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

No. 47 (August 5, 1930)

QUESTIONS WE ALL ASK

(Lecture delivered May 18, 1930)
CONTENTS: Man can raise himself to the stature of the great seers and sages. — The human soul instinctively recognizes truth. — The "truth" of our fathers is in the dust heaps of history. — No authoritative oracle in The Theosophical Society. — What happens to the human being after death? — No post-mortem heaven and hell. — You are your own destiny. — How is character builded? — Truth must be experienced. — What does "Evolution" mean? — An apple seed cannot bring forth a banana plant. — Man the oldest life-stream on this earth. — What is "bad" karma and what is "good" karma? — Dorothy Arzner and "the life-force behind the world." — Every man has limitless capacities for becoming. — Man is kin with the gods.

When I appear on the platform before you I feel indeed as if the god within me had a Message to give to my fellow men; and that is indeed a fact. So don't look at the man of flesh who is standing before you; but listen to what I have to tell you — something of the wisdom-religion of mankind: belonging to no people, belonging to no time, but the heritage of all peoples and of all times. It is a formulation in human language of the structure and operations and laws of the boundless universe, a formulation made by great seers and sages, men who through initiation and who through a long-time evolutionary development, have learned how to cast the percipient spirit behind the veils of the outward seeming into the very deepest abysses of the Great Mother, nature, and who have brought back what they had visioned and who gave it to their fellow-man; and that is the ancient wisdom-religion of mankind, today called theosophy.

A human being has within him, or her of course, powers, energies, faculties, in the average man not yet manifest at all, or but feebly, yet latent in most men, but cultivable, by which the average human being can raise himself into the spiritual and intellectual stature of the great sages and seers, and thus for himself penetrate behind the veil of the outward garment of Mother Nature, and see realities for himself.

Oh, what a promise lies in this! Think! That every one of you is the imperfect, alas, nevertheless the expression imperfect though it may be, of a divine entity: each one having his own inner god, which the mystical Christians of our time call the immanent Christ, and which the Orientals belonging to the Buddhist religion call the inner Buddha, and which the Brahmanical religious philosophy speaks of as the inner Brahma. You will find these teachings in all the great world religions and world philosophies. They do not depend on anyone's say-so.

The message which I try to deliver to you on every Sunday afternoon from this platform is not my own; it is a part of the wisdom-religion of mankind, and if there is anything about it that does not appeal to you in its presentation by me, then the fault is my own, arising out of my inability to convey that message to you; but yet, as I have said before, I have been trained to convey it in some manner, however imperfect that manner may be, so that I know, and I have found it true, that I strike responsive chords in human hearts, and I always notice an instinctive leaping of the human soul towards a recognition of these theosophical truths; and every now and then comes the silent cry from some suffering human heart: "My God! That is true! Why didn't I think of that before!"

There is the response; and that is the way in which the membership, the fellowship, of The Theosophical Society has been brought together — not by an appeal to authority, not merely by telling you that this wisdom-religion of mankind was formulated by the great seers, not alone by this; but by telling you that within each one of you there is this inner god, and that you can become it, become at one with it, be it, for it is your own divine essence; and thereby you enter into self-conscious cognition, relation, with the divinest powers that vivify and control the boundless universe.

Knowledge can indeed be had; and oh! how vain, how unwise, are the men who turn away from this possibility of recognizing all-embracing truth, simply because their brain-minds are filled with the teachings of the schools of the passing day, teachings which vary with every five years or so; so that the truth of our fathers is already abandoned and has become a part of the dust heaps of history.

How much better it is to look within in order to obtain truth, to obtain truth by experiencing it. It is the only way truly to know, to become truth yourself. It is our active brain-minds, filled with thoughts of the day, filled with desires of the hour, filled with the prejudices and opinions which are so transitory, which more than anything else these active brain-minds are afflicted with, which prevent our visioning of the truth, prevent our obtaining the vision sublime.

We Theosophists have no dogmas. We have no beliefs that anyone is required to accept before he can join The Theosophical Society. We have but one prerequisite to fellowship: a sincere belief in universal brotherhood.

