“Whatever plane our consciousness may be acting in, both we and the things belonging to that plane are, for the time being, our only realities. As we rise in the scale of development we perceive that during the stage through which we have passed we mistook shadows for realities, and the upward progress of the Ego is a series of progressive awakenings.”
– THE SECRET DOCTRINE
The primary purpose of this little booklet is to arouse the interest of those men and women who hitherto have known little or nothing about Theosophy, and to direct their attention to the writings of MADAME H.P. BLAVATSKY, the Authorized Agent of the Mahatmas.
CONVERSATION BETWEEN A CHRISTIAN AND A THEOSOPHIST
Cunningham Press, Publishers, 1947
CHRISTIAN. Will you kindly explain just what Theosophy is, and why you regard it as in any way superior to the Christian Religion?
THEOSOPHIST. We cannot hope to define Theosophy other than in the most general terms, since it covers every aspect of life and every field of thought. As a teaching it points out what the real purpose of life is, and how that purpose can be most easily accomplished with a minimum of pain and suffering. It teaches ethics of the highest order and insists on their continuous observance if one would attain to the spiritual goal of life. The teachings of Christianity, on the contrary, are a strange mixture of truth and fiction, the dissemination of which has led hundreds of millions of people into a labyrinth of widely divergent and misleading beliefs, unsupported by logic and without any scientific basis on which to build. Christianity has been too thoroughly corrupted to make it a safe guide for those who earnestly seek to understand life’s problems and are unwilling to compromise with error in any way.
C. Why do you say that the Christian Religion has been corrupted?
T. Christians have materialized their religion until there is very little spirituality left in it. They have no logical, no consistent background in support of their teachings, and without a scientific understanding of man’s place in nature and the relationship existing between the latter and the Supreme Deity, religion at best can be but a gross caricature of Truth.
C. You make sweeping generalizations; but kindly point out a specific teaching in which the Christian Religion is basically unsound.
T. Many instances could be pointed out, but we will take the first one that presents itself to our mind. The name Christian is derived from the word Christ, and the latter word has been so corrupted in its meaning that Christians everywhere regard it as applicable to but one individual, whom they call Jesus of Nazareth.
Yet, Christ is not the name of a man at all. It is the name of a Principle. Every human being has a spark of the Christ Principle in him, and by fanning this spark it will grow and expand into an all-enveloping Spiritual Flame that will ultimately so completely dominate the thoughts and feelings of the individual that such a fortunate one may well be regarded as a Christ, since his whole life will be a continuous expression of the Christ Principle. The names Christ and Buddha are synonymous. There are many people who believe that Buddha is the name of a single individual, otherwise known as Gautama Siddhartha. But this is an erroneous idea. There have been many Buddhas, just as there have been many Christs. Anyone can become a Christ, if he will strive unswervingly to live the Christ life, through many repeated incarnations.
C. Judging from your remarks, I assume that Theosophy inculcates the doctrine of reincarnation – a most abominable teaching.
T. Theosophy certainly does teach reincarnation; and priestly bigotry and fraud have not succeeded in completely eliminating it from your own Christian Scripture. If you do not believe this, turn to Matthew, Chapters 11 and 17, where Jesus indicated in unmistakable terms that John the Baptist was a reincarnation of Elias. Most nations of the world, apart from Christianity, have always believed in reincarnation, many of them, of course, holding to the belief in a more or less corrupted form. Many Christians, including some of the early Church Fathers, believed in reincarnation, until the Second Council of Constantinople, at which time the Church, which had grown strong in temporal powers, placed a ban on the teaching, after which it went into an almost complete eclipse in Europe.
C. The belief in reincarnation may have gone into eclipse at the time you mention, but that particular period also marks one of the earliest stages in the growth of our present-day civilization.
T. The history of the Christian era, certainly, does not warrant any such deduction. On the contrary, the period mentioned marks the beginning of what is known in history as the Dark Ages, the outstanding characteristics of which were ignorance, superstition and extreme cruelty. Furthermore, the assumption that human civilization began only a few centuries ago in the face of indisputable evidence to the contrary is strongly indicative of an utter lack of familiarity with the world’s history, and of modern discoveries to the contrary. In the Gobi desert, in Farther India, in Egypt, and in Central and South America and other parts of the world there yet remain vestiges of by-gone civilizations, of which modern history knows nothing. Civilizations, like continents, rise and fall under cyclic law, as rhythmically as the rising and falling of the tide.
C. Granting for the purpose of argument that there may have been earlier civilizations, it cannot be denied that our present civilization is based upon, and the direct outgrowth of Christianity; and that we owe absolutely nothing to those former civilizations, if they ever existed.
T. We deny most emphatically that the intellectual achievements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries are due to Christianity. On the contrary, it can easily be shown that intellectual growth in the West has been made in spite of the blighting influence of a grossly materialized religion, calling itself Christian. The only thing for which our Western civilization is indebted to Christianity is its desperately selfish and materialistic trend, which has led it to the very brink of chaos and destruction. How, indeed, can any religion exert an influence that is not largely baleful, as long as it is unable to give a scientific basis for its moral teachings. To exhort the people to be good without giving them a scientific reason for doing so – to urge them to follow the Golden Rule merely that they may be able to play a harp in Heaven and sing hosanna forever is worse than giving them no reason at all, for it serves only to delude the ignorant and superstitious, sharpen the rapacity of religious exploiters, and utterly disgust and exasperate those that are honestly and open-mindedly seeking a solution of life’s problems.
C. You seem to forget that the Christian Religion rests solely on the teachings of the Bible – that the Bible is the word of God, and that for many centuries it has illuminated and inspired countless numbers of the world’s most learned men.
T. Learned in the ways of superstition and materialism, but abysmally ignorant regarding the most fundamental facts that underlie the spiritual aspects of life. It is a truism that no amount of subtle reasoning can transform falsehood into truth. Given false premises, the deductions therefrom must necessarily be false. What may well be regarded as the first and foremost prop, supporting and buttressing the system of thought erected by Christian Theology, is so weak and illogical that it cannot withstand the first barrage of a well-directed criticism.
Ask the average Christian if God is an individual, a being, and he is almost certain to reply by saying, “Yes.” Ask him if God is infinite, and he will also say, “Yes,” never realizing that by so doing he has affirmed two opposing statements that mutually contradict each other. A being, of course, has a center and a circumference, and is distinguishable from other beings. But the Infinite has neither center nor circumference. It occupies every point in space, and is Space itself. Every being of every grade, from an atom to a sun, is a limited and conditioned expression of the Infinite. But each can express only so much of the Infinite as its capacity will permit, and no more. To assert that from the standpoint of human consciousness a part is equal to the whole is to convict one of being a syncretist; and Christians with few exceptions can be so classified, for they believe that the Infinite is limited, and that the limited is Infinite.
C. Then you deny Jehovah, and his Word?
T. The Christians have adopted Yahwe (commonly known as Jehovah, the tribal God of the Jews) as their own special God. Just why they accepted him instead of some other tribal God, of whom there were many, equally accredited, is a subject that is too involved for its elucidation to be here undertaken; but it is quite obvious that if the Bible be accepted literally (and we know of no Christian that accepts it in any other sense), then the Jews have endowed their national God with qualities that would be distinctly belittling to an average good man, notwithstanding the fact that they have invested him with impossible powers.
Yahwe, or Jehovah, according to the character that has been imposed upon him by his biographers, and his Christian followers, is something of a monstrosity. He is represented as being both just and unjust; as being kind, merciful and loving, and at the same time crafty, cruel and relentless. As immovable as the lofty Himalayas, he is shown to be as changeable as a weather-cock, and every Christian that offers up a prayer, does so with the hope that he will be able to convert God to his own way of thinking, or, in other words, cause God to change his mind. Furthermore, it would not require very close observation to convince one that most prayers are not offered in the form of supplication, but rather in the form of a command. Christians seem to take delight in telling their God just where to head in; telling him what to do and what not to do; and are blissfully unaware of what would constitute sacrilegious presumption on their part, if their Deity existed outside of their own imaginings.
C. You seem to be able to explain to your own satisfaction that the Christian God is non-existent. Will you kindly explain what Theosophists mean when they speak of God?
T. Personally, we dislike to use the name God; not that there is anything fundamentally wrong with the word, but because it has been so completely identified with erroneous notions that it is practically impossible to pronounce the name, without calling up before the minds of one’s hearers a whole train of false ideas.
