Copyright © 1996 by Theosophical University Press. All rights reserved.
How little is said or taught about the soul-life and its complete identification with the human being! To most men the soul is something apart from themselves that is only to be talked of and trusted in on special occasions: there is no real companionship, no intimate affiliation, between men's minds and souls in their everyday existence. Now there is in every man a divine power, and when that divinity, which is his real self, is acknowledged and understood by the mind, it takes a very active part in man's life — indeed, it should fill at the very least one half of his thought-life. When we have this full view of the identity of man with the soul, we move outside the ordinary way of thinking and find ourselves on a new path, daring to think towards the unknowable, the seeming impossible. In doing this, we bring the soul into action.
According to my philosophy, every normal child when it is born is enveloped and covered, protected so to speak, with soul-forces. We must not think of the soul as something apart from ourselves, as something that occupies a special compartment in our brains or in our thoughts, for every time a child is born, through the operation of those sacred and wonderful laws of nature which men do not yet understand, it has the spiritual backing, the spiritual support, the divine enfoldment of the soul. And if the child is rightly understood, this spiritual part will be at least as fully recognized as the material part.
How many children go wrong; how many parents wear their lives out trying to bring their children up rightly. When I think of the failures along this line, it looks to me as though the ignorance, stupidity, selfishness, and egoism of the age had turned the children directly away from these soul-forces and launched them out into the world without their support. We cannot see these refined and wonderful forces of nature, we cannot easily describe them nor can we fully measure them. It is not for us to understand them fully, yet we all catch glimpses of them.
A child should be nourished with spiritual food and care as much as with material food and care. Every true mother has at least some understanding of the spiritual laws of her own being from the beginning of the gestation of the child. With her love and care she carries the child, envelops it, holds it, and serves it with what knowledge she has. And when the child is born, in her innermost thoughts she knows that there are two sides to the little one entrusted to her care: on the one hand, there is the immortal, divine, eternal, and real essence of the child's character brought over from previous lives; and on the other hand, there is the material body, itself produced in a mysterious, almost magical way from a tiny seed.
The soul of man is seeking to utter itself from the time of its physical incarnation. It knows its birthrights, it knows more than is apparent. But it is thrust into the world under very adverse circumstances, and the child is fed, cared for, loved, and nurtured as a physical being and as little more, with the vague possibility of having a future life somewhere or somehow. But we are sacredly and divinely made and built for this life, and only by understanding the lives of our children, approaching and reaching them from the standpoint of spiritual knowledge, can the soul speak.
Some people may say: all this is too abstruse, it is too far away, and we have no way of proving it. Well, men and women do not even understand themselves and are mysteries to themselves. When a child is born, can the father and mother explain the profound mysteries of how that soul came into physical incarnation — of the processes that took place when from a seed the child stepped out into our universe, radiant in its spiritual potentialities although not visible to the human eye — and became a part of the human family? If we know so little about the creation of physical life, how can we expect parents to have the information needed for them to do full justice to their child in the spiritual sense?
Our great scientific thinkers accomplish wonders in very many ways, but unless they dare to face the unknown, unless they have imagination that stretches out beyond time and space almost, unless they recognize the higher imagination as a spiritual and divine attribute of the soul instead of a faculty useful only for the play of fancy, to entertain or to give pleasure, they will never hear the voice of the soul. Let us reach basic truths. We must study causes; we do not study them enough. The usual way is to study effects. We are afraid to step out and venture in thought, in action, in will power and determination, into the unknown and with imagination to visualize the dignity of the soul of man.
Let us seek to awaken in our growing children a consciousness of the nearness of this affectionate, indescribable something which I have called the soul. Teach them that they are not thrown out into this world alone, that they are not ignored, but that they are enveloped in the soul-life and possess the inner wisdom with which they were born. Then with the environment that our children can have through the intelligence of the parents, and with the noble examples that should be set by every man and woman on the face of the earth, the voice of the soul would he heard and recognized.
The closer we come to the beauties and realities of nature, the more quickly shall we begin to feel the power of the soul-life. But alas, there are so many distractions and allurements in the world. Then, too, there is the bread-and-butter question that has to be solved. There are poverty and suffering and vice and crime that must be faced, and these things are not lessening, they are increasing.
We must dare to do something more than we ever did before, dare to step up higher, to climb. We must dare to do it alone, without public heralding or recognition but just within the silence of our own soul, of our own conscience. This superb opportunity is at hand for all. Yet we go on day after day drifting and drifting, until we have drifted beyond all likelihood of recovering our anchorage in this lifetime. Then what regrets and tears and despair!
There comes the question: Why has not somebody done something? It is because nearly everybody is waiting for everybody else. In spiritual efforts we do not need to wait for unity. Let every man and every woman act for himself or herself according to the individual evolution and enlightenment. One must have the disposition and the daring to act alone, indifferent to results so far as they affect himself or herself, so long as the motive is pure. When we reach this state of mind, we shall see new cheer in the world, new evidences of purity in the lives of men and women, and consequently more purity and more joy in the children of the masses. This is the way to reach our children and to enable them to hear the voice of that divine part of us that is our real self — we could not exist without it.
