Questions We All Ask — G. de Purucker

Second Series: No. 10 (November 17, 1930)


(Lecture delivered August 31, 1930)

CONTENTS: Are the Masters of Wisdom great men or gods? — The names of some are household words. — The fine flowers of humanity. — An explanation of the word god. — What is meant by evolution? — Our real home is the universe. — What is the work of the Masters of Wisdom? — What is the truth which they teach? — The call from the teacher — from darkness into light. — The paradox of self and Self. — Success: what is it? — How does growth come about? — What is personal magnetism? Should a speaker cultivate it? — The appeal to the inner god. — Orient and Occident contrasted. — Nobility is not confined to one particular race. — Walk in the light of the spiritual sun! — Seize the scepter of power! — Come up higher!

The world, my friends, has always known of the existence of great men, men of outstanding spiritual power and of intellectual fire, who, on account of the great record which they left behind them, have come down through the annals and chronicles of history as the so-called Saviors of men. Myths, stories, legends of various kinds, have been written about their birth, about the lives that they led, about the so-called marvels that they did; and scholars in all the ages since they passed away from the scene of ordinary human life have studied these records, these stories, and have given the fruits of their studies to the world usually in more or less baroque or distorted form. They have been called Sons of God, and they have been called Kin of the Gods, as in fact they are. But in very few cases has the other half of the truth been told: that they were men, great men, men of outstanding capacity and power, so that the impression that their figure, spiritual and intellectual and otherwise, made upon the minds of succeeding generations has produced these stories, these legends, these mythoi.

Who are these men? You know the names of some of them just as well as I do. You have heard these names time and time again; the names of some of them, at least, are household words at every civilized fireside, and in every civilized home: Jesus the Syrian sage, the Buddha-Gautama, Lao-tse, and Confucius of China, Krishna again of India, and in the lands farther west such men as Pythagoras, Empedocles, Apollonius of Tyana, and many, many more.

In what did these great men differ from the average man? What was it that made them great? Was it a gift from God or from the gods? Or were they the fine flowers of the evolutionary process — men who had unwrapped and drawn out from the treasury of their own inner being the powers and faculties and energies which made them what they were? The latter is what theosophists say. They are, and were, and others like them will be in future ages, the fine flowers of humanity. Every one of them in the past was and every one of them in the future will be what he was or what he will be merely by bringing out what is within: by unwrapping, unrolling, manifesting, the latent powers, energies, faculties, of each one's inner god.

Every great world religion, every great world philosophy, has spoken, has taught, of the existence of an inner god in every human being; and in modern times in the Occident the Christians of a mystical turn of mind, coming back to an original truth of primitive Christianity, speak about the inner Christ, the immanent Christ, the Christ within, of which the outer man is but a feeble manifestation, a feeble expression. The Buddhists in similar vein speak of the Buddha within, the inner Buddha; and the Brahmanists, the Hindus, will likewise speak of the Brahma in the seven-portaled city, man. But in all cases, whatever the terms be by which the explanation is made, the truth is the same in them all: that there is in every human being an essential divinity, his own inner god, his own highest self.

Alas! that this sublime truth should have been lost to the Occident, for in it lies all spiritual hope; in it lies all real spiritual and intellectual power and the explanations of these powers and faculties when you see them manifested in your fellow men. Every one of you, my Brothers, is a divinity encased in vehicles, in sheaths, of an enshrouding lower selfhood; and all the work of growth, all the work of evolution, is the thinning out of these sheaths, is the dissolving of the gross physical aspects of them and the raising of them to become ethereal, translucent to the rays of the inner god-sun, the god within. As these encrippling, enshrining, enshrouding sheaths of the lower selfhood — intellectual, psychical, astral, and of the physical body also — become transparent, in exactly the same degree, in the same ratio, pari passu, can the supreme splendor within flow forth and manifest itself through the mind of the man who is expressing it, and then his fellows say: "Behold! A God walks the earth!" There is the key to the whole matter.

In proportion as the individual human being can manifest this splendor within, just in the same degree do men call him great — the great poet, the great scientist, the great religious founder, the great philosopher, the leader of men, the great scientific researcher who has his flashes of intuition, who has hunches, as the world says; and then, standing even higher or above these, the god-men who form the subject of my discourse today.

