Theosophical University Press Online Edition
(Lecture delivered August 25, 1929)
I have quite a bunch of questions before me this afternoon. Some of these questions are very difficult to answer; some of them are easy. Sixteen, I think, is the number that I have before me today.
It is to me an interesting thing to feel that, when I stand on this platform and look into the faces of the audiences who gather here in this our Temple of Peace, I am conscious of a friendliness of feeling, of a kinship of thought with you all: because indeed, I do not think that anyone would come so far from San Diego to the Theosophical Temple of Peace if not attracted by something more than would draw the average audience into an ordinary gathering, whether for philosophical or religious or scientific thought. To travel eight miles from San Diego to our Temple of Peace and then to undertake the return journey of eight miles homewards, takes time even in these days of speedy automobiles, so that I say: my audience must be composed of really intelligent people, otherwise I cannot readily conceive that they would come here.
You see, I appreciate intelligence when I see it in the faces of others, because I am intelligent myself! As I have often said, it takes greatness to recognize greatness in others. Being inwardly great myself, I recognize also that you are great in your inward parts; and this statement I sincerely mean, because in the heart of every human being there is a living god which, when manifesting through a human soul, we call a Christ or a living Buddha. The only thing which prevents us, each and all, from recognizing the splendorous divinity in the hearts and in the minds, and showing through the faces, of others, is the veils of selfhood, of selfishness, which becloud our vision.
I think that the answering of questions, or the attempt to answer them, is one of the very best ways of treating with simplicity and directness thoughts that spring ultimately from the divine center within each one of us of which I have just spoken. If I succeed in answering these questions well, or at least aright, I shall give you something of real worth to think about; and the worth that I speak of is of value to you not because it comes from me, but because you yourselves are asking the questions, a fact which shows that you are ready and eager to receive light.
No man or woman ever finds anything of permanent value in thoughts that are merely put into his or into her mind; because permanency of values resides only in the things that well up from the fountains of inspiration within the self: ideas of beauty, of high purpose, of aspiration, of inward splendor, of moral grandeur. You could have no comprehension of these things, I tell you, unless you had them in yourselves.
Therefore, the noblest study of man is himself; for this super-spiritual Self, whom I have just called the living god within, is man's link, unbreakable and eternally enduring, with the realms of the spiritual universe.
The first question is as follows:
"What is the difference between intuition and impulse? Is impulse always wrong?"
No; all men know perfectly well that impulse is not always wrong. We have impulses to do deeds of unselfishness, of mercy, of pity, of kindness, of helpfulness to others: and such impulses are right. But impulses are always wrong when they are impulses for selfish gain of any kind: not merely gain of money, not merely gain in property, not merely gain in the things of earth, but personal gain of any kind — even gain in personal love, and this is a far greater temptation than are things of material type.
Now then, what is the difference between intuition and impulse? Intuition is the working of the inner eye; it is instant and direct vision of truth, and no one knows this better than the so-called hard-headed scientists themselves. Practically every great discovery, certainly every epoch-making discovery, in science, has been the result of an intuition of truth, a vision seen and followed.
Impulse, on the other hand, is the working of the will, conscious or unconscious; and as I told you on last Sunday, the will has two fields of action, or rather perhaps better said, works after two ways: the direct will of choice and consciousness; and the indirect or vegetative will, which is largely the result of habit, of habits of thinking, of habits of consciousness; and it is this latter will which also governs the automatic movements and functions of the physical body, such a the heartbeat, the digestion, growth, and whatnot.
Impulse is of this latter kind of will. If it were a direct movement of the conscious will, it would not be impulse. It would be choice. So then, impulses may be good, and they may be evil if they are for the self — and they are almost always evil in this sense, at least not good. These latter impulses will not ever bring you lasting happiness. But intuition is a divine thing. It is vision, instant vision of reality, of truth. It is therefore quite a different thing from impulse.
Here is another question:
"Katherine Tingley has said that a timid thought can mar a life. How shall we overcome timidity and still be natural?"
