THE ETERNAL VERITIES
For Old Souls In Young Bodies;
“Let each child’s mind be as a pleasant inns where gentle thoughts of service may enter and abide.”
THE THEOSOPHY COMPANY
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
Scanned from this:
It is complete except the Music
for the songs.
. . .. . . . . v
Thought Fairies — 111
One Who Found The Gem — 8
Socrates Teaches a Child—115
Lesson II — truth — 13
Tale of the Banana Peel — 120
Lesson III — life — 24
The Magic Paper — 123
Story "Life" — 27
The Making of the Sword—128
The Lives — 31
The Turn of the Wheel — 136
Lesson IV— space — 36
Lesson XII Reincarnation — 141
What is Right? — 42
Lesson XIII — soul — 154
Lesson V — god — 46
A Greek Lesson — 161
How to be Happy — 49
Reincarnation Song — 166
Courage — 52
Do We Remember — 167
Lesson VI— law — 54
Lesson XIV — 178
Susie The Chooser — 61
Song of Evolution — 184
Lesson VII — karma — 65
The Christmas Lesson — 234
The Test — 70
Origin of Christmas Tree —243
Lesson VIII—moral cycles—76
Father Christmas — 246
Socrates Teaches a Child — 82
Do we live on the Sun? — 259
|Lesson IX—dharma — 86||The Easter Lesson — 252|
|The Tale of The Tower — 90||March 21st, 1896 — 265|
Lesson X — cycles — 96
|White Lotus Day — 279|
|Lesson XI — ethics — 107||
Declaration of Theosophy School
To the beloved Teacher and Friendly Philosopher, Robert Crosbie, who taught what H. P. Blavatsky and William Q. Judge had taught before him—pure and simple—who changed it not, nor added, nor subtracted from it; but who imbued it with his life, made living Their Example. What is in this book is what was learned from him. It is dedicated to him, and to all—or young or old— who seek the Truth, that they may help as he did.
Once, long ago, a boy said to his mother,
“Mother, I don’t know if I believe Theosophy is true.” And she replied, “Why
should you believe it, son? Either you know it, or you don’t know it. Theosophy
is not to be believed but learned, then proved by each one for him- self, by
“Those we call Great Teachers knew. Those who only believed were followers, who first repeated the Teacher’s words, then forgot. Because they were only half-taught, and because the Teachers: Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, never wrote their teachings down. Those who believe in Jesus go to pray in churches, to a ‘God’ outside and far off from themselves. Not so did Jesus. If they tried to prove by doing what Jesus taught, they too, would know Theosophy. Just listen to what Theosophy teaches, son. And look, and learn.
The boy did not answer, nor did he object; but, he began to think about Theosophy; he began to weigh and measure by it what he heard at school, what his friends discussed. And he thought, “Why, it isn’t reasonable for a God to be up in the sky, who gets angry or is pleased. I can be angry or be pleased myself!
And it isn’t reasonable that human beings
descended from monkeys, because monkeys don’t walk, and monkeys don’t talk.”
Finally he said to his mother, one day, “Well, mother, even if Theosophy
shouldn’t be true, I don’t know anything else that is even reasonable. I want to
The Eternal Verities are the eternally true things true ideas of the universe, of all Nature, and of ourselves. This boy learned them. So can you!
November 17, 1940.
MEMORY VERSE: “Children of Light, as ye go forth into the world, seek to render gentle service to all that lives”
We all know what a path is. Have we not seen sometime a path beside a river? Another, across the meadow? Another, through the woods? The path of the Sun each day through the sky, and best of all, the path that, winds up hill. And turns out of sight from where we are, and that makes us eager to go on to the next bend and the next! Some day, we say, we shall set forth and make the journey to the end of that road, even if it takes a week. But, there is another kind of path than paths we see. It is a secret path, and each one has his own. Each one goes on this path without moving his feet, yet, never stands still, for it is the path of the inner self, who thinks, and feels and chooses and remembers, and imagines, all unseen by any other. This Path lies right in our own home, and wherever we go forth from home to any other place. This Path is in our schoolroom, at work and at play, every day and all the time, both awake
and asleep. Even asleep, we are on this
journey, though we don’t move away from ourselves. If we did, we wouldn’t wake
up again, nor remember what we dreamed last night!
The journey on the Path is for all of us, whether we are rich or poor, or wise or foolish — not only for kings, great heroes, and mighty warriors, known of old. We are on the Path right now, and even though we may not move to the sound of trumpets, and though we have no seven-league boots. But, where does our Path lead? What is the journey for? How do we know we have chosen the right Path for us? Can we not see ahead more clearly than the man who started on a search the world around to find a simple four-leafed clover? For, when he had grown weary and old with failure, he came back to his little cottage, and found his own dooryard Sweet and green with nothing but four-leafed clovers.
Yes, we can know, because all men down through the ages have been on the same Path, have made the same journey. Some have left the trail-marks for us, so that we, too, may find as they did, the Truth, the Light, the Self. Is it to be found in some particular land, and in no other? No, for this is the mystery of our very selves we. Seek, and we can find it only
because we are the Self who seeks his
own Light and Truth. We seek Self-Knowledge. If we do not seek, we shall not
find it, and coming to our journey’s end, we shall find there worse than
Many people do not know that most of the ancient legends and epics tell about this Path—about the search for the Light of Knowledge. Have you read of the Greek Jason’s search for the Golden Fleece? And what adventures and difficulties he went through in order to keep it, once it had been found? Have you read of the Twelve Labors of Hercules— how he killed the Nemean lion and the Hydra-headed monster? How he captured the dog Cerberus, and cleaned out the stables of Augeas? These, and all his other labors were trials and tests for the Hero, Hercules, which he had to pass in order to know his weakness and his strength, not only physically, but also in mind and heart. And then, he could help others.
Do you remember how the great Greek Hero, Achilles, captured twelve cities, but was not able to control his anger at his King Agamemnon? Do you suppose that anger was the “heel” which the goddess could not make invulnerable, when she dipped him in the river Styx? Not Achilles, then, but Ulysses with his “wooden horse” finally captured Troy! It
was Ulysses, then, who received the armor of Achilles, and started back to his home in Ithaca.
It was Ulysses, then, who received the armor of Achilles, and started back to his home in Ithaca. Yet, what did his adventures with the lotus-eaters, and the Cyclopes, and Circe mean? What were the perils of Scylla and Charybdis? Detained so long on the island of Calypso — can we think he, too, had an “Achilles’ heel”? King Arthur of old England, also, had to slay terrible monsters, and to win many battles as a valiant Knight King Arthur’s Round Table was one at which peace and harmony alone could rule. His Knights were banded together to give help and protection to the poor and defenseless; to help each other at need; but not to fight among themselves. Only thus, would ever they be able to find the ‘ Grail”—the symbol of Self-Knowledge. In ancient Egypt, those men who built the pyramids went on pilgrimages of service to other lands, to faraway Greece and Erin. They, too, fared forth as “Children of Light” to gain possession of the Crown of Knowledge; to discover for themselves the answers to the age-old questions that each one asks today: “Where did I come from? Why am I here? What am I? Why all other beings and things in the world? “Theosophy has an answer for these questions. They are questions asked by the Self,
here in a body. The Self can answer, and must
answer, also, but, Theosophy is the guide-book and helper here, it gives the
signs, the land-marks, which the Self will recognize and which will lead us on
the Path of Knowledge Unless there were Knowers of the Truth, there would be no
Theosophy. Theosophy means divine knowledge, from the two Greek words, theos-god,
sophia-wisdom We may take “gods” to mean, in a true sense, beings of
highest knowledge When we learn what they know, we, too, shall be “gods,”
possessing god-like knowledge, here We already know in our inmost Self, but the
knowledge is in prison. We must know how to let the light shine through. And,
first of all, we must want to know.
Now, supposing we would like to have the knowledge of Theosophy, but say, “I don’t like to learn this, I will learn this, but I won’t learn that, I’m going to wait ten years before I begin; I’ll help some day, but I want to do my own way now” do you think any teacher, however wise and kind and patient, could make us see? They would not force us to see if they could And do you think the kind of guidance such wise ones give will make us better, or worse, scientists, physicians, lawyers, teachers, painters, musicians, aviators, engi-
neers, mechanics, truck-drivers? Better or
worse fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters’ friends?
Surely, if Theosophy is the truth, it would be foolish to find fault with it— at least, until we know what it is, just as it would How To be foolish for us to find fault with the multiplication-table, until we know it and how to use it! So, shall we not try to be learners, realizing that all the truth in the world is useless to each one, unless each one knows it! What someone tells us, and we merely remember in words, is not our own knowledge. But, if someone else who knows shows us how to get the same knowledge, and we follow his directions, do as he did to get it—can anything hinder us from our knowing, also? Theosophy is the record of those who know things as they are. It points the way to think and to live, so that everyone may become wise. For Truth is the same for those of white, or black, or red, or yellow skin; it is the same for learned and ignorant; the same for young and old. This is why the Soul must know it.
Theosophy is the wisdom of those who once were like ourselves, who determined they would know, who asked all Nature to teach them, and who followed the Path that other Wise Ones had pointed out to them. Theosophy is the wisdom of such men as Krishna,
Buddha, Jesus; it is the same wisdom taught
by H. P. Blavatsky and William Q. Judge. It includes and is greater than any
kind of knowledge men find in books. It includes the science of mathematics, of
astronomy, of m music, of architecture, of engineering. It is the soul of great
literature and art. It is the true source of education. On it alone will true
government be founded. The Knowers of this real Knowledge are living Men, whose
only concern is that all men may likewise come to have wisdom. They are called
Masters of Wisdom.
To us all, as learners, they say the first step of direction upon the Path of Knowledge is to be found in our Memory Verse. Could we not go forth in the morning doing “gentle service” as “Children of Light”? Can we not each night go as “Children of Light” to the land of sleep and dreams, and to our own place where we are our Highest Self?
TO THINK ABOUT
(1) What kind of
a Path does Theosophy tell about? Where is it?
(2) What does the story of the man who searched for the four-leafed clover mean?
(3) What is the purpose of the journey on the Path?
(4) What is the
meaning of “Achilles’ heel”?
(5) What does the word “Theosophy” mean?
(6) Can anyone make us learn? Why not? How do we learn?
(7) Who are the Masters of Wisdom?
ONE WHO FOUND THE GEM
“In the land of the Wise Men there dwelt a young man. Many years had he labored in a strange mine: the ‘Mine of the Priceless Gems’; hopefully, bravely, but fruitlessly. He had long known that he who should find the Master Stone would be free, full of peace, and dig no more, for nothing better could be found. He also knew that he who found the stone should seek to share it with all men. “Many small stones had he found, but they were laid aside to be used when the great stone was reached. “Silently and steadily he worked on, until one gloomy day when he had grown so weak that he could make but one more effort, that effort was rewarded, and before him lay the great gem. Weary, weak, but joyful, he gathered it into his bosom, and went forth to share it with others; for he who told not of his gem, or shared it not with all men, must lose the stone.
“Far he wandered, telling his wonderful
story, the finding of the Priceless Stone—the stone that made men greater,
wiser, more loving than all things living; the stone- that no man could keep
unless he gave it away.
“Far he wandered in his own country, seeking to tell his story and give of the Stone to each one he met. Silently they listened gravely they meditated and gently they said to him: ‘this is Kali-Yuga, the Dark Age. Come to us a hundred thousand years from now. Until then — the stone is not for us. It is Karma.’
“Far into another land he wandered, ever trying for the same end. Gravely they listened, quietly they spoke: ‘Peace be with you. When the Lotus ceases to bloom and our Sacred River runs dry, come to us. Until then we need not the stone.’
“Over the seas unto another land he went, for fully he believed that there they would hear and share with him. The many days of wandering and the long journey across the sea had made him thin and ragged. He had not thought of this, but as he told his story he was reminded of it and of many other things, for here the people answered in many ways and not always gently.
“Some listened, for his story was new to
them, but the gem was uncut, and they wished
“Others paused and desired him to tell his story in their tents, for that would make them exalted and famous, but they wanted not the gem. As he did not belong to their tribe, it would bring discredit upon them to receive anything from him.
“One paused to listen and desired some of the stone, but he desired to use it to elevate his own position and assist him in over-reaching his fellows in bartering and bargaining. The Wanderer was unable to give any of the stone to such as this one.
“Another listened, but inasmuch as the Wanderer refused to make the gem float in the air, he would have none of it. “Another heard, but he already knew of a better stone, and was sure he would find it, because he ate nothing but starlight and moonbeams.
“Another could not receive any of the stone or listen to the story, for the Wanderer was poor and ragged. Unless he was dressed in purple and fine linens and told his story in words of oil and honey, he could not be the possessor of the gem.
“Still another heard, but he knew it was not the gem. As the Wanderer had been unsuccessful before, surely he could not have found
the stone. Even had he found it, he could not
have the proper judgment to divide it. So he wanted none of the stone.
“Near and far went the Wanderer. Still ever the same. Some wanted it, but the stone was too hard, or not bright enough. He was not of their own people or was ignorant. He was too ragged and worn to suit their ideas, so they wanted none of the stone.
“Saddened, aged and heart-sore, he wandered back to the land of the Wise Men. To one of these he went, telling of his journeys and that no man would share with him the magnificent stone, and also of his sorrow that he too must lose it.
“‘Be not troubled, my son,’ said the Wise One, ‘the stone is for you, nor can you lose it. He who makes the effort to help his fellow man is the rightful owner and still possesses the entire stone, although he has shared it with all the world. To each and every one to whom you have spoken, although they knew it not, you have given one of the smaller stones which you first found. It is enough. When the Master Stone is cut and polished, then is the labor of the fortunate possessor ended. The long journeying and weary wandering, the sorrow-laden heart and tear-dimmed eyes, have cut and polished your gem. Behold, it is a white and a fair stone!’
“Drawing it from his bosom, the Wanderer gazed into the wonderful light of the stone while an expression of great peace stole over his face. Holding the gem close to his bosom his eyelids closed and he fell asleep, a wanderer no more.”
* William Q. Judge.
THE FIRST TRUTH
MEMORY VERSE :
“We have come in search of Truth,
Trying with Theosophy
Door by door of mystery,
Learning from Theosophy.
We are reaching through all laws
To the garment hem of Cause,
THAT, the endless, unbegun,
The Unnamable, the One
Light of all our light the Source,
Life of life, and Force of force.”
Truth is simple. Truth declares itself. When one says that a straight line is the shortest distance between two points, we know it is so. Is there any way to argue about it? There is only one Truth about everything----about the universe and about ourselves. No matter how many and differing are the explanations of truth people give, the Truth remains ever the same, everlasting, unchanging. But, in Theosophy, the One Truth has three “faces,” or “angles,” or “aspects.” We call them THE THREE TRUTHS. Perhaps, our fathers and mothers call them the “Three Fundamentals.”
But they are made of the very same ideas! However great may seem to us now the mystery of many things, a real understanding of The Three Truths will bring an understanding of them, and of all things else.
Many names we have for THE FIRST TRUTH, yet not all names together can describe it. We could name what It is forever, and still not be done. Have we ever thought how we could keep on counting all our lives, and still there would be more to count? So, the words that describe It the least are the best words for our minds. When we say, THAT is the cause and origin of the universe and of ourselves, we can make no picture of a thing or person by it. We can only think, It is the Real—the One Reality. And when we say, It is Life—Spirit—Consciousness (this last so-very-long word is one we must think about much!), we can’t see any thing in our minds to compare those words with. But, we can think of them together as One, and when we hear one of the words, the others spring up with it in our minds.
Now, if all things come from Life, Spirit, Consciousness, so did we! But, we aren’t going to think, for all that, “my spirit,” “my consciousness,” “my life.” Wouldn’t it be foolish for a sunbeam out on the Pacific Ocean to say “my Sun”? Because everywhere else in the
universe would be sunbeams just as much a part of the Sun as that sunbeam. All the sun beams come from the Sun; there would be no sunbeams without the Sun. So, that sunbeam on the Pacific Ocean would be wiser to say joyfully to his neighbor sunbeam on the next wave, “You, too, are from the Sun. On the Atlantic Ocean are still more brother sun beams. Away off in the city streets, our brothers shine.”
All men are our brothers, because the Life
in us is the same Life as in them. All beasts and birds and reptiles and plants
and stones are our brothers, because they, too, are alive.
You didn’t think stones are alive? Well, they are. Have you never seen the spark flash from a stone, when struck by a horse’s hoof? Stones don’t move about as we do; they are not self-moving; but, inside the stone is a constant motion of whirling atoms. There wouldn’t be that motion without Life. The same kind of inside motion is going on in that table before your eyes, in the very walls of the room. Because we are very still when we are asleep, we must not think no motion is within our bodies. The blood is circulating; the lungs are breathing, digestion is going on—not to mention other kinds of motion of our consciousness! Bars of iron and of steel seem not to be “alive,” but,
how can we explain, if life is not there, that machines over-used are said to be “tired,” and if allowed to rest long enough, will recover their former strength and efficiency?
Had you realized that plants have blood and nerves as we have? No, not the same kind of nerves and blood, of course, but Plants Have a kind of blood (What do we call it?) that takes nourishment as ours does, and a kind of nerves that feel hurt or kindness as ours do. A great Hindu scientist, Sir Chundra Bhose, made many experiments to prove this. So, we might ask ourselves how it is that flowers will grow for one person, and for another will wither away and die, though, apparently, both persons give the same care to the plants. You have wondered sometimes if dogs and horses and cats think, haven’t you? Yes, they do in their way. But, it is not as we think. When a dog sees the stick its master has beaten it with the day before, he cringes; but, when the stick is out of sight, there is no thinking about the stick, nor what his master did with it. Some trainers of dogs have taught them how to say words. But, when the trainer is out of the dog’s sight, the dog does not heed the directions of another trying to get it to say words. So, we have taught our hands to do many things, automatically; but, if we are asleep—not “there”—the hands are still. When
we are “there” again, and will to have the hands do the task, then the hands “remember.” We can say, “I think that dog is thinking.” But the dog does not think, “That is a boy, and I am a dog. That boy thinks in another way than I think.” The dog sees many things, but it does not to itself think how one thing differs from another.
The real seeing is not with the eyes, but with the mind; it is within ourselves. When we shut our eyes and see nothing but blackness, we are there, knowing the eyes do not see the trees and flowers and houses which they saw but a moment ago. And then, we can remember them all, seeing them in our mind. We can also see an idea; but, this kind of seeing we may call “perceiving.” The dog seems to know a great deal. But, it does not know that it knows. It sees a great deal with its physical eyes, but it does not see with its mind. Animals It sees motions; it does not see ideas. Its “perceiving” is for the most part in feelings of hunger, thirst, heat and cold.
In the dog is the same Life as in ourselves. It sees by Light as we do, though only by certain kinds of light. It is conscious, but is not Self-conscious. The dog has not the kind of brain into which the Light of mind can shine. It can not say nor feel “I”. It can not remem-
ber what happened last week; it can not plan something to be done next week. An animal caught by its leg in a trap will gnaw off its leg to get away. Then, it is not conscious of even its bodily self. But, even a tiny baby is conscious of its body-self; the babe knows when it is in discomfort and cries for attention. Very early it examines its fingers and toes; the babe really sees them. We boys and girls and men and women can see and understand all other kinds of beings, as well as ourselves. We can see and know that all are our brothers, because their life comes from the same One Life, the same One Spirit, as ours does. We are Self-conscious Knowers, Perceivers, Thinkers.
Have you ever noticed that it is not till about three that baby sister or brother begins to say “I”? Up to then, they speak of them selves as others call them—perhaps, “Baby” or “Bobbie” or “Jeannie.” But, when they say “I,” we know a real Person is with us. Have you ever wondered about that strange being— “I”? And did you think it was your body, and its clothes? Because it couldn’t be, or it would be a different “I” every time you put on an other suit. Or, did you think it was your feelings? It certainly couldn’t be your feelings, for they change so often, and that strange “I” never changes at all. All the time, that “I”
was not your body, nor your feelings, but the One who wondered, who did the thinking; the One you could not see nor hear nor touch.
We never think we are someone else, do we? Some people have received such injuries to their brain that they forgot even their names, where they lived, and all their family. And yet, they would ask, “Who am I?” and, when they got well, would make a new life for themselves, taking on a new name. The “I,” the Real Self, was there, however much was forgotten, and with It, the power to create a new world for itself. Have you ever been so ill as to say, when you were asked a question, “I don’t know. I can not think.” The “I” must be somewhere even beyond the mind; It is, however little we think or know: That “I” can not be seen; It is the Seer. It has no color, shape nor size; It has no appearance so ever. But, it is the Real of us! It never changes. It is THAT without which would be no life, no beings anywhere, though It can not be seen nor touched. We can only say, “IT is, every where—always.”
Socrates, who was a Wise One, once taught the little son of Hagnon in Athens, about the Soul. This is how he put it, as told in the book Gorgo:*
* By Charles Kelsey Gaines.
“Do you see the Long Walls?” he said. “They
stretch far; but you saw that they had a beginning, and you know that they have
an end. For all things that have a beginning have an end. Can you think
“But is there anything like that?” I cried.
“You know the meaning of what men call ‘time’,” he said. “Can you think that it had any beginning, or that it will ever have an end?”
“No; it goes on always. But time—it isn’t anything at all,” I persisted.
“Well,” he said, “you, at least, are some thing; for you can think and know. But can you remember when first you began to be?”
“No; I cannot remember.”
“Perhaps, then, there is something within you that had no beginning. And if that is so, it has had plenty of time to learn. Some think,” he said, “that what we call learning is really only remembering. Already you have much to remember, little son of Hagnon.”
“Yes,” I cried, harking back, “and if it had no beginning it hasn’t any end either; for you said so. My mother thought that; but she did not explain as you do.”
“And if there is something within us that was not born and can never die, but is like time itself, can this be anything else than that
of us which thinks and knows, which men call the soul?”
“It must be that,” I said; “for they put the rest in the ground or burn it up. I never understood about the soul before.”
“And now,” said he, “which part do you think is best worth caring for, — that part which we cast away like a useless garment when it is torn by violence or grows old and worn, or that part which lives always?”
“It is foolish to ask me that; of course it is the part that doesn’t die,” I answered.
“I am glad,” said he, “that you think this a foolish question. Yet there are many who do not understand even this; for just as some care only for clothes, some care only for their bodies. And that, perhaps, is why people do not remember all at once, but very slowly and not clearly, just as one would see things through a thick veil, such as the women some times wear before men. It is only when this veil, which is our flesh, is woven very light and fine, or when it has grown old and is worn very thin, that we can see anything through it plainly; and even then all that we see looks misty and does not seem real.”
“Yes, but the women can peep over,” I explained.
“And we, too, doubtless, can peep over sometimes,” he answered, smiling. “It is better
as you think, and I certainly think so, to seek the things that are good for the
soul, which is your very self, than to seek what seems good to the body, which
we keep only for a little while.”
“And that is why you wear no shoes!” I cried.
“What need have I of shoes?” he said.
Again I pondered. “What are the things that are good for the soul?” I asked him.
“There is but one thing that is good for the soul,” he said. “Men call it virtue. But it is only doing what is right.”
(1) How many names are there for the First Truth of Theosophy? Can you find some names in the Lesson?
(2) How do you know that plants and stones are alive?
(4) Can you answer this riddle?
What sends the bee to honeyed flower
Across the scentless desert ground?
What sends the condor miles to prey,
Though no man’s eye the spot has found?
(5) If you hurt some other person, either his body or his feelings, how many do you hurt? Why?
(6) “I am the origin of all. All things proceed from me.” What does this mean?
(7) “I am not my body. I am not my feelings.
I am not my mind.” Please explain this.
Never was I not,
Never was I not,
Never, never shall I cease to be.
Never the spirit was born,
The spirit shall cease to be never.
Never was time I was not,
End and beginning are dreams.
THE FIRST TRUTH
MEMORY VERSE: “Life is not born nor dies. All is Life. Life is invisible, yet is in all things visible.”
All is Life. We are Life. There is life in every atom, in every particle, however minute. Countless myriads of “lives” surround us all the time. Some are Fire-lives; some are Air- lives; some, Water-lives and some, Earth-lives.
It is Life and the lives that make all forms, whether the crust of the earth, the stone, the daisy, the elephant, or man. It is Life in all these forms that builds them and destroys them. Even the stone form will finally pass away, but the life once in that form will still be Life, in the soil or in the plant.
Our own bodies are made up of all kinds of “lives”—earth-lives in our bones, water- lives in — well, where are they? And we know that air-lives are in every part of our bodies; we breathe them in and out again. Besides, not only do we have heat, or fire, in our bodies, but how about the “sparks” that fly when we are enthusiastic, or when we are angry? All these “lives” are the same One
Life, but some have one part to do, and some another; some have the intelligence that be longs to the lungs, and others what belongs to the brain. But, isn’t it strange that this body which seems so wonderful in what it can do doesn’t know anything at all when We have gone from it? (That is, after what we call death.) It can’t move at all, and the lives of all the organs stop working together. They begin to fight, and keep on fighting till the whole body is destroyed and gone. Even so, the “lives” are still Life. They can’t get “out” of Life, any more than can the bird get out of the air in which it flies.
Now, if that is what happens to the body when We are out of it, isn’t it worth our while to know what our work is with it, when We are in it? Can’t we see, then, that we can no more live separate and apart from all our brothers, than the heart, or stomach, or breath in our bodies can say, “I am all; I am separate from all the other motions in the body.”
What would become of our body, if the heart should say, “I don’t care what becomes of the stomach.” Then, suppose the stomach should say, “I don’t care anything about the lungs; all I want is to be filled up and to get what I want.” What would happen if the brain should say, “I have no use for the body. I am the whole thing in this body, and I will
just move on without being troubled with the rest of it that is always ailing and hindering my progress.” Do you think the stomach would be able to do its work very long, trans forming the food into blood and bones and muscle? Do you think the heart would keep its rhythmic beat very long, driving the blood through the body? And how long would it take for such a brain to grow sick, itself?
We may call ourselves one small life or atom in the great Body of Life, and then it will be clear that when we injure any part of the same great Body, we do that injury to our selves. Only, let us remember that it is what we do invisibly that harms the most; it is what we think and feel that helps or hinders. Have we ever noticed what happens when we are angry or selfish? when we take what belongs to another, of praise or of blame? when we try to get what we have not earned? when we are unjust to another? when we are unkind to others in our speech? Or, is it easier to see what happens when others are angry or selfish or unkind to us? We see what they do, yet do not realize they are mirrors to see ourselves by!
Theosophy is a mirror for inside seeing. But, we can not see it all at once. Inside seeing comes slowly. That is why Fables, too, make good mirrors for us. A Fable is a story in which we learn some truth about ourselves,
through the speaking together and acting together of animals, or plants, or any other forms of life. It is only Man, of course, who has speech, but we don’t like to hear the plain truth about our foolish, harmful speech. We can listen and laugh or enjoy when animals are to be seen in the mirror, and perhaps, sometime, we see something of that animal in us I Listen, then, to the Fable of " LIFE".
Once upon a time, the King of the Air, the
King of Fire, the Earth King, and the Water King met together to decide which of
greatest, and most fit to be King of all the Nature world,
and of man.
They had been quarrelling about it for a long while, and thought it was about time to settle the question; so they invited every thing in the world to come, and asked each one to say which King he thought should be the one great King of all.
It was like a wonderful party. Only it was very serious, because it was such an important thing, they thought, to decide.
The Wind and the Wave, and Sun and the Moon and the Stars were there; the Thunder and Lightning came together, the Mountains, and all the Four Seasons (who knows what
are?) ; the Fruit Fairies and the Grain Fairies, and
the Flower and Tree Sprites, the Fishes, the Birds, and Beasts, the Bees and
Insects and Beetles, — oh, everything you can think of! (Who can think of
Yes, all were there except Man. He didn’t seem to think it important to go. But Mother Nature was there, sitting on a very high seat where she could see all that went on. (Do you suppose that high seat was the sky?)
Of course, they had to have a judge, and everyone agreed that Life would make the best judge, to decide between the Kings; so when all were there, Life stepped before them so that all could see her.
She was dressed in the loveliest garment of shining colors you ever saw. It was so bright that it hurt their eyes to look at her, as it does yours when you look at the sun, you know. And so they all covered their eyes. But when Life saw this, she spoke to them so gently and kindly that it was like the sweetest music, and they all stood up and looked at her again. This time, the brightness didn’t dazzle them but just seemed to fill them through and through with happiness and loving thoughts.
Then a wonderful thing happened. As they watched Life, her dress began to change color—from beautiful glowing red, to a shining orange, and then to yellow and into the loveliest
green like the sunlight on the grass; then
into blue, and to a still darker blue, and then to violet, all the time shining
and glowing with light, like beams from the Sun.
Well, as they watched those lovely dancing sunbeams shining from Life, what do you think? They saw, all of a sudden, that the same beams were shining through each one of them, too; and they were so surprised! You see, they always thought that each one has a little separate life all its own, different from everyone else’s—when it was really only their bodies that were different. And now the Life Light was so bright that for the first time, they could see it shining through each one, and through Life itself, and it was all the same Life—no different in the rainbow than in the rose, no different in the beetle than in the bee, nor in the song of the birds nor the singing of the trees.
Now, this was all very wonderful, but, of course, each one could see only all the rest; he couldn’t see himself yet. You know you can’t see yourself unless you look in a mirror, and Life had not yet shown each one in her magic glass that the same life was shining through one as through all.
So each one thought, that though, of course, as he could see, all the rest had the same Life in them, he must be different himself!!! One
foolish little Bat flew out and told them he could see right through them all, but no one could see through him, — so he should be their ruler! He strutted and puffed, so that every one laughed loud and long at him. This wounded his vanity and the foolish little Bat collapsed completely and fell down on a heap of stones!
Suddenly something happened. The Kings began to think they weren’t getting noticed enough. So each one, to show he was stronger, began to do terrible things! King Fire grew hotter, and hotter, and nearly burned every one up. The Wind blew so loudly and long, it tore up all the trees and rocks and made a dreadful noise. The Water fell in great rains and the Oceans spread over everything. The Earth shook down the hills and mountains. Then the Sun hid his face and everything grew cold, and froze, and it was all dark. And no Life could be seen anywhere. Oh, it was dreadful!
Now Mother Nature had been watching things, you remember, all this while, and she thought it was about time to interfere; so she came forward, and waved her hand, and commanded them to behave!
