The universe is not chaotic or insane, but is an organism guided and controlled from within outwards, not only by infinite and omniscient cosmic intelligence -- intelligences rather -- but by cosmic love. For love is the cement of the universe and accounts for the orderliness of the universe, and its harmony and unity that everyone who has the seeing eye may discern in all around him.
-- G. de Purucker, STUDIES IN OCCULT PHILOSOPHY, 304
By Eldon B. Tucker
Love is the power that causes life to arise out of non-being and form into harmonious patterns, bringing cosmos out of chaos, order out of disorder, worlds of fascination and glory out of lifeless dust.
In any relationship between two beings, the connecting glue is love in some form. It is found between a Master and his or her Chela, between a bodhisattva and those who haven't crossed to the other shore, between a devotee and the image of contemplation, and between a lover and the beloved.
We are all deeply connected by karmic bonds, bonds that allow our life to mingle with others, bonds that draw out of us the karmic interchange of action and interaction. We are, in fact, not a fixed, separate egoity, but rather are composed of all those bonds with others.
Love itself has its phases, much as we find in a world coming into being. There is the initial creation, exemplified by Brahma, the enduring connectedness, by Vishnu, and the dissolution and passing on, by Shiva.
When a deep need arises in us, a connection is made to another, and the fires of passionate love consume all obstacles between us and the other. We may find obstacles between ourselves and an object of worship burned out of our lives, or perhaps it is the obstacles between us and a beloved, as in a romantic love.
The feeling is intense, consuming, and rips our lives apart. Everything fades as all our life energies are directed into the process. Our inner and outer lives are transformed. And if the process succeeds, we find ourselves deeply bonded with the other, with the deity, the teacher, the humanitarian effort, or the man or woman that we adore.
As the feeling consumes us, the other seems dearer than anything else. Everything about the other becomes precious, sacred, filled with magic and charm. We contemplate the other but see it as an unattainable idol and ideal. We must make a sacrifice to make ourselves worthy. It is forbidden in some way, kept outside of us because we are a creature of a lesser realm.
If the process succeeds, we meet and know the other. There is a sense of calm abiding, a connectedness, a deep-rootedness that is unshakable. We are one with the other in our life essence, and there is no more fear, no more longing, no more sadness.
Should the process fail, the energy consumes us. We sink into a sense of blackness, and go through a sense of mourning.
In the love process, we are akin to the baby chick that is bonding with its mother. There is an unqualified joy in the presence of the beloved. But when apart, there is an unquenchable hunger. It is the poignant feeling of losing out on something precious in life, like the death of a close parent or child, or the horror as a mother watches a stroller with her baby starts rolling down the street towards traffic.
In this process, we come to feel like we are melting inside, and everything is falling away. There is a deep sadness, and the world and time seem to stop. But this feeling cannot be sustained. It is consuming, and in the natural order of things, it burns away obstacles between one and the beloved or deity, fading to a gentle caring and feeling of connectedness.
If one finds oneself in this process, it's important to recognize that it's a passing phase, and its end result is unity, the creation of a new, deep karmic bond. It could lead to a two-way love between a young couple, a pure bakti love of a deity, or the love for others of a compassionate person.
The passionate love must be pushed through to a new connectedness and understanding. Otherwise, it is unrequited love, and self-destructive. With deity, a true bond must be forged within to the actual presence behind the mental image. With personal love, a genuine friendship and relatedness must be forged.
The initial passions are the start of a cycle of relatedness. This fire is not intended to blaze indefinitely. It's like a fire that burnt away the underbrush, leaving the giant trees in a forest standing, not a fire that goes on to burn everything leaving the hillside in ashes.
When the fieriness departs, one is left with a sense of rapture, of timeless wonder and amazement. At a more personal level, it results in a true bonding, a genuine companionship of souls, a deep connection that nurtures and brightens lives. At the highest level, the love for the divine leads one to a sense of divine discontent that leads one to set his or her feet on the Path.
One is enamored by seeing a divine light in another, a brilliant flood of spiritual and magical energy that brightens the world. Then as the bonding happens, one becomes deeply connected with the other, and is raised, ennobled, and becomes both the recipient of that light as well as a source of it for others.
Sadly, everything in life ends, and eventually a process of mourning and letting go sets in. As the Shiva or destructive aspect takes over, it leads one into a mourning process and provides one the ability to move on.
Seek out the light wherever you may find it, bind yourself to it, and raise yourselves and the world about you. It's a dark place, and the light is too precious to see it and not reach out, take it, and make it a part of your lives. Never ignore an opportunity to form loving bonds, both for you sake, the other's, and all of life. We have it in our power to make this world a place of wonder and joy if only we'd reach out and do so.
By Dara Eklund
[From the Fall 1969 THEOSOPHIA, 15-16.]
It may be a small house with few windows and doors. It may be too open, too ready and anxious for a passing footstep or would-be intruder. It may be dull and suspicious or contriving. The house of a thousand secrets is the human heart. That house, which thought by thought and deed by deed we daily build, can expand as large as the great Universe itself, or contract until its dweller lives fearfully and painfully isolated from its surroundings.
Arouse now the image of the True Heart. Envision it as a temple, sturdy-pillared to shelter all. Open it is, to gentle passing breezes and brisker gusts as well. Lest too strong a gale snatch the altar fire, or dim its fire for others yet to come, its inner Guardian is ever aware, neither trusting, nor condemning upon appearances. The steps of our temple must be mounted first, before its worth be taken. Yet its very height must pronounce the access of a ready hand to aid the way-worn traveler; its light remain a steady beam to dishearten none approaching.
To listen, yet not to lean. To comprehend, but not conclude. To enrich the understanding, but delay council until asked. The remain worthy of the trust of secrets shared but not passed on. What Delphic oracles all might be with lofty aims as these! Loftier than all could be the kingly silence inviting each to rekindle his flame before passing on to higher hills.
How did a Dickens glean the human heart? Or a Shakespeare? Can one imagine that without his early strife, his dismay at his father's shameless flamboyancy (while yet in debtors prison), Dickens could have risen to such tender patience for the weak, the wayward, the inconsistent? How many of the thousand secrets must a Shakespeare know? And where but from many lives on earth, from dusty tramp to noble knight, can one gain that peerless vision which severs mercy from disdain? The cord of self-hood must be snapped before the pure diamond within maintain its steady luster.
Long remains that luster, once civilization has risen to such luminosity, the dust of counties ruins moving with the world. A German poet, Rudolf Binding, once stated:
The sensation of light is the most penetrating, most lasting sensation one can experience in Greece. Without this light neither Greece, nor her art, nor her Gods, nor her people would have been possible. Only in such an atmosphere could they have existed. It is not so much light as an infinite transparency. Not many can say what its colour is, nor can it be described in words. It is the very art which these stones breathe. It does not blind, it does not beautify. It is all purity, all precision. It hates secrecy, and in its brightness Greece lies fair and smiling before us.
-- Quoted in The Acropolis, p. 8, by a German archeologist, Gerhart Hodenwaldt
Should he have shared our philosophy, would the poet not say it is because of her Gods, her art and her people, that this light pervaded her isles even to this day? In these notes on The Acropolis is also found a tribute to the Parthenon as a "symphony of light" to which the archeologist adds:
Like all Greek temples, the Parthenon is built entirely of freestone blocks. No mortar is used, and no rubble to fill gaps. No stone has an unexpected and unusual shape accidentally received in course of construction ... The whole building is a symphony, in which each note, exactly calculated beforehand, adds to the harmony of the whole.
Would that the order of the human heart could deserve a form so rare. Amidst all the rubble of our daily entangled emotions and misconceptions, where can we begin to build? A heartening foundation stone might be these simple words of the master thinker Plato:
THE UNIVERSE IS HARMONIZED BY A PROPORTION WHICH GIVES IT THE SPIRIT OF FRIENDSHIP.
By Katinka Hesselink
and written November 10, 2008.]
"What is love?"
"The total absence of fear," said the Master.
"What is it we fear?"
"Love," said the Master.
-- Anthony de Mello
Is Love is the opposite of fear?
Dozens of blogs and articles online say this. Personally I don't think it's that simple though. I think various emotions can exist inside us at the same time. But since the people who write this do have at least part of a point, I'm going to go into this subject by quoting a few.
Love is the total absence of fear. Love asks no questions. It's natural state is one of extension and expansion, not comparison and measurement.
-- Gerald G.Jampolsky
The underlying assumption is that love and fear are the basis of all other emotions. In the words of Frank Sant'Agata:
Love and fear are the only emotions we as human entities are able to express. All the others are just sub-categorical emotions. For example, on love's side there is joy, peacefulness, happiness, forgiveness, and a host of others. On the other hand, fear reflects: hate, depression, guilt, inadequacy, discontentment, prejudice, anger, attack, and so on.
Biologically this is true to some extent. Fear and anger are both biologically expressed with only one hormone: adrenaline. The response to adrenaline is either fight (anger) or flight (fear). This duality is pretty basic. It is in fact so basic that it has been used in the enneagram as the motivating power in six out of the nine personality types. Three have fear as the main motivating power and three have anger as the motivating power. In the enneagram the three personality types left have sadness or sorrow as the motivating power.
I'm bringing the enneagram into this because it is a way of talking about the personality that has more dimensions and is therefor closer to the truth of our lives as we experience it.