On the other hand, there is the picture before me of how this innate divinity is ignored, how it is thrown aside, and how it takes nearly a lifetime for people even of the highest intelligence, striving to do their best in order to gain knowledge, to reach the first fundamental idea of their own soul-life. It is true that we have opportunities for wonderful scholastic education; our country as a whole has plenty of wealth, great territory, and an overabundance of public laudation of our outer material progress and prosperity. But the inner life, that silent power that speaks to us, is very largely ignored.
To me one of the most beautiful experiences in life is to retire into the inner sanctuary of one's own being, away from all the rush and so-called allurements of the outer life, and in the silence to listen to the voice of the soul, to hear its pleadings, to know its power, to clasp hands with the spiritual soul, the higher self — to work with it and walk with it and live with it. A man must do this before he can be absolutely sure of anything. If I go to school, I am entitled to a full educational equipment, provided I reach out for it; but I must get it by application and conscientious work. So it is with the wider schooling of each earth-life. I must get it by devotion, by understanding the fundamental principles and ideas upon which I hope to live, and by a harmonious relationship with my fellow men and my environment. Then I may know something about the voice of the soul.
I was talking with a lady a few days ago and she asked me, "How can the soul be redeemed?" I told her that I had never given any thought to such a question, for the reason that the spiritual soul itself is so potent that it will redeem mankind if people will only hearken to its voice. We do not have to fashion any special form or way of bringing people to redemption. Just give them the opportunity to be themselves — their real selves, their higher selves. Do not try to dictate to them, do not drive them, but challenge them! Cowards are they who do not make the effort to liberate their souls from the bondage in which selfishness and weakness hold them. It is the inner laws that are the realities, and because humanity does not know about them nor understand them, it has been fighting the realities.
Enlarge your vision, dare to climb, dare to go forward, dare to think for yourselves and to look ahead! Question; put yourselves in order! When you do this, revelations will come to you — not in any magical way with visions or messages from on high, nor anything of that sort. Let me illustrate by the growth of children: if one sees them from day to day one is hardly aware that they are growing, yet to those who see them only at long intervals their growth is very evident.
The fact is that the divine forces and processes which bring a child from a seed so small that a hundred of them can be placed on a one-inch strand of a spider's web, into babyhood, and from babyhood through childhood to manhood or womanhood — these processes, so delicate, so infinitely and spiritually refined, are taken care of by the laws of life which are only partially understood even by our most learned scientists. Still less can the process of man's spiritual growth and unfoldment be understood without some knowledge of the ancient wisdom, theosophy.
Real inner knowledge comes from the courageous stepping out of ordinary ruts into the great broad blue of life, and from looking at nature as it is — courageously. Study the trees and the flowers, the ocean and the wonders of the life around you. Notice the growth of a tree. During the springtime it will put forth green leaves, then its exquisite blossoms, and in the summertime it will bear its fruit. After a while it is bereft of leaves, blossoms, and fruit — of everything that was beautiful and attractive. It appears dead, but the inner life is continuing all through the season of quiet and rest. The processes of inner growth are taking place. How wonderful in the springtime, when the tree bursts forth into beautiful foliage again — who can question that preparation was going on all during the sleeping-season?
So it is with the flowers that cover our fields, fill our homes, and beautify everything. In them we can see the wonderful working of the divine law. We must feel it and know it and find our lessons in it, not simply admire the outward beauty. But you cannot feel it by study alone. You can get a touch of it only by daring to step forth and to think thoughts quite apart, if necessary, from anybody else's. Then you will be really climbing in the spiritual sense.
Seek the companionship of the silence, for the silence is the most precious companion in the world. Someday expectant mothers will go forth into their retreats, as they used to do in ancient times, living the most abstemious and beautiful life in touch with nature; not tied down with family difficulties and cares, cross purposes and poverty, but filling their souls with the music and the joy of nature — calling out the voice of the soul. When that time arrives then we may honestly talk of a new and far better generation. That will be the answer to the woman who asked what were the processes by which we could redeem the soul. It is the soul that will redeem humanity. There are as many processes as there are human beings — each must work out his own salvation according to his environment and his enlightenment.
In the deepest spiritual sense we are all united, though not on the outward plane. But because we have differed so much and so long, and have moved so far away from the great principles of life, we have lost the secret of living together in outer harmony. Yet in the inner life we are still working together in unity, in harmony with the divine laws, understanding them and obeying them in the dignity of true manhood and womanhood.
Let us teach our children the better way. Let them hear everyday in their own home the voice of the soul. Those adults who are single and have no homes can make a home for themselves in their own hearts, in their memories, and the divine power of the soul can enlighten them and impress the mind with better things. If the mind is filled with high incentives, beautiful principles, royal, splendid, and uplifting efforts, the voice of the soul speaks and the evil and weaknesses born of the undeveloped and selfish side of our human nature cannot come in, so they will die out.
