One of the best signs in the present day is that people are asking questions. Nowadays, for every claim to the discovery of a final panacea for the world's ills there is a coincident healthy inquiry into the validity of such a claim. The revolution in most departments of thought which took place at the end of the last century is sufficiently far away to have given an opportunity for many palliatives and nostrums, many formulas for deliverance, to have been tried — and found inadequate. This has engendered a sense of futility in the consciousness of many, a sense of misdirected efforts; and the situation has become all the more disconcerting because sage and charlatan, mystic and empty boaster alike, promise a glorious destiny for the human race. So that the most urgent question now being asked is: Why do we seem to be frustrated at every turn in our attempt to make this promise an actuality?
H. G. Wells, in his recent book The Anatomy of Frustration asks the question thus:
With the broad table-lands of our common human opportunities, widespread and inviting before us, seen plainly, stated clearly, why do we not go on to them, why are we not hurrying towards them, why are we not in fact already there? Why does our species — which is I — which is you — still live in division and confusion? . . . Shall we be for ever a medley of individuals striving to escape from a frustration that will at last close in upon us all?
Wells is convinced that the answer to his own last melancholy question is an emphatic No. So he tries to find a way out. The theosophist is tempted to read into his solution more than he may have intended to imply; there is no harm in this provided that we recognise that we are doing so. Here is Wells' solution in the main: More and better education; firstly that we may obtain a more comprehensive understanding of our common history and destiny, and secondly that we may achieve an ever completer self-control.
Education along theosophical lines fulfils both these ends; and it is good in our spreading of our noble philosophy to bear this in mind and accentuate it. Our message is a direct message to human beings; and any part of the Theosophical philosophy which we divorce entirely from this primal purpose, we have not really understood.
To study the history and destiny of the human race means, besides more obvious things, to study our relations with all other beings in the Universe, since man cannot move forward to his sublime destiny apart from the rest, any more than we can move in space in our planetary orbit without taking the world with us, so to speak — which simply means that we are all moving together in the same direction.
To study the history and destiny of the human race means, also, to learn what are our relations with each other and, further, to know ourselves. We must be acquainted with the complex organism of the Universe as a unit, the complex organism of mankind as a unit, and the complex organism of the individual man, and in all these complexities find the unity that makes their existence possible. We have to recognise our common goal amid our many diversified purposes.
And the other object: To gain an ever completer self-control, suggests, in its widest applications, a philosophy of action, of doing, of building and growing within; in short of applying to the actual business of living the principles suggested by the study above outlined.
To be impatient for immediate results is not entirely a bad thing; but a profound study of the "destiny and history of the human race" and an unremitting effort at a "completer self-control" convince the student of life that the fine flower of a perfect humanity does not bloom in a day; yet Wells himself might be encouraged to know that his very eagerness and concern in behalf of the human race are signs of a growing awareness among men of the purpose of this often bewildering life of ours here on earth.
The Theosophical ForumTHEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ONLINE