That in substance is all there is to the matter. The teaching is simple, so simple that a child may understand; and yet so deep and so far-reaching in the implications that it has — and in the inferences that you should draw from those implications — that if you pursue this path of thought faithfully, you will find that it explains fully and satisfactorily all the intricate problems of human genius and of human destiny.

Such, then, are the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace. As I have said, they are great just in proportion, just in degree, as they evolve forth from within the powers of the inner god.

"Know ye not that ye are gods?" says the Christian Scripture, and the writer who wrote this wrote truth. See what sublime hope this teaching gives! Consider how it explains the intricate problems above alluded to.

The psychology so called of the Occident is mere child's play, mostly guesswork, a guessing after the manner of functioning of the physical body and of the physical consciousness — of the mere brain, but leaving unexplained all the really great things of the human constitution, as these great things express themselves in human life. In what I have said I have given you the key to it all. See how it clothes human beings with dignity. Have ye not consciousness, my Brothers? Have ye not love in your hearts? Have ye not intelligence? Having them, why not then develop them? Exercise brings facility in usage.

All evolution means unfolding what is latent within. Evolution means an expansion of consciousness from the limited, the personal, the restricted, the circumscribed, the little man, outwards, so that the individualized consciousness of man finally becomes cosmic, universal in its reaches. You can so evolve yourself by allying yourself with the inner god that I have spoken of; for that inner god is cosmic in its consciousness.

The world is filled full with gods; and when I say the world, I really mean the universe — the boundless spaces of infinite space. Of this space your inner god is a native. In the cosmic spaces your highest self is at home even as your human self is at home on earth; and hence your true home is the universe. That is why you have the feeling of familiarity when you study nature and gain a comprehension of her wonderful laws.

O my Brothers, enter into this consciousness. Become at one with universal being; for it is your home. There is where you belong. Nothing in boundless space is alien to you, to some part of your being; to the divinity within you, to the intellectual part within you, to the divine flame of intelligence which enlightens your being, even to your emotional character, all nature is akin, because ultimately they all derive from the very essence of the universe. Note how familiar this sounds to your heart. See where it places man: at home in the universe! Only the mind and heart of the limited human being prevent the inner flame from returning to its cosmic home consciously, and from that returning home, from entering into what is your heritage — nay, more, from becoming what you really are in your inmost being — only the lower, crippling, selfish personality shuts you out.

You see now what the great seers and sages of all the ages had in mind when they spoke to their fellows and taught them as Jesus did: "Give up thy life if thou wouldst live." Give up this circumscribed, restricted, personal life, and enter into the consciousness of the spaces. Man is a wonderful being, marvelously constructed, strangely builded, possessing within him everything; and the average man of the West knows it not. You are children of the universe; you are here within it, living in it, born from it, deriving all that you have and all that you are from it; therefore you are a part of it. Since you cannot ever leave it, you are an inseparable part of it; therefore whatever that universe is, is you; and whatever you are, is the boundless infinitude — frontierless, beginningless, endless. It all flows through you. Deduction: "Kas twam asi" — "Who art thou?" — said the ancient Hindu teacher. And the answer came: "Aham asmi parabrahma," "I am the boundless infinitude." Profound conception!

You see now, perhaps, who, what, why, and how the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace are. They have become at one with and at home with the buddhic part of their inner constitution — the spiritual part, if you will. Their consciousness thereby has become quasi-universal, quasi-cosmic; and in later stages of evolutionary growth their consciousness will become entirely universal, fully cosmic; for the destiny of mankind is to become a race of gods, not created, not just happening so, but by bringing forth what even now is lying within, even as the acorn brings forth the oak by unrolling, by unwrapping, by breathing forth, evolving forth, what is in the seed.

Evolution is merely becoming, growing; and those wonder-men, great men, who have outrun the average of men, who have exercised their will in self-discipline and their intelligence in visioning the vision sublime, are the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace. They could not not be; their existence is a necessary result of the structure and operations of universal being. Indeed, your own instinct tells you somewhat at least of what you have within you. Just pause in your consciousness a moment — the most precious privilege, the most fruitful thing, that you can possibly do — and feel your own inner grandeur, feel the inner god work within you, become temporarily at least transparent to the rays divine. No argument of your merely argumentative brain-mind — critical, circumscribed, inept because imperfectly evolved — will ever thereafter take away from you the memory of the vision sublime.

