(Lecture delivered October 26, 1930)
CONTENTS: Not the gods of the ancient mythologies. — Who are the gods? — From uselfconscious god-sparks to self-conscious gods. — A mistake in early Christian thought. — From star to atom. — What are the azure seats of the gods? — The relation between men and gods. — The universe an endless ladder of life. — Our other selves, the gods. — Glimpses into the life of an atomic system. — The cosmic age of an atom. — Where do the gods dwell? — Mark Twain and his religion. — Extract from the biography of Mark Twain. — How account for the obvious imperfections in the universe? — Is true esoteric teaching ever given for a price? — The teacher's vow of personal poverty. — The basis of esoteric truth in The Theosophical Society. — You are an imbodied flaming divinity!
On Sunday afternoon two weeks ago I spoke to you on a theme which I called 'The Secret Anatomy or Structure of the World, using the word world in the sense of universe, and on last Sunday afternoon I spoke to you on a somewhat similar theme which I called "The Secret Physiology of the World." In the first of these two lectures I tried to describe the structure and nature of the invisible and visible realms which the theosophist properly groups under the term universe, and in the second of these two lectures I attempted to portray for you a picture of the vital functions and powers inherent in the universe, and endeavored to show that these vital functions and powers were caused by and actually were the essences — comprising the intelligences and will of a vast interblending and interlocking series of gods — existent in hierarchical systems; and this afternoon I am going to try to make another picture for you, mounting still higher along the ladder of life which forms the constitution of the universe; and my theme I have called "The Azure Seats of the Gods," comprising in this title what may otherwise be described as the pneumatology of the world — signifying by this term pneumatology a brief outline or sketch of the gods themselves, that is to say of the spiritual essences with which the universe is filled full: their origin, nature, and destiny.
I wonder, friends, what you think I may have in mind in beginning to talk to you upon my subject, "The Azure Seats of the Gods." Do you think I mean the gods of Greece and Rome, sitting in lofty Olympus on seats of azure marble? Or the gods of Hindustan, or the gods of the ancient Americas? No, I do not refer to the old pantheons of deities. But, nevertheless, I will say in passing that even those old pantheons were builded upon an ancient and esoteric wisdom which taught, under the guise of a public mythology, profound secrets of the structure and operations of the universe which surrounds us.
The entire human race has believed in gods, has believed in beings superior to men; the ancients all said that men are the children of these gods, and that from these superior beings, existent in the azure spaces, men draw all that in them is; and, furthermore, that men themselves, as children of the gods, are in their inmost essence divine beings linked forever with the boundless universe of which each human being, just as is the case with every other entity everywhere, is an inseparable part.
That is a sublime conception! It shows man's oneness with boundless infinitude. It shows us that out of the womb of the past comes the evolutionary life-stream, advancing slowly through the ages with its innumerable hosts of growing, evolving, learning entities. It teaches us also that from unself-conscious god-sparks we become in time self-conscious gods, thereafter taking a self-conscious part in the cosmic labor. What a picture for our hours of quiet thought! How these ancient ideas dignify our humanity, ennoble our standing as men! How they inspirit our souls and inflame our minds with hope! For they show us clearly that, notwithstanding all our mistakes, notwithstanding the many, many times when we fall by the wayside, nevertheless always are we advancing steadily forwards — growing, learning, evolving! As I have so often told you before, evolution means the bringing out from within of what is latent within us.
We are essentially gods; we are divine beings in our inmost essence, children of the cosmic spirit which encompasseth us; inseparable therefrom, and growing from unself-conscious god-sparks — not yet self-consciously recognizing our unity, our oneness, our identity, with the cosmic life — into self-conscious realization of it. Even we as the human host — gods imbodied in human flesh and but feebly expressing the divine forces within us — even we as the human host have our seats in the azure spaces of this earth-sphere.
One great mistake that the European peoples made after the downfall of Greece and Rome, from whose wisdom we inherited so greatly, was accepting the idea that mankind is distinct and separate from the universe in which mankind lives and moves and has its being. We are not separate, we in the universe are at one always, from eternity to eternity, with the boundless, encompassing life, which is our life — with the boundless encompassing intelligence which holds the stars in their courses and governs the movements of each tiniest atom. We are at one with the cosmic consciousness of which we are the offsprings.
