Theosophical University Press Online Edition
Twelve Globes in a Chain
Are Theosophists Non-Social?
Explanation of Heaven and Hell
Man a Host of Monads
Overlapping in Geological Periods
Sufiism and Theosophy
No Communication with the Dead
Divinity, Spirit and Soul
Arguments for Reincarnation
Fundamental Remedy for Suffering
Intellectual Interest in Theosophy
Prayer and Petitioning
In FUNDAMENTALS OF THE ESOTERIC PHILOSOPHY you give twelve globes. In one of the Letters in THE MAHATMA LETTERS the Master says there are fourteen in all, that the number has been given out correctly for the first time. Would that mean two, or rather FOUR, connecting the lower and higher hierarchies, instead of two? It puzzles me rather. . . . Looking up Letter XIV I now understand that the number fourteen relates to the seven lokas and the seven talas. Is that right?
There is no need for being confused about this, although I readily see how confusion might arise. The number of globes is twelve, but the Master, in the Letter that you speak of, refers to the seven manifest globes of which H. P. B. herself almost invariably writes, and also to the World of Effects which are not Lokas or actual spheres, but inner parts of the constitution of each globe, much as a man's astral body is one of the principles of his constitution and yet not different from him.
Where you say that "I now understand that the number fourteen relates to the seven talas and the seven lokas. Is that right?" is quite correct, because the seven Lokas and the seven Talas include the principles both of any globe and of any man. But I must point out that the Master, in the quotation which you make from him, is more particularly referring to the "Worlds of Effects" or astral worlds, commonly grouped under the name Astral Light, than he is to the Lokas and Talas specifically. Nevertheless the Lokas and Talas are almost the same thing.
The matter is very involved, so it is small wonder that you should be puzzled. If you will look in The Mahatma Letters, on page 71, at the bottom of the page, you will see that the Master M. states specifically: "The worlds of effects are not lokas or localities." Remember, then, that there are actually twelve globes, seven of them manifest, and five unmanifest, at least to us human beings; but that the quotation from the Master's Letter refers rather to the particular Lokas and Talas conjoined which are to every globe its own specific "worlds of effects," the astral world and its connexions with the other parts of a globe's constitution of seven principles.
It has been said that there is likelihood that the Theosophist may become a-social (non-social). This statement was ascribed to the fact that the Theosophical teachings give an idea to the student of the eternity and boundlessness of life, and that in the course of time the student becomes conscious of this. Consequently he would see the relativity of everything, or of many things, and this might lead to a tendency to hold non-social feelings. My question is: Could it do harm or be deleterious to the real man, the inner man — with a view to his evolution on this earth — if he keep away from the society of this world, in which there is no doubt much evil?
There is not the slightest chance or possibility of a genuine Theosophist becoming a-social either in outlook or in feeling, if he follows the lines of teaching of the ancient Wisdom-Religion of the gods as given to us by the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion first in recent times through their Messenger, H. P. Blavatsky. All religions, all religious philosophies, and all philosophies with a religious tendency, are bound to arouse in a certain cast of human intelligence a desire to separate themselves off from the rest of mankind, and, as it were, to feel the need of a personal advancement on the road of spiritual and intellectual progress quite apart from one's duty to one's fellowmen. When this mistaken view prevails, then we have the phenomenon of monasticism and the conventual existence, such as grew to be so important at one time in the early medieval history of Christianity.
Of course it is true that by thus separating oneself from the world, one can free oneself to a certain extent from temptation, and make a kind of spiritual progress; but after all, it is a purely selfish progress and therefore in the end defeats the very object which this kind of life hopes to attain. True Theosophy does not approve of this kind of thing, for it shows us that we are all brothers, members of the human family, that we have intimate karmic responsibilities, one to all and all to one, and that the proper way to lead the Theosophical life is to live in the world but not to be of the world, i.e., to do one's whole duty by family and country and by one's fellow-men throughout the world, but yet in so doing to make of this very fact the means of inner spiritual growth. The Theosophist does not and should not flee from temptation. It is his duty to overcome and to conquer and not to run away. The very fact that the Theosophist by his study and life gains a keen understanding of the relativity of all things is the very reason why he feels his duty so strongly, and realizes that the quickest way in spiritual progress is by using every faculty that he has in accordance with the highest ethical principles, and with a feeling of deep and intense interest in the welfare of his fellow-men, and of compassion for the sufferings and troubles of our fellow human beings.
