The grandeur and the splendor of the inner life of man should apply to everyone and interest all. We do not need anymore superstition, nor any more weird, uncanny teachings. We desire the truth about why we are here, what we are here for, and the meaning of life. When we find these truths and apply them to our daily activities, we also find the beauty of life and some wonderful explanations of the apparent injustices of the world.
Man is his own greatest enemy and his own best friend. He has the power of destroying himself or advancing himself. He can bless or curse his own life. So if we are looking for the splendor of the inner life of man, we are not going to speak of the exterior life — we are not going to speak of successes or mistakes or attainments or honors or wealth or possessions — but we are going to speak only of the inner life of man.
Man cannot live rightly without the splendor of his inner life, though of course there are different degrees of it, different expressions of it, and different stages of its growth. One might go into the prisons and find there a most degraded type of humanity, but there is yet a hidden ray of the inner life left in him because he was born a man and as such he had the rarest opportunity of all living creatures to realize that he is a soul.
The body dies, but the higher soul lives on, for it is a part of eternity. There is majesty in the thought; it is something to lead us away from our trials and difficulties out into a realm of thought where man can think and live and know and grow and love and serve. The poorest man can do this, the most uneducated or the educated. We say to those who err or to the prisoners: "Remember that for every moment you breathe, you have another chance. Realize further, that when you are tired and your eyes close, and you throw off the body, instead of going to death you go to life. It is nothing but throwing off the worn-out overcoat of flesh. Then the soul rises in the splendor of its life, just as far as it has lived; for there is that inner life, there is that spiritual manhood." That is a message for every man — indeed for every boy and girl and every woman.
Each one has his opportunity of finding the key that will unlock the riddle of his own nature: Man, know thyself! We do not presume to say that anyone could know all there is about man or his possibilities in one short lifetime, for we are yet like little children out in the woods, trying to find our way. No one can tell half of the wonderful processes of nature that made a human being out of an atom. So life at the present time is a mystery because man does not know himself. But from this point of view, one can see with what joy and delight I dare to think into the life of man, and to think into the possibilities of his inner life, because that is the spiritual man, the living soul, not the part that dies when the body dies. The world may not know anything about the inner life of man, many may not believe in the possibilities of the inner life, but that does not make any difference. A fact is a fact. Nature is a fact, and the universal infinite laws of life are facts, and we must meet them whether we will or not.
According to theosophy, the great purpose of man being on this earth-plane, living this life and other lives, is that the soul may have the privilege of growing and advancing and learning through experience. This opens a new vista of inspiring hope for the human race. It lifts the veil on the inner life of every human being. But one cannot understand this at all or have any interest in the subject if his mind is so limited. What are we here for? What are we searching for, what are we trying to reach? Why are we living in this world of effort? Are we not trying to show that man is a spiritual being, and that as such he is born for all eternity? There is a great, magnificent, sacred, and universal plan in life. But those who live entirely in the outer world, following solely worldly pursuits from day to day, if they do not believe in the inner life of man and live in accordance with it, must still remain ignorant.
In the Bible Jesus taught that the kingdom of heaven is within. He did not say we would find it in a boat out on the great sea of life without a rudder, or on some other planet, or anywhere else but within ourselves. Now, man evolves from one life to another, and in proportion to the knowledge he seeks, or the knowledge he gains, he goes ahead. To advance along the path of self-directed evolution implies self-study, self-growth, self-control.
We must be like the musician, who starts in childhood with his five-finger exercises and counts aloud — 1, 2, 3, 4. As he continues applying himself, after a while something new and promising is aroused in him. His ability increases day by day, and after some years he finds himself acknowledged a master musician. So it is with the great artists, the great writers, the great inventors, the great thinkers: they have found within themselves the splendor of the inner life which is the key to their success. Their souls are touched by their aspirations. They have made up their minds that tomorrow they will do more than they did today — nothing can discourage them. That is what I mean by the splendor of the inner life of man.
Evolution shows us that there are different degrees of progress and various stages and conditions in life. It is obvious that one man may know more than another, that one man may serve more than another. So in the process of evolution we have all varieties of human conditions to deal with. But the essential teaching is that man shall know himself. Do not bother about your neighbors until you have found out that secret in your own nature. And when you find it, you will aim to impart it to the whole world. And it is inspiring for us to rejoice even in our trials!
