When any individual has arrived at the definite realization that at every conceivable point the Universe is pulsating with life and consciousness, all of which has one common source, and that every center in it, high or low, faithfully mirrors the constitution and the nature of the Great Whole, the entire aggregate forming one vast and organized Unit of Life, from the Central Source of which all the countless Rays of Life and Consciousness hang like "pearls upon a string': when one realizes all this, then the Theosophical teaching of Universality and Brotherhood, passes from a merely quiet acceptance or belief, into a profound and all-compelling conviction, and into an ever-present reality in life, which from henceforth will dominate the person's activity.
It is the lack of this deeper realization of non-separateness and unity, which usually accounts for the half-hearted efforts that are made by individuals towards such attainment. But to acquire this universality in all its fulness and in all of its implications, is of course a process which needs many lives of arduous attention and devotion, and in every case, the initial steps towards such becoming consist in transcending the deep-rooted selfishness in human thought, feeling, desire and action, all of which is due to man's ignorant self-identification with his lower personal nature. To become fully successful in such endeavor, demands a never-failing persistence, and utter devotion to our highest ideals. The individual will find it very difficult to bring his whole spiritual, moral, and intellectual forces to bear upon this objective, unless he has first by impartial and a deep-searching self-analysis discovered — perhaps to his great wonderment and disgust — the enormous domination which his personal likes and dislikes exercise over all his activities. But when the individual becomes conscious of, and clearly perceives the flaws and the frailties of, his personal nature, he will usually try desperately to transcend his weakness. It is then that it is important for him to remember that the personal nature must not be killed out and destroyed, but that it must be trained, purified, and molded along lines that are in harmony and concord with Universality and Brotherhood. The personal man must be made the willing and instantly responsive servant and impassive tool of the spiritual man. This is invariably the first step and objective to which every earnest aspirant for the Higher Life must devote himself with unflinching determination, from morning to night, and all the days of his life, and all the lives to come, until he has fully learned to master and to control every impulse arising in his personal nature.
One of the basic laws of being, operating on all the planes alike, is that the higher life must always devote itself to the raising of the lower life. That this principle actually stands as the very basis of all spiritual progress and usefulness, will become convincingly clear to us when we have acquired a proper understanding of the fundamentals of technical Theosophy. With this end in view, we shall engage in a very brief review of some of those fundamentals which have a distinct bearing upon the subject under consideration.
At the first Dawning of the Manvantara, manifestation begins from a Center of Consciousness, within which are contained the combined evolutionary achievements and evolutionary results of the previous globe, chain, or solar system, or whatever may be in our minds. It is from such a primordial and supreme center that everything which exists on our globe has originally emanated.
The life of a chain of globes passes through seven great periods, which in Theosophy are called Rounds; each Round requiring many hundreds of millions of our mortal years to run its course. During the first half of each Round, Spirit is working downwards into the Matter-pole of Life, endeavoring to clothe itself with the matter of each plane in its descent. This period of descent of Spirit into Matter, is called the "shadowy arc" of evolution, which continues, until the densest aspect of matter in this Round is reached, when the life-impulse turns, beginning to re-ascend to its original source. During this re-ascent, the countless centers of life are endeavoring to disentangle themselves from Matter; in other words, to throw off their coating of matter, which they had collected around themselves during the descent in the first half of the Round.
Before manifestation begins on the objective planes, or the four material planes of our globe, the Life-impulse or Life-wave is engaged on the plane of pure Spirit and the Buddhic plane, which are called the formless or the spiritual world. The four planes below the Manasic plane are called the material world or the world of "form." In the beginning the Primordial Center of Consciousness, already referred to, emanates from within Itself Rays, which are projected into the cosmic Buddhic Plane. These Rays in turn emanate from within themselves other Rays, which they project onto the Manasic plane and this process is continued until the densest material plane in the world of form is reached. All the Rays as they are emanated faithfully mirror or reflect within themselves the characteristics and the constitution of their parents, and it is thus that every center of life carries within itself in miniature the nature and the constitution of the Universe, of which it is an inseparable part, as well as the potencies and the characteristics of their spiritual progenitors in latency, all of which are powers which in the course of evolution they are able to unfold and to bring into expression from within themselves. As the Rays pass from plane to plane during the shadowy arc of the Round, they are forming on the various planes knots or centers which, during the luminous arc when the life impulse is working back to its source, unfold into what we call the seven principles in man.
The physical globe upon which we now reside is one of a group with six other globes together forming what is called a Chain of Globes. This applies equally to all the physical globes of our solar system. The seven globes of any chain are each and all septenary in their constitution, but the individual globes vary in density from one another. It is on that account that our physical organ of vision, being so constructed that it can only respond to physical vibrations, fails to perceive the other six globes of our earth-chain.
