Questions We All Ask by G. de Purucker
Theosophical University Press Online Edition

No. 27 (April 1, 1930)

QUESTIONS WE ALL ASK

(Lecture delivered December 15, 1929)

I wish that I could see myself as you see me. I think that it would be an interesting thing to do. Some people very evidently do not see me as I really am. On Sunday last I read to you an extract from an editorial which appeared in a San Diego newspaper, and the writer of this editorial took me to task for having divine ambitions. He said that I wanted to become a god — and it is true. I do! And by the immortal powers that rule the universe, which is a sign manual of divinity, why should I set my ambitions lower than my divine parents?

Yes, I want to become divine, to evolve the divinity in my own heart of hearts, in the core of me; and if anyone else wants to be a groveling worm, a creeping worm of the dust, or to take pride in his derivation from an over-grown ape — I won't object! As for me, I prefer divinity to apehood. In the ape theory I have never seen anything that was substantially real: it was a lovely theory in what seemed to be its symmetrical relations as concerns the imaginative facility of scientific speculators; but it became a most ugly theory when later researchers tried to put it all square with the facts of nature as the latter became better known.

For fifty years more or less, theosophists — a strange people, queer folk, folk who want to become gods — have been teaching certain things; and only recently have the scientific researchers found that we are right! When Dr. Henry Fairfield Osborn, perhaps the greatest American biologist today, states, announces, and declares his abandonment of the old ape theory, and comes out square for the fact that man as man has always been man as far as human research can carry us back into the records of the past, this is an instance where we see a corroboration of our theosophical teachings. And Osborn is not the only one to take this view today, but he is nevertheless one of the most courageous men of modern times in his own line of study. In a little while, from having been proud of being an over-grown ape, he may be saying with us theosophists: "I expect to become a god!"

However, when a man says things that people like in their hearts, but cannot reconcile with their brain-mind beliefs, he is apt to be criticized a little bit; and personally I like to be criticized. I like to know what people think about me as an official exponent of the age-old teachings of the wisdom-religion.

Here is what another San Diegan has written. As the other article was funny, so is this likewise funny. This article was brought to my attention this afternoon just before I entered our Temple of Peace. It was handed to me with a note from a friend. The friend writes to me:

"Happened to see a copy of —-— magazine. I was surprised to note that the editor of same felt he must write something about theosophy and you. We never see anything of this kind until the shoe begins to pinch, but some day they will all see the light."

They will, and this paper — do not mention its name, whisper it not abroad — is a paper which has on one side of its title the fine word 'Truth,' and on the other side of its title the splendid word Light — which beautiful ideals are likewise thoroughly theosophical.

"With a flourish of trumpets and a half-column of space in the morning paper, Dr. de Purucker, successor to the late Madame Tingley as lord high commissioner and boss of the Theosophical Institute on Point Loma, has announced his voluntary surrender of many of his prerogatives and the giving of a form of self-government to Theosophical Societies in other parts of the world."

Well, I suppose that if I said anything particularly pointed at present, this writer would break loose again in his newspaper and say that instead of speaking with a flourish of trumpets, I was blowing Gabriel's horn.

I want to say this, friends: The Theosophical Society, since its foundation by the great heart of H. P. Blavatsky and others in New York in 1875, has never been deprived of its prerogatives of self-government by any leader and teacher, and consequently I cannot renounce what I never have possessed. There has been one policy in The Theosophical Society, first enunciated by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, continued after her by her successor William Quan Judge, carried on in a more esoteric form by my predecessor Katherine Tingley, and now continued openly by me.

There has been no renouncement of official prerogatives, because I never had any that amounted to anything. But there has been an attempt to bring the training of the ancient Mystery Schools into the modern life of the Occident; and a part of this training was to make the members of The Theosophical Society realize that they are incarnate gods, reflections of an inner divinity in their inmost core of being; and consequently that being such, they are collaborators in the cosmic labor; and that being such collaborators, here on earth as men they have a right to stand and walk the earth as incarnate gods, and therefore to take a part in all noble things which interest them, such as our beloved Theosophical Society.

