Theosophical University Press Online Edition
(Lecture delivered January 11, 1931)
CONTENTS: Each of us an artist of character. — Searchers for light in the material world. — The law of reimbodiment universal. — Is the universe a gigantic machine? — Thirst for material life. — Power to reduce number of rebirths. — State of the atom-soul. — Diversity of individualities. — It pays to live aright. — Is rebirth the result of fate? — Length of period between lives. — Exceptions to this rule. — Is a man always born in the same race? — Hints on the afterdeath state. — Opportunity for receiving more light. — The stream of inspiration from the Masters of Wisdom. — Penalty for betraying the ancient mysteries. — The ancient rule in passing on truth. — Knock at the Temple door!
Children of destiny! Don't you see this fact written all over your faces? Don't you see the lines engraven by experience when you look into the faces of your fellows? Deep lines, lines of sorrow, lines of pain, lines of joy, and those clear expanses of consciousness, left by the experiences of love and peace, which the face likewise shows? Your destiny is written all over you — all over your face, in your body, in your gestures, in the expression of your eyes, so that he who has the key to this, even as he runs, may read in the faces of his fellows what their past has been, what their present in all likelihood now is, and, judging by the past, what the future will be.
Children of destiny! A destiny that each one of you for himself has woven around himself as a spider weaves its web; for you are your own makers, your own formers and shapers, because you all are living entities endowed with willpower and consciousness; and these are divine things, divine faculties, for with them a man may carve his way not only in the world but through the spaces of space, as the ages roll by. For he himself traverses time as a pilgrim, just as he traverses the short expanse of one life as a pilgrim, making himself as he goes: an artist — an artist of character; and that character is himself.
Time and space weave their magic web; and this magic web is destiny. It is on this web that the reincarnating entity taking birth after birth in lives on earth pursues his path through the ages. Mark you, my Brothers, this web is the web that he himself makes, for it is the web of his character; and time and space cooperate with him — with his will, with his consciousness — which thus make this web of destiny.
Build yourselves nobly, therefore; and if ye have builded awry, straighten it out and build better for the future, for there is that within you which is undying. This is consciousness: not a consciousness separate from the universe, but a consciousness allied with the very heart of the Universe; for each one of you is an inseparable part of the universe in which you live and move and have your being. This consciousness is undying, for the very heart of it is boundless infinity — the universe; and your willpower, that magic sword with which you carve your way, is one with the very essence of the universal life.
Do you know, my Brothers, that this thought of man's essential oneness with boundless space is the lost key to the grand mysteries of existence? — not only of human existence, but of cosmic existence. Feeling this oneness, then a man knows that the universe is his home: that the universe is his eternal dwelling place, and that in it he lives, for he is always one with it. He is but one expression, one part, of the vast boundless whole. There is the lost key to modern Occidental thought, the lost key of Occidental science, philosophy, and religion; and if the theosophical philosophy brings back to Occidental mankind just this one thought of man's oneness with the universe, then what peace, what consolation, what spiritual and intellectual help will it bring to bruised and broken hearts!
Men hunger for light and know not where to look for it; men's instincts tell them truth, but they know not how to interpret those instincts, because their minds, their intellects, have been distorted by the teachings of men searching in the material world only for light — a noble occupation, indeed, but nevertheless signifying that the searchers have lost the key to the grander within, of which the material universe is but the outer carapace, the shell, the clothing, the garment, the body.
This is one of the secret causes of rebirth, of the rebirth of the human soul; because man, being an essential part of the universe, one with its very heart, in his heart of hearts and indeed in all his being must obey the cosmic law of reimbodiment: his birth, then growth, then youth, then maturity, then expansion of faculty and power, then decay, then the coming of the great peace — sleep, rest — and then the coming forth anew into manifested existence. Even so do universes reimbody themselves. Even so does a celestial body reimbody itself — star, sun, planet, whatnot. Each one is a body such as you are in the lowest part of yourself; each one is an inseparable portion of the boundless universe, as much as you are; each one springs forth from the womb of boundless space as its child, just as you do; and one universal cosmic law runs through and permeates all, so that what happens to one, great or small, advanced or unadvanced, evolved or unevolved, happens to everyone, to all.
This indeed is one of the secret causes of rebirth. It is one of universal nature's fundamental operations. Therefore we human beings, as parts of the enormous, of the vast, of the incomprehensible whole of the universe follow the law of that universe. We cannot do otherwise. Reimbodiment of everything, of every individual entity, is one of cosmic nature's fundamental operations — laws if you like; and because the whole so acts, does it not obviously carry along with it every part of itself?
