There is no system of thought that offers so much to Youth as does Theosophy, embracing as it does the all-inclusive Wisdom of the Ages. For there is no subject, however recondite, none so abstract, none so sacred, that it cannot be studied in this Science-Philosophy-Religion. To Youth it offers the discovery of All Nature and suggests adventure at every step of investigation. Filled with hints of what has transpired through the fathomless depths of Time, and of prophecies of what is to come long ages hence, fraught with the mysteries of both past and present, Theosophy provides not only intellectual stimuli but promises the development of faculties which lie latent in man awaiting proper and careful rediscovery and training under trustworthy tutelage.
Having been given to the world by the highest Initiates whose holy purpose in life is to live to benefit mankind by raising the spiritual levels of humanity, Theosophy offers to the earnest student who is indefatigable in the application of its precepts a moral security and a spiritual peace not to be completely found elsewhere.
Youth in its tireless quest to find its place in the scheme of things often unwisely turns to paths that lead to disappointment and seemingly unjust suffering. In a world of beings the youth finds himself companion to other humans and to the animal creatures. He finds himself an observer of the stars above him, the plants and flowers about him, and the mineral kingdom below him. Alert to the psychical changes of the times, he no longer believes that God created him to be lord over all creation or that He put the stars in the heavens just to please men's fancy with their twinkle. Being awake mentally he is acquainted with the latest scientific developments, which teach a Universe made of mind-stuff and a cosmic infiltration of energy centers. Being ambitious for what he calls "success" in life, he often decides that the environment he is born into is a barrier to the realization of his dreams; that his people from whom he thinks he has inherited disease or evil tendencies, peculiar ways, or a grotesque body, are the wrong kind of people; that there is no such condition as equal opportunity, and that even his government is rotten to the core. In this trend of thought he usually does one of three things: acquiesces to conditions as he finds them and beds down in the mire of his own inhibitions; attempts to flee from the surroundings so distasteful to him; or revolting, tries to upset the applecart by his bitterness. In any event he has not found his place in the scheme of things for he has looked outside himself to find his place. For however close, for instance, his relatives may be, or however inhibiting environment and governments may seem, they remain uninterpretable so long as he does not seek within to understand himself.
In Theosophy, Youth may learn that environmental conditions are never a mistake — nor an accident. He is taught that they are a clear testimony of that which he has drawn unto himself by love or hate. He learns that kicking over the traces does no good: that that method is simply abortive to any attempt to improve affairs; but that a solution of his problems — and Youth has many! — lies in the recognition that he is literally the child and parent of himself, the child learning, the parent guiding, the parent being the reincarnating ego that brings forth life after life the entity that finds itself in difficult situations. Gradually he learns that this parent is his inmost being who has learned and retained all the lessons of former lives and that this being with its unfailing memory is his one sure guide and teacher. He learns that there is nothing in his life — either unpleasant or agreeable — that he has not brought about himself; that only he can do anything about it and that selfless action alone will bring him permanent happiness. By practice he learns to look situations in the face and understand conditions as he meets them. Without understanding he can hope to accomplish nothing; with a clear-cut perception of his own make-up he goes steadily forward.
He learns that physical proximity is not always indicative of that which is nearest one's heart. He learns that though a continent, an ocean, a world, or a universe may appear to separate him from that which he most loves, there is an essence within him that binds him to the thing he holds so dear; for by this literally substantial psycho-magnetic tie he and it are one. This is a great lesson that he learns, for the fundamental unity of All Nature becomes then a scientific reality. It is not long before he realizes that the crux of the whole matter is finding out that which is more truly nearest his heart, the center of his being — that which enjoys the pure sweet light springing from the Inner Flame at the heart of him.
Once Youth understands the truth of the Theosophical teaching that he is the result of himself and that he is where and how he is by his own actions, he leaves off being resentful and discontented. He hesitates to "pass the buck," and begins to accept his own responsibilities. He attempts to stand on his own feet, and in attempting, gradually gains a poise that withstands the temptations that are so likely to come his way.