Isn't it a wonderful thing that a man can be shown the way that all the great seers and sages of the past have trodden, and by which he can journey to the heart of the universe? This is so because that heart of the universe is he himself. Do you get the idea? Every entity is an inseparable part of the boundless All, because he is its offspring, its child, so to speak, life of its life, blood of its blood, thought of its thought. And the way to obtain the vision sublime and to see that vision sublime growing ever more sublime forever, is by looking within, following the still, small pathway of the inner consciousness, which is what the ancient Greeks meant when they said, following the injunction of the Delphic Oracle — Man, know thyself!

There is the key. Turn your gaze inwards, not outwards; and this does not mean to be solely introspective and to abandon extraspection. That is not the idea. You must see in both directions. But do not seek for truth in any place except in the faculty which cognizes truth which is your inmost self, for it alone can cognize truth. Do you seek the truth about yourself in your hat, or in an old garment that you have cast off? The forum where you will find truth is in your own percipient consciousness. Isn't that fact obvious?

The world today is broken up: the world of men, the world of thought, is broken up into thousands of sects, mutually fighting each other, battling, quarreling; and more than anything else, friends, it is the duty of theosophical lecturers, teachers, to show to men the pathway of unity, of brotherhood, of mutual understanding, so that men may come together and understand each other and help each other, for we are all offspring of the cosmic life-consciousness-substance.

The first question on the list before me is this:

What is the theosophical teaching with regard to man's state or states after physical death, and where do theosophists derive that teaching from, as assuredly no one has ever returned from the other world to tell them all about it. Is it just a speculation, a beautiful theory? I have a general idea of that teaching, but would like to have it authoritatively defined by you.

"Authoritatively defined!" No thank you! We have in The Theosophical Society no authoritative oracle who lays down the law of truth which others must follow whether they will or whether they nill. We have teachers; we have lecturers; we have writers; and we have those grand and sublime teachers of the race, the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion who founded the Theosophical Movement in this age, or founded it once more in this age; but we have no authoritative oracle of truth. We have no one on a throne speaking with the voice of authority: This must ye believe! None at all! But I can tell you what my studies and what my training have led me to know; and if it appeal to you, well and good.

I can only say that, as far as I know, the theosophical teaching with regard to the state of man after death is true, but I certainly will not say that I make this as an authoritative pronouncement. I have neither a right, nor a desire so to do. We have our Inner School, which is another thing entirely from the outer organization of The Theosophical Society, in which Inner School teachings are given with a certain authority, but an authority derived from love and trust, not from exoteric rules or position at all. Our Esoteric Section is one thing, but the outer Theosophical Society is another organization entirely.

I have often spoken of this matter of the post-mortem states of man, and I can refer you to other lectures given by me in this building at other times, which lectures are now being printed in pamphlet form. But I will cover the same ground again briefly now in answer to this question. When you ask: What are the states of man after death? a theosophical teacher is immediately put in a quandary. What do you mean by "man"? Obviously you do not mean the physical body, because that is not the true man. It merely expresses the faculties of the man — so much intelligence, so much energy, so much character, such and such a form, etc., etc., etc. Do you then mean his thought, his mind, what is called his soul or his spirit?

But the questioner, I think, asks about the nature of the human constitution, and what happens to that human constitution after the physical body is broken up at death. Man is a composite entity. Theosophists say that he has a number of elements entering into that composite. He has thought; he has intelligence; he has love; he has affection; he has trust; he has a sense of duty; he has ethical principles; he has the sublime aspirations of his spirit. He has so high a realization of his place in the universe that he can cognize, even if it be unconsciously to the brain-mind, his intrinsic unity with the boundless All, of which the spiritual part of him is a ray.

Now, this constitution, combining all these varied elements of man, breaks slowly up after death — after the physical body is cast off. The physical body is but a garment of flesh, builded especially to express the inner constitution. The lowest part of man, the model-body, the ethereal body, which is just a little more ethereal than the physical body, and is in fact almost physical, is likewise cast aside at death. There remains the emotional part, the mental part, the spiritual part; and these parts slowly separate into two halves, the higher half and the lower half, the higher remaining as a unit and the lower part disintegrating.

