At a recent Theosophical meeting, the question was asked: Since physical man's plight is so pitiable, his pleasure so fleeting, his efforts so weak, his achievements of so little account, why not eliminate this phase of existence, and start our upward journey from the next plane?
Superficially, it would seem a fair, if somewhat audacious question. However, we know that in the Divine economy there is reason and place for all that is. Therefore, if we tried to eliminate one phase of our development, we would in effect be trying to upset the Divine balance. Since we know this to be an impossible feat, we must accept the obvious fact that there is a reason for this phase of existence. There have been many and varied attempts to find the reason — some have fallen short of presenting an acceptable explanation; others have cast only partial light on the subject; still others are understandable to the few whose minds have been prepared by lengthy study and research.
But there remain great numbers of us who are standing on the threshold, our hand on the door of revelation, the conviction growing within us that behind this door is the knowledge for which we seek, the answer to the eternal why . . . but where is the key to unlock the door? In what way can we command, "Open, Sesame!"
There are many keys to the kingdom of understanding. Herein is contained one simple interpretation of the Plan of the Whole, and of man's integral part in it.
Now we are taught in Theosophy that the Divine Spark animates and motivates All. It is omnipresent; however, in the lower strata the reflection of Divinity is unconscious. Not until it reaches the plane of human existence does it become self-conscious. The lower strata would seem, metaphysically, to undulate and pulsate with this tremendous unconscious Force; the Force breaks from time to time through the crest of one of its own waves, gains entree through the first incarnation of some particular ego, and starts its upward journey toward complete identity with Divinity.
This physical vehicle is the first in a planned series of levels through which the force must rise. There is no possibility of skipping any step in the progression, because each opens into the next — there is no other means of entrance. The length of time spent on each level can be shortened through the advantageous use of Free Will, but this cannot be utilized until the God Spark becomes self-conscious.
We now see the immediate necessity for physical man. But this does not completely resolve the question. We appear to have a unit, man, replete with metaphysical potentialities; where and how and why does he take a place in the material world?
The most advanced material scientists rest today in the conviction that every physical idea has its metaphysical complement. They place man in families, families in races, races in the world, the world in its place in the solar system, our system in relation to the countless other systems in the universe. And the universe? The universe, they agree, is the expression of some great force which they call by various names, and which we recognize as Divinity, the same Divinity whose reflection has found its way into self-consciousness through man.
So we see man on the one hand as a member — a small part of a complex physical whole. And here the question arises: If man is no more than a tiny cog in a huge mechanism, an infinitesimal automaton who has one set job to do, one place to occupy, of what value is this self-consciousness of which we speak? Why is he given self-consciousness, if his pattern is already so prepared for him that he could walk through his performance without the need to be conscious of what he is doing?
To answer this query, we must consider the metaphysical nature of man. This is the side of his nature which makes him an individual, which gives him the manner and means of being a unique expression of Divinity. Because it is from this side of his nature that the opportunity for the use of Free Will comes. Outwardly, he finds himself stopped by the pre-arranged pattern of the physical universe. But if he turns inward, he will find the Divine Spark leading him through the labyrinth of his inner being, unfolding increasingly beautiful vistas of joyous activity, and opportunities for higher and higher expression of the qualities of Divinity — these without limit, obtainable through the exercise of Desire and Free Will.
Up and up and up he rises, the individual in whom all principles merge. So we have man as a complete entity. On the one hand a part of the whole — on the other, the whole of all his parts.
Integrating the two aspects, man appears in truth as the portal through which passes the reflection of Divinity from unconsciousness to self-consciousness; the focal point of the limitless freedom of the metaphysical, and the orderly pattern of the physical; dynamically useful, utterly necessary. Because only through man flows the rich abundance of the whole; through him comes the interpretation and evaluation in spiritual terms of the physical universe; through him the lessons learned from the physical pattern serve as a spring-board to spiritual progression.
And learning his place and necessity in the Divine economy, never again will he pose the melancholy question, Why was I born? Why am I living? He has the joyful answer already before him: "Each one of you is an incarnate god. Be it!"