(Lecture delivered November 24, 1929)
I don't feel like answering questions for you this afternoon. The beautiful music that we have just heard has thrown me into an entirely different state of mind. I feel like talking to you after another manner: opening my heart to you, and saying things that will bring to you an illumination and a sense of peace and comfort.
However, as I have promised to answer questions, I will do so, and I shall try to give you answers to the questions that I have before me that will be satisfactory. What curious creatures we human beings are! We never want to do the thing we ought to do, and we always want to do the things that we should not do!
But I am going to be good, and in so doing you will see an example on my part of self-conquest, and of self-control! The musical number, Massenet's Elegie, that my sister has just played, brought me back in memory to the side of a dying friend; and it was this memory that gave a direction to my thoughts different from that which I had when I came into our Temple of Peace.
What I first take up is not a question, it is an anecdote, unless indeed an anecdote can be a question of a certain kind; nevertheless it is in anecdote, and a true one: a true story about a little child and I received this story in this morning's mail. It was sent to me by a Dutch friend who has a little boy who used to be in our Raja-Yoga School. This boy is still very young, at present five years old, I believe. He and his granddaddy were talking together one day. The boy's name is Pieter.
"Pieter said: 'But grandpa, when you were as small as I am now, you were in Holland. Then your daddy lived still, and your grandpa too?'
"Grandpa: 'No, I never met my grandpa, and my daddy died soon too.'
"Pieter: 'My daddy will not die soon, you will die first.'
"Grandpa: 'You never can tell who will die first.'
"Pieter: 'Yes, when I will be as old as daddy is now, you will have died, because daddy will be as old as you are now, and you will have died. And then after a little while, you will be a little baby again, and I will be a big man.' "
Now, I am perfectly positive that this child of five never was taught anything about reincarnation as a doctrine, and if he had been, I doubt if this child at the early age of three could have had the mental ability to apply it two years later in a conversation that he had with granddaddy.
Where do these ideas of little children come from? Do they just happen? I don't believe in this just-happen idea. It isn't a sensible idea. As a matter of fact, anything that happens, happens because it was caused to happen. We are not living in a lunatic universe. So consequently when a little child of four or five talks about rebirth and about coming again on earth, and growing to be a big man, and tells his granddaddy that the granddaddy is going to be a little baby, we see here the working of an instinct, or rather an intuition, of the soul; and the little ones have more of these intuitions than we grownups think that they have. It is our sophisticated and spoiled adult minds that won't believe that the little ones think as deeply as they do — albeit unconsciously to themselves.
We cannot believe — we find it hard to believe — that the little ones can ask us questions which we adults cannot answer. And yet, during the course of some lectures that I gave here a few months ago, I asked a number of questions which had been sent to me, as coming from little children, and I then asked if you could answer them. I did not get a single reply. Nobody stood up, or raised his hand! As a matter of fact, I had difficulty in answering them myself, and I think I could not have done it if I had not had our majestic theosophy behind me to tell me what to say.
I now come to the first real question before me:
"Am I right or wrong in my feeling that diplomacy and sincerity cannot walk hand in hand? By diplomacy I do not imply tact. Personally I dislike diplomacy, particularly when the underlying reason or reasons are well-known or obvious. My feelings are that when diplomacy is used in such cases, a certain amount of sincerity is lacking in its true sense. I would rather have a person speak to me right out and say the truth; it hurts much less. Please explain."
I don't think that this question requires any explanation at all. I fully agree, I think that the only true diplomacy is of the heart: tact, kindliness, truth-speaking, thoughtfulness for others. When a man has to resort to devious and roundabout ways in order to establish a point or to strengthen an argument, he is always working to get something for "me." Now, that may be all right in certain circumstances, but there are very few cases where simple honesty and straightforward speech fail. They are magical. And it is the most wonderful way by which to disarm the other scheming chap, because he never believes that you are going to talk to him in that way — truthfully.
Here is something that is rather pathetic, I think:
"In the course of an address delivered by Major Henry R. Sanborn during the Convention of the American Legion held in San Diego last August, the speaker asked some questions which he did not attempt to answer. As reported in The San Diego Union, of August 25, 1929, Major Sanborn said:
" 'I am not trying to make a speech, but to develop reality. The boy marching along the road with me when the shell struck — taking him and leaving me. Why? In the trenches, some were taken and some left. Why? And so they pass on. My battery — seventy-nine gone. Why was I left?'
