(Lecture delivered January 4, 1931)
CONTENTS: Recognition of greatness in others. — No limits to human genius. — A spiritual brotherhood of sages and seers. — Theosophical mahatmas men, not spirits, evolved not created. — The sanest men on earth. — Their existence a logical necessity. — Do they belong to the theosophists? — Varying degrees among them. — Why do they hide from men? — Do they ever work in the world? — Where do they live? — Why are they deprived of physical comforts? — Hindu yogis not to be confused with Masters of Wisdom. — The word "Mahatma" explained. — What about Mahatma Gandhi? — How can one meet a Master of Wisdom? — The Theosophical Society and the mahatmas.
There is a hunger in the human heart for beauty; there is a longing in the human soul for harmony and for peace; there is an unceasing aspiration in the human mind for an understanding of the problems of the universe; and all these qualities of heart and soul and mind are fundamentally one, arising out of that amazing spiritual fire, call it light if you like, which dwells in the inmost of the inmost of every human being, and which is a reflection in his human character of the divine flame which is fundamentally the spiritual man; and this flame is the core of his being.
Men yearn for truth; they yearn for light, they yearn for peace and happiness; and alas, in how slight a degree is this divine hunger satisfied! It is unsatisfied because men will not self-consciously realize who they are — the man will not realize who he is, what he is, in the core of himself, for his human consciousness refuses to recognize the living existence in him of this divine flame of the spirit. Nevertheless, there is through the ages a pressure towards this realization, and when recognition comes, then indeed breaks the splendor of the spirit on the mind and illuminates it divinely. The man's soul is then moved, the very depths of his being are stirred, for he recognizes not only his kinship with — in an abstract sense — but his fundamental oneness with, the universe of which he is a child, an inseparable part.
When this recognition of our inner spiritual grandeur comes to us, then we recognize also that there is spiritual grandeur outside of us existing in other human beings. Then we recognize the kinship of other human spirits with our own. This is the meaning of what I have told you on many other occasions: it takes greatness to recognize greatness, just as it takes a loving heart to recognize love in other hearts.
Thus the man who is spiritually awakened, or who is becoming spiritually awakened, recognizes that other men also can be grand and great, and that their hearts are filled, as is his, with an innate and instinctive spiritual nobility. In other words, he recognizes that the divine is working in other human beings also, and that possibly in some of these other fellows of his, there throbs a heart which is more or less fully cognizant of its spiritual powers. The man then realizes that he may find one or more higher even than himself: one or more who have become more or less at one with the inner flame of divinity, with the inner god, with the divine spirit stirring within.
Such intimations or intuitions of the living divinity within us all persuade us beyond cavil or argument that our noblest aspirations are true, are based on fact; for in very truth there are such greatly awakened hearts in the world; there are indeed such wondrous men in the world, men who have evolved to the point where the divine flame within, the inner god of them — the inner god of each one of them — is expressing itself more or less fully and according to the evolutionary stage of advancement of the individual.
Such great men it is customary, and it has been customary from immemorial time, to speak of as Saviors of their fellows. They are indeed the spiritual saviors of men, the great and outstanding human spiritual genii — spiritual geniuses — of the human race; they have shaken men's hearts by the magic of their teaching and by the example of their lives, and by their power to explain life's mysteries to inquiring minds hungering for truth and light. Such great men are the men who stand high on the pillars of the civilizations of the past, just as they will stand high on the pillars of the civilizations of the future, as other men, newer men, take the places of those who already form this grand spiritual brotherhood of the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace.
How stony must be the human hearts that do not leap in instant recognition of this truth! How natural it is to all our intuitive feelings to believe that there is spiritual grandeur in the world, that there is beauty in other men, that there are beauty of soul and wondrous strength of will, and power of intellect, and flaming, clairvoyant imagination which overleaps the boundaries of the frontiers of the common or herd-mind!
