Long ago in a time forgotten except in myth and legend, the gods walked among newly awakened mankind to teach the wisdom of ages. So profound were the truths, so noble the concepts, that once presented these expressions remained impressed upon the inner heart of each and every man and woman — never to be completely forgotten no matter the number of incarnations or failures through our descent into matter. Held seed-like within our secret heart, this wisdom-tradition remains until the rains of compassion pour out from the soul of mankind. Then, germinating with the heat of lifetimes of suffering, the seed will sprout and flower.
The gods shared not only their wisdom-philosophy but the arts and sciences as well — agriculture and architecture, geology and geography, medicine and music — enough so that, as the cyclic thickening of the veils of matter necessarily continued, mankind would never be without light and knowledge. Slowly as our untried souls sank deeper into material existence, the time came when the gods could be seen no more. Among mankind were a few whose efforts in past aeons had made them near godlike. Self-chosen by sacrifice, god-chosen by compassion, they became a fraternal order dedicated to nurturing in mankind the seeds of wisdom until the faraway time when the gods might again walk freely among us. This sacred order has many names, but perhaps most inspiring is "Brothers of the Sun." (In referring to "the 'Teachers of Life' inhabiting the snowy ranges of the Himalayas" H. P. Blavatsky says they are "Also called 'the Sons of Wisdom,' and of the Fire-Mist' and the 'Brothers of the Sun' in the Chinese records" [The Secret Doctrine, 1:271n].)
This fraternity of humanity's elder brothers set to work, on the one hand, to keep alive the light of eternal wisdom and, on the other, to test what they had been taught by the gods. Because of their remarkable abilities some among them were able to send their consciousness deep within the heart of nature and, at grave risk to themselves, retrieve firsthand that which they had learned and now experienced so that all mankind might benefit.
In time they formed outer schools for the masses — openly in ages that permitted it, secretly when they did not — to teach this wisdom of the gods. When a rare soul of natural gifts appeared, he was taught and tested. If worthy, he might be allowed into an inner school where the truths were deeper, the tests more difficult. Among those attracted to the outer schools few were able to pass to the next phase, and fewer still were able eventually to join the ranks of the Brothers of the Sun.
From time to time one or more of the Brothers undertook a major spiritual effort for mankind. These attempts have never been without opposition, both from the forces of selfishness and matter, and also from human ignorance, greed, and pride. Perhaps no greater injustice has been done to the spiritual effort to end conditions of suffering than the attempt to destroy the messengers of truth and their message. Once mankind passed the most material point of evolution, and the spiritual forces of nature were in its favor, something stirred in the depths of man when messengers were sent from the sacred fraternal order. The message, however, was often overpowered by that very inner recognition as people, in honoring such a noble soul, deified the personality and codified the message so that it might never be lost — in the process crushing its living spirit.
So Buddhas and Christs have been singled out — as unique in some cases — their message of freedom and fraternity falling upon deaf ears, the inner wisdom they brought often missed entirely because of rampant materialism and selfishness masquerading as the spiritual. During certain cycles portions of the wisdom-tradition would be taught by lesser members of the fraternity — the Platos and Pythagorases, the Paracelsuses and Khunraths. Sometimes they were enigmatic figures such as Shakespeare, and at other times unconscious of their status and duty such as Boehme.
What has their message ever been? Brotherhood of all things animate and inanimate, visible and invisible. Each of us appears separate, yet we are one: what is done to one is done to all. They teach that the universe is filled with and composed of evolving souls, each to be, or now become, or gone beyond the human stage of evolution; that the universe operates according to fundamental laws which are really the force of consciousnesses so lofty that we can think of them only as the laws of nature — which in their lowest expression they are; that the universe and its composite parts reimbody, each subject to its own actions and thoughts. They teach that while every soul is the expression of the One, each is unique as well, with its unique way to self-realization.
Perhaps the most beautiful thought is that there is a hierarchy of compassion which extends from the furthest reaches of mind and beyond, down through and including mankind. Always the sacred effort has been kept alive. Never abandoning their post, open to all deserving human souls, the great ones persist until that day when light pours from heart to heart, mind to mind, soul to soul: till all of us may also actualize in our lives the god within and, inspired by compassion, take our post and turn to assist our younger brethren in the evolution of all sentient beings. Each and every one of us is responsible to the living universe, each man and woman is a teacher and a student of universal law. No one is alone or unaided but all have within the gift of the gods to realize and share as we move toward that day when we too shall become Brothers of the Sun.
(From Sunrise magazine, June/July 1990. Copyright © 1990 by Theosophical University Press)