The voice of the soul is the voice of the universe, in all its wonderful manifestations. How remarkably and clearly and divinely it speaks to us through all the days and nights of our lives — and yet, to a very large degree, we heed it not. The voice of the soul is also the divine quality in every human heart, and it is this aspect of my subject that I refer to more especially.
I have often referred to the coming into incarnation of little children. The laws of nature or the divine laws have prepared everything for the incoming of souls; but is it not possible that we humans with our limited knowledge of divine things, and our still more limited practice of them, have failed to accentuate the divine side of life for the little children? A child will develop as naturally in harmony with the divine laws as with man-made laws, customs, and practices, many of which are farfetched and quite unessential. If the soul-qualities of man were undisturbed from the very beginning of childhood, we would have a higher and a better expression of babyhood, of boyhood and girlhood, and inevitably of manhood and womanhood.
Think of the wrecks along the way — of the many boys now behind bars who were once mothers' darlings. Most of these may have been fairly well taken care of in the physical sense, but morally they are lacking. This does not necessarily mean that the parents neglected doing anything that they knew they should do; but not having been educated themselves to understand the importance of depending on the moral and spiritual laws, they cannot impart what they themselves have not in their own make-up. This may possibly explain in a satisfactory way why humanity is all awry.
There are thousands going or striving to go the right way, but there are also thousands going the other way. There is little harmony in the great human family. One may find harmony in the flowers, in the trees, in the silence of nature, and in the stars above us, but in human life it is nowhere to be found. People may have their aspirations, their prayers, their desires; they may also have a splendid scholastic education — they may even be ranked as geniuses — but the one great thing that humanity is hungering for, pleading for, and yearning for is not to be found in the deepest sense.
There is no question that thousands are striving and have the disposition to make worthy efforts, but they are all fettered by the lack of knowledge. They have not the one great key that H. P. Blavatsky brought to the modern world, the ancient wisdom-religion. It lifts the veil, it opens the way, it answers your questions, it dispels your doubts and your fears. According to the teachings of theosophy, we are religious beings by nature, the soul-life being an essential part of ourselves — the real, eternal man. The rest of man dies when the body dies, including the brain-mind upon which we all depend so much, and upon which we should indeed depend to a large degree. All the mental faculties, including personal memory, die when the physical man dies. But the real man, the spiritual man, lives on forever.
Man's spiritual nature is difficult to understand for most people because it is supposed to be difficult to prove. But there are thousands of things in the world today that are true and we have to accept them even though we cannot prove them. Man's spiritual nature is so refined and so etherealized in a sense, that it is difficult to prove it formally. Nevertheless it is visible to the inner eye. But we must have the vision to see it, we must have the ears to hear its message, and we must know what we are seeking. We must reach out for it, and our life must be in harmony with our aspirations: we must not play angel today and demon tomorrow, we must not do good today and tomorrow deceive ourselves and our friends. We must be true to the inner quality of our own nature — the divine spark, the ray of the universal life. Be true to that, and all other good things will come.
The great human race must see more than it now sees, must hear more than it now hears, must know more than it now knows. But the difficulty is that for thousands of years we have been held back by false teachings which have given a backward turn to human nature. If our blood could be analyzed by a spiritual chemist, we should find that the very atoms of our body are tinctured with the errors that we have been taught all down the ages. The result is that when our hearts might urge us to leap forward in search of spiritual truth, or when we might feel a touch of divine inspiration for the moment, there comes the contrary impulse of the doubting nature that shuts out the light. There is a thousand times more to be discovered in human life than we know already. There is enough light in this great universe of ours to bring to the whole human race a song of eternal peace of a quality that would keep humanity always together. In the truest sense we are all members of one great universal brotherhood, we are all of God's great family. But in the outward sense we are frightfully divided.
Think for a moment of the creations of men of genius. If they had stopped and turned back in doubt at the time when the divine impulse touched them, we should have no grand music, no beautiful paintings, no inspired art, no marvelous inventions. These splendid, uplifting, creative forces originally come from man's divine nature. If we all lived in the consciousness and the conviction of our own great possibilities, we should realize that we are souls and that we too have divine privileges far beyond anything that we know of or even think of. Yet we throw these aside because they are not acceptable to our limited, personal selves. They do not fit in with our preconceived ideas. So we forget that we are a part of the divine scheme of life, that the meaning of life is sacred and holy, and we allow ourselves to drift back into the vortex of misunderstanding, misconception, doubt, unhappiness, and despair.
Theosophy, on the other hand, is optimistic. The moment when its teachings touch the heart of a man or a woman, there is a lifting of the spirit, there is a new fire burning within. It may not perhaps be spoken of or described, but something has come into that life. That soul steps out on the path of self-directed evolution — evolution directed by his own higher nature — and he moves along that road with a conviction that the ultimate relative perfection of man is assured.
