Theosophical University Press Online Edition
(Lecture delivered February 23, 1930)
I bring a message to you on every Sunday afternoon, a message of peace and of rest and of hope and of joy; a message which must appeal to the heart of every thinking human being, for it is in no wise based upon human dogmas nor upon the opinions of any sectarian body of thinkers, but represents the essentials of a great and splendorous system of truth translated into human language by the great seers and sages of the ages past. It deals with the most recondite mysteries of the universe, this message does. It deals with the why and the wherefore and the how of manifested being, and therefore also of men: why they are, and what they are, and why men are here; and it shows why some men almost resemble incarnate gods on earth, and why some other men play such antics, such pranks, on the stage of life, as suffices even to make the very angels weep.
Man is an inseparable part of the universe in which he lives. There is, between his roots and the roots of the universe, no separation whatsoever, no distance between them. The same universal life flows through all things that are. The same stream of consciousness which flows in the mighty whole and through the mighty whole of the universe, flows therefore through man, an inseparable portion of that universe. This means, of course, if you think just for a moment, that there is a pathway by which, or along which, in treading which, you may come into intimate relation with the heart of the universe itself; and that pathway is you, your own inner being, your own inner nature, your spiritual self. Not the self of ordinary physical man, which self is just a poor reflection of the spiritual brilliance within, but that inner self of pure consciousness, pure love for all that is, unstained by any earthly taint — your spiritual being.
For the inmost of the inmost of you is a god, a living divinity; and from this divine source there flow downwards into your human mentality all the things that make men great, all the things that give rise to love and mighty hope and inspiration and aspiration, and noblest of all, self-sacrifice. For all things are rooted in the divine, in the universal life-consciousness or consciousness-life. You, each one of you men and women, is an incarnation of a divinity, each one being the representation on earth of his own inner god — not that you are gods, which is an absurdity, but you represent on our own physical sphere as much of the divine essence streaming through your being as your evolution permits you to manifest.
That is why we have great men among us, men not only of the present, and the great ones of the past, but also they who will appear in the future: the great seers and sages, the great philosophers, the great leaders of men, the great thinkers, those who have swayed the hearts of multitudes, and have captured their minds with the majesty and splendor of true thought. All comes from within, and each one of you is, therefore, an imperfect incarnation of such a spiritual-divine being, or divine-spiritual being, which is your own inner god.
Go through the streets of our great cities, examine the men and women whom you will see, and, do you know, there are times — and I say this in all kindliness — when I feel that the Darwinists have some justification on the surface of things for their otherwise wholly mistaken theory, because, alas, too many human faces express ape-attributes and monkey-thoughts, rather than the grandeur of true spiritual humanity.
Nevertheless, there is not one drop of ape or simian blood in human veins. No ape ever was the ancestor of our noble race, of our humanity. Human beings are the only race of entities on the earth which thinks high and noble thoughts, which aspires towards divine things, which gives birth to world-stirring ideas, and which understands what almighty love, compassion, pity, self-forgetfulness, and self-sacrifice are. These are all inflowings from the god within, the god within each one of you.
I spoke in similar vein a week or two agone, and a very kindly and faithfully truthful little report appeared next morning in one of our San Diego papers, The San Diego Union. Some kind friend saw this report of what I had said, clipped it out, and sent it in to me, with the note that I shall now read to you. The report was headed "Every Person is Incarnate God, Claim" — American journalese style. Here is the comment:
Yes, "every person is an incarnate God." Should any one doubt it, he has but to peruse the pages of history, particularly of the years 1914 to 1918, and recall the tragic record of slaughter and carnage: of the broken bodies of survivors; of millions of widows and orphans; of the slavery of those upon whose bent shoulders the financial burden of war falls — and unhesitatingly indorse the statement that "men are incarnate gods." But we have strayed so far from the godhead that we are a rather bedraggled, hopeless, pathetic-looking coterie of gods.
"Let us seek out some desolate shade and there weep our sad bosoms empty."
Even birds, beasts, and fishes, hurry away, terror- if not horror-stricken at our approach. They know!
