Theosophical University Press Online Edition
(Lecture delivered April 27, 1930)
CONTENTS: Each one is a Christ in his inmost being. — The great spiritual sages and seers came out of the life-stream of humanity. — The Occident has no real religion, no assured and standard science. — Refuges for sick beasts established in India thousands of years ago. — Humility and "humility." — Personal and impersonal love. — What is the cognizing faculty in us which recollects? — The poetry of the ancients. — Is the Theosophical Movement the only road of spiritual development? — Do the Orientals stand on a higher spiritual level than Occidentals? — Ultramodern scientific thinkers are becoming mystics.
How beautiful are the thoughts that sometimes pass through one's mind on hearing music which awakens, as it were, memories of a far-distant past — latent memories of a time when we were unconsciously akin with the gods who control and guide the universe, memories of the time when we were living sparks, god-sparks, just issued from the womb of timeless space, and with a realization — unconscious, not personal, not human, but divine as it were, spiritual at least — of the fact that we as entities, as inseparable parts of the cosmos, have our roles to play, each one of us, as collaborators with the spiritual universe.
The root of things being harmony, being divine love, and we being inseparable parts — each one of us an inseparable part — of the heart of things, you see what that means: that each one of you, each one of us, as individual entities, has that within us which can know all things, which can be all things, as the mystic work of evolution unrolls its tangled fabric or web on the screen of time.
We are so blind, we human beings, so deaf to the inner spiritual call, so unseeing in our merely lower personal natures, that we know not what we are. We do not realize who we are, what our origin was, what our present work in life is, and what our future destiny is to be. We don't know, we don't realize, we have not come to see, the vision sublime, that at the core of the core of each one of us we are a divine being: that each one of us is such a divine entity; but when men realize this, when realizing it they enter into conscious communion with their own spiritual-divine selves, then you have the titanic men of the human race, the great spiritual seers and sages whom men in later times called the Buddha, the Christ, and by other equivalent names among other peoples. They are not different from the average men of mankind, except that they are farther advanced in evolution, elder brothers of the race. That is all.
Each one of you is a Christ in his inmost being. Why don't you be it consciously? Why don't you awaken to the sublime reality? Each one of you is a Buddha in the inmost of his inmost. Why don't you be it consciously? It is just as easy, easier by far, than being the small, petty, personal self, entangled in all its self-woven web of emotions and thoughts.
This is no new message; it is one of the most grand and encouraging teachings of the ancient wisdom-religion of humanity, today called theosophy. The trouble about it all is that you Occidental people don't want to realize these things; you don't want to believe it. You prefer to believe that you are merely a developed ape, or a worm of the dust, or some other fad like that. What a choice!
Where do these great ones come from? How came they into being? They came out of the life-stream of humanity. What one man can be, any other man can be, if he do the same as they, if he live the life and obey nature's fundamental law as they did. That is all there is to it. Isn't that a gospel of hope? Isn't that encouraging?
Now, there are certain peoples who know these truths and try to live up to them much better than you Occidentals do; and I try to drive this fact home on every Sunday afternoon when I speak to my audiences. You Occidentals think that you are the "cocks of the walk." Yes, indeed you do! And likewise you think that all the rest of mankind is born to be your servers, your servitors, your servants. And yet there are parts of the world which brought forth brilliant, magnificent civilizations which reached the plenitude of their powers when your ancestors were running around the woods of the different European countries, when they were painting themselves blue, and, in general, indulging in the antics of barbarous peoples.
It is your turn now to enjoy prosperity; it is your turn now to lead in the van of material progress; but material progress is something built upon an inner urge, and when that inner urge stops — crash! Down goes the power! Unless men have an ideal and follow that ideal — a spiritual vision — they are doomed; and where is your vision sublime in the Occident today? Where is it? Show me! Religions, and varieties of religion, by the hundreds; philosophies of all kinds; magnificent scientific researchers, men of high intellectual capacity, searching, searching, searching, and changing their theories overnight. No steady rule to guide you by, no infallible law of action, no norm, to use the old word, in other words no high standard of thought and action based on nature's laws; but you are just advancing like little children at night along a strange way, step by step, step by step, following that little light and this little light, and utterly unknowing whither you are going.