Is this, the universe, but a gigantic machine? Are human beings and other entities merely the flotsam and jetsam of a tide of fate, swept along from eternity to eternity without self-devised direction, without the exercise of the will of the individual? I have told you just the contrary. Precisely because every part of the whole is an inseparable part, therefore does it partake of all that the whole has and is; and as the whole has consciousness and will, therefore every part is composite, is composed of, consciousness and will; which means that you as parts of, inseparable parts of, the cosmic whole, of necessity have consciousness and choice, willpower, free will.
You carve your own destiny, you make yourselves what you are; what you are now is precisely what in past lives you have made yourselves now to be, and what you will in the future be, you are now making yourselves to become. You have will, and you exercise this will for your weal or for your woe, as you live your lives on earth and later in the invisible realms of the spaces of space. This is one more, and the second, of the secret causes of rebirth.
We human beings love this earth of ours — and rightly so, in a sense, for here we are; here lies our present destiny; here is the inn, so to say the inn of life, in which we are at present staying for a lifetime. We shall return to it. But in this inn of life we use our willpower; we are shaping our destiny here every instant; we are making ourselves to be what we in the future shall become. So therefore, quite outside of the universal impulse, the cosmic impulse, that I have previously spoken of, which impulse is based in the fundamental law of the universe carrying us as parts along with it in the stream of evolutionary progress: quite apart from that, each one of us has individual willpower. Our destiny lies not only on the lap of the gods but in each one's own right hand, so to say.
Be therefore the gods within yourselves, for the core of the core of every one of you is a divine being, a child of the spiritual universe of which I have just told you. You are inseparable from the universe. Indeed you are it; it is you. As the ancient Hindu philosophers put it: tat twam asi: "That boundless space thou art, O disciple!" It is this use of our own willpower, by which we carve our way, that determines what kind of life we shall have when next we come back to earth and take up a human body anew.
Now, this is a third secret cause, and perhaps it is the most materially effectual; and this third cause resides in the bosom of each one of us. It is this thirst for material life, thirst for life on earth, hunger for the pastures and fields wherein once we wandered and which grew familiar to us, which brings us back to earth again and again and again and again. It is this trishna, to use the Sanskrit word, this tanha, as the Pali books of the Orient say; it is this thirst to return to familiar scenes that brings us back to earth — more effectual as an individual cause, perhaps, than all else. We hunger for the scenes that we have known; we long for the waters of life that we have drunken of; we yearn for the loves of olden days. Thirst, hunger, there, perhaps, is the most materially effectual secret cause of rebirth, at least so far as the individual human is concerned.
So is it even in the ordinary affairs of human life. Do not men usually go to the things that they like best, driven by the hunger for such, or such, or such, a pursuit or doing or act? Are not men usually found in the surroundings which they themselves move towards? This is brought about by hunger, by thirst, for what we want — in other words by desire. It is desire, it is thirst, for material life that brings us back to earth, to material existence. These hungers, these thirsts, these yearnings, these desires, call them by what name you like, have been built by ourselves into our own fabric of character as tendencies and biases while we live on earth in human bodies, and they have distorted our fabric of soul, so to speak, so that even after a life on earth and during our devachanic rest period, sooner or later the time comes when these seeds of thought and of emotion, these hungers in other words, begin to make themselves felt in the excarnate ego; and then comes the attraction, the yearning back, to the familiar scenes of earth-life — and the ego slowly descends to the visible realms earthwards, and finally a little child is born, drawn to the scenes (I will use ordinary, easily comprehensible words) and to the parents and to the environment whose vibrations are most akin to its own. It is as simple as A B C.
There are six questions, friends, that I have been asked to answer today:
1. Is it possible to reduce the number of our reincarnations in the physical world?
2. Is there any way by which a man can increase the number of reincarnations in the physical world which he loves?
3. Is reincarnation a result of fate, or can the human individual control the numbers and times of his rebirths on earth?
4. How long a time as an average exists between reincarnation and reincarnation?
5. Is a man always born in the same race?
6. What happens to the excarnate entity after death and before he returns to rebirth on earth?
That last one is indeed some question, and this kind friend expects me to cover all the wondrous mysteries of death in five or ten minutes at most during the course of a communing with you in one afternoon!