Do you see what this implies and means? That all the boundless spaces of space are our home, our home! How vast a palace is therefore ours! How great a field for expansion! How sublime a destiny is ours! Therefore try to sense your oneness with the encompassing life, and live and be and grow and manifest through yourself what you have locked up within you. We are one with the universe — obviously, because we cannot leave it; its life is ours; its substances are ours; its energies are ours; its powers are ours; its forces are ours; its consciousness is ours; its destiny is ours. We are it. Every one of us is rooted therein — indeed, not only rooted therein, but verily it.
The azure seats of the gods, my Brothers, are the deathless selves within us. We are as deathless in our inmost as is the Boundless, for we are it; and it is only these composite bodies of atoms — borrowed each from others and all from each and each from all — these transitory and inadequate physical frames which can manifest but only in sorry measure the powers locked up within each one of us. Casting these away, we come to freedom, we come to a greater expansion of life, for then we enter into our own and exchange the mortal for the immortal: leave the personal for the impersonal, which is the deathless part of us; for we ourselves, each one in the inmost spiritual self abiding in the core of the core of us, are seated on the azure thrones — the azure seats of the gods — in each case, such azure throne being each god's own deathless essence, encompassed by the Boundless.
Is this difficult to understand? Nay, it is simple, easily comprehensible! Just open your hearts; forget your mental prejudices; forget misleading religious and scientific teachings of the past, both of which are moribund, dying if not dead, and come into your own! Be alive! Live! Be what is within you! Let the inwardly-living come out, and be true men! Then fear and horror and misery will pass from you as clothes outworn and unequal to your grown stature. It is personality, which is limitation, which binds and cripples the spirit within. Free yourself from the imperfect and crippling personality and wander into the cosmic spaces! And verily, I say to you, take your seats — the azure thrones which belong to you as gods, as children of the universe, deathless in your inmost, as it is deathless in its inmost.
Remember that these azure seats are in each case the deathless spirit within you. You are seated in yourself; you are born from yourself; naught else brings you to birth. Your Self is your seat, your azure seat of power. For that self, as you follow it with the eye of the spirit ever more inwards into the inner worlds, is divine. You are all sons of the gods, who are beings greater than you now are: beings who have become gods from having been men, even as you, the present human host, will evolve forth the divinity within you, and hence in future cosmic aeons you will in your turns take your places as fully self-evolved cosmic deities. Assume then and even now the azure seats of power which are rightly yours and which exist in the boundless bosom of the spaces of space!
Yes, these cosmic spirits, which I call gods (it is as good a name as any other), these dhyan-chohans, if you like to use our own theosophical term — "Lords of Meditation" — were once men in far bygone aeons of cosmic time, in other universes which now have vanished and which gave place at their passing to their successors, at once their own children and yet reimbodiments of themselves. As man reimbodies himself in human flesh in life after life, so do the universes reimbody themselves as universes in cosmic aeon after cosmic aeon. Each such universe has its beginning, has its growth and flowering of power, has its decay, its passing, its death, its blissful rest; and then it comes forth again out of the womb of space and a new universe is thus born to enter upon a new cycle of evolutionary activity. And the beings, the entities — hosts, incomputable multitudes of them — which filled those former universes with lives and intelligences and wills, and which were all beings having the same status as we men now have during one phase of our evolution, now have become gods, have evolved to be such; and we who are now men will blossom forth in future cosmic aeons as gods also.
When I speak of the spaces of space, and of the cosmic spaces, I mean more particularly the inner and invisible worlds, not merely the material extension of our physical universe; for our physical universe is but one section, as it were, one plane of the all-encompassing world-life; and above and beneath and around, in endless series, are the inner and invisible realms and spheres, each one filled as full with lives and energies and consciousness and wills as our own physical universe is.
Here on this earth we sense movement everywhere, and variety everywhere; and variety means individuality, it means endless hosts of processions of beings advancing forwards in all the grades of evolutionary progress. All are on their upward way, all are learning; those below us destined to pass through the human stage where we are now, and by that time we shall have left the human stage and shall have evolved forwards into human godhood or into godhood — not into a God, not into one God, but ourselves being gods and furnishing the motivating powers and vital functions which fill the universe full, so that it moves and expresses itself in ceaseless, all-various action, thus producing the universe that we see: the suns, the stars, the nebulae, the comets, the planets and the similar and minor hosts of entities that we know to exist even on our earth. The universe is an endless ladder of life!