"Question: What answers does theosophy give to Major Sanborn's why's"
One all-inclusive, fully satisfactory, no devious explanations; and this answer is what we call karma meaning consequences, the doctrine of consequences, that what ye have sown in nature's fields of life, ye shall reap; as ye sow, ye shall reap, in this or in a later lifetime.
But this does not mean that necessarily death is something to be so carefully avoided. Oh, ten thousand times liefer death than dishonor! And there are very rare times and very rare occasions in human life, friends, when it is better by far to die than to live.
This is not a preaching of suicide. That is not what I mean. In our theosophical view, suicide is radically wrong and utterly indefensible. But when sometimes in human life there comes the parting of the ways, the right-hand path or the left-hand path, the path of duty or the path of selfishness, which pathway does the true man choose?
So it is not the path of death which arouses our sympathetic interest in these why's; it is, as this gentleman queries, a question of religion and of philosophy. He sought for an answer to this question, but could find none; and yet the great religious philosophies, the great philosophical religions, the great literatures of these of the entire world, are full of the answer. Search your own heart and you will find in adequate answer there also.
The universe that we live in is one governed entirely by what people call law and order; that the tree bears its fruits; consequences accrue and ensue to us from what we do, and the consequences are like the original causes. It is not a helter-skelter universe. It is not a lunatic universe. It is one governed by law and order entirely, and in every realm of being, and in every sphere of life; and throughout the entire universe consequences are the resultants of previous actions done or of actions left undone. Therefore was the questioner left; therefore was the boy marching with him killed. Better so.
Nature makes no fundamental mistakes. You must see the comfort in this doctrine. There is in Nature no haphazard action, no fortuity, no injustice: but truth, justice, and the cosmic, the universal, love, which is the cement of the universe, which tells us that whatever is, ultimately is right; that as we sow, we reap. See also the ethical aspect of this. And that was what was meant by the great Syrian sage Jesus, in saying: "Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth, where thieves break through and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where thieves break not through and steal, nor doth moth or rust consume, nor is there any corruption."
These remarks do not refer to the treasures of worldly goods. It is such literal misinterpretations which have killed the spirit of the doctrine of Jesus. No! The great Syrian's observations refer to character, to the great gifts of the human soul and heart. These are the ones that we should cultivate; for having them, none can take them away from us. They are with us forever, because they are we. The slave in chains with a godlike mind is infinitely freer than the so-called free man enslaved to his money bags. The former's spirit can soar the spaces of space, while the other wanders not at all from the material objects which engross all his facilities. What servitude! Therefore, sow well! Sow your character and reap a noble destiny!
"Did Mme. Blavatsky herself choose the word "theosophy" to designate the wisdom-religion which she was bringing anew to the world, or had some of the great teachers before her day used this same word for the same teachings?
"Why was a Greek word chosen for the name of the teachings as a whole, when all the terms and phraseology of the teaching itself are in the Sanskrit tongue?"
In the first place, they are not all in the Sanskrit tongue. Many of our technical words are Tibetan, Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and derived from other tongues. A great many are Sanskrit. Theosophy itself is not a new word. It was used by many of the ancient Greek thinkers, and by a few of the early Christian Fathers, in the latter case to mean the wisdom of God, which they said was Christianity; but by the Greek Pagan philosophers it was used to mean that divine wisdom which the spiritual entities infilling the universe studied and lived: Theosophia, god-wisdom.
Ammonius Saccas of Alexandria, the Neoplatonist philosopher, called his school a theosophical school, and the name was chosen in the modern Theosophical Movement on the occasion of the formation of the Theosophical Society in 1875. The formers of the Society had gathered together. They had a dictionary with them; they opened it; they said: "What shall we call this Society?" A number of names were proposed, and Colonel Olcott, then the President of the Society, or President-to-be, passing his finger down the column of names, finally came to the word 'Theosophy,' and he said: "How about Theosophy?" "Fine!" they all said. "We will call our Society the Theosophical Society," and so they did. It was a good name, an excellent name. I don't think that this name was chosen by chance; I don't believe in chance. I don't know what chance means. I know that I have heard men talk of chance, and I know that they think that they said something, but on analysis I find that they said nothing at all.