Back to the theme of today: love is the opposite of fear. Looked at biologically this would mean that love is the absence of adrenaline. This makes some sense. Fear certainly makes a lot of spiritual practice harder. Breathing for instance becomes hard when fear takes over. Focusing on the needs of someone else is harder when we are scared for our own lives, livelihood or whatever. In other words: fear makes love harder.
As JD says:
Fear is wired into the biochemistry of our bodies. Fear has been a necessary part of physical survival. Fear provided that extra amount of strength, speed, and agility to save our pre-history ancestor from being eaten by a sabre-toothed tiger. (The Fight or Flight Syndrome). Those same physiological reactions are present in our modern-day bodies which respond just as strongly to psychological fears as they do to physical fears.
The tiger was real -- our psychological fears are not. Our bodies, not knowing the difference, treat them as one and the same. Thus, if we are to change our relationship with psychological fear, it is necessary to find the source of our fear and heal it.
I agree to some extent: our psychological fears are only partly realistic. The tiger was concrete. But since he could often be neither heard nor seen -- fear was probably often there even when the tiger wasn't. Similarly for ordinary healthy people fears are usually based on something. For instance, with the present economic difficulties many people are afraid for their jobs or their business. The foundation is real. However the outcome on the stock market is by now overdone I think. Most of the underlying uncertainties have been dealt with reasonably well by governments (in Europe especially). Once people become afraid -- they infect each other.
I don't think that kind of fear has anything to do with love. It's not the opposite of love, but rather on a different level or something.
There are all kinds of things more related to fear than love. For instance Jiddu Krishnamurti explored the idea that thought and time are the root of fear. For Sogyal Rinpoche "the ultimate fear" is "the fear of looking into ourselves."
By Katherine Hunt
Some years ago, I sat down to categorize all of the kinds of love that I could fathom. A lengthy, yet very incomplete list came from this cognition. I wrote:
There are many kinds of Love:
- love for a Teacher
- love for a Student
- love of Life
- love of Being
- love for a friend
- love for a beloved
- love for an ex-boyfriend
- love for a sibling
- love for a friend who is like a sibling
- love for an uncle
- love for an aunt
- love for a grandparent
- love for one's parents
- love for one's mother
- love for one's father
- love for a sister
- love for a brother
- love for a cousin
- love for a cousin who is like a sister or brother
- love for one's country
- love for another country
- love for nature
- love for an object
- love of knowledge
- love for someone you never had a chance with
- love for your achievements
- love for your potential
- love for other's achievements
- love for other's potential
- love for a moment in time
- love of God/"The IS"
- love of the god within
- love of music
- love of art
- love of movement
- love for an enemy
- love for those you pity
- love for those you admire
- love for something or someone you could destroy
- love of power
After this, I began to philosophize about love:
Romantic love is a spectrum. There are small loves, medium loves, and large loves. There are fleeting loves, and loves that last a lifetime. There are loves in which you can take pride, and loves of which you can be ashamed.
Love can exist with so many emotions. It can be tinged by happiness, sadness, fear. It is a hunger, a thirst, a responsibility, a pledge, a hope a promise. It cannot be traded, but must be earned; though what earns it is sometimes odd, even to those experiencing it.
Love can be overwhelming, shocking, bold; or soft, gentle, kind, sweet. It can be unexpected and arrive from any quarter at any time. It's not a dog -- you cannot call it to you. It is beautiful when reciprocated, devastating when it is not. It can shake the foundations of your world, or leave you feeling stronger and more certain of your life than you have ever felt before. It can make you laugh and cry. It if fades unexpectedly, it can be shocking. But so can it be when it comes in unannounced as well.
Love can be expressed so many ways; with a touch; a look; a caress; a caress of the eyes; a hug; a letter; a note; an email; a text message. Through words spoken or left unspoken. Through demands or lack thereof. Through gifts of many kinds. Through absence or presence. Through laughter, through tears. Through hopes, through dreams, through knowing looks.
Love is sometimes sneaky, sometimes bold. It can hide in a corner one day, and scream its intent the next. It can wax and wane; and leave you with questions of "what if" years after the object that inspired it is gone.
Love can be inspiring, it can take your breath away, or it can crush you. It can be a comfort or a burden, a boon or a bane. At its best, it is a celebration of life. At its worst, it is a Band-Aid slapped on a never healing wound. a putrid, stinking, fetid, terrible co-dependent horror that leaves both parties feeling betrayed in the end.
Search for the good. Push away the bad, no matter how seductive it may seem. For in the end, you cannot avoid love. Love is life. How you shape it, though, is up to you.
In all, the logic behind that small piece seemed sound. However, since its creation, I have come to realize that there was one major omission from my list of types of love; one that would alter the paragraphs I had written after the list. This love is Unconditional Love.
Unconditional Love is hard to find. It is not an emotion, per se. Rather, it is a state of being. What do I mean by this? When feeling Unconditional Love, you look through eyes that can see nothing as ugly, nothing as wrong. There is no attachment, no judgment. Rather, one simply sees the beauty that is inherent in everything. It is as if you are allowing a higher state of consciousness to flow through you. As it does, you look at the world with profound compassion and complete acceptance. When experiencing Unconditional Love, a person could come and yell at you, and it would be meaningless. You might smile through their tirade, and then offer them a pleasant, "I'm sorry you're feeling so upset," in reply.
Of course, this begs the question, "Is Unconditional Love better than Romantic or Emotional Love?" It is hard to say. I think most of us would agree that a lot of personal growth has come from the experiences we've had in romantic relationships, or other situations that have arisen from Emotional Love. (For example, the loss of a parent, or the rejection by a schoolmate.) And yet, Unconditional Love seems to be part of "God Consciousness" -- that is, experiencing self as divine, experiencing the world as perfect, rather than flawed. It is, if I may be so bold, the state in which the Buddha and Jesus lived. Therefore, it is something that we should all strive to practice. Perhaps it would be prudent to say that both Emotional and Unconditional Loves have their places in the development of a human being. We can strive to practice Unconditional Love, yet are most immediately able to experience and grow through Emotional Love.
Can Unconditional Love be cultivated? Certainly. One of the methods I have heard for doing so is simply to look yourself in the mirror and say, truthfully, "I Love You." However, that may be difficult for many people. Many people judge themselves very harshly. Perhaps instead of trying to jump into the "I Love You" deep end, you could start by cultivating compassion, for others and for yourself. If you see flaws in yourself, and forgive them, then you can begin to see the flaws in others as less serious. Perhaps you can forgive the dishes your family leaves in the sink or the car the cuts you off on the freeway, because you understand what it's like to be in a hurry. As you begin to cultivate compassion, Unconditional Love will also grow. Someday -- one hopes in the not-too-distant future -- your eyes will open with a new force behind them; and everywhere you look will be filled with beauty.
Brotherhood Viewed in the Light of Theosophy
By A Student
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, June 1926, 556-61.]
The true road for Humanity lies in the principle of BROTHERHOOD -- properly understood. But that word, 'Brotherhood,' needs careful consideration, if we are to gain an adequate idea of what it really means, and not be misled by the numerous false conceptions which are attached to it. Brotherhood, as the term is usually understood, represents a conception which is much too small and slight to stand as the salvation of Humanity. Too often, it means nothing more than a vague sentiment of mutual toleration, or a system of communal life based on such mutual toleration. When people speak of Brotherhood, they often have in their minds something that is difficult and goes against the grain. To practice Brotherhood, they imagine, means to act against one's inclinations and maintain towards other people an attitude of forced benevolence and toleration.
This is because we are trying to practice Brotherhood without having the real thing in our hearts; and so, instead of being an instinct, whose gratification is a pleasure, it becomes an irksome duty. Our motive is wrong. We act from religious fear or philosophic belief, or some other motive that does not deeply stir the nature. Brotherhood cannot rest upon sermons nor upon philosophical treatises. You cannot preach people into brotherhood, nor argue them into it.
But Theosophy sheds quite a new light on the question. According to Theosophy, Brotherhood rests on certain great truths which have long been forgotten by the human race, and which must be brought back to recollection. The first of these truths is that of the ESSENTIAL DIVINITY OF MAN. This makes all the difference in the meaning of the word Brotherhood, because the belief in the essential divinity of man is not taught either by religion or science, or, if it is, then only in a vague and ineffectual way.
According to Theosophy, the ordinary life of man is but a poor shadow of the real Life that should be his. The greater, better, part of human nature lies still latent and undeveloped OUTWARDLY. There are possibilities in life that we do not dream of. We go on theorizing about questions as if the present stage of human development were the best possible. But it is evident that, if so many of our powers and faculties are still latent and undeveloped, we have quite a large and new field of conjecture left open to us.
The powers of the Soul can only be evoked by a true Brotherhood. Just as the sublime harmonies of music require the consonance of many tones tuned in accord, so many hearts beating together in perfect mutual understanding and love evoke the sublime harmonies of the Soul-life.
To most believers in religious creeds, the Soul-life is a thing of the hereafter, not to be enjoyed on earth. And even thus, there is never any idea of a blending of hearts, but rather one of selfish bliss -- if such a thing were possible. But in the light of Theosophy, the Soul is ever present with us, overshadowing us each and all, and waiting for our recognition. This is surely no strange doctrine, but only the one that Christ taught. But we have perverted his kindly teaching into a cold and barren dogma.