Where is your guide? You have not any real religion. You have not any real philosophy. You have no assured and standard science. Your finest, or rather your most developed or outstanding achievement called modern science, you have not even a science upon which you can utterly depend, because it changes overnight. Now the fact that it so changes is in one way a fine thing. It shows that it is learning and progressing, shows that it is advancing; but where is that in which you can utterly trust: where is your scientific, philosophic, and religious standard? Where is your vision sublime?
Nevertheless there is truth in the universe. There is a system of philosophy, which will, if you follow it, lead you to the heart of the universe; and the Theosophical Movement was established in modern times in order to show to men the beginning of that pathway. Where is that beginning? Outside of you? No! Within you. You yourselves are to tread it; therefore you yourselves must begin it. Each one of you is the beginning of that pathway. Self-knowledge — where can you get it? By searching within. Right teaching, right thinking, right action — these are the three keynotes of human action, but where is your standard or guide? I tell you that the Theosophical Movement was founded by the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion in order to teach men how to discover this standard and guide, how to find this pathway.
These Masters of Wisdom and Compassion, whom theosophists call by various names — the elder brothers of mankind, or mahatmas, or the great sages and seers, or Buddhas, or Christs (the name matters not at all) live today and form a brotherhood of teachers; and they work in the silence and invisibly, because then men don't prevent their work by the antics which men play.
Do you know that one of the easiest ways by which to discover yourself is love, impersonal love: love which asks no reward, which gives all and therefore gives itself? Love is an illumination. Love is inspiring; it opens the doors of the mind, because it cracks the bonds of the lower selfhood hemming around the god within. When you love impersonally then the divine fires flow out, and man becomes truly man. The hearts of you Occidentals are hardened, hardened with sorrow, hardened with misunderstandings, hardened by ignorance, because you have not had the vision sublime.
This past week, I believe, is called Kindness to Animals Week; and today, I believe, is called Humane Sunday. Now it is a beautiful thing that such a week should be called for by the public conscience. I have no doubt that most people in this country who look upon such a week with a moved heart, with a feeling of its moral beauty, and who feel that we should treat the beasts and all those beneath us, our younger brothers, with kindness, with pity — I have no doubt, I say, that most of you think that you are the originators of this grand idea. But were you the originators? How long is it since the beasts were considered naught but entities created by Almighty God either for your dinner table or to be killed off in what is called sport? "What a beautiful day this is! Let's go out and kill something! How we shall enjoy the fresh air!"
And yet there have been hospitals for wounded animals, there have been refuges for the beast-sick, in the Orient, for thousands of years. Some of the greatest of these hospitals for the wounded and sick beasts were established in India by the great Buddhist king, Asoka, and they existed even before his time.
Have you ever seen a man lash a beast? Have you ever seen the hunters scouring the forests and the marshes to get the rare plumes with which to deck your women's hats and garments, killing the parent birds and leaving the little ones to die? How you Occidentals love!
Do you think that nature tolerates those atrocities for long? Do you think that nature is so unevenly balanced, so chancy, that men can do what they like and escape scot-free from the results of their acts? The exact contrary is the truth. "As ye sow, so shall ye reap," said Paul of the Christians in his Epistle to the Galatians. And he said truly. If you commit an act of cruelty and it become a habit with you, your character becomes cruel, and you will act cruelly, and you will receive cruelty as a retribution, for that is nature's law. It is nature's reaction to what you have done.
Have a heart! Be yourself — your better self; and recognize the fundamental unity of all things that be in a common spiritual brotherhood.
Do you not know that your hearts are so hardened that if a man of another race come among you, you look upon him almost as a museum curiosity? If he does not eat as you do and clothe himself as you do and act as you do, you think that he must be desperately wicked or something else equally unfavorable to his character. Is that a large and generous view? Now, it is true that other nations feel in the same way. An Occidental goes to the Orient. They look upon him, I doubt not, in pretty much the same way and are doubtless more or less afraid of him. But they don't treat him as we treat the "strange men," as we call them who come among us.
We have no feeling of kindliness for him; and only when such an Outlander puts on our clothes and eats our food and reads our books and adopts our ideas, do we think that he is even receivable in our homes — so great is your heart of kindness.
All that is very small-minded indeed; and it just shows that what I am telling you is true. You don't feel your kinship with universal nature; you don't recognize the existing bond of human brotherhood; and this last is the first key towards recognizing your kinship with all nature, with nature spiritual as well as physical; nor do you recognize your kinship with the gods.
