Theosophical University Press Online Edition
(Lecture delivered February 1, 1931)
CONTENTS: Spiritual not psychic faculties desired. — Growth from within outwards. — Comprehension of the path. — Looking within not an unwholesome morbidity. — Signposts to the interior worlds. — Is man an exceptional event in the universe? — Every man a potential seer. — Cosmic hierarchies interlocked. — When life becomes a grand adventure. — A lesson in occultism. — Woofle-birds among men! — Contradictions of modern scientists. — Are consciousness and matter fundamentally different? — Theosophy not a new-made theory.
The unseen universe! I am wondering, friends, how many of you may think that I am going to talk to you this afternoon about something weird, strange, uncanny, unwholesome for the intellectual and spiritual life of a human being. But I am not. I could not do so as a theosophical teacher, because theosophy warns us strongly against the misuse of the interior psychic faculties and powers, and directs our attention to the spiritual faculties and powers by which we may realize our spiritual unity with the boundless.
We learn from the ancient wisdom-religion of mankind to use our spiritual powers and the manner of becoming self-consciously at one with the cosmic life; and just because the knowledge so taught is definite, and applicable by every sensible human being to his own life: just because the knowledge is such do we learn how to avoid the pitfalls, the mayavi psychic will-o'-the-wisps which mislead men and which have produced in the world today so many differing branches of thought, and which have caused the average modern man to feel, and feeling to say, "Where, immortal gods, may I find truth?"
What is the truth? Is it something outside of you? How so? No indeed: the truth is within. Who is the finder? It is you. Truth is within; the finder is within, because it is your self. Therefore the truth is in you, in the spiritual nature of every son of man. Within is the pathway to the gods. Seek not the keys of truth outside of yourself. Search for the light divine within your own essence. Then your whole inner being will open as the flower opens to the morning sun, and you will know truth, because you yourself will be it. Do you understand me?
Do you understand that each one of you is a child of the universe, born out of its spiritual heart, and therefore that the universal pulse beats within you, that the universal substance is within you, and is in very truth you yourself, and that the energies of the universe are in you and actually are you yourself? Therefore I say again that the pathway to truth is within you — your self is your pathway. There is no pathway to truth outside of you, because the only path that you can tread is the pathway of selfhood, and unless you follow that path you cannot walk upon it. That which is "outside of you" is merely yourself inverted. Therefore grow, expand, become greater, and the energies interior and invisible of your being will finally take in all the outside; for being an inseparable part of the universe, that universe in the core of its being is yourself; and we look outwards merely in order to check, as the scientist does, detail by detail, what we have learned from the inner experience.
This is the lost key of all Occidental thought, my Brothers — the lost key that opens all the riddles of existence; and the application of this key to the lock of each man's own inner character is so simple: "Man, know thyself!" That is all there is to it. It is the beginning of the path and its midway point and its end; and, strange paradox, these are but figures of speech: the pathway of the spiritual self never had a beginning; it will never have an end, for the self divine within you in its essence is the self of the universe. You have no selfhood without it, outside of it. An inseparable part of the boundless All is each one of you; therefore the boundless All is yourself and your eternal home. You are native there, and are kin of the gods. The universe is your eternal dwelling place.
"Man, know thyself," proclaimed the famous old Delphic oracle of Apollo. All the great sages and seers of all the ages have taught the same truth. If you can find this key, all doors thereafter will fly open at your will. What is this key? The key is you, for yourself; and the doors that fly open are the enveloping veils of the lower selfhood which shut in the light or shut it out, whichever expression pleases you the better. Do you understand the meaning of this wondrous teaching? Do you begin to grasp some of the reach of it? Veil upon veil you will pass as you progress and will leave it behind, but always will there be a more beautiful veil beyond to pass behind into a greater glory.
What does all this imply? It implies that growth is endless, that evolution is endless; and that an end comes never at all. I would that I could drive this sublime truth home into human hearts and minds, for it gives such ineffable peace, and to those who mourn it brings unspeakable comfort; and as a rule of conduct it is so sure. Each one of you may test it for yourself, indeed must test it.
