While we know intellectually the truth of the Theosophical teachings, we are not self-conscious of these great truths. How can we bridge the gap in order that we may better help others?
That is a nobly beautiful question. If you are intellectually conscious of the truth, this alone is a great step forwards — having intellectual recognition that certain teachings are true. This is a ‘revelation’ in a way, it is like an open door; and if you will just follow that intellectual recognition faithfully, and try to live in accordance with it, and at peace with yourselves and with all other men, looking upon this intellectual recognition as a guiding light, your intellectual conception will finally come into sympathetic vibration with the higher portions of your constitution, and you will gain as much of the inner wisdom and love and peace as your personal nature can contain at the time.
I am astonished that this questioner has put his question as he does, because it is usually the intellectual conception which comes last. We often feel truths which we are unable intellectually ever to state or perhaps even to understand fully with the brain-mind. We cannot as easily express the thoughts we have, as we can feel things. There is always the danger that the intellect may finally gain an undue preponderance in the character, and that has to be avoided because it may easily lead to the Left-Hand path. We must above everything else cultivate the ethical or moral sense equally with the intellectual, otherwise we are apt to become one-sided creatures, and such development is unwise.
”How can we bridge the gap in order that we may better help others?” My answer is, by opening your heart and your mind to the calming and soothing influences of your spiritual nature guided by the light that Theosophy will give to you; and then devote your life in unremitting service to all that lives. This is extremely beautiful and brings with it as its natural guerdon not only wisdom and the Great Peace, but an opening out of the inner being of the aspirant, so that finally he becomes wholly at one with his god within, which means becoming a Master of Life consecrated forever to the service of the world and to helping all beings.
The whole nature of man must grow, must be awakened; we must not grow merely in one part of us. It is symmetrical growth which brings the inner harmony, the inner peace. Do not be discouraged in thinking that though you understand the Theosophic teachings, you cannot easily get the feeling of the truth of them. Simply follow the light that is in you, and if you have the intellect to understand, as you say you have, this itself is an enormous step ahead. Try to cultivate the ethical instinct at the same time and all the time, and strive always to find the ethical values of truth — I mean the moral value of the intellectual teaching. Get the inner consciousness that a thing is right, as well as the intellectual sense that it is right. A person may have an intellectual perception of a truth, but be cold-hearted, with no urge to help others, no urge to pass on the light to others. Such a one does not sense his inseparable unity with others and his inescapable responsibility to them.
I have been a reader of Theosophical literature for a number of years and have understood from the teachings that we are now in the fifth Sub-Race of the Fifth Root-Race. But I read in Dr. de Purucker's illuminating book, Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, that this is a mistake; that we have not even reached the middle of the fourth Sub-Race; and that earlier teaching has been an intentional blind on this point.
The present condition of the world certainly suggests that we are not a whole sub-race beyond the “acme of materiality.” But if such is the case, why was it necessary to withhold this teaching until today? And why are we more ready to receive it now than fifty years ago? Can anything further be said on this subject?
The questioner, on the whole, has correctly understood my various references to the matter of the Races. It is, however, erroneous to suppose that the teaching concerning this matter has been ‘withheld’ until today; and, consequently, the above statement suggesting that we are now more ready to receive the teachings than others were fifty years ago is likewise a mistake. I would also like to point out that the earlier teaching on this matter was not “an intentional blind”; but H. P. B.’s teachings regarding the Races as given in The Secret Doctrine, have not been in all respects properly understood.
In Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, on pages 280-1, I have treated of this matter at sufficient length, it seems to me, although briefly; and I suggest that the questioner and others who may be interested in the facts, turn to H. P. B.’s The Secret Doctrine and especially to its Volume One, page 610, and ponder over the very clear and definite statements therein made.
