Questions We All Ask by G. de Purucker
Theosophical University Press Online Edition

No. 42 (July 15, 1930)

QUESTIONS WE ALL ASK

(Lecture delivered April 6, 1930)

I see familiar faces on every Sunday afternoon when I speak here. I like to see the friendly gleam of recognition in the eyes of those to whom I speak; for, as I have told you, friends — and I tell you this on every Sunday when I have the pleasure to speak to you — I am a man with a message for you, something to give to you, something that is worthwhile; and if I don't succeed in conveying it to you, the fault is my own; but I nevertheless feel that I have done my best. And furthermore, the message that I have to give to you is not what we theosophists call a brain-mind formulation of other men's theories and beliefs. It is not something that you are bound to accept because I tell you so, or because The Theosophical Society teaches it; nor is it something that is taken out of encyclopedias; nor, again, something that is the fruit of thought when burning the midnight oil.

It is a message conveying to mankind something of the truths of the wisdom-religion, that formulation in human tongues of what the great seers and sages of the ages have seen behind the veils of the outward seeming; and they have seen it, because they have been able to send their percipient selves behind this outward veil and have brought back to men an interpretation of nature's structure, operations, and fundamental causes. Therefore is it that the message which these great sages and seers have formulated in human tongues, is worthwhile hearing.

We have no dogmas in The Theosophical Society. To join us you do not have to believe anything that is repugnant either to heart or to mind. You have merely to accept honestly and earnestly the only prerequisite to membership that we have, and that is an honest and earnest belief in universal brotherhood, the fundamental spiritual unity of all that is. Our message, my message, the message of my great predecessors, is an earnest one. It is one well worth listening to. We tell you also that not one of the great religions or great philosophies to which human genius, the human spirit, has given birth, lacks somewhat of the fundamental truth which is the very basis of the universe in its spiritual and psychological realms. Every one of them has, as its foundation, a part, a portion, of this sublime reality.

But you Occidentals — and I constantly repeat this, because part of my duty is to awaken you — take your opinions on faith; you take your opinions on belief. You don't really think; and to make you think is a part of the sublime message which I have to communicate to you. I want to awaken you; I want to awaken you to the reality of what you have within you, to the realization not merely of a brain-mind belief, but that the core of the core of your being, the heart of the heart of you, is a divine entity, an inner god. The mystical Christians of the present day speak of this as the immanent Christ, and the Orientals from time out of mind have given to the same truth other names. I love to call it the inner Buddha, because that word to me expresses neatly, aptly, fully, just what this inner and sublime entity is.

Every one of you is a god in the core of the core of your being. Ye are gods, is the teaching of the Christian scripture, the Christian New Testament; and it is true. How this beautiful saying has been obscured through the ages, and how the minds of Occidental men and women have been diverted from the glorious truth taught by the great Syrian sage, Jesus, to the brain-mind lucubrations of theologians, called the theology of Christendom!

Return to Jesus if you want to be a Christian — not to the Jesus of the churches, but to the great sage and seer, the illuminated and titanic spiritual energy which worked through that god-man, or man-god. And he was not the only one of such outstanding spiritual grandeur. The records, the annals, of history, are filled with the teachings of other men as great as he, all of them incarnate deities or gods — but not God in the ordinary sense.

Now, I am not a Christian. I am a theosophist, and consequently I have sympathy for beauty wherever beauty lies, especially inner beauty. I have understanding of splendor wherever I see it; and my heart throbs in sympathy and kindly feeling when I sense spiritual splendor in the religions and philosophical teachings of other men, of other races.

Naturally the inner part of me is a divine being, as the inner part of each one of you is; and in proportion as man can evolve forth, bring forth, the divine essence of himself, does he see divinity in his fellows, and does he recognize the common brotherhood of mankind, and does he see beauty and splendor. Love sways his heart. It is dogmas, it is opinions, that have separated men; and theosophists recall you to the primal truths of spiritual being.

