The Path of Theosophy
Information compiled by GraceWatcher of Sakinel
Examine yourselves; realize that there is divinity within you, call it by what name you please. . . . Examine your own inner movements of consciousness, and you will know that these things of glory are in you. They are the working in you of your inner god, your spiritual inner sun.
This is the message of the great Sages and Seers of all the ages. . . .. . . that living fire of consciousness within your breast which tells you of your oneness with all that is, and of your kinship with everything that is; for verily you are akin to the gods who are the rulers and counselors and governors of the Universe.
WHAT, indeed, is theosophy? This question, now being asked with increasing earnestness, cannot be answered in one sentence, but the leaders of the Theosophical Movement have given a few pithy expressions of its various aspects which form a fitting introduction. Helena P. Blavatsky, the Founder of the Theosophical Society, said:Theosophy is, then, the archaic Wisdom-Religion, the esoteric doctrine once known in every ancient country having claims to civilization. -- The Theosophist, October 1879
Theosophy is the quintessence of duty. -- The Key to Theosophy
Theosophy is that ocean of knowledge which spreads from shore to shore of the evolution of sentient beings; unfathomable in its deepest parts, it gives the greatest minds their fullest scope, yet, shallow enough at its shores, it will not overwhelm the understanding of a child. . . . Embracing both the scientific and the religious, Theosophy is a scientific religion and a religious science.
Theosophy is the inner life in every religion. It is no new religion, but is as old as truth itself. . . .Theosophy will bring something to you that can never pass away: the consciousness of your divine, your inner self; a conviction of your inherent power to conserve your energy along the highest spiritual lines. For man cannot find his true place in the great scheme of human life until he has ennobled and enriched his nature with the consciousness of his divinity. . . .
Think of theosophy not so much as a body of philosophic or other teaching, but as the highest law of conduct, which is the enacted expression of divine love or compassion.The Theosophical philosophy is not something which has been invented by anybody at any time: it is the formulation of the truths of Nature -- not of outer Nature alone, which is but the effectual mirroring of hid causes; but more particularly of the vast causal realms behind the outer Nature which our senses know -- behind the outer veil of Reality; for these inner and causal realms are the inner Heart of Things. These truths were originally formulated in systematic manner in far past time by Great Seers. This formulation of natural truth has come down to our own times checked and tested in every age by new generations of these Great Seers. This formulation today is called Theosophy.
The object of its founders was to liberate man from bondage by presenting a philosophy of life that would show him how to find the truth within himself. The literature presented by the Theosophical Society, though a statement in modern form of the ancient wisdom, is not offered as a creed, but is intended to provoke thought and study. It gives an explanation of the problems of life that every person can verify for himself, if he so will. Belief in, and the wish to promote, the brotherhood of mankind are the only prerequisites for good standing in the Theosophical Society.
Theosophy touches life at all points and illuminates every problem, but, naturally, different people find certain aspects more attractive than others -- especially at the beginning. To the most intuitive, who immediately perceive the practical importance of its teachings for the happiness and welfare of humanity, this is the greatest incentive to its study; others appreciate its profound speculative features; some are attracted by its revelation of the inner meaning and basic unity of the great world religions; and there are many who prefer the scientific aspect, which includes the rational explanation of occult phenomena. To meet these conditions we must consider as many aspects of our subject as space permits.
There is one infinite Life, without beginning or end; no such thing as dead matter exists in nature. Every atom is a spark of the one Life. The divine unity behind all manifestation, commonly called spirit and matter, which some call God, others That (Sanskrit sat or tat), is so infinitely beyond comprehension that we can only stand in mute awe and refuse to insult its majesty by attempting to describe it. The most reverent conception for us is that which comes from Oriental teachings: absolute compassion.
In the East this process is called the Great Breath. During the outbreathing the gods awake: hierarchies of innumerable degrees of spiritual and other beings become active. With the inbreathing the process is reversed: the manifested universe returns to the Father, enriched by experience.
Man on earth is a life-atom of the Divine, immersed in matter, a pilgrim seeking his way back to the source. At a certain stage of experience an inner awakening takes place, and it is then possible for him to step knowingly upon what is called the path. As love is the law of life, the only way to find the path to the god within is by obeying the law of compassion, of brotherhood. So we find every true spiritual teacher throughout the ages bringing the same message.The name Theosophy stems from the Greek 'Theos' and 'Sophia' meaning Divine Wisdom. However, Theosophy is no religion. It is a philosophy of life, which offers to every human being the possibility to find a solution to the many problems of life. Theosophy is called Divine Wisdom because, among other things, one finds the explanation for the motivations of the human soul, its origin, destination and relation with the cosmos.