“The acme of materiality in each” Race is always the fourth stage or sub-race “or central point,” e.g., the fourth Sub-Race of any Root-Race. Further, H. P. B. on this page of The Secret Doctrine says very clearly that “we are in the mid-point of our Sub-Race of the Fifth Root-Race — the acme of materiality in each — therefore the animal propensities, though more refined,” etc. Now, these words, “the acme of materiality in each” solve the problem instantly, because two things are here referred to: the Fifth Root-Race and its “acme of materiality” which is the fourth Sub-Race; and, again, “the mid-point of our Sub-Race.” It should be clear enough to anybody that being at the point where the “acme of materiality” in each is found, this places us therefore at, or nearing the middle point of, the fourth Sub-Race of the Fifth Root-Race. However, as there are always cycles within cycles, and smaller cycles again within these, even a fourth sub-race has its upward rises towards a relative intellectual development or a relative spiritual development, and also its descents thereafter.
Since the discovery of America, we have been on the upward rise of a small minor cycle within the fourth Sub-Race; and this accounts for the great development in brain-mind intellectuality and for the flowering of material energies which the most myopic of modern individuals can see the signs of around us everywhere.
To speak more accurately, we are at the present time actually passing through a small fifth subordinate race, forming part of a Family-Race, which in its turn is part of the fourth Sub-Race, which is the lowest great sub-race of the Fifth Root-Race.
Again, as every industrious student of the archaic Wisdom knows who has pondered over the statements in H. P. B.’s The Secret Doctrine, every Root-Race, when its time comes, is cut in two in its middle part, i.e., at about the middle point of its fourth Sub-Race, as Atlantis was, and as Lemuria was. Such racial catastrophe obviously has not yet befallen us of the Fifth Root-Race; and the deduction is of course immediate and obvious: we have not yet reached the middle point of the fourth Sub-Race of the Fifth Root-Race — although we are not far from this middle point.
H. P. B. in The Secret Doctrine furthermore shows that the karmic geologic destiny of Europe — when the final closing of many racial accounts will take place — requires some sixteen thousand or more years before that event, a geologic racial catastrophe, reaches its maximum. But meanwhile, “coming events cast their shadows before”; and very serious seismic, tidal, and other catastrophic events will happen to certain European countries between now and the sixteen thousand years period of grace that Europe still has. H. P. B. has alluded to these events on several occasions in her writings, as in The Theosophist in an article later republished in Five Years of Theosophy, and also in articles in her Lucifer, in which places she calls attention to tidal waves and disastrous earthquakes that are already occurring, and clearly pointing to what will come in the future.
Were we now in the fifth Sub-Race, as some have mistakenly supposed, we should have passed the cutting in two of our Fifth Root-Race; but this last has not occurred. The conclusion is therefore obvious.
I hope that these observations, which it seems to me any earnest student could himself have gathered from H. P. B.’s The Secret Doctrine, will throw some light upon an intricate and confessedly obscure teaching.
(a) How is it that the divine spark — which in its evolutionary journey from non-self-consciousness is to rise to self-consciousness — can be imperfect in its core at the moment when it is sent forth from the womb of being? (For non-self-consciousness is not perfection, is it?, since perfection, however relative a conception, would seem to include self-consciousness.)
(b) How is it that this evolutionary pilgrimage can involve such untold suffering for human beings, while according to Theosophy, the core of a human being is not affected?
Answer to (a): I think the answer to this question should contain, first of all, the statement that there is rather a misunderstanding of terms used in this teaching than any fault in the teaching itself. It would be quite wrong to speak of the divine spark before it begins its evolutionary journey at the beginning of the cosmic manvantara as being ‘imperfect.’ It all depends upon what we mean by the two terms ‘perfection’ and ‘imperfection.’ It is admitted that perfection is relative; therefore imperfection must likewise be so.
