The world is crying out for help, for hope. But this can never come save from those who know their own natures, who cannot be deceived by the subtle voice of evil, whose lives show forth the guiding presence of the soul in every act and thought, who shed at every moment the blood of their compassion. The heart-cry of the world is a prayer to the higher law, a longing for better things.
Seeing the misery of the world as I do, and coming in close contact in correspondence with hundreds of despairing souls, I feel the urging of that great heart of humanity to plead with you to make a new effort, and to seek every moment of the day to strengthen that effort by noble deeds and by pure thoughts and actions. If each would do his part in this, all the rest would care for itself.
The great whirling vortex of human life holds the mind in a nightmare of delusion. Humanity is stifled and the world held down and back by the psychology of pessimism. So many have no faith in themselves, no faith in each other. Some are pleading for help and light, it is true, for something that can still the craving of the heart, but so many are content with the superficial. And this black psychology, sweeping in, affects to some degree the minds of all. Even the strongest, the best, find it a constant struggle to live up to their possibilities because of this subtle, disintegrative force. Yet to everyone who seriously pushes forward in spite of this, a new door opens with each day, a new cycle — truly, a new world.
The whole mass of humanity is a psychological field on inner planes, a vast aggregation of opposing forces, some pushing towards light and harmony, but the great bulk of them against advancement and against the truth.
The great onward rush of human effort for better things is intense, very intense, yet so many wander away from the path of light. Losing sight of their divinity, the godlike, guiding power within, they wander this way and that, searching this way and that, through this book and that, and so on, all along the way. Their faces, their words, their writings, tell the story of disillusionment and failure. And the remedy? Does it not lie in the finding of the SELF?
The present is a critical time, and if we are to reach that point at which peace of mind is possible, we must accentuate the divinity of man — and so beautifully, so truly, that the questions of injustice which now cannot be answered will then be explained.
Under the pressure of all that is happening in the world — much that is seen now and much that will be seen later in the spirit of unbrotherliness, running into insanity and despotism — our vow becomes a beacon-light in our hearts, a beacon-light in the world. Let us bathe in the spirit of it, illumine our minds by the light of it. Let us fortify ourselves, and protest, not only against the evil in our own natures but against evil said of another, and the evildoing of those who take the name of truth to cloak their unrighteousness.
It matters not how much money we may accumulate, how much scholastic learning we may possess, how many magnificent structures we may erect in the name of civilization. Unless we arrive at a better understanding of brotherly toleration, we are working in vain for the future.
In our selfish indifference as a people we are unconsciously taking part in the crimes of the world; we are absolutely factors in these crimes. Only because we have lost the power of spiritual discrimination are we able to view the present conditions with equanimity. We have been taught to judge by appearances, to perceive the physical, outer man and the brain-mind alone, we have ignored the existence of the inner life, the real self of man, that which looks behind the veils of illusion and sees things as they are. We are arrant cowards if we do not begin to think and work and hope along new lines, when the whole world is crying out for help.
To reach the truth there must be in the aspiring mind a certain quality of resolution, determination; and yet the truth is all about us, sweeping as on invisible currents into the very atmosphere in which we live. It is as though brooding over the world in its sorrow were a great urge, a great soulful power, standing between Deity and man's endeavor to rise and go unto his own. It is the real intermediator, and one feels its presence when in one's highest mood. One cannot think of the battlefields across the water, the devastated nations, the deserted homes, the neglected, persecuted children, without feeling something of its power. And the question arises: shall mankind go backward, hardened, cynical, skeptical and discouraged, or push forward and upward with these new currents of life?
If we fail to understand ourselves, if we fail in our duty to the higher self, we are absolutely out of place in attempting to help others. For how can we help our brothers understandingly unless we understand ourselves? We shall overdo or underdo or perhaps not do anything at all.