This, in brief, was the esoteric teaching behind the ancient mythologies, the popular, degraded, and degenerate mythologies of the ancient peoples; it was the mystery-teaching taught in the Mystery schools, where sages likewise taught the neophyte how to hasten his evolutionary pace, to quicken his progress, to evolve more rapidly. This teaching all centered around one fundamental rule of fact: forget yourself, if you will come into your self. Do you understand? The teaching of Jesus, the Syrian sage was exactly the same: "Give up thy life, if thou wouldst live." This means to give up the limited, personal, small, restricted self, and to live in the spiritual part of yourself, which is your real self, your spiritual self, your divine self, which is cosmic in its reaches and ranges of extension. In other words, it means to live as gods instead of as mere men — to live according to the god within you, which is not a god outside of you, but the god within you! When even the Christian spoke of men as being Sons of God, he uttered the same sublime idea; but alas, alas, the explanation of the idea had been lost!
O Brothers, to assume the azure seats of power is your future destiny. Some will do it more quickly than others, because their hearts are anhungered for truth and because already is stirring within them the resistless urge of almighty love: that love which breaks all bounds, which overleaps all barriers, because its very essence is cosmic; which causes us to forget ourselves and to live in the universal, to live in others and for others, for then when we have this conception and feel this urge, we realize that our brothers are we. What a sublime thought, and what a feeling of homecoming and of peace and of inexpressible rest does this teaching give to us!
The Delphic Oracle taught: Gnothi seauton, 'Know thyself!' For you, the self, the spiritual self, are essentially all that is; and the more you know of the spiritual self the more you enter into the very womb of cosmic being, the more you become what you are in your highest, what you are in your inmost; the more you become self-consciously at one with divinity. Knowing your spiritual self, you know all things; you know all things with progressively increasing power and comprehension, because knowing your self means knowing the universe; for you are it and it is you; and this spiritual self, this wondrous marvel within, always incomprehensible because infinite — this self is for each one of you your own azure seat of power. Each one of you is sitting in his own azure seat with the universe beneath, above, around!
O my Brothers, do you understand this idea? It is so simple. Wash your minds clean of all the superstitions of the past! Try to understand this simple thought! It is a master key, a master-key opening all doors of wisdom and knowledge and power. Enter into the company of the gods, your other selves, so to speak, who have simply gone ahead of you in evolution, and that is why they are gods. We humans are trailing along the evolutionary pathway behind them; and behind us are trailing other hosts of beings, who even at present are beginning to look up to us as gods. Having this idea clearly in our minds, we clearly vision an endless procession of lives, each one of them destined in time to become a god, a cosmic spirit.
Do we not see the movements of the gods? Do we not hear them speak? Do we not see what they do? We do — but we recognize it not. Their existence is so vast and ours so small, their time periods are so great and ours so small, their spaces in which they live, filled with their vitalities and consciousness and wills, are so cosmically huge, that we with our limited perceptions know them not. That is all there is to it. Now look in the opposite direction into the life of an atomic system, and consider a moment what happens there. One only of our human seconds of time means, let us say, four quadrillion revolutions of an electron around its protonic sun-center — and this perhaps is the entire life cycle of an atomic solar system! So, similarly, but in the other direction, one second of the time of the gods is to us a cosmic life period — the entire lifetime of our solar system. That is why we don't see them work; that is why we don't see them act; that is why we don't hear them speak: because they move in cosmic measures, and we cannot take it in. Our life is too small, too fretful, too fevered, too quick, too minute.
Perhaps the infinitesimal entities living on an electron revolving within an atom — let us say in one of the atoms composing my body — run through lifetime after lifetime after lifetime before I can even snap my finger; and that snap of the finger alone would be in time to such an atomic infinitesimal entity, short as it is to me and to you, a cosmic age. And to such an infinitesimal entity, my human consciousness — fretful and limited and small and human as it is compared with that of the gods — is a cosmic lifetime. Therefore am I to such an infinitesimal consciousness a dhyan-chohan as theosophists say, a "lord of meditation"; and such an infinitesimal atomic philosopher, perhaps calls me, with my small, human, fretful life, a lord of meditation, because it catches of my consciousness but an infinitesimal fraction during the time that it takes to snap my finger. Do you understand? The life period of such an infinitesimal consciousness is too small, too fretful, too fevered, too rapid, for it to take in even so quick an action as the snapping of a human's fingers.
