Copyright © 1996 by Theosophical University Press. All rights reserved.
What then is the panacea finally, the royal talisman? It is DUTY, Selflessness. — William Q. Judge
The Sermon on the Mount above all the interesting parts of the Bible always appealed to me as coming from a great soul, one who dared courageously and openly to show people the new way to live, the way to serve, the way to love, and the way to become glorious examples of human beings instead of failures or half-failures and disappointments. Jesus certainly knew the human heart and like many other great teachers of the past, his sympathy is so full, so profound and unselfish, so broad and compassionate, that it gives the basis of the spiritual education which everyone requires. If every man and every woman today would set about to see what life means, they would study the ancient wisdom and the teachings of Christ and other great seers. We find that Jesus taught to his disciples the esoteric meanings of the true religion, but to the multitudes he spoke in parables because they were not prepared to receive the deeper teachings. He spoke as did St. Paul, who said in substance: I cannot give you the meat or the great foundations of these truths, I simply feed you as little children.
Today we find that we have too many organizations, too many different systems of education, too many different systems of religion. What we want is something for us to do within ourselves. We need the key to the problems of life so that we may round out our lives individually and spiritually, so that we may feel the touch of the divine quality of our natures, that we may free ourselves from despondency and fear and doubt and unhappiness and sickness, and rise to a larger vision, with a belief in ourselves, in our divinity, in the divine quality within us. For verily we are the children of God. Nothing is lost in the divine economy of nature.
Consequently, if we become sidetracked, if we lose our way, if we forget the divine part of our nature and live just for today, the great universal idea of life is lost. But the moment that we can believe, as Jesus and as all the other great teachers of ancient days taught, that we are essentially divine, we shall recognize the greatness and the power we have within ourselves to build wisely, to build in such a way that our life will become a blessing to ourselves and to others. Then we can live in the vision of a larger life, in the eternity of things, in the consciousness that God is infinite, unknowable, all-powerful, all-compassionate, the supreme eternal source of light and life. But if we accept only the objective interests and the temporary things of life, we punish ourselves and lose sight of the greatness of the Supreme.
Let us picture to ourselves the meaning of human life, the mightiness of this life, its greatness and its joy. When we reach this point, we shall be able to live the true, clean, wholesome, noble life. The old Jewish writer in Proverbs was very wise when he said, "Where there is no vision, the people perish." He meant that if humanity is to find the key to right living, it must get a larger vision and a deeper feeling of justice and of love for one's fellowmen: a greater consciousness and an absolute surety that man is divine in essence and therefore can make himself a power for good in the world. When that comes, the rest will take care of itself.
So we have to turn about and start in a new way. It is not enough to have great statesmen, great writers, great poets, great geniuses scattered around the world. We must all depend upon self-directed evolution, with pure and noble motives, for the rounding out of character and for becoming more nearly like what Jesus taught us to be. For did he not teach that "Greater things than these things shall ye do"? So follow the truth, the light, and find the god within yourself. Then you shall find the open way to happiness.
The teachings of theosophy are very, very old. They were taught and lived hundreds of thousands of years before Christ. And if one follows his sayings, though there are very few preserved, one will find that he had the knowledge of something more than one life. There are a great many thoughtful people all over the world who believe in reincarnation. They have taken a broader and a grander view of life, and it serves them to realize more fully their responsibilities.
With unfortunate people — with the prisoner, the drunkard, the woman of the streets, and even the thief and the murderer — as soon as they hear of reincarnation, something happens. New hope is born in the hopeless mind. There is a larger conception of life in the one who has lost faith. There is a disposition to try over again and to become something better than before. These feel that there is another chance for them. But when one believes only in the one life on this glorious earth of ours, there is naturally a limitation in the knowledge of the meaning of life.
No one must believe of reincarnation that the soul of a man returns to the body of an animal. Such a teaching is irrational, as such a retrogression would contradict the fundamental maxims of life. Once a man, always a man. Reincarnation gives our conception of God's infinite plan a wide scope. It alone solves the problems of injustice and misery which brood over our world.
"As ye sow, so must ye also reap" is another of the tenets most strongly emphasized in theosophy. If we put our hand into the fire, we are burned. If we interfere with the laws of physical health or spiritual progress, we suffer. If we do not grasp our opportunities as they come to us from day to day with a high sense of duty and justice, we lose our way. Humanity is going its way in doubt, in questioning, in fear and despair, while the Sermon on the Mount stands out with the beautiful essential truths of all religions, accepting them but doing away with the forms that obscure them.