The entire lifework, the entire labor, of the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace is living to benefit mankind. In that they find their supreme joy, just as you do, though ye know it not. From feeling that they do perennial good, they draw one part of their sublime reward. Seeing others grow great under their teachings, blossoming forth into use of faculty and power, beginning to see — my God! beginning to see and to feel — oh, what a blessing this reward is! They live to benefit mankind; they teach; they stimulate all spiritual growth in whatever men they may see manifesting just enough of the buddhic splendor, of the spiritual splendor, to be able to begin to grow.

Furthermore, from time to time they send out into the world chosen disciples, chosen pupils, to strike anew in the hearts of men the age-old keynote: to pluck with musical hand the hearts of men, so that those hearts shall ring a joyful response. These pupils come; they teach; they act as their own Masters have acted: they instill these thoughts of beauty; they give hope to men; they point the way to the wonderful path of evolutionary growth; and on the distant horizon they show you the goal that you can reach. Such is every true theosophical teacher; and if he teaches not the truth, he is no true teacher.

What is the truth? What is the path? The truth is self-forgetfulness, which means growth into the cosmic reaches which continual remembrance of self, limited, circumscribed, prevents. What is the pathway? The pathway is you, and is not alone your teacher. The pathway is yourself, your spiritual being; and therefore the call from the teacher comes to you: Awake, my Brother, awake to the god within yourself, not outside, not in me, but in you — the Master supreme! Where is the fountainhead of your understanding? Where arises the flame of your intelligence? What is the wellspring of love within you? Where is the sun of compassion and pity and self-forgetfulness and peace? All within you. That therefore is the path.

Who am I? I am That. Do you understand the meaning of this? The word That refers to that to which we cannot, to which we dare not because we cannot, give a human name. By calling it the Boundless That perhaps we give to it the best, because the most impersonal, word. Each human being is in his essence the universe. This, therefore, is the pathway. Do you see, my Brothers?

Were I to call your attention to things of minor moment, to talk to you about the psychical powers and principles, and so forth, I should mislead you, because I should distract your attention from the things of great and outstanding value. I should cripple your growth by thus misleading your minds, and before the gods immortal, I should be responsible as a spiritual criminal! On the contrary, I point to the path of the spirit, to the cosmic way, to that still small path within the core of the core of the heart of every human being, of which the Hindu Upanishads speak, which is within each one of you, which is a call to each one of you to follow it, so that ye may grow and pass from darkness into light — into light ineffable, beyond human words to describe or explain. There is where all things of value are. The psychical powers are deceptive, because they are quasi-material. The spiritual powers are truth-giving and illuminating, because they flow forth from the very heart, the divine heart, of the invisible universe.

And powers? Shall we talk of powers? Look at the powers that these great men had. See the works that they wrought, the deeds that they did, the teachings that they taught. And every one of them said unto his followers: "Come up. Come up higher. Come up. All, all that I do, shall ye do likewise." Self-conquest, self-discipline, self-study — the study of the higher self — self-understanding, self-evolution, self-growth: there is the teaching. Forget the self in order that ye may find the Self. A paradox, but how wondrous true! Forget the lower, circumscribed man of limited self, so that the consciousness of that self may expand into the fields of the universe — its native home. Expand your human consciousness so that it may become the consciousness of the god within you. What a sublime and encouraging teaching!

Success? Do you know what success is? Powers? Powers! Powers to walk, to think, to talk? Can the beasts do these? Walk, think after a fashion, talk — a bit, perhaps. But not yet is the brain of the beast enlightened with the divine flame of cogitative intelligence, so that it may actually construct works of beauty and grandeur on the face of the earth. The beasts are coming towards humanity as humanity is evolving unto becoming gods.

