Universal Brotherhood – November 1897

"EXTENSION OF PREVIOUS BELIEF" — Mary F. Lang

"No one," said Wm. Q. Judge, "was ever converted to Theosophy. Each one who really comes into it does so because it is only an extension of previous belief."

All real growth is from within, and the person who appeals to us is he who tells us what we already know. He may tell us much beside that is equally true, but it does not touch us, for the simple reason that we have not already found it out for ourselves, or we cannot relate it, in any fashion to what we do know.

A reason for the acceptance of any truth is always concerned, more or less closely with a reason for the rejection of something else. One person may reject the popular conception of religion because of its entire divorcement from a scientific basis, and yet not be a materialist. Another may reject materialism because of an interior asseveration of immortality on the part of his own higher nature, and yet scorn equally both emotionalism, and creed or dogma.

To either of these, Theosophy presents a philosophy which is both scientific and religious, and being both is always reasonable.

The widely diversified points of view of the persons to whom Theosophy appeals, prove its many-sided character. The fact is, there is no possible line of thought which is wholly unrelated to Theosophy — none which does not find its extension in Theosophy: hence there can be no one who would not be influenced by its teachings, could these but be presented to his consideration in the right way. And the right way is the common sense way — the method we would adopt were we trying to convince some one of the wisdom of a given course — say in business. We would not expect, in an endeavor to effect a certain business association, to convert another person at once to our own view. We must necessarily first convince him that we are familiar with his position, before we can hope to show him the superiority of our own.

Two conditions then, are desirable in the equipment of one who essays the advocacy of the Wisdom-Religion; — first: a common-sense knowledge of Theosophy; second: a common-sense knowledge of himself.

For without the realization that Theosophy is always common-sense, one can make no appeal to the reason: and without a knowledge of man's real nature, one cannot inerrantly discern the point of contact (which also marks the line of extension) between the view of another and that of oneself. Lacking this knowledge, effort to benefit humanity must be directed in hit-or-miss fashion. That so much can be accomplished, apparently without it, proves the force of Theosophy itself. Allow this force to flow through an intelligent conscious instrument, and there is no possible limit to its influence.

What is common-sense knowledge of oneself? It is knowledge, the truth of which is affirmed by the higher nature, and attested by the reason. It is knowledge of one's real self, mental — psychic — spiritual: knowledge of the laws by which it is governed — not simply tabulation of phenomena. Any one not hopelessly imbedded in preconceived notions of truth, must admit the fact of phenomena not to be accounted for by the operation of so-called physical law, nor apprehended by the physical senses.

But if there are phenomena, they must be governed by laws just as orderly and just as inflexible as the laws governing physical nature. Admit the principle of Unity and it is at once clear that there is no plane of consciousness in the Universe to which man is unrelated. He must then possess faculties (potentially, if not actually) which will enable him to perceive all that exists.

Granted the existence of phenomena of the inner planes, what good will it do us to understand the laws governing them?

Reflection shows us that by far the greater part of our troubles exist in the mind. We suffer because we desire and cannot obtain, because we overestimate this, or underestimate that, because we have certain preconceived ideas with which the circumstances of our life and environment do not harmonize. It is of no use for some one to tell us we are mistaken or deluded. We know that he is the one who is mistaken.

But suppose some one comes to us who, understanding fully the operations of the mind and the laws that govern thought, can teach us to establish causes which result in removing from our mental vision the illusions that give us so much unhappiness. We then see that that which appeared to us deplorable, is opportunity for growth — for working with the Law instead of against it — for developing harmony instead of friction. And that person will have given us something far better, and far more valuable and lasting than any material aid or change of environment, for he will have shown us how to attain tranquility of mind. We will have learned that we shall find happiness only when we are willing to relinquish our selfishness and that it comes not to us through others, nor from anything outside, but exists within ourselves.

It would be quite worth while to so thoroughly understand one's own nature and that of others, as to be able always to help them to that which is really desirable and best; to have the insight to comprehend the mental condition and the mental poverty — the mental darkness and the mental suffering of others, and to know how always to do the right thing for them — in short, to make no mistakes. A study of external nature alone will never lead to this.

Theosophy is profoundly religious. Postulating first, Unity, there follows necessarily the Divinity of Man. True religion, then, is the tracing of the link between man and Deity. It is knowledge, through interior conscious experience, of the Christ that is within each of us. And this is not only religion, but is also occultism.

The first moment of true religious experience in the life of any one, occurs when he realizes that he is something more than a wayward, physical body; when he becomes conscious of that which the Quakers call the "inner light." And this light is much nearer than we have realized. If there is the soul, and also the personality, there must exist some present relation between the two. Who can or ought to know more of the soul than the personality which it informs? Dare I take the word of any one else concerning my real Self? The question, then, is how to proceed, if we really desire to know more of our interior nature. If, for the guidance of the personality, we have the personal mind, and if this mind, imperfect and uncertain as it seems to be in its operation, is really (as undoubtedly it is) our highest personal aspect, then it follows that only by its cultivation and better understanding will we be able to attain to a knowledge of that which is still more interior. By "knowledge" is meant inner consciousness; not imagination or speculation, but actual experience. If we believe fully that the light of the soul is within, and that the reason why that light is obscured is because of the density of the personality, our first effort must be to render the personal mind more porous to light — more pervious to the Higher Thought. We must clear away the rubbish of the personality, and we are connected with all this personal rubbish by thought. So long as thought is colored by Desire, is prompted and vitalized only by physical experience, it is clear that it cannot lift us away from the plane of material consciousness — cannot unveil to us anything that is within the personal life. For the personal life, we must remember, is an effect, the cause of which lies within.

If we really want to know more of the inner life, if we want our thought to be illumined by the light of the soul itself — we must think more about the soul, for we always know most concerning that of which we think most. "The soul becomes that which it dwells upon." If we are to find out our relations to inner planes, material interests must be relegated to their rightful place, for "no man can serve two masters."

It is only thus that the attainment of pure thought is possible, and by "pure" is meant uncolored by personal interest. Thought that has no taint of the personality must be spiritual in its nature; must bear an intimate relation to the inner life — the life of the soul. And when one is consciously the soul, "the eyes see intelligently and regard the world with a new insight."

Simplified, this means that one may learn to let the mind use the body. It does not require the operation of the Higher Mind — the soul — to keep house or to sell merchandise, or to practice a profession, yet it is only by the use of the Higher Mind that one can really know himself. When, through self-study and concentrated thought, we shall cut asunder the personal bondage, shall clear away from the brain-mind the terrestrial dust with which we are so familiar that we do not even notice it, we will have made it possible for the real mind to shine through, and then we will have found that the real mind is an aspect of the Soul itself.

There can then be no limit to one's power for good. The Kingdom of Heaven once found within oneself, the secret of helping others is discovered.

A complete understanding of self — a knowledge, through compassion, of the needs of others — an instant recognition through "soul-wisdom" of another's point of view, and of the means by which he can be led to higher levels — this is the religion of Theosophy.


Universal Brotherhood

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