The gods are; they live; it is their powers and energies, their vital functions, which form the physiology of the wonderful, mysterious, sublime universe in which we live and move and have our being and it is the incomprehensible love which fills their hearts, so to say, which we humans in our fevered existence sense dimly as the impersonal love in our own hearts.
Figurate to yourself, if you like, a series of everlasting concentric spheres of consciousness. You know of course what concentric spheres are — spheres within spheres, the greater including the less, but all having one common central point. Let us say that this central point is the deathless self. This deathless self begins its evolution, so far as any universe is concerned, as an unself-conscious god-spark, which in our symbolic figure is the center of the inmost of these concentric spheres. As this consciousness-center evolves and grows and learns and expands its consciousness little by little as the aeons pass, this center of self-consciousness expands to become at one with the next outermost of the concentric spheres; and in this next outermost sphere it therein lives for still other aeons as a still evolving or expanding consciousness. When it has finished its life course and learned all possible lessons there, through and by means of an expanding and growing understanding, it next reaches the third of the concentric spheres. Thus does this process of expanding consciousness continue until finally the consciousness-center reaches the sphere of consciousness which we humans call the human stage, and its then state of evolution as manifesting in a psycho-astral-physical vehicle we call man.
We are now as men through evolution expanding our understanding in what we may call the human ranges of consciousness; and this expansion of understanding will steadily continue until we shall have learned all the lessons that the human stage can teach to us, and then we shall work and function and have our being in the next wider concentric sphere of cosmic consciousness. And so do we continue ascending the ladder of life, or, in other words, passing over at long distant intervals of time to a larger concentric sphere until we finally reach divinity, implying the attainment of a consciousness including and enclosing a solar system. Does our evolution stop there? Not at all; for we shall continue our advance as self-conscious entities continually to spheres still grander, so that our encompassing life-range will include numbers of solar systems.
Do you see, therefore, what this scheme of evolution means? It means that there are gods endlessly ahead of us, ever greater and more wonderful with each attainment of a wider range or sphere; and also that there are hosts, multitudes, of other consciousnesses trailing behind us in spheres of consciousness smaller than ours and through which we have passed. But each greater concentric sphere that is attained is the vitality, the consciousness, the will — the vital energy, the vital powers — of some cosmic entity who has preceded us, in whom all other smaller entities move and live and have their being. Just so do we now as humans live and move and have our being in the sphere of the vitality and consciousness and will of that one god or divinity who is just beyond or ahead of us; and that god in its turn lives in the vitality and consciousness and will of a super-god greater than it; and so on without break.
Examine the boundless spaces: there are no frontiers. Our vision halts; but where our vision halts, then thought leaps beyond our vision. Imagination in its turn overleaps thought; and at the outermost limits where imagination fails, the marvelous spiritual consciousness within us wings its flight beyond, and we instinctively recognize our intrinsic oneness with the Boundless.
Here let me introduce an appropriate question that has been sent in to me for answer.
In your lectures you talk a great deal about gods. Are there really such entities?
I have already told you about them and have tried briefly to explain who and what they are. If you don't like to accept what I have said, then what are you going to do? Are you going to be satisfied with the facile and meaningless answer "I don't know"? Are you indeed? Not by a great deal! There is not living a man who is satisfied with the unsatisfactory answer "I don't know." There is an instinct in the human heart which whispers to every sane and normal man "You can know; for it is within yourself." Yes, the gods verily exist, and every intuitive and thoughtful man knows it perfectly well. He knows perfectly well that human intelligence and human consciousness and human will are not the only consciousness and intelligence and will in boundless space, in boundless time.
A similar question that I have been asked to answer by the same questioner is the following:
If so, what are they and where do they dwell?
