Yes, the night is dark and our dreams are nightmares. But the darkest nights end with the dawn and abnormal states give place to normalcy. No sensible man or student of history can consider the present state as normal. Storms, like convulsions, are abnormal and short lived, else evolution were false and savagery would never have given place to civilization. Our civilization is young and undeveloped and suffers relapses like the outbreaks of childish temper. In the immediate present the condition is sadder and more terrible than the mind can grasp and I would not try to minimize it. On the contrary, I think it should shake us from self-complacency and move us to the profoundest thought of which we are capable. The sadness and sorrow of the world should awaken every germ of sympathy and compassion of which we are capable and make us set our feet on the Path of Compassion. We admit that our minds are overwhelmed by the baffling Conditions. But there are greater minds than ours. The minds of our Masters are equal to the world-problems. They have anticipated present conditions and given us in advance the necessary solutions. The Theosophical Society was started for the very purpose of counteracting present conditions and inaugurating a new and better civilization. Theosophy is the answer to the problems that confront us in the immediate present and in the future.
Listen to the following extracts from a letter by the Mahatma K. H. in which he quotes his Teacher, the Maha-Chohan I emote only scattered fragments of a long letter printed by H. P. Blavatsky in Lucifer, Vol. II, pp. 432-3, and often reprinted.
The Theosophical Society was chosen as the corner-stone of the future condition of the future religions of humanity. . . .
The doctrine we promulgate being the only true one, must become ultimately triumphant, as every other truth. . . .
For our doctrines to practically react on the so-called moral code or the ideas of truthfulness, purity, self-denial, charity, etc. — we have to popularize a knowledge of Theosophy. . . . It is not the individual determined purpose of attaining oneself Nirvana . . . but the self-sacrificing pursuit of the best means to lead on the right path our neighbor, to cause as many of our fellow-creatures as we possibly can to benefit by it, which constitutes the true Theosophist. . . .
To be true, religion and philosophy must offer the solution of every problem. That the world is in such a bad condition morally is a conclusive evidence that none of its religions and philosophies . . . have ever possessed the Truth. The right and logical explanations on the subject of the problems of the great dual principles, right and wrong, good and evil, liberty and despotism, pain and pleasure, egotism and altruism, are as impossible to them now as they were 1880 years ago. They are as far from the solution as they ever were but . . . there must be somewhere a consistent solution, and if our doctrines will show their competence to offer it, the world will be the first to confess, that ours must be the true philosophy, the true religion, the true light, which gives truth and nothing but the Truth.
The Master K. H. says in The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett:
The truths and mysteries of occultism [or Theosophy] constitute, indeed, a body of the highest spiritual importance, at once profound and practical for the world at large. Yet, it is not as a mere addition to the tangled mass of theory or speculation in the world of science that they are being given to you, but for their practical bearing on the interests of mankind. . . . They have to prove both destructive and constructive — destructive in [of] the pernicious errors of the past . . . but constructive of new institutions of a genuine practical Brotherhood of Humanity where all will become co-workers of nature, will work for the good of mankind. . . .
"Ideas rule the world"; and as men's minds receive new ideas laying aside the old and effete the world will advance; mighty revolutions will spring from them; institutions (aye, and even creeds and powers . . . ) will crumble before their onward march crushed by their own inherent force. . . . It will be just as impossible to resist their influence when the time comes as to stay the progress of the tide. . . . — pp. 23-4 and 425
As a relief from the agonizing conditions of the present one can take refuge in a wider and a longer view. From the early days of the Theosophical Society we were taught that this was the time of the change of cycles. In fact, that several cycles, some of them very great ones, came to an end and new ones started at about this period. This would bring us under the sway of new and higher cosmic influences and of old karman, good and bad. The future of individuals, of societies, or of nations, depends upon the use or misuse they make of the flowing tide.
We as individuals, or collectively as societies, or as nations, may rise to the heights or sink to the depths. We, individually or collectively, are responsible. "On human shoulders rests the responsibility for human salvation." An old age is passing away in revolutions and cataclysms and a new and better age is succeeding. It is like the breaking-up of river-ice in the spring. At such times the storms and floods and calamities are often terrible. But they give way to and usher in the burgeoning energy of spring. Wind and frost and cold give way to sunshine and balmy days when you can feel and almost see things grow.
Cycles of history are like that. Convulsions of nature or revolutions of men have swept away whole civilizations and left, where once they flourished, nought but watery wastes or sandy deserts. But the flowing river of cyclic time flows on and new civilizations arise, as the hosts of souls who made them, reimbody in congenial places.
Civilizations differ as widely as do men. Each brings something to near perfection — as Greece did art, and Egypt her monuments of stone, and as our age is doing in the realm of mechanics and mechanical industry and the mechanical side of science. So the ancient Aryan race brought language to perfection. "It is impossible for us to conceive what minds men must have had in those days to have required such a language to express their thought." Yet that race left us no monuments of stone nor artifacts of high mechanical perfection. Their language, Sanskrit, furnishes us with the majority of our technical Theosophical terms with their rich and copious meaning. Those whose eyes are fixed on the mystic east will behold the glory of the dawn and live therein. In proportion to the degree that they imbody the spiritual sunshine in their lives they will create a radiant atmosphere of love and harmony and intellectual inspiration which will flow out to all others.
We shall have to revise our ideas of the long reaches of human evolution and base our calculations on the evolution of souls who sweep round the earth in waves of spiritual Monads who derive their karman from the long, not the immediate, past. Ancient Egypt did not give birth to the modern fellaheen nor did the glory that was Greece nor the stability that was Rome find their reimbodiment in any modern Hellas or the peninsula of Italy. The souls that once made the philosophy and art that was born on Helicon will reimbody their imperishable ideas and ideals in some modern Athens where the spirit and the atmosphere of beauty and art and philosophical thought will find their high and noble expression. In our day-dreams and in our practical endeavors we have tried to give them an initial imbodiment at our International Headquarters at Point Loma.
From a small seed the sequoia gigantea becomes the largest and oldest tree in the world. Just so, from small beginnings great civilizations grow. From one Teacher millions of men have received regenerative ideas and imbodied them in institutions of learning or in religious philosophies that have lifted their sincere followers to as great a degree of spiritual enlightenment as their individual capacity or the race or age allowed.
We can rely on the beneficent laws of nature as imbodied in the cycles of history to continue their rounds and raise us out of the terrible trough of this wave and into a calm and placid sea. Fear not for the future. The peoples of Europe and America and the rest of the world are human souls and their inherent divinity will reassert itself when this feverish, convulsive sickness is over, and a healthy normalcy will supervene in which the Theosophical ideals now so rapidly spreading will find some full measure of imbodiment. Look not to the past. Visualize the future. Paint your mental pictures in beauty, symmetry, and glory and move out into each coming day with new and nobler resolutions. Others will follow. The Theosophical life will even become popular and more and more people will clothe themselves in the robes of love and kindness and thoughtfulness for others and the spring-time of a Theosophical era will be ushered in.