.
It is unfortunately true that now there are almost as few teachers as parents with the necessary interest and knowledge to teach in this way. That can be remedied if the matter is taken in hand by training centers and colleges and insisted upon in all State and State-aided schools. We teach citizenship as a matter of course these days, but who can be said to have had an adequate course in that subject if he has been brought up in ignorance of or with distorted ideas about the religion and customs of his fellow-citizens? When the State takes the matter up and insists on teaching religion as impartially and thoroughly as it teaches other subjects, there will at last be some hope of doing away with the rivalry, bitterness, and misunderstanding that at present rend India in pieces and cast such a dark cloud over a future otherwise bright with hope and promise.
By Gertrude W. van Pelt
[From THE DOCTRINE OF KARMA: CHANCE OR JUSTICE, pages 33-40.]
It is natural to ask why a teaching so in harmony with facts and common sense should not have had general recognition in western lands, as it has in the East wherever the Ancient Wisdom has not been forgotten. The answer is not far to seek. Western nations have been taught to believe in a personal god outside of themselves, one who could be influenced by prayers for special favors -- a god who was, in fact, an enormous image of human personality. How could people so believing be expected to develop the impersonal, the lordly and divine side of their natures? How could they, taught that they were born in sin and that eternal bliss or torture was to follow this short life on earth -- lived often against great odds and with little help; taught also that belief in the blood of the Son of God insures their safety: how could they, indeed, fail to have their sense of justice blunted? The fact that, in spite of this, the qualities of compassion, gentleness, forbearance, mercy, kindness still flower, is a standing witness to the divinity within the heart of man.
But if we step outside the little circle of creed and consider the universe as a whole balanced by the exquisite adjustment of parts, how all sound logic, how the faintest glimmering sense of Justice revolts against this Vicarious Atonement! If the criminal sinned only against himself, and wronged no one but himself; if by sincere repentance he could cause the obliteration of past events, not only from the memory of man, but also from that imperishable record, which no deity -- not even the Supremest of the Supreme -- can cause to disappear, then this dogma might not be incomprehensible. But to maintain that one may wrong his fellow-man, kill, disturb the equilibrium of society, and the natural order of things, and then -- through cowardice, hope, or compulsion, matters not -- be forgiven by believing that the spilling of one blood washes out the other blood spilt -- this is preposterous! Can the RESULTS of a crime be obliterated even though the crime itself should be pardoned? The effects of a cause are never limited to the boundaries of the cause, nor can the results of crime be confined to the offender and his victim.
-- H.P. Blavatsky, ISIS UNVEILED, II, 542
It is astounding how such perversions and misinterpretations of the true teachings ever developed; how there were ever found people to teach them or others to believe them. No doubt there are many mysteries connected with this that must some day be explained. It is certain, however, that the great Teacher known as Jesus, one of those Avataras who appear at certain cyclic periods, never taught any of these dogmas. He came, as did every other great Teacher, to restore once more the Ancient Wisdom -- that inexhaustible source of all the religions and philosophical systems of the world; for Christianity was, in its beginnings, pure Theosophy. This can be proved through an intimate study of those times in the light of the Neo-Pythagorean and Neo-Platonic systems.
For perhaps fifty years after the passing of Jesus, his teachings survived, but even he could not stem the ebbing spiritual tide of that age. A dark cycle, begun about the time of Pythagoras, lifted a little for short periods, but gradually grew heavier, its lethal vapors clouding man's intuitions, until in the fifth century those recognized channels for conveying Truth -- the Mystery Schools -- whose light had by this time burned low or vanished, were closed by order of the Emperor Justinian.
Many of the old forms and ceremonies were, it is true, used by the church that called itself Christian, but the life and meaning went out of them, and new interpretations crept in, transforming those vehicles of spiritual splendor into agents for mental paralysis. Rites and forms distracted from realities and drugged the souls of men. The multitudes were obsessed by selfish fear, which was exploited by others until gradually it was as if a dense cloud settled over men's minds, shutting out a knowledge of the glorious past, even of the contemporaneous areas of sunshine on the globe, such as the Golden Age of China, ushered in by Li-Shih-min, until the Europeans were lost and isolated in the gloom or the dark ages.
People speak of Christianity as if it were wholly derived from Judaism. Very little of it is. It is, in its theology, almost wholly derived from misunderstood Greek thought, mainly, as said, from the Neo-Pythagorean and Neo-Platonic systems; and this is obvious to anyone who reads the writings of those who are called the great doctors of Christian theology, such as Dionysius, the so-called Areopagite, whose system is, in essentials, entirely taken from the Neo-Platonic philosophy. Mainly derived from him, again, are the present standard theological works of the Church of Rome: I mean the works of Thomas Aquinas. These are today the standard by which the theology of Rome is directed and settled when disputed points are to be adjudicated. And yet, while this is so, and while much of that which was taken over by the early Christian Fathers still remains as factors and words in the Christian theology, it has utterly forgotten the spirit of these early pagan thoughts, and that religion today stands reduced to a system of forms and ceremonies, mostly.
-- G. de Purucker, FUNDAMENTALS OF THE ESOTERIC PHILOSOPHY, 420
Practically all the civil institutions of ancient times, punishments among others, were based upon what took place in the Mystery-Schools. Such, for instance, was the crucifixion of the Romans, taken direct from one of the ceremonies of initiation, the "Mystic Death;" taken from it, stolen from it; and made an instrument of legal murder by the State, in later, degenerate times. Another instance, also taken from the ceremony of the "Mystic Death," was the "Cup," in India the Soma-draft; in Greece we find Socrates punished by drinking from the Cup of Hemlock; and we are reminded of Jesus, praying that the "cup" might pass from him. Numerous other very different instances could be cited ?