Each one of you must follow the pathway for himself. Can I gain truth for you? No. You must for yourself gain the light. How simple all this is! Can I learn for you? No. You must learn for yourself. Can I grow or evolve for you? No. You must grow and evolve in and for yourself. How? Is it by looking without and seeing the marvelous phenomena of existence around us, only to check off the details of your own inner growth in expanding mind and in an ever-broadening consciousness? No. It is by first looking within. There is your pathway to the heart of the universe, because that heart of the universe essentially is your inmost self. Do you now see what this means? It means a continuously growing spiritual selfhood, which blends finally into the very essence and substance of the cosmic or universal self.
This one thought, my Brothers, is the open sesame to the doors of all the treasuries, and the destroyer of the veils hiding the mysteries of the unseen universe. Become at one with your spiritual self and you are at peace. Become at one with the god within you and you have light. Become at one with the divinity within and its very strength and vigor flow through your veins. Then you vibrate synchronously with all that is outside, for that outside is simply the universe of which you are an inseparable part. The way, the manner, of achieving this is by going within.
Please do not understand this phrase "going within" to mean some morbid and unwholesome brooding upon one's woes and sorrows and troubles. O immortal gods, no! Those woes and sorrows and troubles belong to the lower selfhood, belong to the man who has not found himself, who has not come into the possession of his spiritual being, who has not found the pathway.
Find this inner light! Every one of you can and must do so; and when it is found then sorrows cease; pain becomes pain no more; peace, light, enter your heart and your mind; death vanishes. For the very fundamental thought of this teaching is man's oneness with the universe of which he is an inseparable part. So that even the death of the physical body is but a change, the casting off of a veil — the outermost veil, the outermost garment — and living freer than before: resting indeed, as regards the human part of us, but ever so much freer than when shrouded in these gross physical encasements we call physical men.
Theosophists speak of the unseen universe, and I wonder if you wonder what I mean by this term. On last Sunday afternoon I tried to set forth just what was implied by this term, the unseen universe. I mean all those invisible, inner planes, worlds, spheres, — call them what you like — which fill boundless space, and of which our gross physical sphere or universe is but a mirroring or a reflection. Try to get this thought. It is easy to understand.
What makes a rose a rose in all its beauty, grace, and warmth? What makes it so? Chance? Immortal gods, who believes in chance? Indeed, if chance ruled this Universe then the seed of the rose, the clipping of the rose, might bring forth a palm, or a cherry tree, or an oak, or whatnot. But invariably does the apple seed bring forth the apple; the life behind it produces itself on this physical plane, and of its own type, and of its own kind. It can but produce itself. It cannot produce what is not itself. Do you now begin to get the thought?
It is this same principle at work to which we allude when theosophists say that this physical sphere is but the reflection, but the reproduction, of the inner, invisible, hid worlds, spheres, planes; and the aggregate of these inner worlds, spheres, and planes, we call the unseen universe. This unseen universe you can easily understand something of. Check off your intuitions as I have said before, by examining the wondrous physical sphere around us in all its majesty, beauty, order, symmetry. The energies that make this physical sphere flow forth from within, out of the invisible worlds, and flow through this physical sphere that our senses tell us somewhat of; and these energies can work only according to their own types, produce only what those energies themselves are. Isn't that fact obvious? So that the physical sphere as thus produced by the aggregate workings of these invisible energies — lives, theosophists say — but reflects, shows forth, manifests, what is within it. The physical sphere is but the body expressing the inner life and soul, or rather lives and souls, of the unseen universe.
Hence, as we see order, symmetry, system, beauty, harmony in the physical sphere that surrounds us, so likewise, because this physical sphere is a copy of what is invisible, harmony, order, system, beauty, are in the inner worlds — the causal worlds — of which our physical world or universe is an effect or production.
The invisible universe is composed of celestial bodies just as our physical universe is composed of worlds and spheres and planes; and furthermore the unseen universe is filled full with its appropriate inhabitants, just as our physical sphere is, as exemplified in our own Mother Earth. Otherwise, why should earth be an exception? I repeat the question: why should earth be the only exception? Pause a moment in thought. Think for yourselves. Enjoy the noblest privilege of manhood and think for yourselves. Explain to me how one exception in boundless space, an exceptional event different from everything else, should exist and exist where we are. How could it exist if it were so utterly contrary to the universal law? Is it not obvious that our notion that we are exceptions and that our earth is an exception arises out of our own ignorance and our own foolish egoism?