I should think that the way to overcome timidity is to picture to yourselves visions of courageous action. See courage, visualize it. Then follows the next step in consciousness: suddenly you will find yourself courageous. We are timid because it is a habit; we are fearsome because it is a habit. We have allowed timidity and fear to grow upon us, and in us, and therefore do we see things in a timid and fearsome way.
Cultivate the habit, not of bravery which is another thing entirely, but of courage. You doubtless know the difference between these two words. Courage was originally an importation from the French, and the root of the word was the French coeur: therefore courage is "heart-age." Heart-age is courage. The man or woman who acts out of his or her heart is courageous. Courage, heart-age. Whereas bravery: you know what bravery is. A dog can be brave, but never courageous. Courage is a moral quality, a spiritual thing. Bravery is often the result of stupidity and is not so far, in its extreme form, from rashness and foolhardiness. Some men are even too stupid to recognize danger, yet they pride themselves upon their bravery. But the courageous man sees the danger, whatever it may be, and nevertheless goes ahead and does his duty. That is courage.
Therefore, the overcoming of timidity is achieved by thinking thoughts of courage, visualizing pictures of courageous actions as done, also of the beauty of courage; visualizing these and similar things so that they picture themselves in your mind as thoughts and leave mental deposits, and in time thereafter instinctively you will act courageously from habit. Courage will become habitual with you, and timidity you will cast off as you might a sordid garment. Indeed, timidity will of itself fall away from you, and you won't know when it falls. It is easy, indeed. It is far easier than being timid and fearsome, and undergoing the suffering and shame that result from timidity. Think about it. Is not what I have said true?
"What is sin? Milton says that all sin is weakness. So few know about the dual nature of man. How can they be judged for sin?"
Well, I am inclined to think that Milton, on the whole, is right. Sin is weakness. I go even farther and I am inclined to say, because I so believe, that no man or woman ever sins from deliberate choice. Sin or evil is so ugly, so repulsive, in some aspects so horrifying, that if you could visualize it clearly and thus see it and also see its consequences, it would repel you, and you would run from association with it.
But the trouble is that we don't visualize. We lack the creative spiritual imagination. We allow ourselves to be timid; and it is just as easy to be strong as it is to be weak and, as it matter of fact, a good deal easier. I do not believe that there is any "judgment" for sin. Who would do the judging? You are not fit to judge your fellows with quasi-infinitely correct vision, nor am I fit to do it. In one sense, the highest god in highest heaven is not fit for such a duty. There is no judgment in that sense of the word; and, strictly speaking, as a theosophist, I do not believe that there is any sin per se. There is simply warped judgment, ignorance, lack of vision, ethical ugliness, or moral obliquity; but I tell you frankly that in my opinion these things are easily enough overcome.
On the other hand, there is high aspiration, high thinking, moral beauty, inward splendor, the aspiration of the heart: in fact all the noble qualities. Is not this also true? Which of the two paths, therefore, do you choose? No wonder that it has been said that the one who chooses the right-hand path is the heaven-goer, and the one who chooses the left-hand path the hell-goer; and I for one am for "heaven" every time.
On the other hand, of course all evildoing, or what is popularly called sin, we must remember actually is a violation of the fundamental law of nature which is harmony, a rupture of the coordinated relations of the universe; and the whole pressure of the universal forces instantly tends towards the reestablishing of that harmony; and consequently, while there is no judgment for sin or evildoing, there is all nature's power and weight against its continuance; and the restoring of harmony certainly brings suffering and pain to the one who has ruptured nature's harmony; and this is what is meant, I suppose, when people speak of "judgment for sin." On the other hand, and for exactly the same reasons, he who works in harmony with nature or, as we Theosophists say, works with her, has a guerdon or reward or recompense in the increased power and vision that come to him, for he is working with Nature and for her, and all natural harmony is with him. These are very profound lessons to learn, and the sooner they are learned the better for all human beings.
Here is another question:
"How can one gain the insight that enables one to perceive one's own weaknesses and shows one infallibly the best way to help others?"
Now, this question sounds like a very complex question, but I do not believe that it is. Do you know what my answer will be? Here it is: The one way by which to gain insight, enabling you to help your fellows and to overcome your own weaknesses is sympathy, love. It is the easiest thing in the world to follow the path of sympathy and love; it is also the least troublesome; and, finally, it is also the path which leads you to the finest, the best, the most heart-satisfying rewards.