Another instance that we might mention, of a quite different type, is that of the wearing of a crown, or a diadem, by civil rulers, formally enacted in the "coronation" of a king -- a ceremony adopted from the Mysteries. Some of the earliest crowns that they wore had outstanding spikes, reminding one of the "crown of thorns" of Jesus.
-- G. de Purucker, FUNDAMENTALS OF THE ESOTERIC PHILOSOPHY, 216
It is a few philosophers who, driven by the political events of the day, tracked and persecuted by the fanatical Bishops of early Christianity -- who had yet neither fixed ritual nor dogmas nor Church -- it is these Pagans who founded the latter. Blending most ingeniously the truths of the Wisdom-religion with the exoteric fictions so dear to the ignorant mobs, it is they who laid the first foundations of ritualistic Churches.
-- H.P. Blavatsky, "The Roots of Ritualism in Church and Masonry," BLAVATSKY COLLECTED WRITINGS, XI, 71, and LUCIFER, Vol. VI, 37, March 1889
Other remarkable instances are the festivals of the Christmas and Easter seasons. These are materialized reflections of sacred ceremonies of initiations held at these times and described in symbols, which the Church interpreted as physical facts. All of which goes to bear out our statement that Christianity IN ITS BEGINNINGS was pure Theosophy.
From the dark ages, we have happily emerged. They are past, and a great cycle of opportunity is before us, but the old false dogmas have left a stain, not yet wiped out. Among those obliterated teachings that were essential to an understanding of life, was that of Reincarnation. It was believed in the early centuries of this era, but discouraged by the Church when it became a political power. Finally, at the Second Council of Constantinople, A.D. 553, the teaching was anathematized. Thus, gradually, the knowledge of it faded out in the dark night that followed.
Without this fact of Reembodiment, life would be an absurdity, a grotesque farce without meaning. The events, emotions, ambitions, fortunes, or misfortunes of any one life-period, would be as anomalous, as incoherent, as dislocated, as would be any one day with the yesterdays and tomorrows blotted out. Try to picture such a crazy unhinged day, if you can. Observing superficially, one might say that from day to day we have the same body, the same brain and a memory, conditions not present between lives. But this comprehensive, archaic philosophy, every aspect of which dovetails into every other, relating all parts to the whole, leaves no unexplained gaps, but shows the perfect analogy between the DAY and the LIFE-cycle.
At the close of a life, all the entities that make up the complex nature of man, separate and go to their respective realms, as has been stated. The body, as we know, disintegrates, and the teaching is that its life-atoms gain experience by transmigrating through the kingdoms of Nature. The human or reincarnating ego passes into a state of consciousness known as Devachan, leaving behind the groups of attributes or skandhas that make up its personality. This longer night is for the human soul one of absolute bliss and rest, one in which all the experiences of the past are assimilated; all the nobler aspirations realized and worked into the nature; and from which it awakens, refreshed and strengthened, to take up its unfinished duties.
The striking fact in the analogy drawn between sleep and death, is that the complete man returns identical in all his elements. The higher aspects begin again to function together; the skandhas again become active; even the same life-atoms that made up the old body are magnetically attracted to their old places. The stage is set in new surroundings but the same old actor is there charged with the same energies, tendencies, power or lack of power to deal with the problems that he himself has created, and that he is therefore bound to face. Without a knowledge of these facts it has been impossible for men to realize that they must reap what they sow. The thread of continuity, though unbroken and clear to the higher parts of man's constitution has been lost to view by the brain of each succeeding rebirth. Thus with intuition clouded by false teachings, life has become an enigma. Our civilization is indeed an exemplar of the dire results of the loss of a true, deeply-rooted sense of justice and responsibility.
The Law of KARMA is inextricably interwoven with that of Reincarnation.
It is only this doctrine, we say, that can explain to us the mysterious problem of Good and Evil, and reconcile man to the terrible and APPARENT injustice of life. Nothing but such certainty can quiet our revolted sense of justice. For, when one unacquainted with the noble doctrine looks around him, and observes the inequalities of birth and fortune, of intellect and capacities; when one sees honor paid fools and profligates, on whom fortune has heaped her favors by mere privilege of birth, and their nearest neighbor, with all his intellect and noble virtues -- far more deserving in every way -- perishing of want and for lack of sympathy; when one sees all this and has to turn away, helpless to relieve the undeserved suffering, one's ears ringing and heart aching with the cries of pain around him -- that blessed knowledge of Karma alone prevents him from cursing life and men, as well as their supposed Creator ?
Truly a robust "faith" is required to believe that it is "presumption" to question the justice of one, who creates helpless little man but to "perplex" him, and to test a "faith" with which that "Power," moreover, may have forgotten, if not neglected, to endow him, as happens sometimes. Compare this blind faith with the philosophical belief, based on every reasonable evidence and life-experience, in Karma-Nemesis, or the Law of Retribution.
Karma creates nothing, nor does it design. It is man who plans and creates causes, and Karmic law adjusts the effects; which adjustment is not an act, but universal harmony, tending ever to resume its original position, like a bough, which, bent down too forcibly, rebounds with corresponding vigor. If it happen to dislocate the arm that tried to bend it out of its natural position, shall we say that it is the bough that broke our arm, or that our own folly has brought us to grief?
-- H.P. Blavatsky, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, 303-5