Theosophical University Press Online Edition
(Lecture delivered October 12, 1930)
CONTENTS: The ancient wisdom taught in the schools of the Mysteries. — The universe a living entity; its physical aspect but an outer shell. — Mythological account of the structure of the universe. — The interlocking of hierarchies. — Ancient astrology based on this hierarchical scheme. — The classes of angelic entities referred to by Dionysius the Areopagite. — A system of negative thinking leads nowhere. — Be not slaves of mere human authority. — Test before you accept. — Modern scientists and their other "dimensions of space." — If space is a container, what holds the container? — Dr. James Jeans and his theory of 'singular points' or hearts of nebulae. Theosophy enlarges upon this idea. — Do you know what your destiny is? — What do you mean by the spaces of space? — Does the human soul reincarnate only on earth? — Is it advantageous to reincarnate quickly? — Enter the chamber-temple within you! Listen to the whisperings of your divinity!
I am not a spiritual or psychical anatomist. I am not going to introduce you to a psychical dissecting table; nevertheless I am going to try to paint for you a wondrous picture, to try to draw aside a curtain, so that you may see and in seeing understand some of the ancient teachings of the esoteric Mystery schools of antiquity, those esoteric schools which in their time and in their places among the different races of men taught the old wisdom of antiquity, the wisdom-religion of mankind. This ancient wisdom is not based, as I have so often told you, on anyone's say-so: not based on the deceptive vision of so-called psychical clairvoyants, but is actually rooted in the very structure and operations of the universe surrounding us, which is the same thing as saying cosmic being, and which has been put into human thought and language by the great Sages and Seers of past ages, by those men who through initiation learned, who were taught, how to send their percipient consciousness behind the veils of the outward seeming, behind the veils of the universe that seems so apparently real, and that surround us on all sides — the penetrating consciousness going deep, deeper, deeper still, into the very womb of being, and there seeing truth; and seizing it with the grip of spiritual and intellectual understanding, these great Sages and Seers brought back from this most marvelous of human adventures what they had discovered; put it into human formulated terms, and taught it as a sublime natural philosophy of truth in those ancient esoteric schools called the schools of the Mysteries.
They were very real, those old schools, and the greatest men of antiquity passed through them, were initiates in them, were taught in them; and you can read in the records of those old times which have come down to us of the present day, what those great men of the past publicly said and taught after they had left the initiation chambers. They put in human language for public dissemination as much as they dared — for the rules regarding secrecy were very strict — and their testimony is one, their witness is one; and it all runs to this end: that there is truth in the universe; that this truth can be known and taught; that it can be understood by anyone who will lead the life, undertake the training, and go through the period of trials to test his power of understanding, of vision, of assimilation, and his sense of responsibility. These great men of the past united in saying that the Mysteries taught men how to live nobly, how to die with a glad and fervent hope, how to lead and inspire their fellow men in all the avocations of life; and they said further that initiation deprived death of all its seeming terrors, for it showed the neophyte that he was essentially an integral part, an inseparable portion, of the great cosmos, the great universe; that the universe is man's natural home; that in that universe he belongs; that never can he leave it; that he is its offspring: bone of its bone, blood of its blood, life of its life, being of its being, and therefore that man is an inseparable part of it, and consequently that everything that the infinite cosmos contains is in every man and can be had for the taking — if he knows how to take it! There is the difficulty — "if he knows how to take it."
Men don't know themselves. Most men don't even want to know themselves. They themselves are spiritually rooted in the universe; in fact essentially they are it; therefore the key to all this wondrous wisdom — lies where? In yourself. You are, each one of you, that sublime mystical pathway leading direct to the heart of the universe. There is no other path to tread in order to reach utter truth. No one else can tread that path for you. You cannot really learn and really know merely by what other men tell you. Other men may give you hints; they may inspire you; they may help; they may raise; they may encourage all that is true and real; but so far as the individual is concerned, he must tread that sublime pathway himself. Isn't it obvious? Can someone else understand for you? Can someone else learn for you? Can someone else grow for you? You must become before you can be; you must be before you can understand — and I mean self-consciously become, self-consciously be, before you can self-consciously understand.
