Questions We All Ask — G. de Purucker

Second Series: No. 2 (September 8, 1930)


(Lecture delivered July 6, 1930)

CONTENTS: Have you found yourself: the real you? — The modern schools of the Mysteries. — Without self-knowledge the outer world is a phantasm. — To him who would become one with the "changeless." What do we mean by the word changeless — Camp-followers in the cosmic evolutionary journey. — The physical world a mere cross section of time-space. — Man's journey through the universe. Our destiny is to become collaborators with the gods. — People don't like to think. — The doctrine of hierarchies as taught in theosophy. — Are teachers necessary? — Is the god within a sleeping giant? — Truth is discerned with the inner vision. — Ever-changing standards are no criterion. — Judge causes rather than results. — Why do deep afflictions come into blameless lives? — Suffering is the gateway of purification. — Give forth the treasures of the spirit!

A speaker can say more sometimes in the silence and through the voice of the silence than he can say by using the most rapid and ready speech of human tongue. I sometimes think that an audience, through the impressions that it receives from watching a speaker, from getting his atmosphere, in other words receiving the mental impress rather than the verbal stamp of his thought, takes in more of what that speaker is trying to say than such an audience does by merely listening to the words. And having this thought in my mind, I was looking at you, friends, in order to see if I could find any ones who had found themselves.

Have you found yourself? On last Sunday I asked you the question: Who are you? And today I ask you a question of equivalent profundity and meaning: Have you found yourselves? Yes, yourself, the real you: that which brought you into the world as you really are — not the foolish things that you do or the idle and frivolous thoughts that you may think, or again the profound and worthy thoughts that you may think. These are all effects of you; but you yourself — are you found? Do you know yourself? If so, do you know who you are? If so, do you know why you are here?

That one interrogation, in these two forms — Who are you? and Have you found yourself?— is the very heart of the ancient wisdom's teachings. These two questions briefly set forth the meaning of the great schools of the Mysteries of the ancient world — and of the modern world also, if you know whither to go to find these modern schools of the Mysteries.

How can you know anything if you do not know yourself? All that you are is in you. What men call understanding, intellect, heart, mind, all your capacities, the originating impulses of all that you do, are parts of you. Now, how can you understand anything outside of you if you don't know yourself?

The whole of the essential teaching of the ancient wisdom-religion of mankind is to show men the path to knowledge of the real self; for when he attains this sublime vision, then he knows all that is without the Self, for he shall have entered into causal things, into causal worlds, where originating impulses arise; and his attention is no longer distracted by the phenomena of the exterior world, which is all, for the individual perceiver, a phantasm unless he knows himself.

Each one of you, as I tell you on every Sunday afternoon when I speak to you, is an imbodied god — a spark of the heart of the universe — of the Central Fire — and therefore when you know yourself, you know the heart of the universe, for essentially you are it, each one of you, in the core of the core of your being. All things become understandable to you when you know who you are. There is not a religion, there is not a philosophy, there is not a science, which has ever endured, which has not taught this fundamental truth: i. e., the way to knowledge and unity with the universe lies primarily in knowledge of yourself.

A man's mind must be plunged into Cimmerian darkness, he must be incapable of logical thinking, if he does not appreciate this fact instantly; and to many minds it comes like a flash of light, and is the beginning of a new life. You cannot know yourself by following the lives outside of you, for before you know your self, that outside or exterior world is just one perplexing and bewildering whirl of phantasmagoric phenomena. The way to wisdom, to the knowledge within, and to unity with the spiritual universe is within each one of you. This is the simplest proposition that the human mind can understand, and yet it is the most difficult for those who simply won't open their eyes to the obvious.

What is yourself? I have told you: a divine being, a spark of the inner fire. Immovable? Unchanging? No. Moving steadily forwards, always evolving, growing, changing. How can a thing improve which is immovable, changeless? Some people with an intuitive recognition of certain abstract philosophical ideas, but without the wisdom that the majestic philosophy of mankind today called theosophy brings, use such expressions as: "Oh! I want to become one with the eternal; I want to become changeless; I want to become immovable in perfection." Heaven help them! This means that they don't want to grow. They don't want to become better; they don't want to know more than now they know!

