Universal Brotherhood Path – September 1901


The great point of attack in every elevating force for humanity is selfishness. "Forget self" is the cry! How can self be forgotten or in the slightest degree staid from activity when encouraged to the belief that it existed in the ages past and is going to exist in the ages to come; in other words, this theory not only gives birth to the creature "self" but usurps the power of giving to it life in the past and in the future. To me this theory is the incarnation of the very seed of self. You say we have lived and will live again. What do you mean by "we?"

The above is part of a long letter on the subject of reincarnation, which would take up too much space to quote here in full, but as it has been handed to the Students' Column for reply the above main points have been selected for consideration. In the first place it is evident that the writer has only a very limited knowledge of the Theosophical teachings in regard to the nature of man and I would recommend that he study further. But mere intellectual study will avail little and will not remove the mental preconceptions or enable the writer to find his way out of the intricate maze of brain-mind argument.

To know, one must live; to see, one must have eyes and must open those eyes. In order to understand life and nature and God one's whole being must become clarified and this cannot be done by arguing, but by doing and living. Christ said, "If any man will do His Will he shall know of the doctrine," and Krishna said five thousand years ago, "He who is perfected in devotion findeth spiritual knowledge springing up spontaneously in himself in the progress of time." If a man has his back turned to a beautiful landscape, no amount of argument will make him see it, he must turn around and then he may behold the beauties of the scene. Sometimes, however, we can place a mirror before him, but even then at best, it is only an imperfect reflection he will see. Such a mirror exists today for the world in the work and lives of the members of the Universal Brotherhood, but these cannot be understood in their full import save as one enters into that work and life, and that implies more than argument, it is more than a mental conception. A certain man, a great student of books who had studied much about physical phenomena but had done no practical laboratory work received from a friend a fine static electric machine. He immediately tried to work it, but it was a very damp day, the machine was not enclosed, he had forgot entirely the necessary condition of the dryness of the atmosphere in order to obtain successful results in static electricity. How foolish would that man be to declare that the electric phenomena were all imagination, impossible of attainment, yet precisely the same attitude is taken by agnostics and materialists, and doubters generally. All knowledge lies open to him who will fulfill the conditions thereof, and these are not arbitrary but in the very nature of things. Little man may think to impose his own conditions, but Nature works on unmoved, she can wait and man at last must turn to her and fulfill her behests.

Forget self! Does the writer of the question believe it possible? Has he ever actually forgotten self or sought to do so? If so, what was the result? Did he cease to be? On the contrary, did he not find life fuller, more intense, more beautiful? In other words by forgetting self, he found, whether he was fully conscious of it or not, a wider self. If the writer will analyze his nature and will dare to be unselfish, he will find that by being unselfish he will come to know something of his true "Self." He will find that as Christ taught, "He that loseth his life, shall find it." He will find that the true Self is unselfish.

"We have lived again and again." Yes, if the true Self is referred to and that Self knows it has ever existed and can never die. But the "we" as it is ordinarily conceived by men and women, never did live before and never will live again; in fact it changes and grows and may be utterly obliterated even in the present life. Most "civilized" people use the expression "I" am tired, "I" am hungry, "I" am sick. But some of the "uncivilized" say, "my body" is tired, hungry, sick; or "my mind" is tired, worn out, etc. Which is true?

What is the true Self? Is it the body? Man is not his body, though alas, through willful neglect of ages of refusing to follow the guidance of the light within his soul, he has identified himself with his body. Yet he can control his body, he can demonstrate to himself that he is not his body, but can use it as an instrument, a tool. Is the Self then the desires or passions? Cannot man rise above these also and control them? Is he the mind? Yet man can turn his mind hither and thither, he can control it so that it shall serve instead of, as is the curse of modern civilization, control him. Push the analysis as far as you can and you will find that that which is nearest to your true " Self," your highest thoughts and feelings, your aspirations, your impulses towards self-forgetfulness in the service of others, link you more and more with all that is and open the very door to the secrets of Nature. But we so rarely touch this high note of our being, yet it alone will enable us to know ourselves as we are; all the rest, the lower nature, is transient, we identify ourselves with it and must sink ultimately into oblivion. Yet the Soul knows even this and must suffer for it and must build for itself a new body, a new mind. It must do this, for it seeks ever a full expression of itself on all the planes of life. And while it is a new body, a new mind, which it builds, it uses again as it were, the old tendencies, the old habits of the former body and the former mind, and so each child is born with a character. In the ordinary sense save in exceptional cases it has no memory of a former life, but the full record is there in every life—the record of character, of tendency, of natural impulse and natural ability or — natural depravity.

But the full arguments, the evidence of the truth of Reincarnation, would take a volume and even then would avail nothing to him who having eyes will not see, and having ears will not hear. — J. H. Fussell

Universal Brotherhood Path