Therefore I think that the questioner is correct in saying that it could be bad for the inner real man to remain outside human society. The reason is that every man is an individual unit in human society, and he has a duty to human society; and therefore he should fulfil this human duty.
Of course there comes a time for every human individual when he may feel the urge to follow the lonely path of chelaship, of discipleship; but every true disciple or chela realizes that this path of seclusion is followed only up to the point where the disciple becomes a Master of life; and thereafter more than ever before does he become a servant of the law of Compassion and a servant of the world in the sense of devoting his whole life and all that is in him to awakening the spiritual and intellectual consciousness of his fellow-men.
I speak of the life of training that a disciple must pass through as a 'lonely' path; but this is a mere manner of speech. It is somewhat like a student in a University who has a difficult examination to pass; and in order to get the freedom from anxiety and distractions that otherwise would be upon him, he secludes himself in his rooms for a while until he has mastered the tests before him. Then when he has taken his degree, he comes into the world again and does his duty by his fellow-men — or at least he should do so.
I hope this answer is clear; and from it it will be readily seen that it is utterly wrong to say that Theosophists have a tendency to become a-social, i.e., non-social in the proper sense of the word 'social.' Also please note carefully that this has nothing whatsoever to do with politics of any kind. It is a question of morals, ethics, and of intellectual and spiritual growth and improvement.
If you are asked by a Christian what you have to give in place of their Heaven, what would you reply, please?
May I answer this question by phrasing my answer not so much as an answer but as an explanation, inversely as it were. The Christian Heaven, a place of peace and bliss where the righteous shall dwell through eternity with a recognition of the glory of God Almighty upon their souls, and bathing in the spiritual elevation that they are one with Him and in His holy favor! How narrow! Would not the very angels, according to the Christian system, turn in horror from such spiritual selfishness? Think of the millions and millions and millions of uncounted hosts and multitudes of suffering creatures who have not attained such or any Heaven and who, according to the Christian theory, the orthodox theory, are undergoing the pangs of inextinguishable fire, burning in unspeakable torture to time without an ending! How can there be a Heaven when such hellish conditions prevail? Forgive me if I offend, I do not mean to. I am no believer in such a Heaven. I reject it because my whole soul rises in revolt. I want no Heaven unless every entity everywhere, unless every thinking and sentient soul, shares it with me. The self-isolated saint in his holy Heaven lives in a paradise of fools — and of very selfish fools!
Give me rather our own grand, sublime teaching of the gods: that there is eternal progress, that there is eternal evolution, eternal advancement, eternal growth, eternal unfolding of faculty after faculty, of power after power, of constantly increasing expansion of the human consciousness into the divine consciousness, and of the divine into the super-divine, and so on unto endless time. Give me our sublime teaching that as we grow and expand and our consciousness takes unto itself Kosmic reaches, we become co-laborers in the Kosmic Labor, in the Kosmic Work. Ah, there is a vision to enchant the soul; there is a vision to rest the heart; there is a vision which stimulates the intellect: the recognition of one's oneness with the Universe. Endless progress, endless advancement for all, excluding none, the tiniest atom, the mightiest god, two different stages of growing entities. The atom becomes a man, the man becomes a god, the god becomes a super-god, and so on ad infinitum.
