The Theosophical Forum – May 1937

NATURE STUDIES: II — H. Percy Leonard


Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?
The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night.Isaiah, xxi, 11-12

According to Theosophy, all the conditions and events of life revolve in cycles. They have their birth, their growth, their full maturity, and then their slow decline and death. After a lapse of time they reappear and the successive changes run their course again. Our brighter moods must of necessity give place to intervals of gloom as evening shadows deepen into night after the sun has set. Not until we recognise and make allowance for these oscillations in our consciousness can we attain to mental equilibrium, nor can our minds enjoy more dignity and calm than children have who fluctuate between two alternatives of tears and laughter throughout the waking day.

If a devoted mother were to hear her child at night crying alone in terror of the dark, she very properly would comfort her by telling her the morning was at hand and night would soon be over. Shall we say, however, that were she guided strictly by a logical consistency she ought to call her child indoors when playing in the morning sunshine and advise her not to be too happy as the cyclic law would soon bring round the dreaded shades of night once more? Such an extreme of philosophy in mothers is happily very rare; but those of us who have attained full growth may well consider the inevitable backward swing of life's inexorable pendulum, and steadily confront the situation here described.

No change from darker moods to lighter ones can bring us permanent relief; for in due course the change itself will be transformed into something else and cannot furnish an abiding satisfaction for the soul. The Universe in all its parts is in perpetual flow, and while we willingly subject ourselves to Nature's sway by our preoccupation with the body and the lower mind, we must be subject to the ebbing and the flowing of the tides. Are men for ever doomed to float like corks upon the restless waves of moods and feelings? Have we no better destiny than everlasting oscillation?

'Nature," by derivation, signifies that which is born and hence must die. From the Divine she issues forth, back to her source she must return; therefore in all her many-chambered mansions can we never find a lasting habitation for the soul. But man in inmost essence is an undivided part of unseen reality which causes, but is not affected by, the ebbing and the flowing of the tides.

The human race in general and the individual for himself are destined to achieve their independence from the tyranny of cyclic law. Man may arise and claim his long-forgotten dignity of being one with the Divine and work indeed in harmony with cyclic law, but holding all the while to that supreme, eternal life which burns with never wavering glory in the inner shrine.

The vast majority of humankind are the servants of the cycles as they come and go, and alternate incessantly between the antics of the dancing faun and the prostration of tearful Niobe. And all the while the Sphinx in balanced equilibrium, the human head the ruler, and the body of the brute as slave, sits gazing on Eternity with changeless satisfaction smiling on his face, inviting us to seize our heritage and share his peace.

Theosophical University Press Online Edition