It comes with the first breath though there may be no mental consciousness of it in the infant, whose primal effort, as he appears on the physical plane, is an experiment with his lungs. It haunts us from the cradle to the grave and we pass through many phases of mental and spiritual dyspepsia because we do not pause to assimilate what we absorb. As if driven by some inexorable fate we pursue whatever Will-o'-the-wisp may dance before us and allure us, until in the chase we forget others, who, each in his turn is pursuing his special ignis fatuus. The less we really do know the more completely we flatter ourselves that we have gained all that can be acquired and we cry out for wider fields of vision on other planes of consciousness. How many of us comprehend our present one?
I ask the little tot just in the proud pursuit of learning her alphabet: "Do you know the letter A?" "Of torse I does," is the self-sufficient answer. Does she? — do you? — do I? I think not. Let us note what H. P. B. says of this introductory initial.
"A. — The first letter in all the world alphabets except a few, such for instance, as the Mongolian, the Japanese, the Tibetan, the Ethiopian, etc. It is a letter of great mystic power and 'magic virtue' with those who have adopted it, and with whom its numerical value is one. It is the Aleph of the Hebrews, symbolized by the Ox or Bull; the Alpha of the Greeks, the one and the first; the Az of the Slavonians, signifying the pronoun 'I' (referring to the 'I am that I am'). Even in Astrology, Taurus (the Ox or Bull or the Aleph) is the first of the Zodiacal signs, its color being white and yellow. The sacred Aleph acquires a still more marked sanctity with the Christian Kabbalists when they learn that this letter typifies the Trinity in Unity, as it is composed of two Yods, one upright, the other reversed with a slanting bar or nexus, thus — N. Kenneth R. H. Mackenzie states that the St. Andrew cross is occultly connected therewith. The Divine name, the first in the series corresponding with Aleph, is AeHeleH or Ahih, when vowelless, and this is a Sanskrit root."
How many of us have thought of this initial from this standpoint? Have we not in these suggestions food for study for this one life-time at least? What is its mystic power and "magic virtue," and why is its numerical value, one? Why is it connected with the first of the Zodiacal signs, and why is its color white and yellow, and why is its sound what it is? Why does it seem to compass all sound from the faintest sigh to the roar of the whirlwind? What fools we mortals be who think that we have compassed much knowledge when here at the very outset we find that the study of the initial letter of our Alphabet would open to us vistas of the Universe. The child learns its first letter simply as a form that shall aid him later in affiliating the thoughts of others from the written or printed page. How much wheat or how much chaff he will gain from this power he is obtaining will depend entirely upon himself and the object he is pursuing. But why does he care for the written page except to get an insight into the minds of other men? Yet each individual represents a different facet of the sparkling jewel of humanity, similar to the others but not the same. What then does all this querying bring us back to, except that the true study of man is man, and to know himself is man's ultimate aim, by this means arriving at all knowledge, because man is the outcome and epitome of the Universe?
Unquestionably we gain much knowledge of man from books, for it is truly said nothing can be thought or imagined that cannot be made manifest; consequently whatever thought a man may entertain or express, we know that it denotes a condition that may obtain and that it is a reflection from one of humanity's facets, though the color may be dark and repellent. It may carry with it the most diabolical suggestion and influence or it may be luminous with the highest thought and purpose, impelling to noble deeds and words. Thus from the printed page we gain much if we view each of these as an exposition only of man's composite nature and that it expresses his point of view. It is, however, from contacting our brother in a closer way that we learn to know him and so know ourselves best. If we reach his heart and get into close sympathy with him we then really begin to know something of Universal Law. We are attacking the occult — the hidden, we are learning the real secrets of nature. We do not need to go to books for this for we have already found that we do not even know the exoteric side of the letter A. Yet in face of this fact we clamor for esoteric knowledge, for instruction, for some curious and hidden manifestation that shall raise us above the common herd.
Why? We hug the flattering unction to our souls that it is because we can then help humanity to so much greater an extent. Have we done all that we can with our present means and knowledge? Have those who claim to have studied on esoteric lines fully comprehended what has been given them in the Secret Doctrine and other occult books and pamphlets? Do they know their letter A?
If the motive be perfectly pure with which one seeks to gain an insight into Nature's laws he will do so and become a helpful factor, but if he is only studying for the sake of power, to gratify his own vanity, to be able to swell himself out with the fancy that he knows so much more than others, he will probably wish before he gets through that he had not played with fire.
He who truly desires to help humanity must first of all forget self and then he will find increased knowledge and power in every move that may be made. He will not be troubled with doubts nor cast down by disappointments, but with the simple trust of a child will touch greater heights than he dreamed of. He will not need to hunt for Nature's secrets through hidden ways. She will open her heart to him and he will learn to comprehend some of the lore engraved on the diverse facets of her highest product — man.
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