There is no place for a static 'Heaven' in my philosophy, and on the same grounds as there is no place for a static hell in my belief. There are of course the intermediate spheres and stages of bliss and felicity where we rest, for instance in the devachan after death, or in the nirvana; but all these are transitory as compared with beginningless and endless Duration. Of course there are temporary heavens, and there are likewise temporary hells. If a man follows through many ages a path which takes him constantly downward, a path in following which there is constant increase in pain and suffering because a constant constriction of every faculty and energy, becoming more and more tightened into oneself — there are indeed these things; but even they are temporary. And the same reflexion applies to the ascending path, towards the Heavens innumerable. But as compared with eternity they are, to follow a favorite metaphor of mine, but like dissolving wisps of cloud upon a mountain-side. They come, they endure a moment, and they pass. Far greater than any such heaven, than any such sphere or loka of bliss and felicity, is the grandiose vision of endless growth in faculty and power, and endless opportunity to work for the world. There is no joy like that!
How may we reach to an understanding of the essence of us, of each one of us, which is beyond what we call the Monad? Or can we reach beyond the Monad?
This is a question which has bothered some of our most intellectual students. Yet the answer is very simple. You have the answer in Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy and of course in all of H. P. B.'s philosophical works. Have I not often said that man's real nature or composition is legion: that he is a composite entity, and that within every human constitution there is not merely one Monad but many — one essential Monad, the root of the individual's being, giving birth to hosts of children-Monads, and that these children-Monads build up the vehicles in which the primal or primordial essential Monad lives and works? Have I not often pointed out that man is a composite of an actual army of entities, of a host, of a multitude, extending from the heart of the Universe down to his physical brain and body? To illustrate: There is the astral Monad which the beast has or is conscious of in itself. There is the human Monad which we humans have and are conscious in. There is the spiritual Monad which the great Masters, the higher ones at least, are because they are conscious in it. There is the divine Monad, in the consciousness of which the inner god of each one of us lives. There is the super-divine Monad in which some entity, still a part of us, still more sublime, is conscious and lives; and so on for ever. The difficult thing in this study is to get it through our dull human intelligences so miseducated through hundreds of years, that man is a composite or compounded entity, a microcosm: that we are not merely animated bodies built in a certain way by natural forces, but that we actually are rays — I cannot think of a better term — flowing forth from the heart of Infinity; and that for each one of us such a ray is our essential Self; and along this ray, so to say, at certain intervals there are knots of consciousness. Each one of these knots along the ray is a child-Monad; and the farther one goes inwards or, in other words, the higher one goes, along this ray of consciousness, the diviner the Monads are found to be as we reach knot after knot of consciousness ascending upwards or inwards.
Now then, as the human being yearning for more light and truth spiritualizes his consciousness, in other words rises to higher planes of consciousness, he ascends along this essential ray and becomes cognisant, first, that he is more than a merely beast-Monad, or later in time that he is more than a merely human Monad. There is in him the consciousness of the Monad of the Masters, the spiritual Monad; and when he becomes a Master he realizes that there is something within him still higher than this, to wit, the god-Monad; and as he continues to ascend along this ray of consciousness, this 'pathway' about which I wrote so much in Fundamentals and elsewhere, as he goes still higher, with each ascent, with each step upwards, with each reaching to a higher Monad, he attains an added expansion of essential consciousness. Thus this expansion grows from humanity into spirituality or into Masterhood; from spirituality his consciousness becomes divine in its reach, including even the Galaxy or Milky Way. He then ascends still higher along this essential selfhood, along this ray within him, until his consciousness becomes kosmic and takes in a reach still more vast; and so on for ever.
The teaching is an amazing paradox and an amazing verity. Remember that of course a paradox is not a contradiction. A paradox means a statement which contains at least two elements contradictory apparently, but only apparently so because we don't understand the two elements. When we understand it, the paradox disappears and we see their coherence in the unity of conception.
If I rightly understand it, it comes to this: When we use the word Monad, it represents the relatively highest state of consciousness which the being in question has reached at the time, but of course as an evolving being, yet it always represents the highest attained at the time.
Exactly so. There is always a Monad superior to our stage of evolution, whatever that stage may be: there is always one still higher just ahead of us. In other words, it is the principle of veil after veil, each veil hiding a nobler vision, a grander expansion of consciousness; and all evolution is simply an unveiling of consciousness, an unfolding of potentialities, of potencies hitherto lying infolded, involved. This, then, is what evolution means: unfolding, unwrapping from within of what hitherto has lain latent there, or rather unmanifest.