Look at history. See the great men that the human race has produced. Look at the outstanding spiritual and intellectual human genii. Look at Gautama the Buddha, the very embodiment of wisdom and love. Look at Jesus the Avatara, another embodiment of love and wisdom. Look at others of these great ones, whose names perhaps are less well known; and we realize as we survey these human embodiments of spiritual light that our intuitions and intimations are true. Then, as all men know, beneath these genii of the spirit and of the intellect there are, and there have been, and there will be in the future, other men whom we call geniuses, men of wondrous ability, men of high and vaulting talent, whose souls commune with the very stars, and pluck from heaven heaven's own flame of truth, and tell it in phrase and in teaching to their fellows. You know that these men exist: you know that the records of these genii of the race are written in living flame across the pages of history. Where then will you pause and say that human genius cannot go higher than this level, or than that level, or than the mediocre plane which average mankind already has attained in its evolution?
It is our theosophical teaching that greater men even than those geniuses to whom I have alluded exist in the world at the present time and existed in past times; and they have lived and taught and guided their fellow men; and these great ones, we say, compose a spiritual brotherhood of the great sages and seers of the human race. These are what are called the theosophical mahatmas. They are the elder brothers of mankind — and they are men, not spirits; they are men who have evolved through self-devised efforts in individual evolution, always advancing forwards and upwards until they attained the lofty supremacy that now they hold. They were not so created by any extracosmic Deity, but they are men who have become what they are by means of inward spiritual striving, by spiritual and intellectual yearning, by aspiration to be greater and better, nobler and higher, just as you, my Brothers, in your own way so aspire. They are not what they are by any favoritism either of a god or of Fate, but have merely run ahead of the great multitude of men. There they stand: they are helpers, they are seers, they are sages. They have naught that they have by way of gift. All that they have, which means all that they are — all that they have evolved to, all that they have become — they have gained by self-devised efforts in individual evolutionary growth.
How does a child learn in school? How does a man learn a profession or a calling? By study, by application, by aspiring to be something better and higher than he was before. Apply these same principles of growth and conduct to the living spirit within you, to the human soul within you, remembering that this human soul is evolving just as much as the body itself is evolving; and in fact the body is evolving only because the soul evolves; and I use this word soul only that you may understand me easily.
Applying these principles of growth that I have just spoken of you will readily see that these mahatmas are highly evolved egos, highly evolved human souls, and that their existence in the world is a logical necessity and an inevitable result of evolution. It is all a matter of inner growth and development: listen — it is all a matter of bringing out what is within you, latent, as yet unmanifest, not yet brought forth into an adequate expression in human life.
Whence comes the majestic oak? Out of the little acorn, out of the magic vital particle in the acorn, which particle contains within itself all the potency and life-to-be of the future oak, the majestic tree in its turn giving birth to thousands of other acorns. Just so does a man grow, from small to great, from great to still greater. Is not then the idea simple when once you understand it? Indeed, is it not easy to understand?
You now see just what these mahatmas are: evolved men, men who have in evolution run ahead of the multitude of the races of mankind who have preceded us. That is all there is to it. They are men who have brought forth the powers and capacities of the inner god of which each human being is but a feeble expression at present; and, granting that feeble expression as we must, my Brothers, look at the wondrous powers that even now the human being shows forth.
Pause a moment in thought! Think of man's intellect gauging the ways of the stars, probing into the very womb of space, counting the atoms in a particle of physical substance, drawing up philosophies and sciences and religions which have shaken the very souls of other men! This is indeed godlike; this is indeed more than mere genius; this verily is the working of the divine flame within.
Look again at the love which fills man's spiritual being, if he only will give it room therein: love which embraces within its compass the entirety of all things, the spaces of boundless space. What a divine faculty love is; what a divine energy it is! Think again of compassion and pity and our instinctive sense of friendliness and brotherhood. Think of men's yearning for peace, for harmony.