Just pause a moment in thought. Study yourself, your mental operations, your feelings, your emotions. Do you think that let us say fifty or sixty percent of what you as a human being are today is fit, is even decent enough, to go into the spiritual realms where the highest part of man's constitution goes? Even your love for your family, even your sense of human duty, even such as these things, are not divine enough to ascend to the portals of the sun where nothing but pure spirit may go.

So what happens? These human parts — our human loves, our human dislikes, our human affections, our sense of human duties, and all the human soul-part of us — is purified and cleansed naturally by the abandoning of the lower half of it; and the higher half, which includes all our aspirations and longings for better things, which on this earth have never received satisfaction but yet are a part of our character, are indrawn into the spiritual part of us, into the spiritual soul. I am now using very easy and simple language devoid of theosophical technicalities. This spiritual soul being a divine entity makes its peregrinations, follows its pathways through the invisible and spiritual realms. The understanding of this is not difficult.

Then, when the energies so impelling it along this pathway are exhausted, there comes a time when attraction, psychomagnetic attraction if you like, draws the reincarnating ego back again to earth, and that ego picks up, as it returns, i. e., as it descends from the invisible and interior realms through the ethereal and lower ethereal spheres, picks up, I say, the elements of its constitution which it had cast off following its last death, because these elements inherently belong to it and are attracted to it. The life-atoms are attracted back to the descending soul, to the descending spirit-soul. It gathers all these life-atoms together again; and by these is again drawn to earth; a baby is then born, and a new human life on earth begins.

After death there is no heaven, there is no hell. Do you think that anyone of you has merited an everlasting heaven of perfect bliss? Are you good enough? But outside of that: Could you die and be happy with the thought that you would be conscious in your human soul, for eternity, in an everlasting heaven of bliss, the while remembering the earth and its sorrows and pains, and the ones whom you love on that earth and also those whom you failed to do your duty by while you were on earth? Have you no idea of a conscience? Is nature so ill-ordered and disordered as to permit such a thing as that? Your own heart answers, nay.

You came into this life on this earth because you were drawn hither. This was the field of your activity in the previous earth-life, and you came back again in order to try to undo the evil you wrought in that past earth-life, and in other earth-lives; and because you were attracted back here, you naturally wanted to meet again those whom you formerly loved. Love is a mighty engine of destiny; it is a mighty power. So is hate.

There is no chance in the universe; everything is a majestic succession of event following event, all events being links in the chain of circumstance which man himself makes as he passes from life on earth to life on earth: from the inner spheres to earth and back to the inner spheres again. There is no outside god who says to you: "You there, go to earth!" You yourself bring yourself to earth because you are your own destiny; you are making yourself now to be what you shall be in the future, and what you are now you have made yourself to be in the past. No outside god is responsible. You alone have made yourself to be what you now are. You are your own child. You are now the parent of your future self. Nature is infinitely just. We get only what we have sown. We reap only what we have laid down as seeds of thought and emotion and action; and we reap them as character.

How is your character builded? By your thoughts, by your emotions, you make yourselves.

The post-mortem period is not something essentially and radically different from and apart from the life on earth. It is not divided from earth-life by an impassable gulf. There supervenes a short period of utter unconsciousness when the body is cast off at death. The post-mortem time is a period of cleansing, and then the human soul, as I have said, is withdrawn, indrawn, into the spiritual part of you — that is, all the part of the human soul which is noblest and best — and the rest of it goes to pieces, because the life-atoms of it are naturally destined to follow their own transmigrations, drawn hither and yon by attractions.

There being no heaven and no hell, there is nothing unmerited and nothing to fear. Oh! if I could tell you of the wondrous destiny of man; if I could describe to you in word-pictures what happens to the human being after death, you would be fascinated. Your hearts would leap, as I have said before, with glad exultation at the recognition of a truth that you have instinctively known, and have not known perhaps how to formulate in words.

But I can give you a hint as to where you may find some aspects of this truth. Study the old world religions, study the literatures of the old world philosophies, and you will catch a hint here and a hint there, and if you are clever enough and wise enough to put these hints together, you will get a fair pictorial outline, as far as the sages and seers who founded these religions and philosophies dared to tell the truth to the men of their time.