Yes, alas, they do know! Men know it too; for I tell you in all truthfulness that no beast can be so beastly as a human being who prostitutes the divinity within him to ignoble, material uses; for in so doing he uses his innate godlike intelligence, his innate willpower, his discrimination and insight. Yes, men are a poor manifestation of incarnate gods, because men are fallen gods, fallen from their high estate. Nevertheless, they are manifestations of incarnate divinities — using the word incarnate here in a relative sense of course.
All that this kind-hearted friend, whose heart bleeds with the truth of what he so tragically writes — all that he says is true. Take it to heart; realize facts, and do not let your minds be swayed by propaganda of any kind. Hold fast to the truth. Test that which is good; give up never that which appeals to the soul of you; and even though your judgment may at times be at fault, even though your mind may be swayed at times by prejudices unknown to yourself, nevertheless this exercise of willing discrimination gives you strength, for it exercises the faculties and powers of your mind.
What this kind-hearted friend says is true, but it is not a real argument against the other truth. In fact it proves the other truth, for no inferior thing could do what man does. It is man's willful and willing prostitution of his divine gifts which produces the horrors of the world. Imperfectly manifesting gods misusing powers — that is the truth of it; and sometimes so that the very beasts are afraid of us, hurry away from us in terror. What a commentary on us humans!
Men spend their time on things of small importance — all except the enlightened few; and they, the very salt of the earth, spend their time in raising the spiritual and intellectual level of the race. These last are the leaders of men, the true leaders; they are the ones who manifest the innate powers of the indwelling divinity.
I now take up the first question of those that I have before me: I might say here that I try to answer these questions in the order in which I receive them, and I make a rule of doing so; but occasionally a question comes in with an urgent mark on it, asking me to answer it surely on next Sunday afternoon, possibly on account of some friend who is going to New York or to San Francisco, or for some other good reason; and I try to acquiesce in such a request. Here are two such questions — two questions with the same urgent request. The first one is:
"Does the karmic law operate on the spiritual plane?"
I take it for granted that most of you know this theosophical phrase "the karmic law," the law of karma, the law of consequences, that is, the law of cause and effect: that what ye sow ye shall reap inevitably, that what ye think ye become; that what ye strive for and long for, ye shall obtain sooner or later; that if ye sow tares, tares ye will reap; for such is nature's inevitable process.
Here is the question: I will read it again:
"Does the karmic law operate on the spiritual plane?"
If the question is asked from the standpoint of the human being, then the answer is No. If the question is asked from the standpoint of universal being, then the answer is Yes. Karma exists; the law of adjustment, the law of consequences, the rule that effect follows cause, prevails inevitably throughout the boundless universe, and on all planes, high and low, within and without.
But so far as any one hierarchy on the ladder of life is concerned — that is, any one range of life, from the spiritual to the material — then the answer is No, for this reason: What we call human karma is karma or consequences or effects brought about by our ignorance, our ignorance of natural law, our ignorance of our own being. Once you learn, once you have truth, once you allow truth to flow through your being, then you act in accordance with natural truth; you act with the law of nature; you act in accordance with nature's processes; you then are a collaborator and co-operator with the gods who oversee and control the universe. And being such a collaborator and cooperator, all the seeds that ye sow in thought and in action are in accordance with nature's law, and ye then reap spiritual things; ye reap peace and happiness, because ye have sown them; and peace and happiness are the very nature of the spiritual world. Consequently, being identic with nature, you do not destroy the equilibrium of the sphere in which you then are; and we can say that you have risen above the karma of your sphere.
This is a technical theosophical question. In the philosophies of the far Orient, you will sometimes find it stated: When a man reaches spiritual perception and wisdom, he rises above the action of the karmic law; he rises above, in other words, the action of the laws of natural equilibrium or readjustment, acting for the restoration of harmony in nature, which evil acts interrupt and change.
Such is the explanation of the former part of the question to which I have just alluded. When you act in accordance with your spiritual being, with the laws of your spiritual being, then you act in accordance with the source of the harmony of the spheres to which you belong; and karma ceases to operate against you.