Theosophy, also called Secret Doctrine or Esoteric Philosophy, contains firstly the principles of morality, with directives for human thought and action. This morality can be extrapolated from a monumental number of teachings about the laws in the Universe and the structure of Man and the Universe. The teachings are not based upon belief, but upon knowledge.
Theosophy stimulates independent thinking and the search for truth. Science, philosophy and religion, the three different ways to investigate and explain life, are contained in Theosophy. In this way Theosophy gives explanations as to the how, why and the what of life. The answer to the question regarding the purpose of life can be found in Theosophy.
By contrast, theosophy represents a path toward spiritual freedom. But what is the nature of this freedom? Were it merely the absence of sectarianism, it would not be worthy of the name “freedom,” for freedom here refers not just to absence, but to presence. It is not by accident that the great Russian philosopher Nicolai Berdyaev insisted freedom and creativity were inseparably linked. We are only truly free when we are creative—that is, when we are no longer completely bound by convention and driven by the pull and push of attraction and repulsion, but can create out of our gnostic or spiritual center. To be free is to have gone beyond our conditioning or habit-energy, and to experience being fully human—to be creative.
Our Three Chief objects of study:
1. The Brotherhood of man, without distinction of race, colour, religion, or social position
2. The serious study of the ancient world-religions for purposes of comparison and the selection therefrom of universal ethics
3. The study and development of the latent divine powers in man
The word theosophy is derived from the Greek theo-sophia, which literally means "divine wisdom." Non-political and non-sectarian, the Theosophical Society is dedicated to universal brotherhood, independent spiritual search, and study of the religious, scientific and philosophical thought of humanity, ancient and modern. It is part of a universal spiritual, intellectual, and ethical movement which has been active in all ages. This movement is based on the fact that spiritual oneness is a reality, and is of the very essence of being.
"Think of theosophy not so much as a body of philosophic or other teaching, but as the highest law of conduct, which is the enacted expression of divine love or compassion." -- Katherine Tingley
Theosophy is part of a spiritual movement as old as thinking humanity, and its philosophy is a contemporary presentation of the ancient wisdom underlying the world's religions, sciences, and philosophies.
The principles of theosophy are being reinstated by GraceWatcher of Sakinel to draw the attention of the industrialized West to the sublime spiritual ideas of the perennial philosophy, and to re-awaken the Orient to its ancient spiritual heritage.
The teachings of theosophy represent in outline the workings of the universe. By individual effort and study, these concepts can become living forces in our lives, where we may realize in ever increasing measure the universal realities they depict. The Society's objectives are: to form an active brotherhood among mankind; to promulgate the essential unity of all that is, and demonstrate that this unity is fundamental in nature; to study ancient and modern religion, science, and philosophy; and to explore the hidden side of nature and mankind.
The life forces in a universe are incessantly working; not for an instant do they become motionless. Consequently, the universe, after passing through the stages of the invisible worlds, is born, reaches its culmination of material existence, but does not stop there, for at the moment when the acme of the curve is reached, the forces then move steadily on downwards, but nevertheless forwards.
A universe comes into being because a cosmic entity is imbodying itself; and a universe dies, as a man dies, because it has come to the point where the major part of its energies have already passed into the invisible realms. Universes imbody themselves just as human egos do. The same fundamental laws prevail in the great as in the small. There is no essential difference whatsoever. The differences are in details, not in principles. Death is only a change; life is only an experience. The one enduring thing is pure unalloyed consciousness, for it includes everything else.
Men commonly think that they grow to maturity and then stop growing, remain mature for a while and then begin to decline. There is no such stopping time. The forces composing the man, and making the man a being, are moving constantly along the same road which brought the child to birth, which brought the child to adulthood, and which carries the adult to death. From the instant when culmination of a man's faculties and powers in any one life is reached, decay begins, this "decay" simply meaning that the inner man is already beginning to make his way and his new body in the invisible worlds.
Man is at home on many planes. He is at home, in fact, everywhere. Our earth life is only one short arc of the circle of existence. How absurd it would be to say that any one particular place, such as our earth, is the standard by which to judge the entire pilgrimage of man. So too the imbodiment and growth of a universe, as well as its culmination and decay followed by its death, are caused by the cosmic entity's coming out from the invisible spheres into these material realms, imbodying itself in the substances thereof and thus building up a material universe, and then passing on; and when the passing on approaches its completion, the universe is in its stages of dissolution.
It is the same with a star or sun as it is with its parent universe. It is the same with any entity. Life is endless, has neither beginning nor end; and a universe is in no wise different in essentials from a man. How could it be, since man merely exemplifies what the universe imbodies as the primary law. The man is the part; the universe is the whole.
