Who called thee strong as death, O Love?
Mightier thou wast and art. — Felicia Hemans
Theosophists are frequently asked to explain their philosophy regarding death and sorrow. The majority of inquirers have a background of Christian teaching, but very often that does not satisfy the searching souls of those who mourn.
The appealing precepts in scriptural texts, poetry and song, though beautiful in sentiment and to a degree comforting, are not always sufficient to silence the overtones issuing from the voice of that great organ, the heart of man; the vox humana which, in moments of distress and fear, trembles and vibrates with uncertainty and dissonance.
If we could look beyond today into the tomorrows, we might be able to understand how sorrow sometimes comes as a blessing in disguise, when it causes man's mental fingers to reach out and touch thoughts, which in his search for harmony within higher octaves of Life, he finds he cannot readily interpret. He falters because of lack of knowledge and misinterpretation of signatures in Time and Space. Thus man passes through the gateway of sorrow, seeking the blessings of the Ancient Wisdom: Life — the Boundless; without beginning and without end!
Do the Theosophical teachings correct and strengthen man's spiritual advance toward greater harmonies in the scale of Life? Is there a technique which enables him to transpose discord into harmony; from the false pitch of affliction into true affection; from sorrow into happiness? YES.
Can there be plucked from the vibrating strings of the heart a melody, the theme of which constitutes a Theosophic basis for the variations of life, the effects of which may be produced by what we might call syncopation — from weakness to strength, from despondency to confidence? Yes! The dominant key of life is determined in the scale of Being by the flats, sharps and minor accents of the shifting Will and Aspiration within the individual-octave. The great Teachers have said: "Man, know thyself."
Theosophy is a Way of Life which is enlightened by the flame of Divinity, patterned by Divine Mind. The flame may express an extension of its light through the vehicle of a body, even as a candle does not add to, nor subtract from, the flame whose Essence lights it; for the flame is imperishable, limitless, imponderable. In it is the warmth of love, and love is deathless.
The anguish of sorrow is a very real and terrible experience for those who cannot realize the unity of all life, bound by that golden thread, a ray of the Holy Flame which brings light and solace "even to the darkest corners of the earth."
If death terminates the love of "the departed," then it should also break that invisible strand for those who mourn. Why not? Does sleep annihilate the love of the sleeper for the one who stands and waits for the awakening? Behold the functioning laws of Nature! How do we know that the stars still shine in the heavens when it is day and we cannot see them? What tells us that the sun will rise in the morning and set at eventide? Is the earth plunged into complete and everlasting darkness at the close of day, because we, specks of global consciousness, cannot see beyond the horizon, cannot perceive the eternal, infinite light of truth, which does not shine for one alone, but for the whole Universe?
Consider the giant sequoias, the tallest and noblest of trees. By analogy, in their particular hierarchy of Nature, they are the avataras of plant life; like Christ, above and beyond ordinary humanity. The "wine of life" circulates throughout their beings for ages and ages, winter and summer; while younger, frailer, more immature trees in the forest, like men of human destiny, must apparently die in the winter, only to renew their latent vitality in the spring; reimbodying, as it were, when the life-urge responds, as did Lazarus, to the Voice which called, "Come forth." . . . "He is not dead but sleepeth."
Man and tree, each a channel for the divine River of Life, each a Path through which flows consciousness, whether un-self-conscious or self-conscious; each having an appropriate vehicle through which the life-force flows. After aeons of time both man and tree reach god-head in their respective spheres, through evolution and involution; until the time comes when the soul of each ascends into a higher kingdom. "In my Father's house are many mansions. . . ." One stands in silence before the mighty sequoias, awed by their majesty and age. What, after all, is three score years and ten!
Then again, one beholds with ecstasy a delicate rose and breathes the subtle fragrance from its heart, sensing the invisible spiritual soul of a beautiful character; and it enfolds one as though it were the unseen love of a Beloved. In the structure of affinities we may recognize that essence, love, which like the fragrance of the rose, is the real life of our beloved.
Therefore, do not crush this rose against your heart! Let its fragrance be wafted by the "wind of the spirit" into the world of freedom. Let the beloved live! Unpossessive love raises the aroma of your own soul's love to communion with theirs, and through this release the beloved is able to attain complete rest and peace. Our dread of separateness, uncontrolled grief and unsuspected self-pity retard the flight of him who passes. Love is strong, unselfish and sacrificing. Love endures. It is without limitation. It flows in currents which are swift, deep and powerful. It enfolds us in the
same divine quality which is in true sympathy; sympathy which does not undermine, but understands and aids moral fortitude.
Love dissipates the illusion of time, even of death, which becomes to man a bridge, for his life is linked inseparably with the Universal Whole. "Death and sleep are brothers." This is the Theosophic consolation for the so-called "great orphan, humanity."
"O death, where is thy sting? . . . Death is swallowed up in victory." For the love that stirs the strings of your heart is your beloved, whose invisible touch is like the fragrant breath from the understanding heart of the rose.
The Theosophical ForumTHEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ONLINE