I know men. I have met numbers of them who think that the accomplishment of what they want to do is excuse enough for doing it. But I ask you: Is it? You know well that your own human laws tell you differently. If every man in the Occident, for instance, did exactly as he pleased, what would happen? We know where he would land, and very soon. Why not carry out that perfectly proper and righteous principle in all your life? Therefore feel with others. Be kindly towards all beings; be gentle; have an understanding heart. Don't you see that this is the road of peace, that this is the road to follow in order to understand yourself? It is the road that you must tread if you want to know the god within you.
The first question that I have before me this afternoon is in the nature of a little criticism of something that I said, I think, on last Sunday afternoon, and here it is:
In your lecture of last Sunday afternoon, you spoke of humility: had no use, as I understood it, for humble people, citing the character of Uriah Heep in one of Dickens's novels as an example of a detestable character, with which I quite agree.
Question: How would you answer an inquirer brought up in an evangelical church if he or she in beginning to read our literature should come upon these great words from Mme. Blavatsky:
"Be humble, if thou wouldst attain to Wisdom. Be humbler still, when Wisdom thou hast mastered." — The Voice of the Silence, p. 48 — and should say that the Bible taught its readers to be humble, and that H. P. Blavatsky does also?
Your version of it yesterday afternoon was satisfactory to me, but would it be to an inquirer just beginning to read our books? Will you kindly answer this question?
When I talk to people, I take it for granted that they will try to understand me; and I thought that I explained perfectly well that the humility that I detested, as manifest in the humble people that I compassionate, was seen in those people who come cringing and crawling around you, or into your room, like a worm, and make you feel so wretchedly unhappy! That is the kind of humility that I don't like — the Uriah Heep kind of thing. These people always seem to have something in the back of their minds that they want to get. I am afraid that I don't like them. I fear that I don't like humble people of that kind.
I suppose that this inquirer, kind-hearted, thought that I meant by humble people, people existing in what is called a humble situation in life, and of course I did not mean that. Some of the most interesting people whom I have ever known have been people who were born in the so-called lower ranks of human life — kindly, gentle, often well-bred, thoughtful, intellectual. One of the most interesting conversationalists that I ever knew was a shoemaker; and I remember once at home, when I was a boy, my daddy asked me why my shoes needed repairing so often. I told him that I had a shoemaker who was a friend, and that I wanted to help him in his business; and I said, furthermore: "He is the most interesting man to talk to I have ever known. He talks far better than you do, Daddy!" My father was a clergyman, you know, but he was a big-hearted man, and he simply smiled.
H. P. Blavatsky in writing the two beautiful sentences quoted from her says what I would say perhaps in exactly the same words, because the words "Be humble," are there used in a sense other than the way in which I used them on last Sunday. Impersonality is the real meaning of the words "Be humble" in this citation; but I was pointing out on last Sunday that the humility which is detestable is exactly the opposite of impersonality, and is in fact an excess of personality. This kind of personality is detestable; and it is in fact the one first thing that we must conquer in ourselves and move away from if we want to live the life of true-hearted men.
Let me read these two sentences by substituting the word impersonal for humble, and you will see exactly what their true meaning is: "Be impersonal if thou wouldst attain to Wisdom," because personality blinds your eyes and you cannot see the truth. When a man is so full of his own ideas and his own desires and his own feelings that he cannot see his fellows' desires and feelings and ideas, he is blinded by his own lower personality. "Be more impersonal still when Wisdom thou hast mastered." You see how truly this substitution brings out the real meaning of these two sublime sentences. This is just another case where people misunderstand each other by not understanding each one the other's words.
Now, I know perfectly well that this kind questioner got my idea fairly exactly, but did not like what was thought to be an all-inclusive criticism of the word humble. I pointed out that the Uriah Heep type of man is one whom I do not admire. I detest humility of that kind. I like to see a man stand on his feet and tell me the truth as he sees it; whether I like his way of seeing it or not is another matter entirely. I then can respect him for his manhood. I may not agree with him, but that is entirely beside the point. I like his courage, I like his frankness, I like his sense of honor, standing up, facing his fellow men, and saying what he really feels and believes.