If you are interested and would like to know more, then come to this door and — knock! Knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Ask, and ye shall receive. But you must knock in the right way. If you want to know how, ask the officials of The Theosophical Society. This is a promise: these are not mere words; you can have truth. I can show you the beginning of the pathway leading to knowledge of truth, for you, for you, if you want it. But I cannot tread that pathway for you. I can simply show you where the pathway lies. You yourself must walk along it. How could you ever grow if someone else grew for you? How could you ever know, if someone else studied for you? Knock, come in; ask with a pure heart, with a heart hungry for truth, and ye shall receive in full measure, overflowing.

The statement that no one has "returned from the other world to tell people all about it," is not true. How do you know? Why do you make a statement like that? How do you know that no one has ever returned from the other world? Are you sure? No, you say it merely because you have not heard whether it is so. Now, I tell you that there is power, faculty, and ability in the human constitution, in the human consciousness, which, when properly cultivated, can lead you behind the veils of the outward seeming, so that you may cognize for yourself. You can go behind the veil of matter, blinding to the physical eye, and you can bring back truth; you can know what passes behind what men call the visible veil and see what passes in the invisible realms. You can know what there takes place. The power and faculty are in you; they need only cultivation; you need only to be shown where this power and this faculty lie and how to train them and how to use them.

Again I say unto you: Knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Ask, and ye shall receive. Yes, there are men even today who can go behind the veil of the outward seeming and recognize truth at its fountainhead — who can cognize by experiencing them, the operations, functions, causal relations, of invisible nature. I have told you why: because each one of you is a part, an inseparable part, of boundless natural being, and therefore there flows through you all natural forces existent in the boundless universe — all powers, all energies; you are rooted therein; that universe is your parent; you are its children.

Come with me. I can show you the way, but you yourself must tread the path. You will not be carried to truth. Steep is the way, and narrow the path, that leadeth unto life everlasting, was the old saying, and it is a true saying; but oh! although that path be thorny and difficult at first, cannot you see the glory on the distant horizon? Look! It is worth giving up everything to attain it, for when a man gives up his life for the sake of the Christ within him, he shall find it because he finds the life universal.

Do you understand? Do you catch the thought? When you turn to your greater self, which is the higher part of your own constitution: when you become the inner Buddha, when you become the Christ within you, although you give up the physical personality and the mental personality and these crippling things which distract you and worry you and cause you to fret and give you pain and sorrow, you enter into the sublime light of the spirit, and exchange the personality for divinity.

Yes, there are men who have gone behind the veil of physical nature and know what happens to man after death. Men like you. They are not gods, but human beings, but great men, men who have been taught, who have been initiated, whose hunger for truth was so overmastering that they abandoned everything inferior for the light which they saw on the mountains of the Mystic East, and their reward was past all telling: knowledge, wisdom, consciousness of being universal, for the root of each one of you is the spirit of the universe. There is the beginning of the pathway. Follow it!

A German correspondent sends me the following excerpt translated from a posthumous work of the lyric poet Christian Morganstern:
"It is today believed that man has been derived from the animal. But how if the reverse be the case: if the animals be offshoots of humanity, a retarded humanity or a too hasty, too forward humanity, and therefore held fast in a primitive (lit. zu fruhen — too early) condition?"
Is not the poet's intuition of the truth in harmony with the teaching of theosophy with regard to evolution?

Yes, in a general way. I gave a series of lectures here some years ago, which lectures are now printed as a book, and I did my best, during the course of those lectures, to show my audience just what the theosophical teaching regarding evolution is. I brought forward a large body of testimony, of mainly biological character, showing, proving if you like, that the theosophical teaching of evolution is not that of the Englishman Darwin nor of the Frenchman Lamarck, nor of the German Haeckel, nor of any of the other transformists — which is their proper name — but that we use the word evolution strictly in the etymological sense, as meaning an unwrapping, an unfolding, a bringing out, of what is within, infolded, inwrapped, locked up.

Can anything evolve except the thing which is evolving? What does evolution mean? A continuously more perfect expression by that evolving entity, of what is latent within it. That is our theosophical teaching of evolution very briefly expressed. The evolved entity can bring forth nothing but what it has locked up in itself. Can the acorn bring forth anything except an oak? Can an apple seed bring forth a banana plant or a strawberry vine or a cherry tree? No, only an apple tree. It can bring forth only what is infolded, inlocked, inwrapped, in itself — in other words, its own fundamental character.

