We know there are tides in the ocean; and we know that men have been able, by careful observation, to construct tables of low tides, and high tides for a long time in the future. The general theory is that the moon and the sun cause the tides by the pulling influence which they exert on the earth. The external world is a type of the invisible, and corresponds to it as the glove corresponds to the hand that wears it. The Universe is the embodiment of Law, and the word "chance" is a term we use to cover our ignorance. The tides in the ocean do not result from chance, but from fixed law. The general state of the tide is, we know, caused by the relation of the sun and moon to the earth: and though winds, and other causes, which vary the state of the tide, may make it impossible for us to tell how high, or how low the tide will be at a given place and time, yet these causes, too, are the result of law; not of chance.
A study of human life on this earth discloses the fact that there are many ups and downs in the life of the race. A closer study shows that these periods of rise and fall have a certain relation to each other, a certain periodicity, as truly as have the tides of the ocean. This fact Shakespeare has noted in the lines:
There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune,
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries. — Julius Caesar
It is a general observation that races and nations have their periods of infancy, manhood, age, and decay. It has also been observed that the progress of civilization, in historical times, has been from the East towards the West — from the Orient to Asia Minor, thence to Greece and Rome, and then to the various European nations, and lastly to America, where various elements are coming together for the purpose of evolving a new and more advanced race.
These two general facts are accepted by all, but they are only parts of a larger whole. And in all ages there have been a few advanced thinkers who have taught that the long course of the Life of Humanity is divided into definite periods, ages or eons, some longer, some shorter, corresponding somewhat to day and night, the seasons of the year, and other observed periods in the ordinary course of nature. We often speak of the night of the Middle Ages, when darkness covered Europe: and there were periods of night in other lands and times, as in Palestine, India, Egypt, and ancient America. Thus history, as we know it, indicates beyond all doubt that the law of periodicity, which we see in the tides of the ocean, holds good also in the course of the life of humanity; and we can speak correctly of a tide in the affairs of nations, races, or individuals.
In that revelation of the Wisdom Religion given us by H. P. Blavatsky, and known as Modern Theosophy, we have, among many other things, a much fuller outline of the general plan of things given us than men had been able to get in other ages. In that revelation of the Great Law which governs the world, and the universe, we are told that humanity evolves, by certain natural stages, through great races, like the Atlantean, and smaller races, like the Aryan or Semitic, and minor races like the Greek, Roman, French, German, English, and others. Each of these has its morning, noon, and night, or its spring-time, summer and winter — in each the great tide of the world's life flows and ebbs-Each great religion marks a spring-time of the world's life: and as spring follows a period of winter, so the spring-time of a great religion comes after a season of winter, a period of spiritual darkness and need.
If we take the case of the Mohammedan religion, we find that it came to the peoples of the Arab stock when they were immersed in a miserable idolatry. If we can judge of the state of the world 1900 years ago from certain parts of Greek and Latin authors, or from certain things found in Herculaneum and Pompeii, we must conclude that the Greek and Roman religions had become little more than a mockery, and that no strong moral and spiritual power existed to keep from corruption the nations around the Mediterranean. It was in that hour of great need that Christianity came bringing Life and Immortality to light.
We know also that when Buddha came the religion of Ancient India sadly needed reform. In each instance, after a period of winter, after a time of spiritual darkness, there came a spiritual spring-time, or a full-tide of the world's life.
The pity has been that, owing to obstructions caused by human folly, the spring-time has not lasted so long as it should have done; the full-tide of spiritual life has ebbed very soon. If we take the case of Christianity we know that even during the life-time of the Apostles, disharmony and division began to work. And the state of the church which we find at the Council of Nice (A. D. 325), is a condition of turmoil, strife and worldly scheming, utterly foreign to the spirit and teaching of Jesus Christ. Thus the spring-time of Christianity was nipped very early: the flood-tide of spiritual life was split into foam as it dashed against the rocks of human vanity, love of power, and love of rule.
