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Title: The changing world, and lectures to theosophical students.

Author: Annie Besant

Release date: August 10, 2018 [eBook #57667]

Language: English

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The Changing World
Lectures to Theosophical Students

The Changing World
Lectures to Theosophical

Fifteen Lectures delivered in London during
May, June, and July 1909

Annie Besant
President of the Theosophical Society

Chicago, Ill.
The Theosophical Book Concern
Room 426, 26 Van Buren Street

London, Eng.: The Theosophical Publishing Society

5000 printed August 1909
2500 April 1910
2000 November 1910



Part I
Lectures to the Public

The Changing World


Lecture I
The Deadlock in Religion, Science, and Art

Friends: if you stand on the seashore when the tide is flowing inwards, and if you watch the waves as they ripple up, one after another, each coming a little further than its predecessor, each in turn breaking and making way for its follower—in the inflowing tide you have a picture of the evolving races of mankind. And if you watch the method of the flow, you will notice that that which is the most prominent at the moment is not the one which creeps furthest up the sands. The wave which is breaking into foam, which is rippling over the pebbles, which throws up the broken water, which falls back on to the land and makes music, sound, melody as it breaks—that is the wave which is nearly over; it is the wave whose course is run. But if you watch you will notice that while your attention was caught by the noise of the breaking wave, by the foam of the billow that was almost over, silently, imperceptibly almost, visible only to the eye that watches, another wave is[2] rising behind it, silently, without break, without noise, without attracting attention; but the wave that is rising silently behind the breaker—that is the wave which will follow on the billow that has broken, and will run further up the sands than the breaking wave had gone.

In that familiar picture, which every child who has gone to the seaside knows so well, is a figure of the great tide of evolution, in which races are waves and the ocean humanity itself. And each great wave—the great wave that comes at intervals—is a race, and the smaller waves that come between are the sub-races which the race bears. Just as with the water, so with humanity: as one sub-wave is breaking, having reached its highest point, another is rising silently behind it, which shall rule the world when the breaking wave has spent its force. Then, from time to time, to those who have eyes to see, on the crest of the breaking wave appears the mighty angel that we call the Spirit of the Age, and his feet are on the wave, and his locks mingle with the rays of the sun, and he cries out in a voice of thunder: Behold I make a new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness shall dwell.

In such a day, in such a time, we of the present age are living. The wave of the sub-race to which we all belong, or nearly all of us, that is breaking on the shore of time; the wave behind it of the race that shall be, to whom the new heaven and the new earth shall be a habitation—that is the race which is coming to the birth, which, in its turn, shall rule this changing earth. For many and many a century, nay, even for millennia, the[3] slow course of evolution goes on quietly without much observation, and then suddenly comes a change—a change of a dying and a birthing race, a transition stage, a transition age in which all movement is rapid, in which catastrophes are frequent, in which sudden changes make themselves felt, in which men grow in a year more than their forefathers grew perhaps in a century. In such a transition age again the world is standing at the present time. Behind us, the long centuries through which the great Aryan race has been sending out wave after wave of humanity in successive billows, sweeping over Asia and over Europe, one after another rising, growing, ruling, and then passing to its fall. During all the time of a sub-race, the world rolls down what have been called the grooves of change, steadily, quietly, without much of jolt or of trouble; the wheels running fairly smoothly, continuously, with little of shock. And then, again, the time comes when a new sub-race must be born, when another shall succeed and the old shall pass away.

If you look around you now, on every side you will see the signs of a closing age; thoughts which have reached a point beyond which they cannot continue on the old lines and in the old methods, that which I have called a deadlock; in all the most important departments of human thought and human activity, rapid, extraordinarily rapid, growth. The changes which the elder amongst us have seen are marvellous exceedingly, change succeeding change, and each change greater than the one before it, until the whole of society seems to be rushing onwards swiftly without a pause, and men[4] wonder what the next thought will be, what the next development will forebode.

It is not, of course, for the first time in human history that such a period as this has come upon the world. Look back to the time when the sub-race preceding the Teutonic was at the zenith of its power, and see then how troubled were the minds of men. It was the time that was marked by the birth of Him who is known in western lands as the Christ—a period of swift transition like our own, of marked and sudden changes. And if to the people of that day you had said, as I am now saying to you: “You are in one of the great transition periods of the world’s history; the race that is dominant and imperial is really reaching its zenith, and after the zenith comes the slow descent, inevitable, sure”; if you had said to the people of the time that among them would come a mighty Teacher who should revolutionise the future world and change the very foundations of civilisation; who should change the type of religion for the foremost races of the world; who should lift up a different ethical code, and make that virtuous which before had been despised, and that which had been looked down upon the topmost crown of saintship—if to the people of that day you had spoken such words, they would have laughed at you as dreamer or threatened you as madman. For why should the world change on its appointed ways, and why should the feet of the world seek to tread new and untrodden paths? And yet there were many who felt a change was coming; yet there were prophets and seers who spoke of a coming kingdom and a coming Teacher, and changes which should alter[5] the face of the world. Of little use to look back to those far-off times if you repeat in your own day the blindness of the people then; for surely in these two thousand years men should have learned something more of wisdom, their eyes should have gained something more of insight, and the signs of a closing age should be more palpable to them than in the days of their forerunners in the closing age of Rome.

Even at that time a future was spoken of where changes should again occur, where a great Teacher should again appear, where a new age should be born, a new heaven and a new earth should be seen. It is in that next transition age, then, that you and I are standing; and although many of you may say, as they would have said of old, that I am a dreamer or am mad, none the less will I strive to tell you this evening, and the Sundays that follow, something of the signs by which you may judge for yourselves whether a great change is not coming over the world, whether there is not coming a new kingdom and a mighty Teacher, whether in our days again, as in the days of the past, the world is not to take on a new form and a nobler type of humanity to live and rule on earth, for many are the signs of the age that is closing, and many the signs also of the day that is dawning upon earth. In this and in the following lecture we shall be dealing with the dying, not the race which is to be born; and if in some ways, therefore, these two lectures may seem a little gloomy or a little grey, then I would remind you that the night must come before the dawn, and the greyness of the sky before the sunrising. If we can see behind the greyness the first[6] faint gleams of the rose-tipped fingers of the dawn, ah! then we need not mind that the night is still with us, for the night is closing, and we, the children of the day, shall see the rising of the sun.

I have taken for this evening three great departments of human thought—Religion, Science, Art; and our task now is to see whether, looking over the world of religion, of science, and of art, we can find that the old methods have carried us as far as we can go, that they are breaking in our hands, that we no longer can use them for opening up new vistas of thought and hope for man. On every side there is a feeling of uncertainty, a feeling, I might almost say, of distress; a questioning what is truth, what is reliable? where can we find some rock on which we may put our feet amid all the buffeting of various opinions, of doubt, nay, of scepticism and unbelief?


What is the position of the religious world to-day? First of all, there have been working in it now for many long years certain forces undermining the religion of the time; and when I speak now of religion, I mean the religion of the West, for I am speaking in the West; although I might show you that in other parts of the world as well the same forces are at work, though not quite so prominently, and have brought about there to some extent the same results. Now, it is not from the mouth of a Theosophist like myself that I would ask you to take the testimony as to the difficulties in which the religious world finds itself to-day, and on the most[7] important points of which I shall touch, after drawing your attention to the destructive forces that have been undermining religion, I shall take my testimony from bishop and from clergyman in their published writings, which all may read who will. The undermining forces that I allude to are chiefly three, and each destructive; the absence of construction is one of the signs of the day that is closing. First, as you know well, the undermining which has been done by scholarship in Christendom, in which what is called the higher criticism has been tearing to pieces the documents on which historical Christianity has been built up—taking one after another, examining, studying, scrutinising, comparing one kind of language with another kind in the same document; pointing out marks of different ages where a single writer was supposed to have been speaking, and gradually collecting from all sides different readings, placing them side by side, and finding them to a very great extent mutually destructive. So far has that gone, as you know, that, not so very long ago, the whole of this line of investigation was condemned by the authoritative head of the great Roman Catholic communion. The higher criticism, the historical dealing with Church teaching and Church history, the analysing, scrutinising, investigating spirit of our own time—the whole of that, with all its results, has been condemned and forbidden to be taught within the teaching establishments of the great Roman communion; the results of historical criticism have been banned, and, most fatal of all policies, kept largely out of the knowledge of those who are to become the teachers of the generations that are to be[8] born. Is there any wonder, if you look at it only from the outside point? For where religion is a matter of authority, of books, of successions, of historical events, there criticism must always destroy; the form changes, and cannot remain stable in a transitory world, and we find the ancient documents shorn of their ancient value; we find inspiration, limited and fettered to words instead of the spirit, failing to hold its own against the critical scholarship of the day. One defence after another is thrown up, only to be abandoned before the approaching tide, as children throw up castles in the sand, dreaming that sand castles can stop the flow of waves. You know, on every side questions have arisen in regard to documents; most disheartening and discouraging if religion were a matter of books and words, and not a matter of the living and divine spirit in man, which no criticism is able to destroy. For, out of it all, thought arises and all criticism itself has birth. But, for the moment, in that tearing to pieces of the documents, one great inroad is made on the religion of the time.

Then, if you turn to another destructive force that has been undermining popular religion, you find it in archæological research; you find it in what is called comparative mythology, built up out of the results of that research; unburied cities, unburied libraries, unburied tombs—they have all given up their longhidden secrets, and those secrets have been used as weapons against the religion of the West. Dates have been thrown overboard, hundreds of years have been lengthened into millions; archæology, geology, antiquarianism of every kind, researches into long-dead races[9] have all given the same result, shaking the very foundations on which it was thought, however wrongly, that religion must be built. Out of all this undermining, this destruction, from the continuously critical spirit of man, have arisen doubt and question and half-scepticism, and only a hope instead of a knowledge, only an aspiration instead of a living faith. And beyond those minor questions of religion which can be touched by this kind of destructive criticism, beyond and above those, the central ideas of religion have been thrown into the Crucible of Reason. The idea of God Himself has been under discussion, argued about, reasoned about, and the conception of God has changed. Who now dreams of troubling himself much about Butler’s Analogy? Who now would spend his time poring over Paley’s Evidence? These are out of date, and they do not deal with the questions of the time; for the thought of Evolution has affected religion, and the central conception of Deity has not been able to escape the corrosion of that atmosphere of thought. Here, again, outward demonstrations are failing, outward reasonings fail to satisfy. Reason, though piled upon reason, can give no more than a reasonable probability, so long as you watch for God only in the outer world, and not in His highest manifestation, the Spirit which lives in yourself. The idea of an extra-cosmic God is gradually disappearing from the world of thought. The idea of a God who made the universe as a piece of machinery, and stood outside it while the wheels were turning and the bands were working—that idea has almost passed away; and instead of that a God immanent in everything, a God who is a[10] life and not a mechanician, a God who is an informing Spirit and not an outside creator—that nobler, more exquisite idea is dawning on the religious world to-day. But still, to see Him only immanent in the universe, that is not the final answer of religion; there is something more that is needed than the God who is found within the universe and within man, that mighty truth which is spoken out in an Eastern scripture: “I established this universe with a portion of Myself, and I remain.” That is one of the new avenues of thought, of escape from the destructive forces of the thought that we are considering.

Along another of the great Christian concepts there is much of trouble and of difficulty to-day. I take here, for a moment, one of a series of remarkable articles that appeared in the Hibbert Journal for January last, one perhaps of the finest numbers that have been issued, dealing with this question of the time. One of these articles has a strange title which marks out the crux of many a mind to-day; the title is, “Jesus or Christ?”; not “Jesus Christ,” not “Jesus and Christ,” but “Jesus or Christ?”; natural enough if it were written by a Theosophist, but this is written by a minister of a Christian church, and he confesses, with wonderful candour and boldness, the difficulties that all must face who are dealing on the one side with a spiritual ideal and on the other with a man. He asks whether the claims made are on behalf of a spiritual ideal, to which provisionally the word “Christ” may be applied, or are they predicated of Jesus; he then goes through a number of these difficulties (many of you would do well to read the article at your leisure), pointing[11] out in how many cases in the New Testament you come across limitations, acceptance of the thought of the time, and many other difficulties which clash with the idea that this was Very God of Very God. “No condemnation,” he points out, “in the Sermon on the Mount is passed on the harsh and cruel law of debtor and creditor, nor would efforts for legal reform find any encouragement from the words attributed to the Master here. On non-resistance and oath-taking the rule attributed to Jesus is absolute. Yet, as a whole, Christendom has openly violated it throughout its history.” He then speaks of the view which is taken of man in relation to woman, of the “iniquitous principle of sex-inferiority as against woman,” a principle that “has inflicted infinite suffering on half of the human race.” And so he goes on, taking up point after point, and declaring that this conclusion can no longer be avoided—that to identify Jesus with Christ is to “make God a Being who is omnipotent, yet limited in power; omniscient, yet defective in knowledge; infinitely good, yet One who declines ‘to turn any part of His knowledge as God into science for man.’ … It would be an abuse of language to say that this is a mystery. It is flat contradiction.” Now when a clergyman can write like that in a publication that goes almost exclusively among the educated classes, you can realise how great is the difficulty which is confronting modern thought with regard to the personality of Jesus and the larger revelation of the Christ.

It is not possible that questions like this can remain always unanswered, that they should ever be asked and no reply be found; Christendom inevitably must work its[12] way to some reasonable solution, and find how in that marvellous personality there was a divine revelation as men have hoped and believed, and how there is an answer, although orthodoxy as yet may not be prepared to give it. And if you pass from religion proper, as we may say, to the great domain of morals which is so closely bound up with it, see how difficult is the position at the present time. Now, since I was last here in London, you have had a Moral Education Congress, to which no less than twenty-two of the European Governments sent their best representatives. Intense interest was felt in the question of education as part of religion or apart from it. It is one of the most serious social questions of the day, one which society must answer: Shall morals be based on religion and sanctioned by religion, or can they find standing ground apart from, separate from it? Now, the ordinary popular answer of the day is rather in favour of the second—that morals should find an independent ground apart from the sanction of religion. And that is not unnatural, because the quarrels of religious bodies, their disputes over the question of education, have practically wearied the mind of England, and men and women get impatient with the struggles over trivialities where the moral training of tens of thousands of boys and girls, the future citizens of the country, is concerned. If you take that Moral Education Congress, the point was put very strongly and very plainly. Here, again, in this number of the Hibbert that I am dealing with, we find a very brief article speaking of that and of the relation of education to religion; and the writer speaks of one remarkable speech at the Education Congress, in[13] which it was declared that while children should be taught “the respect due to the idea of religion … they are to be taught that the chief mode of honouring God consists in each doing his duty according to his conscience and his reason.” Now that is a statement that would find very wide acceptance at the present day, and yet its value or its lack of value depends on two words, “conscience” and “reason.” If the conscience be unenlightened, there will be very little useful service done to man by the boys and girls who follow that conscience as men and women. The enlightened conscience is truly the foundation of a State, but the unenlightened may lead men into every kind of crime. The inquisitor followed his conscience when he racked the heretic and sent him to the stake. Laud followed his conscience when he persecuted, tortured, mutilated Puritans who would not bow before him. Conscience has committed the greatest crimes against nations and against individuals; conscience must be enlightened before it is a safe guide. And so also with reason. If the reason is developed, illuminated, cultured, trained, that reason might indeed, be followed along the path of life; but a reason that is not exercised according to the laws of logic and right thinking may be as irrational as though the name of reason were not applied to it. It is not enough to teach that men should follow conscience and reason unless you train the reason and illuminate the conscience.

Now, how is that to be done? It has been done in the past by religion to a very great extent. Can society afford to try to teach morals apart from religion? Difficulties naturally arise here, and the Bishop of Tasmania[14] has very bravely drawn the attention of the empire to the difficulty which is in the face of religious teaching. He points out that the Old Testament is not a book which, as a whole, can be used for the instruction in morals of the Christian child. Can the Old Testament, he asks, be used in that way? and the answer is in the negative. He points out that you can find in the Old Testament magnificent moral passages and splendid moral inspiration, but that is by a process of selection, in which you apply the moral conscience to discrimination in ancient writings. Bishop as he is, he is brave enough to declare that the Old Testament as a whole ought not to find its place in the education of the child. Now, suppose that we admit—and most thoughtful people would admit—that you must select and choose carefully, that is not a sufficient answer to the question. Can you effectively teach the child morals without falling back upon religion? Are you prepared to admit that you can teach a certain class of virtues without religious sanction; not those which are the favourite virtues, we may say, of the present day of competition and of struggle? You can teach a child to be prudent, thrifty, cautious; you can teach him the value of acquisitiveness, and the duty of providing for the future. All that kind of virtue you may be able to teach on a purely utilitarian ground, as it is called, but, as is again pointed out in a remarkably able article on “The Social Conscience of the Future,” certain old-fashioned traits, once considered to be virtues, are now commonly accounted to men for vices. Non-resistance, for example, “is now considered cowardice; meekness to-day is usually spelt weakness;[15] taking no thought for the morrow is known as improvidence; unworldliness is generally viewed as a phase of sentimentality.” That is all quite true. But how are you going to teach the virtues that hitherto have been rooted in religion—virtues without which no State can endure? For you cannot teach the civic virtues on a basis of enlightened selfishness. That is a point that all educators of the young must remember. Self-sacrifice, compassion, the willingness to endure for the sake of others, the taking of the burden of the weak on the shoulders that are strong, the realisation that duty is greater than rights, and responsibility more vital than self-protection—how are you going to teach those virtues on the basis of selfishness? Now I have argued that in the old days, and have tried to show, in the time when I was a sceptic, that you might train people to self-sacrifice and self-surrender by an appeal to the humanity within them, and the sense of duty to the race; but that appeal fails the most readily in the cases where the virtues are most required.

It appeals to the noble, but the majority are not noble; it appeals to the unselfish and the heroic, but the majority are of mediocre courage and of very limited unselfishness; it appeals to those who do not need it, and it leaves cold and unmoved those who need it most. Will you go to the millionaire who has built up his vast fortune by the ruin of hundreds of families, and speak to him of the beauty of self-sacrifice and the splendour of self-surrender? The answer of people of the selfish type is: Why should I sacrifice myself for the future? or, as the witty Frenchman put it: “What has posterity[16] done for me that I should sacrifice myself for posterity?” You may say that is very mean, very selfish. It is; but then, those are the people who want the compulsory force of moral strength applied to them. Where are you going to find it? For without self-sacrifice no society is secure; without self-surrender of the small to the great, of the individual to the social self, there is no possibility of national life, no stability in the social system; and those are virtues that grow out of religion, not out of what is falsely called utility. The greatest utility for the nation is that which understands the relationship between the part and the whole, and that is only taught by religion which knows the larger Self, which knits man to the whole, makes him realise relationships, makes him know he is not a creature of one little globe, but a creature of the universe; that he is a cosmic life, and not a planetary. That is learned by religion only, and by the deathless immortality of the divine Spirit in man; without that, no morality will endure; and you will make a fatal blunder if, because of the passing follies of religionists, you throw religion out of its place in education, of which it is the inspiration and the strength.

These are some of the problems you have to deal with in this deadlock, as I have called it, of religion. In fact, you want a new religious and moral synthesis; and you cannot find that without the higher inspiration for which man is groping now.


Let us leave that deadlock—(I will try to solve it in another lecture)—and let us take the deadlock in science.[17] Now that is very curious at the present time. Science is essentially in the West, as it is everywhere, a matter of observation, of measurement, of estimating quantities and understanding relations. But our science is coming to the end of its powers along these lines in a very curious and marked way. It cannot get its apparatus more delicate than it has got it; its balances are marvels, measuring inappreciable parts of an almost inappreciable grain. Nothing more exquisite than the delicacy of scientific apparatus, nothing more a testimony to the accuracy of the scientific mind. And yet how the apparatus is failing the scientist! how his observations are becoming increasingly difficult! What can he do with the atom? The chemist, the physicist, can he follow the atom and make that still a matter of observation, or does it wholly escape him? is the chemist, the physicist, now obliged to turn to the mathematician to make for him an atom which will answer the demands of the science which is unable to discover it for itself? All the later arguments on the atom, if you notice, are based on mathematical formulæ; they cannot observe; it is too fine, delicate, minute—it escapes them. Even the chemical atom, which is four degrees below the ultimate physical atom, is a matter on which they are compelled to reason because they cannot observe. But a science which reasons without those reasons being based on observations is no science as the West has known it up to the present time. All scientific reasoning is supposed to be based on observation; and if, instead of that, scientists have to fall back on reason where observation fails them, then a new method must be discovered, and new ways[18] must be trodden. I do not say there is no new method; I do not say there are not new ways; but they are not the methods and the ways of the science of our own time. And there comes in this difficulty: the minute is escaping science by its minuteness, the subtle is too subtle for its investigation. If that be true—and it is true of chemistry and physics, and true also to a very great extent of electricity—we find that all the sciences are coming up to the borderland in which their methods fail them, and their senses no longer answer to the delicacy of the waves that beat upon them from the outer world. They are leaving behind them the gross and the dense; that is conquered, it is theirs; the subtle and the rare, those escape them; and the instruments of brass, of glass, nay, even of sensitive needles, they are not fine enough nor subtle enough to carry investigation further.

In other realms of science the same difficulties are arriving. Psychology—where have all the facts of the new psychology come from? From scientific men? Not a bit of it! From frauds and charlatans, from mesmerists and spiritualists and theosophists, and all these “ists” that popular science looks down upon and says are entirely outside the pale of scientific respect. And yet from these they gather their facts, from these they are obliged to take the strange new psychological facts that are revolutionising all the ideas of consciousness and the powers which lie hidden in the human mind. Those facts are accumulating from the hands of all these improper people, and when science gets them it cannot explain them. It can only rearrange them and rename them, and call mesmerism “hypnotism,” and clairvoyance[19] “autoscopy.” But all that relabelling and all that rearranging cannot veil the fundamental fact that it has no theory into which these facts can fit, and no explanation which arranges them in a rational order. In psychology, as in chemistry, physics, and electricity, there is a deadlock.

And medicine, what about that? Doctors are beginning to think less and less of drugs. In my young days an honest doctor once told me that he sometimes gave coloured water and bread pills to people whom he knew would get on much better if they did not have drugs, but they were so determined to have them that he was obliged to give them something so he gave them harmless things. That idea has grown. Doctors have less and less faith in drugs, and they admit more and more widely that their medical science is very largely a hand-to-mouth thing, empirical, based on no true theory—experimental, as they say. But, in despair of finding the right road to health, they have gone down the terrible byway of Vivisection, trying to wring from Nature, by the torture of her more helpless children, the secrets which otherwise they were unable to find. But that is a fatal road; it is leading medicine further and further away from any true science of healing, and is turning it into a science of poisoning instead; medicine is becoming a matter of balancing one poison against another, so that in the middle of the balanced poisons you may be able to get some miserable remnant of health. When doctors find something they do not understand, they say: “Oh, let us try it on an animal; better try it on an animal than a man.” Yes; but if the animal does not give the same result, and if that which is poison to man[20] is not poison to the animal, then the results of your experiment may be a widespread, unintentional poisoning added to the intentional poisonings of the day. There comes in one danger, that perhaps may make people rather less ready to take the results of vivisection. Take henbane: goats feed quite comfortably on henbane; it would kill you. If, when people wanted to know the effects of henbane on the human system, they tried it on goats, many human deaths would have followed on the result of that particular use of the experimental method. What is being done with all these miserable results of this mistaken and blinded science, all these serums and toxins, and all the rest of the things which they are now pouring into the human body? They are lowering the vitality of the race; they are diminishing the disease-resisting power of the man. I do not say that you cannot make a man immune for a time by slowly poisoning him, so that when a dose of the poison comes it will have no effect. You can do it with arsenic; you can put so much arsenic into a human body that the arsenic-poisoned person can take a dose of arsenic without death. Do you tell me that is health? I say it is disease, and that all these miserable methods are lowering the vitality of the human body, and making it a prey to innumerable diseases under the pretence of saving it from a few. Health is not got by poisonings, however carefully graduated. Health is brought about by pure living, pure food, moral self-control, and by becoming the master and not the slave of your appetites and passions. It is a road that leads to death, and not to life, when you want to live evilly, and be cured of the[21] results of evil living out of the things which are wrung from the tortured bodies of the animal kingdom. And so there again there is a deadlock, for even the vivisectionists are beginning to be a little afraid of the results that they have drawn from their investigations. There are answers to the problems of disease, but they do not lie along this line.


What of art? Now, very many people, I am afraid, in this and other countries, do not realise that beauty is a necessity of daily life for the human being, and when he does not get it he is less man, less woman, than he ought to be. It is not a question as to whether you should have a beautiful thing as a luxury; it is a necessity, and it should be the daily bread of life. Nations which knew the value of beauty made their towns beautiful; their works of art were made common property, their buildings were exquisitely proportioned, their architecture magnificent, and out of all that, open always to the masses of the people, grew a beauty of form and a beauty of mind that cannot possibly grow up in a nation where the towns are allowed to be hideous, where the air is poisoned, and where all the common things of life are ugly instead of beautiful. There is one thing in India that I have often complained of; it will not strike you here so much as it would inevitably strike you there. The old Indian life was a life full of beauty. Even now, out in the villages, life is beautiful. The garments of men and women alike are graceful, flowing, exquisite in colour. If you see an Indian peasant woman working in[22] the fields she is a picture to paint, for the grace of her drapery, for the beauty of the colours that she wears; and if you see her going to the village well to draw water, she will carry on her head some vessel, it may be of beaten bronze or copper, it may be of kneaded clay, it will always be beautiful in form and exquisite in colour, Nowadays, since our civilisation has spread its power through India, things are changing; aniline dyes are replacing vegetable dyes; kerosene oil tins are replacing the exquisite vessels of the older days. In the old days in a village, when there was a wedding, every house contributed some of its beautiful vessels for the village festival; but now those have been cast aside, and miserable tin vessels take their place. It is only a small thing, you may say; I assure you it is a very great thing; for to kill out the sense of beauty which comes by living in contact with Nature—for Nature is beautiful everywhere, and contact with her beautifies the human face and form and mind—the killing-out of that sense of beauty which grows out of the mountains and the rivers, and the meadows and the groves, that is a national loss, and spells national decay. The garden cities you are beginning to build, those are not mere fancies of fanciful people, but a wise attempt to get the people out of the hideousness of bricks and mortar as they are used in England, into the country, where life still is fair, and where sunshine and colour are supreme. The life is poor where there is no beauty, and life itself grows common, vulgar, where beauty is not a dominating force. It is one of the great revelations of God Himself, for beauty lies in perfection of harmony, in exquisiteness of[23] outline, in loveliness of colour, and all those things are characteristics of the Divine Workman, whose manifestation is always in beauty, while wisdom and power underlie it. You may see it in your own works of art. They are not creative but imitative, and that is the sign that art along that line has reached its ending and must find a new inspiration. Sometimes people say you cannot improve upon Nature; but you can show them what there is in Nature which the blinded eyes of ordinary people do not see. Take a flower: true, the flower is beautiful; a little nature-spirit made it, and caught as much of the divine thought of beauty as that small intelligence was able to conceive; do you tell me that when the artist comes the divine life is not far more largely evolved in him than in that little nature-spirit, that he cannot catch more of God’s thought in the flower than the nature-spirit was able to express? And that is what the great painter, poet, musician does; he hears and sees and tells the thoughts of God more fully than you and I can do with our dull ears and our limited vision and our clumsy tongues. It is there, but we cannot see it. The artist is the revealer of the divine beauty in form, and unless he can do that he is no true artist at all. The artist has yet to come to this civilisation—the man who can see through the forms of the present the divine idea which is striving to express itself in new ideals, new hopes, new powers. These are wanted for art, and these shall come in the days that are dawning; and a new art shall be found in the new heavens and the new earth.

So, although I have taken you to-day along a dreary[24] path—for I have been speaking of the passing, and not the coming—it is because I want you to realise in the signs of the world around you that you are in the midst of a closing age; not only that you may know it—that is little—but that out of the knowledge of the closing you may prepare for the race which is to be born. For unless you understand, you cannot guide your steps aright; unless you understand, the world will be a mere puzzle, and not an expression of the divine thought. The age that is closing has done its work, has trained the concrete mind, has trained the scientific thought, has developed power and strength and energy—all good gifts of God, to be used for nobler purposes than they are used for to-day. There is nothing to regret, nothing to be sorry for, nothing to wish otherwise in the world that is dying. It has done its work; but it is ours to come out of the dying world into a world that is new, and it is out of the dying into the coming world that I would fain try to lead your thoughts, and perhaps your lives as well.


Lecture II
The Deadlock in Social Conditions: Luxury and Want Face to Face

Friends: I am to speak to you to-night on a subject which is a little outside our ordinary theosophical lectures. The Theosophist, as a rule, studies and talks about causes more than effects, concerning himself more with the getting rid of the causes of misery than with the effects that grow out of those causes and show themselves as particular forms of misery. Because of that he is sometimes called unpractical. But that is a misuse of words; for to understand the causes of misery and to remove them is far more practical than cutting off the tops of the weeds while you allow the roots to remain underground to reproduce new weeds to-morrow. To say that study with the discussion which grows out of it is unpractical is very much as though you declared that it was a practical thing to send out nurses and doctors to a field of battle to cut off limbs that had been shattered and to nurse the cripples back to health, and denied that to try to remove the causes of war was practical. Now, I admit that sending out nurses and doctors is a practical thing, but I allege that to work for the substitution of arbitration for war is a great deal[26] more practical. So with the particular things with which I am to deal to-night. I am dealing with effects, but only with a view to lead you on to the study of causes, and to the fundamental changes that will have to be made in the building up of a greater and nobler civilisation. Part of the way to turn men’s minds in that direction, and to give them the necessary impulse of working for the higher and the greater, is to show them the intolerable nature of conditions among which we are living to-day. In doing that, I am by no means going astray from the teaching and the example of that great and misunderstood woman to whom I owe all that is happiest and best in my life, H. P. Blavatsky. Some of you who are students of Theosophy may remember that in her Key to Theosophy she speaks about the misery of the East End of London, and utters words of praise for the attempts which were being made to change it. She did a good deal more than speak words of praise; for one day, after I had been telling her of some of the piteous sights that I was seeing day by day as member of the London School Board, as it was then, for the East End of London, I had on the following morning a little characteristic note, in which she enclosed a couple of sovereigns, saying: “You know I am only a pauper, but give these to the little children who asked you yesterday for a flower.” Similarly, that quick sympathy with human suffering came out in an instance in which very few of us, perhaps, would be prepared to follow her example. She was going to America, and only had just money enough to buy her ticket across; she bought it, and on the wharf she saw a crying woman with some[27] little children. She asked why they were distressed, and the woman told how she had bought bogus tickets from some scamp, and so could not go across the ocean to join her husband. H. P. B. walked back to the ticket office, got her first-class ticket changed for steerage tickets for herself and that unfortunate woman and children, and passed the voyage in the steerage part of an Atlantic liner—a very practical proof of the brotherhood which she proclaimed. So that, after all, I am not really going very far apart in taking up this particular subject of human misery and human suffering, showing you, what I dare say you know well enough, some of the cases which should stimulate to action. And if you say to me: It is an old story that you are telling us; then my answer to you will be that until the evils are remedied it is necessary to repeat the story over and over again.

Now let us look over this great civilisation, and see what I have called “The Deadlock in Social Conditions.” First let us remember, as a kind of preliminary atmosphere, that the great civilisations of the past have perished from this startling contrast of luxury and misery, and that what has happened over and over again in the past might quite well repeat itself amongst us to-day. For we are no stronger in our civilisation than were the civilisations of Rome, of Assyria, of Egypt; and we find in the Egyptian civilisation just the same sort of questions arising then as arise now, as though the world really had not progressed in this respect. In some of the unburied tablets and sculptures we find an edict about the wages of the workpeople, and how they were to be told not to be discontented, and not to refuse to[28] work because they were dissatisfied with the amount of wage that they obtained; and in another case we find directions being sent in order to meet the difficulties that had been caused by what we in our own time should call a strike of working people. The difficulties are very old, and the world has not yet solved them. It is in the hope that the coming civilisation will solve them that I am drawing your attention again to them to-night. Now even here we have what we call our submerged classes, and those form one-tenth part of the population—a terrible proportion if you come to think of it. Sometimes, when there has been a mutiny in an army, a regiment is drawn up rank after rank, and every tenth man is marked out to be shot while the others go free. That is the condition of our civilisation now—every tenth person is marked out to misery. In India the proportion is even larger. The submerged classes there amount to one-sixth of the population, but, on the other hand, they are not nearly as miserable as are the corresponding classes here: they are more despised, but they are far happier, partly because the belief in which they have grown up, under the thousands of years that lie behind them in that civilisation, has ever been that a man’s condition in the present is due to causes that he himself has set going in the past. So that those people, instead of blaming their neighbours, blame themselves for the discomfort of their own position, and sometimes determine that their next birth shall be a happier one by making the very best they can of the disadvantages here. Then again, poverty there is really not as terrible as here; you read of a[29] famine that sweeps away hundreds of thousands of the people, but is that really so very much more terrible than the continual condition of underfeeding in which our submerged classes live? The Registrar-General does not mark them down “Died of Starvation”—that would be shocking the public taste; but if you look into the matter you will see that when the starved sempstress going home carrying her work is struck by an east wind that whistles through her thin clothing and strikes on her underfed body, she is put down in the report as “Died of pneumonia, bronchitis, or consumption,” but in karma’s record she is marked down “Died of starvation,” for it is the perennial underfeeding that brings about the great mortality among the poor. I need only take a very few cases as examples in order to show you what this poverty means. I have taken them out of casual papers during the last week: from my own experience of the past I know them not to be exaggerated, but these particular cases happen to be going on just now. One of them is the case of the women who sew on cards the hooks and eyes which we buy very cheaply in the shops. Such a woman sews nearly 47,000 hooks and eyes for 1s. 2½d.—a thousand almost per farthing. Think what it means. Naturally she pulls in her children to help her; and so the children, who are obliged to go to school, for we have compulsory education, when they come back from learning their lessons have to sit down and set to work linking the hooks and the eyes together so as to save a little of the mother’s time, and the children, who ought to be playing and building up strong and healthy bodies, are kept there hour after hour preparing[30] the hooks and eyes for which the mother is to receive the princely payment that I have mentioned. Take another case that everybody knows—shirt-making: 1s. a dozen for men’s shirts, and there is a fair amount of work in those; even that is not the lowest depth, for the woman who takes them out to make at 1s. per dozen lets them out again at 8d. per dozen to a woman more miserable than herself. And so the thing goes on, home after home, person after person. This and the preceding case I am taking from the last issue of The Christian Commonwealth. Another case is mentioned there of a woman who had been working along these lines; her particular work, I think, was 5d. per dozen for collars, and find your own thread. She was brought up as a typical case before the Royal Commission. We are always ready to appoint Royal Commissions, but not very much comes out of them after they have taken evidence. She was asked by a Member of Parliament: “How do you and your children live on what you get in this way?” “We don’t live,” was the answer of the woman, and she spoke truly. She worked sometimes twenty hours a day, from six o’clock in the morning till two o’clock next morning, in order to get enough to feed her children and herself. I could go on for hours giving you cases like this, but I only want typical ones, in order that you may realise the conditions in which so many are living while we are comfortable and at ease.

Pass on from that part of this terrible poverty which nothing apparently is able to touch to the next question that links itself very easily to what I have been saying—woman labour in general, and especially in many of the[31] manufacturing industries. When women began to work at mills, and so on, it was looked upon as a good way for the women to add something to the comfort of the home. How has it worked? It has worked to drive down the wages of the men, and make the home more miserable even in money matters than it was before; and then the home has ceased to be a home, for there is no home where the mother leaves the children behind her, and goes out into the mill to earn the pence or the shillings wherewith those children are to be fed. It has been encouraged for the reason that a manufacturer gave very honestly and frankly before another Royal Commission. “Oh,” he said, “I prefer to employ married women because they are more docile.” That is true. The married woman is very much more docile because, when the question of any resistance comes, she thinks of the children who need food in the home. The baby hands are the hands that make her docile; it is the baby fingers feeling her bosom for the milk that will not come that makes the mother’s heart docile, yielding to everything for the sake of the little child. It has only made the complications of the labour market worse; it has only driven the men out to be unemployed in the streets, while they who ought to be mothers in the home are working in the factory instead. So the labour market only becomes more choked, the wages are rendered yet more miserable, and the men are thrown out while the women are employed, though the men cannot take the woman’s place in the home, and take care of the babies and look after the little ones; only a mother can do that, for nature has made mothers for that work, and the[32] father cannot take their place, however gentle and loving he may be. So you get another problem there, hard to solve, difficult to set right, and one that is ever growing more and more pressing for solution, that is ever intensifying the misery of large numbers of the working population.

Pass on, again, from that—you see I am only touching each point—and take a question of national import, the deterioration of the physique of the people who live in our large cities. That has been going on now for generations, and it has been shown very plainly in the lowering standard of height for enlistment in the Army. On the other hand, if you look at the well-to-do classes you will find rather an increase in strength and physique amongst them, especially amongst the women, because these take so much more part in outdoor life than they did in the past, and so you find they are growing taller and stronger, but the great mass of the population is growing shorter and weaker. But it is that great mass of the population from which the majority of your nation comes. They reproduce most rapidly; they are the people who swell the Registrar-General’s returns; from them the future nation is most largely produced; and it is no good to have upper classes strong and vigorous and well-fed if the mass of your population is deteriorating in strength and vigour. There, again, you have one of these pressing problems which it is necessary to answer; for these problems are like the questions of the Sphinx: the Sphinx put the question, and if the man could not answer it, the Sphinx devoured him. And so with these problems in social organisation; the question is put, and[33] the penalty for not answering is to be devoured, and for the civilisation to pass away.

Remedies of sorts are being put forward by doctors and sociologists; sterilisation of the unfit is one of the favourite nostrums or quack remedies of the day. But such remedies are worse than the disease, for they are brutal, and lead to deterioration of morale as well as of physique. You must go down to the root of the causes that make these the unfit, and not bring them forth from the social organisation by the myriad, and then try to find means to check their numbers; and so on that side, again, this insoluble difficulty is facing us.

Even these are not all the problems which are set for us by our Sphinx for which solution is demanded. We have seen terrible poverty, we have seen the question of woman employment, we have seen the question of deterioration of physique and swift multiplication of the unfit: what about the criminal population? We manufacture habitual criminals at a very rapid rate. We take up young men or young women, and we send them to jail for a week, a month, a year, five years, ten years. It goes on accumulating until the habitual offender gets sentences which will outlast his physical life. But that has done nothing to cure the man, that has done nothing to turn him into a good and useful citizen. The law, when it grips him, ought to turn him into a better type of man. Instead of that, he comes back over and over again, until the very habitual criminality that the law has very largely made is brought up as a reason for the magistrate to inflict upon him a heavier penalty. But that is not wisdom; it is folly. Very often a bright, clever[34] lad, full of spirit, falls into crime. It is only one chance in a hundred if he is rescued, and does not gradually drift into the ranks of the habitual criminal. Surely at this stage of civilisation there must be some better way; and there is a better way, as I shall try to show you when I come to deal with brotherhood applied to social life.

If we go beyond these extreme cases, and look at the ordinary questions of supply and demand, of production and distribution, notice how society is gradually coming to a point where things cannot go on as they are, and yet where to change them means the dislocation of our whole productive and distributive system. We can see it best, perhaps, if we go to America, because in America there are not the softening influences which to some extent at least still prevail here, where society was once based on a more human foundation, instead of merely on the question of cash. We see what our systems are if we go over the water to America, where they have full play, without anything to prevent their complete development. There are one or two things that strike us in America of a rather remarkable character. First, the growth of the man who builds his own enormous fortune on the deliberate wrecking of the small fortunes of others. Let me give an example. A large number of people, mostly rather poor, gather together into a company in order to build a railway that is wanted for the development of the country where they are. They want quicker communication, they want better carriage of grain, of goods, and they build a railway. It is working fairly well, it is paying, perhaps not very largely, but still fairly satisfactorily. A much cleverer man than those people[35] comes along, and he sees that that particular district is one that is likely to open up to a very large extent—one where railways will become most valuable property. He sets to work to build another railway that runs over the same ground as the first; it is not wanted except to make him rich. He then begins to destroy the other railway by charging smaller fares and lower freightage; he goes on doing that, putting in his capital, because his rates do not pay, until the other railway is driven down to the impossible level at which he has fixed prices and fares: when the shares of that other railway have sunk down to nearly nothing in the market, he steps in and buys them all up; when he has bought them all up he lets his sham railway go to pieces, and the whole of the district is in his hands, and he piles up an enormous fortune. On the other side of his fortune is the loss to all the shareholders who put their money into that railway in order to improve the means of communication in the place where they were living. They have been sacrificed that he might make enormous wealth. Such men are called “wreckers” in America, but they are honoured in society; they build hospitals, and even churches; they do all kinds of things with fragments of the wealth that they have taken; but I tell you that, although not by the law of the country, yet by the law of righteousness, these men are worse and more to be condemned than the burglar who steals the jewels of a lady or the gold plate of a millionaire. He is punished heavily when he is caught, and he deserves to be punished; burglary is obviously wrong; but worse than that open burglary that the law punishes is the hidden burglary of[36] the brilliant brain against the stupid brain, which robs people of the result of their labour in order to accumulate it within the wrecker’s store.

Other forms of this robbery are what are called “trusts” and “corners.” They have been trying, I see, to make a corner in wheat, and another speculator has been able to checkmate the original speculator by pouring in millions of bushels of wheat. But people are not fed any better whichever speculator wins; it is only a problem as to which of the two should be able to make the largest profits; and then the trusts are built up, whereby a few men are able to make enormous fortunes and kill out all the smaller men. Now our American brethren are getting a little tired of that, and they are trying to find out some way in which they can prevent it—some Act of Congress, some law which should prevent the trust. But what law can you possibly pass to prevent the trust, which is only the natural outcome of competition gone mad? What can you do to prevent that without crippling also every one of your industrial concerns which are based on the same principle of cut-throat competition? There is where the deadlock comes in again. The whole thing is built up on one man fighting against another, one man trying to overreach another, one man trying to make better bargains for himself, no matter what happens to his neighbour—that is the whole method of what we call our commercial system. If that be so, how are you going to interfere with its natural outcome, with the inevitable result which grows out of it?—the same principle, only carried a little to excess, and so shocking the conscience[37] that was not shocked when people were ruined piecemeal, but is shocked when they are ruined by hundreds and by thousands; yet each one of those who were ruined piecemeal suffered as much, his lot was as unfortunate. How, then, can you cripple the excess without undermining the whole? There is another of the problems which are set, and yet in the very midst of it there is a gleam of a brighter future, for in that great alchemy with which the mighty Chemist of the world’s laboratory changes the forces that destroy into forces that construct, there are signs that these trusts which have grown out of the greed and selfishness of men will really be organisations of industry which will be useful to the community in the future, when Brotherhood has replaced competition, and when thought for others takes the place of only thinking for oneself. And so we see possibilities even in the midst of the troubles.

Let us glance at another side of this problem—the attempts which are being made to improve social conditions in newer countries, as they are called, say, Australia. In Australia the working classes have got everything that they are asking for here; it is called the working-man’s paradise. Every boy of twenty-one can vote; think of the magnificent freedom of it! Every girl of twenty-one can vote; what more would you have? No need of agitation there. But, unluckily, the boys care much more about football than they do about questions in Parliament, and the girls, perhaps, are thinking more of bonnets and hats than of the way in which their votes ought to be cast. They have all got the vote and they do not know what to do with it, and that is a very common[38] thing. It does not occur only in Australia. Has it ever struck you that you are paying in happiness for what you call liberty, if you mean by liberty the right to cast a vote? No matter what your qualifications, that is quite outside the question; no matter whether you know anything about the questions, that is not of the least importance; no matter if your head is as empty as ever it can be, it counts just as much at the polling-booth as the head of the wisest statesman, thinker, most highly trained economist or historian. It is an admirable way of governing when you come to look at it from the outside standpoint. Let us see how it works in Australia where they have it: you have not got it yet; you are on the way to it. All these people have votes, and the great majority, as is always the case, are ignorant. There has been class legislation over here, and they have class legislation over there—it is not a good thing, only there it is just the other way up; and the effect of ignorant class legislation is even worse than the effect of educated class legislation. Let us see how it works. First, it works for a gradual diminution of efficiency along the ordinary lines of work, on which, remember, the whole prosperity of the country depends. The boy who is a free man does not care to be an apprentice, and it does not to do tell the boy he has done his work badly, because he is a free Australian, and off he goes, and he won’t work any more if you tell him he has not worked well. But, you know, nature is a very awkward thing to come striking up against in your political and social life, and her laws do not get modified as you might think they should. The boy who won’t learn becomes the workman[39] who is wanting in skill, and so the level of efficiency in production is getting lower and lower. If they want a piece of good machinery they have to send over here to get it—although there is a very heavy price put upon importing it into Australia—because the work there is so badly done that the machines won’t work properly after they are made, and that is one of the results that we are seeing at the present time. Another one is, that unemployment is increasing. There are men in the streets there just as there are here, clamouring for work, and asking the Government to give it to them; and how do they get there? Very many of them because they must not work under a certain wage, which is not a possible wage to pay for the kind of work that they can do. Suppose you happen to have a little garden; you want to have your paths weeded and your grass cut. That is gardener’s work. Now a gardener must not work under 10s. a day, and your poor professional man who is at a discount in the matter of votes, and has a fixed income, cannot afford to pay 10s. a day to have his paths weeded, so he goes to weed them himself, and the would-be gardener goes out, and is unemployed in the streets, and calls on the Government to find him work. There is a very serious side to that beyond the question of unemployment. If you are going to make the men who should give better work to the country than the weeding of paths weed their own paths for themselves, then you are putting a check on the whole of the higher kinds of labour on which the nobler national life depends, for it is as true now as it ever was that man does not live by bread alone. If you are going to make every man do[40] manual labour, you can get nothing more than the kind of paradise that you find in “Looking Backward,” which is more a paradise for the respectable suburb than for a nation that needs art and beauty, music and literature. Those things want leisure to produce and time to perfect. There must be education behind them before they can be produced, and it is a very bad arrangement to press all your nation down to a low level of comfortable eating and drinking and amusement, and forget the mightier things that make a national life—the products of genius, the creative exertions of thought. There is one of the greater dangers. You cannot blame the poor people. ‘As long as a man is hungry, a good meal is the one thing he wants, and that must be his ideal. But nations ought not to be built up on the crude ideas of the ignorant and the hungry. That is the duty of wisdom. But see how difficult this question becomes; see how it is even in this country, where still education is a very great weight in popular affairs, even though the vote ignores it. A man may know his own trade, and be able to give very good counsel and advice as to what is necessary for that one particular trade in which he is working; but a nation is not made up of one trade; it is made up of a hundred different occupations, every one interlinked and interrelated with all the others, and you cannot legislate nationally by simply looking at a single occupation or a single class. You must see how your law reacts on the whole of the complicated organism; otherwise you ruin your nation while you lift up a single trade, and that is what is happening in Australia. Certainly some of the trades are very well provided and[41] arranged for, but the rest of the elements that ought to make a nation are disregarded, and life for them is made impossible; and even within the limits of a trade, sometimes things are marvellously stupid. Let me give you one example. Melbourne is a large city, and occasionally it has very hot weather. The trades unions there have made a law that milk shall not be delivered more than once a day on Sunday; the poor man wants his holiday, and it is very selfish of you if you want to make him work on Sunday, so that milk may only be delivered in the morning. Now the difficulty is that the cows have not yet come into the trades unions; they do not realise that on Sunday they are only to give milk once a day and not twice. Without the slightest regard for the beauty of social arrangements, they wilfully persist in giving milk in the afternoon as well as in the morning. But the unfortunate milkman must not sell it, because if he did he would be turned out of his trade union, and that would mean destruction. So he has to keep it; and if the weather is hot it is not quite so good in the morning, in spite of the boracic acid, as it was the night before. So he mixes up the fresh milk of the morning and the stale milk of the night before, and sells it all as fresh milk: and though you may not discover it in the milk-can, the baby discovers it in the milk-bottle, and the death-rate of the children goes up in the summer because of this admirable arrangement which has been made with regard to the distribution of milk. That is not the way that nations can really be governed; and there are all sorts of restrictions of that kind which constantly come up against you in the home, and make you feel that life[42] is not in any sense free. Things of this sort can only succeed if certain conditions are willingly accepted by all the people who have to work under them, and not when they are imposed for the benefit of a particular trade or an unwilling and reluctant population.