A soul that starts on the path that I have spoken of finds the companionship of his own essential divinity. He is conscious of an increasing knowledge, so delicate, so refined, so subtle, and so far away from the senses that no language can express it. It is something akin to that mystical quality that touches the human heart when the word love is devoutly uttered — a touch of the divine. Along this path of self-directed evolution one meets of course many crossways; disappointments visit him. But think what an appeal there is to the brave man to continue the journey. He is marching on in response to the challenge of his own soul, of the divine quality within himself.
As he moves forward, he will begin to find the reality of things which he had formerly ignored. Sacred blessings will come to him without money and without price. He will find the beginning of great joy, the beginning of a new life, the beginning of sublime efforts, and a quality of courage that will enable him to proclaim from the house tops and the mountain tops, anywhere and everywhere, that man is essentially divine — and that is the voice and the music of the soul seeking expression in the hearts of men.
Humanity is hungry for its spiritual food, for that quality of soul-nourishment that should have been given in childhood but is given only occasionally when the mother is at the height of her aspirations for her child, when she is thinking in the silence and praying to her God for something better. Then she hears the voice of the soul. But the pity is that she cannot hear it continuously — from lack of unison between the inner and the outer life.
There is little cooperation but much fearful division in the minds of men and women and in the forms and customs of society. These things are the enemies of our progress as long as we allow them to be. The voice of the soul is seeking expression in the outer world in order to bring to the recognition of men the real spirit of brotherhood, that spiritual unity that belongs to us, that inner fire which marks us as religious in essence, religious by birth, religious by heredity, religious because it is instinctively felt that justice and truth will ultimately manifest themselves. By listening to the voice of the soul one becomes not only a good man, but a noble man, a holy man, and a blessing to all the world.
I lived during my childhood in Massachusetts. My home-life in the summertime was in the woodlands on the banks of the beautiful Merrimack. Much of my young life was spent in the company of a very great man, and yet a very simple man, quite unrecognized by the world for his remarkable virtues. He was my grandfather who, under peculiar circumstances, had asked for and had finally obtained the right personally to control my education.
I have no recollection of anything irksome or hard that I had to learn from him. I always felt that my real teacher, if it can be called a teacher, was within myself. Even as a child I used to talk in this way, which led my father to fear that by the time I was twenty-one years of age I would be somewhat demented! Nevertheless, the conviction that my real teacher was within me was very strong. When I was four or five years old, I used to disturb my people by telling them that I heard the trees sing and many things along that line, which seemed very uncanny to people of those days in New England, where the power of dogmatism and convention was very strong. So all through my childhood I led quite an isolated life, except for the inspiring companionship of my grandfather.
It was not the intention of my father or mother that I should mark my life with any eccentricities or peculiarities, so the path that I should follow was laid out with conventional precision. My father secured the services of the best teachers and musicians, but I never could learn from them. I do not mean by this that I was anything remarkable at all; on the contrary, I was considered a sort of freak. But sometimes I improvised, and at other times I had very clear mind-pictures of the future, one of which was of the "White City" that I should some day build in the "Gold-Land" of the West, where I should gather together children of all nations and teach them how to live rightly.
In communion with my grandfather there was one thing that impressed me very strongly, small as I was, and I have never forgotten it: the most beautiful memory I have of him is that what he preached he lived. My father too was a very delightful and splendid man; I loved him dearly. But he was a materialist and had little in common with my thoughts or my grandfather's. To a very large degree my grandfather and I understood each other, and our understanding was expressed more in the silence than in words. Whenever I think of him, I am always impressed with the fact that the soul of that man was so much alive that he was ever conscious of its presence and guidance.
When I grew older I said to him: "Is it because I love you so, or am I right in feeling that when you speak, something besides that great intellect of yours is speaking — something different from what I hear and see?"
In a very simple way he answered: "It is the voice of the soul that you hear. The soul could speak in all men did they but keep the conscience clear, trust in the divine law, and live for a high purpose."
"What is that purpose?" I asked.
"There are a great many high purposes," he answered, "but the one purpose above all others is so to live as to be a benefit to humanity." He was my first ideal of a great character. He was the first outward proof that I had that man in his innermost nature is divine.
I remember when I was a little girl, I worked very hard to avoid going to an extremely orthodox church. On account of this I was considered very eccentric and so I was let alone, and that was the happiest time of my life. When others went to church, I would skip out into the woods with my dog. It was there that I learned some of the great secrets of life. I think that every lesson that I received came first through the woodlands, from the birds and the flowers or from thoughts stimulated by being there. It was there that I found myself; it was there that I found the little spiritual strength that I had. It was there that I had the vision, in a sense, that real life was wonderful and beautiful, but that humanity as a whole was living in the valley of the shadows because as a people we had not reached up higher, we had not trusted ourselves, because we had been hemmed in by the false teachings of the past.