To explain the Theosophical understanding of what constitutes Deity, we can do no better than quote from the Teacher who presented Theosophy to the world, in the last century. In The Secret Doctrine the Supreme Deity is spoken of as “An Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless and Immutable PRINCIPLE on which all speculation is impossible, since it transcends the power of human conception and can only be dwarfed by any human expression or similitude. It is beyond the range and reach of thought – in the words of Mandukya, ‘unthinkable and unspeakable.’ . . . This Infinite and Eternal Cause – dimly formulated in the “Unconscious” and “Unknowable” of current European philosophy – is the rootless root of ‘all that was, is, or ever shall be.’ It is of course devoid of all attributes and is essentially without any relation to manifested, finite Being. It is ‘Be-ness’ rather than Being . . . and is beyond all thought or speculation.” An earnest perusal of the “Three Fundamental Propositions” given in The Secret Doctrine would doubtless awaken in any inquiring mind a far higher and truer comprehension of what is included in the name, Supreme Deity, than can be found elsewhere in the entire realm of literature.
C. That the Infinite is incomprehensible to finite minds we readily admit. But that Jehovah, or God, is less than Infinite we do not admit. We maintain most emphatically that God is both omniscient and omnipotent and that He is the author and designer of all things. He spoke the world into existence and can speak it out of existence if He so wills. There is literally nothing that God cannot do, since His power is not limited in any way and His knowledge encompasses all.
T. The claims you make regarding your God reminds me of a story I once heard about a little girl sitting at her mother’s knee, laboriously conning the pages of her Sunday School tract. Suddenly she looked up into her mother’s face and said: “Mama, can God do anything?” “Yes, dear,” said her mother; “God can do anything.” “Can he make a hill?” pursued the child. “Yes, God can make a hill,” the mother replied, with an indulgent smile. For a moment there was silence, then a gleam appeared in the little girl’s eyes and it seemed as if a smirk played about her lips as she continued: “Can God make a hill so big that he can’t jump over it?” Just how a limitless hill could be “o’er passed” by means of an unlimited jump is a problem we will leave for our Christian friends to solve for themselves. Perhaps the less abstruse the nature of their thoughts, the easier it will be for them to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion.
C. Holding up to ridicule the Word of God, and the conceptions of God as held by millions of devout Christians, can be scarcely regarded as anything short of blasphemy.
T. You are utterly mistaken. It is those that nurture in their hearts a carnalized conception of God – who strive to make the infinite Deity fit smugly within the mental images sprung from their distorted minds – it is they who are the true blasphemers. We once saw a picture of God that represented him as an old man with a gray beard reaching down to his middle. He stood on a raft made of split logs, if we recall the picture correctly, with a scarf thrown over one shoulder and an oar in his hands, by which he was steering his rude craft over the tumultuous waters of the Deep. The picture would have done credit to the artist who conceived it, if it had represented an ancient Norse fisherman returning home over a rough sea after a shipwreck, but as a pictured representation of the Supreme Deity, it was a blasphemous caricature.
C. I see nothing wrong with such a picture. In Holy Writ we are told that God made man in his own image.
T. But you materialize the teaching and reduce God to a bundle of flesh and bones. Surely, you would not seek knowingly to identify the Deity with a bundle of bones, especially dry, theological bones. Let us approach the subject from a different angle. If one were able to travel in a straight line with the speed of light, for a thousand million years, he would be just as far from the outer edge of space as he is now, for there is no boundary to space; and Space is merely another name for the Infinite. We can thus see how utterly impossible it is for the human mind to grapple with such a subject. Some of our greatest physical scientists realize their inability to form an adequate conception of the Infinite, and speak of it as the “Unknowable.” While the infinitude of space is beyond all reckoning, there is also the infinitely small. A particle can never be so small that it is not composed of two halves; and each half can be divided into two halves, and so, in thought at least, the division can be carried on ad infinitum, without ever reaching the vanishing point. It has been suggested that if the earth were suddenly reduced to the size of an atom, and everything on the earth reduced correspondingly, we would probably go right on living as heretofore, without realizing that a change had taken place.
Who can say that man, the real man that looks out through the eyes, smells through the nose, hears through the ears and feels through all the organs of touch – who is the power to cognize, the power to know – who can say that he occupies any definite dimension in space? As a matter of fact, we have succeeded in merely scratching the surface of things in our effort to solve the great mystery of life.
It is only the very ignorant that are able to tell us all about the Infinite Deity. They know what His intentions are. They know that their names are written on the Scroll of Heaven, and can tell us just how to get our names written on the same parchment. Some of them will admit that they are at times utterly confused and baffled in their effort to solve the petty problems of every-day life, but when it comes to the large problems relating to Heaven, Hell, God and Devil – well, the solution of those mighty problems offers no difficulty at all. Their faith in their own infallibility is truly marvelous.
C. It is, of course, obvious that ignorant people sometimes allow their emotions to lead them into saying and doing foolish things. But we maintain that a pure, unfaltering faith in God is the highest wisdom.
T. Faith may be divided into two general classes. There is faith based on wisdom, the outgrowth of a highly developed discriminating faculty; then, there is faith based on blind credulity. A crazy man, who with a butcher knife chases a friend and tries to kill him, may be led on by a faith in which he believes he is carrying out the will of God; but we know that his mind and discriminating faculties have been ruined. It is said that in India there was at one time a religious sect that possessed a large idol resting on wheels and kept at a temple in the province of Orissa. Once a year there was held in honor of their idol, or god, what was known as the Car Festival, at which time the god was dragged from the temple to its summer-house less than a mile away. Historians tell us, although the claim has been denied, that many devotees of this religion used to throw themselves under the wheels of their giant god and have their lives crushed out. They believed that by having their bodies flattened out like a pancake under the wheels of their idol, their souls would go straight to Nirvana.
Now the faith of these people was certainly as robust as any to be found in western lands; yet, who among Christians would fail to instantly perceive the absurdity of such a faith? But in what way is Christian faith any better? Several years ago, we read a newspaper account of an incident that occurred at a small town located on the Arkansas River. It appeared that the Negroes of the community had been holding a religious revival and had become very much enthused. They had been led to believe, by what they had read in the Bible, that if one’s faith were ”as a grain of mustard seed” it would be possible to perform miracles. One woman believed that her faith was strong enough to enable her to walk on water. With a concourse of friends, she repaired to the nearby river to put her faith to the test. It so happened that the river was at a high stage, and the current swift and dangerous.
With a courage that perhaps few Christians would have cared to emulate, this colored woman boldly stepped forth upon the swirling waters of the swollen stream, only to be engulfed. The report stated that her body had not yet been recovered. Now, here is an instance of genuine Christian faith; of blind faith; of ignorant faith; of a faith in which the woman trusted her all, and lost.
She had not the slightest conception of the Great Law that governs faith as well as all the other forces of nature – had no understanding, at all, as to how those forces can be made subservient to the will of man. Faith of this kind springs from Kama Manas (the animal nature in man), and does not proceed from the spiritual Ego. Faith, that is based on selfish desire for fame, fortune or personal preferment of any kind, can never prove a safe guide, for there is nothing spiritual about it. True spiritual faith is so nearly identified with intuition that the two terms may well be regarded as interchangeable, and such faith can never mislead, for it is grounded in Wisdom.
C. Man can exercise human wisdom only, and the wisdom of man is as foolishness to God. The Bible is quite definite on that point, and we have no higher authority. To attribute Divine Wisdom to man is presumptuous, to say the least.
T. There is an undercurrent of truth running through the Bible, but it is for the most part presented in the form of allegory. Add to this the fact that it has suffered from mistranslations, and many additions and subtractions made by crafty priests, and the whole construed in a literal way utterly at variance with its true meaning, and we have a hodge-podge from which it is difficult to extract the nuggets of truth, covered up and hidden as they are by a mountain of theological debris.
The wisdom of the Supreme Deity, if it manifests at all, must do so in some kind of form. Since man represents the highest achievement in evolution on the material plane, it must necessarily follow that Divine Intelligence is expressed through those units of human consciousness most nearly identified with pure spirit. That there are supermen in the world, in whom the Divine Mind thinks and acts, can be doubted by those only who have no logical, no scientific understanding of the spiritual nature of man, and his place in the cosmic order.
Those great Spiritual Heroes known as Krishna, Hermes Trismegistus, Gautama Siddhartha, Pythagoras, Apollonius of Tyana, Jesus of Nazareth, and a host of others whose names have emblazoned the pages of history, and whose teachings have served as a beacon to lighten man’s pathway, are a standing proof that humanity in all ages has not failed to produce the blossoms and the culminating fruitage of life.
C. You speak of ancient heathen philosophers as if they possessed as much knowledge and power as the Son of God. This is carrying heresy to a point where, in the light of Christian ideology, it becomes criminal as well as absurd. You sin against the multitude in giving utterance to such thoughts.