Now, what is the meaning and practical outcome to us of all this? Surely it is that we may read these letters of fire and take warning. Surely the voice of history is a divine voice warning us that we neglect not to co-operate now with the Great Law of Nature that again brings the spring-time, that again produces a flood-tide of spiritual life, and that not for one nation or race only, but for the whole world.
Had Christianity remained on the lines laid down by its great Founder, the world would not be the pandemonium which it is today — the armed camp where greed, and craft, and might rule, and where nearly every man's hand is against his fellow. The mission of Jesus, as he himself says, was specially to the Jews: "I was not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." His teaching, however, being universal, being part of the Divine Wisdom, could not be limited, and hence the spread of it among European peoples. The mission of Mohammed was to the Arabs, another portion of the Semitic stock, and it has never extended much beyond them. The mission of Buddha was to a portion of the great Aryan race and, strange to say, just as Christianity came to the Jews and when rejected by them was given to the Greeks and Romans, so Buddhism, which came to reform the caste-bound Brahmins, was rejected by them, for the most part, and was then extended to other countries — Ceylon, Burma, China, and Japan.
We have, in the present day, the Ancient Wisdom Religion again presented to the world in a fuller and more perfect way than ever before. It is not too much to say that for the last 1900 years or so, the world has been undergoing preparation for the full-tide of spiritual life which is now flowing.
But one may say, what reason have we to assert that there is any tide of spiritual life at present? Do not the conditions of the world point just the other way? When, in the history of the world, were men more selfish, more materialistic in their thoughts and lives? When were spiritual things so little esteemed? Are not the churches often as worldly as the world? Are not some of them as devoted to the outward and the conventional as ever were the effete religions of the ancient world? All this is true, and it is just because it is true; it is just because of the world's winter — because of the world's terrible need, that the spring-time from on high is coming to break up the frost and ice of the materialistic winter, and to make the flowers of hope, and joy, charity, and peace, bloom once more in the hearts of men. It is an old proverb, founded upon long experience, that "the darkest and coldest hour of all the night is the hour before dawn," and certainly that was so in the history of the twenty-five years before H. P. Blavatsky came again to reveal the ancient Wisdom Religion.
But some one may still say, What evidence have we for believing that modern Theosophy is such a great revelation, or that it floods the world with spiritual life? That the world was in great need is some evidence, but it is not enough to warrant us in accepting Theosophy as meeting that need.
The needs of this age are at least three-fold, whereas the prominent need of any other age was confined to one point chiefly. In the case of Buddha, for instance, the need was to proclaim the true religion as being independent of caste, as itself constituting the true nobility. The need which Jesus Christ met was to give reality instead of formalism, the spirit rather than the letter, and to proclaim God as the Father of all men, and not of one race or tribe only. But today the needs of the world are many and varied. We know that the Nineteenth century developed the scientific spirit so that there was a great "Conflict between Science and Religion." Theosophy must therefore meet all those points demanded by the age. It must explain man's nature as neither the churches nor the scientists were able to do. It must emphasize the fact, that man is divine, and not a mere animal, as the scientists had taught. It must show that true religion is based in the very nature of man, and of all things, and is therefore divinely scientific. This Theosophy has done, and it has not only covered the points on which science was speculating, but it has gone very far beyond, and has unfolded the general principle of the universe in such a way that no future revelation will make the present one antiquated.
Another crying need of the times is for unity, for justice, for truth, for love and peace — in other words, for Universal Brotherhood. The nations of the world have been wearing out their lives to support huge fleets and armies; and the warfare of commerce has been hardly less bitter than that of the sword. Theosophy declares and proves the unity of life, and the amity and peace which should naturally result therefrom. We are all members in one body. We are all children in the same divine family. Each man is his brother's keeper. The loss of one is the loss of all, and the gain of one is the gain of all. Theosophy meets that fear of death which holds so many in bondage, and shows that the real man never dies, for what we call death is the soul's laying aside for a time its garb of flesh.