Now, what is the structure or anatomy of the universe according to these ancient teachings? The old seers and sages taught that the universe is a living entity, that it is a vital organism — much in the same way as man's body is a vital organism: in other words that the universe is a living thing, a living entity; and man with his life and his intelligence and his consciousness and all his power, all his thought and feeling and emotion, is but a reflection of the whole, working in him as an inseparable part of that all-encompassing whole. The part obviously partakes of what the whole is.
They taught, furthermore, that the gross physical universe, which our senses apprise us of — but oh! so slightly, because our physical senses are as yet so imperfect — they taught, I say, that this encompassing physical universe is but the outer shell, the body, the garment, the veil, of the greater universe — in other words they taught that there is a spiritual universe, of which the outer physical universe is the extremest exterior garment; and that between this spiritual root-universe and the exterior universe there were stages, planes, realms, parts, steps, degrees, from the highest of our own home-hierarchy downwards to the lowest stages or degrees of that home-hierarchy.
According to the usual mythological account of the structure of the universe as this account existed among the ancients, and especially among the peoples of Asia Minor, the universe was stated to consist of nine or ten heavens so called — usually of ten heavens so called, or spheres — named as follows, and counting from the most material or grossest upwards: first, the quadruplicate range of the four elements, comprising "Earth"; then the sphere of "Water"; then the sphere of "Air"; then the sphere of "Fire"; then the "heaven" or sphere of the Moon, then that of Mercury, then that of Venus, then that of the Sun, then that of Mars, then that of Jupiter, then that of Saturn; and then last, the Waters of Space, which cosmic ocean includes the sphere of the so-called fixed stars, and the limitless outer range of the cosmic hierarchy.
It will be noted that we have here a series of twelve, instead of the usual nine or ten, but this is to be understood as meaning that the first in the series is not only the lowest of any such hierarchical system, but also the highest or beginning of an inferior hierarchy descending in graded stages below, while the twelfth or last is not only the highest of any such hierarchy, but also is the link connecting the lowest of the succeeding or superior hierarchy ascending in a similar range of nine or ten included spheres or realms.
The same general system was known the world over, though its component elements were variously reckoned and often disguised under different names. There is a great deal in this hierarchical system as just outlined which the archaic wisdom of the ages called theosophy explains as being perfectly true and as an exact rendering of nature's hierarchical structure, although obviously, as the student can easily see, expressed in purely mythological form.
Furthermore, I might add that the powers and principles and influences of the respective planets, including the Sun and Moon, as they were outlined in such ancient mythological systems, are set forth in the hierarchic scheme that I have just outlined for you. Ancient astrology, which was so different from the modern tattered remnant that Europeans give the name of astrology to, was based on this hierarchical scheme or pattern as its fundamental conception. It is thus seen that the Sun and Moon and the five planets named, occupied an exceedingly important position in the building of the solar system. To each one was assigned an especial influence, and an especial power, and an especial constructive energy; and as all cooperated together, each one producing in action its own particular or characteristic energy, the resultant, according to the theme, was the solar system as it at present exists.
Lastly — and this is very important — each one of these nine or ten realms or spheres, whether solar or lunar or planetary or elemental, is the direct field of action of what it is customary to call a planetary spirit.
There is still another way of dividing the tenfold or ninefold or even twelvefold hierarchical system of the universe according to the mystical teaching prevalent among the nations of Asia Minor, and it is as follows, and we should remember while studying it that this system exercised the profoundest influence on all the nations surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, and was at the bottom of the highly mystical astrological systems of not only the Greeks and the Romans but of the Babylonians, Egyptians, Assyrians, and Persians likewise. This second manner of division runs as follows: The world was conceived of as consisting in its lowest parts of seven elemental substances, united with seven equivalent elemental energies, of which four only in each case were commonly spoken of, to wit: earth, water, air and fire, which together formed the realm or sphere stretching from the earth to the moon.
Beginning with the sphere or realm of the moon began the ten heavens so called, which were serially denominated as follows: the first or lowest was the sphere of the Moon, the next on the ascending scale was the sphere of Mercury, then the sphere of Venus, then the sphere or realm of the Sun, then the realm or sphere of Mars, then that of Jupiter, and then that of Saturn. Then followed the eighth or so-called fixed sphere, succeeded in its turn by the realm of the unseen stars, after which and still more distant came the tenth and last, called that of the surrounding waters of space. Beyond this again was what was sometimes spoken of as the crown, or the crown of light, which was the illimitable expanse of infinitude outside of our own home-universe or galaxy.
