Universal Brotherhood Path – June 1902


There is a new kind of consciousness coming into the world. It is choosing its habitations wherever it can find them, in the hearts and in the minds of men. It is that kind of consciousness which gives us the power to help the world, and to do deeds which the slow and cautious mind would declare to be impossibilities. That new consciousness is not a shy and furtive force which eludes our pursuit, but rather it seeks for admission, and if we have it not it is because we have ourselves excluded it. It is a faculty, an aspect of that Universal Soul which said once, and says now, "Behold I stand at the door and knock."

This Soul Power shows itself in as many ways as there are varieties of mind through which it acts. We place a globe of colored glass around a white light and the light will show itself in accord with the medium through which it passes. We may change both the color and the opacity of the glass and the manifestation will change too. We may make the glass so dark and so opaque that the light can hardly be seen at all, but no matter how we cover it, no matter with what density nor with what color, the flame itself remains unchanged. It is ready to illuminate if we will but allow its rays to pass.

To understand this gives to us that charity from which wisdom comes. The flame is the Soul, the light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. The evils which we see in human character are as the opaque and colored glasses which have been placed around the flame. The flame itself is there, pure and white, and it will triumph. What we see of evil in another is not the man himself but rather the barriers of mind and passion which color and distort the light.

The new consciousness of which I speak is the supreme effort of the Soul to assert its power, that its light shall penetrate into the mind, and while that new light must show itself differently in every man according to the mental medium through which it shines, there is one universal way in which it manifests, and that is in its prompting to strenuousness, in its urging to the strenuous life. I believe that the fact of your presence here tonight, the fact that any human being, anywhere, is seeking to solve the problems of life and to fulfill his duty thereto, is evidence that the rays from the Soul-flame are touching the mind, it may be in so uncertain a way that we perceive it at first merely as an unrestful feeling. I believe that if we could only look into the mysterious depths of our beings we should see that the soul is trying to make us look at the pictures which it is creating, the pictures of a world from which hate and cruelty are banished, the pictures of a new Garden of Eden, of a Paradise Regained, and that because we, all of us, are able dimly to sense these pictures without knowing what they mean, or even that they are pictures at all, we feel this uneasiness, this urging towards something which is better, this strenuousness to reach a Promised Land. Is it not indeed a kind of homesickness? and perhaps the analogy is more perfect than might seem at first glance.

The Soul sets to no man a greater task than he can perform. Indeed, to face our possibilities, to strike the first blow towards their attainment, is more than half the battle. It is our inertia that cripples and confines us, the inertia which comes from too long gazing, without action, upon the miseries of the world. That inertia is the first thing of which we must rid ourselves, the inertia which whispers "impossible," where there is nothing impossible. Inertia comes only when we look away from the Soul. To look inward, towards the Soul, is to be at once filled with a hope which is more than hope, and with the energy, the strenuousness, which comes from that hope. We have all of us looked thus inward towards the Soul, but we have not known at what we were looking, we have not known whence came those sudden waves of compassion, those quick impulses to put our hands to nobler, better work than we have ever yet done. And so we have, it may be, wondered for a moment at this departure from our normal, ordinary thoughts, and then we have returned to them as though they were the verities of life, instead of the shadows and the unrealities. But it was in those moments of meditation, it was in those flashes of impulse that we approached the flame, which is ourselves. Had we tarried for awhile, had we looked a little longer, we should have seen the light coming up stronger into the mind, and it needed only a little peace, only a little effort, to reach the flame from which the light proceeded. Even when we are but a little way upon that path we feel and know that this is truly life, and that all these things which we thought to be life were but imitations. In its light our ambitions seem so small, our fears so foolish, and we open wide our eyes upon a new world with a compassion which makes it already beautiful, and with a knowledge of our power to help and to save.

It is only those who have not attempted the strenuous life who stand bewildered before their task and think it to be too great for them. If we have once sought to look upon the pictures of the Soul, we cannot thereafter see any of the small things of life without knowing wherein they fall short of the ideal. It is a faculty of the Soul to always idealize for us every fact in life and urge us to mold that fact into that ideal. But the standard of the Soul's greatness is not our standard, and the facts of life which we think to be small are of magnitude to it. We need not send our minds far afield in search of tasks which we may suppose to be worthy of us. The tasks which the Soul itself has selected for us are at our hands, in our daily lives, upon the streets and within our homes. We are hedged in by conditions and by circumstances, not one of which is as the Soul would wish it to be, and as we look upon these conditions, and then within ourselves with the flashing appeal to the Soul which should become almost automatic, we see the picture which the Soul instantly gives to us of that same condition idealized, of that same circumstance as it should be, and as we can make it if we will.

When we have thus bound ourselves into the service of the Soul, we shall know what it is to lead the strenuous life. There will be no more apathy, no more inertia. Every detail of our lives will be judged by its comparison with that inward picture of what that detail should be. We shall be living, as it were, in two worlds, a world of beauty which is within ourselves, and an external world which contains all the potencies of beauty, ready at hand, to plan, to mold and to shape. Every tiny detail of the external world is also in the internal, our homes, our schools, our villages and our cities, our politics and the humanities which ebb and flow, and live and die, and live again, learning, laboring, sorrowing. Through all these years we have flouted the Soul, abashed it and discouraged it. We have turned away from its pictures and closed our ears to its harmonies, but we all know that its pictures push on resolutely into the mind and that its music has not ceased at all, however deafening has been the discord of passion, the shoutings of our ambitions and of our greeds. Was there ever patience like unto this? Was there ever Love like unto this? Was it not this Soul of yours and mine that has said, "Behold! I will call all men unto me"?