T. Again we must emphasize what we have hitherto tried to show, that Christians do not so much as understand the uncorrupted portions of their own scriptures, much less the corrupted portions which they insist on regarding as the word of God. The belief in an extra-cosmic God – a God that can make and unmake worlds at will, who creates sentient human souls, millions of whom are destined to be hurled into a lake of unquenchable fire and there roast in unspeakable agony throughout coming eternity, all because they refuse to believe in the existence of such a mentally-crooked and spiritually-deformed monster, has caused more bloodshed, more cruelty and more suffering than all other causes combined, since the latter, for the most part, stem from that one basic cause.
C. There are hundreds of millions of devout Christians who believe the Bible to be the word of God, and that nothing can be added to or taken from it without marring the perfectness of the work. I find it impossible to believe that so many honest and sincere people can be wrong in following this inner conviction of their hearts.
T. It has been said that one cannot multiply ignorance into wisdom, no matter how large a multiplier is used. Only a few hundred years ago, more than nine-tenths of all the people in Europe, who regarded themselves as the flower of the world’s civilization, believed that the earth was flat, and stationary. Surely, an idea that is based on gross error is not less erroneous because of the large number of people that have been deluded into believing in it. And what is “belief” that we should attach to it any great or lasting value? A Theosophical Teacher has said that “Belief is a tacit confession of ignorance.” Belief in any doctrine or theory is proof that one does not know. It is not the things we know that we believe; it is that which we do not know to which we attach belief, or disbelief. For where there is knowledge there is no occasion for belief. Belief is always associated with doubt. Therefore, when two men argue over the value of their respective beliefs, it is as if one were to say to the other: “Give up your doubts and accept of my doubts, for my doubts are better than yours.” If in the foregoing the word “ignorance” were substituted for “doubt,” the absurdity of the whole thing might be even more apparent.
C. Do you mean to say that having a belief is absurd?
T. Indeed, no! We all have our beliefs. As long as belief stimulates us into making greater and yet greater effort to understand the true nature of the thing believed in, to that extent it is of real worth. But when religious belief is accepted as an end within itself, it becomes a millstone tied to one’s neck, effectually preventing further progress along that line. To become fascinated by a belief is to darken and obscure one’s judgment. Anyone can find abundant proof in support of this statement, if he will but look about among his fellows with an observing eye. He will readily discover that most people are not searching for Truth at all. They are merely seeking for something that will bolster up their pet ideas – something that will strengthen them in the opinions they already hold. This attitude is, of course, wholly without logic, and can never lead one to the true path of sanity, which is right thinking and right acting.
C. Since there are very few people, if any, who think and act rightly at all times, I infer, from what you have just said, that you regard the world as a bedlam, and humanity as made up of madmen.
T. Insanity, like all other human peculiarities, can be measured in relative terms only. If right thinking and right acting is the true path of sanity, then the farther anyone departs from that path, the less sane he really is. But in considering all matters relating to a man’s progress and the station in life to which his efforts entitle him, there are certain fundamental facts that should not be lost sight of, lest we be led into a labyrinth of false reasoning.
We should ever bear in mind the fact that there is but ONE LIFE in the universe. We are all merely so many diversified expressions of that ONE LIFE. The life that is manifesting as a unit of consciousness may feel itself to be separate and unrelated to the other units of life, but this is merely an illusion of the senses. There is no such thing as separateness, as applied to Ultimate Reality, but there is a sense of separateness. It is the sense of separateness that constitutes the whole basis for conditioned existence. Each so-called unit of consciousness is merely a focusing point for the expression of universal consciousness. The consciousness is one, the focusing points many.
When consciousness begins to identify itself with its instrument of expression, the focusing point, there is born the nucleus of individuality with all of its myriad implications. The sense of separateness gives rise to egoism, and this in turn provides a basis for all the hydra-headed forms of selfishness with which mankind is so sorely afflicted. We should try to realize the fact that conditioned existence is an induced state, brought about by ideation; and that power to ideate is inherent in Manas or Mind. It is through this power of ideation that the sense of separateness (a false sense) is developed.
Without separateness, or rather a sense of separateness, there could be no such thing as manifestation; for what could there be to manifest? Ultimate Reality, by what we may call a “stepping-down” process, begins manifestation and thereby brings into being the whole universe of phenomena. We ourselves are a part of these phenomena, in which Absolute Consciousness becomes conditioned consciousness. Conditioned consciousness (which we are) can cognize phenomena only. When the world or any part of it is resolved back into its original state of Absoluteness, it becomes non-existent to us, since it is completely outside the field of our perceptions. Viewed in this light, the whole Cosmos must be regarded as an illusion. But as the Teachers have pointed out, as long as we are under the spell of the Great Illusion, we ourselves and the things that go to make up this Illusion are the only “realities” we are to cognize.
C. As far as I can see, the theories you advance have no support either from science or religion. Christ doubtless understood science as well as any modern day Theosophist, for when the masters of Israel sought to entrap him by their questions they were dumbfounded and silenced by his answers.
T. My dear sir, we are talking at cross-purposes. You either fail or refuse to understand that we Theosophists regard what you call Christ as the greatest, the most powerful intelligence known on this or any other planet. Christ, the Seventh and highest of all the Principles, can act on our plane only through and in conjunction with other, and lower Principles. Every man has it in his power to steadily increase his capacity for giving expression to the Christ Principle, and his own divinity grows within him as his capacity for such expression is increased.
That Krishna, Gautama the Buddha, and many other Divine Heroes who have lived among men within the historical period, all spoke for and represented the Christ Principle can be easily proven on logical grounds, for they each taught universal love, charity and compassion for all that lives. If Christ, speaking through the man Jesus, did not teach the unity of life, then what could he have meant when he said: “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.” John: Chapter 14, Verse 20. And if he did not intend to teach that anyone can by right thinking and right living develop the Christ in himself, until it becomes the all-absorbing and dominating principle of his life, then what could he have meant when he said: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do.” John: Chapter 14, Verse 12. This shows conclusively that the Christ Principle can be made to manifest in and dominate the life of anyone who centers his thoughts and interests in that Principle.
But it becomes obvious, at this point, that we must explain certain basic truths before the foregoing can be made clearly understandable to one who is not familiar with Theosophical teachings. Theosophy teaches that the whole manifesting universe is made up of Seven Principles, and that every being of every grade contains all these Principles either developed, partly developed, or in the germ state. These Principles may be regarded as different grades of substance, different states of consciousness, or different planes of being; and for ease of understanding may be numerically arranged as follows:
Plane 1. Physical.
Plane 2. Astral.
Plane 3. Jiva (Life principle).
Plane 4. Kama (Animal nature).
Plane 5. Manas or Mind.
Plane 6. Buddhi (The spiritual vehicle of Atma).
Plane 7. Atma (The highest of all the Principles – the ONE UNIVERSAL SELF of all).
The perfected man is composed of the three highest principles above enumerated and, as such, has complete control over the lower four. Beginning as pure consciousness, or Spirit, man came down the stairway of conditioned existence until he became successively embodied in substance drawn from each of the lower Principles.
Jesus, the man, is merely a symbol representing an embodiment of the Christ. Anyone can become an embodiment of the Christ by centering his thoughts and interests in his highest Principle, thus stimulating the latter into an active Principle instead of allowing it to remain a passive one. With this explanation in mind, it is easy to understand the true meaning of the Christ when he said: “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” The above statement if attributed merely to the man Jesus is simply absurd. But coming from the Christ it is unconditionally true, since the very nature of the latter is one of unalloyed bliss, inseparable from Spiritual Knowledge.
We can say with absolute truth, therefore, that one who has fully identified himself with his Sixth and Seventh Principles finds his cup of joy full to the brim; unless, perchance, he should choose to return to the abode of ordinary men for the purpose of acting as their instructor, in which event he will have to experience such unpleasant Karma as may arise from opposing the will of the brutal masses. For even gods are under Karmic Law, the same as men.
But to realize such a desirable end, as above outlined, one has to purify his whole being and reduce his Kamic, or animal nature, to a mere cypher. How many indeed are willing to do this?
C. You offer a counsel of perfection which it is impossible to follow. Man is born in sin and is corrupt by nature. Only the shed blood of Jesus Christ can wash away our sins and make us fit for redemption. It was He who paid the price for our salvation on the Cross of Calvary, and He alone has the power to save. But in order to benefit by his great sacrifice, we must of necessity believe in Him. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Mark: Chapter 16, Verse 16. These are plain words, and no amount of mental gymnastic sidestepping can change their meaning. Even a child can understand them.
