Among the ancients there was the tradition of a chain, one end of which was held at the highest seat of the Gods. It extended downward to the lesser Gods and Heroes and Sages, who were instructed by those above them and in turn instructed those below them. Thus was communicated to mankind the knowledge and the wisdom necessary for human life on Earth. Homer and Milton were two inspired poets who sang of this golden chain
Whose strong embrace holds heaven and earth and main — Iliad, Book VIII
And in the Book of Genesis Jacob's Ladder is another symbol of this link between those Elder Brothers who "go up and down" on errands as Associates of the Hierarchy of Compassion, about whom Theosophy gives such wealth of timely and precious teaching.
The year 1946 brings terrifying realization that human intelligence and insight may prove inadequate for the mediation of differences between nations and the prevention of further global war. Are there then, in the Universe, Superior Beings, Spiritual Intelligences, who concern themselves with human affairs and have wisdom and power to guide human progress towards intellectual and spiritual maturity? Some step must be taken to render men capable of maintaining the global unity now seen to be essential for the completion of human destiny.
Planetary experience has gone on for millions of years, perhaps billions. Ours is not even the first man-bearing planet. Some there have been who have had, and have taken, the opportunity to mount high, even to transcend the human stage on the Ladder of Life. They watch over and guide those who follow, and who shall, like themselves become the twice-born, the spiritually illuminated. For man is born not only into a family, a race, but into a universal spiritual home.
"As above, so below." Theosophy teaches that what human parents and teachers, who have themselves passed from infancy to maturity, are to the young in their care, the Hierarchy of Compassion are to the host of human souls who have still fully to evolve the intellectual and spiritual faculties which will manifest in the life yet to be on Earth. Think you that the Cosmic Intelligences who established a planetary system — not to mention greater units like galaxies — are less capable of directing a host of souls through planetary experience than human guardians are of their task? An urgent need at present is for thinkers to expand their views to include Beings as superior to Man as Man is to the black beetle, as the biologist, Thomas Huxley, once suggested. To do so would engender new faith in the future of mankind.
No more than human parents, however, can the Hierarchy of Compassion avert suffering from those whom they would protect and guide. "The fruit of Karma Sages dare not still." Well they know that there is purgation, necessary and salutary, in adversity, and, on a larger scale, in calamity.
In the long drama of evolution and involution, Man, "a young god in the making," plays a part, the glorious possibilities of which are yet to be unfolded. From embryo to physical maturity the human sums up the evolutionary stages of the vehicle required for the use and manifestation of the spiritual and divine parts of Man's nature. Man has "got his body." The next step will reveal the now partially evolved principles of the human constitution which will enable Man to complete the human contribution to the Ladder of Life and to ascend to a Superior Hierarchy.
For Man's inner Self is one with the Spiritual Intelligences of the Cosmos — it is built of the same. It is Man's Self-conscious Mind that is the link with the Golden Everlasting Chain of Heroes, Sages, Mahatmans, Buddhas, Watchers, and Guardians. It is for Man, with his faculty of Imagination, his spiritual will, his compassionate heart, to communicate to his fellows, as the Great Ones have stepped down to him, the truths of the Ancient Wisdom, Brotherhood and Co-operation with Cosmic Law, of which the poet Wordsworth wrote in his "Ode to Duty":
Thou dost preserve the stars from wrong;
And the most ancient heavens through thee are fresh and strong