Answering therefore Question 1, it is quite possible to reduce the number of our rebirths in the physical world; and, answering Question 2, it is quite possible to increase them. I have already told you how. If you desire, my Brothers, to live in the fullest expansion of your inner faculties, in the spiritual, in the divine, part of your being, then free yourselves from the cramping shackles of earth existence and live in the sun of the spirit, in the solar splendor of divinity; and your rebirths on earth will be fewer precisely in accordance with the greatness of your yearning for the freedom of the spirit.
If, on the other hand, you desire to return very frequently to earth and undergo all its temptations, to weave the web of physical existence so strong that it is difficult, very difficult indeed, to break the slightest one of its strands, then cultivate — unfortunate wretch! — the hungers and desires and yearnings of material life. This would be indeed an awful choice! All our unhappiness, all our misery, all human misfortune, all human worry, heartache, blindness, come from our lower desires while undergoing life in these material spheres. Freedom lies in liberating ourselves from the shackles of these material hungers, thirsts, desires — freedom, strength, and power.
The gods are in the worlds of spirit; men are here in bodies of flesh on a material sphere. The atom-souls invigorating and enlivening the grossest part of this material sphere are still more sunken in matter than are we. Who is the freer of the twain — the atom of a stone, of gold or of silver, or of calcium, or of whatnot, or the man with his divine power of intellectual thought, using his free will, and aspiring to lift his soul to the stars? Where lies the greater freedom — below with the atom, or with the man? And then above the man, consider if you can the life of the gods — a vastly greater and nobler freedom which to us is divine, a full and wondrous power, and peace and understanding, power guiding the very stars in their courses, in other words laying down the laws of the universe which the gods inspire with their life and consciousness, and of which all the subordinate entities of the universe are parts. Do you understand this thought?
Just as the atoms of a man's body are in their small way conscious in an atomic consciousness and live in man's greater and grander and more expanded consciousness, which is their Oversoul, just so do we humans and just so do the gods beyond us live in the Oversoul, in the life, in the consciousness, of the supreme hierarch of our own cosmical hierarchy. Is this God? No, it is not the Occidental conception of God, not at all. For the universes in boundless space are innumerable. These sublime hierarchs of the hierarchies which infill and actually compose boundless space are uncountable, so numerous are they. They fill space full with their consciousnesses and their wills.
It is this diversity of individualities which accounts for the diversity so marvelous and so beautiful that we see all around us. It accounts for the fact that one man's character is one, and another man's character is another, and my character is one, and yours is one, etc., etc., etc., for we are all, collectively speaking, sparks of the cosmic spiritual fire. Do you understand this thought? This marvelous diversity is caused by the innumerable units of the great sparks of the cosmic fire in which those sparks live and move and have their being. We thus come back to the original thought — the unity of all things, of all entities, with all that is — with the universe! What a blessed thought! Boundless space is our home!
Furthermore, great ethical principles repose upon this wondrous thought, universal brotherhood, the feeling of oneness with the All: the feeling that the life, the being, the career, the destiny, of every entity is ours also; the sense that when we harm a fellow, ultimately we harm ourselves in exactly the same way, because we have used our will to make an impression on the surrounding being of the universe, and infallibly there will be an equivalent reaction against us. Such is nature's law: action and reaction are equal, and inevitable is the reaction.
Watch your step! Watch your step! Even from the pragmatical standpoint it pays to be decent and strong and to do right and to live aright! Not only does it develop your own inner faculties and powers, so that as you exercise them they become constantly stronger, but also you have peace; you inspire love in the hearts of your fellows; you inspire trust in their minds. Believe me, my Brothers, trust a man, trust the best that is in him, no matter how often he may fail you, trust him (using your common sense, of course, and your judgment) and make an appeal to the god within him and you will arouse something grand in him by that appeal. He will yearn to be worthy of your trust. No great matter if he fail! His failure simply shows that the poor fellow is too weak. But one day he will be strong and he will pay you back in the golden coin of grateful recognition. As ye sow, ye shall reap.
Make your own character harmonious; make it symmetrical, make it beautiful, make it strong by exercising those qualities and faculties within you which tend to do this. Abhor those hungers and desires and passions and yearnings and whatnot, which weaken, which corrode, the fabric of your character.
Don't you see immediately what happens when you follow the path which weakens and corrodes your character — the indulgence of your desires and your passions? You are unbuilding, you are slowly destroying yourself; you are undoing nature's wonderful age-long evolutionary labor. "Work with Nature and she will regard thee as one of her creators and make obeisance." So says one of our theosophical books, and it is holy truth. It pays to do right.