Never mind what religion your fellows may profess: turn to radicals, to essentials. I am neither a Christian, nor a Buddhist, nor a Mohammedan, nor a Brahmanist; I am a theosophist, a searcher for truth — and one who to a certain extent has found truth. My soul is anhungered for truth and for more truth; and oh, what illumination have I not received since the doors of my heart were opened! I feel my kinship with the gods who infill the universe -=- with the cosmic spirits, bright and flaming intelligences, call them by what name you will, for the name matters nothing at all.

Therefore do not be frightened, do not be afraid, because I use the good old term gods — because that is what they are. A clever English — no, pardon, a clever writer from old Ireland, said some time ago: Our ancestors were afraid of ghosts; but we are afraid of names. Are you going to be afraid of a name? It is thinkers who rule the world. The divine Plato was right: it is ideas that rule men. It is ideas that make and unmake civilizations and that shake men's hearts.

Show to any man, I do not care where he stands — demigod or demi-beast according to the life which he lives — show him beauty, show him truth, show him inner splendor, show him intellectual and spiritual strength; and you have caught him. I am a fisher of men; I am fishing for men's souls. That is my sublime purpose, and I am happy when I hook them. Yet not I, indeed, for I am but the human instrument; but the sublime message which I bring to you from the great sages and seers of mankind is the hook and the bait. It is this message which is the bait that I offer to you; and oh, how blind you are if you don't take it! You prefer the prison of the sense house, you prefer the darkness of ignorance, you prefer sleep, death, you prefer to have your intellects stultified, because, forsooth, you are afraid to give yourself even to truth.

There are some people who do not like to move, either intellectually or spiritually. Their souls are crystallized hard, and set around the aspiring spirit within them; and I am going to smash that crystallization if I can. I want to bring to you light and help, to give to you light without price — yet indeed not my light. That would be worthless to you; nor is the light that I bring the light of any body of men, but is the everlasting truths of natural being; and the first lesson is that you have unknown powers and faculties within you. Awaken!

How do you receive truth? From outside? Or from within? Where is your understanding? Outside? Or within? Where is your heart? Outside? Or within you? Look within. "Man, know thyself," said the old Delphic oracle of archaic Greece; for in you lie all the mysterious powers, faculties, energies, of the universe, mostly latent in you. A few, a very few, of these faculties and energies have received in men a small modicum of development, are slightly evolved; and these few qualities you know by the names of intelligence, understanding, love, compassion, pity, brotherly feeling, kindness. You can develop all these to the nth degree. You can become as gods walking the earth, for each one of you in the inmost of the inmost of his being is a god. You are kin to the gods who control, guide, and rule the universe, and who provide the vast and bewildering diversity which we see around us.

All nature is conscious. There is not a mathematical point which has not its own part of consciousness, which is not an inseparable part of the divine essence.

Friends, waken, for you sleep! You are what Pythagoras, the great Greek sage and seer, called the living dead — living in your bodies, yet dead to all that is worthwhile. There is, or there was, a humorous American poet who wrote of this type of man — and I am going to read to you a few lines of his writing, and I want you to see the application to those people who prefer the sleep of indifference, of ignorance, and who are too lazy to think, too lazy to awaken themselves, too lazy to be men. They are like the insensate stone.

I wish I were a little rock
A-settin' on a hill,
A-doin' nothing all the day
But jest a-settin' still.
I wouldn't eat,
I wouldn't sleep,
I wouldn't even wash —
I'd jest set still a thousand years
And rest myself, by gosh!

Now, do you want to be such? I think that stones are softer than some human hearts that I have known; and I think that some human brains are more rigid and crystallized than any steel I have ever seen. The hardest thing in the world, the most adamantine, is the human heart when it is perverse, when it won't awaken, when it won't receive truth, when it is self-satisfied that it has all the truth and that nothing more can be told to it. Such a case is hopeless, just hopeless, at least for the time being; and such a self-satisfied heart will have to go through the ages, through incarnation after incarnation in a human body, until the blows of experience crack the shell of the lower selfhood and then the Christ-light from above will enter in from the inner god.