And if we remember that the entire purpose of the evolutionary journey is twofold — first to enable the divine spark to gain self-consciousness on lower planes than its own and also to aid the evolution of the life-atoms which form its various vehicles on the different planes of evolution, we shall see that this term ‘self-consciousness’ itself is a relative term. The divine spark is continuously perfect, so far as all lower planes are concerned; and ‘perfect’ here is a relative term, not an absolute one. But as the entire galactic universe, of which it is a member, is itself evolving just as much as are the untold hosts of divine sparks within it, each new manvantara or manifestation-period of a galactic universe presents new phases of growth or new possibilities of self-consciousness, which the divine spark will be obliged to evolve into, or make a part of itself, before it can become a Master again in the new manvantara which the galactic universe is undertaking.
The question therefore shows that the questioner has probably not grasped the enormous complexity of the situation. Not only is the divine spark itself evolving — that is, bringing out from within its own womb of being continuously new aspects of itself, and recognising them and becoming conscious of them, but the universe or galactic universe, in which it is native and with which it evolves, is also evolving: i.e., growing; i.e., changing; i.e., having constantly new aspects.
Remember, also, that any one divine spark is but an individual or single unit in really incomprehensible multitudes of others like unto itself; and these multitudes, in order to be fully self-conscious in their own home-universe must become self-conscious of each other and of the various phases or sheaths of consciousness in which each and every one, and therefore all, are individually and collectively inwrapped.
The self-consciousness spoken of in the teachings means self-consciousness in our solar system — a mere point of the Galaxy. But the Divine Monad must attain similarly another self-consciousness in each one of other Solar Systems in the Galaxy; and each such Solar System must begin its evolutionary course therein at the beginning and pursue it to its end.
The question, therefore, is properly answered by pointing out, as said above, the enormous complexity of the teaching; and that the words ‘perfection’ and ‘self-consciousness,’ and even the phrase ‘womb of being,’ and many others, are all terms relative to the Divine Monad in any one, and therefore in all, phases of its pilgrimage — a pilgrimage which lasts from Eternity to Eternity.
Trying to answer more briefly this question, it should be pointed out, therefore, that the Divine Monad is ‘imperfect’ at the moment when it is sent forth from the womb of being, only because it has not yet become self-consciously cognisant of the universe in which it is then evolving. When it has so become it is a Master in that universe and passes to higher spheres, where it repeats the process of becoming self-conscious in these higher spheres, and so forth, and so forth.
Remember that ultimate perfection as an infinitely completed and ended process is non-existent; i.e., the Divine Monad is evolving for ever. There is no such thing as an absolute finality in evolution — that is, in growth.
Answer to (b): This question is asked from the standpoint of the human soul, which very naturally rebels at what it calls its ‘untold suffering.’ The human soul forgets that suffering and pain, as men call these events in evolution, are merely the growing pains always coincident with expanding consciousness. To this must be added the other part of the teaching, that suffering, when properly seen to be the great friend and helper that it is, loses nearly all of its distressing and perplexing aspects. It is like the growing pains of a child: these growing pains are at times extremely disagreeable and in some cases even nerve-racking; but yet how may the child grow or change its childhood into youth and advance into manhood without passing through these changes?
Here, then, we have the answer to the question: change — i.e., evolution — i.e., growth always has a painful aspect. But it likewise has an aspect of great joy, when realization comes that change means improvement — a growing or rising into better and nobler things. It is true that “the core of a human being is not affected” by suffering, except, perhaps, in the sense that the suffering brings out the latent powers — the sleeping or dormant faculties and abilities lying in the core of the evolving entity.
Then, as a final thought, I should perhaps add this: that we human beings live at the present time in a very grossly material sphere of existence, which in fact in Tibet is called Myalba and frequently is referred to as a hell, which in very truth it is, when we contrast it with the spiritual or more ethereal realms. In these more ethereal or spiritual realms growth, instead of having an aspect of suffering and pain, is a continuous process involving joy and a self-conscious recognition of felicity; just exactly as a man’s mental growth can hardly be called painful always, because already being of a more ethereal character than physical growth, there are few pleasures or joys so keen and sweet to the one who is evolving mentally as the realization of the expanding intellectual consciousness.