Let us go one step further; we need not go out to Australia now. We have to replace competition by co-operation. You may say that is being very largely done. Certainly very much has been done in co-operative distribution; Lancashire and Yorkshire are full of successful co-operative works. How many are there of co-operative productive works? The idea has been tried a good many times, but it has always broken down for two reasons: first, that in production you want one clear, strong brain which is a despot over the production; you cannot do it by boards and committees and popular votes, and all the rest of it, because in that commercial production there are many things to think of; very swift changes may come about, and the one able man is able to seize the right moment and to lead his affair to success, where divided councils and delay and discussion spell bankruptcy. That is one of the difficulties with regard to this production. There is something still more serious—the want of trust. The people don’t trust each other; they are suspicious of each other. They suspect each other of personal ends, instead of honestly co-operating for the public good. So they change their officers continually, and there is no continuity of policy. That fault of want of trust, want of confidence, imputation of bad motives, is fatal and must remain fatal until people can grow out of it into Brotherhood. At the present time, when one man[43] born among the working classes, as they are called, by ability and skill, eloquence and application, rises into the higher social ranks, his bitterest opponents are to be found in the class which he has quitted; and when he finds, as he must find—because again he strikes up against great natural laws—when he finds that Trafalgar Square remedies are not workable when you come to put them within the four corners of an Act of Parliament, then people call him traitor, deserter, renegade, and the best he can do will not win him trust and confidence. How is that to be dealt with?

Oh, you say, you will have to change human nature before your plans will work. Exactly; that is precisely what has to be done. Do you think it is impossible? Human nature is changing every day; human nature is continually in a state of flux. The human nature of the Middle Ages is not the same as the human nature of our own time. When knight-errants went plunging about, fighting and the rest of it, it might very well have been said: “Oh, you have to change human nature before you can get people to sit quietly down and submit to the law, instead of knocking their oppressor on the head.” Quite true; but human nature has been changing through those centuries, so that instead of riding out to right your own wrong, you call in the nearest policeman and submit it to the arbitration of the law. Why should not human nature go on changing? As a matter of fact it is changing before our eyes, and the changes that are coming in it are the unfolding of the divine Spirit in man; the outer forms change to embody the unfolding Spirit, and the lower human nature is always changing, and gradually producing[44] itself in higher and higher forms. In the very midst of this struggle and competition, this misery and conflict, you can see, if you will open your eyes, the germs of a nobler, higher, more brotherly civilisation. How different is the social conscience from what it was even a century ago; how different the common feeling of responsibility when wrong things are done and misery is left unalleviated! How many more of the classes that are called comfortable cannot remain comfortable while they know misery is outside their doors; how many are beginning to recognise the great fact that whatever one has earned one holds as a steward, and not as an owner, in a world where all men are brothers, and where the duty of the family is the duty of each! That thought is spreading further and further, wider and wider; but the great change must come from above, not from below. Starving, ignorant men can make riots, sometime even revolutions; but only wisdom and love can build up a new civilisation that shall endure. I remember that one day, when H. P. Blavatsky was asked: “Are you a Socialist?” her answer was, “I believe in the Socialism that gives; I do not believe in the Socialism that takes.” There lies the keynote of the future. When those who have are ready to sacrifice, then the dawning of the new era will be seen in the sky that is over our earth; when wealth and education and power are held as trusts for the common good, ah! then will come the laying of the foundations of a better and a nobler State. When the educated man and woman remember: “This education of mine, bought by the ignorance of thousands who have laboured in order that I might be educated, really belongs to them, and I must[45] give it back to them in service, in order to pay the debt that I have contracted to them”; when the wealthy man feels: “I am a steward, not an owner of this wealth which has come out of the labour of thousands; let it help the uplifting of thousands”—then Brotherhood is beginning to show itself upon earth. When the gentle and the refined realise that gentleness and refinement are meant to be shared, and not shut up away in drawing-rooms to guard them as though they were delicate Dresden china that must not be used for fear it should be broken—when that day comes, we shall be nearer the beginning of a great social change. It must be by renunciation, by self-abnegation, that the foundations of that great brotherly civilisation will be laid. In a family, the elders think of the youngers; and when food is short, it is the elders who go without it in order that the little ones may be fed. So in every social movement the note of the higher is renunciation, the note of the lower is love and co-operation; then they will blend together, and each will bring what he has to give, none will despise another, for everything is equally necessary for the building up of a nation. The strength of the navy, the genius of the philosopher, the skill of the worker, the keen brain of the organiser—the whole of these must make a common work; and none should either despise or envy, for it is one work which is being made by all for the good of everyone.

If you say to me: “That hope can but be a dream,” my answer to you is, that as man is divine there is nothing too great for him to imagine or too exquisite for him to achieve. Think highly of yourselves, highly of your divine possibilities; realise that you are Gods in the[46] making, and that you can build anything to which you can aspire. Thought is the mightiest power; the thought-image first, and then its materialisation in the physical world. But it is not enough to think; the materialisation here has to be made; and there are signs of that in the great Christian civilisation which is still the dominant power in Christendom. For men are beginning to talk now not of heaven away beyond the clouds, but of heaven here on earth; of the kingdom of Christ on earth that shall surely come, not only in the ideal but in the actual; a civilisation based on brotherhood, wisdom, love. That is what is going to be done in the world just now opening up before us. Men are no longer content to be happy after death, they want to be happy on this side of death as well; and they shall be, unless the prayer that you who are Christians utter day by day is only a lip worship and not a reality: “Thy will be done on earth, even as it is done in heaven.” It is on earth the new great civilisation is to come, that Brotherhood is to be realised, that the nations of the future are to be built on the type of the family, and not on a type of a struggle of wild beasts in the jungle. That is the future to which we are looking; and if on this Sunday and last Sunday I have drawn the darker side, it is to show that because things are at a deadlock, therefore He who holds the key of every lock is near to His return on earth. In the Sundays that lie before us I hope to work out that second side of the subject, to show you how these things are passing away, and how it has been declared in the higher world, and the cry is echoing in the lower: “Behold, I make all things new!”


Lecture III
The New Doors Opening In Religion, Science, and Art

Friends: On the preceding evenings on which I have addressed you we have had our attention turned backwards to the past, or we were glancing at the present. We are now to turn our eyes to the future, and, starting from the basis of the present and of certain facts which are already showing themselves amongst us, to consider what new doors are opening in Religion, in Science, and in Art; what new avenues of knowledge are beginning to show themselves stretching to far-off horizons—horizons, in fact, which are not really the limit of those avenues, but only the limit to which we can at present pierce. I am chiefly concerned to endeavour to show you that this promise of the opening of new doors is a great reality; that the sounds are around us; that, as it were, the doors are already a little open, and we have the right to think that as man evolves a little further those doors will open wider and wider, so that the race may pass through them to a wiser and a happier future. In order to make this intelligible and clear, I shall have to ask you for a few moments to consider with me a certain view of man’s nature and constitution, a view which was[48] practically universal among the ancient religions of the world, which is indicated, although not fully carried out perhaps in detail, in the more modern faith of Christendom, which is revived amongst us, and is being taught all over the world by means of the Theosophical Society; not a new view, but a very old one, clothed only in new garments in deference to the advancing mind of man. Now this view I must put roughly, but without that statement the method of the opening of the new doors would remain unintelligible. It is briefly this: That every human being is fundamentally a spiritual intelligence, appropriating to himself portions of matter in the various types of worlds in which he lives; that that spiritual intelligence commences the great world-cycle as a germ or seed of divinity; and just as if, where you had an ordinary seed, a grain of corn, that grain would not grow and develop the powers within it unless it were planted in the soil, the soil whose juices nourish it, unless it were rained upon, and unless the sun shone upon it, so is it with the divine germ, the human Spirit. It is planted in the soil of human experience, whose juices shall gradually enable it to unfold its divine possibilities. It is watered with the rain of human tears, the tears of sorrow and of pain; it is vivified, strengthened, enabled to grow by the sunshine of human joy and human delight; and out of the contact of experience, out of the rain of sorrow and the sunshine of joy, gradually, generation after generation, century after century, millennium after millennium, the divine germ becomes a divine man, perfect in the manifested powers of Deity enfolded within him from the first.


But in order that that æonian evolution and unfolding may go forward, it is necessary that this divine germ should come into contact with matter. Hence veil after veil of matter enwraps, is appropriated by, this divine germ, and he draws around himself—as he descends from the highest heavens down to the earth, through region after region of ever-densifying matter—and appropriates veil after veil, in order that by contact with that matter, which alone can give him experience, the powers within him may unfold and the matter that he appropriates may become his servant, his instrument of manifestation. So when we look at any one of ourselves at the stage that we have reached to-day, we find a spiritual being many of whose powers have unfolded, but some of whose powers remain not yet unfolded into manifestation, and we find, clothing, as it were, that unfolding Spirit, the veils of matter of which I spoke, no longer mere inchoate veils, but bodies more or less definitely organised for the purposes of the unfolding life. On our physical plane, in the world in which we are to-day, that appropriated matter is now highly organised, and has become the servant of the intelligence of the Spirit to a very large extent in the more highly developed human beings. It has had developed in it, age after age, those organs of knowledge that we call the senses; five in number at the present time, as mankind has passed through five of those great Races that I likened to the waves of the human ocean when I first addressed you on this subject. You may remember that then I spoke of ourselves as being in the fifth of those great waves, and also in the fifth sub-wave, as we may say, into which the larger[50] wave divides itself. Even looking back along our experience in the present cycle of human growth, we can see these senses developing from their earliest inception up to the present point of keenness that they have reached, one sense developing in all its stages through one of the great Races.

In order that you may not think that that is quite removed from experience, let me ask you for a moment to look at a fairly prominent family of the fourth race, the one that preceded our own, which is now living in Burma, part of the Indian empire. In that fourth race as a whole the sense of taste was the one that was gradually evolving, the sense of smell being only germinal and rudimentary, not developed. Now if you go among the Burmans to-day and inquire into their diet, you will find that one favourite article of diet is fish; but not fish freshly drawn from sea or river, but fish that has been caught for some time, buried in the ground until it has become fairly aged, and then unburied, to form a delightful dish on the Burmese table. Certainly you can well realise the fact that in that fourth Race people the sense of taste is very different from what it is amongst yourselves, with perhaps one exception that I ought to make, that I believe even now in the sense of taste in some people finds gratification in game and venison that are euphemistically called “high.” Well, the fish that the Burman eats is very high; one might almost, if it were not rude, perhaps apply to it a word more like calling a spade a spade, and call it rotten. Now no one could eat such food as that and find it pleasant if the sense of smell, which has so much to do[51] with the more delicate savours of taste, were already well developed among the people; and I take that as a striking illustration, one that has come also under my own observation, in order to make clear what I mean when I say to you that with each race one sense is developed and the next sense to it is only germinal, and shows itself out in the following race, through which it grows to higher and higher perfection. So that the mere fact of the five senses of the present is an indication of the point at which humanity is standing, and a proverb—and there is often much truth in proverbs—about a man being frightened out of his seven senses, although at present he has only five, may serve as an indication of the widespread and ancient tradition that man has two races still through which he will evolve, and senses which will be developed as those races gradually develop upon earth; so that in the sixth Race, with which I shall have to deal in these lectures this day fortnight, “The Coming Race,” we shall be looking for the development of a new sense, the sense which will make the next world on the other side of death as palpable to us in the physical body as the physical world is palpable at the present time. For in man that form of vision will be the next to develop; and as his next higher body, the astral, becomes rightly organised, then in the physical brain will develop pari passu the organ whereby the knowledge of that world will come into the physical consciousness, and thus enormously widen our outlook, and make palpable what now is hidden from the eyes of most.

Taking this view of man, that he is an unfolding[52] spiritual consciousness, we find that he creates for himself, as he unfolds, more highly organised bodies of matter, so that the double growth is going on in every one of us, higher stages of unfolding consciousness, subtler bodies of matter by which that consciousness can express itself clearly and definitely; to every change in consciousness a vibration in matter answering; to every vibration in matter a change in consciousness responding; so that there are side by side the unfolding of the Spirit and the development of a more delicate and more highly organised body, the difference showing itself in the nervous system as well as in the mere outer configuration of the body. Glance again at that fourth Race, study its nervous system, and you will find it very different from your own. While like your own in outer configuration, while the differences between the brain and the general distribution of the nerves to the body are not great, if you go into the question of the organisation of that nervous system you will find that an enormous gulf divides the fourth and the fifth great Races of mankind. Again, if you want a proof, look at the amount of pain or the amount of physical injury which can be endured, say, by the Chinaman, in comparison with what you can bear. Notice that an enormous laceration inflicted on the body of the Chinaman leaves him ready to recover rapidly, while a similar injury to you would kill you by nervous shock. It is not the question of the mutilation—that and the loss of blood might be the same in each—but the fifth Race man dies from nervous shock, where the fourth Race man with the coarser nervous system is[53] able to recover, is able to re-establish the nervous equilibrium.

Another point you may notice among yourselves to-day, emphasising as you do in your own Teutonic sub-race the characteristics of the great Aryan Race to which all these branches that are spread over the West as well as in India belong. Looking at that, you will find, as you come into your own Teutonic sub-race, that nervous diseases increase; and they are increasing very rapidly at the present time, far more rapidly apparently than at any other period in human history. The strain on your present nervous system is beginning to be too great, for it is evolving a little more rapidly than the outer world is evolving to meet it; and hence, in order that you may not suffer from continual nervous diseases, it is necessary to begin to refine and to purify your lives, leaving the grosser passions behind you which in the course of evolution you now ought to have outgrown. As the next sub-race is born—and it is beginning at the present time—the nervous system will become more and more delicate, and keener sense-organs will appear in the children in larger and larger numbers. Our present organs of sense will first become intensified. Then, after much intensification, the newer organs will begin to show themselves—those which will unfold to us the world on the other side of death. To this world our astral bodies belong, and our nervous system will become finer, and thus make it possible to register our investigations more completely in our physical bodies. That will be one point that we shall have to bear in mind in looking for the new doors that are opening. But not only the[54] physical body is growing finer, but in addition to that our next body is organising itself and gradually unfolding its powers, the body that we shall wear on the other side of death as well, the body that we are wearing now through which our emotions are showing. For when we pass through death we do not pass unclothed into another world; we throw off this denser garment of the physical body, but penetrating that, interfused with that, intermingling with that now is the finer matter of the world on the other side of death, growing ready for our use in that further world, and organising itself gradually for the experiences that there we shall meet. And in the next race, as I shall try to show you more fully hereafter, that body will become highly organised, greatly developed, a thorough vehicle of consciousness as the physical body is to-day, and by the growth and organisation of that the new doors will open before us in Religion, in Science, and in Art.


Let us see, first, how this will affect Religion. The unfolding of the deeper strata of consciousness will bring our inner selves, the Spirit, into more and more direct touch with the spiritual regions of our universe. I am now not dealing with the finer worlds of matter, but with the spiritual realities which belong to the spiritual life. The nature of God, the consciousness of His presence everywhere, the recognition of His life as an indwelling power—all these will become fundamental realities for the unfolding Spirit in man. I pointed out to you, when[55] dealing with the deadlock in religion, with regard to the idea of God, that no amount of reasons addressed to the intellect could ever lead us to an absolute demonstration of the existence, the reality of God. Probability, yes; cumulative evidence, yes; but demonstration, no. When a thing is once demonstrated, no further challenge arises about it; when once a fact is demonstrated, no one any longer asks: Does that fact exist? and we have been in the region of arguments about God, and not of that spiritual knowledge of God which is eternal life. How is that to be reached? Not by any effort of the reasoning intelligence, not by any upreaching of the merely emotional nature, but by the unfolding in man himself of that Spirit which is divine in its essential quality, which, because itself divine, can respond to divinity without, and, because itself is God, knows that God of which it is the offspring. This is the ultimate truth of religion, the human experience of communion with God in the depths of the human Spirit; for religion is only a groping after God, a search after God; ceremonies and rites, churches and scriptures, they are all external; they can never reveal God to the Spirit, which is of His own likeness and image.

Only the Spirit can know Him, only the Spirit can find Him; while it searches through matter it can only hope He is, but the unveiled Spirit can feel the unveiled Godhead, and by the identity of nature can know that God is, and is itself. And as this inner spiritual life more and more awakens in the religions of the world, man will know the truth of that great saying of the Christ: “The Kingdom of God is within you.” As you[56] go down into the depths of your own being, there shall you find Deity, the conviction that God is and must be. For you can strip away from yourself everything that is not He, until only He, the one Self of all, remains. You can mutilate your body and lose your limbs, but you remain. Your emotions can grow worn out and be withered, but behind your emotions you still are there. Your mind may grow weaker, feebler, may become, as it were, paralysed for reasoning, and yet you are there, behind the failing mind; and if you are willing to pass on into spiritual experience, to let your emotions be quieted, to let your mind be still, then in the silence of the emotions, in the tranquillity of the mind, you shall find a deeper consciousness, a deeper life, a more real individuality; and as the emotions are still and the mind is silent, in the innermost depths of the Spirit you shall find yourself and God. And then, contemplating that mighty and eternal life, you shall feel that you share it, that you are part of it, that you cannot be separated from it, and, in a great gush of experience that never again you can doubt, you shall know the reality of Deity in finding the reality of yourself. That is the ultimate conviction that nothing can shake—that the human experience that many a man has had, that for him has transformed the world; that is the sure ground of the religion of the future, that the rock on which a true faith alone can be based; and it is written, and truly written, in an ancient Hindū scripture, that the only proof of God lies in the witness of the Self. On that rock religion will base itself, fearless of all attack, of all assault. No question of chronology can move it, for every man can[57] gain that experience for himself; no criticism and destruction of scriptures can tear this in pieces, for it is ever renewing in the perennial life of the Eternal Spirit; no churches, in failing, can shake it, for it is this that made churches, to help in its own searching; nothing outside can touch it, for it lives in the innermost heart of man. And in that, ever-opening new experiences, fuller knowledge, deeper understanding, more abounding love, and unchanging peace and bliss. Everything else may go, but this remains unchanging; and as out of this all has come, the perishing of the transient matters not, for the Eternal Source remains.

But that is not the only new door, though the most important one, which opens to religion. You remember that I said, that with the unfolding consciousness a more delicately organised body was evolved. And so we find that new senses, new powers awake in the material tabernacle with this unfolding of the divine Spirit in man. The senses which belong to the higher worlds are very near to the opening in every one of you; and if you ask me why I say it, my answer is very simple, because, taking, say, any dozen of you, dulling the physical senses by what is called mesmerism, or hypnotism if you will, so that you cannot see physical things, cannot hear physical sounds, cannot taste or smell or touch so that the senses answer to objects outside—under those conditions in about ten out of every dozen these inner senses are able to make themselves manifest, are able to bear witness to the existence of a subtler world. Now when you find that by an artificial process of that kind an ordinary man or woman can be made what is called clairvoyant or[58] clairaudient, or able to touch and feel things that the ordinary physical touch does not reveal; when you find that by stilling the physical these rudimentary senses are able to work—within limitations, but still to work—it is a fairly clear proof that man is on the threshold of unfolding those senses that now are rudimentary, and that need an artificial condition in order to show themselves. But they do show themselves under that artificial condition. If they were not there they could not show themselves, no matter how much you might paralyse the dense physical body; it is only because they are there that they can function. But when the rougher senses are active, those stronger vibrations dull the delicate vibrations of the rudimentary and dawning senses. It is only because they are present, but only partly developed that you are able to make them manifest in the great majority which might be taken from a meeting such as this.

Now, not only is that true—and I mention that first because that is practically universally recognised by science now—but they may be artificially stimulated without the help of mesmerism at all. While that is a rough-and-ready way of doing it with anybody, the other means requires a consciousness unfolded to the point where the fact of these senses is recognised as probable, and then a deliberate and sustained effort to bring these senses into working order. Now that is done by what is known generally as meditation, and meditation is only concentrated thinking. Anyone who is able to pay attention, any one who is able to think steadily on one subject for a little time without letting the mind wander,[59] is ready to begin meditation; and most of all are those ready to begin it, although at first sight they might not look promising, who are capable of being seized upon by a single idea of a high and lofty character; which, as it were, takes possession of them, obsesses them if you will, so that they become martyrs, heroes for the idea which has gripped them. I do not say that is the highest state—it is not; it is not best to be possessed by the idea, but to possess the idea—that is a stage higher still. But the power of being possessed by an idea shows that you are climbing upwards towards the realms of the ideal; and many a man or woman who is marked out as a fanatic, as unwilling to be reasoned out of their foolish ideals, the dreamers of the world, the Utopians, the poets who dream of a coming golden age, those men and women who despise the present, sometimes irrationally, in the wild enthusiasm of the idea that has possessed them, they are treading on the threshold of that power of concentration of the mind which, when they have mastered their ideas, should carry them far on—on to the next stage in human progress. It is by meditation that these senses are artificially awakened; that is, you quicken the normal workings of evolution by knowing the laws of thought, and utilising them to bring about that which you desire. It is only artificial in the same sense that a cattle-breeder, when he wants to breed a particular type, uses those laws of nature that help him, and avoids or evades those that would hinder him. He clears out of his way all the opposing forces and energies, so that those he wants may have free play. So with the laws of mind; if you know the laws of mind, the laws[60] by which consciousness evolves, then you can use them scientifically to develop in yourselves the highest powers of the mind, and use those powers of the mind to organise your subtler body, so that it may become a vehicle of consciousness, may be obedient to your will to know. That is already stirring within you; hence the nervous troubles that you have; but when you understand the law, you can evolve the finer nervous system without peril to health. Only this demands rules which many people kick against, a physical self-mastery that is not popular in the luxurious and ease-seeking civilisation of our time; to make your physical body only an instrument, to allow it to eat only what you choose for it as best suited to your purpose, to allow it to drink that alone which suits your aim, to allow it to sleep just as long as, and no longer than, conduces to that object that you have set before yourself—to make the body the servant, and not the master, or even the equal, of the Spirit—that is the regimen which has to go with the quicker evolution of the astral body and the keener senses which belong to it. Many are doing it amongst us now; nature is doing it, but not so rapidly as man can do it by working with nature.

On the western coast of America, along the Californian district, where the electric conditions are very peculiar, one of the games the children like is to run along the carpet, rubbing their feet along the carpet as they go. This charges them so highly with electricity that if you turn on a gas-jet they can put a finger to it and light it. These are things that are well known over there, and with that peculiar electrical condition the tension of the[61] nervous system is higher, and so these senses are very much more common there than they are in our damper and less brilliant electrical atmosphere. That, however, is coming for all; there partly by natural conditions; here, if you choose to do it, by deliberate working with nature along the line of evolution.

Now, what will be the effect of evolving those astral senses? That the next world will form part of this world to you, so that in religion a large number of things that now are matters of faith will become matters of everyday knowledge. There will be no need then to talk about human personality persisting on the other side of death, for you will see your dead all around you, as some are able to see them even now. Death will be only going into another room in the house that we are all living in, and even the walls will become transparent, so there will be no real separation; it will no longer be necessary for the clergy to preach about the life on the other side of death, for all the congregation will see that it exists; it will be no longer necessary to talk about the results in that life of what we are doing here, for the results will be open before our eyes, as they are open to the eyes of the seers of to-day; there will be no need then to say that death cannot divide, for all will know that their beloved are with them—tangible, visible, audible.

Now, these things are so to an ever-increasing number of our own race at the present time; they will become general as evolution proceeds. And the result of that will be that very many of the secondary teachings of religion will become palpably true to the great majority;[62] not only the question of the life after death and the conditions that rule there, but also the value of many church rites and ceremonies that the sceptical and materialistic mind of the moment looks on with scorn and contempt as ancient superstitions. There is such a thing as the sacramental life; there is a bridge between this world and the next in those sacraments of the Churches possessed by every great religion, and not by the Christian alone. Much of that has been lost to western Christendom by the Reformation, which rejected the occult because it had been abused, and superstition believed without understanding. But, none the less, in the great sacraments of the Church there remains a potency which without that sacrament you cannot reach, a real communication of the spiritual to the material, a real down-flowing of the higher life: a thing which is visible to the eye of the seer, although invisible to the normal worshippers in the churches. And gradually, as these senses become common, those ancient traditions will again be justified in the minds of all, and men will again know that in those divinely given offices of religion there is a mighty potency, a living spiritual reality. You do not need them when you have opened up your Spirit to the higher realities of the spiritual world, but how few there are who are really open to these in their daily lives; the sacraments are the bridges that unite the worlds, and it is foolish to throw them aside until you have built a perpetual bridge within yourself.

All along those lines you will readily see how many doors will open in religion where knowledge will justify[63] what humility and faith have received. And along those lines religion, without ceasing to be spiritual, will be rational and scientific as well, and you will realise that Occult Science justifies religion, and can make a rational and scientific defence for many of its rites and ceremonies, for many of its teachings that now rest on authority and tradition. I have not time to go further along that line; I have indicated to you the ways along which the doors are opening both in the spiritual unfolding to the higher realities, and the unfolding of the higher senses which will gradually bring the next world within man’s ken.


Let us turn to Science, and see how far similar doors are opening there for the science of our day. You may remember that I pointed out to you that science was now rather at its wits’ end as regards observation. It seems to have reached the limit of the delicacy of its outer apparatus. How shall it continue to observe? By means of those same senses that I have been speaking of in relation to the verification of religious teachings, but in science you can begin a little lower down. In the physical world of matter, our own world, science is now recognising not only solid, liquid, gas, but also ether, and beyond ether, possible finenesses arising, so that there may be many ethers, as indeed was suggested in that famous classification of vibrations which Sir William Crookes gave in one of his addresses a few years ago. Let it stand for the moment as a matter of observation of higher sight that there are more ethers than[64] one that science will gradually conquer. But science is not yet able to see even the chemical atom, and that is only on the plane of the gas, the third fineness of matter. The atom escapes by its subtlety, by its minuteness, and yet it would not be a very difficult thing for most of you to develop in yourselves the power of seeing as far as that, for it is only physical matter. It is not now the seeing of another kind of matter altogether, like that of the astral world; it is only the making a little keener of your present physical sight. Now I wonder how many of you, if you were on board ship, quiet, with the air very pure, if you looked into the atmosphere around you, would see dancing in that atmosphere a number of tiny brilliant sparks. Probably a large number of you. Try it next time you happen to be out on the sea. Sit with your back to the sun, otherwise your eyes will become dazzled; fix your gaze at the distance at which you can see an object clearly, so as not to strain the eyes; focus your eyes, say at a distance of four or five yards away, not near enough to cause any strain by the crossing of the eyes; you must not cross the axes of the eyes, that is, you must not squint; that, prolonged, will injure the eyes. Let them look quite easily out a few yards away from you into the empty air, and stay quite quietly looking at that point. Probably most of you presently would begin to see a number of brilliant little sparks dancing like motes in a sunbeam. One word of warning I must give you: if, in fixing your attention on one of those, it slowly glides away out of sight, round the corner as it were, then it is only something in the retina, and the humour of the eyes carries that gradually away;[65] anything that gradually slides out of sight belongs to the physical retina of the eye, and is not outside yourself. But if they dance up and down in every direction, exactly as the dust in a ray of light coming through a shutter, then you may be sure that you are seeing something in the air beyond your ordinary vision. Look at them easily, not straining your vision, but with the will to see—every organ of sense is evolved by the will of the Spirit behind it—the will to see more plainly, and gradually you will find that those dancing sparks of light can be stopped by your will to look at them, until they will, as it were, hang in the air like minute sparks without the rapid motion. You have begun then to develop etheric sight, and going on steadily along similar lines you would find that before very long the atom of the chemist would become visible to you. Of course, this is possible to any clairvoyant who possesses real clairvoyance, and not only a dim response to vibrations outside that are not understood. Two years ago, under favourable conditions, two of us who had developed some of these higher kinds of sight set to work on the atoms of the chemist. We examined some fifty-five or fifty-six of them, drew the forms, and since then have examined all the rest that are known to science. Those forms fall into classes; they can be drawn so that anyone who is now able to see them can test his own vision if he pleases by that which we have put on record; and you will find in that work, which we published under the name of Occult Chemistry, pictures of the chemical elements, observations as to their breakings up into finer and finer forms of ether, and possibly to the trained chemist suggestions of experiments[66] by which he may guide his own investigations, and by utilising what we have seen as scientific hypotheses to him, although facts to us, may be able to follow these subtle and elusive particles of matter further than he has been able to follow them by any instrument that he is able to manufacture. For when a thing is once done, it is possible then to verify it over and over again; when once the pictures have been made, it is easy for others to see them and verify their details; and along that line opens up a whole vast series of new observations by man developing within himself instruments of observation keener than those he possesses by his apparatus and his machinery. Along that line physical research may go. As these senses become commoner and commoner, investigations may be carried on by scientists into the subtler worlds on whose thresholds they now are standing, until we shall be able to have a chemistry founded on direct observation which shall carry us right up to the ultimate atom of the physical plane, and make practicable those so-called dreams of the Alchemist, which are only practicable by bringing together atoms of a finer kind than the gaseous, and so leading to aggregations that make the elements along the lines that the chemist desires, he doing in his laboratory what nature has done outside. And so along that line to chemistry, to electricity, new powers of observation will extend the bounds of science.

And in medicine the same is true. Now medicine is to some extent, especially on the Continent, profiting by this clear seeing. It is not an uncommon thing in a Paris hospital for the doctors to look for someone who[67] is sensitive, to hypnotise that sensitive person, to half awaken him, so that he is what is called “lucid” or “clairvoyant,” to take him then to the bedside of the patient and get him to describe the inner condition of the organs of that patient. Diagnoses are being made in that way now in several of the Paris hospitals, enormously facilitating the work of the physician, and even of the surgeon. It is only seeing by what you call the Röntgen rays. The human eye can develop the power to see by those rays, and then you don’t want your screens and all the rest of your apparatus, for direct vision will do what is now done imperfectly by apparatus. Once, in speaking about this, I pointed out that all that the doctors had done was to give a new label to a power that had been recognised by many right back in the last century. They don’t call it clairvoyance—I use that word—they call it internal autoscopy. After all, a rose by any other name smells as sweet. Clairvoyance is just as useful when it is described in seven syllables as when it is described in three the power is the same; and that is now being used, as I say, for medical purposes. As that extends, as the action of drugs can be watched, as the physician can see what he is doing instead of groping, then medicine will become what it ought to be—a science of healing; and instead of the miserable practice of vivisection you will have the clairvoyant vision, which directs alike the scalpel of the surgeon or the prescriptions of the physician.

But that is not the only door which is opening before medical science. Doctors are beginning to realise the enormous value of the power of mind in the treatment[68] of disease. Along this line the way has been led as usual by the great hosts of people who are banned as charlatans by modern science—Christian Scientists, Mental Scientists, faith curers of all sorts. These are the things that are leading the medical profession slowly along sounder lines of cure, along safer methods of healing. Most doctors will now admit that to get the mind of the patient with them is to double the value of their drugs; most doctors will admit that the use of the imagination by the patient is an immense help in the curing of any disease. On every side you may see that these methods are being taken up by medical men, and are being rendered more and more scientific. What is the law that underlies them all? That the mind creates; that the mind is the one great creative power in the universe, divine in the universe, human in man; that as the mind can create, so can it restore; that where there is injury, the mind can turn its forces to the healing of the injury; that where harm has happened to the body, the mind can bring a remedy and strengthen the action of the drugs that are given by the physician. And I see now that in the Anglican Church there are several guilds of healing by the action of prayer—which is concentrated thought—by the touch of consecrated oil—which is a sacramental function—and by the faith of the patient, which is the determination of the mind to work in the direction which is desired by the sufferer. Now there is nothing new in that, nothing that has not been known in the world for thousands of years. It was pushed out of sight by a science that depended only on material means; it is coming back with the supremacy of mind[69] over matter, and with the recognition which science is now making, that it is life which is the evolver and the moulder of matter. As medicine goes along that line instead of along the lines of torture, the doctor will again become the healer instead of the poisoner that he too often is to-day.

In psychology the same is true; new doors are opening there. These higher bodies of man that I spoke of at the beginning, as they become organised, bring us into touch with one region after another of the universe around us, answer to vibrations from the outer world far away from our physical globe, bring us into contact with the subtler regions, the regions of thought as well as the regions of Spirit. As our consciousness makes its vehicles more plastic, more useful, more keen, more subtle, we shall find the consciousness far larger than we dreamed of, until at last we shall realise that this human consciousness of ours is only like a vast body touching delicately, as it were, the surface of the physical matter of the globe, putting a little more of itself down into the physical brain that is more sensitive, but ever transcending the physical, and using the higher, finer matter for its keener instrument, until at last we shall realise that genius of every kind is only the manifestation of a larger consciousness that each of us possesses, only we are not able to make it work through the denser matter of our brain. And we shall realise that all that the Prophets have said, all that the great Mystics have told us, all those things are only the fruits of a wider consciousness contacting a wider world, and that before psychology is unfolding an enormous range of possibilities,[70] in which man will be in touch with other worlds than this, and in which he will climb higher and higher, until he realises that he is cosmic, not planetary, and belongs to a vaster system, and not only to one tiny world. Along those lines, and along many another, then, the finer sense is opening to science new doors, new avenues of knowledge.


And what of Art? Here, again, these senses will be the builders of the new art, the givers of the new ideals; and there are already signs, in the world of painters more especially, of new powers which are opening, new splendour of colour, and new wedding of emotion to colour also. A new school of painters is beginning to grow up, some in this country, one at least in Belgium, several in Hungary. I was looking at their paintings only three or four days ago, in which new use of colour is being shown to indicate the higher emotions of the mind, in which the painter is throwing into forms of new beauty, glorious in new brilliancy of colour, the higher thoughts and emotions which show themselves especially in religious feelings. There was one painting that was hanging in the hall in which we were holding our International Congress, which from the further end of the hall seemed as though it were impossible as a mere painting on opaque canvas. As you looked at it from a distance it seemed as though the colour were transparent, as though the canvas were transparent, as though there were a light beyond the painting shining through the colours from behind. Now, there is something of[71] that quality in the paintings of Mr. Mortimer Menpes which he did in Japan. It shows so strongly that I remember, in one exhibition of his paintings, that people looking would hardly believe that a light had not been hidden behind the painting, so extraordinary was the brilliance that seemed to shine through; but if you talked to that great colourist, you would find that he sees colours in quite a different way from you, or at least I will say I found he saw them in quite a different way from my normal sight, and in talking to him about the colours that he saw, I was able to recognise, having unfolded some of the higher vision, that he was seeing astral colours, and not physical, and that the effort to throw those upon the canvas brought about the remarkable results which everyone wondered over, though they did not understand. Now there are many artists who are growing up along that line, who are groping after new possibilities of colour as well as after new ideals which they seek to limn, and you will find in the more modern paintings of that school, at present so small but with the promise of the future in it, that they are seeking after new forms of beauty; that they are trying to translate some of the higher visions that belong to worlds of matter subtler and finer than our own; that they are beginning to draw down from the ideal great thoughts, which they are putting at present imperfectly into form and colour, but in which is the promise of the Art of the Future, where larger worlds shall be drawn upon, where a vaster Nature shall unfold herself to man, where new colours and new possibilities of outline shall be found in every direction, and where human genius shall have a[72] wider range, because a wider world and wider powers will come within the power of the painter.

And so we shall see it also in music. That is beginning to show signs of the coming art—subtler harmonies, minuter distances between notes, tendencies to quarter-notes as well as half-notes, quarter-tones; and already there are one or two musicians who are beginning in their melodies to play with these subtler kinds of tones, making strange new music—music which the public ear is not yet accustomed to, which it challenges when it hears it, but which is the Music of the Future, when a vaster range of sound shall appeal to ears more finely organised than ours, and when the ears of a new race shall demand from its musicians greater delicacies of musical sound than have yet been mastered amongst us; and there is a new possibility there. That has been seized in India, although little put at present into music that the West would love. If you go to India you will find some strange rules of music there: there is music for the sunrising, and music for the high noon, and music for the evening hours, and music for the stillness of the night. Nature has her sounds in all the different times of her unfolding, from dawn to sunset, and sunset to dawn, and these finer notes are attuned to these mysteries of Nature, so that unheard melodies may be mirrored in the music of human instruments. The Indian musician would not play to you a melody of the dawn when the sun was setting; he would say it was against religion to do it, for to him all things are religious. It is a subtler harmony between man and Nature; and not without significance, again, was it that,[73] at the Congress I have just spoken of, a Russian lady teacher—for the Russian is very sensitive, a young nation with possibilities of the future in it—brought to us what she called “coloured sounds.” She had learned to translate into musical sounds the colours of the sunset and the colours of a forest, so that in music she could play sounds that made arise in the mind the same emotions as would be aroused in the mind that looked at the glory of the clouds in the sunset, or that sat in the wood and saw the delicate shadings of the trees; the same emotions in the one case seen in Nature, in the other heard in music, and both changeable the one into the other, eye and ear, and ear and eye. Along those lines many new possibilities lie—new melodies, new delicacies, new exquisite harmonies in sound.

So art will go forward here, with these keener, subtler organs, further even in one way than science along the line of observation, for art reaches out by emotion where science is only observing, and so the poet is very easily the prophet, and the artist very easily the seer; and as these powers increase and multiply, a new race arises in which the powers are inborn. Can you not dream some of the new possibilities in Religion, in Science, and in Art?

You think it is all a dream, all a fancy! But to say that, you must be making the preposterous claim that evolution is over, and that you are the highest products which Nature is able to bring to birth. We are far higher than the savages: should there not be races higher than we are? Surely Nature’s power is not exhausted; surely she, who has gradually builded up the[74] exquisite mechanism of the human retina from the pigment spot in the nervous ring of the medusa, surely she can evolve these eyes further and further, to greater power of sight. It all grows out of the Spirit, and of the Spirit there is no ending. If you see to-day with your eye it is because the Spirit in you willed to see, and by that will built up the organ which made the will effective in the material world; and that same Spirit that evolved you in the past is living in you now, and is your innermost Self; its powers are not exhausted, its inspiration is not over, it is still the architect of the human body, as the divine Spirit is the architect of the universe. Ever to higher and higher forms of matter, ever to loftier and loftier stages of consciousness, everlastingness stretches in front of us, as everlastingness stretches behind us. As we have climbed, so we shall climb; as we have come upwards from the dust, so shall we ascend to the stars; for the Spirit of God within us knows no limitation either in time or space, and the evolution of the future should be a millionfold more splendid than the evolution which has made us what we are.


Lecture IV
Brotherhood Applied to Social Conditions

Friends: I wish to deal to-night with the question of the principle of Brotherhood as applied to human life; how we may use it to solve some of the problems that we find around us at the present day, how we may use it to make possible the transition from one stage of civilisation to another, so that the transition may come in peace and goodwill, and thereby may last, rather than in anger and revolution, which can only mean a brief period of the new order, and then another struggle, prolonged ill-will, and misery. But if Brotherhood is to be applied to the solution of our difficulties, the first thing that is necessary is to try to understand what is meant by Brotherhood, and what it implies. Now, Brotherhood by no means implies what is called equality, for just as you do find Brotherhood in nature, so do you not find equality; in fact, the very name Brotherhood carries our thoughts to the constitution of the family, implies at once the inequality of elder and younger, of wiser and more ignorant, of those who guide and those who obey; so that if man is to aim at a society in which equality is to be the watchword, then the principle of[76] Brotherhood must be entirely thrown on one side. The disadvantage of taking the war-cry of equality in trying to make a social system, or even to fight a social battle, is that natural law is against you, and that you are dealing with a fiction, not with a fact. There is nothing more obvious throughout the whole realm of nature than the inequalities of which natural order consists; and if you turn aside from the vaster order of the various grades of living things, and confine yourselves only to the study of man, there the same principle of inequality is perpetually asserting itself. It is not only the difference of age which always comes in, in the question of a family; it is the difference of capacity, of power, of characteristics, of qualifications. What sort of equality is possible between the strong and healthy man and the cripple or the invalid? what sort of equality between the man with eyes and the blind? between the man who is dowered with genius and the man who is weighted by dulness and stupidity? Inequality is the law of nature, not equality; and it is of no use to try to build a social system on that which is only a fiction, thought out in the study of doctrinaires, but breaking down the very moment it comes to be applied to human life. That famous declaration of the American Republic: “Man is born free,” and on that freedom basing equality, is denied by every fact of human life. Man is born a babe, helpless and dependent; and if the babe were left to the enjoyment of freedom, he would have very little chance of growing into youth and maturity. A babe is not born free, but dependent on all those around him for the possible continuance of his life; and if it were not that[77] he is born into a system of affection and obligation, there would be no chance for the human babe to survive the first hours of his infancy.

It is a remarkable fact, one full of significance, that the two societies in the world which recognise Universal Brotherhood both also recognise a hierarchical order. Take the great fraternity of Masons. They lay down the principle of Universal Brotherhood over the whole surface of the globe, but there is nothing more rigid in its order and in the authority committed to the officers than a Masonic Lodge. Hierarchy is there recognised as the very condition of liberty. If you turn from that proclamation of Universal Brotherhood to the Theosophical Society, exactly the same thing is seen. You have there the recognition of a hierarchy that guides the destinies of humanity, and presides over the evolving growth of man—a mighty hierarchy, where wisdom only gives the right to rule, and where the commands of wisdom are gladly carried out by the less wise, who recognise the authority of those wiser than themselves. And that, in truth, is the condition of liberty. For without that hierarchical order, where wisdom rules and ignorance obeys, there is no possibility of anything that is worthy to be called by the name of liberty. As I shall want to put to you at the close of what I have to say to-night, we have never yet seen liberty upon earth outside the ranks of that great human hierarchy; we have only seen the rule of different classes, the rule of one group over another; but never have we seen liberty, for man is not yet sufficiently evolved to understand the conditions under which alone liberty can exist.


In looking at this strange fact, that the only two societies that proclaim Universal Brotherhood also admit a hierarchical order, let us see how far in the great Brotherhood of man there are any foundations on which a hierarchy can be based. I am coming, now, away from that great occult hierarchy of which I spoke into the ordinary humanity known to us all. In the family, where the principle of Brotherhood is recognised, and where duty and responsibility go with age and knowledge, there we have, as it were, a rough outline as to what a State should be. But how does the principle of age come in as regards mankind? For unless there be something in the human race which bears an analogy, at least, to the principle of age within a family, we shall find it difficult to vindicate Brotherhood, much less to make it the foundation-stone of society in the centuries to come. Now, it is as true of humanity as it is true of the members of a family that there is a difference of age. Exactly on the same lines by which the members of a family are born one after the other, and in all those different ages make up the family circle, so is it with the great family of man. The human and intelligent Spirits that make up that vast family are not of the same age, have not all been born into individual existence at the same time. Side by side with the idea of Brotherhood comes out the natural law of reincarnation—that there is a difference of age in the individualised human Spirits, and that there are elders and youngers in the great human family. These differences of age do not go necessarily with any of the distinctions of castes or classes that you find in modern society, although the great caste system[79] of India was founded upon this principle of the different ages of the reincarnating Egos. Long ago, however, has that passed away, and you have not now manifest on earth that same definite order as in the earlier days of our Aryan ancestors in India. Still, you can tell the younger or the older soul by examining the characteristics that the man or the woman brings into the world at birth; by looking at the character, the marks of the being older or younger leap into sight. The younger soul, unable to acquire any large amount of knowledge, with very little moral faculty showing itself, very selfish and desirous to grasp the pleasure of the moment without any care for what may be the result of grasping it in the time that follows, the trivial, shallow, easy-going way of life, the being carried away by the ever-changing fancy, and with no strong underlying thought or principle or will on which you can reckon, very changeable, very frivolous, easily carried away by every passing whim of the moment—those are marked out as the younger souls, who have little experience of life behind them in which character has been builded, in which will has been evolved. And when you come across those of calm judgment, great capacity for acquiring knowledge, power to turn knowledge into wisdom, steadfast in will, steadfast in principle ready to look to the future beyond the passing attractions of the moment, ready to sacrifice a temporary gain for a larger happiness—in such men and women you have the marks of the older souls, whose past experiences have gradually developed capacities, and who have brought with them into the world the fruits of long-reaped harvests. That great principle of Reincarnation must ever[80] go hand in hand with Brotherhood if Brotherhood is to be applied, if it is to be made a working principle of ordinary life. For it is out of these differences of age between us that grow up all the possibilities of an ordered and happy society amongst ourselves. When the young souls come into places of power and wealth, then ill is it for the nation, for then children rule instead of men. But well is it for a people where wisdom is the test of weight and authority, where the wise and the thoughtful and the learned are those who are held to have the greatest claim to social distinction, where knowledge and power go hand in hand, and where experience is the guide of righteousness, the standard of honour. Only as those facts are recognised—and they grow out of the knowledge of reincarnation—only on that stable law in nature can you build securely and strongly the society that shall endure.

But it is sometimes said: If you are going to build a society on these great principles, then you have to change human nature, because human nature is selfish, superficial, readily swayed, and you cannot build a society which is truly great out of trivial and superficial people. The wise are always in the minority; how, then, will you gain for them the right and the power to rule? It is true that human nature will have to change very much from what it is to-day, but then it is changing all the time—it is no new thing to change human nature. Human nature is perpetually changing as century succeeds century and civilisation succeeds civilisation; and when we once understand the law of life, and realise the mighty power of thought in the building of character,[81] and understand that law of inviolable sequence which Theosophists call karma, working in every department of human life and not only in non-intelligent nature, when we realise the time that reincarnation gives us, and the certainty that that law of inviolable sequence gives us, then we begin to understand that human nature is a very malleable thing; and just in proportion as we understand the law, so shall be the rapidity of the changing. Do you think that human thought is weak as a force to change human nature? Is it not rather true that thought is the power which brings about all mighty changes?—first the ideal, then the action. Let me give you two striking examples of the only two nations in Europe that have attained national unity during our own lifetime; one Italy, the other Germany. I only take them as examples of nations that out of many States and warring interests have reached unity as a nation; and how was it done? It was done by the holding up of the ideal in both cases, the ideal of national unity. Not until German poets had sung of the German Fatherland for many and many a long year, not until that ideal of the Fatherland rose strongly and clearly in the minds of the young, not until the poet had made the ideal was it possible for the soldier to come forward with the statesman and build those States into one. And so also with Italy. Long before there was any talk of revolution or war, long before there was any idea of appealing to the sword, Italian thinkers had spoken of Italian unity, Italian patriots had held up the ideal of a united Italy; and it was only when the ideal had fired the hearts of the young that there was strength enough for the self-sacrifice[82] that followed the sword of Garibaldi, and made it possible for Italy to become a united people. For it is out of the ideal that enthusiasm grows, out of the ideal and the longing to realise it that the power of self-sacrifice is generated. What we need to do, then, to change human nature, is to hold up great ideals before the young of our time, and those ideals shall fire their hearts to passionate enthusiasm, until self-sacrifice shall be a joy and not a sacrifice at all, in order that the ideal they worship may become realised upon earth. Along those lines human nature will change; for, never forget that Human Nature is divine, not devilish; that a God is at the heart of every man, unfolding the power of divinity; hence the power of the ideal to fire and the power of thought to mould the lines of character.