A later school of mystical thinkers used this same serial hierarchy of the heavens and connected with each one of the ten its own class of spiritual beings, to which the following names were given, counting from the lowest to the highest — and in passing it may interest you to know that it is to this series of spiritual beings that St. Paul of the Christians referred when he spoke of the classes of angelic entities; and it was likewise to this same conception that the much later pseudo-Dionysius, commonly called Dionysius the Areopagite, referred in his work.
These ten classes of spiritual entities, according to this later school, were connected with the various so-called heavens as follows: the Angels with the sphere of the Moon; the Archangels with the sphere of Mercury; the Principalities with that of Venus; the Powers with that of the Sun; the Virtues with that of Mars; the Dominations with that of Jupiter; the Thrones with that of Saturn; the Cherubim with the Eighth Sphere; the Seraphim with the Ninth; and an indefinite class of still more sublime spiritual entities were supposed to reside in and to inspirit the Tenth Realm or Sphere.
It should be remembered, of course, that this system of interlocking and interblending worlds and energies is described in the mythological sense, and should so be understood, although of course the fundamental ideas are the same as the series of worlds and their respective inhabitants which theosophy teaches, but which theosophy teaches of in a much more scientific and consistent manner.
All the mystical ancients conjoined in saying that pure spirit, and a fortiori pure divinity, cannot act directly upon gross physical being; that there must be intermediate stages — steps, degrees, realms — stepping down, so to speak, the indwelling superior cosmic powers; and that when these indwelling cosmic spiritual powers reach in their descent this outermost physical garment or veil of the series, which outermost garment we call our physical universe, these powers express themselves in this physical universe as the powers and elements and substances producing the enormous and entrancing variety of beings and entities and things which we sense all around us. A little thought will show you how consistent this structural scheme is with all that we know and with all that our intuitions intimate as being true.
Or, on the other hand, do you prefer to take a theoretic system which is now moribund, dying if not already dead, I mean the materialism of our forefathers, whose answer to every pertinent and inquiring question as given by its exponents was "We don't know!"? "What is energy?" "We don't know." "What is force?" "We don't know." "What is life?" "We don't know." "How large is the universe?" "We don't know." "Whence came man?" "We don't know." "How is it that our solar system is as it is and not otherwise?" "We don't know." "What produces the entrancing variety everywhere around us?" "We don't know." And so on endlessly. No, such a system of negative thinking will never satisfy man's aspiring heart and inquiring mind.
Give me the vision of the seer, the wisdom of the sage; for I will take that vision and that wisdom and test them by my own vision, and by the intelligence with which as a man I am endowed — test and prove, holding fast to that which is good and rejecting what my conscience tells me is untrue — a most excellent rule. Ask you, perhaps: "In following this rule is it not possible that I may reject a truth?" Of course it is; you may reject truth after truth after truth and be the poorer for it; but at least, my Brothers, ye will have acted like men, been conscientious with your own souls, trusted to your own spiritual vision, imperfect as it is; and in trusting to your own conscience and your intelligence and the emotions of the higher part of your being, ye will give them exercise and they will grow greater with that exercise continuously, so that as time goes on, the cornerstone (to use the metaphor of the Christian New Testament) that the builders rejected will ye take again and understand it and fit it into its proper place.
As the great Buddha says: "Believe not anything that is told to you merely because it is told to you." Exercise the wondrous powers of your own inner being; give them exercise; and in so giving them exercise they will grow strong, stronger, continuously more strong, and greater vision in time thus will be yours, and also a greater power; and ye will grow greater in dignified manhood. Ye may reject a truth time and again, time and again, time and again; but the rule is a good one to follow. It is far better to follow this rule than to be dumb following slaves of some mere human authority.
It is I who tell you this with all the earnestness of my being precisely because I also know the enormous value of true authority. I know what a true teacher is and what he can give, paradoxical as this statement may sound with what I have just said; but it is fully consistent with what I have just said, as ye will realize if ye will pause a moment in thought. Be always willing to learn, but believe naught that your own conscience rejects. Your conscience is not infallible at all, it is fallible; but the greater man has a more visioning consciousness than the inferior man, and the still greater man more than the greater man, and the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace have immense power of consciousness and vision, and the gods still more than they.