“How selfish you are!” she said. “Don’t you see that by each trying to get the best for himself, everything is being spoiled, and no
one is getting anything? In a little while all your bodies would have been so destroyed that Life would have had no place to live, and would have had to go away from here. She is almost gone now, but perhaps I can call her back, for she can never die, you know.”
So Mother Nature called and called, while they waited, ashamed and sorry for what they had done, and hoping it was not too late to try again. Suddenly the lovely light shone out once more, and Life stood before them more beautiful than ever! And her eyes were so bright and clear, that as they looked in them, they understood, at last, that there was the Magic Looking-glass, and so they saw them selves just as before they had seen all the rest; and they knew that it was the same Life— Light—Spirit—Self in every one—all in one, and one in all.
According as we think WE ARE, we do. And according as we think other beings are, we do to them. We perhaps now see that WE ARE LIFE. Now, let us read a companion story to “LIFE,” in The Story of the Broom:
In India, in ancient times, a little lad of twelve was taken by his parents to the college of the Wise Men, that he might learn to be
wise and holy, too, to help his fellow men. But the lad really would have preferred to stay with his brothers and sisters and friends, to play their games, to roam when he pleased in the fields, to swim when he chose in the river. The beautiful temple where Wise Men taught seemed lonely and cold to him; his lessons did not last all day, though they were interesting at the time, and his tasks for keeping order in the building where he lived grew daily more irksome.
Morning after morning Subba might have been seen sweeping out the Council-room with indolent strokes of the broom,—then resting in the open door, thinking of his playmates in the town who had only the task of amusing them selves. Hot resentment against this place of Wise Ones and the task would flame in his face, and as he walked up the path, he kicked the stones in impotent anger and, muttering, struck aside the branches of a shrub growing out a little over the path.
No one knows if that little lad ever became the Wise Man his parents hoped for — a Teacher for other little lads, willful and selfish as he was—but fifty years after his boyhood time, another lad with the same daily tasks came to his Teacher and said:
“My Teacher, it is my task to sweep out the Council-room each day, and this week I was
a new besom. This besom is so different from the old one,
I cannot make it sweep well. It is hard and stiff and when I have at last
gathered up the dust in a little pile, suddenly the end of the besom will give a
jerk and the dust be scattered again. May I not have my old besom back?”
“My Son,” mildly replied the Teacher, “I think you can do better than that.” Then he looked with intent eye at the refractory broom, and the picture of the lad of fifty years before came clear to his view. Turning kindly again to little Gargya, he said:
“The impatience and anger of a lazy boy is in that besom. Long ago he daily passed the way of the shrub that grew to make it, and to it, as he brushed it aside in anger, he passed on the angry atoms of his own body. You have learned how our bodies are changing all the time, throwing off old atoms and taking on new—and that other forms of life take on what we throw off, and give back to us again. It isn’t so strange that this besom is unruly, you see, with so many atoms of it impressed by impatience and anger.
“But I said you can do better than cast it aside. Tell me, have you patience, son?”
“I try to do my tasks well, 0 Teacher, but now I see I might be more patient.”
“Have patience then with this unruly be-
lad, and in three moon’s time bring it to me again.”
In three moon’s time, the lad came to his Teacher with smiling face, the besom in his hand, and said:
“0 Teacher, my besom has learned well. It is better now than the one I wanted back.”
“Good, my Son,” replied the Teacher. “It has learned well. And now I know you do have patience. Only a patient lad could have taught and changed that besom, wronged so long ago by impatience and anger.”
TO THINK ABOUT
(1) Do we not judge if a thing is “alive”
by its motions? If so, are we right? Can you explain the difference between the
stone and human being?
(2) What kinds of lives are in the human being? How and where do these lives work?
(3) What is a Fable? What does the Fable “LIFE” teach us?
(4) If LIFE is everywhere, how can you say there is death?
(5) Which are most important, the inside or outside things?
(6) Can you describe the invisible Life? If our thoughts are invisible to others, is it possible for them to help or harm others?
(7) Can you tell what this means, taught by the Buddha?
. . .
“all things do
well which serve the Power
And ill which hinder; nay, the worm does well
Obedient to its kind; the hawk does well
Which carries bleeding quarries to its young;
The dewdrop and the star shine sisterly
Globing together in the common work;
And man who lives to die, dies to live well
So if he guide his ways by blamelessness
And earnest will to hinder not, but help
All things both great and small which suffer life.”
(From The Light of Asia)
THE FIRST TRUTH
MEMORY VERSE: “Act for and as the Self.”
We don’t see Life. We don’t see space, be cause we look through it. Yet, can you think of anything that is not in space? The space where you are sitting now was there just the same before you sat down. It will be there when you get up. This building is in space, but, if it were suddenly burned down, the space would be there just the same. Supposing you had a powerful suction pump that would even take all the air out of the room? Still the space would be left! Supposing you found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, you’d still be there, looking off into space. The sun is over ninety millions of miles away from us in space. Beyond that is still other space, so far that some of it can be measured only by light. So, the distance of stars is measured; but, beyond the farthest star, there is space beyond and beyond. You can’t think where space begins and where it leaves off. Even when scientists measure the space of our solar system, they know there is space within and beyond other solar-systems. Everything is in space, and if there were no thing, nothing to be seen anywhere, still there would be Space.
Every being, however good and noble and wise, exists in space. So Space is greater than any being.
Can we not say all these things of Life? What can this mean, then, than that all Space is filled with Life? That there is no Space without Life? Now, you never would think of saying, would you, that Space is good, or that it is bad? You wouldn’t say that Space is happy or unhappy? that it is cold or hot? But, We, who are beings—Life in bodies—can say we feel heat and cold; we can feel pleasure and pain. Pleasant summer breezes come out of space; fearful hurricanes, tornadoes and blizzards come out of space. In Space all things, both good and bad, are and live and act; but Space itself is neither good nor bad.
The Self, or Life, or Consciousness, is neither good nor bad. It is in all things; there is nothing without it; all things are in it. Can we see it? No. Just as we can see many things with our eyes, but we can not see our power to see; the Self sees all things, but can not see Itself. It is the Seer. Can we weigh it? Or measure it? Has it any color? Even in our selves, can we see it or touch it? Each can only say, “I am.” A Teacher once said to his disciple:
Put this salt in water, and come to me early in the morning.
And he did so, and the Master said to him:
That salt you put in the water last night—
bring it to me! And looking for its appearance, he
could not see it, as it was melted in the water.
Taste the top of it; said he. How is it? It is salt; said he.
Taste the middle of it; said he. How is it? It is salt; said he.
Taste the bottom of it; said he. How is it? It is salt; said he.
Take it away, then, and return to me.
And he did so. And the Master said to him:
Just so, dear, you do not see the Real in
the world. Yet it is here all the same. And this soul is the Self of all that
is, this is the Real, this the Self .*
Space is without color, weight, or size, and of it, we can only say, “It is.” That in us not to be seen, nor touched, nor heard, is our very real Self. And the only way to know It is to act for, and as It, because we are that Self of all creatures. When we act for all beings, we act for THAT.
Our bodies are only instruments for the Self, or Consciousness, to look through—as we look through a microscope or through a tele-
* From the Upanishads
order to learn Great Truths about the Soul. Life makes bodies according to our
needs. How may this be? Well, think of the fish that live in Mammoth Cave,
When they are brought out into a stream, in the air and sunshine, after a time the new baby fish grow eyes to fit the new conditions! In Australia is the Ki-wi bird, which lost the wings it once used, because no longer is there need for flying from wild beasts into the tree-tops. Some say that nowadays people ride so much in automobiles that the next generation will cease to have the use of legs! But, certainly we know that if a great Flood should come upon the land, sweeping everything away but just ourselves, we should have to devise some other ways of getting lights than we have now! We are much more important than the lights, though, be cause we can make new kinds of lights, and new lights can not make themselves. We have Light within us—the Light of Self-Conscious ness—the Light of Soul.
The only way we really know anything is by being conscious of it. When you came into this room for the first time, the same things were in it as are now, but now you see many things which you did not notice before. They were there all the time, but you were not conscious that they were there. It is the Con-
sciousness in us which is the Knower, the Seer, the Chooser, the very Self. This is the Real, the unchanging Self, which sees and experiences all things in Nature — heat and cold, light and darkness. This Self sees the inside things, and knows if they are wise or foolish, pleasing or displeasing, good or bad. We ought never to make the excuse to ourselves that we do not know a good act from a bad one, because we do; we are conscious of which is right. And it is the choice of the right each time that makes our journey shorter to the Light of Truth, to Self-Knowledge.
What makes it so difficult for us to choose the right way? Always there are two things or ways to choose between—if not between wickedness and good, then between the better and the dearer. Life acts in two ways, everywhere and all the time. The ancient Krishna said:
“These two, Light and Darkness, are the world’s eternal ways.” (Memory Verse.)
We wouldn’t know what light is, without darkness. Have we ever thought of that? Even plants know this. The great scientist, Darwin, once put two tender plantlets in a naturally lighted room. Then, he took one and put it in the very bright sunlight, the other in
a very dark room. The plantlet in the sun
soon unfurled its baby leaves; but the one in the dark seemed to shrink its
leaves and roll them closer. Then, he brought both back into the same room
again. In a short time, both looked alike. But, changing them, now, the one that
had been in the dark to the sunlight, and the one in sunlight to the dark, lo,
the one put in darkness furled its leaves close and the other eagerly unfurled
its tender leaves to the sun.
We wouldn’t know what heat is without cold, nor what pleasure is, without unhappy times; what good is without bad. Light is the opposite of darkness; good is the opposite of bad; pleasure is the opposite of pain. (Who will name other opposites?) Who has noticed that sticks always have two ends? That every coin has two faces? Because we always have to choose between two things, between two ways, can we not see that the Path of which we talked in the beginning is the Path of our choices? We can act for and as the Self. Then, we are on the Path of Light. Or, we can act for My-self: that makes the path of darkness and sorrow.
Socrates again taught the little son of Hag- non, about right and wrong.*
* This and all other “Socrates” stories are from Gorgo.
WHAT IS ‘RIGHT”?
“Have you ever thought why it is,” Socrates
asked, “that some things are right and other things wrong?”
I had not, but I thought hard now. “It is right,” I said, “when we do what the gods want us to.”
“And if the gods should want us to do any thing that is wrong, or if they should do any thing wrong themselves—I do not say that they could—but would that make it right?”
“No!” I cried; for I thought bitterly of my mother, and how we had prayed for her in vain.
“Then right and wrong are something mightier than Jove himself.”
“Yes,” I answered. Again my spirit was humbled. “Tell me about it, Socrates.”
“I will tell you, then, how it seems to me. To do right is to do what is truly wise. To do wrong is to make a mistake, — willfully, perhaps, but that is because we think that we are truly wise when we are not. The gods alone are truly wise in everything, and that is why only the gods make no mistakes and never do wrong. If I say anything that you do not think is so, you must stop me.”
“Don’t stop,” I said.
“Well, then, could any real harm come to a soul that is truly wise, and always does what
is for the best and never makes mistakes — if that were possible? And it is possible, if we do not forget.” He paused, but I did not speak. “And is not this the same as saying that nothing can ever harm the soul of one who does right and never does wrong, whatever may happen, now or hereafter? I do not think that we need to know just what it is that happens, little son of Hagnon.”
“But there are such wicked men,” I cried,
“and if they catch you, it isn’t any use to be good.”
“To be wicked,” he said, “is the greatest of all mistakes. It is as if a general should think that all his friends were enemies, and all his enemies friends. A man who is wicked, like the Syrian, is sure to do terrible harm to him self; but he cannot harm any other, not even a child, like you, unless he is able to make him also wicked. And that he cannot do unless you help him; for it is not wrong to suffer what we cannot help, and no such thing ever really harms us. No, little one, the wicked cannot hurt the good.”
“But they do hurt them,” I persisted.
“Let us be sure that we understand each other,” he said. “I do not speak altogether of what most people call harm and talk about as good and evil, not stopping to remember, but of what is really so. I know that the Syrian
that he could harm us and meant to do it, and that you thought the same thing
and feared him greatly; but you were both mistaken. In what way could he have
“He hurt my throat; and he might have killed me.”
“If he had run a knife through your tunic, would that have hurt your body?”
“No, not if it was just the cloth that he cut.”
“And even if he had cut the flesh and run a sharp knife right through the body, could he have hurt that part of you which is yourself, and does not die, and is only harmed by doing wrong? No, little one: it is very terrible to think about, but the worst that he could do, without your help, would be to tear or pluck away its garment from the soul.”
“And that is why you were not afraid when the black man lifted up his knife?”
“That is why,” he answered.
TO THINK ABOUT
(1) If it is true that Life always acts in
one of two ways, how would you choose to use a knife? a
(2) What does “Act for and as the Self” mean? How can you act for the Self in the use of money, of books, of flowers, of candy, of clothes?
(3) How big is Space?
(4) Is the sun good or bad? Too much sun will blind a man, yet the sun causes the flowers to grow.
(5) Why can we not see the Self? Does It have a beginning, or ending?
(6) When plants and animals help each other, do they know it? For instance, some ants are fed by the juicy leaves of a certain plant, and these ants, in return, keep away other ants which would destroy the leaves. Other plants, without this juice to offer for food are eaten by the destructive ants. Do bees and butterflies, as they seek nectar for their food, know that they carry pollen from flower to flower and set the seed for another flowering?
(7) Who was Socrates? Why did he say that “to be wicked is the greatest of all mistakes”?
THE FIRST TRUTH
“God can not be less than Space.”
God is the highest in us. God is everywhere. God is Life, the Self, Spirit, Consciousness. Why is it, then, that we have kept this name— God—for the last lesson of the First Truth? Do we not know, now, that God can not be a being? Because any being’ is in space, and so Space is greater than any being. And aren’t We greater than any idea about space, because We have the idea? Consciousness and Space are not different. Why?
Our Inmost Self is the Real God, and all we can know of that God is in and of ourselves. Is it any wonder that Theosophy is called God- Knowledge? When we know that Knowledge, then, we are the highest beings in the universe. But, the highest beings are not God; they are gods, each one. So, we are a God within, but we do not know it, here on earth. Someone once said that we are Gods in the making!
Once, a little boy who had been taught by his mother that God is everywhere, cried out
to stop the car they were riding in. “Why?” she asked. And he said, “The car is riding over God, and I can’t bear it. God is in the stones and dirt, isn’t he?”
Where do you suppose he had gained the idea that Life, or God, could be hurt? Well, he had once been to Sunday School and had been taught that God is a being up in the sky, and not that God is within us and in every. thing. To him, God was a large Person. So, you remember that the ancient Greeks pictured the ocean as a Person—Poseidon. They pictured the heavens as a Person—Zeus. They pictured life in manifold forms as a Person— Proteus. And they pictured all Nature as the Person—Pan. But, what do you suppose Pan means? It means ALL—Everything. It was because in earliest times they knew Life to be in everything, each form of Life having its own kind of knowledge, or intelligence, that they felt more at one with all Nature. They knew they had all the powers that were in the sea and sky, in the mineral and vegetable and animal world. Their gods were the intelligent powers of Nature; but they also knew that all these powers came from the One Life, the One Power, the One Spirit. They did not make of THAT a person!
The gods and goddesses of ancient peoples
simply meant “the opposites.” So, they had their Light-and-Darkness gods. But, in the course of time, these peoples lost sight of the Real, just as many Christian people have lost sight of the Real that Jesus taught, the God within. Christians have made of God a Good Person able to reward those who are good and make them happy. They have named God’s “opposite,” the Devil, or Satan, who has power to make people wicked; but, it is God who punishes the wickedness. All this is very con fusing, isn’t it? Such ideas of “God” have been made by men. The Inner God is. So, we have to understand what is meant by anyone when he says, “God.”
Many think “God” is a Spirit, who is every where outside themselves, so that they can “pray” to Him for what they want to receive, or to be relieved of; that He may do for them what they can not do for themselves. Suppose someone could do all our walking for us? Would we ever know how to walk ourselves? Suppose someone could do all our thinking for us? Suppose someone could do all our work for us? Can someone be happy for us, or can one be miserable for us? “Praying” in the real way, can we not see, is acting for and as the God within ourselves, not just now and then, but all the time.
HOW TO BE HAPPY
Helen was a little girl.
One morning she sat in the garden looking very sad, for Helen wanted to be happy, and she wasn’t.
Along came Mr. Worm, creepy, creepy over the grass.
“Oh, Mr. Worm,” said Helen, “are you happy?”
“Yes, indeed, my dear,” answered Mr. Worm.
“I wish I were,” sighed Helen, “will you teach me how to be?”
“Why, that’s easy,” said Mr. Worm, “just
stick your nose into the ground, and wriggle like me, and you’ll be happy.”
So Helen stuck her nose into the ground, and wriggled like Mr. Worm. But she got her nose all muddy, and her dress all mussy; and she wasn’t happy.
Very soon she saw Mr. Squirrel in a tree.
“0, Mr. Squirrel,” said Helen, “are you happy?”
“Why, of course !“ answered Mr. Squirrel.
“I wish I were,” sighed Helen, “will you teach me how to be?”
“Certainly,” said Mr. Squirrel. “There’s nothing nicer than taking a flying leap from one tree to another. Just try it and you’ll be happy.”
So Helen tried it. But she scratched her
hands and tore her dress, and when she tried to jump from one tree to another
she fell down with a big bump; and she wasn’t happy.
Just then she saw Mrs. Cat washing herself in the sun.
“0, Mrs. Cat,” said Helen, “are you happy?”
“Always,” answered Mrs. Cat, without stop
“I wish I were,” sighed Helen. “Will you teach me how to be?”
“It ought to make you happy to sit down here in the sun and wash yourself. You need it,” answered Mrs. Cat.
So Helen sat down in the sun, which was most uncomfortably hot, and tried to wash herself with her tongue like Mrs. Cat. But it was not fun at all, and the mud on the end of her nose tasted horrid and gritty; and she wasn’t happy.
So she walked way down to the end of the garden. And there under a rose-bush, sat The Nicest-of-All-Fairies. When she saw Helen she said:
“What’s the matter, little girl? You don’t look happy!”
“Oh, I’m not,” answered Helen, “and I want to be—very much !”
“Very well, I’ll tell you how. Only you must
exactly as I say,” answered The-Nicest-of- All-Fairies.
“I will, I will,” cried Helen, “if only you’ll make me happy.”
“Then turn right around, and go back to the house. Go to your Mother’s room and do what your heart tells you to do.”
So Helen turned right around, and went back to the house and upstairs to her Mother’s room. Mother was making a dress for Helen. The room was very hot and it wasn’t at all fun to sew, but Mother wanted to get the dress finished for Helen to wear next Sunday. When Mother saw Helen she said:
“Why, Deane, are you tired of playing in the garden?”
And Helen’s heart told her the answer.
“Yes, I’d much rather be up here helping you, Mother. Let me pull out bastings.”
And what do you suppose? Before you could count, 1, 2, 3, and say Jack Robinson— Helen was Happy!
Do you know why, Dear?
TO THINK ABOUT
(1) Who, where, and what is God?
(2) Is there any reason why we cannot think of God as some kind of a being?
(3) If the ancients had the idea that Life
is One, though each form of Life has its own
intelligence, how could it be they lost this knowledge?
(4) What are “the opposites” taught by the Christians?
(5) What do the gods and goddesses of ancient people signify?
(6) Why is it important to know We are Gods in the making, rather than that some outside Power can make us good or bad?
(7) What is “the opposite” of knowledge? of selfishness? of courage? of truth? of right? of sleep? of generosity? of help?
Said the youth to the Sage: “0 Father, I can
not pass over that black chasm by this slender bridge!
I shall fall in. I have not the strength to endure to the other side. I have
scarce the strength to begin, heavily burdened as I am.”
“Not your burden, but the weakness of your fear, is the weight,” said the Sage. “You can not pass over thus weighted down. This bur den drop, and cross lightly to the other side.”
But the youth’s trembling held him fast to the brink of the abyss.
The Sage seeing, said: “Take the first
step.” The youth obeyed. And being on the swinging bridge,
balancing the burden, he dared not turn about nor even look back, but went
easily, swiftly over. When he was on the other side the Sage was there also.
Filled with the glory of accomplishment, the youth cried, “I did it! I did it!” Then remembering that he had left the Sage behind, he looked wonderingly at him in enquiry. “You came with me, Father?”
“Yes, I came with you all the way,” said the Sage. “But, if you had faltered in doubt and fear on the brink, I could have done nothing. In taking the first step you let go the weight of fear, and the courage you assumed was augmented to carry you over.”
“How simple it is, Father,” said the youth, joyously. “I know I had not enough courage at the start to carry me over.”
“You had enough to start, and by using it, you opened the door for all courage. Thus mine became yours also.”
The youth looked at the Sage in the radiancy of gratitude, and then, as his gaze traveled back over the dark abyss, the light of his eye seemed to form one more thread in the golden strands of courage now spanning it— for other heroic souls to come.
THE SECOND TRUTH LAW
“I am the origin of all.
All things proceed from me.”
Now, we have come to The Second Truth.
Yet, this Memory Verse for it we became acquainted with when studying the First
Truth. Do you remember that there is One Truth, but that It
has three faces, or views? The Three Truths are simply three ways of looking at
the One, and the other two Truths could not be without the First, any more than
a plant could be without the seed. So, when we were talking about the First
Truth, we found names for It, although we could not
describe It, because It is the Changeless. We could only understand
It a little better by looking at changing things, and
beings, in motion. As soon as we did this, really, we were considering The
The Changeless of The First Truth is eternal, ceaseless Motion Itself. What we see is motions, not the Source of all motions. In the Changeless is the Power to change, the Power to act, the Power to think, the Power to build, the Power to destroy, and all Powers whatsoever. It is when these Powers
come into use, when beings begin to act, when
manifold motions start in the universe that we can speak of The Second Truth,
for this is the Truth which has to do with action—with beings, who and which
act. This is a universe of action, and certainly we have thought enough about it
to see that, by action, we mean much more than mere bodily action—the action, or
motions of sun, and stars, and planets—because thinking is action; feeling is
action; remembering is action; imagining is action—the action of our minds,
rather than our bodies. Our minds, too, are always acting, always changing. But
there is no action without Life and beings to make action—whether seen, or
We really live in two universes, don’t we— the Unseen universe, and the visible universe? The visible universe “proceeds” from the Unseen Universe of Life, yet Life is in all things visible. Our visible universe is just a symbol of The Self.
So, the ancient Greeks pictured it as a great Egg, with the sky for its shell. Universe means the turning, or the motions, of the One Life— of all that can be seen anywhere in boundless space.
If we want to put The Second Truth into one small word, we can do so by naming it LAW. Whatever laws we may see or learn of,
in books and in great Nature, all proceed from the One Law — Life’s eternal way of action. We are never going to find law in an important part of the universe, and no law in some for gotten corner of it! Why? Of course, if Life is everywhere, and the Power to act is every where, then Law is everywhere.
MEMORY VERSE: “ This is a Universe of Law.”
It is plain to see, then, that if we
understand thoroughly any one thing in the universe, we shall know about all
other things. Let us take an egg to study. Strange, isn’t
it, that every thing here on earth does come from an egg?
Isn’t a seed an egg? The egg-shell is only a covering for a miniature universe of life. In the center of a hen’s egg is a tiny point, or seed, or germ of Life, which is some day going to break the shell and come forth in a chick’s body! That tiny point of Life stretches out on either side of itself, until it becomes a line from one side of the shell to the other. From that same point of Life also comes a line between the two long ends of the egg. Right in the egg, then, Life has made the form of a cross, in what look like lines of Light. That is why the Cross is a symbol of the Self acting in the body. Just notice, too, that when we hold our arms straight out from our bodies, we also make the
form of a cross. Could we not think of our earth, even, as a kind of egg? Then, we could see how the equator and the north and south poles came to be.
Well, you see, that line in the egg is the
action of Life. Always, in every egg, that little point of Life stretches out
into that line; it always acts that way, stretching out in two opposite
directions, east, west—north, south. So we say, we “see” LAW at work. LAW is the
name we give to Life’s eternal way, or action. Seeing LAW in the egg, now you
understand better, don’t you, that “These two, light and darkness, are the
world’s eternal ways.” These opposite ways of action must always be, wherever
there is Spirit, Life, Consciousness. That is LAW.
And from the way we see LAW work from the Life in the egg,
we can under stand how it is that LAW is within all things—not
outside. The tiny point of Life in the egg is the cause of the line; the
Self is the great Cause of all action. Without the point would be no line;
without the Self would be no action anywhere—and so, no LAW. But the Self is
everywhere, in all things. So wherever there is action, there is LAW.
The simplest things we do are according to LAW. We breathe in — and out. That is the only way we can breathe. That is LAW.
We walk, according to LAW, on the ground,
of in the air. Our bodies are made out of earth-stuffs, and so they are
attracted to the earth. So our bodies pull toward the earth, and we pull them
back at the surface, where we keep our equilibrium.
That is the way the earth stays in space, over ninety million miles from the sun. The sun attracts it just so far, and why it stays at that distance — balanced — in equilibrium, as we say, we shall see by studying a pair of magnets.
Each magnet has two opposite poles, positive and negative: if we put each positive against each negative, the two magnets cling together. If we put each positive opposite each positive the magnets push away, or are repelled. The sun is a great magnet; so when the earth gets a certain distance from the sun, it becomes magnetized like the sun, and therefore pulls away. All the planets of our solar-system have their motions regulated by the more powerful attraction of the sun. But it is the law in each body which acts with that in the other bodies. We, observing the action, always the same, say: That is LAW.
Just so, the tides of the ocean come in and go out again. The ocean is attracted by the moon and then the earth pulls it back again. But always the tide comes in for six hours; goes out for six ours. That is LAW. Never
any chance does the tide come in for three hours, and go out for four.
It is LAW that holds the earth, and sun, and stars, trees, bodies of all kinds in their very shape. Do you remember that the stone which seems so hard is made up of tiny atoms whirling around a central point? Life—The Self—is the central point of all forms and beings. Once LAW should disappear from all these things, our Universe would be gone. Don’t you remember how this nearly happened in the Fable?
A pair of scales teaches also the same lesson. In order to get the correct weight of some object, we have to put an equal weight on the other side. So we get the scales in balance, or equilibrium. This kind of balancing is going on all the time in this Universe. Every action causes the movement of “lives,” whether to violence or harmony. This is LAW—and LAW means order.
It is such an orderly Universe, isn’t it? Planets, stars, suns, moons—all stay in their exact places according to LAW. It looks as if we might think of our bodies as small universes, which we, the Self, must keep in order. When the motions of our heart and head and stomach and blood and nerves are kept in equilibrium, then we are strong. And isn’t it sensible for us to keep all our possessions in order—
order is in all things in the Universe? The more orderly we are, in body and in
mind, surely the more we are acting for and as The Self; the better we render
gentle service. And now we see that the laws men make to punish wrong-doers and
keep order everywhere are just in imitation of the great LAW of the Universe.
That LAW makes no mistakes.
TO THINK ABOUT
(1) “The Universe is embodied Consciousness.” What does this mean?
“Flower in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies,
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower—but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is.” *
(2) Would you also know what Law is?
(3) What and where is Law?
(4) Why do all cities and states and nations make laws?
(5) If a man who does not know how to swim goes into water beyond his depth and is drowned, is the water to blame?
(6) What is the meaning of the Cross?
(7) What would happen if the Law of the Universe should suddenly stop working?
SUSIE, THE CHOOSER
The nursery was a sight! Mrs. Newton’s
accustomed eyes surveyed a disheveled scene. Susie had been having a
Theosophical School for a large and rather mixed family. The nursery floor was
strewn with Teddy-bears of all sizes and ages, several rabbits likewise, a
varied collection of dolls, some in the pink of perfection, some looking
fearfully overworked and bearing indelible signs of ardent affection. I haven’t
time to tell you of all the things that lay on the floor, but it was very plain
indeed that nothing had been picked up all day.
“Susie,” called Mrs. Newton, “I want you to tidy your nursery before supper !“
Susie was having an exciting race on her tricycle with the little girl who lived across the street. The thought of going indoors and doing anything so uninteresting as putting away toys took all the joy out of the evening for Susie.
“Yes, Mother,” she replied promptly. But she didn’t go promptly! Oh no! she waited for just one more spin up and down, and one more spin up and down, until she was called in to supper before she knew where the time had gone to.
After supper while it was still light, they all went out to see a new rose that was in bloom. Susie lingered in the garden. The sky was still
a sunset glow, the evening was very lovely, and Susie thought of her nursery
with a shudder of dislike.
At last she went in. Someone had turned on the light, and it glared piteously on the wreck age. Susie could just reach the switch. She did so in haste, and, slamming the door, she dashed into the living-room, kissed Mummy and Dad “goodnight” in a hurry, and soon was in bed and not long after was asleep.
* * * *
The people moving around looked like shadows.
The sky was gray and dead. Every one looked dull and sad. They groped in the
gloomy dusk and spoke in hoarse voices from which the warmth of life seemed to
have gone. Susie heard some of them saying that some thing had gone wrong with
the sun. They did not know whether they would ever see it again; it had somehow
gone out of its right track and had disappeared in the great
un known spaces of the sky.
(You know Susie was quite little, only six, and she thought the sun moved around the earth because it looks as if it does.)
Everyone was very sad as I have said, and some of the children began to cry and say that they wished the nice, warm sun would come back. Susie thought of the glory of the last sunset she had seen and she tried dreadfully
hard to swallow something that was sticking in her throat, and wiped away, very fast, some thing wet that was rolling down her cheeks, because she feared that never again would she see anything so beautiful.
Next thing she knew she was in her own be loved little garden, and what do you think? There were no pretty pansies, roses, Canter bury bells, nor any of her favorites to be seen, nor any that were not her favorites, for that matter. All the plants in the garden were growing with their roots sticking up in the air, and the flowers were buried in the earth. Susie picked up her spade and began to dig. She worked so hard, and dug such a deep hole, but the flowering end seemed to get farther away all the time.
Then the scene changed suddenly again, the way it does in dreams (for I know that you have guessed that this was a dream). Susie was standing down by the sea, watching the waves as she always loved to do. The sky was still black and there was a crowd of sad, anxious people hurrying to and fro. The great breakers crashed down on the sand as if they were angry with it and wanted to hurt it and then swept up, up, up the shore, spreading white foam along the beach as far as the eye could see. Higher and higher swept the waves. Men hurried around with sand in sacks. Then at last a
who held a watch in his hand cried out in a loud, frightened voice:
“The tide has not turned! The tide has not turned! It has been coming in for long beyond the right time. This has never happened in the world before! We shall all be drowned! Make haste. Run for your lives!”