T. The words are plain enough, but it so happens that you are not quoting from the original book of Mark, as you think. The quotation is utterly spurious, and no real scholar would for one moment claim that it ever formed any part of the genuine book of Mark.
C. What proof have you that this part of Mark is spurious?
T. The mere fact that it is not found in any of the earliest texts down to the Sixth Century ought to be satisfactory proof. Scholars reaching back as far as the Eighth Century, at a time when there were many early manuscripts of Mark still extant, pointed out the fact that the sixteenth chapter of Mark, from the eighth verse to the close as it now stands, was an interpolation, and therefore an unmitigated fraud.
In an early edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, commenting on the book of Mark, the following statement is made: “. . . it is precisely at this point (Ch. 16, Vs. 8) that the genuine Mark terminates.” Not one word is given as to why the remainder of this chapter should be regarded as spurious. Why did the compilers of the Encyclopedia Britannica fail to make use of this splendid opportunity to fully expose one of the worst travesties to be found in religious history? Did they fear that further comment might call down on their heads the wrath of the churches? Did they fear that the good Christian people might thereby be incited to circulate petitions to have their books barred from all public institutions? What must we think of men of this type, posing as public educators?
For centuries various churches have made this interpolated part of Mark the chief corner-stone of their faith; and the world at large as well as Christians have a perfect right to know how and why such a terrible fraud was ever allowed to be perpetrated.
As for Jesus Christ paying for all our sins by his crucifixion and suffering, well, that is a story that could have arisen and become of widespread acceptance only in a world period of great mental and spiritual darkness. We once heard a preacher deliver a sermon on this subject which to us appeared quite remarkable; that is, remarkable for its asininity. He declared that all the sins that had ever been committed on the earth, and all that will be committed in the future, were paid for by Jesus on the cross; that one might go out and commit murder, arson, theft and all the other crimes in the calendar, but that those crimes have already been paid for, and the slate washed clean. But the sinner, in order to benefit by the great sacrifice on the part of Jesus, must get down on his knees and confess before the world that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and the Saviour of men.
That such narrow-minded and despicable qualities should be attributed to a great, beneficent and Divine Being, one who, having taken on himself the sins of another and paid in full for all the dereliction of duty on the part of the latter, should nevertheless refuse the culprit the benefit of his own great sacrifice, unless the poor sinner should profess belief in something about which he knows nothing, is too preposterous to be given serious consideration by any rational mind. We are living in a universe of rigid and inexorable Law, in which each individual reaps the exact results of his thoughts and deeds. To assume that Great Nature is ruled by Law and at the same time is subject to chaos is to indulge in self-evident absurdity. That a man should poison the very substance of his being by evil and destructive thinking and then have complete harmony reestablished between himself and the Law which he has violated, by the simple process of another stepping into his shoes and suffering in his stead – to assume that such an act could satisfy the requirements of exact justice, would be to stultify the meaning of the latter word and reduce it to a position of contempt.
C. You speak of Law as if it were an intelligent being, in fact, as if it were God. Christians will never accept such a fallacy. God can make and unmake laws at will. Laws of themselves are nothing; only the will of God imparts to them validity.
T. To speak of unintelligent law, or to imply that some extra-cosmic Being imparts validity to law, is to be unphilosophical, to say the least. Law means orderly processes, and there can be no orderliness unless there is an exercise of intelligence. Unintelligent law, therefore, can be regarded only as meaningless jargon, since nothing of that kind does, or can, exist. The two words are mutually contradictory. But this subject has such wide implications and is of so much import as to require further elucidation.
Behind the whole manifesting universe is the One Uncreate Reality from which all things have been derived. This Ultimate, or pre-cosmic Substance, is neither Spirit, nor Matter, but is the source of both. Spirit and Matter are one. They represent merely the opposite poles of one and the same thing. When the vibrations of matter are raised to a certain point, they pass out of the realm of physics into that of metaphysics. In other words, they become spirit. Reversing the process, Spirit, when its vibrations are reduced to a certain point, brings it within the reach of our physical senses, and we are able to cognize it as matter. Spirit, then, may be regarded as a form of sublimated matter, and matter should be regarded as solidified, or crystallized Spirit.
When Spirit-Matter emerges from what modern science calls the Unknowable, into the realm of the knowable, there comes with it a universal, all-pervasive Law, that governs every form of manifestation from that of the lowly atom up to the greatest of solar and stellar systems. This Law embodies the highest form of justice possible in an ever-changing world, where constant readjustments are necessary. It is inherent in all things and is an expression of the highest intelligence known to our planet. Most people know this Law as Cause and Effect, but Theosophists call it Karma.
C. The law of cause and effect has been known even to savages, ever since the first wild man stubbed his toe on a rock. Theosophists have succeeded, evidently, in merely giving a new name to a very old and well-known law.
T. Modern Theosophists have certainly popularized the use of the word Karma, but they do not claim to have originated it. However, you must be a congenital optimist if you think that the overwhelming mass of mankind have anything more than the most rudimentary understanding of the great Law, of which cause and effect are expressions. There are literally millions of men and women that are considered highly educated, who still believe that they can do evil, and reap good; that they can serve God and work with the Devil; that they can indulge in any amount of unclean thinking, and yet, when the great Book of Life is opened, their own particular page will be found clean and spotless.
There are many people of this type that have so ruined their minds by wrong thinking that what appears as a black sin, when committed by another, undergoes a subtle transformation that renders it not even half bad when committed by themselves. In fact, they can call up before their mind’s eye so many mitigating circumstances – so many good reasons why the act was done – that to them, at least, it begins to take on the color of merit, rather than of demerit. If people of this sort could be made to understand the truth in this connection, it would doubtless jolt many of them loose from their complacency.
The more or less widely held belief that there is an angel somewhere in the sky, who sits before an alabaster table with a golden pen in his hand and writes down the history of our lives, using disappearing ink when he comes to the bad parts, and indelible ink only when our thoughts and deeds glow with virtue, may very well satisfy the desires of those who have no love for truth.
Nevertheless, the history of our lives is very accurately recorded, and faithfully kept, but it is we ourselves who write every word of it. Each thought, in the process of being generated, is impressed on the Astral Light in indelible colors, and remains as an ineffaceable monument, marking the devious path pursued in the journey of Life. It would doubtless surprise, and even shock, many of our Christian friends to realize that there are quite a few men and women who, through purity, altruism and right living, have developed within themselves the capacity to read the pages of this remarkable book. However, it is seldom they care to peer into the lives of others, except under exceptional circumstances, since it is not likely that they would find anything that would prove either ennobling to themselves or helpful to the world.
C. I fear I shall have to resort to rather strong terms in rebuttal of what you have just said. You admit that there is a Book of Life in which the world’s record is kept, but you befoul the Biblical teaching by giving to it a meaning that was never originally intended. You have shown rather conclusively that Theosophists have resorted to the Bible for most of their ideas, only to corrupt those ideas beyond recognition. To plagiarize and corrupt seems to be the watchword of Theosophists.
T. My dear sir, realizing as we do the weaknesses inherent in human nature, and recognizing the fact that for many ages mankind has been wheedled and misled by a superstitious and self-seeking clergy, we are willing to overlook your aspersions cast at Theosophy as a teaching, as well as those directed at Theosophists, whose motives you have seen fit to impugn.
The Teachers of Theosophy have indicated in unmistakable terms that all the sacred scriptures of the world, including the Bible, have been imbedded in symbols; and that, unless one understands the symbology involved, he will get from them but little that is worthwhile, apart from their moral precepts. The latter, of course, are always commendable and should be properly evaluated, whether they be found in the Sermon on the Mount, or, in the Devil’s hymnal.
To suggest that Theosophists have purloined anything from the Bible would be fitting cause for laughter even from moderately well-informed Christians, were it not, for them, rather tragical in its implications, since it can be easily shown that the Bible itself has drawn heavily from older scriptures. For many people the word plagiarism has a most sinister meaning, but, in a certain sense, all men are plagiarists, since we do but feed on the thoughts transmitted to us by past generations, and rehash them as our own. Indeed, it is doubtful whether a new thought or a new idea has ever been conceived on this planet. It is doubtful whether a new song has ever been sung – a song that has not been sung by other peoples on other globes, in aeons that have long since been swallowed up and entombed in the silent crypts of endless Duration.