Has Theosophy then nothing whatever to say of the love and the patience of Christ that shall redeem the world? Does Theosophy say nothing of the Christ who is crucified among the thieves of our neglect and pride? We are unabashed by those who cry out to us that we are destroying the religion of the Savior. Rather we would reply to them, "that God whom ye so ignorantly worship, Him declare we unto you."

The strenuous life is the direct outcome of the knowledge of our Divinity that takes hold of us as by a living power. The inmost center of Divinity is the power to create, and when we know of our Divinity — I should rather say, when we confess our Divinity, because we all of us already know it — then we too shall have the power to create. After all, what is the power to create? Is not the making something bad into something good, or making something good into something better, an act of creation and altogether divine, whether it be the decoration of a home, the cleaning up of a back yard, or a ray of hope sent by a compassionate word into a despairing heart? "Know ye not that ye are gods," and because ye are gods that ye can create?

We look upon the works of our great artists and we call them — thoughtlessly — creations. Yet truly they are creations, if they are truly art. There is a science of creation, but it is not taught in the schools. Scientifically speaking, what is it that the artist has done? He has looked upon something outside of himself, and then he has looked at that something, idealized, within himself, and he has tried to place upon canvas the internal picture which he saw. If he be a true artist he will tell you that neither colors nor manual skill were adequate to really show you what he saw, but the greatest of all pictures is the truest of all such attempts. There is no other art, true art, although there are countless degradations and debasements of art, which sometimes command our applause because we have not yet learned that, inasmuch as we, too, have the power to look within and to see ideals, we are ourselves artists, although we may lack the manual skill. The Soul will give even that. If we were to learn always to seek our own ideals, and to inflexibly judge all things by them, false art would shrivel up like a dry leaf in a flame because we would just as soon drink poisoned water as look upon a false ideal.

And what, too, is music? Is it not born of a comparison between our states of mind and the states of the Soul Mind, and an attempt to express the Soul Mind and to speak in the Soul Language? As we took the case of the true artist let us now take the case of the true musician, and apply our Science of the Soul to understand what he is really doing. For we must remember that there is a science of the Soul which can be learned, and which is quite as precise and accurate as the science of the chemist, and the forces of the Soul which are invoked by strenuousness are just as real and very much more so, and just as potent and very much more so, than the forces which we call electricity, or heat, or light. We have seen then what the true musician is doing. He is listening to the sound of the Soul, and trying to reproduce it upon a material instrument, and as in the case of the artist, so also the musician will gladly and eagerly admit that his best music is but an attempt. We, too, are musicians, everyone of us, because we, too, can hear ideal sounds, we, too, can compare our mental states, the sounds of our ambitions and of our hates, with the Soul-sounds, and when we have the habit of doing this, false music must disappear like false art. The false artist and the false musician can no longer deceive us, for have not we too the Soul pattern, the Soul gauge, by which to measure and to compare all things?

Music and Art are thus Divine creations, because they are the expression of Soul Ideals. I choose these as illustrations because they are familiar and will pass without question, but if we have got hold of the Science of the Soul correctly, then every attempt to conform to an ideal is also a creation and also Divine. Every such attempt, in the highest sense of the word, is music, and it is art, whether it be a new order of things in a household, a new order of conduct in business and in the street, a new order of behavior in journalism, or a new order of thought in the mind. You see there is no lack of opportunity to begin, no lack of Soul models to work from. These Soul picture-models will take possession of the mind as soon as they are invited, and they will strenuously urge us to their accomplishment, and they will outline what we call the little things of life with just as much care and minuteness as they will the affairs of nations and of continents.

Do we sufficiently understand what actually are the great things and what the little things of life? I must confess that I am perplexed at trying to find a division between them, because if we take any one of the admittedly great events of the world and go back carefully step by step, from event to cause, we shall presently find that we have reached some cause, far, far back which seemed to be so little that the mind would not have noticed it at all, and yet from it some great world event has resulted. If the final result was important, the first cause must have been equally important, and yet at the time it would have seemed one of the tiniest of all the tiny things of life. It appears to me that the real test of the magnitude of a thing is whether or not it was done on a Soul impulse or whether the Soul approved. If so, then it was great, and in this way the simplest act of private life may be infinitely more important than the signing of a treaty. The strenuous life is the life which thinks no deed is too small upon which to consult the Soul. It is the life of intelligent and of soulful duty, and to such an one no goal is forbidden, no doorway is closed, no height is barred.

Not once, but often in our country's story
The path of duty was the road to glory.

The world has needed such as these and it will need them in the future more than it has ever done in the past. In its extremity it will search for them, for the men who are unafraid, for the men who can see and hear the Soul, for the men who can dare and who can do.

Now you can see that in all these ideas which I have tried to present, I have been merely seeking to amplify some one or two of the points which the Leader of this Organization brought before us when she spoke of the Soul Psychology. She urged us to bring ourselves under the domination of the Soul, to look upon its pictures, and to hear its music, so constantly, and with so much will that at last we can paint these pictures upon the great canvas of the world, and fill the hearts of humanity with the Soul harmonies. I noticed that in all that she said she made no effort to prove the existence of the Soul, but rather took for granted that what was already the common knowledge of humanity — needed no proof whatever. It is the common knowledge of humanity, just as much as is the presence of the Sun within the sky. If there is anywhere a poor being who, with eyes fixed upon the ground, chooses to deny the Sun, we can after all do very little for him except to wish him heartily a safe issue from his afflictions and so pass on. There are some who will never look upon the Sun until Nature, somewhat roughly it may be, throws them upon their backs, and then they must perforce look and learn.

But to us, the Sun within the sky and the Soul within humanity are facts not to be disputed, not to be denied. It does but remain to us to know something of the science of the Light, and because it is light it brings the knowledge of itself. May we attain thereto and by our strenuous lives make that light to shine throughout the world.

Universal Brotherhood Path

Theosophical University Press Online Edition