In this connection I want to draw your attention to a beautiful rule of action of the Orient followed by eastern sages and which is expressed by Lao-tse, the great teacher of Taoism in China, as follows: Do not struggle; do not, for heaven's sake, fight. Do not be strenuous. Be calm. Be easy. Be collected. Be courageous. Love, forgive, have sympathy. This method or mode of action will bring to you understanding. Having understanding, you will see. You will then know how to help. Love is clairvoyant, and a part of love is sympathy. Hence sympathy is clairvoyant. Think it over and tell me if it is not true. This rule is infallible, and love shows the way and lights the path.
But be sure that it is not personal love. In the latter case the "old man Adam" jumps to the fore at once, and the veils of personality begin to thicken before the inner eye, because personal desire collects and thickens into one's aura, as we theosophists say, the surrounding psychic atmosphere, and condenses it, and this it is which causes the thickening of the psychic veils, obscuring the inner vision and understanding. Everything that has as its motivating cause the desire for personal benefits is not true love. The essence of true love is self-forgetfulness, and to this rule there are no exceptions. Any one of you who has truly loved knows that what I tell you is true. Love forgives all things — as is said of charity, which is an aspect of love — and the reason that it does this is because it sympathizes, it understands. Understanding brings the insight. Thus you see how simple, how easy, this noble rule is.
Here is another question:
"The advice in the New Testament is 'to turn the other check' when a blow is received. How does this teaching apply (a) to countries that are invaded; (b) to persons who are the victims of slander? Is the teaching that both are to abstain from self-defense?"
No; here let me tell you something. The Christian New Testament is what theosophists call an esoteric book, a secret book: in other words it is a manual, or collection of manuals, of instruction written for students of the ancient wisdom, of the inner schools, who lived at that time — in other words, for those who followed a certain pathway of spiritual progress and illumination — who gave up much in order to gain more, but of a higher type of gain. The Christian New Testament, I repeat, is an esoteric work, a secret work.
You know, I presume, what the word "esoteric" means? It means something belonging to the inner teachings, teachings, in other words, for the few. This does not mean that these few are selected by some selfish teacher who chooses them, but because these few give themselves to benefit the world: they also give up all, that they may gain all. In other words, they give up all personal matters in order that they may live for the universe. To put the matter in another way, these few give themselves; and more it is possible for no one to give. This is the path of the Buddhas and of the Christs.
The Christian New Testament, therefore, was the manual composed for the esoteric students living at the time when these great writings were first formed; and it was never supposed to be a code of ethics for mankind in general in those very early periods of primitive Christianity. Such instructions as that referring to the turning of the other cheek, or the giving of one's shirt also when the cloak is asked, were never supposed to be the rule of conduct for the average life, for the everyday man who knows nothing about esoteric mysteries; but were, as I have already told you, for the use of the students of the esoteric wisdom who existed in the countries of Hither Asia in the days of primitive Christianity.
I should say that a country which is invaded should certainly defend itself. I think it to be right and proper. A man should defend his home; he should defend those dependent upon him; he should defend the weak, the down-trodden, the misunderstood. He should help. There is another side to this matter also: no man, no true man, will ever allow evil a free path nor permit it to go unchecked. There is a moral responsibility lying upon him to prevent this; and this rule applies not only to every good man but to every woman also for that matter. We are under an inherent moral responsibility to check evil everywhere possible and to do it kindly, but to do it forcibly if the necessity of the case obliges us so to act.
So far as slander is concerned, would you allow evil tongues willfully and freely to spout their venom over the world? I should not. I feel that it is not right so to do. Evil should be checked. But why were such things said in the New Testament as this questioner speaks of? Why did Jesus, called the Christ, give utterance to these and to other teachings setting forth an apparent non-resistance to evil? I have already told you the reason: he spoke to the esotericists. The esotericists who follow the highest laws of the secret life of initiation are never supposed to lift a hand in self-defense, but to give up everything for the world, and to live the life that we theosophists call the chela life, the Christ life, the Buddha life.