Every planetary chain is a Cosmic Unit, whose life-term is made up of seven great world-periods called Rounds. They are called Rounds because the life-impulse of a Chain passes through all the seven globes in a Round period, commencing with the first globe of the series; and after a long evolutionary activity on this globe it passes on to globe two of the series. This is made up of denser substance than globe one. After a similar period on this globe, the life-impulse passes to globe three of the Chain, which is of still denser substance; and after its work is completed there, it passes on to globe four, which is the densest of the entire chain. When the life-impulse has evolved the densest substance on this globe, half of the time period of the entire Round has elapsed; then the life-impulse turns, and begins to reascend to the source from whence it came. The remaining three globes upon which it functions in turn are each subtler in texture than the previous one, and when the seventh globe is reached by the life-impulse it is functioning on a globe which in density and texture corresponds to globe one of the Chain, but the life-impulse is enriched with the results of the countless experiences it has gained during its peregrinations through the seven globes. It is this which is called a "Round."
In each Round one of the seven principles is fully evolved, as far as is possible and the general characteristics of the matter-aspect of the Chain will permit. The lowest principle is first fully evolved in the first Round; the second principle is fully evolved in the second Round, and so on. As our Chain has passed the midmost point of its life, it follows that we are now at the fourth Round of the Chain period, the midmost point of which was passed about eight or nine million years ago. It also follows that it is the fourth principle or Kama, the Desire nature in man, which is being fully evolved in this Round. As Manas or Mind is the fifth principle, it also follows that Mind in this Round is only partially unfolded, for it will not be fully evolved prior to the end of the fifth Round. This explains why Theosophy teaches that the Mind is dual, and we speak of this duality as the Higher and the Lower Mind. The Higher Mind in man is that aspect of our thinking principle which during our many incarnations in physical bodies on Earth has become purified, molded, and trained in such a way that it has acquired the characteristics of the spiritual aspects of life, and its natural tendency therefore is to lean towards the Buddhic principle and the Pole of Spirit. Whereas the lower aspect of the Mind is that aspect which the waking consciousness has not yet succeeded in bringing under the domination of its spiritual will, and therefore its natural tendency is towards the Matter side of life. That which we speak of as the "personality" in man, is this lower aspect of the Mind, which in the great majority of men is so largely dominated by the desire-principle in waking life. This is the reason why our humanity in the mass exhibits such selfish, grasping, and low characteristics — the prolific source of all our human misery, wretchedness, and pain, which pursue mankind from the cradle to the grave.
It is well for us to realize that our human personality is not a permanent entity, and that its term of life as an entity ceases with the death of the physical man, only such fragments of the Kamic principle of the personality remaining as during physical life become so closely interlinked with the lower Mind that they cannot at that point be disentangled from Manas; and therefore the individual's Devachanic state of consciousness has to begin in the lowest strata of Devachan, as it is only thus that the mental principle can be gradually and effectually cleansed from Kama and of all its remaining earthly taints as the Consciousness slowly rises to higher Devachanic planes. As these taints of Earth are steadily eliminated in Devachan, the consciousness correspondingly and steadily rises to the higher realms of Devachan, and when finally the Mind has become purified from all earthly influences, then that which remains represents the harvest, the cream of the life last lived on earth; and it is this purified portion of Manas which will then fuse with the higher mind — the Reincarnating Ego — which at the point of physical death was instantly withdrawn into the Monad, to which this purified part of Manas is now attracted, and with which it will fuse, thus becoming immortal. It is thus that more and more of the lower Mind — provided we make strenuous efforts to live the spiritual life on earth — is raised to the plane of the Higher Mind, as a result of which each succeeding life will be a marked improvement on the previous one, from a spiritual point of view.
During any life on earth when the lower Mind begins to awaken from its deathlike stupor in the ordinary human being and begins to realize its spiritual nature and then begins to curb the influence which the Desire nature has over the lower Mind, the spiritual nature is enabled to manifest itself more and more, life after life. But before this can come about the waking consciousness must deliberately, and by its own volition, set its face towards its spiritual sun — the Spiritual Monad — and whenever this takes place, then we might truly say that the hour of liberation for the human soul from the thraldom of the life of sense and its domination over the consciousness has struck. For from thence onward every life on Earth — if due effort along spiritual lines is continued — will yield at the close of each Devachanic period an ever increasing harvest, to the spiritual nature of the man, which will in the course of a few lives bring the man to the Feet of the Master and to the entrance of the Ancient Path, which, when its goal is reached, leads to the merging of the Individuality, or the Reincarnating Ego in Man, into the Spiritual Monad.
