Universal Brotherhood – March 1899

DIVINE FIRE — Hattie A. Browne

Could we let our inner sight sink down deep into the recesses of our own hearts, we should, I think, see a tiny spiral flame. Imagine this flame steadily ascending, forever keeping its spiral motion, and at the same time sending out an impalpable silvery vapor, which penetrates, through and through, every portion of our body, and finally emerges, but it is now no longer a mere vapor, for behold: it has .taken on a form divine, it is our Soul; and then if we could extend our mental vision, we would see these Soul forms all around us, and, looking deeper, we would see the same tiny spiral flame in the heart of each one, and in the heart of every tree of the forest, every flower of the field, and in fact we will see it hidden down deep in the heart of the whole created universe, and everywhere the same silvery vapor, and the same though varied, soul forms.

This flame is a spark of the Divine Fire, the universal life, within all nature, animate and inanimate, it is the great "Over Soul," it is you, it is I. The "Secret Doctrine" declares: "It is life and death, the origin and end of every material thing, it is divine substance, the creator, the preserver and the destroyer — the Soul of things."

Each flower of the field is the embodiment of the divine thought, an expression of the Divine Fire, hence its beauty and this is why the sight of a flower speaks to every heart, no matter how deeply stained with sin the heart may be. There is something in nature we all feel, and yet cannot express. As we gaze on a beautiful landscape, we cannot bring ourselves to believe it is made up of merely grass and trees, sunshine and shade. There is something more, something no artist, be he ever so proficient, has ever been able to reproduce. That something is the Divine Fire; it flows into us and around us; it mingles with our Soul. Often we may gaze at the landscape and go away apparently unmoved, yet often do we find we have carried something of the beauty with us, and it comes back to us, to cheer and comfort, when we least expect it. It may be on a bed of sickness, a picture of a beautiful scene will come before us, although scarcely noticed at the time of beholding it, and perhaps long ago forgotten. How account for this unless we are one with it! I think Keats meant this when he wrote the following verse:

"A thing of beauty is a joy forever.
Its loveliness increases, it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathings,
A flowery band to bind us to the earth."

We often hear the remark, "live near to nature," and we are apt to think that to do this, it is necessary for us to dwell far from the "madding whirl," of city life. But this is not always necessary, for we have nature within us, and to live close to the Soul of nature, and to vibrate in harmony with its great heart-throbs, we have but to follow up this little spiral flame, to keep it alight, and to try to feed the flame, and to clear away the rubbish, that it may shine out more brilliantly as it does in the great nature around us. If our personal thoughts are held in abeyance so that the Divine thought may shine through we shall, like the flowers, help the world by our presence, and we shall radiate a glory as far surpassing that of the flowers, as man surpasses the vegetable kingdom in range of consciousness. We all know how absolutely perfect is the beauty of even the humblest flower; "Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these," but could the very meanest of mankind let the Divine Fire radiate through him as does even a little blade of grass the world would be dazzled with its brightness.

But how are we to do this? we may say. We all know we have this Divine flame, burning steady and bright within, but alas it is so covered up and darkened by dense physical matter, that we cannot see it: many even doubt its existence, and so they go on piling up around it selfish thoughts, animal desires, and uubrotherliness until it is no wonder it cannot be seen. It is a greater wonder it can shine at all. It is truly, "A light shining in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not." "Blessed are they who not having seen, yet believe;" who diligently set to work to dig away the rubbish, to purify the shrine, and to build an Altar in their hearts for the Sacred Flame, and who make a daily pilgrimage to that shrine and reverently fed the fire, laying as fuel upon the altar, first, "The sin that doeth so easily beset" and then all selfishness, greed and unbrotherliness and vanity and desire of worldly advancement. The fire will in time consume them all, one by one, and transmute them into purest gold, the virgin gold of love, and in this way we shall so strengthen this flame and it will burn so brightly, that the physical matter which surrounds it will not be able to hide it. The casket will become so transparent, that the rays of the jewel within will shine forth in gentle deeds, and kind actions, in forgetfulness of self, and love for mankind. This is not a fancy sketch, for I think we all are acquainted with such characters who really appear to radiate light. Wherever they go they are welcome, their very presence brings cheer and comfort.