The magnificent philosophies of India, for instance the Upanishads of the sacred writings of that ancient motherland of religions and philosophies, in speaking of the changeless and of the 'undecaying,' use these words in a purely relative sense, meaning that those sublime spiritual realities, by contrast with our present passing river of phenomena, stand majestic and sublime, and follow a sweep of evolving life on a scale so grand that to us humans it seems, but only seems, to be motionless. Thus seems it also to the unreflective human when he considers the earth on which he lives: he does not realize that it is in incessant, continuous movement around the sun and that its position in space is changing daily, hourly, instantly. His senses apprise him not of this, and if he judge by his sense observations he must believe that the earth is standing still and is the center of the universe.

Change is growth, growth is change; and evolution is but another word for growth. That is what theosophists mean by evolution; we use the word in the strictly etymological Latin sense, as meaning the unfolding — as I have so often already explained to you — the pouring forth, the unwrapping, of what is within. How can a seed bring forth what is not within it? How can any growing, evolving, changing, entity become something the seeds of which were not previously latent within it? Evolution is growth, and growth is evolution; and these are but two words for change. Kindly get understanding of this thought. It is enormously important.

Therefore be not afraid of change, but be sure that ye change for the better — that ye change for the better. Grow, expand! You have will; you have intelligence; you can therefore choose your path. Be careful, then, that your path be upwards; for as you grow, that is to say as you evolve, you will be bringing out more and more what is within you.

I have been asked many, many times by friends who have heard me speak: "Do I understand, then, that theosophy teaches that we shall be going on forever and forever and forever, just growing and growing and growing? Isn't there any rest? Isn't there any peace? Don't we ever stop growing?" Regarding these questions my thought reverts to a little poem by an American author which I read once and which I believe I have quoted before from this platform:

I wish I were a little rock
A-settin' on a hill,
A-doin' nothing all the day
But jest a-settin' still.
I wouldn't eat,
I wouldn't sleep,
I wouldn't even wash —
I'd jest set still a thousand years
And rest myself, by gosh!

Isn't that a sublime ambition! But nature's laws are all against it. You must grow, whether you will or whether you nill, and how noble, how much better is it not, to grow with your will, to be a man with your will, to ascend the stairways of life towards something ever better and more sublime with your will, and with your intelligence manifesting the divine powers within you, than to be like the little rock "a-settin' on the hill." Is not self-directed growth far better than trailing along behind in the rear, a camp follower of humanity on the cosmic evolutionary journey? Because go ye must, whether ye will or whether ye nill. Go ye must!

What a sublime picture this brings to the eye of our mind, a vision of endless growth, endless improvement! We began our evolutionary journey as an unself-conscious god-spark in this our home-universe, in this our home hierarchy, passing through all the phases and realms and stages of universal nature, especially of invisible nature, and we find ourselves at the present time on this our physical plane or sphere, in this physical world — a mere cross section of time-space; and we shall some day leave it, journeying out of it upwards, ever more upwards, and thus passing from humanity into quasi-divinity, and when we shall have attained quasi-divinity, we shall leave it for destinies still more sublime.

Yes, it is our destiny to become collaborators with the gods with which the universe is filled, is full, is filled full. It is our destiny to become gods ourselves; for each one of you, in the core of his being, is such a god. Each one of you is a god-spark, a spark, to use ordinary language, of the Central Fire of the Cosmos. Therefore, becoming a god is simply evolving, bringing forth, what is within you. It means simply expanding in consciousness and power, so that your consciousness from human becomes universal, which means comprising within its sweep all the realms and spheres visible and invisible of our home-universe.

When this universal stage shall have been reached, is that the end of our growth? No, there are no ends. You will then go still higher. Try to imagine what these two words mean: infinity — no beginning, no end; eternity — no beginning, no end. Nothing stands still, not even for a fraction of a human second; all is in motion — gods, universes, solar systems, worlds, and all the atoms which compose them; and we humans, human atoms so to speak, we human life-atoms, having reached this present stage of evolution, shall march steadily forwards as units of the same cosmic procession of which I have just spoken.

