"Earth is in love," sang Euripides 2,500 years ago, "and all the all-holy Heaven itself is in love," meaning, says Marcus Aurelius, that "the universe is truly in love with its task of fashioning whatever is next to be," and therefore our response to life and the universe should be, "As thou lovest, so I too love" (Meditations, 10:21).
This could be a joyous philosophy, but often it proves rather painful in practice, as it takes a special kind of courage and vision to live by it. It asks for a constant yielding of the personal will to the universal: "Not my will, but thine be done!" It might be simpler for us had we not been conditioned for centuries to think of ourselves as distinct and apart from nature, so that we lost our intuitive response to her, our instinctual gift of living in harmony with her ways. As a result, we miss her pointers and so place unnecessary obstacles in our path. Before we realize it, tensions build and we feel the whole world is pressing down on us. Yet when we become calm again, deep inside, our innate wisdom comes to the fore, and we know with certitude that we and the universe are one. But if we would live and grow in consonance with the universal intent, we must open ourselves to the urgings of our inmost self, even though they may not lead us into paths of ease; probably the contrary, for the divine purpose is to quicken growth, not to lull to sleep.
Perhaps we should ask ourselves what growing really means. Intrinsically it is an act of love, of joy, a spontaneous bringing into flower what is latent in seed. Our word "nature" from the Latin natura doesn't begin to convey what its Greek counterpart phusis (physics) originally meant: "growing," or "the way things grow" and produce and bear fruit, each according to its unique quality. When we recall that the Stoic philosophers conceived of every particle of the cosmos as an outflowing of the divine order, we see that nature (phusis) to them connoted a living and conscious growing of all beings and things consistent with their intrinsic character.
But how can we humans discover — or, perhaps, rediscover — the way to grow and evolve that is harmonious not alone with our individual character, but within the ambience of the cosmic Being in whom we have our earth experiences? At present we have just passed the midpoint of our long evolutionary pilgrimage, which means the lowest point in the large arc of progress, and therefore have begun the move toward self-conscious spiritual awareness. This implies that nature's interest in matter-born elements is already lessening and will henceforth focus more and more on the attributes of spirit, light, love, and truth. Well is it if we learn early in life not to cling to that which is transient, for change is the mode of growth: the old must give way to the new, the lesser to the greater. If we place the treasures of our mind and spirit where they belong, then nothing, not even the passage of kalpas, can corrode that which is deathless in essence.
It was reflections such as these that prompted the inclusion in this issue of two articles on Narada, one of the gods of Hindu legend: the first by H. P. Blavatsky relates this mysterious figure to human and cosmic cycles and also to the Atlantean astronomer, Asuramaya (Reputed author of the Surya-Siddhanta, held to be the oldest astronomical treatise extant; first English translation from the Sanskrit by Ebenezer Burgess, published in 1860 in the Journal of the American Oriental Society; reprint 1978 Wizards Bookshelf.); and the second by G. de Purucker emphasizes Narada's function as a universal agent of karma working among humanity for beneficent ends.
Few Orientalists have grasped the esoteric significance of Narada, for the legends in the Vedas, the Mahabharata, and the Puranas surrounding the "appearances" in different cycles of this "mighty seer" endow him with a multitude of characteristics. Described as a messenger between gods and men, inspirer of poets and musicians and inventor of the vina or lute, and also one of the ten Prajapatis or "progenitors," sons born from the forehead of Brahma, he is likewise spoken of as troublemaker, informer, meddler, and monkey-face, reportedly interfering at one time with one god's plan to repopulate the earth. Other fascinating legends about Narada's relations with Vishnu and Brahma have philosophic overtones, but we must pass over them, mentioning only that on at least one occasion Narada is addressed as "beloved of the Kali Yuga." This would seem a confirmation of his intimate connection with our Age of Iron or Darkness in which the light of truth is almost extinguished, said to have begun a little over 5,000 years ago with the death of the avatara Krishna with whom Narada in later mythology is linked.
Our present concern is with Narada's role as destroyer and regenerator of forms. It probably would be more accurate to say regenerator first, in that the impetus from within for the new to take birth actually starts the disintegration process — much as our baby teeth loosen and gradually fall out in response to the pressure from the adult teeth that are trying to come through. When we carry the thought still further, we see that Narada, precisely because he does encourage, if not instigate, the break-up of forms, is in truth a protector and sustainer of the imperishable essence within every atom of conscious life.
Mythological tradition chronicles many civilizations that have gloried and vanished before our era; illustrious cultures that excelled in philosophic, artistic, literary, and scientific achievements. All are gone, mowed down by the scythe of time — Narada's work, lamentable only in part, for the destruction of that which has completed its cycle is not a calamity. From the vantage of the Knower, the Seer within, it is a boon. Externals must go, so that the creative fire can live on, to imbody again and again in new expressions as returning egos seek earth life in fresh environs and other races. Nothing can annihilate essence; only forms, bodies, vehicles are cast aside.
But what of the individual? Do the travail and sorrow that have burned some wisdom into the soul, the heroic struggles toward self-mastery cut short by death, count for nought? "E'en wasted smoke remains not traceless." What we are in the full range of our being leaves its ineffaceable impress on the memory-cells of character, as well as on nature's memory, earth's astral light, depository of the combined thought- and emotion-energies of mankind since we attained self-awareness millions of years ago.
No more eloquent tutor for us exists than nature herself who operates throughout her domain on this very principle of abandoning form after form so as to give the life-force within opportunity for further expansion and growth. As illustration, take Mother Earth: does she not provide for periodic cataclysms by fire and water, earthquake and tidal wave, and a host of minor catastrophes, in order to reestablish disturbed equilibrium? Were it possible to thwart nature's rhythmic processes that allow death to follow birth and birth to follow death, humanity and all the other kingdoms would stagnate. Earth herself is a living being, constantly shifting the balance of pressures from within to relieve tension. Cyclically her poles change position; land-masses now quiescent beneath the waters, after being cleansed and renewed are again upthrust; continental systems that have fulfilled their term are submerged beneath the rolling waves, to undergo once again refreshment and rest. Through it all Earth's planetary spirit lives on, in love with her sublime mission of bringing into being the latent spiritual genius of all her families of children.
This is the core of meaning behind all evolution: the expanding outward of the hidden potentialities within every light-spark. Beginningless and endless, it knows neither birth nor death; only the vehicles it uses are born and die, broken up at death into discrete particles, to be reunited again in future births. Every mystic, philosopher, and sage the world over has affirmed the same truth: that within the Logos, within the invisible "space" in the heart of every being, is sealed its divine history, the quintessence of all that it was, now is, and will yet be in future cycles. In joy and love did the universe come forth; in joy and in love we too can grow and flower as nature intends.
(From Sunrise magazine, February 1979. Copyright © 1979 by Theosophical University Press.)
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