Like a spectrum we human beings catch the white light of verity and reality, and through us it refracts into different colored religions, philosophies, and sciences.
It is the same white light which illuminated the ancient religions in China, India, and Egypt, and it is the same white light which illuminates, for instance, Christianity and the occidental magnificent sciences.
Thus every nation on Earth possesses a part of the universal wisdom; because where spiritual purity prevails the white light radiates through human minds with unabated strength.
It is the genuine invocation which opens the soul to the divine currents in the cosmos, and not a certain system or formula.
The ways towards the Divine are many, and what is suitable for one person, won't do for another, yea, might perhaps be his mental ruin.
It is a sublime fact that whatever path a human being enters upon he will, if he faithfully struggles onward, sooner or later reach the meeting of the ways where all various theories blend into divine wisdom and harmony. And this we ought to carry in our minds, because it gives to us an objective and a tolerant attitude.
A difficult point for non-theosophists to see in the same way that we do, is the doctrine of Reincarnation. This is rather curious, because simple logic obliges us to admit that what once had a beginning must have an end, that what is deathless must always be deathless, that eternity must exist on both sides of the present now, and thus the present now can only be a dot in the eternal.
Our philosophy teaches us that our divine Self is deathless and eternal, that it once emigrated from celestial abodes to material worlds and in the course of its pilgrimage it has touched Mother Earth, where it has made for itself a human vehicle. According to this teaching our divine Self is deathless and has existed, shall exist in eternity on both sides of the actual moment; whereas our personal self and our human body have a beginning and an end; they are limited in time.
Goethe expresses the idea of reincarnation in the following beautiful manner: the human soul is like water, from heaven it comes, to heaven it returns, but again it must revert in permanent fluctuation.
The doctrine of Reincarnation solves many problems and shows us justice, where before we could see only the destructive working of seeming injustice.
If we in this present episode of our existence could but survey some of our preceding incarnations and catch a glimpse of the self-generated causes which created our destiny of today, then our loud complaints of unfairness would indeed cease.
Those conditions of life which we now in our blindness call too hard, too disastrous, would perhaps in the light of reincarnation show themselves as consistent effects of previous blunders. We should then understand that we are the architects of our own future, and that we never have met, never shall meet, anything we cannot in one way or another trace back to acts and deeds we ourselves committed.
If we and those about us regard ourselves as petty and insignificant individuals, it is indeed a comfort to know that this present earth-life is like a single schoolday in proportion to our age-long pilgrimage through the spaces of Cosmos; but this school-day is given to us that we may learn patience, toleration, and a profound understanding of the conditions under which we and our fellow-men exist.
With our veiled conception and our superficial comprehension of the universal drama, we ought not to condemn each other.
Likewise, with our lack of spiritual intuition we really don't know who it is we have beside us in our home and in our place of business. The one we refuse to help now, helped us perhaps in a preceding incarnation, or will help us in one to come.
Many people maintain that it would be much better for us if we could remember at least our last preceding incarnation.
But surely it is more merciful as it is. Is it not obliviousness of our past lives which may make it possible for us to work in harmony with one who perhaps in the past was our mortal enemy? It is even easier for us in this earth-life to strive onward ethically, if we do not remember the crimes and evils whose effects possibly stick to us from archaic ages. Even a momentary glimpse of those past evils would probably paralyze us and weigh us towards earth, so that we should hardly manage to live.
When in the future we shall have reached the shore of divine wisdom and so strengthened our souls that we can behold our incarnations in a mighty and logical line of evolution, then our wondering eyes will be unveiled and we shall see just how our steps have been guided from darkness and isolation towards light and spiritual union.
Guided, yes — but by whom? By ourself, by our own Karman, states the theosophical teaching.
An Indian philosopher, Ramacharaka, explains it thus:
We are not punished for our misdeeds but through them, we are not rewarded for our good acts but by means of them. Thus punishment and reward will come from our true inner being, and our character is the summation of our desires. The desires are the propelling force in our Karman, and through our Karman our incarnations are directed.
After years of experiences people mostly declare that they really do not have the slightest desire for a new earth-life, and if nevertheless they are reborn, it certainly is against their dearest wishes.
Of course these people are sincere, but if we examine their mental state we discover that as a rule they are not tired of earth-life per se, but rather of their own little individual earth-life. A long series of bright illusions have been shattered, and they are bored to death by their grey identical days of activity — or worse, lack of activity. But they admit, that if life had turned out so-and-so instead of so-and-so, then indeed they could have been happy.
Give these dear souls youth, health, beauty, success, and scarcely one of them will hesitate to begin turning a new wheel of earth-entanglements.
In these days we are experiencing a frightful effort at readjustment among the nations, a readjustment the sorrow and pain of which cannot be expressed in words, and yet in the light of Karman we are assured that not one of all the countless, desperate human beings in these nations has suffered or shall suffer in vain.
We Theosophists believe that thoughts are living entities in their own sphere, and that they have a disposition to manifest in our physical world with an intensity in proportion to the strength or violence with which we send them forth.
Through thousands of years humanity has despatched envious, malicious, hateful thoughts into our immense store-house of thinking. Sooner or later these thoughts must manifest upon our own stage of daily life not only as individual crimes, but even as collective crimes like revolutions and wars, which in this way may react upon the individual originator.
It is our egoism, social jealousy, antagonism against other persons, nations, races, which have created the terrible condition of poor Europe.
Really not one of us would have been born in time to suffer one or two wars, had we not in one way or another carried wood to this gigantic fire. War and murder will again and again give birth to new wars and new murders.
How dare we, who cannot even see the true meaning of one short earth-life, hurry fellow-men by force into the holy dominions of majestical death?
How dare we extinguish a human life and cut short its natural line of evolution, thereby interfering with its future destiny?
Don't we realize how we fetter ourselves to the being we kill, fetter ourselves with karmic chains so strong that nothing, nothing but the grandest love and transcendent justice will be able to restore the violently dislocated divine harmony?
Blessed be the day when we, instead of killing a fellow-man in self-defense, can say from a pure and sincere heart: Forgive me, my brother, that I neglected to share with you my wisdom, so that now through your ignorance you will be guilty of my death.
Remember that the law of the ascending arc is often contrary to the law of the descending arc.
Blessed be the day when in the darkness of the Kali-yuga we succeed in manifesting what our Masters have shown us: that human eyes are made to reflect the light of our spirit, that the human voice is made to reconcile, console and guide, that human hands are made to transform into acts and deeds the purest feelings of our heart, the profoundest thoughts of our brain, that actual peace on planet Terra begins within the individual, and flowing therefrom can be a reality among collective humanity, and that it is only through unselfish living that we shall be able to raise ourselves and others from the coarse state of Homo primi-genius, via man, towards the full-grown superman.
And lastly: it is at such holy hours as that of sunrise that we fully understand that not even the noblest of our Masters, Saints, and Seers are the appropriate objects of holy worship. For not by devious ways shall we approach That, which is nearer to us than our own heart and mind, That, which is the kernel in every entity in space.
Only in the most sacred part of our inner being shall we keep an altar of gratitude to the wondrous Creator of Cosmos — and there in profound reverence, seclusion and silence, through sublime invocation try to recover the golden thread of love and compassion which that Wondrous Being in its boundless unselfishness has extended from itself to every lesser being in its gigantic kingdom; so that we, however great, however humble, can always find the way along this thread of glory back to that, the Beyond, of which we are an eternal, inseparable, and essentially divine counterpart.