Do you therefore see what I mean? Do you see the difference between the two aspects of this question that I have attempted to delineate for you? The rule of non-resistance is for the few, the esoterics; and the path of love and justice is for them also, but for the average man and woman in particular.
I have one or two other questions before me which are along the same line of thought, and I hope to develop the thoughts on which I have just been dwelling more fully a little later this afternoon.
Here is a question of quite a different type:
"Will you please explain why evolution proceeds in cycles instead of going straight ahead all the time? You once used the word 'orbital' instead of 'cyclic,' and that word opened up a very interesting view of the origin of cycles. Perhaps you will explain further."
In the first place, then, did you ever see anything that always went straight ahead, straight ahead all the time, and never stopped? I never did. Everything has its phases, growth as well as anything else. Everything has its events, its progressions, and frequently its retrogressions — apparent retrogressions at least. The cause of all this is what is known as the law of action and reaction. Action and reaction prevail throughout the universe, and this fundamental operation of nature is the foundation or cause of the law of cycles, signifying a forward movement and a succeeding return movement: in other words, action and reaction, the pendulous movement of all the forces and energies of the universe.
You see the same law operative also in the double action of the electrical fluid which is often spoken of as bipolarity. A thing cannot advance unless it also recoils, but recoils only in order to advance farther at the next forward stage. This fundamental operation of the universe is also the foundation of the law of opposites, which is another way of saying that extremes meet: hot and cold, night and day, summer and winter, good and bad, long and short, high and low. Many more illustrations of this law of opposites will occur to you.
All these various operations of nature are in a sense the workings of cycles in nature — springing from the same fundamental operation of nature. Nothing runs steadily along forever without stopping. There is always action and reaction. If you ask me why this is so, I can only refer you to nature herself. I may, perhaps, also ask you a question: Why should a square have four equal sides? The only possible answer to this is that if it had four unequal sides or five equal or unequal or other number of sides, it would not be a square. Four equal sides joined at their ends make what we call a square; and on the same line of thinking I can only tell you, in answer to your question, that nature works in that way.
Why should hot be hot and cold be cold and light be light? Why should not light be darkness or something else? Because it is in the nature of these things to be what they are. Nature in these respects works in that way. It is the natural characteristic of these operations of nature to act just as they do; and thus also action and reaction exist in nature because they are nature's fundamental law of being.
But while this is so, yet all the time there is progressive movement forward and evolutionary advancement. This evolutionary progress is often likened to a spiral movement, backwards and forwards, on its progressive path, yet at each turn of the spiral rising a little higher; and I may add in passing that there are spirals within spirals. The planets in their orbits, the suns in their orbits, and the comets in their orbits, and the universes in their orbits, are all examples of cyclic progressions.
What are life and death? What are they? They are exemplifications or examples of action and reaction: of progressions, of forward movement, and of retrogression or return to rest, and of forward movement again, and so forth.
Here is another question:
"I have heard members of your Society express the greatest admiration for the rules of conduct laid down in the Sermon on the Mount. If somebody tried to take away your property, would you hand it over or would you have recourse to the ordinary process of law which Christ expressly forbade? What do you think of the principle of non-resistance anyway?"
Well, I have already today told you what I think, the explanation is. The true theosophist most decidedly has a profound admiration for the Sermon on the Mount. We look upon Jesus called the Christ as one of us, that is to say, as one of our own teachers who lived in that time, and we know that he tried to found a Theosophical Society in accordance with the habits and ideals of that period — and failed. The times were against him.
If somebody tried to take away your property, would you tamely submit and allow evil to triumph? Would you cooperate with the theft? Would you allow theft to exist without trying to stop it? Would you see murder take place before your eyes without raising a hand in order to prevent it? Certainly not. It is the duty of every good man and good woman to resist evil, but it all depends on how it is done. If the motive be impersonal and pure and high, the action of resistance is right. If your motive be just as selfish as the one whom you are trying to cause to cease his evil doing, then I will simply ask you whether two devils are worse than one?
Another question along the same line:
"What do you think of the principle of non-resistance?"
I think it a very beautiful belief and a very holy one; but here again circumstances alter cases. It all depends. If you want to allow evil to go unchecked, if you carry your idea of non-resistance to such extremes, then I don't approve of the principle of non-resistance, because I believe in checking evil, in holding it in check. I believe it to be a duty.