Find the key of right living within yourself — trust yourself more, believe in yourself in the higher sense. Find the strength of your own character; learn to love all that is true and beautiful; cherish high ideals and live for something greater than you have ever lived for before! Remember, every moment of human life is sacred. Begin before it is too late, lest you lose your chances in this life of finding the key to that knowledge which brings permanent happiness.
Jesus was a prophet, a teacher. It is for us to take his words, interpret them, take everything that is good and true and ennobling, and ingrain it into our hearts and our lives, so that we may lift the weight of woe from humanity's shoulders, yes, and make a new kingdom of heaven on earth, a new manhood, a new womanhood, and a new life for all. My whole aim is to open the way for the earnest investigator to the fact that when we take the utterances of Jesus and forget the dogmas that have grown up around his name, he becomes in the freest spiritual sense ten times more to us than he ever was before.
I have studied very closely the teachings of the Nazarene and of St. Paul. I am certain that Jesus was an initiate, an advanced theosophist; so was St. Paul. Jesus said: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go onto my Father" (John 14:12). This is one of the most baffling and puzzling passages to students of the Bible. I have talked with many clergymen, I have read books of criticism on the Bible; but outside of theosophy I have never found the kernel of that saying.
In speaking of himself, saying "He that believeth on me," Jesus was not referring just to the physical man, as many might think. He meant that one must trust in the divine spark, the Christos-spirit, which is in every man. If we can see the greatness of Jesus' life and its promise for us — the seriousness, the joy, the splendor, the inspiration, and the eternity of life — then we shall take his words home to ourselves and begin to refashion our lives, no matter how clean and strong they are, nor how high they are already on the moral line. We shall have a new vista of life.
In those words he does not speak of himself as Jesus the man, but as the Christos-spirit within him. He knows that his disciples to whom he is speaking know very little about it, so he assures them in a way that one cannot get away from that "Greater works than these shall ye do." In this he acknowledges himself as one of the children of God, as we all are; except that he had moved farther along the path in his different incarnations, had experienced all states of life, and in his mercy and compassion for human nature he simplified his teachings and brought them down to the comprehension of the ignorant multitudes of his day.
Then he adds, "because I go unto my Father." In my early years that verse was interpreted to me as meaning that he was going to die. But I interpret it as meaning that Jesus was going to his own inner nature, his own inner life, which is the kingdom of heaven wherein we can find the Father. Jesus, knowing that his disciples would follow after him, declared that greater things than the wonderful things he had been doing, they too should do. He did not say that he himself should not do still greater and greater works. He told his disciples that greater things than those he had already done, which they marveled at, they could do also. There is a world of promise in that verse, it contains a book of revelation.
Spiritually, the world is half asleep, just barely living. Opinions have nearly destroyed spiritual life. Humanity has not the substance, the foundation of spiritual truth. Whether we read the Bible or not, we can study the wonderful, silent mysteries of nature, we can read our own hearts and the mysteries in our own natures, and we shall find that sometimes we are the angel and sometimes the demon. Life will continue to throw us about, and we shall remain wrecks on the shores of civilization, until we have made a part of ourselves that one great splendid truth of the essential divinity of man. It is the keynote for the reconstruction of humanity. It is through no magic that you can gain the conviction of your own divinity. I cannot give it to you. You cannot get it from books; but you can find it within yourself.
Let us remember that the stars are held in place by law; that we walk on our two feet; that we have intelligence and we have the great wide world to live in. We have the voice of the ancient wisdom in our midst, and we cannot get away from the challenge that it holds out to every man to look within and find himself — the real man. Unhappiness, sickness, and despair cannot disappear in a moment — the laws of evolution will not permit this — but we must be ready to take the first step on the path of self-directed evolution understandingly, remembering what Christ speaks of in that verse, that greater works than these shall we do.
Think of the mercy of the divine law — of the great supreme source of light and life. It has everything in the universe in such perfect order that it cannot be changed. Man must accept it. So when sorrows and disappointments come, if we can be conscious of the bigness of life, it will be more to us than all the riches in the world. Friends may desert us, honors may leave us, but never, never will this inner treasure of man depart once he has grasped it and begun to live it.
It is not supposed that men will be gods in a moment or in a generation, but there is one thing all can do, and that is to begin to walk the path of spiritual endeavor, to climb the mountain that leads to the accomplishment of those greater things which Jesus spoke of, to begin to go to the Father, to begin to know what that divine spark within means. Something new will come into the life — a tenderness, a compassion. Everything in nature will become more beautiful and of greater value, because the aspirant will find himself akin to it in the truest sense. We are all a part of the great and wonderful family of God.