It is open to everyone to enter upon the Path that leads to eternal peace and knowledge. The one essential is that he should give up those personal prejudices and delusions that hide from him the light. But to be willing to do this, he must become convinced that there IS such a Path, and that it is worth striving for. This is where the need for Theosophical teachings comes in. There are many, many sad hearts and puzzled brains in the world who are ready to come to the light, but are kept from it by the almost impassable barriers of false knowledge and mistaken ideals that exist in the world. Many hear of Theosophy and pass it by without further inquiry, when it is the very thing they are in search of; and all because of the number of times they have been deceived. They think Theosophy is one more sham and delusive hope.
Since humanity has no creed or faith on which it can base a doctrine of true Brotherhood, it needs more than all else a proper understanding of the laws of life and of the constitution of human nature. HUMANITY NEEDS A NEW HOPE. Without hope and the faith of knowledge, the heart is cold. How are we to restore the lost hope and faith of humanity? By restoring the knowledge of man's essential divinity.
The Theosophical teachings as to the history of humanity are more scientific than those that are current today. Theosophy teaches that Man has had an immense antiquity on the earth, as our archaeologists are now beginning to discover. Science admits that the rocks and plants and animals are millions of years old, but, with strange inconsistency, will not accord a corresponding antiquity to Man; but, instead, makes him the creature of a few paltry centuries, while its ideas as to the status of the ancients are often childish and silly. The Wisdom-Religion, more consistent, gives Man an antiquity commensurate with that of the geological ages.
The life-history of humanity comprises a cycle of fall and descent, and a cycle of reascent and rise. It is what is meant by Paradise lost and regained. There have been times in the far past when humanity was more glorious and happy than it is now -- times dimly spoken of in legend as the 'Golden Age.' All nations have traditions of these times, when Gods and Heroes walked the earth. Also we have legends of the Fall of man, when, led away by the misuse of his divine prerogative of free will, he forsook the Light and turned to sensual pleasures and worldly power. The purpose of life is the experience of the Soul, which, being essentially divine, descends into fleshly bodies for the purpose of adding to itself the knowledge and dominion of all the lower kingdoms of nature.
It is the destiny of man, by virtue of his free will, to stray far from the light in his quest of experience and happiness. It is also his destiny to return to the light after his long pilgrimage and to become master of all the forces of his lower nature. But the path of humanity is always forward, though sometimes leading along a descending slope. Viewed in this light, the present age, and indeed all the period covered by history as we know it, is a cycle of materialism and spiritual darkness. Man has been engaged in bloody wars of conquest, in religious quarrels, in the struggle for material wealth, and all things that are earthly. But we have now passed the lowest point of the cycle and a return to more spiritual ways of life is impending. This explains the universal hunger for reality and faith that is heard everywhere today.
It is a sad thing to have to confess, in a so-called scientific and cultured age, that people are in a state of absolute doubt and ignorance, as to how to deal with the most vital problems of human life: -- how to bring up children, how to stop vice and crime, how to prevent disease and secure health, what is the right form of government, how to prevent industrial strife and financial corruption, what constitutes truth in religion, what is the nature of the human mind and heart, and innumerable other questions. It is not very flattering to have to confess that we cannot prevent international wars, bloody massacres, political dishonesty, and the ravages of selfishness, cruelty, and lust. In short, the outfit of knowledge that we can claim in this age is confessedly altogether inadequate to solve the simplest problems of human life.
Is there not need to bring back to humanity its lost faith and knowledge?
The secret of happiness is SELF-CONTROL. But what is to be the controlling agency? The only self-control we know is where some greater passion controls the lesser ones, as when ambition rules a man's life, or love of ease. Or perhaps religious fear may keep us in order. Fortunately, the greater part of humanity is governed, not by the contradictory voices of religion, nor by the wild guesses of scientific opinion, but by the sane and healthy instincts of human nature which make themselves felt and which impel men to observe the laws of self-sacrifice and mutual helpfulness which alone can render society stable. But these are only instincts, and people do not understand their reason.
What we have to learn is that the law of Brotherhood is founded on eternal truth, that it is the very fundamental LAW of all life. The higher life is not a kind of supplement added to the ordinary life. It is the only real life, and what we know as life is only a counterfeit. Theosophy teaches that, while the lower mind of man is personal and separate, the Soul is one for all and knows no self-interest.
If we should rise above the delusions created by our selfish passions, we should become illuminated by the light of the Soul shining into our minds and making us see things as they really are. We should then be inspired with the universal Love that would impel us to act in the common interest and would dominate and supersede all self-interested motives. Instead of having a lot of ordinary people actuated by ethical and religious principles in which they only half believe, we should have people who were illuminated and to whom the teachings of true Religion were natural instincts instead of difficult tasks.
Modern opinion fluctuates to every point of the compass; all the departments of inquiry are at cross purposes; there is no unity or agreement in modern thought, and it is a perfect Babel. How can we find in the midst of this confusion any authority, any certainty, anything that can serve as a sure guide in life? We have lost the unifying factor of knowledge, the keystone of the arch. Instead of knowledge, we have multitudinous opinion, and if it were not for the natural healthy instincts, society could not exist at all.
The unifying factor that we have lost is the ancient Wisdom-Religion -- Theosophy -- that knowledge which in antiquity was widely diffused and generally recognized, but which was obscured by false doctrine and gradually lost from public knowledge during the dark cycles. In this Knowledge, there is no contrariety between science and religion and the whole fabric of knowledge coheres and is perfectly consistent and harmonious. It replaces the everlasting doubt and fear about the future life and the Soul by a certain conviction of the immortality and essential divinity of man's nature, and thus gives a new hope, strength, and dignity to life.
No longer need we live without a purpose, drifting along we know not whither. The assurance that there is a larger knowledge and a fuller, richer life open to each and all who are willing to enter the path of wisdom gives man a sure goal to aim at.
The True Road to truth must be sought within oneself. In the Soul is the ultimate criterion of truth. The religious bodies of the Occident are to some extent beginning to realize this; that is to say, they are getting back to the original teachings of their Master, who taught that we must look within ourselves for our divine nature. But it needs Theosophy to put this teaching into a form that will make it real and practical; for without the knowledge regarding the nature of man there is no rational basis for the doctrine to rest on and it will not satisfy the reason. Theosophy indicates how we may so direct and fashion the course of our lives as to approach that fount of divine strength and wisdom which is in each one of us. That way is by the practice of Brotherhood.
We must realize that the selfish propensities are fetters on the Soul, chaining it down to a narrow and sordid life, when it might be free and soaring like a bird. By recognizing the unworthiness of our personal desires and ambitions, and forcing them to give way to the unselfish aspirations that we are cultivating, we can gradually rise to a calmer, happier life.
This is no idle dreaming. The Theosophical or Brotherhood-life is being actually lived before the eyes of the world in Lomaland, and is rapidly becoming the source of wonderment and admiration. For the world hungers for, and can appreciate, a practical working example.
Theosophy does not divide life into compartments, but regards it as a whole. Hence, the whole nature is developed harmoniously, as the ancient Greeks sought to develop it. Body, Mind, and Soul are all cultivated. Theosophy contains the laws of right living on every plane; so that it includes the laws of bodily health.
The most striking instance of the effects of practical Theosophy now before the world is the Raja-Yoga school-system. The quality of the children that that system of education brings forth is astonishing the eyes of the people. In the Raja-Yoga Schools, true self-command is taught, for the children are taught from their earliest years to rely on the indomitable strength and purity of their own Soul, and by it to control all their faculties of mind and of body and to drive out all the intrusive passions and ailments which afflict and mar the life of less fortunate people. The Raja-Yoga system, as applied to children and to grown people, may truly be described as the hope of humanity.
By Kenneth Morris
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, November 1918, pages 461-68.]
No one ought to give up hope, or indulge in pessimism, while there is so infinitely much that we do not know. I mean about Man himself; about you, me, every one of us. There is more in this sea than ever was taken out of it; there are hidden splendors we guess not, and always the possibility of their coming to light. With all that man has accomplished, in deeds and art and literature, we have never yet sounded the depths or soared to the heights of human nature; we cannot tell what we may become. And yet, what astonishing summits have been climbed!
Supposing you found, in some little remote village, an old fellow of eighty or so, who should tell you that in all his long life he had never been twenty miles from his native place; had never seen a railway train, much less an auto or an airplane. You would think him pretty rustic and unprogressive; his claim to know the world, on the strength of having been once or twice to the next village, would make you laugh. And yet the fact is that perhaps most of us are rather like him -- in another way.
Our world and all that we possess are within us. One may have visited all the capitals of the earth, and remain an uninstructed boor and provincial; one may never have left his native hamlet, and yet be a more daring voyager than any in Hakluyt. One's true possessions are the things no one and no circumstance can take away from one. But of course anything outside of oneself, anything that money can buy, may be taken away. The right kind of books are, in a way, a great treasure; but one may easily be separated from one's books.
Here let me digress a little, and consider what books are for.
I said we are like the old fellow in the village. We live in an enormous world; I cannot tell how many continents and oceans it may contain. There are no geographies to give the information; because, in this world of human consciousness, however far one may travel, there are always regions beyond. It is like voyaging among the stars; not sailing round the globe. If you set out, and press on, you will not presently find yourself back in the port from which you started; the way is infinite, and there are infinite riches and wonders to be found. But how many of us can boast, like that old rustic, that we have been as far as twenty miles from here?
