A renowned occultist said recently; "Do not write like the Peripatetics, but put your soul into it." The wisdom of this advice becomes at once apparent. We may not all attain those brave pinnacles in the distance, but the first hard steps lie close at hand, to be taken by every earnest man. He takes them more or less in the dark. Now our struggle is for Union; not merely to be in Union, but to be that Union itself. This idea should attend us from the outset, for ideas create men. So in considering the subject of Truth, and how to become It, I find myself confronted with my individual experience, and my conception of its value soon enlarges as I find it repeating itself in many another life. It would seem that I might thus come to you, a friend to friends, speaking plainly of such hidden essences as I may find in diurnal things. I do not offer a universal panacea. I point out that which is for me The Way. Yet I say also with Ulysses: "I am a part of all that I have met," and to those sharers of my larger nature I manifest that which I have found. You are very present with me, oh, my Comrades! Distance cannot shut you from me. Maya cannot hide you. As we breast the tide of this Dark Age, I seem to feel your hearts beating time with mine. I meet one, and he becomes identical with me; then perhaps another and still another, until merged in the pulsation of a single Hope, we are but so many throbs in the Great Heart of All. I salute you out there in the Unknown, and may we one day come together with the large homeric joy of fellow warriors! Now you know in what spirit I address you.
Would to God Truth were more believed in! I say this amid frequent surprise. Yet it is a mimic Truth by which we live. This puppet virtue emasculates. It cozens our judgment, disowns our intuitions and divides our motives. We drift to and fro with the material scum of Being. When do we come face to face, speaking entire thoughts? We look each at the other's mask, and Truth is dumb. Shy as schoolboys we are before the tricksy illusion of form. As friends commune best in the twilight, so we shrink back within the veiled recesses of the mind, and if we speak our conviction, it is in parable. Who has a true relation in life? Between the closest lovers there arises this impalpable wall of fictitious personality. We do not break through it. The heart pants for the True, but it cannot reveal its necessities to those whose thirst is slaked at shallower streams. If we dared be what we are with one another, we might get down to bed rock, and begin to understand somewhat of this great mine called Life, and the lay of its ore veins, and where a man may blast through to everlasting riches. You will say to me; "Shall I disclose the sacred core of my soul to be gapped at and appraised as the thing for which I have paid just so much blood and so many tears?" Never! I know well that even those who under ties of birth and law have a right to confidence, do not always know of its existence. You sit among them in the twilight, gazing towards the horizon, striving to catch the first divine harmonies of the on-coming night, and when they say to you, "Of what are you thinking?" you answer; — "I wondered if tomorrow will bring good harvest weather." For you have tried it and found no scale to measure, no bottom to the box. It is a common need that I specify. We are delivered up at the bar of custom, impressed under arbitrary standards, bidden accept the verdict of self impanelled citizens for the swift mandate of our own soul. She mocks at this usurped authority. We have too long allowed others to bind us in the names of the great Verities, and now we discover beneath those august mantles, plastic little gods of civic creation. It is a tale as old as the world.
It lies within our power to change this in some degree at least. He who would have true relations, must himself be true. Let him distrust names, and sift facts. Give nothing the right to pass you unchallenged. The most trifling opinion must give the eternal countersign before I admit it within my lines. I receive no idea until I have tested it by all the laws known to me, whether natural or supra-natural. For if I give out some false thought to another, I poison his spring. I have a corsican feud with that lying word — "Independence." I would raze it from the memory of men. There is no such thing. The True repudiates it. Exact Science protests her ignorance of this fabled monster. Even on the physical plane, each man, himself a glowing sphere in action, throws off and inhales by every pore, particles of matter, of mind stuff, of cell stuff, of all that goes to the making of the mere flesh and blood man. Case him up in plaster of paris with but the necessary orifices for organic functions, and see how long he will live. Put him into solitary confinement and mark what becomes of his "independent" brain. We interchange bodies with one another and recruit them even from the dead. Reject me; put the Atlantic between us, and I will send a shaft to your heart in the shape of my thought. I have seen proud men chafe at a comrade's suggestions, and accept unconsciously the alms of a thousand stranger minds. We have a tremendous lien upon one another. All Humanity impinges upon every man, at every instant, on every plane. Where among the worlds do you find Independence? Is your constitution larger than that of Orion? Shall continuity be displaced, that you may stretch yourself? Accept the reign of Law: and instead of Independence write "Interdependence" on the lintel of the heart. I do not say this procedure is always painless. Truth is a goddess who demands a human sacrifice. For my part, give me facts, though they crush me. Something finer will spring up from the remains.