We are here and things are as they are here merely because it is all in accordance with the universal plan, with the universal energy, with the universal consciousness. Yes, as even the greatest of our scientific thinkers now are beginning to teach, that universal consciousness is the fundamental of the cosmos, and we must remember that it is infinite. Theosophists applaud these latest scientific pronouncements, for it is exactly what we ourselves have taught, although phrased in language other than our own technical Theosophical terms. But nevertheless theosophists say, echoing the ancient wisdom-religion of mankind, that this word consciousness is merely a generalizing term; theosophists much prefer to be more definite and instead of consciousness, to say consciousnesses.
Just because mankind is composed of more than one man, therefore mankind or humanity is merely a generalizing term; and we know that humanity is composed of men, of human individuals; and let us not forget that the earth is populated with other entities, too. All space is filled full with sentient self-conscious, quasi-self-conscious, quasi-conscious entities in all-various grades of evolutionary progress; and we human beings, as only one hierarchy of entities presently existing on our earth, merely prove the rule that prevails everywhere. We could not be here if it were not the universal rule elsewhere, if it were not an exemplification of the law that prevails everywhere. We humans are no exceptions whatsoever in the cosmic plan, but merely exemplify a singular instance of this universal plan.
Wash your minds free of the old ecclesiastical superstition that mankind on earth is an exception to the general rule of things, and that our little dust-speck, which we call earth, is different from other dust-specks. It is different in details, assuredly, just as men differ among themselves in details; yet just as all men manifest the same general principles of energy and substance beneath the wealth of confusing details, so likewise does the universe. We men are merely a special instance, so to say, of the cosmic rule prevailing everywhere.
Yes, the invisible universe is filled full with hierarchies of intelligent, quasi-intelligent, self-conscious, and quasi-self-conscious entities, existing in infinitely varying grades of evolutionary progress; for evolution prevails everywhere. It is one of nature's fundamental laws, or rather operations; and let us remember that evolution is growth. Do you know what growth really is? It is the bringing out of what is within. Do you get this important thought? Link it up with what I told you a few moments agone, that within is everything, in germ or in activity, potentially or actually manifest.
Every human being, therefore, whether having evolved to the point of expressing it as yet or not, is the vehicle of a divine being, of an inner god; and furthermore every human being has within him the capability of being a sage, a seer, a genius, a spiritual leader. It is all a question of bringing out what is locked up within. The way by which to bring out successfully what is locked up within you is by working with nature's laws — the way of harmony, the way of peace, the way of brotherhood, the way of kindliness. Those entities who set themselves against the swiftly flowing stream of growth, against the river of evolutionary progress, sometime will rue the day when they made the choice, for they will be swept away with the mighty current and, after ages of suffering, mayhap, will learn the lesson of unity, learn the lesson of growth, which means following nature's laws; and then they will begin to advance forwards again.
Ethics, therefore, as you see, are founded on nature's own structure. Ethics are real; they are vastly more than mere conventions useful for men to follow. The man who does right, lives harmoniously with his surroundings, with the beating heart of nature; and the man who does wrong, who violates nature's laws, pays heavily for his error and to the last iota.
Out of this invisible universe we came; thither into that invisible universe we shall again go — but only to return here again. Every entity follows a cyclical line of lives, which are strictly enchained, and which exemplify a chain of causation, of cause and effect. Every cause immediately produces an effect, which instantly becomes a new cause, which immediately in turn produces a new effect, it becoming a new cause, and so on forever. This is growth. This is change. Therefore this is likewise variety. This means learning, progress.
My Brothers, it is our theosophical teaching that this invisible universe — which expression is a generalizing term, as I have just told you — consisting of many worlds and spheres and planes, and what not, itself is divided into corporate entities. We may call them home-universes. These home-universes are builded on a hierarchical pattern or plan, just as our physical universe is. Have you ever thought about it? If not, pause a moment in thought over it.
The electrons build the atom; the atoms build the molecules; the molecules build the cells; the cells build the bodies — entities if you like; the bodies live on earth or elsewhere; earth is one of a family of planets of the solar system; our solar system is one of a vast family of other solar systems comprising our galaxy, the Milky Way, our home-universe; and our galaxy, our home-universe, is but one of other universes sown like seeds of life over the infinite fields of boundless space. This illustrates the hierarchical system: the less contained by the greater, a greater still containing this greater, a much greater one containing a still greater, and so forth.
