Theosophical University Press Online Edition
(Lecture delivered December 8, 1929)
One of our most beautiful theosophical teachings is that concerning the existence of the inner god in man: the fountain of illumination, of love, of the sense of inner beauty, of harmony, and of all the other things which ennoble and make human life grand.
On every Sunday here I have called your attention to the existence within you of this sublime reality, and have challenged the brain-minds of you, the argumentative minds of you, to find and see the source of such life as even this imperfect brain-mind possesses.
Some people do not like the idea that within and above the human vehicle there lives a divinity. These people evidently prefer to believe that they are but worms of the dust or, if not worms of the dust, that they are merely an up-grown ape.
Human nature has curious contrasts, and I get some very interesting communications illustrating this statement. Sometimes clippings from newspapers come to me, which are editorial comments upon what I have said on this platform; and sometimes these communications come in the form of a written argument, of which the thesis usually seems to be: "Why don't you tell us something practical?" Can you believe it? Practical! Tell a man that he is a god — that he has all the fountains of divinity within his heart — point to the source of his inspiration, point to the fountain of inspiration whence flows everything that makes men men, and then they say: "Why don't you tell us something practical?" Therefore I say: Can you believe it?
It is thus that people understand and also misunderstand things. Now, just for the humor of it, I am going to read to you something that was clipped from a San Diego journal. I myself enjoyed reading it.
"Dr. de Purucker always wanted to be a god — that aspiration was breathed by him many times before Madame Katherine Tingley was removed from this scene of temporal sorrow. Without inquiring into his logic, we could commend his ambition. He was not very definite about the kind of god he wanted to be — apparently he would have been satisfied with any seat, even the lowest, at Olympus. But with his elevation to the place formerly held by Madame Tingley, his ambition has grown beyond bounds — and now he says we are all going to be gods, and then we are going to be more than gods, and so on — as he remarked Monday morning — 'ad infinitum.'
"We wish that de Purucker would tell us what we should call a man who has got to be a god and then has got to be more than a god. What will he be called when he gets even farther, and is a super-God? When does he quit this chase after divine honors? When does he sit down by the waters of Nepenthe and forget his ambitions and begin an enjoyment of simple rest?
" 'I don't want to be created perfect,' de Purucker says. Well, he's got his wish. [I am glad someone recognizes me for what I am!] 'I want to grow, to grow greater, to grow bigger than I am, to grow from manhood to godhood, follow the destiny before me, and from godhood grow to something still more sublime, and so on ad infinitum.' It will be interesting to watch his progress, and it will be exceedingly interesting to know where he winds up!"
Now this is clever, very clever. But the trouble is that this kind friend — and he is really friendly, for if he had felt otherwise, he doubtless would have written to me some complimentary things that I might not have liked at all — does not seem to see that there are two ways of looking at a thing. There may in fact be even more than two ways of seeing things — his way and my way — and this writer does not look at the matter in my way, because he does not understand me; but yet in his heart there is an intuition that what I said was true, and that intuition irritated his brain-mind so that he had to take his pen — I beg your pardon, sit down at his typewriter — and give vent to his feelings in the delightfully humorous effusion that I have just read to you.
There was sent in to me a story in this morning's mail that seems to apply to this case. I have never been able to tell a story properly, but I can always read one:
"Little Johnny was quite perplexed over a certain situation one day, and came to his mother with it. 'Aw, heck, Ma — I don't know what to make of this: in Sunday School this morning, we sang, "Stand up, stand up for Jesus," and at the baseball game this afternoon, they shouted, "For Christ's sake, sit down." ' "
Aren't some people funny! And yet some people reason and argue — just like little Johnny.
Here is a thoughtful question:
"One of your questioners of December 1st spoke of the inspiration of the silent moments in the Temple. Will you explain why theosophists stand during these moments instead of taking the customary kneeling position with bowed head?"
Certainly I will explain it. In the first place, theosophists do not believe in a personal god, somebody to be prayed to. Not believing in a personal divinity who is to be propitiated, we do not believe in assuming the attitude of petition — that of a petitioner who has to go down on his marrowbones and sink his head, and, at least in gesture and position, deny his spiritual manhood. Instead, we stand upright on our feet like free men, sons of the Sun, children of the universe, and in these moments of silent meditation, we endeavor to raise our inner souls into communion with the cosmic spirit, which is equivalent to saying into communion with our own inner god. That is why we do not kneel. We never make petitions by prayer. We do not believe in the attitude of prostration. We stand erect, and with fearless eyes we look to the stars, our own kin; and all wise antiquity was with us, and I venture to say that all the future will be with us also.