We are like people dwelling on a barren shore, who venture not, or rarely, and on but short excursions, into the vast continent within. We are content with the sterility we are used to; the petty increment of small thought and feeling that serves here for the commodities of life. We think and feel as we have been brought up to think and feel; just about as our neighbors think and feel; just about what our newspapers tell us to. These reiterate and reiterate the stale old tidings of the narrow coast. We feed on the blubber and poor fish we can catch, on the poor crops we can grow under the sea-winds; our wealth is the poor pebbles we can pick up on the beach. And all the while we brag ourselves wondrous rich and cultured, and call these unsavory cabins a high civilization.
But now and again someone looks up into the hills, and says: "I am going up into them, to find what is beyond." He goes; fights his way up and through; conquers wild beasts and demons; braves a million perils; and presently discovers gold mines; discovers rich pastures and a marvel of harvests; regions where sapphires and diamonds are strewn. He comes into the domains of great and civilized kings; whereas we on the coast are about as great and civilized as Eskimos. He enters the Palace wherein reigns that monarch whose name is the Human Soul; and still his journey is not done, for the empire of the Soul is infinite. No famine shall trouble him further; the dearth and dismay that visit the coast periodically shall not affect him. He leaves a record of his journeys; and these records are the great books. Shakespeare was such a discoverer; and Dante; and all the great prophet-poets and mystics. The value of the records they leave us lies just in this: they are incitements to us to travel and discover for ourselves.
Of course there are all sorts of shanties on the near foothills: where are those who tell us: "Thus far thou shalt go, and no further"; who tell us there is nothing beyond; and that what offerings we may have brought with us for some possible potentate in the Interior, had best be left with them. But they do not know, not having traveled. They too, like the lave of us, go upon tradition, and know nothing for themselves; they have not the keys, the clues, the charts. So we remain here, and age by age, generation by generation, perish; starve; live beggarly lives and know no purple and royal hours; while all the great Golcondas and the Wheat fields of Wonderland wait us, within, beyond ... Oh, Man, Man! is it not time you rose up and sought and found yourself, your treasure?
We are not the poor things we seem. There is a way to the Fountain of Life, to the Center of Things. All Beauty, all Wonder, all Mightiness lies within us. Think! Think! Think! Only not with the mere intellect; not with the brain-mind; find the deeper organs of thought, which lie within the human heart also -- what we call metaphorically the heart. It is not escape from this world that is commended; it is not the selfish peace of the anchorite; this refuge may go with us right through the battles of life. It is not to save our own souls that is our proud destiny as human beings; it is to change the world, to bring the Kingdom "on Earth, as it is in Heaven." This barren coast too we must make fertile, and build with palaces and temples, and people with a progeny of Gods. But we must find ourselves before we can do it -- the selves in us that are divine.
There is little to be done with patching and tinkering; we must find the Gods in ourselves, and build life on a new and firm foundation. We have tried the quicksand of passion; we have tried the low beaches of intellect, over which the tides of time wash. They will not serve us; we cannot set up a true world, a firm civilization on these. We must have stable truth, or we can do nothing. Are we content that the future shall be no better than the past, or than the present? Yet how is it to be better, unless we find the true means of making it so?
That means lies within us. Hell lies within us; but heaven lies within us also. It is our own greatness that we miss, when we go about living petty lives such as we live now. Our own greatness. There have been and there are those who have proved and do prove how magnificent Man may be. All the potentialities of a Shakespeare, of a Joan of Arc, lie deeply hidden in the least and worst of us. All the potentialities of a Buddha, of a Christ. It is because we have left enormous fields untilled, enormous continents undiscovered in our own beings, that we are so small and weak, so unsuccessful in the things that concern the greater life. But if we bestir ourselves, there is a way.
We are cribbed, cabined and confined between the cradle and the grave; there seems so little we can do in this short sorrow-strewn time we call our lives. What if internal research and discovery might rid us of the limiting walls of birth and death; might make known to us what lies beyond? What if we should discover ourselves at last to be Gods, immortal essences, that were never born and shall never die? Indeed we might; men have been, that have done so.
The Human Soul stands beyond the bounds of mortality; death frightens us, birth obstructs our vision, only because we have not discovered that Central Fact of ourselves. Sink thought deep enough into your own being, and you come to regions where time is not; where birth begins nothing, death is no end. Here and now is the Kingdom of Heaven; what is there in death to fear or heed? Sink thought deep enough, and you shall find that this consciousness you call 'I', immersed in a realm of passions and desires, tinged with selfishness, concerning itself with the small motions and concepts of the common-day mind, is not yourself.
Would you call your clothes yourself? They are important, certainly; they make a great factor in the distinctions we set up between man and man. But -- to think along this line is to land soon in absurdity. No; the clothes are not the man; he is still there when you have stripped him of his clothes; as he is still there when you have stripped him of his body. Your body is not much nearer to you than your clothes are; like them, you take it off o'nights to go to bed. Only the days during which you wear it are longer -- a matter of seventy years or so; and the nights during which it is not worn are longer.
Ah, THEN, you say, you come to yourself; the next layer inwards after the clothes and the body. But it is not so. There is your personality: the mixture of passions, small thoughts and concepts, the characteristics by which the world knows you. These still are only clothes; there is something deeper within.
A crisis comes, and your true character is revealed: a man that went unsuspected by the world before; very likely unsuspected by yourself. But note: it is your character; not yourself. What then is yourself? -- The outer man, the personality, began when you were born, and went growing and modifying itself as you grew up; it will die presently. It lives in this confined coast strip; it stares and struts and shams as if it were the Business of Life. Behind it, latent mostly, is that more fundamental character revealed by the crisis; when it shows itself, you say: THIS IS THE REAL I. But it is only something that the real 'I' acquired sometime.
We cannot creep at truth, but must soar to it; not Aristotle's, but Plato's method, must serve us, if we are to get at any reality as to the greatness of our inner selves. From these poor huts here, these desolate banks and shoals of time, we cannot argue to the grandeur of the empires of the Inland. We are born; live out our few years; die; and leave the results of our living behind us. In the midst of all this: in the midst of the pleasures that turn to ashes and bitterness, of the sorrows that spring up so thickly: what evidence can we find of the Kingdom of Heaven that is within, of the Glory of God which is concealed? How can we argue from this to that? No; we must look deep; we must go upon the grand voyage of discovery; we must search.
Sometimes thoughts like great white birds are wafted down to us from beyond the wall of mountains; sometimes a wind from the Soul Land blows down, laden with the odor of flowers and spices; then we are touched into the remembrance, the intuition, that we are banished angels, gods immersed in oblivion.
I will mention one such idea: it is that of Reincarnation. By the light of it, all the facts of our lives become changed in aspect: sorrow loses her frown; Death unveils, and we see the grandeur and loveliness of his face; Life, whose laughter seemed so laden with hideous mockery, reveals herself to us as the Teacher, stern, but infinitely tender. We that seemed so poor and helpless, are immortal. We are here in the world for a grand purpose; we are not the sport of cynical gods or fate or chance.
This life is a splendid field of adventure, wherein we have a splendid function to perform. It is one of an infinite series of lives; and the whole series is for a grand heroic purpose. I will give you the story of Creation, as it was taught by the ancient Druids in Wales; it is to be taken as allegoric, as symbolical; because that high story cannot be expressed in any other way; you cannot put the vast facts of the life of the Soul in any other language than that of symbol or parable.
They taught that at the dawn of time and the Universe, the Lonely, the Spirit, God, awoke from Its sleep of ages in what is called Ceugant, the Cycle of Infinity. The Universal Night had ended; the Universal Day was to begin; there had been an endless series of Universal Days and Nights before. To call things out of latency into manifestation, out of be-ness into being, That Lonely One chanted Its own name; whereupon, as it says, these worlds and systems "flashed into being more swiftly than the lightning reaches its home."
Then the Blessed Ones, that we call in Welsh the Gwynfydolion, the Host of Souls, that had slept throughout the Night, awoke in Cylch y Gwynfyd, the Cycle of Bliss. And they looked out over the spaces, and beheld that there was a height they had not attained. They saw far off the Lonely in Ceugant; and it appeared to them that the bliss of their own cycle of existence could be nothing to them but worthlessness and bitter deprivement, while they were not in union with That.
They took council together, and were for riding forth, and taking Infinity by storm. In their winged and flaming cars they rode: Dragons of Beauty; their bugles sounding the Grand Hai Atton, the war-cry of the Soul. The depths of space lay before and below them: the infinite darkness of the material world -- Inchoation, the Cycle of Necessity; little they heeded its perils in their heroic pride, and with that Light shining above them. They declared war on God, not of hostility, but of compelling love.
But it was infinite darkness they had to traverse. Crossing that abysm, oblivion took hold on them; they were sloughed in the vast mires of matter; they forgot their origin and high purpose, and fell into incarnation. Through long cycles of time they climbed through the lower worlds: elemental, mineral, vegetable, and animal: till they reached the state of humanity. Then it became always possible for them to remember: to don the grand armor again, and fight their way upwards. It became always possible for them, listening deeply, to hear in the silence within their own being the Grand Hai Atton that called them forth at first. And at last all shall hear it and remember, and rise up; and the war shall be carried to the Gates of Infinity; and triumphant at last we shall enter in. In every life some upward step may be taken.
This much of it at any rate is plain truth: We are divine in our origin; we are immersed in the material world, forgetful of our divinity; the purpose of all life is to reinstate ourselves divine, with the added wisdom gained through these many lives of our exile. We are in fact as great as those old Druids deemed we were: flames out of Heaven -- flames lit from the Flame of God; but dimmed and encumbered here with the clay of the lower world.