All these are godlike qualities. They are divine qualities. They come forth from the divinity living in the core of the core of each one of us, for each human being is an incarnation, an embodiment, of his own inner god. The modern Christians of a mystical bent of mind call it the Christ Immanent, the immanent Christos; and the Orientals, in Buddhism for instance, call it the living Buddha within; and others of the Orientals, in Brahmanism for instance, speak of it as the Brahma in the City of the Human Soul. Call it by what name you like; we instinctively sense that the divine flame is there, the source of all that we are that is good, that is grand, that is great.
It is an alliance with one or more of these inner faculties which makes man great, which makes him a genius, which makes him able to shake the hearts and move the minds of his fellow men. For when he is allied with this divine flame, it sweeps through him and sways him, and then you can see it expressing itself in all the being of the man who shows it. He then forgets himself utterly as a personality. He then lives in the boundless. He loses all thought of his personal being, and lives in eternity. For during such times of illumination his consciousness has taken unto itself cosmic reaches, and he feels with the vibrations of the atoms in farthest Sirius, and vibrates sympathetically by reaction to the movements of the polar star. This is no mere poetical phraseology — it is actual truth.
You cannot ever leave this universe. You are a part of it, a living part of its essence, and on every plane of your constitution you are here and there, and boundless space is your native home. Therefore, every part of the universe, everything that it contains, or ever has contained, or ever will contain, is in you, manifest or not yet manifest, but there. Think! Each entity — man, god, atom, ant, flower, beast, sun, nebula, solar system, any entity anywhere — is an inseparable part of the boundless All, and therefore contains in himself, or in itself, everything that the boundless All contains; for the boundless All is the WHOLE, and the entity is an encompassed part of it; and what the whole contains, of necessity every part contains. Does not every drop of the ocean contain all that the ocean contains? When the dewdrop slips into the shining sea, is the dewdrop different from the shining sea? So is man, living in the ocean of the spirit all-encompassing, everywhere around him and in him and permeating every atom of his being on all the seven planes of his constitution visible and invisible.
The great ones of the human race are great precisely in accordance with the degree in which, and by which, they manifest the divine powers lying within them. When they manifest these divine powers grandly, then such men are called mahatmas, our theosophical mahatmas. It is not we theosophists who speak of them as our theosophical mahatmas. It is non-theosophists who so refer to them and wrongly refer to them. The mahatmas are not our property. They are called theosophical mahatmas simply because people associate their existence with The Theosophical Society; but nevertheless they are your elder brothers just as much as they are ours. They are the elder brothers of the human race, and are no more ours than yours.
They are highly evolved men, controlling powers over nature's forces which they have gained through self-directed evolution during many, many, many, many lives in the distant past. Now they are become masters of life; in former ages they were men like you and me. In future ages they will become gods, just indeed as we shall all of us so become, when the destiny of the human race on this planet shall have reached its furthermost end for the present cosmic period of evolution; because within each one of us there is the individual's own indwelling inner god, the source of all that is great in us; and evolution is simply bringing out or unfolding what the man already and now has "within" him — or "above" him.
There is naught that is weird about these great men; they are the sanest men on earth, the gentlest, the kindliest, the most pitiful, the most compassionate, the most brotherly and the most peaceful and the wisest, the strongest and the purest, the noblest and the greatest. They do not stand, all of them, on the same step of the ladder of evolutionary progress. Some of them are very great, very high, others less so, others less so still. Then next in turn there are their chelas or pupils, men who are striving to become like unto their Masters, and who are a step or two or three ahead of the average man; and then we the average men find our place in the scale. Thus, our Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace, the elder brothers of the human race, have simply preceded us or run ahead of us in evolutionary development. All of us shall be Masters of Wisdom and Compassion someday. Those who exist at present are simply those who are ahead of the multitude of humanity.
Many foolish questions have been asked about these great men. It is, for instance, said of them: "If they are so great, and know so much, then why in the name of conscience don't they come out before the world, and show their credentials, and act like open-minded men, instead of hiding behind a veil of secrecy and anonymity?" Why the devil should they? Excuse me: why should they come out and expose themselves on a public platform, and be examined as if they were for purchase? If they can do their work better — and they are far wiser than you or I, and certainly know how to do their work better than we know it — if they can do their work better in the silence, and unknown of the multitude, how foolish it were to cripple their work by choosing the difficult and foolish path!
