To raise the veil of matter and to understand the hidden meaning of sacred books — how great an undertaking, for those who did not even know that aught was hidden. And yet who can look back over the century now closing without seeing an unfolding comprehension on the part of the world, which would seem most truly to bear witness to our having been at school, guided all unconsciously to ourselves in courses that lead to this unveiling.
One of the first distinctions drawn between the ancient and modern materialistic methods, was that the former did not seek to impart a formal instruction, but rather only offered a key, which the student must use and try himself. And men forthwith wondered where that key could be found, what it was like, and what sort of a door it unlocked. But many became interested in the ancient philosophy now again presented to the world and the interest grew, and with it came new (to us) ideas, ideas which men perforce had to treat and consider in a different manner from the old classifications and labelings, and in the handling of which men learned new methods, and had to break out of many habits of mind, abandon many hard and fast conventions of thought. Knowledge came to be seen as different from learning, form (mental and physical) as one thing and reality another. Old ideas full of meaning and value in the life of the race, long buried and encrusted till they passed for dry nothings, came again to life and influence.
Nothing could show this more clearly than a study of the language of today compared with that of fifty years ago. The enlarged vocabulary required by our increasing dominion over material things is not more wonderful than the expanded circuit of ideas now involved by the words we use, fifty years ago as latent and unrealized as were the telephone or X-rays. Almost every distinctive word in the realm of philosophy and sentiment has suffered some modification, in every case in the way of greater manifestation of the underlying reality behind the "fleeting show." The very words "fleeting show" mean a great deal more to us than when we then used them — mere counters, for we thought the matter that composed the "show" was anything but fleeting. It begins to dawn on us that a show "shows" something, and that all of nature is worth something, mirroring and working out a great conscious life within.
"Religion" is no longer a thing of form, the expression of the bondage — as by chains — of man to some god imposing his fiat law upon him; it begins to connote the inter-relation of real planes of consciousness and activity. Brotherhood is ceasing to be an unscientific, unbusinesslike sentiment, and is becoming an actually sufficient reason for conduct, more and more a recognized fact in the universal economy.
And the greatest wonder of all would seem to be the additional raising of the veil of matter which is involved in the evidence accumulating through it all of a guiding, helping hand, leading the human race by the infiltration of ideas which necessitate the use of divine methods of study and develop divine consciousness by their very presence in our minds. Who would have believed that the great nineteenth century, the most physical and materialistic in thought of all, would so unveil the divine, give reality to consciousness, show a unified evolutionary progress inside the manifested, and suggest to human beings that each one's soul is the real working part of him, his actual conscious self, while what he has regarded as his self-centre is only a make-believe, the protege of the real.
Universal BrotherhoodTHEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ONLINE