Some people don't like to think: I really am inclined to think that all people don't like to think. That includes you — and me! They much prefer to believe what they are told. But we in theosophy don't like to believe merely what we are told. We are taught differently: we are taught to believe what our conscience tells us is true, and we are taught to believe naught else.

Is your conscience, therefore, an infallible guide? No. For conscience itself is an evolving portion of your constitution, an evolving faculty, growing ever stronger, more clairvoyant of truth, of right. But it is your light; it is the light from your spiritual soul, and ye have none other; and that light will grow ever and steadily greater and grander, purer and more divine, as ye faithfully follow it.

Every part of you is evolving. The very divine being, which is the core of the core of the heart of the heart of you, is an evolving entity. You, as a human mentality, as a human soul, are an evolving entity, a feeble shadow and manifestation of the god within you, a vehicle of that god's powers and energies, framed by evolution to manifest those powers and energies on this plane, in this human world. And all the atoms of your various bodies — spiritual, psychical, astral, and physical — are likewise, each one of them, an evolving entity.

Do you see the picture? Do you understand what this picture implies? Nothing lives unto itself alone. We all live unto each other. As the atoms of my body are held in the dominating grip of my individuality, so are we human beings, considered as a body, as a hierarchy, held in the life and guided by the intelligence of some entity still more sublime. Why give to this sublime entity a name? Why not do as the Christian Apostle Paul did, and simply say: "In it we live, and move, and have our being"?

God? What is God? Why limit the fact by giving it a name in our thought? Boundless infinitude, which is but the other aspect of boundless eternity, is filled full with gods in all stages of evolutionary development: low, higher, and for us the highest; but beyond there are other hierarchies of them endlessly. Everything is evolving. Everything is moving, progressing. In the case of each entity no matter how high or how low it may be this progressive evolution is accomplished by self-originated impulses, from within. Nature is merely the field in which you live and work out your destiny; and that field is the life-essence of this grander entity of which I have just spoken, just as the molecules and the atoms composing my body live in me, move in me, have their being in me, their greater container. So is it likewise with us: we live and move and have our being in this greater entity. In these few words lies the gist of the sublime doctrine of hierarchies as taught in theosophy. Take this thought into your consciousness. It is a wonderful key to nobler and still loftier thoughts.

There are some people who are like the little boy of whom I was reading in a funny story the other day. This is a story about a little boy who wanted to know something about heaven and also about what happened to naughty little boys who tell lies:

"Mother, do liars ever go to Heaven?"
"Why no, dear! Certainly not."
After a long pause — "Well, it must be awful lonesome up there with only God and George Washington." — The Hardware Age

Now, this humorous little story well illustrates the type of mind that some people — you would be surprised to know how numerous they are — love to cultivate. They like to dwell in familiar thoughts; they like to be told things which they love to follow. But tell them that they are following someone else's thoughts, and notice the offended dignity with which they will greet your remark. You will be the recipient of that Gorgon's stony stare which will freeze you stiffer than an icicle.

Have you found yourself? Are you beginning to get the idea of what I mean by asking you this question? I want you to wake up to what is within you. I mean every word of this. I want you to awaken spiritually and intellectually. Don't accept offhand merely what I say to you. Don't be like the little boy who asked his mother where liars went after death and then accepted what she said; but think for yourselves, and that will be the first sign of your awakening, of your finding yourself. Gnothi seauton said the ancient Greeks, voicing the declaration of the Greek Oracle: — Man, know thyself! You will know all things in the universe if you know yourself fully, for then you will have become a god with consciousness of universal field.

A question came to me the other day for answering this afternoon, and I will read it to you now.

Why are teachers necessary when every human being is a potential god? Is the god within inadequate, or is it another case of a sleeping giant?

This question is beautifully phrased; and I would like to answer offhand: It is a case of a sleeping giant. The god is adequate. But I cannot give such an offhand and easy answer, for this divine being within you is not "asleep." It is a titan, a divine titan, but it sleepeth not at all. Fell it to sleep for one fleeting instant of time, and all that you are would evanish away like a mist before the morning sun — and incomparably more quickly. All that you are, all that you express, all that you manifest, consists in streams of energy — spiritual, intellectual, psychical, astral, and physical — which ultimately originate in the god within you, your own inner divinity, which is the heart, the core of you. Withdraw it if possible from your constitution, and all the rest of you would vanish like a fleeting shadow on a white wall. In such a supposititious case a watcher could say: You were and now you are not.

