Universal Brotherhood Path – January 1903

THE NEW YEAR — Gertrude W. Van Pelt

Through force of habit, if for no other reason, the opening day of the year has come to be a sort of pivotal time. It is a time when people are accustomed to look back over the past, and forward into the future — a time of balancing accounts, of forming fresh resolves. And although it may not be regarded seriously by many, although they may simply hail it as a joyous festival, although the new resolutions may be quickly forgotten, and the picture of higher ideals seen may fade on the morrow, yet it is nevertheless a day when many more than usual have glimpsed the realities of their lives, when at least for a moment there has been a common repentance of foolishness and a common desire for something better.

For this reason, if for no other, New Year's Day becomes an important one to a Theosophist. Because the minds of men are centered on it, a force is generated which can be utilized. The human soil is favorable for the planting of seeds which shall shape events. So it is a day of opportunities, not only to face life's difficulties in a new way, but to create new opportunities.

For the future is made up of two elements, that which has been already planted there by us and that which is yet unshapen, the subtle mass of latent possibilities waiting for our creative touch. Could we quickly turn the pages of time that are as yet closed to us, we should not find them blank, but scattered on them more or less richly in many places, the results of what we have already done and thought. The obligations of our past await us, and inevitably we must travel to meet them, quickly, if we will, or slowly. They lie before us, and are in a sense accomplished. But into the yet unshapen mass, what might we not inject, what might we not yet write on the pages of that book of which we are the authors! We cannot rub out the lines in the pictures we have already made, but we can build around them, we can use them as parts of a new creation, so that they will tell quite another story to the waiting world. We can transform a picture of pain into an image of joy. Just as a master artist can manipulate his materials to produce any desired result; just as any color may be beautiful or ugly according to its place in relation to other colors; just as any line may be added to, so that its whole meaning is changed; just as any discords may be separated and combined to form chords of harmony, so may we with the infinite resources of our souls at command, modify, transform, create anew that which we have already thrown on the screen of time. The future is in our hands. We are the masters of our own destiny.

New Year's Day is also a time when the true ideals become somewhat clearer. All public days are more or less mirror days, for they throw out and emphasize the national characteristics. But because of the accumulation of aspirations, New Year's Day is a time when truth becomes more apparent. It is not always the things which appear agreeable which are the most worth having. Our attractions and desires indicate our place in evolution for the time being, and may or may not be in harmony with a true ideal. Even now we can all look back and see much that we thought necessary, much that we once longed for, relegated to the past as unnecessary and undesirable. We have outgrown them. If we view life superficially, we are apt to seek positions or environments which are the most pleasing, but these may be evanescent, may even turn bitter. Because of our wonderful dual natures, we shall only find lasting, true satisfaction in the gratification of those desires which are the desires of the soul. We have to look deeper than the surface to find ourselves, and also to read the meaning of the elements of life we find about us. And we cannot afford to let public opinion form our tastes or guide our efforts.

Indeed, knowing the condition of the world today, what recommendation is it to anything to be popular? The present conditions are formed by, are the result of, the present ideals, and those who would become factors in altering and bettering the conditions, must brave public opinion. I am sure that Katherine Tingley and her students would be discouraged if humanity remained as it is, and Theosophy were popular. They would know that it meant that it was the real thing only in name; that it had been degraded. Humanity remaining as it is, they would be disappointed if Theosophy were not persecuted. Persecution affords opportunities to unmask evil, and call white white, and black black. Nothing is feared by a true Theosophist, for the unlimited powers, the unlimited resources of the universe stand behind this Movement. All Nature sustains it. It has challenged the evil-doers everywhere, even to the remotest corners of the earth. Do you think it does not expect persecution? This is one of the signs of the times, that an organized movement, which insists upon a pure, clean life, which will enter into no compact with the devil, which is uncompromising in its demand for justice, for honesty, which is determined to clear away the hideous rubbish of centuries, to sweep the earth clean of its rottenness, and fill it with beauty and love and sweetness — it is certainly an important sign of the times, one which those who run can read, that such a Movement should be persecuted.

It is also a mighty and soul-stirring sign that such a Movement exists on earth today.

One who reads these signs need be no great prophet to foretell a year which must be pregnant with results. The devils are on fire, and the gods have entered the arena in plain sight! And ere long the whole world will be forced to engage in the battle.

Many who fancy they stand for the right, but think they cannot afford to assert it because of their material interests, may find themselves swept from off their feet by the mighty currents which are gathering momentum every day, and dashed against the rocks, with which selfishness has covered the earth.

The truth of these words of William Q. Judge grow more and more apparent every day. He wrote:

Let me say one thing I know: Only the feeling of true brotherhood, of true love toward humanity, aroused in the soul of some one strong enough to stem this tide, can carry us through. For love and trust are the only weapons that can overcome the real enemies against which the true lover of humanity must fight.

The battle is entered upon, the deeper forces which go to make up human life are stirred, and on this New Year's Day we can more easily rise to one of the mountain tops of thought and survey the field. We can look back into the ages at the wasted human efforts, at the petty motives that have incited to action, at the subtle and persuasive enemies that have led men off the track, leaving them to die alone. We can see the many, the nations even, that have perished, leaving only the echo of their mistakes to confuse the children who followed them. We can see the will-o'-the wisps which they have chased, mistaking them for the light of truth, and which have led them nowhere. Above all we can see the lack of united effort, the overwhelming influences that have been at work to scatter and disconnect.

On the other hand, we may turn to the future, unformed and undefiled — the future rich with promises of which we are all a part, as we have been of the past, and which we can make glorious if we will.

We can see something new arising out of the ashes of our mistakes, and taking form before our eyes — beautiful in its purity and strength — and bearing aloft the banner of Truth, Light and Liberation for all mankind.

May all the world seek the heights on this New Year's Day! May they read aright the lessons of the past and the promises of the future, and may they resolve to make every day one of high purpose, a true New Year's Day.

Universal Brotherhood Path

Theosophical University Press Online Edition