Every dawn brings a new Sunrise, a new promise, a new hope. Sunrise — a divine event — but so familiar that we hardly notice it, and accept as a matter of course its awakening benediction; nor do we pause to reflect upon what this steadfast, unswerving devotion can reveal for us of the beauty, the harmony and the precision of Universal Law. Awakening from the baths of sleep — a state of consciousness we do not understand — we re-enter the waking world to don again the cloak of customary routine. But do we bring to this waking world a clearer understanding of its deeper meaning than we do in those vague conjectures we entertain about the oblivion of sleep? The same deadening torpor that robs the soul of its morning benediction veils our perception of the living realities which underlie our daily life — our supreme heritage of Truth and Inspiration.
These living verities declare that it is to learn the purpose of life through undergoing its experiences that we find ourselves daily face to face with our familiar problems, that life is a school of experience, a discipline, in which every incident, if turned to account, is an opportunity for growth in knowledge, wisdom, and power for noble service.
It is true that the thought atmosphere of the world as a whole is in a turmoil, and this, with all its harshness and crudity, has its depressing effects, which all must feel. And our feeling of unity and individual responsibility with and for this living world of Humanity of which we are a part has grown faint or become deadened. Nature, too, revolts, and her divinity groans under man's heartless abuse of her bounty. We have lost that pristine wonder which was alive in "the great antique heart, how like a child's in its simplicity, like a man's in its earnest solemnity and depth! Heaven lies over him; . . . making all the earth a mystic temple to him, the earth's business all a kind of worship."(1)
Nevertheless this ancient heart-wisdom is as living as ever, for it it is timeless, indestructible, appearing in new forms, some as yet but dimly recognized; its old, outworn garments being cast aside. It is the same ancient flame of the spirit reborn in vestures of thought and action more adapted to the needs of this new dawning era for the evolving soul of man.
Mankind can still claim its divine birthright of spiritual power, inheriting its boundless vitality in calm abundance; and its voice crying in the wilderness of the world today calls upon all living souls to become its temple.
Theosophy brings new life to the discouraged — a new beam of Light. It reveals a Path — a Path that flows through life. It is the law of Right Action, the path of Duty. In the Bhagavad-Gitd are these words of Krishna addressed to Arjuna: "As the ignorant perform the duties of life from the hope of reward, so the wise man, from the wish to bring the world to duty and benefit mankind, should perform his actions without motives of interest." All inspired thinkers and poets, ancient and modern, join in homage to the divine mandate of Duty; in Wordsworth's magnificent Ode to Duty the lines
Thou dost preserve the stars from wrong,
And the most ancient Heavens through thee are fresh and strong,
echo the theme of its all-pervading, cosmic sway, and again the wise words of Carlyle: "Truly this same sense of the Infinite nature of Duty is the central part of all within us," (2) voice a profound wisdom of the heart.
"To bring the world to Duty and benefit Mankind" is indeed the dominant word of command voiced by the great and wise of all ages. For all who have ears to hear it is sounding today through the work of the Theosophical Movement, whose teachings have power to re-kindle this indwelling spirit of Devotion in a united world-conscious non-spectacular program of enlightenment, which, if carried forward by earnest men and women, will eventually change the world, by changing the hearts and minds of men.
"Duty, the central part of all within us," these words express the essential nature of Devotion which H. P. B. declared to be "the first and foremost motor in man's nature; for it is the only one that is natural in our heart, which is innate in us, and which we find alike in human babe and the young of the animal." And, quoting from the opening passage: "When, moved by the law of Evolution, the Lords of Wisdom infused into [infant Humanity] the spark of consciousness, the first feeling it awoke to life and activity was a sense of solidarity, of oneness with his spiritual creators. As the child's first feeling is for its mother and nurse, so the first aspirations of the awakening consciousness in primitive man were for those whose element he felt within himself, and who yet were outside, and independent of him. DEVOTION arose out of that feeling, and became the first and foremost motor in his nature."
It is suggested that students of Theosophy and all those who feel the urge to serve by passing on to others these vitalizing thoughts should renew their minds through frequent perusal of this wonderful passage (3) in H. P. B.'s great book. For the sense of one-ness and aspiration it invokes strikes the keynote which underlies all that for which the Theosophical Movement exists.
