I am very glad of this opportunity at least to touch the fringe of Universal Truth — Theosophy, the explanation of the Universe. In the East they are more reverent than we Westerners, some of whom try to define God. In the Orient they speak of That. It is impossible to conceive of the beginning of Life; the mind immediately goes beyond any such conception. A beginning of manifestation there must be, but something cannot evolve out of nothing; and so Sir Edwin Arnold beautifully sings:
Never the spirit was born; the spirit shall cease to be never;
Never was time it was not; End and Beginning are dreams!
Birthless and deathless and changeless remaineth the spirit forever;
Death hath not touched it at all, dead though the house of it seems!
The next thing that occurs to me to accentuate is that Universal Brotherhood is not a dream of the future, but a fact in Nature. We are all indissolubly bound together, not only we humans, but the whole universe which is teeming with Life, most of it invisible to us. It is a wonderful thought that there exists not only the Infinitely Great but also the Infinitely Small. When this is borne in mind it carries us far beyond the ordinary idea of Brotherhood. It makes life intensely interesting to know that there is no such thing as dead matter; and what a responsibility it casts upon us when we realize that we cannot move hand or foot without radiating an influence for good or bad. An example of this occurs to me in a story told by a rather matter-of-fact person. He was playing a solitary round of golf one day when he became aware of a disturbing feeling, as if some unusual intensity had developed in the atmosphere. This continued until he had finished his game, when, on mentioning it to the golf keeper he learned that Mr. Lloyd George had been playing on the links at the same time, though beyond his range of vision. Though opinions may differ as to the ultimate verdict of history on Mr. Lloyd George, all can agree as to his intensity and forcefulness; and the prosaic man was convinced that the Welsh statesman was the disturbing cause on that occasion. The same law operates through all the kingdoms of Nature — the action of a magnet and the perfume of a flower are both familiar instances but perhaps the most striking examples of its operation. H. P. Blavatsky once said that from the Theosophist must radiate those higher spiritual forces which alone can regenerate his fellow men.
This knowledge that we are all members of the Great Universal Life makes us realize that no one can be only his own enemy, as is so often mistakenly said by unthinking people. As the Irish poet A. E. said to me in one of his letters:
If I raise myself I raise the rest of the world so much, and if I fail I drag others down also. When this is once realized, when we know that in the inner world nothing but a verity convinces, nothing but an actual reality has force, we learn to cut away all that is superfluous, all minor interests.
Every unit of Life is a power-house energizing all around it, ever creating or destroying. Has not this been voiced again and again? "Give me the bards and I care not who makes the laws," or, as Tennyson says: "More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of." That is such prayer as we believe in: aspiration for Truth, Light, Wisdom.
I think it is always a relief if we find that perhaps we ourselves are partly to blame for things; it may be we have unconsciously irritated the other person who is secretly suffering. I often think how true are the words that one half of the world does not know how the other half lives. And if we are treated unjustly, is it not the duty of a Theosophist to bear injustice with equanimity? All the planes of our being need exercise, just as well as our bodies; and I think it is a splendid spiritual exercise to have the door either figuratively or literally closed in our face. As Browning says: "Welcome each rebuff that makes earth's smoothness rough." And does not the sense of humor come to our aid? For instance when we are filled to the brim with what seems to us a wonderful thought, and in an unguarded moment give expression to it, it is excellent discipline to be given a hint that we are not at a revival meeting! As we become more impersonal, less completely absorbed in our own sensations, we become more tactful, more discriminating, and we learn when to speak and when to be silent.
Again, when we look at the matter Theosophically, we shall remember that justice rules the universe. What happens to us, whether for good or ill, has been brought about by our own action, if not in this life then in some past existence. We are only getting our own back, or as the old saw says: Chickens come home to roost. The symbolic picture of Christ that portrays him as a heart pierced by daggers seems to me to assume a negative aspect of that Great Being. He came not to bear our sins, but to show us how to bear our own sins, that is, our own Karman: "Rejoice we are allied to that which doth provide, and not partake, effect and not receive" (Browning).
Furthermore, we have been taught that what seems bad Karman is perhaps something that our own Higher Self has chosen for our own self-development, and that when so-called misfortune comes our way, if we determine not to allow it to hinder us in our work in life, nor yet to glorify ourselves as martyrs, it cannot overwhelm us. Self-appointed martyrdom is a weapon successfully used against our true progress. What harmful sympathy has not been lavished on and received by the misunderstood man or woman! We may find that our trouble, its task fulfilled, has disappeared. What matter if we are misunderstood! Such things seem small when we are face to face with the Great Realities! Let us again remind ourselves that we are only getting our own back, and that we are here not to look for love and sympathy, but to give them — to give them in full measure, pressed down and running over.
Acceptance of the principle of Universal Brotherhood is the only prerequisite to fellowship in the Theosophical Society; but when we accept that in all its heights and depths, I think we shall find the other great Theosophical truths permeating our being.
As evolution is now generally accepted by all, is it not only commonsense to believe that there are Those who, though they cannot alter our Karman, can yet point the way they themselves have trod, can show us how to modify our karman and how to avoid making further evil karman? It has been said that the law of Karman is one of the most difficult of the Theosophical teachings to understand; but if we live up to the light we have, more light will dawn upon us.
The Law of Karman, that is of Cause and Effect, also shows us the fallacy of the "forgiveness of sins," that teaching which has been dinned into our ears for ages past and which with its corollary doctrine that we are miserable sinners has perhaps done more than anything else to rob us of our real manhood, our real womanhood. "Give a dog a bad name. . ." What a different bearing we unconsciously assume when we are taught that the Ray of Divinity, however hidden, is in every one of us, is, in fact, the real man. As Christ said: "The Kingdom of God is within."
As for Reincarnation, Karman's twin sister, it is impossible to understand life without a knowledge of these two great Laws. How otherwise understand that seemingly most unjust saying about "visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children"? How otherwise understand the seeming injustice of poor creatures born in the slums, both material and spiritual, if we do not acknowledge that we have made our present by our past, and that as we sow so shall we reap? I know that some believe in a progressive Heaven, but if we use our commonsense we shall remember that wherever we sow the seed, there we shall reap it. Indeed I often think that Theosophy should be called Commonsense. If people only realized these two great Laws we should have fewer suicides, less railing against fate or against the supposed decrees of an impossible "personal" God. There is no outside to the Universe. No wonder poor Dean Inge had to take refuge in the idea which he puts into the mouth of a Scottish clergyman, that the Deity in his official capacity is compelled to do things that are — well, not in keeping with our conception of Him!
When Theosophy is made a living power in our lives it enters into our whole daily existence. It is literally the Way, the Truth, and the Life. By its teachings the seemingly useless daily round, the trivial task, become full of meaning, and we recognise the Great Truth that "Nature exists for the soul's experience."
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