Look up into the violet dome of night. Consider the stars and the planets: every one of them is a life-atom in the cosmic body; every one of them is the organized dwelling place of a multitude of smaller life-atoms which build up the brilliant bodies we see. Moreover, every sparkling sun which begems the skies was at one time a man, or a being equivalent to a human, possessing in some degree self-consciousness, intellectual power, conscience and spiritual vision, as well as a body. And the planets and the myriads of entities on the planets encircling any such cosmic god, any such star or sun, are now the same entities who in far bygone cosmic manvantaras were the life-atoms of that entity. (Manvantara is actually a compound of two words, manu-antara, meaning "between two manus," and therefore applies technically to the period of manifested activity between the opening or root-Manu and closing or seed-Manu of any globe. By extension of the idea it has come to have the general significance of the life term of any Egg of Brahma [world-egg], whether planetary, solar or galactic. Manu thus stands for the entities collectively which appear at the beginning of manifestation, and from which everything is derived.) Through the ages they trailed along behind, all learning and progressing. But farther along the evolutionary pathway, as their leader, was their parent, the source of their being.
By our actions we are constantly affecting the destiny of the suns and planets of the future, for when we, by bringing out the native powers of the god within, shall have become glorious suns shining in the cosmic deeps, then the nebulae and the suns around us will be the evolved entities who now are our fellow human beings. Consequently, the karmic relations that we have with each other on earth or on other globes of our planetary chain, or elsewhere, will most assuredly affect their destiny as well as our own.
Yes, each one of us, in far distant aeons of the future, is going to be a sun, resplendent in the spaces of Space. And this will be when we shall have evolved forth the divinity in the core of our being, and when that divinity in its turn shall have proceeded to still greater heights. Beyond the sun there are other suns, so high that to us they are invisible, suns of which our own sun is a divine attendant.
The Milky Way, a complete and self-contained universe, is, aggregatively, but one cosmic cell in the body of some supercosmic entity, which in turn is but one of an infinitude of others like itself. The great contains the small; the greater contains the great. Everything lives for and unto everything else. This is the reason why separateness has been called the "great heresy." It is the great illusion, for separateness is nonexistent. Nothing can live unto itself alone. Every entity lives for all, and the all is incomplete without the one entity, and therefore lives for it.
Boundless Space is our home. Thither we shall go, and there indeed we even now are. We are not only connected by unbreakable links with the very heart of Infinitude, but we ourselves are that heart. This is the still small path of which the ancient philosophers taught: the path of the spiritual Self within.
It is necessary to live the life to understand the doctrine: a simple statement, but a task that has engaged the minds and hearts of the greatest thinkers and heroes of humanity! What do we mean by the inner god, the personal ego, the higher and lower self, and how do they relate to ordinary living? The inner god is the most enlightened part of us, active when we exercise the finest human qualities: tolerance, love, understanding, and compassion. Buddhists call it the living Buddha within; Hindus, Isvara or the Brahma in his Brahmapura or Brahma-city -- the cosmic spirit in the human being; Christians, the I AM or the Immanent Christ. G. de Purucker says of it:
This inner god is the "eternal soul" that reincarnates again and again, an inexhaustible fount of life, intelligence, and consciousness. In a previous universal cycle it gained experience in every form of life then available, becoming in the process a "god." That universe died, and when it manifested again this essence issued forth as an unselfconscious "god-spark" in a higher stage of life. This crowning achievement of the preceding evolutionary cycle is the inner god. It is relatively perfect compared to the various "vehicles" through which it is learning in the present universal cycle. Just as lesser beings provide the means for it to learn, the inner god provides the means for them to develop and grow towards it. It is a dual learning process towards a higher state of knowing.*
Great religious and mystical teachers have pointed out that it is our responsibility as human beings to overcome the temptations and limitations of the lower self and merge our consciousness with the higher self. Through countless minor victories we allow the spirit within to emerge from where it has been quietly waiting through the ages. We must strip away the impediments to the light of the higher self, which always burns bright within but too often shines dimly without. Plato described this process as "unforgetting" our way back to the inner fountain of knowledge and wisdom. Many cultures compare this process to polishing a mirror. Mohammed said that there is "for everything a means of polishing it and freeing it from rust.
Although many schools teach spiritual development for one's own sake, ignoring the suffering of others, the path of compassion was blazed by Great Ones who, though far ahead of us, stopped to offer assistance to all those in their wake. It is also our responsibility to travel the still small path to the higher self mindful of our responsibilities to others. We can offer the lessons we learn, when appropriate, to our fellows and help uplift the crushing weight of suffering bearing down on humanity, largely caused by humanity's ignorance of the laws of life. If we consistently make this effort, our spiritual light will gradually glimmer, then shine in the world for the benefit of others, and we will begin to understand the essence of theosophy.