I am here to answer questions. I can see by your faces that I have already answered many an unspoken question. There are unspoken questions, and these are the questions which touch me most deeply. I know something of the suffering that a human heart can undergo. I know what pain is; I know somewhat of these things, and I have more sympathy with the unspoken questions that I feel in the atmosphere sometimes, than I have even with the questions written and sent in to me to answer here from this platform, because a human being in his feelings is honest and in his words is often dishonest. Talleyrand, the French diplomat, told the truth. "Gentlemen," he said, "words are most excellent cloaks with which to disguise our thoughts," — preaching a gospel of deceit! Isn't it lovely, that men cannot meet on a common ground of trust!

In this connection, I will tell you something that I myself have found in life. The honest man is far more difficult to deceive than is the professional trickster. You cannot blind the eyes of love. They are clairvoyant and penetrate even stony human hearts.

Here is the first question sent in to me for answer:

As you are glad to receive any thoughtful questions, I would like to know if there is any difference in the teaching of theosophy and Sufiism taught by the late Inayat Khan of India?

I do not know the teachings of this Sufi mystic. I think that he is a Mohammedan, for the name shows it; and the Sufis are Mohammedan mystics. Sufiism is the theosophy of Mohammedan doctrine, and imbodies teachings which did not originate with the Arabian prophet, so called, but which were brought into his religion, that is, came into Mohammedanism, after and a long time after, the Arabian prophet died; and, furthermore, came into Mohammedanism from outside its own sphere, from ancient Persian thought, for there are in every race of people, springs, wells, fountains, of mystic human thought and feeling.

I told you a little while ago that there is theosophy at the bottom, forming the fundamental and the groundwork, of every great world religion and world philosophy; and this foundation in every instance has somewhat, usually in fairly large degree, of our theosophical doctrines. Similarly is it so in the rigid, iron-clad, dogmatic — and I wish to be kindly, although I am simply stating facts — religion called Mohammedanism. The Sufi teachings are beautiful as a rule. They contain things which are purely theosophic, teaching the existence of the Inner Splendor which I have spoken of as the inner god, teaching the benefits, spiritual and intellectual and material also, to be derived from exercising the faculties within you, love especially. Sufiism likewise teaches the necessity of losing the personal self if you wish to gain the greater Self, for this lower, personal self is the adamantine wall hemming in or enclosing within rigid limitations the greater splendor within.

Give up your life, said Jesus, if ye will find it. Verily it is so. This is a statement of natural law.

There is much in common between theosophy and Sufiism, simply because Sufiism is the theosophy of that particular body of emotional and theological doctrine called Mohammedanism. I take pleasure in reading Sufi poets, and in reading the Sufi teachings; but here is what I want to tell you, friends. Why should I give up the entire encyclopedia when I am offered but one section of that encyclopedia? Do you get my thought? In other words, why should I give up the whole — theosophy — when I am offered but a part — Sufiism? Sufiism is a part of the general Theosophical teaching; but I prefer the grander and greater thing, because it is the entirety and fullness of wisdom.

I have much sympathy for Sufiism. I have known Sufis, and have respected them; and, for all I know, we have Sufis in The Theosophical Society today. We do not ask our people: To what religion do you belong? It is true that we like to know this, but if they choose to say: I prefer to keep that to myself, they can do so. We have adherents, I believe, of all religions and of none, in The Theosophical Society.

Question Two. There are perceptible stars so distant that it takes thousands of years for their light to reach us. Are there not innumerable gradations and distances between the densest and lightest of mundane substances, if there is proportion in the universe?

Most certainly there are; and the fact that this idea is modernly abroad in the world shows that our modern scientific researchers and discoverers are growing to be mystical thinkers. The old materialism of our fathers is dead, and the newest class of ultramodern scientific researchers and philosophers are growing very mystical indeed, and they are telling us that this physical universe of which our imperfect physical senses of report tell us somewhat, is but a very small portion of the entire universe — and this is an old theosophical teaching indeed.

They are furthermore saying and teaching an old, old doctrine, old as thinking man: that the fundamental of the universe is what they call mind-stuff, consciousness, the root of all that is. This being so, and as we see diversity everywhere, we must find an explanation for that diversity; for it is obvious that if there be but one mind-stuff in the universe, one consciousness, the bewildering diversity which surrounds us — individuality, in other words, such as is manifested in men — would be simply inexplicable.