And surely, never in the history of the human race has there been an epoch when the need for this vitalizing spirit of Devotion has been more imperative. It is Action that is needed. The power is at hand; it comes by use. Recall Emerson's stirring words: "The law of Nature is to do the thing and you will have the power; they who do not the thing have not the power."
We have witnessed the results of the deadening spell of apathy — of deafness to the counsels of wisdom. We have marked the shelving of any wise constructive action deemed unpractical because courage and trust are lacking, but mainly because the lamp of spiritual understanding is unlit. And now, in the eyes of many our Western Civilization has sunk below the credit-level of decent, useful Humanity. Are we to continue our barrenness of purpose, our fruitless questionings, when all the while a living answer is at hand? The Human Family cannot evade its besetting miseries (self-induced) by halting to temporize and discuss its differences. The crying need is to turn the thoughts of men away from these to the unifying bonds of eternal kinship, and so invoke the great heart-undertones of Human Solidarity. The call is a practical one and by it the nobler manhood of all peoples is challenged.
We are living in the Kali-Yuga, the dark cycle in which the forces of evil have their innings. A wise Teaching declares "that every one is so placed in this world as to exhibit his worst qualities," adding that "the purpose of this life is to strengthen the weak places of the spiritual man." (4) Is it not natural then, that the world, in its period of struggle towards regeneration, should present a picture of weakness and error? It is because a clearer light of guidance and perception than heretofore is over us that we may learn how black the picture really is, with the fumes of discord and hate. It holds a salutary lesson for all mankind — not pleasing to contemplate as a portrait of the Human Family.
But let us take heart. All is in the ordering of Universal Law. Man reaps what he has sown. He has the power and the wisdom — if he will — to sow seeds of Enlightenment and Peace for a world unborn by kindling this Wisdom in the living currents of the human heart today.
With our higher judgment and intuition aroused to a realization of the true state of the world today, what opportunities it reveals to those who would serve the race! The past, merged into the present on the brink of the dividing of the ways — the choice of a path towards a divine destiny for the Race or a falling back along the broad highways of decline.
It is no time for hesitation. A clearer vision, a vaster grasp of proportion is needed, and with hearing alert to know the call and whence it comes. No time, this, for spiritual self-culture, engrossed in its own advancement. No moment, this, for the "gratification of spiritual aspirations." (5) Now is the supreme opportunity, offered to all, to serve.
Thoughtful minds are awakening — they sense the premonition that a new era is already born and is being unfolded before our eyes.
Our work demands knowledge of the world, wisdom, born of experience, to understand and interpret the diversities of human nature and the human family, and above all the practical wisdom and tact to discern the strategic points at which to direct our appeal — in plain words, to reach the right people. Among these are the thousands of the rising as well as of the present generations, who, often, unknown to themselves, cherish the longing to be joined in a comradeship of service for world-betterment — a Cause which regenerates and inspires.
These thoughts on Devotion are brightened by the hope and conviction that there are earnest minds among the Youth of the race who are spiritually awake and alert to the needs of the hour. These bring with them a new vision of life and a new energy into the human picture, and viewing the spectacle of recent events they have a keen awareness of something lacking — of a desperate need for enlightened action, and their virile and intelligent minds are spurred by a hunger for a knowledge which can answer the riddles of life.
Living example is the only key to the hearts of these. Example is a living reality, an expression of the nature of the indwelling motives and ideals. The Devotion that is spiritually vital carries within it a power of creative appeal of like for like. Its symbol is a flame that can kindle a thousand torches. Devotion may be quiet and unheralded, for it loves not parade nor display. Its steadfast, constant loyalty to the Highest within it, transmitted from heart to heart, gaining momentum as it grows, is the only power that will change and transfigure the lives of men. Devotion is summed up in these words of W. Q. Judge: "For Love and Trust are the only weapons that can overcome the real enemies against which the true theosophist must fight." (6)
1. Carlyle. Past and Present, Chapter XV. (return to text)
2. Carlyle. Past and Present, Chapter XV. (return to text)
3. The Secret Doctrine, by H. P. Blavatsky. Vol. I, page 210. (return to text)
4. From: The Path, Dec. 1886, p. 278 recorded from Man: Fragments of a Forgotten History. (return to text)
5. See Bulletin for Aug. 5, "46, No. 16 (quoting K. II.) — (bottom of last page). (return to text)
6. From Letters That Have Helped Me, Vol. II Letter XXI. (return to text)
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