[Note: page numbers cited for The Esoteric Tradition are to the 2-vol. Second Edition and do not correspond to the 1-vol. 3rd & Revised Edition.]
The world today is full of agony; the hearts of millions of men are very sore, and their minds full of bitterness, despair, pessimism and hopelessness. What are we to do? What can I do? I, who am but one, and these are so many. Might those little endeavors that one human being can make, do much? Would it not just be throwing away, wasting energy on a forlorn cause?
Social reforms are invented and put into action, pacts are written and signed. But do such things change the hearts of men? In our way we use different methods that we find suitable from time to time for different purposes. This is natural, but we cannot say that these methods and varying ways of working or of activity in themselves solve the problems of today. Changes that are made on the surface, reforms that do not aim at creating a friendly feeling towards each other inside our own selves, cannot seriously improve human conditions.
There will remain forever only one universal principle that can effect any real change for good, and this is the keynote of Theosophy — Brotherhood. There is no other way. Therefore, there is no quicker way. Agony, bitterness, despair, and pessimism are shadows that come and go, they certainly are not eternal. They are the results, the reaction of those evil thoughts that we have been nourishing in the past, therefore they come to manifestation, and through them we might become aware of the voice of the spirit in our inner being.
The heart of Theosophy is the understanding heart, the heart and mind combined that endeavors to understand others, that takes consideration not only of his own bent of mind, but strives to study the nature of the hearts and minds of his fellows, so that all men might understand each other ever better and realize our common unity and oneness with the universe. This, in fact, becomes the most fascinating study we could undertake.
What can a single individual do? If he expects to see great manifestations due to his activity springing up around him, he might be disappointed. For if we compare our work, which is of the ages, with the mushroom growth of the outer world of today, what we accomplish may indeed seem invisible, and insignificant. But we should know that the deeds of spirit have a great reach and are backed by the Spiritual Powers in the universe. We are not alone in this sublime Cause, and all we have to know is that we are doing the right thing, and that the results will take care of themselves.
We can help others to find the way to themselves, their real selves, which is in union with the All. If we ask for miracles, this is the greatest miracle which each one of us can work: to change our hearts and minds. We do not have to act with a view that our own accomplishments are small compared to what others may do. If we work in that way, then any deed becomes small or insignificant compared to that which is truly great. And also there is always something greater to strive towards, and always something smaller which we have left behind. All is relative, and a deed is only comparable to our abilities — and our motive. We can do our best; we can try. And yet it may also be said that our capabilities are infinite, because in the inmost heart of our being we are Infinity itself.
The period of today is a time of unrest, of speed and intensity. But the very speed and intensity of this age of Kali-Yuga, when material illusion is at its greatest, makes whatever we endeavor to do more speedily carried out than in any other age. Therefore spiritual growth may be as quickly effected now as any other.
What can we do? What do we mean to do? Are we wanting to make a great show, or do we want to work for peace in the world? The greatest thing possible for any man to do is to foster in his heart the holy flame of compassion and brotherhood, and to dwell on the thought of peace.
There are many different centers of consciousness in man, and it is in exact proportion to our use of any one of these, how far-reaching, capable or clear our understanding of a thing may be. The ranges of consciousness of the various entities, egos or souls in man, are given by G. de Purucker as follows:
(a) the Divine Monad, whose range of consciousness and functional activity is over and in the Galaxy; (b) its Ray, the Spiritual Monad, whose range of self-consciousness and functional activity is over and in the Solar System; (c) the Higher or Spiritual Soul, the Ray from the Spiritual Monad, whose self-consciousness and functional activity is over and in the Globes of the Planetary Chain; and finally (d) the Human Ego, the Ray from (c), whose self-consciousness and functional activity belong to our Earth and last for the duration of a single incarnation.
— The Esoteric Tradition, II, 852
All these ranges of consciousness are contained in our inner being, although they are very feebly expressed as yet. Still they are there, and it is by evolving them, exercising them, that they can be brought into activity.
The higher ones of these consciousness centers are tremendous and far beyond our comprehension. Still they are limited, and have a beginning and an end. In that respect, they are analogical. But deeper still and beyond these is our inner link with the Ineffable, with THAT, which has no bounds.
By study and practice, by thought and living, we come to realize ever more, and therefore evolve ever more of THAT which is our inmost. There is knowledge to be had, and we do not have to say that we cannot reach it. We can dare, instead of just drifting along. As W. Q. Judge expressed it: "That which is never begun, shall never be accomplished."
Thus we see that if we want an explanation of the tragedies of life, we must look for that explanation where it exists. In other words, we must turn to the teaching of Reincarnation and Karman. But in order to understand these, we must look deep within and learn of the true structure of man in his relation to the spiritual universal principle.
The Spiritual Soul, or our Manasic part, is that center of consciousness which is the source of the Human Ego, which sends out a Ray which is this Human Ego, and therefore is the receptacle of all the experiences of all our incarnations or imbodiments on this earth. The consciousness we have here on earth while incarnated in our daily life is limited to and active and functioning only as long as an incarnation of earth-life. It knows nothing of that which was before, and nothing of that which is after its termination. But the Spiritual Soul does. It tells the truth in a direct way, and instantly; and, it may also be a voice that comes to us in the silence from regions of our being still higher, and more inward.
There is also the voice of conscience, which has been explained as the voice arising out of the experiences garnered in previous lives on earth. But this is a voice of warning usually, telling us what not to do, a negative good. So that the gist of our destiny might be summarized as follows: the whole purpose is the thinning of the thick veils of mind and matter in order that the light in the Holy Temple, which is the human heart, may illumine man with its divine splendor.
The action of the brain alone is given to criticism, to deceit at times, is sceptical and argumentative. It is quarrelsome and noisy like an empty barrel; while the characteristics of the functions of our higher consciousness are that of peace, of understanding, impersonal love, consideration for others, and quiet.
Now, therefore, if we identify ourselves with this body of ours, this vehicle which should be the instrument by which our true Self gathers experience here on earth, then we do indeed die at the termination of the activities in the body. But that which we call "we" is not the body, it is our consciousness that dwells in, or better informs the body.
Every incarnation is thus a new attempt and a new opportunity to open up a greater and better contact with our own origin and root — our Divine source; to bring forth that which is within, to express that which is the inner realms of our nature.
As above, so below; as in the great, so in the small — this is the old golden key to many mysteries of Nature, so much stressed by the Hermetists.
Truth has existed always. In all ages it has been promulgated by the Elder Brothers of mankind, by the White Lodge. However, if we would accept Truth at the very instant it was spoken or expressed, then we would have a world of wisdom and peace long ago. The difficulty does not lie in whether Truth exists, but in realizing what is Truth. In order to know truth, we must become true. In order to understand, we must become. And the first thing is to realize that all lies within our own hearts: all the realities, all the wonders of the Universe.
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