In the study of theosophy and its application to daily life, man will find his inner life. But no man can find its splendor if he is looking for the outer expression of it. He must look for something that his heart yearns for. There is not a man living, provided he knows how to think and his brain is properly balanced, who does not yearn for something better, who does not aim for something higher and more true, and who does not aspire to become a nobler man. But how much encouragement does he have in the world? Not very much, you will agree.
Selfishness governs the world, and selfishness is the insanity of the age. In the different countries of Europe which I have visited one can see the misery and the agony, the torture, the suffering, and the injustices that have been inflicted upon the people as the result of this insanity expressing itself in the Great War. That war created a hell that we shall not move away from for many years. And we in America also took part in it, and we have yet to suffer for it too.
Let us realize that every century has its own time and way of doing things. And right now, this very hour, will never come again. You will never have this chance again, nor shall I. So we can see how precious the moments are, how precious time is, how gloriously sacred and beautiful life is. When we are in search of the truth and are on the right path, when we believe in self-directed evolution and in our own essential divinity, we are marching forward in confidence. We may make our mistakes, we may falter and find ourselves in the shadows, but the spirit of the eternal truth is then working through our lives, no matter how little it may be seen by others.
The splendor of the inner life of man is manifested by the truly great thinker. I hold that no man can think in the truest sense, and find himself even in small degree, without drawing upon the spiritual strength of his nature. He finds the truly creative powers of his mind if he is not wedded to mere intellectualisms. He will not try to refashion himself for the world and create his god on the basis of what he already knows. The moment you find a man who thinks he knows much, run away from him; he is dangerous. His egoism is so great that he is really a colossal failure.
The real thinker is not to be judged by his wealth nor his fame nor his position. He may or may not partake of these things. But the real thinker is so involved with and so much a part of the new life and the new knowledge that come to him from the inner man that he has twice the strength to do his daily duties: he meets the battles of life with twice the courage he had before. You will find more love in a man like that in one moment than you will find in another in ten years. Why? Because his mind is open to the light of the eternal man and of the soul living its different incarnations. Each time he comes back to earth he is in a new school of experiences, new processes of growth — he is ever advancing.
Consider the growth of a child from a single cell — that is a magnificent, wonderful, and glorious process. And we human beings, with our little minds, have nothing to do with it at all. The mother is the nurse, she has a holy treasure to take care of. But suppose she does not believe in the spiritual nature of man, suppose she has no vista of life's grand possibilities, suppose she has neglected or forgotten or overlooked them, or suppose she has been too weak to make an effort to become: what kind of a mother can she be to the little innocent soul entrusted to her care? What can she teach her child, or her husband, or her community of the real life? How little she knows, because the basis of life is in the spiritual nature — that is the part that knows, that progresses, and that aspires.
With humanity in the condition it is in today, one may think it is rather farfetched to speak of these subjects. But this is just the time to talk of them, to attract people to the importance of studying the whole nature of man, of trying to understand the sacred meaning and purpose of life. I cannot conceive that any mother and father are fitted to be parents until they have learned something of the universal laws of cause and effect. They must know something of their own inner natures. They cannot live entirely in the brain-mind, the mere intellect and mere scholastic education. They must have spiritual enlightenment.
So where you find great thinkers who have reached the heights, you will probably find also, if you study their mothers and fathers, something very unusual. Something had happened in their lives — there was a divine trust, an inner trust. It may be that nobody knew anything about it because they had made no effort to speak of it to the world, but it marked the child for better things. Now, in becoming a real thinker, the first thoughts that one has are a little dangerous, and one should go very slowly in following those thoughts in the conduct of the practical affairs of life. The wise man always goes slow. But when he reaches the position where he can recognize that there is this inner something in himself which aims to express itself, he will meet it halfway.
Considering the different degrees of thinking: when man first begins to think, using only his brain-mind, he is confused. The next time, he thinks he knows a little more and is a little more confused. The third time he commences to think, he is just coming to the depths of more serious thoughts, and that is the time when a man becomes discouraged and gives up. He does not know that the higher laws are right in his inner nature, and perhaps the very question he is confused about can be answered by himself, if he is patient.
But if he seeks again for knowledge at this fountain of truth, this center within himself, in the confidence of his dignity and manhood, then he finds something. There is where the great thinkers live, who are the dominant powers of the ages. And none but the generous and unselfish can ever reach the real thinking quality. Others are so absorbed in themselves and so afraid of losing their identity, fearful lest they become lost in the clouds or something of that sort, that they dare not challenge themselves to find out who they are, whence they came, and what they are here for.