Powers? I will show you the way to gain powers — powers that will make you like gods on earth, but powers ye never can obtain until every vestige of the selfish selfhood is washed out of you; for nature will not allow it. The very way by which to gain wondrous powers is by giving up the selfhood which prevents those powers from acting. Clairaudience — the spiritual kind — will enable you, as I have already told you, to hear such things as the moving of the orbs in heaven; and the opening of the rosebud will come to your inner consciousness like a symphony — because every atom is singing its own musical note. Clairvoyance — of the spiritual kind — will enable you to see, not merely at a vast distance, but much more marvelous still, into the invisible worlds, so that, as Paul of the Christians put it in language that he knew could at least be understood: "I was raised up into the third heaven and saw things which I dare not, because I cannot, repeat and make understandable."

Many more powers: the ability to transfer your consciousness to any part of the earth, and to be there, self-consciously; and not only to any other part of the earth, but to the very orbs in the spaces surrounding the earth. My Brothers, this is possible, because the cosmic spaces are your home. You are they and they are you. The very powers which work in them are also in you. The very substances out of which they are born and builded, you also are builded out of. You are native there; and therefore manifesting such powers as these is a natural thing to do. There is nothing weird about all this, nothing uncanny or strange. It is the most natural thing in the universe, even as it is today when men manifest intelligence. Think what thought means! How glorious is thought! How marvelous! The ability to think constructively, to think beautiful things, and to produce works of wonder and beauty modeled after the thought!

And success? The average idea of success today in the Occidental world is to prevail over your opponents — a most short-sighted view! That was the view even in commercial matters only a relatively few short years ago, when the idea of success then was to drive the other fellows to the wall. But now in the Occident men are becoming wiser; they realize that it is better business to help the other chap, to keep him going; for every man who is successful is not only a buyer but an advertisement.

Here is a question on success that was sent in to me to be answered.

We read: "Success is of rough texture and coarse material. The most delicate fabric in all creation is suffering." [How true!]

Is success, material success particularly, the alpha and omega of all that is? — [the beginning and the end of all that is.]

Professor Joseph Jastrow of the University of Wisconsin once declared: "A man's success is mostly good luck coupled with just enough brains not to stand in the way of it."

I think that there is a great deal of truth in Professor Jastrow's observation. The worst foe of a man is the man himself. This is a fact, and furnishes us with the substance for a somewhat melancholy commentary on human weakness.

Success is coarse — material success of course I refer to. The most delicate fabric of character, the most delicate power of the soul, is the ability to suffer manfully; for that delicacy is significant of power. Think and reflect. What are the most powerful agents that men know of? They are the silent, delicate things. Electricity, gravitation — tremendous in power but so intangible and delicate. The battleship straining through the seas, and creaking in every plate, with all the thunder of her engines, is a play-toy compared with nature's handiwork, with nature's silent and mysterious powers working as they do. Look at the mystery locked up in the atom. You never hear it. You cannot see it; but those unspeakably enormous energies, powers, forces — call them what you like — have builded everything that the visible universe consists of, and have builded you too.

How does growth come about? In the silence, mostly through suffering, which opens our hearts; and through pain, which opens our minds, because it gives us thought. Pain and suffering, sorrow and its ilk, are the great things, are the grand things, because they are the friendly ones to man. Welcome them then, when they come to you. Only the coward weakly bows the head. The brave man, the courageous man, recognizes his kinship with what is coming to him, takes manfully what comes to him, and is greater and better for it. He has grown!

Give me the man whose heart has been rent with pain and whose mind has been racked with sorrow, for I know that he is a better and a stronger man for it. Yes! I care very little about material success. In some ways it is good and most excellent if the results can be applied to good deeds in helping others, and in carrying on a noble work such as ours. But if you ask me what personally I prefer, I answer: Give me the hand of a man who has suffered hell, for I feel that I can trust him — at least the chances are ten thousand times greater that he knows the truth after having been through the fire than the one who has never tasted of sorrow or pain.

On the other hand, if we speak of spiritual success, of spiritual attainment, then that is indeed something else, something very different from the former. What men call good luck is simply what theosophists call karma — the consequences, the results, of what you yourself in past lives have thought and felt and done, because your thoughts and your feelings and your doings have changed your mind, changed your consciousness, changed the very fabric of your character; and as your character is you, in the next life or even in the same life it may be, your character which has thus been wrought upon and changed will work after the new pattern given to it and bring to you joy or bring to you pain. So you see that out of pain comes good — growth. So fear not pain, it is friendly; fear not suffering, it is a friend.