But the flame is to find; it is deep in our being; the clay we are incarnate in may be so transfused with it, so purified, that its light shall shine visible; we may know ourselves for divine beings. What hinders? Ignorance; passion; selfishness.
Brotherhood is indeed a fact in nature; because all that is real and permanent in us is that blissful Flame which is God. The sense of separate selfhood is but the aroma of the clay. It stupefies us; it conceals from us our true being; we confound ourselves with it; but it is not ourselves. Only the clay dies or is born; the clay, and this lower personal consciousness which is the aroma of the clay. But find the flame, and death becomes for you a most trivial -- aye, but also a most gracious -- incident.
How then of misfortunes, disease, all the grimness that haunt our lives? Find the Flame; discover those grand empires of the Interior; and you shall understand well enough. Life, the ruling of this universe, is a most gracious and a most tender thing. Misfortunes do not attend our real selves; they are but incident to the outer and unreal. We must realize sometime that Justice is the only Mercy. I speak not of what we call human justice; which is imperfect always, because we never can know all the facts on which we presume to sit in judgment. But the Divine, the Universal Justice -- that is another thing altogether.
You have some weakness, some failing. The imperative thing, the one thing that counts, is that you shall rid yourself of it: be strong instead of weak; upright instead of failing. How shall you learn that? Will it teach you, that someone shall tell you so? Are you to be cured of a cancer, by hearing a lecture or sermon? No; you must learn in a real sense; there is no playing tricks with the Laws of God. You yourself must substitute the strength for the weakness; you must do it by hard work; and you must have the will to put that hard work through. And you must see a reason for it before you can call up that will; and the reason must be of a vital, an absolute nature; it must be inevitable, utterly valid. It must be fundamental truth; which you must learn and know. It is in fact ignorance which lies at the root of all wrong doing.
What is weakness? What is what we call sin? Simply this: working not with, but against, Universal Law. The Soul in us calls us upward to where bright Infinity waits to be taken heroically by storm. To that end we and time and the universe exist. But the lower nature calls us with a thousand lures to remain where we are, or to become further immersed. 'Sin' is to ignore the higher voice, to follow the lower. To waste time and the substance of our being; not to be "about our Father's business." How should we learn this, unless there were sure stability in things? Unless there were sure stability in the ruling of the Universe: an absolutely Just Law? There is. Injustice only seems to be, because, taken up with the concerns of this present life, which we imagine to be the only one, we do not see the grand sweep and purpose of things.
We came into the world, not a clean slate or an empty vessel; but there was writing already; there were contents. Our life is a palimpsest; time has scribbled trivialities over the grand blurred hieroglyphs of eternity. We brought with us out of the unknown a treasure or a difficult burden: our character. We have gone on modifying it since we came; but it was there already when we came. Where is God's Justice, if this character was something we did not make for ourselves? Do not blaspheme; Justice IS; or there is nothing divine, and we ourselves are no better than the Gadarene herd on its last and memorable journey.
We brought many other things with us too; or rather, found many other things awaiting us: fate; our parents, with what heredity they provided for us; our wealth or poverty; our chances of any kind of success, or apparent total absence of chances. And all these came to us haphazard, did they? Did they indeed! -- And you, who have done something today, which you feel secure will never in this life be found out or punished: you who -- very wisely -- do not believe in hell (because the very idea of hell, the old orthodox hell, is in itself a shocking piece of blasphemy) -- do you think you are to retire from this Universe, from existence, and leave an entry against your name on the debit side of the account? Who then shall pay that debt? or how shall there be peace in things until it is paid? -- Oh, but we have a firm and stable Universe to deal with; there is no chance about it at all; there is LAW!
We know that Law. Our scientists have discovered it; our chemists are there to swear by its existence. Action and reaction, they say, are equal and opposite: there you have the scientific statement of it. A religious statement you shall find in your Testament; it is:
"Brethren, be not deceived; God is not mocked; whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."
Now then, with that text in the Testament; presumably therefore to be taken, by all who profess and call themselves Christians, as a truth -- where shall we find room to complain of the sternness of fate and the ugliness of things? Look round upon this suffering and ugly world, and realize that it is the harvest we have sowed -- we, that is humanity. Look at your own life, with all there is in it you wish, or ought to wish, were not there; and realize that it is the harvest you yourself have sowed. Whatsoever a man reapeth, that also hath he sowed. And when? When? -- since he began to reap it the morning he was born. You transgress -- sin -- do wrong: and what is it you do? Disturb the harmony of the Universe; that is all. Put some cog in the endless machinery -- and also I apologize for calling it machinery -- out of gear. What is the reaction for, but to restore the harmony -- to bring the scheme of things entire into adjustment again?
We are so divine: so mighty in our power, that we can upset the whole Universe; for that is what it means when we do wrong. But the Universe is divine, and will readjust itself; and that readjustment, in its action or effect upon us, is what we call punishment: sorrow and what not that hurts. You see, we are free agents: we are free; there is free will. Free even to sin; the limitation of our freedom comes in, in this: we are not free to escape the results of our sin. As much force or energy as we put out in our transgression, that much must come back against us in the readjustment. How else should we learn? Our fallen state is in itself the proof of our godhood; when you see men behaving like devils, remember that devils are fallen angels: the depth of their degradation argues the height from which they fell. I heard men say: "We are poor miserable worms"; and laughed, wondering how worms could turn a beautiful blue-skied world into a raving hell. They have not the power to do it; only devils could do it; only fallen angels,
Princely Dignities, And Powers that erst in Heaven sat on thrones.
The very might they used to do it can also be used to change this hell again into a beautiful heaven; because it is, in its essence, the might of Gods. And
Who can yet believe, though after loss That all these puissant legions, whose exile Hath emptied Heaven. shall fail to reascend, Self-raised, and repossess their native seat?
So there is abounding hope for humanity: we have the power of Gods in our hands, and must learn to use it for good. The one thing we cannot do, is forever to avoid this learning. The divine Law of Justice will not let us alone till we have learned. It is at work on us with its merciful and patient inflictions of suffering; its incessant adjustment; its omnipatient restoration of the harmony we almost omnipotently elect to disturb. Eternity is before us; it has taken eternity to bring us to our present condition.
Today has been strewn with failures; we have not lived up to our resolves. Very well then; tomorrow is a new day; we can seize the first opening moments of it, and launch the day aright, setting its prow towards the sun. This present life has been strewn with failures; very well then; there is a tomorrow life. Learn the lessons of today; tomorrow you shall have a new chance; you need not repeat the failures. Is not the Mercy of the Law evident?
By Reginald W. Machell
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, February 1912, pages 111-114.]
Water is such a necessity of life on this earth, as we know life on the earth, that we take its presence for granted, much as the ordinary citizen takes the food supply for granted; and the stoppage of the supply causes him consternation and bewilderment.
The water supply in great cities, as well as in arid countries, where large territories are made fertile by irrigation, is established and maintained by an enormous expenditure of skill, labor, and engineering genius, with constant care and attention. The proper distribution of the supply also demands the utmost care and ingenuity with extreme regularity and systematic attention. The ordinary person pays no heed whatever. It is accepted as a natural right. The taxes imposed to provide the necessary funds for this work are resented as an imposition upon the long-suffering people, so it is with all the adjuncts of social and civic economy.
There is a lack of gratitude on the part of the public to those who provide the means of distributing the necessaries of life, which gives cause for reflection. Are the people ungrateful? Would not their gratitude be perhaps rather unreasonable? Are the necessaries of life to be regarded as luxuries kindly provided by a benevolent lord? Or is not the apparent ingratitude of the people based upon a deep-seated conviction of their right to the necessaries of life?
The term "necessaries" seems to justify this view of the subject, and the elasticity of the term has nothing to do with the justice of the sentiment or the sense of right involved in the acceptance of all that is provided for the comfort and convenience of the public.
Such questions are usually settled by "begging the question," by assuming some fundamental axiom, such as the equality of man, or the omnipotent wisdom of a God, or the abstract theory of pure chance, and including this assumption in the proposition, and then by elaborate reasoning trying to prove the truth of the axiom on which the whole argument rests. This is a waste of energy.
Is the attitude of simple acceptance a right of all that comes to us without our personal effort a better attitude than that of gratitude, which must include the necessaries of life and indeed life itself to be reasonable.
What is gratitude? Is a child grateful for its food and clothing? Is it grateful for the air it breathes? Or does it breathe the air unconsciously as a right and indeed as a necessity of life? Is not the joy of life of the child more akin to the high ideal of love -- what we usually call gratitude?
We are so terribly commercialized in our modern civilization that gratitude merely means paying back a debt, a mere matter of commercial probity. The reason this is considered a high virtue today is that all our life is based upon the unwritten law of "get all you can and give as little as possible for it," and this becomes a general system covered by the old axiom of caveat emptor.
Against this view of life, which is perhaps perfectly justifiable if man is merely a material evolution without inner union with the rest of his kind, the heart rebels reaching out in love to all creation, yearning to give without thought of return, reward, or recompense.
This deep yearning in the heart is so universal that almost every human being has at some time in his life felt the desire at least to give without thought of return, and this in spite of his acquired conviction of the folly of so doing and of the stern duty of getting all he can and of giving only what he must in return.
