Two things influence men most, hope and fear — hope of reward and good fortune; fear of punishment and bad fortune. One is an Angel, the other a Nemesis. Both come to man, both are his own and for the unawakened, there is no power of control over either. Character is all that man brings with him into this world, and is all that he takes away. Character is by some said to be a gift from God; by others, an inheritance from parents and ancestors. According to either view character is forced upon him, and so he finds himself in present associations, conditions and environment, good or ill, and for which he is not responsible. He thus comes to earth and its experiences an entire stranger, and for that reason unfitted to solve its problems or overcome its obstacles. As to his own origin and affairs, chance, favoritism and injustice appear to him to rule absolutely. He discovers himself the creature of he knows not what. Reason and the hope within him rebel at what he feels are false teachings, but he lacks the power of knowledge to break their spell. Paralyzing fear like a haunting specter constantly attends him, so that he is destined to sad experiences which ofttimes embitter him and make his life a detriment instead of an aid to his fellows; and alas, too often he goes out of life with the light of hope all but extinguished. All this arises from a false conception of himself, of his origin, of life and its purpose, of his true destiny and of the mighty power within him which, if aroused, would make him kingly.
There has existed in all ages a mass of knowledge proclaimed by the Helpers of Humanity, and known in this time as Theosophy, which, now as ever, affirms the true man to be an immortal Soul, Brother to all that lives! eternal as to past and future, infinite in possibility, and in essence forever one with that Supreme of the Universes from which all proceeds, to which all must return.
Man as a soul, has lived many previous lives and will live many future lives on this same earth. As each ensouled atom of Cosmos owes the fact of its location and relation to all other atoms to its own stage of development, so with man. In view of his stage of evolution, there is no other place for him but this earth where he and his fellows will remain until, in the process of time under guidance of immutable law, the whole race shall evolve to higher planes. Karma, the undeviating law of Cause and Effect, to which he relates himself by his thought and action, brings him to his own place and gives him his own: — "Our acts our angels are, for good or ill."
To the Theosophist, death is no longer a total mystery. Death is a sleep and a rest, after which follows rebirth and resumption of activity: "our lives are rounded by a little sleep." It is an universal law that activity and inactivity succeed each other in unvarying order, and the soul of man is not an exception to that law. Earth-lives are periods of the soul's experiences; the interims between are periods of rest when the soul garners and assimilates the wisdom born of those experiences. Each succeeding earth-life marks a relative advance or retrogression, and man returns with the aspirations, hopes, impulses, ambitions, faults and follies of his past. These are his Angel or his Nemesis. Each comes to his own. In this light, man is not a stranger to earth. It is his old home. He finds himself amidst familiar associates, in well-known scenes and environment — aye, and face to face with old-time friends and foes. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that'' (not something else) "shall he also reap."
Instantly upon man's realization of the law of Karma and proportionate to his adjustment to it, the death knell of the Nemesis of Fear is struck, and the Angel of an enlightened Courage is born. He now can understand the meaning of the Higher Law, recognize its Justice, and accept its action as his truest, most powerful friend. In the altered attitude, misfortune and punishment, as avenging Nemesis, pass immediately from his catalogue of experiences. The Christ-spirit, long sleeping within him, struggles for birth. Henceforth, he will accept all experiences as the tuition of the Gods, the wise guidance of the Good Law, and as the only course to his divine destiny.
Thus enlightened, rebellion ceases, peace reigns in heart and mind, harmony prevails in the body, and joy and happiness are his — all by right of conquest over the lower, personal nature. Forces which hitherto expended themselves as selfish ambition, anger, fear, envy, vanity and the spirit of retaliation, producing spiritual blindness, mental confusion and bodily disease, will flow with accentuated power upon the higher planes of his being. All the lower nature will gradually perish, and with the new birth will also appear the new heaven and the new earth. The heavy and ever increasing burden of personal grievances will have fallen off, and with the resolve to accept all in patience and trust as the behest of the Higher Law which flows from his chastened and now compassionate heart, Nemesis forever departs and the Angel of Love, of Peace and of the Power to Help, will come to abide with him.
Universal Brotherhood Path