They are what I have told you, and they dwell in the azure spaces of space — not merely in the physical universe, for that is not at all the idea, but in what are to us the invisible realms. Is your intelligence, is your love, is your spiritual power, is your will — are all these in your flesh and merely the products thereof? If so, how can men transfer their thoughts as constantly they do? How can so transitory and passing an aggregation of physical atoms as the physical body is produce the works of majesty and beauty and power which dignify and glorify human life? In your turn tell me how! The ancient wisdom today called theosophy teaches us that it is understanding that does all this; it is intellect, it is visioning, it is the creative power within us and working through the physical vehicle. The body is a mere changing form that dies, and that is not the same during two consecutive seconds of human time.
Think! Or, if you don't want to think, then be satisfied to repeat the rattletrap catch phrases of our fathers! Yes, the rattletrap scientific and religious catch phrases of our fathers that now are dead. The greatest ultramodern scientists today are beginning to teach what theosophists teach and have always taught: that mind or consciousness is the fundamental essence of the universe, which theosophists say is not mind but minds, not consciousness but consciousnesses — in other words, gods! As between these ultramodern scientists and theosophists it seems to be largely a mere matter of phrasing: the idea apparently is the same.
And here is a third question from the same querent:
Do they live in the world as strangers, or are they integral parts of the universe?
They are integral parts of the universe. Without the gods the universe could not be. It is their life and will and consciousness which hold the universe together — together, and in order, and in place, and in harmony; and inversely it is also true to say that without the universe the gods could not be. They are fundamentally one. They are fundamentally the same, just as a man is. A man needs a body to work through, and that body in a sense is himself — his physical self: transitory, mortal, an atomic aggregate which passes, a mere changing shape. But is not that exactly what the universe is, physically speaking — transitory, mere shapes and forms of things, which come and go, when you take the cosmic view? Worlds come and go; but the universe as an entity lasteth forever, because the gods ensoul it.
I sometimes wonder what the religious feelings and beliefs may be of the kind friends who come here on Sunday afternoons. As I suppose you know, some men are afraid of their religion; others are ashamed of it; others think that they haven't any at all — and that asseveration I don't believe. Some people are like Mark Twain, who on his own testimony was scared stiff at his own religion. Perhaps you don't believe that statement? Well, I will read to you an extract from a letter that he once wrote to a member of this Society. This member asked him if he was a theosophist or interested in theosophy, and here, in part, is his answer which I will read to you, written from a small place near Vienna, dated August 5, 1898. Here, then, is the extract from his reply to this theosophist:
No, I'm not leaning toward theosophy. I'm not leaning in any direction, I believe, but standing pretty straight in a petrified attitude. I have a religion, and a stubborn belief in it, but I have not found resemblances to it anywhere, and I shouldn't know how to label it if I should try. I have written it all out, but (between you and me) I dasn't stay in the same room with it during a thunderstorm. I shan't publish it — I've got better judgment. Yes, and more charity.
Sincerely yours, S. L. CLEMENS.
Perhaps he was wise in not publishing it. A man who, to use his own terms, "dasn't stay in the same room with" his religious beliefs during a thunderstorm, must be spiritually and mentally speaking in a rather precarious state of mind. Was he afraid of himself or afraid of his religious beliefs? The theosophist has no such fear. When the thunder rattles the windowpanes and the lightning flashes o'er land and sea, remember, my Brothers, that lightning and thunder are manifestations of the same life that is in you yourself. Understand it and love it and fear it not, for that love is you and you are it. Cast fear from your hearts, for fear is a delusion and a deceit and will unman you. Be great in the simplicity of your soul. Expand with the expanding love within you, and then fear will vanish. He who truly loves never fears.
I have here something else from Mark Twain, from his biography as published by Albert Bigelow Paine; and I desire to read this biographical extract to you, because it will neatly illustrate how people's religion sometimes makes them feel that they "dasn't stay in the same room with it during a thunderstorm." I think that Mark Twain himself wrote all of this. The extract as I have it is entitled Little Bessie Would Assist Providence:
(It is dull, and I need wholesome excitements and distractions; so I will go lightly excursioning along the primrose path of theology.)
Little Bessie was nearly three years old. She was a good child, and not shallow, not frivolous, but meditative and thoughtful, and much given to thinking out the reasons of things and trying to make them harmonize with results. One day she said:
"Mama, why is there so much pain and sorrow and suffering? What is it all for?"