I have not renounced any prerogatives whatsoever that are of any real importance. I have gained enormously by what power I have voluntarily refused to wield; for instead of trusting to the man-made sanctions imbodied in a written constitution, my work — as was that of my great-hearted predecessor Katherine Tingley — but especially my work, is based on the love and trust of my fellow theosophists. There you are. Isn't that fine?

Tell men that they are but more or less improved copies of an over-grown ape, and they will blink at you with a little astonishment, and inwardly have contempt for you in their hearts, because they know that such statements explain nothing at all about origins, and that they are mere theories. Their instinct, their intuition, tell them differently; but tell men, on the other hand, that the divine faculties which they feel to be working in their own breasts — intuition, love, compassion, pity, mercy, illumination of the mind — come from the divine soul within, from the inner god; and you immediately strike a responsive chord in their hearts.

I tell you, friends, that the strongest feeling in the human breast is that of religion. But men must have real religion, the religion of natural truth, not dogmata, not fine-spun theological theories which are, as has recently been said in one part of the world, but the opium of the soul. And it is true. But truth, glorious truth — that is what men really long for.

So not only am I proud of the fact that I want to become my inmost self, as the great Plato said — to become the god within me, knowing that I am kindred with the gods — but also am I proud of the fact that my position permits me to make the same appeal to the hearts of all who will listen to me with sympathetic ear and understanding heart.

The questions that I have before me this afternoon are quite numerous, dealing with many phases of thought, touching upon different subjects, interesting and profound. Here is the first, or rather here are the first two questions; but they are so much alike that I am going to treat them together, briefly:

"In what way does the theosophical interpretation of psychology differ from the modern explanation given in the textbooks? What light does theosophy throw on psychoanalysis?"

I would phrase that question a bit differently. I think that I would say: "In what way does theosophical psychology differ from the modern systems carrying that name as these are given in the popular text-books?" Then my answer would be: Enormously. Modern psychology as taught in our university lecture halls is a relatively new thing. It is changing from day to day. It did not exist one hundred and fifty years ago; or at least if it did, there was then but an adumbration of what modern psychology has since come to be. It is at present a system of theories; an attempt to balance what is known of the workings of the human mind with the activities of the emotional apparatus working in and through the human breast.

Now, I never could be satisfied with a bunch of theories. I must have something that appeals to my sense of symmetry and harmony before I can accept it. I must have something, if I accept it at all, which when I study or hear of it touches something within me which answers with instant response: That is true; for within me lie all the grounds of proof.

Actually, modern psychology, especially the psychoanalytical aspect of it, is little more than a sublimated physiology. Actually it has naught to do with the higher nature of the human being, and therefore it explains nothing whatsoever in a directly definite and symmetrical manner. It is a system of methodization, combined with a collection of facts; from which facts the attempt is made to withdraw some truth, some rule rather, that will work fairly well in all cases.

But let me tell you something: psychology in itself or per se is nothing new. The study of the nature and of the constitution of man, of the workings of what is called in the Occident his soul, and in the Orient his Self — the nature of his emotional disturbances, the character and the working of his mentality, and the source and origin of inspiration, of illumination, of compassion, of almighty love that has its lodgment in the human breast — these things were known and studied for immemorial ages in the past.

In the Orient, psychology is one of the usual studies of the disciples of every philosophical teacher. But in the Orient it is true psychology. Physiology in connection with it is barely referred to; and when it is referred to, it is considered to be merely as a minor aspect or reflection of the manner in which the feverish and restless activity of the human mentality works through the body. This true psychology, based on a complete understanding of the entire inner constitution of man, is called by the name of yoga in the Orient, yoga being a Sanskrit word which literally means "union" — signifying union with the god within. Many methods of yoga are there. But outside of the meaning of the word, the fact remains that psychology — the study of the intermediate nature of man — has been a favorite study, a necessary study, in Oriental countries from immemorial time.