Nevertheless, while this is a fact, there is a higher kind of karma which operates or belongs to even the divine planes of life, the planes where the gods are and live; and thus even they have karma, according to and appropriate to their own spheres, acting and reacting according to their lives and acts. They, too, therefore, reap consequences in accordance with this higher karma.
Therefore I say again: In the general sense, in the cosmic sense, in the universal meaning, the answer is: Yes. The law of karma in this general sense operates everywhere.
The second question is:
"What relation exists between karma and the law of compassion?"
This is a new one to me. I have never heard of a law of compassion, except as a metaphorical expression. Compassion is not a law. Compassion is the very nature and fabric of the structure of the universe itself, the characteristic of its being, for compassion means "feeling with," and the universe is an organism, a vast and mighty organism, an organism without bounds, which might otherwise be called universal life-consciousness. Its very nature, the very structure of it, is that every part feels what every other part undergoes; and this, in its higher reaches and when expressing itself in human hearts, men call compassion. You can speak of the law of compassion only in the same sense in which you may speak of the law of squares.
Now, what relation is there between that operation of nature which men call karma — the adjustment of broken equilibrium, the repaying what you have done — and the 'law' so called of compassion: that operation of nature's own heart, which is compassion, its intrinsic quality? My answer is that the twain are one: two sides of the same thing. Karma is rooted in harmony. Compassion is rooted in love. And harmony and love are fundamentally the same.
If your hearts have ever been swayed by the workings of almighty love, your hearts will interpret to you all I could say, and a thousand times better than I could say it, for the messages will come to you from the inner fora of your own being as the whisperings of the spirit within you, the whisperings of the love at the core of your being.
I will leave the matter here. Just take the thought. Words fail in attempting to describe so sublime a thing; and therefore let the voice of the silence steal into your heart with its own answer to this question.
The next question is:
"To what do you ascribe the present trend of college students towards materialism? Is it a revolt against rapidly decaying dogmas? How long will that trend last?"
Why blame everything on the poor old churches? They have enough to carry as it is. Make their burden a little lighter whenever you can. No! I don't think that the past trend of college students towards materialistic thought was based upon the influence of decaying dogmas, but upon scientific dogmas which have already been forgotten — forgotten, discarded! — the ideas of our fathers once preached as gospels of natural truth by the scientific luminaries of our fathers' days — forgotten, but the influence of which yet remains in the textbooks — those teachings which set forth that man is nothing but an animated machine at best, a higher kind of beast — an echo of those days when the very thought that there lived within the heart of man, or within his mind, some surviving entity was taboo and was taken to be a mark of superstition. Those were the days when any philosophy of idealism was considered to be the mark of a feeble mind. Oh, what insane folly! What insane folly!
Today we have ultramodern scientists, the greatest among them, teaching idealism in order to explain the very fabric even of the material universe. The old Darwinistic theories have gone; but the echoes of them still are in the textbooks. That is where the present materialistic trend of the students in our universities originated, and it was suggested by those old scientific books, those old scientific, dogmatic fads. I am speaking strong language, because I know what I am talking about. I have looked into the question, and have studied it. I challenge you to look into the question and see if I am not telling you the truth.
When our modern scientific luminaries talk about the fabric of the universe as being a fabric of consciousness, thereby echoing the teachings of the age-old wisdom-religion, today called theosophy, and the idealistic philosophies of all times, you see how the thoughts of men have changed and how the scientific materialism of our fathers is dead.
"How long will the trend towards materialism of our students in the schools and universities last?" I don't exactly know; but I don't think that it will be for long. I see signs already of a new spirit: a new wine of the spirit, which is bursting by its natural ferment the old bottles of the textbooks into which they tried to put it; and in a little while these old bottles will be bursted; and then, if I am a good guesser, if I see aright, you will see this younger generation become a nation of idealists, become a people, a race, of idealists, teaching idealistic doctrines. May the immortal gods hasten the day!