Now, it is our teaching that mankind is the oldest life-stream on this earth. He is obviously the most advanced. The deduction therefore is that he is in consequence the oldest, hence the longest at school, and that is precisely what theosophists teach. Everything that the earth at present produces, or has produced in the past, has been thrown off by the human stock as it wended its way up to the present through the far distant dim ages of the past, casting off at different times the germs of these inferior stocks which in their turn, each one of them, began immediately a period of evolution along its own particular line, eventuating in the different species, families, genera, classes, orders, whatnot, that you have today.

Why can this be? Why could it be? Because every cell, unless it be held locked in the grip of a dominant entity, such as is presently the case with man, has innumerable possibilities of evolution locked up within it; and if there be not a dominant power preventing the flowing forth of these locked-up capacities or possibilities, those capacities and essential faculties will come out, a rushing tide of life.

Do you begin to get the thought? In the early ages of humanity, man threw off cells from his body, both singly and in aggregates, as even now he is doing. And because the dominant human entity then had not the strong control over those cells of a man's body that now he has, thus at present preventing those cells from evolving each one along its own path, those cells in those former days were freer from the dominant influences of the human entity than they are at present, and each cell in those early days thus thrown off followed the line of its own cellular, dominant characteristic, thus eventuating in the various stocks that have inhabited or peopled the earth, stocks beneath the human. And even today any cell of a man's body, could the whole body live without the dominant human entity controlling it in its very strong grip: each such cell if cast off from the body, and we are constantly throwing them off, even today would begin a new line of evolution and thus start a new stock.

There is the key to the answer to the question asked. I could talk to you for a month, six hours a day, and thus have time to prove to you these facts, and I could adduce in this proof an overwhelming mass of biological evidence. Read the book that contains my lectures and you will find it all set forth there (Theosophy and Modern Science, published by Theosophical University Press, Point Loma, California: 2 vols., 1929, available online as Man in Evolution (1941).

Thus this German poet has caught the main idea, but he is not the only one to have caught this intuition. The idea that man is the oldest stock on earth, and that the anthropoid apes and the other beasts originally came from man rather than that man originated from the ape, is a relatively old theory and has been preached by a number of eminent scientific men. But human beings as a rule like to run with the hounds. They like to chase with the hunter. It requires a brave and courageous man who will breast the adverse current of popular opinion, and say: I stand for my own honest convictions despite all. Some scientific men in the past have done so in this matter of evolution, and their reward is now coming to pass — after they are dead. Some of these older biological thinkers are now coming into their own.

Here is an interesting question:

Is it an example of Occidental folly for people to talk about "bad" karma and "good" karma, as is so generally done in the West?
Aside from the fact, which I suppose everybody realizes fundamentally, that all karma is for the ultimate good of mankind, I have observed that in the everyday affairs of life it is impossible for a mere mortal to diagnose a particular happening as either good karma or bad. In my own life, events have sometimes seemed to be very bad karma at the time of their occurrence, but within a year or two, have proved to lead to other events which would ordinarily be called very good karma.
If "we are our own karma," as you told us recently, then when we speak of receiving bad karma, we must mean that we ourselves are, at the time, "bad."
Could you please comment on this?

No, I think that this last deduction is wrong. The rest of the question is admirable. Good and bad are not absolute. We are happy, things are progressing well, we are prosperous; and something happens: things begin to go wrong and in such case we speak of it as "bad karma." But, as this questioner puts it, I also have found by watching what has taken place in my own life in the past that frequently the very things I did not want to come to pass brought blessings, and that what I called bad luck or bad karma at the time turned out to be something fine.

We call things good when they happen to please us, and when we do not like them, we say that they are bad; and I suppose that every man and woman here this afternoon knows how foolish that is. It must have happened to you all to notice that the very thing or things which at the time you did not like in some cases have turned out splendidly for you, brought you good luck, brought you happiness, at the very least put strength of fiber into your character, which is worth more than all worldly treasures: gave you insight, unlocked the powers of your heart, enabled you to think, in short made a man out of you. Good and bad are relative.