If a man came to you and fell on his knees, and bowed his head, and put up his hands, and began to beg for something, what would be your first reaction — a favorable one? Or, contrariwise, if he came to you like a man, standing on his feet and looking you in the eye and speaking out his heart, what would be your reaction to that?
There is the reason — one of the reasons at least, possibly several of the reasons — why we do not kneel and bow our heads and clasp our hands, gestures which in themselves mean nothing at all, but are indeed significant of the different attitude that the heart and mind of the Theosophist assumes with regard to his standing in the universe, and with regard to his own responsibility as a collaborator with the gods who have the universe in their governance. Man is a child of the gods, and his mind should be godlike, his thoughts aspiring, his heart constantly opening in love ever more; and therefore his attitudes should be godlike also.
"Why do most humans sooner or later make an idol of an ideal? The ideal submerges — forgotten — while the idol emerges, triumphant."
It is so. But why? Simply because most human beings, because of a sort of mental inertia and a spiritual indifference, concentrate their attention on the exterior, on the idol, instead of ever looking to the ideal beyond it. And where is the beyond? Not outside, but within! Your ideal does not exist outside of you; it is within. You have no knowledge of any ideal whatsoever which is not yourself — a part of your own being. Be your ideal and you will forget the idol.
Here is the meaning of the precept, a teaching of the sages of all the ages: Man, look within; know thyself. Oh! how full of wonderful beauty, how full of truth, these words are! There is infinitude within you. You never can reach the frontiers of yourself, your divine self, never; for the innermost parts of you are the very spiritual universe in which you live and move and have your being. Know yourself; know the inner beauty and harmony within, and your ideals will be forever with you.
This knowing of your inner self, of your inner god, is an expansion of your own consciousness; it is growth; it is evolution; it is coming to an understanding of all that exists. And when you have even some adumbration of this vision — some inkling of it, some hint of it — then such a thing as fear vanishes. Death loses all its terrors, for you know that you are one with the All, inseparable; that you are in fact that All itself; and therefore you are in your utmost reaches frontierless, because in very truth there are no utmost reaches: never can you reach an end. Oh! what inspiration this thought is, what help does it give! Think it over. Realize what is within you and you will never more worship an idol — physical, mental, spiritual, or of any kind. You will never lose your ideals.
"Has there ever been a Golden Age on our earth? If so, how does it compare with the present gold age?"
I should say that there is no comparison at all between these two. But with all deference to this kindly friend, I think it just a bit unfair to say that the present age is an age in which alone lucre — Mammon — is worshiped, and that other ages have known naught thereof.
On the contrary, our age is not so bad as most people think. The very fact that our age is a materialistic one, as in fact it is; the very fact that our age is in a sense groveling in the dust, and that we have lost hold of the vision of spiritual realities, shows that we are on the turn of the cycle. And more: if you study the men of today and read the literature of today, you will find that men are anhungered of reality as they have not been in historic times. There is a hunger of the human heart today which will be satisfied with naught less than what men call reality — something real, fundamental, beyond the disputes of the brain-mind.
There are signs of this spirit everywhere. Men are thinking of serious subjects as they have not thought for many, many hundreds of years. It is all a natural reaction from this so-called gold age.
Has there ever been a Golden Age — an era of Saturnian peace, and bliss? In a small way there have been many such Saturnian ages. But I will tell you a little secret of the religion of the Greeks, who spoke of the Age of Saturn, the Golden Age, when men were happy, where sin was unknown, and where misery, human and other, prevailed not. It is this: that the Golden Age lies on the horizons of the future, the Age of Saturn is before us, and we are marching steadily forward toward that blessed time, when men shall have become conscious of the god within. Then shall they become more or less consciously allied with what they are in their inmost parts; and then nature will respond sympathetically, magnetically.