It was an easy question, and mama had no difficulty in answering it:
"It is for our good, my child. In His wisdom and mercy the Lord sends us these afflictions to discipline us and make us better."
"Is it He that sends them?"
"Does He send all of them, mama?"
"Yes, dear, all of them. None of them comes by accident; He alone sends them, and always out of love for us, and to make us better."
"Isn't it strange?"
"Strange? Why no, I have never thought of it in that way. I have never heard any one call it strange before. It has always seemed natural and right to me, and wise and most kindly and merciful."
"Who first thought of it like that, Mama? Was it you?"
"Oh no, child, I was taught it."
"Who taught you so, mama?"
"Why, really, I don't know — I can't remember. My mother, I suppose; or the preacher. But it's a thing that everybody knows."
"Well, anyway, it does seem strange. Did He give Billy Norris the typhus?"
"Why, to discipline him and make him good."
"But he died, mama, and so it couldn't make him good."
"Well, then, I suppose it was for some other reason. We know it was a good reason, whatever it was."
"What do you think it was, mama?"
"Oh, you ask too many questions! I think it was to discipline his parents."
"Well, then, it wasn't fair, mama. Why should his life be taken away for their sake, when he wasn't doing anything?"
"Oh, I don't know! I only know it was for a good and wise and merciful reason."
"What reason, mama?"
"I think — I think — well, it was a judgment; it was to punish them for some sin they had committed."
"But he was the one that was punished, mama. Was that right?"
"Certainly, certainly. He does nothing that isn't right and wise and merciful. You can't understand these things now, dear, but when you are grown up you will understand them, and then you will see that they are just and wise."
After a pause: "Did He make the roof fall in on the stranger that was trying to save the crippled old woman from the fire, mama?"
"Yes, my child, Wait! Don't ask me why, because I don't know. I only know it was to discipline some one, or be a judgment upon somebody, or to show His power."
"That drunken man that stuck a pitchfork into Mrs. Welch's baby when — "
"Never mind about it, you needn't go into particulars; it was to discipline the child — that much is certain, anyway."
"Mama, Mr. Burgess said in his sermon that billions of little creatures are sent into us to give us cholera, and typhoid, and lockjaw, and more than a thousand other sicknesses and — mama, does He send them?"
"Oh, certainly, child, certainly. Of course."
"Oh, to discipline us! Haven't I told you so, over and over again?"
"It's awful cruel, mama! And silly! and if I — "
"Hush, oh, hush! Do you want to bring the lightning?"
"You know the lightning did come last week, mama, and struck the new church, and burnt it down. Was it to discipline the church?"
(Wearily) "Oh, I suppose so."
"But it killed a hog that wasn't doing anything. Was it to discipline the hog, mama?"
"Dear child, don't you want to run out and play a while? If you would like to — "
"Mama, only think! Mr. Hollister says there isn't a bird, or fish, or reptile, or any other animal that hasn't got an enemy that Providence has sent to bite it and chase it and pester it and kill it and suck its blood and discipline it and make it good and religious. Is that true, mother — because if it is true why did Mr. Hollister laugh at it?"
"That Hollister is a scandalous person, and I don't want you to listen to anything he says."
"Why, mama, he is very interesting, and I think he tries to be good. He says the wasps catch spiders and cram them down into their nests in the ground — alive, mama! — and there they live and suffer days and days and days, and the hungry little wasps chewing their legs and gnawing into their bellies all the time, to make them good and religious and praise God for His infinite mercies. I think Mr. Hollister is just lovely, and ever so kind; for when I asked him if he would treat a spider like that he said he hoped to be damned if he would; and then he — Dear mama, have you fainted! I will run and bring help! Now this comes of staying in town this hot weather."
Now, that is the kind of religion that I do not believe in. Can you blame me? The bewildering variety that we see in the universe everywhere around us — the imperfections that we see everywhere, such as exist in us humans, or in the beasts, or in the plants, yea, even in the demigods and gods — for although they are divine they are imperfect as compared with boundless infinitude — these very imperfections, this infinite variety, that we see, prove the existence in the universe of hosts, multitudes, endless legions of growing, therefore imperfect, and evolving entities, which in their incomprehensible aggregate fill the universe full, and indeed are that universe. Don't you see what I mean? Nature's imperfections, so called, are a proof of the existence, activities, and operations in nature of multitudes of imperfect creatures, however high or however low they may be, just as man's imperfect handiworks are proofs of the imperfect thoughts that he thinks, and all the imperfect emotions he allows to sway his heart, as expressed in the acts for ill and for weal which he does.