Many things that I read in the Bible I found very interesting, but there were other parts that I could not accept at all. I never had accepted the idea that we were born in sin, nor from that time until now have I ever believed in a personal God. Nevertheless, my thoughts dwelt very much upon the spiritual side of life. We have quite enough of the outer side of life all the time; in fact, we are oppressed with it, we are actually persecuted by it. But when we seek to find the soul of things, we must search for something within ourselves, so that we may gain confidence in ourselves. When we have this and carry with us daily and hourly the beautiful, uplifting, and enlightening thoughts that come from such trust and such confidence, everything else is cared for.
In the deeper sense there is no such thing as chance in life, but everything is a part of the universal laws. As far as we choose to work with them, to clasp hands with them though we see them not, we feel them in our innermost natures, in our hearts, and their light shines through our eyes. Thus we work in harmony with the divine qualities within ourselves and we make the great wheel of human evolution move more rapidly forward towards the goal of ultimate perfection. Man is something more than most of us ever dream of being, and the divine qualities of man are seeking to express themselves in every hour that we live, almost in every breath that we take. But the larger number of people have depended so long on the mentality alone that spiritual knowledge has been to a large degree ignored.
The mind of man is indeed a wonderful power. When rightly used it can be a guide and a help, but it is not the highest part of man's nature. When this higher part impresses the mentality with those inspirations that distinguish real men and women from merely human beings, it brings joy into life to replace the travesty on real life that we see all about us. Then one can speak of the soul of man. Then one can know how beautiful, how superb, how grand the spiritual things in life really are. Then one realizes that just as today is an experience and tomorrow another experience, so is a lifetime just one experience in the progress of the soul of man towards perfection. It is not the only one; there are more and more, and still more. Thus the soul advances, becomes strong, grows powerful, and at last has the foresight to direct its own destiny. If a man will set his feet firmly on the path of self-directed evolution, believing in the eternal verities that make life joy, that make life peace, that make life powerful and just, then he will begin to hear the voice of the soul.
Now, while we are suffering still from the effects of that dreadful World War and from the indiscretions and vices and crimes that afflict our civilization, it is high time that humanity as a whole should awaken. Dare to believe that tomorrow can be made better than today — never be discouraged: go through life unafraid. In this way you will dare and conquer and move onward toward ever greater achievements. As yet life is only half lived when we depend upon the mentality alone. Unless we have a solid foundation on which to build our character, the shadows are heavy, everything is discouraging, pessimism reigns, leading in extreme cases to suicide, and more than all else to the terrible crimes that confront us day by day in ever increasing numbers — a great deal of this I know is the result of the World War. Thinking of these things, we have a tremendous duty to perform. We cannot afford to lose one moment in moving away from the light of truth in our own inner natures. Where did Jesus tell us that the kingdom of heaven was to be found? Did he say it was up in the skies? Did he not say that the kingdom of heaven is within you?
In the truest sense, theosophy frees the human mind from thraldom. It enables one to meet tomorrow without fear and to look at death as something beautiful. We should not be afraid to think of our dear ones who have passed on. In the real sense they are still living, still loving, still faithful, and still devoted, for real love is eternal. If it is eternal, and if it was yours here, it is yours forever.
Have a little more confidence in yourselves! Do not be so dependent upon worldly position, upon intellectual attainments, upon environment or personality. Find the silence within you, find the peace and quiet of nature away from the rush and whirl of daily activities. Thus you will be free to know the inner mysteries of life, and you never can do it until you take the first step in that direction. Meet these teachings halfway, and then apply them to your lives. It is the application that counts: knowledge is only half-knowledge until it is applied.
One of the greatest impediments to the human mind's grasping its sovereignty or understanding the power of the spiritual life, and thus overcoming all difficulties, is the belief in only one earth-life. If the mind is oppressed from morning until night not merely with the actual duties of life but with countless nonessentials, it finds itself in the old rut of limiting existence to seventy-seven or a hundred years. But of course in every age there are a few progressive minds who dare to step outside the beaten path and to take great long breaths of spiritual life. They dare to believe that there is something more in human life than they already know. They dare to acknowledge to themselves that in their silent, their most aspiring and best moments, there is something beyond this one earth-life. The soul of man in its dignity, in its sovereignty, in its royalty, gives us the beautiful vista of the continuity of spiritual life. We are assured that man does not die in the real sense, for the real man, the spiritual entity, is an eternal entity in the great scheme of life, and he only seems to die.
But most people in Western lands are so absorbed in the delusions of the outer life that they think that they themselves are merely the bodies which they inhabit. They are so psychologized by this idea that when they reach the age of forty-five or fifty they are already planning for the disposal of their worldly belongings and beginning to think just how the end will come. In the old days when I lived in New England, it used to be quite a habit among some of the dear old ladies to show one a little outfit of frocks which they had prepared for their exit from this earth. To me there is something pitifully sad about this attitude, because it is such a reflection on the human mind, it is such an insult to the dignity of the soul, it is such a denial of man's highest hopes and aspirations.