But it is so easy to talk; so easy, that we are apt to turn away and say with Hamlet, "words, words, words." How shall we begin to act, and having begun, how shall we keep it up? "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith;" it is the one who believes, and who has faith, who will conquer. And love and brotherhood are the weapons with which we fight. The Divine Fire is like a stream for all mankind to drink; it rises clear and pure in the mountain tops of Divinity — the nearer the source, the clearer and purer the stream, but as it flows down through material existence, it becomes more and more clogged and impeded with rubbish. The stream itself always remains pure like a pure mountain stream, though at times it may flow underground or be covered with a thick slime, or refuse. Each may drink from the pure stream if he will or from the foul waters which cover it up, but each is responsible for the condition in which it is passed on to those below; and again we have the privilege of drinking of the pure stream, close to its source, or taking but the polluted washings of others.

It is easy to love humanity in the abstract, but when we begin to particularize, and say, it means to love such and such a one for whom perhaps we may feel a special antipathy, how can we do it? Shall love and brotherhood be but names to conjure by, leaving for each a loophole through which we can get rid of our special enemy, and of all who rub us the wrong way? Or shall it be a live coal taken each day from off the altar within, and carried with us through all the long day — but it must be taken daily from the altar, for if the coal be dead, how shall we light the fires of love around us?

It was once my chance to realize what seemed to me total darkness. I was obliged to pass through a wooden glen at night; the darkness was complete, it seemed to rise up like a wall of black marble all around me. What a comfort it was to have hold of a friend, and what a comfort even a lighted candle would have been! How many men and women are groping through the darkness continually — through spiritual darkness, which is far worse than physical — groping all alone, stumbling from the pathway, and all the time they have within themselves a light hidden, and have it in their own power to choose whether this light shall be as a tiny rush light which will show them but one step of the way, and make the surrounding gloom more profound, or a glowing, radiant light illumining the whole landscape.

We read in the "Voice of the Silence," "Step out of sunshine into shade to make more room for others," and how often the silent voice of conscience tells us this, step out of sunshine into shade to make more room for others; make self secondary, be unselfish! We are all so quick to see the "mote that is in our brother's eye," while the beam that is in our own eye remains unnoticed. So often we think every one else, except ourselves, is selfish, yet we, each of us, more or less, keep the sunshine for ourselves and add our shadow to the gloom of others' lives. If only we could all live so as to never let our shadow cut off the sunshine of another, what a happy place the world would be.

The Soul again and again clothes itself with a body of desires, again and again floats in the ocean of life, building up a more and more perfect pattern, and attracting to itself purer physical atoms. "The enemies we slew in the last battle, will not return to life in the next birth" — every effort we make to live a better life will give us renewed strength and new courage at our next coming. It is ever worthwhile to try. "If thou hast tried and failed, O dauntless fighter, yet lose not courage, fight on," says the "Voice of the Silence." But how many, alas, grow weary of the fight and long for rest, but that rest is not for us until the battle is ended, and the victory won. In the meantime, it is the duty of all, Theosophists especially, to keep cheerful, to add not one word of gloom, yea, not one thought of gloom to the already overwhelming load of sorrow and misery, under which the world is groaning; does not each one of us know that there is a "Place of Peace," and that we may reach it even now in the midst of the turmoil of life. A person who gives way to gloomy thoughts or goes around with a sad countenance, is most decidedly adding his shadow to the gloom and taking away the sunshine from some one else. Surely, there is no room for pessimism, rather let us lift our standard high, that all may read the message, "Truth, Light and Liberation for discouraged humanity." What a glorious thing to live for! But only as each of us helps to purify himself by letting the Divine Fire flow unimpeded and unsullied throughout his whole nature can we hope to make this message a living reality.

It seems to me if we once realize that every effort towards true Brotherhood is a distinct help to the world, we cannot help being encouraged, for half of our pessimistic repinings are caused by the thought that we are of so little good to the world. We want to do so much, and we think we are doing nothing, and so many of us go on fostering a sadness, which we think is very much to our credit. We feel very superior to some one else, who perhaps is always cheerful and happy, saying as I have often heard remarked, how can you be happy when there is so much unhappiness in the world, forgetting that their remark shows how unhappiness spreads, and why should not happiness also spread. Let us then strive like Prometheus to ascend to heaven, and light our torch at the chariot of the sun, and bring down to all mankind the sacred gift of Fire, but let us use the fire to purge and purify our own Soul, so we can offer to our brother, the clear stream, unpolluted, as we have received it.

Universal Brotherhood