Therefore do theosophists point to the ancient truth, and say: Yes, consciousness, mind-stuff, is the fundamental of nature; but this is merely an abstract way of stating the truth. The concrete fashion, and the better way, is to say: consciousnesses infill the universe, and provide the diversity which you see everywhere. The world, the universe, is filled full with gods, divine beings, cosmic spirits. Every great religion has taught this, and they have called these beings by different and differing names. In the Christian religion they call them Archangels and Angels and Principalities and Powers and Virtues and Thrones and Dominions, and whatnot; but I prefer the good old name gods, for gods they are. And we of the human host are merely one family of the innumerable hierarchies interblending and interlinking with each other and including all the self-conscious, sentient, thinking entities which infill the universe, and give to it what we men call the laws of natural being.

Consequently, all nature is formed on the hierarchical pattern, and all nature is graded off, so to say, stepped off, or runged off, like the rungs of an ascending ladder of life. Therefore there is gross matter, more ethereal matter, matter still more ethereal, matter becoming spiritual, matter still more spiritualized, spirit, superspirit, the divine, and so on forever. Where will you stop, and say: Here things begin, and there things end? Life is frontierless, without bounds, and is beginningless and endless. Will you show me where life begins? Will you show me where life ends? You cannot do it.

Look into your own self, examine the arcana of your own consciousness. Feel the aspirations, the hopes, the longings, the yearnings, for something better, grander, greater, nobler. Indeed, your very heart tells you that man's evolutionary pilgrimage is through eternity. Our physical scientists are telling us that this so-called gross matter, which seems so solid and substantial, is mostly holes, vacancies, empty spaces, and so it is. This is an old and familiar doctrine to theosophists, and it is ancient as thinking man.

Therefore do we say that the material universe is illusory, not meaning that it does not exist, but meaning that our physical senses of report do not tell us the truth about it, and that we require our awakened intelligence within us to understand even the external universe.

I repeat that all nature is graded off, stepped off, in rising scales, not only of matters or substances, but graded into worlds or realms or spheres filled full with spiritual beings; and even in our own physical universe, nature has ranges from the ethereal to the grossest physical, and hence the most distant stars are connected with us and are in fundamentals and essentials nowise different from stars which are closer to us; and the same thought applies to our own sun which of course is a star.

I am now speaking more particularly of the inner and invisible worlds of which our physical, exterior world is but a cross section, so to say, dividing the superior from the inferior. We human beings exist in this physical universe as travelers, pilgrims, passing through our present, especial phase of experience; but a great and sublime destiny is ours, and the time is coming in the far distant aeons of the future when men, because they then shall have brought forth the divinity within them, shall walk the earth like gods — simply because they shall have brought out into manifestation the powers of the inner god. All things of value are within us — or above us. Which adverb we use, within or above, matters not at all; but pray get the idea of the dominant power of the indwelling divinity. All powers, all faculties, everything that is great, everything that is worthwhile, everything of value, comes from within and above. The oak grows out of the heart of the acorn. The six-foot man comes from a microscopic human life-germ. Such is nature's law, pouring forth what is within, unrolling what is within, unwrapping what is within. This is evolution as theosophists understand it.

We are evolutionists through and through, but we are not Darwinists.

In your lectures you sometimes speak of "the gods, who make and unmake civilizations." Would you enlarge upon that subject? Several questions with relation to it arise in one's mind:
Would a civilization arise at all if the gods did not bring it about? Or is it a natural process, which they help along?
If the latter is the case, are they entitled to break it down only to the extent that they build it up?
Don't you think it must be a very risky business, to start things which affect the destiny of a world?

Why, I certainly do think it risky! But what of that? Are you going to be like the stone of the verse that I have just read which wants to "sleep for a thousand years, by gosh?" Pardon me this language. It is the vernacular of the poet, not mine! Or are you going to be men, real men, thinkers, movers, actors, playing a sublime role in the drama of life? You cannot do otherwise. You cannot stay still an instant, even if you wish to do so. Perforce you act; and the greater the man the more efficient is his action, and the more quiet it is. All great things grow in the silence; in the silence does growth bring forth its treasures.

