Copyright © 1996 by Theosophical University Press. All rights reserved.
Behold the Truth before you: a clean life, an open mind, a pure heart, an eager intellect, an unveiled spiritual perception, a brotherliness for one's co-disciple, a readiness to give and receive advice and instruction, a loyal sense of duty to the Teacher, a willing obedience to the behests of TRUTH, once we have placed our confidence in, and believe that Teacher to be in possession of it; a courageous endurance of personal injustice, a brave declaration of principles, a valiant defense of those who are unjustly attacked, and a constant eye to the ideal of human progression and perfection which the Secret Science depicts — these are the golden stairs up the steps of which the learner may climb to the temple of Divine Wisdom. — H. P. Blavatsky
It is very pitiful that everywhere the word occultism has been so misused and misapplied. Fanatics of every kind, and half-crazed people who are endeavoring to introduce some newfangled religion, have interwoven into their vocabulary and their teachings the word occult. Theosophically speaking the word occultism simply means the science of right living. It belongs to ages ago, when people had no creeds, no churches — when they lived closer to nature, when they preached, believed, and lived the science of life.
Surely thoughtful people are not yet satisfied with their comprehension of life or with their comprehension of death or rebirth. Just as long as our heart is yearning and aspiring, we may be sure there is something more for us. But when we can aspire and learn and gain the knowledge of true theosophy or the science of living, then we will begin to rise and go forward on a new basis of real occultism; for we must have something substantial to depend on if we are to meet life and meet death with any degree of peace and satisfaction. We must have something more for our children, something more for posterity. We must seek that which our hearts are calling for.
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, who in the 1870s brought the teachings of theosophy to the Western world in modern times, never claimed that she had originated these teachings. One of her strongest declarations was that theosophy accepts the essential teachings of all religions. How many people are there who can draw the line between the essentials and the nonessentials in life? How many think that their wants must be met, and forget that if their needs are met, that is enough?
One must not judge theosophy by the ridiculous idiosyncrasies and madness of pseudo-theosophy. Real theosophy, as H. P. Blavatsky taught it, is the most practical teaching in the world. It offers every human soul the key to the real meaning and purpose of life. It teaches man whence he came, whither he goes. It explains something of the divine laws governing the universe. It demonstrates that one life on earth is not enough for the evolution of the soul of man.
Theosophy does not limit God. It makes that great supreme power infinite. And if God is infinite, can we make him finite, personify him, call him revengeful and name him as a punishing God? No, we cannot. Think of the great supreme source of life that holds the stars in their places, that orders nature and its wonderful mysteries, that gives to mother and father the sacred privilege of parenthood — think of these and then tell me who can limit the universal, supreme Deity! Who can attempt to limit human life? At your best moments, at your silent moments, when either by despair or joy you have been moved to a state of contemplation, of analysis, of questioning, of yearning, think a moment: have you not sometimes almost felt the touch of this divine power in your longings and in your aspirations? Think what it would be if the human mind could be ever conscious of the fact that man is part of the great, central, spiritual life, a ray of the Supreme!
There are many aspects to truth. When Jesus said, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them," surely no one will think for a moment that he meant his personal self would be there, or that he meant his intelligence or even his own soul. What he did mean was the higher quality of spiritual life, which is ever awaiting recognition in us — a ray of the Supreme, which holds man in his place, and the stars in their places, and which brings the spirit of justice to earth, ultimately. It is the Christos-spirit in man; it is that wonderful, indescribable something that comes to all of us at times. Perhaps it can be best understood as the highest conception that we can reach of the idea of love. How many in the world today can describe love? Look at the different aspects in which it is presented. Sometimes it is degraded in a way that makes it but a counterfeit of love. But where real love begins, when it is true and unselfish, we may know that it belongs to all eternity.
As we step out on the broad path of research, with a disposition to forget our selfish selves and to live for others, with a desire to make the world smile and rejoice while there are so many aching hearts, to do our full duty to our mission in life, then we shall be living the occult life. Thus we shall begin to know the science of living, thus we shall begin to climb, and within the compass of one earth-life we shall know that we are evolving.