Only a few, a very few, are willing to take trouble for humanity, and as long as this is the case we may expect menacing conditions in our civilization. Many people with splendid possibilities seem to be so near — almost touching, in fact — the fringe of the great truth. But they close their eyes to the need, they turn away and walk on, satisfied with their own little path because to do otherwise is "too much trouble." Nevertheless, because of the thought and effort of just the few who love humanity, a benediction is certain to come. In time our thought-life will become rarefied; men's minds will be touched with a new power sprung from the optimism and the hope of the few who defend the truth. We shall look down over the hills and into the valleys and see godlike men and women walking there; we shall feel ere long the influence, the mighty overshadowing, of a new civilization.
In the heart-touch is the saving quality which will redeem humanity and bring about universal brotherhood. The word charity should be eliminated. In the name of charity men and women have been treated like so much personal baggage and labeled accordingly. Out of the great heart of nature all things proceed, and all things lead back there at last, all worlds and systems of worlds, from the great central sun to the smallest particle in space, must thrill responsive to the pulsations of that infinite heart of compassion. The Great Mother reaches forth to receive her own. All efforts to retard are less than insignificant. In every act which partakes of the divine quality of infinite compassion lies concealed the potency of all the spheres. All nature obeys the command of one whose heart beats constantly for others.
Infinite patience and infinite love are required in dealing with the weaknesses of humanity. Oh, that love could flow freely through the hearts of all men, uncolored by personality. Then a new day would dawn, verily.
The hero of today must be a hero of heroes. The ideal must no longer be left remote from life, but made divinely human, close and intimate, as of old. Now is the day of resurrection. Man looking up will see the old ideals restored, and seeing, live.
My hopes go out in the very atoms of the air. They are sounded in the silences of the night, when the world is sleeping and the veil is lifted for a space between the weaknesses of those who suffer and their aspirations.
In our love for poor humanity, let us salute the Law in a warriorlike spirit; and let us call forth from our hearts a new inspiration, breathing itself into a new tone of silent, calm effort for peace and light everywhere. Let it be a radiation of the diviner life within ourselves, binding us to the "new order of ages" that we have chosen to build.
Great as have been the discoveries of the past century, still greater are those to follow. Greater exponents of art will be born among us; they will present higher standards and create grander ideals. Literature will gain a new impetus from the new creators who will come to serve the masses with a "feast of reason and a flow of soul" on lines never dreamed of in modern times. Science will astonish the age with its discoveries of some of nature's finer forces.
But the greatest development is not to be looked for on the material plane and in physical science and invention; more marvelous still will be the unfolding of the nature of man on spiritual and mental lines. The possibilities that lie before us in these directions would, if presented today, meet only with incredulity and condemnation, for in this material age man cannot understand the heights that may be attained through self-mastery.
We should not become so absorbed in the little achievement of today as to render it impossible for us to receive the key to the wider knowledge of the future. If we could realize the voice of the soul working behind the ordinary mentality, we should consciously become receptive to higher influences and more spiritual realities; we should bring about that condition within ourselves where we should hear the divine melodies, restoring harmony throughout all nature. In this way we should become pioneers, opening up the vision of men to the vast and unexplored regions of life, and being conscious of this possibility, so stimulate every energy that the very atoms in space, the atoms composing every organism, would change and begin to respond to the divine impulse.
Man was born into this world to attain, and to do this he must struggle as the child struggles to pass through the gates of birth. To attain he must surmount conditions, break through all limitations, and persevere in effort until he reaches spiritual perfection. If we only had the courage to step out into the realm of real thought — for that realm holds the great secrets of human nature which are the real mysteries of life.
Progressive as we are in many ways, we have not yet touched the key to that remedial power that alone can lift the burdens from the people. Something more than material wealth is needed, something more than intellectual accumulation. For intellectualism has no lasting power without the practice of the highest morality.
The first step to be taken in occultism is the practice of unselfishness, for all work for humanity should be performed without thought of reward. Such work is of greater importance than the mere cultivation of the intellect or the collection of large libraries.