I have never said that "the gods make and unmake civilizations." I have been misquoted. I have said that it is great men who make and unmake civilizations, which is what I have said this afternoon. I never said that the gods bring about civilizations or destroy them. It is men who bring about and destroy civilizations: great men who make them, men whose thoughts stir their fellows; and ordinary men destroy the work of the greater men. You men do it, and therefore are you responsible for what you do.

It is you men who help to make civilizations, and you are responsible for the civilization that you bring forth. Natural law acting through and by divine entities will hold you responsible; in other words common nature will hold you responsible. Your own hearts and minds will hold you responsible for what you do, for what you make yourself to be. This in brief is our doctrine of karma: As ye sow, that ye shall reap. You cannot be something that you have not made yourself to be, and therefore are ye held responsible.

Yes, it is risky to start things. It certainly is. There is a risk in every act you do. You may leave this temple, enter your automobile, start to town, and have an accident on the way. But what are you going to do? Are you going to stay in bed all day long and all night long for fear of a risk?

Yes, you cannot do otherwise than act; and the thing to do is to act nobly, to put the best of you in what you do, and leave the rest to the Powers that be. Be a true man. Learn to think. Nobody else will deceive you if you yourself are not crooked, because if your heart is pure you will have the eagle's vision; you will see truly; you will feel rightly; you will instinctively sense where honor and honesty lie.

Here is a question which I found very interesting.

How long will fear continue to dominate humanity?
Fear God,
Fear the devil,
Fear the king,
Fear fresh air,
Fear poverty,
Fear the cold and heat,
Fear the country next to your own,
Fear death,
Fear change,
Fear the dark.
"That which I feared has come upon me."

Poor, fear-ridden men! Do you know what fear means? You are bringing the things that you fear upon yourself. You become a psychical magnet psychologically attracting what you fear.

The man whose heart is filled with love and pity never knows what fear is. There is no room for it in his heart. Love all that lives, for love is the cement of the universe, and you then ally yourself with invincible cosmic powers and you become strong and spiritually and intellectually clairvoyant. Love is a mighty power. It casts out all fear, as you have been told before. These are not vain and empty words. Feel their truth. Do you fear what you love?

Men will be ruled by fear just as long as they love themselves; for then they will be afraid of everything that is going to happen — afraid to venture, afraid to act, to do, to think, for fear lest they lose. And they will then lose. It is the great men who do not fear, who venture, who act, who do — for they are the doers; and they are also the thinkers of the world, because in either case they have no fear. They love the things that they do. Therefore they have no fear.

Now put this material fact upon a general and higher plane, and you will have one of the noblest teachings that the great sages and seers have ever brought to their fellow men: Perfect love casteth out all fear. You will then never fear death; you will never fear poverty; you will never fear anything in proportion as your heart is filled with love and understanding, because love — perfect love — bringeth understanding. These are practical rules of ethics, practical rules of human conduct; and oh, the pity that mankind has lost sight of them! "That which I feared has come upon me!" It is always so.

The next question before me is the following:

Do inharmonious thoughts poison the air that we breathe?

Most decidedly they do, and not only do they poison the air, but they also poison your very bloodstream, poison your body, and disease is the resultant. What are inharmonious thoughts? They are selfish thoughts, evil thoughts, mean thoughts, thoughts out of tune; and they arise in a heart which lacks love. Now think! Perfect love casteth out all fear. This statement is absolutely true; and perfect love in the human heart tends to build up a strong body, physiologically clean, because the inside of you is psychologically and morally clean, harmonious in its workings, for in this case, the mind, the soul, the spirit — the true man — are harmonious in their workings. The body merely reflects what you yourself are.

But lest there be a misunderstanding here, remember that every man reaps what he has sown in this or in some other life on earth; consequently it may happen that a man presently in a human body may be a good man, a noble-hearted man, but he may be unfortunate in being afflicted with some disease. The reason for this is that old, bad karma, as theosophists say, in other words, causes sown in some past life, have not previously had a chance to work themselves out of the system, and therefore this man, good, high-minded, without any known cause in the present life for his disease, suffers and his heart is heavy laden. But when these causes have exhausted themselves, the trouble will pass, and the experience will have educated him to nobler things: softened his heart, clarified his mind, filled his whole soul with pity and compassion for those who suffer as he did.