All these things that puzzle and annoy us now — all the weaknesses in our natures which we try to suppress, but do not control — bob up in unexpected moments. Self-conquest is what we must have. Self-conquest can never come until man is conscious of his power to conquer the weaknesses in his own nature, until he has found this precious boon, the divine part of himself.
No matter how much parents may love and care for their children, their children are still mysteries to them. Many do not stop to think that evolution is going on in the right way, or else disintegration in the wrong way, from the time their children first breathe. And if all the parents' time is given to looking out for their children's material comforts and pleasures, and the children are deprived of the knowledge which all nature teaches — the knowledge of their own essential divinity — we shall continue to have human wrecks and disappointments, mis-matings and mis-marriages, all along the way, because one mistake leads to another.
It requires no money, no books, no prayers (in the ordinary sense of the word) to put ourselves on the path of self-directed evolution. But we must challenge ourselves. If we cannot believe this with our poor, narrow brains, let us at least imagine it, for the repetition of the thought carries with it a psychological power which will enable man to begin to accentuate his inner divinity. Divinity is in every man. If it touches our hearts, it will thrill our blood, it will create new atoms even in our physical bodies. Let each man say to himself to start with: "I believe that man can bless or curse himself. I believe in self-directed evolution; I am going to try it." As soon as men eliminate those prejudices, those former opinions of the personal, punishing, and revengeful God, of heaven and hell, and of being born in sin, then the light will shine in the heart.
Fathers and mothers, look again into the eyes of your little ones and you will see there that divine ray shining! But if you have no understanding of their real nature, if you do not believe in their eternal future, if you do not believe that this life is just one school of experience that they are going through, you will only see their pretty bright eyes. But it is the soul you must seek — the soul within yourself, the soul within the hearts of your neighbors, the soul in your children. Seek that, and in the course of time you will do the greater things than Jesus did. You will find that the glory of the divine law lives in men when they can recognize it and bring it to fruition. Then the higher life begins for humanity.
Jesus said "in my Father's house are many mansions," he was talking in metaphors, in symbols. He was not referring to a material house at all. If one interprets it as meaning that in the great universe there are many stopping places, many stations in life, many states of mind, many conditions of living, many different schools of experience, it sustains the idea of reincarnation: after the soul goes out from the body, then there are different conditions along the way. If one accepts this, one gets a broad view of truth and of life.
So this mansion that he speaks means the great universe, where rests the eternity of life. It means this wonderful power of evolution, which each one of us possesses. We have it within ourselves. The knowledge of his own divinity is the key to the wisdom which man must have in order to direct his life, to dare to live and think, and to keep his conscience so strong and so pure that he will become impregnable in the face of temptation — yet temptation itself is a horrid word. It is not temptation but ignorance that we must fight. If we know the truth, know our power, know our heritage and the potency of our inner natures, there are no temptations.
We must have some conception of the greatness of life before we can amount to anything. Consider the different conditions in life which Jesus referred to when he said, "In my Father's house are many mansions" — many conditions, many growing places throughout the great universe. In man alone we find a higher and lower nature — two conditions in one man's life. When man is overshadowed by his higher nature, he is growing; but when he is overshadowed by his lower, mortal nature, he is disintegrating.
Being a mystic, Jesus had some of this inner knowledge. He had evolved through his different incarnations to a position of much trust in the Supreme and of great love for humanity. His early life was said to be very sweet, true, beautiful, and aspiring. He was forever seeking knowledge, and so he later joined that wonderful society of Essenes, that body of noble aspirants for spiritual truth which the worst tyrants and despots were unable to condemn. This body of people lived together, but they did not believe in marriage among their own members. They were celibates. They knew that marriage must exist among the multitude; but they were preparing for the spiritual life, preparing to become teachers. It was with these people that he associated himself, and this association with the Essenes explains many things in Jesus' life, and will clear up and drive out of the minds of the present generation many of the old dogmas that had no place in Jesus' teaching.
It is not God who punishes us but we who punish ourselves by transgressions of the divine law. If we put our hands in the fire we burn; if we take poison we die; and so in things of the spirit: we are the makers of our own destiny. And yet humanity loses faith in itself. It is bowed down with a quality of fear that takes the incentive out of life and tears the heart to pieces, limits the vision, and deprives us of something that is all our own if we will only seek it, if we will only reach out for it, if we can take the deeper meaning of Christ's teachings.