When a man does not know how to explain a thing he says: "It is Chance." And how any scientific philosopher can talk of the law of cause and effect, and in the same breath speak of chance, is beyond me to understand. I can understand why they do it in one sense of the word: they don't realize the logical impasse into which they go. There is no chance in nature. Please try to analyze chance, and you will agree with me.
"In the Bhagavad-Gita, a Hindu scripture, chapter 2, a method is outlined by which we may 'forever burst the bonds of karma and rise above them.' Does this in any way correspond to the Christian teaching as to the forgiveness of sins?"
It does not! Forgiveness of sins, according to the Christian theory, must be preceded by conscious repentance, and I suppose that if you repent and pray hard enough, and believe in the purifying power of the "blood of the Lamb," your sins will be forgiven unto you. But theosophists do not teach that doctrine. What the original Christians meant by the teaching of forgiveness of sins is precisely what we theosophists today teach when we say that the only way by which sin can be forgiven, is by neutralizing it, by expiation, by reestablishing the equilibrium in nature that has been broken. You must thus repay, for our universe is governed by immutable law and unshakable order.
It is pleasant enough to talk about the forgiveness of sins for him who sins. But how about the poor beings who have suffered from the sinner's sins? Will forgiving the sinner restore these sufferers? Will it help them? You must see the reach of the moral iniquity of this doctrine. You must see the terrible situation — logically, philosophically, religiously, and scientifically speaking — into which it puts those who uphold it. No wonder that we theosophists reject it!
I don't wish to be unkind, or to seem unkind, in the remarks that I make or have made. Our doctrine is that we reap what we have sown, and knowing this we are urged to sow aright. The only forgiveness of sins, if we can call it that, is by our reestablishing the broken equilibrium brought about by our own acts. That is meant in the Bhagavad-Gita in the saying that we shall in time so evolve that we shall rise above the plane of cause and effect, in other words, that we shall have worked out the effect: we shall then have re-established the equilibrium which once we broke, and for which breaking we are held responsible. For I tell you, friends, that man is a collaborator with the gods in the governing of the universe. In his inmost parts, he is a spiritual being of enormous, of titanic power; and even in his human aspect he has facilities and energies which are naturally his, and which he can use, and misuse, and abuse, both to his own detriment and to that of others; and living as we do in universal law and order, who is responsible for the broken equilibrium? The actor.
I can tell you that so just is nature, so accurately adjusted, and withal so kindly, that he who breaks a law of nature must pay the penalty, to use the popular expression, to the uttermost farthing; and it is in this repaying that we learn lessons of indescribable value to us. It is by pain and suffering that ultimately we grow strong and wise. In the inmost of the inmost of us there is an inner god who is deathless, immortal, unstainable, and ever unstained: one of the spiritual collaborators, as I have said, with the highest gods who rule our home-universe.
What a sublime conception! What visions these theosophical ideas give to us of man's origin and of his future destiny, as he advances along his evolutionary pathway! Think, I pray, over these matters. Taste the joy that understanding of them will bring to you when you realize the religious and philosophical and scientific reach of them: immense hope, unspeakable peace, a sense of the boundless love which infills the universe and actually holds it together.
Man is not a "worm of the dust." He is a collaborator with the gods. Like the gods, he has choice, free will, intellect, love, compassion, pity, sympathy, mercy, power: all of these being godlike qualities. Man is a fallen god, it is true, sunken from his high estate; but he is one day destined, by and through the very urging of the spiritual powers within his breast, to become again what once he was, but grown greater, a nobler god even than he was in the beginning.
"What has theosophy to offer in place of the loving and merciful Father in Heaven, who listens to the cry of his children, answers their prayers, and finally takes them to dwell with Him in everlasting joy and felicity?"
What a picture! It is pretty and touching, but oh, how glad I am it isn't true! I want to be somebody in this universe of ours. I am a man. I have a sublime duty to perform. Wrongs that I have done I must undo. Wrongs that have been done unto me in the aeons of the past I shall receive the recompense of. As a collaborator-to-be in the future, of the gods who rule the universe, I feel my kinship with the Divine; and not only my duty do I feel, but the unspeakably holy privilege of collaborating in the divine work.