Men have formulated and taught doctrines of the coldest selfishness and believed their own teachings, while constantly acting from motives of altruism and general benevolence that give the lie to their own theories. The heart-life is deeper than most of the thoughts that function through the brain, and is not always subject to the ruling of the tyrant "egotism."
When the Samoans wanted to do something for Robert Louis Stevenson, who had won their confidence and affection by his love and wisdom in dealing with them, they proposed to build a road to his house for him; and he accepted, saying, "It shall be called the road of the grateful hearts." But they were hurt, and gently replied, "No! It must be called the road of the LOVING HEARTS." The Samoans were not commercialized, and they knew that the heart of humanity is one.
When the commercialized white man sets out to convert and to civilize the "poor heathen" or the "primitive savage races," he is constantly shocked by their lack of appreciation for the so-called Christian virtues. These primitive races may have inherited from their remote ancestors the remains of a more spiritual philosophy than we, who are evolving a new form of civilization, have as yet attained to.
When we have passed the stage of evolution, which is now marked by intense selfishness, separateness, and unbrotherliness, with the disintegration of society and the demoralization of great masses of the people as a necessary result, we may learn that beyond the gratitude that merely pays its debts is the gratitude that gives.
Then we may learn that giving is not limited only to giving money, but that giving means loving. We shall feel that the life of others is our life and our heart is alive with the one life that is in all, and so must beat in sympathy with all others.
When this becomes a truth to our minds, as well as a feeling in the depths of our hearts, we shall necessarily give the joy of life to all we meet. We shall be cheerful in appearance, kindly and courteous in manner, considerate of others in all ways, and all naturally and spontaneously.
As we are now walled in by our egotism and shut off from the world by a shell of complete indifference to the wants and feelings of others, we have to be taught specific virtues, which act as correctives to our brutal selfishness, and as stepping stones to civilization with its ultimate aim of true enlightenment.
A man who is so brutally self-absorbed as to take no heed of any but his own wants must be taught to perform acts of courtesy as a kind of moral gymnastics, so he learns to say "please" and "thank you" instead of grunting. He learns to smile instead of scowling, to perform small services without waiting to be asked, and to refrain from hurting other's feelings. He is taught to give an equivalent for everything he receives, and this is his first lesson in gratitude.
Later he learns to give without having received, and then he learns to accept without a humiliating sense of obligation, which is a mark of one who knows that he would and will do for others on all occasions what is now being done for him. Then he learns to give that perfect fullness of joy which the flowers and plants give without thought of giving at all, simply living their life to the utmost of their ability, giving to the world their life in living, and their very selves in the necessity of self-expression.
As the lesser mysteries must precede the greater, and as a man must fulfill the lower law before he can invoke the higher, so a man must be perfected in virtue before he attains to wisdom. He must practice gratitude until he has learned the higher law of Love which is the law of Life.
By Gertrude W. van Pelt
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, January 1916, 5-8.]
Theosophy is in its philosophical aspect a true expression of the origin of life and the laws governing its growth. In its scientific aspect, it unveils the working of nature. In its moral aspect, it reveals the true relation between man and man, and between man and the lower kingdoms. In its spiritual aspect, it expounds man's essential divinity, his link to the finer forces of spiritual life, and to the Absolute Deity. In its practical aspect, it teaches of the art of living.
To its ocean of knowledge may turn the physicist, the naturalist, the archaeologist, the historian, the astronomer, the legislator, the humanitarian, and all others; each may find therein the guiding star to lead him out of the labyrinth of darkness to the light of day.
It embraces all life from its most rudimentary to its most complex expression. It conducts the mind in an unbroken journey from the stone to the starry ether, from the atom to the Absolute. It is the source of all knowledge that has ever come to man, the foundation of every true religion, under whatever name. It is the pure stream that, since the beginning of time, has periodically poured its inexhaustible treasures into human life, but that, among every race so far, has been gradually corrupted or lost to view in the muddy waters of ignorance.
It is reembodied in this age in a movement, founded in New York in 1875 by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, continued by her successor William Q. Judge, and now under the leadership of Katherine Tingley -- a movement that is "established for the benefit of the people of the earth and all creatures." It must, of necessity, as it becomes gradually known and recognized, become the leader in any movement for reform, the guide for all humane legislation, and the restorer of natural HUMAN relations.
Being the harmonizer of all life based on truth, through its teachings alone can every one and all of the infinite human interests work to a common end, each one supporting and none undermining the other. Under its guidance can the present races become true builders on eternal foundations.
It thus is a study vital to all, but especially appealing to those who are seeking to benefit their fellow men; to those whose avowed objects are furthering of the means that will bring health and happiness to the citizens of the world.
Its force and power lie in the fact that it shows man conclusively his real position of dignity in nature. It makes apparent to him his responsibility for the past, present, and future. And coincident with this vision, it throws the rays of the Sun upon the unmistakable difference between LIBERTY and LICENSE. The free man is he who lives within the law, the physical, the mental, and the spiritual, which are but different aspects of one and the same. It shows beyond the last suspicion of doubt that every reform must begin at home and within, and that with this alone can come the power and discrimination to guide others, to institute reform measures, to become an integral part of social life.
The weakness of much that has been done for centuries (during and since the dark ages, which well nigh wiped out our knowledge of the past) has consisted in its being based upon imperfect theories. They have been formulated without knowledge of the complex nature of man and his environment, and like all theories founded on partial or incorrect ideas, they have crumbled to nothing in the light of a larger experience.
It is certainly a mistaken notion that philosophy is merely for dreamers and that our practical workers are concerned only with concrete ideas. Without the union of the abstract and the concrete, the unseen and the seen, coherent work is impossible. To attempt to work out details without knowledge of, or without a reference to, the whole of which they are a part, is much like building a house upon the sand.
For instance, an educational system, really to educate, must be based on an understanding, first, of the human being's physical, mental, moral, and spiritual nature, and their interrelationship; and second, on the duality of all life, its two poles, so to speak. For all these exist IN FACT, and to leave any of them out of account must result in a deformity. A healthy, well-developed body is essential to the highest attainment, but to stop here would not lead us beyond the animal. A well-balanced and trained mind is also essential, but if its powers are not used wisely and with beneficent purpose, the education may result in but a menace to society and a wreck of the individual.
As a rule, education has confined itself to these two aspects. It is being recognized that there must go hand in hand with the former a training of the moral nature. And this is something quite separate from a teaching of dogmas and creeds, which has been tried, and which in the first place is really directed toward the mental nature, and in the second, has not freed the mind, but on the contrary has only imprisoned it in invisible splints, and weakened or deformed it.
A genuine moral TRAINING must come into the education to make it complete, and finally the spiritual will must be aroused to enforce the moral training, which in its turn will guide the mind, which again will care for the body and its needs. Unless all of these principles in human nature are intelligently handled, how can there be true education? All these principles EXIST, and the balance is lost if any are neglected.
In education, as in all else, we feel the need of a broader outlook, a deeper insight, a larger sympathy, a fuller knowledge. And all this -- Theosophy can give us.
Just as in education we have suffered from imperfect theories, so have we in every effort toward humane reforms. Failing a true philosophy of life as a basis of ethics, it is impossible to act in accordance with the Higher Law, for too many related facts are either unknown or overlooked in an attempt to solve the problems.
In the question of Capital Punishment, for instance, we may assume that the framers of the law had in mind the safeguarding of society. But the fuller knowledge of facts that Theosophy supplies shows clearly that, on the contrary, this law is a MENACE to society. The criminal cannot be destroyed in this manner. The evil principles are thereby only liberated to act more subtly, yet more surely, on the living, and all chance of transmuting his evil energies has been lost by removing him from the related sphere of action. Crime increases under this law, which must inevitably be the case. This is not the place to enter more fully into a discussion of this subject, but those interested are referred to the numerous articles in the Theosophical literature.
If the relation of man to man could be, even to a limited extent, grasped by the race as a whole, and gradually form a part of their outlook, the problems of capital and labor would disappear. We would not have to fight for just labor hours, for mutual consideration, for living wages, and so on. They would follow in the natural course of events.
If the absolute unity of life were taught and explained; the common origin and common destiny; the interrelation and interdependence; the absolute community of interests; if there were a general effort to weave these ideas into the thought-life of the race, in a few generations, we would certainly have quite a different world in which to live. They would become a part of the general consciousness and each man would regard his neighbor in a new light, and love would by degrees supplant hate. And a like improvement would follow if man's true relation to the animal kingdom were realized. Vivisection and all cruelty would be seen as an offense against the laws of nature and an offense against man's own true interests.
Had the old teachings that Theosophy now brings again to light remained common property in the past, the pages of history would not be written in such heavy letters of blood. And if today this philosophy could be sown broadcast, it would be the most effective peace measure conceivable. THEOSOPHY IS IN ITSELF THE HIGHEST EXPRESSION OF THE PEACE MOVEMENT. Although it may include the various related measures, such as courts of arbitration, peace conferences, international law, and the like, it goes deeper. It meets the disease at its source.
Why should we expect that individuals who are at war within their own natures; who are the victims of jealousies, envies, selfish ambitions, and pride; who are grasping each for the best, should, when massed together, produce a peaceful, considerate city or nation, one willing to recognize the rights of others and unwilling to take an unfair advantage? It is a simple sum in addition. We have got what we put together. We may argue the advantages and disadvantages of war until the last man has been destroyed, but until we have lighted the fire of truth that will burn out the passions of hate, we have not really touched the issue.