Let us pass on from principles to practice, and see which of the social problems shows good hope of resolution by applying this principle of Brotherhood, with its corollaries of reincarnation and karma. Evidently our first tool is education. In the plastic bodies and brains of the young there lies the greatest possibility of a speedy upbuilding of a noble social feeling. As I pointed out in the first of this course of lectures, the attempt that is being made in many directions now to separate religion and morals, and to give an education from which religion shall be excluded—that, for the reasons which I then gave you, and need not repeat, is foredoomed to failure. Now, it is quite clear why politicians and the public, impatient of the quarrels of many sectarians and denominations, want to throw religion aside altogether, and not bring religious controversies into the[83] schools. But if you apply the principle of Brotherhood to religion, it surely is not too much to hope that in a country where the vast majority are at least nominally Christian, some sort of agreement might be come to on essentials for the teaching of the young. In India you have sectarian religions as you have here, great divisions in the schools of religious thought; and it was said some dozen years ago in India, quite as strongly as you hear it said now in England: It is impossible to teach religion to Indian boys and girls, for the strife of sects makes unity impossible, and how should you teach the children without deciding on what to teach them? That seemed, as it seems over here, a great obstacle in the way of religious teaching, and yet in four or five years that question was solved in India so far as concerns Hindūism, the religion of the enormous majority of the people. What was done? The principle of Brotherhood was applied. Some of us, in concert with some theosophical Hindūs, gathered together a small committee to mark out what were the essential doctrines of Hindūism, and what were unessential and sectarian. After that sketch had been made, we set to work to get scholars to collect from Indian scriptures passages which bore upon these doctrines characteristic of Hindūism, and, with that material gathered together, a Theosophist sat down and wrote a text-book of Hindūism. Having written it, a hundred copies were drawn in proof, and sent to the heads of all the great Hindū sects and schools of philosophy. They were asked to read it through, to strike out anything they objected to, to mark in anything they thought essential; and when these books had[84] travelled round in that way the whole circle of the quarrelling Hindū sects, they came back again into our hands with all the emendations and suggestions. Once more we sat round the book, examined the criticisms, adopted the widely supported suggestions, with such success that, when the elementary and the advanced text-books on Hindūism were issued, they were taken up by all the sects over India and adopted as a fair presentment of the fundamental doctrines of Hindūism. They have been taken up in school after school, adopted by prince after prince, so that when the great Mussulmān ruler of Hyderabad in the Deccan wanted to give his Hindū subjects Hindū education in the whole of the State schools, he simply took these books and placed them in every school, so that the Hindūs among his people might be instructed in their own faith. The same thing was done by the English Government in the Princes’ College in Rājputāna, because they found that secular education made princes who were immoral and unfit to rule. During the last eight years these books have spread everywhere, everywhere accepted and everywhere used. Do you mean to tell me that the divisions among Christians are so much deeper that they cannot do what the Hindūs have done, or that you have not more on which you agree than on which you disagree; and that you could not teach the children that in which you are united, and leave them in their manhood or their womanhood to add the sectarian parts of the doctrines for themselves? In India, to show you the effect of this, one of the directors of public education asked me: “Cannot you write, Mrs. Besant, a text-book[85] for the Christians?” My answer was: “Yes, I could write it, but I don’t think they would use it.” It must come from so recognised Christian authority. I quite grant that a Theosophist would do it better than anybody else, because the Theosophist has no quarrel with any form of religious belief, and because the whole of his study leads him along the lines of recognising the points of union rather than the points of divergence; but it need not be done by a Theosophist, only by some one with the spirit of Theosophy in him, and that only means the spirit of the Divine Wisdom, of which every separate religion is an expression, so that there ought to be no quarrel with any.

Supposing that to be done for the whole of the Empire wherever Christians are found, see how enormous would be the gain; and it would not be so difficult. There are certain doctrines you all accept if you are Christian at all: you would only have to put those into a rational, intelligible form, and then gather from your own Scriptures the verses which support and give them authority to all who look on those Scriptures as authoritative. I have had in my mind an idea that may possibly be carried out, of trying whether it would not be possible to write a Universal Text-Book of Religion and Morals, with texts from every Scripture of the great religions, from all the Bibles of mankind, drawing the authority in support of the universal doctrine, and in that way making a book that Christian and Hindū, Parsī, Buddhist and Mussulmān could use; for all their Scriptures might be quoted in support of the general doctrine, and each might then add its own specific teachings to that great[86] broad foundation, showing the real Brotherhood of faiths. That is a dream, but I think it may become a reality.

Along that line, then, in our education we must have religious teaching, in order that we may have a firm foundation for morals. With regard to other teaching, what would grow out of the principle of the State being a great family, with children of many ages and varying capacities that ought to be equally trained? There would grow up a system of education in which one broad common basis would be given to every child alike up to about the age of ten or eleven years, and then there would come a differentiation according to the capacities of the children. You would no longer, when a child has musical capacity, insist that that child shall get a smattering of three or four other arts, so that he is not good in any one, but only superficial in all. If you saw musical ability you would let the other points go, and music would form the predominant part of the education of such a child. If you found power of colour, power of form, then along the plastic or the painting art the child would have developed his natural capacity; and slowly and gradually you would learn that the power of art must pass into the handicrafts of the nation, and that large numbers of your boys and girls should be trained to the handicraft as against the machine-made product; because there you have the possibility of general beauty coming back to life, and there alone will the sense of beauty be cultivated throughout the nation. Where you see the tendency is literary, there you should not insist, especially as you do with girls still, that they should all play a little music, and all do a little drawing, and all[87] learn a little singing; you would let all that go, and you would cultivate the literary faculty where you found it, and make that the special point of this more specialised education. Where you found the scientific faculty, there you would make that the most important part of the educational curriculum, remembering only that you must add to scientific training something of literature and the ideal, otherwise your science will tend to produce vulgarity and lack of the wider understanding of human life. Where you find mechanical power, there you will cultivate that especially, always remembering that no boy should leave school until he has learned some method of being useful to the State while earning his own livelihood. Unskilled labour should be a thing of the past in every department of human life. It is necessary that you specialise at an age which is early enough to enable a boy to learn effectively that which is to be his livelihood in later life. A good deal of mistake is being made in the education of the day, where, when the boy has to earn his livelihood along some line of manual work, too much of the literary is given to the sacrifice of manual dexterity. You want far more practical training in your schools than you have to-day, and the continual pointing-out that one form of human activity is not inherently nobler than any other form; that the man who uses his hands well is as honourable in the use of them as the man who uses his brain well. What is dishonourable is that either brain work or manual work should be badly done. Your really destructive spirit along all these lines is: “Oh, it is good enough; it will do.” There is nothing that will do unless it is done as well as you[88] are able to do it; otherwise it is slop work, and degrading in itself. It is not the kind of work you do that makes you either honourable or dishonourable; it is the spirit in which you do it, and the quality of the work that you turn out. Until you can get that through the nation, as it is not to-day—until you can give back to the workman the dignity of the artist, and not want every carpenter to educate his boy superficially so that he may be a clerk instead of a handicraftsman, spoiling your crafts and overloading your offices—until you can bring back that balance of human duty and human labour, there is little hope of a sane and healthy society amongst you.

Pass, again, from that to another thing that is badly wanted in education; but I think that is learned more in the playground than in the classroom—discipline, the sense of duty to a larger life. That may sound rather a grand sort of description to give of the effect of a game on a boy, but it is true. Where a boy is a member of a team—cricket, football, hockey, what you like—that boy will never be a success unless he learns to think of his side and not of himself, and that is a larger self than his own personal claims. It is in the playground that the boys and girls learn many a lesson which makes them better citizens in later life—the sense of order, the sense of discipline, the doing your work in your place, wherever you are put in the field. You may have one place or another in the cricket field or the football field, but the test of the boy is that he does his work well in the place where he is, and does not want to be somewhere else when his captain has placed him there. That moral discipline of the playground is more valuable than the[89] discipline of the classroom, for it is voluntary, gladly obeyed, and it is stimulated by an ideal, unalloyed by fear. Hence the value of the playground, and the value of teaching boys really to play. For the greatest danger of these so-called democratic nations is that they have no sense of discipline, no sense of order, no sense of obedience; without these no nation can be great. When you get, as you sometimes do get, a thing that happened last time I was in Australia, that an apprentice boy at a mine, because he was reproved for not doing his work rightly, at once left work, and then the whole mine struck in order to defend this young scamp’s liberty—there is not much chance of building a nation out of materials like that; you have only got a heap of marbles with no cohesion, with no binding sense of duty nor sense of responsibility, and out of those materials you can never make a State. Without discipline, order, obedience, no possibility of greatness. But all that has to grow out of the education definitely based on these ideas of Brotherhood, of reincarnation, and law.

Pass from that department of life, and turn to a very important question—Penology, the treatment of criminals. What is the criminal? Criminals fall into two great classes: one class of young souls, and they need to be educated; another class of souls whose development has been lopsided, so that the intellect has grown, but the conscience has not developed side by side with it—by far the more dangerous criminals those, and far more difficult to deal with. Now, the young soul is very largely a savage, the man at so low a stage of human[90] evolution that earlier in the evolution of our race he would have been guided into some savage tribe in some island or desert, where the rough discipline of that savage life would have begun the hewing of him into shape—rough, hard, cruel, but gradually building up that young soul into a sense of duty to his tribe. Now, as things have changed, and human evolution has gone forward rapidly, there are not places enough in the world where those conditions are available for the gradual training of these younger souls. The civilised nations, as we call them, have been spreading everywhere over the world’s surface, have been driving these miserable people out of their possessions, have taken their lands, largely murdered them, have appropriated the land and dispossessed the earlier possessors into the next world. What has become of all those? They have got to come back, and they tend by natural law to come to the nations who have been most active in sending them out of their possessions. It is quite natural, if you think that we live under law, not by chance; and it is not, perhaps, if I may say it with all respect, very wonderful that the people of Great Britain have a rather extra share of those unfortunate savages to look after. They come into the slum, and there they are born really savages. If you look at them you call them congenital criminals. But they are really young souls, without morality, without much brains, with a certain craft and cunning and cleverness, but fundamentally young. Then you find others who have come out of that lowest condition of savagery, but who are not yet at the point where the restraints of the society that suits the older[91] souls are tolerable to them. And so you get a great crop of occasional criminals, with the tendency to turn them into habitual criminals. Then you have that other class I spoke of, the lopsided people, whom I said were the most difficult to deal with; men who are really clever, but turn their cleverness to plundering their fellows instead of using it within the limitations of the law. That is a large class. Sometimes they just go over the edge of the law, sometimes they just keep within it, but from the social standpoint, remember, there are many social criminals who always keep on what is sometimes called the street-side of the law—that is, they do not go within the jail—such a man as one I spoke of the other day, who had wrecked the railway system of a whole district in order that out of that wreckage he might build himself up an enormous fortune. He is not a burglar from the technical standpoint, he is not a thief that a policeman might catch hold of, but in the sight of karma, and in the sight of the eternal justice, that man who by legal means has robbed thousands of others of their means of livelihood is a worse thief than the one who has picked a pocket and is thrown into jail. There are a good many things in a civilised country which lie very nearly along the line of legal or illegal theft, a good deal of which goes by the name of company-promoting, where it is just a toss-up whether there is really fraud that can be proved; but with the remarkable fact that while the companies always perish, and the people who took shares are beggared, the company-promoter comes out at the top, and becomes quite a successful person. Now all that,[92] from the social standpoint, is utterly immoral, but we cannot call them criminals in the technical sense, although now and then they go a little too far, and then the criminal law catches them.

How should those be dealt with who are really the young souls? how shall we avoid turning them into habitual criminals as we do now?—for is there anything more miserable and more shameful than that a man should go back time after time till fifty, sixty convictions are registered against him in the police court, and the sentence grows longer and longer because he is a habitual criminal? He has been manufactured into that. You ought not to treat a man who has committed a crime against your legal system by consigning him to prison for seven days, or a month, or a year, growing longer and longer and longer after every return to temporary freedom. You don’t use people who are ill like that; you never find a doctor committing a small-pox patient to a hospital for seven days, nor a fever-stricken one for a month; they are committed until they are cured, and that is the way in which you should deal with anyone of marked criminal propensities. You should not punish, you should only help; and you should take that child-soul and train him into decency of living. For one thing, you should never have in your prisons any form of useless labour as a punishment. The criminal who is really a savage always dislikes labour; he is always idle—that is part of his youth; and if you give him a form of labour that is punitive and not useful, you only increase his natural disgust for every kind of labour, and make him hate it more thoroughly when he[93] comes out of jail than he did when he went in. Taking up shot and carrying it to one side of the prison yard, and then carrying it back again, or the useless torture of the treadmill, these make criminals, they do not cure them.[1] You want, when the criminal comes into your power, to take him in hand as you would take a younger brother who does not know how to guide himself, and it is your duty as the elder to guide him; you need to train him in some honest trade whereby he might gain a livelihood; you need to discipline him, not cruelly, but firmly and steadily; you need to lay down the very wholesome law that if a man will not work neither shall he eat, and teach him in the prison to earn his dinner before he enjoys it. You need to set him to work at trades whereby he may earn his own living within the walls of the jail; and if, after you have taught him a trade so that he can earn his living, and outside the jail have found him an opportunity of decent livelihood—if then he refuses to work, and comes back again into your hands, then you should keep that discipline upon him until he really is cured, even though it be for many and many a year, for you are training him into better character. You might make the prison life less of a disgrace than it is now; give him rational amusement, amusement that will cultivate, instead of having him deadened by the continual feeling of disgrace within the prison walls. You may restrain him—that may be necessary for the welfare of society; but you should treat him as a younger one in the national household, to[94] be gradually trained up into decent living; let the willingness to live the decent life be the only key to the door of the jail.

But you may do much before there is any need to send them to prison at all. There is a system which is just beginning here, called the Probation System, one that has been worked in America with very great success, and one that a late member of our Society, Miss Lucy Bartlett, has had the immense privilege of introducing into Italy, so that it has been made the law of the land. Now what is that system? When a young boy or girl commits a first offence, he is not sent to jail if someone, a good citizen, of decent standing and good life, will come forward in the court and say: “I will take charge of that boy or girl, or young man or young woman. I will be his friend and look after him.” Then the sentence is not one of imprisonment; it is a sentence which is over the lad’s head for a time; and if he will not be helped, then it is allowed to take effect. But, as a matter of fact, that is very seldom the case. This man or woman coming forward out of the more leisured classes of society, and becoming a friend to that younger brother or sister, is, in the great majority of cases, a means of redeeming that younger one from evil into good; the older makes a friend of him, takes him out sometimes, talks with him, trusts him really as a brother or a sister, and great is the redeeming power of human love in restoring self-respect, and great the desire for approval. Those are the motives that are brought to bear on one who has only just set his feet on the path of criminality, and that in most cases brings him back to virtue; and the friendship[95] that began in the probation goes on through the rest of life, strengthening, helping, teaching both the helper and the helped. The system has been in operation for some time now in America, long enough to test it; in Italy only for some two or three years, too short a time; man after man and woman after woman of the leisured classes has come forward to act as friend and helper of the one who has come within the grip of the law. Surely no better application of Brotherhood to criminal treatment could be found than that; it is the realisation of the duty of those who are beyond the temptation to vice to their youngers who have fallen under its power.

I can hardly leave this subject without saying a word on Capital Punishment. That, of course, cannot find defence from anyone who realises the principle of Brotherhood. Some of you may remember the saying of a witty Frenchman: “Que messieurs les assassins commencent”; but it is not from the lower that reforms begin, but from the higher. You cannot expect your murderer to respect human life if you have taught him by your criminal legislation that the right penalty for murder is to murder again. True, one comes from passion and the other from the law; but if the law does not teach respect for human life, how should the passions of the criminal honour that sacredness? It is not only from that general principle that you make human life cheap by destroying it, but from another even more important. You cannot get rid of that murderer of yours; you can only get rid of his body, and his body is the most convenient prison in which you can keep him.[96] You can lock up his body and prevent him from committing any further murders, but you cannot lock him up when you have driven him out of his body by the hangman’s noose; you have not killed him, you cannot kill him, you have only killed his body; and you have driven him out into that next world which interpenetrates this world, and whose inhabitants are with us all the time; you have sent him out into that other world hating, cursing, full of anger and revenge against those who have cut short his life. He acts as the instigator of other murders; he stimulates other criminals into the last possibility of crime. Have you ever noticed that a brutal murder is sometimes repeated over and over again in the same community until you get a cycle of murders of one particular kind? I know, of course, that the Press, in reporting every detail of those horrors, adds the forces of imagination to the power of temptation which comes from the man you have sent to the other side. In a civilised country no such details of brutal crime should ever be given; people should understand that that stimulates the faculty of imitation, and so makes repetition of the crime more likely. Another reason why you should never send a man out like that is, that when the criminal is in your hands, remembering the lives that lie in front of him, you should try to give him something to take with him into the other world which he can turn into capacity and moral sense; you should remember he will come back again to a physical body, and it is your duty to make that next birth of his as much an improvement on the present as it is possible for human thought and human love to make it. We have a duty to these young souls around us in order that they[97] may profit by our civilisation, and not suffer from it as they too often do to-day.

When you turn to economics, what will be the result of Brotherhood there? The detailed working out of that problem will certainly need the keenest intellects in order to devise some scheme of production and distribution which shall make human life less burdened on the one side, less full of useless luxury on the other. But not along the rough-and-ready lines of the Socialism of the streets are these great and difficult problems rightly to be solved. You need to solve them by the most careful consideration of all the problems which are interlinked the one with the other. Some system of general co-operation, of general profit-sharing, or something along those lines, will be the principle on which the changed conditions will go; but while you will make the lot of the toilers far lighter and happier, you will never give to the ignorant the control over that on which their food supply depends; for that means ruin. Let me give you one illustration to show you what I mean. There have been a large number of strikes in this country for years and years past, and there is no doubt that many of those were brought about by the greed of the employing class, and by the unfair treatment of the workers; but none the less they have in more than one case—in fact, in many cases—reduced the workers to a lower condition than they were in before. I was up at Tyneside the other day. Newcastle with its adjoining ports, Sunderland, and the whole coast along there, was once one of the great shipbuilding centres in England. Strike after strike made shipbuilding impossible to carry on, because[98] the men could not pay their way. The result is that it has ceased to be a great shipbuilding district; that the trade has largely gone away from the Tyneside, and that those parts are falling into decay. You cannot blame the men who struck; they tried to get better conditions for themselves; they did not understand the difficulties of all these large commercial firms, and that they might readily make shipbuilding impossible for the shipbuilder by pressing for a particular rate of wage which was not too much for them, but more than at the time the exigencies of the trade enabled the shipbuilder to pay. And so on and on in endless cases. Careful thought and deliberate judgment are wanted. Many proposals have been made by the trades unions themselves—a sliding scale of wages, arbitration boards, and so on—all steps in the right direction. But your difficulty with arbitration boards is that their decision is not always accepted. When people go to arbitration they hope to get a decision on their own side; when it does not come out, they are not always willing to submit. When I was in New Zealand last year there had been a great struggle between employers and men; at last both applied to the arbitration court, but when the decision was given against the men, the men refused to go back to work. You cannot play that way with these great economic questions; no one trade should ever decide entirely for itself what should be the rate of wage that it is possible for the employers to pay, for the question is complicated by many considerations; it is not one trade, but it is the balance of all trades on which the ultimate decision has to turn. Hence the need of ability, of power to understand,[99] of wide study of economic questions which no handiworker is able to give. There is where the difficulty comes in, and where there is need on both sides of a spirit which shall seek the common good; otherwise at the end there is only more trouble than before, and the trade vanishes where the conditions for carrying it on are made impossible. Exactly the same thing is going on now in Australia. The men who know conditions of mining and things of that sort are laying down the wages which shipping companies must pay to their sailors. When a P. and O. boat, for instance, goes within the waters of Australia, they will soon be compelled to pay their men at the particular rate of pay which has been fixed on economic conditions in Australia. What will be the result? The P. and O. boats will not go; they cannot ruin themselves to please the Australian working-men; hence the means of communication will be very largely cut off; and when the harm is done, it is too late then to cry out for the remedy. Those are the kind of things that are going on in every direction with the coming of manual workers into power, because the attempt to rule has come before the conditions of rule have been understood.

It is very much the same when you come to deal with all questions of Woman’s Labour. Woman claims the right to labour, but very often she has forgotten that employers can play upon certain characteristics of the woman that nothing can alter, because they are fundamental and natural. When a woman has taken up the trade of the wife and the mother, and then goes out to work in the mill, leaving the children behind and the[100] baby uncared for save by hired care, then wages are driven down because she is willing to work for lower wages, knowing the misery of the children she has left at home; then comes the playing-off of the wife against the husband, of the woman against the man; the children are the sufferers from the taking away of the mother to work in the mill, and the man is turned out to walk the streets because cheaper female labour has taken his place. These are some of the complicated difficulties that arise out of what seems the simple thing of allowing a woman to sell her labour. Women and men can never be equal in the labour market, because the woman is the childbearer, and there comes in the difference, and the question of the nation’s health and vigour. She can never command the same wage as the man, because, as I once heard brutally said when I was complaining about the starvation wage of some match-girls: “There is always another way the woman has to increase her income.” That is true, pitifully true; but it puts her at a disadvantage in the struggle of the labour market. That which seemed so promising at first has only increased the stress of economic conditions, has turned the man out into the streets while the woman is trying to do the double work of the mill and the home. That is an impossible condition of things, for which a remedy will have to be found.

And so to deal with these economic questions we want the best brains and the best hearts, the widest knowledge and the deepest sympathy. Those, and those only, can solve these terrible economic problems of the time. You cannot solve them by any rough-and-ready means, nor by[101] any quick and sudden means. You must solve them by wisdom and by love, and by realising the nation’s interest is a common interest, not of class against class, but of union of all for the common good of the community.

But then it is said: What about politics? On the detail of that, frankly, I have naught to say, for I am concerned only with principles. But one thing I would like to put to you, coming back to that point of liberty with which I started. People have supposed that liberty means a vote. You could not have a bigger blunder. Liberty and the vote have practically nothing in common. The vote gives you the power to make laws, to coerce other people; it by no means gives you necessarily liberty for yourself. We have never yet had, as I said, liberty upon earth. We have had class legislation of every kind in England, but liberty never. Go back in history and you find the Kings ruling, and that built up the one nation of England. Then the Barons ruled, and they did not on the whole do so badly, for England was called Merrie England then, and certainly no one would dream of applying that name to it now. Then there came the England of Parliaments, getting duller and duller, deader and deader; then the England of Commercialism. And who is our ruler now? Neither King nor Lords nor Parliament altogether, but on the one side King Purse, and King Mob on the other. Neither of those is a ruler who is likely to make this nation great. Liberty is a great celestial Goddess, strong, beneficent, and austere, and she can never descend upon a nation by the shouting of crowds, nor by the arguments of unbridled passion, nor by hatred of class against class.[102] Liberty will never descend upon earth in outer matters until she has first descended into the hearts of men, and until the higher Spirit which is free has dominated the lower nature, the nature of passions and strong desires, and the will to hold for oneself and to trample upon others. You can only have a free nation when you have free men to build it out of—free men and women both; but no man is free and no woman is free who is under the dominance of appetite, or vice, or drunkenness, or any form of evil which he is unable to control. Self-control is the foundation on which alone freedom can be built. Without that you have anarchy, not freedom; and every increase of the present anarchy is paid for by the price of happiness, which is given in exchange. But when Freedom comes, she will come down to a nation in which every man and every woman will have learned self-control and self-mastery; and then, and then only, out of such men who are free, out of such women who are free, strong, righteous, ruling their own nature and training it to the noblest ends—of such only can you build up political freedom, which is the result of the freedom of the individual, and not the outcome of the warring passions of men.


Lecture V
The Coming Race

Friends: Some of you who have been attending this course of lectures may remember that in speaking of the new doors opening in religion, science, and art, I made a somewhat hasty and imperfect reference to changes that would be taking place in the human organism and an unfolding of the human consciousness, and I promised, in that brief statement, to return to the subject when I was to deal with “The Coming Race.” The nature, the character of that unfolding of consciousness, the changes in the bodily organism of man that will accompany those unfolding powers in consciousness, and make it possible for them to be manifested in our physical world—those changes naturally fall under the heading which I have taken for to-night’s discourse, “The Coming Race.” For it is of one of these great changes in the type of humanity that I have specially to speak to you to-night. In order to lead your thoughts to that rationally, and without gaps or chasms, I shall ask you to consider with me for a few moments certain great principles of study which we find continually used by the Mystics of the past, and in our own day adopted to a very considerable extent by modern science. The reason why science has[104] adopted them is the same reason that made Mystics originally work them out, and that is, that science in our own time has been dealing with such enormous periods of growth, with such vast extent of these periods, that the scientific man cannot observe; that he is obliged to try to find a principle by which, observing what is near, he may be able, by a process of induction, to discover what is far off.

Now, this principle is called the principle of correspondences. You find it, as I said, used by Mystics of all types in the past: the great scientist-mystic, Swedenborg, of Sweden, based a very large part of his thought on the system of correspondences, of trying to discover what was far off and extensive by a study of that which was near and comparatively small. So in our own day with regard to science; and I remind you first of that in order to show you that in using this principle we are on ground which is recognised as being firm and stable, and is adopted in all the greater researches which have to deal with the distant and the extensive. Science has made specially good use of this system of correspondences in two lines of its thought: one, that of evolutionary growth, illuminated by the study of embryology; the other, that of the evolution of consciousness in humanity at large, illuminated by an observation of consciousness in the child, the youth, and the man. If, for a moment, we stop on the great evolutionary series or cycles of the past, we shall at once recognise that direct observation is only possible to a very small extent. It is true that by the aid of geology many buried skeletons of the past may be brought to the surface and examined, and thus light may be thrown on the various classes to which[105] the skeletons in the time of the living animal belonged. Fossil remains certainly help us to a very great extent in trying to study the evolutionary past of our globe; but, as everyone knows who has studied the geological record, that record has large gaps occurring in it from time to time. It is exceedingly imperfect, exceedingly unsatisfactory, and only along some limited lines of evolutionary study is it possible to find from the fossils of the past the principle of life as it has gradually grown and branched upon our earth. Hence, in the difficulty of thus unveiling the past, evolutionists have turned to the study of the near, the growth of the individual, the stages through which his body passes, especially during ante-natal life, and it was very largely the study of embryology that threw light on the evolutionary truth. For it is observed, in tracing the growth of the human body of the individual, that it passes through certain clear, definite, marked stages. There is a stage at which the characteristics are those of the fish, bringing about some very curious results as regards especially the distribution of some of the nerves; then a stage which is that of the reptile; then a stage which is that of the mammal; and so on up to the highest in the mammalian kingdom, man himself. From the standpoint of mere observation from outside, without use of reason, this sequence invariably followed would say little, would signify little; but when man looks at that with the eye of reason, and not only observes the succession of certain stages, but applies his reason to solve the problem as to why those stages constantly appear, then it is he realises that in the body of the individual the whole evolutionary course of nature is traced and repeated;[106] that in that highest, the human, form all the past history of the evolution of forms is broadly indicated; and that while, of course, details cannot be observed, the great succession is seen there, the invariable sequence ever repeated in the highest, the noblest form. And, working back with the light of that, science was then able to recognise very clearly the evolutionary stages of which geology yielded up its imperfect fossil record; for there it found the great age of the fishes, with no higher form of vertebrate life existing; then it found the age of the reptiles, then that of the mammals, finally the human kingdom; and looking over the past in that way, illuminated by the observations of the present, science recognised the truth of that ancient principle of correspondences which serves as a clue in distant regions where observations well-nigh fail us, and enables us, by the use of analogy, to trace our way among the labyrinths of the past.

It is not only along this line of æonian evolution and embryological growth that science has found help from this application of the principle of correspondences. It has found that not only in the state of bodies but also in the state of minds the same principle serves as its best clue once again in the labyrinth of the past. It has found out that the stages of human consciousness may be traced from the earliest stage of the will to live, then upwards through the unfolding consciousness of the child, in the stage of passions of the youth, in the stage of mentality dominating the maturity of man; and it goes along these lines into very much of detail, showing us how at a certain stage the child is reproducing the savage[107] condition of consciousness; how a little later it grows out of that into the passional and barbarous; then through that into the emotional, where art and beauty begin to show themselves as outgrowths from human nature; and then on, at later stages, to that splendid mentality which it regards as the crown of human consciousness. Along these lines, which will be familiar to all the thoughtful and the cultured amongst you, science has been led to new discoveries, has been able in this fashion to find out many of the hidden things of nature.

But while this is true, there is a point at which science always stops. It uses correspondences to explain the past; it never struck science to use them to try to forecast the future; and naturally, for along the scientific line such forecast of the future is practically impossible; science works by induction, not by deduction, gathers together innumerable facts, arranges them, classifies them, compares them, and out of all that gathering, arrangement, and comparison it tries to find by a process of logical induction some great principle in which all the classified facts find their explanation, and thus a law is discovered. But further than that induction cannot take us. It cannot take us beyond the facts that are observed. Nothing in the facts observed presages that which is to come; and it is only when you use the other logical method—not that of induction, which is the scientific plan, but that of deduction, which we find in the philosophies of the past, which we find in the one perfect science, the science of mathematics, the Platonic method as against that of Aristotle—it is only then that we find[108] it possible by a process of deduction not only to explain the past, but also to draw out a chart of the future. And it is by using that noble form of logical thought that Occult Science has ever been able to presage the future from the principles that it finds existing in the universe, unfolding stage by stage. I want, if I can, now to show you how that method may be applied; how, knowing the nature of man, we may be able from that to indicate not only the past through which he has come from far beyond the range of what is recognised as history, but also to throw a light along the road that mankind will travel in the future, seeing the heights up which he will climb, realising the powers yet hidden within the partially unfolded and evolved man.

There is one other thing that will help us a little as well as the principle of correspondences, but, so far as I know, this other clue of ours has not been adopted or used in modern science. I say, so far as I know, for science is going on so rapidly at the present time that it is not possible to keep abreast with all the details of the later investigations. This second principle is called the principle of reflexion. As you may have a mountain reflected in a lake, and all the peculiarities, the outlines, the foliage on the mountainside, will be reproduced in the calm water of the lake that washes the foot of the mountain; as in that reflexion the highest in the object will be reflected as the lowest in the image, and as at every intermediate point where the mountain is reproduced in the image, the reflexion of the mountain, there will be a reversal, the higher being the lower, and so on, until you come to the point of junction between water[109] and mountain, and there the nearest to you on the mountain will be reflected in the nearest to you on the water—just so may we in studying man understand something of him by regarding him as a reflexion of divinity, the great threefold aspect of divine life showing itself out in man. But you may ask me: What do you exactly mean when you say reflexion? I mean the reproduction of similar characteristics in a grosser and denser form of matter. That is what we mean by reflexion thus applied. Just as the mountain which you see by the air is reflected in the denser water, so are spiritual attributes reflected in grosser matter; or, otherwise expressed, the same, or rather a similar characteristic, works in grosser matter; therefore with powers more limited, therefore with faculties less potent. That is the use we make of this term “reflexion” in theosophical literature. The characteristics are the same, but because of the denser matter their manifestation is limited and confined. So the great Will which brings the universe into existence is reflected in the Will to Live in man; and as that is the highest manifestation of Deity, so, reflected in man, does it appear at the lowest stage of evolution as the one prominent characteristic of the dawning human consciousness. In the babe, that will to live is practically the only sign of consciousness, showing itself out in groping movements, whereby the will to live is striving to come into contact with the outer world and discover something of its environment. And so the second great manifestation of Deity, the Wisdom-Love which in the Christian nomenclature shows itself out in the person of the Son, that reflected in human nature comes out as[110] the emotions, the refined, gentle, unselfish emotions that form the second great stage of human consciousness, beginning with the lowest stage of passion, and gradually rising unbroken to the loftiest manifestation of emotion; and then the third, the creative activity, which, again, in the Christian nomenclature would be the creative Spirit, shows itself out in man’s one creative power, the power of the mind, of which one of the expressions is imagination, that which creates with the intellectual force of man. The correspondence, you see, is complete, but how limited the manifestation compared with the manifestation on the planes of divinity. Hence this limited reflexion, this limited reproduction, we term the law of reflexion; and we very often find it hand in hand with the law of correspondences, giving us a clue once more to guide us through difficulties and obscurities where direct vision might fail.

Let us begin at that point I spoke of with regard to the human being. Now, by this process of deduction, and seeing in man the image of the Supreme, we are not compelled to stop our study when we have taken these three stages—the stage of the will to live showing itself in activity, the stage of passion and emotion, the stage of mentality; for we see that above those there shine out the three same attributes of Deity in subtler, finer form that we call the human Spirit, and that this human Spirit, reproducing in itself the three great aspects, tells us of the future, as the lower reflexions tell us of the past. So that we cannot only trace, as science does, the unfolding of consciousness through the vast ages of the past, but we can follow it onwards into[111] the future, where that higher repetition of divinity is gradually unfolding, and trace out for ourselves man’s higher qualities, the later stages of human evolution.

Now, it is true that in this the theory is not complete and perfect unless you recognise the fundamental truth of Reincarnation. No otherwise can you trace the unfolding of the divine Spirit in man, save by giving him time and environment by which these successive stages may be accomplished. For, looking at humanity, we see that very many men disappeared in the savage state, where only the preliminary stage of human consciousness had been unfolded; others we find coming into the world above the savage state, but showing out only passions, strong, selfish emotions; others, again, further on, showing out mental powers, and in them the mind becoming predominant. But unless you admit here a sequential unfolding of the individual consciousness, you will find yourself surrounded by complicated difficulties when you try to understand human evolution; for if you follow those consciousnesses onwards, thinking they are never to return to the school of life to learn the lessons that they have not learned in the infant school of savage life, then you will have to posit a heaven or heavens, one of which is full of these souls that have only accomplished savagery on earth; another that is full of those that have reached the emotional stage without having started and laid the foundation of the savage; a third that show forth mind, but not the will to live of the savage, nor the emotion of the half-cultivated man. And so you get a world on the other side more fantastic than rational, and you realise that somehow or other in your[112] scheme of things you must make room for post-mortem evolution; and the very moment you adopt that, that moment you have accepted the principle of reincarnation, even though you may choose to carry it on in other worlds rather than in the present.[2] With that, of course, other difficulties arise, but on those I need not for the moment dwell, as I do not want to deal fully with reincarnation now. But suppose you accept it, then the whole thing is rational before you—a spiritual intelligence unfolding in one stage after another, and building each stage on the one that preceded. If you apply that to the evolution of the reincarnating individual, you see the stage of the child, the stage of the youth, the stage of the man, and you await the unfolding of the spiritual man. Or if you choose to look at it in the vast cycles of the past, then you will realise that you have before you animal man, passional man, intellectual man, and you can hardly stop without thinking next of spiritual man—the four stages that you can trace by this principle that I spoke of, the deduction from the divine life leading you onwards to the stage not yet unfolded, save in some lofty specimens of humanity. And when you have just seen these stages so thoroughly reproducing at each point of enlarging sight the other in yourself—the four stages visible—the three and the dawning of the next; then in the whole reincarnating life of the individual the same three and the dawning of the next; then in evolution the same three and the possibility of the[113] next—it does not seem strange then to come on to the races, as the Theosophist does, and to see in the early human race—that which is really the first that can truly be called human, although there preceded it a semi-animal man—the birth of our present humanity. We call it the Lemurian Race; and it is interesting that Haeckel points to the lost continent of Lemuria as that which was the cradle of the human race; so does modern science every now and again touch on these teachings of the elder world. In that Lemurian Race was shown the strong will to live; then came the Atlantean, that which lived on the vast continent of Atlantis, the existence of which is being recognised more and more by science by logical necessity, as it cannot get geological evidence or antiquarian evidence, the greater part of the continent being whelmed beneath the Atlantic Ocean. Still, antiquarian research gives us something by pointing out to us identities of racial characteristics in places now separated by that same vast Atlantic Ocean. And archæology shows us in ancient Egypt, in the style of its painting, in the symbols that it used, nay, even in some of the human types that it limned, exactly the same symbols, the same types, the same outlines of philosophical and religious thought as in Southern Mexico, in a civilisation long since disappeared, that was swept away by the Aztec civilisation, which had become ancient and corrupt when the Spaniards invaded Mexico. In those two far removed portions of the earth’s surface, separated by the Atlantic, we find the repetition of one in the other. And there are many other reasons on which I need not now dwell, similarities of fauna and flora, certain architectural likenesses,[114] and so on, which are all leading scientific men onwards to the recognition of the great continent of Atlantis. Just as the men of the Lemurian continent showed out only that will to live in clumsiest form, so did the men of the Atlantean continent show out passion, appetite, desire, the whole of their civilisation showing the marks of this predominant passional nature; that which might be expected in theory showed itself out in fact. With that went—as always goes with the passional and non-intellectual type—a great development of what in these days we call the lower form of psychism. We apply that term, as our knowledge of these powers grows more precise, to the way of seeing the invisible, hearing the inaudible, and so on, that we find in some members of the animal kingdom; that we find largely developed in savage nations; that we find showing themselves out sometimes among the dwellers in mountains and in vast spaces where the air is pure, where nature is still in a fairly primitive condition. It is not precise, exact science under the control of the will; it seems to be responsive to impressions of passions, emotions; very rarely, if ever, to impressions from the mind. And so, looking back on the great Atlantean peoples, we see them showing out these forms of psychism that we connect with the higher animal and with the lower human evolution before mentality has been very largely developed, before the nervous system characteristic of the modern man has dominated the sympathetic system more characteristic of the animal. And then we come to a time when we can glance backward and see the method of the evolution of a new race, giving many an indication[115] to help us in our study of the Coming Race of our own time. For, looking back into that far-off history, we see a selection going on among the Atlantean people, and we notice that the selection was made not amongst those who had carried the Atlantean type to its highest and most triumphant point, but, on the contrary, from a subdivision of that race—a sub-race, as we call it—in which those qualities did not show which had made Atlantis great and mighty, but in which there were more germs than in the triumphant Atlantean of the coming development—that of the mind. Some of you will be familiar with the name of the Toltec, the race, or rather sub-race, in which the Atlantean civilisation touched its highest point. Not from those were the germs of the Aryan race chosen; rather from the succeeding sub-race, in which, as I said, mental qualities were beginning to assert themselves, with the inevitable result that as those qualities became manifest, the others, the psychic, fell into the background. Look round to-day and you will see how true that still is with the ordinary uncultivated, untrained psychic; how very low is the stage of the intelligence, very little mental power going hand-in-hand with that lower kind of psychism; and so the people who were chosen to be the germs of our own great Race were not amongst the most admired of the Atlantean civilisation, but were rather looked down upon as not showing out these faculties which then were regarded as the most valuable, as falling below the triumphant type of the Toltec, as people of little account, and yet people who had in them the promise of the future. Then the gathering of those together, the isolating of them[116] from the rest of the then civilised world; the deliberate breeding of them into a type which was aimed at. For all the great types of human kind exist in the mind of the Logos before they are made manifest in the matter of our earth—first the idea, then the manifestation; and the seven great types which were to make up the humanity of our globe in the present cycle of its existence, those existed as Ideas in the Platonic sense of the word, those were the types towards which the great Powers guided the evolution of humanity; and when the highest point was being touched at the fourth, then came the preparation for the birth of the fifth. The same great laws which, on a far lower scale, are used by the ordinary scientific gardener or scientific breeder of cattle, when he is trying to develop a new type that exists in his mind, remember, before he tries to work it out in petals of flower or flesh and blood of animal, that ideal type to which the scientific breeder directs his efforts, those laws help him to-day which, on a far loftier level and for mightier purposes, were used by the great Ruler of the Coming Race in order to shape the ideal type that now we know as the Aryan. If you compare one of the men of Kashmir, in Northern India, with your best Caucasian type, you will find they closely resemble the one the other, evidently replicas of the same type. I choose the man of Kashmir especially, because he is fair of skin, owing to his living in a temperate clime, and because from the shutting in of his land from communication with other countries, due to the difficulty of reaching his fellows—owing to that the type has been kept purer there than probably anywhere else upon earth.[117] Fair of skin, blue- or violet-eyed, with hair brown in varying shades, with features sharply cut, delicate lips, thin and well-formed nose, there you have one of the finest types of human beauty existing upon earth. You find that type reproduced over and over again, with varying modifications as the sub-races develop, but the one type is everywhere visible; and in the shape of the head, with the forehead largely developed, with the place in the brain where all intellectual faculties can be made manifest, in that type of head you have the type of mentality, the Race that is to carry to the highest point the possibilities of the human intellect. As you come down, looking at the sub-races, the same strange point strikes you as we saw with regard to the psychic Atlantean, and the comparatively psychic sub-race from which our own was gradually built up. Compare together the refined Roman, luxurious, well-built, cultured, and the Goth, who was the origin of the Teutonic sub-race; there again you see the same thing, the contrast with the regnant type of the apparently lower type, the one that has in it the promise of rising higher than its predecessor. Judging by analogy, following along similar lines of thought, we can very readily understand to-day that the type of the Coming Race will not be that which is the triumph of the present, but rather those in whom the characteristics of the present are less developed, but which have in them the germ of something more, which can unfold in the far-off future into a greater splendour, a diviner manifestation. So that when we are looking for those who are the beginnings of the Coming Race, we should not look for them to-day[118] among those in whom our Aryan peoples show out the highest types of mentality, of intellect, of power, of thought. Their work is to carry on the present civilisation to the zenith. Who but they can lead it to the highest point? They have developed the mind which is the great characteristic of this fifth Teutonic sub-race; theirs the mission, theirs the privilege, to guide that sub-race to its highest point of achievement. They only, whose intellect is so loftily developed, are fit to guide the present civilisation to the point of glory which it has yet to reach, and it is they who are the leaders of the triumphant type of to-day, they to whom our present race looks up as the ideal of all that is most splendid in intellectual power. Not amongst them, then, should we seek the beginnings of the Coming Race, of the Race that shall be; for, using our principle of correspondences, we can see that now we must look for the germinating of the spiritual man, not of the intellectual; that which is beyond intellect, that which is higher than the scientific mind, the qualities that have shone out in the great religious teachers of the past, the qualities that characterised the Buddha, the Christ, are the spiritual qualities as apart from the intellectual; and it is the germinating of those qualities now which will make the origin of the Race that is to be.

But we can see in the race of the present signs of the changing evolution which shall gradually show out the coming type of consciousness, which shall gradually adapt the bodies to the fuller manifestation of the qualities that shall gradually unfold. For what is the great mark of such spiritual types of humanity, what the[119] quality that shines out above all others wherever they appear upon earth? It is that quality that to-day we name Brotherhood, the recognition of that unity of life which makes for all-embracing compassion and boundless self-sacrifice. Those are the types that we see in these great Ones of our race, they who have unfolded the spiritual nature, who show out the glory of the Spirit. It is very marked that in every one of those mighty Teachers of the past this is the quality which above all others shines out as their distinguishing mark among the men of the generation in which they are born. The love of the helpless and the weak, the effort ever to raise those who are downtrodden and oppressed, the effort to share, to uplift, to make happy—in a word, to save; that is the great spiritual characteristic of all the Saviours of the world, and therefore at the present time those are making ready for the beginning of the Coming Race who show out in conception and in practice their belief in the universal Brotherhood of man. They may be less developed in intellect, that is not what is for the moment wanted from them; they may be less glorious in the triumphs of the mind, that is not the material that is needed specially for the Coming Race; it is these higher qualities of the Spirit that must be looked for by the Leader of that Race as the material which gradually He can mould into the type He has in His mind, and so out of those germinal possibilities evolve the Man that shall be.

Now let us pause for a moment and ask what are the special marks of that Race in consciousness and in body. In consciousness, clearly the recognition of unity. That[120] is essential; for what the intellect divides the Spirit unites. The recognition of life in each rather than of the separated form, the recognition of the one Self in all rather than the separated selves that are marked out by the separated bodies, that will be the great mark in consciousness, the new unfolding; wherever that recognition of unity is made, there is one of the signs of the Coming Race. And then, side by side with that, growing inevitably out of it, a breadth and liberality of tolerance will mark those in whom the sense of unity is beginning to unfold. All that is narrow and exclusive, all that tends to separate one from another, all that emphasises differences instead of emphasising likenesses, all those are against the unfolding of the consciousness that knows the One in the many, and recognises Divinity in all. With that unfolding consciousness will come a type of body of which there are beginning to be many amongst us to-day. When there is going to be a variation which will start a new evolutionary type, it is always noted that those out of whom the variation grows are what is called unstable. Instability is the mark of progress, or of degeneration. There is the instability of health, but also of disease; and with the changing type of the nervous system you find this instability present in both its forms. If you look around you at the present time, what is one of the marks of the bodies in the most advanced races of the earth? Nervous troubles of every kind, and most marked amongst the most highly developed. It is needless to draw your attention to that; everyone knows it. The greater tension of the nervous system shows itself out amongst us in all kinds of different ways; saddest[121] of all, in the extraordinary increase of madness in the most highly civilised nations of the world. Lunatic asylums are always multiplying, for as soon as a new one is built it gets filled, and another is demanded. That is the sad sight when we are looking around, looking for the Coming Race; the present race suffers by the very conditions that that race has made for itself; all the separative conditions of competition, struggle, class and individual and trade antagonism, all these are destructive to the evolving nervous system of man. The environment is impossible, the conditions ruinous for the evolution of a finer, more delicate nervous organisation; and yet the resistless force of nature presses onwards against the human race, forces it onwards whether it will go or not, and the evolutionary forces cannot be opposed save at the risk of destruction.