But can ye tread the path of truth merely by believing what ye are told without investigation and earnest thought and without exercising the faculties which are inherent in your being? No, of course not. Therefore I say: believe not at all anything ye are told unless it appeals to your conscience; and then, if it so appeals and you find it good, if you believe it to be true, hold to it against the world if need be. Be a man and recognize that there are teachers in the world, men who are greater than you. This fact will be one of the first things that you will learn by trusting the voice of your own conscience. Isn't this fact wonderful? It is a seeming paradox — a paradox indeed, and yet it is true.
It is obvious that some men know more than other men; therefore they who know more are the natural-born teachers of them who know less. But the man who is the pupil should himself grow through himself exercising the inherent powers of his being. This is one of the first injunctions of theosophy: examine, investigate, prove, test, and believe not at all anything that your conscience tells you is wrong. You are thus on the safe path, and very soon you will come to realize that there are indeed great teachers in the world, because you will feel growing within you, in your own heart, recognition of the fact that you yourself are learning. You will find by your intercourse with your fellow human beings that you in some strange and mysterious way are beginning to see things and to feel things that they apparently are incognizant of, and this will give you a hint, and following it you will voluntarily seek your teacher and find him. The teacher is always there, when the pupil is ready.
There is an ancient wisdom, my Brothers, the ancient wisdom that I have told you about. It is a marvelous system of doctrine. It tells us that the universe is not only a living organism, but that we physical human beings live in intimate connection, in intimate contact, with invisible spheres, with invisible and intangible realms, unknown to us only because our physical senses are so imperfectly evolved that we neither see them nor feel them nor hear them nor smell them nor taste them, nor cognize them except by that much more highly evolved sensorium which men call the mind. These inner realms interpenetrate our physical sphere, permeate it, so that in our daily affairs, as we go about our duties, we actually pass through the dwellings, through the mountains, through the lakes, through the very beings mayhap, of the entities of and dwelling in these invisible realms. These invisible realms are built of matter just as this our physical world is, but of a more ethereal matter than ours is; but we cognize them not at all with our physical senses. The explanation is that it is all a matter of differing rates of vibration of substances. Pause a moment in thought over this. Think it over.
The ancients said that there are one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, degrees, planes, realms, stages, steps, ranging from high to low, or from low to high, according to the way you may count them; and that each more interior stage or degree or plane or realm is somewhat more ethereal than the realm immediately below it in the hierarchical scale, and all of them more ethereal than the physical realm in which we happen to live at the present time; and that these realms or stages ascend from the physical to the spiritual. And is the highest or spiritual realm the end? It is not. It is merely the beginning of a second ascending hierarchical ladder of life, so that the tenth or highest stage of any such hierarchy if you count upwards, or the first if you count downwards, is merely the most inferior stage or degree of another superior hierarchy itself ascending in ten stages or degrees; and so endlessly through the spaces of space.
Furthermore, the same rule applies in the opposite direction, that the lowest degree or stage of any hierarchy is the highest of an inferior hierarchy on the descending scale, and so on forever.
The world is filled full with gods, with gods and demigods, and beings who are even higher than what men call gods — all of them spiritual beings, cosmic entities, call them by what name you may like; and we human beings are but one class of them, at the present time passing through this section or phase of a long evolutionary journey from inferior to better, from better to still better, and so on forever on the ascending arc of growth and development; and our temporary sojourn in this our physical world occurs only because we have reached here as we pass along that ascending arc. Further, this evolutionary path, said the teachers of this ancient wisdom, proceeds in cycles, spirals, each turn of the spiral bringing out new manifestations of the inherent life of the evolving entity.
Furthermore, these wise men taught — taught from what they themselves had experienced in the initiation chambers: taught not because someone else had instructed them, but because they had been on the mystical adventure to these interior realms; and because they had been there, and had seen, and felt, and contacted these realms, they knew and therefore could teach truth. How can a man really know anything at all which he himself has not been through?