It is our teaching that this hierarchical system is not only unilateral, so to speak, i. e., embracing one side, one plane, one world, but also is inexpressibly interlinked, interlocked, with all other hierarchical systems composing the boundless universe; and furthermore that any universe or hierarchical system is invisible as well as visible. Every universe contains its inner constitution just as man does; and all these various universes — which means of course all these various worlds and planes — are all interlocked, interworking, interlinked, all joined together by irrefragable bonds, by the unbreakable bonds of the cosmic life and substance. So that, as I told you when I began this study with you this afternoon, my Brothers, the universe is one, and every entity everywhere is an inseparable part of this universe; and therefore we are akin with all that is — akin with the gods in all their wide ranges of being and of growth and in all their vast hierarchies of existence; akin with the inhabitants of all other planets in all other solar systems; akin with the inhabitants of the planets in our own home solar system; because all are formed out of the same cosmic principles, all are enjoying the same cosmic life, the same cosmic energy, bathing in the same cosmic essence, and therefore all have the same origin and are all marching forwards towards the same ultimate grandiose destiny. We are all inexpressibly linked together forever.
Deduction: What I do sooner or later reacts upon me. What I feel, what I think, what I bring forth into act, will react upon me. I get just what I have sown. As the sower casts forth his seed, so does he reap what forth he cast. As ye sow, so shall ye reap. Man is a child of the invisible universe. Man is a child of this physical universe just because he is a child of the invisible universe. All that is in the universe is in you — everything; because you are an inseparable part of it and cannot ever leave it. Inversely, what is in you is everywhere. Make your own deductions.
Do you see the reaches of thought in this and the peace which they bring to the mind? Do you see the spiritual and ethical and intellectual surety in it? Do you sense what it means in your being conscious of your absolute unity with the cosmic life, with the cosmic consciousness, with the cosmic essence? Death henceforth has no terrors whatsoever for you; life henceforth becomes continuously joyful; it becomes a grand adventure; for we move on from stage to stage, from world to world, from sphere to sphere, from plane to plane, learning ever, and responsible each man to himself, but also each responsible to all others. See how this clothes our human species with dignity which we never can lose.
At the heart of each one of you is a god — a god, not God, a god, a divine being, your inmost essence, your inmost self, a spark of the central fire, to use a popular expression, a flame of that central cosmic life, the Divine Fire. Being an inseparable part of the universe, each one of you, this flaming spiritual fire is your inmost self.
I tell you this on every Sunday afternoon when I speak to you here, because the thought is so important. Considered as a doctrine it contains such great hope, such unspeakable inspiration. It leads on the mind to ever greater visions of glory and understanding; it opens the case-hardened lower self so that the inmost self may shine forth even into the physical man. It fills his heart with peace and his mind with hope. It was the teaching of all the great seers and sages of all the ages. It was the teaching of Jesus; it was the teaching of the Buddha; it is the teaching of them all.
"Man, know thyself." How? Do you realize that none but an Occidental audience would be puzzled as to the how? The answer is: by being your inmost self: the best, the loftiest, the noblest, that is in you. That is all; and that effort, continuously followed, will lead you — now listen carefully — behind all the veils shutting you out from the invisible universe; for it means becoming at one with your inmost spiritual self, which, as I have just told you, my Brothers, is the heart of the universe.
I am now going to give you a little lesson in Occultism; and I am going to have the pleasure of wondering how you will like it. The little lesson is the following: do you want to penetrate behind these veils? Do you want to know something of the wondrous mysteries hid behind them? Then, be forgetful of yourself and as severe in correcting your own faults, as you must become kindly and forgiving as regards others. Check yourself from following wayward impulses. Be determined to follow the path of self-conquest. "Take it with strength" — a better translation of the teaching of the Christian New Testament that "the Kingdom of Heaven must be taken by violence." Take it with strength; in other words, conquer yourself. And the next time you pause before a temptation — eh? The first little test!
A man who cannot turn successfully from a temptation is usually the man who wonders: "Why can't I go beyond and myself see these wondrous things that I hear about?" The obvious answer is that he can't even protect himself, can't even control himself. How would he fare in those invisible realms, peopled as they are with their own hosts among whom he, this human weakling, just because of his weakness, would be an unprotected outsider? Think of the situation. If he cannot even care for himself here on earth where his present home is, how could he possibly protect himself and care for himself in what are to him, as an earth-child, regions unknown and strange and filled with unusual temptations and pitfalls and terrors as well as beauties both marvelous and seductive.