All turned and ran far inland, but the sea kept coming in and pounding just behind them. Susie heard some one say:
“It seems as if there is no law and order in the Universe !”
She was so tired! And at last, when she felt as if she could not take another step, and would have to let the waves overtake her, she opened her eyes and found herself all under the covers of her own little bed.
She lay and looked out of the window at a large bright star in the heaven, and she thought:
“Oh, how glad I am that there is law and order in the Universe! I wish I had tidied my nursery last night. That was a moment of choice, when I turned out the nursery light and left my toys, and I chose the crooked path. I will straighten it up first thing in the morning.”
She did too.
Sometime I will tell you more about Susie.
THE SECOND TRUTH KARMA
“Thoughts are the seeds of Karma.”
We can’t see Law any more than we can see The Self. We can see only action and motions, and when we see things happen in just the same way, with fire, or water or air or earth, for instance, we say this is the law of those elements. We know now that this is a Universe of Law — that the sun, moon, stars, earth, ocean, and the small earths we call our bodies, all are obeying Law—the Law within them—and so keeping order. They don’t know they are obeying, but they do obey; they cannot act in any other way than as they do act. But we can act as we choose; we are the Thinkers and the Choosers, who can obey or disobey the Law, though still the Law goes on, whether we show obedience or disobedience to it. Just as the Self is the cause of the Universe and its Law, or way of action, so we, the Thinkers, are the cause of all that comes to us in our bodies. Everyone agrees to call that, Law, which holds the universe in its place, but there most people think Law stops. Only the wise men of old, and only Theosophy,
as we are learning it, see the Law in every thing, in every body, in every circumstance. They have named this Law—Karma. While it means all that we have been talking about as Law, it gives a larger idea of Law than most men have. It means action; it means the balancing of action; it means the Law of all visible things, and the Law of men’s minds and hearts, as well. It is the Law of every being, and is felt by each being according to its degree. You can understand that the wild animal, which doesn’t choose to obey or disobey, feels Karma more as the sun and earth do. But men, who are always thinking, al ways feeling, always choosing, make more Karma for themselves and experience it from other beings—that is, there must be many more balancings in their scales of Life. So it is the Karma of men, of ourselves, we shall find most interesting to study about.
In California are mighty redwood trees— the tallest trees in the world. Have you ever seen the seed from which they Minds Grow come? It is very tiny to have Thought. Seed contained the germ of Life that though the tree is felled and the stump burned, still from the stump will grow numberless
young shoots—new trees—again. It is said you cannot kill a redwood tree. But every tree lives on in the seed, which is its fruit, whether it be cone or acorn. How many trees have grown from this oak on the avenue! How many times it has bloomed and let its acorns fall— each one a possible new oak-tree. And each tree could shelter from the sun, how many people, in all the time it was growing? Our own bodies grow very like the trees; but, do our minds grow likewise into grace and beauty and strength? Minds, too, grow from seed— from thought-seed. Wrapped up in every seed of thought is—Karma. Whatever the seed— if it be ugly, unkind, selfish; if it be generous, considerate, beautiful—so the seed will grow. “The pepper-plant will not give birth to roses, nor the sweet jessamine’s silver star to thorn or thistle turn.” In the seed is Life—the power to act or grow, the Cause; what comes from the seed—the action, the growth—is the Effect. And both are Karma—the “Tree” of Life and Karma.
People often speak of “good” Karma and “bad” Karma, when what they really mean is, they don’t like the kind of effect, or result, that their thought-seed has grown for them. Somewhere, sometime, their thoughts, their speech—that expresses thoughts; their actions that carry out
the thinking—have not been for the Self, for
other selves. Unless we remember always, we and all others are the Self, we
shall not be able to act rightly for It.
How could we possibly get “good” Karma from wrong thinking, remembering that the Law is always keeping balance everywhere in the Universe? We must surely pay for the ounce of bad-thought seed which we put on the scales by an ounce of bad effect. So, if we are looking for “good” effects, it is equally sure we shall have to put good thought-seeds on the scales. The good Karma—or that which makes us happy—we have earned. The bad Karma that we wish had not come to us, we also earned; we made the cause. It is not possible for the Law to work in any other way.
Are we going to complain, then, of our disappointments? Shall we talk about someone else’s “good luck” or our own “bad luck,” when we know that everything comes about according to Law, or Karma; when we perceive that nothing ever just “happens” to us, but has really grown out of the seeds of cause that we ourselves planted?
Sometimes the plant grows from the seed just over night; then we can see just what was the seed-cause, and what is the effect. We say that is quick Karma.
Sometimes the seed-cause waits years and
years for flowering. Seeds that fell from the lotus in the Gobi desert before Columbus discovered America were made to bloom again in Chicago, after centuries of sleep in wind- drifted soil. We don’t see the growing, because it is so slow, and we have for-gotten that we planted the seed; but it is there just the same. Karma never stops. Then some day something happens to us that seems to have no reason at all, because we forgot that seed, and here, right before our eyes, is a plant with a big red flower on it! All we can say is: this is Karma; this is according to the law of Cause and Effect. No plant ever grew without a seed; and I must have planted the seed, be cause it is blooming in my very own garden!
We think it doesn’t matter if we throw down our book in anger, except that we mar the book. Anger is very quick, and we are apt to say we “didn’t think.” But thinking is very quick, and if we hadn’t been thinking about ourselves, we wouldn’t have been angry. Can’t we see there are “lives” in the book, that our anger “talks to,” even though we said no word? Those “lives” will be one day released from the form of the book, and wherever they are, when we touch them again, will help to arouse our anger. Is the air empty? Wherever the eye falls, wherever the voice is heard, myriads
of lives carry the message throughout the
universe, and one day return to us the effect of the anger, or of the good-will,
with which we looked and spoke. The “lives” are being used by us all the time in
all that we do, and so we make them messengers of Karma — quick or slow, but
TO THINK ABOUT
(1) Law is Karma. Karma is Law. Why, then, do we have two words for the same thing?
(2) Do the sun and tides and animals obey Law as we do? Please explain this.
(3) Do we blame a dog because it cannot fly? or a fish because it cannot walk? Why?
(4) Is there such a thing as “good” Karma, or “bad” Karma?
(5) What are the two “faces” of Karma?
(6) What “carries” Karma?
(7) How do our minds grow?
William Clark hated to work, and he never worked with a will; yet he never could under stand why he wasn’t rich, why he had to earn his daily bread instead of riding around the country in his own car. He came to almost hating anyone who had more ease than he had,
never thinking that his beautiful strong body
and nimble fingers were riches enough for a young man, and never thinking either
that he showed each day how incapable he was of using riches wisely, by the way
he ignored the physical riches he already possessed! WilIiam worked, or
pretended to work, in the foundry near his home. He hated this job, as he had
all other jobs before it, and was always the last to arrive in the morning and
the first to reach for his coat at night.
Now, thinking that he hated working not only made that work harder to do, but also harder to do well. William finally grew to have almost a love for shirking; he felt that somehow he was making the balance right if he did things as badly as he dared to spite the world because he was poor! Never did he dream that his own thoughts were the reason for his poor pay envelope!
One morning when he arrived at the shop, he found all the men stirring and working with unusual rush. The foreman came out of the office and called them all together, saying that the next week the new machinery would be unloaded, and the great magnet, of which everybody had been talking, would be tested. “So, men, get busy now. The manager and mayor will be at the testing and it will be a half-holiday. We must get all these orders out
of the way before then to make room for the new stuff.”
William turned away with a curl of the lip. “New magnet!” he muttered, “as if that folly was all they could spend their money on He went back to his work, however, with an appearance of willingness. The foreman was not too patient and he had already spoken to William more than once of his poor work. He was coming up to him now.
“Look here, Bill,” he said. “I want two dozen of those extra fine castings made— number 8, MM. You take the job and run it through. I’ll leave it to you. Extra fine, A No. 1, remember, no slip! You can do it.” Then he went away thinking, “I like, the fellow. Perhaps this responsibility will put him on his mettle.”
William was flattered, and pleased, too,
by the confidence and praise of his superior; he felt a better spirit in his
heart and he told himself he would do a good job; he would “show them.”
Next day he worked faithfully, and the next. The third day came, and the old, “don’t care, cheat the world” feeling came back to poor William. He just couldn’t do well another hour. He bungled and he made mistakes. He took up the ore before it was at the degree of heat called for and ran it into the molds. “I’m
sick of this job,” he said. “Guess I’ll finish it quick, and then I’ll get off earlier.” He knew at that moment the castings would crack through their imperfections, but what did he care, for “No one will ever know whose fault it was, once they are shipped,” he said. He cared neither for himself nor for the foreman, and least of all did he care that by his selfish thoughts he might be molding the helpless lives in the iron to bring about calamity to hundreds of human beings! Finally his task was done, and even William feared when he saw the result of his blundering work.
The next day was to be the day of the testing of the great magnet. They, said, those who were venturing a fortune on its success, that this magnet would lift high in the air 40,000 pounds of solid iron, and that, too, without a chain! It would revolutionize the foundry work. It would lift hot metal without injury; it would load cars! And all would be done by one man pressing a button! In the midst of the interested chatter, William was anxiously wondering how to slide by the foreman’s O.K. on the castings. The cars weren’t there for loading, so they couldn’t be shipped until the last of the week. He must hide them some where. When his eye fell on the slag-pit, he thought “the very place,” and for once in his life he fell to work with vigor. Soon he had
them covered with a layer of earth and slag,
and then left for home without a thought of worry.
Next morning the place was alive with interest. The manager, the mayor, and all the leading citizens came to see the testing. William saw them in their smiling success and hated even the flower in the buttonhole of the mayor’s coat! He had no heart to guess what grateful hand had put it there, nor what sacrifices had made tired the anxious eyes above the flower. At last the great magnet was swung loose. Great in its power, it swept over the yard on its way to the mass of ore it was to pick up. But what is happening? The people rubbed their eyes, for as it swung over the slag- pit, the earth broke away in clouds of dust and up came William’s hidden castings!
A great laugh broke from the visitors, who, of course, did not understand, but the foreman was close enough to get the whole story in the twinkling of an eye. And William—poor William—slunk away.
More than the magnet had been tested that day, but the magnet—not the man—had stood the test. William left that night for another city without even going back for his pay.
Six months later William’s mother had a letter from him, from which she read to me with tears in her eyes:
“You know, Mother, when I realized that that big magnet lifted 40,000 pounds of iron just because it liked it, I got the notion that I could lift my work better, if I liked it. Honest, it’s true, I am beginning to like my work now, and I do better, and do it easier and quicker. When I’ve made good for a whole year, I’m coming back to ask the Boss for my old job.”
THE SECOND TRUTH KARMA
“Evil swells the debts to pay,
Good delivers and acquits;
Shun evil, follow good; hold sway
Over thyself. This is the way.*
“This is the way.” This is the Path of
Karma — always marking the line of our choices between what is good or evil;
between what helps or hinders. But we wouldn’t choose between things we didn’t
think about, would we? And we are thinking all the time. There couldn’t be
thoughts without the Thinker, of course. And unless we have some feeling about
what we think, such thoughts don’t stay in our mind. We think most of those
things we feel most. Strong thinking and strong feeling, then, must have strong
effects. Just as the strong life in the seed will grow a stately tree, so in the
opposite way, our mean, selfish thoughts and feelings will bring back into our
minds unhappiness and pain. “Chickens always come home to roost,” the farmers
say, no matter how far away they may wander during the day.
Well, it is this way. Next time you see a
* Light of Asia.
pond in some quiet place, where it is allowed, throw in a stone. You will see, from the spot where the stone went in, little waves going out to the shore, and then, if you look long enough, you will see those little waves going back again into quiet just where the stone went in. Action and re-action to the point of disturbance, isn’t it? That is the way the Law acts. And, remember, that stone caused movements and disturbance to every drop of water in that pond. But if you throw in a heavier stone, the waves of the smaller stone seem to be swallowed up by the larger ones. That shows us our only escape—the setting up of bigger, better causes to kill the old bad effects. Answer wrath with wrath, we get more wrath; but answer softly, and wrath is turned away. “Hatred ceases not by hatred, but by love,” the Buddha said.
So our thoughts are thrown out into our little worlds, and there is action, and re-action back to the place of thoughts which is our mind. Have we not all heard echoes? A story is told of how a little boy was playing one day, and shouting happily by himself, when he seemed to hear another boy from behind the hill shouting just as he did, saying the very same words. It interested him at first and then
it annoyed him, so that he shouted to the un seen boy, “Go away, you bad boy!” Back the answer came—”way, you bad boy!” Bursting into tears, the little boy ran into the house and told his mother all about it. Straightway his mother told him to go out again to play, smiling, and this time shout “Come play with me, you good boy!” To his surprise, back the answer came, so pleasantly, “you good boy!” And so the little boy learned that if we want pleasant sounds to come back to us, it is pleasant sounds we must send forth.
Sometimes it seems as if Mother or Father or Sister or Brother was the one who made the disappointments come; but, it never is so. They are all simply the ones through whom the law of Karma works. It’s because our actions have been to them, and they bring the action back as the “lives” do. The Law doesn’t work in each one of us separately, but in the Whole. We think of people—we love them and help them—our Karma is bound up with theirs; we think unkindly and selfish thoughts of other people—our Karma is bound up with theirs; the re-action comes back to us from all those we think about. We can’t blame anyone, then, can we, for the trouble they seem to cause us? We should never feel hurt nor angry at what comes from them; we know it really comes
from ourselves. It is for us to understand why, to find the cause in ourselves, if we can, and then make better causes.
Suppose, now, you saw a little boy frightened and crying because he was all tangled up in a rope so that he couldn’t move his legs? Would any of you say, “That is his Karma “and pass by without helping him? Why not? Hasn' t your Karma brought you there to render service? The little boy’s Karma, too, brought you there just then to help him. Sup pose, though, you did not help? Wouldn’t your not acting be an “act” itself? “Inaction in a deed of mercy” is the worst kind of act, be cause we think no one knows, but sometime it will lead us to do some very great evil. It means one goes on the wrong side of the path of Karma.
Once upon a time, did you ever think that if you did something wrong which no one saw or knew about, it did not matter, anyway? But that is a great mistake. Perhaps there was once a little boy who, by careless playing with for bidden matches, set fire to his father’s house, and then thought if he went far enough away he might escape punishment for his disobedience. Suppose he traveled a thousand miles on the train—do you suppose Karma would stop when he boarded the train? Wouldn’t he be
dreaming of fires when asleep, and lonely for
his parents and home when awake? Suppose he thought that on the ocean he would
escape all reminders of fire, and sailed a thousand miles to sea? Would Karma
stop when he boarded the vessel? No, Karma would be right with him! Could he go
high enough in any air-plane to getaway from his thoughts? Why, we just know
that boy would soon be finding he did not want to look people squarely in the
eye; that he would be afraid, every minute, of someone seizing him by the collar
“Ah, you are that Boy!”
One little lie is like the acorn seed that may grow into a great tree, if we water the soil and cultivate it by keeping silent when we should speak. That is the very meanest and worst kind of lying, for it has deceived ourselves. We have to be honest enough to see why we do or don’t do certain things, or we are not honest at all. A lie is always told to protect or favor ourselves, and it exacts hard payment of Karma.
Why should we want to excuse ourselves, either, for doing wrong? And how about excusing another? Isn’t it a better help to any one to be honest with him, and help him do better, than it is to excuse him and let him forget he has something to learn, — that he
has to pay after all? Sometimes we do excuse
because we know it will make another feel more kindly to us. Is that really
How about keeping our word, once we give it? How about keeping the promise, once we have made it? Remembering to act for The Self, we will not promise until we know we can keep it! Wouldn’t it be better to consult those wiser than we, when we aren’t sure?
How shall we find the very highest honor and honesty, do you think? It all comes from remembering not myself, but all other selves— every day and every hour. We are to look not for our success and happiness, but only to do what is right and best for others. Our honor is our promise to our real Self to “Act for and as The Self of all.”
TO THINK ABOUT
(1) ‘Where does Karma start? Where do we get the re-action?
(2) Can we escape Karma?
(3) Why do some people seem always to bring us good, and others unpleasant things?
(4) What is meant by the path of Karma?
(5) What is meant by holding “sway over thyself”? How about Achilles?
(6) What makes thoughts stay in our minds?
(7) Why is it we never wonder about why good things come to us?
SOCRATES TEACHES A CHILD
“Why did you not let them kill the Syrian?” I
burst forth. “Oh, I wish they had killed him!”
“Do you think it is doing right to kill people?” asked Socrates. Tell me just what you really think, son of Hagnon.”
“He ought to be killed,” I cried, hotly. “Oh, I wish they had trampled on him till he was spattered about like the grapes when they make them into wine !“ And I gritted my teeth in sheer fury at the thought of him.
“It is true that he deserves punishment,” said Socrates, so soberly that my pulses fell a little. “Do you think that he will not be punished? Is it not a frightful punishment, even now, to be just as he is, with that part of him that cannot die ruined and full of a dreadful poison? Yet if that does not seem to you to be enough, you need not fear lest that be all. Wrong always brings punishment — else it would not be wrong. That is the difference between things that are really wrong, and those things that many think are wrong which are not.”
“He ought to be killed,” I repeated; and the words still had a good relish.
“Men sometimes make blunders in their killings,” he said; “and these, I fear, are very
sad mistakes, especially for those who make
them. From exile, if it is found to be unjust, a man may be recalled; but when
the soul is driven out it cannot be called back. Are you sure, little boy, that
you are so wise as to know always just who ought to be killed? and how he should
be killed, and by whom and when? I myself should fear to say.”
“He ought to be killed,” I said again, rolling the words on my tongue, but the flavor was not so good. And I went on: “You have killed men, haven’t you—in battle, Socrates?”
“I obey the laws of my country. Yes, and I would have killed the Syrian to prevent him from killing you—or bearing you away, which would have been worse — but not otherwise. And if I should say to you, little one, as I said to him, that it is better to die than to kill an other, would you too think it foolish, as he did? Would you be so much like him?”
The flavor was all gone now, but I still persisted: “He ought to be killed.”
Then Socrates breathed so wearily that I thought he must be tired with carrying me so far; but he did not set me down.
“Little son of Hagnon,” he said, “I see that we cannot agree on this; but you are only like all the rest.” He continued, but I felt that it was no longer to me that he was speaking:
“Many times and in many places have I said this thing with all the skill I knew—that it is never right to do wrong, not even to those who do wrong to us—but they are all like this little child; no one of them ever understood. From words I know well that none will ever learn it; and even if one should proclaim this truth by deeds, and give up his own life before them to those who had wronged him, and should go to his death in perfect patience, seeking only to show them the way, still how few would understand! In all Athens, I think, not one, — not my dear, slow-minded Crito, who loves me better than himself, nor this keen-witted, perilous Alcibiades, who at least loves my words, nor any other of them all; and those who knew me best would be most eager to avenge me!” He sighed. “To this, no doubt, it will come at last; and perhaps, when the appointed time is reached, those hours of death will yet speak more truth to the souls of men than all these days and years of ceaseless questioning, — to the gods I commit it. And meanwhile, not without my joy, I follow the path that lies be fore my feet, and obey the mandate of the god, and heed the voice that ever warns and guides me through all the windings of the way up to the gate of death.”
“Why do you talk like that, Socrates?” I breathed it in his ear in that meek whisper
which is nearest silence; for I wanted to get close to him again.
“I have reason to fear,” said he, “that those who, like Hagnon’s son, are wise in this wisdom of killing, will some day decide that I too ought to be killed, and will thereupon issue instructions to the Eleven to do what is needful for putting to silence a troublesome tongue, and the Eleven will proceed in the usual manner.”
“That would be dreadful, Socrates,” I cried, almost sobbing. “You shall not say it—” and I laid my hand across his lips. It is only people like the Syrian that ought to be killed.” And in this I did not yield, not even to him, but kept saying it over and over in my heart, that the Syrian ought to be killed.
THE SECOND TRUTH—KARMA
“Causes sown each hour, bear each its harvest of effects, for rigid Justice rules the World.”
This is just another way of saying that
“This is a Universe of Law.” We might as well say Karma rules the world—the
world meaning all human beings in it—for we have learned that Karma is the
balancing of cause and effect, action and re-action. It brings all only that
which belongs to them — no more and no less, for this is rigid justice. Karma is
not outside of us; we choose the kind of Karma we get; we really punish and
reward ourselves when we set up causes that the law of Karma has to balance. The
balance is always right, and always just.
“It knows not wrath nor pardon; utter-true Its measures mete, its faultless balance weighs.
Times are as naught, to-morrow it will judge, Or after many days.”
Knowing this law of Karma, we see the reasons for being honest and true and kind and loving. It shows us how foolish it is to excuse
ourselves, to deceive, to lie, to be dishonorable in any way. The lie and the deceit come back to us and hurt us. It doesn’t matter whether somebody finds us out or not; Karma works just the same, and we have to suffer all the more when we think we are hiding our wrong doing.
All the time we are acting, doing, working—some for one reason, some for another. And often we ask ourselves, ought I to do this? Why do we ask this question? Because we have a sense in us—a part of our Self-Knowledge—a sense of what we owe to other lives. This is the sense of Duty. Have we ever thought that duty is the way of Life in every form? It is the natural way of fire to burn, of water to flow, of animals to get food for their young. In India, they have a word that means this — natural duty — Dharma. (Pronounce it as if the h is not there, like Karma.) Then, it is clear that we all have natural duty to be done toward our family, in our household life, at school, and wherever we may be. It means that though we are a very small part of the Universe—if we do not do our part, we will make disharmony and unease all about us, and for ourselves as well. An atom is so small it is invisible, and yet it takes just one atom of oxygen to add to two atoms of hydrogen and four of sulphur, before we can
have sulphuric acid. Who knows but the Universe might fall to pieces, if the “atoms” we all are weren’t in it!
Some boys, it may be, do not particularly “like” to mow the lawn; some girls have been known to say they “hate” to do the dusting.
Some indeed would not notice if the lawn were unkempt, and if the house were disordered, with dust every where. But, their parents know that unless they learn to give right attention to these small plain duties, they will never be able to have or to perform what seem like larger, more important duties. In order to show others what to do, we must first ourselves know by having done well that very thing. No duty is too small for right doing. Whatever duty we have, we should do it because it is there to be done! Doing even that for all, we shall find pleasure in doing it, especially if we put our whole heart in it — our cheerfulness and good-will and patience.
Strange—some people do not like to work, when the whole world has work to do! Some men will shovel dirt, to whom it only means a pay-check. Other men shovel more cheerfully, because they are getting ground ready for a house, or because they are helping to build a city. Isn’t it worthwhile, then, to think why we do anything?
Some people will do well their duty to
their friends, and think they have none to those they do not like. Life is
bigger than that. All men are our brothers and we can leave none out— not even
the wicked and the ignorant, not any people or nation in the world. “Follow the
wheel of life; follow the wheel of duty to race and kin, to friend and foe.”
How often people think that it is only their duty which is disagreeable; that they could do someone else’s well! No—our duties are our Karma. Our own belongs to us, and no one else can do it for us. It has been taught from most ancient times by the sages: “The duty of an other is full of danger.” It is better by far to do our own less well than any other’s duty best. Duty and Responsibility go hand in hand with Karma.
TO THINK ABOUT
(1) Why should we feel a sense of duty to
our parents? To our brothers and sisters?
(2) Why is punctuality a duty, at home and at school?
(3) If we did our duty by our work at school, would we ever need to worry about our “grades”?
(4) What are small, plain duties?
(5) Is everyone’s duty the same? Could one see it his duty to go to war, and another, not to go?
(6) What is our duty here, in this place,
(7) How can we do our duty by those we feel we don’t “like”?
THE TALE OF THE TOWER
Some years ago, I ran down to the Lakes of Killarney, but not for the purpose merely of seeing them as any other traveler. During my boyhood the idea of going there had always been before me. In dreams, I would often find myself on the water or wandering near by. And indeed, the decision to go there at last was not made until one day, while looking into a shop window in Dublin, my eye fell upon a picture of Killarney. In an instant I was filled with a strong desire to see them. So I went on the first train and was very soon there, quartered with an old man who from the first seemed like an old friend.
The place as a bit of country did not interest me after all my wanderings in many different climes. But on the third day I went off into a field not far from one of the sheets of water, and sat down near an old well. It was still early in the afternoon, and unusually pleasant. My mind had no particular object before it, and I noticed an inability, quite unusual, to
* Abridged from “ A Curious Tale” by Bryan Kinnavan [William Q. Judge]
follow long a definite train of thought. As I sat thus, drowsiness came over my senses, the field and the well grew gray but still remained in sight, yet I seemed to be changing into an other man. As the minutes flew by, I saw the shadowy form or picture of a tall, round tower rising, some fifty feet high, just beyond the well. Shaking myself, this disappeared. I thought I had fought off the sleepy feeling, but only for a moment. It returned with new intensity.
The well had disappeared and a building occupied its place, while the tall tower had grown solid. I rose with a mechanical feeling that my duty, somehow or other, called me to the tower, and as I passed inside the wall, there was the old well I had seen upon first coming into the field. But the strange incident did not attract my attention, for I knew the well as an old landmark. Reaching the tower, the steps wound up before me to the top, and as I mounted them a voice quite familiar called my name—a name not the same that I owned to upon sitting down near the well. But that did not attract my attention any more than the old well inside the wall. At last I emerged upon the top of the tower, and there was an old man keeping the fire. It was the eternal fire never yet known to have gone out, and I
out of all the other young disciples alone
was permitted to help the old man.
As my head rose above the level of the low rim of the tower, I saw a calm and beautiful mountain not far away, and other towers nearer to it than mine.
“You are late,” said the old man. I made no reply, as there was none to make; but I approached and showed by my attitude that I was to go on watching in his place. As I did this it flashed across me that the sun was nearing the horizon. For an instant the memory of the old man with whom I had lodged came be fore me, as the old watcher looked into my brain with his piercing eyes.
“I fear to leave you in charge,” was his first remark. “There is a shadow, dark and silent, near you.”
“Do not fear, father,” said I; “I will not leave the fire nor permit it to go out.”
“If you do, then our doom is sealed and the destiny of Innisfallen delayed.”
He turned and left me. I heard his foot-fall no more on the winding stairs that led below.
The fire seemed bewitched. It would hardly burn, and once or twice it almost paralyzed me with fear, so nearly did it expire. When the old man left me, it was burning brightly. At last it seemed that my efforts were successful; the blaze sprang up and all looked well.
Just then a noise on the stairs caused me to turn around, and to my surprise a complete stranger came upon the platform where none but the guardians were allowed.
“Look,” said he; “those fires beyond are dying out.”
I looked and was filled with fear to see that
the smoke from the towers near the mountain had died out, and in my sudden
amazement rushed to the parapet to get a nearer view. I turned to resume my
watch, and there, 0 horror! my own fire was just expiring. No lights or tinder
were permitted there; the watcher had to renew the fire by means of the fire. In
a frenzy of fear I leaped to new fuel and put it on the fire, fanned it, laid my
face to it and strove with maddened gasps to blow the flame up, but all my
efforts were in vain— it was dead.
A sickening dread seized me. I heard the stranger move toward me, and then I recognized his voice as he spoke. No other noises were about; all was dead and cold. I seemed to know that the ancient guardian of the fire would return no more, that no one would re turn, that some calamity had fallen.
“It is the past,” the stranger began. “You have just reached a point where you failed to feed the fire ages ago. It is done. Do you want to hear of these things? The old man has gone
long ago, and can trouble you no more.”
And I said, “Yes, tell me what this is, or has been.”
“This is an old tower used by the immediate descendants of the white Magicians who settled on Ireland when England’s Isle had not yet risen from the sea. When the great Masters had to go away, strict injunctions were left that no fires on these towers were to go out. The warning was also given that, if the duties of life were neglected, if charity, duty and virtue were forgotten, the power to keep these fires alive would gradually disappear. The decadence of the virtues would coincide with the failure of the fires, and this, the last tower, guarded by an old and a young man, would be the last to fall, and that even it could save the rest if its watchers were faithful.
“But unbelief crept in while the fires were kept up as a form.
“You were relied on with the old man. But vain dreams detained you one hour beyond your appointed time on this fatal day, now in the past but shown you by my special favor. You came, but late. The old man was compelled to wait, but still feared to leave you, for he saw with prescient eye the dark finger of fate. He descended the stairs, and at its foot fell down and died. Your curiosity then drew you at the exact fatal moment to look at yon-
der tower, although you knew the prophecy and believed it. That moment decided all— and, poor boy, you could not hold back the iron hand of destiny.
“The fire had gone out. You returned to the floors below; at the foot of the stairs you saw them carrying off the old man—”
At this point, I saw the shadowy waving shape of the tower; the building had disappeared, the well was beside me, and I was in the field again. Oh!
THE SECOND TRUTH CYCLES
Everything in this great Universe is in motion. Nothing is ever still for a moment; if not visibly, then, invisibly it is in motion as in the stone. Everything is alive. You all have seen a sunbeam steal into a room like a band of light in which little dust-motes are dancing and whirling. You wouldn’t have believed the dust could be there in such a clean room, would you? But the bright ness of the sunbeam showed the dust-motes against the darker part of the room, as you would expect, according to the law we learned of the opposites. We couldn’t see the sunbeam if there were not something darker to help it show forth.
Since, then, the air was full of fine moving dust which you didn’t see at all before the sun beam came, it may be there are other lives in the air that you have never yet seen. Let us try an experiment: when you go out of doors next time, will you all remember to look into the air toward the blue sky—oh, some twenty feet away—and see if you can see the little fiery lives whirling and darting? You didn’t know before that we are breathing in those little lives—and sending them back into the
air again. We all, not only breathe in and out the same way, but we all take the same air from the One Life into our bodies. We are brothers to all that live, indeed, when we remember that. We wouldn’t breathe at all, were not the Self within us. The ancients pictured the ceaselessly moving One Life as the Great Breath, in which all beings share.
The ancients also spoke of the motion of beings in the universe as the Wheel of Life, seeing that every being has its own wheel-like motion, and that all together make up the great Wheel, ever turning, ever bringing some beings above into the sunlight, and some below into the shade. But as the Wheel turns, it also moves onward and makes a path of karma. Were we not talking once of “quick” and “slow” Karma?