Would you say that there is any overlapping in the great geological periods, or is each one entirely distinct from the one which follows it?
It can perhaps be said that the geological periods overlap, but such overlapping is minor in manifestation. The main point to remember is that the different great stocks of mineral, vegetable, and animal and human lives follow each other with coincident or co-ordinate great changes of land and sea, and therefore also of climates. In other words, the stocks of beings, or monads, co-operate or co-ordinate, and thus produce the different and serial and successive patterns of what we today call geological eras, or what the biologist or zoologist and botanist would call the successive waves of plant and animal and human life.
Thus there are successive geologic eras, each one accompanied by its own monadic families in all the kingdoms; but there are survivals in any one geologic epoch for long periods, of the preceding epoch and even preceding epochs. For instance the elephant today and the rhinoceros, while still alive, as beings really belong to a preceding time. They are slowly dying out. The reason of their survival is that the monads inhabiting these bodies were able to conform to the new mammalian era. Certain other types of living beings have died out, or almost died out, like the dodo or the platypus and kangaroos in instances, although the kangaroos still hang on.
What can I say to a friend who is very desirous of having me share her deep interest in Sufiism?
It is amazing that so many people move into these exotic Oriental beliefs without really knowing what they are. Sufiism is one of the best of them all; but it is really naught, as it now stands, but a species of exoterically esoteric Mohammedanism. So far as it goes, it is quite a beautiful belief, teaching love and brotherhood, kindliness; and the existence of a personal god of a rather impersonal character — a curious mixture. There is much that is very fine about it and that is what catches our Occidentals. But, as I have often said, why prefer a chapter out of a book, to the whole blessed volume, which Theosophy is?
I really think that you can interest your friend in Theosophy. Tell her beautiful things. Talk of love and harmony and mercy and beauty, and of the great Seers and Sages of the world, of the Hierarchies and of Universal Nature, of the Path to Wisdom which lies in the Great Self of every human being, one's inner god. Talk of a spiritual Brotherhood, utterly impersonal, non-political, non-sectarian; in other words, show her how much more beautiful the Theosophical conception is, and how much more all-comprehensive. She does not realize what she has moved into: she sees only the beauty of the modern Sufi mystical thought, but does not realize its philosophical and scientific incompleteness.
But say nothing against Sufiism itself, for indeed there is much that is admirable about it, just as there is in Christianity or Brahmanism or Buddhism, or any other kind of mystical thought. It is the Oriental novelty which attracts Occidental women to these exotic beliefs, but we Theosophists must appeal not only to their hearts but also to their intellects.
Do you think one is ever justified in consulting mediums in order to, rather, in the effort to, communicate with the deceased?
I can answer this by saying that it is the teaching of the Wisdom-Religion of mankind, today called Theosophy, that any attempt to communicate with those who have passed on, by mediums or sensitives, or in any other wise, is a cruel injustice, perpetrated, alas, usually in ignorance, upon souls which are struggling to wing their way into brighter and grander spheres; and any such effort, even if only moderately successful, holds the departing spiritual essence back.
Furthermore, it is utterly impossible, by Nature's grand and compassionate laws, physically to communicate with the spiritual essence of any human being, for when such spiritual essence has broken its links with the material world at the death of the physical body, which is cast aside as a worn-out garment, the spiritual essence cannot ever be materially reached at all. The utmost that could be done would be a psycho-magnetic communication with the astral reliquiae, or what the consensus of mankind has called the 'spook' or the 'bhuta.'
Please understand that this answer to your question is in no wise intended to be a slur upon the many splendid and kindly people who belong to the so-called spiritualistic ranks. I would not hurt their feelings for anything, and yet I am in duty bound, as a Theosophical Teacher, when a question is asked of me, to tell honestly and without reserve what the teachings of the Wisdom-Religion of mankind are.
I may add this as a comment to what I have just written, that there is, nevertheless, a sublime way of coming into heart-touch with those whom we have loved and who have passed on, and that is through our own spiritual nature — in other words by raising our hearts in impersonal love towards the memory, the blessed memory, of those whom we have loved, and who are no longer physically with us.