Further, there stand the records, to be investigated by anyone who has an open mind and who can see, who has brains enough to judge according to the preponderance of evidence, showing that the great seers and sages of the ages (and by them I mean the great illuminated intellects and spiritual leaders of mankind) have penetrated behind and beyond the veil of the seeming, of appearances; have gone behind that veil to the roots of things, have sent their souls deep into the womb of being, and have brought back knowledge therefrom. Wonderful indeed are the systems of thought that these great seers and sages of the ages have formulated in human language, touching every phase of the human being: systems which are so symmetrical, so profound in philosophical and scientific reach, that every fact that exists in human psychology finds its proper niche, its proper pigeonhole, so to say, its exact lodgment, where it belongs.

Now, a few words about psychoanalysis. You know something, I take it, of what that is. I won't refer to it beyond saying this much: that I consider it to be a mean and often a nasty study. Any man or woman who wants to believe that the ultimate thoughts and emotions of his inner nature are no better than those of a nasty little boy — who is willing to believe that therein lies all that there is of the human being, deliberately forgetting the splendor of the high spiritual activities and facilities of which every act of self-sacrifice is in outstanding proof — anyone who is willing to believe that may do so. I positively refuse to do so, because I know better.

It is a monstrous thing to teach the ideas and notions that pass today under the name of psychoanalysis to the responsive and sensitive minds of little children. It is a moral crime.

Here is another kind of question:

"In an interview with Henry Ford published on last Sunday morning, December 8, 1929, in The San Diego Union, Elizabeth Breuer quotes the great industrialist as saying:
" 'We don't quite realize that good thoughts are intelligent entities — "intelligent entities"; that is a favorite phrase of mine.'
"To most people in the Occident that is a most startling statement. What has theosophy to teach on the subject?"

This: that man, considered as a aggregate of substances and energies, is a focus of creative activity; that his thoughts are as much things as are the atoms of his body, for in actual fact thoughts are merely movements of the astral substance of his intermediate nature, as there are movements of his physical body; and both are under the control of the dominating will and consciousness. Thoughts are things; they are entities; they spring forth from mind; they are the children of mind. Mind is substantial, not physical matter, but ethereal substance; and everything, therefore, that issues from mind must be of its own character, of its own nature.

Apples, oranges, cherries, roses, lilies, whatnot: grow only from their respective trees or plants. From the mind in a similar way comes mind-stuff, for the mind itself is mind-stuff, and thoughts are mind-stuff. Therefore, thoughts are things. Mind is the organ of consciousness, and in fact is concreted energy, therefore concreted consciousness, so to speak. Thoughts, therefore, are consciousness points, consciousness-centers. Therefore are they entities; therefore are they things.

Mr. Ford in this report speaks of good thoughts only as being intelligent entities. A theosophist says that every thought, good or bad, is an animate portion of mind-stuff, and therefore an entity. Thoughts are things; and I tell you to beware of your thoughts, for they will come home to you, their parent, to roost some day.

Henry Ford is right, however, as far as he goes; he is a most remarkable man. Good thoughts are indeed intelligent entities, though I, as a theosophist, would liefer say conscious entities. Thoughts are entities still very young in evolutionary progress; nevertheless not only good thoughts but all thoughts are conscious entities. That statement may seem startling in the Occident, but that does not mean anything in particular. A thing may be startling, and yet it may be true. The time was when the heliocentric system was a most startling and wicked innovation in human thinking, and yet the heliocentric system is true.

Don't be afraid of a thing because it is new and startling. Rather be interested; be willing to study it a bit, to try to understand it. It is a very foolish thing to turn your face away when a new subject of thought is presented to you. You don't know what you may be missing. You may miss entertaining Zeus and Mercury as guests.