One of the great secrets in the science of life is self-directed evolution. If man will recognize his own soul and feel its power, he will know what self-evolution means. Is it not time that an earnest effort were made to adjust the affairs of the world on something more than a merely intellectual basis? It may make us smile to see men in their egoism, acting as though there were nothing above the intellect. But let a man rise in our conventions with a knowledge of occultism, and strike the needed note of peace and universal brotherhood — then we shall see the power of the science of right living!
The world belongs to humanity, the soul of man is eternal, his destiny in a sense is as fixed as the stars, if he will turn his face towards the light, if he will respond to that indescribable, pulsating something — that spiritual urge in his heart. No man, no matter how he has failed, has ever completely lost touch with that certain quality of tenderness and gentleness and nobility which is the eternal part of him, though it may seem lost; and if he does not find it today, he may find it tomorrow. So the hope, the grandeur, the superb optimism of the psychology of true theosophy is just what the nations need today.
This does not mean that the churches should disappear, but it does mean that every human being shall have the right to think
for himself and to give his own soul a chance to live. Suppose for a moment that I am on the wrong path, that my plan of life has no basis: is it not safer to take this view and fashion the life according to it, even though it might be fallacious, than to go on as the world has been going for so many centuries — man separate from his brother, families inharmonious, nations at war, suicide, vice, crime, and despair everywhere? We must be up and doing, we must clear the way, we must dare to think more deeply and to work more unselfishly. Preaching without living the life is entirely out of place. Unless the heart-life is behind it, unless we can have the daily consciousness of becoming better, of growing nearer to the great universal life, we shall know little of occultism. Let us depend on the intellectual life just so long as it keeps us free. But remember that the intellectual life of man, great and necessary as it is, is but the instrument of the higher nature, the soul.
The sooner we can find that there is this eternal center within us, the sooner shall we begin to know ourselves. I have worked among criminals and unfortunates ever since I was sixteen years of age. They have lost faith in themselves, they have lost faith in humanity, they have lost faith in their God. When they lose these, they lose everything, and their godlike qualities and that divine ray that is in them cease to be active, though they may be there. Then the whole lower nature is bent on revenge, on all those dreadful feelings that arise from the selfishness of human nature.
Further, man being a part of God's great family, it is only the body that dies, with its passions, weaknesses, and its idiosyncrasies. In a sense man's body is as sacred as his soul,
for it is the house in which the soul lives. Consequently the life must be clean and pure. Then when the soul passes out, the body goes to its own, mixes with the elements, continues on its mission in different physical expressions. But all that was noblest and best in the life is still there, and as the released soul goes out into its new birth for another school of experience where it may evolve and grow, it loses nothing; it is not lost.
Here let me say a few words of warning. There are some people who claim to remember their past incarnations. Now according to the best knowledge that I have, and according to all the ancient teachers, no one knows what his last incarnation was. The physical brain, which is the organ of physical memory, dies with the body. Only that part of the higher nature which is needed for the soul's development goes on with it. It is like the flowers. They blossom for the summer and then die; the next summer other flowers like them blossom from the same essence, but not the same flowers. And so it is with the soul. The soul goes on its way.
I had one experience which was a wonderful revelation to me. I have been under water and was supposed to be drowned. I went under three times before I was pulled up. If I had never known anything spiritually, my soul would have gone out joyfully to the wonderful state beyond, for during that experience, when I was brought back to my normal state, I had lost all love of this life, for the revelation of death was so beautiful. Imagine the state of the soul that has fashioned itself at its best in one life, when it goes out — the revelations must be unlimited. As we have lived so shall we receive.
Think of the wonder and the joy of the soul freed from the tired body, in harmony with the grand symphonies of life! Of course these grand symphonies are sounding all the time, but we have not the ears to hear; we have not yet developed a conception of the spiritual things in life. But they exist. There is a wonderful symphony of life beyond the grave. I do not hear it, I cannot hear it; but I can conceive of it because the real soul-life is beautiful, is wonderful, is teeming with joy which every man can have when he has courage enough to face himself, to challenge himself, to find his own soul, and to begin to climb the ladder of self-directed evolution.