What sentimental, medieval, dark-age ideas of a loving Father who creates some of his children unto eternal damnation, and others of his children he creates unto eternal salvation! Merciful gods! If this were true, what is the use of striving? What is the use of morals and ethics? What is the use of anything that is worth while, if this so-called merciful Father in Heaven creates us 'a worm of the dust, whether we will or whether we nill; and whether we will or whether we nill finally takes us unto his bosom for nothing that we have earned; and him whom I loved better than myself for his outstanding and grand spiritual qualities, this "merciful Father" damns eternally! Who can believe such horrors!
No! Theosophy has nothing equivalent to that, thank the immortal gods! Nothing! And I think that you will find very few modern clergymen teaching this doctrine today. The clergy too have evolved in understanding; they too have heard the whisperings of the Christ-spirit in their hearts, and even they are beginning to understand the wonderful spirit of the Buddha, typically theosophical, who said: I will not attain nirvana, unspeakable bliss, for myself as long as one soul suffers in ignorance and pain. I will remain and work and help. Oh, what spiritual and moral grandeur is there in this! Don't you see it? And that is also the teaching of theosophy.
"Is it correct to interpret the Bible saying 'In my Father's House are many mansions,' as an aspect of reincarnation, because in The Secret Doctrine, Volume I, on page 257, it says that this saying may be contrasted with the occult saying: 'In our Mother's house there are seven mansions, or planes, the lowest of which is above and around us — the Astral Light'?"
It is true, turning to a more technical teaching of theosophy, that this Christian saying could have its application to the doctrine of rebirth in human flesh. But that is not its fundamental meaning. The saying is a reference by a Christian sage and seer to the age-old mystical teaching of the Mystery Schools that the universe is formed of many planes, realms, worlds, spheres — give to them what name you like — of which only one is visible, the one that our physical sense apparatus tells us a little of; and all the others in consequence are invisible to us; further, that these realms or worlds or spheres or planes are filled full of beings, inhabitants, creatures, entities, appropriate in every case to these spheres of life, these entities or inhabitants possessing intelligence, sentience, natural consciousness, and bodies after their own types and kinds, even as we humans on earth have all these qualities and attributes appropriate to and fit for our own present plane of physical existence.
Yes, these invisible worlds are filled full with these beings, and there are hosts and hosts and hosts of these inner and invisible planes and worlds; and uncountable multitudes of conscious, sentient beings live in them, and these invisible planes and worlds are the mansions of which the great Syrian sage and initiate spoke when he said: In my Father's House are innumerable mansions of life.
This is, however, an old idea which did not originate with Jesus. You will find the same saying, almost word for word, in others of the Oriental scriptures, and I have given you the meaning of the idea. It is a beautiful meaning, very suggestive, philosophical, religious, and also, so far as we can see, it is scientific; it is also appealing, because it is logical and coherent. It has every qualification for acceptance by reasonable men.
My next question is a curious one. Sometimes I get very interesting questions — sometimes. The ones that are not interesting, I don't know what to do with. Honestly, if I ignore them, it seems unfair. It seems unfair, on the other hand, to bring an absolutely uninteresting question before you, and to take up your time in answering it; but all the questions that I have today I think are very interesting. Of these, here is one of the most interesting, in a way.
"Are there any female "masters"? Thus far they appear to be all masculine; or are they sexless?"
Well, they certainly are not sexless. If they were, they would be minerals, or the lower kinds of plants. They are men. And the reason that most of them are men, and not the stronger sex, is involved in a number of reasons which it would take too much time to discuss this afternoon. It may be briefly stated, however, that a Seer and Sage, in other words a Great Soul, can work to better purpose in the world in a man's body.
But sex has nothing to do with inner, spiritual, and intellectual qualifications at all. There have been great women seers and sages, and there are a few today. But usually these great Masters of Life, who can choose the bodies into which they are to be reborn, prefer, for obvious reasons, to be reborn as men, as boy children.
I can imagine a lady-Jesus, a lady-Christ, or a woman-Buddha. I can imagine it. I can understand and I sympathize very deeply with the feeling that the work that these great ones have to do is more easily accomplished as men. That is all there is to it. Sex per se has nothing to do with it whatsoever. Sex is a mere evolutionary event; and I might as well say here that it is our theosophical teaching that the human race, in the course of its future evolution — a number of aeons hence in the future — shall have bodies which shall no longer be afflicted with sex. It was so in the far distant past; and that blessed time is coming again in the distant future. Sex, I repeat, is a mere event, a passing biological phase, of the destiny of the human race.