Theosophy has a word for Karma, when we are thinking of time more than of thought and action — it is CYCLES. No word is more familiar to us, perhaps, but we never thought of our bicycles being a symbol of Karma, did we? The body, Earth, breathes also. So, too, it is in motion, always revolving. Each day it turns over one side to the sun, the other side away, and so we have day and night. But the earth, as it turns, follows a path around the sun, which it takes 365 days to complete. Then
we have a year; that is, it takes a year for
the earth to reach the same point in its path, where it started. More wonderful
still, though, the sun, too, has its path among the starry heavens which takes
over 25,000 years to complete, — and so, while the earth comes back to the same
point in its path, that point has moved onward, for the sun is drawing our
Planet onward in its own larger path. So, always when the earth gets back to the
old point, it moves on again in another new ring. The path of the earth isn’t
like just one solid ring, you see, but like many—one growing out of the
other—what we call a spiral. Let us wind this copper wire around this lead
pencil, and slip it off. Now we see how those rings ever move onward, one into
another. Have you ever noticed the marvelous spiral patterns of sea-shells?
They, too, give us a good idea of the kind of ring, or path, which is meant by a
Cycles are the clock of Karma.
So, cycles are not different from Law and Karma, but only the way of marking the time of cause and of effect, of action and re-action. Karma is like the mainspring that makes all the wheels go round. You know how many there are, little and big, inside the clock!
Cycles are like the hands that point the hour on the face, as they travel round it.
Let us see how the spiral form idea fits the echo, for instance. We send the sound out of our mouths; it beats like a wave against the hillside, and back it comes to us — to our mouths? No, to our ears! And then another wave goes out, and back again. Let us go back to the stone in the pond again; the water had its path of action out, and re-action back, not to exactly the same point of beginning, because now the stone is at the bottom of the pond, and the water is just a little higher than it was at the time the stone went in! So the path of the echo, and the path of action caused by the stone, were both that of the spiral.
Always, things are moving and changing. That is the way they grow. We alone, of all the Universe, the real WE, the Perceivers (for of course, bodies are changing and growing all the time), watch the movement and changes, and are not changed by any of them. We throw our thoughts into the world—the cause of a path of effect that comes back un erringly to us — where? To the place of thoughts, that is, our mind. But before the effect gets back, the Thinker has put many other thoughts into that mind; other effects have come back to it. Therefore that mind is not quite the same place it was before, and the
Thinker has a new place to move on from. Is the Thinker changed, though? No, he is the power that can send more and more thoughts out forever; he can look at them all, see the change, and still be the same. He is not the path that moves, but the one who journeys on it, the one who makes the path. No matter if we went on a journey that took us five years, we would still be the same WE that started, wouldn’t we?
The difference between quick Karma and slow Karma is just in the length or shortness of its cycles, or paths. Quick Karma means a short cycle—a small spiral of cause and effect, — or a short hour space on the clock of time; slow Karma means a long, large cycle of action and re-action—a long, long space marked on the clock.
A moment is the beginning of a cycle that may be completed in an hour, a day, a month, a year. We have the day and night cycle; the season’s cycle—spring, summer, autumn, winter; the cycle of the moon—new, first quarter, full moon, last quarter; the cycle of the tides. Our clocks that tell the twenty-four hour cycle we call a day—with minute and second cycles, too—just imitate the great natural cycles of the Universe, as man-made laws imitate the Law of the Universe. The sun makes its journey through the heavens in over 25,000 years.
It goes through certain groups of stars we call constellations (con—together; stella—star), twelve of them being called the signs of the Zodiac. (Who knows what they are?) This is a very long cycle, you see, and so people call the Zodiac the Great Clock of the Universe. And always, remember, when the path swings back, it is to a point a little forward from its start. No day is just the same length as the next by the natural clock, and that is why Leap Year comes in to patch up the difference in man’s calendar. The tides come in a little later each day, go out a little later. No spring is just like any other spring. Always there is change.
There wouldn’t be Law without beings to be acting and working all together; there wouldn’t be Karma, without beings to be thinking all together; there wouldn’t be Cycles without beings to make them by thinking and working all together, and to feel or learn ac cording to what they bring back! There are wind-cycles, water-cycles, cycles in the mineral kingdom, in the vegetable kingdom, in the animal kingdom. There are even continents that come and go, and come again. But remember, the little universe we call ourselves has just as many cycles as the great universe—
body cycles, thought cycles, feeling cycles. ‘We are going to study these.
TO THINK ABOUT
(1) What would be some wind-cycles?
(2) Who knows about “tree-rings,” and what they mean?
(3) What is the cyclic day you most enjoy having return each year?
(4) The story is told of a little boy who simply could not wait for his birthday to come. So he dreamed one night he went out of our world to other planets to see if he could find his birthday sooner. Do you suppose we would find our birthday any sooner on Mars or Jupiter?
(5) What does the word “Cycle” mean? and “Universe”?
(6) What did the ancients mean by the Wheel of Life?
(7) It is important to remember that the following tale* of a lost continent was writ ten in 1890. Why is this date important?
Softly sings the water as it rolls against
the shore, with the sun but one hour old shining upon its surface. But far off,
what is that spot against the sky coming nearer from the
*“Where the Rishis Were, by Bryan Kinnavan (William Q. Judge).
West, followed by another and another until over the horizon rise hundreds, and now some are so near that they are plainly seen? The same strange vehicles as that I saw at first. Like birds they fly through the air. They come slowly now, and some have been brought still on the land. They light on the earth with a softness that seems nearly human, with a skill that is marvelous, without any shock or re bound. From them there alight men of noble mien who address me as friends, and one more noble than the others seems to say, “Would you know of all this? Then come,” as he turns again to his vehicle that stands there like a bird in wait to be off.
We entered the swift, intelligently-moving vehicle, and then it rose up on the air’s wide- spreading arms and flew again fast to the west whence it had come. It passed many more flying east to the Island, where the water was still softly singing to the beams of the sun. The horizon slowly rose and the Island behind us was hidden by sea from our sight. And still as onward we flew to the occident, many more man-made birds like the one we were in flew by us as if in haste for the soft-singing water lapping the shore of that peak of the sea mountain we had left in the Orient. Flying too high at first, we heard no sound from the sea, but soon a damp vapor that blew in my face from
the salt deep showed that we were descending, and then spoke my friend.
“Look below and around and before you!”
Down there were the roar and the rush of
mad billows that reached toward the sky, vast hollows that sucked in a world.
Black clouds shut out the great sun, and I saw that the crust of the earth was
drawn in to her own subterranean depths. Turning now to the master, I saw that
he heard my unuttered question. He said,
“A cycle has ended. The great bars that kept back the sea have broken down by their weight. From these we have come and are coming.”
Then faster sailed our bird, and I saw a
great Island was perishing. What was left of the shore still crumbled, still
entered the mouth of the sea. And there were cars of the air just the same as
that I was in, only dark and unshining, vainly trying to rise with their
captains; rising slowly, then falling, and then swallowed up.
But here we have rushed further in where the water has not overflowed, and now we see that few are the bright cars of air that are waiting about while their captains are entering and spoiling the mighty dark cars of men whose clothing is red and whose bodies, so
huge and amazing, are sleeping as if from the fumes of a drug.
As these great men are slumbering, the light-stepping captains with sun-colored cloaks are finishing the work of destruction. And now, swiftly though we came, the waters have rushed on behind us, the salt breath of the all-devouring deep sweeps over us. The sun-colored captains enter their light air-cars and rise with a sweep that soon leaves the sleepers, now waking behind them. The huge red-coated giants hear the roar of the waters and feel the cold waves roll about them. They enter their cars, but only to find all their efforts are wasted. Soon the crumbling earth no longer supports them, and all by an inrushing wave are engulfed, drawn into the mouth of the sea, and the treacherous ocean with roars as of pleasure in conquest has claimed the last trace of the Island. ..
THE SECOND TRUTH—CYCLES
“Sow a thought, reap an act,
Sow an act, reap a habit,
Sow a habit, reap a character.”
Have you ever noticed, after looking steadily at a striped curtain, bright with the sun, that when you close your eyes you still see those stripes impressed inside your eye—that after a second you do not see them, and then they come again? Then they fade away and come again more faintly, until they come no more. The echo shows the same thing; at first, the echo is almost as loud as the sound you sent out, — then if you listen long enough you will hear it coming back more faintly until the echo has quite died away. With your eye, and with your ear, then, you know what is meant by a cycle, or return of impressions.
It is knowledge of this law that enables wise men to know beforehand much of what is going to happen in the world. They knew, years before, that the dreadful world war in Europe must occur, because the return of a certain cycle would bring back certain impressions;
certain selfish causes set up long ago had to bring just that kind of result when the cycle returned on its course. The war was Karma, you see, and wise men knew the cycle that marked it. That is what people mean when they say, “History repeats itself.”
Our lives are long cycles, like spring, summer, autumn, winter, then a new ring of the spiral starts with spring again; our days are cycles, like morning, noon, and night. Morning starts a new ring in the spiral which is our path. Our heart beats in cycles; the blood has its path, or cycle, through the body—well, look anywhere you like, you will see cycles. We all know how little good it would do the farmer in California to plant his grain seed after the rains have stopped, and three or four months off to winter rains. He has to know weather cycles to know when to plant, doesn’t he?
We make our habits according to cycles; in fact, habits are made in the first place by the return of impression of some thought we liked, until it makes so clear a path, or cycle, we just keep right on it without thinking about it at all. We eat according to the cycle of the day— morning, noon, and night. Why is it we get cross when dinner is an hour or two late? The cycle comes round for us to eat; the little lives in our bodies are expecting food, and lacking
it, the cycle is broken, and they make such a fuss, we feel it. Why is it we are so very, very tired when we stay up two hours beyond bed time? Again, those little lives are clamoring for rest according to their cycle! So you see, it is best to heed the law of cycles, when we can, even in our bodies, because then, all the machinery works better. Some boys know how badly an automobile works, when the cylinders don’t work in their regular cycle—such a sputtering and fudging, isn’t there?
Especially, heeding the law of cycles helps us with all we are trying to learn. That is why we have regular lesson periods at school; regular hours for practicing our music. When the regular hour comes round for the lesson or practice, there also comes a return of impressions about the lesson. This makes it easier for us to pay attention, and to remember what we learned the days before at that hour.
Most of all, heeding the law of cycles helps us to get rid of mean, selfish thoughts and wrong or lazy habits—if only we know they are not what is rendering gentle service, and so we want to change them! By watching, we can see what time of day the cross mood comes to us—or the lazy feeling—and then when the time comes, all we have to do is to start another better cycle. This is the way we learned a bet-
ter cause would help drown out the effect of
a wrong cause.
Just so, if we are sad and sorrowful, because someone dear to us has gone away, does it help anyone for us to sit down and weep because we miss our friend? Wouldn’t it be better by far to think of the best times we have had together, and start a cycle of good cheer, that will make others happier?
If we are cross—as, of course, we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be, any more than we should allow ourselves to weep selfish tears, as all tears are, — well, a fairy-story is coming to show how easy it is to start a cycle of good will, instead of ill-will.
If we are lazy—perhaps not very lazy, but we just never want to do our task when it is expected of us—surely, we can break that lazy cycle if we want to! Suppose we think, only one day, “Today I’m going to do my task right now, the very best I can,” and do it: can’t we see that the next day it will be easier to remember and to do? Before a week is out, it wouldn’t be surprising if the old cycle of lazy habit had faded out like the echo, and the new better cycle of duty and service would have become so strong and clear a path that we fairly skip on it, happy and glad. For there’s a “door of mystery” we’ve all had the key to already. The only real happiness in the whole wide world—
the happiness that last what comes from doing our duty by every duty; it comes from rendering gentle service to all that lives. If we keep our thoughts on help to others, the service, or action, follows.
How many now have seen the little fiery
lives we were going to look for, shining and swimming in the air? Well, that is
the kind of stuff fairies are made of! Because, you see, that is the stuff that
clothes our thoughts as they go out into the world. No sooner does a thought go
from us than these little fiery lives are drawn to it — they are what keep the
thought alive! If it weren’t for that—that our thoughts really are alive—how
could we expect from them any Karma, either good or bad? Perhaps you didn’t know
before, that it’s really the thoughts of people that make the fairy forms! So
there are such things as fairies. We don’t see them, but together we are making
them all the time. In old countries, like Ireland, where people have always
believed in them, people can even see the fairies. This Fairy knew how to change
wrong thought cycles!
When Barbara woke up it was raining, and she didn’t like it very well, for she had planned to go out in the woods that day, — and now
the picnic would have to be given up.
But she put on her raincoat, and took her
umbrella and went to school, and managed to get through the day. Though when she
was at home again, and lying on the rug before the fire for the hour before
tea-time, she was in a pretty cross mood, I am sorry to say. And the more she
thought about the picnic the more she wanted to cry, till finally there did come
a few tear-drops, splash, down her nose.
Suddenly she saw one of the Fireside Fairies looking at her. She often saw them, but this time the little fellow flew down beside her on the rug, and said, smiling: “Well, Barbara, why don’t you open your umbrella?”
Barbara was so surprised, all she could do was to stutter something about “One doesn’t open umbrellas in the house,” at which the Fairy laughed and said, “Well, then, put on your raincoat!”
At this Barbara was so interested to know what he meant, that she sat right up, and for got she had been crying; and the Fairy went on talking:
“You ought to do as we do in Fairyland,” he said. “When we want to cry, we hurry up with our Thought-umbrellas, and then no rain-tears can dampen us. Our Thought-umbrellas are made of laughter, and woven with the thoughts of gay and happy days, and scarcely have we
raised them over us, when the crossness or the sadness disappears. Oh, our jolly Thought- umbrellas are fine things! If I were you, I’d use them too.
“And our raincoats—they are made of rainbow
thoughts of all the good times we ever had, and of all the kind things we ever
did, and you know no rain can stay long after the rainbow is seen.”
Well, Barbara was so interested, — and she begged the Fireside Fairy to tell her some more about this Fairyland. “How I would like to go there,” she said. “It must be so lovely! But I suppose I never shall, for they say that only good children ever see Fairyland, and,” she sighed, “I have such bad temper! What do you fairies do when you get angry, if you ever do?’ she ended wistfully.
“Oh, yes,” said the Fireside Fairy, “we often do; we are just like human folks in a good many ways, you know, — but I’ll tell you how we fix that! What do you do in hot weather when the wind blows in from the desert and tries to scorch you? Do you put on your heavy woolen dress, and all your pretty furs?”
“Why no,” said Barbara, laughing, “I put on my thinnest muslin dresses, and eat ice cream, and drink cool lemonade.”
“Of course you do,” said the Fireside Fairy.
“Well, that’s just what we do when we get angry!” and he laughed at Barbara’s puzzled face.
“Just as soon as one of our fairies sees
an other in a hot, angry temper, he always cries out, ‘Take off your heavy red
dress! Take off your heavy Red dress!’ and as quick as a wink, the angry fairy
begins to think off his dress of cross, red thoughts (for in fairyland, you
know, our dresses always change colors ac cording to the way we are feeling),
and to put on a lovely, cool thought-dress of blue or green. And as he thinks
harder and harder of the cool, fresh things in Mother Nature’s home, — before he
knows it, all the hot anger is cooled and gone. Oh, it’s the only way to find
your temper again, once you’ve lost it. You try it yourself and see.
“The Thought-Fairies will help you, too, you know, for they are always flying near you and go wherever you send them. If you think kind thoughts, the Thought-Fairies carry them for you the longest way you want them to go. Even when you think mean thoughts, too, they help carry them for you—but isn’t that a horrid way to use our people of Fairyland?”
“Well,” said Barbara, thoughtfully, “that must be what Mother means when she says, ‘If you think right, you’ll act right.’
“That’s it, exactly,” said the Fireside Fairy.
(1) How did wise men know that the great war in Europe was going to come about, long years before it happened?
(2) How are habits made?
(3) In what way is it an advantage to know the law of cycles?
(4) What cycles in Nature can you name?
(5) What cycles are there for our bodies?
(6) Can you change cycles for good without the desire and will to do so?
(7) What is meant by “trusting” the Law, or what Socrates calls “the gods”? Again—
As we passed through the darkness of the narrow lanes, with only a streak of black sky sprinkled with stars above us, I again opened my lips.
“The gods kill people,” I said.
“Do you know that the gods kill people, little sophist? or do you just say it, not knowing at all?”
“I am not a sophist,” I answered, thinking of the Syracusan. “But they sent the plague.”
“Do you really know that they sent the plague? If you should thrust your hand among the red coals, would you say that the gods had
burned you?” I was silent. “I think it would
be more just,” said he, “to say that Themistocles sent the plague, for if we had
not so many ships the plague would not have come to us; or Pericles, for if the
city had not been so crowded with people by the war it would not have brought
such desolation. But if the gods do kill, they at least make no mistakes.”
“But they do make mistakes,” I cried. “They let my mother die, when they ought to have saved her. And we all prayed so hard; and she was so good.”
“Some might say,” he began—but stopped. “I, at least, will not say it, — for I do not think that it is true. I believe in my soul that your mother was all that you think her—as sweet and as beautiful, almost, as the goddesses who dwell in heaven, and far better than some that the poets sing of. And this question why the gods permit these things, is the hardest that any ever asked me, or can ask.”
“They are cruel.” And I spoke with a sense
of triumph even in my grief.
“They are wise. Can you not trust something to the gods? We cannot know all their wisdom; though afterwards—yet not always—we may see that what they did was best. You wished to sail to Thrace. Athena did not permit you. She was the wiser.”
“That is different,” I said.
He began again: “Did your mother, in her very
love for you, never take anything from you that you wanted?”
“Yes, she took the spiced wine once from my very lips; and I was angry.”
“And did she never refuse you anything when you begged her for it?”
“Yes; she would not let me go out through
the door; and I begged her many times and cried. She was just like Athena,
“But afterwards you knew that she was good to you; and you would believe it now, even if you could not quite understand. And just so when the gods take from us what we very much want, and refuse what we pray for though we fall on our faces before them, we often weep bitterly and grow angry; and think that they are cruel and that we know better than they. And all the while they know best; and they are caring for you more tenderly, if that be possible, than your own mother. And but now they have delivered you out of the hands of the Syrian, which your own mother could hardly have done; for, after all, she could not be quite so wise and good, and not nearly so strong, as the immortal gods. Can you not trust them? for it is only thus that we can be truly wise when other wisdom fails us. Can you not trust them—even when you do not understand—just as you trusted her? O little
one, it is hard; it is very hard, sometimes,
and almost more than we can bear,--but can you not remember to trust them
I will try to, Socrates," I said choking. And still beneath it all, that same thought was droning in the bottom of my heart the Syrian ought to be ******.
TALE OF THE BANANA PEEL
(This is a very, very old story. The original is in an ancient Hindu collection of tales called the Hitopadesa.)
A laughing child running after a butterfly saw a banana peel lying in the path. He kicked it aside and ran on. Soon, a bent and blind old man came that way. He would have slipped and fallen into the ditch but for the impulsive act of the good-natured little boy. For this unconscious deed, the Karma of his next life saved the boy from being struck by a great tumbling stone on that very path.
The life and the “lives” that make up every thing never really die. They only change forms in their way as we do in ours. So, once again, the banana peel is found lying in a path. Wandering wearily and hungrily along, a beg gar saw the peel and picked it up, hoping to find a morsel of food. But no; it was only a peel; so he threw it away, saying to himself, “This is my Karma.” Then along came a fat merchant, whose unfaithful servant the beg gar had been in a former life. Not watching the path, the merchant would have had a bad fall, but for the beggar’s care to throw aside the banana peel. This action, and the beggar’s
acceptance of his own lot, made him a respected master of caravans in his next incarnation.
Again the picture changes, this time showing a desert warrior mounted on a dromedary, a “flying camel,” as the Arabs say. All day he had been pursuing a fleeing enemy. Now, at last, he was gaining in the chase, even though his hungry dromedary was stumbling from exhaustion. Seeing the banana peel in the track, the warrior bethought him of his faithful mount. He stopped that it might eat this delicious tidbit — delicious, that is, for a camel! Meanwhile, the enemy escaped; but in the next life, for his kindness this warrior was reborn as a beneficent teacher of gods, men, and beasts.
Next, a “true believer,” a Sudra or servant, walking humbly, as befits all men, whatever their caste, stepped on the banana peel. “Ah,” he thought, “but for my good Karma, I might have fallen. Perchance another would not be so blessed.” So he tossed the peel into a little stream to feed the fishes in the river below. For his humbleness and for his brotherhood, this Sudra was reborn as a Hotri, or Family Priest.
Then a proud Brahmin—one noble in name—came upon the banana peel in his path. He communed with himself, saying, “Every man reaps in the future the fruits of all his acts. If,
therefore, I take this peel from the pathway, I shall have done a deed of merit, and be re warded by Karma in my next life.” So mused the Brahmin, and he carefully removed the peel. For this crafty thought of self, the proud Brahmin was born in a lower caste in his next life.
Finally, the same lives which have been through all these changes—”transmigrations”—are once more in the form of a discarded banana peel. Along comes a true Yogi, one who has risen above all rules of caste and custom. In him, Soul, and Mind, and Body have each found their rightful sphere of Karma. As he walks, the Yogi is meditating in his heart gentle service to all that lives. In his mind, he is pondering the words that he will say at the next village. In his body, all the senses are alert in their sentinel duties. His eyes catch sight of the banana peel. His arm reaches, his fingers grasp the peel, putting it to one side, and the senses then resume their watchfulness, without troubling either the mind or the heart of the Yogi. Thenceforth, all that are touched by the Yogi, in this or any future life, will be blessed by the contact, and themselves be led to find and follow the path of service.
THE MAGIC PAPER
The afternoon sun was shining as clear and
bright as if it were morning, for in Egypt there are seldom any clouds to gather
along the horizon and obscure the sky. Young Thutmose was making his way slowly
from school, thinking unhappily of the day’s work. The shadows of the royal
palms fell across the river path in straight lines. They reminded him of the
problem about the parallels which he had not solved that day. Ever since the new
boy came to school the master had been more
concerned with him and his lessons than with any of the other eighteen boys who had come faith fully all the year. Anyone could solve problems when he got help!
A man’s shadow slanted across the path and young Thutmose looked up to see a stranger. He had a kind face and Thutmose was pleased when he fell into step beside him.
“The spring floods will soon begin,” said the stranger.
Thutmose agreed politely and then remained silent, as he had been taught one should when a person older and wiser addressed him.
They walked along together as any two
travellers might. The stranger, it seemed, was making his way to Thebes where he could spend the night. He had with him, he said, something very rare which he thought would be of interest to Thutmose. Thutmose was curious to know what it might be but again he remained silent, as one should when an older and wiser person is about to tell him some thing important.
“It is the result of long years of work by a great alchemist,” said the stranger. “He has succeeded in preparing a magic paper of litmus which will turn black and reveal the wickedness in the human heart. One need only hold it in his hand and fix his attention firmly on the heart of the one whom he suspects. Envy, injustice, jealousy, covetousness, greed—these give what the alchemist calls an acid reaction. But the pure heart, the generous heart, leaves the paper unchanged.” As he finished speaking he gave Thutmose the paper.
The boy stood with it in his hand. It had nothing unusual about it. “It is just a piece of papyrus,” he thought. When he turned to thank the stranger, he had disappeared around a bend in the highway. Thutmose put the paper in his scrip.
The next day dawned bright and clear as days must where there is no rain. Young Thutmose forgot the stranger and forgot the paper
in the rush of the new day with its spring
games and excitement. Not until the hour for mathematics when he was again
reminded of the unsolved problem and the new boy and the master’s favoritism,
did he think of the litmus paper. It was there in his pocket. He had not, then,
just imagined it. Here was a chance to test it, and here was a chance to see
just how black was the heart of the unjust master. He held it up, looking
intently to ward his teacher as he did so. Nothing
happened. The paper remained clean and white.
“It does not work,” he thought, and was about to put it back into his pocket, but in stead he held it up against his own heart, and to his surprise the paper turned black.
The late afternoon sun was again making the shadows of the royal palm-trees into a neat pattern of black lines across the path. Thutmose was walking slowly along toward home, pondering deeply on the strange action of the litmus paper, and how, when he tried the paper the second time, the master’s heart had again left it white and unmarked — and his own — “The winter snows are melting in the mountains,” said a voice. It was the stranger. Thutmose answered politely, and waited for him to refer to the subject of the litmus paper, as one should when an older person talks with him.
“Have you found a use for the magic paper?”
“Yes,” said Thutmose, and hesitated; but the stranger looked so kind that he continued, “Why did the paper turn black against my heart? Was not the master unjust?”
The stranger was silent for a time, then he said very gently, “A wise man once said, ‘To search the heart of another is full of danger.’ “
Thutmose did not know why he understood what the stranger meant, nor how it was that he found himself saying, “And it was the envy in my own heart all the time.” No sooner were the words spoken than the birds appeared to sing more gaily and the flowers looked brighter.
The stranger seemed not to have noticed his confession. He was looking toward the city which lay beyond the curve of the Nile. “You remember, son, that under the city of Thebes are the ruins of a still more ancient city; and that under that again still others. And so it is in the human heart—one reason, one motive overlays the other. The wise man searches deep till he finds the most hidden motive of all.”
Thutmose stopped in the path. “I see, Master,” he said. “I thought I wanted the teacher to do right, but under that was pride; and under that was envy. And now, may we not give the magic paper to another that he too may learn?”
The stranger smiled as took the paper. “Youth is generous, but it must learn that each heart keeps its own seasons,” he said. “To at tempt to know the seasons of another heart is full of danger.”
THE MAKING OF THE SWORD
Once, in the great Northland, there was a Prince named Siegfried. He lived happily with his father and mother, who loved him so dearly that they left nothing undone for him. His mother, the gentle Queen Sigelinde, embroidered his beautiful clothing, made his bed- coverlets of finest silk, gave him the choicest and best food to eat. His father sent all over the world for wise men to teach him, so that Siegfried, too, might be wise, and that when king, he might be the best king who had ever ruled over the Volsungs.
When Siegfried came to be fourteen years old, he could run faster than any other youth; he could take truer aim; he could hurl a spear farther and more swiftly. Besides all this, everyone in his father’s kingdom loved him. They said the sun ought always to shine for him, the flowers bloom, and the birds sing for him. But, King Sigmund knew that a man— especially a king—must know how to work. So, one day, he said to Siegfried,
“All toil is noble, my son; and a man, even though he be a king’s son, should learn to work with his hands. He who longs for honor and fame should not shun toil and hardship.”
They were walking in a valley as they talked, and near them rose a high mountain. The king pointed to a small clearing near the top of the mountain, where stood the smithy of Mimer, the Master Smith. “I would send you to the smithy of Mimer the master, my son,” said Sigmund.
So Siegfried went to the smithy of Mimer, high up on the mountain side. Now, he wore coarse woolen garments, a leather apron, and heavy shoes. His bed was a bundle of straw in the corner of the smithy, and his food was of the coarsest. But Siegfried was happy here, for he was learning more of the master smith every day. Soon he could weld the finest, lightest chain, and set jewels in ornaments as skillfully and as easily as he could fashion .the heaviest iron. He loved the evenings after the (lay’s work was done, when Mimer would tell of the time when the earth was young, when the gods went about as men; or, perhaps, he would relate the deeds of Siegfried’s ancestors, the mighty Volsungs. Then, his heart would burn within him, and he would long to be a hero, too, and to do some great deed that no one else could do.
One day, the master came to the apprentices, troubled.
“Amilias, that upstart Burgundian smith,” he said, “has made himself a set of armor
which he claims can not be pierced by any
sword that can be fashioned. He has sent to me a challenge, saying that if I can
not equal his handicraft, he will be called the master smith. I have labored to
make a sword whose edge the armor of Amilias can not turn, and I have failed.
Who of you can help me?”
Siegfried’s heart beat faster. “Perhaps my opportunity has come,” he thought. And when one after another the apprentices shook their heads, Siegfried spoke forth boldly, “I will make for you the sword you need, my master !“
The apprentices jeered at him, but the master said, “We will see what he can do. He is a king’s son, and has already shown great prowess. But, if he fails, he shall rue this day.”
Siegfried began his task. For seven days and nights the sound of his anvil never ceased in the smithy. On the eighth day he handed a sword to Mimer, who said at once, “Let us make trial of its keenness.”
They threw into a brook a thread of wool as light as thistledown. As the wool floated along the water, Mimer struck it with the sword, and the thread was cut in two!
“Well done !“ cried the master. “If its tem per is true as its keenness, then have I a sword that the armor of Amilias can not foil.”
Siegfried, without a word, took the sword from the hands of the master and broke it in
pieces. Returning to the smithy, he labored three more days and nights. On the fourth day he came out and put another sword in Mimer’s hand.
“Make a trial of its keenness, my master,” he
Again, Mimer held the sword in the current where a ball of wool would strike it floating by. The apprentices stood watching the ball of wool as it came nearer and nearer the blade, touch it, and then move along, cut in two pieces, as easily as was the thread of wool.
Siegfried took the sword from Mimer and again broke it in pieces. Again he went into the smithy, but this time he worked at his forge for seven weeks, allowing no one to enter. Only, the apprentices told how one night they had seen a stranger at the door of the smithy talking with Siegfried, and when this stranger, with the bright light in his forehead, had handed out some bright pieces as of a sword, he disappeared in the twilight, and Siegfried closed the door of the smithy.
At the end of the seven weeks, Siegfried came forth once more, pale and worn, but holding a bright sword above his head.
“Behold the sword!” cried he. “Behold the glittering terror, Balmung!”
Mimer took the sword, and seeing the mystic runes upon its hilt, a faraway look came
into his eyes. Siegfried, then, struck
Mimer’s great iron anvil with the sword, and the huge block was cleft in two,
while the edge of the sword shone only the brighter.
Then, in the brook where the current was swiftest, they placed a bundle of wool made of the fleece of ten sheep. The sword cut the great bundle as easily as was cut the ball of wool. So, the master said, “This indeed will serve me well. Now shall Amilias say that I am the wisest of mortals—Mimer, the Master Smith.”
Heralds were sent throughout the country,
a day for the two smiths to meet and decide in the sight of the people once and for all who was the master. And when the day came, they met on a plain between their two countries, with a high hill at the end. The Burgundians had come with their three kings and gaily dressed courtiers, hearts full of pride, and of confidence in their wonderful giant smith, Amilias. On the other side of the plain were the Volsungs—King Sigmund and Queen Sigelinde, and many of their people. Mimer, Siegfried, and all the apprentices were all together on the other side of the plain.