All our thoughts, all our deeds and all the activities that go to make up a manifesting universe are but the varied expressions and endless repetitions of what has gone before. For Theosophy insists that this earth is but one among myriads of manifesting worlds, and that countless millions of similar globes came into existence, lived out their normal span of life, and were relegated to the graveyard of dead planets to be broken up and redistributed in the great reservoir of nature, long before this little speck of dirt which we call earth, was started; furthermore, that those globes produced their crops of humanity – that those humanities evolved and developed up to their capacity, learning all that the physical plane of life has to teach, long before our present day humanity had so much as donned its swaddling clothes.
What we are learning today, other humanities on other globes learned in bygone periods of cyclic history, too remote to be discussed. For globes have their cycles, as well as men. Time itself is ephemeral. Time is merely the measure of passing events as those events are impressed upon and registered in our consciousness. Eternal Duration, although the container of all time, has nothing in common with either time or events. This is somewhat analogous to that of a pure white light which, when cast through a prism, is broken up into its component parts, producing all the colors of the spectrum from red to violet.
Those vibrations which produce in us a sensation which we call red have nothing in common with the vibrations we call white, yet they came out of white, just as do the other colors of the spectrum. In like manner, it may be said that the whole manifesting universe, the entire Cosmic Order, comprise merely the broken rays of the One Uncreate Reality which is “the source of all that was, is, or ever shall be.” yet, the world manifesting, has nothing in common with the unmanifesting, although one with it in essence.
Since Cosmic Orders come and go with as much regularity as do human cycles, and since at the close of each great period of manifestation, global as well as human activity vanishes as completely as the light from a candle that has been dipped in water, we are perforce obliged by the demands of logic to assume that each Cosmic Period is but a gigantic Maya cast on the screen of time, the latter itself being but the measure of passing cycles. But we do not rest our case on the mere demands of human logic. The great Teachers of mankind, who have spent countless ages delving into the mysteries of Life and Being, have indicated that this is true.
C. What do you mean by Maya?
T. Maya is illusion. The whole manifesting universe, in Theosophical parlance, is known as the Great Illusion. But it is illusion only from a high metaphysical viewpoint.
From the viewpoint of ordinary human consciousness this illusion is real, and will continue to be real to us, to the very end of the Cosmic Period. Since we ourselves are included in the Great Illusion, the latter is and will continue to be the only “reality” we can directly cognize.
C. You mean, then, that from the standpoint of Absoluteness, everything and every being is unreal, but from the standpoint of relativity all is real.
T. That is probably as fair a summation of the problem as can be rendered in so few words. Kindly bear in mind, however, that beinghood is an induced state of consciousness, and that no matter how great, wise and powerful a Being may be, such Being is to be regarded as merely a phenomenal aspect of the Absolute. Primordial homogeneity, which we must of necessity ascribe to the One Unconditioned Reality, precludes the possibility of atoms, other than as Maya. Since all forms are built up of atoms (assuming the latter to be the ultimate particles of matter, which of course they are not), it follows that such forms are just as illusionary as the particles used in their construction.
The mysterious powers of thought have never been understood, nor even so much as suspected by the generality of mankind. Mind, the Thinking Principle, is the only power in the world that can create either form or quality. Since man is the only being in which mind has been awakened to activity ( in the great mass of mankind, mind is only partly awakened) , it follows that he alone is responsible for the qualities found in all the lower forms and forces, whether they be good or bad. Man creates qualities, the lower forms and forces embody and reflect them. If man’s thoughts had always been clean, pure and wholesome, the world would not be afflicted with poisonous serpents in the animal kingdom, nor poison ivy, poison oak and other deleterious forms in the vegetable kingdom. For all these inharmonious conditions implanted in the Stream of Life, man has no one but himself to blame, or, perhaps we should say, to thank, depending entirely on how we look at them.
C. Why do you say that we have man to thank for bringing destructive qualities into the world?
T. If man had never committed any sin at all, there would be in his nature certain fields of experience and certain possibilities of consciousness, undeveloped, unexplored and unconquered. Man, in his march toward conscious godhood, must develop his discriminating faculty. He must meet and overcome every temptation and must make himself master in every field of experience, as those fields are successively unfolded in his consciousness. To make present mistakes, and learn thereby to avoid making similar mistakes in the future, is the normal process by which the soul’s evolution is accomplished. We thus see that man is the author of all sins, and that in him is the one power by which all sins can be overcome.
C. We have been taught to believe that the Devil is the source of all evil. How, then, can you justify the terrible indictment which you have pronounced against humanity, by charging that it has created all the evils that afflict the world?
T. The answer to your query is quite easy. As already stated, all forms are built up of atoms, or elemental lives; that is, life manifesting in what appears to be one of its simplest and most elemental forms. Now, the human body is composed entirely of these atoms, the atoms are built into molecules, and the molecules into cells. Every time we think a thought, there passes through the body what might be likened to an electric charge. If the thought is pure, every atom receiving the impress of the thought is made a little better than it was before. But if the thought is low, brutal and destructive, each atom receiving and registering the thought is thereby correspondingly debased.
Physical science, as well as Theosophy, teaches that we are each attracting to our self millions of atoms and are throwing off approximately an equal number every second. A long period of angry, sordid, and brutal thinking causes the atoms of our body to become super-charged with destructive qualities, and when these are thrown off, they are drawn to and become embodied in those forms with which they have the greatest affinity. Once embodied in other organisms they seek to express through those organisms the qualities we have impressed on them. In this manner, man has charged the lower forms and forces of nature with destructive qualities, and, through the lower forms and forces, those destructive qualities have been striking back at man, their creator, ever since they became a power.
We thus see how man by evil thinking has corrupted the \V hole of nature, and how nature brings back to him his merited reward in the form of pain and suffering. We can also readily understand how man by his evil thinking has converted harmless life-germs into disease-laden carriers of sickness and death. Furthermore, we can easily see how the drunkard, by intoxicating the cells and molecules of his body, thereby creates in himself a whole army of little demons. As long as he is able to keep his thoughts away from drink, these demons in his body can be kept in leash. But the moment he begins to think about drink and opens his mind to a desire for intoxication, he at once unleashes these self-created demons, which set up an insistent clamor, demanding, “Drink! drink! more drink!” The man soon becomes wild-eyed, and in order to ease his agony rushes off to the nearest saloon and gets “gloriously drunk.” But he knows quite well that he has gained only a temporary surcease from his sufferings.
C. What would you suggest as the best means to overcome the desire for intoxicating drink?
T. The best means for accomplishing this purpose would be to become deeply interested in Theosophy as presented in the writings of H. P. Blavatsky, the real founder of the Theosophical Society, and those of her coworkers that remained true to her and her teachings. We say this, because H. P. Blavatsky represented the Great White Lodge of Masters on the material plane, and because the teachings she gave, if followed, cannot fail to bring about the unfoldment of the higher nature in man, and the suppression of the lower nature. The above advice is, of course, offered to those only who have developed sufficient intellectual capacity to grasp in some measure the philosophy embraced in the teachings of Theosophy.
To those lacking in this capacity, we would suggest that they attend some sort of Christian revival and “get religion.” Almost any kind of religion will do, just so that the aspirant becomes deeply enthusiastic in his desire to serve God, and shame the Devil. In this way he will, perhaps, unknowingly to himself, begin digging out a new channel through which his thoughts can flow, and the old channel etched in his nature during his days of inebriation, because of disuse, will in time become clogged up and cease to function.
C. How long a time should be required for a drunkard to overcome his infirmity?
T. No definite time can be given, for there are no two persons that ever react to a given set of circumstances in exactly the same way. However, materialistic science teaches, and Theosophy affirms, that the human body is changed down to the last atom, approximately once in seven years. In that time one should be able to drive out all the whisky-soaked atoms in his body and replace them with others that are far less contaminated. In much less than half that time, however, the drunkard should be able to realize that he is on the road to success, provided he does not harbor in his mind a hankering after the old ways of life.
Since we are living in a universe of unchanging Law which is rigidly just, it follows that each one must necessarily reap exactly as he sows. The confirmed drunkard either in this, or what is more likely, in some former life, deliberately flouted the warnings of friends and teachers, and chose to follow the lure of the senses, until he found himself in the brutal grip of an insatiable monster. By the misuse of his faculties in former lives, he may have predestined himself to a life of misery in this, but the blame is due to himself and to none other. The same is true of all who have fallen victims to any other form of vice.
C. I have seen good-hearted, pure-minded men and women suffer terribly from no fault of their own, while brutal and utterly unprincipled men have luxuriated in riches and pleasures without the slightest hindrance ever arising to check their wicked ways. If the Law of Life, as you have called it, is as just as you claim, then why is it that some men are born into the most favorable circumstances, while others are born and reared amid conditions that make it almost impossible for them to develop in themselves anything but the most vicious tendencies?