And even now (and here is a theosophical secret: listen carefully) even now those who have the ears to hear and the eyes to see, who have the vision of the Life Beautiful, know that the Golden Age is with us even at present. Happiness is within, not without; vision is within, not without; and any one of you, as I have so often pointed out, who will look into the heart of a flower, or into the limpid deeps of the eye of someone whom you love, will see all beauty, will see many mysteries, will realize that the Golden Age is not dependent upon the march of time, but is here and now, if you will see it and live it. This is another sidelight on the ancient teaching: Man, know thyself to be the god that you are within.
This universe of ours is full of mysteries. Our modern scientists are but beginning to penetrate slightly beneath the superficial material universe, and what wonders are they beginning to see with their mind's eye! Strange realms of mystery, wonderful kingdoms of nature — wonders not so much of new thought, but wonderful kingdoms of reality.
Have the understanding heart, and vision will come; and when you have this heart, this understanding heart, and obtain this vision, then never will you do anything that will hurt your fellows. Never will you lift your hand against a brother, nor your mind in competitive struggle. But all the instincts of your nature will be towards fraternity, to brotherhood, to companionship, to union, to peace, to happiness. The Kingdom of the Spirit is within, and this is the message of the sages of all the ages; and until theosophy brought the keys to modern men and explained how to unlock these wonderful mysteries of truth, men repeated parrotlike what they had heard or read in books, but did not yet understand.
This is what we are working for: to bring understanding to the hearts of our fellows, to bring peace to tortured lives, to bring happiness where misery is, to give light where at present there is darkness — or at the best, obscured vision. So strongly do we theosophists feel our responsibilities in these respects that in a short time from this, from Lomaland we shall send out students who have studied here for years, in order to carry the blessed message of theosophy all over the world, in order to build up theosophical lodges in the world; and these students will be backed by the training and experience that they have received here at our International Headquarters.
Oh, what a godlike work is ours! As the great Buddha sent forth his disciples, two by two, occasionally singly, and told them: Go ye forth into the world and carry the message of liberation and of truth; tell men of love, of forgiveness — of love without bounds, all-encompassing, magical, mystical, illuminating, inspiring — so also shall we send out theosophical missionaries to carry the same sublime message to our fellowmen.
"In a review of Sir James Jeans's latest book, The Universe Around Us, referring to the light from the remotest nebula known to our telescopes, which light takes 140,000,000 years to reach us, Sir James is quoted as saying:
"'For all but a 500th part of its long journey the light by which we see this remotest of visible nebulae traveled towards an earth uninhabited by man. Just as it was about to arrive, man sprang into being on earth, and built telescopes to receive it.'
"This makes the time for man to have been on earth some 300,000 years. Is this in accordance with the theosophical teachings?"
No, it is not. Our teaching is that man, as a thinking entity, has been on this earth for tens of millions of years. But this eminent scientific luminary, in his computations, already has advanced far beyond the six thousand-odd years given as the age of our earth as supposedly taught in the religious book formerly so highly respected in the Occident, for he says that man has existed on our planet for some three hundred thousand years.
I wonder how man "sprang into existence"? It is easy enough to use phrases like this, but what do they mean? They do not mean anything. Nothing definite and real is said in such phrases; nothing is explained; no actual natural truth is given by them. And "he built a telescope to receive it," reminds me of a story that we have read in the Jewish Bible about a man who built a tower to reach up to heaven. As a matter of fact, Sir James Jeans knows no more about it than anyone else. But he is a great scientific man, and he has done his best to precipitate his scientific cogitations into some more or less coherent form, and the result of it is the statement ascribed to him in this question.
But actually, as a matter of plain truth, Sir James Jeans knows no more about it than anybody else. That is a fact. I don't know how to prove to you our theosophical statement that man has existed on the earth for tens of millions of years. Nevertheless, if you would go with me on an astral journey into the invisible realms, I could show you records, proving to you how long man has lived on this earth; but you would not be willing to go with me. You would be afraid, get cold feet at the start. I mean it, too.
Nevertheless, such is the theosophical doctrine, that man, as a thinking, self-conscious entity, the very vehicle and temple of an immortal god, has lived on this earth for tens of millions of years; and that he has had his habitat as humanity on different continents, four of which have disappeared under the waters of the oceans, after having pursued each one its evolutionary course, one after the other, from the dimmest and remotest ages of antiquity: one continent after the other growing in size, reaching its culmination of physical magnitude, bearing its civilizations of its own kind, and then sinking beneath the waters of the ocean, only to re-emerge again to bear its new burden of human civilizations, after the passage of many millions of years.