[Excerpts from editorials appearing in 1897 and 1898.]
Are there not, in our civilization today, signs that mark a unique barbarism among us, showing an immense danger of retrogression? Can we not see, in spite of all the good there is in the world, that the very blood of some of our brothers is teeming with a heartless cruelty, a subtle viciousness, and a monstrous selfishness and hypocrisy? Is not the world brimful of unrest, unhappiness, injustice and despair; and are we not on the very edge of a condition which, if not improved, must sweep away the bright prospects of our present civilization?
Today, as a people, we are by our thoughts and actions affecting to no small degree the record of the next century. We are adding one more link to the chain of events on both the lower and the higher planes of evolution. It is high time that we eliminate from our minds unfaith and egotism, cynicism and selfishness, and prepare ourselves to be a part of the great movement of spiritual life which is now close at hand.
The world seems mad today, moving towards a point at the end of this cycle where only staunch, firm, tempered hearts can turn this tide in the affairs of men to a higher plane of action.
Viewing the present striking aspects, can we for one moment be satisfied to live contentedly and selfishIy in the shadow of darkness and unrest? Is it possible for anyone having one grain of human pity in the heart, or love of truth and justice, to do aught but work, work all the time unflinchingly and unselfishly, for his brother man and all creatures — not apart from but among them, with a courage that obscures all thought of self?
We should regard present events as transitory, leading to a more permanent and higher development. Indeed, we should learn practical wisdom through these varied and trying experiences. We must stand face to face with facts in the life of the world.
We can find light shining in dark places if we do not externally hold to forms and appearances. If we can but exert ourselves to think above the atmosphere of doubt and despair, we can find peace even amid the whirl and restlessness of life.
Now is the time, for at the end of this century [19th] an opportunity is given to humanity that it has not had for thousands of years. The cycle has reached its point of swiftest momentum; an effort made today has greater effect than at any other point of the cycle. It is like the ninth wave on the seashore which the fisherman waits for, that he may bring his smack safely to land. Today a small effort brings great results; today sudden progress can be made that could not be accomplished before in months or even years. Today is the great opportunity to enter the Path.
But this cannot be accomplished unless men realize the essential divinity of their own natures. True progress begins with this step alone. Too long has poor humanity been living on the outer edge of truth and light; too long has help been sought from without; too long has the inner divine nature been obscured and the shadows of external life mistaken for the reality.
Unconsciously we may be playing into the hands of the Brothers of the Shadow by a careless thought, a lightly spoken word. We may thus strengthen their destructive work until what was in us a thought, becomes a terrific force, gathering momentum as it goes, until finally it results in some national calamity.
We cannot be too careful, let it be reiterated. The destiny of the nation lies in the hands of the people; today we stand on the verge of great changes. Let us realize, then, our individual responsibility, and let us by steadfast integrity uphold the true principles of brotherhood.
At the close of the year 1897, amidst the turmoil and unrest engendered by the titanic forces of good and evil contending for the mastery of the coming centuries, are heard the silvery notes of the Christmas bells and the loving voice of the Christos — bidding men cease their selfish strife and their mad race for power and gain, calling them to turn their faces to the light and unite their hearts and voices in one great anthem of brotherly love, of peace and goodwill to all creatures; and urging us with courage and patience to brace our inner natures against all that seeks to lead us from the true path, that we may gain greater strength to do our whole duty to our fellowmen.
It is a great reflection upon the mind of a nation that there should be war instead of peace, brute force instead of the forces of mind and soul. For human thought is measureless in its power, and the spiritual will could bring about universal peace and absolutely maintain it, would man but evoke it.
The nations are praying for peace; but lasting peace can never be attained until the spirit of true brotherhood is manifested in the hearts of men.