It is the aim of my Raja-Yoga system to produce, above all, balanced characters — raja yoga means the perfect balance of all the faculties, physical, mental, and spiritual. It is the teachings of theosophy applied to the problem of education. Please remember that raja yoga is not hatha yoga, the very antithesis of raja yoga.
Great educators have said to me: Could you not give us the secrets of the success of your Raja-Yoga system? And I have answered that no one can give them to you, all the money in the world cannot purchase them, for each pupil is treated individually. We give to each the necessary environment, the right atmosphere, the proper example; and we aim to bring out from each child its own soul-qualities rather than to weigh down its brain, its intellect, with our own intellectual attainments.
Of course the pupil gets enough of intellectual development in our school and college. More than that, while this is going on, while the body is being preserved and strengthened by proper diet and exercise and a clean, wholesome environment, the mentality holds its balance. Why? Because the child is taught its responsibility from the time it can speak. This may seem a mystery, but it is true. It is taught that it is a part of the great universal life. It is never punished; it is never reprimanded as most children are. But it is corrected and reminded and encouraged.
When the pupil reaches the period between fourteen and sixteen years of age, when most parents think it is time to send their children off to college, our Raja-Yoga pupil has learned when to say yes and when to say no. He feels that he is a part of this eternal life. This gives a sense of responsibility. It goes with the environment, with the example.
Under the Raja-Yoga system of education music is a very important factor, for real music is an attribute of the soul. By cultivating music in the child we can help to bring it up in accord with the natural laws of life. In this way we have sometimes made musicians out of pupils with no musical heredity, who in the beginning were very backward in their classes. Yet we do not make them musicians. The music was in their natures, and we have simply helped them to open up their natures.
Theosophy does not interfere with one's duty to his family or anything of that sort. It simply gives one's mind a rest.
In our daily duties, our disappointments, our heartaches, and our trials, remember there is nothing so grand in life as a superb motive continuously sustained with our love and spiritual devotion. It is the breath of the soul. If one will cling to the pure ideals of theosophy, one finds a constant companionship in its philosophy of life. It is not purchasable and it cannot be taken away. It applies to every department of life.
I often think, if all the marriages that have taken place in the last hundred years could have had behind them the law of occultism — if every man had felt his responsibility from the soulful and divine side of his nature, if he had realized the potency and the sacredness of marriage, and if every mother, too, had been prepared in the highest sense — can you not conceive that the issue of such as these would be a better humanity than we have today? And yet even with its weakness, humanity is still splendid in many ways.
In the rearing of children parents should at least feel that it is their bounden duty to give as much care and love and opportunity to the soul of their child as they do to the body and the material side of life. Give the child a chance for spiritual growth, open its mind for the higher education, abolish fear and punishment! Never allow a shadow of the lack of faith in life to cross its path. Make life a joy — in your mind and in your imagination, if you have it not in fact. Have no disharmony in your home life. Build up your home-altar on a new basis of spiritual growth, as well as mentally and physically. Do this and you need have little fear for the future of your children.
Teach children the laws of physical health, to keep their bodies pure and clean. Realize that some of your children's difficulties may be inherited. Teach them to keep their minds pure that their lives may be clean. Remember that their lives are in your keeping and that imagination is the bridge that links the mind and the soul. Use your spiritual will and your imagination in continuously picturing your children as advancing along the path according to your highest ideals and your most sacred hopes. I cannot conceive that any artist ever painted a beautiful picture without first imagining it. I cannot conceive of any musician composing or performing grand and masterful works without first playing them in his imagination.
We must use common sense and keep ever in our minds the ideals of a beautiful manhood and womanhood for our children. Try to live close to your highest ideals and your spiritual will, and after a while you will become so imbued with these ideals that you will discover a new way to educate your children. Through occultism, the science of right living, you will afford higher education for your children. For the sake of coming generations, for the sake of what is noblest and best in your natures, find and follow the path of occultism. It leads to endless joy and peace.
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