Five different and separate races of men, if one can include under the term "man" the first three races, five different races of humanity, considered as a vital, evolutionary stream, have lived on this earth; and we are the fifth and last thus far. Two more great races are coming in the future, each one to bring forth in civilization and in perfected mankind the expression of faculty and power inherent even at present in the human entity, but not yet evolved. These two civilizations of the future will be such as the world has never yet seen. All this will come to pass because as men grow greater, as they evolve, they will bring forth from within themselves the treasures locked up in their own inner natures — for that is what evolution is, in our theosophical teachings — the unrolling, the unwrapping, the unfolding, the expanding, of what is within; and that within is infinitude, really.
"General A. W. Greeley, alluding to Commander Byrd's recent exploit of flying over the South Pole, used the following epigrammatic words: 'Man may soar where once he plodded.' Have not these words their application to man's destiny quite apart from airplanes?"
Why of course they might have. I don't know what General Greeley may have had in mind when using the words ascribed to him; but, taken as a mere statement of future fact, they most emphatically have an application to man's destiny. Man indeed is going to soar where now he walks. Let me tell you something, if you want to know somewhat of what theosophists believe in. The theosophical doctrines that we have professed and taught for nearly half a century are now spreading rapidly in the world. We are slowly interesting all the best thinkers, the most brilliant minds: they are slowly coming over to our doctrines; and if nothing else demonstrates the truth of our doctrines, at least the marvelous way in which modern scientific thought, experiment, and research is proving what we have been teaching for the last forty or fifty years, about the physical world alone, does so.
This is what I was going to tell you: Men now walk, but at the end of the seventh or last great root-race on this earth, before the human host leaves this earth, men are going to fly — soar, as one may say. Flying will be the means of locomotion then, but it will be at will.
I remember that when I was a little boy, I had a constant daydream which my friends thought a perfectly astonishing and fantastic exercise of my imaginative faculty. I said: Before I die, I am going to see flying machines passing in the air over my head; and my friends looked upon me as just a little erratic. Why, they said, men have been trying to fly for ages. Look into the encyclopedias, and you will see the experiments that men have made in the past, and nobody has ever succeeded in flying; and now you, who are nothing but a boy, say that before you die you are going to see flying machines passing in the air over your head! And I said: Yes, I know it is coming. Then my friends reminded me of the story of the Greek who tried to fly and who fell; and I was deeply impressed — with the notion that I was right!
Now, who was right: the boy who dreamed, the lad who saw a vision in the future, as undoubtedly the rest of you have; or the old mossbacks and wiseacres who know everything and whose task in life seems to be to try to crush imagination, the soaring imaginative spirit of youth? I have learned one thing: I never laugh at any dream that others may tell as to what is coming to pass. I have learned enough to say: Well, that is interesting. I hope you are right.
So then I tell you that men, before the human race leaves this planet for another planet, when this our present Mother Earth goes into obscuration, as theosophists say, men will then fly over the earth at will, or they will walk at will.
The earliest race of mankind in this our present great round or tidal wave of life, what theosophists call the first root-race, did so fly over the earth. Their form was likewise very different from ours. It was shaped like a globe of translucent mist, of thin opalescent substance, ovoid in shape, like an egg. Their method of locomotion was such that they floated like thistledown; but after long ages, their bodily substance became less tenuous, and more material in type; and as the ages passed and the next race, followed by the great third root-race, came into being, the individuals of these races finally lost the power that they originally had had, and began to walk; and men have been walking ever since.
But the old method of locomotion will return because nature repeats herself. Nature works in cycles. Nature always takes the line of least resistance; and consequently, whatever has been once is a promise that it will be again, but improved. Think the matter over. So then, man will soar where once he walked.
"I have often heard theosophists quote the text: 'Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.' From this I naturally inferred that the ambition of all good theosophists was to sow as much good seed as possible, that their harvest might be correspondingly great; but I am told this is not so. Will you kindly elucidate this point."