Youth in the composite is expressive of so many different aspects of himself: beauty, ambition, and dreams. And in the exuberance of his nature he often plunges himself into experiences that result in serious consequences. But Youth does not need to be restrained; he needs to learn that he can bridle his own nature and direct his own course. He needs to learn that he is the rider of his own steed which he himself has broken to the bit of self-discipline. Theosophy teaches that everyone can direct his own course, can make his own Karman.
Theosophy also teaches that everyone is evolving and that evolution means the bringing out of that which is within. Therefore, if Youth understands that in the core of him there is an indwelling god, he will seek more readily the noble things of life and scorn the cheap and tawdry. He will realize that alliance with the Wisdom of the Ages is to reap the benefit derived from the bringing forth of his own god from within.
Youth seeking Life often finds Death — Death that is sometimes merely physical annihilation, at other times a destruction of precious faculties, or in the horrible extreme, a breaking down of the moral fiber that supports his very soul. In any of these cases the teaching of Theosophy will be like a beacon light to the Youth who in the intensity of his too full life has lost himself in the fog of doubt and bewilderment and misunderstanding and fear, all of which has caused him to lose hope too soon. Theosophy gives hope to such Youth for Theosophy teaches that man returns again and again to take up his life and his work where he has left off; to unravel the entanglements his lower nature has been the cause of; to learn the lessons his stupidity and lack of self-control have made him neglect. The knowledge of reincarnation makes life an adventure. Meeting "new" faces, being attracted to "new" people or repelled by others, indicate most clearly adventures begun in other lives with these same people — adventures to be continued until they are brought to harmonious fruition. The knowledge of this teaching, indissolubly linked as it is with the Law of Consequences or Cause and Effect, is a challenge to Youth to change the discords of his life into the beautiful harmonies developed by impersonal love and service to others. Physical death to Youth is so often frightening and revolting. Frequently he is shaken to the very depths of his being by what appears to him eternal destruction. Were Youth to understand thoroughly the Theosophical teaching he would know that Death is a gateway to Life itself. Then he would understand something of the phenomena of Nature in regard to this tearing-down-building-up process. For he would learn that man is not body alone, that indeed his body is the least important portion of him. He would learn how man's higher principles seek their own realms and how the myriads of evolving entities composing the lower principles go on peregrinations of their own in the after-death state.
And learning something about Death, Youth would, paradoxically, learn much about Life and of his part in it. He would learn that he is composed of innumerable Life-Atoms that through him are getting their experiences on this evolutionary journey. He would learn that he is an inseparable part of the Universe which is also evolving. He would learn that his fellowmen have lived just as he has lived for aeons of time; that they, like him, have had their cyclic periods of activity and rest; that the people with whom he works and plays, and those whom he loves and hates, are people he has known before. Human relations would take on an added value. More care would be exercised as to duties to be performed and daily life in general. For Youth would see for himself that the Law of Karman or Cause and Effect or Action and Re-action simply means that there can be no thought sent out, no word spoken, no deed done without an attending reaction on the one responsible. Knowing this Law, Youth would become more thoughtful, kindlier in his attitude toward others, more considerate of his fellows, more understanding of the aches of the human heart, more eager to alleviate the pain, and less willing to risk adding to the suffering of the world by indulgences through the dictates of his lower nature.
Theosophy teaches one to know himself for knowing one's self he would know all things. Youth becoming acquainted with this thought would learn that at the heart of him is the core of the Core of All Being. He would feel himself a very Universe. Before him would be the discovery of All Nature, there being no branch of any Knowledge that is not an integral part of Theosophy.
Theosophy is not so much an anchor which Youth can throw into a turbulent sea to stop his forward progress as it is a discovery of how to use the compass he finds within his own nature by which he can set his course to destinations that only Youth dares dream about.
1. An Address read before the Fraternization Convention in Toronto, August, 1935. Reprinted, with slight revision by the writer, from The Canadian Theosophist, November, 1935. (return to text)
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