Universal Brotherhood Path – August 1900

STUDENTS' COLUMN — J. H. Fussell

HABIT.

Concerning those acts of the lower nature which have become habitual, H. P. Blavatsky writes:

"The molecules of the body have been set in a Kamic [pertaining to desire and passion] direction, and though they have sufficient intelligence to discern between things on their own plane, i.e, to avoid things harmful to themselves, they cannot understand a change of direction, the impulse to which is from another plane. If they are forced too violently, disease, madness or death will result."

When a bar of steel is treated with a natural magnet, it acquires a magnetic polarity in itself, and may be used, for example, as a needle in a mariner's compass. The magnetized needle may be separated into fragments, and each fragment, however minute, will exhibit all the phenomena of polarity. From this and other reasons physicists have adopted the theory that every molecule in the steel has become polarized, and that the magnetic character of the needle is merely the sum of the magnetic character of its molecules. And as the constant use of a magnet increases its strength, it has become customary never to lay aside a magnet without its armature.

We may consider men as susceptible to the influence of magnetism of several kinds. Saint Paul's analysis of man as body, soul and spirit may be assumed to be justified by the facts of being; and either faculty may have the predominating influence. If the body controls, man may be said to be polarized in the plane of mere animal appetites and propensities. When we remember how every fiber of our being thrills with the demands of hunger or thirst, it hardly needs argument to show that this polarity is present in every molecule of our body. H. P. Blavatsky has taught us, and science is beginning to admit, that the molecules of which the body is made up are not dead matter, and the polarity which they exhibit is not blind force, but every molecule and atom is an invisible but actual life, having its own intelligence and consciousness, appropriate to its own plane or condition of being. This instinctive tendency of the molecules, and therefore of the body, to act in a certain way under given circumstances, is one of the definitions of habit; and the longer this tendency has been enforced by the repetition of certain acts and the persistence of certain conditions, the stronger become the chains of the habit thus established.

Take, for example, habits of eating and drinking. If food and drink are chosen carefully with reference to the maintenance of all the faculties in their best estate, a very different magnetic condition will be set up in the molecules from that which exists where the choice is made with reference to the gratification of the palate. In the latter case the body and all its organs and atoms will he polarized in the direction of pleasures of the table, and this polarity will day by day become more intense by the power of habit, which, as we have seen, is the result of repetition. It is well known that when a kind of diet has been followed for many years, a sudden change produces great discomfort, if not disease. If one has lived past middle age on a meat diet, for example, a sudden change to vegetarianism will, if persisted in, ordinarily set every molecule of his body in active rebellion against what must to it appear an inexcusable affront. Neither the molecules nor the organs which they constitute will know what to do with the unwelcome intruder, and they will miss the accustomed stimulant.

So, too, in the case of a change of climate, a change of dress, or any other change which reason or circumstances may make necessary or desirable. Man is a bundle of habits. As the twig is bent the tree is inclined. The astral and Kamic lives [those of the passional and sensuous nature] as well as the merely physical organization are influenced by this law of iteration: and the Skandhas or Kamic tendencies thus generated or strengthened carry the impulse over into successive lives. In childhood the pace is set by parents and teachers; to that it is only after man reaches the age of discretion and choice that he can by strong determination and persistence change the evil polarities of his past and add new strength to those that are good. — G. A. Marshall

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What answer do Theosophists give to Cain's question: "Am I my Brother's keeper?" In what sense and how far is this true?

The answer to Cain's question is contained in the question itself — in the very fact of the acknowledgment of the relationship of Brotherhood. And although an apparent stress and particular meaning is laid upon the word "keeper" he might as well have asked: "Am I my brother's Brother?"

Apart from the incident related of Cain and Abel, the question of being a Brother's "keeper" seems to be a quibble and as though it were demanded "Is he a baby, that I should tie him to my apron string: is he an irresponsible infant and I a full grown intelligent man; is he a slave and I his master, that I should be responsible for him?" It also implies: "Can he not look after and care for himself: has he not intelligence and freewill; if I attend to my business, is not that my whole concern; can he not attend to his own affairs; why should I interfere?"

But knowing the incident, that Cain had killed his Brother, the question is seen in its true light as a subterfuge and excuse; and the thought arises, Is not the incident which gave rise to the question a type — even though extreme in a somewhat marked degree — of what is back of the general question: "Am I my Brother's keeper" wherever and by whomsoever asked?

Could this question arise in the mind of any one who realized what the relationship of Brotherhood meant, and had sought honestly and zealously to fulfil that relationship? Could it arise in the mind of any one save of him who had wilfully violated his obligations or neglected to perform them?

Looking at the matter in this light, recognizing the difference in development in different men, and that all have a certain measure of opportunity, free will and choice, we see that the relationship of Brotherhood is that of elder and younger Brothers throughout the scale of being.

Thus to he a Brother's keeper does not mean that we have all the responsibility and that he is irresponsible, but that each has a responsibility towards his Brothers both elder and younger and the measure of responsibility is limited only by one's knowledge and opportunity; — I think opportunity implies responsibility, and also that as responsibility is realized, the opportunity for its fulfilment may be found.

The question is entirely that of one's responsibility towards and for others and can be answered fully only when Universal Brotherhood is seen to be a fact in Nature. Just as in a family circle — a true family in the highest sense — it is seen that all are so intimately linked together into one harmonious whole that the welfare or suffering of one member affects the whole family and each other member, so in the great family of a Nation, and the family of Races and of all humanity. The greatest bar to human progress is the non-recognition of the fact of Universal Brotherhood, and the false idea that individual progress may be obtained at the expense or suffering of others, or at least with disregard of others.

Each one, from the standpoint of the Soul, his higher nature, is his own keeper and is responsible for his thoughts and acts. The family is but a larger self, the nation, race, Humanity are one's self in greater and greater degree.

The harmony of a great Orchestra depends on two things, first on each instrument's being in tune and second on the united action of the whole, the whole orchestra becoming for the time one great complex instrument, obedient to the Leader's baton as the complex nature of man, the soul's orchestra, should be and in the case of the perfect man has so become, perfectly obedient to the Soul.

Am 1 my Brother's keeper then? I am responsible for keeping myself, my own instrument, in tune, and secondly I share with all my Brothers the responsibility of greater harmony of the whole. By my own life, by thought and word and act, I help or hinder my Brother, and therefore I am his Brother, his keeper.

The human mind when controlled by the lower nature is very prone to neglect of duty and to making excuses. The lower nature, when unfettered, cares but for itself, and would seek its own ends regardless of others. It asks "Am I my Brother's keeper?" This is its excuse. But it is not the true nature of man, and each one's own experience teaches that to follow it does not bring happiness. The true nature, the Soul, knows its oneness with all Souls and that as it is its own keeper, its own Master in the Temple, Man, it too in the wider sense partakes of the nature of the World Soul, the "keeper" and Lord of the Temple, Humanity. — ORION


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