I don't know who gave this kind inquirer the information about a theosophist's ambition to sow good seed in order to reap good seed in order to reap good fruits. Such is not our ambition, considered as a bald declaration. On the other hand, it is common sense to sow good seed. Who would want to sow bad seed, to sow tares? But the proposition that theosophists live in order to reap better karma by being good at present has too strong an atmosphere of selfishness about it to please. The main thing is to make men realize what kind of seed they are sowing into themselves, what kind of character they are building in themselves. Every act that you do, every thought that you think, every emotion that you have, is building your character, making your destiny; and if you want a shapely destiny, one of happiness, then build your character accordingly.
Build thee more stately mansions, O my Soul!
As the swift seasons roll.
But there is something more to say about this particular aspect of karma. I think I understand what must have been told to this inquirer. He probably was told: Well, in a general way, it is true that it is wise to sow good seed; but please do not understand, my dear sir, that the theosophist tries to sow good karma, good seed, merely in order to reap it as a selfish profit. And the questioner probably did not understand the wise philosophy behind this answer.
If you sow for yourself, for purely selfish ends only, you will reap accordingly. What you sow, you shall reap; and the man who has such small love for the intrinsic beauty of right action as to say to himself: I am going to be good merely in order that I will get something — a better fortune, a better future, a better body — has his good sowing already spoiled with a whole handful of tares, his selfish desire.
On the other hand, the man or woman who is fascinated by harmony, by beauty, by sympathy, by almighty love, who sees the vision of the Life Beautiful, whose whole soul is enchanted with what he sees, so that he sows his character and reaps his destiny, finds that that destiny will be shapely and sublime. There is nothing so belittling as personality, nothing will so diminish your soul in its strength as concentration on your own selfish personal affairs and a forgetting of the welfare of others.
A man whose whole life has been passed in a selfish struggle to overcome others, and to reap benefits out of them — in other words, in the desperate battle for purely selfish ends — lies down on his deathbed — almighty gods, how can I phrase it? — not only a broken soul, but a character which has become mean, small, petty; and his destiny therefore will be small, mean, petty.
Sow an act, and you will reap a habit. Sow a habit, and you will reap a destiny, because our habits build our character. This is the sequence: an act, a habit, a character, and a destiny. You are the creators of yourselves. What you make yourselves to be now, you will be in the future. What you are now, is precisely what you have made yourselves to be in the past. Be not deceived, divinity is not mocked. What ye sow, ye shall reap.
Therefore, no true theosophist likes the idea that he is doing good merely in order to get something for himself — sowing good seeds merely in order to reap a selfish reward. He is spoiling his reward by the selfish motive behind his act. On the other hand — and I enlarge upon this because it is important — the man who thinks of others before himself is already great. The man who gives up his life that others may live is already great. The man who forgets himself in impersonal service to humanity is the greatest of all, and such a man reaps a destiny — because he has builded a corresponding character — which is godlike.
These last are the human beings who reincarnate as the great sages and seers: the Buddhas, the Christs, the Pythagorases, the Platos, the Empedocleses, the Lao-tses, and all the other great luminaries of the human race; and you can be like them. It is in you so to be. You don't know what capacities and powers and faculties you have within you. Simply let these come out, unfold themselves, evolve themselves; and help this process with all your will and with all your intelligence. "Help Nature and work on with her, and Nature will regard thee as one of her creators, and make obeisance."
"On a previous Sunday you stated in the Temple Service that at the commencement of a new incarnation, man takes up the new life at the point (more or less) where he left off the old one. How is this done? What laws operate in enabling this continuity to be effected?"
This is done under the operation of what theosophists call the law of karma: that what ye sow ye shall reap. Reincarnation, considered as a process, is merely taking up the old life-thread just where it was laid down before. You can take it up at no other point when you begin active physical existence again.
A man lays him down in bed at night and goes to sleep and rests; and in the morning, when he awakens and takes up his duties and pleasures again, at what point does he do so? Ten years from the time when he laid himself down to sleep? No, just at the point where he was in evolution the night before. Nature is so exact in her processes that when the soul excarnates, all the memories of the last life, all the karmic resultants of the last life, remain inhering in the fabric of the excarnate soul now going into its peace and rest, and are, so to say, fixed at that point of development, from which exact point everything in the next incarnation will begin to work anew, exactly like a clock which, when stopped, will resume its course from the same point when wound again and set to going anew.