There is a path, referred to time and again by ancient scriptures and sages, through which we may travel to higher worlds, by which we may achieve wonderful things, and by which we may reach God, whatever our personal conception of such a being may be. They say the path is not a short, clear way, but a long and winding road which we must find and tread until the very end. Fraught with opposition, difficult to pass, it seems steep and thorny. Where can we find this path which promises to be filled with danger but which we desire to travel and to search for the promise of gold at the end? Where must we go, and whom do we need to please or placate?
Masters of wisdom have taught humanity throughout history that this path is hidden and that we must constantly seek to find it though it is very near us. While looking for outward ways leading closer to divinity, we often become distracted by those worldly stimulations which seem so uplifting. Physical and psychic ecstasy and intoxication play with us, seeming to transport us to another world where all is delightful, apart from our mundane woes. But the path is much closer than any exteriorly induced exhilaration. It is not found in foreign countries, nor high on a mountain, nor clothed in any outward guises, waiting there for us to find it. It is closer than any roads we may find before us, because it is inside each of us: the path is within.
The secret place spoken of in so many ancient religious writings is actually the interior chambers of our heart -- not the physical heart, but the seat of the light within each of us which is the path leading to the core of the universe. Therefore, it is always there, wherever we go, wherever we are. Being within, this path may lead us to higher ways, to higher worlds, to a more compassionate manner of living. All things evolve out from within, an evolution of inner qualities becoming manifest in our life.
At the same time this path, overgrown with the tangles of earthly life, suggests formidable foes we must meet and reckon with as we attempt to reach the summit. These, however, are not visible opponents, enemies without, but opposition within: opposing forces and desires which come from our self. The long battle between our lower and higher natures echoes the eternal duality in the universe. Each time we take a step we have before us a fork in the road. This may be likened to the choice between the path of the pratyeka buddhas and the buddhas of compassion. The pratyeka buddha seeks personal salvation, while the buddha of compassion seeks the enlightenment of humanity first. So there are even paths within the path within. Always this or that, up or down, in or out -- we literally make ourselves by the minute choices made each moment of our life.
To travel the inner path we must be wary of the dangers along the way, but not fearful of them, for we ourselves have placed those obstacles there in this or a previous life. "It is not 'the fear of God' which is 'the beginning of Wisdom,' but the knowledge of SELF which is WISDOM ITSELF," H. P. Blavatsky explained (Studies in Occultism, p. 9). Inherent in that portion of us which reimbodies are the latent effects of causes we have set in motion. These effects are worked out through the personality we assume in each new life. The causes we set in motion return to us, sometimes as familiar friends appearing over and over, until we recognize the compassionate avenue for action and restore cosmic equilibrium. The path, though arduous and full of angst, is both compassionate and enlightening for those who remain unselfish. When we follow this karmic nudging we gain untold wisdom of life. Blavatsky related: "Help Nature and work on with her; and Nature will regard thee as one of her creators and make obeisance" (The Voice of the Silence, p. 14).
How do we find this path within us and pursue its winding way? ``None can grow in the truest sense spiritually, unless he has suffered till his heart and mind are attuned to the heartache of the world," Katherine Tingley asserted, adding that "Love is the greatest power in the world and self-control is the magic talisman. With love in our hearts, and self-control, we are on the path that leads to the relative perfection of man." The key, then, is love -- not personal, selfish, sensual, or sexual love, but wise, unselfish love for all humanity, indeed for all beings, as the Buddha taught.
So love turns the key and opens the way. When the gate has been opened we see lying before us a vista which beckons us to continue. And advance we will, each in our own time, for this is the course each of us eventually must pursue. It is not through any one medium or faculty of ours that we immediately see the road before us. Our entire being must be orchestrated toward that sublime goal.
"Behold, the kingdom of God is within you." -- There is much confusion in the New Testament, as it has come down to us through the various interpreters, as to exactly what is meant by the kingdom of God. Sometimes it appears to be an apocalyptic event, when the clouds open, God descends to the earth, the dead are raised, and the damned go to a less desirable place. This we may call the outward aspect. But at other times it seems to point simply to an inner state of being, which a man may attain by following certain spiritual laws.
Even though our language has changed, so that in the twentieth century we seldom hear the kingdom of God mentioned except in a church, we still have this same confusion about the outer and the inner realms of being. Incidentally, let me say that long before the time of Jesus humanity had looked for the kingdom of God, as even today we seek it, only with a different set of names. For essentially what is meant by the kingdom is the perfection of man's own being.
