Resolve to be thyself; and know, that he
Who finds himself, loses his misery.
— Matthew Arnold
Every year is enacted the ancient marvel: that part of life which has withdrawn to the invisible, returns, and tree and plant burst out in leaf and blossom. Every morning this ancient marvel is performed when the Self which withdrew to its invisible bourne returns to resume physical body and waking life. With every child that is born there is the marvel of an infinitesimal seed coming to manifest as infant, youth, and man. But what is that which is awake throughout the whole cycle? What is the Unseen which produces the visible, the bodily? Are we, the day-selves, asleep, who know it not? Truly, the Great Awakening for us will be when we know ourselves as the Self who put forth Spirit, Soul, and Body, and abides, watching and waiting for the sleeper bound in the palace of form to awaken to the day of Self-consciousness.
That Self has in the past won power to send forth rays of Itself, seeds of humanity on a planet as it begins its cycle of life, to come to flower in godhood. For planets, too, have their periods of rest and withdrawal, followed by return to material form and physical activity. The Moon died, but its seeds of life remained in space and with a planetary dawn these awoke, we among them, and began our day on our new Earth-home. Humanity is the Earth-child, human from the first, in "structural intent," even as the human embryo is recognised to be.
There is co-operation in the Universe. The Sun, Moon, Stars, and Planets, combined to build Humanity, and when a form befitting had been prepared, latent mind was awakened by superior hierarchies of beings, the young Humanity's Guardians. Science and history have told us of the evolution of form and something of what mind has done for man; but they have not yet told, and evidently cannot tell us what happens when the cycle of destiny turns upward, and latent divinity has its turn to hold sway.
This does not look likely at present, does it? When fourteen of the known civilizations have gone down, and almost all the conditions that prevailed when they fell are just about what we read accounts of in the daily newspapers; when fear, nerve-racking uncertainty, distrust of human destiny, are expressed generally, the future looks black indeed. But all this crumbling is but making way for the new that is to be born. The poet Lowell was wise when he wrote in "The Cathedral," "Change is the mask that all continuance wears." The Spirit and Divinity in man are waiting to take command and direct the activities of the New Day.
This is to take place on Earth: Humanity is stationed on Earth at present. There will be no escape to a brighter star, to a heavenly home of eternal bliss. The ancients tell us that death is a stairway reaching to the stars; but with every rebirth we step down and back to Earth, to be human here, even as the violet will be a violet next spring, and not an astronomer. Sleep may be a quick ascent to the stars, but there is as quick a descent, and we wake where sleep overtook us the night before. All this is familiar to us but full of meaning not yet realized by us.
What is not familiar to us is the program for Humanity's New Day on Earth, that Day when the Divinity within each of us, that Self of Union and Will, shall, on the luminous upper arc of our destiny, express itself in the relations and institutions of life on Earth.
The attributes of this Divine Self are Peace, Power, Beauty, Truth, and Wisdom. They dwell in that Inmost Self, which even the most modern thinkers are now bidding us seek. How would it help us if that Self, which has won consciousness of divinity and knowledge of the cosmic pattern of life in long ages of planetary, solar, and starry experience, were in command, were encouraged, invoked to pour down through the purified channel of mind and feeling its wisdom and light? Let us picture it.
If you knew that you are, in your inmost, and that I am, in my inmost, a divine being waiting to manifest, and I too knew that you and I are, in our inmost, divine beings, would there not be a spiritual rock of ages on which we could stand, a common ground of divine origin, of hope and interest and purpose, firm enough to support us in working out our destiny as individuals?
As individuals it must be; individuals so much our whole selves that we can rejoice in the diversity of mankind, inevitable because there is in each of us an essential characteristic, a creative individual waiting to manifest fully. Picture us as so truly ourselves that we want others to be themselves, to enjoy what they can add to the tapestry of life. For, not unison but harmony is the highest ideal, and only conscious individuals can unite to produce the cosmic harmony that is to be. The less developed do not unite, they merge, and we have herd-consciousness and the chance for mob-psychology to be used in exploiting the less evolved entities. Harmony is never born from herd-consciousness. If the performers cannot play their own instruments there is no music.
We must learn to differ without dividing. Why not believe in new and happy combinations and associations of individuals aware of their powers and possibilities? And do you believe that if human minds actuated by selfish desire for possessive power and material advantage over their fellows can devise means that threaten wholesale destruction of the human race — do you believe that human minds illumined by light from the Divine Self cannot conceive some godlike, friendly, convincing way of dissolving human differences? It is unworthy, it is unholy, to hold so limited a view of human possibilities.
What makes man human is the power to control, to restrain harmful, separative feelings, thoughts, speech, and acts. What strife will be avoided when this power of inhibition, when spiritual will, is used, not to build these barriers of misunderstanding and bitterness. The exercise of this power liberates a new sense of proportion, a fresh glimpse of realms of activity under our own control that exhilarates, that brings spiritual humor, and a rich and harmless zest to life.
It is said, too, that the joy, the calm, the peace and certainty, of the true mystic, may be the common religious experience of humanity in the future — that inner reconcilement, that stilling of the transitory, doubting self by the enduring divine inner Self, which has blest those of whatever religion who have sounded the depths of their own natures. It is said too that the realms of beauty and meaning and power to which artists, poets, musicians, and inventors have occasional access, may become the common field of vision of Humanity in the bright future. What boundless possibilities for the operation of invisible, integrating, non-violent influences in that meeting-place where Spiritual Power, Love, Truth, Beauty, and Harmony abide.
The gift of Theosophy to Beauty is the cosmic framework that reveals man a child of Divinity, fostered and guided by Spiritual and Divine Hierarchies of Sun and Stars, who watch over Earth and us. The Cosmic Myth — myriad forms of which have nurtured art and literature and religions in all ages — lifts all conceptions of life and truth and beauty — and duty — to higher levels of cooperation, consciousness, and creative realization. It is this Truth which, once apprehended, will form the basis for world-unity, for the new social imagination, for purer art, greater poetry, wiser living, power to call upon resources of inward attainment in the regulation of human affairs. In this Awakening to the Self we may be laggards; or, we may be adventurers in cosmic ideas, leaders in the conquest of the spiritual frontiers within, and Self-Discoverers in this cyclic dawn of a New Day for Humanity.
The Theosophical ForumTHEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ONLINE