The earnest thinkers of this world appear to me like men fishing in a vast pool stocked with innumerable varieties of fish. Every man who lands his catch thinks he has caught the biggest, and goes off to tell everybody about it. The fact is that every fisher in the Pool of Truth uses a different bait and catches a different fish, and while no one specimen is representative of the whole, it yet has a value of its own and is not to be disregarded. It is this thought, in the mind of a very ignorant beginner as yet angling in the shallows, which has given him courage to submit his catch — a mere stickleback — for inspection.
To begin with, it would be interesting to know how many of the millions of human beings alive today believe truly in any conscious existence apart from this life on earth. Most of us don't, until we meet with Theosophy. Whatever we profess to believe, we act most of the time in accordance with the prevailing creed of the age, which is that this life is everything. It's a case of 'every man for himself, all the time.' Says Everyman: It all ends at death anyway, so what does it matter? We believe in what we can see with our eyes, clink in our palms, and stub our toes on. We believe in grabbing all that we can while we are here, for after death there is — nothing.
This doctrine leads to pettiness, feverishness, perpetual buzz and scurry. It is the doctrine of the so-called 'practical man,' who teaches his children to regard all time as wasted which is not spent in attending with a frown of concentration to the business of getting money. As we grow out of childhood, we are all infected by this attitude to a greater or less degree. Numbers of people are perfectly satisfied with it, and these for the time imagine themselves happier — being more completely drugged with materialistic dope — than those who stir uneasily in their sleep, disturbed by half-glimpses of infinity.
I like to think that these latter are in the majority: that there are few who do not at some time or another stop short, feeling shaken at the unexpected sight of something beautiful. It might be anything — the sun, the moon, the sea, a tree or a flower, or even so microscopic an organism as a diatom. The beauty of Nature is disturbing because it is mysterious. It hints at forces and laws and plans outside the ken of the 'practical man,' and fills him momentarily with doubt and misgiving as to the adequacy of his doctrine. It tugs at his soul because it is akin to the beauty hidden and unguessed within himself: because like calls to like, and that divine essence which some call the godspark, but which I prefer to call absolute beauty, streams through men in common with everything else in Nature. There is hope of growth in a man so long as he can be so disturbed. If he cannot, he is at best standing still. Your money-grubber has not time to consider the lilies; which amounts to saying that he has no time to consider the possibility of his having a soul. It remains to the often-despised poet to give expression to that overwhelming feeling of 'something beyond' which is all that the untaught masses know of their own divine inner nature.
Then to the fortunate few comes Theosophy, like a flood of light, like a door suddenly opened to one who has been peering painfully through the keyhole. We are taught that this life, far from being everything, is only a very tiny stage on the inner man's pilgrimage towards perfection. And what a difference that makes! Boundaries vanish; mountains become molehills; the horizon widens into infinity. We begin to acquire a sense of proportion, and we are able to stop and think, because we know that if all infinity is ours we can afford to do so. We have time to relax — I don't mean, of course, to shirk our duties, but to relax from the strain of the physical into the calm of the spiritual, to open the windows of the soul and let the fresher air come through. We know that death is not the end, and so we can afford to appear to die. We know that there is ultimately no injustice, and so we can afford to appear to be cheated. We can pity the drugged slumber of the materialists, and strive after the inner peace of those Great Ones who have dared to become themselves.
The difficulty is to remember what we are. We are princes disguised as peasants; gods in the skins of beasts; pilgrims bearing a high responsibility of which we should be proud. We are so encompassed around with material things that they tend to assume too great an importance. Could we but bear our great heritage always in mind; could we but remember through every minute of every day that we are Sons of the Sun, bearing within ourselves the light which is absolute truth, then, although Karman might decree that we spend our time oiling engines or peeling potatoes, we should automatically think and act with that dignity and sanity which alone are worthy of the Higher Self.
And how are we to remember? I should say by keeping the imagination alive, by refusing to become hidebound, by retaining that triumphant broadness of vision in which we rejoiced when, as children, hoping all things and believing all things, we were able to see beauty where our elders saw nothing.
It is this awareness, this sort of domesticated clairvoyance, for which I am pleading: a perpetual sense of the bigness of things; an imagination wide enough to span the gulf between itself and the unseen; wide enough to accept gods and fairies, mysteries and miracles and magic; an unshakable conviction that life is ultimately beautiful and good; and a realization that, although this earth is temporarily our school, the true home of the exiled spirit is in the heart of the Infinite.
And if we hold to this firmly enough, what becomes of death? It becomes as simple as stepping through a doorway. School lessons for the time being are over, and the higher man is bound for holidays and unimaginable happiness.
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