This is where Theosophy comes to the rescue. It makes the "Brotherhood of Man" a living, glowing reality. It sends its subtle flame into every nerve and atom; into the finer essence of the mind; into the inner chambers of the heart; and then from out of those windows of the soul -- the eyes -- the man looks upon a new world, peopled with brothers, having hopes and aspirations similar to his own, capable of the same keen suffering and joy, struggling, and often with despair, against obstacles similar to his own, and he looks into the eyes of him he would have killed, and finds them to be the eyes of a friend. What if he HAD killed that friend, his own brother, a part of himself, and as necessary to the eternal order of things as himself!
Theosophy is NOT a new cult, a new religion. It is a statement of Law. It interferes with no one's religion, for it is the embracer of all religions. It takes nothing real from any, but adds richness to every avocation. Applied, it clarifies the mind and purifies the life.
By Reginald W. Machell
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, March 1918, pages 298-307.]
Bisby was independent of seasons; there were no trees to speak of in the village and the old church-tower was not deciduous; it looked as well against the evening sky in winter as in summer, and on the day when Jim came back from London, it looked its best, to him at least.
He rode from Framblesea along the cliff because the footpath was better than the road at this time of year, although more dangerous because of the landslides that are frequent in the wet season. But the cliff-road was deserted, and it had the further advantage of leading to the lane that ran past old Jasper's cottage to the village, by which way he could arrive unseen.
He rang his bicycle bell as he got near the house, knowing that the old man was 'hard of hearing' and that his granddaughter was not. And when she heard the sound, she thought the angels had no bells in heaven as beautiful as that.
Old Jasper wondered what kept the lass so long tonight. She had been pining lately; he had good eyes although his hearing had begun to fail, and he knew what the trouble was. Poor little lass! But when she at length came in and the glow of the fire lit up her figure in the doorway she seemed to be glorified as a figure in a dream. The old man scarcely dared to speak; the cottage was suddenly transformed like the pictures he saw sometimes in the fire; and Janet came to him and sat at his feet laying her head upon his knee as she used to do when a child asking to be told a story. But tonight there was silence between them, silence and sympathy.
The stars were shining when the artist reached the 'Royal George.' The venerables were assembled, and his welcome was wholehearted. The contrast was startling between this and the dinner at Hampstead, even more so than that between the 'Royal George' and Oakleythorpe, though those two might seem as far apart as the poles. He was at home in his sister's house in spite of its magnificence, and he was at home in Bisby in spite of its poverty. Home has so little to do with luxury or want.
But Jim had work to do and could not make any long stay at the little village, which he called his headquarters. His work now took him to the towns that he had neglected during the summer and autumn, and he was busy in this way for some weeks, after which he went to Oakleythorpe according to promise, and there he received the formal announcement of the engagement of Mary McNorten to George Dunlop.
The letter was delayed by following him from place to place, so that his sister happened to see a notice of the coming marriage in the paper on the same day.
McNorten was fond of publicity and the Dunlops loved it dearly. So Jim was spared the embarrassment of telling his sister news that he felt should have been painful to him. He really was puzzled to know how to feel about it, not being naturally hypocritical. He was very sorry for poor Mary when he thought of George Dunlop and contrasted him with the kind of man that such a dear good girl as that was worthy of.
Beatrice was a little surprised at her brother's indifference, and wondered what it meant. The explanation came to her accidentally. While on a tour of inspection through the house, she saw a sketchbook in Jim's bedroom and took it with her to look over at her leisure. When she closed the book, her face was serious. She knew now why Bisby had become her brother's headquarters.
She put the sketchbook back a little guiltily and wondered who was the girl. The book was full of her, and it seemed to Beatrice that she could read the whole romance in those sketches. A village girl, but not an ordinary type. In that face, she saw intensity and earnestness and character.
This was serious and must be stopped at any cost, or Jim would be compromised, and might even be dragged into a disgraceful marriage that his family would have to repudiate. She thought it over and decided that Jim must be saved.
She was impetuous by nature, and always acted on impulse, fearing perhaps lest her purpose should cool on the anvil. "Strike while the iron is hot!" was her motto, and the result was that at times the sparks would fly freely in her neighborhood.
She must go to Bisby, she must see the girl and reason with her. She would be reasonable. Evidently from the sketches, she was not of a scheming type, rather a dreamer, romantic most probably, but one who could be made to see the folly of such an entanglement. But what possible excuse could she invent for a sudden visit to such a 'jumping-off place' as Bisby at that time of year? It was miles from anywhere. The little seaside town of Framblesea was bad enough in summer, but in winter, it would be impossible. She knew of no one in the neighborhood to whom she could propose a visit.
Alice had told her what a deadly dull part of the country it was. As she put it: "Everywhere was twenty miles from anywhere and the roads were vile." Alice knew people somewhere there; why not get her to go and see the place? Alice was such a dear girl. She would understand the situation without too much explanation and would be able to report upon the woman if nothing more, and Alice was staying with the Johnstones of Balderwick not more than ten miles off.
That settled it. The carriage was ordered for Balderwick next day and a 'wire' was sent announcing a luncheon-visit. The Johnstones were always delighted to see her, and Alice would be sure to be at home to meet her friend Beatrice. Nothing was said to Jim, who was out all the time with his brother-in-law or scouring the neighborhood in search of antiquities.
When Alice Chesterton heard the story of the sketchbook, she behaved magnanimously and did not remind her friend that she had foretold this most unfortunate affair. She even went so far as to express surprise. But seeing that Beatrice really was distressed, she promised to help her save the family name from such disgrace as Jim would surely bring upon them all if he were not promptly provided with a suitable wife. Once that was accomplished, she felt that the family would have done all that was necessary in self-defense.
Alice became quite heroic in her desire to serve in such a good cause, and even went so far as to propose that she should go down to some friends of hers in that neighborhood and go over to Bisby to see the girl herself. She could find some excuse. She was delighted to help her friend, and was not sorry to have a chance to square her account with Master Jim for the wound he had inflicted on her vanity. So Beatrice went home satisfied that she had done her duty, feeling once more at peace with all mankind, having prepared a mine that was meant to shatter her brother's idyll and wreck the happiness of the woman who had forgotten herself so far as to love and trust a man who was not of her class.
A few days later, Jim went farther north. He said that he intended to stay some weeks and finish his work before going to London to see the publisher and revise the illustrations for the second volume of the great work that was to make him famous. He said it would be a month or more before he would be free again. Then he proposed to go to Bisby to finish pictures begun there for the spring exhibitions. So the coast was clear for Alice Chesterton.
Jim hated letter writing and never wrote a letter if a telegram would serve the purpose; so Janet never expected to hear from him when he was away, although she pined for him in the long winter evenings when her grandfather would dose in his chair before the fire; he was failing rapidly.
Before Jim had been gone a fortnight, the old man had passed away, and Janet was alone in the cottage that was now her own: alone and very lonely. She tried to write to Jim, but could not. She could only wait for him.
Her aunt from Framblesea had been with her for the funeral, but could not stay long; she had her own family to think of, and tried to persuade Janet to go back with her. But Janet said she could not bear to leave the cottage where she had been so happy; and that seemed natural enough; besides it was her own home now. The village was sympathetic and extremely curious to know what her 'young gentleman' would do now. But Janet went about her work as usual, and dreamed of him, and waited for his coming.
One day a dogcart rattled up to the 'Royal George,' and the landlady bustled out to receive the unusual visitors. The dogcart was driven by young Mr. Duckworth from Righead, and beside him sat a fashionably dressed lady who asked if Mr. Alexander was at home. She seemed so disappointed at hearing that he was still away that the good woman became communicative, and told her that Mr. Alexander never wrote to say when he would be back, so that they kept his room ready for him. Would the lady come in and look at his pictures? There were two of them in the parlor; but she thought that the best must be over at Jasper Mickelthwaite's, where he was painting mostly; but Jasper he was dead, good man, and buried, and his granddaughter was all alone there now. Maybe she would know when the gentleman was coming back, if the lady would drive round that way and enquire.
Alice Chesterton thanked the good woman but said she did not think that she could spare the time. However, young Duckworth said there was no hurry, and if Mrs. Chesterton liked to go and see the place, they had time enough, though he thought she would find it more interesting to see the country. Alice decided to go as far as the lane. Then she got out and left the dogcart and her youthful escort to wait for her while she went on to the cottage alone.
Janet received her quite simply and appeared to find nothing unusual in the visit. Any friend of Jim's was naturally welcome, though she did not particularly like this fashionable woman of the world who tried to be patronizing at first.
Janet explained that she knew nothing of Mr. Alexander's movements. He had been very fond of listening to her grandfather's tales. Yes! He was dead. Would Alice like to see his grave? No! Alice declined (she was not fond of graves), but she would like to see some of the pictures, she was a great admirer of Jim's painting. She called him 'Jim' and talked of Beatrice in such a way as to make it clear that she was a very intimate friend of the family.
She showed the greatest interest in the paintings and talked of the high hopes his family had of the success of the young artist. Then she grew confidential and told of his sister's anxiety to see her brother married to a lady whom Alice seemed to suggest was already almost as good as engaged to dear Jim.
She said that this charming girl was all that could be desired both as to her family and fortune, and excused her friend Beatrice for thinking about such things, because Jim was so dreadfully unpractical. He had no private fortune, and had been brought up in a most extravagant family with a house full of servants and all that, and consequently would be miserable if he were to make a bad marriage.