Now, that does not mean — and here I must be cautious or I will get a note of criticism to answer on next Sunday — that does not mean that I think that every man is truly impersonal and courageous who is so full of his own egoism that he is utterly unconscious that he is a nuisance. That is again something else. I do not like this fault either; I do not ever think that egoism is courage. I call that idea simply a folly. We have to exercise discrimination in these things, use our judgment, based on our knowledge of the intricate characters of our fellow human beings.
Question Two before me:
The units of human society are the families; the ties by which they are held together may be called mutual responsibilities, trust, confidence, and also love. These may involve some individual sacrifices, but also they bring happiness, strength, and joy. These feelings seem to be of a rather personal order but nevertheless of an ennobling and helpful quality. Why do you depreciate all kinds of personal love?
Please, answer if possible on Sunday the 27th of April.
In the first place, I do not think that this questioner is quite just to me. It is true that I have often spoken of impersonal love, because it is lovely, it is so beautiful, it has no trace of the things that we all dislike. Impersonal love is also intuitive. Further, it is always kindly to everything and to everybody — to beings and things both great and small; but if a man's heart and mind are filled solely with a personal love, then he loves this but he does not love that; he loves something over there, but he does not love some other thing here, or vice versa — in other words, his love is limited in direct ratio with its personal character. That is the kind of love that is not wholly true, that is limited.
But the magnificent qualities spoken of in this question are not qualities of such a low, limited, personal affection. They are qualities of the soul-spirit. Responsibility, trust, confidence, love — these indeed bring happiness, strength, and joy. Cultivate them indeed! Indeed they are high and therefore I love them. I never would or could depreciate anything that was beautiful, grand, sublime, impersonal, lovely.
But you must know that you won't understand these grand qualities nor truly feel them if your heart is filled with purely personal limited feelings and thought. Your heart will not have a place for them. Your heart will not contain them if it is filled with merely personal things — my wife, my home, my children, my country, my books, my — my — my! How about the other man's "my's"? Do you see now what I mean? It is precisely this selfish personal love which has brought sorrow, suffering, and misery into human life, just as impersonal love cleanses and purifies and makes men's hearts glad. Really personal love is never responsible, has no sense of responsibility. It cannot trust, it cannot truly confide, it cannot utterly give, because the "I" is there in strength all the time, and its one thought is: for me, for me, for me.
Don't you see that this is the trouble in the world today, and that all troubles and sorrows will cease in large, large, large, large degree when men and women can love each other impersonally, when men can love men, looking upon the fellow man as a human hero, and when women will trust their own sex, which they will do when they have this vision?
No, I most emphatically do not depreciate impersonal love, not even when it manifests through persons. But this other personal love, this limited scope of the feelings and emotions, this petty thing which blinds, which limits, which cramps, which destroys hope, which does away with aspiration, and brings no durable comfort into human life — I do not like it. I will have naught of it. That does not mean that I do not feel my heart move with compassion for those who have not yet caught even a glimmer of the vision sublime. Yes, I know what it is to grieve with another's grieving heart; and I know how my own character has been strengthened by the impersonal compassion, the pity, the sympathy, which I have learned how to give.
Here is a question of quite a different type:
Are memory of music, memory of poetry, and the like, to be considered as acquirements revealing a certain kind of spiritual development, or are they merely faculties of the psycho-astral personality?
Please note first here, that music itself, poetry itself, are not spoken of, but the recollection of these, the remembering of these. Are recollection or remembering or memory merely acquirements, or are these various kinds of recollections the working of a psycho-astral faculty of the inner constitution of man? I say that they are both. The memory, as the divine Plato said; learning, as he said; genius, as he said; and all other similar faculties of the inner constitution of man, are reminiscences out of the past, coming from other lives, and manifesting themselves through and by the thinking organ within the human constitution — which is an organ of individual self-consciousness, whether you call it soul or mind or ego matters not at all. I refer to that which is the cognizing faculty; it is this which bears in the very fabric of its being the impressions stamped upon it by the events of past lives; and it carries these impressions which are stamped upon it like the impression of the seal upon the wax. These impressions on the psychomental fabric of the thought organ are called in their aggregate, the memory.
