The Path – April 1887


"The world for us" is our idea of the world, nothing more, nothing less. "God for us" is our idea of God; likewise each individual is an embodiment of his idea of himself.

There is also a world of ideas, the aggregate of which constitutes the Ideal world.

No one imagines that this present existence is the Ideal world, but all admit that it is at best, a striving towards it.

These propositions may be taken tentatively, and it will thus be seen, if they are found true, that our ideals are the patterns after which our lives are formed.

If there is a world of ideas of which the ideal, or perfect, man forms a part, the ideas which we entertain may have a great deal to do in facilitating our progress toward the realization of our highest possibilities. In other words, if our ideas conform to the cosmic or Divine ideal we shall become "Co-workers with God" toward that ideal. If it be true that "There is a Power that shapes our ends, rough hew them as we may," instead of "kicking against the pricks" we should follow the line of least resistance, and, instead of rebellious children, wounded and bruised continually by the sharp rocks of daily experience, we shall become willing and obedient, and thus, in facilitating our own upward progress, we shall be enabled to help others in innumerable ways toward the same end.

It therefore makes a great deal of difference how we look at things. Our belief or idea of anything does not alter the thing itself, though this might seem to be the case. One may imagine the moon to be a big cheese, or the sun a ball of fire consuming millions of tons of coal per second, or God to be a huge half-human monster, but that such belief could make these things other than they are, no one but the imbecile or the insane will imagine.

Since the advent of Theosophy in these latter times, many words and ideas have been imported from the East, and the result has often been to add to our former bewilderment rather than to make more clear the duties and the possibilities of man. Even when these words and ideas have been translated into English, they have been but partly successful in removing our obscurity.

It is for this reason that the whole Theosophic movement has been often designated as an attempt to supplant Christianity by Buddhism; and though this has been again and again denied, in the absence of clear concepts not of theosophy but of the existence of things, (which concepts have been long lost to the Western world), this denial has not changed opinion or enlightened individuals. Thus do additional reasons appear why our primary concepts should be clear, rational, and therefore true, as far as we go.

While therefore it is true that many of our ideas come from these Eastern sources, it is equally true that they may be clothed in Western garb, and thus become comprehensible to Western minds. One may by great labor learn to read Sanskrit, Hindustani, or German, but there are few aliens who are ever able to think in any language save their mother tongue. Our forms of thought, i.e., our ideas, will still be clothed in the nursery garb wherein we were cradled.

The first object of every earnest seeker should be to find himself. This he cannot do all at once. Most of us would be objects of pity if we could, and we might turn with loathing and despair from the reality, divested of all conventional or imaginary accessories. If we would enter in and possess the land of promise, we must drive out the giants, not all at once, but "little by little;" as we drive out the giants and subdue the wilderness, we must cultivate the soil and so enter into the land, TO POSSESS IT. Man lives at once in two worlds, the outer, physical, natural world, and the inner or spiritual. If we take man as he is, and nature as we find it, we shall find a two-fold division running through both, and we shall ultimately find that DUALITY is everywhere the basic condition in the manifestation of all things.

If we examine the world about us, as to its real character, and describe it in the language of science, we find Matter, Force, and Motion. Matter is that which occupies space and resists motion. Force is that which produces motion in matter. Matter is indestructible, it changes form and combination. Force is indestructible; and finally matter and force are inseparable, indissoluble. This leads to the concept of the persistence of motion. If we conceive of atoms or molecules, we must think of them as never for an instant at rest. A motionless atom therefore is unthinkable; as soon as it ceases to move, it ceases to be. Now this moving physical panorama we call the phenomenal world, its essence is motion, and motion implies change.

Matter, both mass and molecule, is continually appearing and disappearing; and whenever, wherever, and howsoever it appears, force accompanies it.

Now suppose we call the line of its appearance and final disappearance the boundary of the phenomenal or the Ether, and think of this ether as the ocean in which both matter and force dissolve and motion ceases, or, that the ether is potentially both matter and force, latent, unmanifested. When therefore an appearance or manifestation occurs, even of a single atom, matter, force, and motion represent it, and the substratum in which it appears, commonly called space, is the all surrounding, all pervading ocean of ether.

Science calls this Ether "Luminiferous." This is the Astral Light, and yet this luminosity is not light as we think of it. The difference between luminosity and light is similar to that between magnetism and electricity. Light is luminosity plus polarity, and polarity implies duality, hence motion, hence phenomena, transition, change.

The center of man is consciousness: the avenues through which this center of consciousness comes in contact with the external world of phenomena are the senses. If the essence of phenomena is change, so is change the essence of the senses. Sensory and motor impressions are simply changes apprehended or appreciated by the nerves, the result of which is transmitted to consciousness. A nerve channel therefore, incapable of change, is incapable of either sensory or motor impressions, and hence is out of communication with the centre, consciousness; or, in other words, that part of the body is "paralysed." The realm of consciousness heretofore in communication with that realm is latent, but is not paralysed. The brain is the seat or center of consciousness, but it is not the office of the brain to manifest consciousness; that is the office of the body, and particularly of the muscular system by bodily motion and facial expression. There are bodily conditions in which consciousness remains, yet the individual is unable to manifest it. The brain is therefore the house in which consciousness dwells, in which it is usually, but not necessarily, confined. The delicate surface of the gray matter of the brain is the canvas on which is exhibited to the indwelling consciousness the panorama of events occurring in the outer world of phenomena. Here we find the origin, the basis, and the conditions of thought, of all intellectual processes whatsoever. In health these moving pictures are geometrical in form, and mathematical as to number, rhythm, and movement. The action of the heart conforms to, or again determines, this rhythm. Mental emotions change the action of the heart; disturbance of the heart's action gives rise to emotion, i. e., there is a close sympathy between heart and brain, and hence between the functions of each. The mistake in modern physiology is in supposing that the brain originates consciousness, whereas it only is related to its manifestation. It would be far more correct to say that consciousness originates the brain. It is quite probable that all sensations and functions, other than the purely organic, originate from the single sense of feeling, and consciousness as related to the phenomenal world is a development of feeling, viz.; experience.

It may thus be seen what is the nature of the phenomenal universe, and of man's being as related thereto, viz: change, transition, the past is dead, the future is not, the present is an instant of change, and our consciousness of it is a consciousness of change, and that only; what it is in itself, we do not know. This is what our Eastern Brothers call MAYA, a moving panorama of illusions, which generally lead to delusion.

All this is related to the physical world, but one side of the nature of man, but one-half of the world itself. Oken says of the sun that "it shines by virtue of its standing in the midst." The sun of the Microcosm is consciousness. If we call the light of consciousness luminosity, then are the sensory and motor impulses passing too and fro along the nerves polarized light, qualitation, analysis, the vibrations of which break on the shore of consciousness, to be merged in its mysterious deeps. Sensations precipitated, deprived of motion, are experienced, and the recorded result is consciousness. As already remarked, this is consciousness related to one side of existence. The other half of the problem is the Noumenal. All existence is an equation: duality and manifestation are synonymous terms. Consciousness is the lamp which stands in the midst between the two worlds, the phenomenal and the noumenal, in the place of the sign of equality.

(To be continued.)

The Path