Theosophy: The Path of the Mystic — Katherine Tingley

Chapter 6

Family and the Home

To the Awakening Woman

The world is starving for the psychological touch of something higher from women, and that something higher can spring only from an inner devotional attitude of mind. Without devotion we cannot be real women.

The devotional spirit ought to be more cultivated by women, for it opens a path to the soul. Men are waiting for it unconsciously, they are longing to see it manifest in women's lives, and when it is so manifest they feel it and respond to its appeal, even without a word being said. And our little children feel it also.

The devotional keynote in woman's life makes home a sacred place, for it sanctifies every hour of the day. When this wonderful spirit plays into and over the life, you are buoyed up, inspired: nothing is impossible; nothing is hard; nothing is too much. The wave carries you along, so to speak, and real magic is often the result. In depending solely on the intellectual life woman is starving herself, her children and her home, for she cannot convey to those who love her the heart-touch which their souls are calling for and should have.

It is the inner life, the heart-life, that woman must seek and strive to realize, with all the courage and soul-determination of her being.

I plead for the cultivation of the spiritual will that lies back of every heart and mind. I plead with woman to awaken to a realization of her divine potentiality to shape her own life and the lives of others to divine results. I plead with her to awaken to her mission in the world.

Woman, by nature, is mystical; she lives more in the heart. Her emotional nature, however, becomes a source of weakness if not governed understandingly. Could she harness and control that, new doors would open in her life continually; she would journey on an ever-ascending path of experience and spiritual growth.

The greatest work that woman can do today is to become so feminine, so spiritual and strong, so grandly compassionate and helpful, that she will hold the whole human family in her keeping. She will make the home her altar, her kingdom; and from that altar, from that kingdom, shall be sent out the gospel of life to all people.

We do not want any brain-mind work in such a reformation. My effort is to arouse your enthusiasm, to awaken in you a burning desire to know more of your real selves that you may better do your real duties. My effort is to evoke the inner and unrecognized part of you — the superb divinity within you, the soul — that you may step forth as positive, strong, royal examples of right action.

I have no receipts for you, no sentimentality, no crutches for you to lean upon. There is but one issue here, and it is this: shall the spiritual or the temporal woman rule? And my aim is to evoke from within you your own divinity, that something which will give you the power to overcome all difficulties. Once you have evoked this unconquerable power, which is yourself in very truth, you will find that half the difficulties in your life will have disappeared, and that the other half can be met with a courage so royal, so superb, that you can actually transform them into helps and victories.

I cannot conceive how we are ever to adjust and redeem humanity, or how we are ever to make the home an ideal place of love and harmony, until women understand themselves. For only when in possession of this priceless knowledge — the knowledge of the self — is it possible for either man or woman to develop and perfect that symmetry which is the ideal.

Woman has been slowly losing her way along the ages, beyond question — though the same may be said of man. But the obscurations and stumbling blocks in woman's path have been many and great and have brought into her life an unrest that few men realize.

I believe that men know very little about the inner life of woman, for unless man is acquainted with himself, with his essential divinity and his possibilities, how can he judge? On the other hand, if woman is unacquainted with herself, and in her turn knows not her essential divinity, how can she understand life, or duty? How can she become the ideal woman that her heart is pleading with her to be?

False education and the errors of ages have surrounded woman with environments that are unnatural and unreal; and these in their turn have crippled her genius and forced her into a life that is not hers.

Woman must "know herself" for this is her true mission. She must unveil the mysteries of her being, and in the unveiling she will become transformed physically, mentally and spiritually, elevated to a higher expression of womanhood. She will no longer be limited to a small mental life, for her soul would not bear it. Her aspirations will be so high, her ideals so much higher, and her knowledge so much greater, that she will broaden her views, her life, her sphere of usefulness. Thus we should have not only the ideal woman, but the international woman. One nation would not be enough for her. She would hold the whole world in her love.

There is being enacted on the mental plane today a great battle in woman's life, a terrible struggle. It may not be written openly in history, but it is recorded in the atmosphere of the world and tells its story in the silence.