But what is the cognizing faculty which in recollection re-collects and cognizes, which in remembrance re-members, puts together again and recognizes? Fundamentally it is the spiritual self within, the fountain of consciousness within. Even the beast can recollect music. It cannot recollect poetry unless indeed it recollect the rhythm of the marching words, as the lines are recited. And if this is so it arises out of habit, which when it becomes automatic is a kind of automatic memory or recollection. Exercise of any part of the psychological apparatus of man is an exercise of one of the organs of the psycho-astral person; and these organs are thrown into operation by the coming into the field of consciousness of something which has been known before, and is thereupon recognized, recollected — re-collected mentally.
It is, therefore, both an acquirement in the sense of coming again into the consciousness of a new life; and also the exercise of a psycho-astral faculty. But music it is, poetry it is, and all other similar things — the sciences, religion, philosophy — which are of a higher type of consciousness, and are actually the operations of the spiritual nature of the human being exercising its intrinsic energies and powers along one line or another.
Music is memory out of the past, a memory of a divine harmony innate in the being, in which a musical note perhaps, a musical phrase, awakens the percipient organ and thereby starts a train of musical thought, as I tried to point out to you this afternoon when I opened my lecture. Similarly poetry comes forth from the visioning heart, from the visioning mind, from the visioning ego. Poetry is a vision — and I am speaking now of the true poet, not merely of the versifier, but of the true, intuitive poet-heart — it is a vision, I say, into nature's structure and operations, which the human percipient organ thereupon attempts to interpret and to formulate in human language.
To our Occidental minds, poetry is mostly rime, outside of the meaning of course. But I prefer the poetry of the ancients, which depended for its effect upon the ictus or beat, like the steady tramping of marching feet — the rhythmic beat of the magical words as they fell from the lips of the man who recited. You, writing thus, become musical in nature's own way. Such was Greek poetry, such was Latin poetry, such was Sanskrit verse. The ancients rimed scarcely at all. We Occidentals look upon rimes as poetry, and I really think that rime deprives true poetry of one of its most beautiful parts, and that is the power to bring forth rhythmic thinking in the mind.
A man who hears Occidental poetry is continually anticipating the end of the line in order to see how cleverly the poet may be able to rime musically. His attention is thus distracted away, first from the sense of the words, and next from the rhythmic beat of the marching feet. But listen to the poetry of the ancients. Get its beat, like the beat of a heart, and then your attention is distracted by nothing at all. You fall into the stream of the musical beat, and are carried along with it.
These lines from the Latin poet Ovid neatly express my meaning in their rhythmic beat:
Os homini sublime dedit,
Coelumque tueri jussit,
Et erectos ad sidera tollere vultus.
The path of the mystic opened by the modern Theosophical Movement is indeed most natural to people who have a mystic inclination inborn in their nature, but is it the only road of spiritual development? Is there not some other gateway to the path for those high-minded and noble people who have a more rational than mystical bent in their nature?
Of course. Haven't you ever heard the old saying that the path to the heart of the universe is one and yet different for every human being? The meaning is that every human being himself is that pathway — that pathway which is builded of thought and consciousness and of the fabric of your own being. It is builded of the stuff of nature's heart. I know that there is a path to the heart of the universe for the man who calls himself a rational thinker, just as much as there is a path leading to the heart of the universe for the man who looks upon himself as one of religious bent.
Do you think that the scientist or the philosopher is not advancing, and can you tell me anything more mystically beautiful than the thoughts brought forth by our modern scientific researchers? Science and religion and philosophy are fundamentally one, operations of the human consciousness, for all these three are founded in the consciousness of man and represent merely three different ways in which man's consciousness tries to penetrate behind the veils of the outward seeming in order to reach the womb of being which to man seems to be outside of himself. That womb of being is within him. The religionist, the philosopher, the scientist — in other words the mystic, the philosopher, and the rationalist — can reach, each one, the heart of the universe along the lines and bent of his own character.
But — and I should add this in justice — there is a long road, by comparison with the one I shall speak of in a moment. It is also broad. It is the road whereon you have nature's streaming current of energy with you, and following this road you will reach perfection in due time; but this is the road of long-enduring slow evolution, moving ahead little by little in each life, through the incalculable ages.