Nothing happens to us which we ourselves did not engender in the beginning. We sowed the seeds. Now the seeds have grown up in us, and we say: My, I cannot understand how such a thing could have happened to me! But it has happened, and if you take it rightly and face it rightly, and react properly, and look upon it as just the thing that you would have chosen, you become collaborators with destiny, and become happy, and grow. Strength becomes yours. Wisdom grows in your heart. Think it over a bit.

Now then, let us look briefly at one phase of the subject to which I have not yet turned. Let us take the case of an exceedingly good and noble man. Suddenly he is stricken, let us say to make the case picturesque and pointed, with some loathsome and terrible disease. Nothing in his present life that he knows of has brought this about. He is suddenly and unaccountably stricken down, so that, for a while, he hates himself and his soul turns in agony to the gods who hear not, and he says: What have I done to bring this thing upon me? Shall we say that he was a bad man? No, he is a good man; but this is a case where past seeds, seeds of thought, of emotion, of weakness, in past lives had hitherto not yet eventuated, hitherto had not come to fruitage but now do so. Now they come forth. In past lives perhaps they wanted to come forth and the man was a coward and dammed them back, in some way or other by thought postponing the agony until some later day; because I tell you, friends, that nature's fundamental law is that what ye sow ye shall reap, and whatever ye reap ye have sown.

The lesson of this, therefore, is: when misfortune comes upon you, when sorrow racks your heart, and when it seems as if all the world had turned against you, then be a man. Face it all, and have done with it; so that, in the future, when your character is stronger and more improved, you shall not have laid up for yourself some unworked-out seed of karmic destiny then to blossom and bring you greater unhappiness by far than it could now bring. Do you understand?

There have been great and noble men, disciples on the path, and advanced at that, to whom such occurrences have happened. Old karmic seeds of destiny, held over, dammed back, willed to disappear — now coming forth and apparently ruining a noble life.

A beautiful, helpful rule is the following: Whatever happens to you, meet it manfully or womanly. Look upon it as the very thing that you would have willed — and therefrom reap peace. It will pass, it will work itself out. It is a good practical rule of the moral law: repine not, keep your faces to the Mystic East of the future, fill your heart with courage, and remember that you are descendants of and kin to the immortal gods who control and guide the Universe.

Dorothy Arzner, reputed to be the third woman-director so far in the moving picture industry, was quoted in a recent interview as saying the following, which the reporter characterized as "extraordinary":
"I think that for some reason a woman's brain gets from the air the vibrations that bear on her problem. This sounds complicated. But it's no more complicated than the radio. Just the fact that millions of people are thinking about a particular thing has, I believe, a tremendous effect on the question.
"It is my belief that each human being has in his make-up the potentialities of every talent. We all have the latent ability to be artists or inventors. If the world in general desired sculpture more than anything else today, I honestly believe its concentrated thought could make a potential sculptor of any child; and practically instantaneously. To me a human being is neither more nor less than the means through which the life-force behind the world, and the thought-force inside the world, find expression."
Question: As the most conspicuous expounder of theosophical philosophy before the public today, what would you, Dr. de Purucker, say with regard to Miss Arzner's alleged theories?

I thank this kind questioner for the compliment paid to me. I pass the compliment over to the majestic wisdom-thought, the ancient Religion of mankind. I think that this Dorothy Arzner has said a great deal of truth here. It is a teaching of theosophy that every human being has the capacity for becoming anything, anything: philosopher, poet, sculptor, artist, god, demon, good man, bad man, ordinary man. You can go up or down. You have free will, you have the energy of the universe working through you, therefore you have all its faculties and powers. You have the moral sense; you can choose your pathway — the one leading to divinity and unutterable bliss and peace and wisdom, or the one leading to ethical, intellectual, and individual dissolution.

Yes, there is much of truth in what this Dorothy Arzner says. But I don't think that merely if the whole world wanted a certain child to become a sculptor, that that child would immediately or within a long time thereafter, become a famous sculptor. Nature does not work in that way. While it is true that every human being has unimaginable, unimagined, capacities and talents lying latent within him, nevertheless you cannot be anything other than what you have made yourself to be. Consequently, unless you have built up the seeds of a genius for sculpture in your thought and therefore in your character, the entire willpower of all the world could not make you a sculptor over night — no, nor during many years. There must be the sculptor lying latent in your character, the fruitage of other lives, when the man sculpted — and so it is with other talents.