No, it sleepeth not at all, nor ever. Its very essence is vibrant spiritual energy. Get that thought please. It is the outflowing of this energy within you which expresses itself in and through the imperfect vehicles which you are: your imperfect human soul, your imperfect mind, your imperfect intelligence, your vagrant and imperfect emotional nature. These energies expressing themselves through these different parts of your constitution, produce you.

You see, here again I come back to the same thing which I said before: Evolution is the fuller and fuller and progressively more perfect manifestation of these powers of the inner god. As a seed brings forth what is locked up within it as potency, finally manifesting some of these powers as a full-grown plant, as the human microscopic seed brings forth that which grows into the full-sized human adult, manifesting, bringing forth, unwrapping, unrolling, what it contains as latent capacity, faculty, potency, within itself, similarly through the ages does the ever-evolving, growing, changing entity bring forth ever more fully what is locked up within — and this is evolution.

No, I cannot say that the god within is merely a sleeping giant. It is a giant in power indeed, a titan, a cosmic titan, but it is fully awake. And we poor humans, each one of us, a reflection of the latent powers and faculties flowing forth from this divine being within each of us, as the ages pass march ever upwards towards a union with our divine self. We shall lose finally our present human self because it will expand, grow, into becoming our divine self. Do you understand that thought? Let me ask you: Does the child lose itself when it becomes a man? Does the young oak, springing from the acorn, lose itself when it in its turn becomes a full-grown oak? Evolution is change, but change in the sense of growth of what is within.

Now, here I must enter a caveat lest you misunderstand this idea. Theosophists are not Darwinists, we are not Transformists; we do not teach that one thing merely changes into something else without a connecting thread of vitality and consciousness between one change and the succeeding change. Our theosophical teaching is that evolution is an unfolding in ever greater degree of what remains the same individuality. Theosophists are therefore not Darwinists; we are not Lamarckians; we are not Transformists. We are evolutionists.

As I have said before: will a pile of strings and pieces of wood and a pot of varnish and bits of metal and ivory and other things, through evolution transform themselves into a piano? Is a heap of stones a house? No, theosophists don't teach Transformism; we don't teach that the stone becomes a plant by the stone "transforming" itself into a plant. That would be magic of a kind that the ancient wisdom knows nothing of and such magic does not exist. Theosophists certainly don't teach that.

In the core of the core of every life-atom there is the overshadowing — or over-lightening to use a better word — influence of the god within that life-atom, within it but also above it because superior to it, the life-atom being merely its vehicle. As ages pass the energies streaming from the god within and working through this life-atom pass from new body to new body, rising along the scale of life from body of stone to body of beast, through the plants, to body of man, and from man entering bodies of gods. I might add also that the various vehicles or bodies through which this stream of life-consciousness passes are of course improved by the working of this stream within them, so that the bodies themselves, as the ages bring forth generation after generation, slowly improve both in texture and capacity, to manifest more perfectly this stream of vitality and consciousness. Hence it is that the bodies themselves evolve through growth to perfection.

I have heard it asked: "Where are these gods of which you speak?" We think that we do not see them, and therefore we say they are non-existent. We blind our eyes to the vast and bewildering complex diversities of growing things around us, offsprings of the life-atoms of these gods. Nature herself proves that the gods are within her and working through her. Is it logical to say that a thing is non-existent because we do not see it? You don't see energy and by the same line of argument energy does not exist. You have never seen an atom, and by the same line of argument atoms do not exist, because you don't see them. The entities inhabiting some of the electrons forming the atoms of your body do not see you, and therefore, from the same line of argument, you do not exist. Do you understand me now? No thinking man, therefore, would argue merely that because his senses do not apprise him of the existence of something, therefore it is non-existent. The argument is childish. I need but to allude to it to show you how futile such offhand arguments are.