It is desirable that we should have a correct understanding of the enormous increase in consciousness and in power which this merging of the Individuality in the Spiritual Monad implies.
From the point where the waking lower Mind realizes its identity with the spiritual essence of its being, which is the Ray, called the Spiritual Monad, and as from henceforth the underlying current of the life on earth will be directed towards spiritual objectives, the "Christ-spirit" in man is born, and it is this which will grow and increase from life to life, causing more and more of the inherent potentialities and latent powers of the soul in man to unfold and to manifest in ever increasing spirituality, power, and usefulness. The consciousness which was hitherto mainly concerned with petty personal objectives, personal advantages, and selfish possessions and enjoyments, will become more unselfish, ever widening out its circumference, embracing in its objectives and its beneficence an ever increasing radius of beings and interests, all such activities being unselfish and expressions of Universality. It is thus that in the course of comparatively few incarnations — their number depending on the intensity of the efforts engaged in — the soul of the man will reach the point where it is able to merge its consciousness with its Spiritual Prototype above. It is this which makes the man a Cosmic entity, whose functional activity embraces a correspondingly enormous and wider limit. It is at this point that we might use the phrase of Sir Edwin Arnold, when he says that "the drop has swallowed the ocean."
Now when we consider these vast cosmic processes, briefly reviewed, the fact stands out in bold relief that the entire activity of Nature appears to be designed, and to have for its objective, the unfolding of Consciousness into an ever increasing radius of functional activities; and second, that the unfolding of the Consciousness depends, throughout the Cosmos, upon the principle that every consciousness-center, from the Highest Summit of our Galactic Universe, the Milky Way, down to the embryonic Intelligence of the lower Mind in Man, can progress only if they are raising, with every step of their advance, all the countless hierarchies of beings below them, correspondingly. We see this fact clearly exemplified in our human hierarchy, in which the summit is our Lower Mind. This article should make it clear as well as emphasize the fact, that the first step towards a higher stage of being, consists in gaining control over our lower nature.
Now what does this imply? Nothing less than that we must first succeed in raising the countless lives which compose all the principles of our lower nature onto a higher plane of activity, which can only be achieved by our thinking, desiring, feeling, and acting along unselfish and universal lines, whereby we do not only become universal in thought ourselves, but we raise by the quality of our thoughts all those lower hierarchies also; because it is this activity in Man which generates a subtle force which impresses itself upon these countless beings by influencing their vibrational activity, which when continued will raise or lower their activities, or vibrations, according to the nature of the thoughts and feelings we engage in. Hence if we think unselfish thoughts, we raise their conscious activity onto a higher plane than their present mode of vibrations occupy; the same of course applies if we think low and selfish thoughts, in which case we are not only lowering ourselves, but we also degrade the lives of our vehicles, whose field of evolution comprises the principles which make up our human constitution. Hence it should be clear that we can only raise ourselves by first raising the entire hierarchy of lives of which we are the Summit or Hierarch; and let it be understood that those lives are constantly reacting upon our consciousness, which we feel as impulse. This principle obtains throughout the entire Kosmos, or Kosmic Hierarchy, which includes all that is contained in our Home Galaxy — the Milky Way. This same rule obtains everywhere, because all is one great Whole — "as above, so below."
In the light of the sublime teachings which Theosophy gives to us, it seems almost unbelievable that any person who has arrived at an intelligent understanding of these great facts could be so foolish as to persist in his former selfish ways of thinking and acting, without making sincere and persistent efforts to rise to a higher plane of thought and being in the manner stated before. It seems unthinkable that such a person could persist in living heedlessly, and live and scheme for his puny, petty, and stupidly perverse personal self, setting up his puny personal will against the combined will, objective, and universal design of those countless Divine Beings, who in their aggregate, are the Divine Rulers of our Universe. All of these Great Beings who are to us now as gods in wisdom, power, and compassion, were once, in the long forgotten past, struggling human beings like ourselves, who in other worlds than ours, woke up, and realized, that they were divine in their essence, and that true harmony and peace can only be found by any being, in the measure as the soul of man will fall into line with the Laws of Being, which demand that we shall think, live, and act universally, and not separatively. They followed the light which they perceived, and they now stand as far above us in evolution as you and I now stand above the simplest organisms which constitute the viscid slime of the ocean-bed.
Let us then resolutely set our faces to the Light, and devotedly engage in the sublime task of self-conquest, which marks the beginning of a new and stupendous era in our evolution, and which is sure to lead us onward and upward for ever, and to a Glory that has no limit, and to a destiny which will be for ever receding into the Boundless and the Unknowable, but which is nevertheless — "Closer than heart and breathing," and "Nearer than Hands and Feet."