They taught that these inner worlds are the worlds to which all the better part of man goes when he lays aside the physical body — into the interior realms and planes and spheres of the cosmic life. They taught that the journey after death was made upwards through these nine other planes or spheres, until the acme or top of the hierarchical ladder was reached; and then came the return journey downwards through the same planes, until the earth sphere was again entered upon, and thus a man was reborn, each time a little higher than before, let us hope — because there are certain cases of retrogression — with each new birth learning a little more and becoming somewhat more than he was before.
Now, hearken! Is this physical world of ours all there is of the boundless universe? What sane man believes that? If you think so, then answer my questions! I won't be satisfied with a mere "I don't know." You will have to give me some consistent, logical, understandable reason for your belief. Why should the boundless spaces consist merely of one physical universe? Why should things be forever just as they are at present? Isn't it obvious that things are changing, are growing, and that the standard for infinity is not this physical universe that we so imperfectly understand? Remember that this physical universe itself is merely the outermost expression of the evolving lives with which the universe is filled, and which lives have reached their present type as we know them merely because they are passing through this one stage in the long, long journey of evolution.
You yourselves are imbodied gods. Yes, the root of each one of you is a divine being; and your humanhood today is but a visible and imperfect manifestation in this world of gross substance of the powers and faculties that you have locked up within you. The real roots of things are in the invisible worlds; the real causes of all things lie there. Therefrom spring forth the entities that compose the variety of our physical world; and today you have your ultramodern scientific thinkers, and the greatest of them, talking more or less vaguely but intuitively about other dimensions of space, instead of which phrase "dimensions of space" theosophists, having the same idea although much more developed, talk about the superior worlds or realms or planes of space.
Your modern scientists have completely thrown over the materialism of your fathers. It is dead, gone, but not yet forgotten; and the minds of men today are still filled with the old materialistic ideas and teachings and theories of forty and fifty and a hundred years ago, and those ideas and theories are still taught in our schools, although it may be in a more or less disguised form. Yet the great leaders of scientific thought, the great scientific discoverers and investigators, know that the materialism of our fathers is now dead. These great ultramodern scientists are teaching of invisible worlds; they are now talking about space very much as a theosophist talks about space, as being the habitat of consciousness, the habitat of mind. But to speak of it as mind is merely putting in a generalized form exactly what theosophists say when we talk about minds — in the plural — meaning gods, cosmic spirits, and invisible realms and worlds and spheres, the habitats and dwellings of these gods and cosmic spirits.
What is space? Can any one of you tell me what space is? Is it a mere container? Is it a mere emptiness which holds things? Will you tell me how emptiness can hold things? Think! How can emptiness hold things? If it is a container, what is that container? I repeat the question: what is the container? Furthermore, what contains the container? The conception, if we can dignify it by that name, reminds me of the story of the little boy who was asked one day by his teacher: "Johnny, can you give me an example of the use of the word cowhide?" "Umph . . . yes, sir. Cowhide is the thing which keeps the cow together!" Space, therefore, is "the thing which keeps things together!" Isn't that wonderfully clear! But I don't think so. To the theosophist, space is the cosmic All. Theosophists don't dare further to define it, because we cannot; it is infinitude — infinitude lasting through eternity; it is boundless, frontierless; it is the ALL — it is what we, using one of our technical terms, call parabrahman — the Boundless, beginningless, endless. Furthermore, infinity, which is the same as eternity — for they both are one conceptually — is not mere emptiness, but is a plenum: it is an infinite Fullness, and merely seems empty to us because our physical eyes cannot interpret the vibrations emanating and flowing forth from the worlds and spheres and realms with which space, so called, is packed full, and which actually forms space itself.
The ancients frequently spoke of cosmic space as "the waters" of space. "The spirit of God," says the Hebrew Bible, "the spirit of the elohim, of the gods, moved on the waters of space" — an esoteric expression simply meaning the vast Plenum or Fullness packed full with cosmic divinities and the worlds or spheres or realms in which they dwell; and our scientists, the biggest ones among them at least, today are teaching essentially the same thing in very different words, as witness Sir Oliver Lodge, and Professor Eddington and Dr. Jeans, and the great American physicist, Millikan, who has so marvelously developed the theory of the cosmic rays.