What is proof? The preponderance of evidence presented to the mind. Is proof, therefore, absolute truth? It is not. You may prove a thing to the hilt, and yet be wrong. But there is that within you, your intuitive cognising faculty, which will tell you what truth is. And were all the universities of our own globe to combine against a man who knew a fact from the powers within him, they would not change his cognition of the truth that he sees; and when a man can stand like that and face the world because his instinct, his conscience, his intuition, his intellect, tell him that such and such a thing is true, he indeed is a man, and he is infinitely farther along the path than are the dogmatists, whether in religion or science or philosophy, who have not his faculty of developed inner vision.

Yes, every one of you has within him an infallible guide, which is the full conscious power of the god within you and of which your consciousness and conscience are as yet an undeveloped expression. Your duty, therefore, is to look within to find this guide.

Do you need teachers? Yes, you do need teachers. What does a teacher do? He shows you the path; his teaching is a help. He evokes from within you your own latent and dormant faculties. That is what a true teacher does — he educates — instructs also, perhaps, but EDUCATES — brings out what is within you, leads forth your native powers. Instruction is merely filling your mind full of facts — good enough in its way and in its place, but it is not the true work of a teacher.

A teacher shows you how to think, how to become; shows you how to use what is within yourself. He shows you the way. He does more. A true spiritual teacher will take your hand and bring you, if you trust him, to the portals of the Temple of Divine Wisdom; and there, not he but you will give the knock. For this knock is not a knock of the hand; it is a manifestation issuing from soul, from mind and heart, that you have arrived at the point where you want more light, and your teacher recognizes that knock, as Jesus said.

Certainly teachers are needed; and the man who thinks that he knows so much that he can learn no more — you know where to place him on the ladder of life. Pity him, for he has not found himself; he does not know who he is; the god within him is not manifest. The more you really know, the more you are aware that you don't know much. Strange paradox! It is the ignorant, it is the foolish, the self-satisfied, who say: "We have truth; we are the ones." But the one who has even a little of the divine illumination of truth will tell you: "I am a learner. I am a student. I have seen the vision sublime and I know that beyond that vision (I now know it for I have seen it) there are visions still more grand."

You know what the ancient Greek, Socrates, said of teachers. He was accused, by those who brought him before the judges, of corrupting the youth of his land by instilling into their minds teachings contrary to the established law; and he said: "Men of Athens, I am the midwife of the souls of men. I bring to birth what otherwise would cause heavy labor to those who are learning." He spoke truth.

A teacher occupies a position of enormous responsibility indeed. But he gives — gives all that is in him, all that he is and has. He is entitled to the perfect trust and loyal friendship and devotion of those whom he teaches. I tell you, you men of the Occident, that you have lost one of the noblest instinctual feelings of the human heart, and that is, devotion, self-dedication, one of the manliest and noblest not only of human emotions but instincts; and with this loss ye have likewise lost much of the sense of gratitude. These are the things which make men great.

Mere accomplishments count for but little. You hear the statement constantly made: "I do not care what a man says; show me results." Yes, this is perfectly logical, perfectly true. I would not attempt to deny it. But after all, what does it mean? Such a speaker is looking for results, he is not looking for causes; and if the standard is wrong, if what men happen to prize in any age is on a level low and ignoble, the man who produces results of that low and ignoble stage will be considered a great one.

No, it is the treasures that are in the heart of man, in his spirit, in his intellect, which make him man. Not what he produces alone, not what his results are alone. Pray learn that well. The statement made as a statement is true enough. Nobody would attempt to deny that if you are something of worth, you will produce fruits in accordance with what you are. But do not judge, that is my point; do not judge a man merely by what he produces, by what the results are. Judge him by what he is. Judge not that ye be not judged, because in judging ye judge yourselves: your judgment places you where you belong, as showing what your intuition, your faculty of visioning truth, is.

Consequently, when we see people suffer, when we see people misfortunate and unfortunate, when we see people in sorrow and pain, judge them not, for none of you knows the hid causes of what has produced this. Judge not the ragged beggar on the street. In his last life he may have been a prince clad in purple, and for some former fault he is now passing through this stage, a new stage, on this earth — a stage of moral and intellectual cleansing and purgation.