I tell you that our Theosophical Society has not been working for more than half a century in vain; and I will tell you why I make this statement. Because ultramodern scientific luminaries are today teaching doctrines regarding the explanations of the universe and of man (in other words of course), nevertheless the doctrines, the essential philosophical points, that we have been proclaiming on the public platform and writing about in our theosophical books since our Society was founded in 1875. Sometimes these great modern scientists use our very phrases.
Now, I do not say this out of theosophical pride. I do not wish to set our Theosophical teachers on pedestals, not at all. But I am telling you this in corroboration of other statements that I have made to you: that in the ancient wisdom of mankind today called theosophy, you will find a true explanation of the universe and of man. You will find truth.
Here is a question of somewhat the same type:
"Why does the average moving picture give beautifully false concepts of life? Is it because that is what its patrons want?"
It would be very easy to say Yes; but I don't think so. I do not think the cinematographic theater purveys, gives, to the public what the public wants. I think the people behind the movies have made and are still making a capital psychological mistake. The mere receipts in dollars is no proof, because in our days so hungry is the heart of man and so common is the belief that people cannot find truth that they will go anywhere in order to forget themselves, in order to forget their worries. They would go to the devil if they knew how, and sometimes they do!
Look at the beautiful things that real drama occasionally gives to the public, and in these cases you will find the theaters packed. Now, that is a proof of what I say! I verily believe that if the movies showed pictures in any wise like the beautiful pictures that they could show, the receipts at the ticket offices would be doubled, trebled perhaps. The movie houses would be packed, and packed with the best people. I verily believe it.
Anything will succeed in these days that will enable our poor men and women just to forget themselves, to forget their worries, and to forget their troubles: above everything else to forget themselves. Is it not pitiful? Therefore I keep telling you, and I repeat it on every Sunday when I speak here: O men and women, if you knew what is within you! If you knew how (and it is so easy) to follow this pathway of consciousness inwards and ever more inwards — this pathway of consciousness leading to the very heart of the universe — you would realize that there are adventures, real adventures, grand, splendid adventures, of the pilgrims of truth, like nothing that has ever been given to you in fiction.
It is possible for a man to explore his own inner consciousness, to go within, to realize all that lies behind the outward veils, behind the outward seeming; to go within, which is the same as behind, these veils, and thus reach reality. One who knows how to do this can send his consciousness to other planets (and I mean this, literally); he can explore the abysses of our majestic solar orb; he can pass outward to the brilliant stars; and grander still, he can go into the invisible worlds, which are the roots of the physical universe; for the physical universe is but the outer garment of these inner and invisible realms.
He can go to these inner worlds, and become familiar and friendly with the hosts of living beings therein living on their own globes and orbs of life: the inhabitants of mansions of splendor, yea, and of other mansions which are more material than our own. He can pass inwards along the stream of consciousness flowing through him, which is he himself, until finally he can confabulate with the gods who are the governors and overseers of our own home-universe.
I mean this literally, and I know whereof I speak; and any other man or woman who is devoted to truth and wills to succeed at any cost, and who is ready to cast aside lower and more ignoble things, can experience this revelation too, if he or she will. I mean exactly what I tell you, and I tell you truth; and as Leader of The Theosophical Society, I will tell you this much more: that if you want to begin the greatest adventure that life holds, which is the adventure of life and death — knowing the secrets of being — come, knock, and the doors of truth shall be opened unto you.
Here is another question:
"Please explain forgiveness as between man and man. In the application of forgiveness between one human and another, it appears difficult to keep it from becoming forbearance, or the condoning of the offense or weakness of another, or a cloak of humility — as for instance in family life where one member, from a sense of duty or habit allows himself to be imposed upon to an extreme degree, thinking that this is a part of the act of forgiveness. Often the result is a lowered morality of all parties. How can this be avoided?"
But this is not forgiveness at all. It is merely being weak. You do not forgive a man if you allow him to impose upon you. You become a party to the same moral crime, and you are thereby helping him on the downward path. This does not mean that you should be cruel in resentment, or that you should hate. Not at all. It merely means: do not permit wrong to be done to anyone else, nor to yourself, and prevent it, if necessary, with violence — not physical violence, but, to use the figure of the Christian scripture, that violence which taketh the portal of heaven by storm. It is the violence of a loving heart.