The "good" and the "evil" in the world are a proof of imperfection, and therefore are a proof of the actual existence of imperfect but nevertheless evolving and growing hosts of beings like us humans. There, too, to the logical mind, when you think it over, is a perfect proof that the universe is filled full with thinking, sentient, conscious, living, willing, entities, in all grades, at all stages, and in all degrees of growth. Nature is the standing proof of this. On the other hand, the beauty that surrounds us, the marvelous harmony and symmetry of which we are conscious, the love which fills our breasts, the compassion and the pity which sway our souls, are proofs also of the striving of the divine flame within universal nature and therefore within us humans who are some of nature's children; and by these noble faculties of our being we recognize again our fundamental oneness with all that is.
Yes, my Brothers, we too are gods, imbodied gods; and in time to come we shall take our seats self-consciously — those azure seats in the council chambers of infinitude — and there we shall sit and confabulate with the gods, our peers; and our vitality, our psycho-electric vitality and magnetism, will fill a certain portion of the spaces of space, and in that vital essence of ours will live and move and have their being other hosts and armies of entities, inferior to us, even as and just exactly as we humans live and move and have our being in the vital magnetism of divine beings who have preceded us on the evolutionary path.
Here are two more questions that I promised I would answer this afternoon:
I am greatly interested to learn that you have an esoteric school where you give private advanced instruction. I am an earnest student of truth, but I cannot afford high fees. I once took a course in psychism which cost me fifty dollars, and learned nothing that I could not have gotten out of books. Do you give real secret instruction, and is the price per lesson or a lump sum for a complete course?
Merciful heavens! If the time should ever come when I as a theosophical teacher could fall so low as to take one penny for teaching a spiritual truth, I pray the gods immortal that I may then at once breathe my last and be annihilated utterly. But such a fate is impossible for any true theosophical teacher. Never a penny is taken in payment by any true teacher of theosophical truths. Truth is your right as human beings. You are as entitled to it as I or as any other. Therefore my answer is: Not one cent is ever taken for teaching the realities of the universe. I had liefer starve in the gutter, as H. P. Blavatsky said, than receive a penny in payment for teaching holy facts of esoteric occultism. I don't mean these remarks unkindly as regards those other people who do teach for a price; I am not desirous of casting mud upon them, indeed, I am not alluding to them. This question has been asked me and I am answering it, and I repeat: No true spiritual teacher ever charges one cent for his teachings. I have been sent to teach, and to this duty of teaching I have devoted my life.
Theosophists have indeed an Esoteric School where the more advanced instruction is given; but it is not given by favor nor is it ever boughten. Only when, due to my own training, my Brothers, I feel that I can entrust this holy treasure to another human heart, dare I pass it on; and then it is passed on freely. Yet I have no right to judge any other's ability or capacity in an offhand manner. Anyone has a right to apply to me. Ask, knock, and by the ancient law I am bound to open the doors. But by those same ancient laws, I am equally bound carefully to study, carefully to watch, the minds and hearts of applicants, and if the heart be not pure and the motive not good, with great kindness and gentleness the unprepared ones are allowed simply to leave us with such help as they may have received, and there our official relationship ends.
But to those who have been tested, who have been tried and found worthy, whose hearts have opened, whose minds have been lighted with the divine flame, they receive — and freely. I cannot speak at length of these matters in a public audience, as you will readily understand; but I have given you in hints the whole truth. There is a deep wisdom to be had, deeper even than the marvelous teachings which we give from our platforms and which you will find printed in our books.
But in order to receive this esoteric teaching, this deeper teaching, you must at least have studied somewhat, or at any rate be very intuitive: your hearts must have opened. This teaching is a passing on of light from mind to mind, from heart to heart. It is an opening of the doors within you, and when this happens then you yourself see. It is not for me to judge those who apply. I have no right to keep anyone out whose application is primarily honest. All I can do is to follow with great strictness and with rigid exactitude the straight and narrow line of action that the ages have laid down as the path of the teacher. That is all I can do.