But the dominant emphasis of our time is upon the outer kingdom, and the assumption is often (if erroneously) made that if the things of this world are taken care of, somehow the inner kingdom will be realized. Militants for the betterment of conditions on earth are impatient with those of us who believe that if we work first on the inner man, then all else will be added. There has always been a conflict between those who would change the environment and those who would change persons. This is a natural and almost inevitable opposition -- an opposition that disappears only when religion becomes so worldly, as it has recently, that it loses touch with the inner kingdom and embraces the outer kingdom of social change as being the real substance of religion.
The mere search for more and more things, no matter how pursued and no matter how successful, has failed to make men happier, and certainly it has not made men better morally. A higher standard of living is pleasant, of course, but it seems to make us always want more than we have, so that we are perennially unsatisfied with our situation.
Of course I am not opposed to the improvement of outer conditions. In fact, I am especially concerned about such improvement among those who simply do not have enough of the things of this earth to keep body and soul together. In spite of our vaunted scientific prosperity, there are still far too many who go to bed hungry every night. There is much to be said for ameliorating the harsh material circumstances of a vast portion of humanity. The fallacy comes in thinking that changing one's outer lot will of itself bring inner happiness.
Man was not made for bread alone, for what he is does not consist of the clothes he wears, the contents of his safe deposit box, or his worldly airs. The real worth of a man -- what makes him a true human being -- is that intangible something that springs from within. Is it any wonder then, that when the people of Jesus' day wanted him to give a "sign" and bring in a worldly kingdom, he told them that his kingdom is not of this world but that it exists within? He tried to turn them away from the outer, to find their true nature within -- a nature that he claimed could link man ultimately with the being of God.
There is really no need to discuss how we can build a better world. The way to its achievement is fairly clear, even though humanity consistently has refused to see the well-marked path. It is the way of cooperation, understanding, love, thinking about the other fellow, using our finer qualities rather than our baser feelings. Perhaps one of the reasons we have failed so miserably in the outer kingdom is that we have not held the proper inner attitudes. In the final analysis, who is to say that harmony or discord in the world is not largely dependent upon our inner attitudes.
A great deal is being said these days about the realization of this outer kingdom, but the inner kingdom -- which in my estimate is by far the more important -- is usually avoided, or placed in a completely secondary aspect in our thinking. Why is it that most of us are afraid of this inner kingdom? Are we afraid to turn inward lest we lose contact with that which is outward, or because we may find something within our nature that we are not prepared to meet? Or, more basically, do we fear that all pretense will be pushed aside and we will see ourselves as we really are rather than as we would like to think we are? Is the inner world, after all, the world of reality? If this is so, we can understand why some people try so hard to escape from its challenges. In fact, one often wonders whether persons who work so furiously for some kind of outer kingdom are not as furiously running away from themselves.
One may ask, "But why should I seek the inner kingdom when the outer clearly is the real one?" I know this feeling; I understand the sense of security that one gets, for example, in the physical sciences where one can measure and test, develop graphs and statistical tables, all of which are very impressive. But I really question whether this outer world even of the scientific laboratory is as secure as it at first appears to be. For scientists also eventually must ask about the deeper meanings, and there is some question as to whether the deeper answers even to scientific queries are going to be found by weighing and measuring. Solid matter as such has disappeared in the world of science, and we talk chiefly about energy, and protons and electrons, which are basically immaterial and pretty hard to get one's fingers on!
If we are ever to find the secrets of being, we should turn to the inner world as well as to the outer one, because we will find them only by searching within. And it may well develop, much to our consternation, that the real world will turn out to be more akin to the ideas of Plato, the nirvana of the Buddha, and the inner kingdom of Jesus. Would it not come as a shock to the so-called realists to discover that this inner mind-like reality is essentially the basic reality, rather than the outer stuff of which the world appears to be made? It seems to me that we are moving in this direction in our thinking, both in scientific and religious circles.
What we ought to recognize is that when we turn to the inner spirit we are coming closer to the kingdom of God. For when we find the spirit of ourselves within, we also find the spirit of God. Some people strenuously object to the idea of God being within because they mistakenly assume that God is thus limited, and automatically does not exist without. But nothing could be further from the truth, for what we possess within is but a spark of the Eternal Fire -- and a spark which flies off from a fire certainly does not extinguish the fire itself. Yet, just as the spark reveals the essence of the fire, so the internal spark within each human being reveals the essence of the Divine.
Jesus was not speaking of something eternally hidden when he talked about the God within, nor was he referring to something that only a specially endowed divine person, as some later thinkers considered him to be, could comprehend. He was speaking of the Christ that lives in every human being, because each of us truly has a spark of the divine within. This is essentially the beauty of the conception that God does not exist only in a unique person called Jesus Christ, but that the divine exists in every human being -- as he will learn who will search in his soul for his own Christos spirit. To my way of thinking Jesus was one of the forerunners of "the new being," to use the late Paul Tillich's phrase. He was not the only Christ, but was a forerunner of a race of advanced men who could be called "the Christs" or "the Anointed" because they have discovered far more than ordinary men about the real world of the spirit.