They speak of space now as being the real fountain from which everything else comes, say that worlds and suns and stars are but interruptions, as it were, of the fullness of space. Now we theosophists would consider this last term "interruptions" as wrong; we would say that any physical sphere or world is but a thickening or condensation of the substance with which space is filled — thickened and concreted around a heart, a central point. An ultramodern scientist, Dr. Sir James Jeans, is teaching essentially the same conception when he speaks of the nebulae which bestrew the violet dome of night as having at their hearts what he calls singular points, through which stream from another dimension (world, say theosophists) into this world, primal matter in its first physical stage or state; thus teaching in ultramodern scientific phraseology a tenet of the ancient wisdom-religion of mankind.
The singular points of Dr. Jeans theosophists call laya-centers — and it is an old teaching among us, ancient, archaic. Let me tell you something more: every globe that you see in space has as its center, its heart, just such a singular point, to adopt the language of Jeans, the English astronomical physicist; and through this center of each such globe come into that globe the streams of entities, the river of living things, by which that globe is inhabited, all of them on their evolutionary pathway. They then enter into the atmosphere of any such globe, such as our earth, and find, if they be human entities, their habitats in the bodies of little children; and similarly so is it the case with the beasts and the vegetables, as well as the atomic entities of the mineral kingdom.
There are no solutions of continuity in space, either in inner and invisible space or in outward and visible space, my Brothers. The various ranges or planes or steps of the hierarchical ladder that I have spoken of melt, fade, into each other. There are no sharp breaks between any two of them. Theosophists talk of planes, but this is a mere word used in an attempt to communicate our thought easily to those who have not studied theosophy. The physical world grades off into the astral world, which grades off again into a world higher than it, the world which is superior to the astral world; and so it continues throughout the series of hierarchical steps which compose a universe such as our universe. Remember also that the boundless All is filled full with universes, some so much greater than ours that the utmost reach of our imagination cannot conceive of them.
The anatomy of space, of the world, is really the structure of the universe — a vast and self-contained organic entity filled with life, or more accurately lives, from the highest called the gods down to the least evolved which we humans call atoms, all combining to form an endless chain or hierarchy of living entities. You cannot leave the universe. Think what that means! You are at home in it vast — spaces are your home, indeed endless space is your spiritual habitat.
The powers that are locked up in you, of which you are incognizant, express themselves in you as inherent powers and faculties, such as intuition, understanding, intellect, love, compassion, forgiveness: all these and many others are in you and can be developed amazingly. The powers that you have as yet unevolved in you are very great and wonderful, and they are powers that usually you don't know anything about because the ordinary man has not evolved to the point where these powers are more than beginning very feebly to manifest themselves.
I hesitate to use certain convenient words freely, because these words have been so misused; but nevertheless I will now refer to a few: spiritual clairvoyance, spiritual clairaudience, power to make rain, power to see into the past and into the future, power to penetrate with your consciousness self-consciously into the very abysses of the atom on the one hand, and into the abysses of the spaces of our solar system on the other hand, and be at home and familiar there. Ah! you men don't know what you have locked up within you! You are bartering all the best in you for a mess of pottage! Self-satisfaction in the small and paltry things of physical existence blinds you and prevents your seeing with the vision of the spiritual eye. And so many men are wasting time in chasing the shadows and phantasms of material existence, mistaking these phantasms for the realities of life.
Immortal gods! I wonder how many of you have felt the stirring of some unwonted and strange consciousness within you — intuitions, intimations, of a new and grand developing faculty! "Know ye not that ye are the temple of the divine and that the very spirit of the divine dwelleth in you?" Don't you see that this word of truth from the Christian scripture means that each one of you is rooted in the divine part of the universe, in the higher part of the invisible spheres, in that part which is pure consciousness and which men in their awful ignorance speak of as God and give to it a personal pronoun He, thus making it an exaggerated copy of their own physical apparatus of being?
You can ascend, if you will and if you are taught how to do it (and you can be taught how), along the stairway of your inner being, going constantly higher and more and more inwards, till you reach the very summit, the acme, the top, the flower, of the hierarchy of the cosmos of which you are children and thus partake of the very fountain of life and light and understanding — which is but another way of saying becoming at one with the spiritual universe. What a picture!