This becomes still more clear when we realize that spiritual growth involves no suffering or pain at all, but is a process involving such exquisite, sheer joy, that in this fact itself there lurks a danger to the unwary.
I conclude by saying that evolution has no suffering or pain about it at all for those who merely drift along with the current of the advancing evolutionary tide; i.e., the slowly advancing river of lives. But for those whose eyes are set upon the distant peaks and who desire to advance more rapidly than others, there must be always the breasting and buffeting of the wind and waves; or, to change the figure of speech, the climbing of the steep ascents, the still small path, rather than following the broad and easy one winding round and round the mountain.
Be not afraid of suffering; for it is a good sign. It means that you are growing more rapidly than the majority. Suffering is always an opportunity as well.
Answers to a series of questions asked at the European Convention in October, 1932, at London, England
E. W. — Could you tell us if the duties of the members of the Theosophical Society differ from those of other people?
G.de P. — I cannot conceive that such a thing could be. The Theosophical duties are human duties. I think we make a great mistake in setting the Theosophical duties, as it were, on the right hand, and our own home-duties on the left hand, and drawing a distinction between these twain. Why, they are one! You cannot do properly as Theosophists your home-duties and your duties to your fellow-beings unless you do them in the Theosophical way, as Theosophists. I see no distinction between one’s home-duties, the duties we owe to others — fellow-comrades or other human beings — and the duties we owe to the Theosophical Society. The more we follow out our Theosophical duties the better men and women we are, believe me. Do right because you think right; and you think right because you feel right. Do wrong, it is because you think wrong; and you think wrong because you feel wrong. There is the whole thing.
A Great Teacher once said: ‘Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,’ with the implication that you should render to the spirit the things that belong to the spirit, whereas I tell you that the things that are truly Caesar’s are the things that are truly of the spirit. Inversely, if you understand me aright, Caesar has no rights that are not spiritual rights. Do you get it? But Caesar has rights, because Caesar is a spiritual being; and therefore we should render willingly to Caesar the duties and rights that are due to Caesar. Doing so, we do our own duty first to the god within each one of us; and when we do that, then we do our full duty by our fellow-men. A man cannot err, he cannot do a wrong thing, without offending first himself, then his fellows. A man cannot work for himself alone without committing an evil deed. Everything that a man does that is right, is good for his fellows. I don’t see any distinction between the one and the other. I see many artificial distinctions, but I won’t recognize them, because I think that is just where the world, in the Occident especially, has failed in the past.
Don’t you think that we of the Theosophical Movement should attempt to introduce into the thought-milieu of our Occident, precisely those Theosophical principles of conduct and of action, therefore, which we love, because they will remodel the mental atmosphere, change it from the bottom up? The atmosphere, the mental, the psycho-spiritual atmosphere of the Occidental world sadly needs modification. Men today are losing trust and hope in the fine old standards of our fathers. It was not the standards of our fathers that were wrong: it was in many cases the wrong application of our duty to those standards. I don’t see any distinction between the Theosophical duties and the duties to our fellow human beings. I cannot conceive that a Theosophical duty, properly understood, can conflict with a family duty. If you neglect a family-duty you are acting untheosophically. That is clear. On the other hand, if you do your Theosophical duties well you will fulfil all your family duties well; because the first duty of a Theosophist is to live to benefit mankind, one’s own family included.
H. P. L. — We are told in The Mahatma Letters that God is unconscious and unintelligent; and it is rather difficult to put that to an ordinary audience and not rather shock them. It seems rather vague and unsatisfactory. They want somebody to be thankful to, and they miss that.