Here is a funny question:

Dear Dr. de Purucker:

Please pardon the personal nature of this letter. I have been attending your lectures for some months, and have received so much help from them that I persuaded a friend of mine from the East to come and hear you last Sunday.

Imagine my disappointment, after the lecture, when I asked my friend how she liked it, and she said: "It was very interesting, but you know, Dr. de Purucker sadly lacks magnetism!" [Well, I hope I do — that kind!] I don't know what this magnetism is that she speaks of, but personally I have never felt a lack of anything that is beneficial in your talks. Please tell me something about this 'magnetism' that so many speakers claim to have. If you found you could appeal to a larger number of people by employing it, would you do so? Do you know how?

Again apologizing for the personal character of this letter, but I really want to know.

I think that it was one of the stronger and more beautiful sex who asked this question. I will let you into a little secret, if you will forgive me for being a trifle personal. I have heard certain speakers lecture, and sometimes I have liked the general tone and trend of their efforts, but I have also been offended at the very obvious appeal made, deliberately made, by what the average person calls animal magnetism. I think that such an appeal is highly reprehensible; and if anyone at any time should see a trace of it in me, I shall thank him or her from the bottom of my heart if I may be notified of that fact. I have trained myself completely to avoid that.

What I desire to do, my Brothers, is the direct contrary of any appeal by animal magnetism, because my effort is to appeal to the god within you, to bring out the beauty latent in your character, to bring out the divinity within you; not to impress you with the fact that I have animal magnetism or even mental magnetism, thus making you feel that you like to come and hear me speak because I put you into a state of physical feeling which is — just the opposite of the state that I hope you will leave this Temple in. My message is a spiritual and an intellectual one, and it is to the spiritual and intellectual faculties in you that I appeal.

I could not reach the divinity within your hearts, at the core of your being, if your attention were concentrated — mental attention or other attention — on what flows forth from my mere physical or even mental being. Your minds then would be looking downwards towards what the theosophist often calls the pit. My appeal is to you as imbodied gods, as I have told you before. Every afternoon when I speak in our Temple of Peace I feel that I am addressing an audience of imbodied gods; and being an imbodied god myself, although feebly manifesting through this mind and body of mine, my appeal is to the imbodied gods who are before me, in their turn feebly manifesting, each one, his or her inner godhood it is true; but nevertheless and despite the difficulties my appeal is solely to the divinity within each one of you.

I had liefer die a thousand times than make my appeal on so coarse and low a plane as that of mere personal magnetism. Were I to do so, I should fail utterly in bringing about what it is my effort to achieve, and instead of giving to you what I was sent to give to you as best I can, as a spiritual teacher, I should direct your attention and concentrate your mind on the lower if not lowest elements of material existence.

In your lectures you frequently speak disparagingly of Occidentals and with favor of Orientals. Now, I don't want to say anything unkind in this era of theosophical fraternization, but I don't think all the specimens of Orientals that we have here in the West are superior to us Westerners. Some of them I think are decidedly inferior. And then, you yourself have warned us against some swamis and such like who come from the Orient purporting to teach truth. Wherein lies their superiority?

Non peccavi — I have not sinned. Non culpa mea — It's not my fault! I don't think that I have ever said that Orientals were superior to Occidentals. I have said this — and I will say it again, because I believe it to be true — that the Occident has been spiritually asleep for more than two thousand years under the influence of a spiritual opiate; whereas the Orientals during that time, and for thousands of years before that time, have been cultivating the interior faculties of mankind rather than looking without into the material surroundings as aggressively and exhaustively as the Occident has.

And, as I have tried to point out to you in the earlier part of our study together this afternoon, my Brothers, all that is of value to you as men, collectively and as individuals, is within you; it is your first duty to know yourself. And if anyone of you is so crippled in intellect as to misunderstand me to mean that I suggest that you follow your mean and selfish lower selfhood, then I say that my speech is fruitless — that it is useless to speak to you. I do not mean that. When I speak of the inner self, I mean the god within, the divine flame of intelligence and love which is the very root of the root of your being, and of which the outer, exterior selfhood is but an imperfectly evolved shadow — a shadow of the reality.