Nevertheless they are active in the world all the time. Their agents are active always and everywhere. Their influence is always for good, always for brotherhood, always for kindliness among men, always for peace, always for progress and the gaining of a greater light, always for the things which give to men's hearts high hope and courage, and to their minds inspiration and love and rest. But this is not the rest which is mere negative repose or sleep; but it is, on the contrary, the rest which comes from the harmonious working of all one's functions and faculties — spiritual, intellectual, ethical, vital, and physical.
Sometimes they awaken men when men have fallen to sleeping, to spiritual and intellectual inertia, and resting in the smug satisfaction of physical comforts. Then they begin to call forth the soul of men, that fiery flame which stirs and moves within us and leads us to deeds of greatness and to imagination of sublime things. Yea, then they stir up conditions so that men shall awaken and begin again to recognize the call from within, the call of the human soul.
They are our elder brothers because they watch over us as an elder brother watches over his younger brother. They are our teachers because they teach us through the ages; they instruct us and guide us. They are our Masters, because we are their pupils. It matters not that the pupil does not always recognize his teacher. In things of the spirit, and in things of the mind, these great ones always follow the best path, the most efficient path. They stimulate men's minds with high and noble thoughts. They work through other men as their agents whom they have chosen from out the multitude, and who themselves are, relatively speaking, great men, but in less degree, and who become the pupils of these greater ones.
Where do these great ones live? The answer is that they live wherever they please. But their main home, so to speak their main headquarters, is in one of the little-known parts of the earth, a region which they have deliberately chosen on account of its quiet and aloofness from the fevered throbs of existence, so that they may pursue their avocations in quiet and in peace and undisturbed by the hurly-burly of the busy marts of men. When the philosopher, when the scientist, is working at a problem, does he go out and stand on the street corner? No, he seeks quiet and peace where he can think and work on his problems undisturbed. The principle is the same.
I have brought with me this afternoon to our Temple of Peace some questions that during the past few weeks have been sent to me on this matter of the theosophical mahatmas, and I will now read these questions to you and try to answer them.
I trust that you will understand the language, occasionally a little technical, which I am sometimes obliged to use. I make this observation because on one or two occasions it has been reported to me that certain phrases used by me are not easily understood. I often speak to you about the inner god; and this, extraordinarily enough, seems to be one of the phrases that not everyone has rightly understood. I was amused to hear the other day that some kind friend who had attended one or more of our meetings remarked to an acquaintance: "What did the gentleman mean when he spoke about the inner god? What is the great idea?"
It seems simple enough to me that any human being can realize or can understand that there is a divine center within his own very essence, a spark of the central fire of the universe, and that all that the man is, is simply an outflowing of the energies of this central spark within him, this divine flame which is the very core of his own being and is his truest self.
It is wrong, perhaps, to think of this inner god as having a body. What on earth has a body to do with it! Has a beautiful thought, for instance, two arms and two legs and two ears and a nose and a mouth, etc., etc.? Obviously not. A thought is a beautiful energy — if indeed the thought be beautiful. It is only bodies that have shape. Has your consciousness per se a shape? It were a poor consciousness if it had a shape that a carpenter or a smith might make or might copy! Consciousness is a divine energy, a living flame, a living fire, and it simply makes unto itself bodies as it will, through which bodies it manifests its native powers.
I hope that you understand the language that I am now using. I do not mean to imply that the inner divinity has no form whatsoever; but whatever form it has is a purely spiritual form of which our physical body is a most imperfect reflection.
Before I come to these questions before me, I am going to read to you something. This is a little story that is taken from a magazine called Oral Hygiene, a dental magazine, I suppose, and it illustrates the utmost need of using language that those you are speaking to can easily understand. I try to follow this rule always, but sometimes it is a little difficult when one is treating of subjects of abstract character. This is the little story:
Chinese patient over telephone: "Doc, what time you fixee teeth for me?"