There is a real spiritual companionship, an actual one, if those left behind in the physical body can be so impersonal and loving of heart that they can do this. The spirit is universal in its reaches, and love overleaps all boundaries either of space or time, and thus even the living on earth can come into loving spiritual touch with the ones who are freed.
But any attempt to do this through mediums or through psychics or sensitives, etc., I feel in duty bound to tell you is not only unfortunate misjudgment but deleterious to the spiritual health of both the medium and the one who so tries. Alas that there should be such ignorance of Nature's great laws among people who are otherwise in so many cases devoted kindly, splendid people.
What is the difference between the divine and spiritual on the one hand, and the spirit and the soul on the other hand?
The words 'divine' and 'spiritual' of course are adjectives. Whatever is of the spirit is spiritual. The divine is a very different thing from the soul. 'Soul' is one of the most difficult words in the English language to explain, simply because it means a thousand and one things. Say 'soul,' and fifty thousand men will have fifty thousand different opinions about it.
However, we may speak of soul as the center or habitat of an ego which is the soul's inspiring flame. The encircling veil or garment is 'soul' and as each man has within his constitution a divine ego and a spiritual ego and a human ego and even a sort of beast-ego, there are corresponding souls for all these. Soul, we may say, therefore, means 'garment,' 'vehicle,' 'body.'
The divine, I may perhaps say, is the loftiest part either of the Universe or of man. Whatever is of the gods, is of divine character. Whatever is of the nature of divinity, is divine. The highest in any hierarchy is the divine; then comes the spiritual through which it works. Underneath that, let us say in our own case, comes the human, through which the spiritual works; then the beast-element in us, the kama-astral-vital part, through which the human must work in order to express itself on this physical plane. Then comes our physical body. I hope the answer is somewhat responsive, at least.
I was talking today to a clergyman on the subject of Reincarnation, which he did not believe in, of course. How could I convince him that I am right?
I don't know! In my own work, many people ask me questions and I have found that the best way to convince them that I am right is to make the questioner himself or herself think that he has given me a very difficult question. Then you can lead him on, at least I do so, to explain just what he means by that question. As, for instance, lead him on to explain what he means by his terms; and in a very little while he is tangled up in definitions and diffuseness or incoherent details; he then hardly knows what he himself means, and is less convinced than before and is more ready to listen to what you have to say. If you have truth to give, there is your opportunity to point out — that is, if you understand it yourself — that the questioner, in thus exposing his ignorance of the idea has not only helped himself to clarify his mind through analysis of his thoughts, but has also shown to himself that he has not understood the logical elements of his own question.
As a matter of fact, most people do not think clearly, and some don't seem to think at all. It is obvious that a Christian questioner you would have to treat in one way, and an agnostic in another way, and a Hindu yogi in a third way, etc. Success in answering all questions, I believe, arises from first making the questioner think for himself, and secondly and coincidently giving him new points of view to think about.
What are some good clinching arguments for Reincarnation?
Many, to my mind. Each argument should be according to the questioner. What might not convince a Roman Catholic or a Methodist, might appeal to some one who is an Atheist. When that question is put to me, realizing the difficulty of giving a brief and lucid answer, I in my turn begin to ask questions after the Socratic method, and I say: What do you understand Reincarnation to be?, and then my questioner begins to define what he understands or misunderstands by the term. There is my chance to correct and to instruct. In other words, instead of answering directly, I often take a round-about way, a psychological method of treating the different minds that come to me with questions; and by questioning my questioner, I make my questioner think for himself, clarify his own ideas, until, little by little, after talking with him, he realizes that Reincarnation is at least interesting to think about, and that is the first step.