Now that is one of the lessons that needs to come out of these studies for the immediate guiding of our own lives to-day. We are living in an environment that is destructive of the higher evolution, and at our peril we leave it as it is when the Coming Race must inevitably be born. If we would go on we must adapt ourselves, and that adaptation is the crying need of the time. For amongst us to-day are being born children in whom this finer nervous organisation is showing itself already, children of delicate nervous type, but not necessarily at all unhealthy; often perfectly healthy, but with the nervous system so delicately poised that it is always in danger of jar and injury. There must be many amongst you who know that out of your own personal experience as fathers and mothers; there may be born into your[122] family a little child whose nervous system is so delicate, so exquisitely poised, that the child is very readily thrown out of balance, and suffers quite abnormally. One thing that it is very necessary for the fathers and mothers of the time to understand is, that as these children come to them for protection, for training, for help, they must remember that they have there organisms which suffer and enjoy more keenly than organisms that are less delicately, less exquisitely balanced. Such a child feels pain where a child of rougher type would pass through unnoticing. The intense joy which, on the other hand, marks such an organism is always balanced with periods of intense depression. Such children should be guarded as far as possible from all that can jar and trouble. It is useless to try to make them live in the surroundings that suit those whose nervous systems are not so fine. On the contrary, it is the duty of the parent to try to provide for such children gentler and more harmonious surroundings, realising that without those the delicate instrument would be jarred and thrown out of tune, so that that from which the most lovely melodies might have been drawn will be only an instrument fit to be thrown away, destroyed. Think for a moment of the conditions under which you are living now in London. During the last ten years London has become almost intolerable to live in, if only for the noise, the continual rattle, the shrieking and hooting that fill the streets; the shaking of the very earth itself under the heavy vehicles of all sorts that we place upon it. London is becoming a city where to live in peace you would want to go about with cotton-wool stuffed into your ears[123] and spectacles over your eyes so that you might not see too clearly, and with your nose closed so that you might not smell the horrible smells with which the streets are continually filled. Literally, what will have to be done is this: all the more refined and cultured people will have to go out of these huge towns and leave them to the people who like them. For remember, there are many people who like them; there are plenty of people who enjoy the rattle and the noise and the tumult of a London street. There are plenty of country peasants who, if you bring them up to London, like it enormously; but if you take the London lad or lass and put them down the country they say how frightfully quiet and dull it is. Why not let the great cities go to the people who like them, who will be helped to evolve by them? For, mind, that which is destructive to a delicate nervous system is the necessary stimulus for the evolution of a nervous system of a lower and coarser type. I do not want to abolish all these great cities at all; but I would say to any who feel the suffering which grows out of the noise and the rush and the hurry. Your place is no longer here, and, above all, it is no place for the children. For the finer the organisation of the father and the mother from the nervous standpoint, the finer will be the nervous organisation of the child; and if they suffer from it, their best policy is to leave London for the country, and surround themselves and the children of the Coming Race with sweeter and better environments. It is not only that these vast towns that are deforming and defacing England are an impossible environment for the Coming Race; we must also adapt ourselves to the new conditions[124] by changes of food, by changes of method in ordinary living. The food that the great majority of people now use, flesh, is utterly unsuited to the finer type of nervous organisation. You may notice how people of a finer type shrink from it instinctively. Children of a finer type, when they realise that meat was a living thing, will turn aside from it with disgust, and leave it untouched. That instinctive dislike is one of the things that will be growing very much amongst the little ones; more and more will they revolt against the use of flesh. But it would be wise not only to notice how that revolt is growing, but deliberately to avoid the use of such articles of diet yourself, if you desire to train your bodies into a preparation for the Coming Race. For the body which is nourished on flesh and on the many forms of alcohol is a body which will be thrown out of health by the opening up of the higher consciousness; and nervous diseases are partly due to the fact that the higher consciousness is trying to express itself through bodies clogged with flesh-products and poisoned with alcohol. For, let me take a point of very great importance which has direct bearing upon this. As the new bodies develop, and the higher, more nervous organisation of the physical body grows, the next of your bodies, the astral, will become more and more highly organised year by year. The organisation of that next body of yours, of finer matter than the physical, is going on very rapidly at the present time under the pressure of thought, which all educated and cultured people use at least to some extent. As that body becomes more highly organised, its special sense-organs come into activity, and[125] then we have what is called a higher psychism, which is not the result of an astral body unorganised and vibrating to every passing wind of emotion, but of a body highly organised, with its own senses developed, and those senses seeking to express themselves through the grosser body of the physical plane. Now there is one organ in your brain which is the sixth sense, the sense through which all these astral cognitions, astral emotions, will show themselves down in your own waking consciousness, and that is the body which very much puzzles many of our doctors and scientific men—the pituitary body. That is not, as many of them think, a mere vestigial organ left from the past; it is that, but it is also the organ of which the finer internal differentiation is making the sense for the higher psychic powers of the Coming Race. Now that is matter of fact known to the occult student, because he sees that development going on in his own case and in the case of others around him; and in proportion as that finer and well-organised astral body hands down into the brain the various things which it cognises, so does he find the pituitary body functioning, so does he experience changes that go on in that. Now, that body, according to one of the latest discoveries of modern science, is at once affected by the vapours of alcohol; it is one of the glands of the body which are most readily poisoned, and even a very small amount of alcohol poisons the pituitary body, and chokes its highest evolution. Obviously, then, if you want to ease that, if you want at this stage of evolution to put a little evolutionary pressure even on the bodies of the fifth Race, and thus ease that, one of the first things that should be[126] said to you is: Never touch alcohol at all in any form, for if you do the vibrations of the alcohol poison the very means of communication between the astral and the physical bodies, and the developing of them to higher purposes is one of the marks of the Coming Race, the means whereby it will sense the astral world in waking consciousness; hence the instruction that you will have from everyone who is speaking of this and understands the conditions: Do not only give up all forms of flesh, but also take care that your diet is free from every trace of alcohol. Now, these are laws of nature that you cannot get over; and if you make up your mind to cling to the fifth Race way of diet, then you must be content to remain fifth Race, and go no further. No one wants you to go further than you wish to go, but the conditions are unchangeable, and the more that is recognised the better will it be. Above all, with those children that I have been mentioning, take care not to try to force them in any way, nor to induce them to take those articles of diet which will injure their growing delicacy of nervous organisation, and destroy that developing organ in the brain by which they will bring their knowledge through into ordinary life.

Then let me remind you of the way in which this may be done. Let us suppose that you desire to hasten the coming of the Coming Race; let us suppose that you are not willing to wait for the slow processes of nature, lasting hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of years, but want to co-operate with nature, as we ought to do to-day, having reached the stage of evolution that we have reached, where human intelligence can quicken the[127] workings of nature. The first thing that you must do is to make meditation a part of your daily life. Now, meditation has three stages: first, the reining in of the wandering mind, the checking of its thinking from one point to another continually in activity; then the fixing of that controlled mind on a single object of thought; then the contemplation of that object in order that it may be reproduced in yourself. That process of meditation is the way in which the unfolding consciousness may be definitely stimulated, and there is no other healthy and sane way. By a daily practice of that sort, the fixing of your mind either on the ideal Self or on some ideal of virtue that you desire to reproduce within yourself—as you follow that practice of meditation, the higher consciousness develops, and you change your contact with the world. Let me take a case. You come across a man who is very untruthful. Normally he may deceive you for a time until you get evidence that appeals to the mind, until you can argue logically and prove that the man is not truthful; a slow process, but one that needs to be used in the present stage. What will be the process of recognising untruth where the spiritual nature has begun to develop by the process of meditation? You would meditate on truth; that is the first step. By that regular daily meditation on truth you make your subtle body vibrate, so that the nature of your subtle body becomes that which answers to truth; then when a man who is untruthful comes along you do not have to reason; by the direct process of intuition you recognise that man as false; he jars you just as a false note jars on a musical instrument. There is no process[128] of reasoning, no need to go into evidence, no need to seek for proofs; you feel him, see him to be false, by intuition instead of reasoning. Now, I know a case of that kind in India, although I don’t suppose you will quite copy my Indian friend, for he was a man who, from his boyhood upwards, had meditated every day upon truth, and he had done it for forty years. That is a long time from the western standpoint. The effect of that was that he had so tuned himself to the note of truth—he happened to be a judge—that no evidence could deceive him, however plausible; he knew when a man was lying by the jar that he felt within himself. I only mention that as a special case to show you the method by which this meditation unfolds the inner powers, so that, instead of the slow processes you are accustomed to, a direct intuition tells you the character of the person with whom you come into touch. I might go through the whole string of the virtues; the principle is the same everywhere. In addition to meditation, you must practise. You must practise in your daily life the keenest sympathy that you are able to develop; by deliberate effort, force yourself into sympathy with everyone whom you may happen to meet; make yourself feel as that person feels; and above all, practise it with those who are lower in evolution than yourself, for there sympathy becomes most useful, and the practise of feeling as the less-evolved feel enables you to lift them up nearer to your own level. You must not only practise sympathy, too, in your daily life; you must practise the absence of the sense of separateness, the most difficult thing in the world to do for all of us who belong to this Teutonic sub-race.[129] Our sense of individuality is so strong that in everything we feel “my,” “mine,” “my property,” “my books,” “my house,” “my friends”—a continual repetition of the “my.” You must get rid of that; you must get rid of the feeling which instinctively claims something that you call your own as against other people. Now, it is not an easy thing to do; and the first stages are very disagreeable, jarring the fifth sub-race type of mind. Try to get rid of your sense of individual ownership in the things that are yours. How often you hear a generous-tempered man say: “Oh, I would have given it to him at once if he had asked for it, but I did not like his taking it!” Why not? Because you feel separate; because of “I” and “he,” “mine,” “his.” The next Race is not going to have that sense so strongly developed; and if you want to take part in the building of it, the sooner you get rid of it the better for yourselves. Practise not minding having your things taken away and used by anybody who wants to use them. It sounds strange to you, but it is a commonplace in India. My Indian friends, when I first knew them, used to be astonished when I said to them: “May I use such-and-such a thing?” “Why, of course, if you want it,” was the invariable answer; and at last I got to realise that that was a very much higher position towards objects of property than the self-assertive owning. Similarly, in India, when you have a garden, anybody who likes comes in, sits under your trees, lights a little fire, and cooks his dinner there if he likes. When one day, again, in my very early days, before I understood this, I said to somebody: “Oh, but do you like people coming into your garden like that without asking permission?”[130] “What else is a garden for?” was the reply. That is the natural feeling there because of the communal life which has been universal for thousands of years. You think of the use of the thing and the man who wants to use it; that he wants it is the reason why he should have the use of it. That is a very long way from our fifth sub-race way of looking at property. Practise that, then, in order to get rid of this utterly exaggerated sense of separation which we find in our social life at the present time. This habit of self-sacrifice—sacrificing your own whims, wishes, wants, every day of your life, for the sake of making life easier for those around you—that will be one of the characteristics of the Coming Race. And as you do it, you will gradually find that you won’t mind; that the pleasure of making another person satisfied is far greater than the pleasure of having a thing for yourself; that the words of the Christ are literally true: “It is more blessed to give than to receive”; not a duty but more blessed, more happy, so that the joy that comes out of the sharing utterly swamps any feeling of self-sacrifice. That, again, will be the great social type of the Coming Race.

See how practically, then, this thought of the Coming Race bears upon our living of to-day. Those who would prepare themselves for the part of that changed type of man must begin building it up in their character, their emotions, their minds to-day, by meditation, the opening of the consciousness by practise, the training of the life into expressions along higher lines. That race will be the builder of a universal religion, in which sharing what each has of truth will be the only form[131] of missionary effort. That Race will be the builder of a brotherly civilisation, in which the need of every man will be the measure of what he has given to him; in which the power of every man will be the limit of his responsibility. Those will be the great changes that will come, and you, if you will, may take part in that changing; you, even in the present civilisation, may hold to the higher ideal, and try to make it acceptable to the minds of your fellow-men. But our hope is mostly in the young, in those who have not yet been hardened in the brutal competition which marks the commercial and class life of to-day. The young lads and the young girls, still plastic, still easily fired by great ideals, with nervous systems finer in many cases than ours, and hearts warmer than those that have been chilled in the experience of life—in them lies the hope of the future. For they shall make ideals, they shall create them in the world of thought, and out of the world of thought those ideals shall be sent into the world of matter, and make the Coming Race, which shall build a civilisation happy, glorious, beautiful, and free, but in which it shall be realised that the greatest freedom expresses itself in the greatest service.


Lecture VI
The Coming Christ

Friends: Looking back over the long story of the past we can see certain mighty, grandiose figures emerging from the great crowd of human beings, men who tower far above their generation, who are giants, as it were, with pigmies around them; however far we look back such figures are ever to be seen, until at last the mists appear to roll across this great vista of the past, and even through those mists we can discover the outlines of great Ones who teach and bless mankind. To the great mass of students these figures, standing out in the past, appear very closely to resemble each other. We cannot, as it were, distinguish Them with regard to Their knowledge or Their power; all are so far above the men of the time, so far above the most advanced humanity of our own day, that it seems impossible to throw Them into any kind of order, or to understand how far They are part of one great group of mighty Beings; what relation They bear to each other we cannot see; what Their rank in the hierarchy of the superhuman we are practically unable to say. But as the occult student tries to study the past, there are certain indications that he can grasp which serve as a kind of guide as to these[133] mighty Beings. He sees great world-cycles of different extent, embracing longer or shorter periods of time, and he is able to trace some relation between these mighty Beings and the cycles of the world, the point of time at which They appear, at which They manifest. And by this study of the past, assisted by occult methods, these periods in the world’s story and these Teachers of the world’s humanity fall into quite definite relations.

We can notice, looking back, that there are four great ages through which the world passes in its long evolutionary history, ages that are often referred to in what are called the mythologies of the past, ages which are characterised very differently the one from the other, and in which the whole cycle of the world’s story is divided. It may be noticed that at the beginning of each of those huge cycles a very great figure appears, as though, when the world was entering on a new phase of life, it were necessary that a special benediction should descend upon it, a special light should shine out. When we ask who are the great Ones who mark these longest periods in human history, we are told that They are Beings belonging to past worlds, belonging to other planets than our own, planets and worlds older in the scale of manifestation; that They have passed through all the struggles of an evolving life, that They have formed part of a humanity that long since has passed away and been numbered in the records of the universe, too far off to touch a world like ours; that, reaching through human to superhuman growth, They have finally joined their consciousness with the consciousness of the Logos Himself, expanding to His consciousness,[134] uniting with His nature, and yet never losing that centre which is the result of Their long evolution up the human and the superhuman ladder. Holding that centre in all the life of God, it is possible for Them to draw around Themselves again a circumference which shall enable Them to become manifest in any world, in any race. Where a centre is, a circumference can ever be drawn; and around such a centre in Deity itself, of the Son made one with the Father, from such a centre a new circumference of a human life may be drawn, and such a Being, mighty in His Deity and yet veiled in humanity, may appear to enlighten and to bless the world. Among the Hindū people, whose teachers have carried them far along occult lines, whose sacred scriptures are full of occult indications, a special name is given to these pre-eminent manifestations. They call them by a Sanskrit word which means those who descend. The name avatāra may be familiar to you, perhaps. But it is the significance of the name on which for a moment I pause. They have climbed up to unity with the God head: They descend to humanity in order to preserve and help. Such are the mightiest figures that appear in any world, on any globe, through the long course of its evolution. Egypt signified that mystery under a special name: they called it the birth of Horus. Christianity has symbolised it under another name—Divine Incarnation; and the Christian will tell you—accurate in the spiritual fact, although at times confused in the definition of the life—that the Second Person of the Trinity descends upon earth, and he regards the Christ of Judea as being such a manifestation of the Most High. The main fact that[135] such a revelation may come to man is a fundamental spiritual truth. It ought never to be lost from sight; and in every great religion it has ever been said that it is from that aspect of the Logos that these manifestations descend upon earth. Christianity recognises but a single manifestation; Hindūism recognises nine that have passed and one that is to come. In Zoroastrianism you find the same conception. Religions, living and dead, have ever groped after that highest of truths; only it must never be lost sight of that He who is an Avatāra, the highest of divine manifestations, has been in some other cycle of life a man among men, and that it is because of that long-past experience that a return to those conditions is possible at any time.

Leave that aside for a moment, and take another great type that shines out. There is no name for the next type I am just thinking of except in Eastern lands, where they call him “The Enlightened,” the Buddha. In the West that name is constantly connected with the last of those manifestations, with the great Being born into the world nearly six hundred years before the Christian era. He is called the Buddha. But among the people of the faith that He gave to the world the belief is that there were many before Him, that there shall be many after Him; that He is only one among the great host of revealers of the divine, and that one of those is born in every world, in every Root Race. So that in every world there are seven of such Beings, one manifesting in every Race; but when He has appeared, then He passes away from earth, having finished even the superhuman evolution, and passes on, as those that I mentioned passed in[136] other worlds, in other times, in order to unite Himself as the Son with the Eternal Father, so that in a world later than our own such a one may return as an Avatāra, one who descends. But note that the Buddha, mighty as He was, climbed to His greatness through the humanity of our own globe. Climbing step by step up the long ladder of human life, of superhuman unfolding, He touched the last rung of that ladder when He was born as Gautama into India some twenty-five centuries ago, and then, having finished His work, passed onward into what is there called Nirvāna, the highest condition available for the superhuman, that of union with the divine, though without loss of the centre of which I spoke.

Considering that great Teacher, let us ask what He was before He became the Buddha, and then passed away from earth, His teaching work being over. Before He took that last and greatest of the Initiations along the line He followed, He had manifested several times before on earth, and manifested in the same great Root Race, the Aryan Race, to which we all and so many others belong. For before that last step was taken there was another high office that He filled for thousands and tens of thousands of years. I do not want in any way to confuse you with unfamiliar names, and yet it is a little difficult to avoid them, because I want a name that stretches back to manifestation after manifestation; and our own fifth sub-race, the Teutonic, has been on earth so brief a time, living in the western world, that it has not yet created the general name which we can use with regard to these past manifestations. The eastern[137] name is a word which translated means “the Wisdom-Truth,” the Bodhisattva; the name matters little provided that you take it for the moment that it signifies an office, and the office is that of the Supreme Teacher, not only teacher of men, but teacher, as they would say, of Gods, as you would say, of Angels and Archangels. For you must remember that the Shining Ones of the East are the same as those to whom over here you give the names of Angels and Archangels. The East calls them by a name which merely means “the shining”; and though it is often translated over here as “God,” much confusion of thought thereby is made as regards the great eastern faiths. For they, like Christianity, proclaim the unity of God, the one all-pervading life; and those whom they call the Shining Ones, the Devas, are but manifestations of that light, the Angels and Archangels of Christianity or of Islām. And He who is the Supreme Teacher has for His pupils Archangels and Angels as well as men; He is the one who is the Teacher of all, whether in the body of flesh or outside of it as spiritual intelligences; there is no other Teacher in earth or heaven above that mightiest One who fills this supreme office.

Now, such a Teacher, the Supreme Teacher of the worlds, makes Himself manifest as man at the beginning of every sub-race. I have talked to you so much of Races and sub-races that the terms will not be unfamiliar; and if I remind you that we are all of one great Root Race, the Aryan, whether you take the first sub-race in India; or the second along the basin of the Mediterranean in the ancient days; or the third in[138] ancient Persia; or the fourth giving birth to the ancient Greeks and the Romans, and then spreading westwards through Spain, France, Britain, up to the North of Scotland, and then across to Ireland, the mighty Keltic sub-race; or the fifth, the Teutonic, now peopling Germany, Britain, America, and their offshoots—if you think of those, the one Race including all the divisions, you will be able readily enough to follow the manifestations of the Supreme Teacher. Just as in the larger cycles there are manifestations of great Beings, so has every successive sub-race the appearance of this great Teacher as man, to give it the religion under which the civilisation shall develop, to give it the benediction which starts it on its evolution in the world.

Looking backwards to the sub-races that preceded the fifth, the Teutonic, to which the greater part of you who are present here belong, we can mark in each the appearance of the Supreme Teacher, taking a different name, but ever the same immortal Individuality under the veil of that name. One name that is known to all of you who are students of the past was the name He took when He led forth from Central Asia the second of the great emigrations that passed westward, which āryanised large numbers of the people dwelling in Arabia, in Northern Africa, in the whole great basin of the Mediterranean. He then bore the name of Hermes, a name familiar to every student of antiquity, especially to the students of Egyptian thought, for it was largely in relation to that that this mighty manifestation was made, and in much of the so-called Hermetic literature the name of Hermes, the Thrice Greatest, is preserved. It was a name first[139] worn in Lemuria, but in this case was used by the Supreme Teacher manifesting for the second sub-race.

Let me pause a moment to say one word of explanation, to meet a difficulty that may readily rise in the minds of the more scholarly amongst you who have looked back to these past tales. You find the same name appearing from time to time along the same tradition. That has ever been so in the past. The name of the great teacher himself has been taken up by his successors, who renewed his teaching and carried on the tradition that he left; and so in the vast spaces of time that have elapsed since that Hermes first appeared in the second root-race of the Aryans, others took up the tradition, carried on the teaching, and the name was ever repeated. It is the eastern way. No disciple dreams of teaching there under his own name; it is under the name of his Master that he gives his wisdom to the world; and that not to conceal, but because it is held that to the teacher the credit belongs of that which the pupil may be able to expound, and so, in humility, in veneration, in gratitude to the mightiest, those who follow Him write under the name that they worship, and so hand on His wisdom, although in generations much later than Himself. It causes much of confusion, much of difficulty when the people with the western historical sense go turning over these ancient writings and applying their own canons of interpretation to people who were ancient long before those canons were invented. What is called the historical sense is a very different thing in the East from that in the West. Historical sense here means a sequence of names, dates, persons,[140] and that is what is regarded as important; in the East it means the God unfolding in the various types of humanity that may appear; and that which they are interested in is not a special individual who has written this, that, or the other, but the teaching, the tradition, handed on from age to age, and ever marked out from the first Revealer, the name of Him who gave the knowledge to mankind. I do not want to dispute which is the better way. I only mark the difference that you may realise that in the likeness of the name there is no attempt to deceive the reader, but only to mark the line of the tradition.

In the second sub-race, then, appeared Hermes. Ages rolled on. The third sub-race was to be born; the emigration to found that sub-race rolled westwards into Persia. Once more the “Wisdom-Truth” led the emigration. To that people he was known as Zarathustra, more often called among us Zoroaster. Fourteen of those are known in the old story of Persia, but the first, the eldest of them all, He alone was that one Supreme Teacher, coming down to His disciples, building the policy of Persia, handing down to those who came after Him the tradition that went by His name; and every great high-priest of that religion worthy to bear the mantle of the great One, he also is known in history as Zoroaster; and, as I have just said, some fourteen of those are named.

The time came for the fourth sub-race, the Keltic; the same great Being came forth again under another name, the name known to every student of Greek thought as that of Orpheus. The Orphic Mysteries, the Orphic tradition—these are phrases familiar to every student of[141] the mighty past of Greece. But the scholars, as a rule, with regard to him will say, as was said in regard to Hermes: This is not an individual; it is only a name for a succession of individuals. There is a truth in that, for there was such a succession. The blunder lies in not realising that such a succession must have an originator, and that the first and mightiest of the teachers, to whom everything ran back, is not necessarily a myth merely because He is so great. Those who started the Sun Myth have done a great deal of harm in clouding the story of the past, and it is only as the buried remains of that past are brought up and studied by the scholars of the time that people find that many of the so-called Sun Myths were mighty Teachers and mighty Kings in the childhood of our race. That has become more and more palpable as the excavations go into deeper and deeper strata, uncover more and more ancient civilisations; so that those who have been made into myths are now taking on again a semblance of humanity, but humanity so great, so divine, that it seems scarcely possible to believe that such Beings lived in the guise of men on earth. But you can trace down that Orphic tradition through all that was mightiest and most beautiful in Greece; you can trace in by the Mysteries I mentioned, by the names of the great Greeks who declared that they took their inspiration from that tradition. So we come to the last of the incarnations of that great Being until He appeared as Gautama, became the Buddha, passed away as teacher from the worlds.

Now I have mentioned those mighty ones of the past[142] because without that it might seem only a dream when I speak of such possibilities in modern times as well. I have traced the four latest appearances of Him who is the “Wisdom-Truth,” the last of the four manifestations before, appearing to take His last Initiation as the Buddha, He passed away and became the Son united with the Father, no longer Teacher, no longer Guide of our humanity. But there is never a break in the great succession; in that mighty succession of religious Teachers the chair of the Teacher never remains unfilled; there is ever a wise one to fill it, the wisest who is living upon earth; and when one lays down the sceptre of the Teacher, which is the symbol of His rule, another is waiting by the steps of the Chair of Wisdom to take that seat of Supreme Teacher as His predecessor passes away from earth. For never is the world left without its Teacher; never is mankind left orphaned, without the mighty One to guard and save; as one passes away, His function over, another steps in to fill the seat and carry on the teaching of mankind.

When Gautama was initiated as the Buddha, another then became what I have called the “Wisdom-Truth,” the Bodhisattva. His first manifestation upon earth was at the beginning of the next sub-race. That you will very readily see, and for that reason I have been tracing down those names, sub-race after sub-race, that you might realise the relation between the new departure of mankind and the manifestation of the Supreme Teacher. So when the fifth sub-race was being born, when there was the slow growth of the Teuton in the forests of Germany, when the germs, the seeds of that[143] new sub-race were being sown over Northern Europe, then was made manifest again the Supreme Teacher, and He came to the world once more to found a new religion, once more to bless a dawning civilisation. The religion that He founded, the civilisation that He blessed, gave to him the Greek name, the Christ. Let us pause for a moment on that western name—name, again, of an office. For it was not the name of the Buddha that He wore; it was not the name of an individual. As we look at the dominant Greek thought of the time we find that that thought embodied its highest triumph in a certain institution known as the Mysteries. There were Mysteries in ancient Egypt, in ancient Persia, in ancient India, in all the countries of that elder past; and among the Greeks also there were Mysteries—the Orphic Mysteries, to which I alluded, and many others known to the students of Grecian history under many names of Grecian Gods and Goddesses, as we call them, of the Teachers of the past. In those Mysteries there was a certain grade marked with the name Christos; these Mysteries the reflexion on our earth and in our poor worldly mirror of the great Initiations that belong to the Occult Hierarchy that guides the religious destinies of men, a shadow of those supreme Initiations thrown down upon the mirror of earth for the helping of ordinary humanity. This kind of reflexion is indicated, for instance, in the Christian Testament when it is said that Moses, the great leader of the Jews, made all things according to the pattern shown to him in the mount—a well-known ancient phrase, the Mount of Initiation—an indication to the people who followed him as lawgiver[144] that the temple which he outlined, which for a time was seen in the tabernacle that accompanied the Jews in the wilderness, and then received its more gorgeous presentment in the Temple of King Solomon, was formed after the pattern of the heavenly things. So the heavenly and the earthly are thus related as object and image, and the object, which is the great Initiations of the Hierarchy, was imaged here in the civilisations of the past in the Mysteries, by which, by many ordeals and in many difficult ways of training and of discipline, the best men and women of the older civilisations were guided upwards from the human to the superhuman path. In those Mysteries there was this grade, the Christos, the anointed one. It was the grade of the Initiate who had triumphed over suffering, the grade of the Initiate who had carried the cross, the grade of the Initiate who was to know no more compulsory death or compulsory birth, that which marked him as having crossed the threshold of the superhuman, and being ready to enter on that higher grade of manifested life. Natural, inevitable, that in a time when Greek thought was marking the highest point of human attainment and dominating Europe, the Greek name should be taken to describe the mighty One revealed as Teacher upon earth. What nobler name could be chosen, what title more significant, what symbol more instructive, than to call the teacher who appeared and was slain by the name of the Christ?

In the early days of Christianity, as most of you probably know, a difference, which is being revived in our own day, was drawn between Jesus the Hebrew and Christ the anointed Teacher. Look back to all those[145] schools of philosophic and learned teachers in the early days of Christianity, who, when ignorance triumphed after the fall of Rome and Constantinople, were branded with the name of heretics—those who were called the Gnostics, the knowers. A significant name. If you turn over the pages of Origen, one of the greatest teachers, remember, in the early Church, you will find many passages in his exposition of Christianity in which he says that it is necessary for the Christian Church to have in it many Gnostics, who should serve as the foundation on which it should be built, as the pillars on which it should be reared. He used the word in the sense of knowers, not alluding to the many schools classed together under that name. In a famous passage Origen points out that, while it is true that Christianity is for the unlearned, while he says it is medicine for the sinner, it is not out of the sinners and the unlearned that the great Christian Church could be builded; and he goes on to say that, while that is true, and there is medicine for the sinner, the Church must be buttressed by the Gnostic, not by the sinner, by those who know, not by those who are ignorant. That was well provided for in those early centuries of Christendom, for they also had their Mysteries, just as had the older religions around them. Turn over the pages of those early Christian bishops and doctors of the Church, the pages of S. Clement of Alexandria—canonised as saint for his learning and his holiness—turn over almost any of the pages you will of those earlier Christian teachers, who learned from the lips of those who had received their teaching again from the lips of the followers of the Christ Himself,[146] and you will find continual references to the Mysteries of Jesus. You will find the rules laid down by which alone admission to those Mysteries could be won; you will read in the pages of S. Clement the proclamation of the hierophant to whom the candidates presented themselves, he who had in his hands the key of that kingdom of heaven, and you will find that as they stood before him he told them that only those who for a long time had been conscious of no transgression might come and learn the teaching which Jesus gave secretly to His disciples. Those were the old words of challenge ere the door of that kingdom of heaven was flung open, and only to such men and women was admission to the Mysteries possible. There they learned the inner secret teachings, those that are indicated in the Gospel story; for you remember how it was written of the Christ: “For without a parable spake He not unto them”; you remember how, when the disciples asked for explanation, His answer was: “To you it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, but to others in parables.” You may remember, again, how it was said that when His disciples were with Him in the house, then He told them things which to the multitude without He refused to reveal; and you may remember the further promise that He left, when He knew that His own earthly life was drawing to a close: “I have many things to say to you, but ye cannot bear them now.” The Christian tradition of the Mysteries declared that those many things were told afterwards, when the disciples were more ready to receive, when the pupils were fitter to be taught. Origen tells us that all those teachings were kept[147] in the Christian Mysteries, and made the secret teachings of the Church, given only to those who were worthy.

In those days when many knew, when many understood, a distinction was drawn between Jesus and Christ. I alluded to it, you remember, in the first of this course of lectures; and I did so deliberately, intending to return to it when, having dealt with the many intermediate questions, I should arrive at the lecture on the Coming Christ. For there was a difference between the human body of the mighty disciple Jesus, born in Bethlehem, and the divine Power that came down upon that body at the point of time marked as the Baptism, when it is written, the Spirit of God came down upon Him and abode with Him; there you have marked the Coming of the Christ, the consecration of the Supreme Teacher. That distinction you find recognised in the Epistles, though no attention is drawn to it further in the Gospels after that startling and suggestive statement; but if you take the Pauline epistles you find yourself in quite a different atmosphere from that of the history as told in the Gospels; you find there the name of Christ in a new meaning, a mystical meaning of profoundest import; you find S. Paul declaring that he does not ask to know Him after the flesh, it is the inner Christ he seeks; you find him saying of that mystic Christ that He has to be born in the believer—a statement that could never have been made of the physical body of Jesus. You find him declaring that that mystic birth of the Christ in human souls is to be followed by a growth of the mystic Christ within the believer, until at last he has reached the measure of the stature of the fulness of the Christ.[148] That is the mystic Christian life, the Christ born in the soul, unfolding His divine powers as the Christian grows in wisdom and in love, showing Himself more and more manifest as the human life unfolds to the divine, until the perfect Christ is manifest and the Son of God is seen again on earth. But that old mystical idea slipped out of the Church teachings, and only remained in the Testament, marked but not understood. And so He who was the inspiring Spirit, the Supreme Teacher, the all-pervading life of His Church, became the outside Saviour, who by a physical sacrifice was said to have made atonement between God and man; and you had a vicarious atonement, a legal substitution, instead of that identity of nature which made the Christ and the believer one. That is the change which came over Christian teaching in those long ages of darkness that followed the vanishing of the Mysteries that had kept the flame of knowledge alive, until there were no longer pupils willing to be taught, and by the absence of the pupils the teachings of the Masters were withdrawn.

So we realise that with the revival in our own days of the mystic teaching and the realisation that there is a life in Christianity which is rightly marked out by that holiest of names, we begin to see in that spreading new life in Christian churches, in the revival of that idea of the possibility of the divine growth in humanity, we see one of the signs of the coming of the Christ, preparatory to His next manifestation upon earth. For it would scarcely have been worth while merely to amuse you for an hour with the story of the past if it did not bear on the present and the future, on the repetition of the old-world[149] tale, of the remanifestation of that mighty Son of God. For that reason, to make, as it were, the gulf less wide between the ordinary thought and the thought of the Occultist, I spoke about the earlier manifestations, marking each successive sub-race of man; and if you have followed along the line of what I have been putting to you Sunday after Sunday of the stage at which the world is standing now, of the transition age in which we are, of the closing age that is passing, of the opening age that is coming, of all the signs which show the ending of the one, of all the signs which show the beginning of the other, then without shock or jar should come to you the present idea that we may well be looking again for a manifestation of the Teacher, the Supreme Teacher of the worlds, who was last manifest as the Christ in Palestine. Let us see what that would mean.

Unless all that I have been telling you during the past five weeks is a mere dream; unless the very facts that I have pointed you to are utterly without significance, you ought almost to have thought yourselves into the point to which I fain would lead you now—that we are on the threshold of a new manifestation, and that the mighty Teacher again will appear as man among men. Now, to say that to any people may only make them think: “But why for us?” So might the Jew have questioned when last He came on earth. That a thing so great, so transcendent, and so rare, should come to earth at any particular time, to be measured by only a few years of mortal time—that that should be now seems too strange, too beautiful, to be true. And yet He came before; why not again? If at the birth of the fifth sub-race,[150] why not at the birth of the sixth? Some must be on earth when any such manifestation takes place; some generation of men and women must be born around the coming of a Christ; and there is no valid reason that any one of you can give why this age should not be such a time, and the people of this age the recipients of the new flood of spiritual life. Strange, because it happens seldom, but sure, because it happened at similar crises in the story of the world; and the strangeness of it does not mark it as untrue when you see the signs of the coming all around you, if your eyes should be open to recognise what they mean. For an expectation is spreading everywhere of the coming of some mighty Teacher, and here and there on earth the expectation has taken voice, nay, has even had a human messenger and herald to proclaim it. In Persia such a messenger came in the one who was called the Bāb, who declared the coming of a mighty one, followed by another said to be yet greater than himself, and yet a third, the Abbas Effendi of the present time, certainly a great spiritual teacher, but one who still declares that the mightiest is yet to come, who is to bind together the eastern and the western worlds.

Not only along that line has this expectation shown itself, but among the people of Islām in a strange combative form, natural to their fighting races, showing itself, therefore, as leader in battle to be ruler in the future; and through Africa you see it in this expectation of the Mahdi, which has given so much trouble during our own time.

I only mention these to show you that the thought is[151] spreading and the expectation growing; for ever the world grows expectant before the mighty One returns to reveal Himself on earth. Such a coming of the Christ the occult world is looking for—for the same great Being who appeared in Palestine, for He is still the Supreme Teacher, the same individual. Who may say what name He will bear? But what is of import to all of us is: Shall we recognise Him when He comes, or shall we be as blind of vision, as hard of heart, as were the Jews among whom His last manifestation occurred? It is so easy for us looking back through the glamour of the centuries in which the great Christian Master has been the head of Christendom, and seen as perfect man with the irradiation also of the Christ upon Him—for the Church has made no distinction between the two all these later years—it is so easy for us to look back through all those centuries and say we should have known Him had we been there. But that has happened so often. Was it not His reproach to the people of His day: “Your fathers slew the prophets, and ye build their sepulchres”? There are always plenty of people ready to rear the sepulchre of honour to the name of the prophet of the past; how few in any age of the world have recognised the prophet of their own day! That is not only true of the Supreme Teacher, but of others a little beyond the knowledge and the power of their own day; ever they have been met with hatred, ever the world has cast them out, has tortured or has slain them. Why should we in our own day, then, be any wiser? Why should the fifth sub-race, the most combative of all the nations, the most critical, the most[152] sceptical, the most unwilling to recognise the higher, the most self-assertive—why should we have eyes open to see a greatness that has never been recognised in the past? That is the problem that may well exercise our minds, in order that we may try to develop in ourselves the power to recognise should He come in our own day. For one great rule runs all through nature: that you can only recognise that to which you can respond. It is true of the outer nature and our physical eyes. We can only see each other because in the retina of the eye there is the ether that answers to the external waves of light. Similarly in moral characteristics, and, above all, in the spiritual nature, we can only recognise in proportion as we reproduce. If in ourselves there is some opening up of the spiritual nature, if in ourselves there are some of the qualities which shine out so gloriously in Him, if in us there is some touch of that nature which in Him has risen to divinity, ah! then it is possible that we may throb responsive to Him when He comes, hidden, as He ever has been, beneath the veil of flesh. But that that may be so we must go outside the thought of our time to that of the time that is coming; not the combativeness of the fifth, but the compassion of the sixth sub-race must find its home in our hearts. And if one may judge from the past, when He comes He may again be despised and rejected of men, for the spiritual ideal is not an ideal to which the heart of our own age quickly responds. You can see it in the characteristics of the Christ: “when He was reviled He reviled not again; when He suffered He threatened not.” But amongst you that would show great poverty of spirit. Not to revile[153] back when you are reviled, in the mind of the modern day, is to mark the reviling as true. That is the spirit of the time. If you are slandered, libelled, abused, go into court and drag the slanderer there; if not, you are guilty. That is the common opinion of the time. One who has learned the lesson of the Christ, who before His accusers answered nothing, that man is condemned by the popular mind of the day. He would answer if he could, because they would answer if they could; but the measure of the Christ is not the measure of those who bear His name in the combative civilisation of the time. And so when He comes again, reviled and slandered as He must be if He be far beyond our knowledge and our understanding, the common verdict will go against Him as it went against Him before. We may not murder; that is too merciful in these modern days. We prefer rather that the victim shall live to be tortured than to give him the mercy of a swift, a ready death.

And so, looking over the world at the moment, there seems little likelihood that when He comes He will be welcome. A few will recognise Him as they ever have done, and maybe, as the characteristics of the coming race are those of spirituality, there will be more to welcome Him, for the spiritual life is spreading to-day, and those who are of the Spirit will know the law of the Spirit; and I would fain leave you with the thought to-night that that is a truth, that the Supreme Teacher will again ere very long be incarnate upon earth, again made manifest as Teacher, again walking and living amongst us as last He walked in Palestine. Splendid as is the hope, mighty as is the inspiration, there is nothing too[154] glorious to be possible for the ever-unfolding Spirit in man, and the hope of to-day is that that spirit is spreading, despite the characteristics of our time; that men are becoming more liberal, more tolerant, more ready to recognise that which is true and just. And it may well be that we have reached such a time of evolution that the popular mind of the day will be transcended by large numbers of the more spiritually minded, and that when He comes again He will be able to stay amongst us more than the three brief years that marked His last ministry. That, then, is the word, the thought I leave with you: to develop in yourselves the Spirit of the Christ, and then at His coming you shall recognise His beauty. Learn compassion, learn tenderness, learn good thoughts of others rather than evil, learn to be tender with the weak, learn to be reverent to the great; and if you can develop those qualities in you, then the coming Christ may be able to number you among His disciples, and the welcome that the earth shall give Him shall not again be a cross.


Lecture VII
The Larger Consciousness and its Value

Friends: During the whole of the lectures, of which the discourse of to-night is the last, I have taken for granted the existence of a larger consciousness in man than that which we know at the present time as our physical or waking consciousness. Over and over again I have had occasion to allude to it, once or twice I dwelt for a few moments upon it, but I could not interrupt the course of what I had been putting to you by any detailed description of the larger consciousness, or of the instruments of that consciousness, the body or bodies of man. It seemed to me that the work I had been trying to do would remain somewhat imperfect unless I tried to place before you, ere quitting the subjects I had been dealing with, something with regard to this larger consciousness in man; a consciousness which exists in every one of us; which functions intermittently in all of us; which is in course of unfolding in humanity at the present time. And side by side with the unfolding of the consciousness there goes a continual evolution of the bodies in which that consciousness expresses itself, and it is that subject that I want to deal with to-night, trying to put before[156] you clearly and definitely the theory which is studied by Theosophists with regard to this matter, a theory which some of us have proved to be true by our own investigations, and—which is a far more important thing—confirmed by the great Scriptures of the world’s religions, the testimony which has been given to man by seers, by prophets of the highest, the most inspired, order. Sometimes we are inclined to lay more stress on contemporary evidence than on the evidence that comes from the great Scriptures of the world. It seems to me as though that were a little along the line of hiding the sun by holding a plate quite close to the eyes. For it is quite clear, when you come to think of it, that testimony which may be given nowadays by half-developed students cannot in the nature of things be nearly as valuable as that of the great prophets and seers of humanity, embodied, however mystically and allegorically, in the great Bibles of humanity. In fact, the testimony of the modern-day investigator should be checked and governed by those mightier and wider revelations, and it is always a point of satisfaction, a point of confirmation to the modern and partially developed seer when he finds that his own investigations throw light on some of the statements of these Scriptures, and that the Bibles of the race become more illuminating in some of their obscurer passages by the light that he may have been able to gain by his own investigations. I am not, then, pretending for one moment that anything I put to you now is comparable in value with what you might find out for yourselves, if spiritually illuminated, in these great Bibles of religions. But I do think that the investigations of to-day help us[157] to understand those great revelations, though much that is there said is necessarily obscure to us because of the immense difference in knowledge between the speaker and the student; therefore, though we may call our knowledge to-day a farthing light, it may be of value in the deciphering of these great manuscripts of the past, so that even a little knowledge of our own may enable us to go more deeply into those great wells of truth which have come down to us from antiquity, which have been given to us by the Saviours of the world.

In order to make what I have to say clear to you, I shall have to ask you to pardon me if I go in the beginning a little into definition and detail. If you want to study your own body, comparatively simple as that is, you must be willing to learn the difference between a bone and a nerve, between an artery and a vein, and so on through the whole of the more or less familiar terms which the physiologist uses in explaining the anatomy and the physiology of the body. No person can have clear and definite ideas if he is not willing to study the mere nomenclature of that which he wishes to understand; and while it is quite possible to avoid using words of other languages, it is not possible to avoid some demand on the consecutive thought-power of the student if he desires to be anything more than a mere superficial hearer, without any definite understanding of the subjects which he supposes himself to be studying. There is a very good and simple description of man’s constitution in one of the Pauline epistles, where a triple division is given, and a perfectly accurate division, although subdivisions again are possible and practicable; but for my[158] purposes now that division into three, and then certain subdivisions of each, will be sufficient to give you a very clear and definite idea of consciousness in man; and then by your own experience you can decide how much of the larger consciousness comes into your waking consciousness, or how much of you is still without vehicle of expression, still without the power of manifesting in worlds related to our own.

That division, as all of you will at once know, is Spirit, Soul, Body. It is curious how indefinite the mass of Christian people are with regard to the meaning of the first two terms, Spirit and Soul. I am not quarreling with the fact that different definitions may sometimes be given; I am quarrelling with the fact that most Christians have no definition at all; that they use the words interchangeably; that they constantly talk of man as a duality, always using the word body; sometimes using the word Spirit, and sometimes soul, for all that which they exclude from the body. Thus you hear people talking about spirits manifesting in various ways; sometimes you hear about the human soul and its immortality, and so on. But a clear, distinct definition of what is Spirit, what is soul—that for the most part is wanting among even the students of theology. Let us see if it be not possible to define them in a way which may at least be clear. You may, of course, differ with the division for the reason that you may think some other dividing line is better; I am concerned chiefly, for the moment, with giving you a clear definition, and then you may correct or amend it according to your own thought or your own knowledge. The definition will, of[159] course, govern me in all that I say to-night. First of all, then: What is Spirit? Spirit is a germ of Divinity unfolding itself gradually in human evolution, appropriating certain kinds of matter which it gradually organises into an instrument for self-expression—we may shorten that by saying a germ of Divinity encased in matter. That germ of Divinity, as you might naturally expect, shows out in itself the triple division of its Divine parent. Just as you find God, manifesting in a universe, ever manifesting three supreme attributes, sometimes personified into what is called a Trinity, so you would naturally expect to find in the germ that which you find in the parent—that the triple nature of Divinity should show itself out in the triple nature of the Spirit which is man. And that is so. You find Spirit showing itself forth in full Divinity, taking for a moment the Christian names as most familiar, in the form of Power in the Father, in the form of Wisdom in the Son, in the form of creative Activity in the Holy Spirit. If you will take those names for the time as being most familiar to your own thought, and therefore introducing nothing of difficulty to you—if you will remember those accepted ideas for the time, and translate them into terms of consciousness, limited, because these are not all fully unfolded in man, you will be able readily to distinguish in man’s spiritual nature, and even more distinctly for the moment in the lower reflexion of that with which I will deal presently—you will be able to distinguish the threefold division, and so to obtain, as it were, a clear picture of your own spiritual nature. That which in Divinity we call Power, the Will by which the worlds exist, shows itself out in[160] our own spiritual nature as Will. The Wisdom which upholds the worlds shows itself out in the human Spirit also as the pure and compassionate Reason, which is the Wisdom, the Christ, in man. The third, creative Activity, shows itself in intellect, the highest, the noblest form of creative Activity—the intellect, the pure intellect in man is the third reflexion in man of the creative Activity of God. And if you link what may be less familiar with the familiar, it will be very easy for you to keep the thread of that which I desire to put before you. Think first of all, then, that the Spirit, the germ of Divinity in man, has to show out in the gradual unfolding of its hidden powers these three supreme attributes with which you are familiar in the thought of Divinity itself.

Then, passing from that highest part of our nature to what S. Paul calls the soul, what is the Soul in relation to the Spirit? It is the temporary reflexion in grosser matter of the eternal Spirit; the image of that which is the eternal object; the reflexion in the mirror of a world of that eternal life which passes from world to world, unfolding, but is never subject to the transitoriness which marks the ever-changing worlds. The soul in man is the Spirit working in grosser matter; and hence in our own natures, so familiar to us—for now we come into a region that psychological science deals with and tries to define and understand—we have, when we look at our own consciousness, the soul, the reflexion of the Spirit in grosser matter. We have the mind reflecting the pure intellect with all its activities—imagination, judgement, reason—all these powers of the mind. Then we find a[161] part of our nature that we call the emotional; there we have the reflexion of that pure and compassionate Wisdom that I spoke of which shows itself in the lower worlds by Love, the highest and loftiest of the emotions, the root whence all virtues spring. For the same principle of unity which expresses itself as Wisdom in the spiritual world expresses itself as Love, which draws the separated lives together in the world where matter has overcome Spirit, where Spirit is blinded by matter. The unity that the Spirit knows the soul seeks by Love, which is the attribute that draws toward unity, and that which in the spiritual world is known, in the lower world is sought by this exquisite attribute of the soul. And that which in the higher world we call Will becomes Desire in the lower. For the difference between Will and Desire is that Will is self-determined, whereas Desire is determined by the attractiveness of objects outside the consciousness. You are moved by Desire when some pleasure attracts you, some pain repels you, when your activity goes along the road that is determined by an outer attraction, an outer repulsion; you are moved by Will, the spiritual attribute, when the whole of your inner nature, drawn up to a single point, self-determined, sends that nature along the road that within yourself you have chosen, whether it leads to pleasure or pain, whether it leads to gain or loss in the lower world. Will is determined from the spiritual Self; Desire is guided and stimulated by objects in the lower world. Hence that which is Will in the Spirit is Desire in the soul. And so you find the soul represented by these three well-known attributes: Mind, with all its powers; Emotion,[162] the root emotion being love; Desire, the reflexion of the determining power in this lower world.

When you come down into everyday life you find the whole of these make up your waking consciousness, showing itself out in the denser matter of the brain; in your waking consciousness you know the working of the mind; in your waking consciousness you know the working of the emotions; in your waking consciousness you know the working of desire; so that the waking consciousness, the limited, the conditioned, the smaller consciousness, is that which is within the limitations of your brain or physical body, but is none other than the larger consciousness which shows itself in the subtler worlds as soul, in the spiritual world as Spirit. If you realise clearly that outlining, with its subdivisions, you will find that consciousness is a unit, and the differences are differences of the material in which it is working rather than in itself. The triple division is the only one, whether you look at it in the brain, in the subtle body, in the matter of the world where the Spirit rules. Everywhere consciousness is one, expressing itself in three modes, by three qualities, but everywhere a unit, yourself, the reality within you.

What is Body? For there is a third factor in S. Paul’s definition of man. Naturally the body also has in it the same triple differentiation as the consciousness. And so we find a spiritual body, the clothing of the Spirit in the highest worlds of consciousness. We find also what S. Paul, again, calls a natural body. There is a natural body, he says, and there is a spiritual body. But that natural body divides itself into two—the subtle[163] body in which the soul is working; the dense body in which the waking consciousness is working, the reflexion of the highest. Those two naturally go together, and might well be classed roughly as the single natural body, for it is transitory, impermanent, belongs to the three worlds of change—the physical world, the intermediate, and the heavenly; has a certain life through which it passes in the three worlds, and then gives back its elements to the worlds to which they respectively belong. Whereas the spiritual body is a relatively permanent thing, lasts through the whole of the long life of the individual, passes through birth after birth, death after death, knows neither birth nor death in its own nature, passes through them, but is not affected by them—the spiritual individuality, the real man, is eternal in his own nature, and has a permanent clothing of the matter of the spiritual world, unfolding his powers, organising his matter, but remaining ever the same in essence, the consciousness ever living in those worlds, the matter the same, only becoming more and more definitely organised. In that spiritual body remains the memory of all the experiences through which you have passed; in that spiritual body resides your true individuality, that knows neither birth nor death; in that spiritual body which is ever yours all the experiences of the past are gathered up, and part of those experiences is put forth, birth after birth, in order that the soul may clothe itself in new bodies for new experiences and new developments. So that the part of you that lasts is the Spirit in the spiritual body; the part of you that changes, the soul in the temporary body, whether you take the subtler or the denser parts.