These, therefore, are some of the teachings of theosophy. You see how this picture of the structure of the world, consisting as it does of endless series of steps, of grades, gives you the key to wondrous mysteries. It also means that the following of this pathway inwards brings you ever more fully into the inner worlds, into the inner spheres, ever more and more closely to the spiritual roots of things. It is this wonderful pathway which is the evolutionary pathway that all entities follow, leading them into the causal elements and worlds, until finally the pilgrim returns as a fully evolved and self-conscious god — which you are even now in the heart of the heart of your inner being — to that divine spiritual sun of which you are immortal rays.
What a sublime destiny for men and for all things! Remember that men are merely one family of the vast host of evolving entities with which the universe is filled: gods above us, and we shall become gods; beasts below us who shall in time become men or at least humans; vegetation, the plants below the beasts, who will in time blossom forth as beasts; and the atoms, the chemical elements below the plants, which atomic elementals likewise are learning and evolving things on their upward evolutionary journey. They too will in the distant aeons of the future become men and then become gods, a host of gods. And throughout endless eternity in the past, on all the worlds that have been and now are gone because they have lived and gone higher, this endless stream of advancing entities has been evolving; so that, as I have told you, the universe is filled full with gods, the evolved product of past eternities of growth.
Consider also the other direction of the evolutionary stream of lives: always new elemental beings coming into any one sphere and beginning their journey upwards with divinity as their destination, slowly preparing through the ages to attain self-conscious godhood for each, and destined, they too, to pass through the human stage. What a picture!
Give me the seer! Give me the thinker! Give me the man who can sense truth! I care not a snap of the fingers for the canons of the schools! Give me truth; and remember that essential truth is even now latent in the heart of each one of you. There you will find it, the most precious treasure that man can attain.
The universe is a vast and most wonderfully complex structure, yet so simply and shapely builded; its patterns are as clear, once you see the picture and understand it, as are the wonderful and delicate traceries of the snowflake on the pane of glass, so symmetrically and harmoniously builded.
When modern scientists talk of space, do they mean the same thing that you theosophists do when you use the phrase the spaces of space?
I don't think so, friends. But I will say, as I have said before this afternoon, that our greatest scientific researchers are coming with every ten-year period closer and closer to our archaic wisdom-religion; more and more are they drawing aside the veil covering nature's recondite secrets; by their wonderful discoveries are they seeing ever more deeply into the heart of being. When the theosophist speaks of the spaces of space, he means what I have said to you this afternoon about the structure of the universe, referring especially to its invisible, interior realms and worlds.
I now turn to a somewhat different phase of my theme. You will get in life just what you want. Remember this, for it inshrines a profound teaching. If you want something, then long for it, work for it. You will get it in time. I pray that inspiration may be in your souls, so that you will place your goal of getting high; for if you long for the sty of the swine, if you desecrate your manhood, if you abandon your divine prerogative of free thinking and live on the mental husks that the "swine" do eat, ye shall go to the sty of the swine. This is a Christian figure of speech, but it conveys a profound truth. You will get in this and in the after-lives just what you have worked for, longed for, felt after — just what you thus builded yourselves to be. This is what theosophists call karma, consequences: "As ye sow, so will ye also reap." Build yourselves shapely and you shall reap shapeliness and beauty; build oppositely, build otherwise, and then may the immortal gods help you if they can! You yourselves are masters of your destiny: you have free will, power of choice, intelligence; you have divine faculties and powers just beginning to bloom within you. Use them properly and according to law, which means the symmetrical use according to the forces flowing from nature's heart, and then you will grow like the flowers and blossom into divinity. But misuse them and degrade them, and then down you will go, and here also you will get what you have made for yourselves — you will become what you have made yourselves to be. You will lie in the bed that you yourselves have made for yourselves. Such is the law of nature.
You are gods and can carve your own pathway; carve it then upwards. As you build so must you live in the house that you have builded. It behooves a man to think, and to take wise thought of what he thinks and feels and does, because by using his inherent powers and locked-up energies he will sow seeds of thought and emotion and he will reap, even as he has already reaped, what he sows — what he has in the past sowed into his being — as character. A glorious destiny awaits you if you follow the upward path; and I tell you that you have no time to lose in chasing the phantasms of the material world. Take them not for realities, for they are illusory and deceptive.