Being true friends we shall find them. Here in this perplexed world if hearts could get together, and together — untinged by sense — go out through one another's real experience, much might be found out. Such friends love truly because each in the other sees the true self reflected. They do not hold silence but reveal hidden thoughts, and by mutual comparison, which is greater and surer, eliminate error, realize the True in all things and "keep each other awake in Him." They hold intercourse also, at times which they do not recollect, as we do with all higher souls who love us, and who certainly exist, though not now known to our mortal eye and memory, and who drink perhaps often with us the little ambrosia that we are able to reach. For this infrequent boon doubtless all people languish, knowing not what it is that they desire, and thus many a soul goes through life seeking it for years, and often, too often, concludes that it is a search for Utopia, because the rough experience of long seasons proves apparently that "friends such as we desire are dreams and fables." (1) It need not be so, if you will not have it so. Be wholly true and you must find within your circle at least one heart equal to yours, with whom you can establish this priceless interchange. Seek one another; break up the ice and get out into free air. The man of the world and the deifier of the practical, will alike bear witness that in such union is strength indeed, no matter to what issue. It can be maintained where lives have a mutual lodestar. Yet be on your guard against the intellectual tramp, who is ever ready to refresh himself in your inner domain and gape at your wonders. The curious and the idle have no right of way through my mind.
The awakening soul demands a plain and vital relation. She cries to all her environments: "Hereafter I am bound by no arrogative claims. Does your word reverberate in me? I follow! Does your thought attract mine? Take it! I will give you all that is yours in me; I will not give you one jot more. Hope not to mould me within given limits. I shape myself only to the True. I will no longer be merely virtuous. I am Virtue!" Such is the language of the soul, to whom her own Being is sufficient fact, who offers no explanations, no excuses, but faces the interlocutor boldly, and answers: "Thus have I done. Am I or am I not free?" When the eternal comparison is established, however, she bears herself humbly before it, so long as she has not herself become that Eternal in very fact. She knows that there is but one place in the universe whereon a man may make a square stand, and he does so with the Law to back him. That place is his Duty. The equation of the Past has brought him there. All these paltry concerns, this material pressure are outcomes of the energies of that Astral Medium which is at once his flux and his teacher. He and others about him are making these things themselves. He must learn why and how; for this lesson there is no better place than that wherein his soul first rouses from her stupor.
I spoke of Virtue. What is that? Emerson once told us: "Virtue is the adherence in action to the nature of things." That commanding Nature, which is the True, stands above the adherent virtue. Growth and decay advance through retrogression, the fermenting and cathartic processes, these are Nature's. She gives, not opiates, but astringents. To sin, which is to go off at a tangent from the True; to suffer, which is discordant vibration; to return when a latent attraction, developed through pain, sets out towards the sphere of harmonious action; all this is natural. To lose a thousand vintages through the evolution of finer forces, to make here a rose and there a desert, these, with many transmuting and conserving powers, Nature offers as analogies to the student of the True and forbids him to condemn any of them. Sometimes convention establishes this natural order, simply because it is too massive to be overlooked, as when well-bred people select only topics of general interest to all. Then the crowd follow, not because it is true, but because it is convention. This cold acceptance freezes up the vitality of the germ. Let a man agree with his own soul that he will not lie because he galvanizes non-being into Being; that he will not steal because he goes behind the law which gives him all that is his own and will demand restitution at compound interest for the very word of which he may have deprived another. Let him not covet aught because his true manhood depends on his balance of power, his control of desire. Let him demand of himself the Why, of every impulse. Let him seek out the basic reason of his thoughts and actions, and assuring himself of his hidden motive, kill or exalt that as it may deserve. This is vital. What I say here of man applies once and for all to woman also. I am considering that fontal essence in which is no sex, no condition, no division — the True. If the whole tendency be to that, the greatest secrets in occultism can be known. Loyalty must be a sum, not a fraction. Take Truth alone for your headlight, thereby the world may see your course, and children and jejune idlers be warned from its track. I do not say you should rise up and cast off the outer life all at once. That is your protection; you will need it for some time to come. But I say that you should look sleeplessly for the true kernel of these external things. Our advance must even be made with discrimination, often in befriending silence. Remember that under the present social constitution, as long as Theosophy seems to unfit men for their private capacities and obligations, so long will the world condemn it as lacking in moral and in common sense. Its exponents may not deal violently with established relations. You are to work out, not to jump out. If we love the True, we shall fulfil every personal claim, every formal pledge incurred by our position in life, at no matter what cost, rather than allow a false deduction to be drawn which shall implicate the good faith of our moral philosophy. Those to whom we are due alone can free us. An Adept wrote recently: "To find masters, you must be unclaimed by man or woman." Unfulfilled duties are ropes which drag us back. Men are eager to serve this cause; let them bear the result of their actions for its honor until the high law sets them free. Only an overwhelming certainty of a divine mission, of a certified call to Adeptship and the service of Humanity at large frees us from these present considerations by removing us to a higher plane, wherein we stand justified. While I live among men I wear the garment appointed to their assembly. Hours befall when I am called to quit this communion for that of the gods! Then I only know the laws of the soul and emerge from these platitudes of this lower world.