Quite outside of this matter-of-fact viewpoint, turn an instant to a nobler vision. Happiness, peace, strength, grandeur, lie in being a true man — such happiness as naught else in all the world can bring to you. Does not a man's heart beat faster when he hears of a deed which is heroic? Does not he aspire to emulate it? Isn't there a glad and instinctive leaping of the soul when we hear of a thought or of an emotion or of a deed which is sublimely self-forgetful? This is the instinctive homage of the human heart given to strength — to spiritual strength; and we know that all sin so called is weakness; and this is the reason why every normal human being contemns evil doing, has contempt for it. Nobody likes weakness, and all normal human beings love strength, real strength I mean, strength of character, strength of intellect, strength of vision, strength of the spirit.
I have told you, therefore, how to reduce or how to increase your rebirths on earth. To ordinary humans it seems quite right to love this dear old earth of ours. It is right, it is proper; but only when you love it impersonally. The danger is not, my Brothers, in the earth on which we live: the danger lies in each one of us who live. Don't you see what I mean? When a man meets a temptation, or a woman meets a temptation, is the danger outside? No. It is in your own heart. Therefore love your earth, for it is beautiful to love, it is beautiful to look upon. But try to make it better than it is, better than it was when you found it. There is a spiritual law behind this effort so to do; there is strong reason in so acting. In it there is a great and wise philosophy.
Contrariwise, hunger for material existence because it is material, and then you will reincarnate frequently, and each time weave a web of character which becomes worse and worse as time goes on, because the character will be more and more filled with earthly desires, with the desires of this weak, feeble body where sorrow is and where pain abides; because on earth our desires never can be satisfied. The more we indulge an ignoble appetite the fiercer it burns. Freedom lies in saying no, and in controlling ourselves and using our faculties properly. There lie freedom and peace and strength; and a man who can succeed in doing this and doing it all the time is like a god among men. The doing of it is easy. It is a great deal easier than suffering and suffering and paining and paining and worrying and worrying and being at odds with all your fellows all the time, and finally ending in misery, physically, mentally, and otherwise — a degenerate, broken being. Think it over!
And yet remember this, that the real seat of these material desires and hungers and appetites is not in the body, which is but man's outermost garment, but in his undeveloped and weakly controlled human mind. There it is where our passions and our desires and our hungers and our yearnings ride and build imaginary castles of fantasy which we mistake for life's realities. It is our mind which thus misleads us; and the poor, wretched body, feeble instrument of flesh, can do naught other than obey slavishly what the mind impels it to do. The same bodily passions are easily controlled, for they are after all but reflections of the troubled dreams of our brain-mind.
Rebirth: is it "a result of fate?" It is not, and the human individual most decidedly can "control the numbers and times of his rebirths on earth," just as I have explained.
There are other lives far more beautiful than the lives on earth — in the inner realms, in the inner spheres. The wonder is not at all that these inner realms, to which we shall go after death, exist and that we shall live there, but the wonder would be if life on this physical globe were the only one that the boundless universe could give to us. The mere fact that we exist here is a promise and an intimation of the fact that we shall exist hereafter on other spheres, in other worlds, on other planes. This life exists. It is like a signpost. Do you get the idea?
As the Hermetic saying has it, "As above, so below; as below, so above." So far as this goes, it proves the existence of other spheres, of other planes, of other worlds. Otherwise explain how it happens that we are here. Is it by chance? Show me the man who believes in chance; then I will ask him a few questions, and he won't pry himself loose from my questionings by any fiddle-faddling argumentations about what Tom says, or Dick says, or Harry says. He is going to tell me why, give a reason for his alleged belief, or confess that the great sages and seers of the ages are right.
Rebirth is the result of destiny, the destiny that you have made for yourselves in past lives. You have builded yourselves to come back here to earth; and that is why you are here now, because in other lives you builded yourselves to reincarnate. You are your own parents; you are your own children; because you are yourself. Do you get the idea? You are simply the result, as a character, as a human being, of what you builded yourself to be in the past; and your future destiny — effect of necessity following cause — will be just the result, the karma as theosophists say, in other words the consequence, of what you are now building yourselves to be. If your present life is beautiful, you will have your guerdon in the future; you will have yourselves to thank for your happiness; and if your present life is full of pain and sorrow and heartache and inexplicable riddles which you cannot solve, likewise you have only yourselves to blame for the condition in which you find yourselves. No God outside, despotically or otherwise, creates or directs our destiny. "Ye are gods"; each one of you is a child of the spiritual universe. Take this to your hearts and meditate upon it; remember that you are at home in boundless space. Each one of you is an imbodied god.