Is space substantial, or is it just mere emptiness? What is space, anyway?
I think that I have more or less fully answered this question today. Space is substantial; it is the cosmic fullness; it is everything; it is the ALL; space is infinitude; and the spaces of space are especially important to remember in this connection, for they are the inner worlds, the invisible worlds, the causal worlds, the roots of this outward world — which outward world is a mere garment, the mere skin, as it were, of the fruit; and the life of the fruit is in its seed.
Are human beings children of earth, or have they also links with the universe as a whole?
Yes, they have links with the universe as a whole; but why speak merely of links? You yourself are the universe. You cannot leave it; you are in it; you are its child; all that is in the universe is in you; and your present physical, exterior garment of flesh is merely one low phase of the infinite and eternal evolutionary journey that you are making. In future you will be gods; in past aeons you were atoms — life-atoms; and you are now merely bringing forth, unwrapping, unrolling, evolving in other words, the faculties of space that were locked up in your interior and invisible parts.
Does the human soul reincarnate only on earth, or does it go to other planets?
So far as the human soul is concerned, it has rebirth only on this earth; but so far as another part of the inner constitution of man is concerned, this other part which we call the monad follows indeed a most wonderful adventure — mystical, wondrous, marvelous, almost indescriptible; for it follows a pathway from planet to planet and from planet to the portals of Father Sun, before it retraces its journey earthwards. But the human soul as such, that feeble and unevolved entity, is a production of the higher part of man's constitution working together with his earth-surroundings, and therefore in one sense of the word the mere human soul is a child of earth.
Is it advantageous to reincarnate quickly, or is it more advantageous to the evolving soul to have a longer rest period between our births on earth?
This is such a simple question that I marvel a bit that any student of theosophy could ask it, and the questioner seems to be a theosophical student. Is it advantageous to a man to have very little sleep, or is it more advantageous to a man to sleep overmuch? Isn't the answer to the question obvious? The period of rest between earth-life and earth-life is a period of bliss, of sweet and inexpressibly beautiful dreaming, of rest and repose, of peace, of quiet. The human soul needs it badly; for what man or woman, my Brothers, can say "My life is a life of utter happiness"? Life on our material sphere, for almost all human beings, is a hard one, containing much pain, containing much sorrow and heartache, with much of disappointment and of thwarted hope. Alas! men help each other so slightly; but unfortunately such is life on earth at the present time, in the present material phase of our existence; and the poor human soul needs its rest period, its period of consolation and solace and bliss and rest and peace. Therefore the answer to the question is that since Mother Nature cares for these things so very beautifully, it is much the best to leave it in her hands and not to try psychical experiments. Don't you think so? The soul must have sweet rest just as the body must have repose when it lays itself down to sleep in bed.
I may say in further answer to this last question that it is perhaps better for the human soul to have as long a rest period in the Devachan, as theosophists call it, in this state of bliss, as is possible. This Devachan is a time not merely of rest, as I have described it, but also of assimilation and of digestion of the experiences of the last life; and some of our experiences are very difficult to digest! I think that if men were more kindly to each other, a little gentler, a little more thoughtful, how much easier and how much better our common life would be. It really is easier to act in that way. It does seem to me that when I see a man do an unkindly act, or a woman so act, they are doing something which is repulsive in its ugliness. It is not beautiful to look at. A mean act is an abominable thing to observe; and a really fine, self-forgetful, high-minded, and noble action — a man rising above circumstances in self-forgetful action — is a beautiful thing to see. Where is the normal human heart that does not warm towards such a man? We instinctively feel the hero in him; and precisely where the difficulties are great, there does our admiration grow the more.
I shall now close our study together for this afternoon; but I desire to have a few words in private with you before I leave you. And when I say in private, I have in mind the figure of speech of the Christian writing which I give the sense of in the following words: "Go thou into thine inner chamber and there commune in the silence with your inner god." I want to appeal to this living inner chamber in each one of you — to the heart of the heart of you, to the soul of the soul of you, to your inmost, to that strange chamber temple within you, wherein, if you listen carefully, you can hear the whisperings of divinity, of the divinity which fills that chamber full, for it is your own inner god. O my Brothers, enter into this chamber in your heart of hearts. Become one with your self, your divine self, the god within you!
Vol 2, No 15