There is no break in the continuity of destiny. There can be none. Death is but a sleep and a rest, and a temporary forgetting; otherwise how could there be rest and peace and repose? And when you have had your rest and your peace, you come back to earth, and, considered as a character, you are exactly the same character that you were at the instant of death in the last life; and you begin anew to weave the web of destiny where you laid it down before. The clock begins to run again from the point whereat it stopped.
Karma is the law of cause and effect: that what ye sow, ye reap, that nothing can come to you except what you have made yourself to be, that you can be nothing except what you made yourself to be, that there is no chance outside or within, that all is governed by immutable law.
You see, this makes of man a creator. It makes of him a creator of himself; and this is a divine facility, power, quality, call it what you like.
"When a man's life is cut short by accident, what happens to the various principles of his nature thus roughly torn apart before the natural term of bodily existence comes?"
This is a very profound question indeed, one that I hesitate to answer, because I cannot do it adequately in the short time that I have at my disposal this afternoon. You see, death is not just death, so to say. There is not one kind of death. Actually there are as many kinds of death as there are dying entities, as there are entities who die. The general process is identical for all, but the details in each case differ.
When a man has lived a long life and has reached a good old age, and his time to sleep has come, the passing is very quiet; it is as simple and peaceful as sleep, as the coming of sleep. It is a beautiful thing, truly a beautiful thing! But let us take the case of a young man, or of a child, dying before his time. What happens then? Or take the case of an accident, a railroad accident, or an automobile accident, whatnot. Now, the circumstances in these cases are not the same. Obviously death is not peaceful, it may be violent. The man has not reached his natural term, the energies within are unexhausted. In the first case the engine simply runs down naturally and quietly and comes to rest. In the other case, there is an explosion of energies, so to speak.
The following is what takes place in the latter case. Speaking in a general way, and not going into particulars which vary with the individuals, the lowest triad of the human being, composed of the physical body, the vital power, and the inner model- or astral body so-called, all three decay. The center of emotions and of the ordinary brain-mind — that is, what is popularly called the human soul — remains in the astral world in a state at first of somnolence, or quasi-sleep, and later its condition is as if it were in a quasi-dream.
The cause of this quasi-sleep and later of this quasi-dream is the unexhausted forces mechanically working in the astral entity in much the same way as they would naturally work if the being were still in physical existence; being unexhausted they must express themselves, however feebly. This causes the quasi-sleep and quasi-dream condition.
But nature is kindly. She is symmetrical in her operations: she is harmonious in all her works; and if, mark well, the violent death be not a suicide, in a little while these unexhausted forces are naturally dissipated; and this progressive dissipation of the unexhausted energies is followed by a progressive separation taking place between the higher part of the man, the spiritual part, and the dregs of the emotions and the brain-mind mentality which is the lower part of the mind that was.
When this separation becomes complete, the spiritual part of the human being is withdrawn into the spiritual monad, which is the god within, and there the spiritual part rests in peace and bliss until reincarnation takes place; while the dregs of the human soul, as above described, simply disintegrate into their component astral atoms. In other words, the various kinds of atoms which compose the intermediate part of man, and which are all astral atoms, simply fall apart, as the separation above spoken of takes place; and this falling apart of the atoms is very similar to what occurred to the atoms of the physical body some years before.
All this procedure is not a conscious process, but this disintegration of the intermediate part is as natural as is the disintegration of the food which you have taken into your body. The excarnate entity has no conscious realization of what takes place. Just as the average human being has no particular pain caused by his growth from childhood to manhood, and no particular pains caused by manhood advancing in years, if his life has been carefully lived, just so has the dormant consciousness of the excarnate entity no self-conscious realization of this process of post-mortem disintegration.
Nature in this case works painlessly with the average human being. There is really nothing to fear, nothing to be afraid of. There is a certain similarity between this and our existence on earth at present. The average man cannot tell how he came into physical being on earth. To the average man, life on earth is more or less of a mystery. He comes out of what is to him the unsolved past; he steers into the unknown future with perhaps fear, in any case with wonder, and says: what is it all? What does it all mean? But he had no pain in coming into earth-life, no self-conscious realization of sorrow or danger.