But there are exceptions. For those whom we theosophists call the chelas, the disciples of the esoteric life, living the chela life: they who have sworn never to strike back, they who have pledged themselves to give up self for the world, to have no personal property of their own: to give up life and all that there is to the holiest cause they know, never to lift a hand in self-defense if the attack be on the chela alone, never to protect one's personal self against libel or slander, that is to say if it be only for the protection of the individual's personality — for those, non-resistance is right. They are pledged to it. But even these chelas are pledged to check wrong, to stay the pathway of evildoing, to stop it if possible, when the evildoing is directed against another; because an esotericist, an esoteric, will do for another what he may never do for himself.
So the question is not so easy to answer. It is not one of those questions that can be answered offhand: yes or no. And, by the way, this reminds me of a story that a friend of mine once told me. I wonder if I can remember it correctly. I have never succeeded in telling a good story well in my life, but I am going to try to tell this one as an illustration of how difficult it is sometimes to answer a question truthfully and satisfactorily. Two friends were discussing the proper way of answering a lawyer's questions in court, and one said: "You can always give an answer, and it can always be either Yes, or No." The other friend said: "I don't believe it. Let me ask you a question. 'When was the last time you beat your wife?'" You see, you cannot answer some questions by a simple yes or no, or very easily. Some questions absolutely require an explanation.
I can only say, so far as the rule for the average man is concerned, don't encourage evildoing by exhibiting moral weakness.
Here is another question:
"What do you mean by a 'clean life'? Do you consider that the father of a family who is living a life of normal self-control, is living a clean life, or do theosophists insist on strict celibacy?"
Why on earth this querent, this questioner, should think that a clean life has to do with marriage alone puzzles me. Why, for my part, I think that marriage is a very decent institution. I think celibacy is, too, for certain folk like me. But there are many more things which are viler even than lack of self-control in this one particular phase of our present humanity. I mean that indeed. Bad as irregular sexual life is, and bringing suffering and disease as it often does, nevertheless there are worse things than it, and morally more vile.
I think that hatred, treachery, falsity, are worse; they are more vile; they are more unclean. I can respect a man or a woman who tries to live a decent married life, and I see nothing wrong about it. Theosophists do believe in marriage; and why some people should always think that the phrase a clean life refers to the poor, unfortunate married folk, I don't know. I have the highest respect for married people — of course, for some more than for others.
But I think that a clean life means a clean mind, a high mind, a good mind, a friendly mind. Just think over the matter. These words that you read in the Christian New Testament are symbolic in a sense. I have met men whose minds seem to me — and women too, pardon me: I am going to talk plain English — not much cleaner than a moral pigsty: full of mean, horrible, revengeful thoughts, hateful, nasty thoughts. I have met men and women, on the other hand, who have been like a blessing to me to talk to: fine, simple folk, but oh! how clean and decent, and some of them were married!
I have not any prejudice against the marriage state, not it all. As an unmarried man I pride myself on my ability to see happiness and fine things in a state that personally I have avoided.
Here is another question:
"I have been told that when assailed by evil thoughts there are three ways of dealing with them: firstly by steadily ignoring their suggestions; secondly by strenuous opposition; thirdly by calling up thoughts of an opposite character. Which of these methods do you consider the most helpful?"
Well, I can think of other ways. I do not see why the querent should limit our chances of escaping from temptation to only three methods. I know how I have crawled out of temptation, time and time and time again, and it has been in other ways than by these three methods only, though these three are good enough. Of these three only the first and last are psychologically the best, because the easiest and most natural: that is to say, by steadily avoiding the suggestive influence of evil thoughts; and finest of all in my opinion, by calling up thoughts of an opposite character. That I believe is the best way. Just think over the matter.