Here is a question somewhat along the same line. It is very abstract, but interesting:

"To what extent do mind creations become realities? I mean those projections emanating from the storehouse of the imagination, after they are given the matter-form of visibility or audibility, such as the picture on canvass, the sculptured form, the melody, all spun from the gossamer that comes from that same mysterious supply. Do such creations take on some kind of bodies other than the representational imbodiments, and would they forever after go on evolving?"

Yes; yes. "Thought-forms," to use a term popular among some modern theosophical mystics, are thoughts which find representational imbodiment in physical matter, such as a lovely picture, a beautiful sculpture, soul-entrancing music; or, on the other hand, may take a repulsive and ugly form. Such form is the body of them as represented in physical substance.

But what about the thoughts which produce these noble creations? I tell you that thoughts are animate entities. Man gives birth to thoughts on the mental plane much as he gives birth to children on the physical plane. Both are functions of productive or creative activity; although thoughts of course emanate from man in a constant stream. A man thinks untold billions of thoughts in a year. Nevertheless the rule of nature is the same in principle, whether in the thought-world or in the case of physical procreation. Being consciousness-centers these thoughts begin to grow: they came into his mind as impulses of energy; they leave it as thoughts.

I am going to leave that thought with you: leave it in your minds to grow. I hesitate to say more here at the present time. Thoughts can be powerful things, and produce widespread and profound effects; and one class of thoughts which Plato, the great Greek philosopher referred to as Ideas, are the mightiest things in human life, for it is ideas that rule the world, and it is ideas that rule men. It is ideas that make and unmake civilizations. It is an idea, or a collection of ideas, which differentiates one human being from another human being, making one noble, the other ignoble. Ideas rule the world, and the ideas of the gods rule in the cosmic spaces; and the stars, the nebulae, the comets, the planets — such is our glorious theosophical teaching — are but the physical imbodiments of thought-energies manifesting as these differentiated parts of physical material existence.

"When I hammer my thumb instead of the nail I am driving, I am very much inclined to relieve my feelings by using theological words in a non-theological way. Is this merely a trivial offense against good manners, or is it morally wrong?"

Well, I do not think that there is anything wicked about it at all. I think it is a very natural thing to do. It is bad manners, perhaps, if we are in company with others who hear us using profane language; but if you happen to crush your thumb with a hammer with which you are trying to drive a nail, I should certainly say that you are perfectly justified to use theological language in a non-theological way. I know that I would use very strong theological language!

"Some of us women would like to know why the Deity is always referred to as 'He.' If, by Deity, we mean the universal principle of life which animates and sustains both the sexes, why use the masculine pronoun? We are sometimes inclined to think that this habit is simply an unwarrantable assumption on the part of theologians, who are always of the male sex. Does theosophy support this usage?"

It does not. Our objection is not based on the fact that "we are women, don't you know," and object to the masculine pronoun as such, because actually many ancient nations have had a supreme female deity, and they referred to it as She. But as the theosophist does not accept, cannot accept, finds it impossible to believe in, the existence of a Great Big Man up there, or down there, a Personal God in other words, naturally we do not speak of something we don't believe in as a He. This reference to divinity as a Cosmic Male, and as a He, is merely a historical relic of the popular mythologies of the ancient peoples. Zeus or Jupiter or Vishnu or Siva or Ormazd or Ahriman or Osiris or Jehovah, are merely instances of mythological national deities, and it should be remembered that the popular mythologies of the ancient nations do not represent the belief of the profound philosophers of the times. While it is true that all the ancient mythologies are based on esoteric truths, this does not mean that the theosophist accepts the exoteric presentation or beliefs, although he does accept the esoteric truths, because he understands them.

I have tried to explain on other occasions that we theosophists are godless men. Now, don't be frightened at these words. Pray wait a moment and let me explain before you judge me from the preconceptions of centuries of mistraining that all Occidentals have received. But while we are godless, we are not atheists, that is to say, people having no belief in a divine source of the universe and of man.