Supposing you accept that definition of man in his triple division, it will be easy enough then to follow out step by step what the higher consciousness is as apart from the lower, the larger as apart from the smaller. You will start with the great conception of a living Spirit coming down into denser and denser matter, with the object of acquiring that matter and subduing it to his own purposes, appropriating it, wrapping himself up in it, and temporarily blinded by the veil, but a veil that he is going to turn into an instrument, so that by it he may know all the worlds, and come into contact with every portion of the universe. For that he appropriates the matter of every world; for that he wraps himself round in these material garments; and working upon these, he turns them to his own purposes, shapes them by his own will, moulds them in order that he may use them for that which he desires to effect—contact with matter, the condition of his becoming master of the worlds; and by making matter his servant and his instrument, all the worlds become open before him, and he can function in any one of them. That the pure spiritual being cannot do. He can only function in worlds of the Spirit, those lofty eternal regions where Divinity itself resides and manifests without the blinding effect of the denser matter that we wear. But just as Divinity emanates these coarser forms of matter in order that the spiritual germs may be sown therein, and therein gain the experience by which their powers will be unfolded from within; just as Deity is manifest in matter, so must the germs of Deity grow therein, until matter is subject to them as it is to the Father of light, whence they come.


So, in looking at this consciousness unfolding and these bodies becoming organised, we can trace throughout the purpose of that long unfolding—to make the Spirit master of matter, to enable him to act in every world; and when we catch a glimpse of that great purpose, we realise how perfect is the plan, how complete our triumph will be. First we notice, when we are looking at the lower forms of consciousness in ourselves, that we can understand a certain relation between matter and Spirit which we are told exists all the way up to the highest spiritual world. And so far as investigation has been carried by the students of to-day, they find that relation in each successive world that they enter and finally subdue. It is a relation, then, that runs right through between consciousness and form, between Spirit and matter; it is this: that every change in consciousness has a corresponding vibration in matter, and that every vibration in matter has a corresponding change in consciousness. We are told that that relation is imposed by the Logos Himself in His first shaping of the matter side of His universe; that all the vibrations of which He makes the atoms capable answer one by one to changes in His own consciousness, and that throughout the whole of His universe, in all the mighty realm of spirit-matter that He rules, this correspondence is universally, unchangeably found—for every change in consciousness a corresponding change in vibration, for every change in vibration a corresponding change in consciousness.

Let us see how that would work if anyone whose eyes are a little opened looks at the aura of a person—the lowest part of that aura, if you will, in etheric or astral[166] matter: let us say, astral. You will notice a large number of colours continually flashing through it and changing; and if you examine those colours, every one, as you know from your ordinary study, representing a certain definite vibration in matter—every colour is nothing more than a certain vibration in matter, a vibration with a definite wave-length—if you watch those changing colours in the aura you will find that they are either generated by a state of consciousness or give rise to it. Suppose, for instance, you find a person in a mood of devotion, engaged perhaps in prayer—you can see them by the score in any Christian church. Watch the astral aura of that person, and you will find that the whole of it is vibrating in a way that gives you the colour of blue, blue everywhere predominating, the whole of the aura suffused with that colour. But you will also find, if there is in that congregation a quiet person who was not feeling devotional when he came into that congregation, that gradually his astral body will be affected by the vibrations in the astral bodies near him, and that those vibrations imposed upon him from without will produce a devotional mood within him. You can start it, then, at either end: either the mood producing the appearance, the vibration, or the vibration producing the mood. Take it in another form: have you never felt when you yourself were perfectly good-tempered and some very irritable person came up to you, have you never felt that you yourself were becoming irritable?—not that you had anything to be irritable about, but merely because the other man was, and it needs considerable control, control over the astral body, to[167] prevent the irritation of the person who comes near you from affecting your own previously placid mood. If you have not observed this, keep watch over yourself during the coming week, and you will find how continually you reproduce the emotions of the people with whom you come into contact. What is the mechanism of it? Very simple. That person’s astral body is vibrating in consonance with the emotion he is feeling. Those vibrations of his astral body set up vibrations in your astral body, a perfectly mechanical thing. But because it is your astral body, the matter you have appropriated, those vibrations in it produce in you the corresponding mood of irritation. Hence the common ethical precept given by every great teacher, to return good for evil. That is by a deliberate effort of the consciousness to throw yourself into the mood which is opposite to the evil mood of the person with whom you come into contact. If you do that, then your own mood will overbear in your astral body the vibrations imposed upon it from without, and your astral body will begin to vibrate in correspondence with your own good emotion instead of with the evil emotion imposed from outside. The further result of that, if you be strong enough, will be to correct the bad vibration in the astral body of the man who is near you, and so, by correcting that vibration into harmony with your own, to produce in him your own good emotion, instead of having your emotion controlled by his. That is the ordinary science of the emotions that every aspirant for the higher life is set to practise in his daily life. He is first told the theory, so that he may understand what he is doing, and then[168] he is set to the practise, so that by the practise he may realise the truth of the law that his teacher has explained. Sometimes the ethical teacher only says: “Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you.” With the unspiritual hearer the question will very readily arise, “Why should I give love when hatred is given to me?” Only knowledge will enable you to understand the wisdom that underlies this precept of all the great teachers of the past. Speaking in an age when authority was valid, and when people were willing to accept the precept from one whom they recognised as greater than themselves, they only proclaimed the law, and the docile hearer tried to obey. In our own more critical and combative age it is necessary to justify wisdom to a more critical and carping generation, and so the full explanation is given which shows you the scientific truth which underlies the ethical precept.

That runs through the whole of the working of our bodies, the whole of the changes in our consciousness. You can work it out step by step, or you can read the working out which has been made by a thoughtful student,[3] and so you will have a veritable science of the emotions, and you will go out into the world a source of peace, a source of blessing, a source of all good emotions, helping the weaker by your own knowledge and your own strength, and so enabling them to climb more quickly by giving this helping hand out of the knowledge that you have learned.

By that fact, then, we have power over matter, we can[169] throw it into the vibrations we desire. We can do more than that: we can shape it into organs of expression for the consciousness that is unfolded within us. Understanding these laws, we begin to realise that by these bodies we may come into touch with the various worlds around us. Let us see, again, the method. When first the spiritual germ descends into matter, gathering round itself the matter that it needs, that matter is like a mere cloud. It is still so in the highest regions for most; it is becoming organised into definite instruments of consciousness in the three lower worlds in all the more advanced members of our present race, to a very large extent in all of you. If you pause for a moment on the physical body, you will see exactly what is meant by the phrase: the organising of the body. You have here now in your physical body a valuable instrument, first for acquiring knowledge of the outer world, and then for acting on that world, carrying out the knowledge you have gained. You have, as you know, in your body two sets of nerves, called sensory and motor: by the sensory you gather knowledge from without; by the motor you act upon the outer world, utilising the knowledge you have gathered to bring about the results that you desire; and your physical body is well organised for its work. By the evolution of the senses, by the gradual growth of the whole nervous system, by the development of your brains, you have largely become master of this densest world, the physical world, to which your body is related. All that is needed further is a comparatively small evolution—the development of the other two senses, the conquest of the realm of ether, that which science is[170] now investigating. So far, then, you have one instrument, the instrument of your waking consciousness. Through that, spirit and soul alike are working, the powers of the soul showing out as far as the density of the matter will permit. Coming into denser matter is very much the same as if you brought a light through thicker and thicker glass. The light would remain the light, but that which would show out through the glass would be less and less according to the opacity of that glass. So with the light of the spirit shining through the soul and the body. Your next work is the organisation of the next finer body of matter, that which I called the subtle. In that your emotions are working, in that your thoughts are working, and to a very large extent your mental and emotional bodies—we call the emotional the astral—are organised at the present time. But here more variety comes in. Some of you will have your astral body so well developed that it is fit for separate working in the intermediate world. Some of you will have it well developed so far as consciousness is concerned, but not so far as the reception of impressions from the outer intermediate world. That is, your consciousness will be working there in that finer matter that has not yet sufficiently organised the astral body to receive impressions from without.

Gradually, as evolution goes on the organisation of the astral body will go on in everybody, but it is possible, as I suggested to you a few Sundays ago, very largely to quicken that evolution, and gradually to make the astral body what it ought to be, as perfect an instrument for contact with the astral world as the physical body[171] is for contact with the physical world. That is, of course, what a very considerable number of people have done, and they are able to act either in or out of the physical body. We will take both cases in a moment. Take the finer part first of the subtle body—the mental body. In most of you that also is fairly organised, but, again, it is organised for working within yourself, but not receiving from the outer mental world all that hereafter it will be able to receive and utilise, and only a few of you, comparatively, would be able to leave the denser and the astral body behind, and live in the heavenly world, in full consciousness, working there as thoroughly as you can work in the physical world.

What signs are there by which you can judge how far the organisation of the astral and the mental bodies is going on, so that if you work to quicken their organisation you will be able partly to judge how far your work is effective? Let us take the working in the body, the physical body, first. As these other higher forms of consciousness begin to become co-ordinated with the physical, and to hand on to it the impressions that they receive, the mental body is becoming highly organised; when the person possessing it is strong in science, physical science, above all in the grasping of principles, in the power of observation, in the ability to draw conclusions from the observations that have been made, organisation is improving. Among the scientific men of our own time that mental body will be very highly developed, chiefly for use in the waking consciousness, very imperfectly as yet for direct reception on the higher planes. The higher development of the astral body will[172] show itself in forms of art and of high emotion, and just in proportion as those are transmissible to the waking consciousness may you realise that the astral body is becoming more definitely organised. When the body of the intellect, the lasting body, part of the spiritual body, is becoming organised, then it is that you find fine metaphysical ability, great philosophical profundity of thought, the highest conceptions of idealistic art, the highest achievements in idealistic literature. Those are the faculties that belong to the beginning of the spiritual body in man, transcending the transitory, beginning to shape the permanent instrument of the Spirit. Where you have great talent, where the mental body is highly organised, where you have the highest genius, there the spiritual body is beginning its organisation. For that highest genius is the flashing down from the organised spiritual body into the lower nature of knowledge which in those regions alone can be gained; and when art and literature become illuminated by the Spirit, then you have the mighty geniuses of history that outlast the passing generations and shine out in the world of thought.

What signs may we find other than those of the organisation of these bodies through which the larger consciousness will work? Genius is the highest of all, save that which I spoke of as the manifestation of the Christ, the Wisdom Spirit in man. But if we leave those loftiest manifestations of the larger consciousness alone, what signs may we find amongst ourselves of the growing organisation of those higher bodies and the unfolding of the larger consciousness? There are very[173] many signs to-day of the organising of the astral body, and it is in the lack of discriminating these from genius that we find a great absence in power in the new psychology. You find the organisation of the astral body showing itself forth in the power to receive impressions directly from the astral plane, and the power to translate them into the waking consciousness. In the body those first signs are seen in telepathy where it is well developed, where people are able to communicate with one another without the ordinary physical means of communication, and that is not so very infrequent a thing among the more thoughtful of our own time. That is a power you can develop, if you like, by definite and regular practice; only remember that all development of power means regular practice and patient and reiterated experiment. One finds, for the most part, that after a few weeks or months of practice people are apt to drop the whole thing if they have not in that time gained startling results. That is not the way that powers grow. The law is sure, that if you choose to concentrate your mind so as to make a clear image, that will be reproduced in astral matter. Then by an effort of the self-determined will you can send that astral thought-form to whomsoever you choose; and if you practise that day after day, week after week, nay, even month after month and year after year, you will find that you will ultimately develop the power of sending thought clearly and definitely, so that you will be able to communicate with the absent as surely, as certainly as any physical-plane communication can be sure and certain. Practice along these lines can do you nothing but good.[174] It increases the power of the will, it increases the concentration of thought; but remember that without concentrated thought and fairly strong will you are bound to have a very long practice before you will have results tangible in the outer world. The person who cannot keep his mind steady for a couple of minutes at a time, the person who cannot concentrate definitely on one thought, such a person certainly cannot transfer that which he is unable to create; and for a very considerable time people will have to practise by creating the thought-image before they will have anything to be definitely sent to another. But that is one of the means of organising the astral and the mental body as an instrument of the larger consciousness. Some people, of course, have it by nature, as you say, but what does that mean? Only that they have practised it in previous life. No one gets anything for nothing from nature. On the other hand, nature is a good paymaster, and pays the exact wages that we have earned, never withholding anything. If you can do it easily, it is because you have done it before; if you find it difficult, it is because you are beginning that definite kind of work. But no one obtains it without labour, no one can develop it without long and continued practice. But there is one form in which the astral body shows its organisation when you are out of the dense body and not in it, in the form of dream. Whenever you go to sleep you leave your dense body behind. Some dreams belong only to the brain; it is because people do not distinguish dream from dream that so much foolish ridicule is sometimes cast on the dream-state[175] altogether. It is perfectly true that there are dreams which grow out of conditions of the physical body, where a little change in the circulation, a momentary block in some vessel of the brain, will cause a dream, incoherent, senseless, without meaning or illumination. That is the physical dream; it may be caused by any disturbance of the body—indigestion, a hundred other things. The dream that shows that the astral body is becoming organised is a dream in which some definite knowledge is conveyed, in which some definite warning is given, in which something is added to you that you had not before, or in which you come into contact with someone who has passed out of the physical conditions through the gateway of death, and whom you may meet in the astral world when you yourself have temporarily dropped the dense body. Those dreams are coherent, rational, sometimes illuminative. Remember how many dreams have now been put on record in which a man has gained in the dream-state knowledge that he had not in the waking state. How often that knowledge gained in the dream-state has enabled him in the waking state to cover over some gap that he was before unable to bridge. You will find in Myers’ book on Human Personality some of these dreams given, although not very definitely explained, and if you find in your experience that those are becoming more frequent, then you may be sure that your astral body is becoming a vehicle of consciousness, an instrument by which consciousness can work in the other world. It is true that in some dreams, especially of warning, the thought may be thrown into your mind from without when you have not found it out[176] for yourself, but have been informed of it by another. Such a warning may come through, given you by some friend, some helper, someone whom you love, who may have passed onwards, and so has the advantage of the astral vision. But in all those cases there comes into the waking consciousness something from the larger, and as you perfect the astral body all those come more and more within your control. As it becomes organised there is less and less need to leave it in order to exercise its powers. You will find yourself seeing, hearing, while the physical senses are active, while the consciousness is working normally, the waking consciousness in the brain; so that slowly and gradually you will unify the physical and the astral bodies and live in the two worlds continuously at one and the same time, finding those worlds intermingling and interworking; and so you will gain that much of the larger consciousness which belongs to the expression of the soul through the subtle astral body.

Exactly on the same lines with the heavenly worlds, the mental world, your evolution will go on, and for this there is one condition regarding the consciousness, there is one condition regarding the instrument for the unfolding of consciousness—regular and steady meditation. There is no other way. If you find anybody telling you that by any physical means you can really unfold your consciousness, tell them that they do not realise what they are talking about. You can start a little astral consciousness on the lowest parts of the astral world by causing vibrations in matter in the physical that affect the astral, and so bring about a change in consciousness[177] in that lowest part of the astral world, but you can go no further. I have seen in India men who, by the use of difficult physical means that none of you would care to use—for they bring about the gradual spoiling of the physical body—I have known them able to leave the physical body and live for the time being in the astral, but in that astral body they were unconscious, not conscious; they were not coming into touch with the astral world, nor using the larger consciousness at all. They had only forced themselves into that world in the astral body where it was not organised enough for the reception of impressions, nor the consciousness unfolded to understand them, and they had injured the physical brain and rendered that practically useless for physical utility; so that they had lost both worlds instead of gaining the higher that they sought. When one has seen that happen in India one realises that those methods are not methods that it is desirable to spread in the West; and it is along that line that so many of those pseudo-occult books are going which come to us from America, promising that if we follow those practices we shall be able to get the better of other people in business transactions, and hypnotise them for our own advantage and our own gain. Wherever you find that the method of working and that the object aimed at, be sure that you are dealing with a form of unfolding and of evolution that can only injure; it cannot really serve. The worst of it is that those forms tend to atrophy the parts of the brain that you want to bring things through after a higher consciousness is active and the higher body is organised. By this means you injure the brain, and with the brain[178] the connecting link between this world and the next, so that you injure yourself along that line as well as along the other, and make yourself incapable, until you have a new body, of that higher unfolding at which you aim. There you have the danger of people picking up fragments of an ancient science of the East, without realising all the protection with which in the East that science is surrounded; and if even there one finds occasionally such cases as I have mentioned, of the ruined physical frame and the undeveloped astral body, then how much more dangerous it is when given to people of different physical heredity, without the conditions which in the East are ever imposed! Meditation, then, is the one safe way of unfolding the consciousness, and thus organising the vehicle; and the other condition is purity of thought, purity of desire, purity of physical life. That is the matter side of the training. Your thoughts must be pure, otherwise your mental body will be unfit for higher development; your desires must be pure, or your astral body will not be fit for that unfolding at which you aim; your physical body must be pure, otherwise when the developed mental and astral pour down their power on the physical, the physical will be unable to answer, and you will have hysteria instead of the wider consciousness you seek.

Those, roughly, then, are the conditions: meditation for the consciousness, purity for the evolution of the instrument. If you are willing to accept those conditions, then the path of the higher evolution opens before you, and according to your courage, your perseverance, and your ability will be the rapidity with which you can[179] tread that path. The object before you should be the helping of others, the gaining of these powers in order that you may be more useful, not in order that you may be greater than your fellow-men. Of the purity of your motive there is only one test: are you using the powers you have now for the helping of your race? If you are not, then no profession that you will use the higher powers for good will be effective in bringing you help in their unfolding. I have met many a man, many a woman, who is anxious to be an invisible helper—that is, a worker on the astral plane—but I do not always find that those people are visible helpers as far as their present powers go. And I do not understand why people should want to go about in astral slums when they keep carefully away from the physical slums which are already within their reach. So far as you can go by your own power you have the right to go, but if you ask for help from those more highly developed—from the great Teachers of the race—then you have to bring in your hands the proof—and that proof is life, and not words—that as you are using well the talent you have you deserve to be helped in the gaining of others. There is the underlying meaning of those strange words ascribed to the Christ, that he who has much, to him shall be given. Those who have used well that which they have, those alone have claim to be helped in gaining more; for by their life they have shown that they do the best with what they possess, and that is the guarantee that with more they will utilise that also for the race. And so in the old rules of discipleship it was said that when the disciple came to the Teacher he must bring with[180] him in his hands the fuel for the fire; it was the fire of sacrifice, and the fuel was everything that the pupil possessed in mind, body, and estate; and he brought that in his hands as offering to the Teacher, and then alone was he accepted by the one who knew. And so in these days also that higher evolution, quickened by the power of the great Ones, can only be opened up to those who bring in their hands the fuel for the fire of sacrifice; you must be willing to give up everything you have, and own nothing, material or immaterial; you must hold everything you have and everything you are at the service of the great One from whom you ask the gift of knowledge. When that is brought the gift is never refused; when that door is thus knocked at it never remains closed. True it is that the gateway is narrow; true it is, now as of old, “Strait is the gate, narrow is the way, and few there be that find it.” But the fewness does not depend on the grudging of the Teacher—it depends on the want of self-surrender by the disciple. Bring all you have and all you are, lay it at the feet of the Master of the Wisdom; He will open the gateway, He will guide you along the path. But dream not that words are heard in that high atmosphere where the Master lives and breathes: only high thoughts can reach Him, only noble acts can speak the thoughts you have conceived; for voice there is the life that is lived, and only the life that speaks of sacrifice can claim the teaching at His hands.



Lecture VIII
The Place of Theosophy in the Coming Civilisation

A Public Lecture delivered in the Queen’s Hall, London, at the British Convention, July 2nd, 1909.


It has been my lot now for many years to visit England either every year or every other year, in order to try to spread throughout the country the truths of the ancient wisdom which in these days we call by its Greek name of Theosophy. This year it has been my special duty to place on record in the capital of the empire a certain line of teaching with regard to the changing conditions of the times, to draw the attention of the thoughtful to the signs all around us of a changing civilisation—signs of an age that is passing—signs of a dawning civilisation that may be seen on the far horizon of our day. And I had thought that I should only reach as to this the few thousands that may be gathered together Sunday after Sunday in a London hall, but by the generous kindness of the Christian Commonwealth these lectures have been spread far and wide. To-night I am taking up something of the thought that there has been more fully expressed, with the special intention of showing you the part that Theosophy will play in that coming civilisation, the nature of the work that it is doing in preparation for the civilisation on the threshold. I have worked out in[184] those lectures in some detail what here I must only state, that just as you can find in watching the evolution of a man that at different ages of his life he is dominated by different parts, as we may say, of his consciousness—as we find emotion dominating him in youth, mind dominating him in his maturity, the wisdom of the Spirit in his age—so we may see, in glancing abroad over the civilisations and the races of men, that a similar succession may be observed, and that hence an indication of the future may be obtained. For we can see in the race that preceded our own, and still is living and active, the great Keltic race, how high emotion is the dominant note, and how the expression of that emotion finds itself best in poetry and in art. We can see that in the Teutonic race intellect is the dominant note, and that mind in all the spheres of its triumph shows itself out among the peoples who grow from that stock, of which our own nation is a branch. That being of the past and the present, it is not irrational to look now in the unfolding humanity for the growth of the next principle, the next mark in the opening consciousness, the development of the spiritual nature in man, which succeeds the intellectual as inevitably as that succeeds the emotional, and places the crown of wisdom and all-embracing love on the brow of the humanity which has passed through youth, is passing through its manhood, is going onwards to the full maturity of its evolution. So in the coming civilisation we shall expect to find spirituality the prevailing mark, dominating religion, dominating science, art, and society, and we may rationally look, as spirituality grows, and shapes and moulds the coming civilisation, that in the[185] sphere of religion we shall see ever-increasing unity; in the sphere of science we shall find new methods of investigation, new powers to use in thought; that in the sphere of mind we shall find nobler ideals, more inspiring power; and in society we shall find spirituality showing itself, laying the foundation of society in self-sacrifice, building it up by self-control, and marking Brotherhood as its ultimate goal and achievement.

Such, very roughly, are the signs that we think will mark the coming civilisation. What has Theosophy to do with that civilisation: what its place, its part, its duty? That is the question that I am to try to answer to-night. And fairly the questions might be asked in speaking of Theosophy by those who know little of it save the name—and how little of it is known we can often see in the allusions we find to it in our daily Press—naturally the questions might arise: What is Theosophy? Whence does it come? Briefly, those preliminary questions, then, should be answered. Theosophy, in the first place, as its name implies, is the declaration that man as a spiritual being can directly know God who is Spirit. It is the proclamation of the ancient Gnosis as against the agnosticism of the closing years of the nineteenth century. Secondly, it is a body of doctrines which are common to all the great religions of the world; doctrines which we find explained, more or less perfectly and fully, in every great religion of the past as well as in every great religion of the present; a collection of teachings, spiritual in their nature, universal in their spread, endeavouring to guide man along the way to perfection, training him in life, illuminating him in the hour of death.[186] It does not deal with any special rites, any special ceremonies, any special part of the teaching of religion which is not universal, which is not everywhere to be found. So far as those are concerned, the specialties of every religion, it studies them, it explains them, it shows the occult meanings which often lie behind the outer garment of ceremony, behind the ordinary rites of worship, behind the symbols that you find in every faith; but while it explains them, illuminates them, enforces their real value, it does not strive to persuade people to adopt one religion rather than another, but, instead of giving up their own religion for another, it counsels them to find in that religion the deep truths that all faiths have in common. Hence it endeavours, where religion is concerned, to bring peace instead of war, to make religion a healer rather than a divider, a peacemaker rather than a battle-cry among men. And in searching out these essentials of every religion, and drawing these out and setting them before the minds of men, it justifies its claim to its name of the Ancient Wisdom, of that Divine Wisdom in which all the great religions have their root.

Such, very roughly and briefly again, is Theosophy in its essence: a Gnosis as regards the relation of man to God, a statement of fundamental spiritual truths common to the great religions of the world. In a moment, in dealing with its work in the religion of the future, I will mention those doctrines one by one, so that you may see for yourselves how they may be traced in all the scriptures, living and dead, and in all the religions of the world. I put first the blunt statement of what Theosophy is, in order, if possible, to clear away the[187] clouds which ignorance and prejudice have spread around it.

Taking it, then, that the coming civilisation is to be spiritual, that this Theosophy is to have a definite place and work therein, let me try to point out to you the nature of the work, the lines along which Theosophy labours to prepare the way for, as well as to influence, that coming civilisation for which we look; and when I say to prepare the way for, it is because we believe that every great religion has a civilisation attached to it, and according to the nature of the religion the civilisation that it moulds will be; and because we also believe that at the beginning of every civilisation a great Teacher appears in the world to give the impulse to that civilisation and to shape the religion that will mould it. Hence, with our looking for a coming civilisation, we look also for the manifestation of a great, a divine Teacher.

But I said, people might ask not only what is Theosophy, but—Whence does it come? It is the latest—I do not say the last—of the great impulses which, one after another, in the long past of history, have founded the great religions of the world. Those impulses ever come from a mighty Brotherhood of Teachers made up of the past Founders of religion, presided over by the Supreme Teacher who rules and guides and inspires them all—a mighty Brotherhood of Teachers of the world, coming from time to time to found a religion, to shape a civilisation. Such impulses were often repeated in the past, to be again repeated in the century which now is running its course amongst us, history in very truth repeating itself, and bringing at the appointed[188] time a new civilisation, preceded by a new spiritual impulse.

That impulse on this occasion has differed from all that went before it in that it founds no new religion, builds no new barrier, does not mark out believers and unbelievers, does not try to proselytise, but only to inspire. For, as I just said, Theosophy goes to all religions as a peacemaker, and does not strive to draw away from any faith those whom the law has brought to birth beneath its shelter. So its first work in preparation for the coming civilisation is to try to bring about a brotherhood of religions, not destroying any, not trying to make any less potent than they were before, but endeavouring to transform them from rivals to brothers, so that each religion may recognise its kinship with other religions, and they may become one mighty family, instead of warring and separate creeds. Now, to that high end it brings the knowledge of facts which have largely been used against religion, but ought really to be used in its service. Those of you who have reached even middle age will remember how in the latter part of the nineteenth century there grew up among the sciences of the time a science which was named Comparative Mythology. You will remember how that science grew; the oldest among you may remember its very beginnings. It sought out of the past religions, as well as out of the present religions, to prove that religion grew up out of ignorance, and only became refined as it grew older and spread among more cultivated people. It used the researches of the archæologist, the discoveries of the antiquarian, as weapons against the religion which[189] dominated Christendom, where science was most powerful and most active. It took up doctrine after doctrine of the Christian faith, and pointed to the existence of those doctrines in other times, in other civilisations, among the religions of the past, both living and dead. It brought information from the open tombs of Egypt, and gathered together the fragments of Egyptian knowledge as they were traced on the papyrus, on the leaf that was put on the bosom of the mummy. It gathered them together, and out of those scattered fragments it made what we know well as the Egyptian Book of the Dead. It did the same with Chaldæa, the same with Nineveh, the same with those replicas of Egyptian temples that were unburied in far-off Mexico—temples thousands of years older than the Aztecs, who slew their worshippers and destroyed their civilisation, the Aztecs, who themselves were thousands of years old when Cortez and his Spaniards treated them as they had treated their forerunners. It brought from those unburied temples similar teachings and similar ideas. It gathered, again, similar teachings from the books of China, with its immemorial traditions; from the scriptures of India, from the fragments of the Zoroastrian tradition, from the books of the Buddhist nations, from Greek and Roman. Piling up all the evidence it had gathered, it made out of that the science of Comparative Mythology. It was the deadliest weapon that was ever forged against dogmatic Christianity, because founded on knowledge of facts that none could deny. Then it was that it became the duty of Theosophy, just then born into the world, to come forward to acknowledge the truth of[190] the facts, and to add many others to the store, but to point out that instead of Comparative Mythology there should be built a science of Comparative Religion, showing that that which had been universally taught was truth, and not lies; was verity, and not delusion. It defended every religion by the universality of religious beliefs; and it pointed out that a truth did not cease to be a truth because it was ancient, did not cease to be a truth because it ruled in ancient times as well as now; it justified religion by the very arguments that were used to discredit it, and traced it to a universal Ancient Wisdom, instead of to the ignorance of the savage, refined in modern days. It brought to that contention many an argument on which I have not time to dwell, but that you can very easily read for yourselves, if it be unknown to you, in the many publications that have been written along these lines. And now, in order to utilise that for the coming time in the building of the Brotherhood of Religions, we proclaim in every country, to every faith, among the people of every religion, the common heritage, the spiritual verity, the primary doctrines that are found in every faith. What are they? They are but few, although far-reaching. They could be counted on the fingers of two hands, and even than that, so few are they.

The first great doctrine that every religion teaches is the unity of God; the second, that God in manifestation is ever triple. In philosophy they speak of three qualities or attributes; in religion they mostly personify, and speak of a Trinity or a triple form. But whether philosophical, or personified in religion, you have ever Power or Will, Wisdom, Activity, and you can find those in the[191] Trinity of every nation, whether you take in the Christian creed the Father, the embodiment of Power, of Will, the Son, the Wisdom everlasting; the Spirit, the creative Activity by which the worlds are made. Or you might take it equally well in Hindūism, and there you would see the order reversed: the Creator, who is the embodiment of Activity; the Preserver, the embodiment of Wisdom; the Regenerator, the embodiment of Power. And so might I take you to ancient and dead religions, and to ancient and living religions, and show you ever the same. For those primary truths of God are everywhere proclaimed, one in His nature, triple in His manifestation. And then, after those first two truths, you come to the third: the vast family of the Sons of God, the great hierarchy of spiritual intelligences—archangels, angels, shining ones; call them what you will—that mighty family of Sons of God, amongst which humanity finds its own place in process of evolution. Then you come to the fourth great teaching: that you have the unfolding of consciousness going on continually, and shaping ever finer and finer bodies for its own expression; that which science calls evolution, but which religion has ever called reincarnation, the method of perfecting the germinal seed of divinity into the divine man, when the human evolution is complete. Then, fifthly, the worlds in which these changes go on: our earth, the intermediate world, and the heavenly; and man, with bodies of matter belonging to all the worlds, so that he may be in contact with each. And then the sixth great teaching of universal law—law in the world of mind as well as in the world of matter; law which[192] builds character as well as builds the outer world; law unchanging and inviolable, which, because we can know, we can utilise to the building up of ourselves into noblest ideals. And then, closing these doctrines that are common to every religion, we find the idea of the Teachers who preside over human evolution, who inspire religions, who guard the spiritual progress of mankind. Those are the truths universal, those are the teachings which every religion has had and has; and so we find in these religions, by their unity of teaching, the reality of Brotherhood that we seek everywhere to spread. For of what avail to change from one faith to another if in the new religion you only find the same old truths, though ceremonies and rites may differ? And we see in this Brotherhood of Religions one value to mankind which one religion only could never have given to us. Just as you see the light of the sun broken up into many colours, and those colours giving all the beauty to earth which you see in the nature around you; just as you know that those colours that constitute white light can be recombined again into the white light whence they sprung, so is it with religions. The great truths, the great virtues are as one—the great white light of truth; they are broken up by the prism of the intellect, and the many religions ray out, each with its own colour; they are recombined by the prism of the Spirit, and once again are blended into the unity of truth.

If you look at religions you will see how true that is. Every religion has a note of its own, a colour of its own, that it gives for the helping of the world. Go back to ancient Egypt, and you find the note of the Egyptian[193] religion is knowledge, so that Egyptian religion became the mother of Egyptian science, and science spread from Egypt westwards over Europe. Go to the Far East, and you will find in India that the special note of Hindūism is the all-pervading nature of Deity, and the all-compelling duty which is the law for every individual. Go to Persia in her ancient days, and there the note of purity was struck—purity of thought, of word, of act. Go to Greece, and you will find her note was beauty—beauty in architecture, beauty in sculpture, beauty in painting, beauty in the perfection of her philosophy, which made the Beautiful of equal rank with the True and the Good. And in Rome you find the note of law, law all-compelling; and in Christianity the note of self-sacrifice, which has in it the promise of the future; and in Islām the proclamation again of the divine unity. And so every religion with its own note, every religion with its own colour; blended together they give the whiteness of truth, blended together they give a mighty chord of perfection.

Now that you could not have had with one faith and one creed. Human thought is too narrow, human brain cannot grasp at once this many-noted chord of perfection; and so many religions, each with its own characteristic, as though the Divine Name were to be spelt out by the religions, and each gave a single letter, all the letters together making the name of the Blessed One. When you look on religion in that way you realise how mighty a thing it is, how its strength is in unity expressed in diversity; how each religion should learn from others and share with others that which is its own specialty.[194] And surely that does not lower religion, but makes it greater; surely it does not make it less compelling, but more attractive. Is Christ less when He taught “Love your enemies,” because we know that the Buddha said, six hundred years before Him, “Hatred ceases not by hatred at any time; hatred ceases by love”? Or is it not more beautiful to see in the Buddha and the Christ proclaimers of the one eternal law, coming at different times to different nations, but ever with a single truth, ever with one code to teach to men?

Now in trying to do this work—which, of course, is taken in detail when one is dealing only with that side of thought—Theosophy is preparing for that common spiritual religion, the one Divine Wisdom, of which all the religions of the world shall see themselves as branches, while the trunk and root of truth are one. That is the great work, then, in the coming civilisation, which it is the duty of Theosophy to labour at; and hence, in one of its early teachings, it was said it was to be the corner-stone of the religion of humanity. For the religion of humanity will be the Brotherhood of Religions that I have been describing, where no religion can be spared, for each has something special, but where all religions will be seen as one, because they give similar truths in different forms.

Let us pass from that, and ask what Theosophy is to do in the coming civilisation, in the science of that time. Science in the coming days will pass into subtler worlds, or subtler matter. It has practically conquered the grosser, denser forms of matter; it is now going onward to the subtler and the finer. And there lies its difficulty:[195] that the methods which did for the grosser, the apparatus that measured the grosser, are not applicable for the subtler. And when I say “the gross,” think how fine even its apparatus is, for quite lately I had sent to me an article in a scientific journal which spoke of an apparatus that could measure the forty-millionth of an inch, and yet that is coarse compared with the subtleties of the matter that lies beyond that, which science must conquer in the coming days. Now of what value can Theosophy be there? It is bringing, by training, the possibility to man in our modern days of quickening his own evolution, and running ahead of the slow working of the laws of nature unguided by human intelligence. It is bringing, and proclaiming everywhere, a system by which man can more rapidly unfold the powers of his consciousness, and also may more rapidly develop the organs of finer matter that are related to those worlds of finer matter which science will soon enter and begin to conquer. It is telling people how to develop the finer senses, and showing them the line along which the very few have gone in the past, but along which myriads shall tread in the future, the next great stage of human evolution, the organising of the finer body in man. It is bringing that to the help of science in order that by the evolution of the finer body the finer world may become the object of observation, exactly on the same lines, exactly by the same laws, that your grosser physical bodies to-day enable you to investigate the grosser physical world around you. There are eyes that are keener than these organs evolved from the pigment spots of the medusa; there are ears finer and subtler than those of our body,[196] exquisite as they are in their mechanism and in their delicacy; there are organs of sense transcending the physical. Within the physical brain is an organ evolving which shall be the connecting link between those finer senses of the finer body and the grosser senses of the body of flesh that we wear; an organ that many of our scientists think is an organ that is passing away, because it is larger in the earlier stages of evolution than in the highly developed man; it is the pituitary body. It is not a question of size, but of inner complexity of organisation; and that organ is not simply what science calls it, a vestigial organ—that is, one belonging to the evolution of the past—it is truly a rudimentary organ, one belonging to the evolution of the future. And the fact of that has been proved by bringing life-currents, electric currents, to bear on that particular organ, so that the results of the finer senses are communicated to the brain, and we bridge what some people think the gulf between the world of physical matter and the world that is called that of astral matter.

Those experiments are now so familiar to some of us that it is impossible for us to agree with the notion that that organ in the brain has no future, as we find it can be stimulated and organised more finely, and used in this definite fashion; we know that what a few are doing now many shall do to-morrow, and those who have done it are only a step in front; others are treading on their heels, and may outstrip them soon in evolution. But here comes the difficulty, especially for the nations of western Europe, who, from climatic and other reasons, have taken so very largely to a diet of flesh, in which[197] also alcohol plays a large part. Now flesh and alcohol are not suitable materials for building up the body of our ordinary life, which is to be made sensitive enough to receive the vibrations from the finer matter of which I have been speaking. Doctors have just discovered what was published by Madame Blavatsky many years ago—that alcohol has a direct effect on the pituitary body, and poisons that body, tending to cause inflammation. Have you ever wondered why it is that alcoholic excess leads to what is called delirium tremens, in which people see things that do not exist to the ordinary people around them? It is because they have poisoned that very organ by which vibrations come from other worlds; and although what they see is largely abnormal and irrational, it is none the less the result of action on these irregular and poisoned bodies, which vibrate under the stress of poison instead of under the stress of thought, as they should do. And that which doctors now have discovered and are publishing as a warning to people, that has ever been known in occult science, and one of the conditions of giving the details of the methods whereby that body may be rendered active, has been abstinence from alcohol, and for the simplest reason. So long as you are not using any of these methods, it does not so very much matter whether that body be poisoned or not. You may live long with a poisoned pituitary body; but the very moment that you begin to work upon it, to make it active, to throw into it new currents of life and energy, then the poison and the energy together bring about inflammation of the most intractable kind, causing severe pain, as well as brain mischief. And[198] it is for that reason that the methods have not been publicly given, and are only given to those who are pure from the taint of alcohol. Along those lines, then, you will very likely come up against rules that many of you will not care to adopt. We do not say adopt them; we only say they are the conditions of the finer organisation. Natural laws do not change for people’s wishes and whims. If you want electric sparks from a machine you must make the conditions; you must have dry air, not air full of moisture. It is no good saying that dry air is not so comfortable to breathe as moist air. You are not obliged to have electric sparks, but if you want them you must conform to the conditions laid down by nature, and not follow your own whims. And that is true everywhere. Presently people will find that it is true when they want to investigate some of the spiritualistic phenomena; they have not discovered that yet. They think they can lay down the laws, and then get the results which can only be gained by obedience. The other day I was reading a rather curious report of investigation into spiritualistic photographs; and when I saw they had not obtained any, I could not help wondering how many physical photographs they would be able to get if they made it a rule that they should not put a dark cloth over the camera, and that, above all, they should not take the photographs away into the dark room, because that gives all possibilities of cheating and of fraud. Presently you will find out that finer nature has her laws quite as much as grosser nature, and that you can no more get results without obedience to those laws than you could get your photograph if your plates[199] were exposed to the light. When that is learned, progress may be more rapid.

Along that line, where these rules are laid down for the organisation of the finer bodies, there is another matter that comes in: it is of no use to develop the finer bodies, unless the consciousness of the higher worlds is unfolded, and the only way to do that is by the old way of strenuous and regular meditation. Theosophy brings to the Western world the yoga of the East, by which the man who practises so trains and refines his brain that he makes it sensitive without making it diseased. There is where the difficulty is found in the West. Sometimes, when a great rush comes down from the higher worlds into the body of some great saint or some great genius, there is brain trouble and brain disturbance; hysteria is found. Naturally, because you are overstraining your instrument. And if you want to be able to receive those great downflows from the higher world, then you must begin to tune your instrument to vibrate to the swifter vibrations that come down. You can do it, and there is no danger unless you go to excess. If day by day you would give even ten minutes, or a quarter of an hour, to strenuous thought and careful concentration, you would gradually make your brain constitution more complex and finer than it is. Thought is really the creator of the brain. As you think, your brain grows; just as if you exercise your muscles, your muscles grow and develop. It is all law, and thought is the force which renders the brain more complex in its organisation. The Indian yogi practises that, and by practise year after year, builds up the brain of the coming race out of the brain of the[200] race that is. He makes it finer, subtler, more responsive, and he does it without the sacrifice of physical health; and that is a thing that any one of you may begin, if only you will be moderate and not excessive. Never concentrate to the point of making a feeling of dulness and heaviness of the brain; never concentrate to the point of pain; dulness and pain are the danger-signals of nature, that you are trying to change matter more rapidly in its arrangement than is possibly consistent with health. Therefore you need moderation; but, given moderation, nothing but good can come out of the practise of meditation and concentration; and by that you will not only make your brain more sensitive, but also keep it sane and healthy, and you will have none of those miserable hysterical symptoms which have so blurred the value of the knowledge that has come through the seer or the saint. Along those lines, then, Theosophy works with science to show the road of development of science in the coming civilisation.

What has Theosophy to do with regard to art in that civilisation? Glance at the results of your civilisation to-day on the beauty of the land. Go to Sheffield, which is built in what was one of the loveliest valleys of the Midlands; notice, as you come near it, the beauty of the countryside, the wooding of the undulating land, the exquisite beauty of rivulet, of forest, and of grass; and then, out of all that beauty of Nature, you plunge suddenly into the hideousness of Sheffield. You find the atmosphere thick with black smoke. No tree will grow in many of the districts, no flowers even on the sills of the houses of the poor. The atmosphere poisons vegetation;[201] what do you think it does to the men, women, and children who breathe it? And Sheffield is not alone. Go to Glasgow; see the hideousness of that, the second metropolis of Scotland. Go to Birmingham, to Manchester, to any of these great cities that so largely make the wealth of England. But sometimes it seems to me that what you pay in beauty is too heavy a price even for your wealth, and that England was happier as well as healthier when she had fewer millionaires, but also fewer stunted and deformed specimens of humanity in her slums. Look at the faces of the men, women, and children of one or two of those cities I have mentioned. Look at the faces of the Glasgow crowd as it tramps back from its labour to the slum. Those faces are not civilised; they are brutal, many of them—animal, more than human. Oh, you who think that beauty is only a luxury, look at the humanity you breed, where ugliness is the mark of the cities, instead of the beauty that has been destroyed. You must learn to understand what beauty means. It moulds the body, and ugliness does the same. Out of your hideous cities a hideous humanity grows up. The restoration of art is a matter of life and death, not a matter of luxury and of enjoyment. Artists are wanted in our towns much more than on the walls of our galleries. Only a few go into the gallery, but men, women, and children live in the town. Until the town is beautiful, as in Greece it was beautiful, the coming civilisation will lack one mark of the civilised man. And Theosophy teaches reverence for beauty, whether it be natural beauty or beauty formed by the skilful fingers and keen brains of men—reverence for the human body.[202] No nation has a right to breed the bodies that we see in the population of the slums. It is all very well that in the richer, the upper classes you find men and women healthy, strong, magnificent to look at; but if they can be what they are, all ought to be able to share in the conditions that create that beauty. And art will not do its duty until it holds up for all to see the power that resides in beauty, and its moulding influence on civilisation; art should be ever painting and holding up to us the ideal in its beauty, for it is the ideal that makes the real. The artist should show the ideal, and the craftsman should reproduce it; and until your craftsmen honour their labour, there will be very little hope for art to thrive amongst us. Art is no art when it only paints the commonplace and the ugly. Sometimes, on the walls of a gallery, you come across a picture made up perhaps of a piece of cheese, and a boiled lobster, and a string of onions, and one or two corpses of birds thrown in for the sake of their plumage. That is not art. Art is beauty, and to paint things like that is to degrade art, no matter how well they may be reproduced. “Oh,” I have heard a person say, “how beautiful that cheese is. I could cut it!” You can cut cheese anywhere; and you don’t want to go to a gallery, and an art gallery, so-called, in order to see it. Put this beside the pictures of the ancient masters, and see what art means and what the travesty of art. Theosophy has to try to breathe into the artist the idea of the splendour of his calling, the divinity of his power. He can see what we cannot see, and hear what we cannot hear; let him give us what we cannot reach for ourselves, and be again the[203] priest of the Beautiful for men. Then shall the civilisation grow into beauty, human as well as inanimate, and the right place of beauty shall come into our civilisation, the place it held in ancient Greece.

And what shall Theosophy do in the coming civilisation for society?—society as we see it to-day, which is a battle, not a social order; which is an anarchy, not an organism. I know it is often thought that changes will only be brought about by the menace of the starving, by the dread of revolution. Oh, it is not thus that Theosophy looks on man, in whom it sees the growth of a spiritual, a divine nature. You will think me a dreamer, perhaps; and yet I tell you a truth when I say that not by the uprising of the miserable, but by the self-sacrifice of the comfortable will the future society be realised on earth. I know that that is not the idea of to-day. I know that, amongst those who suffer, such a sentiment would be met with ridicule and scoff; but it is not those who suffer misery who can build a wise and happy social system. It wants the best brains and the best hearts; it wants leisure to think out and to plan, and love to carry into effect. You can make a riot, you can make a revolution by starving desperate people, but there is no stability in that which follows revolution. You cannot take, but you can give; and the spirit lives by giving, and knows the joy of sacrifice. Do you imagine that sacrifice is painful, that sacrifice means sadness and gloom? I tell you there is no joy on earth like the sacrifice of the lower nature to the higher, and the giving to others of the higher, that asks nothing for itself. Along those lines our Social Redemption will come, along the lines of[204] those who are willing to give and willing to sacrifice, for the gift that is compelled by law or force is always resented, and is resisted as much as possible. Outer compulsion is met by violent resistance, but the inner compulsion that is the compulsion of love, that meets with no violence in resistance; it pours itself out in joy. And there lies the future, there the basis of the coming civilisation.

I said, in the beginning, it would be built on self-sacrifice, and that was the thought that lay behind the words. I see, spreading through the comfortable, through the rich, those who are well dowered with the goods of earth, a spirit of noble discontent, not for themselves but for others, not for themselves but for the poor. I come across the rich and highly-placed who ask, “What can we do to relieve the misery we see?”—who suffer by sympathy, not by compulsion; and it is from them the redemption of society will come. It seems, perhaps, to-day a far-off dream, but man grows faster than we are apt to realise. There is nothing too noble, nothing too beautiful, nothing too divine for man to achieve; for man is growing godlike, however slowly, and the seed of Deity within him is beginning to flower in some hearts. Wherever one who does not suffer is unhappy for those who do; wherever a human brain that might amuse itself finds joy in labour for the helping of the nation; wherever a human heart which has all that love can give it cannot be happy, but goes out in love to the outcast—there lies the promise of the future. Such brains and hearts were counted by units, perhaps, even a century ago, by tens a little later; they are beginning to be[205] counted by hundreds now, and to be found in places where none may dream that there are those who are longing to give and strive for a better social state. In those who are growing into the spiritual life; in those who cannot be happy while others are miserable; in those whose meals are rendered bitter by the starvation of the poor; in those whose luxury is a burden because of the want of the miserable—in those will you find the builders of the new civilisation, those who shall sacrifice that others may be happy. That is the future to which we look, that the future for which we labour, proclaiming everywhere the ancient words that “joy lives in giving, and not in taking”; repeating again the old message, “It is more blessed to give than to receive”; saying once again the old truth, that only where self-sacrifice is found, there is also found a religion and a civilisation that can endure.



Part II
Lectures to Theosophical Students



Lecture I
The Sixth Sub-Race

I have chosen for the subject of my lecture to-night one which I think is important—the Sixth Sub-Race. Both outside and inside the Theosophical Society a certain amount of good-humoured ridicule has been cast on the way in which Theosophists talk about Races, Sub-Races, Root-Races, Cycles, Rounds, and so on, some people condemning such talk as exceedingly unpractical. Really that is not so. When our great teacher H. P. Blavatsky traced for us The Secret Doctrine, that wonderful panorama of the past evolution of the Races on our globe, she was not only giving us the story of the past, but also presenting us with the key to the future. And I propose to-night to try to show you how it is possible for the Theosophist who has carefully studied the principles underlying past evolution, to apply these to the evolution of the future, and so learn how he may best co-operate with the divine plan which is slowly working itself out. The advantage of Theosophical teaching is that it gives us a definite scheme into which the evolution of mankind, stage by stage, fits without difficulty and without blunder.