But it is good to see prominent people giving utterance to thoughts of this kind. They are so like our theosophical doctrines in divers ways. Men don't know what is in them — and I come back to this thought on every Sunday afternoon, because it is a part of what I am here to tell you, of what I was sent to tell you.

You don't know what is in you; and when you come into a theosophical auditorium, you will not be told that you are miserable worms of the dust. You will not be told that you are naught except, as a French philosopher put it some time ago, an adventitious colloidal compost, an oxynitrocarbide of hydrogen, with a few other chemical elements thrown in to help out. You will not be told that you are damned, or that you will be saved; but my whole attempt is to tell you the truth about the universe and about yourselves as children of that universe — not my truth, not the truth of the founders of the Theosophical Movement, not Plato's truth, nor the Buddha's truth, nor Jesus' truth, but the exposition of the structure and operations of almighty nature. That is truth per se. And it is further my duty to show you how to get this truth yourselves — not to come here and take it because you are told it; but, if you understand me, you come to a theosophical lecture hall in order to learn how to put your feet on that wondrous path leading to divinity, the divinity within each one of you, your own individual inner god.

In the Occident you are not taught to study yourselves. You think that it is a most profitless and tiresome thing to do. On the contrary, I tell you that it is a most wonderful study! You can learn everything within yourself, because you have everything within yourself. A child of the universe, you have all within you — everything that the boundless universe contains. And one of the first steps is to see yourself as others see you.

I have often wondered how I myself look standing here on the platform. I have sometimes thought to myself if I could not ask our good workmen here at the Headquarters to put a big plate mirror somewhere before me, in which I could see myself and study myself, not from vanity, but in order to see myself as you see me. I think that I would learn a great deal, and along this line of thought I may add that if a man ever thinks that he has reached the point where he can learn nothing more, then heaven help him, because nature will help him if heaven does not! He will learn a great deal — and very quickly!

Here is a little poem that a friend sent to me, that I think is very applicable to the remarks that I have just made: It is entitled "Four Men."

It chanced upon a winter's night, safe sheltered from the weather,
The board was spread for only one, yet four men dined together.
There sat the man I meant to be, in glory spurred and booted,
And close beside him to the right, the man I am reputed.

The man I think myself to be, a seat was occupying
Hard by the man I really am, who to hold his own was trying,
And though beneath one roof we met, none called his fellow brother,
No sign of recognition passed — they knew not one another.

How true that is! And I think, friends, that one of the very best things for human beings to learn is not that they are so feeble and weak, as some philosophicules love to tell us, but that they enshrine, which means that each one of you enshrines, a divine being; not, however, that you are that divine being as fully manifesting in its glory, for that most certainly you are not.

A kind-hearted Hollander recently spoke of me as being something like a god-man. That is a magnificent ideal for me to try to live up to. I am not ashamed of having this ideal in my heart. It gives me something to strive for, for within me is that divine entity striving to manifest itself in the way that I have just spoken to you about; and if I cannot show at least some of the divinity working in my heart and mind and soul and being, I have no right to stand here before you as a theosophical teacher.

Tell a man that he is a dog and acts like a dog, and if you catch him unawares the next day you will probably find him acting and thinking somewhat like a dog. Tell a man, on the other hand, that he is kin with the gods, his parents, and is their offspring — which is not poetry but actual fact — and that he has within himself unimaginable powers: that he can be anything in the Universe, for the Universe is in his very core, in fact the heart of the universe is his core, and you give him a sublime idea, a magnificent ideal. You set something before him which, if he is at all a man, he at least longs to think about and strive towards.

This ideal keeps him from doing mean and ignoble things; for we all know that such things are not godlike. It teaches him compassion, pity, modesty, and manliness. It teaches him that the almighty love working in his own heart is the same almighty love working in the universe; for that love is the very cement holding things in the universe together. Look within! Find out what is within you! Turn to the light!


Vol 1, No 48

Contents