Ignorance is the key to crime and insanity, ignorance first as to the real nature of the physical house in which the soul lives. Every right of the tenant of this house is abused. When children come into the world, they are waiting for that which belongs to them as souls. That is what they must have if they are to grow and become what we hope for them. But before they are eight or ten years of age they are under some special system. They are taught the fear and punishment of God — these are the things that the world's children are still being taught. And something more must come to our humanity if we are to hope for its spiritual resuscitation.
Just look at the newspapers! Every year records an increase of crime — of unnameable crimes. I read only the day before yesterday of a man who had killed twenty-five or twenty-seven people! The report stated all the gruesome details of how he had killed them and enjoyed doing it. Do those who are attempting to handle his case know how to meet that disease and that crime? They will probably be satisfied with the idea that the man must be punished — hanged or put in a cell for the remainder of his days — the mercy of God absolutely forgotten when they forget that which they should know.
If people are still ignorant, they have nevertheless had plenty of opportunity of knowing that man is dual in his nature. The soul of a man is the eternal, growing, burning fire of divinity; the other part belongs to the desires and the passions and the animal side. Unless the animal man is governed and controlled, it will know nothing about the many mansions in the Father's house. It will just grovel in the mud and die like an animal. And that's the sort of things we read about every day in the newspaper; but we read about so many of them that most of us are used to them, and so we dismiss them from our minds.
One of the great obstacles which prevent men and women from knowing the truth is indifference, and back of indifference one will find insincerity. When one meets insincerity or when one meets ingratitude, when one meets a human mind that will strike the friend who has helped it, one may be sure that he is not dealing with the soul, but he is dealing with the lower, selfish side of human nature.
But it is the knowledge of the higher self, of the divinity within, that I am ever seeking to bring out. It was the great message of H. P. Blavatsky, of William Q. Judge, and of the wise theosophists of ancient days, to awaken people to the realization of their spiritual opportunities. Remember the opportunity lost may never come again! We are not fatalists; we are the makers of our own destiny. You may be without companionship; you may be alone in your misery, in your disappointments, your despairs; but when you have these truths in your life, they are the treasures that will take the place of everything you most yearn for. They will be the key to longer, happier, and more useful lives along the path of spiritual unfoldment.
If we can get a new conception of God, if we can conceive that in the great universe there are many conditions, many experiences in different lives on earth and in different stations of life, we can commence to build a hope for ourselves. But when we pinch ourselves down to the idea of having only seventy-seven or one hundred years to live out the aspirations of our souls, we are cursed with the psychology of false teachings, no matter who teaches them. Do not blame those who teach, for they know not what they do. Yet the old dogmas that have come down through the ages, divorced from the essential teachings of the Nazarene, have warped the spiritual nature of man and twisted his mentality.
In spite of this great whirl of chaos and confusion, some soul occasionally springs up in our midst — a great artist, a great writer, or a great teacher — and gives us a glimpse of something beyond, a touch of the divine things in life. But we do not allow them to stay with us, and when they disappear many of us think they have gone forever. In these attachments and affections which we form for these splendid and beautiful things that come in life, let us remember that there are in the great universe many houses, many centers, and that we are the children of the universe, of the great supreme God, and our opportunities are many.
But if we do not take the first opportunity we may lose the second; and if we lose the second, we way miss the third, and so on. Listen to the voice of your conscience, to that part of your nature that is higher than the reasoning faculty. It is your spiritual nature, sleeping often, but at times springing into life. Keep it alive; let it warm your heart, let it fashion your thoughts and your life, let it make your home many times more pure and true than it is at present! Let it help you to make better laws for your fellowmen, and to fight with all your soul against war and for eternal peace!
We must begin to work for the purification of the human race by placing it on a basis of understanding, that it may no longer dwell in the realms of ignorance, but move out understandingly each day, learning more and more, each experience bringing us the purifying, uplifting, and helpful knowledge that we need. It is glorious to keep on climbing to the heights through self-directed evolution. We must find that something within us, that higher nature, which every man and woman possesses — the Christos-spirit that is awaiting our recognition.
The best books in the world alone cannot satisfy you when you place yourselves on the true path, for you will find the kingdom of heaven within. You will find a supreme love of nature. A larger affection than you have ever known before will grow in your hearts: those you love, you will love better; those you serve, you will serve better. Oh! the glory of the truth shining in the human heart, according to its development. Today we are but children sitting at the feet of the Master; but before us in another life we shall know more, and in still another life more yet, until the glory of God will shine in our hearts and purify our lives. That is the state of perfectibility which men must seek if they would find true happiness.
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