In the Orient — and there are awfully bad Orientals just as there are awfully bad Occidentals, and there are fine Orientals just as there are fine Occidentals; but nevertheless, in the Orient — for thousands and thousands of years the inner constitution of man — spiritual, intellectual, psychical, and astral — has been investigated carefully, studied diligently, and strenuous efforts made to gain an understanding of man's invisible constitution. Only recently has the Occident begun to awaken to the need of knowing something about man's constitution, and the result is that you have that curious apology for real psychology which is indeed called psychology but is not it, yet it is a stepping-stone, poor as it is. It should more truthfully and honestly be called psychological physiology; it is not worthy of the name of psychology, and the sooner the truth is said the better. I stand here to tell what I have found to be the truth and to lay it before you for you to accept or reject as you please.

No! I don't favor Orientals over Occidentals; I don't favor Occidentals over Orientals: it is the man whom I am looking for, the individual, the one in whom I see the divine flame; he is the one I am after, the one who shows me in his eyes and in his face some glow or mark of the buddhic splendor within — Occidental, Oriental, civilized man, barbarian, or savage, it is all the same to me; it is the man I am looking for. It matters not to me what be the color of his skin, nor the tongue that he uses in speech, nor what his social standing is.

I have seen this buddhic splendor shining in the peasant in his hut and in the prince in his palace, and recognizing a brother I gave him my hand. It is the noble man, the evolved individual, whom every true theosophist is looking for, hunting for; and, metaphorically speaking, every true theosophical teacher goes into the highways and byways of the world seeking for those who, to adopt the words of your Christian scripture, may be invited into the feast at the Master's table; and those highways and byways are just as much the prince's palace as the peasant's hut and just as much the peasant's hut as the prince's palace. Wherever I see the flame of the inner god showing on the face and manifesting in the life, thither I go and say, "My Brother, come, come with me." And there is immediate and mutual understanding between us.

Don't you think that we Occidentals make entirely too much of funerals? Birth is entering into one phase of existence and death is entering into some other phase. Why don't we have the same elaborate ceremonies and display of emotions when a birth occurs as when a death occurs?

Why not — when you come to think of it? No matter what your religious view may be, or lack of a religious view, don't you pity every little child when you reflect on what that child has to go through? Just let your hearts speak. And yet, as I told you, that is the way by which we grow — through suffering, through pain, which softens us and gives us compassion and pity for others, because we ourselves have been through it. Pain and suffering have raised us to a plane of understanding and impersonal feeling. Therefore life, even with all the pains — and however much our hearts may ache at seeing the little child beginning its new pathway, nevertheless it is life — is a treading of that other pathway, mystical, still, unseen, which is the growth of the inner man.

There were some ancient peoples who had funeral ceremonies at the birth of children and who put on the white garments of festivity when merciful death had released the inner man from the tortured and suffering body. "Depart, splendor of the sun," was their hymn; "depart unto thine own. Son of the sun, rise along the etheric pathways to join the ineffable glory, thy parent."

My Brothers, I want to make a plea to you, an appeal, which I make on every Sunday when I speak here — a plea which is for you. "Father Sun, enlighten the hearts and minds of my Brothers, that they may see their whole duty on their way to thy sacred seat, and by the light, thy light, cast on their pathway, I pray that they may not stumble on the road, while returning to the portals of thy self, the Spiritual Sun!" That is my plea — a paraphrase of an ancient Vedic verse, called the Gayatri or the Savitri, considered even today as the holiest verse in all the Brahmanical scriptures, because it condenses in its few words the entire mystical and esoteric meaning of occultism: your essential unity with the spiritual universe, your origin therein, the fact that you are now living therein, the fact that this inner guiding light is even at the present moment shining through you, showing you your way, threading as best it may down through the encircling veils of the lower selfhood into your heart and mind, and thus giving you light and peace and understanding and consequently help.

Ally yourselves, therefore, my Brothers, with the god within each one of you, your own inner divinity; for this ye are destined to do in the future, when ye shall have become a race of men-gods; and those who have preceded you on the path, who have outrun the average of mankind, are the Masters of Wisdom and Love and Peace of whom I have spoken to you. There is no reason why you also should not now seize the scepter of power — spiritual, intellectual, impersonal, divine — sooner than the laggards on the ways of life who through suffering will be brought to do it also in later ages. Why not now begin to become the divinity within you? Come! Come up higher!

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