I do believe that unless the outer world is run on the basis of the intuitions of the inner world, we shall not find the solution to the global turmoil. As Albert Schweitzer said in his writings, until a man realizes the same preciousness about the Christ nature of other human beings that he feels for his own inner spirit, we shall not have true brotherhood. Fraternal cooperation may be furthered by certain outer actions, but only when this sense of the preciousness of life becomes more universal, and men cease to be willing to kill and destroy for limited causes and terroristic ambitions, can we properly govern the outer world. I must align myself with those who believe that changing the outer world without the proper inner motivations will never bring in the kingdom. I believe that the most basic intuition of religion is this sense of relatedness to others, not because of their or our ambitions or needs, but because of what we all are.
It is essential, therefore, not only for our own development but for the peace and security of our world, that we turn to this inner realm of our being, and find God within. For as surely as we find divinity within ourselves will we recognize it in others, and we shall begin to realize that the Golden Rule is written into the cosmic scheme of things. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is not just a good ethical ideal. It is to me the religion of the inner spirit.
People everywhere intuitively long for a complete turnaround in our civilization, with war seen for what it is: an outrage against the human spirit. Strange how difficult it is to achieve what surely the vast majority of the billions of human beings on our planet ardently long for — peace and a spontaneous, disciplined give-and-take — so that all together we might move consciously into a new era of respect for one another, where instead of wars and their disastrous consequences there will be thoughtful resolution of personal, national, and international crises. It's time we consciously move out of the mental and psychological grooves made by centuries of distorted thinking, and recognize that periodic wars are not inevitable; more important, that all change in civic and world affairs must start with the individual. We cannot expect nations to act wisely and brotherly until all of us first take ourselves in hand, and vow with all the soul strength at our command to make the Golden Rule an ever-living presence in our deepest being so that it will be reflected in daily practice. We place our trust in the invincible power of the human spirit eventually to forge and sustain an honorable and durable peace among all nations and races. If this seems utopian, let it be so.
"Without a vision the people perish"; by the same token a vision such as the one above, held steadfastly, generates its own dynamism. Constancy to a noble and altruistic goal will indeed make all possible in time. During the last century the world has come a long way in fraternal recognition of the uniqueness of the spiritual, intellectual, artistic, and material gifts that each people and race contribute to the totality of human culture. We must at all costs keep alive the vision, while remaining aware that in personal as well as in global affairs no change for the better can be achieved by legislation or committee decision alone. There must first be a genuine change of heart, of mind, and of will in each of us, a profound recognition that every human being is a brother pilgrim, aspiring as we are to discern the true in the false and to follow the mystic "golden mean" between extremes.
Truly we are a brotherhood, linked by our common humanity. Our individual successes and failures exert a rippling effect on the whole of mankind. A sobering thought, to realize that in lives long past, in the present, and in the aeons to come, our individual and collective karmas have been, are, and will be linked. More to the point, we are bonded not only with one another but also with every kingdom of nature, with the celestial realms as well as with Gaia, our Mother Earth. Because we are at the core of our being one in essence, how the least of us thinks and acts leaves a tracing, faint or deeply etched, on every other human being, indeed on every life-atom in the cosmos. Every time we indulge in petty or unkind feelings we close ourselves off from our inner light and by so much cast a shadow on the lives of others; conversely, every glint of radiance from within us helps to illumine our surroundings.
Ever since we had a mind that could respond to the wonder of starlight and the beauty of love, we have encountered the light and the dark side of human nature. What is needed today is an expanded vision that reaches far into the past and into the future — a theosophic perspective that rejuvenates the spirit and gives renewed hope and courage to handle the daily karma. Assuredly, every life-spark throughout the cosmos is divinely born, each with its unique evolutionary potential. Let us hold fast to the knowledge that we are first and foremost stellar beings, imbodying as humans for a sublime purpose.
Despite the menacing signs all around, I feel an immense hope for the future. It is as though an armageddon were in process before our eyes, between the altruistic urgings of the heart and the selfish demands of the personal nature, between the creative energies and the destructive, the spiritual and the psychic/material: an armageddon sparked into being by revolutionary ideas of universal brotherhood, of the oneness of all life, of divinity rather than matter as the kinetic agency behind evolution. These very ideas have now penetrated all strata of society, so that hundreds of thousands of all ages and backgrounds are pressing for their wider acceptance. While the forces of opposition are powerful, let us never forget that eventually the light triumphs because backed by nature's forward evolutionary current. Regardless of the backlog of karma an individual, people, nation, or race may have stored up, the scales of karma are thoroughly just, and in that justice is profound compassion. Light and darkness, peace and strife — there is purpose in nature's seeming duality of method and structure. Nothing happens, not even the most fearful calamity, but there is healing in its wake, though time may be needed for this to be recognized.