T. All beings of every grade, when they first issue from the Fount of Life, do so on exactly the same terms and the same conditions. One is no more handicapped than another. When the great wheel of evolution begins to turn in the primitive stages of a cosmic period, Pre-cosmic Homogeneous Substance is thereby generated into objective atoms, which, if we are not too hypercritical, may be regarded as the basis for the construction of all forms. The seven Principles in Great Nature, which are either actively or potentially present in every form, are slowly and successively awakened to activity in the long-drawn-out course of evolution.
Those beings that are activating in the lower principles, only, cannot create qualities in themselves, but are limited to merely expressing the qualities that have been impressed on them by being of a higher order. Their activities are necessarily confined to the purely physical plane. It is only when Manas or Mind (the Fifth Principle) is awakened, that the being can be said to have become a man. Having become a thinking entity, the man, for such he now is, begins to chart his course through the waters of life. He is both captain and pilot, and no other being has a right to steer his craft over the tumultuous sea of self conscious existence. However, if he so desires, he is certain to find a friend and teacher, able and willing to point out the true course that should be followed. If he should choose to follow the lure of the senses, then he will have to learn the lessons of life in the way that is most fraught with pain and suffering. For experience, although the greatest of all
teachers, wields a whip that is tipped with a scorpion’s lash. Slowly, step by step, man develops in himself many tendencies, but those that are most assiduously cultivated will become the dominating factors in his life.
C. I know a man who has been a thief all his life. He began stealing shortly after emerging from the cradle. At any rate, he had not had time to develop such traits from experience. How would you account for such a strange mental freak in human nature?
T. The case you mention is not a mental, nor is it any other kind of freak. The man had developed in himself thieving tendencies in former lives, and it was only natural that he should be re-born a thief in this. Our qualities are woven into the very fabric of our being and become a part of our self. We cannot put them aside at will. They follow us from birth to birth. The only way to overcome the desire to steal, once that trait is developed, is to acquire a desire of a directly opposite nature. This may seem and oftentimes is extremely difficult. Will power, alone, cannot overcome desire, for Will is under the control of desire. The easiest way to overcome an evil desire is to set about enthusiastically cultivating a good desire. The result will correspond exactly with the enthusiasm put into the effort.
Each man has it in his power to become either a god or a devil. Since the Supreme Law is the very essence of justice, it follows that one who seeks to pursue a life of crime will find the cards stacked against him from the very first. For there has never been a crime committed in the history of the world that was not instantly known by intelligences other than those immediately concerned. The criminal leaves a trail behind him that is as plainly outlined as the etchings in the landscape made by the Mississippi on its way to the sea. When a man’s magnetism has become thoroughly soaked with evil, even the so-called unintelligent forces of nature will see in him an enemy, and will strike at him whenever an opportunity offers.
A few years ago we met a young man who had had the misfortune to have both legs amputated near the body. He told us that earlier in life he had been extremely cruel to animals, especially dogs, and that he now found it impossible to be on friendly terms with any of them. Even strange dogs seemed to instantly recognize him as a bitter enemy, and would refuse all friendly overtures.
A kindly attitude toward others will be invariably reciprocated, except by those that are thoroughly evil. Life is built just that way. We cannot change it, but we can change our attitude toward the Law, which, if we do not oppose it, will react on us in a manner that is always beneficent. Because of their terrible ignorance, men are much of the time opposing the Law, and hence, have brought on themselves a world of suffering.
C. I must admit that you have buttressed your argument with considerable logic, but I certainly do not admit the validity of all your claims. I realize as well as anyone that the world is in great need of being reformed, and that we should do all we can to lead men into the path of godliness. But it is a Herculean task that confronts us. The shepherds are few, the flocks are many. Besides, only too often men and women are slow indeed to recognize and accept the friendly hand that is outstretched to help them.
T. The world has had by far too many “spiritual” leaders for its own good. The Masters themselves do not lead. They point out the true course to be followed by those who honestly desire to “seek out the way,” but they never bring the slightest pressure to bear on the inquirer. As for those that are trying to reform the world, if you will look closely into their lives you will perchance see that they have not yet succeeded in reforming themselves. You cannot reform me, I cannot reform you, but you can reform yourself and I can reform myself, and when each man has reformed himself, then, and then only, will the whole world be reformed. Kindly bear in mind the fact that all genuine reformation of every kind comes from within, never from without.
C. I have known many men and women who have turned away from evil to follow the path of righteousness, upon having the truths of the Gospel presented to them.
T. Many people are led through their emotionalism to abandon certain false doctrines and evil practices and adopt other doctrines and practices that appear to be less reprehensible. We have no desire to quarrel with these people. When an ignorant man (and who among us is not ignorant?) turns away from drunkenness to become a Salvation Army captain, he at least has given up a certain form of vice that has been decidedly hurtful, both to his health and morals. It is quite possible that his intellectual capacity will not permit him to grasp anything more abstruse than the doctrine of “vicarious atonement.” He should not expect anyone to think and act beyond his intellectual and moral capacity.
But when, after advancing and retreating along many theological by-paths, he succeeds in awakening in himself a really discriminating faculty, it is then that he will see the necessity of cutting himself loose from all anchors and plunging boldly into the vast ocean of life’s mysteries, in quest of truth! truth! and nothing but truth! In that day he will take pleasure, figuratively speaking, in kicking out all the false ideas and theological garbage that have been collecting in his brain cells for many years. He will see that the first and foremost object to be accomplished is to make his mind as clean and pure as the most limpid mountain stream. All Kamic impulses must be eliminated – must be reduced to the point of extinction. These are universal truths that have been widely proclaimed by the teachers of Theosophy, and can be proven to be true by anyone who dares to put them to the test. A moral teaching that cannot be demonstrated, and established as true in one’s own experience, is no better than a theological crutch, which provides the halfhearted aspirant to spiritual wisdom with a respectable means for avoiding truth.
C. You speak as if the majority of truth-loving Christians were false to themselves as well as to others. This is a serious charge that deserves something more than mere assertion.
T. An overwhelming majority of the people reject truth, because they are in love with evil. When the true path to knowledge and wisdom is pointed out to them, they shrug their shoulders and, with a smirk of ill-concealed contempt, turn away as if you were a human viper, bent on depriving them of their chief pleasures in life. Yet, it is those pleasures, based very largely on selfishness and expressed through the animal nature, that stand as a bar between them and true enlightenment. Of course, there are other types of minds that have inhibited themselves from receiving light. Like the clam, the more you try to get light to them, the tighter they draw the mental shell by which they are encrusted. Metaphorically speaking, some men are born wearing red spectacles, others are born wearing blue spectacles. To one everything will look red, to the other everything will look blue, and no amount of argument will convince either that his vision is false. But another, one who by right thinking and right living in previous lives had earned the right to come into the present incarnation provided with the ability to see clearly, knows that both the others are wrong, although he will have no means of proving it to them. The only way that the men with the red and the blue spectacles can ever see things correctly is to rid themselves of the mental astigmatism that prevents them from perceiving things in their true light. This is a task that only they can do, through “self-induced and self-devised effort.”
There is a very old Egyptian saying that runs somewhat in this wise: “Live up to what light you now have, and, under Law, you will get more light. Fail to live up to what light you now have, and you will lose the light you have.” You see, we have to make use of every soul faculty that we wish to retain, otherwise we shall lose it. The law of exact compensation is operative at all times and never fails of its ultimate purpose, although some people are deluded into believing that it does fail, because it does not liquidate all differences and all injustices, and bring about an immediate adjustment in the manner they think best. Well, Nature has all the time there is in which to accomplish her ultimate objectives, and in strict truth she does her work very well, despite the efforts of evil-minded men who seek to impede and thwart her purposes, instead of co-operating with her for the good of all.
C. In what way can one best serve God, or Nature, as you term it, in bringing about the perfecting of the human soul?
T. By training our minds to think in terms of unity instead of disunity. By trying to realize that God is the One Life that fills the universe; that in its highest aspect it is called Divine, in its lowest aspect devilish; and that between these two extremes range the great bulk of humanity in which the great war of the Mahabharata, or the battle of the Armageddon, is being fought continually – a fight between the forces of good and evil, in which one individual is as much concerned as another, since his future destiny will be determined by the outcome. By joining with those forces that are striving to uplift mankind, we are doing our bit to hasten the day of final victory for this Cosmic Period.
C. Just what do you mean by a Cosmic Period?
T. A Cosmic Period marks the beginning and the end of a cycle of manifestation, followed by Chaos. There are cycles within cycles, and our present Cosmic Cycle is contained in a still larger Cycle. The largest Cycle that has ever been expressed in any language is the Maha Kalpa of Indian literature, known also as the Life of Brahma, which covers a period of three-hundred and eleven trillion and forty billion years, as measured in our time. Brahma is merely another name for the Great Illusion. When Brahma dies, the Great Illusion comes to an end.