Let us have common sense and illumination enough to believe that we are something more than we seem, and that in the wonderful universal scheme of life there is a great destiny in which we are to be very active, in which we are to live and work, fully conscious of our own essential divinity. One of the greatest secrets of life is for a man to believe in his own divine qualities, in his power to surmount all difficulties and to overleap all conditions — especially to overleap the irrational and gloomy picture of death which so many people hold.
We must begin early to teach our children the idea of the eternity of the spiritual soul, the divinity of the real man, and remove from their minds the horrible harrowing picture of death and funerals. Let us teach humanity the true story of nature: that when the body dies, being physical and material and of the earth only, all that belonged to the body returns to its material elements, but the wellspring of man's being — the enlightener, the invigorator, the great life-giving urge, the spiritual soul — is part of eternity and cannot die, but goes on and on upon its evolutionary journey. Nature is very gentle and kind and allows us to leave behind us all sad memories.
How readily one can conceive that from those who are conscious of their own essential divinity the voice of the soul is heard. And while this voice should not be taken for the voice of the great universal soul, it is at least an echo of it, a reflection or ray of it, so to speak. There is a mightiness in the thought of the spiritual power of even one single human being in this world, and greater mightiness in the thought of the thousands who are all moving on, though as yet unacquainted with their spiritual heritage. But in spite of all our aspirations, we still move on with our eyes downwards. We do not keep them up to the grand possibilities of another life and of still other lives. We do not look out into the future and visualize the possibilities of a man who wins his victory, not only with one or another kind of self-control, but of one who finds his true place where he can shine out in the glory of his life and send back to us the story of the beauty of a perfect life.
And how easy it is to attain! How much sweeter would human life be if we could only fulfill our missions here. How much happier we should all be, how much better we could then all keep united and live out our lives to the fullest point of perfection for this one life. We are not declaring the glory of the spiritual soul until we can stand upright and recognize our superb possibilities and future.
Each one evolves according to his understanding of the facts of nature and according to his education and his environment, so each has his own way of learning, which is different from that of everyone else because no two have evolved to an equal degree. The beauty of reincarnation is that it gives every man another chance. It is one of the brightest and most beautiful doctrines that I have ever been able to present to anyone, even to the condemned in prison: yes, there is another chance for all.
The laws of the universe or the laws of God are eternal and universal. One cannot escape them. Try, therefore, to reach a conception of the spiritual life and then apply it to daily life. It means nothing unless it is applied. Carry with you every day as you go through life the idea of the eternal fulfillment of the law and man's perfectibility. Only those who hear the truth from the voice of the soul can understand these things and apply them fully; yet they are so simple that a child can comprehend them in degree.
Unexpected things must evolve where there is a body united in a grand purpose, in universal, unselfish purposes. Something must be growing, something more than you can say or do, something within the air, from the very source of life, the great wonder of life, that inexpressible source and center where we sometimes go in our silent moments. It is to me a fact that something then happens, that something noble then grows out of our natures; we cannot describe it, we can hardly echo it, but somehow it has come to stay. We shall find new light and new life and a better understanding, a sweeter and nobler unity, and more comprehension. It is the unspeakably beautiful things in the simple efforts of noble living that make life possible. There is so much meaning in some of the very smallest things we do. But we do not often speak of or believe in their importance until they come home to us on such an occasion as the parting with our loved ones. When we do our duty well and we have the opportunity to gather about us those who love us, we mark time for some new and splendid events.
Be willing to struggle, if there is struggle; be willing to be disappointed, and be willing to suffer, and be willing to be misunderstood — anything in the world that will give you the chance to throw away all personality and bring home to yourself the realization that soul-power is the only thing that will make life livable. We have only to think just a little deeper and look a little farther away from our personalities to realize the mightiness of life and to feel our closer association with the higher possibilities in our own natures and a rising quality of sincerity. This is what is needed more than anything else to awaken humanity to deeper thinking and to a realization that man is in essence a mighty creature; and that a human being with all his possibilities, with all that nature has given him, and with all that lies within the soul is afforded rich gifts continuously.
As we push forward, as we think more deeply, as we enlarge our conception of life and our conception of duty and grow ever nearer to its fulfillment, we challenge ourselves again and again. It is beautiful to think that we are ready, that we have the opportunity of challenging ourselves. I wonder if all of us attempt to reach sufficiently towards the depths of our natures in one lifetime ever to keep on doing, to persevere, and to hold firmly in the spirit of the nobler efforts? Thus we cannot fail to push forward with more trust and more confidence in the larger life and, in this determined push, throw ourselves out to what seems impossible to our human minds now. If we do this, we shall open the door to such splendid and undreamed of realities for us before we go on to another life that we shall surely think we have passed through several incarnations in one.
We have our hearts touched very deeply when we undergo the experience of the passing away of those whom we love dearly. There are always compensations, of course, in the thought that they have gone to a condition that is better for them, to a larger development. But we should also stop and realize that there is then a sacred demand made upon us to cancel our indebtedness not only to humanity but to the divine law working for us and in us in this earth-life.