Love, love is a mighty force. There is no heart so stony, so adamantine, that it will not give way ultimately under the influence of a steady flowing love directed by a wise intelligence. For love steals into the heart and mind, and works magic there. I had liefer suffer a thousand things, than give another pain. But it would be wrong in me to permit, tacitly, quietly, from a mistaken sense of duty, another to do wrong if I could prevent it.
Forgiveness is something else than what the questioner supposes. You have been wronged, let us say. Which of twain will ye do: nourish resentment, cultivate hatred, abide the time when you may pay back in the same coin, thereby increasing the trouble and heart-agony of the world by double, by twice; or will you say: No, come to me. I myself have laid the way open for this, for I myself in the past have brought this pain upon me. I will forgive. Unhappy man who harms me! I will forgive him.
The idea I have in mind is true forgiveness, but it does not mean the allowing of a wrong to be done, either upon yourself or upon others. That should be stopped, for if you permit it, then there are two wrongdoers: the wrongdoer and you. You become accomplices and conspirators in evildoing. Check it. Check it with your own example; check it with your forgiveness; check it with your love; check it by refusing to be a participant. Set an example!
You little know human beings if any one of you, man or woman here, thinks that the rule won't work. Never mind the get-rich-quick spirit — supposing that you can change a man's heart over night! That is a totally wrong idea, and it is a foregone conclusion that if you have it you will fail. That is not my idea. My idea is to forgive; to love.
And I tell you that it is part of my message to my fellowman, and will be as long as I am Leader of The Theosophical Society: to teach them to learn to forgive and to learn to love. Both are manly efforts. Both are high-spirited, and both require strength of character. Both require real manhood, real discrimination, and intellectual power.
Learn to love — but not sentimentally. Do not be mushy; but let your heart expand with the feeling of your common humanity, and you will very soon understand the message of all the great seers and sages of the ages, such as that of Jesus, as he expressed it, addressing his own inner god — not an outer god — but his own inner spiritual being: Father — his own inner self — forgive them; they know not what they do!
I tell you that the evildoer does not know what he is doing. He is blind. He is weak. Therefore see and be strong. Learn the mighty, the magical, power of love, and of a forgiving heart. It is your duty as men to do this. It is your joy as women. Forgiveness is the refusing to bear resentment, to nourish a grudge, to cultivate hatred; and forgiveness means also to clean your own heart of these vile and degrading impulses. Be strong. Be men. If any one of you thinks that it is an easy task, then go to it. You will have your hands full; but, immortal gods! the rewards for doing it are wondrous beyond human speech to tell; for, among other things, you will gain peace, you will have happiness, you will have the sense of duty well done; and last but not least, you gain incomparably in self-respect. Your heart fills with the glory of almighty love, and thereby you become truly a man!
"Jeans the astronomer says if the universe could be explained to us accurately, it would be more incomprehensible to us than it is now, as though you explained the differential calculus to a hop-toad. — The San Diego Union, February 12, 1930
"Question: Are there any short cuts in the development of comprehension?"
Didn't I say a little something a few moments ago about the get-rich-quick spirit. Here it is again! Everybody wants a short cut and to be shown an easy way. But I can tell you that to know how to take short cuts is knowing something! Comprehension itself is a short cut. If you don't comprehend a thing, you have the long road of learning about it.
But let me tell you what short cuts, so far as human consciousness is concerned, are: short cuts in consciousness are the things that you have gained, learned. Before you have gained them, you have to learn them. Once you have learned them, they become easy, automatic: short cuts, the easy way, in the real sense, in the best sense.
Nevertheless, despite what I have just said, there are in fact in evolution certain short cuts or quick methods of attaining proper results. It is possible to shorten the long, long time that the average human being takes in making the journey of evolution. This shortening of the time period occurs when a man is initiated; and I use the word in the old, mystical sense of the Greeks, of the Greek mysteries of antiquity.