Now, if we think for a moment of what we call the[210] larger and the smaller cycles, we can realise that the large scheme of the Races, the smaller scheme of the sub-races, and the evolution of man himself, all go along parallel lines. Understanding one, we can understand all. I will pause on the evolution of the Races, in order to remind you of the repetition, within the limit of each race, of the smaller sub-races. We need not go very far back. It will be enough to consider the Race that preceded our own, the great fourth Root Race, and our own. The fourth Root Race was the Atlantean. I only allude to it in order to remind you that from the midst of that race the Fifth Race, in its turn, arose. Now the choosing out of a new Race is the task of a particular Personage in the Occult Hierarchy, whose only name, so far as we know it, is that which has been borrowed from the Hindū, the Manu, the Man, or the Thinker, the ideal or typical man. The Manu forms in His own mind, after the master conception of the Planetary Logos, the plan of the man that is to be, which He will gradually realise along the lines of natural evolution. These laws of evolution are used by the Manu with scientific knowledge, and therefore with certainty. In the same way that a scientific breeder, dealing with the animal kingdom, can breed towards a desired type, so, on a higher plane, does the Manu of the Race mould by the same laws of evolution the physical form of the Race He desires to evolve. And always the type is formed in the matter of the higher planes before it is reproduced in the matter of the lower, the mental and emotional characteristics being first conceived, and then a physical body which will best express them. The Manu chooses the type[211] according to the particular qualities which are to be evolved, which are marked out for Him by the basic plan of the constitution of man himself. Looking at your own nature, you have certain distinct departments: the physical body; the astral body; the mental body; the body of the higher mind, the causal; and then that of the pure, compassionate Reason, the buddhic. Now if we take those three types, the emotional, mental, and buddhic, we have the three with which we are immediately concerned. Desire, or emotion, was the great characteristic of the fourth Race. The mind was the slave of the lower feelings; that race had as its motive power the development of the desire nature. But in the sub-races of the fourth Race the other principles had also to be evolved, but to a very poor degree; and as time went on, the fifth sub-race of that began to develop the lower mind. Out of that fifth sub-race the selection of the Manu of the time was made, and He chose out certain families that He thought He could shape into the required type. The first choice was not successful, the people proving too stiff-necked and too little plastic to be moulded into the Race that was to be; but it left behind it, in the history of the world, that marvellously interesting people, the Hebrew, and that idea of being a “chosen people” survives even to this day. The second and successful selection had as its issue our own fifth Root Race. Now, side by side with the evolution of the sub-race, came the evolution of the Root Race which was to succeed, and that is why I have referred to the past. As the fifth sub-race of the fourth Root Race was developed, the beginnings of the fifth Root Race,[212] the great Aryan Race, appeared one million years ago.

We can leave our fourth Race with its sub-races, having only regarded it for the purpose of throwing light on the present. The evolution of the fifth Race went on, and sub-race after sub-race was born. The earliest of all settled in Northern India, and gradually conquered that great peninsula, the first sub-race of the stock of the Aryans. There came out after that the second sub-race, which wandered westward, as all the later sub-races did; then came the third, the Irānian; then the fourth, the Keltic; and the fifth, the Teutonic. So far we have come in the history of the sub-races of our own fifth Root Race. Now, notice that these overlap each other as they develop. The first of these sub-races is still a mighty power in Asia, showing signs that its day is by no means done, and that the Indians, if they have behind them a civilisation of hundreds of thousands of years, have also before them a mighty future, the first signs of which are being seen in the India of to-day. Signs, some encouraging, some disturbing for a time, are being seen on every hand that new life is being poured into its veins, signs of the birth of a new Indian nation. Of the second sub-race we have not any nation at the present time. Along the Mediterranean Basin it has left many traces of its civilisation, which are being unburied by our archæologists; but so little mark, so to speak, did it leave on history that a large number of its wonders were deemed to be legends and myths. The next sub-race, the great Persian race, is almost outworn. The Persians of to-day have little in common with the[213] Irānian of the past. The chief traces of them, in fact, are on the Indian continent, the Parsīs, a race which has dwindled and is gradually passing away. But when we come to the fourth sub-race, the Keltic, we see great possibilities in that still. It gave birth to the older Greece, the country of Beauty and Philosophy. It gave birth also to Rome, with her remarkable ruling powers. It spread over Europe, founding one nation after another from itself, and spreading into Ireland and Scotland, made there possibilities that have not yet all flowered into effect. In Ireland you have a strange mingling of the remains of the fourth Root Race with the fourth sub-race of the fifth; a great deal of the Atlantean influence still exists, many of the tutelary deities of Ireland, the gods of the mountains, being largely they who mingled with Atlantean life and thought, and are still exercising their potent influences over the younger though still ancient Keltic sub-race. There, again, we have great possibilities of revival and of growth, for the fourth sub-race and the sixth sub-race are necessarily interlinked. Just as the emotional nature stretches upwards and causes sympathetic action in the spiritual nature, so with the Races and sub-races that represent these principles upon earth; the fourth and the sixth Races, like the fourth and sixth sub-races, are closely intertwined. Ireland has not been kept apart for nothing; the separation between the Kelt and the Teuton is not without its meaning. We shall find among that Keltic people possibilities of spiritual power, and we may look possibly for some mighty influence to flow thence into the great Christian organisation of Rome,[214] who is now on the balance as to whether she is to sink down along the line that the Papal Encyclical seems to trace for her and become the enemy of the Spirit of the Age, or whether the Modernist party in the Roman Church is to rise into power, purify and vivify that ancient Communion, and make her again what she ought to be, the Church of Saints, the type and symbol of the purest and loftiest form of Christian thought. It may be that Ireland will co-operate also in the great purification which I pray may come to the Roman Communion, and make its revival possible. And that is closely connected with the sixth Root Race, and therefore partly with the sixth sub-race.

Now, after the fourth sub-race came our own; and when we find that this fifth sub-race, the Teutonic, is carrying on so rapidly the development of the concrete and scientific mind, when we notice that it is beginning its last conquest, the conquest of the air, then, if we have learned the lesson of the past, we may learn to see the signs of the sub-race which is to succeed it. But these sub-races overlap each other, and it is at the moment of the zenith of the one that the next is born. Go back to the zenith of the fourth sub-race, when the fifth was beginning to develop, when Rome was mighty, then it was that the Goths in German forests were beginning to be born into Europe; and to draw together into tribes, which were to grow into nations. Quietly and silently the new sub-race was being born while its predecessor was reaching the highest point of the civilised world of its time. Slowly it began to develop its own peculiarities and powers, and from that day the[215] Teutonic sub-race has grown stronger and stronger, more and more dominant, and, though a small minority compared with the population of the world, is dominating that world by the force of its scientific mind, spreading everywhere, and making itself the very crest of the advancing wave.

But let us turn away our eyes from the dazzling glow of the present to look for the quiet places where the birth of the future is beginning to appear. Just because the fifth sub-race is so strong and dominant, we look over the world for the beginnings of its successor, which shall rule the world not by the force of the concrete mind, but by the force of the pure and compassionate Reason, which will conquer not by power but by love, not by competition but by co-operation, and found, therefore, an Empire that will long endure. For it is true now as ever that “They that take the sword shall perish by the sword,” and the Empire that is to live will be the Empire that wins its way by love and benediction, that is a teacher and a defender, and not only a ruler. The sixth sub-race, the Coming Race, will be born with the sixth Root Race in it, which is to grow so much more slowly. The coming of the sixth sub-race you may almost begin to see around you. It is not to be born in a single place, not to belong to a single nation, for it is the type of humanity, of the unifying Wisdom, and out of all nations and all peoples and all tongues it will gather together its chosen for the new type of thought which is to be born. And what that type will be we can easily outline by thinking of the characteristics of the buddhic principle in man. What are those characteristics?[216] First of all, union, and hence in the outer world co-operation. The very essence of all action in the sixth sub-race will be the union of many to achieve a single object, and not the dominance of one who compels others to his will. The work of the future will not be, “Do so-and-so and follow me,” but, “Let us advance together to a goal that we all realise as desirable of attainment.” If you are looking for the sign of anyone who is beginning to show the marks of that sixth sub-race to-day, you will find it in those who lead by love, sympathy, and comprehension, and not by dominance of an imperious will; for the qualities of that sub-race will be found scattered here and there through the sub-race which it is gradually to supplant. You may trace out the coming of the sixth sub-race in the scattered people found in our fifth sub-race, in whom tenderness is the mark of power. Anyone who desires to take part in the building of that race needs to develop now the power to work with others rather than against them, and so, by a continual common effort, to replace the spirit of antagonism and competition. It is a synthesising spirit which we shall find in the forerunners of our sixth sub-race—those who are able to unite diversity of opinion and of character, who are able to gather round them the most unlike elements and blend them into a common whole, who have that capacity for taking into themselves diversities and sending out again unities, and utilising the most different capacities, finding each its place, and welding all together into a strong whole. That is one of the characteristics which marks the type of being out of whom this sixth sub-race will gradually develop. A strongly[217] marked characteristic will be compassion. That virtue is comparatively rare in the energetic, strongly individualised West. Compassion is that quality which is at once affected by the presence of weakness, answering to it with patience, with tenderness, and with protection. You may notice how very often amongst ourselves, taking the ordinary fifth sub-race type, the presence of weakness is provocative. It does not call out compassion, but impatience—very characteristic of the fifth sub-race. Quick to understand and grasp a fact, it is impatient with the weakness and mental dulness which cannot easily appreciate the differences which seem to it so clear. The typical fifth sub-race civilisation is a civilisation that sees in weakness a field to exploit, a thing to enslave, something to trample under foot, in order to rise on it, and not to help to exist for itself. “Inevitable,” you say, “in a bustling civilisation like this, that the weak should go to the wall.” I do not deny that it has been inevitable in the development of the strong individualism of the present. That individualism is a priceless result, cheaply bought even by the suffering it has caused. Without that strong individualism you would not have the foundation on which the great co-operative civilisation could be built. For you cannot synthesise weaknesses, and it was necessary to make the strong and patient individuality in order that you might have something to blend together into a harmony in the future that is yet to be born. It is a very shortsighted view of human nature which sees in the growth of a particular quality a thing which is wholly undesirable; for there is nothing which is wholly undesirable in the evolution which is guided by perfect[218] Wisdom and perfect Love. The most unlovely product of the fifth sub-race civilisation will be one of the bricks that will be built into the foundation of the sixth sub-race and of the sixth Root Race. For out of the strong individuality the strong virtues can be built, and compassion is a virtue of the strong, and not of the weak. The feeble, sentimental sympathy that comes with the poor and undeveloped nature is not compassion. It has no power of healing in it, and no power of protection. The person who, seeing a suffering or wrong, or even a physical accident, goes into hysterics over it, is not the strong helper who heals and protects. It is not the skilful nurse who goes into hysterics over the agony of the patient in pain, leaving that patient to suffer while she is having the cheap luxury of sentimental tears. It is only out of the strong natures you can build up real compassion. The compassion which does not help is useless, and help can only be given where knowledge guides feeling, and understanding shapes the remedy. Hence out of these strong individualities, when their object has been changed and the greater Self has taken the place of the smaller self, out of those the sixth sub-race, which has pure Reason for its dominating principle, will gradually appear. When in yourselves you find the germs of compassion, and know that that is to be part of the dominating characteristic of the coming sub-race, then cherish these germs to the utmost. But remember that they must grow out of the germinal feeling of sympathy into the strong power to uplift and to save; for compassion is the great mark of the Saviour. And the Saviour is never weak, but strong, and out of his[219] strength grows his compassion. You can test it for yourself. Having to deal with someone who is very slow, you are impatient. Why? Because you are weak. You are not strong enough to make a question clear with slow and deliberate intent, not strong enough to bear with the stupidity and feebleness.

The next great thing you want is the sense of unity, and that you can never have unless you are strong. There is nothing harder in the world than to pierce through a man’s weakness and his poor qualities, which are on the surface, and to see within the growing power of the God. Yet that is what you have to do if you would be truly wise. You see in the people around you to-day a large number of faults. How far do you see behind every fault the seed of divinity which will develop into a virtue? Has the old Platonic idea ever struck you, that there is no strong dividing line between the vice and virtue except the quantity which is present? The undeveloped virtue is a vice; the virtue in excess is also a vice. The golden mean between the two is the virtue. Take a common illustration—cowardice on one side, recklessness on the other. Courage is the mean between the two. And so in everything excess is vice, whether a defect or a surplusage, and the perfect equilibrium between them alone is virtue. If you would realise that for yourselves, wherever you see a vice in your neighbour, you will look through the vice to the virtue that shall be, and in the greatest faults of the present you learn to see the promise of the future. You find a person intolerant. He thinks you are a fool because you cannot see the same way as he. This is apt to wake in[220] you a similar intolerance. But if you saw through the intolerance the growing though undeveloped love of virtue, if you saw through the intolerance the passionate desire to find the right and do it, the passionate hatred of all that does not seem right, you would be very patient; for presently the flower of the virtue will blossom out and show the beauty which all the time was within. You hear abuse, or slander, or calumny. You think it is hateful. But the person who is doing it in his ignorance is mistaken, and that is a reason for compassion, and not for anger. The more cruel the ignorance may make a person, the greater the demand for the compassion, which, because it understands all, overcomes all; nay, does not even overcome, because to overcome would mean separation; but realises the unity between oneself and another, and takes the weakness of another as one’s own. Now these things are well enough known in principle. Why not practise them? Why, in difficulties like those we have been passing through, should there be angry words on both sides? The Theosophist who understands has no room for anger, but only room for compassion. These are the things that in the sixth sub-race we shall want. All these must begin to grow now, and germinate in the heart of every one of you who would take part in the building of that coming sub-race. And hardest of all to develop, in a race where separateness has been the type of greatness, is the sense of unity. This sense of unity and of compassion will be a strength and power which is only one for service, which makes the measure of strength the measure of responsibility and of duty. And so your character will be marked—if you[221] are a candidate for the sixth sub-race—will be marked by a great sense of duty, and a great indifference to what are called “rights.” There is a splendid word of Mazzini that “every right grows out of a duty discharged.” That is utterly true. It is the discharge of duty out of which inevitably the right grows, and then the right comes not by combat, but by the inevitable necessity of nature. Because where everyone discharges his duty, everyone enjoys his rights without conflict and without demand. The mark of our own sub-race is the demanding of our rights. But to those who know the law of karma there is nothing that need be claimed, because you possess all which is yours. The karma brings to you everything to which you have a right; and if what is called an injustice is done you, it is only the balancing up of an ancient wrong. You think people can hurt you. Then you do not believe in the law of karma. It is your own hand that strikes you, and no one else’s. No one can injure you or wrong you, no one can commit any injustice against you. The whole of that which you suffer comes out of your past. These people are mere puppets who come forward to claim the debt that you have to pay. If you really believed that, then the man who demands a debt from you would be your friend whom you would welcome; for karma’s debts are never demanded twice. There is no error in her account. But, as a matter of fact, hardly any of you believe it in actual life. What you profess does not make one scrap of difference. You do not believe unless you live what you say you believe. And if you believed it, you would know that no slander could wrong you, no injury hurt[222] you, and that the words of the Christ on His way to His Passion were absolutely true: “You could do nothing at all against me except it were given you from above.” That is the secret of the patience of the Christs; they know the law, they live by it and accept it. And that utter belief in Law, and therefore the recognition of duty, that is another of the great marks of the race that is to be. Every one of you who works that out now in life, who, in face of an apparent wrong, is calm and receptive, who takes an injustice as a debt that is paid and cancelled, that man or woman is a candidate for the coming sub-race, and for the Root Race that shall be gathered out of its midst. For the sixth Root Race is to be taken out of the sixth sub-race that is now being born, and according to the qualities you make in yourselves will be the effectiveness of your candidature for both.

And now look at another side of that growing sub-race. I have laid most stress on qualities, because qualities shape form; but it is also true that the bodies of that sub-race will show a different type from the bodies of the present—will be far more sensitive to all the finer vibrations of matter, built up within the finer aggregations. And side by side with the development of the finer and more nervous physical body will be inevitably the greater organisation of the body that comes next, the astral, with its corresponding senses. Now notice how in the difference between the fourth and fifth Root Races it is the nervous system which is the greatest physical difference. Compare the nervous system of a Chinaman, or Japanese, with the nervous system of an Aryan, and you will see the enormous gulf that separates[223] the two Races. A fourth Race man will recover easily from a tremendous laceration that would have killed a fifth Race man by mere nervous shock, and it is in your nervous system that there will be the great difference between the fifth and sixth Root Races, and the change will show in the sixth sub-race. You have to solve one of the hardest physical problems; to have a sensitive, delicate, complicated nervous system hand in hand with complete health. You can easily strain your system into sensitiveness, but that is different to refining it into sensitiveness, making it responsive to the most delicate vibrations from without, but with a perfect sanity and health. On that you can also work. By the deliberate use of meditation for the refining of the brain you can gradually build up—if you do not carry it to excess—an extreme sensitiveness, and at the same time perfect balance and sanity and health. You must not think that with fifth Race bodies you can bring about at once sixth Race characteristics; but within the limitations imposed upon you by your fifth Race bodies you can gradually develop an increasing sensitiveness which will react on the astral body, and organise and develop that at the same time. And you will find, if you will notice the people round you, that there are being born at the present time more and more children who show this delicate sensitiveness, hand in hand with generosity, with tenderness, with broadness of mind, with quick and keen intelligence. These are children who will gradually develop into the type of the new sub-race. When they become numerous, and become fathers and mothers in their turn, then they will gradually prepare for the birth[224] of the children who will belong to the sixth Root Race. Within the one the other will be born. Hence all of you who are parents will do rightly and wisely to study carefully the characters and types of the children whom karma places in your hands for training. If you see in them the dawning powers of the coming sub-race, this greater sensitiveness, this tendency to see where many are blind, do not force it by unwise admiration, do not check it by equally unwise unbelief. Let the children of to-day grow up among the healthiest possible conditions, but also amongst the most refined that you can give them. Remember that in the training of the higher emotions beauty is an essential factor, and that without the bringing of beauty into home and daily life the birth and growth of the coming sub-race will be hindered. You have to war against the ugliness of the present-day civilisation. You have to strengthen the tendencies which are beginning to show themselves, and which make for beauty. You must realise that beauty is an essential part of utility; and that it is the most narrow-minded utility which thinks that beauty can be left on one side, and that the ugliness in daily life is not a retarding factor in the growth of the more refined sub-race that will partially take birth amongst us. These are very practical things. They deal with your daily life, with the home of every one of you, and the duties that fall upon you there. You must not let your Theosophy be outside your daily life. If Theosophy is to be the moulding force of the race that is to be born, it must show itself out in your lives, in your thought and action. It is the great privilege of the Theosophical[225] Society to be the nucleus of that coming Root Race, and amongst our members there should be some at least ready to take part in the building of the sixth sub-race. You would not be amongst us if you had not had in you something to draw you along the lines of this swifter evolution. You hardly appreciate the forces of the past which have brought you into the Society. Some come in and drop out again. They are those who are coming in touch with it for the first time. Others come in and stay in for years, and then drop out. They are in a stage a little further on, and have been in it before, and will return to it in lives to come. There are some who, gripped by it from the beginning, never move again in their utter fealty to its ideals, whom no personalities can throw out of it, who belong to Theosophy rather than have Theosophy belonging to them. These are they who have been in it many a time before, and will come into it again, to live and die in it over and over again, life after life. Well for you who are here to-day that in the trials of the last few years you have not allowed personalities to blind you to principles, nor real or imaginary faults in persons to make you shrink in your loyalty to Theosophy itself. Persons die; principles live. Men and women pass away with their virtues and faults, but the Theosophical Society will endure generation after generation. Well for you if in the storm you have been able to stand firm; great the benediction that comes upon you that in the day of trial you have not denied your Master, in the day of suffering you have not forsaken and fled away.


Lecture II
The Immediate Future

You may remember that when we last met I spoke to you about the sixth sub-race, and my speech this evening turns on the same set of ideas, although from a different standpoint, rather more special to the Society than to the world at large. In this lecture I am concerned rather with the view of the nature of the Theosophical Society which was held in its earliest days, dropped a little out of sight, and is now being very generally recalled, so that the Society should rise to the height of its opportunity and do the work that lies before it in the immediate future. If you will turn back to the days of H. P. Blavatsky in India you will find she was fond of dwelling on a particular relation held by two of the Masters, primarily to the Society, and secondarily to the coming civilisation of which the Society is the herald. She used to refer her Hindū friends to the statements in their own Purānas, in which it was said that two Kings would come at the end of the Age, and that to them would be given the kingdom of the new and opening Age. These statements, which are often repeated, raised in the hearers the inquiry, “Who are the two Kings?” and then she gave them a hint that the two Kings of the[227] Purānas were the two Masters who were the real Founders of the Theosophical Society. That set the keen brains of the students to work. They promptly began to try and find out what were the names of the two Kings. One of these students found it, wrote a paper, which was published with H. P. Blavatsky’s approval, giving the names of the two Kings—Moru and Devāpi—two names mentioned in many of the Purānas in relation to the past history of the Hindūs, one of them, Moru, belonging to the Solar Dynasty, descending directly from Rāma, one of the Avatāras—that before Shrī Krshna—a great King, said to have retired from his throne and to have gone to Shamballa, there to wait until he was recalled to lead the human race; the other, whose name was given as Devāpi, was the elder brother of the famous King of the Lunar Dynasty, to which the next Avatāra belonged. He was the elder brother of the father of Bhīshma, and he similarly gave up his right to the crown, retired to the same place, and the same phrase is used with regard to him, that he was to wait there the coming age. Now H. P. Blavatsky was very much delighted at the ingenuity of her students, and said that the outline was correct, and it was published. H. P. Blavatsky often referred to this function of the two Masters who were responsible for the founding of the Society. As in these latter days that idea of the Masters as the Founders of the Society has been challenged, I may perhaps say I have myself seen that fact stated in the writing of the Master “M.” I have read the letter in which He says that He and His fellow Adept “K. H.” had taken on themselves the responsibility of a new[228] spiritual movement in the world; that there was some doubt in the Lodge as to the wisdom of the movement at that time; and that they were allowed to take that step only on the condition that they should found and work the Society through others whom they could direct and control. Then He went on to say that He had chosen a disciple of his own, H. P. Blavatsky, and that He had sent her to America to look for another disciple, H. S. Olcott, and that these were the outer founders of the Society. Hence to me and to many others who believe that these letters are genuine the nature of the origin of the Society cannot be a matter of doubt.

Starting, then, from that standpoint, we find certain things were said by H. P. Blavatsky as regards the nature of the Society, and certain things by the Masters themselves. Both are very important for us in consideration of the immediate future. The first of these things was indicated by hints which the more advanced students could understand—that the inner purpose of the Society was to prepare the world for the coming of a new Race, and to be itself the nucleus of that Race; that one of the Teachers was to be the Manu of the race, the other the Bodhisattva. Now those exact facts were unpublished at the time, but they passed from one to the other among the more advanced students of that period. Coming into the Society in 1889, this particular fact did not come within my knowledge until 1895. After the Coulomb struggle the Society for a time dropped away from the occult path on which H. P. Blavatsky had started it, and these ideas fell out of sight and were forgotten except by a limited number.[229] In 1895 they were re-communicated to myself by my own Master, and have since been passed on to the older members of the Theosophical Society.

Let us pause for a moment on the statement with regard to the Manu and Bodhisattva. Every Root Race has for its guide a great Adept, much higher than the great ones we call the Masters, and that office filled by a mighty Being is an office the name of which indicates simply the man, the thinker. The connotation is the ideal, typical man, making rather the emphasis on the article “the.” The name is peculiarly suitable, because each of these Manus at the head of the Root Race is the type of the Race over which he is to preside. The types of the seven Races are part of the plan of the Planetary Logos, and that plan is worked out, stage after stage, by the Manus of the races. It is left to the Manu Himself how He shall proceed with His work. He takes the responsibility of the method He chooses. When the time comes to plan out the new Race, then the coming Manu begins to take up His office, and always in connection with another great Brother of His own rank, who is called the Bodhisattva. The Manu of the Fifth Race, as you know, collected His people together out of the fifth sub-race of the Fourth Root Race, sent out messengers to call them together, brought them together, moulded them generation after generation, and at last evolved them to the necessary physical type. For the work of the Manu is double: to choose out those who show in consciousness the germs of the new stage which is to evolve in the coming Race; then, having chosen them out and stimulated that germ within them, to set[230] to work to shape the necessary bodies. Now in that far-off time our own Manu of the fifth Root Race had to choose materials out of the fifth sub-race, and He did not choose at all those who were regarded as the best specimens of the day. Remember that the fourth sub-race, like the fourth Root Race as a whole, showed out very powerfully all the passional characteristics and the psychic qualities which accompanied them. It was the fourth sub-race, the Toltec, which made the great Empire, with the city of the Golden Gate as metropolis, that whose armies spread over the known world, conquering everywhere, and in that sub-race psychic qualities naturally played a great part. You will remember that at the earlier stage of great emotional and passional manifestation, psychic qualities are very largely developed before the development of the lower mind. That evolution belongs to the astral body as a whole, working not through the astral chakras, but through the astral centres connected with our physical senses. The fourth sub-race carried all that to the highest point. Children in the schools were picked out for their paths in life by clairvoyance; and in all matters of policy, statecraft, etc., clairvoyants were consulted, so that by the exercise of the psychic qualities they might get the best possible knowledge to be had at the time. Now the characteristics of the fifth sub-race were the diminution of psychic power and the germinating of the seed of mind, and these two things necessarily went together, so that, as that fifth sub-race developed, the people of it were rather looked down upon by the highly evolved psychic sub-race which preceded it. These people seemed to be inferior;[231] they could not use the powers which put their predecessors in the very forefront of civilisation, and made this world and the astral world almost one and the same. The children born with very little of these psychic powers, the men and women who showed still less of it, were by no means thought to have within them the promise of the future. Yet out of these the Manu chose His material, because they showed the germ of the mind which was specially wanted as the characteristic of the coming Race. It did not matter that it was only a germ, or that they were much less effective than the people of the mighty civilisation in which they appeared. He was looking to the future, and so these people were by no means the people whom the Atlanteans of the day would have chosen if consulted in the matter. But the great people do not always consult with the smaller people, who are so very sure of the rightness of their own judgment. They have an uncomfortable way of following their own ideas; and, as the Master “M” once said of some people who remarked that He did not come up to their idea of an Adept, “The mark of the Adept is not kept at Simla.” And that sentence is rather a good one to remember. So also the mark of the disciple is not kept in London or in Chicago, but in a very different part of the world, and to that those who know something about it try to conform. So the choice of the Manu of the day would have been regarded as a very poor one by the wise folk of the time. Nevertheless he carried away his people and built them up into a great Race.

Now there is something very instructive in that when we try to understand the method of His choice in the[232] light of the past, and the analogy of principles. For we can see that if the germs of a sixth sub-race—from which, later, a sixth Root Race will be born—are to be chosen out by Him from the materials that the fifth sub-race affords, then the nature of His choice probably will not be that which would be made by the leaders of that fifth sub-race itself. Theirs to carry on to the highest point the concrete, scientific mind, which is the glory of their sub-race. Theosophists sometimes ask: “Why do not the great men of Science come into the Theosophical Society?” Simply because they have their own work to do; and their work at present is not to build the future civilisation, but to lead to its highest point the present one. In the future, when they shall have led that civilisation to the highest point, and when it has taken its place at the head of the world’s thought, then will come the time for these great minds to be reborn into another race, and build on the splendid intellectual foundation they have laid. The work of the world is the end that the great Ones consider, and these strong scientific minds to-day are needed by the world to carry on the present civilisation to the highest point. How unwise it would be to take them away from the work that no one else can do, and set them to other work they would do badly, not having turned their energies to the particular qualifications that are wanted for it. And so in the wise plan of the Manu of the fifth Race, the flower of the fifth or Teutonic sub-race is taken in order that it may be raised up to the highest point of the mānasic civilisation, and be carried on to its zenith of splendour of scientific knowledge. But meanwhile it is His duty to help in the building[233] up of the other types—still his Race is the sixth sub-race—and so to co-operate with His successor the Manu of the sixth Root Race. For remember the Manu of all the sub-races of a Root Race is the same. He is the Manu of the whole Race; when the time comes for beginning the new Root Race, then the Manu of the Race that is regnant co-operates with the Manu of the Race which is to come. Hence He who is to be the Manu of the sixth Root Race, the Master “M,” the Moru of the Purānas, He has begun His work. And He has begun it in a humble and insignificant fashion, as the world would say, by striking the keynote of Brotherhood, and by drawing into a Society those whose hearts thrill responsive to that note. And why? Because the higher emotion that answers to universal Brotherhood, to love of all, without distinction of race, sex, caste, colour, or creed—that is the emotion, that is the germ of the buddhic principle in man, the principle of unifying, of drawing the separated together, of blending into one separate individualities, and making them realise the spiritual unity which overshadows and underlies them all. Hence universal Brotherhood is the only thing which is binding on members of the Theosophical Society. Nothing else. The Theosophical teachings as to Karma, Reincarnation, or the Masters, are not binding on the mind or conscience of any member. This is an important point. It is not only because a truth is better seen by the unfettered intellect than by an intellect on which a dogma is imposed, though that is of importance; but because the material which can be moulded into the Coming Race is the material that can recognise[234] the necessity and the beauty of universal Brotherhood, and if that be recognised, nothing else for the moment is necessary. Hence that is the only binding principle. Hence, also, the attempts to narrow it down, prompted by those Dark Powers who do not desire that the Society should grow and prosper for thousands of years to come, the attempts to put in a little restraint here and a little obstacle there, judging for the moment, and not for the future. That is the inner meaning of having that one thing alone our bond of union. And so the Manu made that the keynote to attract those who would answer, “Yes; that is the very thing I want to join in and help.” And so the nucleus of the great sixth Root Race began to be formed. But that is not an immediate future, although already beginning. The sixth sub-race is the immediate future; under the rule of the Manu of the fifth still, but co-operating with the Manu of the Sixth, in order that those who show signs of being fit material for the Coming Race may have a preliminary practise of the virtues of that race. Hence the stress that H. P. Blavatsky laid on this inner side of the working of the Theosophical Society; and hence the need, because the time is passing rapidly, to make public what has been kept private in the past of this inner purpose, which has really dominated the Society from within, although not recognised without.

Let us see how that immediate future should be recognised in its characteristics, and thus prepared for. First of all we must understand the words spoken long ago under the inspiration of the coming Bodhisattva, that the Theosophical Society was to be “the corner-stone of the[235] future religion of humanity.” Now every sub-race has a special religion, as it were. The religion of the fifth sub-race is Christianity. What is the future religion of humanity in this sense? It differs from all that have gone before. It is no longer an exclusive and separatist faith, but a recognition that in every religion the same truths are found; that there is only one true religion, the Divine Wisdom; and that every separate religion is true just so far as it incorporates the main teachings of that Divine Wisdom. The one supreme religion is the Knowledge of God; to that everything else is subsidiary. Just in so far as any special religion puts within the reach of its followers the means for rising to that supreme knowledge, in so far is that religion worthy of its place. And when that supreme test is not thoroughly answered—when dogmas, and ceremonies, and rites become more important than this inner truth of the gaining of individual knowledge of the Supreme—then the religion becomes narrower, weaker, unspiritual, until a time comes when either the religion must die or a new impulse must be poured into it to bring it back to its original position, a channel for the knowledge of God. Now, in the past many religions have done their work and passed away, and we come to the present time, when certain great religions are living. And when the great new spiritual impulse came, it was not charged with the building of a new religion, but with the vitalising of those great existing religions, to make them realise their underlying foundation; they were vivified in order to help them to rise to a more spiritual and mystic interpretation of their teachings; and when that was done, they were to be[236] blended together into a brotherhood of Religions, so that all should recognise the Divine Wisdom as their root. That was the first work of the Theosophical Society. It was done all over the world. See how in India Hindūism was revived; in Ceylon, Buddhism. Ask the ordinary missionary who comes over here, who is not generally very broad-minded, and he will tell you that the great opponent of Christianity in the East is the Theosophical Society. Then, if you press him and ask, “But are Theosophists antagonistic to you?” “No,” he will say, “but they strengthen the other religions, and thus prevent our making converts.” And that is true. It is not our business to convert people from one religion to another, but to try to make every one realise the splendour of his own religion. Naturally, in India—except in Travancore, where there has been a Christian Roman Catholic colony from the very early centuries of the Church—Christianity is an alien religion, and only grows by injuring the older religions of the land. Naturally, then, the missionaries look on the Theosophical Society as an opponent, because it has been the great factor in the revival of Hindūism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, and is beginning to be a factor in the revival of Muhammadanism. Now, when you see that, and when you come to the West and see how the same influence has been widening the Christian Church, how mystical Christianity is spreading everywhere in a way that would have seemed incredible some three years ago—see how narrow it was, and look now, how everywhere the mystic thought is spreading, and see how, in the Roman Catholic Church, the spreading of this spirit has[237] become so wide that the Pope is forced into fulminating against it, and in the Modernism that he condemns we find Theosophy mentioned as one of the forms—you will realise that that part of the work is almost done. I do not mean that we are not to continue spreading abroad more spiritual ideas, but that the work has been done so effectively already that it is almost passing into the hands of the religions themselves. The clergy are now preaching so much Theosophy that it hardly seems necessary to continue preaching the parts they have adopted. The Theosophical teaching as to the nature of the Christ in His birth in the human form, and His growth into Divine Manhood—how common a doctrine that is now within all the Churches of the West. The fact of Reincarnation is also becoming more and more widely accepted—a doctrine no longer to be laughed at, but to be carefully argued over, and forming a part of the deepest thought of the Christian world. So that while we must still go on with that part of the work, there are other parts of our work now that we ought to be ready to take up. That religion of the future which is to include all the religions as sects within itself, all of them going on into the future, but recognising themselves as a Brotherhood, that is to be the dominant religious thought of the great sixth Root Race, and in the sixth sub-race we shall find it spreading everywhere. Now, how mighty will be the advantage; because the moment all religions are seen to be branches of one stock, then each religion can share with others the specialty which it has been its duty to develop in the world. And nowadays, when the Christian goes to India, instead of trying to convert the Hindū, which he[238] can never do, what he ought to do is to offer to share with him that great special characteristic of Christianity, the principle of self-sacrifice, and the helping of the weaker by the stronger—the dominant note of Christianity. It is the doctrine of the Cross, the emblem of self-sacrifice, of the coming down to the depressed in order to lift them, leading them up side by side with ourselves. That is the noblest thought of Christendom, typified in the mystic Christ; and that you might well offer to share with the Hindūs, for that does not come out so strongly in their great Faith. Rather will they bring to you in exchange the doctrine of the immanence of God. Two things, Dr. Miller has written, Hindūism brings to the world: the immanence of God, and the solidarity of man. When religions exchange their best instead of finding out each other’s weaknesses, then you have outlined the religion of the future. Our work in that future is to continue what we have so well begun, and spread this liberal, thoughtful, religious ideal through all religions, destroying none, but permeating all.

Next we have to consider what we ought to do in the training of the next generation; for there is great need that the Theosophical ideal of education should spread through Western minds, and especially through Britain and its empire. Religious education at the present time is in peril; how great that peril is may be measured by the Moral Education Congress gathered together in London last year to try to find a moral basis that should furnish education apart from all the sanctions of religion—a hopeless task, but none the less a sign of the peril of the times. Now, we have had secular education in[239] India. It has been the English education the Government has given there. It could not give any other because of the different religions of the country, and it was bound not to help any one of these to the detriment of the others. The moral result has been disastrous. It has fostered selfishness, indifference to the country, lack of public spirit. It has given us a race of men who have acquired from the West its superficial qualities, but not its inner strength, not its inner capacity. And the troubles you have in India now are largely the result of this anti-religious education, which has made hundreds of the best Indian type skeptics, a thing which has only been checked with the growth of the Theosophical Society throughout India. We have turned back that irreligious wave, with the result that the Indian Government to-day regards the Theosophical Society as the most likely agency for training the youth of India along lines of freedom and order at the same time. They realise that we have put our finger on the weak point in their own system, and that our plan of giving to the child the religion of his parents is really the way to solve that religious problem in India. Now, over here you have to face the problem how to preserve religion while letting dogmatism go; how to find a common ground, a few common principles, which all Christians inculcate, leaving to a later time in life the special sectarian divisions which the young man and woman can acquire later if they wish. Now, in that the Theosophical Society may well play a great part in the immediate future, strengthening all the influences which make for the keeping of religion as an integral part of education, helping to soften the bitter sectarianism, and[240] persuade the different denominations to remember that they are Christians more than that they belong to this, that, or the other denomination. If we succeed in that, then the service to the education of the empire will be supreme.

Along other lines we want, if we can, to persuade the public mind to become a little more receptive of new ideas; to lose a little of its pride, and learn a little humility. Unless we are quite sure that we are at the very top of human evolution, and that nothing greater than ourselves can be evolved, then it would be the part of wisdom to recognise that the next type, which is the type of the future, must be different from the type of the present, and, in the beginning of its evolution, new and strange. You may remember how J. S. Mill, in speaking of liberty, laid immense stress on originality, and complained that modern methods were tending to make all come to a single level; to do away with the eccentric, even with the original. Now, for growth, variety is wanted. Where there is no spontaneous variation in types, you have stagnation. And yet every one of us is so fond of our own particular line of thought that we take it almost as an offence if someone starts a new thought which we cannot at once fit into our own mental grooves. Now, we must try to correct that, first in ourselves, and then in the public at large, especially in view of the coming of that mighty Teacher I have spoken of. When He comes, the type of the sixth Root Race, He must be very different from all of us, otherwise He would not be the type of the new departure. How can we avoid treating Him when He comes exactly as our[241] predecessors of the fourth sub-race treated Him when He came last to start the fifth? It is so easy for all of us, looking back to the mighty Figure of the Christ, to realize something of its splendour, but we see Him through the glamour of the religion which has made His name supreme in many of your hearts. Try and put yourselves back in time, and see how strange that new type would have then seemed to you, how against all your prejudices. So different was He that He raised an antagonism so bitter that they could not bear Him amongst them for more than three years, and then murdered Him. It is hard for us to realise that. We are apt to think, “If I had been there, I would have stood beside Him; I would not have been amongst those who slew Him.” And yet there is no particular reason to think we should not have done the same. It is a great lesson for the immediate future. For when He comes again to bless this beginning of a sixth sub-race, the buddhic, He will show out the qualities of Buddhi prominently, and those are by no means very acceptable to the modern world. Look fairly at your own minds and see how you stand on your rights. It is the spirit of the time. If you have not what you think your rights, you make a clamour for them. For the mānasic civilisation that is the proper way, but those who want to go on in the new future that is dawning have to throw all that aside. You must relinquish your “rights.” If you are trampled on, you must recognise that it is only yourself of the past trampling on yourself of the present: no one can trample on you except a person who embodies your own past injustice, and is working out that which you yourself[242] have created. That is a very unpopular view, as unpopular as the Sermon on the Mount. And so along many other lines of that which is admirable from the popular standpoint—power, dominance, the spirit which tramples down all opposition. How different from that of the Wisdom which rules, but rules from within, “mightily and sweetly ordering all things.” And if you will think over this in detail and work it out, you will find you will have to change your ideal of what is admirable, and build up on ideal on the basis of Spirit and unity, and not on rights and claims. And that is one reason why the Theosophical ideals very often find themselves rejected in the outer world. Those are the qualities needed for the world as it shall be; and if we are to be builders of that immediate future, we must develop them in ourselves. But you may say: “Is it not rather a big assertion to make that this Theosophical Society is really a nucleus of a great Root Race; that it is the beginning of a sub-race? What right have you to make such a claim?” The answer is, that looking back to the last choice, we should expect to find the beginning of the new Race and new sub-race among those who were not the leaders of the present, but had in them the germ of the future. That is why our people are gathered not from the leaders and the thinkers, but from the loving, the compassionate, the brotherly. It seems a feeble thing, this power of Brotherhood. It is the mightiest thing in all the world. And although it is true that we cannot expect to find amongst us men and women of magnificent intellect and overwhelming power of thought, we may expect to find amongst us the compassionate, the gentle, and the[243] loving, and those give the plastic material which will yield itself to the fingers of the Manu to be moulded into a new type, a higher evolution. Hence, from time to time the great shakings that take place to shake out those who are too purely intellectual, and who do not think the word Brotherhood is a word that ought to be heard so much amongst us. The Masters have chosen Brotherhood as our mark, and we cannot march in Their army if we will not bear Their sign. And so, if mind makes us too self-assertive, too sure of our own superiority, then we must be shaken out of this movement. So do not in this immediate future be troubled if we still continue to go along our own quiet road of attracting the loving and the gentle rather than those who are mighty in their intellectual power. The thing of vital importance is the Spirit of Brotherhood, and that we must never let go. And remember, in the whole of the struggles of the future, as in those of the past, that they must always rage round persons, and those who think more of personalities than of principles are inevitably shaken out. If you make a person’s presence or absence a reason for being in or out of the Society, you are showing the spirit of separation, which cannot realise a principle, but thinks only of the passing and transient personality. What can it matter whether any one of you agrees or disagrees with Mr. Leadbeater, or with Mr. Mead, or with anyone else? These are all persons. The principle of the Society remain unshaken. Presidents are elected and Presidents die, but the Society goes on. What folly, then, to give up a place in a mighty movement because the person temporarily at the head of it is a person who does not exactly[244] fit into the shape you have made as your own particular ideal. It does not matter. The Society is not bound by its President any more than by anyone else. It is bound only by its great central principle of Brotherhood. And so all of you who have stood through the past shaking have shown that you care more for principles than for persons, and it does not matter whether, so to speak, you have agreed or disagreed with the President so long as you have stood firm within the Society; for there lies the principle, whilst the other is only personality. Cling, then, to that principle to which you have clung through the past storm; recognise that whether a person be right or wrong, noble or ignoble, great or small, that is a matter of secondary importance. The work of the future lies in the movement, and not in the hands of any particular individual who may happen to be here. Whether you or I come back to this great movement in other lives depends on ourselves, and not on the opinion that anyone else may happen to have about us. None can throw us out of it if we are worthy to remain in it; none can keep us in it if we are unworthy to be part of it. And realising kārmic law, realising the greatness of the movement and its work in the future, let us join hands, whether we agree or disagree with each other on any other matter save that of Brotherhood, and go forward into the future that is unfolding before us, brighter than ever the past has shone; go forward to the making of the sub-race out of which the Root Race shall spring, under the banner of our Manu and our Bodhisattva, the mighty Ones of years and millennia to come.


Lecture III
The Catholic and Puritan Spirit in the Theosophical Society
The Value and Danger of Each

I want to try to trace out the somewhat difficult subject of the place of the Puritan and the Catholic Spirit in our Society. I want to show that both types are necessary in every great movement; that both have their value and place, yet also their dangers. And if we realise that both are necessary, it may help each type to be tolerant as regards the other, and to see that each has its dangers.

Now, all the world over these two types are found; they are, in fact, two marked temperaments, intellectual and emotional, into which, roughly, you might throw almost all thoughtful and educated people, and even the thoughtless and ignorant, for those also will show similar types, although naturally less attractively, because more extreme, than they may be among the class of people who at least are seeking to understand themselves, and to gain some measure of equilibrium. Looked at from the outside, the Catholic type is certainly the more attractive, and therefore I want to impress upon you the value of the Puritan type; because, being less attractive, its value[246] is more likely to be overlooked. If the Puritan spirit were completely lost, mankind would lack that vigour and strength and tendency to free thought and free judgment which are so essential to human evolution. Unfortunately, it has often been united with a very cold and forbidding exterior; and if we take the two types as we find them in the reign of Charles I., certainly the Puritan is not very attractive from outside—hard, rather sour, forbidding, and austere. But it is not quite fair to judge the Puritan by that type in the reign of the Stuarts. It is not fair to pick out a type at the moment where these two difficulties face it—danger to itself, and the extreme evil of the type it is opposing. It is hardly fair to take that moment for a judgment of the value of the temperament in itself. But even if you take the Puritan of the time of Charles I. and Cromwell, you can hardly help noticing, if you go beyond externals, the extreme moral value of that type amid those difficult and dangerous surroundings. Austere as it was, it was the austerity that was trying to guard itself against continual danger of pollution, and naturally it ran into extremes, as all reactions run, with the inevitable result that another reaction followed on the first, and you had the loose and profligate type of the Court of Charles II. It is the types I want to disentangle from these special manifestations, and, looking at them apart, from all conditions that may emphasise one characteristic or another.

Now, in what does the Puritan type exactly consist? It seems to consist in an attitude of protest and criticism rather than of ready acceptance of the prevailing thought of the time. The Puritan mind is essentially critical, and[247] critical in the modern sense of the term, which, instead of making the critic a judge, makes him an opponent and condemner. We must remember, however, that the true critical spirit is absolutely necessary for human progress, even though it often slips into condemnation and cynicism. The Puritan is always intellectual (I am speaking of the purer type), a man in whom mind is predominant. He is of the type that tends to separation rather than unity; he stands alone, sufficient for himself (I say that rather than “self-sufficient,” the second form connoting a rather unpleasant quality). We must realise the strength of this type. The strength may slip into austerity, but that very largely grows out of the religion to which the Puritan may happen to be attached. You do not find him in his more aggressive form unless he is protesting against something he regards as dangerous and mischievous. Naturally, under these considerations he is thrown into the attitude of combat, and hence all that is harshest and most hostile inevitably comes to the surface. But that is not a necessary part of the Puritan spirit. Looking at him as the intellectual man in whom emotion in this particular life is comparatively weak, or if not weak, repressed; seeing that in him the mental qualities are those which in this incarnation he specially endeavours to develop; understanding that the mind can only be developed where the qualities of analysing, comparing, and judging are active, you can readily see how, in the face of opposition, these qualities would turn into antagonism and protest. But I do not think antagonism and protest are a necessary part of the Puritan spirit. In peaceful times your Puritan would be distinguished[248] rather as the analytical or intellectual man, most valuable to any community into which he may be thrown at the time. For you cannot develop the mind without developing these analysing qualities: synthesis comes later, the one belonging to the lower, the other to the higher Manas. Both need to be developed. While the lower Manas is developing, you must have these qualities of analysis, comparison, and judgment without which it is not possible to lay a strong foundation for any belief. You must recognise the utter necessity for the challenging, questioning, even doubting and sceptical spirit. Only by means of this can error be detected, and the traditions that come down from the past be gradually purified of the accretions that have come to them during the ignorant periods through which they may have passed. To be sceptical is no fault, but rather a virtue. If there is to be progress at all, there must be challenging of that which has come down from the past, so that, testing, analysing, criticising, you may be able to separate the truth from the error. How would religion become ever more and more spiritual if men are only to inherit, and never to examine and understand? And since no religion or other form of thought can ever come down through centuries without picking up a large amount of error, if we had not this critical and challenging spirit all religions would grow into superstitions, and that which is most valuable for the race would gradually be covered under a mass of ignorant error. Hence at certain times in the history of the race a great outburst of the Puritan spirit is necessary. That alone will bring about fundamental changes, religious, moral, and social; that alone[249] has the courage to go forward whilst in a minority, and test with the test of reason every belief and every tradition. We must not, then, blind ourselves to the immense value of this spirit in the intellectual development of man. For always, inasmuch as religious and social order has come by some great Teacher enormously beyond his own generation in religious, moral, and social development, inevitably his teachings, handed down generation after generation, will in many respects tend to be covered with superstition.

Let us pause for a moment and see what the word “superstition” means. I do not think I can give a better definition than my old one: “superstition is the taking of the non-essential as the essential.” I think that you will find that that covers all the cases which you would call superstitions—a truth originally; but in every truth there are necessary and accessory parts. As the understanding of the truth is clouded, the accessories take on too large a value in the minds of people, until at last the accessory is everything and the essential nothing.