In view of all that happens to us, and all that we see and know and feel and desire, we ought to realize that we have a duty that is so sacred that it would be cowardly to turn away from it. We must answer the challenge and realize the soul's possibilities. We are not working just for today or tomorrow, but we are working for all the days to come and the months to come, and for the people to come and for the souls that will return here. So take hold of the Now as a great omen, a very splendid promise that has come from somewhere, we need not question how, to bring us to the point of awakening where we shall find ourselves fully alive, fully up to our duty, and full of that great love which the higher law demands.
Man undervalues himself in the spiritual sense. He undervalues his responsibilities, and therefore he is very apt to undervalue his neighbors. If, on the other hand, he begins to value his inner life and the spiritual side of his being, he is bound to reach a quality of his nature that will bring him to more conscientious thought of his neighbors. Pursuing this line farther, we shall find ourselves working out a grand scheme of justice for all men to each other, and we shall begin to have some idea of the splendid promises that are written in every moment of our lives.
The consciousness of real manhood and womanhood we must have if we are to do justice to the purpose of our lives. We do not have to follow beaten tracks in any of our efforts to help humanity. We must begin in a new way. We need to think of the newborn day. We need the newborn man and woman, the newborn hope, and the newborn promises. We need many things which we have not because we do not reach out for them. The preciousness of the moments lies not so much in the actual physical work that one does, but rather in feeling through every fiber of our being something that will strike a higher note for a brighter tomorrow. It is essential that we attend to the small things in life — the small duties and responsibilities and the small demands that are made upon us by the very laws of our being. The seemingly small things in my life have often led to the greatest opportunities. It is often the small things that carry us to our goal.
My endeavor is to give you a conception of the importance of a man's life when he has found that he has an inner nature and that it is wholly dependable, that he has within himself those rare and wonderful resources for self-restoration. In the inner chambers of our natures there are wonderful mysteries. If we could fathom these, we should have a true companionship with the inner self, and that inner self is of abiding, eternal character.
Do not try to fashion yourselves like others. Dare to think sufficiently long and sufficiently deeply to receive a revelation from within. Make clean self-analysis a regular habit: take ten minutes with yourself every day and absolutely surrender your mental self to your higher self, then you will open for yourself a book of revelations.
Everyone is at times touched with unhappiness, but the shadows and the disappointments will stay by you and they will grow, and you cannot undo them, until you find within yourself the energy and the inner enlightenment and inspiration that come from a man knowing himself and bringing himself to the point of adjustment where he is willing to face the world with a quality of optimism. Bring humanity into this state of mind, and then think of the possibilities of motherhood and of the possibilities of the children. Then think of the possibilities of eternal life — of never-ending progress towards an ever-expanding perfection through many lives. Even if one does not believe in reincarnation, that does not make it untrue. One may not find it out until, in a sense, it is too late — until he passes on. But the teaching takes nothing from you and it gives everything to you. It is as old as the ages and has stood the fiery test of time.
If you spend all your time thinking of the outer aspects of this one little earth-life, if you keep away from the largeness of your own inner nature, if you have no faith in your essential divinity and no trust in it, the light is not with you. Consequently you lose the things that you really most need. These things of the spirit are greater than all the money or success that can come to you, and greater than all the outward facts of your existence, because they touch your inner nature. All the greatest teachers, savants, and writers who have attempted to do anything really good for humanity have taught of the inner life of man. Jesus in his time, and to the people he taught, did so as fully as others.
Are we not looking for something better than what we have now? Are you satisfied with life as it is? Are you ready to go on and on and see children born in ignorance, unwise marriages and tragic divorces, and murders and unnameable crimes sweeping in to the very threshold of your own homes, and not turn for knowledge to these higher laws? Certainly something is lacking, and that lack can be met by each of us if we can have courage enough to believe that we are something more than what we seem in our merely physical aspect, that we are a part of the divine scheme of life, and that we have within us those latent powers which Jesus referred to when he told us that the kingdom of heaven is within us.
You may have glimpses of a solution of life's problems in your own mental attitudes, you may have touches of it in your hearts, but the world does not propose — according to our present form of civilization so called — that you shall grow spiritually. The general opinion of mankind today is that man is weak, vacillating, and has no spiritual basis upon which to work. But while it is true that we are all subject to the laws of change in evolution, still life is a superb challenge if one knows how to meet it. The idea that man is born in sin and is helpless is nonsense; there is nothing reasonable in it. On the contrary, man is essentially divine, he is a part of the eternal plan and has within himself the key to the mysteries of the universe and therefore of his own nature. If he hasn't it consciously, he should find it.
I do not talk very much about humility; I do not believe that a man or a woman should be humble in the ordinary sense. I believe that they should find the strength of their own characters. They should analyze themselves cleanly, find out whence they came, what they are here for, and what life means. They should challenge themselves and move away from the nonsense that they have been taught for so long about being such dreadful sinners. Move out into a great world of superb thought and universal ideas!