In that day, intelligence will relapse into non-intelligence, consciousness into non-consciousness, existence into non-existence. The deep darkness of utter void will settle like an impenetrable pall over the vastitude of Space; all manifestations – all vibrations will be indrawn into their primal Source, and there will remain, in a state of profound latency only, the power to create another Cosmic Maya, when the time for a new awakening shall come. The vacuity of non-existence as envisioned in the death of Brahma, can be reduced to neither words nor thought. The non-existence here postulated is such only from the viewpoint of what we now regard as human consciousness and human perception. Consciousness cannot perceive itself. It can cognize only its own creations. Since these creations are themselves mere Maya, the result of ideation expressed through the mind, which is itself an aspect of consciousness and comes into existence with the latter, it necessarily follows that the whole of objective life is but an animated mental picture thrown on the screen of time.
This Grand Mental Picture, which we call the objective universe, offers numberless focusing points for the expression of Universal Consciousness. To conditioned consciousness, the One Uncreate Reality, whether we call it Pre-cosmic or Post-cosmic Substance, can be regarded only as non-existent.
C. I must confess that some of your ideas have passed over my head. Still, I am interested in what you say. Can you make your explanations a little less abstract, or perhaps I should say more concrete, for greater ease of understanding?
T. The very nature of the subject we are discussing necessarily involves abstruse thinking. We should try to understand that there is nothing in the entire manifesting universe but consciousness, and the varying states which consciousness is able to induce in itself. The states possible to consciousness have never been exhausted even by the most highly-evolved Beings, and it is quite possible that they are infinite in number and can never be exhausted. To evolve new and higher states of consciousness, each new state bringing corresponding knowledge, wisdom, and power to the ego, may be said to be the real purpose of life.
Manifestation is the only means by which the non-intelligent Principle can be converted into active Intelligence; non-being, into Being; non-happiness into active bliss. Surely these states are worth striving for, even as an ultimate goal. But kindly bear in mind the fact that there is no “ultimate goal,” in the commonly-accepted sense of the term, since from all down the line of superior Beings of a transcendently high order to Teachers of lower orders has come the word that there is no end in sight, and that we are justified in assuming that there will never be an end in sight. For in an infinite universe there are infinite possibilities for growth and expansion in every direction, and no finite being can ever exhaust the possibilities of the Infinite.
C. Which is superior to the other – the non-manifesting, the unconditioned portion of the One Reality, or that which manifests and is conditioned?
T. The Infinite is one and inseparable. It cannot be divided into parts, although as a result of ideation it may and does seem to be so divided. The One Reality can gain a realization of Self only when subjected to conditions. Manifestation begins with differentiation followed by individualization. By this means the realization of Self, through selves, is made possible. It is only in this way that potential powers can be made active powers, and potential states developed and given active expression. We may, then, be justified in saying that life manifesting is the cream arising within the Infinite Ocean of primeval potentialities.
C. If man is heir to an infinitude of potential powers, does that mean that there will never be a state of final rest for the soul?
T. Who would want to reach a final state, from which there could be no emergence, into something better? No, there is no final period of rest that can be said to be irrevocable and unending; but, each period of activity is followed by an equal period of rest, and some of these are so unthinkably long that they might well be regarded as Eternity itself.
C. You speak disparagingly of Christianity, but scientists will no more accept your doctrines than will the Christians. What have you to say on that point?
T. Materialistic scientists have made themselves ridiculous in many ways, at least some of them have. They claim that matter is the beginning and the end, as well as the sustainer of all things; that matter began as primitive slime; that primitive slime, without any intelligence to direct it, gradually gave rise to many gross forms of unorganized matter; that unorganized matter gave rise to organized forms, and these by evolutionary processes evolved man, who consists of a highly-developed physical organism with its crowning achievement, the brain, the latter secreting thought and intelligence, and completing so far, the magnificent work of the Great God, Evolution.
The physical body of man with its wonderfully adjusted and coordinated nervous system, its ability to convert food into blood and then send the blood surging through the arteries and veins – the latter provided with valves to prevent it from going in the wrong direction, thus forcing the blood to carry nutritious elements to all parts of the body – some going to the scalp to be converted into hair, some going to the mouth to be converted into teeth, some going to the interior framework of the body to be transformed into bone – all these are the achievement of the Great God, Evolution, acting in its earliest stages without a brain and utterly wanting in intelligence!
Yet, so-called unintelligent nature has contrived and fabricated wonders which our brainiest scientists not only cannot duplicate, but they call not even understand how nature does it.
The following, then, may be regarded as the deductions of materialistic science, condensed to a few simple words: the physical brain secretes thought and is the source of all intelligence; the brain and body of man is the highest achievement of evolution, and sprang from lower forms; those lower forms sprang from unorganized matter; unorganized matter sprang from primitive slime; primitive slime sprang from nothing, and nothing means all absence of something. Therefore, out of an absence of something, all things have come into being, including mind, thought, love and all things that man holds dear, and all these things will be buried with his bones. These are the dicta of physical science. Accept them and you are wise. Reject them and you are a fool!
Now please do not get the idea that Theosophists are opposed to all the findings of science, for they are not. Theosophists do not deny the real facts of evolution; but they insist that an intelligent spiritual force is the propelling and directing power involved in every phase of its operations. This is the crucial point of difference between Theosophists and the modern brand of materialistic scientists. The latter have shown themselves to be quite as irrational as are the Christian fundamentalists.
C. Well, what about Christian fundamentalists? They believe that God created all things, and that is certainly more reasonable than the claim that we came up from primitive slime.
T. If the fundamentalists have some slight advantage over the materialists, it certainly is not enough to brag about. They have never been able to tell us how their God with all of his impossible powers ever came into existence. They say he can speak a world into existence and can speak it out of existence at will; that he can speak sentient human souls into existence, and, if he sees fit to do so, can cast them into a lake of fire and leave them there to burn forever, and it’s nobody’s business, In fact, there is only one thing that God cannot do, and that is wrong; for whatever he may choose to do is right, no matter how much injustice and suffering is thereby entailed on his helpless and hapless creatures.
God also spoke the sun into existence for the purpose of lighting up our days, say the fundamentalists. He planted the moon, the planets and all the stars in the firmament to embellish the sky at night, and incidentally to tell us when to go to bed.
If we ask when God did all these things, the fundamentalist will answer: “About six thousand years ago.” But we cannot let the matter rest there, so we should like to inquire what God had been doing during the millions and billions and trillions of years previous to the beginning of the six-thousand-year period.
Only a few days ago we had an opportunity to listen in on an argument between a materialist and a fundamentalist, in which the above question was asked. We cannot quote the exact words of the fundamentalist, in making his reply, but as near as we can recall, it was somewhat as follows: “He was attending to his own business in a sensible way, and that is more than you are doing in asking such a silly question.”
Well now, we do not believe this question to be entirely silly, in view of the attitude assumed by the fundamentalists.
If in the very beginning, six thousand years ago, God created the heavens and the earth and all therein, then previous to that time he evidently had never exercised his creative powers at all. If this be true, then he could scarcely have created for himself a throne, on which to sit. But what use could he have had for a throne, anyway, since there was nothing over which he could rule or preside? And even if he had had a throne, what could it have rested on, since the air and the vast ocean of interstellar aether had not yet been created? And so, according to the fundamentalists, a little over six thousand years ago there was nothing at all but God, a great spiritual being, alone in space, and brooding over an “empty void.”
Well, for infertility of mind and aridity of thought, both the Christian fundamentalists and the materialists are entitled to our commiseration, since from the vantage-point of logic, neither has so much as the shadow of a footing on which to stand.
If you could only understand that the teachings of Theosophy have come to us from the Masters of Wisdom, who were skilled scientists of the highest order countless ages before the materialistic science of today was ever heard of, you would then see why Theosophists place such small value on the pronouncements of both modern science and modern religion, when such pronouncements conflict with the teachings of the Masters.
C. There are certain things in your philosophy that I certainly do not understand. If the Masters you speak of are as wise and powerful as you represent them to be, and if some of them have occupied human bodies ever since our present mankind was in its infancy, then why have they not revealed themselves to the world at large in all ages, and assisted those less progressed than they are in developing a great and enduring civilization? Why, for instance, did they not invent the automobile, the radio and the airplane thousands of years ago, instead of waiting for poor, ignorant men to develop these things unaided, after going through countless ages of savagery?