As you now must see, there is a very definite, very common sense, very strong, reason for the old teaching: the way to power is by self-conquest. The man who can control himself can control other men — for their good. Any other kind of control is tyranny and wholly and radically wrong. If you want to control the elementals, if you want to control the living beings inhabiting other worlds and spheres, merely in order to protect yourself, then you must control them in the sense in which a good man will control his horse or his dog: control yourself first. Gain strength in other words. That is the key thought.
You have the powers of a god within you. You have a key within you which can unlock for you every closed door that the universe contains. That key is your spiritual self, a spark of the cosmic fire that I have told you about, flowing from the heart of the universe. Therefore, be that spiritual self of yourself, and then the universe is yours; for then you will be as a god. This is a long stage of evolution ahead of us considered as a race, but it is coming because we are moving steadily forwards towards it.
Meanwhile, if you want to explore the invisible realms, if you want to know what they are, how they are, where they are, what they look like, what are the beings who inhabit them, then take the first step at the next temptation that comes to you: exercise your willpower, and say No! In other words, strengthen yourself. The rule as you see is as simple as can be. There is no other way. It is the way of safety; it is the way of glory; it is also the quick way.
You see, as I told you, my Brothers, when I began our study with you this afternoon, the wonderful theosophical teachings do not contain anything that is weird or uncanny or unreasonable. They show a man how to attain his noblest best. They show him the path that he should follow, and it is so beautiful, this path. In following it a man grows, he expands. In this growth he gains feelings that to him at present are but very vague, inchoate dreams. His inner faculties begin to grow. He becomes inwardly greater; he feels much more keenly; he enters progressively more and more into the inner life, because in fact he is slowly becoming it. His inner senses awaken.
On the other hand, look at the man who cannot even say No to the least temptation. Is he admirable? A man with a human physical body, with all the divine and spiritual faculties within him lying untouched, unevoked, magnificent treasuries of power and faculty within; and he is so weak, so flabby of will, so lacking in lofty aspiration, that he cannot even resist the first little temptation that occurs. He falls. Is this admirable? Is such a man a beautiful picture of virile manhood? Is such a man manly? Let every man in this auditorium look into his own heart.
How we admire a man who can control himself — quietly, unostentatiously, without bragging about it! It is grand to know a man like that, or a woman like that. I am not preaching, my Brothers. I am a man like you, but I have been taught. I know what I am talking about. I, too, have my troubles; I too have had my temptations; and I have had to conquer — myself: yes, conquer, or go down. And at least, whatever my failings may have been or are, I have found the road to ineffable peace, the path to unspeakable bliss; I have found the way to the mountaintops, and I have begun to tread it. I know what peace and happiness are. I know how these may grow within me. And oh! that I could give to you the little that I have gained, so that you also might have the peace and the vision that have come to me!
Think of the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace, the elder brothers of mankind: they who are much farther evolved along the path than we are — demigods (I will not withdraw the term) — demigods in human flesh, but yet men, and called by me demigods merely because they have become more manly and have evoked more of the inner divine powers within them than the average man is and has. They have found the path within themselves and have also evoked their own spiritual faculties and powers, and in consequence their whole being is suffused with love and compassion and pity and wisdom and knowledge, and power is in their strong hands and is wielded with justice and in compassion for erring mankind.
The trouble is that most men and women so continuously look backwards. Is it not an amazing paradox, my Brothers? Everyone knows that progress is forwards and that forwards lies the Light. They know it well; you know it well. But we will persistently turn our backs on the light and look to what is behind us. It all reminds me of a humorous little story I read of the woofle-bird. Have you ever heard of the woofle-bird? It's a real thing, too. The woofle-bird is a real entity. I wonder if you will be able to find that bird after I read to you this little story. This is it:
Well, we heard a new expression over the radio, or new to us: the discovery of a new species in bird life, named the woofle-bird. It always flies backwards, and the reason is that it doesn't give a darn where it is going but wants to see where it has been.
Can you locate the woofle-bird now? Nearly all of us are woofle-birds. The average man doesn't give a darn where he is going, but he is continually looking backwards, so to speak, because he wants to see where he has been. This is because it is exactly the same with his thoughts. It is the same with our teachings — scientific, religious, philosophical, and whatnot. I desire to contribute my little mite to change this psychology. I was taught to give men hope and peace, to fire their hearts with a flame of holy, impersonal love; and that work I shall continue trying to accomplish until my time comes to pass out. I too may be a woofle-bird, alas, but at least I am trying to fly forwards instead of backwards; and I want your company.