But there is another road, steep and thorny, difficult to follow, but which the great ones of the human race have trodden. It is the quick road, but the difficult one. It is the road of self-conquest, the road of the giving up of self for the All, the road by which the personal man becomes the impersonal Christ, the impersonal Buddha: the road by which the love for your own is abandoned, and your whole being becomes filled with love for all things both great and small. It is a difficult road to follow, for it is the road of initiation; it is the steep and thorny pathway to the gods, for when you climb the heighths of Olympus you must tread the pathway as there it lies before you.
Yes, I tell you that the so-called rational man is more of a mystic at heart than most men realize; and I tell you also that the so-called mystical thinker is more of a rational thinker than most men realize. Examine, if you will, the minds of the great mystical thinkers as shown in the mystical literatures of the world, and those of you who are not acquainted with these literatures will be astounded to find how, after the fashion of category, category, category, just as the rationalists reason, the minds of the mystics have reached the conclusions that they have attained.
The difference between the rationalist and the mystic, as a rule, is simply this, and here is why I prefer the mystic thinker: the mystic has a keener sense of his oneness with all that is. This likewise is a teaching of the science of today. The ultramodern scientific thinkers are teaching you the same truth of your intrinsic oneness with universal being.
I don't like these absolute divisions of human thinkers into these different classes. I have searched for these absolute classes in my life, and I have found these supposed absolute classes to be so in superficial appearance only; and years ago, in my young manhood, I gave up the idea that these different classes exist as natural divisions in human life: necessary, watertight, thought-tight compartments; and what did I find? I found that if you can penetrate beneath the shell of the personality, you will find all men feeling alike, all men thinking alike, and that the so-called rationalist and the so-called mystic and the so-called philosopher, as well as the so-called scientist, are such merely because their minds have been given that or this or the other bent, and thereafter they have followed that bent. But that bent will change to some other bent as evolution pursues its mighty work, its mighty labor.
Do you consider that some of the Oriental peoples of today, for instance the Tibetans, stand on a higher spiritual level than the Western nations which have reached such a high degree of intellectual and artistic civilization? It is the so-called Western culture which now seems to be spreading most rapidly; the Oriental nations are reaching out for it very eagerly and thereby they lose many of their own traditions. Does this mean an advancement or is it an illusion?
I think it is both. A question like this is exceedingly difficult to answer on account of the matters involved. There is such a thing as high evolutionary advancement, as having reached a high evolutionary stage, and yet going through a cyclic period of depression; and when I am asked which of the twain is the more advanced — contrasting such a case as that I have just spoken of with the case of a man who is more or less inferior to him in actual evolutionary progress but who happens to be at the pinnacle or acme of a minor stage of his growth, therefore manifesting better his powers — I always want to ask my questioner: What kind of progress do you mean? What do you mean by spiritual progress? Are you going to judge of a people by what it brings forth during any one period of time, when it happens to have attained the culmination of a cyclical period; or are you going to judge of a people by the outstanding characters that it produces — the lives that the people as a whole lead, the noble thoughts that they continuously have?
This latter seems to be the better test. Simplicity, sincerity, a sense of one's oneness with the universe, a feeling of brotherhood, of kindliness for all that is — things like these show spiritual advancement; and as concerns individuals, a man whose heart is filled with the vibrating energy of love, of impersonal love, stands incomparably more high to me than does a man who can pile up a big bank account, or who stands high in the political councils of the people, or who is an outstanding military genius. Which is the more human of the two? In whom of the twain are the sympathies the larger? These are the tests by which we may estimate and judge of spiritual progress or retrogression.
When I am asked more explicitly if I think the Oriental peoples stand on a higher plane than do the Occidental folk, I must answer first that I think it hardly fair so arbitrarily to classify the different races on the grounds of supposedly essential racial distinctions. I prefer to take the individuals. I have met men of high spiritual standing in the West as well as men of low spiritual grade, and I have met the same in the Orient. Nevertheless, we Occidentals are in a period of our evolution wherein the material things of life are brought to the fore. We are living in that part of our racial advancement in which the things of material life are considered of paramount importance. Money, political power, social standing, property, things like those, are all of them things that you leave behind you when you die. You don't carry them with you.
But, on the other hand, some of the races of the Orient, and the Tibetans in particular perhaps, are simple people, sincere people; they likewise have their material temptations, but, on the whole, life is on a higher plane there than it is in the West. The Tibetan, for instance, senses his oneness with universal being. To him, the animals, the birds, the trees, the everlasting mountains, the snow, the glittering stars, the sun, the earth beneath his feet, are akin to him: life of his life, thought of his thought; having the same origin; destined to reach the same evolutionary end.
