The world is a Mirror of Infinite Beauty, yet no man sees it. It is a Temple of Majesty, yet no man regards it. It is a Region of Light and Peace, did not man disquiet it. It is the Paradise of God ... the Place of Angels and the Gate of Heaven. — Thomas Traherne
In the confusion of the world today on all lines, perhaps out of a hundred we might find only five or ten who have the broader vision of life that would enable them to see that the infinite life is mirrored in earth-life. Man's experience on earth, which is but a station, a stopping place in the progress of the soul, gives him the opportunity to find not only his own spiritual nature and the infinite powers within himself, but also to know the meaning of life and to see its beauty even in the material resources of nature.
But material life has been made paramount. Man's disquieting of this region of light and peace comes not altogether from intention, but because a great psychological wave of ignorance has been brooding over humanity for thousands of years. The uncertainty and the insecurity of human life make it impossible for man to realize in this life the beauty and the grandeur that is mirrored through the Infinite. Humanity must realize that the infinite laws, which have fashioned everything and hold everything in their keeping, are also for us. It is for us to work with them.
To understand the glory of the infinite beauty of life, we must thrill with the knowledge of our own essential divinity, we must find it within ourselves, in the depths of our hearts, of our consciences; and it must illumine our minds. One who sees life as it is and sees what humanity has been suffering under for so many hundreds of years must cultivate the spirit of compassion, of tenderness, of gentleness, and an absolute desire to lift some of the burdens. I often meet charming people of great culture who think themselves quite au fait. They have everything they want and expect the world to look at them and admire them. They have wealth, culture, and refinement, but they are lacking in that one great quality — the knowledge of their own essential divinity, which every man and every woman must have if they are to find the region of peace, the temple of majesty.
This is an age of inquiry. It is man's right to find his heritage, and he cannot find it until he challenges himself and learns who he is, what he is, whence he came, and whither he goes. It is the answers to these all-important questions that theosophy holds out and urges man to look into. It requires no wealth, no great intellectual attainments. It requires only a determined purpose to look upon life with a larger vision.
Galileo said that in order to know whether the world was round or flat, he had to go above it so as to look down and see it. There is a bit of occultism in this. We must rise above our ordinary selves and soar beyond the modern way of thinking. We must bury our prejudices and perhaps assume the attitude of mind we were in as little children in our innocent life. We must go back to those early days and begin over again in a sense, and try to find in our hearts some of the tender feelings we had then, that we received then, but which we have let pass us. The artificiality of modern life is distorting and destroying the spiritual life in man.
It is the mission of theosophy not only to lift humanity's burdens, but to enlighten the human mind. It points out that real knowledge is self-knowledge. This is to be gained through the challenging of the self, the finding of one's own strength and weaknesses, and recognizing the duality of human nature. That which destroys man's faith and carries him away from the path onto the sidetracks of weakness and passion and vice is the imperfect, animal part of his nature.
Yet there is mirrored in his soul this infinite beauty of life which Traherne speaks of. It is for all men; but it is only to be unfolded through a new trust, a new conception of life, a larger love for humanity, and a greater consciousness of the divinity within. In order to reach that knowledge which belongs to him, man must rise above difficulties, above his former conceptions. He must make a new thought-world for himself. He must believe in himself. He must realize that in his soul he is a part of this infinite beauty which is mirrored in earth-life. He must sing to his soul the music of peace and brotherhood. He must lift his heart above his weaknesses and, in the way of the true student, he must look down upon the temptations that cross his path rather than be continually struggling to overcome them. This occult law will come as the breath of life to those who have lost their friends, who are in despair — even those who are homeless and hungry.
The mirror of infinite beauty can be seen in the wonderful mysteries of the simplest flowers, in the trees, in the immensity of the ocean, in the stars, and in the heavens. Then look into the eyes of humanity and, in spite of all we see there overshadowing the spiritual man, let a man challenge himself to find his own soul and that infinite beauty will shine out through his eyes. It will warm his heart; it thrill him; and he will realize that the conquest of self has been made.
Those who struggle in the shadows and perplexities of any kind can find the mirror of infinite beauty. Those who grovel in their weaknesses, in their doubts and their fears, who hold to the idea that there is but one life simply because they and their forefathers were taught it, and because it is the popular belief — such will know nothing about the beauty that is right here on this earth-plane. Yet even such may occasionally get a glimpse of it in the beautiful flowers, the grand harmonies of music, the voice of the one they love, or the words of some splendid book. But to be steadfast and firm on one's feet, to move along daily in the consciousness of one's divinity, one must rise above himself, above his passions and desires, and take an absolutely new view of life, and live according to the knowledge gained. This cannot be done until one eliminates from his mind the limitations that do not belong to the human soul. They are not a part of the higher self. They obscure and destroy all that is best and noblest in the nature and disquiet these regions of infinite beauty.