I told once an Indian story which marks out clearly what is superstition. There was once a very holy man in the habit of offering a sacrifice by pouring butter into the fire—one of the ordinary Hindū ceremonies. Morning after morning he duly performed this rite. He was much admired by his neighbours, and the regularity of the discharge of his religious duties led them to consider him a model worthy of imitation. This good man happened to have a cat. As he was kindly-hearted and affectionate, the cat loved him, and used to come up and interrupt his religious service; so he put a collar round[250] the cat and tied it to the bedpost to prevent interruptions. Time went on, a few generations passed, and then all of the people who copied this admirable saint not only offered the sacrifice, but also considered it a part of the rite to have a cat tied to the bedpost. Still more time went on, until at last all that remained of the original ceremony was the cat tied to the bedpost and nothing else. Now there is superstition: the harmless accessory had become necessary, until it occupied the whole of the worshippers’ minds. This is often the case in religions which have lasted long, and have had many ignorant adherents. They cannot distinguish between the inner meaning and the outer form; and gradually the outer form becomes everything, and the inner meaning disappears. Then comes the time when, superstition having taken the place of truth, there rises up the critical intellect of man, attacks the whole, and challenges the authority. Only sometimes the critic is not evolved enough to recognise the truth at the same time that he wars against the error. More often he takes the whole as superstition and tries to destroy it completely. There you have the history of many reformations. Take the great Reformation of the sixteenth century. If you look back to that you will see that an enormous amount of valuable truth was thrown aside in trying to get rid of the surface error with which the truth had been covered. And so in tracing down the growth of the Puritan spirit from the time of Luther, through Calvinistic Switzerland, up to Scotland with John Knox, and then looking at it as it spread over England, and became so powerful under James I. and Charles I., you will recognise that in[251] the whole of that there is a gradual throwing away of everything that the mind could not grasp and understand, and consequently a great loss of the spiritual side of things. The result of that historically has been that the truth that was thrown away in the getting rid of the error came back again a little later. And so with certain fundamental tendencies in man, against which the Puritan of that time set himself utterly—the use of images in public worship, the use of music, the use of garments different from the everyday garments, and so on—all these points that he threw aside as part of the Papal abomination came back again, slowly, steadily, gradually spreading through the whole of the Anglican Church. So that you have this remarkable object-lesson, which it would be well for all Puritan-spirited people to remember. You may visit a cathedral to-day. Outside the cathedral you will see the statues which were broken by Cromwell’s soldiery; and inside the cathedral, on or round the high altar and chancel, you will see the modern statues placed there in order to help the devotional spirit in the congregation.

I have purposely taken the Puritan spirit outside the Theosophical Society so that you may look at it apart from any special question of interest to our own Society. If you see the value of that in religion, you will welcome its presence in the Theosophical Society. You will realise that that spirit is wanted in order to balance and keep in check what might otherwise be the excess of the Catholic spirit. You will realise that our critical friends are doing us an immense service in their criticism, and that it only becomes mischievous when the critical[252] spirit grows into antagonism and dislike, which need not at all accompany it, and should not accompany it in a well-balanced and thoughtful mind. We must have that spirit amongst us, otherwise the enthusiastic will run away too rapidly and fall into error. The chill that sometimes it causes is a very valuable element for mental growth. We do not want to have nothing but chill—that will prevent growth altogether; but if we were more tolerant with each other, then we might have the advantage of the chill, which would keep the intellectual atmosphere clear and sharp, without having the very life chilled out of us by criticism.

Let us now pause on what we mean by the Catholic spirit. By that I mean the spirit which is reverent of tradition, which is willing to submit to reasonable and recognised authority, which is willing to take a great plan and co-operate in it, and realise that the presence of the architect of the plan, if He be a person highly developed, say a Master, is enough to give it authority, and that there is no lack of freedom or dignity in accepting the plan of a greater, and working it out to the utmost of one’s ability. It is the spirit which, largely emotional, when it rises into love of the higher and becomes devotion, causes sympathetic vibrations on the buddhic plane, and so begins the awakening of the Spirit above the intellect. Again, with this Catholic spirit you always find the love of beauty. It is artistic. It seeks to clothe thought in forms of beauty. It loves ceremonial, takes a pleasure in harmonised expression of thought, and desires that everything round it should be emotionally satisfactory as well as intellectually sound.[253] Moreover, its mind is eminently teachable, where the Puritan is not. Hence it is far easier to lead it along the path of what is called Occultism. The Catholic mind very readily recognises that those above itself in development may be able by guidance and teaching to help it to reach knowledge which, unaided, it would be unable to achieve. The Puritan would walk alone; the Catholic would utilise every assistance that can be given in evolution, including the assistance of human beings more highly developed, as well as of spiritual intelligences. And so you have round it an atmosphere which readily responds to impulses from the spiritual worlds, and always with this spirit you find the tendency toward Occultism of various kinds. I do not think you ever find that tendency in connexion with the Puritan spirit. You may find with the Puritan spirit sometimes a lofty form of mysticism, a recognition of a Spirit as the Life of the universe, and an attempt to realise that Spirit within oneself. That you may reach largely by way of the intellect, and emotion is not necessarily concerned in it. Intellectually you may realise unity, and then pass into the mystical ideal of the One in the Many, to be recognised in each. And you do find occasionally in the great Puritans of the past a very noble, though somewhat stern and cold, form of mystical belief; whereas the moment you come to Catholic mysticism, you find yourself in an atmosphere charged with emotion. The Catholic Mystic is swept up in a great surge of emotion to the Object of his love; the Puritan Mystic calmly, almost coldly, recognises the greatness of the Object of his worship, intellectually tries to realise, and[254] by that to some extent unifies himself with It. You have an example of the Puritan Mystic in Cromwell. Read his letters, read the letters of the man, wrung out of his heart by the strain of doubt and despair, and clinging, in spite of all temptation, to his belief in the reality of a Divine Power whose instrument he was. You will rise from that reading with a new idea of the strength of the man, and realise that with all that strength there was the recognition of the strength of God and of his own strength as being only an instrument in the divine hands. But you never find the Puritan Mystic the expression of love, of passionate affection, that are so common among the Catholic Mystics; and more than anything else is the difference marked when you come to deal with Occultism.

And there, in our own Society, is a point we ought to pause upon. The Catholic type amongst us will be one that will readily respond to the idea of the Masters, the Puritan less quickly. The Catholic mind in the Theosophist will not only recognise the ideal of the Masters, but will be fired with a desire to tread the path that They have trodden. There will be a looking up of reverence, an outstretching of the hand for guidance; a realisation that by that dependence more rapid progress may be made than along any other line. That which is invisible will exercise a potent attraction; he will always be trying to know something of the invisible worlds and their inhabitants, he will always be reaching out toward these worlds and trying to expand his consciousness into communication with them. He will be willing to train[255] himself with that in view, and you will have in him the possibility of the Occultist which you will not find in the Puritan type. For you cannot begin this part of occult knowledge along the purely intellectual lines. The intellectual exertion will check at once the evolution of the other vehicles. The moment you begin to think: “What am I doing? Is it imagination? Is it hallucination?” you check the growth of the subtler faculties of the man. You are obliged for a time to go on without questions, feeling, sensing, groping, and refusing to allow the mind to come in with its analysing spirit, that chills everything down so much that these budding faculties, as it were, shrink back from the touch of the frost, refusing to unfold. “Well,” you say, “there is a danger. The person may become overcredulous, may be utterly led astray.” True. It is the necessary danger of all such research. Only step by step do you learn by experience to distinguish between the true and false, between the thought-forms created by yourself and the inhabitants of other worlds into which you are penetrating with half-opened eyes. But remember that distinguishing does not do away with the reality of the thought-form. Your own thought-forms which surround you when you first pass on to the astral plane are real forms in astral matter. They deceive you, yes, because they are your own creations, and only give you back the things you are thinking about. They repeat to you your own thoughts, and there lies the element of danger. But you can only outgrow that by experience, exactly in the same way that the baby learns that it cannot catch hold of the glittering thing at the end of the room, but, to reach it,[256] must cover a great deal of space. You do not think it heartbreaking because the baby makes mistakes. You are content that he shall learn. Why not be as philosophical about yourselves? You know that they will grow out of their ignorance by experience. So will you. Those who always want to be right are people who will never make Occultists. The Occultist must be ready to plunge forward, and possibly tumble into a bog, but be ready to go on again afterwards, learning by experience to understand. Those who will not face this have not enough of the Catholic spirit to make Occultists, and had better leave it for another incarnation.

There is another danger, one especially seen here—the dependence upon another. I have often been asked: “How can you develop independence and judgment if you are always trying to do the will of another, whom you call your Master?” The answer is simple. You look to your Master for direction, and He may point you to some work to be done. You take the work because He told you to do it. So far you are the obedient servant; but your judgment, your reason, all your thought-power, all your initiative, are taxed to the utmost in the achievement of the task. A sensible Occultist never goes running to his Master and asking, “How shall I do this?” He knows that is not the Master’s work. The Master has done His part in saying “Do that.” How you do it tests you, and brings out your strength and weakness. And the Master is far too wise to prevent your bringing out your strength and discovering your weakness by doing for you what He has told you to do. Hence the Occultist develops all his faculties in the[257] attempt to do his Master’s will. The two things work well together, and he does not become weak but strong in realising that the Master is greater than he, and knows far better the plan of the work, while he himself, in carrying out his own portion of it, finds full employment for every faculty of brain and heart.

It is scarcely possible for the typical Puritan to become an Occultist in the life in which this side is being so strongly developed. You cannot understand everything when you go into unknown worlds; and unless you are willing to be ignorant, there is no possibility of discovering new knowledge. Every pioneer of science—to quote, I think, Faraday—“runs about like a dog with his nose to the ground, trying to find out a trail.” That is exactly the way of the experimenter. You must search for yourself for the trace which will guide you to the desired knowledge; and if you will not do that, you must take the results of others, and be content with these results for this life.

But, now, how will these two types of spirit work when they come to, say, such a question as that of Mr. Leadbeater? You will have at once the working of the critical intelligence which sees faults more readily than virtues, and bad motives more readily than good. That is its weakness. But it also has its value in pointing out certain dangers into which the Society might otherwise slip. The Catholic spirit will be far more ready to take it for granted that one from whom they have learned much, whom they know to have far vaster knowledge than their own, may have some other reason which they do not see, which would justify to the doer what[258] he has done, and they do not feel that curious sense that they must save their neighbours’ souls, whether their neighbours desire it or not. They are content to say, “This is my road, that is his”—a wider and more generous spirit. Nevertheless, I think we should do well also to recognise that the presence in the Society of the critical and even judging spirit has at some times its value. But it is not a foundation on which anything can be built, and that is sometimes forgotten. You cannot build an enduring edifice on the grounds of protest against someone else. It cannot endure. It is curious to notice that the same people who condemn personality when the tendency of the personality is love and devotion, are the people who show personality most strongly when they antagonise and dislike. I admit to the full that principle should guide, not personality; but I cannot admit that a love for a personality is wrong, whilst a hatred of a personality is right and admirable. Both may put persons above principles if the two come into clash. And it is putting a personality above a principle when you desert the Theosophical Society, forgetting the great principles which make it immortal, and leave it, protesting against it, because one or two people hold views with which you do not agree. It is the ne plus ultra of personality. Mr. Leadbeater and Mrs. Besant are both comparatively old, and cannot at the most live very long. What utter folly, then, to desert the great principles incarnated in the Society because of the antagonism of two transitory personalities! If Theosophy be anything at all, then it is everything in life, and is not to be given up for anyone, whether saint[259] or criminal. Suppose a hundred murderers were members of the Society, is that any reason why you or I should go out of it? It seems to me that the fact that we disapprove of that so much is a reason for staying in the Society, in order to strengthen it in the hour of its peril and to carry it through.

We need in the whole of this to study our own nature first, and find out our weak points, and then to guard against that weakness in the time of storm and stress. And we need, more than that, to realise that very often when people oppose us, they oppose us because of their virtues, and not because of their vices. That is, that the people who are utterly against me now are against me because of their virtues. They are wrong in the view they take—they misconstrue; that does not matter. But the fundamental reason why they oppose is because they believe that I am condoning what is wrong. That is a good feeling and right. But it is not right when it goes into hatred and calumny, when people go about telling abominable stories of all kinds which are utterly false, using them as weapons to injure. But, none the less, the beginning lay in a virtue—the desire to guard the Society from harm; and that ought to be recognised even when it has run into excess. If we can do that, then, in the midst of struggle, we shall be learning the true Theosophical spirit, which sees the good first, and only recognises the excess afterwards. And my suggestion is: “Train yourself, in your ordinary thinking, to see first the good of a person or thing, and only afterwards allow yourself to see the weakness or evil.” Then you will get all the good of your critical spirit, and be guarded against[260] much harm. But if you see the bad side first, you are likely not to see the good side at all. These things test our members, and show whether we are fit to go along this great path or not—show whether we are ready to be part of that great Sixth Race which is coming, or whether we are so wedded to our own opinions that outside those we can see nothing good.

The trouble is practically over, but we should remember its lessons—a wider tolerance, a sterner self-criticism, and a more charitable attitude towards our fellows. You cannot be too hard in criticising yourself, nor too tolerant and charitable towards your neighbour. Remember that in every one of us the Self is endeavouring to express something of himself. In our own case we have the right to criticise every obstacle put in the way of His manifestation, to be hard in our judgment of ourselves, pitiless in our condemnation of our every fault and weakness. But we cannot govern the manifestation of the Self in another; hence our criticism is useless and impertinent—does not help, but hinders; for if the other person is wrong, as you think he is, then your harsh judgment makes an added barrier in his way when the Self in him is trying to guide him back to the right, whereas your charity, your tolerant respect, will help him to realise the noblest in him. Hence the lesson of this great shaking should be criticism of ourselves and charity to all around us. Recognition of our own type, clear self-judgment, so that we may walk aright and help others as much as may be; and, above all, so to purify our own characters that we may be channels for the life that flows in the Society, and may not soil it as[261] it passes through ourselves. The Society can never die by attacks from without, nor by desertions from within; it can only die when its members are careless of their own thought, their own character, their own ideas; that, and that alone, can make the Society unworthy of the guidance of its Teachers. It was once said: “So long as three men remain in the Society worthy of our Lord’s blessing it cannot perish.” That was a word spoken by a Master in the days when the Society was weak and struggling, and when the few people that belonged to it feared it would never survive the storm that shook it in the time of the Coulomb attack. Think of that if any other storm should approach us—although we are not likely now to have another for the next twelve years; but when a storm comes, remember that inspiring idea, that as long as three remain in the Society it cannot perish; and add to that the vow registered by the Higher Self: “If others depart, I will be one of the three.”


Lecture IV
The Sacramental Life

I am to speak to you to-night on a subject of deep interest to those who regard the religions of the world from the standpoint of Occultism. In all the great religions we find what are called “sacraments,” to take the Western name; and in all religions the object is the same—the endeavour to spiritualise the ordinary life of man; to make it possible for men and women living in the world, blinded by their bodies, unable to rise above the material limitations—to enable those men and women to come into direct touch with higher worlds and higher beings, and so, from the definite sacramental act, to pass on until the whole life may become a sacrament by the radiation of spiritual life through the material coating.

Now different religions have different numbers of sacraments, although the essence remains the same. In Hindūism the sacraments are very numerous. Ten are recognised as of universal application, but the number will run up to thirty or forty if you take all the ceremonies that are distinctly recognised as having this character among the more orthodox Hindūs. The number, after all, is immaterial; it is the fundamental idea which is important. As knowledge of the meaning of the sacraments spreads, especially in the Western world,[263] it will be found that many things that have been put aside as superstitious will come back with a new light and power. Certain ideas which were cast aside at the period of the Reformation were thrown aside rather by reaction than for any defensible reason. The way in which many of the thoughts and dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church were pressed among the people, the widespread ignorance of meanings while forms were carefully observed, not unnaturally brought about a powerful reaction when reason began to challenge the ceremonies. As occult knowledge had practically fallen into the background among the great mass of the Roman Catholic priesthood, there came rejection of that which could not be rationally explained. As we are able to see the justification for very much that then was rejected, however, we realise that many of these things will come back. And if we think, it is not unnatural that these should return. Going back to the early days of religion (I am thinking now of Christianity, but it is the same in all the great religions), we find the Founder and his immediate disciples who shape and mould the religion. As these men were men to whom the spiritual world was familiar, and as their duty was to make bridges between the ordinary mass of men and the great spiritual teachings of religion, it was inevitable that in the forms of worship laid down by them there should be in the background occult truths. Hence we find in the early Church the great institution of the Mysteries; and I shall want, later on, to show the relation between the Mystery, the Sacrament, and the great legend of the Holy Grail.


Let us now consider what a sacrament really is. I do not think we can get a better definition than in the Catechism of the Anglican Church: “An outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace”—something that is outer, tangible, that the senses can appreciate, a material object; then, with that, indissolubly connected, certain facts of the invisible world, so that the outer sign is able to act as a channel for the inner reality. But also, under the heading of “outward and visible sign,” you want something beyond the material object; you want a material gesture and material words. These three things are always present in a sacrament; some material object which is the immediate channel, certain sounds or words which make a change in the subtle material mingled with the denser material of that object, and a gesture called often the “sign of power,” as the words are called “words of power.” Now the gesture must be one through which magnetism can be thrown on to the object which is affected by the words.

Let us see how those facts are bound together in the sacrament itself, and what is their connexion with the constitution of man and of the worlds in which he lives. The worlds with which the man is connected, for our present purpose, we can take as the physical, astral, mental—the three worlds in which turns the wheel of births and death. He is in those three—either in all of them together, as when in the physical world; in two of them, as when in the astral world; in one only when in the heavenly world. For remember that only in the physical world are the three bodies available that connect him with all of the three at the same time. In these[265] three worlds, then, man is continually living. He is related to them by his physical body, astral body, and mental body, so that you have a living intelligence, a spiritual being, who, by means of the matter that he has appropriated in these three worlds, is able to come into contact with each of them. But now arises the question: Given a spiritual intelligence clothed in this triple veil of matter; given the fact that that spiritual intelligence, by the veil of matter, is in contact with three worlds—how shall he be able to come gradually into conscious connexion with each, so that the stream of spiritual life, coming down from the spiritual world, may at once purify the matter of his bodies, illuminate his consciousness in these three stages, and so begin the great work of spiritualising the whole man? That is the problem that religion has had to solve. So far as ordinary Protestantism is concerned, the body has been cast aside as a very temporary possession, only occupied by the spiritual intelligence during one brief life, and hardly worth troubling about. Hence the body has become very much neglected from the ordinary standpoint of Protestantism, and the reaction against that has taken the form of materialism, so that you find people rejecting the view of the worthlessness of the body, and falling into a materialism in which the body is made the most important thing. Instead of that, in the earlier days of the great faiths, the body was regarded as a valuable possession, a thing to be made holy, to be sanctified, in order that it might be a fitting instrument of the spiritual intelligence therein embodied.

And so, in all these earlier days of religions, continual[266] relationships were being made, first between the spiritual world and the lower worlds, and then between the embodied intelligence and the bodies that that intelligence is wearing. Hence the sacraments which should touch both body and consciousness, which should sanctify the material vehicles while illuminating the spiritual intelligence, which should make the whole man really spiritual in order that the object of incarnation might be accomplished—that matter in all the worlds should be rendered the obedient servant of Spirit. That was the object of the sacrament. Hence the necessity for the material object in order that it may come into touch with the dense body. Hence the need of the signs in order that, by the vibrations set up, sent on to subtler planes, the subtler bodies might be set vibrating, and be able to receive the downfall of spiritual life. Hence also the need for the gesture, so that the magnetic force sent out in the consecration might link together the denser and the subtler matter by this bond of magnetism, and in that way might make the whole of the material object a vehicle for the higher life while preparing the bodies for the reception of that downflow.

Now let us, in order to work out these principles, take the sacrament of Baptism. In this you know that you have the whole of these three conditions of a sacrament present—water, the material object; the words of power; the consecration of the water. You have the words of consecration, praying God to sanctify this water to the mystical washing away of sin; and then you have the sign of power—the cross made over the water—in order that the magnetism from the fingers of[267] the priest may magnetise it, and be the link between the physical water and the astral matter which interpenetrates it.

I pause for a moment on the phrase “words of power.” The whole understanding and use of such words depends on the fact that every sound causes certain definite vibrations. Wherever there is a sound there is a correlated vibration. Now a mantra, or word of power, is a certain definite succession of sounds made by an Occultist in order to bring about certain definite results. That is as much a scientific fact as a fact that none of you would challenge—that you can by producing a musical note set up vibrations in a glass or rod or string which is sympathetic. You remember the experiments of Tyndall. He would show how by a certain sound you could shiver a piece of glass. What really happens? The glass begins to vibrate. As the vibrations are made by the note, it repeats them; if it is more than the glass can respond to, the particles are torn asunder and the glass is broken. Exactly a similar line of thought conducts you to the use and meaning of the mantra. The Occultist tries certain sounds. He finds out what are the sounds that bring about the vibrations that he desires. Having discovered that experimentally, he puts those sounds into a definite order and then gives a sentence which will reproduce that sequence of sounds whenever the sentence is uttered. This sequence of sounds causes vibrations, which in their turn set up vibrations in the subtle bodies. The more the mantra is repeated, the more powerful the result. Hence the use of repetition that you find so much in Church formulæ. Hence the[268] use of the rosary, so that you may not have the jar of counting in producing the vibrations that you require. Now it is obvious that a mantra cannot be translated without losing part of its power. It may still have a power from the thought which is in it, but the sequence of sounds is affected. Hence the special value of the mantra apart from the thought which the words embody. Hence the wisdom of the Greek and Roman Catholic Churches in using their words of power as given by the Occultists who devised them. Unfortunately, in the Reformation, occult knowledge being at a discount, it was thought you could translate the words of power without losing the effect. You keep the effect caused by the thought; you lose a very large part of the mechanical effect caused by the sounds. What is lost of ordinary mechanical effect has to be brought about by devotion or will-power; whereas if you produce the vibrations mechanically, you then have all your devotion and will-power left undiminished to bring about the higher results. There is the value of the scientific ways of dealing with the bodies. It is not a question of consciousness now, but of the bodies, and only secondarily of the effect on the consciousness of the vibrations of the bodies; yet that also cannot be left out. Just as a change in consciousness brings about a certain vibration, so does a vibration bring about a corresponding change in consciousness. Hence to set up right vibrations helps the consciousness to remain in a certain condition, and we naturally find that in the Greek and Roman Catholic Churches the effects produced by the words of the sacrament are greater than these produced in Churches where[269] the words of power are translated. One advantage that comes out of that is that, in the first case, where the priest is using the words that themselves make the vibrations, the man’s character, devotion, and knowledge are not as important as they are in the case where the mechanical effect is lost, and the priest must supply by his own devotion and will-power that which could be more readily produced by the mantra. It is out of that that has come the statement that the unworthiness of the priest does not destroy the worth of the sacrament. Certainly it is not as potent where the priest is unworthy, but where the mechanism is perfect, the worker not being perfect is less important.

Now if a clairvoyant watches what is done when a sacrament is taking place, he sees that on the repetition of the words of consecration and the making of the sign of power a visible change occurs in the consecrated object. It is most marked if we turn to the Mass, or Holy Communion. You have there on the altar the sacred elements—the bread and the wine. According to the Roman Catholic doctrine, at the words of power, what is called “transubstantiation” takes place. That teaching has been very much misunderstood by the ordinary Protestant. He does not realise that in every visible object there is an invisible and formative idea; that that idea, working along ordinary lines, produces one of the ordinary objects that you see around you; but that if the idea be changed by the use of a word of power, a mantra, that that change of the idea produces a change of astral matter, and in the etheric and even dense physical matter also a change of vibration is set up. And although it is[270] true that in the densest matter the vibration is not powerful enough to alter the arrangement of the particles, it is true that in all the most important part of that object a change has occurred, and it is that change which is indicated by the word “transubstantiation.” No instructed Roman Catholic ever was foolish enough to think anything save that which I am now putting to you. Now if that idea seems strange, let me remind you of a simple fact which will throw light on the whole thing. Students of organic chemistry are familiar with isometric compounds. Those compounds are made up of exactly the same number of the same chemical elements. Nevertheless, the chemist will tell you that according to the inner arrangement of those elements will be the qualities of the thing. You may have in some of the higher carbon compounds (even so low down as where you have entering into the base only four carbon atoms) an arrangement or rearrangement of those elements such as to give you entirely different qualities—in one case a poison, in the other harmless. That change of arrangement makes all the difference. Is it so strange, then, that in changing the inner arrangement the qualities change? In the invisible worlds these things can be seen, so that that piece of opaque bread, when the words are spoken, utterly changes in appearance, becoming luminous and shining out in every direction. Now the moment one sees that, one begins to realise what a sacrament means from the material standpoint. You are dealing with an object that can be changed in its qualities. You are reconstituting the subtle portions of that by the forces you are bringing to bear on it. With what object? In order that, from[271] the planes above the mental, spiritual power pouring down may find a vehicle which is able to assimilate it and carry it down to the densest plane of matter, and by that vehicle may be passed on to those who are partakers of the sacrament. And not only do you see that change appearing in the elements, but you see also that that change draws to the altar numbers of those whom the Hindūs call Devas, and the Christians call Angels, who lend their powers to the helping of the worshippers, and change the atmosphere of the whole place to which they throng.

Now the moment anyone sees this, he realises that much has to come back to some of the religious sects of the West in order to make them what they ought to be. And the result of losing sight of all this inner part of the Christian ceremonies, rites, and formulæ has been the tendency to grow more and more materialistic, until you find that the ordinary Protestant knows of nothing as between himself and God, nothing of the work of all that mighty hierarchy of spiritual intelligences who form the ladder between earth and heaven. Hence the gradual disappearance from the modern mind of the teaching of the ministry of Angels. How much of it has slipped out of knowledge, and how much all life has lost of beauty by the passing away of these links between the higher and lower worlds. When a person takes the sacrament, you have there the actual physical touch all along the material lines, a real purification of the body as well as illumination of the intelligence. But you may say: “Does it all turn on this outward ceremony—these words and signs?” No. There is, in addition to that, in the[272] consciousness of the worshipper, a tremendous potency which assimilates that which pours down from the higher worlds. And although it be true that that potency is very much more readily assimilated when all the material coverings have been tuned and made ready to receive it, none the less is it also true that even where that part of the sacrament is wanting it is a veritable means of grace to those who realise the inner meaning, although not understanding the importance of the outer form. I think that there is little doubt that, as Occultism spreads, this will all come back to the Churches; for it is part of the Theosophical mission to restore that which has been lost, to bring to knowledge again that which has been forgotten.

And there are also other things in relation to this which will come into modern life again as the truth of the sacrament is recognised. So many discussions there have been about the Apostolic Succession, the passing of power from one to another by a sacrament, not recognised as a sacrament in some part of the Anglican Church, but recognised by the Roman Catholic Church as the Sacrament of Holy Orders. There, again, a physical passing of magnetism; there, again, a definite succession, a hierarchy which is an image of the hierarchy in higher worlds. For always religions have reflexions of the realities of the higher worlds, and these reflexions have their power and their use. Now, in the ordinary Protestant community, and even in the great Anglican Church itself, only two sacraments are normally recognised—the sacrament of the altar and that of the font. Outside those, as you know, the Greek and Roman Catholic[273] Churches have others in addition to that of Holy Orders above mentioned—all of them, from the standpoint of the sacramental life, important. They have the Sacrament of Confirmation; but that ought surely to be recognised as a sacrament everywhere, for you have there the essential parts of the sacrament and the conveying of a spiritual power. So also they have the Sacrament of Penance, in which the spiritual power is again conveyed which enables the penitent by effort and repentance to regain spiritual strength when it has been injured by sin. So you have also the Sacrament of Matrimony, and the loss of the sacramental side of marriage has led very largely to its degradation in Protestant countries. So also the Sacrament of Extreme Unction, which is, curiously enough, coming back among Protestants. Look at the accounts of the Guilds of Healing established in the Church—no less than three in the Anglican community. They have restored the sacramental use of oil, founding themselves upon a passage in the New Testament: “Is any sick, let him call the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord”—a sacramental act. You have the oil as the vehicle of the magnetism, the name of the Lord as the word of power, and in putting on the oil ever the sign of the Cross is used. Now it is a very significant thing that that has been brought back definitely by members of the Anglican Church, priests and laity, to-day; and one wonders very much why in the Roman Catholic community, with the occult knowledge of its leaders, it has that use of sacramental oil only at the death-moment, when its great value cannot be utilised. That is one of[274] the points I cannot quite make out in studying the ritual of the Roman Catholic Church.[4]

Now, supposing that you recognise that fact of a sacrament, how would it affect your ordinary daily life? It would gradually discipline your mind to realise that all life is sacramental, rightly understood; that every outer action should be connected with a spiritual truth; and in this way all your actions would cease to be hindrances, and would tend to become helpers. Among the Hindūs this is largely recognised, for all the great actions of the daily life with them are sacramental. Every true Hindū, on waking, prays that as his eyes open to the light of the day, so his Spirit may open to the light of the inner Self. In his daily bath, as he pours the water over his body, his prayer is, that as the water washes the body, so may the mind be cleansed and the heart purified. All the bodily actions are consecrated as the reflexions of the spiritual life, and the effect of that is to make a disciplined, self-controlled, balanced character. The daily training gradually makes the whole life orderly; and it is not without significance that in the religions where the sacramental life is realised, there it is that you find the type of character that all speak of as the Saint—a man who is ever alive to the realities of the higher world; the man who lives in the Spirit, although also living in the body.

Now I said that this idea was connected with the Mysteries and with the Grail. Let me try and show you how; and in this I am using the thought of the great[275] French writer, Schuré, who, writing on the mystical idea in the music of Wagner, pointed out the close resemblances and differences between the sacrifice of the Mass and the legend of the Grail. Now it is a historical fact, apparently, that with the disappearance of the Mysteries from Europe and the Christian Church, this legend began slowly to work its way among the European nations. There were the Mysteries of Jesus, and those played in the Christian Church exactly the same part that is played by the Yoga training, say, in Hindūism or Buddhism. There was the life of the ordinary sacraments for the ordinary believer. Those were the means whereby the true believer came into touch with the higher worlds. But when a man had learned all he could in the outer circle of the Church, when he had used the sacramental means of grace so that he was able to say that his life was pure, that he had been “for a long time conscious of no transgression,” then he was allowed to present himself as candidate for the Mysteries of Jesus. Within those Mysteries the realities replaced the outer mechanism of the sacrament. There, no longer by gift from without, as in the sacrament, but by effort and struggle the vision of the spiritual life was attained. And when those Mysteries passed away, not because there were not teachers, but because there were no pupils ready to be taught, then it was that this story of the Grail was given as an announcement, however veiled, that the ancient Path still remained open to the worthy aspirant. For what is the inner meaning of the Grail, and how do the main points of it connect with the Christian sacrament? Different, yet similar. In the[276] one it is the outer form of bread and wine, symbolising the body and blood of Christ; in the other, the sacred cup, in which it was said that once a year the blood of Christ shone out with brilliant and purifying light. In both an outer symbol. But in the sacrament that outer symbol is given to the believer, and, without effort of his own, the greater Self outside him gives to the weaker Self within. But in the Grail it is by effort and struggle, by temptation and resistance, that the vision becomes possible. He has entered on the Path where outer aid is withdrawn, and where the inner power must replace the outer assistance. In the Church sacrament, faith is the means whereby the truth must be attained. In the inner, vision and knowledge take the place of faith, for the successful knight sees the vision of the Grail—the Cup, with all its glory, is revealed before him. And so in the outer a dogma is taught, in the inner there is knowledge. But what is a dogma? Knowledge imposed by authority. In the Grail it is an inner revelation, a true initiation into the Mysteries; and it is that inner revelation which takes the place of dogma, a revelation which comes by inner illumination instead of being taught by the outer authority of a Church. And so you find that in that vision the dove appears—symbol of inspiration. The inspiration of the inner revelation is ever there, and that inner revelation belongs to the body of the Initiates, the elect out of all humanity. They hand it on to the world outside, that which is knowledge to them becoming dogma to the outer world. And so you can see that in the Grail legend the teaching of the Mysteries was symbolically conveyed, and those who[277] were able to pierce through the meaning of the legend had their feet placed upon the Path where the symbols became reality; the principle running through was identical. And so the lesson was taught that for those who cannot yet themselves build a bridge to the higher world, the outer sacrament is given as the bridge to unite the two; but when the man is able to make his own bridge, the sacrament for him is no longer necessary. He can reach the worlds above without the assistance of the bridge, and then he becomes the Knight of the Grail. That is still true. The Churches must ever give the sacraments, because the masses of their believers are not yet evolved enough to be able to build their own bridge. For those who have reached the point in spiritual manhood where the other worlds are known and are ever present in consciousness, for them the value of the sacrament is over, and the reality of the inner life no longer needs the grace that is conveyed by the sacrament.

Now if you realise the facts I have been putting to you, if you understand what the sacrament means and what its value is, you will never speak lightly, contemptuously of it, remembering that those who need it receive in it a real power, and that those who have gone beyond that necessity are those who are ever the tenderest to the souls that still require it, and are careful that with their wisdom they do not bewilder the ignorant, that they do not lessen the means of grace for those who are unable to reach knowledge for themselves. And inasmuch as it is the duty of the members of the Theosophical Society to know these facts of the different worlds, and to use them for the helping of others, they have the[278] duty of trying to bring back the realisation of all the immense value which may be found in these rites which are little understood by the more skeptical communities to-day. That your mission and your privilege. Whether in your own religious communities you still find help or not in these outer veils of spiritual things, that is a comparatively small matter. As long as they help you, use them to the utmost; and when you no longer need them, then treat them with the reverence which is due to them, and explain them to those who do not understand them. Not very, very long will pass before all and much more than I am saying to you will become common knowledge in the Churches. Yours the privilege of knowing a little sooner than the outside world; not because you are specially favoured, but in order that you may carry knowledge to the outside world. For every one of you ought to lead the sacramental life, and that means that you shall be a channel by which the spiritual forces shall pour down and spread through you to those who surround you, vivifying and spiritualising the world. That your privilege, from the knowledge that has come to you; that your duty, for knowledge brings responsibility. And just in proportion as you understand the occult truths out of which the esoteric religions have sprung, so will you try to make those religions deeper, more vital, more spiritualising to all that belong to them, so that you may truly act as servants of religion, for such servants every lover of the Divine Wisdom should be.


Lecture V
Address on White Lotus Day 1909

All over the world to-day the sun in rising has seen in country after country men and women gathering together to bear in memory those who have passed onward through the gate of death, but who, in passing through the gate, have remained even more living than they were when they carried the burden of the flesh; men and women who have left their names behind them as workers for the Ancient Wisdom in its modern dress, and whose memories remain dear and precious because of the work they did, because of the message they spread.

We have listened this evening to verses from the Bhagavad-Gītā, to lines from The Light of Asia. In India, on the early morning of to-day, words were read from that same sacred Scripture of the eastern land, spoken there in its ancient tongue, the Sanskrit. In town after town, village after village, the memory of those same lives is kept in mind. There also The Light of Asia has been read, and the sacred memory of the Buddha has been recalled. And all over India, from the Northern Himalayas down to the South, thousands of the poor have been fed by the branches of our Society in[280] memory of those who lived, of those who passed away, some of whom have come back to earth again. And as the sun came onwards along its western path, it lighted up other countries also, which kept the same memory, used the same books, spoke the same names, and so across Italy, and Russia, and Germany, and then in France, and now here, and a few hours hence across the Atlantic, in America, the same memories will be recalled, the same books will be read, the same thoughts will be spoken and will spread from heart to heart. For all round the globe this day is kept sacred in memory of those who died, as men say, amongst us, but who live to carry on the mighty work that here they took up for the brief day of mortal life. And we think of our dead, our truly living, not with sorrow, not with mourning, but with glad hearts and thankful lips, for we know that death is nothing but a passing from one world to another, a dropping of one body for the more effective wearing of a subtler, finer, more powerful one than that which, outworn, is cast away. For we have learned, and some of us know practically, that that is true which is written in that same Eastern Scripture of which we heard some verses to-day, that the Dweller in the body throws aside the outworn body as a man throws aside garments outworn; and as the man takes new garments for his wearing, so does the Dweller in the body take new bodies for his wearing, for new days of a never-ending, an immortal life.

And we think of those who have gone onward to-day—not only of our greatest, but of all who have worked and striven for the same great cause. And perhaps it is[281] fitting that first in that great roll we should send message of love to the one who has left us last, who laboured so long and so faithfully in France—Dr. Pascal—the General Secretary there, who only a few weeks since passed to the rest so well deserved. A weary time had he in the passing; years of weakness, of suffering, of ever-decreasing strength. And many ask, when they see so long an illness and so much of pain, when they see a life that was bright and helpful and full of service set to this world in so long a twilight of sadness and suffering, sometimes they ask: “Why should one who served so well have so long and so sad a passing to the other side?” But people do not always understand that, when a man has worked well and done good service, ere he goes to his rest for a little time on the other side, it is well for him to pay the debts incurred, which otherwise would hamper the new life when it comes back to earth; and that there can be no better karma—sad as it may seem to the outward sight—than when these ties of the past are fully paid before the day of passing comes, so that the new birth is unshadowed by the shadows of the past, and debt is paid which otherwise would be demanded when the new life is born. So that in a life like that, which has ended sadly, as men say, with body failing and brain failing, looking at that with seeing eyes we see the preparing for a better birth, a greater service, and we know that it is well that the debt was paid, and that the new life shall come unencumbered with the sad heritage of the past. And so to our friend to-night we send messages of love and gladness that the debt is paid, thankfulness that he has passed[282] over, so that he may come back again to work under conditions fairer, nobler, more full of promise than those in which he worked so bravely and so nobly through the life that now has closed.

And as we look back we see the faces of many friends, all of whom we commemorate—some of our own country, some of other lands, some near at hand, and some far off, who have passed to the other side in order that they may return. For you remember that it is written: “Certain is death to the born, and certain is birth to the dead.” And those who have passed onward are some of them turning their faces earthward once again, because the times demand fresh workers, and much is to be done in the years that are dawning upon us.

And one man stands out strongly in the minds of all, our President, the President-Founder, who passed away only two brief years since, and who is residing in his Master’s home, but not altogether resting as men call rest, inasmuch as he is ever eagerly working for the Movement he loved and loves, and longing for the day when he shall be permitted to take again a body to do once more the work to which for many lives he has been devoted.

And there rises the greatest name of all, H. P. Blavatsky, the name of her who threw down the body she was wearing on this 8th of May, which, for her dear sake, was chosen as the day of commemoration of all our workers who have passed onward—her name dearest and nearest to our hearts, the Messenger of the Lodge, she who was chosen to bring back to a world in darkness the light which she carried so bravely and[283] unflinchingly through a life of suffering and toil. And strange is her recompense, that she, round whom so many quarrels arose, she who was a sign of storm and dispute through the warrior life that she led, she who saw the Society well-nigh crumble round her in those days of the Coulomb plot, when all over the world it seemed that Theosophy was doomed to popular contempt, and deserted by most who at one time had welcomed it; she who, wherever she went, met storm and trouble, who perhaps was more loved and more hated than anyone of our own time, she has now the recompense that hers is the one name which is everywhere beloved through the great Society of which she and her colleague were the founders, and also among those who have gone out of it through the past years, those who left it in the Judge secession, those who have gone out since; hers is the one name that unifies, to whom all look back as teacher and as friend. And a great and a beautiful lesson grows out of that, that although life separates, death unifies; and those who in life went away, as it seemed, from the movement that she made, look back to her as founder, and round her name, among the prominent people inside and outside the Society, there runs to-day absolute unanimity, and a peace without one ripple of dissent.

And to me that seems a very beautiful thing, that the name that was the name of strife and of combat has become the one name which is recognised as the foundation of the Movement everywhere, no matter by what passing changes that Movement may have been affected. And it carries with it a valuable lesson. These changes that we think so much of do not matter; all the storms[284] and troubles are of no account; on this great advancing tide of truth and light, it matters not what apparent storms may come, what rocks may be in the way, what angry waves may rise and break, what feelings may be expressed—the whole of it vanishes in the face of the great unifier, Death; and those who were rent asunder because they thought more of personalities than of principles, they catch sight again of the principle when death has smoothed away the difficulties of the persons over whom they quarrelled. And so, looking back to her to-day, we can see in her life and death a presage of the future. None of the storms matter, and none of the secessions and divisions count in the great work. They are all mere trivial incidents of passing days, and the one great Life rolls on, only the richer for the divergence, only the fuller for the differences which it catches up and blends into one.

And on this day, looking backward to those who have gone through death’s portal, shall we not also look forward to those who are coming back through birth’s portal to work in the Movement in the future as they worked in the Movement in the past? How far has it struck you, during the days of storm and stress through which you have been passing, that to those who believe in Reincarnation and Karma there is no possibility of real separation, no possibility of lasting discord? For those who went far away apparently from the Movement, or who left it by the gateway of death, see on the other side the fundamental unity, even though on this side, for a while, they may have been blinded by the superficial differences, and join together in the work from[285] which, on this side perhaps, for the moment, they had let themselves slip away for some trivial discord, some passing divergence of opinion. Take that great man amongst us round whom raged the last great struggle, the one before the struggle which is now nearing its close—W. Q. Judge—one of the greatest and noblest workers in our Movement, even though in the last days of his life he made the great rent in the Theosophical Society which cost us for the time pretty well the whole Society in America. He again, winning clearer vision on the other side after something of difficulty and something of struggle (for the man was strong, and was not easy to move or change even when the physical body had been cast away), he after a while worked his way through the mistake that had been made, and has again thrown his life force, his enormous energy into the Movement of which the outer partial manifestation here is the Theosophical Society, and into that Theosophical Society also. For remember that the Theosophical Society is only the partial manifestation of that great stream of Life which is flowing in the other worlds, and of which some appears here. This great Theosophical stream is like one of those rivers which flows underground, and then bubbles up above the ground so that all can see. And the river of the Ancient Wisdom, with its source in the Great Lodge of the Masters, is out of sight for the greater part of its course, in worlds greater and higher than this, and then comes up above the earthly surface and shows itself partially in what we call the Theosophical Society; and into that River of Ages lives which have passed onward throw their energy from[286] the other worlds, so that they are working in the same Movement and strengthening the same current, and are not apart from us, but with us all the time.

And then there are some others to whose return amongst us we have the right to look forward. One whom I may remind you of, who has not passed through death’s gateway, although out of sight for so long, is that faithful chelā of H. P. Blavatsky—Damodar—who left India after the great Coulomb struggle, went up into the Himālayan region, and found his way to his Master’s home near far-off Shigatze. He has been living and working there ever since, and is now a man of middle age, but his return ere very long we may without fear look forward to. He will come back to us with all the gained knowledge that he has won during these many years’ training in the presence of the Teachers Themselves; he has already shown himself in India, not physically, but preparing to come back when the Movement is ready for his work, and the getting ready of it is the work which we have to do in the few years in front. For ere many years have gone we may look for his coming as a leader and teacher amongst us.

And of those who passed through death’s gateway some have already come back, H. P. Blavatsky amongst them; so that in the years that come many of you will see that strong life again manifested amongst us to take share in the working of the Society, for which he is working now as ever before. Remember how a Master said of him: “The brother whom you know as H. P. Blavatsky, but we—otherwise.” One who was spoken of in such words by the Master M. does not leave the[287] work to which he has put his hand because the worn-out body was thrown aside for the time—the brother whom we know as H. P. Blavatsky, but They otherwise, the great and strong disciple will again come amongst us to work more powerfully than in the woman’s body that last time he wore. And others, too, who worked with him in the earlier days—Subba Rao, whose name many yet know; he is now a lad of nearly fifteen, in the Indian body once more, born in fact in the same family (using the word “family” in the wider Indian sense), a lad of fifteen, very soon to be ready again to take up his work.

And there are others, less well known, who have been reborn, and who are preparing to take part in the great forward movement which is so soon to begin. But before that work could begin it was necessary to have the shaking through which we have been passing during the last three years. I have told you often that from time to time these shakings recur, and are necessary before a great time of onward progress. Few of you probably will remember the progress that was made after the Coulomb trouble, but many of you will remember the spring forward which the Society took after the American secession. History repeats itself in small cycles as well as in large ones, and before the great forward movement could take place it was necessary that the shaking should occur once more, to shake out for the moment those who were not ready to go forward.

What is the great difficulty before the world? When those who know more and are able to teach are to come forward and live among the men and women of the time, and bring to them the treasures they have harvested of[288] the Wisdom of the ancient days, the one thing that stands in the way of their reception is the spirit which is not able to recognise greatness when it sees it, but meets it with suspicion, doubt, slander, calumny; which ever supplies evil motives where there is no understanding of the reasons for action, and so paralyses those who know, and builds up barriers which even they cannot overstep. You saw it in the life of H. P. Blavatsky. Look back to that life of hers; see how her efforts, her endeavours to teach and spread the Wisdom, the message with which she was charged, were everywhere frustrated. And that has been so now for very many centuries. When the greatest of all Teachers came, that mighty Teacher whom in the East we call the Bodhisattva, whom in the West we call the Christ, when He came—mightiest of spiritual Teachers, the very spirit of Wisdom and love incarnate—He could not live three years in this world ere He became so insupportable to the people of His day that they slew Him, while His love for the Father was denounced as blasphemy, His teaching denounced as coming from the devil. And that same spirit has been seen ever since. The great teachers have ever been met with the same spirit, and we have to change it. The chief mission of the Society at the moment is to prepare the way of the Lord, and the only preparation that can be made is to substitute reverence for greatness instead of suspicion and hatred. And because that is the immediate work which lies before us, it was necessary to shake out of the Society those whose spirit was rather suspicion of greatness than acceptance of it when seen. For the immediate work is the preparing of the world[289] for the coming of greater Ones, in order that the new impulse may be given when the new sub-race and Root Race are to be born.

That is the immediate work, the preparation for the coming of some of those whom I have been mentioning—Damodar, Subba Rao, H. P. Blavatsky—not, remember, with flourish of trumpets, or with anyone declaring “this is so-and-so” and “this is someone else,” with the exception, perhaps, of the first named (Damodar), who went as a boy to his Master, and is now middle-aged, but will be recognised by old Indian friends. But others will be coming in new bodies, unknown, with no proof of who they are. They will have to make their way, they will have to prove their apostolate, and probably their views of things will be very different from the views of many of those in the Theosophical Society. Inevitably so; for people whose eyes are opened to more than one world cannot see things, as those see them whose eyes are blind save to one; those who see the wider horizon will have different thoughts from those who are cabined in by the life and conventions of their day. And that is why the great Ones are always misunderstood, for They must be other than those to whom They come, else how could They teach? And that is where your General Secretary spoke very truly in saying that the mind often misleads, and the things we “think” cover over the things we “know.” Now the things you know, you know by the light of the Spirit which is within you; by that intuition which is the voice of the pure, not the impure reason, speaking above the mind and through the mind, but very often in contradiction to the mind.[290] And in order to hear that voice of intuition, so far as I know, there is only one way, that when once you see the Light shine out through any human being, you hold to that human being, no matter what the mind may say. That is what spells success, and that was pre-eminently the case with H. P. Blavatsky, for anyone more confusing to the ordinary mind you could not possibly come across—awkward, athwart one’s conventions in every way; in speech, manner, actions, the very reverse of all that you would expect. When I first met her and saw in her the power of the Master, from that day to this I have never challenged and never doubted her. And very, very largely because of that have come the knowledge and power that I have won not by reasoning and arguing—“Was she right or wrong?” “Would it not have been better if she had been different from what she was?”—but having once seen in her the Light of Truth, refusing to see anything else except the Messenger of the Master.