Doctor: "Two-thirty; all right?"
Chinese patient: "Yes, tooth hurty me all light, but what time you want me to come?"
Now this quaint little story just illustrates how easy it is for a man to be wrongly understood. I might say a word or use a phrase which to me is perfectly clear, but if you don't happen to know just the sense, the idea, that I put into this word or into this phrase, you might misunderstand my meaning totally; and this is one of the reasons why I am so glad to answer the questions that come to me, because these questions show me whether I succeed in conveying to you the sublime theosophical teachings which it is my duty to give to you.
This is the first question:
Apparently these elder brothers called mahatmas deprive themselves of the comforts of modern civilization by living in remote places away from their fellow men. Is this a matter of preference or is it one of necessity?
I think that I have already explained this question in what I have said this afternoon, but briefly the answer is that they prefer to live as they do live. To them it is by no means a deprivation. But, also, they can work much better in the quiet and away from the noise and hurly-burly of our modern Occidental life, and they would be idiots if they took the hardest and most difficult way for doing their work. By choice they live in the simplest way, in the quietest, in the most peaceful way, because they have found that this way is the best.
For the so-called modern comforts I don't think they care two pins! It is — now please don't be hurt! — it is the man whose whole thought is centered in his body who thinks so much of the value of physical comforts. Haven't you ever heard of the absent-minded folk who are so wrapped in thought that they sometimes don't know what they do, or eat, or what clothes they put on, and of the faithful wife who has to follow in order to prevent her husband from going out in the street in his slippers or in something still more undress!
These great men care not for the so-called physical comforts of modern civilization. They have a sublime work to do in which their whole life is involved; it is their self-chosen work, and they do it in the most efficient way and in the manner which pleases them best.
People today think a great deal about the comforts of our physical civilization, such as the street railways and automobiles and electric lights and houses heated with steam or electricity, etc., etc., etc. Yes, yes; all this is comfortable, and is all right in a way; but it is likewise very uncomfortable and unpleasant if, when you are trying to put a number of thoughts together in consecutive fashion, you have to do so in a room facing a street where a river of streetcars is passing by with clanging bells, and a stream of honking automobiles fills the spaces on either side, and steam-whistles are blowing and wheels are rattling and all the rest of it! This may be one of the comforts of civilization, but it is nerve-racking to a man who is trying to find the necessary quiet and peace for him to achieve some really great and enduring work.
Continue for a moment to examine this other side of the question. I want to ask you honestly if a man is happier merely because he has an automobile? I mean really and truly happier. I am not referring to the man who is trying to pose before his fellows and to put on side and swagger, as small-minded people sometimes do. Now there is no harm in automobiles or street-cars or electric lights or anything like that. I am not saying a word against them. But do you mean to tell me — does any sensible man or woman in this auditorium mean to tell me — that a man's happiness depends upon whether he has an automobile or lives in a house with electric light or gives up his burning log in the fireside for a hissing and cracking steam-radiator? If so, I pity him. I know just where his thoughts are, consequently where his actions are, and what his aspirations and yearnings are.
The so-called comforts are by no means unmixed blessings — steam heat, for instance. Ask the average Englishman who comes to this country and goes into one of the steam-heated apartments of New York or elsewhere, what he really thinks of the American steam-heated rooms. Very probably he will tell you 'a mouthful', and so did I when I first experienced the effects of such a super-heated room.
Please understand me: there is no harm in comforts, even physical comforts; there is no harm in them at all if they do not absorb too much of the man's attention and vital energy — as they usually do. All these things are good if good use is made of them; and they are all bad if you become their slaves. Be men! Be true men! Be at least in part the spiritual and intellectual fire which is within you! Then you can have all the physical comforts in the world, and they won't touch you or harm you — that is, have them if you want them! But if you want to be one of the human sheep, a semi-slave to merely physical things, then I tell you in all earnestness that you are in a parlous state.