" 'The commercial bondage will in a few years become the greatest bondage of all. If it goes on at the rate it is now progressing, it will dominate man, soul and body, and it cannot do otherwise than consume itself and those interested in it.'
"Do you consider the above to be true?"
I consider it to be a true statement of a temporary phase of our racial evolution. We are in a commercial age whose qualities are growing stronger all the time; but this age will pass. If you study the lessons of history, you will find that the course of human advancement is marked by ups and downs, as the race endures: and these ups and downs are what the great Greek philosopher Plato called periods of spiritual fertility and periods of spiritual barrenness. We are in one of the latter periods at the present time.
In one age, men are fascinated by the great questions of religion and philosophy. In another age, it is politics and commerce which interest them; and such is our age. These psychological phenomena are produced from causes which spring forth from the heart and mind of men, and hence men follow psychological procedures — ups and downs of progress. Our commercial age will pass — the seeds of its disintegration are in it even today — and it will be followed by an age for which we theosophists are at present preparing, now sowing the seed — an age of philosophical and religious light which in its turn, after aeons shall have passed, will sink and give way to other things.
Such is the course of human destiny. Change is the method by which men learn; and those who learn the lessons best are they who keep a level head and a stout heart, who command themselves, and therefore command religion, and philosophy, and science, and commerce, and anything else, rather than become enslaved by their own periodic thoughts and psychological emotions.
Which, therefore, will you be? Above or beneath? A leader of men, or one of the human sheep?
"Please give the theosophical meaning of forgiveness. The interpretation, by the western world, has so colored it with 'the blood of Christ' that a difficulty often arises in trying to clear it from this, and from some mistaken sentimental views as to its application to everyday life."
If forgiveness means that things can be expunged from the record of natural being, then we believe not in it. We most positively reject it. But if the forgiveness of sins means what all antiquity taught it to be, and what our own hearts and intellects tell us it is, it must be the restoring of the broken equilibrium for which we ourselves are responsible — restitution for wrongs done, the doing of duties undone. Then, if forgiveness means that, we believe in it. We accept it, and it is the doctrine of karma: that as ye sow, ye shall reap. Sow tears in the hearts of others, and ye shall reap tears in the field where formerly ye sowed. Sow happiness and joy, justice and peace, in the hearts of others, and ye shall reap happiness and joy, justice and peace. The only forgiveness is restitution, in this or in another existence; for nature is not mocked.
It is a crazy notion that a man can do things in one life, and go scot-free thereafter. What a lunatic universe it must be if that is true! What a monster the universe must be if that is the truth, a very hell of injustice — and who believe it? We theosophists do not!
"Why are we? What is existence?"
These are two questions which men have often asked. Why are we? What does it all mean? What is the sense in life, anyway? The most pathetic thing that I know of in my studies has been the fact that since the downfall of the Greco-Roman civilization, there has been no spiritual light in the West. I am sorry to say that. I don't mean it unkindly. There has been a consoling religion for those who could accept it, and who preferred words of consolation rather than the stimulating and awakening ray of light.
We are here, and are what we are, because things could not be otherwise. We have made ourselves what we are. We are now making ourselves what we shall in the future be — and this is the law of karma again, cause and effect. And all existence is the same, whether that existence is spiritual or physical. That is all there is to it. And what a consoling doctrine it is, and how suggestive!
"What is the theosophical explanation of comets? You say that the universe is full of consciousness. Accepting this, then a comet must be the expression or manifestation or embodiment of a certain grade of consciousnesses or lives. What part do these lives, i. e., what part do comets, play in our universe?"
This is an exceedingly interesting question from many standpoints, outside of the astronomical. There is the religious, the scientific, the philosophical standpoint. There is the mystical standpoint. Do you know what comets are? They play a very important part in the universe. Comets are worlds in the making: a comet is the first stage of evolution in the making of a world so far as visible space is concerned, filled full with groups or grades of consciousnesses or lives — monads, spiritual atoms, call them what you like; and these comets, after passing through many and various grades of evolution in increasing materiality, ultimately become the globes that fill the stellar spaces, suns and planets.