And that is what you need in the coming days, that is what some of you have been winning through the storms of the last three years—to realise that when once you have known a teacher to be a teacher you shall cling to that knowledge, no matter what clouds for a time surround, no matter what storms for a time may hide; for that means intuition, which is above the concrete mind; it means the testimony of the God within you to the God without you, and that cannot lie. And we have to spread that through the whole Society in order to make the way possible for those who will be coming amongst us during the next few years, and the greater Ones who will come later if we can welcome the Messengers, but[291] not otherwise. Our years of mortal life are not those by which time is reckoned in the great cycles of the occult world. It is true that we say: “Probably between thirty and forty years hence a great Teacher will come back, the greatest Teacher, the Teacher of Gods and men.” But a date like that, which is counted by the revolutions of the world, is always a doubtful thing from the occult standpoint; for time there is measured by consciousness, and not by the turning of the sun. Efforts may shorten or failure may retard the date, and hence it is always rather vaguely put; and if, when these less great ones came we were not able to receive them, if we are repelled by the superficial appearance and have not the intuition to recognise the Messengers, that will inevitably delay the coming of the greater Ones.

At different times different virtues are wanted. To know the virtue of the time and to develop it, that is wisdom. At one time courage is the great thing wanted; at another time recognition of spiritual greatness, and the power to hold to it, and that is the virtue wanted now. Not in order that you and I as individuals may take part in this great work, but in order that the world may be prepared, that the way of the Lord may be made straight, so that He may come. For He cannot come to be a curse to the world instead of a blessing, as He would be if the world were wholly unprepared. And so greater and greater Ones will be coming in order that the greatest of all may be welcomed when He appears amongst us.

Some of you think, but you think mistakenly, that you would recognise, say, a Master, or even a Christ, if[292] He appeared. Are you so sure? They never have been recognised by the people of their time save by a small minority, and why should we be different? The Christ was not recognised when He came last; His Messengers have not been recognised since, save by a minority. They are so different from the people of their time that there is much to get over before you can recognise them. And it is a good practice sometimes to throw yourself back to those days in Judea when the Son of Man trod the earth. Realise what He would have seemed to you then, not what he seems to you now through the vista of centuries of the adoration of millions of men. What would he have seemed as the vagabond travelling about on foot, with a number of half-educated people round Him, disturbing the peace of society, antagonistic to the respectabilities of His day, looked down upon by the aristocracy of the time? See Him as they saw Him, and ask yourself: “Should I have recognised the Christ?” And that is where the test has been, right through these last three years, and where it will be as the people I have been speaking of gradually come amongst us again. If you would recognise them when they come, try to cultivate the power which answers to greatness without, by cultivating greatness within, remembering that spiritual recognition is the recognition of all those who are kindred to yourself. If you have the virtue in you of the spiritual man you will know spiritual men when you meet them; but if you cannot answer to Him, then He will pass you by unknown, and probably disliked.

Now our work is clear before us: to try to change the public opinion of the world into the attitude which is[293] sometimes called disparagingly hero-worship, which is essentially the thing we need at the present time—the power to know the hero when we see him. “No man is a hero,” it is said, “to his valet.” And people think that that means that he is small when seen close by. Not so; but that the small soul which is typified by the word “valet” cannot appreciate the greatness of the hero near whom he stands. The servant soul does not recognise the greatness of the hero, and therefore the hero is no hero to him. Only the heroic recognises the hero; and if you can develop that in yourself which is like a Master, then, and then alone, will you know a Master when He comes. And the best way to cultivate it is for a time to let go that spirit of criticism which makes people so superior to those around them. Cultivate the faculty of admiration rather than that of criticism. Try, when you meet a person or when you read a book, to see the good things in the book or person, and not the faults. And the faults in the people around you, these are no business of yours; and if you would once understand that and live it, your path would be so much easier. So many of you are so anxious to get other people out of their faults that you really have no time to look after your own steps and put them in the right way. The faults of the other people will work out through karma, and they are not your business—a hard but true lesson. Of course, if you are a master or a teacher, and have others in your charge, their faults are then yours to correct; but you are not, generally speaking, masters or guardians, and you have no responsibility to criticise or put others right. Take out of your friends the value of[294] the good and let the faults go. You need not say they are virtues, you need not pretend that you think wrong right; but you can say: “That part of the man is not my business; let me help the God in him to manifest, and let the other side in him wear out in its own way.” If you can do that you will be more useful now than in any other spirit, and it is that lesson I would ask you to take with you. Think of H. P. Blavatsky and of those who have passed away in the spirit that they helped us, and not in the spirit that would blind our eyes to their value, and then carry that spirit on to the people around you, and in every one round you try to see the God, and let the rest go. Admire the admirable, and leave aside the regrettable; for in doing it you will help them more to conquer their faults than by criticism.

Seeing the God in them, and loving and trusting, that will help them to grow out of the limitations, of the blunders and errors that are hindering the divine manifestation. And remember that is what is wanted now, not for yourselves only but for every one around you, so that when the Teachers come They may be able to remain in the world amongst us. They dare not come yet, because even in the Theosophical Society They would not be welcomed. A Master who came amongst you now would not for the most part be very much liked by you; His ways, His views, His thoughts would be so different, He would raise suspicion and dislike. We saw it in the earlier days when They came out more, and were met by judgment and criticism, until one of Them said, in the fashion in which They look at ignorant criticism; “The standard of the Adept is not kept at Simla, it is kept at[295] Shamballah and I try to accommodate myself to that.” There is a great lesson in that for all of us. The standard of those who are passing onward into the higher life is not the standard of the judgment of the people around them, but the standard that the Masters hold up before them, to which they are ever trying to conform. Think of that in your attitude to the people around you; remember that on you, and on people like you everywhere, depends the success or the failure of the next great manifestation of the divine life on the earth; that this Theosophical Society, spread everywhere over the world, is literally the John the Baptist to prepare the way for the coming of the Christ; to fill that part is your work and duty—and need I say, your privilege, your highest honour?

To leave the Society now, in the days which are just dawning, surely it is bad karma enough, and you should only feel the tenderest thoughts of pity towards any who go out from us in the days when to belong to the movement is the greatest crown that can be given for any nobility of past life that any one of us may have had. No words of harshness or of condemnation, nothing that will make it harder for them to return, but everywhere gentlest and most tolerant speech—this is our duty to our immediate brethren; and to the world what I have told you.

And so from this White Lotus Day look forward more than backward, rather to the work that is coming than to the difficulties that are now well-nigh over. Remember, for your strengthening, that the only great shaking has been here and in America, nowhere else. You can count on your fingers practically in other countries[296] those who have been shaken out. You have had the struggle and have come out well. It is practically over now. There may be some slight effort made now to make things difficult, but what does it matter, with such hopes before us, with such strength behind us, with such knowledge within us? Why should we allow ourselves to be ruffled by anything that can take place in this outer world of men? We have been through many such struggles in past lives, shall have to go through many greater ones in lives to come; why make too much of present-day trouble? Those whose lives are in eternity need not be troubled with even what seem to be great difficulties to the men and women of the world. And so to you I would say: Gather together on the Day of Memory, but turn it now more into day of looking forward. Let the past go; it has done its work, it is over. Turn your eyes to the work that is opening before us, more splendid than any work of the past. And remember it is not the Messengers who may stand in front who are the strength of the Society, but that the life comes from the Masters and the strength from the Lodge. Knowing that, you need not mind even if those of us who are well known in the world make mistakes, are attacked, or evil spoken of. Never yet a Messenger of the Lodge that went through life without being evil spoken of, and you need not grudge us the sign of our apostolate; for such has ever been the sign of the Messengers through all ages. Rather rejoice with us that the stress for the time is over, and the days of going forward are upon us; do not let the remnant of the trouble shake any one of you, but know that the Masters are with us, and where they are no failure can come.


Lecture VI
The Nature of the Christ

Delivered to the Christo-Theosophical Society, at the invitation of Sir Richard and Lady Stapley, Tuesday, May 25, 1909.

It is with pleasure that I find myself amongst you, as I have often found myself before. I think my membership in the Theosophical Society is of about the same length as the life of your Society. We both began our careers, so to speak, about the same time, in the same year.

The subject that I have taken is in many ways a difficult one, and one that may very naturally arouse differences of feeling. It is, however, one which is being discussed very much in the Christian Church at the present time, and it is for that reason that it seemed to me that it might be useful if we could exchange thoughts on a subject of enormous importance. I also want to make certain suggestions which I think may be welcomed in regard to an idea to be found in the East, which perhaps is not quite familiar over here; and which presages a unity greater and profounder than could be reached, I think, in any other way. Naturally, I am putting only my own views, and they commit no one but myself. These questions that touch alike the intellect and the heart must always be treated reverently by those[298] who realise the Brotherhood of man, and they are also ideas of the profoundest importance with regard to the future of religion and of civilisation.

In the Hibbert Journal of January last the subject that I have taken for our talk was to some extent discussed from the standpoint of one who I suppose would be called an extremely liberal Christian. The writer is the Rev. R. Roberts, Congregational minister, of Bradford; his name is still in the Congregational Year-book, but I heard that he was not at present ministering in any pulpit. I take his view as my starting-point this afternoon. The title of his article is at first sight a little startling from the ordinary Christian standpoint, “Jesus or Christ?” and he distinctly puts forward the view, and argues for it with a good deal of ability, that we have to do at once with one supposed to be a historical person, and then apparently with what he could only regard as a Mystical Ideal.

So far as I can gather from what he says, he does not regard the Christ as historical, though he does not very clearly draw the line as to how he would separate, historically, the Jesus of the Gospels from that Ideal which he names “The Christ.” He says that he and many other people find themselves beset by certain difficulties: “Are the claims to be presently set forth made on behalf of a spiritual ‘Ideal’ to which we may provisionally apply the word ‘Christ,’ or are they predicated of Jesus?” Then he goes on to say that insistence on limitations of knowledge, restrictions of outlook, evasions of issues, and disillusionments of experience, true enough of a historic Jesus, may not be wholly[299] relevant to a spiritual “Christ Ideal,” expanding and enriching through the ages into “the Christ that is to be.” Then he says it would be still less applicable to one who is regarded as the “fulness of Godhead,” “Very God of very God.” That, practically, is his thesis, and he tries to show in this article that very many difficulties might be avoided if Christians were willing to recognise a Christ Ideal side by side with the historical Jesus. In that way they might evade some of the difficulties which are pressed against the conception of Jesus as the Christ by large numbers of people who find their faith challenged and themselves in difficulties by these objections which are put to them both inside and outside the Church. He quotes Dr. Fairbairn, writing on Christ in Modern Theology. “If He knows as God while He speaks as man, then His speech is not true to His knowledge, and within Him a bewildering struggle must ever proceed to speak as He seems and not as He is. If He had such knowledge, how could He remain silent as He faced human ignorance, and saw reason wearied with the burden of all its unintelligible mysteries? If men could believe that once there lived on this earth One who had all the knowledge of God, yet declined to turn any part of it into science for man, would they not feel their faith in His goodness taxed beyond endurance?” That view (which appears to be adopted by Mr. Roberts) does not seem to me necessarily at all a sound one, and it is by no means certain that a man speaking in a particular age to people among whom great limitations of knowledge existed, and with a particular object before Him—not to enlarge the bounds of science, but to deepen spirituality[300] and lay a strong foundation of morals—that such a Teacher, however highly illuminated, however much speaking as the very Spirit of God, would say all that He knew with regard to external facts and external phenomena, with the certainty of making very difficult the reception of His message on points enormously important—on points, in fact, of vital and essential need for the higher spiritual progress of man. Hence it does not appear to me that Dr. Fairbairn’s issue is at all well taken. Every great teacher—not for the moment considering the special divinity of Christ or Jesus—who is speaking to people less instructed than himself is under a similar difficulty. If on matters of ordinary scientific knowledge he is illuminated where they are not, the very fact that he presses that upon them would bewilder and confuse. You cannot enable the human intellect to evolve at what might be called a supernatural rate. It is capable of growth, and often of rapid growth, but if you try to force it beyond the rapid natural growth, you will only perplex, bewilder, and confuse; and if your aim is not, broadly, to increase scientific knowledge, which man will inevitably find out for himself after a time, but to help him to the things which need spiritual illumination in order that he may receive them, then such a difficulty as is put here as to the inner bewilderment which would be felt by the speaker to speak as he seems, and not as he is, would not be bewilderment at all, but a quite deliberate limitation of what he said, with a view to the effectiveness of his work, and that which he desired to give to the people of his time. That is true necessarily of every great prophet, of every highly inspired man;[301] and the greatness of the inspiration would chiefly be shown, not in the amount of physical knowledge which he might give, but rather in his avoidance of certain difficulties which, when the race grew more learned, might come in their way and complete their ideas. That is to say, he would evade the scientific difficulty as far as he possibly could, and would do it deliberately, knowing that that was not his particular work, and that he could not do his own work if he turned aside in this direction. So that, as far as I am personally concerned, looking on this from the standpoint of the Theosophist and Occultist, these difficulties to me do not exist. I realise that they must always be found where one who is superhuman—I object to the word supernatural—comes in any age of the world’s history in order to teach a new conception of religion, and in order to adapt what he is giving to the civilisation which he intends to influence.

It appears to me that it is a perfectly rational and necessary thing that the growth of knowledge from the ordinary standpoint should be left to work its way out along the lines of intellectual development; anything less than that will check intellectual growth inevitably, for intellectual growth can only come about by the freest of thought, the freest of discussion, the most absolute liberty to challenge everything and to controvert anything which appears to be illogical. The condition of intellectual growth is that of complete freedom, and any sort of limitation which is put upon it by the knowledge of a great teacher will only check that intellectual evolution which is essential for the future growth of man. Many similar difficulties, of course, are made with regard[302] to all inspired Scriptures, and for that reason it seems to me that it is well that we distinguish definitely between the spiritual work of the spiritual teacher and the scientific investigation of the scientific student; that it should be realised that these two departments of human activity work under different laws to a very great extent, and that that which is spiritually known cannot always be justified to the intellect until that intellect becomes spiritually enlightened—that is, that you have to deal in man with a being who is fundamentally a spiritual being, in whom the divine Spirit becomes incarnate, embodied, but in whom that divine Spirit is going to unfold along three great lines of unfoldment which we find in all human consciousness, which we recognise as in the divine nature itself. It has to unfold to an ordered Activity which should be truly in harmony with the laws of nature, which are the expression of the divine nature in this manifested form. It has to unfold along the Intellectual line, and that unfoldment must be left utterly unfettered. It has also to evolve along that line which in its lowest stages is emotion, in its higher stages is religion; and that spiritual unfolding, the highest characteristic of Spirit showing itself out as Will, has to be developed from above more than from below, to come downward by illumination more than to climb upward by reasoning. Unless we can understand this complicated nature of man in whom divinity is gradually unfolding and mastering matter at every stage of its unfolding, mastering, purifying it, ultimately spiritualising it; in all its earlier stages limited by the matter that it has yet failed to master, gradually making it plastic and ductile, and then[303] in its higher stages having utterly subdued it to its own purposes—unless we can understand that that is a rough outline of human evolution, we shall constantly find ourselves in difficulties between the intellectual growth and the spiritual unfolding. Hence whenever a man comes to earth in whom divinity is far more manifestly unfolded than in his fellow-men, he can only shed down upon them illumination from the spiritual region, stimulate their aims, but not control their intellect. If that be realised, then the whole of these difficulties, which are being made at the present time about the obvious limitations outwardly of the knowledge of the supreme Christian Teacher, will entirely fall out of court, and you will see that He was speaking to the people of His day in the way that He could best affect them in order to help forward their evolution from the standpoint where they were, and was not the least intent on showing out His enormous knowledge, which would only have crushed rather than assisted.

Suppose for the moment you can take that way of looking at human evolution—and it seems to me the most rational way of looking at it—then we come to deal with this special manifestation of the Teacher who was the Founder of Christianity, a Hebrew speaking to Hebrews, and having to reconcile the speaking to the people of His day with the speaking to people of generations after generations, through centuries and perhaps millennia to come, then we should be perfectly able to realise that we are here face to face with one of those supreme divine manifestations, and that in studying it we must be ready to separate between the Teacher of[304] religion and the man speaking to the men of His day, and accepting their limitations in order that He might reach them effectively. I want to carry you very much further than that in what I say; all that might very well be accepted by any rational and intelligent Christian, especially if he finds himself able to realise that what is said of the divinity of Jesus is true at a very much lower level of all His brethren, that all men are fundamentally and essentially divine; that that which was said by the great teacher S. Paul: “Know ye not that your body is the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” and that which was answered by Jesus Himself, when he was challenged for calling Himself the Son of God: “Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are Gods, and ye are all the children of the Highest?” is literally true. If you realise all that is implied in that statement, that He is the first among many brethren, you will see that every Son of Man is potentially, and will hereafter be actually, a Son of God, meaning by that that Deity will unfold within him, and that a manifestly divine humanity is the natural goal of evolution.

One realises, in looking at an article like this, that by the mystic Christ—that is what the writer means—he means that in the Epistles a somewhat different view is taken from that of the Gospels, the one dealing specially with an historical person, the other with an indwelling Spirit. He realises that when the Apostle Paul declares to his converts that he is travailing in birth for them until Christ be formed in them, when he says in another passage that they are to develop to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ, he is holding up before[305] them a picture of the birth in the soul of this divine Spirit that he spoke of as Christ, and the gradual unfolding of that into the perfection of divine manhood. That is perhaps the most inspiring ideal that can well be put before Christian people, that not only outside them but within them, not only as an outer helper but as an indwelling Spirit, this idea of the Christ is to be realised, and that that unfolding of the Christ in man is a real fact in religious consciousness, making that highest stage of human evolution when the man becomes perfect, and there only remains before him the superhuman evolution after the human is finished.

But I want to put to you rather a different idea of this relation between Jesus and Christ. I recognise to the full the value of that mystic ideal, I have not one word to say against it; in fact it is one that, when I am speaking to Christians, I constantly proclaim—the absolute necessity of that indwelling presence. But there is another view of this great Being which may be less familiar to you, which is the view taken by those who are sometimes called Occultists, in a very special sense of the term. Let me put it to you quite baldly for the moment, and then work it out a little more. The view that we take of that great Teacher who came to the world some two thousand years ago is, that the child who was born and who grew up into manhood until the time of the Baptism was a man of marvellous purity, of extraordinary spiritual intuition, but a man that we should call a disciple; that it was his to train and guard that pure body in preparation for the incoming of the indwelling Christ, and that in the Gospel story it is the[306] event of the Baptism which marks the coming of the Christ. Let me just recall the words to you for a moment: “When Jesus went down into the water, the heavens opened, and the Spirit of God came down upon Him like a dove, and abode upon Him. And a voice was heard from heaven saying, ‘This is my beloved Son; hear ye Him.’” Now it is clear that that event, marked out so distinctly in the Gospel story, must connote something of enormous importance. There was no need, as it were, for Him who was to be the Teacher to be baptised, and to receive the downcoming Spirit of the Most High, unless in that there was hid some profound spiritual truth, unless something was there afterward that was not there before; and it is then, from the occult point of view, that the Jesus became the Christ. But let me put it to you even a little more closely. Here, of course, is where the point of difference will probably arise in the minds of many in regard to what I am saying, for all might be willing to recognise that that might imply a great downflow of spiritual energy, of divine life. From our standpoint Jesus the Hebrew, the individual, the spiritual man, stepped out of the body that he had been dwelling in through all those years and preparing for the coming of his Lord, giving it over as a holy temple for the incoming of the supreme Teacher, so that the body became the habitation of the supreme Teacher for the three years of the ministry. Now that view, as many of you who have studied Christian history will know, was very widely held in the early Church; although it was condemned later as the Gnostic heresy, none the less it was quite orthodox until its formal condemnation within[307] the Catholic Church, until the time that it was expelled. You find it in many of the early writings of the learned Christian teachers, you find it warred against by some others of the Christian teachers and doctors and bishops of the time, but none the less it was a view which had very wide prevalence in the early Church; it was accepted by large numbers of profoundly learned men; and although ultimately condemned as a heresy in the forms in which it was put, it might none the less not be improbable, even from the standpoint of the orthodox, that some truth was hidden in it in the broad sense, even if the form in which it was put forward in the Church of those days was justly condemned. My own view is that they were right, not in all the details of the way in which they put it, but in the fundamental fact. Let us suppose for a moment that they were so; then the question would necessarily arise—who is the Christ? And it is there that, as I said, there was one view that might be unfamiliar to you in the West, yet which, it seems to me, should be to the Christian a view full of beauty and full of hope for the future. There is only one Supreme Teacher of mankind. There is a great office above all those whom we Theosophists speak of as Masters—a Master of Masters, so to speak—the one Supreme Teacher. In Christendom you speak of him by the Greek name, a name which, as you know, was taken from the Grecian mysteries, of which a particular grade of initiation bore the name of the Christos, and the Adept who reached that grade was spoken of as the Christos. That was the name which was adopted in the early Church, according to the account in the Acts, to designate[308] this great Teacher who had come to the world, and we should say, rightly adopted. It is an instance of spiritual insight recognising a great truth.

But now, supposing I ask you to go to the people of other religions for a moment, the ancient religions that we find in the eastern world. Suppose I ask a member of the most ancient of those, the Hindū faith: “Do you recognise in your religion one supreme World-Teacher above all religions, and not belonging to one exclusively—a universal Teacher?”—he would say, “of Gods and men”; over here you would say, “of Angels and men,” because the word there, Deva, is equivalent to your word Angel. He would at once say: “Why, yes; of course we recognise one Supreme Teacher at the head of all spiritual life and impulse, and we call him (pardon me if I use for the moment their name) the Jagat-Guru—the World-Teacher.” Supposing I went to another great religion there—the Buddhist—and I asked a member the same question: “Do you recognise in your religion a Supreme Teacher?” his answer would at once be, “Why, of course we do. There is only one who holds the place of Teacher over all Gods and all men; one Teacher only who is the Teacher of the world. We call Him the Bodhisattva—the Wisdom-Truth.” No nobler name could be given to Him; He is the Wisdom and the Truth; not the Buddha, as you may have expected me to say; He was not the Teacher. When He reached Buddhahood He passed away from earth. It is while He is going onwards to Buddhahood that He is known by this name of Wisdom-Truth, or Boddhisattva. During the whole of that period of teaching He has this[309] name; and then when the supreme illumination comes to Him his office is finished, and He passes away from earth. Of course, as we know, the last Buddha remained in his body for some time, still teaching, but none the less the office of the Teacher is not to the Buddhist the Buddha, but he who is to be the Buddha—what you would call the Christ glorified and ascended, not the Christ on earth teaching and suffering. It is interesting to notice how in the various religions these same points arise and these same differences are seen under different names, so that we see that in these two greatest of eastern religions a Supreme Teacher is recognised. Now, from the occult standpoint, it is that Teacher who came as the Christ; and, supposing that all Christian people recognised that fact, they would reach the hearts of the eastern world far better than they do now, if, instead of telling them they must worship the Christ, they would say to them, “You are already worshipping Him under a different name,” which is supremely true; for it is the same Being who holds that office through all these thousands of years, the same supreme Perfection. He only comes into manifestation in order to help His younger brethren; He leaves that body when its utility for the moment is over; when, being so great in comparison with the people to whom He came, they could no longer tolerate His presence.

Now that is the view of the nature of the Christ which you would find among, say, Occultists or well-instructed Theosophists. They recognise in the Christ of Christendom the Supreme Teacher of the world, but they do not admit that He will come only once to the world; they[310] reverence and honour Him now as still the Supreme World-Teacher, but they do not identify Him with the great disciple who took the Jewish name as Jesus, and who is now amongst us as the Master who is the Guide and Helper of the Christian Church. There is the point where the difference would come in. The orthodox Christian would claim Him as supreme over all religions, but he would hardly recognise difference between the disciple who has become the Master with the special Christian Church in His charge, and the Supreme Teacher who, while He certainly ever sends His benediction upon Christianity, sends it also upon the other great religions of the world. This is where I feel the difference might come in between myself and many of you. To us the great Master Jesus, who is, as you would also acknowledge—those of you, at least, who are members of the Church of England—thus still dwelling in a human body, still embodied literally, has that power which the Master on the higher planes of being has, of being spiritually in touch with all who call upon Him, with all who look to Him for guidance, but none the less still possesses a physical body. This is a point of enormous importance (although not as important as spiritual omnipresence), for it means to us, and it means to many Christians who think with us, and are Theosophists with us, a possibility of a close and personal relation, as of a disciple to a Master, which goes somewhat beyond the spiritual communion which every true Christian has with his great Teacher. How should I put that to convey exactly what I mean in clear and definite language? I must put it, I think, by giving a general principle with[311] regard to these great Beings whom we speak of as Masters, divine men, men made perfect, which works through the whole of that great Brotherhood. They have many ways of working in the world; through their own subtle, spiritual bodies they work, sending out floods of blessing over the whole world; but, in addition to that spiritual impulse and spiritual blessing which flow into every heart that opens itself to receive them, with an ever present and potent power, there is an even closer and more specialised communion between the Spirit as embodied and those who are still wearing human bodies themselves, a possibility which the saints have realised of that personal and individual and specialised communion with their Master where they saw Him, heard Him; where to them He became, not only a spiritual presence, but an individualised Teacher, and even Friend; where they knew themselves as disciples, and knew Him as Master, which is the great mark, after all, of those who are specifically called the saints. For that close and intimate and specialised relationship the body is necessary; and hence, although sceptics have very often challenged that Article of the Church of England where it says that “He did truly take again His body, with flesh and bones, and all things appertaining to the perfection of man’s nature,” it does convey a fundamental and essential truth: the great Teacher is not only a spiritual Presence, He is a human though divine Being, who can be specifically and personally known. And if this latest impulse of Divine Wisdom which we call Theosophy is to be of use to Christendom, it will be along these lines of gradually winning Christians back[312] to a conception that has been very largely lost—that their touch with their Divine Master must be much closer and more realised in the brain and human heart as contact of disciple and Teacher, than when they are thinking of Him as Deity, when they are regarding Him as the second Person in the Trinity. How far that will commend itself to many of you it is, of course, impossible for me to say; but let the outline, at least, be clear, so that it may be definitely understood. It is the conception of a Christ for whom a body was prepared, and prepared by His own well-loved disciple, who guarded, tended, trained it through the years of childhood, of youth, and of early manhood; a body surrendered to the incoming mighty Personage, who is the Supreme Teacher of the world, incoming at the point marked by the Baptism, worn until the time of the death, so that through the whole of that teaching, the ministerial life, it was not Jesus but the Christ who was the Teacher who founded Christianity. That body is laid aside, but He is still Lord of all religions, and He gives to His well-beloved disciple who became the Master Jesus this religion specifically as his charge, his work in the world. Other religions would have other Masters, but only one Supreme; others would look to other divine men made perfect, but would recognise beyond them this Master of Masters; and hence all religions draw together in the Supreme Teacher, and find there unity in that greatest and mightiest of all. So that every religion looks up to the one Teacher through Masters who specifically belong to the various faiths of the world. That is the view which is very generally held in the Theosophical Society, although none is bound to[313] accept it, inasmuch as we impose no dogmas upon anyone; it is the view which is taken by those who have been most thoroughly instructed in this matter; and it seems to me that it is one of extreme interest to thoughtful people, even if they do not find themselves able to accept it.

That is, then, the view of the nature of Christ that I would submit to you; and if you look at it you will see that the whole of the criticisms to which I have referred fall to pieces, and no longer need disturb the hearts or consciences of any; for it would be recognised that you have here a manifestation of the same great Being, but not a unique manifestation, who adapts Himself to the needs of His time, gives out so much of His wisdom and truth as He thinks can be accepted by the people of His day and generation, but who, in giving it, gives with it an inspiring Spirit, which enables future generations to find more and more in that teaching, and as they themselves develop spiritually, to find ever greater depths in the teaching which had been given by the Christ. You will see how naturally that view passes on into the future, and why it is that many of us, believing that a new civilisation is dawning upon earth, also believe that[314] the same Supreme Teacher will again be manifested, again to tread the earth as He trod it in Judæa, again to enlighten the world with spiritual wisdom, again to strike the keynote of a new civilisation, gathering all the religions of the world under that supreme teaching of His own, so that we look forward to a coming Christ as well as backward to a Christ in His last manifestation on the earth.



Lecture VII
The Theosophical Student in face of Revelation, Inspiration, and Observation

A Lecture delivered to the British Convention of the Theosophical Society, July 4th, 1909


Friends: Those who seriously take up the study of Theosophy should not be satisfied with the mere reading of the voluminous theosophical literature poured out into the world through the centuries of the past, and continuing to flow into it in our own days. They should, in addition, if they have any innate faculty for such investigation, prepare to develop the faculties by which they may verify for themselves that which they are told by others. But in all cases much theoretical study is desirable before passing on into the practical, and in most cases it may not be possible to develop the subtler senses within the limits of the present incarnation, although a good foundation may be laid for such development in the next. Hence theoretical study must form a large part of the training of every theosophical student, and his attitude towards such study is a matter of serious importance. He needs to discriminate between the books he reads, and to suit his attitude to the type of the book; he must seek to understand what[318] is meant by Revelation, what by Inspiration, and to distinguish revealed from inspired literature, and both from the records of observations.

Some Scriptures which are regarded as authoritative lie at the back of all the great religions. Thus Hindūism has the Veda. The word means knowledge, and this knowledge is of that which is eternally true. It is the knowledge of the Logos, the knowledge of the Lord of a universe; the knowledge of what is, not of what seems; the knowledge of realities, not of phenomena. This abides ever in the Logos; it is part of Himself. In its manifested form, as revealed for the helping of man, it becomes the Vedās, and in this form goes through many stages, until finally little of the original remains. All Hindū schools of philosophy acknowledge the supreme authority of the Vedas; but after this formal acknowledgment is made, the intellect is allowed to range freely at its will—to inquire, to judge, to speculate. Rigid as Hindūism is in its social polity, it has ever left the human intellect free; in philosophy, in metaphysic, it has ever realised that truth should be sought, and no penalty inflicted on error; error being sufficiently penalised by the fact that it is error, and breeds misfortunes under natural laws. Even to-day that ancient liberty is maintained, and a man may think and write as he will provided that he follows in practise the social customs of his caste. The Hindū divides all knowledge into two types—the supreme and the lower. In the lower he places all his sacred books—following in this the dictum of an Upanishad[5]—together with all other literature, all[319] science, all instruction; in the category of the supreme he places only “the knowledge of Him by whom all else is known.” There you have Hindūism in a nutshell. When once supreme knowledge has been attained and illumination has been experienced, all Scriptures become useless. This is asserted plainly and boldly in a well-known passage in the Bhagavad Gītā: “All the Vedas are as useful to an enlightened Brāhmana as is a tank in a place covered over with water.”[6] What need of a tank when water is everywhere? What need of Scriptures when the man is enlightened? Revelation is useless to the man to whom the Self is revealed.

In the early days of Buddhism the Vedas held high place, for the Lord Buddha, as Dr. Rhys Davids says, “was born and brought up, and lived and died a Hindū.”[7] But the charter of intellectual freedom for Buddhists is contained in the wise advice of their Teacher: “Do not believe in a thing said merely because it is said; nor in traditions because they have been handed down from antiquity; nor in rumours, as such; nor in writings by sages, merely because sages wrote them … nor on the mere authority of your own teachers or masters. But we are to believe when the writing, doctrine, or saying is corroborated by our own reason and consciousness. For this I have taught you: not to believe merely because you have heard; but when you believed of your own consciousness, then to act accordingly and abundantly.”[8] Even revelation, for the Buddhist, must be brought to the touchstone of reason and consciousness;[320] there must be a response to it from within, the interior witness of the Self, ere it can be accepted as authoritative.

In the Christian and Muhammadan faiths—both largely influenced by Judaism—the authoritative nature of revelation is carried further than in any earlier faith. In modern days the yoke of a revealed Scripture has been much lightened for Christianity by the growth of the critical spirit and by the researches of scholars. The modern Christian student is little more hampered by his revelation than is the Hindū by his. A conventional reverence is yielded, a lifting of the hat, and then the student goes freely on his way.

What is Revelation? It is a communication from a Being superior to humanity of facts known to Himself, but unknown to those to whom He makes the revelation—facts which they cannot reach by the exercise of the powers that they have so far evolved. These facts can be verified at any time by one who has climbed to the level of the Revealer, who may be an Avatāra, a Rishi, a Founder of a religion. They “speak with authority,” the authority of knowledge, the one authority to which all sane men bow. We do not find that these great Beings wrote down Their teachings Themselves; They taught, but They did not record. Some follower, some disciple, it may be after the lapse of many years, even of centuries, wrote down what he or his forefathers had heard; hence the revelation—and to this rule there is probably no exception—is inevitably to some extent coloured, narrowed, distorted by the transcriber. That which was heard originally by those round the divine[321] Teacher exists indeed in the ākāshic records, and may ever be recovered thence by those who have developed the inner senses by which those records may be read. In many cases true records will have been made at the time by highly qualified persons; but such precious books are kept securely in the custody of their chosen guardians, in secret temples, in rock libraries, available for the study of high Occultists, but of none other.

The Muhammadans would claim that in the case of their sacred book there is more certainty that the very words of their Prophet were preserved. And doubtless to this is due the overwhelming authority of Al Qurān in the minds of the faithful of Islām.

What should be the attitude of the Theosophical Student towards revelation? He should treat the Scriptures of the world with reverence, remembering their origin, but none of them with submission, remembering that they are transmitted to him by varied channels. He should call to his aid the best scholarship, should gain all the light he can from archæological and historical researches, and use his best critical judgment in separating the essential truth revealed from all the accretions that may have grown up around it. If he has developed his higher psychic qualities, he should try to trace and disentangle the ancient from the modern, search the ākāshic records for comparison, confirmation, or contradiction of the revelation as it has come into his hands. How immense might be the services of such Theosophical Students as they become more numerous and better equipped for this gigantic task. And without this external equipment much may be done[322] by inner unfoldment; he may unfold within himself his own spiritual powers; he may seek in profound meditation the truth which shines in the revelation beneath many a veil of ignorance and misconstruction; he may so purify his life that his bodies will become translucent of the light of the spirit within him, will illumine the written words. “The things of God knoweth no man but the Spirit of God.” But that Spirit dwells in every child of man; and as His light shines out, the divine things are revealed to the pure in heart. Until the inner Spirit thus responds to the revealed teachings and statements, the Theosophical Student must hold his judgment in suspense before the claims of any revelation. It is not true for him until he can re-echo it in the voice of his own Spirit, his deepest Self. Useful and beautiful it may be; worthy of profoundest study and reverent research are the world’s Bibles. But until they are affirmed by the Spirit within submission cannot be yielded, lest that should be given to the errors of men which is due only to the divine Spirit.

What is Inspiration? The raising of the normal human faculties by some extraneous influence through grade after grade of intellectual, moral, and spiritual power, up to the point where the extraneous influence may even expel the man from his body and use it for the expression of another individual; where the new possessor is a Being at a height utterly transcending man, inspiration may pass into revelation. Some may think the word should be restricted to the raising of the powers of the subject from above their normal capacity to the highest point of their possible exercise, short of[323] the expulsion of their owner and his replacement by another individual greater than himself.

The lower grades of inspiration are within the experience of very many. Have you never felt, when listening to a speaker whose knowledge and power transcended your own, that your mental faculties were lifted to a higher level than that to which you could rise unaided? On such occasions you grasp questions that hitherto have eluded you; you see plainly, where before there had been obscurity; the field of thought becomes illumined, and objects are seen in hitherto undreamed-of relations—you feel that you know. On the following day you desire to share with a friend the treasures you acquired, and you begin to recount the luminous exposition, to describe the great horizons which opened before you. You fail: where is the light, where the far-off scenes over which your eyes had swept? Your mind has sunk again to its normal level; the inspiration has passed away. As with the intellectual, so with the moral faculties. You had seen an unknown beauty, had felt an overwhelming admiration for the lofty and the pure: what has become of the warmth, the ardour? Are the cold ashes of the intellectual approval all that remains of the throbbing heart, the passionate delight in the moral ideal? Why does it now look so cold, so grey, so unattractive? You were raised to a higher level than you can reach unassisted; but none the less has the moral ideal and its power been shown to thee “in the Mount,” and the fact that you have once experienced its all-compelling power will render you more susceptible to it in the future, and the day will come when that[324] which you felt when inspired by another shall become the normal exercise of your own moral faculties.

Coming to higher grades of inspiration, we may know, some of us, what it is to stand in the presence of the Masters, and to feel the marvellous uplift of Their presence. There is no need for words, no need for teaching; Their presence is enough. From that presence we go out again into the ordinary world, to feel the difference of its atmosphere from that of the Holy One. But, we have known, and the memory remains an abiding power.

Those who have written or spoken under inspiration have been thus uplifted, their own intellectual and moral faculties have thus been stimulated, and raised far above their normal level. It is still they who write or speak, and their own characters and temperaments colour what they say, leave their own impress on what they write. But they write and speak far more nobly, far more powerfully than they could do unassisted.

And so we may rise from grade to grade of inspiration until we reach the stage at which the mind and emotions of the man no longer sway his body, but the body is wholly taken possession of and used by One greater than himself. Then it is no longer the man himself who speaks, but “the Spirit of” his “Father who speaketh in” him; his own limitations are struck away, his own idiosyncrasies vanish, and the inspired utterances flow forth unsullied. Then inspiration may range into revelation.

The process of all this is a very simple one. We know that by the correlation between changes in consciousness[325] and vibrations of matter, each change in consciousness is accompanied by a vibration of the matter appropriated by the consciousness and forming its body; each vibration of the matter of a body is accompanied by a change in the embodied consciousness. Either one of the pair may be the initiator; the other ever responds. When two or more people are together, one more evolved than the other or others, the more evolved person, thinking, desiring, acting, sets up in his own bodies, mental, astral, and physical, a series of vibrations which corresponds to the changes in his consciousness; these vibrations cause similar vibrations in the mental, astral, and physical matter intervening between himself and the less advanced person or persons present. These vibrations in the intervening matter cause similar vibrations in the neighbouring body or bodies. These vibrations are immediately answered by corresponding changes in the embodied consciousness or consciousnesses, and the person or persons concerned, thus placed en rapport with one more advanced, think, desire, act on a higher level than would be possible for them on their own initiative. They are able to understand more keenly, to feel more warmly, to act more nobly than they could do unassisted. When the stimulus is removed they gradually sink back to their normal level, but memory is left, and they remember that they “have known.” Moreover, it is more easy for them to respond a second time, and so on and on, until they establish themselves on the higher level permanently. Hence the value of companionship with those more advanced than ourselves, of living “in their atmosphere.”[326] Words are not necessary; little speech may pass; but insensibly the subtle body is tuned to a higher key, and only, perhaps, when the companionship is interrupted do the younger become conscious of the change which has thus been brought about by contact with the elder.

Similar results may be brought about by reading the writings of those who are more evolved than we are. A similar series of changes is set up, though less powerfully than by the living presence. Moreover, intent and reverent study may attract the attention of the writer whether he be in or out of the body, and may draw him to the student, and thus cause the latter to be enveloped in his atmosphere quite as potently as though he were physically present. Hence the value of reading noble literature: we are keyed up to its level for the time, and such reading, steadily persevered in, will lift us to a higher level and establish us thereon. Hence the value of a brief reading before meditation, lifting us into an air more favourable to the work of meditation than we can start from unassisted. Hence the value also of “holy places” for such meditation, places where the atmosphere is literally vibrating at a higher rate than our own; and hence the advice so often given by the instructed, to keep, if possible, a room or closet set apart for meditation, such a place soon gaining an atmosphere purer and subtler than that of the surrounding world. It is of little use for the theosophical student to be acquainted with these laws if he does not utilise them to his own helping, and to the helping of those around him.

What should be the attitude of the theosophical student towards the inspired man or the inspired book?[327] He should be receptive, stilling all his normal vibrations so far as is possible, and opening his whole nature to the impact and influx of the waves of vibration that pour forth upon him. But his attitude should be more than receptive: he should gently endeavour to attune himself and to co-operate with the inflowing waves. He should try to strengthen the sympathetic vibrations, so that the accompanying changes in consciousness may be as complete as possible. For this he must pour out to the inspiring Object his love, his trust, his complete confidence and self-surrender, for thus only can he attune his bodies into sympathy with those of the Inspirer. He must, for the time, empty himself of his own ideas, his own feelings, his own activities, surrendering himself to reproduce, not to initiate. As the unruffled lake can mirror the moon and the stars, but as that same lake rippled by a passing breeze can yield only broken reflexions, so may the lower being, steadying his mind, calming his desires, and imposing stillness on his activities, reproduce within himself the image of the higher, so may the disciples mirror the Master’s mind. And so, also, if his own thoughts spring up, his own desires arise, will he have but broken reflexions, dancing lights, that tell him nought.

If you are going to read one of the inspired books of the world—The Imitation of Christ; The Golden Verses of Pythagoras; The Light on the Paths; The Voice of the Silence—it is well to preface the reading with a prayer, if that be your habitual way of raising your consciousness to its highest mood, or with the repetition of a mantra, or the soft chanting of some familiar and[328] beloved rhythm, in order to bring yourself into a sympathetic condition. Then read a phrase, re-read, brood over it, savour it mentally, suck out its essence, its life.

Thus shall your subtle body become, to some extent at least, attuned to that of the inspired writer, and repeating his vibrations, shall set up in your consciousness the corresponding changes. Priceless is the value of inspired books: they are steps of a ladder set up between earth and heaven, a veritable Jacob’s ladder, on which descend and ascend the angels of God.

There remains a third class of books worthy of the attention of the theosophical student, but towards which his attitude should be entirely different from those which he adopts towards the revealed and the inspired. These are books containing the observations of students more advanced than himself, observations carried on upon planes above the physical, observations made by students who are evolving in knowledge of, and in power on, those planes, and have not yet reached the stature of the Perfect Man. There are books such as The Secret Doctrine and Esoteric Buddhism, written by disciples, which are not records of the direct observations of students, but are rather transcriptions of the teachings of Masters, into which errors may creep by misunderstandings of those teachings. H. P. Blavatsky herself told us that there were inevitably errors in The Secret Doctrine; and as we have in that wonderful book her own descriptions of the pictures shown to her by her Master, there is an opening for possible errors of observation: these are probably not serious, as she was[329] carefully overlooked and aided during the writing. These two books stand apart from the bulk of our literature, the Masters having been largely concerned in their production. The books I have in mind are those written by disciples, using their own normal faculties, faculties still in course of evolution; books relating chiefly to the astral, mental, and buddhic planes, to the constitution of man, to the past of individuals, nations, races, and worlds. We are gradually accumulating a large amount of literature of this kind, a literature of observations by students using superphysical faculties. With regard to this, certain things need to be borne in mind.

First: the students in question are in course of evolution, and the faculties of which they make use to-day, which have become their normal faculties, are more developed and reach higher planes than those which they used ten or fifteen years ago. Hence they see now very much more than they saw then, both in quantity and quality, and this enlarged sight must inevitably give reports differing in fulness from that of the earlier and narrower vision.

Secondly: this greater fulness will change relative proportions and perspective. A thing which seemed imposing and independent when seen alone, may become subordinate and comparatively insignificant when seen as a part of a larger whole. It may change form and colour, seen with surroundings which become visible only when it is looked at with a higher vision. That which was a globe, sailing through space, to the physical eye, becomes the free end of a continuous body,[330] materially attached to the sun, when seen with superphysical sight. Was it false to describe it a globe? Yes, and no.

It was and is a globe on the physical plane, answering to all that is meant by a globe down here. In subtler regions it is not a globe, but a body, the tip of which is a globe only to gross vision, vision to which its continuation is invisible.

Thirdly: the keener vision detects intermediate stages before unseen, and shows a series of changes between two which, to the less acute sight, were in immediate sequence. Thus, in the earlier observations, it was said that the ultimate physical atom broke up into astral matter. When a similar phenomenon is studied twelve years later, it is seen that the physical atom breaks up into an immense number of inconceivably minute particles, and that these immediately group themselves into forty-nine astral atoms, which may or may not, again, combine into astral molecules. Again, a whirling wall was mentioned: keener vision sees no wall, but an illusory enclosure, caused by rapid motion, like the fiery circle traced by a whirling fire-tipped stick. So, in the continuous light of gas or electricity, a whirling disk of black and white rays shows grey; put out the lights, and let the darkness be rent by a lightning-flash, the disk hangs motionless, every black and white ray distinct. Which is the true observation? The eye in each case bears true witness to what it sees. The different conditions impose upon it different visions.

Other differences also arise, but these may serve as samples. Are, then, books relating to observations useless?[331] They only become useless, even mischievous, when the theosophical student treats them as revelations or inspirations instead of as observations. Observation is the basis of scientific knowledge; the correction of earlier observations by later ones is the condition of scientific progress. The student of optics, when confronted with the black-and-white rayed disk, the grey disk, the whirling disk hanging motionless, does not conclude that the conflicting observations make observations useless. He searches for and finds the conditions of light, of the constitution of the eye, which explain the equally true though contradictory reports. He submits the observations to renewed experiment and to the scrutiny of reason, until from the contradictions emerges the many-sided truth.

What should be the attitude of the theosophical student to books of observations? To all such books you must take up the attitude of the scientific student, not of the believer. You must bring to bear upon them a bright intelligence, a keen mind, an eager intellect, a thoughtful and critical reason. You must not accept as final, observations made by other students, even though those students are using faculties which you yourselves have not as yet developed. You should accept them only for what they are—observations liable to modification, to correction, to reviewal. You should hold them with a light grasp, as hypotheses temporarily accepted until confirmed or negated by further observations, including your own. If they illuminate obscurities, if they conduce to sound morality, take them and use them; but never let them become fetters to your mind, gaolers of[332] your thought. Study these books, but do not swallow them; understand them, but hold your judgment in suspense: these books are useful servants but dangerous masters; they are to be studied, not worshipped. Make your own opinions, do not borrow those of others; do not be in such a hurry to know that you accept other people’s knowledge, for ready-made opinions, like ready-made clothes, are neither well-fitting nor becoming.

There is a dangerous tendency in the Theosophical Society to make books of observations authoritative instead of using them as materials for study. We must not add to the number of blind believers who already exist, but to the number of sane and sober students, who patiently form their own opinions and educate their own faculties. Use your own judgment on every observation submitted to you; examine it as thoroughly as possible; criticise it as fully as you can. It is a poor service you do us when you turn students into popes, and, parrot-like, repeat as authoritative, statements that you do not know to be true. Moreover, blind belief is the road to equally blind scepticism: you place a student on a pedestal and loudly proclaim him to be a prophet, despite his protests; and then, when you find he has made some mistake, as he warned you was likely, you turn round, pull him down, and trample on him. You belabour him when you should belabour your own blindness, your own stupidity, your own anxiety to believe.

Is it not time that we should cease to be children, and begin to be men and women, realising the greatness of our opportunities and the smallness of our achievements? It is not time to offer to Truth the homage of[333] study instead of that of blind credulity? Let us ever be ready to correct a mistaken impression or an imperfect observation, to walk with open eyes and mind alert, remembering that the best service to Truth is examination. Truth is a sun, shining by its own light; once seen, it cannot be rejected. “Let Truth and falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a fair encounter?”


[1] I am told that these punishments are no longer used in English jails. If that be so, a step has been made in advance.

[2] The principle of reincarnation is accepted, in this sense, by many Spiritualists, who deny that man returns to earth. With them another line of argument would be followed to prove the necessity of reincarnation on earth.

[3] See The Science of the Emotions, by Bhagavān Dās, Theosophical Publishing Society.

[4] A Roman Catholic friend tells me that it is also used in cases of great danger, and that a friend of hers was thrice raised by it from what threatened to be a deathbed.

[5] Mundakepanishat, I. i. 5.

[6] Loc. cit., ii. 46.

[7] Buddhism, p. 116.

[8] Kalama Sutta of the Anguttara Nikaya.





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