Just like woofle-birds, we are so apt to think of the universe according to the stories that we have heard about it in the textbooks of our schools: a universe which runs by itself, all alone, nobody knows how, which just came, which just growed — like Topsy. Nobody knows where it is going, and they think the universe doesn't give a darn where it is going. But just the same we are all looking behind to see where it came from, and we cannot see any farther in that direction than if we looked forwards along the path whither we are going. I suppose that you all have sat on the back platform of an observation car where you are always looking at the scenery that has passed. As for me, I like to sit in the front, at least to look forwards, and to see whither I am going.
The only way, my Brothers, for a man really to know where he is going and what he is, is by looking within himself — within his spiritual self. Study yourself — not the physical, picayunish, petty, little selfhood that makes our life a torment and often a hell, but the real inner man, the self within, which is a hero, which thinks sublime thoughts and has lofty aspirations towards the stars, and whose very being is love and wisdom. Study it. It is the god within you. It is you and the fountain of all that is great within you. O my Brothers, why not try to become at one with it? Therein lie strength, wisdom, peace, vision, happiness, ability to help, genius, growth. All that is great is there.
I have spoken of our scientific views, as well as of our philosophical and religious ones, as being those mainly of the past. I do not mean this discourteously, for there are some very eminent scientists whose gaze is forwards. No one more than the theosophist has a higher respect for the best work of our modern scientific researchers. Theosophists have a habit of saying that they are doing pioneer work for The Theosophical Society; and an increasingly large number of our great scientific thinkers are continuously approaching more and more to our age-old Theosophical doctrines — yes, approaching them more and more. I could recite instances to you of what theosophists have taught during the fifty years last past, since the present Theosophical Society was founded, teachings which are now commonplaces in the highest scientific quarters. We are very happy about this.
But because science is growing, because our scientists are gaining new visions, are these facts reasons why we should stop at one point, when they themselves are moving forwards, and, staying at that point say: "This is the teaching of truth"? No! Let us move forwards with the great ones of science themselves, and keep our minds fluid, and thus advance. Or, if you want to be simple woofle-birds, where are you going to build your nest in peace, with the feeling that the place you select will remain forever undisturbed and yourself remain forever in undisturbed peace?
These scientists are doing wonderful work in many instances. My favorite reading at the present time is scientific works, and I read in order to provide myself with material for my lectures to my audiences, so that what I tell them as having been discovered by the greatest of scientific minds is true reports. And I have found this: that science per se does not exist, but that there are scientists. Science is a body corporate of collected facts, which body corporate changes with every two or three years. There is a continuous overhauling of the stock on the shelves, so to speak. Old things are taken down and cast into the discard; new ideas are put into their places.
In view of this fact, are you going to pin your faith to changeable theories, or are you going to think for yourselves, to find yourselves, to realize your oneness with the universe in which you live and of which you are an inseparable part, which is your closest and most intimate and most important concern? Think, I repeat.
I have before me this afternoon a few citations of remarks by some of the most eminent modern scientific thinkers. Let me quote first from Sir James Jeans:
The new planet may compel us to abandon our views as to the origin of the sun's family.
Fine! Here again our scientists are learning something new, and discarding the ideas of our fathers and grandfathers. This is excellent! Most excellent indeed! But how about those poor minds who accepted the scientific teachings of our fathers, of our grandfathers in other words of the last generation or two, to the effect that the present constitution of the solar system will in all probability prevail forever and that it cannot be changed? Is not this a typical example of a scientific dogma? Jeans again:
The Universe is melting away.
But what does Dr. R. A. Millikan say:
Creation is always going on in the Universe.
And yet these gentlemen are two of the greatest thinkers in scientific circles today! Then comes Bertrand Russell:
There are various reasons for doubting whether Einstein's universe is quite right.
Well, why not so? Did anyone suppose that the wonderful Einstein was infallible and could not make a mistake and had reduced every possible fact of nature to fit into its proper niche in his otherwise scientifically fine theory of relativity, etc.? Obviously, the greatest human thinking apparatus can attain only to approximate truth. Einstein says:
Nothing is faster than light-waves.
But Professor G. P. Thompson utters a quite contradictory statement when he says:
The waves that accompany an electron do not travel with the speed of light, but much faster.