We could not expect universal peace at once; I know too much of human nature for that. We must learn to trust each other first, individuals and nations both, and we must broaden our ideas as to the meaning of brotherhood. In all the nations today we find great minds bent upon this problem, sincere men and women who are profoundly interested in the welfare of the world. But oh, the time that is wasted, the brain oil used, the faculties energized to bring about a new order of things in the name of peace — while they have lost sight of the true, the simple, the only way to do it.
Brotherhood is the way; that is the keynote of the new age. Universal brotherhood means universal peace.
Men may talk of peace, and work for peace, but it is mockery unless they try to find peace within their own natures. You cannot gain the power to adjust civic affairs, let alone international affairs, until you begin self-adjustment.
"But," some judicial mind may say, "how can we hold the nations of the world at peace when differences exist, seemingly irreconcilable differences?" My reply must be: what holds together a family when differences arise? Kinship, the basic love of brother for brother that is teeming within its life. That will suffice to hold it together always if it has grown and evolved in the spirit of justice. Why not, then, the larger family of the world?
Why is not humanity aroused to its great need before disasters come? Why cannot we help each other before we are challenged by suffering or by war? Why cannot we move out beyond our limitations, in true compassion and with true love of justice, and ingrain into human life the spirit of brotherhood? Spiritual growth — that is the ideal. It is the only guarantee of permanent peace.
Yet, in spite of enormous limitations, a larger work for humanity is being done, the real work is truly going on. But it is being accomplished largely in the silences of life. I believe that the great divine voice of humanity in its nobler aspect is even now trying to reach us, trying to attract our vision to the grander life, to broader horizons, to more infinite vistas, that we may dream, if only for an hour, of better things.
Let us give way to the eternal processional of the peace-bringers, the currents of divinity ever ready to flow through every man who will take down the bars and evoke their passage. We are fixed; they change ever. We are mechanical; they are spontaneous. Fatigue is ours; they are immortal, ever-born and never-fading.
Let us, by playing our part well, evoke the god of peace, that it may brood over our world and breathe into the hearts of all a larger tolerance and a greater love for each other, for all nations and all people.
A living wedge is cleaving the darkness of the darkest age. We are witnesses to that compassion which is the light itself. The hour of right action is here.
The crest-wave of spiritual effort! A sublime and unselfish purpose will carry us to that high point — and then will come the power to love and serve in a new, a diviner way.
Don't brand a man as a criminal. Teach him that he is a soul and give him a chance. Let him feel that someone believes in him. Give him the encouragement that perhaps he has missed all through his life, and the lack of which may have helped to make him what he is.
I believe in the divinity of man. I believe that the potential god-life is within the murderer, the thief, the outcast, and that there lives no one who has it not. Why, then, do these types exist?
Because human nature is dual. In the life of the man who has made his mistakes we can see the forces of evil, the forces of the lower psychology, gradually taking control of that life until a certain point is reached — a climax; and then the man who is under their sway weakens and falls, in spite of his education, his intelligence or his wealth. Why? Because the subtle psychology of ignorance, selfish ambition or vice, has broken down and ruined the magnificent human system which is the temple of God.
If the hopeless, discouraged men in our prisons could be made to realize the potential strength of their higher natures, the latent spiritual force that lies within them waiting for the call, they would have the key to the problems of life.
Fear the criminal? Not I; he is labeled. It is the criminal who is not labeled whom we must look out for. We suffer more today from the class of wrongdoers who cloak themselves in hypocrisy and move among men unsuspected, than from the labeled class.
Aye, today I would rather trust myself in the hands of a murderer than in those of a hypocrite! And what discerning person would not?
What a wonderful thing it would be if the nations could be so fired by the needs of those whom we call criminals that selfish and personal interests could be forgotten. Great convocations could be held in every city; mothers, fathers and children could gather together to work in consonance with that divine law which is ever ready to serve us. What an urge towards higher things humanity would receive from such an effort. Can you not believe that out of such great gatherings something new would arise? We should understand, to a degree at least, what Christ meant when he said to the woman who touched his garments, "What is this that hath gone out of me?"
