The Theosophical Forum – February 1942


Over radio station XQHB, Shanghai, China, in the Spring of 1941, fifteen-minute weekly broadcasts were given — the result of the enthusiastic enterprise of Miss Inga Sjostedt and Miss Elsa-Brita Bergqvist of the Shanghai Theosophical Lodge. This second talk, given on March 30, was by Miss Inga Sjostedt. She outlines the Theosophical teaching of Universal Brotherhood.

Good evening, everybody:

The speaker last Sunday gave a broad, general outline of Theosophy and its main teachings. This evening I would like to explain and define Universal Brotherhood, the acceptance of which is the only pre-requisite for joining the Theosophical Society.

What do we mean by the word Brotherhood? It can, of course, be considered as a purely sentimental bond between man and man, but a student of the Ancient Wisdom-Religion means something much deeper than that when he speaks of Universal Brotherhood.

Throughout the ages the Wise Men, the Initiates, of all parts of the world have known and taught — sometimes publicly and sometimes secretly — the doctrine of the Divinity of Man. We have lost this noble and inspiring teaching in the West as our religions have degenerated through the dark Middle Ages which enveloped Europe in mental and spiritual darkness. But the ancients were familiar with this thought, and not only believed man to be basically divine, but believed that trees, animals, brooks and mountains were vitalized by an indwelling god. Today we say, as we consider the mythologies of different peoples, that these peoples were pantheists, childish pagans who believed in fairy tales — because we do not understand the deeper meaning behind these so-called fairy tales.

God, Divinity, the Spiritual and Ultimate Reality — we can call it what we like — must be omnipresent to be infinite, eternal and truly divine. If we admit of a single atom in space without its core of indwelling divine fire, then we limit God, because He cannot be all-powerful if He is not contained in every particle of space. Divinity must infill all life, all created, finite entities, to be Divinity. This the seers and sages of humanity have always known; and they have passed their knowledge on to us under the guise of allegory and myth. The Greek pantheon is filled with deities presiding in so-called inanimate objects, such as trees, lakes, rocks, and so on. It is the same story with the Hindus. Even some of the early Christians endowed stars and planets with a soul of their own and believed that the stellar bodies visible to the eye were merely the bodies of bright spirits or gods.

There is much in us that is neither divine nor eternal, for instance our physical bodies, our instincts, and even our everyday thoughts; but the core of the core of our inner being is God, because it is the infinite in us which builds for itself garments and vehicles of perishable matter — though even the atoms of our physical bodies have a spark of the eternal in them.

Jesus knew this, as well as the other great spiritual Teachers of mankind. If we turn to the Christian scriptures for a moment, we shall find many references to the divinity of Man. In Psalm 82, verses 6 and 7, it is written: "I have said, Ye are gods, and all of you are children of the most High. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes." Jesus repeats this saying in the New Testament. In the Gospel according to St. John, Chapter 10, verse 34, he says, "Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?" In 1st Corinthians, Chapter 3, verse 16, it is written, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" And this from Acts, Chapter 17, verse 28: "For in him we live, and move, and have our being." Could anything be said more plainly and incontrovertibly?

We are divine at heart, and because the divinity in us is the highest and noblest part of our complex being, it is our task, our destiny, to merge the lower human soul with the deathless God within. Then only can we understand the injunction of Jesus as it stands recorded in the Gospel according to St. Matthew, Chapter 5, verse 48: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."

Not only is man divine at heart. But all things whatsoever that are, that live and exist in this world of ours, live and exist because they are projected onto the screen of existence by the indwelling Divinity which is their real originator. When we realize this: that we must unite in brotherhood with all humanity, because every man is basically identical with ourselves; that we must guide and protect the animals who stand below us on the evolutionary ladder because in them too there is a spark of the identical divine fire which inspires us; when we learn that the beauty in Nature appeals to us because it awakens a responsive chord in our own souls, then the words Universal Brotherhood begin to acquire a real meaning, based not only on sentimentality but on cold facts.

There is an old mystical Sufi tale which illustrates this teaching well. The story is that the Soul once came to the portals of the House of God and knocked. And God heard the knocking, and His voice rolled like thunder, saying, "Who knocks?" And the Soul answered, "It is I." And the voice of God spoke again, saying, "Who is I? I know thee not." And the Soul turned away from the House of God unhappily and wandered throughout the universe for untold ages. And at last it returned to the House of God and knocked again. And God's voice thundered forth as before, "Who knocks?" And the Soul answered, "Thou knockest." And then a whisper, inaudible to the ears, yet filling all the spaces, issued from the House of God, and it said, "Enter into thine own."

This is the keynote to our attitude in life. We are divine at heart; whatever our failings and imperfections, the pattern of perfection, of immortality, is graven on our spirit. We are the temple of the living God, as the New Testament says, and all inspiration, all understanding and spiritual power come — not from the outside, but from our own inner nature. It remains in our power to awaken the human nature to a recognition of the divine. When we have done that we shall be as gods.

There is a way of quickening the process, and that is by means of training under a reliable teacher. There are many men in India and Tibet today who have passed through such a training and who have mastered their lower human nature. They can perform feats which to a Westerner would seem nothing short of a miracle. These men, these Yogis, would laugh at the notion that the Spirit of Nature, or God, was something outside of themselves. They know, they have proof through experience, that true spiritual powers come from within themselves, that God, or Divinity, is at the root of their human selves. There is no such thing as a miracle, because there cannot be anything supernatural in nature; but masters of life like Jesus and Buddha, through drawing upon their inner Divinity, knew how to control the functions of physical nature, and to the uninitiated these things appeared to be supernatural because beyond their understanding.

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