I do not think that there is any definite, brief, conclusive answer to the question: What is an absolute proof of Reincarnation? There are many perfectly true answers that might be given. For instance: Why are we here? By chance? Then rigidly pursue that line of thought. There is no chance. We are here because it is Nature's working which has put us here, Nature working always according to law and order. This means a chain of causation stretching far back into the past. If we are men now, we are so merely as the present end of a chain of causes and of effects; and the causes producing consequences, 'Karman' in other words — the Doctrine of Consequences — can produce only what is innate in that chain itself. I mean, if there be a chain of consequences which, if led to its successful conclusion, will culminate in an electric light, it is obvious that this identic chain of consequences if led to its successful conclusion will not culminate in anything else than an electric light. Follow along this line, and make your questioner think for himself. Then go on, as Socrates did, step by step; and in a little while he will begin to argue with you, and possibly will even show you, of his own instance, some excellently good proofs of reimbodiment or rebirth.
It is often said that Theosophy has the remedy for the distress and suffering existing in the world. I believe it, but how are we to make this understood by those who may not be members of the Theosophical Society, and by those who are suffering in their material circumstances?
I don't think that any sane man can deny that the world is in a state of consciousness which proves that men lack a genuine philosophy of life. It is commonly believed that men are merely physical bodies, animals, animated machines. This is the root of the whole world-trouble today, causing wide-spread immorality, blatant, flagrant, parading itself — and when I say immorality I do not refer to sexual immorality alone, but I refer also to political immorality, social immorality, ethical immorality in general. It is always thus when men have no standard of right and wrong which they can prove to be based on natural law. In such case men have no guide in life, and the consequence will be corruption, deceit, self-seeking, war, and all the other evil things that follow in the train. The teachings of materialistic science during the last hundred years have brought mankind to the pass where they have actually lost hope. Men today don't really believe anything; or, if they believe in something vague, they have no proof of it. Fortunately, our great scientific researchers are beginning to teach a new doctrine.
The deduction immediately follows from what has been said that according to natural law what one man does affects all others. Realization of this induces a feeling of moral responsibility, in other words a recognition of ethics; and it is our duty to teach our Theosophical doctrines, which show men a philosophy of life: that what they sow they reap, that they are now what they have made themselves to be in the past, and that in the future they will be what now they are making themselves in the future to become. Our Theosophical doctrines give to man not only a great and sublime hope, but they also give to him ethical principles by which he will live, and a grand philosophy which adequately explains those principles. Hence, wars will automatically cease when the world is finally Theosophized; corruption in high places and in low will become an awful memory of the past. This regeneration, among other things, is what we are working for. This question also has brought out one of the fundamental reasons for the founding of the Theosophical Society.
Should one ask a person to become a member of the Theosophical Society, even if he knows it is only an intellectual interest that causes the person to read our literature?
Emphatically yes. Immortal gods, think what we have to give! We are fishers for the souls of men. Let us hook those souls with the bait of truth. If some one comes to me and says: "I am interested in so-and-so. What can I do to learn more?" shall I shrug my shoulders in an indifferent sort of way and let him wander and stumble on the path? No. I would say: Come in, learn more, here is where you can find it.
By all means invite him to join us — help him to make his way smoother. Think of what the Masters have done for you. Did not they make the way smoother in giving to us the immortal Theosophical verities by sending out their Messenger H. P. B. in our day, a part of whose work was also to found the Theosophical Society? Remember there is always a standing invitation to enter into the Temple of Truth. Yes, Brothers: invite, do more even, do everything that is honest and clean and true to help outsiders to join the Theosophical Society.
I have absolutely no sympathy with the opinion that some people seem to have that it is a wrong thing to suggest to another to take the Theosophical path. Indeed, it is our duty, it is our human duty, to warn a man walking towards an open trap-door, towards a pit-fall — it is our duty to tell him of it; it is our duty to tell him that in a certain direction lies the path of safety, the path of light. If you find a man wandering in a dark field surrounded by noisome gases, it is your duty to show him the way, to show him towards the light.
Why do Theosophists not believe in prayer, and that prayer will be answered by our Father in Heaven?