Evolution, as theosophists teach it, and as it is in nature herself, evolution is the bringing out of what is within: the unrolling, the unwrapping, the unfolding, through development, through growth, of what the evolving entity has locked up in the core of its own being. How can it become anything except what it is within? Isn't it obvious? Now, evolution and growth are two words signifying the same thing.
There is a way to stimulate evolution, to stimulate growth, therefore a short cut to comprehension, to higher things. It is through initiation, and there are many kinds of initiation. Some are very difficult indeed, such as only the greatest and strongest men can take, for the road is thorny and beset with pitfalls, simply because we human beings are weak; we are growing; we are not yet fully developed; but there are other initiations which are much easier, and which nevertheless, while they do not produce the great fruits in the increase of consciousness, in the gaining of comprehension, that the great initiations do, nevertheless are very helpful.
Shall I tell you what these easier initiations are? All the great seers and sages of the ages have told you one, and it is the best and it leads ultimately to the greatest of initiations. It is as follows: Look within! Man, know thyself, for thy self is a divine being, rooted in the universe of which the human being is an extension, so to speak. Therefore, by looking within, by following the roots of your own inner spiritual being ever more inwards and upwards, you come to understand naturally the mysteries of Mother Nature. It is a great and wonderful adventure. Every man is capable of doing this, and therefore you can do it. You can begin to do it. You can gain wonderfully just by cultivating a few simple rules of mental and practical conduct.
Be kindly; refuse to hate. Learn to love; learn to forgive. Let your heart expand. Be yourself, and expand your sympathies; touch with the tendrils of your consciousness the hearts of other human beings. Oh, what delight to feel, as it were, the inner and electrical quiver that your own soul experiences when you have touched the heart of a fellow human being! Practicing these rules of morals and of noble ethics, you begin a short cut to a comprehension of yourself, and ultimately you touch the mysteries of the universe. These words are solemn truth.
Now, I do not know that I believe that Dr. Jeans is right. It is easy enough to say that the mysteries of astronomy today are so great that to explain them to the average man would be like trying to explain the differential calculus to a hoptoad. I don't share the opinion. I know the human heart, and I tell you that I have found sometimes, in the most unpromising human material as it appears on the surface, great things, great possibilities. No one knows what is in the heart of a fellow human being until he searches therein.
Do you mean to say that the average man or woman cannot understand and feel that the universe is an organism? That it is filled with life, with bright and flaming intelligences which keep things in order? Do you mean to say that the average human being cannot understand that he is an inseparable part of the universe in which he lives, and that there is just one thing which he cannot do, and that is to go outside of it, for there is no outside? Do you mean to say that the average human being cannot understand that the nebulae in space are the beginnings of future worlds — in other words the manifestation on the physical plane of the striving towards self-expression of a reimbodying cosmic entity? Of course he can. But some of these scientists are so mentally wrapped up in mathematical formulae that they think that mathematical formulae are the all, the be-all and the end-all, of truth.
Now, I am not denigrating or decrying the use of mathematics at all. Mathematics are one of the most valuable instruments of thought that we have. But they are an instrument. The way to understand things is in your consciousness, and every human being is conscious and can understand, by developing and striving to develop this consciousness in his heart. It is a most fascinating thing to do. It itself is a wonderful adventure.
A great mystery is a human being. There is infinity in his heart of hearts. Man is a child of eternity, and eternity is in the very structure of the consciousness of his being. Man is an incarnate god, albeit a fallen god, misusing his powers; nevertheless by that fact can he rise again, and will rise again; and every normal human being must know, if he studies himself, that in his consciousness there is a beaming light, a star of glory, and that he can follow this light to ever greater expansions of splendor, for the entire universe is his playground, is the stage of his adventure, which is cosmic life; and as a pilgrim passing from the eternity of the past into the eternity of the future, he plays many parts on the stage of life. A quondam god; at the present time a man; in the future to be a self-conscious god walking this earth; and then manifesting in fullness, no longer as at present imperfectly, but then in fullness, the divine attributes of his own heart of hearts, the god within him.
Ye are gods. I say unto each one of you: Be it!
Vol 1, No 37