"How long a time as an average exists between birth and rebirth?" Usually about a hundred times the length of the life last lived on earth. Why this should be so is one of the wonderful studies; but it is the rule. For instance, if a human being has lived twenty years on earth, he will have two thousand years more or less in the devachan before he returns; if a man has lived forty years before he dies, then four thousand years in devachan; if he has lived sixty years, then six thousand years in the invisible spheres, and then he returns; and so forth. That is the rule; there are exceptions, of course.
There are, for instance, the great sages and seers who, on account of their developed spiritual being, can control the length of the period in the invisible realms after death, or indeed can pass from body to body retaining full consciousness, or they can return when they will; they are masters of our phases of life, even as an average man on this earth is a master of circumstances in which he finds himself — if he be indeed a master of them, and there are such.
"Is a man always born in the same race?" Bless your souls, no; certainly not! The same "race" probably will have passed away before he returns to earth again, unless indeed he be a very materially minded individual hungering for the fleshpots of earth-life; then he returns quite soon. But in his case I say, Pity him.
Don't think for a moment that this earth-life is the only place where love meets love. It is more difficult for loving hearts to meet and to recognize each other on earth than it is in the more ethereal spheres; for we are farther from the heart of love of the universe, than when we are in the more spiritual spheres. In those inner realms we go from planet to planet; we enter invisible and more ethereal realms, and at each such stage we are closer to those we love, to those we love with an impersonal love, with a self-forgetful yearning to serve, to help; and such a love is very beautiful; it is a spiritual thing; and it lives. Such a love will outlast even you as you now are; for you as now you are after a time will have vanished and you will become something greater than now you are. Don't you see?
For evolution is growth, and we exchange our weakness for strength, we transmute our weaknesses into their opposites; therefore we become something quite other than what now we are. Do you know why we are able to do this? Because the core of the core of every human being is a divine entity, is a god, is a cosmic spirit, is a spark of the central flame; and evolution, development, growth, is simply bringing out the faculties and powers of this spark within, of this inner god, this immanent Christos, this inner Buddha. That is growth: bringing out what is within. Is it not thus that a little child grows? Is it not thus that the oak springs from the acorn, bringing out what is within itself?
"What happens to the excarnate entity after death and before the return to rebirth on earth?" I will answer this question briefly, my Brothers. A man goes whither his sum total of yearnings, emotions, aspirations, direct him to go. How easily understood this is! It is the same even in human life on earth. A man will do his best to follow that career towards which he yearns or aspires; and when we cast this physical body off as a garment that has outworn its usefulness, we are attracted to those inner spheres and planes which during the life on earth last lived we had yearnings towards, aspirations towards. That is also precisely why we come back to this earth to bodies of flesh. It is the same rule but working in the opposite direction. We had material yearnings, material hungers and thirsts, latent as seeds in our character after death; and they finally bring us back to earth.
But after death, the nobler, brighter, purer, sweeter, seeds of character, the fruitage, the consequence, of our yearnings for beauty and for harmony and for peace carry us into the realms where harmony and beauty and peace abide. And these realms are spheres just as earth is, but far more ethereal and far more beautiful.
I touch upon this matter with great reluctance, for the reason that there is so much of an esoteric character about it that I cannot tell in a public lecture the whole truth and I will explain this in a moment. I can give hints, but I cannot explain it, and this is not at all because our Society has any idea that our teaching should selfishly be kept for ourselves, not at all; but because you cannot, my Brothers and Friends, understand the deeper theosophical teachings without having studied. Otherwise you will surely misconstrue them; and just as all the past ages have had esoteric schools where the deeper teachings were given to those who were worthy and well qualified to receive, so have we theosophists. Any human being may join our Esoteric School, may receive the sublime teachings given therein; but first he must pass the tests. Is not this right? These tests are impersonal honesty of purpose, an impersonal hunger for light, an impersonal desire to help along the good work, an impersonal pledging of the word of honor that all that is taught in the esoteric schools shall remain sacred and guarded in the silence.
The excarnate entity is in its devachan, as theosophists say; that is to say in a heaven world of peace indescriptible in human tongue, a world of bliss and utter repose. And yet the spiritual entity nevertheless goes to other realms and spheres, as I have already told you. This is a contradiction, perhaps you say. I answer, No. It is a paradox if you will, that is, an apparent contradiction.