Be not afraid of pain; be not afraid of suffering. Be not afraid of obstacles. Be the best that is in you, and all will turn out right someday, sometime.

Harmony is the basis of the structure of the universe, because it is one of the functions of love which is the heart of the universe. Therefore love and harmony are two sides of the same thing. Have harmonious thoughts and you will become beloved of your fellows, and you will never harm any other being. Oh, if I could tell you the blessedness, the peace, the happiness, that come to those who truly love! Impersonal love is magical, magical; it works marvels.

I will answer one more question, and then I shall leave you:

There are indications that many of the outer barriers betwixt man and his own innate divinity are disappearing. Has not man himself erected those barriers that he is now busily removing?
"Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie,
Which we ascribe to Heaven." — All's Well that Ends Well, Act I
Will the removal of those barriers enlarge man's consciousness — also his responsibilities?

The removal of those barriers will indeed enlarge man's consciousness; but I don't like the way in which this question is phrased. I would prefer to say that as man's consciousness grows, it bursts the bonds hemming it in, breaks down the barriers preventing its expression, and the inner splendor shines forth. We are surrounded by barriers of our own making, of our own construction, of our own thought-fabric, and our worst barriers are within us. It is also obvious that as our consciousness grows and expands, the part we play in life grows proportionately greater and more important, and therefore also do our responsibilities increase.

If a man can conquer himself, he becomes a partner and collaborator with the gods. Self-conquest is the most difficult thing for a man to achieve: the most subtle, and yet the noblest. The trouble is that men do not conquer themselves; they are always fighting themselves. They do not understand what self-conquest means. In the name of the immortal gods, why do you fight, fight, fight, fight, fight? Why do you dignify the things that you fight? Forget them! Forget them I say! Pay no attention to them. Be yourself, your inner self, and then you will grow as naturally as the lotus flower under the rays of the sun and moon.

Thus spoke in substance the ancient sage of China, Lao-tse: "There will be warfare in the kingdom as long as there are virtuous men in the kingdom." Do you see the point? Just as long as a kingdom is divided into virtuous men and evil men, there will be intestinal difficulties and disputes. When the virtuous men shall have disappeared, it will mean that there will then be no evil men, because men are virtuous only by contrast with others who are not virtuous.

Do not dignify the evil side of you by struggling against it or fighting it; but ignore it, forget it, and be your nobler self! Then these things will drop away from you like squalid and filthy garments. Do you fight a garment which is soiled? No! You cast it aside. You cannot put the new wine of the spirit into the old bottles. Cast the bottles aside, and your wine, the wine of the spirit, will form its own new containers and will be safely preserved within you.

You need not be slaves; you need not be cast down; you need not be the bondmen of weaknesses. Be what you are within yourself! You are an inseparable part of boundless infinitude, because you are in it and you cannot leave it; therefore everything in that boundless infinitude is within you. You have the universe with its incomprehensible energies and powers to draw upon, by going within yourself — by following the still small pathway within, the pathway of the spirit. Follow that, and it will guide you to the heart of the universe, with ever-expanding faculty, with ever-enlargening power. Your own heart will grow great; your mind will grow grand; and your whole inner temple of being, all your nature, will be filled with the glory within — the splendor of your inner god.

The inner god is your higher self. Oh, be it! It is the only way by which to attain illumination — to go behind the veils of matter and thus know truth at first hand. It is the way of genius; it is the way of inspiration; it is the way of aspiration; it is the way of immortal and invincible love, boundless love, a magical power which feeds all hungry hearts and brings the water of life not only to your own thirsty soul, but to the thirsty souls of your fellows. Browning, in his "Paracelsus," has set forth this noble truth with a poet's intuition:

Truth is within ourselves; it takes no rise
From outward things, whate'er you may believe.
There is an inmost center in us all,
Where truth abides in fullness; and around,
Wall upon wall, the gross flesh hems it in,
This perfect, clear perception — which is truth.
A baffling and perverting carnal mesh
Binds it, and makes all error: and, to KNOW,
Rather consists in opening out a way
Whence the imprisoned splendor may escape,
Than in effecting entry for a light
Supposed to be without.

Vol 1, No 43

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