The world picture is so blurred and so bloody, waiting hearts are so heavy with grief or so strained by suspense, that it is only by an effort of will that many people can vision a future that human beings can endure to contemplate. It is not only our own sorrows that afflict us. Always there have been some of our fellow men who were suffering almost unbelievably from war or famine or other disaster, but distance and unfamiliarity obscured the full horror of such conditions. Now, distance has vanished, we know everything almost as soon as it has happened anywhere on earth. No longer is any horror unbelievable. We know now what it means to live in the Kali-yuga, the age when destructive agencies are rampant, when what it has taken centuries to build is being ruthlessly torn down, when human lives are blotted out by thousands overnight, when cruelty and inhumanity shock us into a dull wonder as to the fate of the human race. What can we make of all this? One answer is that while there must be heroes who fight and fall in the world conflict, there must also be heroes of the transition who face and understand these conditions and preserve a thread of continuity between the best that has been and the better that yet shall be.
The world is old — millions of years old. As far back as records go war has been waged by men, with great armies on both sides using every known means of killing off their fellow men. Who were waging those wars? We have all lived many lives on earth. Is it possible that any of us is free from karmic responsibility in connexion with war? Karmic causes can remain unfruitful of results for long periods, but they are there and in certain cycles come occasions for them to work out to a finish on a large scale. If we could have a picture of all those we have slain in battles long ago, the horror would be as great as that we now feel when we read the casualty lists. The time has come to face the full implication of the teachings of Karman and Reincarnation. There must be a heroism of insight and intelligence to recognise and understand the present widespread squaring of accounts that is going on in the world.
What is needed is a stretching of the mental grasp to include the long cycle of man's destiny — the vast periods of the evolution of humanity in successive rounds and races on the globes of a planetary chain like that of our earth; a view of innumerable lifetimes when human beings sowed and reaped, were parted only to meet and love again. Why doubt this? In the present life neither oceans nor continents separated those whose karman it was to meet and love, or for that matter, to hate and kill. Once visualize this continuance and recurrence and it is never quite easy to fit human life into the old limited frame-work of existence. The more comprehensive picture, which shows the present as only one part of one cycle of human experience when the new must be born from the old in bitter pangs of birth, brings heartening and healing. There is strenuous mental and physical training to prepare one for heroism in battle. There is purification by sorrow and pain to free the valor that endures the surgical opening of the mind to cosmic ideas of truth and law and compassion.
Those who suffer and survive and do think, learn that their power to think reaches a new level, unbounded by old horizons. They have gleams of a wisdom that dissolves suffering in compassion. Loss and separation lose their torturing edge. The inner I learns to look with understanding at what the more familiar I is undergoing. Insight brings the assurance that "Sorrow is a lamp which illumines life."
One harrowing picture in these terrible days is that of the brave and beautiful young lives cut off in battle. We know that their bodies will be reverently returned to earth, but where are they? Let us not think of them as dazed or fearful. They are enduring Egos who, before taking birth saw and chose what in life should befall, and at the time of passing, reviewed it all and knew that it was just. Let us face the fact that for many this last fight may be the means of wiping out an old karmic debt, leaving the Ego now free as it could never be until that debt was paid — a victory for the Self. Let us be brave enough to speed them on their way to a new birth. Let us not picture them faring into the Unknown untended. The truer picture is of the universe, invisible as well as visible, as a well-ordered home, in which some hard lessons have to be learned, but in which there are those who watch and wait with loving care at every gateway of experience to guide the new-born, even as we do here. Why doubt this? Would you not gladly serve thus?
The wise ancient psychologist Patanjali taught that there is power in "the mental calling up of the opposite " When the old and familiar and seemingly safe is perishing before our eyes, with Kali-yuga full upon us and a universal katharsis in process, the faculty of visualization wavers unless there is knowledge of what the succeeding luminous arc of the cycle holds for humanity. This knowledge Theosophy offers in the teaching of the intellectual and spiritual principles of the human constitution which shall have fuller expression as the wave of human Egos traverses the luminous arc. The conceptions of man's nature and destiny are the material for visualizing life on the higher level, when we have turned to round out the cycle of evolution on earth. We are taught that the life still to be on earth — the life of reincarnated Egos returning for further experience, will be as unbelievably beautiful as life at present is unfortunately believably sad.
With the restoration of the teachings of Theosophy, words of wonderful potency and meaning have come into use The study of such expressions as "the Silent Watcher," Vajradhara, Avatara, the Hierarchy of Compassion, opens up sublime cosmic conceptions for contemplation. These words have power to invoke in us trust in the heart of the Universe in which every heart can find peace and renewed will. Renewed will for spiritual venture, for conquest of wider fields for heart energies and for human intelligence to expand in, stimulus for creative imagination in its work of building the inner world that shall be imbodied in the new life for humanity All these are available for heroes of the transition who obey the call sounded by the Theosophical Teachers in preparation for the days now upon us.
The Theosophical ForumTHEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ONLINE