We cannot too deeply inhale the knowledge that Truth is not a surface growth. How often I have seen the clue overlooked by seekers; how often seen the messenger refused! Perhaps the tenor of his speech was too foreign, or too unassuming; or time was lost in questioning his methods, or the student flung away in fancied independence, forgetting that men do not own their own minds, but are debtors to the great currents of Thought. These flow through us like a river; the individual mind is but one of a million ripples, yet the force gathers momentum from ripple to ripple and all are the river. Only a large nature can receive a gift with grace and integrity; it has no fear of belittling itself by acceptance, for it knows that in the True we only receive in due proportion to our gifts, and that it must speedily bestow this bounty elsewhere. You do not hesitate to accept the services of a bank clerk because he is paid for them. Do you suppose that equity is confined to men, and that the Eternal gives us no retainer? Dismiss this commercial weighing and counting; give and take as the winds do! If an archangel stood within a body whose exterior did not announce that divine prompter, men of average standing would reject him while searching for him. "I faint with the desire to find those who will unselfishly accept me and work for the rest. I give myself in all things for your benefit and would be glad if by my death or by my loss you could reach enlightenment. I would transfer, could I do so, all my experience to your soul and give it away to you. For what? For nothing at all save your acceptance. You know very well we can do no more than offer these goods. We set up the wooden image before the eyes of men and not one taking the sword cuts it in two, to find the jewels within. Then we sadly go on again." (2) That is the language of spiritual power and self confidence ignores it daily. If Jesus and Buddha walked the earth to-day without followers or protestations, how many men who clamor for the mysteries would recognize Them by an innate perception of Their qualities? I marvel that others suppose the Great Spirits of all ages to have passed onward to realms of bliss, without a second thought for the belated brotherhood behind. By the inexorable laws of Their perfected natures, some must have returned, in renunciation and bondage, to live and humbly teach and cheer reluctant men.
Do not take any man at his surface valuation or yours, but look to the spirit within his words. This discernment of spirits is a great power; it can be cultivated. Close your eyes, summon up the man before your thought and try to feel his total effect as it impresses itself on your passive mind. Then regard him impersonally as a problem solved, not forgetting that a foolish man may at times become the mouthpiece of unseen powers. Our perception is often tested thus; be vigilant, lest unawares you reject the fruit of life. But you wish to pluck it for yourself without the aid of any man? Friend! Such fruit never grew. The One Itself can only realize through the many. Are you higher than that?
Others again fall into the besetting error of students who are tempted at the outset to elaborate a system. The wish to set our intellectual acquisitions in order is natural enough, but as on our present plane we can only attain to partial conceptions, we may harden them into a finality, become insensibly attached to them as being our very own, and reject all that does not accord with them. Must the universal march up and toe my chalk line? Eschew mental habit; it is a great encrustor. Submit the outer and inner man to the solvent of will. Heed the indications of Nature. Observe the bird as it folds its wings and drops down the air to the predetermined spot. Consider the lightning, when from the lurid sheeted flow it forges a bolt and darts it to the mark. Every bullet that scores must first be liquid lead. Fix your motive, then make your thought fluidic and free. We are much conjured in the name of consistency. In heaven's name then, let us be consistent, but to the Truth itself, through all its varied manifestations. Each man need care only for what he is this moment, and pass on easily with life to the next. There are times when we rise into an instant perception of Truth through the total nature of the soul. Then I feel myself great, by reason of this power, yet infinitely small, in that I do not hourly contain it. The laws governing this tidal wave form part of my inner consciousness, just as many of my forces are out yonder in the infinite correlations of cosmic energy. A full perception of them enables a man to hold up hand and lure, and the hawks swoop down. When a comrade displays this touchstone of the soul we know one another without any words. Many men of positive nature think that they also have fallen heir to this power because they test and are confident. They stand fast in reality by the lower knowledge of the delusive self, and can no more apprehend this internal aurora which throbs and gleams through the expanded man than a child discriminates between Northern Lights and the glare of distant conflagrations. The reason for this, as for all mistakes, inheres deeply in the elemental nature of man, and suggestions can be given whereby he may first recognize and then if he be a strong man — conquer it. To this end let us unite our efforts, for you know it is through sharing this faulty nature that I have been led to an earnest contemplation of possible remedies.
1. Emerson. (return to text)
2. Letter from a friend. (return to text)
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