If a man lose faith in himself, can one expect him to believe in his neighbor? After all these ages of a certain quality of education that has been given us from childhood, we still have not our hands on the oars that will carry our boat into port. If we are not sure of our spiritual immortality, if we are not sure of the divine life within us, we cannot live it and we cannot act in accordance with it, though it is there. The inner life is the real life.
When you come to the point where your bodies are tired and you are ready to throw off the worn-out overcoat of flesh, then the truth will be revealed to you. But by that time you are speechless in what the world calls death, but which theosophy calls rebirth. The revelation of these inner mysteries can come only to those who will receive them; yet every man and every woman can have glimpses of the truth, day by day and hour by hour, without price. Spiritual truths are not purchasable.
Mere reason and brain-mind arguments keep humanity away from the richness of the inner life that belongs to all. When you have that truth, you will know how to live: when to speak and when not to speak, when to act and when not to act. You will be so conscious of your essential divinity that you will have the strength to dare to do a thousand things that you thought yourselves incapable of doing. You will remove yourselves from the negative psychology of the age and become characters of true positive nobility. Your whole life depends upon your character.
We are either going up or we are going down — we do not ever stand still. Continuous and confident virtue comes from the knowledge of one's soul-life. It is the expression of the strength of the inner man, that part of one which does noble things, aspires to do them, and is ever restless until one has done them. Love is the greatest power in the world and self-control is the magic talisman. With love in our hearts, and self-control, we are on the path that leads to the relative perfection of man.
People do not stop to think how humanity has been psychologized for ages with the old idea that man is born in sin. How much real soul-courage can one expect from a man who is burdened and weighed down with that old dogma and carries it with him night and day — eats with it, sleeps with it, and lives with it? There is degradation and humiliation in it. From these follow lack of courage, lack of confidence, until life seems a farce if it were not for the tragedies and heartaches everywhere. If one accepts the idea of only one lifetime, he loses sight of the grandeur and beauty and inspiration of the idea of eternity.
If man as we know him today is the highest aspect of creation, then it is easy to believe that there has been some mistake made somewhere along the way. For thousands of years these teachings have been instilled into the minds of our ancestors, until we carry the poison of them in our faces. It has made men timid and doubtful of their own abilities. It has limited the courage of even the bravest heroes and lessened the power of the greatest statesmen and the most splendid men and women who have accepted the idea of man's original sinfulness and the limitation of one earth-life.
On the other hand, let us face the man who knows that he is born under the divine and wonderful laws of nature, whose life is a series of awakenings through babyhood, childhood, boyhood, into manhood, with a consciousness of his own essential divinity. Now this divinity is not such an abstraction as many imagine — it is not so very far away. To believe that the all-powerful, all-loving, ever-serving center of light, the great source of life, has designed or had any part in a work that would bring degradation or despair to "His" own creation, is an insult to our manhood and our womanhood, it is an insult to our time and to our intelligence and to our civilization.
If we could only spend less time talking of men's weaknesses and of our children's weaknesses, and move out into the great broad view of life which theosophy gives! The mother's soul would speak and say, "Nay, never was this child of mine, this mystery to me and mystery to the world, born in sin. It is only to be explained by accepting the divine laws of nature, and it came to me for a great purpose. The soul is full of richness, full of possibilities, full of potential qualities, and the divine is in every man."
If our children could grow in this idea, we might bring our youth up to such a high standard that we should all look at life in an entirely new light. Could it be possible that there would be so many disasters and terrible crimes and shocking evidences of man's inhumanity to man? But we have grown negative, we have lost to a degree — or at least we have overlooked — the strength of our own souls, the power of the inner life. All will be right if we are right ourselves. But we must be in place. We must meet these teachings at least halfway. We must look at life differently. If you have no other teacher in the world, study nature and she will bring you new life and new light.
I am absolutely assured of the essential divinity in man, of his power to conquer conditions and to make the whole world over again. Bring yourself to the knowledge of your essential divinity, of your strength and your real purposes, your hopes and your visions. The will which makes a man a good man and brings these things into realization is the spiritual will, whereas that will which makes him lose his way is the will of the personality, of the body only, and dies when the body dies.
The great beauty and charm of life is to have knowledge — not just belief and faith. All our disappointments and trials and apparent injustices will not disappear immediately, because the basis of most of them was sown by ourselves; but they can be so well understood and so intelligently met that we can rise above them and soar beyond them, and bring out before the world the richer and deeper meaning of our life.
It is a mighty thing to know that there are laws, so infinitely and divinely true and just that if we will reach out to them in aspiration, we can find ourselves in a new world of thought; and when we are discouraged or despairing, we can fill our lives with a royal optimism, for we can take in the grandeur, the beauty, the mercy and, above all, the superb justice of life. We can look into our own hearts and go back to the aspirations of our youth, when we were trying to do some of the grand things that earth-life offers us opportunity to do, and we move away from the limited conception of one short life on earth and see the vision of another chance, and another chance, in repeated incarnations.
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