Do you want to know the truth, the whole truth and naught but the truth? Then, my Brothers, come to the Temple door and knock; ask, ask with a loyal heart and ye shall receive. This teaching is yours. All that the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace have in their keeping is their most sacred charge. The wisdom-religion of the archaic ages is yours as your natural birthright as human beings; but in order to receive it you must receive it aright. As I have received it, thus may I give it; not otherwise. Yet all this teaching is yours.
And this leads me directly to a communication that I received today:
Dear Dr. Purucker: Here are some questions which I have received from a friend — a very good friend both of you and of our Society. It is really a series of questions, so I quote my correspondent's words in extenso, as they do not lend themselves to being divided into separate and distinct questions, being all intimately interrelated:
"There is a point which has been on my mind since reading the Ninth Circular Letter by Dr. de Purucker in the December Forum. We are told in several places that 'the stream of inspiration and of illumination and of wisdom and of help flows as strongly from them [the Masters] as it ever did' (page 5), and other words to the same effect.
"Now what some of us want to know is, are this illumination and this wisdom simply a repetition of what is to be found in the theosophical literature which we already have? If so, why should one's 'heart go out in great pity, in genuine compassion' towards those who prefer to get this illumination and wisdom out of the books in which it is recorded, rather than from a teacher who is just telling us the same things over again in his own words? On the other hand, if there is really something new in this stream of illumination why not tell us what it is, instead of repeating that it is there? Of this, there has not been the least sign so far, as far as I can perceive. Are this illumination and this wisdom, presumably given for the good of the world, of such a nature that the world is not allowed to have them? If not, why not out with it?
"As you know, I have the greatest admiration for G.deP.'s stand for fraternization. This has been so long forgotten that it needs a man with a tongue of fire to proclaim it. All credit be to him for so doing. But even this is not new; it is the old forgotten wisdom which many read every day and forget the next minute. It is that, not the adherence to texts, or 'bibliolatry,' which calls for pity and compassion.
"If, perchance, I am told that this new knowledge is given to ES members, then, I ask: Why place a fence around it? If it is for the world, the world should have it. If it is not for the world, but only for a select few who have either taken a pledge or proved themselves worthy, why talk about it at all? Why tantalize others by talking about something fine which you decline to give them?
"In short, these questions have put me in a grouchy mood. . . . This in no wise affects my attitude towards the fraternization movement, but I am not going into raptures of ecstasy over something which so far appears to have no existence, apart from the knowledge we already have. If this wonderful stream of wisdom and inspiration can be shown to exist, then I shall be the first to admit it. But mere reiteration that it does exist, simply makes me laugh."
Don't you see the position I am in? Now, I will try briefly to explain this matter, Friends. I have a deep sympathy with minds like that of this writer, minds which are hungry for light, genuinely sincere and manly, yearning, as this writer does, for some proof that Dr. de Purucker's statement is, after all, holy truth. Let such sincere inquirers knock, and the door will open for them; let them ask and ask aright, and it is theirs. They have as much right to it as the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace themselves have. But can I, who am pledged to the strictest secrecy and silence, throw open the doors of the holy of holies to any who may desire to rush in without due preparation and without understanding what it all means, even granting perfect sincerity and a genuine yearning for truth on their part? You may remember what the Christian text says: "Give not that which is holy" to all and sundry; you may also remember the other Christian saying: "Cast not pearls before" those who as yet have not been prepared to know their value and hence to receive them in the spirit in which they are given.
This stream of illumination and wisdom and help indeed continues to flow, and it flows now as always it has flowed into the world. It flows from the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace, or rather through them from still higher spiritual beings. To use the beautiful metaphor of one of the great Hindu epics, I may remind you of the spiritual waters of the Ganga, the great Ganges as they modernly call it in India, which, mystically speaking, is said to flow with rippling and pearly splendor from the gods into the dwelling places and habitats of men, the physical Ganges symbolizing the flow of the spiritual Ganges which cleanses men of the stain of faults, and which fills their souls with light and the waters of life. This story of the spiritual Ganga is a very deep and profound one and a very beautiful one.