Then incidentally, she spoke of a friend of her own who had done that kind of thing; and she made a vivid picture of the remorse of the woman who had ruined his career. She thought a woman ought to be too proud for that.
She talked uninterruptedly in this strain for an hour or more, and finally talked herself out of the house and into the lane with Janet's large eyes fixed on her in a way that made her extremely uncomfortable. When she said goodbye, she kissed the girl and tried to feel that she had done what was best for all. But the girl's eyes haunted her.
To tell the truth, she was a little scared at what she had done. The girl's eyes had a look in them that seemed to recall some tragedy that she had read or dreamed of. There was something about this village-girl that made her wonder if she would have been like that if she had been brought up away from the world. It was unusual for Alice to be disturbed by anything, but this was a new experience. She knew the women of her own class thoroughly, but in that cottage she had felt strangely out of place, and in her heart, she was ashamed.
She had done her work well. The picture she had drawn of a mesalliance was no fiction, in that she was able to speak from direct observation, and what she said was true. The poor girl saw the picture and realized its possibility. It came upon her as a revelation. She had been living in a dream. This talk appeared like an awakening to real life, and yet the waking state, if this was indeed an awakening, seemed more like a nightmare than like truth.
She felt as if she were a somnambulist as she returned to the cottage and stood there dazed by an awakening. Where was her home? The house was there; the things around were in their usual place; nothing was moved; and yet her home was gone; and what remained was but a dead shell in which the very air was tainted with corruption. What had this woman done to wreak such ruin? It seemed as if some horrible plague-pit had been uncovered and the fair earth defiled with death in its most hideous form. The pestilence had laid its foul touch upon her pure dream of love.
She shuddered as she stood there in the house of death. Then a ray of sunlight came peeping through a window and shone on the chair her grandfather had used so long. She watched the light grow as the clouds parted, and it seemed as if some horror lifted from her mind, so that her thought came clearer. Gradually the air grew purer and Janet breathed more freely. She tried to throw off the blight that had fallen upon her mind and lay on her heart like a sense of shame she had never yet known, but the misery of it still clung to her. A old proverb says, "Throw mud enough and some of it will stick."
Alice had followed this plan and had succeeded in her purpose. She had shown the girl that her lover's future was in her hands to mar or to let go. Janet had seen the alternative just as it was presented to her, and she had made her choice exactly as she was meant to do. Her heart was generous and she did not hesitate, but the sacrifice was like death, and she stood long unconscious of anything but the awful sense of loneliness that had closed in upon her.
When she came to herself and looked round the room in search of some landmark on which to focus her mind, the silence and the darkness were all that she could feel except the loneliness that had suddenly become part of her life. Her dream had been too beautiful. This was the awakening.
When Jim returned to Bisby, unannounced as usual, he found the cottage empty. Janet was gone. There were letters for him at the inn, one of which was from Janet Thorpe, and with it was the cumbersome old key of the cottage door.
The letter was very simple. It merely told him she had gone away as it was best for both: but she hoped he would use the cottage just as if it were his own. It would make her so happy to think that it could be of use to him for his pictures. She thanked him for his kindness to her grandfather and for all the happy days that she had known there, and said that when his name became famous, she should feel proud to have known him, and would share in his triumphs wherever she might be. There was no attempt at explanation, reproach, or expression of regret. It was not necessary.
For a moment, he was dazed as by a blow from an unseen enemy. His mind asked whose hand had struck him treacherously, and he recalled the old saying, "A man's enemies are they of his own household."
Then he knew that some member of his family had taken this means to save him from a mesalliance that would discredit the family name. He had made no secret of his visits to Bisby and the whole village knew of his intimacy with Janet Thorpe. Any visitor who cared to make enquiries could learn all there was to know and a good deal more from village gossip.
At first, he thought it was his father's doing; but the garrulous innkeeper soon cleared the matter up by his detailed description of the lady who had come in Mr. Duckworth's dogcart. The description could only apply to one person, and that was Alice Chesterton, who was a friend of the Duckworth's and his own sister's dear friend.
Jim reflected bitterly that no one but a woman would have struck him in the dark in this way, and he knew that the weapon was poisoned by memory of a slight. Had she been a man, he felt he could have cursed her more becomingly. His indignation fell upon the one who must have planned this piece of treachery, his sister Beatrice. Oh! She would have done it for his good no doubt, and for the honor of the family. He understood all that, and could not blame her on that score; but he felt the unspoken pain in the letter that he still held in his hand. It seemed to throb like a human heart.
On the impulse of the moment, he sat down and wrote to Beatrice a letter such as she had never thought to get from light-hearted Jim. It was so cold and cutting, and so scrupulously just, that Beatrice scarcely recognized the writer; and when she laid it down, it was with the conviction that she had lost her brother and had failed in her design.
Such letters are like the closing of a door that cannot be reopened. Jim felt it so, and let it go. It was indeed the closing of a door; but it seemed to him as the opening of a new era in his life, in which he would free himself from the fetters of conventionality. His days of drifting with the tide were passed. He felt as if he had suddenly attained to his majority and become a man.
Alice Chesterton had freed him in a way that she had not intended; and her friend Beatrice was ungrateful to her when she realized the fruits of her interference.
Jim felt a strange sense of relief as he dropped that letter into the box at the post office and turned down the lane towards old Jasper's cottage.
He sat down at the door where the old man used to sit to watch the sunset, and he let his mind call up for him pictures of the happy days that he had passed here listening to the endless stories and painting innumerable sketches for future pictures.
As he sat there alone, the sun went down, and he seemed to hear Janet calling him to come and watch the sunset from the cliff as they so often did in the happy days that seemed so long ago. Instinctively he rose and followed his fancy up to the point from which the old church looked its best against the afterglow.
Where was she now? Watching the same sunset perhaps, but alone, nursing the dead body of a dream. Was the dream dead indeed? Perhaps, as the day dies, but the sun will rise tomorrow on a new day, and the dream of yesterday may be reborn as a reality tomorrow.
The thought came to him as a challenge from his heart to vindicate his own ideal. The scene before him took on a new dignity, and life itself seemed filled with a strange significance.
Behind him, as he stood, the sea moaned drearily, and clouds were gathering in the sky, but the glow of sunset made them glorious, and the sea's monotonous plaint was like life's undertone of suffering, in which lay menace of many a storm such as may test the power of man's will.
Jim Alexander hardly had learned yet the meaning of that word 'will.' Life had come easily to him and pleasantly, and he had gone his own way almost unconscious of effort in setting aside such opposition as he had met.
Now for the first time, he realized the meaning of the choice that lay before him; he knew that his future hung in the balance and his will could turn the scale. He saw the two alternatives.
One was to give way to his family with the reward of general approval coupled with a sufficient allowance in the present and prospect of a wealthy wife, a position in society that most men would consider more than desirable, as an introduction to public life that would surely open for him opportunities of honorable service.
On the other hand, there was the uncertainty of an artist's life with the assurance of social ostracism when he should marry this village girl, the loss of all possible income or inheritance from his parents, and the certainty that none of his family would ever recognize his wife.
To balance these considerations, he had Love, Hope, and Liberty: love of a good woman; hope of success in his career; and liberty to live up to his ideal. There was no hesitation in his choice.
He saw the narrow path that led to the village past old Jasper's cottage suddenly begin to shine like gold where the glowing sky mirrored in the pools along the muddy way. It seemed symbolical to him of the path that he had chosen, with all its difficulties and 'mud holes' lighted by a glory that could transform it as the setting sun out there transformed the muddy lane.
In that moment of choice, he had seen a picture of the future as it might be if he abandoned his ideal, and he faced it squarely. He knew that in defying social conventions, he was challenging an invisible and unassailable antagonist, one as hard to fight as a fog that quietly envelops its victims and leaves them to blindly stumble, or fall, or find their way, with absolute indifference to their success or failure. He had seen something of the seamy side of life in his bohemian associations. He knew a little of what it means to fail on the path that he had chosen. But he had courage and faith in the woman whom he had found waiting for his coming in the little village by the sea. She was at this moment more to him than a woman; she was an emblem of his ideal in life.
She seemed involved in all his secret aspirations, as though she were created for him by his own craving for freedom, and by his yearning for comradeship. To lose her now would be to lose himself, his better self. To renounce her would be to purchase the approval of the world at the price of his soul.
His choice was made, and in his heart, he knew it was irrevocable. There are such moments in a man's life, when he alone knows the actual reality of his power of choice, and when he consciously accepts the full responsibility of his own decision. In such moments, a man knows that his will is free and that his decision is binding. He may forget it later, he may repudiate it as a mere freak of imagination, he may fail to live up to it; but it is made; it is a fact in nature, recorded in his own subconscious memory ineffaceably; and one day he will remember.
Jim saw the dark clouds in the sky, he saw the muddy lane, but also with the vision of an artist, he saw the glory that ensouled the scene and made it beautiful. So he went home to old Jasper's cottage with a glow in his heart that was not the glow of passion. It awed him with a sense of revelation, as if it were the seal of an initiation through which he had passed in his solitary meditation, when he had felt, if only for a moment, something of what it means to be a Man.
When the second volume of RURAL ANTIQUITIES appeared, it bore as its frontispiece a charming painting of an old church tower that seemed to be melting into the rich glow of a western sky; while the last picture in the book had the suggestive title "Mors janua vitae." In it was a tall and graceful girl, who was placing a wreath upon a grave.
The grave was Jasper's, and the girl was Jim Alexander's wife.