First a nebula appears, visible or invisible, as the case may be. Then this nebula, through increasing stages of materialization, becomes a comet, of substance much more material than the invisible nebula from which it sprang; it is attracted by a universe or a solar system, and thus becomes a wanderer in space, a long-haired radical, attracted to some sun, its former chief in another previous universe which had preceded the one now in being; and around that sun the comet finally settles and pursues a regular orbit; and through still other and succeeding degrees of materialization the comet finally becomes a planet — first in an ethereal, then in a gaseous, then in a gross state of physical matter, like our Earth. Comets are the beginnings of worlds.
Oh, if I could take the time to elucidate this theosophical teaching for you! You would find it fascinating. There is a mystery behind this, more than I can here in public deal with; and the wonderful part of it all is that our modern scientists, the greatest among them, those who know the most — not the mere camp-followers or the writers of the scientific sections of the Sunday newspapers — but the great men of science, are telling us that the nebula, the beginning of a comet, is a portion of cosmic matter — or, as we theosophists say, the lowest portion of ethereal matter — in which and through which energies, and astral matter itself, are pouring from an invisible world into ours. This is just our own theosophical teaching, a teaching which we have been enunciating for forty years or perhaps fifty years; and now it is the last word in ultramodern astronomy.
However, a comet is not only an aggregate of hosts of lives in all stages of evolution. It is also ensouled with a larger life, because behind and within every celestial body there is a superior life — call it a soul, if you like — just as is the case with man. This aggregate of energies and powers working through the visible body is popularly called a soul. A planet, a sun, a comet, a nebula, all are ensouled; and through them all pour into this physical universe of ours the energies, the matters, the substances, the qualities, and the characteristics which make our physical universe what it is.
Read the findings of ultramodern science, read the findings of ultramodern astronomy, and you will find that what I have told you is truth.
"Where does thought originate?"
In the ego. May I vary this question and ask: Where do thoughts originate? In the brain-mind, most of them. It is a pitiful thing that so many of us pass our lives, from birth to death, in thinking vain, useless thoughts, doing no good either to us or to our fellow men.
I have the time to answer one more question this afternoon. This is it:
"If the universe is run by law and order, whence came crime?"
What a curious association of ideas — the cosmos and human crime! I do not know of any crime outside of men. I have never heard of a criminal star or a criminal planet. But the idea seems to be that if the whole universe is founded on law and order, how can men go wrong?
Now, look at the implication here. This seems to be a very deep and profound question; the questioner seems to think that men ought to have been created perfect. What a barren outlook for men that would have been! I don't want to be perfect; I want to grow, to grow ever greater, than I am — to grow from manhood into godhood — to follow the destiny before me, and from godhood to grow to something still more sublime, and so forth ad infinitum.
Human crime is the offspring of imperfection. Ignorance most often is the cause, and often insanity. Actually, I think that crime is more often the product of insanity, hid or open, evident or unknown, than it is of any really evil heart. Crime is imperfection and arises in the fact that men have free will; they can choose — a godlike attribute, one of the attributes of the gods; and the very fact that we call it crime, that it produces disturbance, pain, suffering, and the anguish of remorse, shows that it is an act contrary to the law and order of the universe, an act done by one who has the divine facility of free will and has misused it and abused it; and he will reap the consequences.
Has it ever occurred to you to pause a moment in thought over the ancient teaching — which all educated men today know or at least heard somewhat of — that the Central Fire of the universe, of which all the great poets have sung and all the great philosophers have taught, is resident in you, and is you as a spark of that Central Fire; that this divine entity, which is the inmost of the inmost of you, is what the Christians of mystical tendency have called the Christ within, the Christ immanent within every human being, which the mystics of other ages and which we theosophists speak of as the inner god?
There is the source of all inspiration, of all wisdom, of all knowledge, of all power, of all capacity, yea, and the fountain of impersonal love, the noblest attribute both of gods and men. Ye are gods, as the Christian scripture in common with all other ancient scriptures tells you, and it is a very truth. The only reason why men as a rule do not know their own power, their own spiritual reaches, is the enshrouding veils of ordinary selfhood which becloud the splendor of the inner sun.
This is the teaching and the message of the seers and sages of all the ages to men: Ye are gods! Ally yourself with your own self, the glorious sun of your own spiritual being!