The Path – December 1893


It is always the key-note of everything that we want to seek or strike. The key-note of Christianity seems to be the personal or personality, the key-note of Theosophy, individuality; therefore in the evolution of the race they work beautifully together, Christianity preceding the wider Theosophy, which, again, leads into the Universal, there becoming the Wisdom Religion and the "Heir of all the Ages".

We should be grateful to Christianity. As represented by Jesus, it was Theosophy. But at that time the World lived in the personal, and so translated his teachings into its own language, as is the custom of humanity, from childhood on, with everything it accepts — and it must do so to accept it.

The child begins with the personal; it naturally grasps for itself. "Self-preservation is the law of life" has always been said in the Western world, and Christianity has provided for the carrying out of this law. It has a personal God, personal salvation, a personal heaven with a personal harp, classifications of persons there, and personal bodies (which they regard as themselves) here, in this world, even suggesting that these will be resurrected into the other world. Then, only, will they be surely saved, for until then heaven is an uncertain state where they are represented by a filmy something which they call their soul, but to which they hardly venture to give their undivided attention or to consider as necessary, until after death. Meanwhile, their bodies and the relations of this life are more interesting and all absorbing.

This is the Froebel method. It is the method of all intelligent education and of evolution. "First that which is natural, and then that which is spiritual." But here must come in another stage of development. The continuity of this life is questioned. Death steps in to take our loved ones, and thus our hearts are touched to long for a continuance of these ties, or the rush of civilization causes changes in outside ways. The lesser is sunk in the greater, small business enterprises cease to succeed, everything must change and be on a larger scale, houses must be torn down, palaces must be built, trusts must be formed, people must live in hotels or apartments if they have not purses to conduct life in a large way. The interests of man cease to be centred in himself, he is part of a whole; like a child when he begins to go to school, he is an individual in a community.

Then must begin consideration for others; his own interests cannot exclusively usurp his attention; others have rights; only by conceding these can he hold his place. Here comes in the germ of "Brotherly love", and the consciousness of Karma, or the law of action and reaction, cause and effect. Then, if some loved one is taken away, the feeling comes that there must be something beyond the body, there must be a continuity of life — and here we find the essence of the individual, the soul. Bodies lose their preeminence in our thoughts, we realize that our true life is on other and invisible planes. As we cannot see and hear our departed loved ones, we learn to meet them in the Over-Soul, the Universal, and thus again sink our separateness — this time, of the Soul — in the grand whole, or Spirit. Then man really lives, and begins to realize, to know, what he may be, and that, being Spirit, he can dominate and not be subject to matter, which is but the manifestation of Spirit. This larger life of Spirit with its limitless possibilities is the teaching of Theosophy, which is the continuation of Christianity, and the spirit, but not the letter, of Christ's teachings. We have lived in the letter, the body; now we live in the Spirit. We may live that Spirit in the Churches or out of the Churches. But we are told in the Bible that it is difficult for new wine to be held in old bottles. Form is not lasting, and forms confine. The old meaning clings to them and the Spirit is hampered. When a man wishes to change his life, to live on a higher plane, we tell him he can do it more easily and rapidly by going to a new place, by changing his associations. It needs a man of marked conviction and firm will to renew himself amid old surroundings. And thus in the life of the Soul the beginner can work better and more rapidly among those who believe we are the Soul and the body is but raiment. The literature, the associations, the daily lives of his companions help him. For this reason only would we leave the Churches and join the Theosophical Society, for this and to help on the work of the Society which has helped us. But if we are strong enough to be carried by the Spirit, to live in our souls and aid those still in the bondage of the flesh, amid the old surroundings, we may do a great work in the Churches. That is a question each must judge for himself. In Theosophy one has a larger and more unquestioned freedom to do, to be, and to grow.

The Path