Another great need of the age arose from the fact that men had largely ceased to believe in the old church teaching about hell and the devil, and nothing had taken the place of these beliefs, hence the tendency of many, when left without any restraint, to lead careless lives. Theosophy, by enforcing the law of Karma, showing that we reap what we sow, makes all wrong-doing a blunder and a folly as well as a sin, for who but a fool would light a fire to burn himself?
Another very essential need of the age was a right conception of the Divine. Scientists had become so immersed in their own investigations of matter that their eyes were like the eyes of moles, they could not see the sun. For them matter was all. The churches, on the other hand, had made God more and more like mortal man, hence it was most necessary that men should realize the immanence of the divine, and feel that they "live, and move, and have their being in God." The Universe then becomes the perpetual dwelling place, the solemn temple of the Most High. The All-Seeing Eye is upon all our thoughts, and in all the manifestations of law we see the presence of Divine Will. These, and many other things Theosophy teaches, and in doing so it covers the whole field of the world's need — a wider field of need than ever existed before.
Consider, again, what long preparations, on outer lines, have been taking place in the world, so as to make possible the rapid diffusion of spiritual light now. The net-work of electric wires connecting nations. The Universal Postal Union, silently bringing men nearer to one another, and making for peace. The rapid intercourse by sea and land. The community of nations along many material lines. The printing press. These and many other things are so many channels for the full-tide of spiritual life to flood all nations. St. Paul could not travel a few hundred miles without great danger both by land and sea; now he could sit in his office and send circulars to the whole world. When Jesus came his wonderful works and life were hardly known outside of Palestine; now the Sermon on the Mount would be in the morning and evening papers from California to Japan, and from Northern Europe to the Southern Pacific.
The great activity of the world, the rapid intercourse between nations, the consuming hunger for something that will satisfy — all these are signs of the times, and they indicate that a mighty tide is flowing.
We know that the ship which hardly moves responds very slowly to the helm, but when she moves quickly a slight motion of the helm is sufficient to rapidly change her course. Things move quickly in the world today, and that itself is an avenue of hope, and an indication of the mighty tide that is flowing. We can, by a firm hand on the helm, change our lives, and change the course of the world much more quickly now than would have been possible in other times. The cardinal feature in every great spiritual movement is that it brings reality in place of shams, and truth and honesty instead of lies and dishonesty. This the Theosophical teaching has done, it has been a light-bringer, and for this very reason that it has thrown light on shams, and idols, and hypocrites, holding up as its motto — "There is no religion higher than Truth" — for this very reason it has called forth the vituperation and misrepresentation. Those who love darkness have made common cause against the Theosophical Society. Thus it has been in all ages; the orthodoxy of every age has been the opponent of Truth, and those who regarded themselves as the custodians of religion have been the first to stone the prophets, and kill those that were sent for man's liberation. This in some cases arises from bigotry and mental darkness, but in most cases it springs from self-interest. The craft is in danger. But we feel certain that no obstacles, no detractors, no misrepresentations, nor any other thing can now impede the course of the mighty wave of spiritual life which is flooding the world — which is welling up in the hearts of men. The great ones who have watched by the cradle and the grave of empires and races, and who have shaped events for this time in which we now live, are not going to allow a few obstacles to block the path of the world's progress. The sun is rising with healing in his beams, and the world itself could not prevent the light shining. The utmost any man can do is to put up the shutters on his own window. The mighty tide of spiritual life is flowing — it is rising higher and higher every year, and every month. All that is worn out, all that is merely conventional, all hypocrisy and sham will be swept away; and Truth shall establish her kingdom on the pillars of justice and judgment, uprightness and peace. Then truly shall the waste places of the earth rejoice, and the desert shall blossom as the rose, and none shall hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain.
Universal Brotherhood Path