Sir A. Eddington says:
The electron is a dummy.
Sir J. J. Thompson:
The mathematician may play all kinds of tricks with space; with a few strokes of his pen he can create a space with almost any properties you may order.
And a writer, Arthur Mee, commenting on these remarks, says:
There never was a time when the men who lead in scientific thought were so doubtful of the ground on which they stand. . . . Let us entertain a philosophic doubt as to the inspiration of dicta on the heavens and their affairs, their constituents and boundaries, and their ultimate destiny, which pursue one another down the columns of our journals. . . . As Cromwell said, "Gentlemen, remember, in the name of God, you may possibly be mistaken."
Nevertheless, and after stating these few words of warning, let us also remember what wonderful advances our greatest scientific thinkers are making! They are now teaching that the fundamental thing of the universe is mind-stuff, consciousness. Compare this with the scientific teachings of thirty, forty, fifty years ago. Pause a moment in thought. Don't be woofle-birds all the time, but look ahead. Give wings to your creative thought, and think! Consciousness, life, is the heart of the universe, the essential of it; and all the rest is but illusion, appearances, phenomena. Sir James Jeans finely says — and I am quoting these men, so that you will have just what they themselves say:
There is a wide measure of agreement, which on the physical side approaches almost to unanimity, that the stream of knowledge is heading toward a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine. . . . We discover that the universe shows evidence of a designing or controlling power that has . . . the tendency to think in a way, which for want of a better word, we describe as mathematical. . . . It may well be, as it seems to me, that each individual consciousness ought to be compared to a brain-cell in a universal mind.
Compare thoughts like these with what our textbooks even today are teaching in our public schools and universities! Jeans continues:
I incline to the idealistic theory that consciousness is fundamental, and that the material universe is derived from consciousness, not consciousness from the material universe.
And the great American scientist, who did such magnificent work on the cosmic rays, Dr. R. A. Millikan, speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said recently:
Evolution raised doubts about the theory that the universe will come to an end through 'heat-death' when all the heat and energy of the suns and planets has been radiated into space beyond all recovery. Instead, it tends to help support the belief that new energy and heat are being created somewhere out in space, to replace that which is lost. . . .
. . . acceptable and demonstrable facts do not, in this twentieth century, seem to be disposed to wait on suitable mechanical "pictures." Indeed, has not modern physics thrown the purely mechanistic view of the universe root and branch out of its house?
It most certainly has. We live in a new time indeed; we live in a new era; we are coming back to the old teachings of the archaic wisdom-religion of mankind, today called theosophy, that the universe is filled full, not only with consciousness, but with consciousnesses: cosmic spirits, super-gods, gods, demigods, etc. — call them what you like, — and then such beings as we men are, and then those beneath us; and where may you pause and say: "Here the ladder of lives begins and there it ends"? You cannot say so. There is neither beginning nor end in infinitude.
But this means that all entities and things fundamentally are consciousnesses — divine consciousnesses, spiritual consciousnesses, human consciousnesses, beast consciousnesses, plant consciousnesses, and even the consciousnesses of the stones if you like — each class of its own kind, but all evolving, all progressing, all changing because all are growing. Are men the sole exception, in being consciousnesses in boundless space? No, of course not. We men are just one family-host passing through the earth phase of our long evolutionary pilgrimage. Out of the invisible worlds into this sphere we come; and when we have done our part here, played our part on this stage of life, we leave it and go back into the invisible spheres, there to play other parts on other stages of life, but only to return here again whither we are attracted by what we have lived here and done here and been here in other lives.
Here we have sowed seeds which we shall have to come back to reap. We come together because we have loved each other and hated each other in other lives, because we have wronged each other and done each other right. We have built up links of karma, as theosophists say, links of destiny, together and among ourselves. And leaving all else aside, because my time for speaking is passing quickly, this is the explanation why those who love find each other again. I say literally that they cannot be kept apart. Yea, and those who hate inevitably also will come together again; they cannot avoid each other, because hate in a sense has as strong an attraction as love has.
Therefore, build yourselves aright; build nobly; build well; build yourselves divinely. Adventurous lovers of life, dreamers of dreams, hearken! The universe is yours, for it is you. Its life is your life; its mighty pulse beats in your heart; its substance gives you your bodies and its consciousness is you. You are at one with the boundless All. It is you and you are It.
