The votaries of Religions that preach salvation only through the acceptance of their dogmas must inevitably be more or less animated by the proselytising spirit, and the more pretentious the claims of power to save by the inculcation of orthodox opinion, the more urgent must appear the necessity to spread those opinions as widely as possible. Indeed it seems imperative on one who holds such a faith in his heart of hearts, that he should spend his life in trying to spread it.
But when the true philosophic thought is attained and the law of Karma with its infinite ramifications realized as the all prevading power, how vain will seem all attempts to control or even deeply affect the destiny of others. Truly Occultism teaches the widest tolerance, and though its student will doubtless as formerly try to influence all who are brought into contact with him in his journey through life, and if possible instil into them the thoughts that actuate him and give his life a definite purpose, yet will he realize that over his own life alone has he paramount power. He may exercise his wordly wisdom as the sower of seed, may avoid what is most patently the rocky or the thorny ground, but he will gradually learn to cease to look for results from even the most promising, and will rise more and more on the wings of devotion to the true giver of the increase.
While therefore it is a subject for satisfaction if the Theosophical Society should indeed prove to be the dawn of that better hope for mankind the nucleus of that Universal Brotherhood which shall overspread all lands, and which shall plant in the hearts of men the Science-Religion along whose lines will move the spiritual progress of all future Humanity, yet as a Society it can scarcely be expected to be free from the imperfections inherent in all organization, which being of the earth is necessarily earthly — and after all it is a matter of very small moment in what form truth is given to the world. This only is certain that truth must advance that no man can stay the wheel of evolution — that the Divine Wisdom which we believe animates us will one day be recognized by all mankind as the only solution of the problem of the Universe, and as the guide to Life Eternal.
And Destiny will not be hurried — spite of our impatience — any more than she can be retarded. The evil Karma of the World must work itself out. The unclean man let him be unclean still, let him measure every depth of vice and taste of every spring of passion till the hour strikes for him also and his painful upward progress has to begin. So have the Rishis done who went before us, so have we done in past existences, indeed we may have but extricated ourselves from the slough, and the mire may still be clinging to our feet. For no man can transcend experience, and all earthly places, foul and clean alike, must be trodden by him. Nor when the words or acts of others come into direct antagonism with our own personality, any more than when the cruelty and injustice in the world at large are brought painfully before us, shall we continue to blame the actors, or allow the old prejudices "with their lurid colourings of passion" to dominate us any longer, for the true philosophic thought will have taught us to recognize that all acts are but the result of the "Three Qualities" blended in infinite combination — the great Karma of the World working itself out.
The deeper one looks into this Western Civilization of ours, and the more one realizes in what degrading depths its masses are sunk, in what heartless frivolity so many of the more opulent spend their lives, and in what superstitious intolerance its so-called Religious World moves, it seems indeed a forlorn hope to attempt to carry conviction of the Occult Truth or expect a wide-spread acceptance of it. But though this age of Darkness may exhibit an appalling depth of materiality, yet in all ages of the world, the blind multitude are many and the lovers of Wisdom few. And indeed this love of Wisdom is no light attainment, but one for which the soul has been educated through life times of experience and paroxysms of pain, for while the gratification of any of the senses still continues to give supreme satisfaction, there is no room in the soul for Theosophic thought. Not until by the slow education of repeated experience it is realized that the senses can no longer satisfy, that even the higher joys of communion with ones kind — though culminating in the ideal union of two souls — are but steps in the ladder to the Supreme Thought, can any true idea of the Divine Wisdom have been formed. Indeed a time will come for the student when the gratification of the senses will actually cause pain. It may be ushered in for one through the sense of sight, when the most beautiful scenery of earth, and the most perfect combinations of mountain wood and water only accentuate by their faint reflex the passionate desire for that land which no eye hath seen, that land which no eye can see. Or the symphonies of earthly music which once enthralled the soul may raise the longing for the song of the celestial choir to that ecstatic point where it becomes unrecognisable from pain. And so the student is driven inward to find at last his refuge in pure Thought, and he begins to perceive that the Eternal World of ideas is the only real World, the only one in which pure Being is to be found, and that this phenomenal existence is indeed but the circling of the nets of delusion, the restless, tossing of the false salt waves of sense which reward "with droughts that double thirst" the deluded souls that float on them.
The more the student lives in this ideal world, the more will he find that the association with those whose interests are exclusively centred on earthly things becomes repugnant to him, and that even the calls of duty to descend from the tranquil heights of Thought, to the jarring discord of action in the world, are responded to with increasing pain, though duty in such cases is likely to be in process of changing her sphere of action. When the inner struggles of one still bound by ties of earth suggest such thoughts as these, surely the isolation from contact with the rude world of the most spiritual men, those who have achieved the sublime heights of Mahatmaship, is no longer a thing to wonder at, but becomes apparent as an absolute necessity.
The desires above referred to of seeing the invisible, and realizing the divine, will probably if practised continuously enough, and with sufficient intensity, be the prelude to some partial lifting of the veil, when the ecstatic may reap in a moment of beatific vision more than he ever dreamed of, and receive accretion of strength for the coming years, though this is more likely to be the immediate reward of some supreme self-devotion whether in act or thought, and when the words of Krishna, "near to renunciation — very near — dwelleth eternal peace" will flash upon the soul as truth that requires no word of mortal man to give it authority.
But woe to the man who unduly cultivates his spiritual faculties without being a complete master of his lower nature — the beast below will turn and rend him some day — the little bit of lust unconquered may be the means of his complete undoing. For as his astral consciousness develops, his whole being intensifies, including the small unconquered part of his physical nature, which he will then have to fight upon the Astral plane, in far more terrible struggle than had he conquered on the physical. It becomes in fact what is symbolically known as the "Dweller on the threshold" that has to be fought and conquered before the neophyte can aspire to gain the first glimmering of vision on the true spiritual plane. For it must always be remembered that our nature is threefold, "body, soul and spirit" as the initiate St. Paul expressed it, and until the personality has transferred all its forces unto the soul plane, it cannot expect to attain to that of spirit. From this it will be evident how necessary it is to live more and more continuously in the Eternal Thought until all fleshly appetites and desires of sense die off by sheer inanition.
The vague dreams with which life began, and which the child with memories fresh from "that imperial palace whence he came" pictured in a material way of a golden city with walls of jasper and with gates of pearl, and into which no unclean thing was permitted to enter, are lost for a while in the frenzied rush of youth and early manhood, but maturer years bring them back with an added pathos and a more spiritualized meaning. It is indeed the Golden city we all seek for — "the city that hath foundations whose builder and whose maker is God."
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