If woman is to attain the dignity of ideal womanhood, she must cultivate her femininity. She was born a woman and she must be a woman, in the truest sense. Contrasts between man and woman exist, yet there is a balance — the heart-yearnings perhaps different in each, yet both reaching towards the same goal; their intellectual life somewhat different, developed under different conditions and environments, yet this too reaching towards the same consummation and achievement.

These contrasts hold within themselves, in the deep undercurrents of human life, a superb and glorious harmony. Woman in her true place, hand in hand with man in his, would bring about a new order of things — a new life, a resurrection of the spirit, a shining forth of the inner, higher, eternal qualities of the human soul.

Both men and women come from the same divine source; they are seeking the same goal, are part of the same universal life, are guided by the same universal laws of being. Outward aspects are different in each, and duties are different; but the hunger for truth is the same in both, the spiritual will the same.

The first thing a woman has to learn, when she studies the laws governing her life, is that there is a negative and a positive quality in human nature, and that negative women are always imposed upon. They are forever sacrificing their lives to no beneficial result, forever bearing children in disharmony, who must later suffer just as they have done. For there is no balance in their lives; there is no justice.

On the other hand, when a woman begins to live the higher life, and live it positively, forcefully and fully, the very atmosphere of her presence silences the meanest and most selfish efforts of her opposers.

You cannot make over the world in a moment, nor can you change woman's life in a moment. Realizing the mistakes that have been made all down the ages, therefore, let woman become acquainted with herself. Let her not become so anxious to succeed, however, that she loses her balance, and let her above all remember that the crucifixions in human life have often proved to be its blessings.

Let the woman who finds herself unhappily married, or suffering from conditions brought about through marriage, remember that these things came about because she was not acquainted with herself. When the time for choice drew near, had she known how to accentuate in her life the positive quality, the power of intuition — the great spiritual factor in life — would have illumined her mind. It would have brought to her a knowledge not only of her weakness but also of her strength.

In studying themselves men and women should first of all study their nature in its duality — the play and interplay of the higher and the lower self. This step taken, they should then search out their greatest weaknesses, as revealed in the light of such study, and courageously begin to overcome them. This initiates a great process of purification, and with a devotional attitude of mind behind the self-analysis, a double work is going on: an inner work and an outer.

We are too prone to rest content within the little limited circle of what we consider our necessities, and lose sight of the spiritual meaning of our lives. It is a common human failing.

How many can analyze themselves, or bring about a living unity between themselves and their life? Far too many live in their puny prejudices and their wants. "What I want" is the mantram of civilization at the present day — so rarely "what I need" or "what civilization demands."

If you could only know what a companion the higher self can be! It is a presence, a mystic presence. The realization of it depends of course upon the degree of your evolution. Its companionship is so real, so wonderful, so royally supreme. Once you have found it, you never can lose it again.

Even among very diverse types of people the same thing is often lacking in each, namely, the strong spiritual will. This should be the moving power in every human being, but in most men and women, through lack of understanding and of exercise, it is too weak to amount to a real force in directing the life.

Until aroused to some understanding of the spiritual will and thus set upon the right track — which is that of self-directed evolution, spiritual self-reliance, in a word — we cannot know ourselves; nor can we realize who or what we are, or know what part we are to play in life. We cannot touch even the fringe of spiritual truth.

I believe that one of woman's greatest weaknesses is the fact that she does not discriminate, often, between true sympathy and false. And false sympathy is one of the greatest of all stumbling blocks in the soul's path — one's own path or that of another. To make this weak point strong, woman must study her nature in its duality, for without this knowledge one is often helpless to discriminate between the pull of the emotions, which disintegrate and exhaust, and the urge of true sympathy, which is supremely spiritual in its power.

Sympathy is always imaginative, bringing to us true pictures and true knowledge of the work of aid which lies before us. Sympathy makes human minds so plastic that words are hardly needed to find out the cause of another's trouble. Sympathy translates itself into action almost without the aid of human speech.


The whole world seems to be going mad over "my rights," "my city's rights," my "country's rights." But what about my duty?

I hold that the injustice which is now so marked in human life is based on the misuse of these two words, "my rights." Absence of real unselfishness and of love for duty is so marked that duty as a fact and an ideal has not the place it should have in the hearts and minds of men.