Furthermore, you won't find a more reverent, a more thoughtfully-reverent, body of people in the world than is the theosophical body. You won't find any man, I do believe, whose heart is filled with a deeper awe of the unspeakable mystery of the eternal and of the infinite. So deeply do we feel this, that we use a phrase common in the old Indian Vedas, and we refer to the unspeakable mystery simply is That.

"Will civilizations always have to decay, and then rebuild upon their own ruins in order to rise upward? Must they ever repeat the same follies, go through the same devastations, slaughters, and ghastly horrors through the coming ages, as they have in the past? Why cannot nations and races hold on to their best attainments? Will they eventually come to a point where steady progression will be possible? Else the economy of life offers a strange and vexing impulse in its work. Kindly explain."

A kindly heart has asked this question without giving it sufficient thought. Let me in turn ask a question. How would you like to be forever "you"? How would you like things to remain forever as they are with but minor evolutionary modifications that ensue with the passage of time? Suppose that the civilization of Rome, for instance, still existed as the civilization of Rome, constantly improving somewhat, it is true, but remaining always the civilization of Rome. How would you like that? Suppose that the European Middle Ages had never changed, and still existed, somewhat improved, it is true, but still with all the imperfections and limited outlooks, although slightly expanded, as formerly these things were? Were either of these cases the fact, we should not be as we are now — the human host in a passing phase of evolutionary development, but laying the foundations of a more brilliant civilization in the future. Obviously such a state of things would be the reverse of attractive.

No, I want to grow; I want to change; I want to pass from manhood into godhood. I want to evolve forth the divinity in my own breast, of which my breast tells me the existence. I tell you that nature's merciful laws so control, guide, and direct the affairs of the universe, and therefore of man of course, that everything has its birth, its period of growth, its state of maturity, and ultimately the fine florescence of all that is within; and then ensues its period of decay, of senescence, and death — to be succeeded by something greater. That is evolution. Change following change, and always for the better. Thank the immortal gods that things do change. Civilizations, like men, like our planet Earth, like a solar system, like our own home-universe, like everything in fact, have their beginnings, their period of growth, their period or time of full blooming; then ensues decay, then comes death — but to make way for something still better.

Furthermore, you see that this conception makes us charitable in our dealings with others. It explains to us somewhat of the philosophy of history. One of the greatest producers of human sorrow and pain, one of the most fruitful agents in the bringing upon men agony of heart and suffering, is the idea that my nation is better than your nation, and you are not going to change for the better; you will be there, unchanged and stupid, forever and a day, until I accept the "white man's burden," and take you under my wing, or kill you off. If men knew that whatever is, will pass, to be succeeded by something better, and that all is cared for under the laws which govern both human and cosmic activities, then the divine virtue of patience and enlarged understanding will bring their forces into play, and instead of horrors and troubles and bloodshed, we shall see peace, mutual agreement, and helpfulness. Many, indeed most, of the horrors of our modern civilization would never come to pass. Men would then know that change, gentle change — which is growth, which is evolution — and all-healing time, will put an end to things that are imperfect, undeveloped, unsymmetrical.

Change: change is evolution, because it is growth. Let us then be thankful that civilizations do decay, that they do pass, in order to give way to something better and higher; and even though it so happens, and it does happen frequently, that certain changes bring in their train misery and human troubles of many and various kinds, these, in the very nature of things, are contrary to natural law, and therefore their term of existence will be shorter than any other. Things which are lovely, which are symmetrical, which are harmonious, endure; but nevertheless even these are subject to change, because everything that is, as it grows, throws out more fully and ever more fully, a larger measure of the harmony, of the love, of the natural symmetry, of the powers latent within it. This is evolution.

"I understand that geography, and even the most elementary facts of human anatomy, were taught by the ancients only under the seal of the Mysteries. What is the danger of giving general publicity to such apparently harmless subjects?"