T. Your question is a pertinent one, and is deserving of a definite answer. The Masters do and always have helped humanity up to its capacity to receive, and in proportion to its inclination to use such help for the world’s betterment. Scientists, philosophers, inventors and writers in many fields of thought have had ideas dropped into their minds at the right time and in the right way to bring about momentous changes in the history of both men and nations. Many men so helped have been intuitional enough to realize that inspiration and illumination had reached them from sources higher than themselves, although others similarly favored believed their inspiration to be purely the work of their own brain cells.
To urge humanity on at a pace beyond its capacity would be like trying to force higher mathematics on to a class of small school children that had not yet learned the multiplication table. At this period in man’s evolution, the mental and intellectual faculties have a tendency to outstrip the growth of the moral and spiritual nature, and a great invention turned loose among a people that are morally unprepared for it, instead of proving a boon to civilization, might very easily lead to its destruction.
The invention and perfecting of the machines you have just mentioned are indeed a great intellectual achievement. But in what way has man been benefited by the airplane, invented only a few brief years ago, at a time when so-called civilization and enlightenment had reached what the unthinking masses call a high state of “perfection”?
Anyone who has kept moderately well informed on current affairs during the past thirty years knows that the airplane has been used mostly for destroying human life. The “civilized” portions of mankind are committing spiritual suicide fast enough, without placing in their hands additional engines of destruction. The Masters are interested in the uplift of the race, not in its downfall.
The developing of the “death ray” by which whole armies and whole nations can be destroyed in a very brief period of time, now envisaged and sought for by certain scientists, will most likely not be permitted by the Higher Powers to come to light. But when a nation becomes thoroughly saturated with evil of a particularly destructive nature, even Masters cannot protect them from their self-created doom. Such nation or nations must perforce be permitted to destroy themselves. In the foregoing, we do not wish to be understood as saying that Masters do, or can abolish any part of their own, or of any other man’s Karma; but they can, under certain circumstances, retard and spread it out over a longer period of time, thus preventing the individual, and even the nation, from being completely overwhelmed.
C. What is the first step that should be taken by one who desires to enter into a serious study of Theosophy?
T. The greatest asset that any aspirant to Theosophical, or Occult knowledge can have, is a pure mind. A mind that is free from all Kamic influences can alone furnish us with a firm and true basis upon which the super-structure of Godhood can be safely built. To try to build up in one’s nature this super-structure of Godhood, while the mind is still amenable to impure impulse, is to invite disaster.
The Sixth Principle in Great Nature, in conjunction with the Seventh Principle, the latter being the true Christ, is a tremendous spiritual power that cannot be allied in any way with the animal or Kamic, nature in man. To awaken these Principles while the sensual nature remains unbridled is to bring upon one’s self a hell such as he has never dreamed. The physical health will be undermined almost overnight. The weakest organs of the body will be the first to feel the impact of the intense vibrations of the awakened higher Principles, but all will be affected in varying degrees, converting life into a veritable nightmare of unnamed horrors. If one is unwilling to give up his worldly attachments, then it is better by far that he should not stimulate the vibrations of his higher Principles into active expression. Of course, one can be a Theosophist in a mild way without ever arousing to activity the Divine part of his nature. He can endeavor to overcome his personal faults, try in an intelligent way to make the world a better place in which to live, and can develop in himself a feeling of brotherliness for all mankind, without effecting a complete revolution in his mode of living. But the Masters have said that an intense desire to reach them, if persevered in, will inevitably lead one into the vortex of probation.
To live a purely Theosophic life, one must guard his thoughts continually. He must not poison his mind by listening to unclean stories even when told by those professing to be his friends. No one has a moral right to dump mental garbage on the doorstep of another’s mind. To the average person, lending an ear to obscene stories will produce no immediate, appreciable effect. But once the Divine Nature in man is awakened, the entrance into the mind of an impure thought is fraught with extreme peril, and will produce suffering wholly unsuspected by those that are still under the sway of their Kamic nature.
C. I have known many hundreds of sincere Christians whose lives were for the most part devoted to the service of God; but as far as I am aware, none has ever been subjected to the harrowing experiences you have just mentioned. Are we to infer from your statement that of the large number of Christians referred to, not one of them has ever so much as awakened in himself the Christ Principle, as you call it?
T. It is your privilege to so infer, if you wish. If the Christians mentioned are living lives of the utmost purity – if they have succeeded in eliminating all sensual impulses from their minds and feelings – then no cause for suffering will have been generated. However, we feel justified in saying that very few people, whether Christian or non-Christian, have anything more than a rudimentary understanding of what constitutes a pure mind.
Human nature, as expressed in the average man, cannot be changed into Divine nature overnight. It requires arduous effort, long continued and sustained, to effect a radical revolution in one’s inner and outer life. That is one of the principal reasons why so few people have been attracted to Theosophy. Those who in a determined way have set about reconstructing their lives, along higher and better lines, have found that the results attained were in exact proportion to the effort made. This is indeed an honest world in which exact recompense for each thought and deed is the Supreme Law, for no man ever takes out of life more than he puts in. Those who take only a superficial view of life and its problems will vehemently deny this; but profound thought and investigation will confirm and establish its truth beyond peradventure.
Many men make the mistake of formulating harsh, uncompromising judgment regarding the shortcomings of others, even when the evidence on which their judgment is based is but fragmentary and inconclusive. In this, they add to their own, as well as the world’s over-burdened stock of retributive Karma. The thoughts and deeds that seem to characterize a man for a few brief years, or even a whole lifetime, do not provide us with the necessary background and materials for determining his true status in the great stream of conditioned existence, even if we possessed the wisdom requisite for such judgment, which, of course, we have not. Each one of us has been setting up a long train of causes throughout many lives, and much of the Karma thus generated is still impending over our head, as a future blessing, or a curse. In the thoughts and actions of today are being garnered the harvest of a future life.
C. Do Theosophists believe in prayer?
T. No! Not in the sense that the term is generally used. Since there is but One Life in the universe and each is a limited expression of the One Life, to whom could we pray other than ourself? A desire, deep down in our heart for the accomplishing of a beneficent purpose, and an effort to bring about the realization of that purpose in the experiences of our daily life, is the nearest approach to a genuine prayer we are able to formulate. It is, of course, quite natural that we should, in time of great need, desire that help be given us by our Elder Brothers, the Masters; but this cannot be regarded as prayer in any conceivable Christian sense.
They, as well as we, are in the midst of a vast pilgrimage. They are conquerors on the lower planes of life; we are still struggling in the maelstrom of physical existence.
Live in the cellar of your mind and nature, and you will become a degraded being, shunned and abhorred by all. Strive to reach up and attain the pinnacles of wholesome thought and action, and silently a revolution will begin to manifest within – a revolution that will cause the old landmarks of a mis-spent life to gradually fade away from memory, as a new and better pathway begins to unfold before the aspiring soul.
In the present stage of man’s evolution he must of necessity undergo unpleasant experiences and must labor to provide himself with an honestly begotten livelihood, but all this can be accomplished without becoming too deeply involved in the processes, and without identifying one’s self with the poor rewards that selfish actions bring. For selfishness invariably defeats its own ends, when viewed from the standpoint of the soul’s welfare. In speaking of the passage from life to death, a poet once said: “All we can hold in our poor dead hand, is what we have given away.” To the average man in the street, this would seem preposterous; but it is nevertheless true. That which we hug to our heart as a valued possession we are certain to lose. But the feeling that prompts us to extend a helping hand to our brother in his hour of need, is woven into the very fabric of our being and becomes a soul possession that is worth far more than rubies or pearls.
It is the kindly feelings that well up from an altruistically-inclined heart, that gradually transform one into a torchbearer, leading toil-begrimed and suffering humanity out of the gloom-enshrouded paths of ignorance and superstition, and into the bright sunlight of the Perfect Way.
To those who are unacquainted with Theosophy, we would suggest the following books for reading:
THE OCEAN OF THEOSOPHY – By W.Q. Judge.
This is a small volume in which Theosophy is concisely presented in simple language, easily understood. None better for beginners.
THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY – By H. P. Blavatsky.
Just what its name implies. Answers the questions: What? and Why?
ISIS UNVEILED – By H.P. Blavatsky.
Beyond doubt this is the greatest eye-opener – the most provocative book ever written in modern times.
THE SECRET DOCTRINE – By H.P. Blavatsky.
This book is even greater than Isis Unveiled, but is more difficult to understand. The high metaphysics of the Secret Doctrine is necessary, however, for philosophic comprehension of Theosophy. All other theosophical books are but preparation for its study.