G. de P. — Wasn’t the great American agnostic, Colonel Ingersoll, the one who first uttered the thought that God is man’s noblest creation? — with the implication, therefore, that all human ideas or conceptions of divinity are born in the mind of man — man-made ideas. It is true. Is it not obvious that no human intelligence can encompass infinity, eternity? Therefore whatever ideas or conceptions or ideals the greatest human intellect can comprehend are ideals, ideas, conceptions, ideations, born of his own spirit. If these ideas or ideals or conceptions or ideations be in the nature of questionings as to what divinity is — where and when and how and why is it — is it not obvious that these spring from the mind of the thinker himself? Men of the Occident forget that the only divinity a human being can comprehend is the God within, our link with the Unutterable, the inmost of the inmost in us, not only inseparable from the Heart of the Universe, but that very Heart itself. Each one of us is an inseparable part or portion of the Cosmic Spirit, of the Heart of Being.
Therefore, the way to understand Divinity, Deity — God, to use the old Anglo-Saxon word — is not by looking without, for that is but painting mental pictures on the horizon which your mental eye envisages before you, but by going within, into the silence, into the Great Peace, into the quiet, into yourself, your spiritual self, the divine self, the divine flame within you; and thus you come into immediate touch with the Cosmic Consciousness, which is yours. Therefore all human gods are man-made: they are idols; and worshipers of gods are idolaters, because they worship what man’s imagination has pictured. They are image-worshipers — idolaters. That is iconolatry.
Now, I agree with the Master that these are ideas which it is our bounden duty to disseminate among our fellow-men, so that they may find peace, so that the harrowing anxieties, the cankers of thought which so many human beings have when they search for it over humanity and find it not, may no longer become the haunting ghosts that are found among the religionists, such as the Christians. It is peace and happiness that it is our duty to bring to the world, in giving men a new thought, a new idea, a new vision, the Vision Sublime, in teaching them of their oneness with Infinity and of their identity with Eternity.
I am an ‘Atheist’: Oh! how terrible! But what does this mean? It means that I refuse to accept any man-made god; for it is beneath my dignity as a man to worship an image, the child of my own creation. Shall the father worship his child? On the contrary, teach man to look within to the divinity, to the divine flame within his own being. There, there is divinity; there is Infinity; there is Eternity; and the Self, the Divine Self within you, what the Hindus call the Atman, is the pathway to God, the Deity, to the Cosmic Spirit.
I verily believe that one of the reasons for the Master’s using the language that he used in the letter in The Mahatma Letters that the questioner speaks of, was the forevision that he had of the introduction, even into the Theosophical Movement, of a new spirit of religious sectarianism, introducing new gods, or the worship of old gods; and in this sense it is my feeling that we must be iconoclasts, breakers of images, destroyers of temples of iniquity, so that the cleansing sunlight, the light of Father Sun, may stream in and purify.
I know it is difficult for people to understand these thoughts; but I think that if we have them clear in our mind, if we know just what our philosophy teaches, we shall ourselves become so well acquainted with these doctrines, with these teachings, that we shall find it much easier to answer these difficult questions; because they are difficult to answer sometimes and not because we don’t know what to say, but solely on account of the dormant and obscured minds of those whom we try to help.
Let us worship no god which can be enshrined in any temple, whether of material substance or of the fabric of human thought. If we do, we shall then belong to the lower class of religionists, worshiping mental images, and only a little higher than the idolaters, who worship graven stone or graven wood. It is the divine spirit within us, the living fire of truth, which is nameless, which is deathless, which is ever unstained, which is pure always, which is infinitely compassionate, which is always helpful, which is inspiriting, which is inspiring, which is elevating, which is ennobling, which brings us peace — peace beyond the understanding of men; for it is Truth. That is the Deity that we worship — the Spirit of Truth enshrined in no temple, unless indeed we may use the noble language of the Roman poet and speak of Boundless Space as the templum in which dwells All-Father Living Spirit.
It is a very difficult question to answer, because the problem is to meet the minds of people who ask these questions — hungry hearts of people who are wrongly educated.