Question 1: Our modern scientists are beginning to dream of invisible or unseen universes. Is this also the teaching of theosophy?
It most emphatically is, as I have tried this afternoon and also on last Sunday afternoon to set briefly before you. Most decidedly do theosophists teach it; and furthermore we say that the unseen and invisible Universes are the roots of things, are the causes of things, on this and in this our physical universe. The real man, for instance, is invisible, unseen; and the body merely shows forth, expresses, what comes from the real man. The real man is a spiritual and intellectual energy; and the body does what this energy says: "Up, arm! Forward, leg! Point, finger! Write, hand! Think! Speak! Act!" Our physical body could be made so helpful a friend, if only we treated it halfway decently. Remember that ye are the Temple of the Most High and that the spirit of the divine dwelleth within you. You remember the saying in the Christian Scripture.
Question 2: If such an invisible universe exists, what kind of an affair is it? Is it like our own physical sphere, or greatly different from it?
It is both like and unlike. Our physical sphere is like it because it is a copy of it on this gross physical plane. The worlds and spheres and planes of the invisible universe also differ greatly among themselves. But you know the maxim of the ancient Egyptian Hermes, one of the profound maxims of the Hermetic school. I repeat it to you today because it is true and it is so pertinent to my present remarks: "What is above is the same as what is below." Now, hearken to what follows: "What is here below is the same as what is above" in the spiritual worlds; the reason for this being that universal cosmos has one fundamental life, one fundamental law, one fundamental consciousness, which run through all and through every part of the All. Therefore every part reflects somewhat at least of the life and law and consciousness which permeate the whole. Must not every part shadow forth what the whole of which it is a part contains? Obviously.
Question 3: What relation has our physical world to a possible universe which is invisible?
It has every relation to it. Our physical world is simply the clothing, the garment, the outermost shell, the body, the reflection, the mirroring, of the inner universe, just as man's body is the outermost shell, garment, clothing, reflection, mirroring, of what he himself is within.
Question 4: Is consciousness different from matter in the universe, or are they one at root?
They are one; at root fundamentally one. Matter is, so to say, consciousness crystallized, passing through the material phase; or in other words monadic entities imbedding conscious entities passing through the material phase of their long evolutionary pilgrimage; and, conversely, spirit is, if you like, substance etherealized. Theosophists prefer to say that spirit or energy is the cause, and matter or substance is the effect.
The last question that I have to answer today is the following:
Is man a "lost child" in a chapter of cosmic accidents, or is his being here part of nature's scheme?
Let me ask you a question: Man is here; if he is not here according to nature's scheme, then how came he here? How exists he here? The obvious answer is that he is here because such is nature's law. He is here therefore harmoniously; obviously he is a part of cosmic being. Man is no lost child! Wash your minds clean of those old scientific and theological superstitions, for that is just exactly what they are.
Man is a god manifesting in a physical body but through an intermediate psychological apparatus. To put it briefly, he is a divine flame encased in gross substance or matter, manifesting feebly at the present time in his evolutionary journey the wondrous faculties and powers of the god within, but showing them nevertheless at least somewhat; for man can think, and thinking is a wondrous faculty; he can cast his thought beyond the stars; he can reason; he can draw deductions from premises; he can raise himself aloft on the wings of his imagination, and, guided by reason, soar beyond the confines of the polar star. Man can feel; he has compassion; he has pity for the helpless, pity for the hopeless, a yearning to aid those who need aid. All these are divine faculties. Even in so small a degree as these examples testify does man show forth the working of the god within him.
Now then, my Brothers, in closing I ask you to reflect that all that I have told you this afternoon has been laid before you not as a theory, not at all. That is not our claim; for we claim to possess the ancient wisdom-religion of mankind, which the most titanic intellects of the human race in other ages formulated into human tongues. What I have laid before you is for your earnest thought, for you kindly to think over and to judge of it, realizing the imperfections which your speaker this afternoon has in attempting to give you the wondrous truth which at least in part has come to him. Take therefore this sublime system of thought; think upon it; ponder it; brood over it; and my earnest prayer, my Brothers, is that you may have the peace, the light, the hope, that have come to me, to us theosophists, who have found as I have found. To those who mourn are these words in particular addressed; for your tears shall be wiped away, and love, almighty, impersonal love, with its healing balm, will come stealing into your being to soothe and to bless.
Vol 2, No 29