There is one exception, however, an exception which includes, alas, not a few human beings; and under this exception must be classed, among others, the cases of suicide. I mean here those human beings who have deliberately chosen the path of evildoing, whose hearts have lacked the sense of beauty and harmony, who have not had the Vision Beautiful; who are men and women who have concentrated their consciousness on thoughts and acts of selfish doing; who have lived for themselves alone, without a thought for others; who have been egoistic, unkind, cruel mayhap, whose tendencies are low: with these nature is — still merciful indeed, but their cases or condition or state remind us of what occurs on earth to men who are physically diseased. Disease is a painful retribution for evildoing in this or in a former life; nevertheless it is a reminder to us to do better, and therefore is it a good friend. Consequently those human beings who have deliberately chosen to do evil in the world of physical existence, or who have violently, by their own acts, snapped the golden cord of life, must suffer conscious pain in the invisible realms for a while. This is simply nature's law of adjustment and purification, and has nothing to do with the former Occidental orthodox ideas of Hell.
Nevertheless, even for these there come ultimate happiness and peace in so far as their spiritual and higher human parts are concerned. The evil that they have done on earth, they will have to pay for by way of recompensing those whom they have injured; but this will take place in a future life on earth, in a future incarnation. For here on earth they sowed the tares, and here on earth they will reap the weeds. They formerly sowed the wind, and in the future they will reap the whirlwind where it was sown.
This brief and imperfect exposition will show you how difficult it is to explain these things in a few short moments of time; but if you are interested, then study our theosophical books, and in them you will find real mines of illuminating thought and teaching on this and collateral subjects.
I will answer one more question this afternoon, and then I shall have to leave you for today.
"What is the difference between prayer and meditation? Are they synonymous, one and the same modus, evocative of like results; that is, communion with one's higher nature, the 'inner god' as you have termed it? Does the Christian praying to his Christ, the Hindu to his Krishna, the Mohammedan to Allah, tread the same path, effect the same result, as does the theosophist who knows the enlightenment that comes in communion with one's inner god? Kindly elucidate."
Prayer and meditation are very different things. Prayer is an asking for something: it is a petition to "God Almighty" to give you something that God Almighty evidently thinks you do not deserve to get — otherwise you would have it. That is essentially what is meant by prayer; and we theosophists do not believe in it.
But meditation: this is a very different thing. It is a raising of the soul within you, of all the center of human consciousness within you, to a realization of the fact that it is fundamentally at one with the divine core of your being. Meditation also is taking a subject for thought and dwelling upon it in thought in an impersonal way, meanwhile searching within yourself for the answer, for more light upon it; and if this method of meditation be faithfully followed, finally light will come. Such is meditation. Exercise makes it so easy, habit endows it with such attractiveness, that finally the time will come when you will be meditating all day long, even though your hands may be busy with your daily tasks. Inexpressible happiness and peace are in it.
Spiritual consciousness is streaming at full flood in you and through you all the time, day and night, and foolish men have spoken of this portion of man's inner constitution as the subconscious mind. Immortal gods! What I here speak of should rather be called the super-conscious mind, the mind above not beneath the ordinary mentality.
Meditate. Learn to find the beauty in it, and the help that will come to you from its practice. But do not pray — unless you want to!
Before parting, friends, I want to tell you once more that every man and woman alive is an incarnate divinity: literally, not metaphorically. And the only reason why you don't know it yourselves, the only reason why you don't exercise godlike powers, the only reason why you don't feel within yourselves the faculties divine at work, is because, in the first place, you won't recognize it. Recognition of the fact is the first step in spiritual development: and all later degrees of progress follow as simply and as automatically as is the case in any kind of growth.
Ye are gods, and the scriptures of antiquity all tell you the same thing. This fact is the inner burden of the teaching of the greatest intellects that the world has known. This is the doctrine of the most illuminated spiritual seers that the world has ever known. It is a teaching which has come to man from the gods, who in former ages were men as we now are men, but who long since have outgrown manhood and have achieved divinity as individual gods. Ye are gods in your inmost parts. Know then yourselves, and receive illumination and a peace which indeed passeth all understanding of your brain-mind.
Vol 1, No 27