Our oneness in divinity with all other god-sparks fortifies our resolve to fulfill not only our individual dharma, but the larger dharma of which we partake by virtue of being an intrinsic part of the macro-universe. We come to realize that the weighty problems faced by millions over the globe are not theirs alone, but are ours as well. We have a signal part in helping to eradicate the causes of humanity's heartache and hopefully, in time, to lessen appreciably the cruel suffering in our world. Gautama Buddha said: Let your love penetrate first to one quarter of the world, then to a second, a third, and to the fourth until it encompasses all beings everywhere. Millions of people do just this, without prompting — not as a formal rite, but as a spontaneous gift of the heart. The very outreach of concern lifts the thought-atmosphere of the globe, for love is healing; it regulates disturbed equilibrium and, when pure of selfish intent, goes far to dissolve those mental and emotional knots that are at the root of destructive tensions. So exquisite in design is nature's economy that our selfless aspirations to ameliorate human sorrow pass both inward and outward simultaneously: inward to nourish our god-essence, and outward to sustain the efforts of all who have a genuine care for their fellow humans. Every loving thought and deed, offered spontaneously and without regard for self-benefit, adds potency to the creative energies that flow through and enliven the whole of nature, from cosmos, to sun, moon, earth, and every one of nature's families of lives. Indeed, the karma of all is amazingly interwebbed: "The stars are beautiful, because of a flower that cannot be seen" (Saint-Exupéry).
Every shaft of light that pierces the gloom makes a trail, and sensitive hearts looking in its direction feel the call to follow the gleam. Our present and continuing challenge is to match our lives to our ideals, which demand that we consistently strive to choose the wiser rather than the easier course in small as well as large concerns. If this is our goal, then we are on the banks of the bodhisattvic stream of service. When discouragement rears its head and we tend to despair over the plight of our civilization, too often out of alignment with its splendid possibilities, we would do well to recall how long-suffering are the Patient Ones, our guardians and protectors who watch and wait, confident that one day we will wake up and consciously self-direct our lives. Then we will joyously work with the creative forces of our planet, taking heart in the knowledge that every god-spark is a micro-universe in process of becoming. Given time, experience, and the urge to grow, no power in heaven, earth, or the underworld will be able to hold back the awakening human spirit.
Universal truth always has been, is, and will be; it is eternal and immortal. At the same time its expressions are infinite in number and variation. The modern theosophical movement uses as its motto: "There is no religion higher than truth." In the sense of devoting itself to universal truth, which is ever approached but never fully reached, there is no difference between theosophy yesterday, today, or tomorrow.
If I were asked, "Do you think that theosophy will be the same in the 21st century as it is in the 20th?" I would answer Yes. Because someone who directs his thoughts and actions continuously in harmony with universal truth carries brotherhood always in his heart. This will not change in a century, a millennium, or a million years, as long as there are theosophists worthy of the name.
If I were asked, "Will theosophy be different in the 21st century?" I would also answer Yes. Because the ways of expressing truth are infinite. Indeed, every human expression and every action is based on truth, however imperfectly conceived; though it comes from universal truth, it has but a temporary existence. The world as it appears to us is not the same for a split second, and therefore we must be endlessly adaptable, ready to face every new situation with the eyes of a newborn child, mindful of the deep silence where the voice of truth speaks. Were we to establish a truth for Truth we would have created a terrible monster. Its name is dogma. Fallible as we are, we have sometimes, even with the best intentions, been feeding such creatures, taking our understanding of nature's laws for those laws themselves.
To ask ourselves what the world will be like in the 21st century and what part theosophy will play in it is of course a matter of speculation. One thing we know is that the seeds we sow today will be the trees of tomorrow. There are also seeds sown in the past, perhaps the far past, that unexpectedly may germinate and play a role of importance we couldn't have foreseen. Only if we were wise enough to see in the present the karmic lines of the whole past could we make comprehensible and reliable prophecies.
One of several lines along which human culture proceeds is science. Within the last hundred years we have discovered the equivalence of energy and matter, we have seen that a perceiver influences the perceived, and we have penetrated into the depths of the atom. We have delved into many secrets of our environment with all its ecological complexities and gained understanding of the most refined processes within the living cell, unraveling the chemical code of physical heritage, DNA and its ally, RNA. In just over a century we left our horses behind and replaced them with "miraculous" means of transport and communication. We have, in fact, lived through one of the most remarkable centuries in known history. Theosophy has had a hand in this, though almost unknown and invisible to the world at large. Some of our greatest scientists as well as artists and others have studied theosophical books or the wisdom traditions of non-Western cultures. Others, who may not have heard of theosophy, have intuited glimpses of truth.