As the dwarf, Mimer, toiled up the hillside bearing the sword, Amilias, the giant, laughed scornfully at him. The Burgundians thought the contest already won by him. But, Sigmund, the Volsung king, said as they silently watched
Mimer, “Do not fear for Mimer. He will be the
Master, for he has drunk of the well of Knowledge.”
At last Mimer stood before Amilias, to the watchers, a mere speck against a great stone tower, and said, “Amilias, give me the word to strike.”
“Strike!” cried Amilias, sitting with his arms folded.
Mimer held the sword high and brandished it, then swept it from right to left. There was a hiss, as of red-hot iron plunged in water. That was all. Amilias sat unmoved, but the smile had died from his face.
“Dost thou feel anything, Amilias?” asked Mimer.
“Strangely,” murmured the giant, “as if cold iron had touched me.”
“Shake thyself, Amilias!” Mimer commanded.
Amilias shook himself, and at once the up
per part of his body, with arms still folded, fell and rolled down the steep
hill, plunging into the water. The other part of his body remained on the rock.
The Burgundians hurriedly left the field, while the Volsungs, Siegfried among them, gathered about Mimer, lavishing praises upon him. And Siegfried, remembering the long,
lonely nights in the smithy, now saw his own
father and mother praise Mimer for what he—Siegfried—their own son, had wrought!
No one offered a word to explain to King Sigmund. No one else said, “But your
own son did this deed.”
All the apprentices, also, joined in the praise of the master. Then, this thought came to Siegfried, “I made the sword. That is enough.”
Siegfried went back to the forge on the mountain, and day after day kept at his work, speaking no word of the injustice done him. And when after a while, some began saying it was one of Mimer’s pupils who had forged the sword, Mimer said nothing, though his eyes twinkled when they asked him. Finally, the foreman of the smithy, Veliant, began to boast that he had made it. Still Siegfried said nothing.
One evening, when the master had been telling tales of the Volsung heroes, Siegfried turned to Mimer with longing in his eyes.
“And is the race of heroes dead, my master?”
Mimer answered him slowly and sadly, “The Norns have declared that another hero shall come, of the Volsung race, and with him shall the race of heroes die. He shall come, and he shall be my bane. Thus have the Norns declared.”
Siegfried’s heart beat with a strange agitation.
“When shall the hero come?” he asked. “And how shall we know him?”
“I know not,” the master replied, “save that he be of the Volsung race, and that my fate is linked with his.”
Mimer rose and went out of the smithy, leaving the boy Siegfried to sit through the long hours of the night, alone by the light of the forge, his heart filled with strange thoughts and questions about the hero to come.
“Who shall he be? When shall he come? How shall we know of his coming?”
THE TURN OF THE WHEEL
He was the son of a ruler in Rajpootana. His father governed a district, including several villages as well as his own small town, with justice and wisdom, so that all were prosperous and happy. The ruler was called a Rajah; he lived in a building made of stone, built on a hill that commanded the town. The son was born after the Rajah had been for many years childless, and was the only child to whom the father’s honors and power could descend. He was named Rama after the great Avatar. From the time he was born and until he could speak, a strange look was always to be seen in his baby eyes; a look that gazed at you without flinching, as if he had some design on you; and yet at times it seemed to show that he was laughing at himself, sorry, too; melancholy at times.
Rama grew up and delighted his father with his goodness and strength of mind. The strange glance of his eye as a baby remained with him, so that while every one loved him, they all felt also a singular respect that was sometimes awe. His studies were completed, and he began to take part in the administration of the affairs of the old and now feeble rajah.
Rama felt a great need of being alone. Every day he retired to his room, unattended, and on the fourteenth of each month spent the entire day alone. He felt a weight upon his heart which did not come from this life. He had had no sorrow, had lost no bright possession; his ambitions were all fulfilled. He longed to know what was before him yet to learn. This was why he spent his time in self- searching and meditation. So, he came to find that his higher self spoke one language, and the personal self another. He came to see that the personal self weighted him down with the chains of ignorance, and that his must be a search, not for possessions, but for knowledge, no matter where the search should take him. Then, one day, a vision passed before him of the poverty and the riches that might be his, of huts and buildings of stone, as he went on his way to enlightenment. But after this, he was no longer troubled, no longer sorrowful; his mind was at peace.
His old father died, and he carried on the government for many years, scattering blessings in every direction, until a rival rajah came and demanded all his possessions, showing a claim to them through a forgotten branch of the family. Instead of rejecting the claim, which was just, instead of slaying the rival as he could have done, Rama resigned all, retired
to the forest, and died, after a few years of austerity.
* * * *
The wheel of time rolled on and Rama was reborn in a town governed by the Rajah who had once in a former life demanded Rama’s possessions. But now Rama was poor, un known, an outcaste, a chandalah who swept up garbage and hoped that Karma might help him. He knew not that he was Rama; he only swept the garbage near the Rajah’s palace.
A solemn audience was held by the Rajah with all the priests and the soothsayers present. Troubled by a dream of the night before, the superstitious ruler called them in to interpret, to state causes learnedly, to prescribe scriptural palliative measures. He had dreamed that while walking in his garden, hearing from his treasurer an account of his increasing wealth, a huge stone building seemed suddenly to grow up before him. As he stopped amazed, it toppled over and seemed to bury him and his wealth. Three times repeated, this filled him with fear.
The astrologers retired and consulted their books. The remedy was plain, one suggested. “Let the King give up a vast sum of money to morrow to the first person he sees after waking up.” This decision was accepted, and the pro poser of it intended to be on hand early so as
to claim the money. The Rajah agreed to the direction of the stars, and retired for the night, full of his resolution to give immense gifts next day. No horrid dreams disturbed his sleep. The winking stars moved over the vault of heaven, and of all the hosts the moon seemed to smile upon the city as if she heard and knew all. The cold early morning, dark with promise of dawn, saw the chandalah, — once Rama— sweeping up the garbage near the palace where inside the Rajah was just awaking. The last star in heaven seemed to halt as if anxious that Rama should come in his sweeping to the side of the palace from which the Rajah’s window opened. Slowly the Rajah’s waking senses returned, and as they came a hideous memory of his dream flashed on him. Starting up from the mat on which he lay, he rose and seemed to think.
“What was I to do? Yes, give gifts. But it is not yet day. Still the oracle said ‘immediately on awakening’.”
As he hesitated, the poor garbage sweeper outside came more nearly in front of his window. The setting star almost seemed to throw a beam through the wall that struck and pushed him to the window. Flinging open the shutter to get breath, he looked down, and there before him was the poor chandalah with waistcloth and no turban, sweating with exer-
tion, hastening on with the task that when finished would leave the great Rajah’s grounds clean and ready for their lord.
“Thank the gods,” said the Rajah, “it is fate; a just decision; to the poor and the pious should gifts be given.”
At an early hour he gathered his ministers and priests together and said— “I give gifts to the devas through the poor; I redeem my vow. Call the chandalah who early this morning swept the ground.”
Rama was called and thought it was for prison or death. But the Rajah amazed him with a gift of many thousands of rupees, and as the chandalah, now rich, passed out, he thought he smelt a strange familiar odor and saw a dazzling form flash by. “This,” thought he, “is a deva.”
The money made Rama rich. He established himself and invited Brahmins to teach others; he distributed alms, and one day he caused a huge building of stone to be built with broken stone chains on its sides to represent how fate ruptured his chains. And later on a wise seer, a Brahmin of many austerities, looking into his life, told him briefly,
“Next life thou art free. Thy name is Rama.”
―BRYAN KINNAVAN ( Adapted)
THE SECOND TRUTH—
“Many a house of life hath held me.”
“Reincarnation” means the entering again into flesh. (re—again; in—into; came—flesh) So, this word—Reincarnation—tells us at once that if we are in bodies now, we have been in bodies before! We reincarnate according to
cycles of Karma, just as seeds of plants in the garden do in their seasons. We live our lives in cycles. Once we were tiny babes, and now we are children. This is the spring-time of our lives. When we are grown up, like our mothers, we shall be in the summer-time of our lives. Then our hair will grow gray, and our backs bent,—and the autumn-time has come. After autumn comes winter, and the biting frost comes and kills the growing things. So we have our winter, too, the dead-time of our bodies. Our life-cycle has made its complete path—but remember, it’ a spiral path, and it returns and goes on in a new ring! After winter, comes spring again, when—
“The boughs put forth their tender buds And life is Lord of all.”
So, after the dead-time of our bodies, what will the new turn of the cycle bring us? Why, new bodies! Once again, we shall be as tiny babes, children, grown-ups, old, and die again—to have the cycle bring us back to earth again in yet another new body! Only We are the same one going on every turn of the cycle— the same one in the body now who had another body a thousand years ago. We have lived in many a bodily house!
Just as Cycles and Karma are two ways of looking at Law, so Reincarnation which comes according to cycles, also comes according to Karma! It’s as if Karma, Cycles, Reincarnation are three fingers making up the hand of Law. We never think “hand,” without thinking of fingers, do we? Or “finger” without seeing it in our minds as part of a hand? There would be no way for effects to come of some causes, if it were not for Reincarnation.
“The Wheel of the Good Law moves swiftly on. It grinds by night and day.” Now, if Karma works silently from day to day all of our lives, what else can it mean than that we are making Karma to the day, to the minute we leave our bodies? So, we have to get many effects in new bodies. More than that, if Karma was working yesterday, two years ago, —
if it never stops—it was working the very day we were born! We reincarnate because of Karma. According to Karma, we earned the very kind of a body we have, the very father and mother, the brothers and sisters we have!
If we have no brothers and sisters, that, too, we earned. We earned the very color of our eyes, the very shape of our bodies. We earned our friends. Many friends we have not yet found, for the cycle has not yet returned that brings them to us. The cycle of friend ships started in other lives than this, you see, and so it is often a long cycle of Karma that brings them back to us. Just think of it—when something wonderfully sweet and lovely comes to you that you can’t see you deserved: “Why, some day in some other body, I must have done some gentle service—and my own has come back to me.” And again, there may be a time when everything seems wrong, when someone uses us harshly, and we know we have done the unkind one no wrong! Just so, we have earned that pain, and we can think: “‘A harsh word uttered in past lives ever comes again.’ This, too, is my own come back to me, an echo from the lips I spoke through in an other body.”
Our dispositions we brought with us, too, from other lives. Some of us find our disposi-
tions have much of selfishness, unkindness, deceit, laziness, and temper in them. That is why we have this body now. It is a body in which we must cure these bad qualities, and make our good ones stronger. The more wrong things we cure, and the more strongly we act for The Self—the better the disposition we shall have when the cycle of this body ends; consequently, the better disposition we shall bring with us into our next body. Our dispositions, and our characters, are all we do bring with us. We don’t come all dressed up, with a bag of gold in our hand when we are born; when we go, we leave behind us all our houses and lands and riches of every kind. We leave behind all our burdens and hardships, too! We bring our characters; we make them better, or worse, and take them along with us when we go. We all have learned from Theosophy how to make right character!
Often boys and girls say: “Why, I don’t see how ever I can have lived before in other bodies! I don’t remember anything about it!” Well, it wouldn’t be so strange if we didn’t re member, when the brains we are remembering through came new with these present bodies, and when we have crammed them so full with the things of this life! Indeed, we don’t remember half our days in these bodies! Cer-
tainly, not one of us remembers the day we were born—but we must have been born!
Let us not be too sure people don’t remember,
or even that we don’t remember. Many, many children have been known to remember,
on sight, places they have lived in other lives, and even grown-up people, in
visiting places they never saw before
in this life, have recognized them by some special mark. It is told of one
American gentleman, on his first visit to London, that while waiting in a
lawyer’s office to keep an appointment, he began to have a sense of familiarity
of the room steal over him. The feeling grew very strong, till finally he said
to himself: “Well, if I ever have been here before, there is a certain knot-hole
in the panel of that door over there—and if so, it is under that calendar
hanging there!” He walked over to the door and lifted the calendar. The
knot-hole was there, as he knew it would be.
But recognition on sight isn’t the only way of remembering. The surest way of all is by feeling, and that doesn’t depend very much on the brain. In fact, it is the feeling, which some sight arouses, we should call truly remembering. Your brain does not tell you that you love your mother. You know you love her, because you feel love for her. So, we are really remembering the friends of other lives, when
we see them for the first time, and feel we have always known them and loved them; we are also remembering, when for no reason in the world we can see, we dislike so intensely an other person we meet. Is it hard to imagine the kind of Karma-seed in other lives which makes such liking or disliking in this one? What kind of seeds shall we plant now that will bring us loving friends in lives to come? Yes, there are other ways still of remembering. In deep sleep, we know all about our past lives, and sometimes a dream about one or another may come through into our brain, when we are almost awake.
Very young children, especially between three and six, “remember” words of a language once they knew. In one family, the parents were worried because their little girl was not learning to talk at the age of two years. She was constantly “jabbering,” but not a word could they understand. Then, one day, a soldier who had been in France came to visit them. He began to pay attention to the little girl, and in amazement he said to the parents, “Don’t worry about the little one’s not talking. She is talking very good French !"
Have you ever noticed how some boys and girls seem never to have to learn some particular thing? For instance, one boy knows how to use tools without being taught; one girl doesn’t
need to learn how to sew, or to read; one boy can sing from the time he can speak, while most of us are years in learning how; some girls love to write poetry, or can imitate the ways of speech and manners of others, but more people never can do it well in this life, however long and hard they try—even with taking lessons. Well, all these facilities, or talents, are in evidence now be cause there was a skill in these things in other lives; or even a love for them, without much skill, — because it is the feeling, again, of love to do these things, that lives, and goes on from life to life. Perhaps you have noticed that sometimes, too, people grow lazy with these talents, and they lose them. They must love them enough to make them always more beautiful by working for them, as a service to all, if they would keep them.
Suppose we could remember all about our past lives? Remember our names, the names of our friends, all the things we did—both good and bad? It really could do us no true service. It might not even make us happy, for it isn’t pleasant to look back at our mistakes. We are, in our characters, all that these things meant to us, and if we were to stand looking back at those pictures, very long at a time, we might forget the duties right now at our hand to do. Our “now” is made up of our past, and
our “now” is what makes the future, so it’s the “now” that we must use aright. If flashes from the past come into the now,. unbidden as a sweet odor, we can recognize them and smile, and know them for what they are—messengers to say there are many houses of life we have lived in, and we have yet to build for our souls still statelier mansions. Such experiences aren’t to be talked about to others, for only to the Experiencer do these “flashes” offer the evidence that we have lived before. All Nature bears evidence of this same law of reincarnation for all who can see. Each one must see for himself and in himself all that belongs to him, now or in past lives.
(1) “Who toiled a slave may come anew a Prince For gentle worthiness and merit won; Who ruled a King may wander earth in rags For things done and undone.”
Please explain the meaning of this.
(2) What does the word Re-in-carn-ation mean?
(3) What are the three fingers on the hand of Law?
(4) Where did we get our dispositions? Why are they so different from our brother’s or
sister’s or father’s or mother’s disposition?
(5) Where do our talents come from?
(6) Why do we not remember our past lives, if it’s the same “WE” who lived through them?
(7) Would you say it is useful to remember the events of past lives? Why not?
The following undoubtedly true story was written by a commercial photographer of Minneapolis. She is the elder sister of little Anne, and up to the time of the incident, neither she nor any of the family believed in, or knew anything of, the doctrine of re-birth. The article appeared in the American Magazine of July, 1915.
“Anne, my little half-sister, younger by
fifteen years, was a queer little mite from the beginning. She did not even look
like any member of the family we ever heard of, for she was dark almost to
swarthiness, while the rest of us were all fair, showing our Scotch Irish
“As soon as she could talk in connected sentences, she would tell herself fairy stories, and just for the fun of the thing I would take down her murmurings with my pencil in my old diary. She was my especial charge — my mother being a very busy woman—and I was
very proud of her. These weavings of fancy
were never of the usual type that children’s fairy tales take; for, in addition
to the childish imagination, there were bits of knowledge in them that a baby
could not possibly have
absorbed in any sort of way.
“Another remarkable thing about her was that everything she did she seemed to do through habit, and, in fact, such was her insistence, although she was never able to ex plain what she meant by it. If you could have seen the roystering air with which she would life her mug of milk when she was only three and gulp it down at one quaffing, you would have shaken with laughter. This particularly embarrassed my mother and she reproved Anne repeatedly. The baby was a good little soul, and would seem to try to obey, and then in an absent-minded moment would bring on another occasion for mortification. ‘I can’t help it, mother,’ she would say over and over again, tears in her baby voice, ‘I’ve always done it that way!’
“So many were the small incidents of her ‘habits’ of speech and thought and her tricks of manner and memory that finally we ceased to think anything about them, and she herself was quite unconscious that she was in any way different from other children.
“One day when she was four years old she
became very indignant with Father about some
matter and, as she sat curled up on the floor in front of us, announced her
intention of going away forever.
“‘Back to heaven where you came from?’ inquired Father with mock seriousness. She shook her head.
“‘I didn’t come from heaven to you,’ she asserted with that calm conviction to which we were quite accustomed now. ‘I went to the moon first, but—you know about the moon, don’t you? It used to have people on it, but it got so hard that we had to go.’
“This promised to be a fairy tale, so I got my pencil and diary.
“‘So,’ my father led her on, ‘you came from the moon to us, did you?’
“‘Oh, no,’ she told him in casual fashion. ‘I
have been here lots of times—sometimes I was a man and sometimes I was a woman!’
“She was so serene in her announcement that my father laughed heartily, which enraged the child, for she particularly disliked being ridiculed in any way.
“‘I was! I was!’ she maintained indignantly. ‘Once I went to Canada when I was a man! I ‘member my name, even.’
“‘Oh, pooh-pooh,’ he scoffed, ‘little United States girls can’t be men in Canada! What was your name that you ‘member so well?’
“She considered a minute. ‘It was Lishus Faber,’ she ventured, then repeated it with greater assurance, ‘that was it—Lishus Faber.’ She ran the sounds together so that this was all I could make of it—and the name so stands in my diary today; ‘Lishus Faber.’
“‘And what did you do for a living, Lishus Faber, in those early days?’ My father then treated her with the mock solemnity befitting her assurance and quieting her nervous little body.
‘I was a soldier’—she granted the information
triumphantly—’and I took the gates!’
“That was all that is recorded there. Over and over again, I remember, we tried to get her to explain what she meant by the odd phrase, but she only repeated her words and grew indignant with us for not understanding. Her imagination stopped at explanations. We were living in a cultured community, but al though I repeated the story to inquire about the phrase—as one does tell stories of beloved children, you know—no one could do more than conjecture its meaning.
“Some one encouraged my really going further with the matter, and for a year I studied all the histories of Canada I could lay my hands on for a battle in which somebody ‘took the gates.’ All to no purpose. Finally I was directed by a librarian to a ‘documentary’ his-
tory, I suppose it is—a funny old volume with the ‘s’ like f’s, you know. This was over a year afterward, when I had quite lost hope of running my phrase to earth. It was a quaint old book, interestingly picturesque in many of its tales, but I found one bit that put all others out of my mind. It was a brief account of the taking of a little walled city by a small company of soldiers, a distinguished feat of some sort, yet of no general importance. A young lieutenant with his small band—the phrase leaped to my eyes—’took the gates.’ And the name of the young lieutenant was ‘Aloysius Le Fêbre.’”
THE SECOND TRUTH—
“I am the Ego which is seated in the hearts of all beings.”
Certainly, if we have been in other bodies than those we are in now, we are not our bodies, are we? We know that, anyway, because the body we have now doesn’t look the least bit as it did when we were born—and if we were our bodies, we should be a new person every few months. The I is the same I now that will be when we are grown-up, and when we have grown old and gray. The Real that says “I” now has said “I” in all other bodies before, and will say “I” in all the bodies it yet may have. That “I” many people call the “Ego”—and “Ego” is just a word of the Latin language that means “I”. So it is the “I” or “Ego” that reincarnates, bringing with it the tendency to certain feelings, or our peculiar dispositions, and thoughts, too, — because many thoughts in past lives had such a slow cycle of Karma, they had to come with us, you see. Then, the Ego that reincarnates is The Real, The Self, The Soul, with the Feeling and Thought which it has stored up as knowledge that can
never be unknown, since it belongs to the Soul which never dies. Where has it stored them up, do you ask?
Here in this body we store flesh and blood and tissue, made out of the food we eat. This is our physical body. We have a body of breath of life, too, don’t we, all through our physical body? It is called Prana. We have a finer body within to which our nerves belong, where we store the desire and taste for food. This is our sensation body, and also our pattern body which causes us to keep the same “look,” no matter how we change our looks. It is called the astral body. And there are other bodies, too, each of which is a storehouse of its kind. Our mind is a kind of body, mixed with our desires, our Kama nature, but this is our lower mind. So, of course, the Ego has a body made of very fine substance indeed, which it always keeps as a storehouse for true Thought and true Feeling—whether in this body, or in countless others. This is called Manas, and because it is the roadway by which the Soul’s knowledge (Buddhi) comes to us in our earthly body, we call it the spiritual body.
We all have just such a body right now, though we can’t see it with these eyes, just as some boys and girls can not see the fiery lives in the air. When we go to sleep at night it is in
this finer body we really live. When we sleep, this physical body is dead, so far as anything happening around us is concerned. But, of course, the Ego comes back into it again after sleeping, whereas, when we die, we no longer can come back to it, but must seek another new body. You can see, we are very wise people, all of us, when we are sound asleep, be cause we see and know all the things we ever knew in all our former bodies on earth. Some times even, we know it here, and then we call it Intuition (Buddhi).
When we leave our bodies at death, we just live in that finer body we were speaking of, which the Ego always keeps. We rest, and get ready to come back to earth again. Some people wait longer than others do; some wait thousands of years; and some perhaps wait only a very few years. We call this waiting-place between death and birth again, Devachan. (Deva— god; chan—place.) Only, you see, it isn’t a “place” you go to by train or airplane. If I were to say, “Charley is in a tantrum,” you would not go looking for Charley in any place, for you would know that it was Charley’s condition, or state of mind, I spoke of. So, “Helen is in a state of great excitement,” might mean she was upstairs, or out in the Street; because the place didn’t have anything to do with
the condition she was in. It was the condition that was the “place,” really. “Devachan” may be in any place, for it is really a state, or condition, of great happiness, while we are alive; and when we are no longer in the body, it is a state of freedom from all earthly cares and tasks,—just the vacation-time between school- terms on earth.
We come to earth to learn. But there is so much to learn on any earth that is even more than eighteen millions of years old! Some Egos stay in their bodies only ten minutes, ten months, ten years. What could they learn in that short time? Even if one lived to be a hundred and fifty years old, he could learn very little of this old earth. Think how many peoples, nations, savage tribes are on the earth today—how many languages are spoken—how differently they all live! But to know all of them he could know would be only a small part of what a man has before him to know. He would also have to know where all these people came from, how the earth was formed in which they live; he would have to look back even to continents before this present one rose out of the sea. He would have to know about all the stars in the heavens; know how to create wonderful books, pictures, statues, music, and more things than we can even name. We have
very little time to learn in one life. We spend so much time in sleeping and eating, you know, and we waste so much time by not knowing what are the right things to learn! What do you think is the most important thing? So we learn only a few lessons in one life; a few new lessons in the next, and we go on learning until we have learned all.
Another reason for coming back to this earth is, we have left unsettled debts of Karma, and we have to come back to pay them. Do you remember seeing the farmers plow and plant the barley in the fields after the rains began? Where did you expect them to harvest their barley crop? In the fields where they sowed the seed, of course; not in fields in some other country across the ocean! We get in debt here on this earth, and we come back here to pay it, to the very ones we owed. Nor must we think it is debts only to persons that we owe. We owe a debt to the mineral kingdom, to the vegetable kingdom—our younger brothers, all. They all have furnished us with food, or clothing, or service of some kind. Think of the precious metals and gems under the earth; of the mineral salts in our vegetables; of how certain herbs heal diseases; of how the silk-worm gives us beautiful silks; how numberless are the services of cow and
sheep and horse and elephant! We come back to help all those kingdoms, too, for have we not learned that it is the same life in them that is in us all?
Everything reincarnates. The life that is in the seed expands into a plant that blooms, and fruits, and goes to seed again; again the seed takes up a new life-cycle. The tiny cells in our bodies break down and the “soul” of them, or the nucleus, reincarnates somewhere else in our bodies. The life that is in the wood is re leased by fire to the form of gas; the water, from freezing, reincarnates as ice; or from boiling, takes the form of steam and gas. The larva becomes a worm, then a cocoon, and at last becomes a butterfly.
Do animals reincarnate? Of course, animals reincarnate, too. But even though a dog dreams, it is not the way we dream, and so dogs can not have a Devachan, of course. The dog-”mind” is not a thought-mind, or an imagining-mind. No matter how devoted a dog may be to its master, it could not in the master’s absence picture what the master looks like. It feels something gone; that is, its astral nature is its “mind,” and we can see, that kind of a mind must be very vague, and not able to hold long any kind of a memory. So, the “astral” dog very soon goes to pieces in the astral world, just as the physical dog does in this one. The
dog “lives” become used by other dogs. Per haps that is why some particular dog appeals to us—it may have some “lives” we knew be fore. Wild animals have a better kind of Karma, really, as their “lives” reincarnate in higher forms, while the dog “lives” stay long in dog forms.
The dog doesn’t have the same kind of Karma we have. Why? It doesn’t know it is a dog; it doesn’t choose to do what it does, but acts according to its nature. So the dog isn’t responsible as we are, though a kind of soul is there, or we could not teach and train it. The Karma of cruelty to animals is suffered by human beings far more than by the animals!
Only when a being is able to say “I am I” and “I choose to do right or wrong”—can he feel the full effect of Karma. Only then can Karma follow him from one life to another. We know that all beings live under Karma, or law, of some kind, for rain and snow and wind and flood are Karma which affects men and animals both. Yet it is easy to see how much more a storm may affect a man than it can affect an animal. The man may choose to go out in it, or stay in when he promised to go out—and from his choice, his whole life may be altered. To an animal, which acts according to its nature, the storm is always a signal to seek shelter; its life is just the same next day as it was
the day before. But WE—the Choosers—the Thinkers, go on next day and next life, always more full of knowledge, and whether it is right or wrong knowledge.
MEMORY VERSE: “As a man throweth away old garments and putteth on new, even so the dweller in the body, having quitted its old mortal frames, entereth into others which are new.”
TO THINK ABOUT
(1) What does “Ego” mean?
(2) What bodies does the Ego use?
(3) What is Devachan? What does the word mean?
(4) Why do we need to have so many lives on earth?
(5) What debts do we owe the various kingdoms below the human kingdom?
(6) Why couldn’t we reincarnate on Mars in stead of on Earth?
(7) Do animals reincarnate? How differently from the way we do?
A GREEK LESSON **
I stopped short; I flung down the book. “It
is a lie,” I cried bitterly, “a cruel, hateful lie,”
** Prologue to Gargo.
I almost shouted, — and the whole class
stared at me in amazement.
A strange outburst was that for the dingy, drowsy Greek-room of the little New England college. I was as much surprised as any; I stood confused at myself. For then it was that I remembered.
The passage which I was translating seemed innocent enough—to all the rest. We were reading at sight — the professor’s particular hobby; and he was exploiting upon us the Twelfth Oration of Lysias.
But I had been paying scant attention to what they were reading. Greek was easy to me always, and the halting drone with which they turned the sweet Attic into their class-room jargon wearied my ears. And my thoughts had drifted far away into I know not what regions of day-dreams, under a bright sky buttressed on purple hills, when I heard the incisive voice of the professor:
“Leonard, you may read now, beginning with the seventy-eighth section.” It cut through the mists of cloud land like the flash of a searchlight.
I started to my feet, found the place and
“‘And although he has been the author of all these and still other disasters and disgraces, both old and new, both small and great, some
dare to profess themselves his friends; al
though it was not for the people that Theramenes died, but because of his own
villainy—’Then I choked and stopped. Tears swam in my eyes, and a hot flash
scalded my cheeks. For in that instant first I understood; and in that instant
it seemed to me that they all understood.
But the professor, rather mortified at my unwonted hesitation, began to prompt:
“Go on, Leonard, — go on, it is not so hard— ‘and no less justly would he have died under the democracy, which he twice enslaved’ — why, Leonard!”.
“It is a lie,” I burst forth. “A cruel, hateful lie.” Those words which he uttered so calmly had stung me like the lashes of a scourge, — so malignant, so artful, so utterly unjust. And the whole world had read them—this had been believed for centuries, with none to contradict!
“To say it when a man was dead !“ I went on. “And Lysias! for Lysias to say it!” I had quite forgotten the class; I saw only the foppish, waspish little orator, declaiming before the people with studied passion and hot indignation well memorized. But the people had never accepted it They knew me better. . .
“They would not listen to such as Lysias; they would make an uproar and rise from the benches. How dared that alien accuse the best
blood of Athens!” Yet I could scarcely have
told you why I said it.
My classmates were too much astonished to laugh. The professor laid down his book; mine I flung on the floor. My blood was boiling; my soul a tumult.
“What does this mean, Leonard?” I heard the
voice; I could not clearly see the speaker.
“I will not read it—I will not read another line,” I cried. .
For the past had opened like a darkness lightning-cleft; all in one moment I felt the injustices of ages; the shame of an aeon of scorn—and they asked me to read against my self the lying record. I would die again sooner than read it. I could not realize that they did not comprehend.
It was not often that Professor Lalor was at a loss for words, but there was a long pause before he spoke.
“Young man,” he said slowly, “I always like my students to manifest a living interest in what they read, and this trait I have especially commended in you heretofore. But there is measure, Leonard, in all things, as the Greeks themselves have taught us; and this exceeds— this certainly exceeds. One would fancy you contemporary authority.” . .
Again I had choked, but anger gave me back my speech.
“Lysias an authority!” I exclaimed. “Lysias !“
My sight had cleared. The class sat quiet, startled out of their laughter; the professor looked pained and puzzled.
“There is a degree of truth in what you seem to imply,” he said. “It may be conceded that Lysias was somewhat lacking in the judicial quality. And as to Theramenes, Aristotle has expressed a very different estimate of him. Yet Lysias—”
“He was no better than a sycophant,” I broke in.
“Go to your room, Leonard. You forget yourself.” But the truth was, I had remembered myself.