Truth exists in the world, my Brothers, and can be had. Examine human history; examine the civilizations of Greece, of Rome, of Babylonia, of Persia, of Egypt, of India even today: you will find in all these countries that the schools of the Mysteries were sacredly guarded, the teachings most secretly kept. So sacredly were they guarded in Greece and Rome, for instance, that betrayal of what took place in the initiation chamber, or any unauthorized allusion to the teachings given, was punished by the State itself with the supreme physical penalty of death. I may remind you of the great-hearted Socrates who unintentionally betrayed some of the teachings of the Mysteries, and of the philosopher Diagoras who had to flee for his life.
Now, such an extreme penalty theosophists, of course, look upon with horror and aversion as a horrible degeneration of the original penalty for betraying the Mysteries, which was simply that of exile into a far land, and a man thereafter was called 'dead' because he was dead at law in the land of his birth. He was dead to his fellow-citizens and to the State, and this fact and this phrasing were construed literally by later generations of men; and thus the death penalty for the betrayal of the Mysteries was inaugurated in a later age. This one fact shows that there had come about a terrible degeneration in the original strictly humanitarian spirit of the Mysteries; but it also shows with equal clearness how sacredly the ancient Mysteries were universally venerated and guarded from unauthorized exposure or from invasion of any kind.
Yes, the holy wisdom has been kept secret, sacred, and apart, from immemorial time; but there always have been teachers of it in the world; "the Lost Word originally given by the supreme Hierarch," as the writers of the Hebrew Qabbalah put it, "to a select company of angels in Paradise" even today can be found and can be told to those worthy and well-qualified to receive it, and actually is so told. The lost wisdom is here; accept the conditions of admission into its portals, apply for entrance in the right spirit, show your willingness to cooperate with those who give all they can to help along the work of human brotherhood and who live for the receiving of light solely in order that they may be the means of passing on the light to others. Do this, and then the holy wisdom is yours for the asking. It is your birthright. But even a child may not claim its birthright until it come of age: a wise provision even in human concerns.
No, this illumination and this wisdom are much more than the mere repetition of what is found already printed in our theosophical books. Such printed matter is of course a part of the ancient wisdom. The great author of the first of these books, H.P. Blavatsky herself, wrote in substance: "What I now give out to the world is only a few fragments of the ancient wisdom of the archaic ages. Other teachers will come and give other fragments; and these fragments will fit in perfectly with what I now and here give." Of course this is the truth, because every educated man knows that no great teacher has ever given all the wisdom of the gods out publicly and at one time, and in no case except under a more or less thin veil of allegory, symbol, and metaphor. This is naturally, inevitably, perfectly right.
But in addition to this stream of illumination and wisdom and help existing, mainly and in its largest part in our Esoteric Section at the present time, I must also point out to you that, particularly during the last three years or so, there has been a steady emission from us of hitherto esoteric teachings into public channels, such teachings having become proper and fit for publication at the present time; although I admit that these teachings have been very carefully worded, and they have been made so absolutely accordant, even in language, with what H. P. B. wrote and taught, that few perhaps have as yet discovered their existence as new fragments of the archaic Rock of Ages. Yet they may be found by those who are interested enough to read my public lectures, also any articles written by myself and Katherine Tingley jointly and published in The Theosophical Path, and in other publications of mine. Actually these new published teachings are most valuable keys in themselves. Were the world ready for it, there would not be any need for an Esoteric Section at all, but every man being ready and fit would be a fit and proper channel to receive the living fire of the ancient wisdom.
The new teachings that have been given since H. P. Blavatsky left this sphere of work are "new" only because for thousands and thousands of years they have been kept secret by the Masters. These new teachings are from the same archaic wisdom whence H.P.B., the envoy of the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace, took the teachings which she published. Consequently, my heart does indeed go out in great pity, in genuine compassion, for those who cannot see that truth is a living fire and that you cannot lock it up in books. To change the metaphor: the fountain of truth flows even now with undiminished stream; and any son of man who at the same time is a son of heaven, may drink at this fountain, at this flowing stream, if he will come to the mystic door in the proper spirit. Ask! Knock! This is a promise.
I pity those who think that H.P.B. brought the truth, or at least certain fragments of it, but that when she passed on it was thereafter impossible for a human being to gain other fragments of that same truth until the end of the present century. I pity them indeed; for I tell you in all the earnestness of my soul that the same stream of illumination and wisdom and help is flowing even today; and this stream is your spiritual birthright. It cannot be given openly to the world; the world would not understand it. It must be given only to those who have been trained by study to understand it, so that they can properly interpret it, so that their lives can be beautified, glorified, made grand and sublime; and thus that they themselves in turn becoming teachers may help others to enter the fields of happiness and peace, of wisdom and compassion.