Why do you dignify something that you know is horrid by fighting it in the particular sense suggested in this question? Why give to it any attention at all? Let it go. Let it fall away from you. It is in you, it is not in someone else. Nobody can really hurt you except you yourself. Therefore forget the evil thoughts and don't give them an artificial life by visualizing them and then fighting them. Don't waste your energies in fighting bogies, the phantoms and ghosts of your imagination. These are only the phantasms of your own imagination, and have no reality outside of yourself. Yet these phantoms and ghosts can at times overcome you and become a temporary reality because you have given them the framework and power of thought. You incarnate these things in thoughts, and thoughts will govern your body.
Visualize the other thing. Make pictures of beauty and strength in your mind. If you are obsessed by these uglinesses, picture to yourself scenes of beauty. It is far more fascinating. It is a delightful pastime, and it always works. See things of a high and noble character and visualize them forcefully. It is even the way of attaining material success in life. If you want to know how to make money — ah! but I am not going to tell you that! I will tell you something else. Visualize to yourself a success in fine things. Visualize things of beauty, of inward splendor.
If you find yourself gloomy, if you are ashamed of thoughts that are in your mind, don't struggle with them, don't fight them, forget them. They are only ghosts rising out of your own past. But turn your head to the East and watch the rising sun. Paint the visions in glory. Watch the mountain-tops of your nature where rosy-fingered Aurora of the inner dawn weaves the web of her splendorous magic before your eyes. There you have the secret of conquest. This is the best way, the easiest way, and you can do it because you are the creator of your own destiny through your imagination and willpower. By doing this, the creative faculty within you comes into operation. This is so simple a rule and yet it is the message of the sages of the ages.
You know doubtless what the great Tao of Lao-tse of China, the great Chinaman, taught? It is the same principle that the Japanese use in their wrestling which they call ju-jitsu. Don't struggle and waste your force. Give, bend, and before you know it the other man will have thrown himself. That is the principle. Picture to yourself the thing opposite to those you hate. Picture the things that you really inwardly love, really love in your heart, and which you know are helpful. The secret is inner visualization: therefore, visualize.
Here is another question of quite a different type, a purely theosophical question.
"Dear Sir: I should be glad to avail myself of your invitation to send questions to be answered on Sundays to clear up a point which has long perplexed me and others. I refer to the interval between reincarnations. It is stated on high authority to be not less than fifteen hundred years, a lapse of time which would seem to destroy continuity of effort by relegating the scene of one's activity to a dim and forgotten historical perspective. Accordingly one finds that in talking or writing about reincarnation this long interval is tacitly and by implication ignored."
It is. And why? I will answer that question by asking you a question. You go to bed perhaps tired out, simply worn out, and you have a lovely sleep: peaceful, quiet, disturbed by no dreams, except perhaps visions that conduce to the blessed state of utter rest. When you wake up, it seems that you laid yourself down on your bed only a minute ago; and yet you may have slept for twelve or fourteen hours. Where then is the realization of this wonderful lapse of time spoken of? You have no consciousness of any lapse of time and in fact don't know anything about it. As I have told you on other occasions when talking on questions of high philosophy, time is an illusion. It is only an illusion of the mind to those who happen to experience it at a time, at the particular time. So in sleeping we are not conscious of the passage of time between night and morning.
So this period between birth and rebirth, the period of fifteen hundred years, which is said to be the average length of time between death and the reincarnation of the same soul, is passed in just such utter bliss and peace as I have spoken of as accruing to one in deep sleep. It seems no longer than an instant; and the next event that arises in your consciousness, however imperfectly, is when you have taken on a new body and as a little child are beginning to feel the developing powers within you which eventuate in manhood and maturity.
Therefore instinctively, writers when treating of reincarnation, or in talking of it, tacitly ignore this time period, because there is in the functioning consciousness no dim and forgotten historical perspective. The interval of time has passed so quickly that it seems to be nothing: an instant, a fugitive moment.
I suppose that you would like to know why the actual length of time between death and rebirth in the present evolutionary state of human beings, that is to say, the present evolutionary condition, should be said to be approximately fifteen hundred years. Well, as a matter of fact, this length of time varies with the individual. A highly spiritual man will remain much longer in Devachan, as we say, that is in the heaven world, in the rest world; while a strongly materialistic man will reincarnate much sooner. The reason for the law is that the attractions matterwards of his character are so strong that they bring him back to reincarnation at an earlier period.