After that they nicknamed me Theramenes: I was nicknamed after myself, and none suspected.
I hold that when a person dies
His soul returns again to earth;
Arrayed in some new flesh-disguise
Another mother gives him birth.
With sturdier limbs and brighter brain
The old soul takes the roads again.
* * * *
And I shall know, in angry words,
In gibes, and mocks, and many a tear,
A carrion flock of homing-birds,
The gibes and scorns I uttered here.
The brave word that I failed to speak
Will brand me dastard on the cheek.
And as I wander on the roads
I shall be helped and healed and blessed;
Dear word-s shall cheer and be as goads
To urge to heights before unguessed.
My road shall be the road I made;
All that I gave shall be repaid.
So shall I fight, so shall I tread,
In this long war beneath the stars;
So shall a glory wreathe my head,
So shall I faint and show the scars,
Until this case, this clogging mould,
Be smithied all to kingly gold.
(From John Masefield’s “A Creed”)
DO WE REMEMBER?
Mozart composed minuets before he was four years old. Beethoven gave successful concerts before he was eight, and published com positions when he was ten. Chopin played in public before he was nine. Mendelssohn was already famous at twelve, while Brahms ex cited attention from babyhood. Richard Strauss was a successful composer at six, while Samuel Wesley was an organist at three and composed an oratorio at eight.
* * * *
Ruth Slenczynski—a child of eight years— was acclaimed in New York City in 1933 for her piano recital of Bach, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Chopin. She came simple and smiling upon the stage, but when she sat down to play, her appearance was that of a mature woman in a child’s body. One was forced to realize that only the Soul present could so command the nature and body.
* * * *
“Blind Tom” was a negro born in slavery on a Georgia plantation in 1849. Not only was he born blind but he was so nearly a congenital idiot that it was almost impossible to teach him to talk or to perform the simplest tasks.
By the time he was ten years old he had been drilled into “tending door”—his sole accomplishment. In those days the kitchen was in a separate cabin immediately back of the mansion-house dining room. Slaves would run back and forth between kitchen and dining room at meal time and it was Blind Tom’s task to open the swinging door for them. One day a young lady guest played some highly technical numbers just before lunch. After lunch eon the company scattered for various amusements. It happened that the young lady re turned to the deserted dining room for some forgotten article and was astonished to hear the piano resounding with the music she had played an hour or two before. Peeping into the music room she beheld Blind Tom, oblivious to all but the magic sounds his flying fingers were conjuring from the instrument. Within a year Mr. Bethune, Tom’s “owner,” was exhibiting him to large audiences in New York City — to his own profit and to the world’s incredulous admiration.
* * * *
Christian Heinrich Heinecken was born in Denmark in 1721. At ten months of age he could converse as freely and intelligently as an adult. By the time he was a year old he knew the Pentateuch practically by heart—knew it
not only in a memorial sense, but understood it as well as his elders who read and told the Old Testament stories to him. By the end of his second year he was as well versed in sacred history as those who taught him, had decided opinions on the many moot theological questions of the time, and could hold his own in discussion with the numerous learned divinity men who sought him out for the sake of what they could learn from him. At three years of age he was as much of a marvel in geography and in world history as the greatest travelers and university professors. He was by this time proficient in German as well as Danish, and could talk well in French and Latin. His parents’ home became a kind of place of pilgrimage to which men and women of standing and repute from many distant places came with reverence and respect to meet and consult with this phenomenal babe. The child died at a little over four years of age.
* * * *
Horace Greeley, the famous American newspaper editor, was the third child of parents who wrestled for a meager existence on a stony hillside Vermont farm. Horace was weak, sickly, and from the first uninterested in the things that attract and amuse babies. That he learned to read before he could talk in other than “baby language” is told by more
than one biographer. His own mother related that she observed before he was two years old how he seemed fascinated to see his father reading from a paper. Overburdened with family duties, it occurred to her to give him an old newspaper to play with while she was absent from the room. Coming into the house one day she started toward the door of the room in which she had left Horace. Astonished to hear a voice speaking as an adult might, and thinking some visitor must have entered during her absence, she paused by the door and looked in. Horace was reading aloud from the sheet before him! No one had ever taught him even his A B C’s.
William Henry West Betty was born in England in 1791. He appeared on the stage at the age of eleven in adult parts, and at twelve he was playing Shakesperian roles in London to overcrowded houses. It is of record that the English Parliament actually adjourned on one occasion so that its members might attend a performance in which this precocious youngster played the role of Hamlet.
Elmer J. Schoneberger, Jr., born at Los Angeles in 1929, at six months of age could con verse plainly; at a year old he had learned the alphabet; at three, he was able to talk with
ease and understanding on such subjects as “electricity, engineering, economics, history, aviation and sports.”
* * *
My sister was born and married abroad. On arrival in England she and her husband set off to visit at an old manor house in Wiltshire.
On entering the lodge gates, my sister turned to her husband and said, “Why, this is my old home,” and to his surprise, she pointed out landmarks on the way.
The experience was related at dinner, and the host, somewhat incredulous, playfully said, “Perhaps you will discover the Priest’s Hole !” It was mentioned in the history of the place that one existed in Tudor times, but it had never been discovered.
After dinner the guests adjourned to the gallery to see some old pictures, and it was noticed my sister was missing. They found her in a room nearby, counting the panels on the wall, and looking somewhat dreamy. Suddenly she exclaimed, “This is the one,” and asked her husband to press a leaf in the carving very hard as she could not manage it.
He did so, the panel moved stiffly, and a tiny room was revealed, dusty with age, and empty save for a broken piece of pottery and a pallet, which had evidently been used for a bed.
* * * *
The first year of little Jackie’s life we
called him our little Chinaman, because his features—particularly his eyes—were
Chinese. After his first year, he began to lose that Oriental look. But he was
always different from the other children—silent, he preferred to play alone, and
would play for hours with one object.
As he grew older, it was noticed that Jackie was the one who did things. If he started a thing, he always finished it. Often we would hear the others say, “Jackie can fix it!” And always Jackie fixed it.
It was when he was five years old that I made the boys each a pair of navy blue pants. Immediately, Jim tried his on. When I asked Jackie if he wanted to put his on, he said, No—he would put them in his drawer until I got his shirt made. “But Jackie,” I said, “I just made you some shirts.”
“I know,” he answered, “but they are not the right kind.”
“What is the right kind?”
“The right kind is long, like this,” he said, and he measured with his little hand down to his knees.
“But boys don’t wear shirts like that!”
“I know. But they don’t wear the right kind of shirts. I want you to make mine black with lots of pretty colors on it.”
“Daddy,” said I, “doesn’t wear that kind of
“No, Daddy doesn’t wear the right kind of shirt, nor Ned Lane, either.” (Ned Lane is a friend of his father.)
I asked Jackie if he would wear this long black shirt with the pretty colors to school, and he said yes, he would; because it was the right kind of shirt!
And then we say, we don’t “remember.”
* * * *
When children come to visit me, they love to dress up in my clothes, and “play lady.” One day, Betty May had spent an unusually long time in my room, and finally came out in a long dress, with a scarf wound round her head.
She said, “Look, Grannie! This is the way we dressed when we were Indians.”
“Oh, were you an Indian?” I queried innocently.
She looked at me with surprise in her eyes, and said, “Of course. And you too, Grannie. Don’t you remember? What is the name of that country where we lived when we were Indians?”
I asked if it were India, maybe, but she said, no, that wasn’t the right name.
Then I asked, “Were the babies Indians, too?”
Quickly she answered, “Oh, no. Not Jackie.
Jackie was another kind of man. Jackie looked like this” — and she drew herself
up very straight and folded her arms across her chest.
“How about Jim and Sue? Were they Indians ?“
She looked very serious for a minute, and then said, “I don’t remember, Grannie.”
Then someone came in, and we were never able to pick up the thread again, until several weeks later when she told me, “Mother doesn’t know all the things we know, Grannie.”
“Why doesn’t she, dear?” I said.
“Because, she hasn’t been to our country.”
“But how do you know, Betty May?” I asked.
The only answer I could get was, “You know, Grannie.”
And then we say, we don’t “remember.”
* * * *
When Baby Carla was six weeks old, she saw her Uncle Hal for the first time. A twinkle came in her eyes, she smiled, and put out her tongue at him! Ever after, that was her sign of welcome to him, though sometimes she ex tended the greeting to others especially favored. Between her and Uncle Hal there seemed to be always some inner secret bond of delight and companionship, so that just as soon as she began to say “Mama” and “Papa,”
she also began to use a name for Uncle Hal. “Pak-kar,” she called him. Her parents were mystified. What strange freak made that word, like nothing anyone had ever heard before? There was no variation in it at any time. It was always clear and distinct—unmistakable. Before the little one had reached the age of two, however, Uncle Hal died suddenly. Carla appeared to know nothing about it, except that several times in the next few weeks, and very contrary to her usual sunny awakening from sleep, she woke crying, as if her heart were broken. When her mother soothed her and asked her why she cried, she said, “Pak-kar’s gone !“ She never again greeted anyone with little tongue thrust out.
Two years after this, while Carla’s mother was reading one of Breasted’s histories, she came to a chapter in which was discussed the similar roots of words in old languages. Across the page sprang into her view this line, giving the ancient forms of our word, father: Greek Latin Teutonic Sanscrit Tibetan pater pater vater pitar pakkar
It was four years later when Carla’s father brought home from the library a book of travel on Tibet, in which was illustrated the Tibetan greeting, first used by Carla at the age of six weeks!
* * * *
Little Robert was the sunniest, happiest, most lovable little four-year-old boy anyone ever knew! Not only was he cherished by all those in his family, including aunts and uncles and cousins, but friends — even strangers — found him “different” from other little ones, and with a strange power to lighten their hearts. But, one day a terrible disease struck him swiftly, and he died.
Little Robert’s parents knew about reincarnation, and their sorrow was more bearable because they had also heard that when a child dies under the age of seven years, the same Ego might reincarnate again in the same family. Two years later, a little brother was born to them, so closely resembling little Robert that they could not help giving the babe the same name. As he grew, old familiar ways were recognized, and the two babes seemed blended in this one. They began to speak of the first little Robert as “the other one.”
Meantime, some of the families of cousins
had moved far away, and had never seen the second Robert. One day, when he was
three years old, one of these girl cousins came to the house on a
surprise-visit. She entered the room where the little fellow was playing on the
floor with his blocks, and stood quietly for a moment. Robert looked up at her,
smiled radiantly, flung out his arms and called,
This was the name the first Robert had given her—a name which had never been used by anyone, save him!
THE THIRD TRUTH
THE LADDER OF BEING
MEMORY VERSE: All beings are the same in kind and differ only in degree.
The Second Truth unrolls itself out of the First Truth, you remember; it could not be, but for the First Truth. So, also the Third Truth comes from the First Truth, is a part of it, and could not be without it. At the same time, we could not understand much about the Third Truth, and nothing at all of the First Truth, without the Second Truth. Again, there could not be the Second Truth, Law, without beings, concerned with the Third Truth, to feel it. Just fancy a law being made and written on the records of this town, to punish offenders against traffic laws. Then fancy a pestilence came and carried away all the people, would there be any law then—with nobody to offend, nobody to punish the offender, nobody to feel the punishment? You see, the three truths, which explain everything there is, are all in the One Truth, and the One Truth is in all three. All that we learn of any one Truth, we learn about the other two. We can’t under-
stand all about any Truth, without knowing the other two. When we do understand all three Truths, we shall know all there is worth knowing. It will take us more than all our present lives to understand them well. We can only know them to be the Three Truths, really, as we live and think and do, and so prove them true. Now we are taking them, just in part, to study and to learn by. When we are older, there will be much more yet to learn of them. Then will be more need to use them, and new countries of mind and soul to carry them into as guides.
All the names we learned for the First Truth are names or symbols for what we really are:
“That thou Art”; Thou art the Self—Life— Consciousness. We can not see It, nor feel It, nor touch It. It just is. So, we can not put our finger on the mysterious “I” we are. We can’t touch it, nor hear it, nor see it. We can only say “I am.” And thus we see we are identical with the Self of All. From IT, yet still in IT, come worlds and beings of all kinds—beings higher than our kind and lower than our kind—but none of all these beings could come forth from IT, unless they, too, were identical with IT, you see. Their life belongs to the One Life; their consciousness belongs to the One Consciousness: this is The Third Truth.
The Self—the Power to Know—knows it self
only in forms and beings, which are its mirror, just as we can know what our
faces look like, only by looking in a mirror. All these worlds and beings are,
together with us, the One Life, garnering
knowledge of and for The Self of all. “The purpose of life is to learn,”not only for our own little individual lives, but for the whole Universe. This is the real meaning of “Evolution”—an unfolding from The Self within, through many forms to ever nobler forms, to ever greater experiences and knowledge.
We learn something from the poor body which we could not learn in the fairer one, just as the blunted tool will do work for a carpenter which the finest could not do.
We learn other things in the fairer bodies; but all we learn in whatever body is learned for ALL. What the most ignorant one learns is as necessary as what the most wise one knows, for he makes a link in the chain of knowledge from the being of small degree to one of great. Any being who has the power of choice is greater than the being of the animal kingdom, however wise animals may appear to be. The lowest savage is higher in degree than any animal, for in his way he chooses one thing before another, and so sets his individual
Karma in motion. He knows the difference between good and bad. In the kingdoms below us, beings act according to their nature; they do no evil; and their Karma is kingdom Karma.
All beings come from the Self, The One Life — the Source and Cause of all things everywhere in Space. The Universe, we learned, is the turning of the One Life, and, as everything in it has its cycle, so also the Universe has its cycle of Day and Night—a cycle as much larger than our life-cycle as a man’s life is longer than that of a mosquito. At the present time, the Universe is having its day; there will come its night-time, when everything will disappear into space. All the beings in it will drop their bodily clothing— whether mineral, vegetable, fur, or skin of any color. Then they will be together all the same One Life, which they really are now, only they don’t know it, either because they cannot say “I am I” (plants and stones and animals can’t, we know) or because they look at the different clothes, and think they are the clothes, instead of That which sees them. But we must not think that the drop of dew is lost, when it slips off a leaf into the brook below. It will one day reach the sea, become one with all other drops in the ocean, and from there again be drawn
into the atmosphere to come to earth and find another brook.
“As the honey-makers, dear, gather the
honey from many a tree, and weld the nectars together in a single nectar; and as
they find no separateness there, nor say:
Of that tree I am the nectar, of that tree I am the nectar. Thus indeed, dear, all these beings when they reach the Real, know not, nor say: We have reached the Real. But whatever they are here, whether tiger or lion or wolf or boar or worm or moth or gnat or fly, that they become again. And this soul is the Self of all that is, this is the Real, this the Self.
That Thou Art, 0 Shvetaketu.*
In the night-time of the Universe, it is
as if The One Life were sleeping, pulsating “un conscious” in Universal Space.
This means there are no forms anywhere, no beings any where, only the Real of
all beings is—not acting, not thinking, not dreaming. But the Great Cycle brings
morning again to the Universe. The One Life like the sun, which we know is
always in the sky, though rains hide it for days and days, come again, shining
in myriad forms in a new Universe, which is better and wiser than the old one,
because all the beings of that old one brought their experience back
* From the Upanishads.
to The One Life, and all was shared there. The One Life that went to sleep is the same One Life that wakes again. The same “lives” that were in man’s form at last become man’s form again; the tiger-lives, the gnat-lives, and all the other lives flock together to build those same forms again. These are the lives of Form and Matter, but there are higher lives—the shining “Lives” of Spirit—of Self-Conscious ness. And were it not for these “Lives,” present in the waking time of the Universe, the lives of Matter would still remain asleep, just as the seeds beneath the soil must have the Sun’s wakening before they sprout.
TO THINK ABOUT
(1) Is the Ladder of Being any different from the Cycle of Being?
(2) Why are all beings on this Ladder?
(3) Why is the savage a higher being than an intelligent animal?
(4) What happens during the night-time of the universe?
(5) Why is the night-time of the universe necessary?
(6) Do you see any likeness between the First and Third Truths? What is it?
(7) We know that high beings are needed in the world. Do we really need the lower beings? Please explain this.
SONG OF EVOLUTION
No conscious thing beneath the sky
Will ever cease to be;
Unending, all, as Thou and I,
Tho’ forms change constantly.
The life imprisoned in dull earth
May bloom a lovely flower;
So all evolve a fairer birth
When Law brings forth the hour.
And on through endless reach of time,
Through forms from stone to man,
As up a ladder beings climb;
This is the perfect plan.
The Masters men perfected are;
And we may also climb
To starry heights in worlds afar,
And know the Truth sublime.
Rememb’ring ever, That Thou Art,
The way will shorter grow,
True Brotherhood within thy heart,
Thou’lt reach to Those who Know.
THE THIRD TRUTH
THE LADDER OF BEING
MEMORY VERSE: “The Self shines in all, but in all it does not shine forth.”
Everyone wants to know about the begin- fling of this world. Of course, it “began,” so far as this solar-system of which our globe, our earth, is a part—began. But even the perplexities of scientists about this beginning would quickly vanish, if they would understand that our solar-system is just the re-birth, the re formation, of a solar-system before it, which had its cycle of beginning, growth, old age and death—or cycle of rest—only to be born again, for this great age of activity. Back of the previous solar-system another and another and another, until no beginning of these systems in their coming and going can be imagined. After this system of which we are a part goes into its night of rest, will be other systems yet to come, in numberless order, with ever-growing perfections. Yet, in them all, the same One Life— invisible—never-changing-—the Cause of all changes in intelligence and in form. Life doesn’t grow—it is the principle of growing.
Beings grow to perfection in intelligence and form.
Another perplexity about beginning would vanish, if only people could think of beings as something more than what they see, with heads and bodies and arms and legs. We certainly aren’t that kind of being when we are asleep; that is, our Consciousness isn’t in that kind of a body. We haven’t stopped being be cause we are not using our arms and legs. So, when a solar-system, or universe, goes to sleep, the beings in it have not ceased to be, even though they are asleep.
The ancient Chinese said that in the begin- fling the universe was filled with germs. Can we think of ourselves as germs of life? ‘We see a seed, we say, but all we see is a covering for that germ of life that may rive a rock and grow into a redwood-tree. Can we not imagine that at the end of our universe all that is in it will simply go to seed again, with all its perfections concealed in the seed, and that the infinite totality of these germs is the One Life that bides its time to wake, to move, to breathe again in countless beings and forms?
There is a word that means the One Life in form that many philosophers use. It comes from a Greek word, monas, which means One, or Unity. It is the Monad. When we use this word—because men haven’t covered up its
meaning as invisible Life—we are able to see in our minds more deeply behind forms, and to realize that the Real of every form—the life-giving essence—is invisible. “Monad” is one of many names that means just the One Life, as it dwells in various forms—itself changeless, but ever changing forms. It is the spirit, the soul in everything, whether of an atom, of an animal, or of a man.
When the universe wakes up, then, it means that all the Monads of all degrees emerge from the inactivity of sleep, and gradually find their places in the new universe. Just as the germ in the egg grows into a chick, so the Great Seed—the Monad—becomes a host of Monads. Every Monad is a point—a centre of force—a life—a soul—a being—a self-moving unit. And this is why no two beings are just alike. Not even two blades of grass are just alike, because each one has its own path of life—its own journey from its own center— that Center which is everywhere the same One Life, with its power to become, to act, to grow, to move ever onward from simplest forms to form of man. From that point on, evolution is to be expressed in Self-knowledge.
Now, let us picture in our minds the great Ocean of Life, or Wisdom, each drop of it a Monad. But there are strong currents in that
Ocean, as also there are still places. What makes the still places and the strong currents? The mineral kingdom is a still place in the Ocean of Life, through which passes the monadic essence very slowly. Here, the monads globing together have not awakened to Knowledge of the Ocean—each Monad, independently. Yet, with out that kingdom, not one of the other kingdoms could be. And the impulse to grow, to move, is even there. As rocks and mountains wear away, the monadic essence is released into the vegetable kingdom. Have we not seen the lichen growing on the rocks? But, there is always the mineral kingdom. So, though the monadic essence works its marvels in the vegetable kingdom, in tree and plant and bloom, and though that life-essence moves on into animal and human, still the vegetable kingdom remains. Up and on life moves, following the pattern of forms that were made in the universes before this one—into forms of the animal kingdom, and at last into the form of man. There is only one form of Man. We never have to ask what species does the American belong to—or the Chinese, or the Esquimaux. They may differ in the color of their skin, but we would never mistake any one of these for an animal of any kind! They are men.
In the human kingdom, the monadic essence
separates into individual drops. Here a form is built on its own astral pattern, made up of the mineral life-essence, the vegetable life- essence, and the life-essence once in animal form. Thus, the Monadic essence now takes the human pattern: here is a form with brain of another kind than the animal’s; here are living bones different in function from bones (or mountain chains) of Earth; here is an “animal” that walks erect on two feet. This human form had another pattern than animals had! But even so, this form is not the Man. We know that, be cause We are not our bodies, but the Being— the Monad—that dwells in these bodies. The human form, which every atom strives to reach, is an evolution from below of the best the “below” can do. And here would evolution stop, if to build visible and perfect forms were the only object of all this growing universe. Even though in the mineral kingdom there was the breath principle (prana) and the pattern-principle (astral), the vegetable kingdom had more awake in it, besides these two. The natural impulse to grow, the attraction to the sun—each plant in its own way— meant the coming of a wider life, of greater intelligence, and variety. In the animal kingdom came greater freedom and more specialized modes of intelligence than in the king-
doms below—like the struggle to get food, and the fierce desire to protect their young. (This animal principle is called kama.) So, in the highest — the human form — were all these principles. With the better brain, “man’s” kama became even a kind of reason. But this, remember, was not the responsible man that is today. This was only a four-fold human being, and not even yet a man of flesh. We have to learn now what was that new element—that new principle—that made man as we now know him—Man of seven principles. For the Real Man did not come from lower kingdoms. The Real Man is a God who must learn here to do and be as a god-like being.
Now, let us go back to the beginning once more, when all the Monads, Lives, or Souls wake up again. Do we remember it was the shining Lives of Spirit that woke the not-shining lives? Of course, it wasn’t as we wake someone in the morning by calling, or by alarm-clock. But haven’t we sometimes wakened just because another person came quietly into the room? We felt someone there, even though we weren’t awake. So, too, the seeds that wait to sprout in the earth till the sun’s rays warm them don’t know that without the sun, those millions of miles away in space, they would still be sleeping. The Lives of Spirit were like the sun—their influence woke
the memory of the lives of matter, which began to stir and move on, according to the plan and the various patterns made in the previous world. The shining Lives, or the Monads, fully awake—Self-conscious in the last great Day—waited till the lesser lives of form and matter had done all that they could do. They could build the human form, but they could not give themselves the light of mind. Then, in their spiritual bodies—bodies of Light, we can imagine, the shining Lives came down the Ladder of Being to meet the highest form—the human form—and enter it. They lighted it with their Light—their Fire. There is fire in the earth, “solid” fire; fire in the vegetable kingdom, which we have called Prana; fire in the animal and human kingdom, which we have called Kama—the highest of the “below.” So, the higher Flames or Fires— the Manas Fires—united, or fused, with the Kama fire, and there was Man. Thus came Man to be a sevenfold fire—a Man of Mind. And this is why, ever since, has been in every human being a struggle between his Shining side and his shadow side. And this is why, when one makes up his mind for good and all to stay on the shining side, he is said to be upon the Path—the Path of Self-knowledge.
With sevenfold man, evolution really began in earnest. For Man’s use of them was needed
to impel the lesser lives in the lower kingdoms to higher perfections. Man’s need of warmth brought knowledge of physical fire; man’s need of nourishment brought fruits and grains; man’s need of shelter and of journeying brought boats and dwellings. Man learned to use the elements—the unorganized kingdoms of “lives,” or elementals—of fire, air, water, earth. But, in all this, even, men with minds had to have teachers and helpers, just as he does today with all his knowledge and new inventions! Men need more of the Manas light and of the Heart light, now, before they, too, can be real teachers and h of the world. Only when their greatest desire is to lie/p Humanity, will the light of the Gods be theirs.
TO THINK ABOUT
(1) What is it that never begins?
(2) How many solar-systems have there been before this one?
(3) What makes solar-systems? — Law, or beings?
(4) Why do we have the word—Monad—to help us understand the Third Truth?
(5) Why is it that no two beings are alike?
(6) What is the name we give to the “pattern” that all forms have?
(7) What new “element” came from “above” to complete the man of form below?
THE THIRD TRUTH
EVOLUTION IN ANALOGIES
Perhaps we do not realize that in our last lesson we have unlocked the door to one of the very greatest of all the mysteries. Only Theosophy has the key to where the Mind came from. There are those who say it came from “God.” And, of course, if one means by “God” the shining Lives of Spirit, we should not object. But, if they mean from a Personal Being outside of us, who handed us out our minds as if from some great container, then, we are bound to see the unreason of it. Again, is it not quite as unreasonable to think, as many do, that the human form produced the mind? Because, in that case, there would be no idiots — those forms without a mind. So, too, why would not all men do and think alike? Plants and animals of one species can always be depended on to act alike. Why is it that some men are far nobler than others? Why is it that all men want justice, but that some want it more for themselves than for others? Men are all different in the way they think, as we know, because of the long trail of Karma theirs from
the beginning of human life upon this globe. Bodies, or forms, are but instruments for minds to act in and through. Some bodies won’t let the mind in, because they have no windows for the soul. The human form is the only one with “windows,” but, until the light of mind shines in, there is no man!
Even Theosophists find it difficult to under stand the secret, and really, the best way to be able to express it for most people is by analogy. Analogy means the science of similarities, or the likeness of one thing we do know, with some other thing we do not know, especially if it belongs to the invisible world. And let us not expect the likeness to hold every step of the way! Similarity is not sameness. Our intuition tells us many things are true, but we find it difficult to tell how they are true. Only the great teachers are able to tell rightly, and even they try to make it plain to us by analogy, as the ancients did by allegory, we remember.
* * * *
Suppose, then, we consider the letters of our alphabet. There are only twenty-six, and yet, all the words in a great unabridged dictionary—thousands and thousands—are made out of those twenty-six letters! Suppose we call these letters, Matter. Suppose we call the words made from them the forms in the
kingdoms of Nature—very simple words of only two letters, some five-letter words, some longer still — and then, we come to words joined together, like “life-guard.”
Now, did the letters make the words of themselves? And are the words made by piling letters together, helter-skelter? Or, was it intelligence—the mind in Nature—that caused the building of the words? We may take “life guard” as, a symbol of the human form, but, isn’t there something much more needed than one word for men to be able to tell their different needs, and what they think and feel? Yes, they have to know that words are only symbols of ideas, and that they must make sentences of words they choose, to tell what they mean. It is the Man—the individual Mind—that builds the ideas into Matter, who knows how to use the words! The Mind-Man is of another order of being than the man of mere form. This man comes down into Matter. The man of form comes up to reach Spirit in Mind.
* * * *
Again, let us think how this very building came to be. What are the materials in it? Did the stone, the wood, the concrete, and the plaster come together of itself? Did the masons and the carpenters and the painters really “make” the building? No, there had to be a plan—a blue-print for them all to follow.
Then, they were able to put the materials where they belonged. But, did the blue-print exist of itself? Did this “pattern” suddenly come to be all on its own account? No, some body drew the plans, whether an architect, or contractor, or owner. Where, then, did this building come from—from the ground on which it is built, or from the minds of those who were concerned with its existence? Who had a need for it to be, who thought about what was needed, who gave the work of physical building to others? When the building was finished, who came to live in it and use it—the masons and carpenters and painters, or those who needed it) who planned it in the first place, and who, also, paid for it?
Doesn’t this analogy show us that everything really comes from “above”? Even the mineral kingdom must have once been sun-light, above, that crystallized at last in solid matter! But, in the beginning, the monads that had not be fore completed the journey to independent conscious existence, as the Spiritual Lives had, now have to begin the physical building of the kingdoms.
* * * *
It would be just as foolish to think that an animal becomes a man, as to think that a tree became the ideas in this book! Yet, think of all the processes the tree went through before the
paper, on which this book is printed, was manufactured, and how the mind of man was engaged in all those processes. But, those engaged in turning the tree into pulp, and then into paper did not make the book. Neither did those make it who did the printing on the paper! They did the part that they knew how to do. Where did the book really come from? Surely, someone first saw that the book was needed. Was not this its beginning of existence on a higher plane? Then, there was thought about it. Then, ideas came for it. The book was planned—it had a pattern. The book was written in manuscript, and sent to the printer. What makes the book of value is what is “incarnated,” or embodied in it! Is that the person or persons who wrote it? No, for long before they were born, The Three Truths were known and taught in other books. Whatever of mind and ideas went into it, that mind holds many more ideas which are not in the book. And this is the same with all of us. However we may look on the out side, as a “book,” in the Ego are still other “ideas” and perfections, which as yet we do not show forth!
* * * *
Fire is latent, hidden, internal in the mineral. The blow from the smith’s hammer sets the sparks flying from iron and steel. Gold,
silver, copper, lead can all be made to burn with their own flame, each one at its own certain heat. Strong acid on a stone eats it away, waking its latent fire. Great pressures of gas and heat under the earth provoke the fiery eruptions of volcanoes, and their liquid flow of melted rock. The fire of the mineral kingdom can not emit itself. It can only respond to another fire outside itself.
Fire is latent, internal in the vegetable king dom. However many, or great or small, the piles of fuel one might stack up— of logs, vines, ferns or coal—not one fuel-pile could light itself. If a fire starts in a forest, someone or something outside, caused it.
But this kind of vegetable fire is only a little more active than mineral fire. The true vital fire of this kingdom is the fire of growth, and of awakening intelligence. Who can say that the sunflower is not intelligent as it turns to ward the Sun? Does it not respond to the Sun’s movement across the sky? Who can say that the vine i. not intelligent as it struggles across (to it) a mighty space to gain support? No outside Power impelled that reaching!
In the animal kingdom is latent fire—psychic fire—a higher kind of fire, because it responds to its own kind in its own kingdom. It also responds to man’s Mind fire.
Man’s fire responds to all the fires, because his Mind-Fire is something more. It creates, it starts things going, it plans, it controls, it chooses, it discriminates, and wills. Above all, in it is the Fire of sacrifice. When this Fire is awake in him, it responds to the Fire of Higher Beings in his own kingdom, whose fire is the Fire of Altruism.