Such thoughts, for ages in the Occident, have been known only to the mystical thinkers, and yet they are the common heritage of the humblest Tibetan peasant. And oh, the solace, the comfort, the spiritual help, that ideas like these bring to a man!
You of the West have your flying machines, and are tormented with the noise; you have your automobiles tearing along the highways and byways and through the streets of your great metropolises, poisoning the air with their gaseous fumes. You have your trains rushing over continents, carrying you safely on errands of selfishness or of mercy bent. Do you take all these things with you when you die? Do they build up your character in firmness of manhood and provide you with the idealisms which differentiate you so largely from the beasts? Do they give you strength of will, in the better sense? Do they make you become impersonal? Can you sense the agony of your brother's heart more keenly by becoming inwrapped in these things of purely material value?
Answer my question, and then you yourself will answer this question that this thoughtful querent has asked me: "Which of the twain stands the higher in spiritual development?" The reason why the Orientals are so drawn to the Occidental comforts and inventions and sciences is for the same reason, but inversely applied, that we Occidentals are drawn to the Orient. We of the Occident have brought forth these things and have tested them, have proved them out, and as a result our hearts are sick. We have found these things out. But the simple children of the Orient — as we are simple children of the Occident — do not know yet what they are, and suppose them to have real values, and consequently they are drawn to them to test them out — even as we have tested them out to our sorrow.
Meanwhile, you Occidentals listen to every turbaned swami who appears on the lecture platform. Your women follow him in crowds. Every new religion out of the East comes to you like a heaven-sent blessing, not merely because it is some new thing, but because your hearts are hungry and you have no spiritual food at home wherewith to feed your hearts. You have no vision sublime. "Which of the twain stands the higher in spiritual things?" was the question. Let your own hearts answer.
The time has nearly come for closing this afternoon, but I promised to comment briefly on a newspaper clipping that was sent in to me, concerning a new philosophical idea of time, to which idea Dr. Gilbert N. Lewis, of the University of California, has given birth in our age, although this conception of time is a very old one. I will read a few extracts from this newspaper clipping:
A revolutionary theory in physics, in which old age disappears from time [old age from time] was proposed by Dr. Lewis. . . .
The everyday idea Dr. Lewis called "one-way" time. The special kind he named "two-way," or symmetrical. Illustrating "two-way" time, he said with existing data an astronomer can predict an eclipse a thousand years hence, or calculate one a thousand years ago with equal accuracy; or a motion picture of the motion of the solar system could run backward and yet obey Newtonian laws as satisfactorily as in forward motion.
"Would you believe," said Dr. Lewis, "that events now transpiring are among the facts which decided Caesar to cross the Rubicon? I do not know that I believe it either, but I know that analogous conclusions must be made in physics and chemistry. In these sciences if we think of the present as pushed into existence by the past, we must in equal measure think of it as pulled into existence by the future."
"Nevertheless, there have been many who have realized that just as a pack of cards, if indefinitely shuffled, will eventually return to its original arrangement, so any physico-chemical system, when left to itself, in its initial state, must return to that state. I do not say that the whole universe and every atom in it will sometime return exactly to the condition of the present moment, but I do say that if anyone has the temerity to apply to the whole universe the laws now adopted in the little republic of physics, this is the conclusion."
Which means, if you follow the thought strictly, that you are not only existing now but have existed in the past and will exist in the future; that things cannot be left to chance happenings; that evolution does not pass from A to B and that C, D, E, F, G, and the rest of the evolutionary alphabet do not exist at present. It means that this is a universe which contains both past and present and future at the same instant of time; that just as an oak is in the acorn germinally, that just as the future man is germinally in the germ-cell, so the future is germinally in the drama of the present and actually existing. For both past and present, and future which not yet exists but is, are but three phases or aspects of the eternal Now.
Do you get the idea? It is founded really on the intuitive conception of universal consciousness. Could it have had an absolute past, and can it have an absolute present, and does it make or create its own absolute future as it goes along through duration? That cannot obviously be, because it would mean that there is no future at all, which is a philosophical absurdity. Do you see the point? Therefore this old theosophical idea which is now coming out again in science, shows to be true what I have so often told you from this platform: that our ultramodern scientific thinkers are becoming mystics, spiritually intuitive. All things everywhere dwell in an eternal, essential present, in an eternal, essential Now.