We cannot have the illumination that comes from the higher self without being constantly devoted to duty. It is the most splendid companion we can conceive of — DUTY!

Women can no longer fold their hands and say, "I cannot touch unpleasant subjects; they do not concern me." Whatever menaces the purity of human life or the innocence of the youth concerns women deeply and must be touched upon by them, in thought and feeling both, before the outer reforms that the few are working to secure can be built upon a basis that is enduring.

I hold that if women were rightly placed today — or if they had rightly placed themselves, realizing their deeper potentialities, their divine possibilities, and their sacred mission — the world would not be so all awry. There would be real cooperation between women and men, a better understanding of each other's natures, and a new line of higher living for both. This must come about if the dream of world reconstruction is to be made a living fact.

But it is impossible and would be most unjust to say that woman is to be blamed, or that man must be. It is the unnatural conditions in general human life today that too often hem women in and hold them down, causing unrest and consequent unhappiness. These conditions react upon man; the unrest thus created reacts in its turn upon woman, and the combined influence of their mutual unrest and doubt falls upon the children, the home — and the nation.

In endeavoring to urge upon women a profounder recognition of all that pertains to the unfolding of their higher natures, I hold that were a real effort to be made towards this end by men and women working together, the twentieth century would mark the beginning of a great spiritual uplift on absolutely new lines.

Build Spiritual Altars in the Home

Here is another problem: are the mothers and fathers, the educators and the progressive minds of the age, satisfied with the home life of today? Do we not realize that under the present outlook future generations can have little of the greater hope? Are not crimes increasing, crimes unspeakable? Are we not reaping, day by day, the harvest of our acts of omission in the past, our failure to make our home life what it should be, all along the way?

The question naturally arises: what can bring about a change for the better? What factors can be introduced that will readjust our home life as nations — for there are sublime exceptions in individual life — and bring it nearer to perfection?

Men and women should study the laws of life and the responsibilities of fatherhood and motherhood even before marriage. Home should be acclaimed as the center from which the higher life of the nations is to spring.

In this great reconstructive effort, the question is often asked: where shall we begin? But does not the home preeminently afford us opportunities for living the grander life? Can we not through the home bring more quickly than otherwise something new and uplifting into the world?

Humanity needs health, physical, mental and moral; and children born under right conditions, physically strong and well, and spiritually in the atmosphere of the real harmonies of life, receptive to that light which was shed upon the life under prenatal conditions — such as these cannot but become splendid vehicles for spiritual development, temples of the inner, living god. When the whole nature is in balance, there will be innate, not only tendencies towards the devotional life, but an intellectual aspiration for all that is high and noble.

Such children would grow day by day in spiritual life under the guidance of parents who had placed themselves in harmony with the higher law, and such parents, in their aspiration to serve their little ones and pass down to later ages a noble expression of childhood, manhood and womanhood, would be building not merely for the present but for all time. Perpetuating their ideals in their children, such home-builders would begin to make real the Kingdom of Heaven upon earth.

The charm and fascination of the picture lies in the fact that "the Kingdom of Heaven is within." Storms may be without, trials, poverty, struggles, tragedies, disappointments of all kinds; but however many they may be or however great their force, they cannot daunt. Within is heaven, reflected in that home — an expression of the higher law, the Christos-spirit, the life of the real man, the real woman, with woman in her true place and man in his, as the higher law intended them to be.

I hold that the time is near when men and women shall declare true marriage to be a creation of the divine or higher law, and the bond of the civil law but a form for purposes of protection. Wherever a marriage exists, not sanctioned by this divine power, where souls are not united spiritually and filled with the highest ideals and the purest love, there is no real marriage at all.

With this conception as a guide, it could not be long before those who have the common interests of the world at heart would find new light and would live in accordance with their responsibilities.

One can touch upon the subject of marriage at present in only a fragmentary way. But there are profound mysteries connected with it, and could we study them rightly we could begin to build a new world.