THE THIRD TRUTH
THE ELDER BROTHERS
MEMORY VERSE: Man—the most intelligent being in the universe — has never been without a friend.
We can understand that since there were seven races or classes of human Monads— forms of varying capacity made ready for the light of Mind—so, among the Divine Monads (the shining Lives, as we have called them) must also have been orders, or degrees of knowledge. Some had knowledge so complete and perfect that they were able even in the beginning to help and teach those who knew far less than they. This is why the most ancient peoples had civilizations greater than ours, for among men in the far-off Golden Age the bright Gods walked and taught. They had no need of their own to enter human forms, and they never forgot the Real. But, other Divine Monads had yet to reach that perfect knowledge, since in the last Day of evolution they had loitered on their Journey to Self-Knowledge. So, they entered the forms as a matter of their own necessity, under Karma, and though they had the help of
wiser beings, after a while, many forgot the Real. Still younger souls there were—some of the human forms could receive but a spark of the bright flame of Mind. Together all these souls made up Humanity in the beginning of life on earth. Humanity means—the Thinker on earth (humus—earth; man—to think).
It was the Gods who taught men the use of fire; who taught them how to cultivate the vine and fields of wheat; who taught them how to rightly use those beneficent elemental beings we call the cow, and bee; who taught them the use of metals, and stones for building; who taught them how to build boats. And above all, they taught men they were brothers. Because men lived as brothers, so long as the Gods were their parents and teachers, the Golden Age lasted. Then all men knew the same truth and spoke the same language., But the time came when men must put their knowledge to the test, when the Gods departed and left them to work out their own destiny, as parents do now, when their children come of age. It was then that many forgot the Real, and began to think that forms and appearances were real, instead.
Knowing the cycles when they can most help, great Teachers come from age to age to remind men of what once they knew of the
Three Truths; they come to re-kindle the light of Mind, that becomes dulled in the world of the senses, of things, and appearances. Our parents and teachers at school are all the time kindling the light of mind in us, but the Great Teachers belong to that highest order of being, once called “a colony of the Gods established here that the world might not become destitute of a better nature.” They know man’s nature and his needs; they know that he can find happiness only in a progressive march to a higher life, because it is as natural for man to become a God as for the monads of the lower kingdoms to strive to man’s estate. They know that we, too, must struggle to gain Self- Knowledge. They help by showing us the way to seek it, but will not do our work for us, nor give us special favors. They do not interfere with the Karma of anyone, though their very presence in the world is a help to every being in it. They have paid all their Karmic debts on earth, but they choose to take earthly bodies that they may be better able to help and teach the men of earth. Such beings are perfect men. They are called our Elder Brothers.
Now, it isn’t strange, is it, that there should be grades of Elder Brothers? Even in the mineral kingdom are different grades of being—think of the varieties of rock, of the difference between dull heavy lead, dense iron,
softer silver, and the perfection of the diamond! Think of the range in the vegetable kingdom—trees, vines, food-plants, flowering plants and weeds. Think how man has improved old species and made new perfections in fruits and flowers. And men are human plants and can improve them selves. If the impulse to perfection were not in all beings, evolution would not go on. The Ladder of Being means a constant climbing by all beings, but the Elder Brothers have reached the top. Even there, are the older and the younger. There are those who have more difficult work to do than others have; there are those who come to help the world in great cycles, and some in lesser ones. Always, since man has been on earth, have been those to learn from the Elder Brothers, and at last join their ranks, becoming as they are, and of One Will to help mankind. Once, it must be, they all were no wiser than we are now.
We are accustomed to the word “master.” There is the school-master, the music-master, the master in painting, the master-mechanic— all these know perfectly their work as others do not, and we naturally trust their knowledge. Elder Brothers are given the name Masters. They are Masters of all wisdom. They are also called Mahatmas, especially in India, for the
word Mahatma means Great Soul. (Maha— great; atma—soul.) They are called Initiates, which means that they have entered into, or know, great secret knowledge. Perhaps some have heard a man say he was “initiated” into a Masonic Lodge. Back in the far distant past, the Brotherhood of the wise Builders of the great pyramids and towers and monuments were “Initiates.” But real Initiates do not tell of their own initiations.
Elder Brothers are called “Wise Men;” too, and in old Persia, “Magi.” In Greece and Egypt, they were called “Hierophants,” and a word that is used especially for the younger Elder Brothers is “adept.” We use that word very commonly. When we say one is adept in hand-crafts, we mean that he is very proficient in weaving, carving, modelling, perhaps. An “adept” in Theosophy would be one who knows and lives The Three Truths. Some poets are adepts, and other men who work in the world for freedom and justice for their fellowmen. Not all adepts are Mahatmas, but all Mahatmas are adepts.
Some of these words seem very difficult, perhaps, but you will see them often when you are studying the histories of ancient peoples. And sometimes when you read of great men, and see by their deeds and what they said, they
were acting according to The Three Truths, you will say to yourself, perhaps, “Why, he must have been an adept!”
Many people highly regard the wonderful knowledge and powers that these Elder Brothers have. They, too, would like to have the power to hear and see at a distance of thousands of miles, to send messages without any telegraph wires or radio instrument, to disappear from view when they want not to be seen, to change base metals into gold, to know when wars and floods and earthquakes are to come, to be able to live several hundred years in the same body. But such people do not know what ruin they would make for themselves and others, if those powers were now theirs. They do not know that first they must learn and live the principle of true Brotherhood, for it includes all knowledge. Then, and then only, could they safely have such powers, as only then, would their powers be used for the benefit of all.
We have learned what evolution is. We have seen that all beings on the Wheel of Life are moving onward together to perfection in this sevenfold universe. Perfection means perfection of form, of intelligence, and knowledge. All evolution is spiritual, and One, or universal. But, when there is the sevenfold man, he as an individual
undertakes his own evolution to a higher life—to perfection of knowledge. This is spiritual knowledge. First, he has to know who and what he is. He has to learn his duty to the Whole. He has to serve the Whole, and then he knows he is One with the Whole. He lives and breathes in all.
Now, supposing we all — all men in the world — could begin to think and act in our way, as They do? How long would it take for men to be brothers all over the world? Would there, then, be any starving children? Could there be men unjustly treated? Could there be wars? Would there not be work for all to do? Would there not be wiser books and greater paintings, finer music, lovelier dwellings for mind and body? This is what the Elder Brothers work for, night and day—a Golden Age once more, when all men shall be brothers.
The First Lesson of this book, we see, is also the last—the lesson of the Path on which we travel all too slowly, struggling as we go with the tigers of passion, the peacock-bird of vanity, or with whatever of the animal may be in us that makes us regard our own self-interest before the welfare of our brothers. But once we know these things, we are awake, inside! We are aware inside of how we thought and felt and chose. We can no longer be comfort able if we evade our responsibilities. We have
started on the path of spiritual evolution. Some day, it may be, we shall always think and feel and choose as Elder Brothers do. The Eternal Verities are what They think and do. Some day, it may be, we shall learn, and know our selves and Them!
(1) Why is man called the most intelligent being in the universe?
(2) Have you noticed grades among men? How do you “grade” them?
(3) Which of the names for the perfected men most appeals to you? Why?
(4) What are some of the “powers” of these perfected men?
(5) Why should such powers be a detriment now to most of us?
(6) What is the greatest power any being has?
(7) What are the powers we are using now? How do we use them? How could we use them?
The long stretch of road disappeared at last into the gloom of the darkening sky. The way farer lifted his arms as though seeking help from above; then flung his weary body to the sod by the roadside. Long had been his journey, endless seemed the way. At first bitterness
and disappointment filled his heart; but with the peaceful evening, the sweet scents from the earth, the calm sky above him, a sense of rest stole over him, and he was soothed. In fancy he trod the road again from the beginning; again he was the child merrily trudging along, never daunted, fearless, light of heart, snatching at gay butterflies, plucking bright flowers. This was good, but better the next, when life like a flame burned in his heart, and hope carried him with certain tread over the stony ways. Then, with his failing youth, departed hope and courage; fear possessed him and his footsteps faltered. Sometimes he gathered flowers, but they soon faded, sometimes the birds sang to him, but their note was not the same. And now with waning strength and straining eyes, he groped on, longing for the end.
In the sky the evening star appeared.
Often under the stars he had lain, always asking: “Why, Why the long, long road, the unending toil, the uneven way?”
At last sleep came. Then the stars whispered
their secrets to him.
They told him that many times he had traveled this road in sadness and in joy; that some times, where he had stopped, flowers and fruits had sprung up from the earth to gladden other pilgrims; sometimes his step had laid a snare
for those who followed; many were those whom
he had helped along; some owed their fall to him. Always when he had smoothed
the road for others, his heart was glad and good came to him. When in the press
of life, he had struggled ahead, forgetful of the good of the weaker ones, he
made the sorrow that was sure to come. The stars told him that life is service;
that only by his making the road easier for others would he be released from his
wearying travels; that only by work, forgetful of self, would the joy of the
road come to him, and he would cull the flowers that never fade.
Morning dawned with a new sweetness; and all that day and for many days he labored— labored with strength renewed, for now while working, he had no thought of self. When others asked him why he worked, he, answered:
“For you all.”
Many stayed and helped him. At last the road grew beautiful; the Companions planted flowers and trees, and helped the tottering feet of little children. A mighty plan was in their minds—a vision. Along the road of the future they saw the procession pass, strong-limbed, fearless, happy—the ground firm underfoot, the trees arched overhead—men, women,
children—all brothers—hand in hand, with song upon their lips.
The Companions grew in strength and use-
fulness; the way lay straight and smooth be fore them, whereon shone the footsteps of the Wayfarer. Then the stars whispered to him, “Rest is thine if thou wishest. Great work is thine if thou desirest it, beyond.”
The journey along the road was no longer a necessity to him, but he laughed at rest. Work was his rest, he said. And so with life and work unceasing, progression unimaginable, he journeys on, never forgetting his younger brothers on this Earth.
The thought of him, and his work, recorded
in their hearts ever lifts the Companions to aspirations pure. Ever along the
way of life, after his plan they build—the Masters’ plan.
There once lived in a certain country a dreamy, thoughtful youth whose name was Ernest. He wondered much at the tales brought into his mountain-village by travelers from the valley below, and from the great cities, of palaces and ships still beyond, but most of all he liked to hear of The Brothers of the Silence. They were men banded together in secret to establish a righteous rule in the kingdom now ruled by an evil king. No one, except he were one of them, knew who nor where they were. Each in his own way, they worked, never for themselves, but for a com-
mon aim which all their wealth and learning served. A deep longing grew in Ernest’s heart to right the wrongs of his country, to share the sacrifices of the Silent Brothers, to know them and be one of them.
Travelers came less often as the mountain pass grew more dangerous, for more than one had perished in the gorge which the villagers for many seasons had neglected to bridge. There came a day, however, when each villager brought his share of timber; trees were hewn for planks and framework, and all was ready for Ernest to construct the bridge. Then as he worked, a stranger came with speech of the Silent Brothers. One of them, he said, had been at the foot of the mountain that day!
Long after the stranger had passed, Ernest sat and pondered. The old dreams of joining the Brothers came strongly. Why, the Silent Brother could not yet be far away! Suddenly. he threw down his axe and took the path to wards the valley.
Ernest wandered far and long, searching for the Silent Brothers — sometimes just missing them — until, with ever new wonders to see, he almost forgot the object of his search. Only when a stranger on the street, one day, re minded him of the hopes and purposes with which he left his home and work, did he reproach himself. Now he knew he must be
faithful and steadfast if he expected to meet the Brothers. Yet his next step was to work with the revolutionists who would overthrow the king and rule in his stead. Their way, they said, was shorter than that the Brothers took, and why wait? In a year’s time he saw their selfish motives with fatal clearness.
Again the stranger appeared and showed Ernest he had sought the Brothers in a wrong ways that he must know the Brothers would never be where lay self-interest. He must search his own heart for the task that was his alone.
Next Ernest joined the army and fought
bravely for his country, feeling that so he was doing the work of the Brothers.
The land rang with his praise; and now he felt he was worthy to see Them. But
no, said the stranger, the Brothers were not concerned with their Own
advancement, and there had been some selfish ambition in his sacrifices.
The next year, as governor of a small province, Ernest was little pleased with his accomplishments, where he had planned so much. But the stranger’s voice was kindlier than be fore when he told him that well-intentioned effort was not enough; he had failed for lack of wisdom.
Ernest, now determined to study and wait till he was more ready to be one of the Broth-
ers himself, gave up his governorship and
applied himself to the wise books of the world. New ideas he gained and new
ideals, but at the end of the year, the stranger, whom he now called his friend,
told him that, unused and unshared, his knowledge would be worthless.
In the world again, trying to teach all men the truths he had found, he met disappointment, for some were too busy to listen, some content with their own ideas, some laughed and some doubted. Only a youth here and there, or an old man, listened and gained light. When he asked the stranger if he were yet fitted to do the Brother’s work, he was told:
“One task remains. I leave you to find it.”
Six years had passed, since he left his home in the mountains and a yearning for it came upon him. So he journeyed home. There all was as of old—even the mountain torrent tumbling in foamy wrath down the gorge where the bridge should have been. The hewn timbers lay heaped on either bank as he had left them, and with a blush for the impatient boy and his unfinished task, he set himself to complete it. All summer and winter he labored, but when the spring freshets came, the bridge stood firm above the whirlpool. The one-time stranger stood beside him one morning and said:
“You found the task. It was yours. No other
could do it. The Way is through the simple duty that ever lies at hand.”
“And is the task done?” asked Ernest doubtingly. “Am I worthy to become one of you?”
The other smiled and said:
“You are one of us.”
THE CHRISTMAS LESSON
The circling path of time,
Through starry spaces wide,
Hath turned Earth toward the Sun once
And ‘tis the Christmas-tide.
Toward Light and Life we move,
With hearts refreshed we sing,
The seed-time of old Earth renewed—
To all this message bring:
Good will to all that lives;
A waking-time of heart
In service that the Masters teach,
Rejoice what e’er the part.
And this—the Christ in all—
And all men brothers be;
One Source of Light and Life and Love!
The Soul’s own radiancy!
We shall find that all our “special day” lessons are Cycles lessons. Who knows what is the longest day in the year? Who knows what is the shortest? The ancients said that on these
two days, the Sun stands still and trembles in the balance, before it turns on its journey, whether to the north or south again. So, we have the word from them in the Latin language, solstice. (sol—sun; sistere—to stand) Of course, the Sun doesn’t ever really stand still, but seems to, as we watch it from the earth. So, also, the sun does not move at the rate it seems to us each day across the sky. It is the earth’s turning on its axis every twenty- four hours that gives the appearance of the sun’s moving.
During the year, the sun’s path changes in the sky. Now—north of the equator, of course—the sun is rising on the eastern horizon way down in the south, and shines in our south windows almost all day, because it sets far down south on the western horizon. Comes the winter solstice, December 21st, and first thing we know, the sun begins to climb up the sky. In the spring-time, it makes its circuit from east to west at the very top of the sky. For three months, it moves by degrees up to the north. On what day, then, would you be expecting to see it rise farthest north, bringing light even into some of our north windows all the day? Here, comes the summer solstice; the sun “stands still,” and then moves on toward the south, in its risings and settings. ‘When the sun rises midway of the horizon, and high in
the sky, comes autumn, with its equinoctial storms. Farther down to the south, moves the sun, till it can go no farther; again we have come to December 21st, to begin the real New Year, according to Nature’s clock! Then it is, the seeds beneath the earth get a message from the sun to germinate, although it will be months yet before the plants will venture forth above the soil.
Most people celebrate the New Year ac cording to men’s “clocks,” or calendars, on the first day of January, but the real New Year is on December 21st, as we have seen. Two weeks after that—fourteen days—is another kind of New Year, said the great Teacher of Theosophy, H. P. B. This was the Day when the great host of Shining Monads incarnated on earth, in the beginning, she said.
Now, the very ancient peoples—Indians, Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, Americans, — thought of the sun as the Life-Giver to all growing things, but they knew it to be only a symbol of the True Sun—the One Light—the Self. They knew that the Self acts only through beings and that this great sun of our world was just an instrument, or lens for the True unseen Sun. And when they sang their hymns to the Sun in this cycle, it was with the thought of acting for the Self in every heart:
That which giveth sustenance to the Universe and to ourselves, from which all doth proceed and unto which all must return — That Thou Art. In the golden vase of thine earthly body may the pure Light of the Spiritual Sun shine forth, that thou may’st know the Truth, and do thy whole duty, on the journey back to the Sacred Seat! (Memory Verse)
At a later time, people came to think of all the forces and beings in the sun as making up one Being, which they worshipped as the Sun God—much as some of your friends, perhaps, think of “God” as a great good man outside themselves — rather than as the Real Self ‘within each and every being.
It was on the 21st of December that the Sun- Gods went down under the earth, the ancients thought, to help the Souls—the seeds—imprisoned there. Remaining for three days, they came forth triumphant in all their glory, on December 25th. And this was the new birth of their Sun-Gods. The Egyptians celebrated the Sun cycle by the singing of hymns to the image of an infant, symbolizing their Sun God, then born again.
Now it seems very fitting, doesn’t it, that an Elder Brother, who was born into the world to be a teacher of the Three Truths, should have
his birthday at the birth-time of the new
sun- cycle? That, anyway, is what the Catholic church fathers thought, when it
was given to them to decide on a day to celebrate, nearly four hundred years
after the birth of Jesus. No one really knew by then when He did come— neither
the day nor the year. Only very Wise Men know that, because they know the
Yet, we know something about cycles—so let us see what we shall discover by recalling that it takes the sun about 25,868 years to travel through the signs of the Zodiac. There are twelve signs; so, dividing 25,868 by 12, we find that it must take about 2,155 years for the sun to move from one sign to the other.
It seems as if the old world learns and for gets in that time, so that a wise Elder Brother has to come to remind it again of what it has forgotten; 2,155 years is the cycle which marks the time when a messenger is needed. Well, the Sun turned into the constellation of Pisces 255 B. C. (B. C. as we know, stands for Before Christ), and that means that a Wise One came somewhere around that time, before the year 1—which is usually reckoned as the birth year of Jesus. Again, very close to 1900, the sun passed into the sign of Aquarius. So, it looks very much as if Jesus was born at least 150 years before they reckon his birth.
Do you think it very strange we don’t know
just when Jesus was born? You see, such a Messenger is recognized only by a few at first; Jesus never wrote anything, and those who knew him did not write of him till long after he had died; so all we have is a few legends about him; and we can only know he was a great Teacher by his wise sayings—which are according to the Three Truths.
Perhaps we think that we should recognize such an One! Well, was there any Messenger teaching the Three Truths at the time the sun passed into Aquarius? Yes; in 1875 Madame Blavatsky began to teach Theosophy, just as we are learning it now. She left her body in 1891 and she said that in the last quarter of this, our twentieth century, another Messenger would come to carry the work still further on, if those living up to that time are faithful in learning the truths of Theosophy and in spreading it over the world. Perhaps you very boys and girls will live to see that Messenger and know him! Anyway, you can learn and teach the boys and girls who will be men and women then how to know him. Both 1875 and 1975 come within the cycle of the Messenger.
Now let us go back to the birth-time of Jesus, who was called. the Christ, the Illuminated One, because he had learned so perfectly that he knew only how to think every thought, and do every deed for and as the Self, before
he entered that baby form in Bethlehem of
Judea on the day now called Christmas— Christ’s day. (.Mass—the service.)
Wise men knew the cycle then and were expecting this little one. So they came there from far eastern countries to greet the babe with gifts and thanksgiving. They gave him gold— as symbol of the sun; they gave him frankin cense and myrrh, because these had mysterious healing qualities to protect him—symbols of love and thoughtfulness, as all gifts should be. Little did it mean to Wise Men that Jesus was born in a lowly manger, with patient oxen munching the sweet hay nearby; they knew that the glory of Jesus would never come from riches and lands, but from knowing and showing the treasures of the soul. And as they looked for the birth-place, they followed a star, which led them to where he lay—that star called The Star of Bethlehem.
It is recorded that Jupiter and Saturn were in conjunction in this cycle—as you may re member Venus and Mercury were, not so very long ago, so that they looked like one bright star. This might happen again when the new Messenger’s birth is near.
All nature seemed to know that the cycle for the Messenger had arrived! As Joseph, the father of the little Jesus, looked up into the air, the legend tells, he saw the clouds aston-
ished, and the fowls of the air stopping in the midst of their flight. The sheep, while scattering, yet suddenly stood still, and as he looked into the river, he saw the kids with their mouths close to the water and touching it, yet not drinking. He saw a bright cloud over shadow the cave and suddenly it was in the cave, such a blinding light, that their eyes could not bear it. The stable was built into a rocky wall, you see.
The oxen fell to their knees, and the shepherds sang hymns of rejoicing and, to this day, the custom lasts of singing about the birth of Jesus—and they say that on Christmas, alone of all days, always the oxen kneel. In ancient England the hawthorn was said to bud on the 24th and blossom the 25th of December, in memory of that birth.
Why do we use evergreens at Christmas time? This is another recognition of the cycle, because long, long ago ‘twas thought the spirits of the woods and dells flocked to the ever greens and there were protected from frost till milder season.
So, while at Christmas time, we remember the birth-time of Jesus, and give gifts as the Wise Men did of old, but now in memory of the Great Messenger—the Christ—we do not forget December 25th is the hidden birth-time of all nature. Without the turning of the sun
on its cycle then, would be no glorious
bursting forth at Easter-time of all the living things in earth, of trees and
plants and little creatures.
Above all, let us not forget that we too are suns, reflecting the true Sun—the Self—and as we turn on our course, ever acting for The Self, we are day by day coming to the Light— “of all our Light the Source.” Can it be that, like Jesus and other Elder Brothers, we too may become Illuminated Ones—Christs—to younger brothers in ages far away?
The Tree was a sacred symbol among all the
ancient peoples. In India, the Ashwatta Tree was called their Tree of Life.
Shedding its leaves each winter and sprouting forth new ones in the spring, it
also symbolized the death and re-birth of the universe. It was said that this
Tree grew with its roots above, and its branches below. The Masters of Wisdom
were called Trees of Righteousness because they hewed down the Tree below with
the strong axe of dispassion.
With the Egyptians the sacred Tree was the sycamore. Like the Ashwatta, this too, is a kind of fig tree. But, with peoples farther north, the evergreen was the symbol of the never-dying Fire of Life—especially the fir tree (fir means fire) which grows in the shape of the candle-flame. Many, many are the boys and girls who have sung this Christmas Carol
of our Lesson on Christmas Eve before living
lighted Christmas Trees in California. Would you like to know how we came to
have our Christmas Trees?
THE ORIGIN OF THE CHRISTMAS TREE
The custom of the Christmas tree is a very recent institution. It is of a late date not only in Russia, but also in Germany, where it was first established and whence it spread every where, in the New as well as the Old World. In France the Christmas tree was adopted later than 1870. According to Prussian chronicles, the custom of lighting the Christmas tree as we now find it in Germany was established about a hundred years ago. It penetrated into Russia about 1830, and was very soon adopted throughout the Empire by the richer classes.
It is very difficult to trace the custom historically. Its origin belongs undeniably to the highest antiquity. Fir trees have ever been held in honor by the ancient nations of Europe. As evergreen plants, and symbols of never-dying vegetation, they were sacred to the nature-deities, such as Pan and Isis. Ac cording to ancient folklore the pine was born from the body of the nymph Pitys*_beloved by the god Pan and changed into a fir-tree.
* Greek name for the pine-tree.
During the vernal festivals in honor of the
great goddess of Nature, fir trees were brought into the temples decorated with
The ancient Northern peoples of Europe had a like reverence for the pine and fir trees and made great use of them at their various festivals. It is well known that the pagan priests of ancient Germany, when celebrating the first stage of the sun’s return toward the vernal equinox, held in their hands highly ornamented pine branches. And this points to the great probability of the now Christmas custom of lighting Christmas trees being the echo of the pagan custom of regarding the pine as a symbol of a solar festival, the pre cursor of the birth of the Sun. Its adoption and establishment in Christian Germany imparted to it a new and Christian form.
Thence fresh legends—as is always the case, explaining in their own way, the origin of the ancient custom. One such legend purports to give the origin of the once universally prevailing custom of ornamenting Christmas trees with lighted wax tapers, thus:
Near the cave in which was born the Savior of the world grew three trees—a pine, an olive, and a palm. On the holy eve when the guiding star of Bethlehem appeared in the heavens, that star which announced to the long-suffer-
ing world the birth of Him who brought to mankind the glad tidings of a blissful hope, all nature rejoiced and is said to have carried to the feet of the Infant-God her best and holiest gifts.
Among others the olive tree that grew at the entrance of the cave of Bethlehem brought forth its golden fruit; the palm offered to the Babe its green and shadowy vault, as a protection against heat and storm; alone the pine had nought to offer. The poor tree stood in dismay and sorrow, vainly trying to think what it could present as a gift to the Child-Christ. Its branches were painfully drooping down, and the intense agony of its grief finally forced from its bark and branches a flood of hot trans parent tears, whose large resinous and gummy drops fell thick and fast around it. A silent star, twinkling in the blue canopy of heaven, perceived these tears; and forthwith, confabulating with her companions—lo, a miracle took place. Hosts of shooting stars fell down, like unto a great rain shower, on the pine, until they twinkled and shone from every needle, from top to bottom. Then trembling with joyful emotion, the pine proudly raised her drooping branches and appeared for the first time before the eyes of a wondering world, in most dazzling brightness.
From that time, the legend tells us, men
adopted the habit of ornamenting the pine
tree on Christmas Eve with numberless lighted candles.
—H. P. BLAVATSKY.
Had it not been for a faint sniff, Ellen
would never have seen the little disconsolate figure of Betty Marie curled up in
one corner of the big chair there by the fire, for her mind was bent on the
meadow creek now covered with skating-ice.
“Whee-e—what’s the trouble, little Sis ?“ she cried in concern, tossing her tam and skates on the couch.
“Oh, Ellen, I just can’t bear it—that there
is no Santa Claus !“
“Not so, Betty Marie!” Betty Marie straightened. “That is — well, I’ll tell you. Don’t you know it’s only the red-flannel-and- white-whiskers Santa Claus we all have to give up when we get as old as nine. Because, that’s pretty old! Only—this is a secret: I never had to give up some baby idea but there was something a thousand times better and more interesting to take its place.”
“But there isn’t something nicer than Santa Claus”—another sniff protested.
“Tell you what, Miss Betty Marie, you’ll like this story, anyway. ‘Will you listen?”
“Ye-es”—even Betty Marie’s acquiescence for a story lacked its usual zest.
“Well, ‘twas the night before Christmas. Everybody had gone out except David and his mother, and they were sitting before the fire in the library—just like this—reading the story of ‘The Christmas Light.’ You never read that one, Betty Marie, or you wouldn’t be crying for your fat Santa Claus. The story tells how once in ancient times there was a Light that spread abroad in the land making every thing bright and beautiful: it came from the inmost heart of every human being and caught an answering light in every thing and creature. Strange that it could ever dim, but there grew up in the land two Giants, called ‘This’ and ‘That,’ who set flying all about little false lights that people began to follow, as some times now boys and girls chase fireflies in summer that lead them into mires and bogs. All through the year they chased and grasped for the false lights—and dimmer grew the true. And when the season came to renew the True Light at the birth of the Sun-God—yes, that’s Christmas! — the very urge of the Real in their hearts, which at times they would almost touch, and then—lose, would make them chase all the more madly to do the behests of ‘This’ and ‘That.’ Of course, they really did not know these Giants by their true names. ‘This’
and ‘That,’ as they were content to be called, were really ‘Greediness’ and ‘Ungratefulness.’
“But, in my story, by the time David got to this place,” Ellen’s smile caught Betty Marie’s still clouded eyes, “he was so drowsy that all he had time to say was—’those Giants cover up the Real—make people run around after little false lights—and when they get them—they are out—’ and he was fast asleep. I mean, his mother thought he was fast asleep, but, of course, he was just awake in another world— the Land of Dream. And there, in a beautiful green forest where he had been searching for something so long—so long—he sat down on a fallen log.
“Suddenly, a voice roused him—a wonderful
voice, all joyous and strong and young and generous—asking what it was that
David had been so long searching.
“So, David told the stranger—beautiful to look at, as his voice was to hear—that he was hunting for the Real Christmas, because every one had lost it since the Giants ‘This’ and ‘That’ had been abroad in the land. And he thought if he could once reach Father Christmas, together they could help everybody to find the Christmas Light again. The stranger was listening so kindly, David asked him if he didn’t believe Father Christmas would help him, if he could find him.
“The stranger smiled at this question, and said that he himself was Father Christmas!
“Such a jolt that was. Why, he was a young man—not a day over sixteen—and David had an awful time trying to be polite and at the same time explain that he hadn’t expected him to look that way — that he thought Father Christmas was old—very much older.
“But Father Christmas said he was as old as
Time; that he never grew old, because he was the Real in everything that people
think and do at Christmas time. And he told David there is a Real Christmas
Tree—and a Light it spreads afar so that men grow blind, if they can never
glimpse it. Once men lived in the glow of that Light and lived to serve each
other. It was Christmas then, all the time: all saw the Real in each, but after
the dark winter days, on Nature’s secret Birthday, their love welled up and
overflowed. That Real Tree and Real Light are needed shining forth in the world
again. There are Hidden Ones trying all the time to bring that Light, but They
need more help. Father Christmas paused, and then asked David almost solemnly,
‘Would you like to help, little boy?’
“Poor David stammered in confusion, for his eye had caught a band of Christmas Thoughts coming toward them, and he became absorbed in their pretty play, around Christ-
mas Dolls, and Teddy Bears, and Soldiers. Soon, though, he saw creeping on them from the shadows little dark Doubts and Fears. On then rushed among them, ‘I Wants,’ ‘Too Muches,’ ‘Disappointments.’ The little Christmas Thoughts scattered panting and exhaust ed, as Envy, Selfishness and Greed crowded quarreling around the toys. When the Giants ‘This’ and ‘That’ appeared with thundering steps, the Christmas Thoughts fell fainting to the ground. With malicious glee the Giants collected their ugly brood and left the fallen little ones to their fate. David was just about to run to help them when he saw some Spirits of Service already raising them from the ground, and Father Christmas, still there, smiling at him and saying: ‘David, would you like to help enough to give up your ‘I Wants’ and ‘Too Muches’?