But to those who come to me with open heart and eager mind, and whose spiritual perception is already somewhat unveiled, to them I say: "Come, my Brothers, come! The feast is spread on the Master's table. I can show you the way to travel in order to find that self, of which I have spoken, which leadeth you forever more and more inwards into the very heart of the universe; I can show you the way and how to put your feet upon that way, which is your self. I can show you how to find yourself, your divine self; but you yourself must tread that path, in other words develop your own spiritual selfhood." Isn't this rule obvious and proper and necessary?
But I repeat the truth: that no genuine spiritual teacher ever takes one cent for teaching the mysteries of the inner life whether of the universe or of man.
What objection is there to a teacher of occultism charging a fee? Are not our schoolteachers paid? How would the occult teacher make a living if he did not charge something?
How have they always lived? They work. H. P. Blavatsky, the foundress of the Theosophical Society in our age, in her spare time wrote articles for various magazines and newspapers, and from the meager income which she thus derived she lived and worked her entire life long and gave most of the little that she earned to the Society she so dearly loved. She founded the Theosophical Society — that great leonine heart; she gave her lifeblood to found it. It was her child; and her successors who followed her passed their lives in doing the work and building up that which was confided to their hands. The gifts that were given to them paid for their clothing, for their food; and even these gifts were in large part turned over to the Theosophical Society. But whether a pupil and follower gave one cent or gave thousands, it mattered not. The poor is as welcome at the Master's table as is the billionaire — more so, perhaps — perhaps; it all depends upon the man or the woman.
The clergyman receives his stipend, the schoolteacher receives his or her salary; and so forth; but no theosophical teacher has a salary or stipend or allowance: never has had, and I hope never will have. What is given to him in order to keep him alive, to clothe him, to pay his traveling expenses on his lecture tours, that is what he lives on. If he has any time that he can take from his strenuous official activities, then he will write, or he may use his hands to work, in order to provide food for his mouth. It is so. Every theosophical teacher has taken an unbreakable vow of poverty, of personal poverty. He can of course hold millions and even billions for the Society — if we had them, which unfortunately we have not! — but he has no right to keep even one cent for himself alone.
Now, my brothers, before closing: The Theosophical Society was founded in 1875 in the United States by H. P. Blavatsky, who was sent by the masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace, in order to found the Theosophical Society in our age. From that original society, and after the passing of H. P. Blavatsky, there came into existence children-societies. Each one is now doing its own work; each one has its own officers and field of activity; but there is one distinctive feature — and this is said simply as a statement of fact, of truth, without wishing to cast the shadow of a slur on brother-theosophists — there is this distinctive feature between our Theosophical Society and others: ours is essentially based on esoteric truths and esoteric discipline. From the very beginning, throughout, it has been and is pervaded by a spirit of brotherly kindliness, of love and compassion and of self-forgetful service for the world.
Furthermore, it is permeated with the spirit of the teaching of our secret or esoteric school, so that even in our exoteric work this esoteric spirit is the life-blood, the coursing vitality, which has made The Theosophical Society, which I now have the high honor to direct, what it is. I fancy, therefore, that those who join The Theosophical Society do so because they feel that strange and mystical appeal, living in all human souls, and whispering to hearts anhungered for truth and to minds eager for more light, that there is Truth to be found — the basic truth of the Universe — of a spiritual and intellectual character; and that this Truth can be had. Verily, it can.
I call upon you, my Brothers, to remember the main motif of our study together this afternoon. It is, to remember and to realize that each one of you is an imbodied, flaming divinity — an imbodied flame of the cosmic soul, of the cosmic-spiritual fire; that each one of you has locked up within you, potencies, powers, faculties, energies, which you wit not of as a rule; and that these energies and faculties and powers and potencies can be cultivated wondrously; so that once you have taken the key and opened the door of yourself, your divine self within, you can pass over the threshold and see in the far distance — a distance not so much of time nor of space, but of growth — the gods on their azure seats in the council chambers of space. This is not poetry. I speak to you from my very heart of hearts. What I have said to you is truth.