Yes, this wisdom, this illumination, exists for the good of all the world; but precisely because it is given for the good of the world it is given according to the immemorial manner: As I have received it, thus only can I give it. I have labored, labored through many lives, to be able to receive even the little that I now possess and can understand; and I know that it would be very, very unwise to hand to others the treasure that I have received, little as it may be, otherwise than as I myself have received it.
Now, do we "place a fence around it" — to use the language of this highly intelligent writer? "If it is for the world, the world should have it." O immortal gods, yes, the world should indeed have it; but it is not ready for it, it cannot understand it, it won't understand it. So we have to frame a scheme that men may, despite themselves, get at least a little of the living fire of truth; otherwise they won't take it; and that scheme is, as fishers of the souls of men to bait our hooks with bits of the wondrous truth itself. My Brothers, you can have this truth. I can show you how to have it; but first you must pass the tests. What are these tests? An honest heart, a hunger for truth, a yearning for light and for ever more light; and you must show this in your life. It is manly to ask such a test of your fellows; it is an appeal to the god within them; it is an appeal to the instinctive sense of human grandeur, to the longing in human hearts for inner growth, for spiritual betterment.
It is yours, this wisdom; it belongs to you; it is your human birthright; but you must "come of age" before you may receive it. You will come of age in time; but oh! why not come of age now? This simply means yearning for ever more light, living an honest life, a manly life, and with your heart always filled with the unuttered prayer: "Give me truth and let all the rest go." When that prayer fills your heart full, you will already have passed the test. You will already have knocked at the temple door, and thereafter you cannot be kept out. You will, in fact, find that indeed there is no door.
It is true that I have often spoken of this living stream of illumination and light. I recognize that this writer is perhaps justified by ordinary literary customs in saying that my statement is reiterated, is repeated, perhaps tiringly. Yes; and I do it deliberately. I want my fellow men to know that truth is in the world, that this truth may be had, and I tell them the truth when I speak of it. You may have it, but I say again that you must come in the right spirit. You must show me that your heart hungers for light, for peace, and for the opportunities to labor in self-forgetful service for mankind.
I am a fisher for men. Every genuine theosophical teacher is. Every man who longs to help his fellows and who has at the same time at least a part of a great light to give — not his light, not my light, but the wisdom-religion of the archaic ages — every such human being who longs to give to his fellows what is theirs by right of birth and who searches for ways by which to move their hearts, to open their eyes, he indeed is a fisher for the hearts of men. I bait my hook with the appeal to the intuition of my fellows, with the statement that there is truth in the world, that the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace live, and that they form a brotherhood of great seers and sages; that this brotherhood has existed from immemorial time; that they possess in its fullness the archaic wisdom-religion of mankind; and that this wisdom can be given today to fit and worthy men. This is the bait which I place on my hook.
I yearn to help my fellows, to give them what I have earned. O my Brothers, believe me, there is no selfishness in keeping this wondrous wisdom secret. It has been so kept from immemorial time by the greatest seers and sages of all the ages; but always has the call gone forth from them: "O man, knock, and knock aright; ask, and ask aright; come, come to the feast laid on the table of the Master: eat, drink." That is my bait, the bait of truth, the bait of the heart of a man who, whatever his failings may be, honestly loves his fellow men. I yearn to help. I live for it. I have given up my life to this wondrously beautiful work; my life is consecrate to it; and what little I have to give, that little is yours, and I long to give it to you.
Answering more definitely, therefore, the question of this querent, I will say that this illumination and this wisdom of which I speak are vastly more than merely "a repetition of what is to be found in the theosophical literature which we already have." It is much more than merely repeating in my own words what H. P. Blavatsky has already so nobly and so adequately set forth in her great works; and furthermore, these other teachings are new to the modern world.
Again, all these teachings belong to mankind and are not selfishly kept from any man, but as I have said, I cannot give what I myself have received under the pledge of secrecy otherwise than as I myself have received it. If there is any quarrel on this point, why quarrel with me who try to be a faithful servant of those who have taught me? If there is any quarrel, quarrel if you will with the age-old rule and custom, and with the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion themselves who, as for instance in The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, repeat so often in varying phrases the fact that they cannot give the ancient wisdom to the world indiscriminately and to all and sundry, but only to those who have received adequate preparation.
Vol 2, No 26