Be charitable in your thoughts. Be pitiful. It is great so to be. Judging our fellows quickly and without adequate thinking is unkind to say the least. It is also foolish, because your judgments are inevitably based on the standards of the day, and the veriest tyro, the child in an intermediate school, knows that standards change. Shall ye have the standards of Rome, or the standards of Greece, or the standards of our day, or the standards of the European Middle Ages, or the standards of India? Why not take the standard that your own spirit-soul whispers constantly to you: forgive, love. Be at peace. Cultivate harmonious relations with your fellow men. Do not judge; be helpful. Be kind. These show true manhood. The weakling does not understand.

I here turn to a question which was sent in to me within the last day or two, asking that it might be answered this afternoon. It is this:

Why is it that a fine and blameless soul with an exceptional capacity for deep feeling is, not infrequently, subjected to the most intense suffering that the human heart can know? Can you explain why such deep afflictions come into blameless lives?

Yes indeed, I can explain it, and know that my explanation will be easily understood of you, for not one of you is freed from sorrow and pain. It is something that all sons of men know of, have experienced, and those who have passed through the cleansing fire, through the pure fine flame of suffering, are the ones who are pitiful towards those who themselves are passing through the stages of purification. It is through knowledge that we grow. It is through experience that we evolve. And those experiences which make the greatest call upon our energies and ethical stamina are the ones which help us the most, and they awaken our dormant spiritual and intellectual powers the most quickly.

We can live like drones, droning away a valuable incarnation on earth; or we can live like true men, vibrating with life in every atom of our being, spiritual, mental, psychical, astral — even the body then vibrating with kindly feeling. Nothing makes us feel with others so deeply as passing through the gateways of purification which sorrow and suffering and pain are, for sorrow and suffering and pain are ennobling and refining influences.

When the human heart is wrung, has been wrung, then it becomes tender to the woes of others. Do not pity yourselves when passing through these gateways of purification, O friends! look upon it all as a sublime opportunity, painful as it is, for all quick growth is painful, and sorrow quickens the evolution of the soul, for it stirs up everything within you.

"What causes pain and suffering to come into blameless lives?" The laws of infinitely merciful nature, whose whole effort is to awaken the man to the realization of the existence of the god within, in other words and to speak more accurately, to awaken you as humans to recognize your own inner god. Also the immediate causes of suffering and pain coming into blameless lives are the things wrongly done, in former incarnations, the things left undone, the lessons in life deliberately ignored and turned from.

We are always quick to see and to wonder at the suffering and pain that we undergo, but do we ask ourselves with equal readiness: whence come upon us the things of good fortune and the things of success and the talents and the good lucks so called that we meet with? It is all our karma, as theosophists say, in other words the results or consequences whether good or bad of noble acts or ignoble acts which we had done or left undone or wrongly done in this or in previous lives on earth.

Nature is a close and absolutely accurate marker of everything that you think or do. Nature being infinitely just, everything that you think or do is written on the page of your character — on the credit or the debit side; and sooner or later ye must meet the bill and pay it if the account is running against you. But here also lies the mercy of the divine Law, that our payment results in a quickened evolution of our own inner spiritual self. Sorrow, suffering, pain, bring forth more quickly than joys and happiness the powers and faculties that we have within us. Do you understand me now? The heart of nature is love unbounded and peace which passeth all comprehension, even of the very gods. When a man acts aright, he acts according to nature's laws, to use popular language; and therefore that is the way to peace and harmony, because he acts with nature and runs not contrary to her own irresistible currents of evolution. When a man acts for himself alone, placing his puny, his feeble, his imperfect will against the strong current of nature's flooding river of evolutionary progress, he is swept aside on to some sandbank of destiny, and must recover by his own efforts his former place in nature's majestically advancing river of evolution.

That is why we suffer. We suffer from ourselves, and, alas! we make others suffer with us, because we are all knitted together in inseparable bonds of origin and destiny. Therefore be merciful, be pitiful, when power is in your hands; for as ye mete, said Jesus the avatara, it shall be meted unto you. Ye shall receive back what ye give. Give, therefore, the treasures of your spirit; and act like a god even now, because even now ye have godlike thoughts. Be men, expressing the divine powers of the divinity within you!

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