O. S. — Could you couple your answer more directly with the idea of the hierarchical system, because the hierarchical system, after all, offers us a symbol of, the explanation of, what is called the worship of God. Of course, God is a symbol, a word and a symbol, but people use words very differently and they are misunderstood because different people imply different things by the same words. But after all, the Theosophical system presupposes so on and so forth; and while it is only a stage in this system where we may introduce the word God after we have left the word man, and so on, we may go on and use a still bigger word at a later stage, I suppose; because we have to express it somehow.
G. de P. — The idea of the hierarchical system lies very near to my heart; because it exemplifies Nature’s structure; and the whole attempt of the Masters in founding the Society was to inaugurate among men a structure, mental and spiritual as well as physical, which would represent among us, as far as could be done in human concerns, the structure and fabric, the carpentry so to speak, of Nature herself. Now the questioner has put his finger right on the link that is needed. Consciousness has no frontiers. It is our own wills and lack of vision which delimit, circumscribe, put a frontier to, the working of our consciousness.
All evolution consists in pushing back these barriers of consciousness; in other words and changing the figure of speech, rending the veils, the sheaths of consciousness which we have built around us, and which form the imperfect parts of our constitution. Therefore man’s conception of divinity enlarges, as it grows steadily grander and greater, as his consciousness enlarges. He overpasses, oversteps, soars beyond, the enshrouding sheaths of the lower consciousness, which less evolved men than we Theosophists should be, live in; and this process of overpassing these veils or barriers or limitations goes on throughout Eternity.
Now then, here comes in the question of Deity. Where is Deity? What is Deity? Who is Deity? And the answer is seen to be: immediately behind every veil there is a great vision; but behind every vision there is a veil. Behind the second veil there is a still greater vision surrounded by a still greater veil; and so on forever. Consequently, our idea of Deity or of Divinity enlarges or expands, grows greater and more sublime, as our consciousness grows greater and grander and more sublime; until, finally, even the small compass of a human skull can contain conceptions which are truly divine. We can have some conception of the Deity, the Cosmic Guardian of the Galaxy, our own Home-Universe. This we may call God, Deity, Divinity.
But shall we stop there? All the thirty or forty billion suns with their attendant planets, which make up what modern astronomers call the Milky Way, the, Galaxy, are collectively but a mathematical point, an imperceptible point or speck, when we contrast it with utter Infinitude. Why make to yourself graven images — images graven by your own mind upon your own consciousness?
Think of the hierarchical structure of the Universe — something small surrounded by something greater from which the smaller receives a delegation of authority; the greater surrounded by something still greater, and so on ad infinitum; so that, as our consciousness expands, as we grow ever greater and larger, stronger and nobler, purer and higher in conception and in reach of consciousness, our ideas of divinity enlarge steadily, until after a while we cast behind us the things that we once thought grand, as indeed being but the conceptions of little children; and we step into man’s estate; and then these things which are of man’s estate become, as we grow and expand, like the conceptions of children again, and we go to something nobler and better.
Where is Deity? Echo answers ‘Where?’ There is none. The world is filled full with gods, all occupied in the work of the Universe and actually forming the Universe; but nowhere is there one Supreme Ultimate, beyond which naught. Always is there something grander; always is there something greater to grow unto and to become; for growing is becoming, and becoming is being. You will never worry about God again if you get the thought; for you children of Infinity, offsprings of Eternity, have Infinity and Eternity before you. You yourself, each one of you, is an incarnate god; and if I have spoken of consciousness as expanding, it is but a metaphor, a trope, a figure of speech. I myself love to phrase the matter differently and I say: going within, becoming more and more myself, my divine self, that self which is boundless, for it is the Universe. Tat twam asi: ‘That thou art, O chela.’ I will recognize no god inferior to me; but I bow my spirit in reverence before all that is nobler than I. That is the hierarchical spirit. We find God, as we ascend along the hierarchical ladder of life, receding constantly, constantly receding, growing ever greater and greater, grander and more sublime, until finally we reach the knowledge that God is but a name for the vast, unutterable mystery which the Vedic Sages of India called Tat: ‘That.’