The Theosophical Forum – November 1944

THE CYCLES WE LIVE BY — Mora Forbes

If anyone should ask you for an answer to the riddle of this struggle for existence we find ourselves in today, you probably would not hesitate to answer that we are moving into a new time, a new cycle is being born, and in that new cycle we hope to find peace and brotherhood for all. Each nation has felt the stirrings of this new time, and felt the need for action; each felt new opportunities lay ahead, a broader, grander way of life; each felt the old must go and give place to the new, and so embarked upon the only way it understood. We all know to our sorrow what that way was.

Taking into consideration reincarnation, all our long past brought us to the nation in which we find ourselves, and so as a nation we must struggle and suffer in the ways that nation has chosen to follow. We and our forefathers brought that nation to birth, made it what it is, and have the power to make it what it will become.

Three distinct types are apparent in all life — the creators, the preservers, and the destroyers. Are we going to be among those who create and preserve evil and destroy good, or shall we create and preserve the good, and destroy the evil? I would like to suggest that the creators are those who hope, the preservers those who understand, and the destroyers those who achieve, break down in order to build up. New wine must not go into old bottles.

Speaking of this power of hope — in the dreary days of cloudy weather, we look forward to the cycle of sunshine and spring; in periods of intense activity and hard, grinding labor, we see ahead the rest and quiet of home; in times of stress, loss and pain, we think of the bright days that must come; in war and strife we build upon a future of peace and brotherhood; in this fast moving age when we are rushed along in the sweeping, whirling chain of circumstances, vainly clutching at the robes of time for a few extra moments to pause, to reflect, to think, we are sustained by the certainty of quieter, more enduring times ahead. Death today, life — tomorrow. Hope creates in our minds the possibility of a glorious future.

As we move into this new cycle, the preservers are able to understand the idealists, the pioneers, the great leaders that rise in our midst, because they, the preservers, have preserved a knowledge of past courage and past mistakes. One of the main causes of the fall of any civilization is the failure of the people to listen to the voice of those who know how to lead. There are many minor leaders in the world today who proclaim brotherhood and equal opportunities for all as the only salvation of the world, and it is good to know that their words are not falling on deaf ears.

For the coming peace we must have understanding. We can think of cycles in terms of moments, years, centuries, ages. Each individual is living in his own cycle, but that cycle is influenced by the cycles of his immediate family, his nation, his race. When we fail to understand another it would be well to look back at the different phases of our own life, the characteristics of our ancestors, the history of our nation, and the evolution of our race. Probably all the faults we see in another have been experienced by us, individually or collectively at some time or other. It is very difficult to understand a cycle we are not living in, but it can be done if the experiences we are passing through at any time are really registered on our minds and souls, and they will be if we live consciously through all our experiences. This is the strength that turns the cycle.

So we come to the power of achievement, the destroyer of the old, the destroyer that has the power and the conviction to turn his face forward and not backward, break through all preconceived notions and ideas, strengthened by the hope that we have created, and the understanding that we have preserved. Every cycle of life is an opportunity, and the opportunities will never come in exactly the same way again. But we so often fail to understand them as such. Browning once wrote of the things we strive to do, agonize to do, and fail in doing. Why must this be? Because we have constantly failed to make the best use of the cycle we are living in, or have failed to see that a new cycle has dawned, and been content to stay in a cycle that has passed, and so lived out of harmony with the forces of nature and the age in which we live. When we refuse to move into a new cycle, we come into a blind alley. The power to achievement is lost.

Hope, understanding, and the power of achievement are the three basic and moving factors in our lives. Without hope a man is as one dead. Without understanding he blocks the way to progress. And without achievement his whole life-span is useless. Hope leads to understanding, and understanding gives us the power to achieve.

It would be well to dwell a little on the power of achievement, for without that all our striving counts for so little, and before we know it stronger and more scheming minds than our own have led us into a vortex of horror and degradation. We were warned often in the last twenty years that when it came to an issue, it would be much harder, would demand more sacrifice and strength of character, to keep the peace than to go to war. This new cycle had to be born, the new time had to dawn, and there had to be upheaval, but it need not have been the way of war, if the whole pattern of our previous living had not made the present what it is.

Do we always, in our crucial moments have to remain blind and not see the help that is offered us, deaf and not hear the voice crying in the wilderness? In the prewar days, travelers, philosophers, poets, brought us news from other lands, tried to explain to us what other nations were attempting to do, and they told us that we must either help them and encourage them and open our hearts to them, or face another war.

Theosophy, the unfolded wisdom of the ages, gives us some definite knowledge about cycles, and how we can make use of them. Perhaps it would be well to present a panoramic view of this universe in which we live, in an attempt to make clear how the law of cycles functions so vitally in our lives. In her book, The Secret Doctrine, H. P. Blavatsky lays open before us the workings of the cosmos in which we live — its birth, its unfoldment, its rising and downfallings, and its destiny, and in the second volume she does the same for this earth and man. But before doing so, in her introduction to the book, she lays down three fundamental propositions, one of which is the law of cycles — "the absolute universality of that law of periodicity," as she expresses it. Take, for instance, one small portion of the cosmos — our solar system. Globes circling around globes, propelled and sustained by currents of energy weaving and interweaving along their own pathways which are always circular — there are no straight lines in nature. In a period of manifestation, spirit needs a vehicle, and on the plane of matter a material one, and wherever there is matter, there is force; indeed, life of any kind needs force, and force needs a channel, and if it does not find one, it makes one, and because this universe is filled full of countless energies they naturally curve in and out like the river in its bed. Take a globe, for example, seething with activity, hundreds and thousands, even millions, of lives, pursuing their own pathways of life, weaving in and out along many other pathways giving out energy and gathering in energy, evolving forth other forms, and such forms partaking of the characteristics of the time and place of their first evolvement. What happens to a circle when a line is drawn across it, making a segment? Part of it is cut off. That is what happens when we try to move in a straight line irrespective of surrounding influences. That is what each nation has been trying to do. We become part of the circle when we move along its pathways, which, to remain part of the circle, are circular. All are familiar with the idea of the cycle as portrayed by a design — a spiral — up and down and around and up. The difficulty comes when we are making the turn of the cycle. The pioneers have always turned it ahead of us, but we — we fail to understand the new times. We stand still and look back, and slip down the spiral of a smaller cycle waiting to engulf us in its backward trend.

Previously mentioned in this article was the fact that we gather up as we go, store into ourselves energies and forces that will strengthen our own energy, and if this has been done, we shall be able to make the turn of the larger cycle. In our everyday life this is accomplished by seizing the opportunities that confront us, making use of the cycle we find ourselves in. As Katherine Tingley said, "The opportunities at hand will never come again, may you henceforth be able to make the best of them; may you find in utilizing every moment in right action that quality of strength that you need to help balance your lives and bring you to a fuller realization of what real duty is, not only to yourselves, but to your fellows."

So we have it — the hope of the tomorrow, part of the cycle of today; the understanding that comes through living in our own cycle grandly and well; and the power of achievement that comes because we have found the right channels and moved along them with knowledge gained and obstacles overcome. We have dared to be ourselves, our greater selves.


The Theosophical Forum

THEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ONLINE