No danger at all. That is not the idea. The questioner forgets here, of course, the character of the ancient Mysteries: that the ancients were an exceedingly religious people, to whatever nation or race they might have belonged — exceedingly religious people they were. The questioner perhaps, in addition to overlooking this fact, does not know that these Mysteries of antiquity were founded in each instance by one of the great seers and sages of past times, great initiates in natural wisdom, the wisdom of the workings of invisible nature in the spiritual, intermediate, and astral realms; and consequently that all the teaching given in the Mysteries was interconnected; so that the giving out of knowledge concerning any one part of it was like giving a key to other parts; and as many of the teachings in the ancient Mysteries were connected with the sublime secrets of the sublime secrets of the universe, and fraught with danger if communicated indiscriminately to men, all initiates in the ancient Mysteries were sworn to utmost secrecy.

Let me illustrate what I mean. There is a method known to the sages by which the inner man may leave the physical body and send his spirit-soul roaming through the spaces of space, spaces exterior and spaces interior. As it was taught in the Mysteries, giving this knowledge to the public would have given the key to still greater and more dangerous facts of natural being to unworthy men, to anyone, to all and sundry. You may ask: Well, why not? Isn't truth sacred, fit for anybody? I tell you no. It is not. There are truths that I never would put in the mind of a little child. There are facts of nature and of being that I never would put into the mind of an unworthy man.

Now, think it over. Giving the keys to nature's secrets to men who perhaps were not evil, but grossly ignorant and without self-control, would have brought about heaven knows what psychical as well as physical and social catastrophes, while the individual practitioner, ignorant and without self-control, would possibly, at the very best, have killed himself in practicing what he had learned.

It was from compassion, from great wisdom, that the secrets of nature were held under lock and key and given out only to those who had proved themselves worthy of receiving them. To them, indeed, the doors of the Mysteries stood wide open.

As you see, this idea is so contrary to our Occidental ways of thinking that perhaps I should have to talk to you for half in hour in order to give you the full reach of the meaning for the reticence of the ancients; but I think that I have shown you somewhat of the reason why the knowledge taught in the Mysteries was so carefully guarded.

I might add, in conclusion, that were so simple a thing as human anatomy taught in modern times as it was taught in the ancient Mysteries, the key to unlocking the vital chains binding the inner man to the outer man would likewise be given.

So well is the necessity of prudence and care recognized even in our arrogant and conceited Occident that although men say that everything in the way of knowledge should be given out to everybody, what actually happens? We each of us carry a bunch of keys with us, and we carefully put our securities in the vaults of banks, and we lock our laboratories with still more care. Yes! Verbum sapienti satis.

"Thousands of people are leading noble lives of unselfish service, yet they seem to know no more of theosophy or the great teachers you have spoken of here than the ordinary man of lower ideals. Evidently something more is needed to find the path to wisdom than the virtues shown by the good man. What is this higher qualification?"

This is a noble question — thoughtful, kindly, humane. I should say that two things are required: first, a spirit of kindliness. A man may be a good man and practice the cardinal virtues and yet not have that full-blown spirit of gentleness and kindliness in his heart which I have so often spoken of as the Christ-light innate in man. And the second requirement is, I believe, a divine hunger for Truth, a hunger so deep that nothing will fill the aching void in mind and heart except light, illumination.

It is this hunger, it is this desire forever unsatisfied for more light, which I believe to be the divinest thing in the human soul, for it is the working in the breast of the divinity within, the inner god. And if there existed nothing but it, it would so pain and drive the man in whose heart it lodges that he never could find satisfaction or peace until he had followed that still small pathway to the gods spoken of by the Indian Upanishads, leading ever higher and higher; until in time, having set his feet on this pathway, he finds that he has "entered the Sun." "Son of the Sun" himself, he shall then have returned home.

Ye are gods, incarnate divinities, each one of you a spark of the cosmic life; and if you only knew what is within you, latent or partially active, as the case may be, nothing else could satisfy you. There would be a hunger in your soul that nothing could satisfy except light, light, and more light!


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