Furthermore, the reference to things returning in the future to the condition in which they now exist or to an identic condition of things in which the universe existed in the past, is no new idea, but is one of the ancient philosophical postulates of the entire world. It was the teaching of the ancient Persian's as well as of the Neoplatonists, and indeed of all believers in the cyclical operations of nature: that after due time identic events return, but on a higher plane, so to speak, or with just sufficient differences to demonstrate steady evolutionary progress. This is illustrated simply by a man living from day to day. Each day he goes through the same routine of duties, but every day he is a little different from what he was on the preceding day and his duties are a little different from what they were, although in a general way both the man and his routine are pretty much the same at each cyclical daily return.
I wonder if I can make this matter of time a little more clear to you. The Christian Apostle Paul said in substance: All of us, all things both great and small, live and move and have our being in IT — in the all-enclosing consciousness of that sublimely greater entity, of which each one of us is an infinitesimal part, because in it we live and move and have our whole being. And this sublimer entity is again but an integral part of some other cosmic entity still more vast. What the future is to us with our short span of life, our short cycle of life, is infinitesimally small in the large lifespan of this greater entity. So that while we have been pursuing cycle after cycle after cycle after cycle in the past — each one of these cycles being an earth-life, or each one of them a day — all this has been included, perhaps within a fraction of a second of the time of this vaster entity in whom we live and move and have our being, and whose present embraces our future as well as our past and present. These words 'past' and 'future,' are truly illusory.
The atoms of my body, of your body, are infinitesimal entities. Each atom is composed of a protonic nucleus which you can call an atomic sun, and of electronic bodies apparently whirling around that atomic sun in orbital movement. Now, one of these electrons will begin and end its entire life cycle of, let us say, some four quadrillion whirlings around its atomic sun in a time period easily comprised in one of our human seconds.
But let us pause and question ourselves: suppose that an entity on such an atomic planet called an electron, when that electron first began its life cycle of four quadrillion years, were to ask itself: Does the future exist now, or is there only a future which comes into existence when I, this important electronic inhabitant, "get there"? The entire existence of this little electronic planet in this atomic solar system, is comprised in one of our human seconds, and meanwhile we go living quietly on; and we now ask the same question that this hypothetical electronic inhabitant asks: Is there such a thing as the future existing now? Or does the future come into existence only when we "get there"? How about that larger entity in whom we live and move and have our being, and whose cycle of existence is so enormous that the cycle of existence of our solar system is entirely comprised in a fraction of an instant of its time!
I hope that you understand these words and the meaning that they contain. This meaning is not difficult to understand. The past and the future exist continually at the same time, and that time is the eternal Now. Your time at the present instant is Now. When you were a child it was Now. If you live fifty years more, your time then will be Now. Do you think that you bring the future into existence or create it because, and only until, and when, you "get there"?
Our ultramodern science is making wonderful progress, and I am hoping that the time will come soon when, in passing from materialism into mystical thought, science will become ethical — when our great scientific researchers will realize that the religious spirit is essentially the scientific spirit, and that the scientific spirit is essentially the religious spirit, and that essentially religion and truth are one, that essentially science and truth are one, that essentially philosophy and truth are one — all of which means that these three are essentially one. When man, exercising these three energies or powers of the inner faculties of his constitution understands that, he will realize that they are one, and then he will attain essential Truth. You can do this. You are, each one of you, but a feeble manifestation of the god within you, always trying to express its transcendent powers through your psychological apparatus. If you only knew now what you will see when you are at one with your inner god, what you will get interiorly in things of lasting, durable, permanent value, when you shall have reached into yourself and become at-one with your inner god, not one of you would have any present rest, so eager, so hungry, to be and to do would you become.
Believe it! Believe it! Get the peace, the indescribable peace, that comes to you from following this pathway, this inner pathway, to the gods. Be the god within you. It is peace, it is wisdom, it is love: it is the expansion of all your faculties and powers; for love, as I have so often told you, is the very cement of the universe. Allying yourself with that, you will become at one with the divine harmony which is love's other self.
Vol 1, No 46