That is what we must arouse — spiritual sympathy. We must arouse the mental and spiritual force of true compassion, to change the currents of retrogression that are now sweeping the best in our life away.
The secret of this work is sympathy with the souls of men.
Somewhere, somehow, at some time, we have failed in our duty or we should not have criminals in our midst. It is part of the divine law that we shall have just this result, however, until we awaken to our higher duty to our fellowmen.
The marvel is that with so little knowledge of their inner natures, of the dual forces that sway them now this way and now that, men do not go further astray. The marvel is, truly, that there is not more crime in the world, considering the obscurations on every hand in the mental life of man.
Criminals lose faith in humanity before they lose faith in themselves. Why is this the case? It is because so many declare them to be "sinners." They have made the gulf so wide between themselves and the so-called criminal classes that the latter make their own little world of criminality and become psychologized by it.
Let those who stand forth today as spiritual teachers, helpers of humanity, read their consciences, study their own natures. Then let them answer at the bar of justice as to why so many unfortunates drift into prison. And we, in the twentieth century, boasting of our civilization, support laws that consign them to the scaffold!
Let us pause and think for a moment. Let us imagine that our children were in prison today, that our children were to be executed! That is the way to bring home to ourselves the truth.
The thinking world today is quite ready to admit the influence of psychology; to admit that thoughts, in a sense, are things, and that the invisible, the intangible, the seemingly unexpressed, is sometimes the most potent in making or marring character. This has a great bearing upon questions of prison reform, for imprisoned men move and live, month after month and year after year, in a psychological atmosphere of condemnation and of gloom. Reminded that they are outcasts, shut quite away from the world, forgotten and condemned, knowing only that the outside world is whirling on, moving on, indifferent, they learn to hate humanity for they have learned to hate themselves. They do not understand nor will they see that discipline is necessary and is best. They meet little, perhaps, that is sympathetic or compassionate — few signs indeed that we are our brother's keeper. This is not the case in every prison, but it is the case with the great majority.
The marvel to me is that these men do as well as they do, for they enter discouraged, and discouraged they come out. The very fact that so many really reform is to me proof of the divinity of man. And yet these men are our brothers, and sometime, somewhere along the way, we have done our part to encourage them in mistakes. We are pushing them into discouragement and crime even today by our indifference, our apathy, our selfishness, our unwillingness to admit that we have any duty towards them.
Let us look ahead ten or fifteen years and picture some of our hills and valleys presenting a new feature in twentieth-century civilization — a something that is splendidly remedial; and that is hospitals for the weaklings, the more unfortunate whose unbridled passions have carried them so far beyond the pale of society that prison walls close upon them.
There would be gardens and fields, and there would be houses and homes. I dare conceive a plan by which these prisoners should not be separated from their families. They should be cared for in such a way that they would understand quite well that they were under a certain restraint — but no more, perhaps, if we were very thoughtful, than we give to certain invalids. They would feel that they were in a hospital, in a school, with everything so helpful about them there would be no inducement to rebel.
I have had many years' experience in prison work, and I know that many of these unfortunates, possibly most of them, if properly encouraged and helped, would arouse the strength of their higher nature and in the course of time become valuable citizens, some of them, ultimately, lawmakers, teachers or reformers. How dare we say this could not be? How dare we stultify the possibilities of the soul of man? Can we not let the imagination soar as far as this into the broad arena of spiritual life?
If we can parole men now, leaving them with everything to contend with, no end of difficulties and everything to discourage, surely we could support a scheme of brotherhood reformatories, making them a universal expression of love from the hearts of the people, and limited by no special system except that of the laws of the state. I can feel your hearts pulsating with the thought of this picture.
One of our objects is to revive hope in the hearts of those who, through heredity or environment of a disadvantageous character, have suffered injustice. True brotherhood should have the quality of the sunlight; it should shine everywhere, irrespective of conditions. Its light should flash behind prison walls and bring a new feeling of life to those who are thus shut in through their mistakes. It ought to be remembered that the force misdirected by those in such unfortunate circumstances would, if properly applied, make heroes of them, and that under similar conditions many might be in the same position. Criticism and condemnation should give place to true love and compassion.