You see, therefore, just about what I mean and how much attraction the much-lauded physical comforts have for really great men, men whose souls commune with the stars, and who, when they look into the eyes of their fellows, see a divine light there, see the flame of the other man's inner god, and who can commune with the divinity within that fellow man. Estimate life's values justly. That is our theosophical rule.
I can easily accept most of the theosophical teachings, but it is difficult to associate the yogis and so-called mahatmas that one meets in India with the teachings of the Masters of Compassion and Wisdom and Peace concerning which you so often tell your Temple audiences. Will you please explain.
It is as wrong as it is foolish to confuse the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace, these great ones that I have tried this afternoon so briefly to explain to you, with the yogis or so-called mahatmas of India. Perhaps the confusion arose out of the fact that this word mahatma is used, or has been used recently, in the newspapers in connection with a very sincere Hindu political agitator called Gandhi, and the explanation of the use of this word in such a connection is the following: mahatman, commonly spelled mahatma, is a title like Mr. or Sir or Lord or Baron or Count, or whatnot; it is a mere title, and it has been customary for ages in India to give this title of Mahatma to anybody who, in the eyes of those who speak, holds a position of public veneration or respect; but it is most often given to beings who possess or who are supposed to possess spiritual and intellectual grandeur.
The theosophical mahatmas, therefore, are quite different from these Hindu yogis. Some of these Hindu yogis and sadhus doubtless are good and sincere and earnest men. Some I have every reason to think do not at all merit this title. I don't mean this remark unkindly. I am not speaking in order to cast aspersions on anybody; but nevertheless I am asked an honest question and I will answer honestly, for it is my duty to tell the truth as I see it or know it. Our Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace really are like demigods on earth, if we compare them with the average run of men, simply because they have evoked each one his own inner god and have become at one with it.
These yogis, in some cases, are men who are striving to conquer the body and physical temptations in various ways, for instance by torture of the body. They also study more or less some of the magnificent philosophical teachings of India coming down from far-distant ages of the past; but mere study will not make a man a mahatma, nor will any torture of the body bring about the spiritual vision — the vision sublime.
Our mahatmas are such because they are the fine flowers of evolution and have made themselves to be what they are through many lives on earth of high aspiration, of lofty thinking, and of spiritual yearnings. No, our theosophical mahatmas are quite other than the Hindu yogis or sadhus.
Are the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi the same as those taught by your Masters of Compassion and Peace?
Just as far as Gandhi teaches the age-old wisdom-thought are the teachings identic. I do not know how far he teaches the archaic wisdom because I am not acquainted with Gandhi, although I have much respect for his earnestness and sincerity. Just so far as I teach the same old wisdom-thought are the teachings identic. Anyone, of any race, and at any time, who teaches truth teaches what the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace teach. In these words then you have your answer.
I tell you, furthermore, that it is not so much what a man teaches as what a man is that is the real test of the man; and you can feel what the man really is simply by being in his presence, my Brothers. It is what a man lives, how a man lives, what his convictions are, that make him high or low in the eyes of the gods. If Gandhi lives what he believes in, and if he believes in high and noble things, in just that degree he is a great and good man. If he does otherwise — and I do not affirm this — then he is a hypocrite.
No matter what career a man follows — and this is our theosophical teaching — no matter what the career or avocation in life is that he may choose, if he lives up to the heart-belief within him, and that heart-belief is one of spiritual and intellectual nobility, then he is an honest man and therefore a good man, and never will he hurt his fellows either by word or by act. Is not this a just rule? When I look into a man's face I am searching for a light; and if I see this touch of the buddhic splendor in his eyes, then I know that before me is a man, it may be a great man. It is utterly indifferent to me what his opinions may be or what line of work he follows — science, religion, philosophy, politics, or whatnot. All are indifferent to me. I look for men, and when I see a man I will trust him; for my own heart recognizes manhood in my fellows.
When you speak of mahatmas or Masters of Wisdom, do you speak from personal knowledge? Have you ever met one? What is to be done in order to meet one of them?
