[Note: page numbers cited for The Esoteric Tradition are to the 2-vol. Second Edition and do not correspond to the 1-vol. 3rd & Revised Edition.]
You shall have wisdom great as Life can give, You shall have happiness as deep as tears. — Herbert J. Hall
Earth-life is a most important phase of growth for the human entity. It incorporates all grades of progress and provides the universal text-book of evolution. Here we put into practice those of our ideas and ideals which can be materialized, and here we accumulate the abstract dreams and aspirations which create for us the state of Devachan, the aroma of which we assimilate. Our future characters are the result of the grade we make in this life plus the impression left by the devachanic interlude. Earth-life, therefore, is an intensive process of becoming at one with the soul which has been strengthened and inspired in Devachan.
Of the "wisdom great as life can give" we take what we can — or, more technically but equally correctly, what we are; for our life's experiences are attracted by sympathy or antipathy to us: they are the reflexion of ourselves in others and on surrounding Nature, and their and its reaction. Thus it is that we learn all the most vital lessons through human relationship — a fact which is strictly in accordance with the structure of and the habits inherent in the Universe.
Universal Brotherhood, or the unified coherence in Nature, is no mere philosophically logical argument exposed to every travesty of self-interest. It signifies for the Theosophist, as for every deep thinker, the mystic love of all being, the human expression of universal compassion which is the constructive energy and creative impetus in the Universe. It is the insignia of true manhood.
Like Shakespeare's quality of mercy, it
is not strained,
It droppeth, as the gentle rain from Heaven
Upon the place beneath.
springs not from the founts
Of love or hate; but rather from the sure
Allegiances of spirit, strong proud, pure. (1)
The Universe is a mighty organic entity in which there are no radical divisions or separations, and wherein the interacting of every part with every other part or with the whole is regulated by Nature's fundamental law of Compassion, for harmony is inherent throughout. However, since every part of this mighty whole varies in its state of evolution or relative perfection, and grade of individualization, it logically follows that there is conflict of wills in the processes of adjusting the individual desire to the universal design. This apparent 'struggle' arises in the yearning of the relatively imperfect towards greater and ever greater states of relative perfection. Knowing ourselves as less than we would be, we are dissatisfied, and recognizing this self-conflict in ourselves we sense it in others and thus life as a whole is colored by our individual self-conflict. This inherent discontent will probably always exist, for it is written in The Secret Doctrine (p. 95, Vol. II.): "Where there is no struggle, there is no merit"; nevertheless, while our own self-conflict may be the means of learning greater compassion, it should also be the means through which we become more in harmony with all Being.
The present evolutionary tendency, and one which will increase with the coming cycles, is for the individual man to unite more and more with his fellows on the basis of a mutual heritage of godliness. To this tendency all the principles of evolution and the very constitution of man lend themselves.
Man is united to his fellow-men, physically, intellectually, and spiritually. Our bodies are composed of the life-atoms which form the substances of the Earth: our psycho-emotional natures are the imbodiment of astral forces: intellectual life-atoms produce and evolve our intelligences: and the spirit of man is an aggregated unit formed by the life-essences of the spiritual realms of the Universe. We all share alike in this wondrous bounty, though we differ in the uses to which we put our talents. While we can always give from our own storehouse the unique results of our individual harvesting, we cannot deprive another of his rightful share, for
every force in the universe thrills through our being, and every substance in the Universe has done its proportionate part in building us up and therefore has given us somewhat of itself.— The Esoteric Tradition, p. 493
During our Earth-lives some of these life-atoms belong to us — they form our composite constitutions; others are but visitors, that come to us, stay a while, and then go elsewhere. When the cohering cord is withdrawn at the close of a period on Earth, our own atoms scatter, and who can say where they may not be found? We have been told that it is probable a large number of the life-atoms belonging to any excarnate entity are to be found in the bodies of men and women now living here. (See The Esoteric Tradition, p. 910.)
Our life-atoms have no racial prejudice: their affinities are fundamentally international. This accounts for the universally instantaneous appeal of beauty, in Nature, Art, and Music, to the human mind and heart. We have proved these facts on the materio-physical plane; would that we knew more about their scope on the less material, and therefore far more vital, planes of consciousness.
It naturally follows that a study of our atomic relationship on the planes of manifestation leads us to the subject of the interwoven strands of destiny — our karmic relationships. These links differ from atomic kinship in that, whereas the latter are beyond our conscious control, our karmic links are the direct outcome of our willing and doing throughout many ages.
Some hundreds of thousand years ago humanity passed the lowest point in this particular phase of its present evolutionary progress on Earth. At that time the balance was struck in the coinciding processes of the involution of spiritual forces and the evolution of material ones: but both before and since that ebb-point, the current of readjustment, of sifting, between the forces following these processes has been intensified and the impulses towards accord on the one hand, and discord on the other, have gained impetus. We have been deliberate participants in these transition-cycles, with the result that today we find ourselves intricately and obscurely enmeshed — self entangled in a net of universal causation. We have forgotten the preceding scenes in which the plot took shape, but we know only too well the frustration which we are faced with now, when, yearning to be, we are checked by our unevolved selves.
1. From Storm by C. Henry Warren. (return to text)
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