In the midst of the materialism and agnosticism of the XlXth Century, Theosophy came as a great light. To the sorrowing and suffering, to the oppressed and weak, it comes as an Angel of Hope. Amid the warring elements of selfishness and competition and the greed of men and nations, it comes as a messenger of peace and Brotherhood. To the perplexities of the soul and its blind gropings after the truth it lends its guidance and points to the path of liberation.
The problems of life may be classed under three heads. Beginning with the most external there are those of physical existence, the inequalities and injustices, the suffering and misery, which characterize the conditions of all modern life. There are problems of the mind, for those who look behind the physical conditions and seek to get at the causes, but having no true guide resulting in materialistic philosophy and agnosticism, and the dogmatic, religious creeds and sects of Christendom.
Still deeper problems exist for those who may rise above the physical and the mental, problems of the inner life, of the conflict between the angel and the demon who strive for mastery within the breast of each of us, problems of conduct, of the heart, of the affections and aspirations, of the deeper truer relation of man to man and of man to his divine self, and to Nature and God.
What answer has Theosophy to these problems, and first, to the inequality and injustice of life? It has the same answer that Christ and Paul gave but which has been forgotten, and with it has also been forgotten another of the great keynotes of life. Christ said, "With whatsoever measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again." "Do men gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles?" Paul said, "Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."
What are men gathering today, what is the world reaping? Can it reap that which it has not sown? If today we are gathering thorns and thistles, do we not know that we must have sown these and that it is in vain to expect to gather figs or grapes from such sowing? If today selfishness and greed are being measured out, must we not have sown these in the past, and do we not know that they exist, if not actively at least in germ in our hearts today? But men and women of today say, we did not sow these things, it was our forefathers, the men and women of past ages, we have but come into this heritage of evil against our will. And those who can, say, let us shut out the picture, let us enjoy while we may, let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die. The materialist says it is the result of blind force, your thoughts and feelings are mere phantasies, ye shall soon pass again into nothingness. And the churches declare "It is God's will, ye are all born in sin, but if ye will only believe and support his holy church and his ministers, ye shall, through the merits of Christ be received into heaven to enjoy that which ye have not earned, but which Christ, having appeased the wrath of God by his blood now freely offers to them that believe." But Christ's own words are, "With whatsoever measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again." He also said, "Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven, but he that doeth the will of the Father which is in Heaven."
The modern world cannot understand this because it has forgotten that other teaching of Christ and of all the ancients that, "Ye must be born again" — in very truth, spiritually, but verily, also, physically. Ye must be born on earth again and again to reap that which ye sow until ye shall learn to sow that seed that shall bring forth the harvest of the soul and so fulfill the purposes of the Higher Law.
Truly we are reaping what our ancestors sowed in the past, but we ourselves were those ancestors, and we have been born here today in these conditions and in the varying conditions of the national, family, and individual life of each, because we have helped to make those conditions in the past and forged those ties of love and hate that bind us here and now.
Still it is not enough to say that we are reaping what we have sown. There is no hope in such an answer by merely looking back to the past. We must realize that today we are sowing new seed and that we ourselves determine what shall be the quality of that seed. Each thought, each wish, each act, is not only a link between the past and the future, but a seed, the harvest of which we must reap in that future and which is making that future either one of joy or one of sorrow and pain.
The whole of science is built on the fundamental idea of law, and all our actions are performed on the basis that, other things being equal, a certain cause will bring a certain effect. The very fact that when pursuing some vicious course men oftentimes have a vague hope that somehow they may evade the consequences, shows that deep down within their hearts they know that law does rule throughout Nature.
All this may, however, be granted, and man still find himself revolving in a vicious circle, bound by law, reaping what he has sown, and sowing again what he has reaped, ever reproducing the old, never evolving the new. Can we not see from the very facts of life that there is more than this, and that there is another supreme factor? Can we not see from what we know of evolution and of our own little experience in the present life, that nature does not go round and round in a circle, but ever presses forward. Does not the stone pass into the plant, the plant become the animal, the animal, man. And shall man stop where he is? Has the thread of life run thus far to end now, or to turn back on its course? Dare we set a limit to the Infinite? No, there lies before man the destiny of Godhood — man shall become a God. For the supreme factor of evolution, that of which modern science knows nothing, or knowing it, ignores and rejects it as unscientific — not belonging to the realm of science — the supreme factor is the divine spark of life, the soul, that stands above and behind all life and all forms of life and ever seeks to pour forth more and more of itself into the form. It is because of this inpouring of life that evolution proceeds, that higher and higher forms are produced, but which having mirrored itself in man he must consciously call down and ally himself with.
It is because of this inexhaustible fount of life and love, because of the universal reign of law whereby not the feeblest thought or effort fails of its effect, because of the divine immortal spark in man, that Theosophy teaching this can answer the problems of life, can bring hope and renewed life even to the despairing, can say to the man who suffers now that he can sow seeds of joy and love and sunshine for future harvests, and says also that he who is now reaping fair harvests has the added responsibility of their use for the good of all, else the golden opportunity lost, resting content, seeking only to enjoy for himself, he shall waste the fair harvest and in the next birth find his life barren and desolate.
And the answer to the problems and doubts of the mind is the same, to point to the Divine in the heart, to awaken man to the fact that he is more than body, more than mind, that he is a divine soul, that the soul's life is love, to serve, to seek the good of all, that only by doing the divine will, can divine knowledge be gained.
Theosophy's answer to the skeptic and the doubter is — to do, to do, to love, to seek another's welfare, to follow the impulses of the heart, to live in action, not in theory. To those whose problems are of the inner life it recalls the ancient memories of the Golden Age, it shows that in the traditions of all races, that in the infancy of humanity divine Teachers pointed the pathway of life; but that men permitted selfishness to rule and the lower nature of sense and desire to obscure the light within the heart so that they no longer followed their divine guides but drove them from the earth; but that the elder brothers of the race have never deserted them; that in the turning of the wheel of time great Teachers have come again and again to proclaim their message on earth, that though men crucified them and turned their words into means whereby they might gain power and hold their fellow-men in bondage, — still the human race has not been deserted. The lives of our three great Teachers, H. P. Blavatsky, William Q. Judge and Katherine Tingley are themselves answer to the problems of life. Theosophy itself is that answer and the work of the Universal Brotherhood and the Theosophical Society are that answer put into practice and brought down into everyday life, and by its means, by the practice of that brotherhood which it teaches and exemplifies shall the whole world be transformed.
Let me present to you a picture given by our Teacher: Think of it, if you who now read this could as little children have had impressed upon your minds the simple knowledge that you were souls, that there was in your hearts a divine, inexhaustible power, that you were something more than bodies, something more than thinking machines, and had the power of divinity and all that is beautiful and true within yourselves; think of it, that if you had had pointed out to you the two paths, the one of the God-child the other of the little animal-child, and if our parents and teachers had known the meaning and the beauty and the power of life — if the men and women of today had had these things taught them would we not have had happiness and joy where now we have sorrow and pain, would not the world have been brighter and better?
But we can learn these things now. It is not too late even for us who are grown and we can instill them into the minds of our children, we can awaken in their young lives the divine warrior-soul. This is what Katherine Tingley is doing in the Raja Yoga school at Point Loma. We are building for the future, for the coming races of men, and with the new light of a divine purpose in life, with the love of all life flowing in the heart, selfishness and sorrow and suffering and all shadows shall give way before the dawning light of a new Golden Age.
1. A Paper read in San Diego, Feb. 19, 1901. (return to text)
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