The Theosophical Forum – January 1940


When we consider the vastness and complexity which astronomers have revealed to us with regard to the starry heavens, we must often have been struck by the want of proportion between this particular view of the universe and the views which we take as regards other matters. Here we deal with distances utterly beyond the conception of the most soaring imagination, and with time periods on a corresponding scale of immensity. Nor is it only in the starry heavens that we see such vastness and infinite variety. In the stratigraphical scale of geology we find the same immeasurable extent both of time and space; in reviewing the animate kingdoms of Nature the same infinite variety and complexity confronts us. Everywhere we explore, it is the same.

Yet, in comparison with this, how feeble, how small-scale, how timorous, are our theories and speculations on such topics as the origin of man and the creation of worlds! That in a universe of such illimitable range and such viewless perspective, man should have appeared at an epoch which by comparison we may fitly describe as yesterday — this balks our sense of proportion. Again, consider the microscopic scale of our daily round, compared with the vast size and duration of the visible universe. But yet again, it is with our own mind that we conceive this vastness; and how great and how small is man! Great enough to comprehend his own littleness, small enough to marvel at this greatness. Verily this which we know as ourself cannot be but a minute fraction of our real self. Have we not then a greater self, whose range of experience is commensurate with the vastness of this universe whose outer shell we can contemplate with our eyes? Many people have asked themselves this question, glimpsing what must be the truth; yet such a speculation is after all but a first crude guess, a leaping at one bound from the finite to the infinite. Nature is far more complex than that; it is too simple to say that man has just a mortal and an immortal part, and no degrees or stages between. Man is a slowly evolving creature. There are many planes of nature, many universes interblended with each other; and man has many stages of conscious existence, corresponding with all these various planes in the universe, so that he is capable of living consciously in many states. There is more than one "heaven'; there are many heavens — many mansions in my Father's house.

People may talk about being practical and living in the world in which we find ourselves; but, as said, we have reached a stage where our intellectual speculations have outsoared our ordinary life, and an adjustment between the two is due. It is not too much to say that we are living in a state of infancy, with most of our possibilities undeveloped, and in ignorance of what we really are. And people, so fond of hypnotizing themselves to sleep with a catchword, will say that human nature is always the same. This either amounts to saying that things which don't change don't change, or to saying that we cannot grow. Human passions may remain the same, but that does not prevent us from mastering them. And after all what is human nature? We cannot dogmatize on this until we have explored its possibilities.

Our ordinary daily consciousness is limited to earth; but there are actually within us faculties which extend beyond the earth, and whose home is in the greater systems of which the earth is but a part. But those higher faculties are for the most part latent; they are not present to our awareness. Yet it is within the power of any man to enter on that mysterious path of self-evolution by which the light of his inner selves can be focused upon the screen of his conscious awareness, so that he will thereby attain a larger consciousness and transcend the limits of the ordinary personal earthbound life. Though humanity as a whole evolves slowly and will not, as a whole, attain such stages for a long while, yet individuals can and do outstrip other individuals belonging to the same human family. On earth today, and constituting part of our present mankind, are men who have attained these heights in previous cycles of evolution, and who are here now for the purpose of acting as torchbearers to those who are to follow them. And also, the mankind of this earth includes people in many different stages of evolution; even in a great modern city are grouped together people wearing the same clothes, and yet differing vastly in the stage of evolution which they have reached. Such is the complexity of Nature. Who then can say where he himself stands, or where his fellow man stands?

The idea of familiarizing the world with these ideas can hardly be overestimated, because the world has been kept back for so long by ideas that discourage progress, whether they be religious dogmas or scientific dogmas tending to give man a paltry view of his own nature and powers. When we have once vividly realized the possibility of attainment, we have already taken a long first step to an ultimate realization of the actuality. For our mind has made a call upon the light within, and a ray can be shot down which will at once begin its clarifying work on our minds and our lives.

Physically speaking, man is very small, the universe very great; but true greatness is not measured by physical proportions.

Theosophical University Press Online Edition