Just exactly what do you mean by prayer? Does it mean petitioning "the Father of men and the Creator of the universe" to send us rain or to give us success in our material enterprises, or to send us a baby boy instead of a baby girl, or to make the crops grow green or to give us comfort and solace when perhaps death has taken a loved one from us? What kind of prayer is this? It is wholly selfish. It is a confession that we are seeking to get something for ourselves; it is a confession also that our view of and opinions about and convictions concerning that unnameable Mystery, whose very heart is compassion and wisdom, are purely human. It also signifies that we believe that the Divine does not know as well as we do what is good for the world and for us. Petitionary prayer, to us Theosophists, is not only wrong, but, if we may use ordinary human terms, is a spiritual impertinence.
On the other hand, those who suffer, whose hearts grieve, who are in doubt about some deep ethical problem, who are uncertain after which manner a certain act should be done — should remember the words of all the great Teachers: Go into thine own inner chamber and there commune with the god within thyself; for, as Jesus is reported to have said, "I and my Father are one" — that is, each man is one with his own inner god, the essential divinity within him, his link with the Boundless Infinitude. There is a fountain of wisdom within us all, a fountain of love inexhaustible; and the pity of it is that men do not realize this — one of the sublimest truths of human life. They do not know what they have within, and all the teaching of the Sages and Seers of the ages has been: Look within, search within, find truth within, become one with thine own inner god, and be at peace! There is the source of wisdom and love and peace and happiness; and the way to reach this source is beginning with a boundless sympathy for the souls of men.
The one true and only genuine prayer is loving; give love boundless to everything both great and small; feel your essential unity with the stars in their courses; feel at home in the Universe; have a kindly thought and a compassionate feeling for everything that suffers or is in pain or that grieves or that yearns for light and truth. This is the path of discipleship; this is the ideal of the chela-life. Theosophy makes an appeal to the spirit within man himself, and if this idea is understood and developed within one, then in a little while light comes, peace comes, happiness comes, and great quiet. No longer do pain and sorrow exist in such a man or woman.
The key is self-forgetfulness! Remember that the very heart of Nature is harmony, which means love; for love and harmony are one, being two sides of the same thing. Wisdom is but another name for the same thing, for love is wise: it is wisdom and clairvoyance; and wisdom is always harmonious. Actually, love and wisdom and peace and harmony are really words for the same inexpressible Mystery which men in their ignorance call God. When we begin to delineate it and define it, we endow the Divine with our merely human figments of thought, imperfect, limited, because we are imperfect; and therefore it is that we Theosophists always speak of this wondrous, ineffable Mystery by the one word THAT. This is infinitely more reverential than to begin to label the Divine or to ticket it or to qualify it with the imperfect attributes of our human existence.
All petitionary prayer is, in the last analysis, selfish. Take two armies on a battle-field, for instance. Each one prays that it may be victorious and the enemy be vanquished. Whose prayer is your God going to grant? I repeat again: all petitionary prayer is selfish. A man may ask for guidance; but even this is for himself alone. It is a nobler prayer, I admit, than if he were to ask for an increase in his wealth, or something of that sort; but nevertheless he is asking for something which in his imperfect judgment he thinks to be the best thing for him. But you can yourselves change the course of your own lives, because you are a part of Nature, you are an integral part of the Universe, and therefore a part of that very heart of compassion, although as yet very imperfect and feeble expressions of It.
Even if you pray for another's good fortune — how about the moral aspect of this? Don't you realize that you have no right deliberately to influence, or to try to influence, the evolutionary growth or development of a brother or of an entity inferior to you, unless it be strictly in accordance with Nature's inner laws, which are non-interference with others, except in loving and in compassion and in impersonal helping? Do you think you could have a right to influence a rose, for instance, to change its color from red to blue? If so, then, following along the same line, you would have a right to influence some human being's destiny, and to try to change him from a bad man to a good man or from a good man to a bad man. No, we Theosophists say No, because, suppose that you were successful in changing a bad man into a good one, and did so by your own power, you would leave him still weak and imperfect and you would thus deprive him of the opportunity of gaining strength for himself, which is the only genuine strength and the only way by which he can grow. It is in Nature's law for him to learn his own lessons, to evolve himself, to strive himself for strength, for light, for growth. Interference in the affairs of another is unwarrantable, and the very gods in their majestic courses cannot and will not interfere with the evolutionary growth of men by listening to their feeble petitionary prayer.