We may ask ourselves, "Have we become wiser with all our knowledge? Are we nobler now than before this golden age of science and technology?" In one sense, Yes. There is, thanks to our expanded means of global communication, a growing awareness of the sufferings and troubles in distant parts of the world. This leads to greater compassion and action-taking for the benefit of others. In another sense we have not ennobled ourselves very much as yet. Wars, environmental and other forms of destruction, crime, drugs, and suicide know perhaps no equal in history. Have theosophists worked in vain to better the world, or have they been too few and powerless? Wouldn't a theosophical writer of a hundred years ago, speculating about the 20th century, have given up if he or she could have foreseen the agonies that were to come?
In my opinion the answer is emphatically No. Though there have been failures and weaknesses, and we could perhaps have done better, I think this century has laid a firm foundation on which to build for the future.
In the last, say, fifteen years, a new era seems to be dawning. We may call it the holistic approach. Now we begin to realize on a wide scale that all aspects of nature are connected in an organic wholeness. In the medical world we watch a growing tendency towards holistic healing, in which man is regarded as a oneness, physically and psychologically, and where illness is seen as a disturbed equilibrium within the organism, and between the organism and the outer world. In biology, the Gaia hypothesis is showing that the earth in its completeness is kept in balance by the living organisms that grow and walk on it. They exert a stabilizing influence on a system that is far bigger than they are, and that stretches far beyond the reaches of their own personal struggles for life.
Computers and microtechnology have revealed that processes that seem chaotic often form a beautiful pattern of regularity of a new order that is as important for living systems as is order in the traditional sense. At the same time old wagons are tumbling over or cracking. Newtonian and Cartesian thinking have had their value for the early development of modern science, but are no longer adequate. Darwinism is discussed and heavily attacked and perhaps has already lived its longest days. At the same time we are beginning to appreciate the traditional and ancient wisdom of East and West, even though this recognition is expressed at times in too superficial terms. Nevertheless, this foreshadows a general acceptance of the insight that all cultures together, ancient and modern, are a brotherhood which exists throughout the ages and to which each makes a valuable contribution.
Holistic ideas are still mere saplings in the woods of science and are constantly threatened, but they look healthy and we are optimistic about their survival. All these developments point toward a general recognition of brotherhood as a fact in nature, which is, after all, the primary objective of every theosophical organization throughout history.
But much, very much remains to be done. There is the separation between matter and consciousness. Even the more daring and progressive among today's scientists mostly seek mechanistic explanations rather than pronouncing the mysterious words "consciousness" and "mind" as factors in nature. This may be due partly to fear of a return to religious fundamentalism. Certainly theosophists of today and tomorrow must support the understanding that mind and consciousness are inseparable from every manifested being. Once we accept the analogy between the constitution of nature and ourselves, we have in the interplay of our own mind and our desires and passions a key to comprehending the multiform expressions of planetary life.
More than mind there is the buddhic principle, as clear as crystal by its very nature, in which the true, the beautiful, and the ethical are united. Up to now scientists have consigned beauty to the discipline of art, and ethics to religion and philosophy (though many philosophers are not interested in ethics, because it is too metaphysical, they say). In a real holistic approach there is no room for the exclusion of anything, no separation between religion, science, philosophy, and art.
Today a ripple of new hope is vibrating through the consciousness of humanity. It is too early to jubilate, for the saplings of peace and cooperation are as yet young and fragile, but nobody can avoid the impression that some thoughts of genuine brotherhood have touched the minds of persons in key positions, and this is what millions have hoped for. All human beings are karmically linked and co-responsible. Together we build the conditions of society including its imperfections, with which some fail temporarily to cope. But if we exclude "criminals," "addicts," and the like, from our thoughts of brotherhood, we drive them into isolation and even greater despair, and our joint karma will be a world full of crime and terror. Why not at least try to understand the agony in human souls from a background of compassion? Seeds have been sown in this century, not least by Katherine Tingley in the early decades, and while few of them have visibly germinated it is our present task to nurture them.
The key to all progress is education. Beautiful initiatives have been taken, because we all love our children. But not until the harmonious unity of the whole human being is recognized, will we as a humanity understand the importance of a balanced education in ethics and the arts, in psychological, mental, and spiritual faculties as well as in the practical aspects of life.
We can't know precisely how tomorrow will be, but it is worth working for. And let us hope that a reader of this article in, say, 2089 will shake his head and smile: how dull were the well-meant visions of those a hundred years ago; we have accomplished much more than they could ever dream of.
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