It is in the Law that we should instill into the hearts of the sorrowing and hopeless the mighty truths which reveal the mysteries of life and of death. Picture that touch affecting the world. Picture the aching hearts in the prisons receiving the message not only in words but in that deeper way that words cannot express.
It is those who have passed through the chastening processes, the cleansing fires of suffering, who will gain spiritual knowledge if they will but search for it. It is they who will gain the real victory — the victory over the self. It is they who will be the forerunners of the new order; light-bringers for generations to come.
When we have more humane laws, when our prisons are used as educative and spiritualizing institutions, and when capital punishment is abolished, then and not until then can we look down the vistas of the future with the confidence born of clear vision and a sense of duty done.
And this is really the keynote — the recognition of the soul in men, whether they be black or white, despairing or hopeful. It is in all men.
It stands majestic, the core and heart of each man's life, the dictator of his destiny.
It is the inner life that man must bring forth. He must become a conscious part of universal law.
On human shoulders rests the responsibility for human progress.
The path of the mystic is a path of self-mastery and service.
Wherever the heart rules, spirituality is, for the heart is the seat of the soul.
To cater only to mental demands is to forge another link on lines of retrogression.
Selfishness is the line of greatest resistance. Why not choose the opposite and easy way?
Let us question ourselves and ask: are we doubters of, or believers in, the divine law?
We should adjust ourselves to fit like mosaic in the great plan of human life.
No man has a right to say he can do nothing for others. No man is made happy by the mere possession of objects.
Let us make our every act the expression of all that is divinest in our hearts.
There must be heroic determination in our hearts for continuity of right action.
Evolution is the law of human life. All have evolved differently and each must shine according to his light.
Hypocrisy can have no place where one is trying to lead the theosophic life.
My aim is to make theosophy intensely practical, intensely serviceable.
The transition from mere intellectualism to practical, philanthropic activity was not effected without leaving behind a few who showed their theories to be but skin-deep.
The first step to be taken in occultism is the practice of unselfishness.
Selfishness is the basis of the world's unhappiness.
If the world is ever to become a better place, we must begin to think and act as divine souls.
Make each hour tell for some great mastery in character and in life.
The psychological mistakes of the past are still upon us. If we are to drink from the fountain of happiness we must learn to know the false from the true.
With all our experience we are as yet but touching the fringe of real life; we are but entering the outer portals of the real mysteries.
In studying the mysteries we are sitting at the feet of the higher law; we are opening the pages of the great book of human life.
Sympathy and toleration are required in every direction, for both are necessary to progress.
We are in soul-essence verily united. We cannot break that sacred tie.
We are weighed down as a people with the errors of the ages.
The secret of human life in its fullness is self-directed effort.
If we are to help humanity in a new way, we must begin to think in a new way.
Just as in studying music one has to place the voice, so in studying theosophy one has to place the mind; that is, one has to find the right mental attitude in order to understand.
A great hope is dawning for humanity. We seek to voice that hope.
Mental obscuration should not be your lot. Wisdom and light belong to you, for they are part of the heritage of man.
The surgeon's knife may hurt, but only that healing may come. So the teacher may wound at times, but only to the end that spiritual health may be established.
Waste no more time in arguments. Find the SELF, and wrest from that the message it is waiting to impart.
When the heart is attuned to the sorrow and the needs of the world, the mind becomes illumined, and wisdom enters in. Those who possess the wisdom that is born of compassion, may truly be called inspired.
To tear down the life of another is but to destroy one's own.
Are you faultless? No, but you can strive towards faultlessness. Not your act but your motive is weighed in the scales of divine justice.
Prayer is aspiration, and true aspiration is prayer. The life that is lighted by it is a constant service of devotion, a burning altar-flame.