I find myself so often moving back from the outer world into the inner world of the home, appealing in the silence to the mothers, daughters and wives to do their part more fully to bring about a new state of affairs. There is grave need of readjustment in the life of nations all over the world, and if women could take up this work in relation to the home life which they touch at one or another point — not selfishly, but in the interest of suffering humanity — the results would be more far-reaching than they dream. That done, the world would soon respond to the influence of a new psychology, the psychology of the higher self.

To build the nation righteously we must build our homes sacredly, and those who work towards that end should study the heart-doctrine and live it. There is need of more light for the people, but it cannot be found until the sacredness of fatherhood and motherhood, and the higher meaning of brotherhood, are better appreciated and understood.

Without knowledge we cannot live understandingly; if we are to serve our fellows we must know ourselves and we must know the laws of life, that we may build the home morally and spiritually, fashioning every thought and act in harmony with these laws.

However farfetched my statements may seem today, it will ere long be recognized by science that there exists a psychological force that is intangible and invisible vet stronger than words can paint. How carefully we guard our children against whooping cough and measles, and vet how thoughtlessly they are exposed to psychological influences which are a thousand times more fatal!

The human family is moving towards the realization of great truths, and in this connection we should commence to build on broader and more unselfish lines of effort; we should cultivate a divine courage, and we should begin in the home, with a sacred comprehension of the married state.

A true home is a light upon the pathway of the world's life. When the homes of the world are based on justice and a higher type of love we shall have no more disheartening national and international problems.

Child and Mother

I wonder how many parents think much about the real responsibilities of life, how many understand the real sacredness of marriage and that most sacred thing of all: the ushering of souls into the world!

Home is a great school of experience. It is the place of affection, the center where children should be born and reared in harmony with the higher law.

The currents of thought at work throughout the whole organism of humanity are registered on the minds of all as on a sensitive plate. In every country there are thousands concentrating their minds on the injustice under which they suffer, and in no way does this condition of things affect the world more deeply than by prenatal influence.

If in the case of an assassin, for example, we could trace the inner development of the nature, we might find the real cause for his crime in the little uncorrected mistakes of childhood, in seemingly unimportant habits, which grew and grew until they became a part of the very life.

The ultimate cause might even be found, could we go back to it, in an indifferent or careless thought on the part of the mother during the prenatal period of her child's life. The sins and crimes of the world are really commenced in the cradle.

It would be absurd to say that children are born in sin, for all are divine and birth is the door through which the immortal self enters to gain experience. But I do say that they can be, and often are, psychologized in weakness on the negative side of their natures, even before birth, by loving but unwise mothers.

Let your children learn to face real issues in their childhood. Let them be taught something besides the love of pleasure, love of the dollar and of ease. Let us bring home to them new lessons, for they are hungering for them; they are seeking the light; they are pleading all the time in their silent way for more knowledge. Is not your duty to them plain?

The personal desires that sometimes work insidiously in the minds of parents affect the rising generation. The narrow grooves of thought through which they often seek to lay down the law as to what occupations their children should follow, draw them away from the true purpose of their lives and hamper the expression of the divine principle within them.

There can be no question about the mother's love, but sometimes by this very means mistakes are made which affect the minds of the young so materially that their power for good becomes dwarfed. But when, without selfish ideas of personal advancement, the mother follows her intuition, the results on her family are vastly different.

When all these influences are considered, a point is reached where no further light is possible unless the idea of rebirth is understood. How differently parents would act if they fully realized that their little ones came "trailing clouds of glory" from a great past, traveling down the ages to the present time.


Woman has it within her power to become a pillar of spiritual strength, and the great rising temple of humanity is waiting in the silence of things for just the support that she is so qualified to give. Shall she therefore step forth in the royal dignity of the higher self and take up the duty of the hour — or fail? She must do one or the other, for there is no possibility of standing still. Mighty currents of disintegration are sweeping into the heart-life of humanity at the present time, created by the prevailing spirit of unrest and in their turn creating more unrest, and those who will not enter the great divine currents of unselfishness and love will be swept down and away. Disintegration of character along most unexpected lines is one of the signs of the times. Yet the dawn of better things is near.

Keep the light burning in your hearts, and like watchers on the hills of peace you will see the first faint gleams of the new day ere you dream the day is at hand.

Theosophical University Press Online Edition