This question is somewhat of a poser. There is one thing, my Brothers, that no genuine, no true, theosophical teacher ever is allowed to do, and this is publicly to claim acquaintance with the great ones. No genuine theosophical teacher ever desires to do this, but earnestly desires to avoid it. There may be times when the positive assertion in the affirmative is called for, and if these very rare times fall within our esoteric rule of open speech in this respect, then the affirmative statement is permissible; but to answer affirmatively a question like this, merely in order to satisfy what may be a perfectly proper inquiry, is not one of the permitted cases; and besides, suppose that I were to answer this question by saying that I speak from personal experience of the existence of the mahatmas, what real good would that do to you? Those of you who know me and who therefore know me to be an honest man, will take my word for what I affirm; but those of you, my Brothers, my Friends, who know but little or nothing of me, would merely say, and would be quite justified in saying, "It may be. The man at least seems honest."
Therefore, if I were merely to tell you again and again, and fifty times a day, that I have met the teachers, that would be no real proof to you. Those who know me — to them indeed it might be proof; but to those who know me not at all, it would be a bare assertion; and I speak in this way, my Brothers, because in recent times there have been many such claims made by individuals who announce having had a personal contact with the teachers — indeed, many strange and indeed weird claims along this line have been made, and I have listened to these claims with disgust.
Let me remind you that it is one of our theosophical teachings that any statement made by a theosophical lecturer must be taken or rejected according to what the hearer finds of truth or of falsehood within it. This is a rule that theosophists insist upon and apply to ourselves first. And I tell you today, my Brothers and Friends, what I have often told you before: take nothing from me that you hear me tell you unless your consciousness leaps in recognition of it, and you feel that the statement made is true. Then take it, and hold to it like men. But, in any case, test it; probe it; prove it, by all the faculties that you have. Put to this work of test all that you have within you — spiritual vision, intellectual power, and thus analyze it. Reject it if your consciousness disapproves of it, for that is only honest.
I now turn to the next part of this question: "Have you ever met one?" I have, and more than one. But this assertion is no proof to you. It is my bare statement. But after what I have just said, I explain that I make the assertion because it seems an honest thing to do for those who, in this auditorium, may feel that I have spoken too vaguely. There may be hungry hearts in this room who will be glad to know that a brother has had the glorious opportunity. To these I speak in order to give them hope, to assure them that I have had that great and wonderful privilege.
What is to be done in order to meet one of them?
Live the life which they teach you to live, and then you will meet them; live a life of kindliness, of brotherhood, of love, of pity, of compassion, and of earnest and unremitting exercise of the intellectual and spiritual faculties. Analyze, discriminate, study, aspire, yearn to become greater than now you are; and the Masters will instantly and instinctively feel the call of your heart — and you will soon know of their actual existence. They, in order to be known, must be reached, must be gone to. The reason is obvious. In order to learn anything, in order to gain anything, you must take the preliminary steps towards it. You must arrange the appropriate circumstances and live in accordance therewith, in order to gain the real things of life, in order to cultivate your inner faculties; and, in cultivating them, to insure yourself becoming something greater and grander than now you are. How are you to do it? The answer is: by living the life which will bring it about. Is the reason not obvious? In order to be on that distant horizon of splendor, you must yearn towards it and go unto it.
Are the Masters spoken of by H. P. Blavatsky and others as having been active during the early times of The Theosophical Society still alive and working with you?
They are still alive, and very much alive! But look at the curious way in which this question is phrased! "Are they working with you?" My answer, Brothers and Friends, is that I yearn to work with them. They are the goal towards which I aspire, the pattern which I try to follow. They will work with me, if you like to phrase it so, but only when I have begun to work with them. Is it not so in all affairs of life? Does the chief in any department confide in his subordinate who refuses to obey orders?
Now, the mahatmas give no orders. They show you a path, wondrous, beauteous, with glory and victory at the end, and tell you how to tread that path. That path will lead you unto them, and will in aeons and aeons in the future lead you to the very heart of the universe. Therefore they will work with me provided that I work with them, provided that I follow the suggestions that my Chiefs have given to me. The companionship exists when the companionship already exists, to utter a rather paradoxical aphorism. But if I fail, if I fall, if I stumble on the path, I can always pick myself up again and strive anew to forge a stronger link with them than that which previously existed. There is one thing only that I fear in this connection, one only thing that every student, every disciple, must be always on the watch for. It is this: turn not like Orpheus — backwards.