Now, here is something for you to think about: reincarnation is not a blessing so far as the soul is concerned. I mean that it is not a period of bliss. It is quite the contrary. To the soul and the percipient consciousness it means trouble and more trouble and still more trouble, and also a certain modicum of relative happiness that all human beings have. Actually, reincarnation is something — I won't say to be dreaded, because it is a law of nature for humans to reincarnate, it is natural — that is infinitely less preferable than is life in the spiritual realms.
Let me tell you something. The actual period between death and rebirth averages fifteen hundred years more or less at the present time. In former ages, millions of years ago, the post-mortem period between the death of one body and the reincarnation of the soul into a new body was much longer; and in the far distant future the post-mortem period will again be much longer than it is now. According to a law of nature, which it would take me too long to explain this afternoon, the period between death and rebirth, for the ordinary man and woman, averages one hundred times the length of the thinking, conscious life he has lived while last on earth.
Do you understand my meaning here? The period is said to be fifteen hundred years between death and rebirth because the average span of human life today, for human beings, is about fifteen years. But individuals — and these individuals collectively or aggregatively number millions and millions — of the population of the earth may live to be forty, fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty, ninety, one hundred years, or even more in cases of extreme longevity; but because the rule that I have spoken of holds, therefore the average excarnate life between death and reincarnation is fifteen hundred years because the average lifespan on earth has been found to be fifteen years. Now do you understand my meaning?
But individuals: that is to say, a man who lives forty years by the rule of one hundred above spoken of, may pass four thousand years in the post-mortem period. It is true that there are other factors entering into the equation which would take me too long to go into this afternoon, but I have given you the general scheme and outline of the matter, and I may say in passing that our doctrines are based on philosophical principles. I have lectured on these principles on other occasions in which I have made them the theme of my talks.
This afternoon I will shortly answer one more question, and then leave you to think over what I have already told you.
"Do you accept the statement appearing in a recently published article in the Manchester (England) Guardian that: 'surely a child that can know, love, and choose the good is of more value than the stellar galaxy?' On what grounds do you base your answer, whether affirmative or negative?"
To this question I answer, No. By what possible exercise of human egoism should it be supposed that an inhabitant, a child according to the question, of this little mud-speck of space, called our Earth, should be considered of more value than the countless decillions of living beings in the stellar galaxies? I think that the question arose in the mind of the querent because, perhaps unconsciously to himself, he held a notion that this our Mother Earth is the only inhabited planet or celestial body in the entire spaces of space; and therefore to him it was natural to suppose that a child is worth more than all these galaxies around us, which in his vision are nothing but brute matter with no living things on them.
What an idea! The idea that this our Earth, our planet Terra, should be the only bearer of intelligent creatures, intelligent beings, in all the spaces of boundless infinitude! Why should this be so? Echo answers: Why? It is pure supposition. There is nothing to back such a fantastic idea. On the contrary, the very fact that we humans are here on this earth proves, if it proves anything, the fact that beings having equivalent faculties of intelligence and life must exist elsewhere. Otherwise how would you explain the fact that we are such wonderful exceptions to this supposed universal rule? The idea is like the old theory that we are the center of the boundless universe, and that the sun revolves around the earth. On these and on similar grounds do I therefore base my answer to this question in a forcible negative.
I now ask your attention to one noble thought, in expressing which I close my lecture this afternoon. Every human being is an incarnate god not able yet fully to express its faculties in human life. But all the movements of the thought and life of this inner divinity working within us are the causes of the manifestations of consciousness in our ordinary human existence. This inner divinity when expressing itself fully and completely through a human vehicle, through a human being, through a human soul, produces what the world has known and has variously called a Christ, a Buddha, or one of the great sages and seers.
Remember that every one of you in his inmost parts is such an essential divinity, which is your own inner god. Oh! the peace and happiness that come from allying yourselves with this inner splendor! This alliance of life and consciousness with this inner divinity brings everything of worth into your life, and in so allying yourself you become one with the energies and forces that control the universe, of which this inner god of you is a spark of the Central Fire; and when this inner union is achieved in fullness, you are on the pathway to human divinity. Christhood, Buddhahood, lie ahead of you.
Vol 1, No 12