I can give these teachings to a child who is making trouble. I have seen children of ten years of age — not one but many — rise in their mental conception of the new possibilities of their own souls, under the influence of these teachings. They have not suffered in this life as much as older people have, but certainly I think at times that old half-memories come back to those young souls. I am sure I have such memories, though I cannot tell what I was in my former life. I know I lived before; that satisfies me. I cannot tell whether I was a princess or a washerwoman, and I do not care anything about it. But theosophy offers to every man wonderful keys of revelation to solve the problems and difficulties of life, to take a new view, and to fashion his thoughts and his life on wider and finer lines.
Some have said, "Oh, the goal is grand and beautiful, your theory is wonderful, but it is such hard work!" But it is not so if we go about it in the right way. To accept the teachings of theosophy, to ingrain them into our lives and build ourselves up to a position where we can rise in our visions and in our conceptions of greater things and look down upon and overcome our weaknesses, we must remember that step by step we climb. We must not expect to acquire full knowledge in a day, a week, a month, a year, or even in one lifetime.
With the ultimate ever in mind, we must yet live for the day. No matter how great the present difficulties, the struggles in business and the duties that pertain to the day or to the subject at hand can bring home to us a realization of some of the infinite beauty of life that cannot come to us in any other way. We have not to look ahead to future years with fear and dread, but to eliminate from our minds all those ideas that have taken root in our blood which make us the progeny of doubt and fear and, according to the old conception, of sin. But times are changing. People are daring to think more and to write more and to do more. The wonderful force of evolution is pushing its way into the thought-life of the world and molding men's minds accordingly, and it tells us of the possibility of making of this world the mirror of infinite beauty.
Man gets what he works for, and if be doesn't work for it he doesn't get it. Mere thinking about the joy of life and even reveling in it will not bring it. But when one wants truth so much that he is actually hungry for it, he gets it. It is the wine of life, so to speak, the revelation of the book of life. No language can describe it — the most beautiful things in life can never be described in words; the holiest part of our religious nature can never be uttered in words, but it is the region of light and peace.
Those who desire the truth, those who have the courage to enter the new life, those who have the desire to be reborn in a sense, must throw overboard everything that has held them down in their limitations, in their doubts, their fears, their dislikes, their passions. Why? Because the soul is seeking its evolution in the house of flesh, it is seeking to help the being to become that which it knows it can be. But the mind of man, even though cultured, is frequently the slave to this idea and that, this man's opinion and that man's opinion, and this "ism" and that "ism," so that the mind does not reflect the infinite beauty of life, but reflects only life's confusion and corruption and distress and doubt.
Yet man is a majestic being if he knows his own spiritual nature and works assiduously to become that which he was intended to be, that he may fulfill his mission as a noble representative of the higher law. Thus he may become a great factor in the divine scheme of things, making for the beauty of life, the harmony of life, the peace and the joy of life. He takes no part in the disquieting of the world. There is no selfishness in him. He is walking the path of self-conquest with such clear perceptions, such earnestness, such steadfastness, that his whole nature is reflected in the mirror of infinite beauty.
The sublimity of these teachings can make new blood in the veins, bring those who are sickly to a position of self-evolution even on the line of physical health. There is a splendor in soul-life; and when the soul reigns, commands, and overcomes, victory is won for the whole world. Then will man no longer disquiet the region of light and peace. He will not be a blot on the escutcheon of civilization. He will have reached a point where he can challenge himself and say to his own passions, selfishness, and weaknesses, "Get Thee behind me, Satan!" — for they are the Satans of his own creation. He will find that these conditions in his nature that are not controlled and not conquered in one life will have to be met and conquered in another.
We must realize that what counts in life is not what we want or what we believe in: it is what is or what will be. We often hear people saying about reincarnation, "I never want to come back to this old world again — never." But they have to come just the same, until they have learned all its lessons, for the laws of life are immutable.
We cannot move the sun or the moon or the planets or the stars, but it is great to know that we can change ourselves, that we are the makers of our own destiny, that we can compel the brain-mind, which is but an instrument, to be under the control of the higher nature, the soul. We cannot depend merely upon the intellectual life and be so wrapped up in it that, when the body dies, the soul has to go on and on returning to earth-life and trying it over again without having made any progress. The urge of the soul towards perfection never dies. We must have progress, evolution. This is the very fiber and core of the theosophical teachings — eternal progress.
It is for us to nurse our higher natures, to nurse the potential qualities within us; to nurse the pictures and the dreams of a future life, of a better life in this life, and to hold tenderly and affectionately in our hearts the love of the higher law which makes of this world a mirror of infinite beauty for all.