If you stumble on the path you can always arise and press forwards more rapidly than before; but never become discouraged. Remember that the light is ahead, that victory lies in front. Forwards is the key word of progress. No matter what the mistakes and failings and stumblings on the path may be, forwards lie light and victory beyond human thought adequately to express.
The Masters will work with anyone who "lives the life", and it is so easy and so beautiful to do this — and living the life means gain: gain in power, gain in faculty, gain in sensitivity to the wondrous mysteries that surround us, gain in the sense of becoming conscious of being at one with the boundless universe. The final guerdon, the final recompense, it is beyond present human imagination to conceive of.
I have one more question, Friends, and this question I promised to answer this afternoon. It is a personal question:
Are you an occultist?
Were I to say Yes, then you would rightly say, "The man's an egoist." Were I to say No, then you would rightly say, "The man's a liar." I don't like either horn of this dilemma. However, strictly according to the definition of this word occultist, as meaning one who studies the hid structure, relations, and operations of the universe, then I am an occultist, and so is every other man who does the same. If the questioner, by using this word, means one — and the woods are full of them today — who makes big claims about being in touch with cosmic spirits, or masters, or elementals, and will tell you how to get powers for a monetary fee, then I repudiate with all the earnestness of my soul, any intention ever of trying to be such an occultist.
I am an occultist because I study the hid things in the universe, which means also the secret powers and faculties in the human being. I know what I have proved to be true; but by telling you this as a mere assertion, what good am I doing to you? You need not believe what I tell you. My friends who know me will believe me when I tell them, because they know me. But you kind strangers and friends — to you it is a mere assertion. So you see how difficult it is to answer questions such as this.
And let me add a few words before I pass from this to my close: I do not mean, and I did not mean, to imply that certain individuals who have called themselves occultists and who make a living by it are bad people. On the contrary, I have known astrologers and palmists and others who follow strange and unusual professions who are as fine and sincere people as any I have met anywhere, and who are governed in their dealings with their fellows by a high sense of honor; and I doubt not that if they had the private means they would give what they believe to be their services to the world free, and without price. I say this in justice to those of this type whom I have known. I hate even indirectly to do a wrong to a fellow man. I have been wronged myself and I know how it feels.
But coming back to the question: merely to tell you that I am an occultist by the dictionary-definition of the word does not tell you much! Yet I answer the question in the affirmative for the same reason that led me to answer some other questions this afternoon in the affirmative. There may be in the audience one or two, at any rate a few, whose hearts would be glad to know that the speaker whom they hear this afternoon had gone at least a little way behind the veil, however short the way may be; but nevertheless I repeat that a mere assertion does not prove anything. Beware of makers of claims! I tell you sincerely that I have never made a claim along these lines in all my life; and I add to this that had I ever made any such claims I would not be fit to stand on this platform and speak to you. I would be totally unfit.
Any man who has been taught the truth, or some of the truths, regarding the structure and operations of the Universe in its invisible realms especially — what it is and what it contains, and man's relations thereto — is an occultist. An occultist means one who studies the hid things of cosmic being. Every one of you can be an occultist if you will: if you will live the life, if you will undertake the training, if you will follow the necessary studies. Every one of you has the powers within him which will make acquisition of these hid and wondrous mysteries of being your own.
My Brothers, in leaving you this afternoon and in wishing you all a Happy New Year, let me remind you once more that the core of your being is a living god; this inner god is your essential self, the fountain of all the highest that you express as a human being, the source of all that is great, grand, and sublime!
Why not ally yourself with this flame which is your self, your spiritual self? Your guerdon will be victory over the forces of life; and the end will be union with the spiritual sun of which you are, each one of you, a ray. Sons of the sun you are!