“Then — some way — David knew that to give them up was the only way the Real Christmas Light would ever shine again in the world. The only way was for him and every one to say, ‘I will’—’I will.’ And he said it— just as he woke up. But, as his eyes opened in the quiet room with the vision in them still, his lips whispered, ‘I saw it, Mother—the Christmas Light!’ “
Ellen’s voice stopped, and there was silence for a moment. Then a pair of arms encircled
her neck and Betty Marie said shyly, handing her the tam and skates:
“I like young Father Christmas!”
THE EASTER LESSON
Life laughs in bud and bloom from out the
Tis Easter now.
The Sun his golden journey makes
In circle wide across the sky.
0, Radiance, teach us how
To mirror in our eyes the gleam,
To let shine forth the Light we dream
This Easter now.
Just as there is a real Christmas—the time of winter solstice—so there is a real Easter, a Sun-cycle—the time of Vernal Equinox, on March 21st, which brings spring-time to the world above the equator. The ancients regarded this as the re-incarnation season of the year. In the Northland, the goddess Ostara was worshipped as beautiful Queen of the Spring-time, and from Ostara, our word Easter comes. It is said that when Ostara first came to earth, at the very beginning of the world, she wondered what it was that she had been given to do as part of the world’s work. As she wondered, she noticed how dark and cold and dead everything seemed, though she
knew, of course, that the Life in all things
was only sleeping for awhile till it was time to waken again. Then it suddenly
came to her that this was why she was on earth—to wake things up!
So, Ostara breathed softly on all the land, and on all the trees, and on all the peoples. And what do you think happened? Why, new bodies for Life to work through sprang up everywhere! The trees put forth new buds; new baby chicks came out of their eggs, new birds from their eggs, even new beetles and insects came out of their tiny eggs; and the eggs of many fishes, too, when the rays of the warm Easter sun reached them, hatched out scores of tiny fish. New little plants came up, as Life pushed them up from their tiny eggs in the dark earth.
When the beautiful When the beautiful Goddess saw all this wonderful work of hers, she said:
“Hereafter, every year I will have one day called Easter, after me. That day, all shall celebrate the awakening of Life from its winter sleep. Then shall all people be joyous and glad and give each other eggs as gifts, for the Egg shall be my symbol. So it is fitting, for all Life is first within the egg.”
But, the Norsemen were not the only peoples that exchanged colored eggs at the time of Vernal Equinox. The Egyptians regarded
them as sacred symbols, and hung them in their temples. In the egg is Life, which is Light, and from the One white light come all the colors, as anyone can see. Just put a little prism of white glass into the sunlight, between yourself and the sun, and see the shadow thrown upon the wall of all the colors of the rainbow!
The egg is a very simple thing to be so wonderful. Who remembers about it in our lesson on LAW and how the ancients regarded it as a symbol of the Universe—the sky as its shell, the white as its sea and air, and the yolk as the earth? Who remembers how the lines of force, flowing from the germ-center, make the form of a cross? and how, when we imagine more and more rays from that point of Life, and think a line around them, we get the form of our egg?
Now, we can better understand why we see so many crosses at Easter-time in shop-windows, and especially on California hillsides, where they hold sunrise services. (Can some of these people be re-born pagans remembering the Sun-Festivals of old?) But, this Sunday Easter is a different kind of Easter from the natural Sun cycle. This Christian Easter was so declared by the Church fathers, just as they decided on December 25th — Christmas — to be the birth-time of Jesus,
though up to then they had celebrated his birth anywhere from May to September! In the fourth century, also, Easter was fixed as the first Sunday—after the first full moon— after the vernal equinox. On this day, it was decided, “Jesus rose from the dead.”
At Christmas-time we learned of the birth of the infant Jesus — the Christ Child — of him who was to become a Sun of Righteous ness, and to be called the Tree of Life. The legends of this gentle Teacher are many, but they are so much like the legends of Chrishna and of Buddha (these names mean the same as Christ) that some people think no such person as Jesus ever existed! There are no historical records to show that he did exist. Some scholars think that the tales of other wise men living before the year 1 have been blended into the one character, Jesus. But, we can be sure that someone who loved Humanity lived and taught the Jews over a hundred years before the Christians think Jesus was on earth. We can be sure that the real history of such a being would be like that of Chrishna and of Buddha, just as his teachings were like theirs. We can be sure that much of the history of all three is mixed with allegory. When it is said that Jesus died on the cross, we need to remember that the same is told of Chrishna and of Buddha, for the Cross is the Tree of Life.
Most certainly, we know that whoever Jesus was, he came to help and to teach the Jews. He taught them of the God within, and told them how it was no outside God, Jehovah, who punished and rewarded them, but the Law within themselves. But many of the Jews were selfish and cruel and deceitful, and cared little to hear “Do unto others, as you would have them do to you.” They cared little to hear of doing justice to their enemy as to their friend!
Jesus was the friend of the poor and lowly
and outcast, and taught the people in allegory and parables. The high priests of
the synagogues became jealous of his influence, and deemed him dangerous,
especially, when he demonstrated his knowledge and power by healing the sick,
making the blind see, raising the dead, feeding a multitude with five loaves and
So it was, that after he had been teaching for about three years, he came with his disciples to Jerusalem to the feast of the Passover, which took place at the time of the vernal equinox. He rode into Jerusalem on a Sunday—now called “Palm Sunday” in the Churches, because palms were strewn before him that day by the people in welcome. This is the day which begins what is called “Holy Week,” for Jesus knew beforehand all that was to be, and tried to give his vision of service to his disci-
ples. During this week, Jesus was summoned before the high priest, and, charged with threatening to destroy the Temple of Jerusalem, he was condemned to death. The Roman governor, Pilate, who had to carry out the decree, would have saved Jesus, because he saw the jealousy of the chief priests, and himself had the power to release a prisoner at the time of Passover. But the priests inflamed the people to ask for the release of another prisoner than Jesus, and so this gentle Galilean adept was condemned to crucifixion, stoned, and mocked upon the cross by the Jews saying, “He saved others; himself he cannot save.” This was on a Friday.
Well, the body of Jesus was laid away in a tomb, the story goes, and a stone roiled up against the door. But Jesus seems to have had some mysterious friends who took his body away, leaving behind the wrappings that were on it. When, three days after, on Sunday, the people saw the door of the tomb burst open, they wondered where Jesus had been carried. Suddenly they looked, and saw the living Jesus! And they said, “Now is our Lord risen from the dead.”
Jesus knew how to use his finer bodies, just as we do these bodies of earth. So he showed them himself as he really was, that they might know there is no such thing as death for the
Soul. IT always is—and IT always has some kind of a body—whether in this world, or in some other. Death of the body, here, only means that Life goes on in another body, which is far more beautiful. And so Jesus taught deathlessness, which is the meaning of immortality.
Since this first Easter Sunday, the Christians have believed the Lord’s rising from the dead to be the greatest of all his “miracles.” “Miracles” are things of wonder, and not according to natural law. But we know that Law is every where, and no possible thing can be done except under Law. Jesus simply knew laws of a higher kind than most men know—the higher laws of brotherhood. He was one of the Elder Brothers, who know that every babe is a Christ-Child, and that every one may become a Christ, and that there is “resurrection” for every one of us.
So, we can see that there is much more in Easter than flowers in churches, and fashion- parades, and egg-hunts, and candy rabbits! These things are only trifling symbols for truths men have always known, whether in India, Scandinavia, Egypt, Greece, or old Mexico. When we think the same ideas, whether our skin be colored black or yellow or red or brown or white, we feel we all are brothers—Souls of the One Light and Life.
The Sun writes the record of the seasons in the sky, but there is a hidden life in the earth, even when the earth is most drear and dead. The body, earth, has its own breath of sleeping and waking; earth has its own energies and astral body. It is the mind-beings on the earth who impel its higher life. It is Suns of Righteousness who impel men to waken and live a higher life, especially at Christmas-time, at the time of the Real New Year. They, too, waken seeds beneath the soil of men’s natures, and when even one germinates with high re solve, and will to serve, then all Nature joins to strengthen it. The astral life of the earth is young and strong between Christmas and Easter, and works with the mind and heart life. At Easter, comes the blossoming within ourselves of high resolves, which will mature into character, just as the season brings the harvest to earth.
DO WE LIVE ON THE SUN?
“Oh, Katherine!” Roy Dishart burst into the library where she was writing, his eyes aglow. “Why I’m later home than usual is that I had a dandy talk this afternoon with David Orcutt.”
“You mean the new boy in your class—the one you told me the other day you thought you’d like, just because of the way he holds his
head, and the way he pronounces his words?”
“Well, maybe that is a superficial way to
judge a fellow, but just the same it really did work out.”
“Of course it does. Why not? I’ve never seen the picture yet of anyone who really did things in the world, but held his head as if he lived in it. And who doesn’t like to understand one the first time he speaks, instead of having to guess at slurred and mumbled words? Those things always count with me, too, but I count most on the eyes. If they are clear and steady and honest, I can stand the other things; but, if the eyes are mean and shifty, I wouldn’t care how fine the words were.”
“Yes, I know. Well, David isn’t at all hand some, but his eyes are good honest gray eyes. They make me feel I can trust him. Maybe the eyes and the carriage usually match.”
“So I have noticed. But, tell me, what did you two talk about?”
“Don’t you know, the way things usually start—we began with algebra. He likes it as well as I do. Then I asked him if he liked it best of all his studies.
“‘I can’t exactly say that,’ he answered, ‘because I really like them all. I wouldn’t know which one of all to choose: I like numbers in any form—perhaps it’s the use you have to make of them that interests me espe-
cially. I like history, because it gives me
so much to think about and imagine of all the past. Of course, I’ve always loved
to read, too, and I even enjoy writing compositions when I have a good subject.
But, if I want something to stretch out my mind and give me a new look on all
the other kinds of study, well—I don’t know anything that quite equals
“‘I’m right with you on that.’ I said. ‘To my mind astronomy gives a fellow a new look on himself, too. It seems a queer thing to have friendships with stars billions of miles away, doesn’t it? But I can tell you they all seem mighty friendly to me. And when I have grouches, the easiest way I smash them is to get out under the stars, and think—in their boundless presence—how small my grouch is.’
“And then he asked me, ‘Has it ever occurred to you that there might be beings on those far away stars?’
“Gee, but my heart sort of jumped, Sis. Who knows but he is a Theosophist inside, looking for his old friends?”
“Well, how did you answer him?”
“‘I should say, yes! I even think there are beings in the Sun of our solar-system, on Mars, on Mercury, and on Venus. But I wouldn’t for a moment suppose they would be beings that look and do the same as we of earth do.’
“‘They couldn’t be such beings as we are, of
course,’ he answered, ‘for astronomy shows
that the physical conditions on all those planets are entirely different from
ours. I judge we would have a hard time trying to live on an incandescent mass
like Jupiter! And we surely could never live on the Sun!’
“Then, Katherine, what do you suppose I had the nerve to say?”
“‘Hm—I believe we do live on the Sun!’
“He stared at me, till I laughed. ‘Well, of
course, I mean, in a way.’
“‘What way?’ he came back. ‘It sounds a little like a fairy-tale, or one of the old myths of the Sun-gods.’
“‘Surely. Do you know the Hindu legend that
all the Avatars, or Saviors of the world, came from the Sun? If They did, then
why not we?’
“‘But—They would be different—special Beings,’ he objected mildly.
“‘That is where we differ,’ I said. ‘I don’t believe there is a special being in the universe; I mean there can’t be one law for one being and another quite distinct law for another man of a different complexion. I notice that all men are born the same way, and die the same way as other men. What makes the difference is the nature, and the knowledge, of the being himself. It was the nature of Jesus—and so with Buddha—not the nature of his birth that
made Him different. But it is evident that He belonged to a class of beings like Himself in nature—and that is the class of Avatars.’
“‘On what ground, though, would you say that we, like Them, come from the Sun?’ he asked incredulously.
“‘Well, when men die—the breath, or heat, leaves the body. I believe it is not only physical heat that leaves; I think there is another kind of fire than physical fire, and that Fire is the Fire of the eye, and the Fire of under standing. When we say we see an idea—we mean we see by an inner light. That inner Light which all men have the Avatars have in greater glory; it is the Fire or Sun of Knowledge. So, that is the True Sun behind the physical sun which we see, and, to my mind, the ancients worshipped it only as a symbol of the Real. Now, of course, if all this is so, no one ever came from the Sun. He never left it. With his knowledge, he is always a ray of that True Sun of Life and Knowledge.’
“‘In that case, no wonder the ancients celebrated the birth of their Sun-Gods. Jesus, the Christ, was then a Sun-God, too’ . . . said David slowly. He wasn’t the least bit bristling with objections, Sis. ‘All this may be the reason, or one of them, why I have always found such a reach and joy in the stars. You’ve given me a lot to think about.’
“Then we said, so long. I hope I haven’t scared him.”
“No, Roy. It all came up so naturally. And he asked for it. Maybe he is an old friend. Bring him to the house soon, won’t you?”
MARCH 21st, 1896
William Q. Judge left his body—”died,” as we say—at the time of the Vernal Equinox, in 1896. It may seem strange that Theosophists turn their thoughts especially toward the great Workers for Theosophy on death-days, rather than on birth-days—the time when people are wont to remember great public characters. When a babe is born, it brings with it a kind of plan or pattern for its life. But the pattern is not clearly defined, and only the Ego sees it. No one else knows how it will be wrought out. The coming of the babe is usually known only to family and friends, but when one “dies,” it means the pattern now shows clear. With the great soul, it means that thousands of other lives have been woven into that pattern. Death—which is really known only to those in bodies, who feel the separation—calls people to regard the pattern of the just finished life on earth, to think of and feel its influence, on lives still working out their own design.
At the time Mr. Judge died, and for several days, the world seemed to stand still for those who were close to him. They thought of his work for Theosophy, and of the gentle, strong heart, ever beating for Humanity while he
lived, and even now breathing something of his will and strength and courage into theirs. So, as the cycle comes again—no matter how many the years that have gone since that Day— minds and hearts turn in gratitude to Mr. Judge for all that he did and was. They gain ever a deeper appreciation of what it means to work for Humanity, and know that the influence of so great a Soul as this is never absent from the world.
William Q. Judge was born in Dublin, Ire land, April 13, 18S1, and there lived until his fourteenth year. He never lost the exquisite use of English for which Dublin is notable, and somehow he always carried with him a suggestion of the quaintness and charm of that land which still bears witness of Atlantean adepts. The movement now on foot there to restore the ancient language and literature of Eire (Erin) was begun and fostered by a group of young men whom he inspired through Theosophy. Two of these young men were the poet, W. D. Yeats, and G. W. Russell, known under the pen-name, “AE” (for Æon).
The little Judge boy was unusual, as can be imagined. In his seventh year he had a very severe illness from which it was thought he could not recover. But he did recover, and, after the illness, began to show something of what was his knowledge in former lives. He began
to be an avid reader, especially of books on religion and magic. He began to exhibit that will which, later in life, caused people to say, “Judge would walk over hot ploughshares from here to India to do his duty.” The tale is told of how, when playing with other older boys, he was taunted by them because he could not swim. As they called to the little fellow on the other bank of the stream, they were amazed to see him plunge in, sink, walk on the bottom, paddle and rise again, until, repeating the process he reached the bank, where they drew him out of the water exhausted but triumphant.
In his fourteenth year, the Judge family— now motherless—sailed for New York City. They settled in quieter Brooklyn, where Mr. Judge lived till 1893, although his work was always in New York City. At twenty-one years of age, Mr. Judge was admitted to the Bar of New York. He was to distinguish himself in Commercial Law, in connection with which he travelled all over the United States, in Mexico, and in South America. At the age of twenty-three, Mr. Judge married. But the most important event of his life was to occur about a year later, for then, he met Madame Blavatsky, who had sent word to him to call on her at her rooms in Irving Place. This is the way he later wrote of that meeting:
It was her eye that attracted me, the eye of one I must have known in lives long passed away. She looked at me in recognition at that first hour, and never since has that look changed. It was as if but the evening before we had parted, leaving yet to be done some detail of a task taken up with one common end, it was teacher and pupil, elder brother and younger, both bent on the one single end; but she with the power and the knowledge that belong but to lions and sages. So, friends from the first, I felt safe. Others, I know, have looked with suspicion on an appearance they could not fathom, yet it is only through blindness they failed to see the lion’s glance, and the diamond heart of H.P.B.
From this time to the day of his death, Mr. Judge devoted himself to Theosophy. At first he studied and worked with H. P. B. while she was writing Isis Unveiled. In September, 1875, the first movements were made toward founding the Theosophical Society, which was to be publicly inaugurated November 17, 1875, with Colonel Olcott as its President, H. P. B. its Corresponding Secretary, and Wm. Q. Judge its Counsel. Still the work went on with the book which was published in 1877, and which was to be studied by Mr. Judge the re-
mainder of his life. When in after years, it was said that H. P. B. did not know about reincarnation at the time Isis was written, Mr. Judge was able to say that she very distinctly knew it and taught it; that it was especially re-enforced to him then by the death of his own little daughter.
H. P. B. and Col. Olcott left the United States for India in 1878, and Mr. Judge was not to see them again for six long years, during which time he held meetings—whether or no anyone else was present—always beginning with a reading from the Bhagavad Gita. Then, H. P. B. summoned him to come to India, all three of the original founders of the Society meeting in Paris, before Mr. Judge proceeded to India. There he was to meet the Hindu Theosophist, Damodar K. Mavalankar, and many prominent English workers. There he was to see how the cunning plot against H. P. B. was maneuvered by the Coulombs. There he was to make, we may believe, other mysterious connections, for though he returned to New York at the end of 1884, almost at once new friends began to appear, to join and help the Society. In April, 1886, Mr. Judge’s real work began, with the publishing of the Path Magazine, which was to draw men and women to Theosophy, as to a true magnet.
Some of the stories in this book were writ-
ten by Mr. Judge under different names for
the Path. He wrote practically the whole of each issue of the Magazine in its
beginning, and it was necessary to give variety by adopting a style according to
the character assumed—like Bryan Kinnavan, Murdhna Joti, Eusebio Urban, William
Brehon, (Brehon is the old Irish word for Judge), Hadji Erinn and Rodriguez
H. P. B. seemed to have Mr. Judge in mind when she wrote:
The society has more victorious disciples than is commonly supposed. But these stand aside and work instead of de claiming. Such are our most zealous as well as our most devoted disciples. When they write they hide their names; when they read garbled translations of sacred books, they see the real meaning under the veil of obscurity that western philologists have thrown upon them, for they know the mystery language.
Mr. Judge drew about him a number of talented men and women in the next five years, who wrote and spoke, and travelled from city to city in the United States, lecturing for Theosophy. Mr. Judge also visited the branches of the Society from time to time, energizing the work and workers wherever he went, and also spending time in England, working with H. P. B.
When H. P. B. called Mr. Judge her “only friend,” she meant that he of all those who worked for Theosophy in her time, was the one she trusted most—”perhaps more than my self,” she once said. He knew the plan of the work; he understood her; he had proved his loyalty and devotion to Theosophy since 1875. But, after her death, there were many ambitious Theosophists who became jealous of Mr. Judge, as they had been of H. P. B., and who became his active enemies. From 1893 to the day of his death in 1896, their hostility did not cease, and it is only since the United Lodge of Theosophists—founded by Mr. Judge’s friend and pupil, Robert Crosbie, started re-publishing his books and studying them that his true position in the Theosophical Movement has become re-established. Only his work, of all that done in the last century, stands beside that of H. P. B., but he never forgot and never ceased saying that he but handed on what had been taught by her.
Aside from Mr. Judge’s magazine articles, we have his books: the Ocean of Theosophy; Letters That Have Helped Me; Echoes From the Orient; Epitome of Theosophy; Notes on the Bhagavad Gita. His renditions of the Bhagavad Gita and Patanjali’s Yoga Aphorisms are better by far than hundreds of scholarly translations, because he knew the
teaching. His encouragement made possible the translation of many Upanishads, and other ancient Hindu works. We can scarcely estimate the extent and variety of the work which Mr. Judge accomplished. Nor should it be forgotten that it was he who first started Theosophical work for children. He was a great lover of children, and children loved him. He was so gentle, so kind, so wise, so full of sweet fun! Never a word of condemnation did he have for anyone—not even for those who tried to harm him—but only patience and charity. In this, all history affords no nobler example than his.
“Life would be a contest of smiles, if we only knew our business,” Mr. Judge once said. He knew his business! Even more, Mr. Judge knew how to help others learn theirs, when they asked for his guidance. These sayings of his, in letters, will help anyone:
“Nothing is gained, but a good deal is lost by impatience — not only strength, but also sight and intuition. So decide nothing hastily. Wait; make no set plan. Wait for the hour to make the decision, for if you decide in advance of the time you tend to raise a confusion.”
“Patience is really the best and most important thing, for it includes many. You cannot have it if you are not calm and ready for the
emergency, and as calmness is the one thing necessary for the spirit to be heard, it is evident how important patience is. It also pre vents one from precipitating a thing, for by precipitation we may smash a good egg or a good plan, and throw the Karma, for the time, off and prevent certain good effects flowing. So, keep right on and try for patience in all the very smallest things of life every day, and you will find it growing very soon, and with it will come greater strength and influence on and for others, as well as greater and clearer help from the inner side of things.”
“You can solidify your character by attending to small things. By attacking small faults, and on every small occasion, one by one. This will arouse the inner attitude of attention and caution. The small faults and small occasions being conquered, the character grows strong. Feelings and desires are not wholly of the body. If the mind is deliberately taken off such subjects and placed on other better ones, then the whole body will follow the mind and grow tractable. This struggle must be kept up, and after awhile it will be easier.”
“The very first step towards being positive and self-centered is in the cheerful performance of duty. Try to take pleasure in doing what is your duty, and especially in the little duties of life. When doing any duty put your
whole heart into it. There is much in this life that is bright if we would open our eyes to it. If we recognize this, then we can bear the troubles that come to us calmly and patiently, for we know that they will pass away.”
These and countless other wise words were
said by Mr. Judge to be applied to the frictions and confusions of our daily
conduct. For it is not enough that another tells us how wise was Mr. Judge. We
need to study what he wrote, and his example, for ourselves. As we prove his
wisdom by doing, we shall come to know him. Knowing him, we shall understand
ourselves better. Knowing him, we shall understand H. P. B., and the meaning of
the Theosophical Movement down the ages
HER ONLY FRIEND
Morgan Roberts woke one morning with a strong, yet undefined feeling of needing to remember something. So he began to think about all he had done the day before—nothing there forgotten. He went on to look ahead at the day beginning—all seemed of the usual order. Curious! It was not until he had to date his composition and found himself writing down March 21, 1926—erasing the last figure for a 7—that a light on the morning’s vague suggestion dawned on him.
“Now, I know!” said he to himself. “This is his day—the death-day of W. Q. Judge. And I vowed last year that if a year went by and I still remembered my dream, I would write it down in my diary for a true dream.”
When Morgan reached home that after noon, he went straight to his room, and after sitting quietly for a few moments to think, began to write, his very brows intent. Some day, perchance, his little grandson, or his granddaughter, may find that shabby brown diary, and wonder — could that be Grand father’s writing, and what sort of lad was it that penned these lines:
It was Dick Holmes invited me to go, be cause I had told him I never went to church. Everybody in the neighborhood was crowding to the churches that Sunday—except Dick and me, I guess. I met him at the corner just waiting for the downtown car, and he was fairly excited when I told him, sure, I’d go with him to the Theosophy School. He said anybody could come, without being assigned to a class today, as this was a “Get-together” meeting.
The lecture-hall was full of people, young and old, while on the platform-table, between two vases of yellow daffodils, stood the transparency picture of a man they called W. Q. Judge. They said he had died just thirty years
ago this day—the 21st of March, which is al
ways the real Nature “Easter.”
I don’t so much remember all that was said of this Mr. Judge, but as the boys and girls read the things he wrote, I could tell for my self that he must have been a very great Theosophist. Well, anyway, he must have been a very great man. And I thought how strange it was that people should observe his death-day instead of his birthday.
I sat where I looked at the picture very naturally and easily, and soon it seemed as if those eyes smiled at me! I looked around, and it came to me that the others did not see this. Yet, they talked as if this man were still a living force, or being. Perhaps I was mistaken. Perhaps there was something about what the others felt that was playing tricks with me. I had heard of such things. And then I looked again. Yes, the eyes were smiling at me, and one of them actually winked. “Gee!” I said to myself, and I would not look again, but it seemed as if something had hit me. All else of the meeting that penetrated my consciousness was a voice saying, “0, holder of the flame”— and very soon we were on the car going home again.
Dick, I think, was a little troubled that I was so quiet about the meeting, but brightened up when I said I thought I’d come again next
Sunday. And I did—in fact, kept going till summer-time. Then, we went east and moved here, too far away to go again to Theosophy School. Just the same, I can never forget the great ideas I found there, and, I guess, without trying to remember, I’m never going to forget that 21st of March. It was that night I had a dream—so real, so different from any other dream I ever had, that I shall never tell it, except to my diary. And some 21st of March, maybe I shall know what it all means.
I seemed to be going through long narrow passages. When I reached what looked like the end of one, there was always a door leading into another passage, until, finally, the last door brought me out into a vast, light, lofty room. It must have been an architect’s office, for many were busy at long tables, and as I looked, I saw Dick at work there. Just as I caught sight of him, a man standing beside him turned and came toward me, smiling. His face was that of the transparency, only more radiant—like the spirit of light, rather than just sunlight. He was so wonderful that I had no wish to speak, and yet I did not feel strange with him. I felt at home. At last I said, “Are you Mr. Judge?” He only nodded. “Do you know me?” Again he nodded. “That is Dick, isn’t it?” “Oh, yes,” he answered. “Dick is one of my boys.” “And what is he doing?”
“Don’t you see? He is working on the plans— the plans of the New Republic.” My heart surged, and I said, “I’d like to do that, too!”
Slowly he smiled, and spoke. “Why not? I gave you the sign. You’ve been one of my boys for a long time, Morgan.” As he said that, it seemed as if his very strength and tenderness enveloped me. And next I knew—I was awake.
Oh, I wonder.
WHITE LOTUS DAY
White Lotus Day is always May 8th. On that date, in 1891, “H. P. B.” passed from the body which she had used for nearly sixty years. In her will, made several years previously, she had asked that her friends assemble on the anniversary , her death, to read from the Bhagavad-Gita and Light of Asia, and to speak together of Theosophy. So it is that, ever since, May 8th has been a day of wondrous meaning to all Theosophists, when they seem to feel near and potent the magic of her presence; when they re-dedicate themselves to the Cause of Theosophy, brought to the modern world by the Messenger from Masters of Wisdom—H. P. B. On the first anniversary day at the Headquarters of the Theosophical Society, at Adyar, the decorations in her honor were of the White Lotus, then abundantly in bloom. Col. Olcott, the life-President of the Society, then so named the day by this sacred symbolic flower.
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky was born in Russia, in 1831, at midnight hour of August 11-12. She was of noble family, and her child hood was spent on large estates in the country, where she had much freedom to roam and to
ride horseback. Her mother had died when Helena was very young, so that her education was conducted by governesses, who taught her, among other things, to speak French and English. It was possible also for her to travel, not only with her father and his regiment, but with her uncle, who took her over the Ural mountains at the age of fifteen. She studied music in Paris and was most accomplished at the piano, as well as in drawing. While in London on one occasion, now being twenty years of age, she met one who had been known to her very clearly in her dreams since early childhood. It was he to whom she afterward referred as her Master—he who had taught her all she knew, and made her what she was.
From this time on, her life had one, single purpose—to fit herself for the work which lay ahead. She travelled all over the world, and alone, in most dangerous places—on the great plains of Russia, on the sandy wastes of the Sahara, on the lonely stretches of Mongolia. She crossed the wide prairies of America by covered wagon to the Pacific coast; she was in Canada and in Texas and in South America. ‘Why these travels were undertaken, one can readily imagine, when he reads her first great book—Isis Unveiled. All the time she was learning by observation and by experience what was to give to her work much of value
and of importance. It was in India, however,
where, she says, she was taught by the adepts— the sages of the Orient—and to
whose existence she first bore witness before the world.
Up to 1873, much preparatory study and work went on. In June of that year she was in Paris when word came to her from her “chiefs” to proceed at once to America. Her preparations were very hurried; she had little more money than would cover the expenses of the journey; but the boat was about to sail from Southampton, England, when H. P. B. saw on the deck a poor peasant woman, with her two children, weeping, while a boat’s officer tried to explain to her, as H. P. B. then discovered, that her tickets—to take her to her husband in America—were bogus. The woman had been cheated by some rascally agent.
H. P. B.’s pleadings were in vain, but there was one thing she could manage for the little family to sail. She exchanged her one first- class ticket for four steerage tickets. Thus did H. P. B. come to New York City, and for several months—until money came from Russia—this noblewoman supported herself by making neckties!
In the following year, 1874, she met Col. Olcott. Early in 1875, Mr. Judge came to her. By now it was clear that she was working to help the Spiritualists understand that truth
and explanation were better than just “seeing things,” and that, moreover, their practices were very dangerous. H. P. B. met all the notable people of the time, in New York City. In these days, they thronged her apartment in Irving Place, and never after tired of talking of this remarkable woman—of her knowledge, of her charm, of something which made her different from everybody else. That she could perform “miracles,” some knew. To Col. Olcott and Mr. Judge she showed many marvels in demonstration, of the higher laws she understood. In 1877, Isis Unveiled was published—a book which was to be found in the library of every scholar of that time, and a book which was to estrange the Spiritualists from her, for the remainder of her life. But she had found what she sought in the United States (of which she became a citizen) and in 1878 left with Col. Olcott for India, stopping on her way in England, to forward the Theosophical Society there.
Both H. P. B. and Col. Olcott had difficulty at first in getting a foothold in India. They were suspected of being spies! But, finally, this difficulty was straightened out; the Theosophist Magazine was started in 1879, in Bombay, and scholars of many religious sects flocked to hear their own religions discussed by H. P. B. in the light of Theosophy. The
First Object of the Society—to form the nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood — was worked out in India, the land of many rigid sects and creeds, by means of the Second Object — to study ancient religions, philosophies, and sciences, and to demonstrate the importance of such study.
The Second Object was far more regarded in India than the Third Object — To investigate the unexplained laws of nature and the psychical powers latent in man. The Third Object was more highly regarded in Europe, while the First Object made greatest appeal in America.
H. P. B. remained in India until April, 1885, after which she resided first in Italy, then Germany, then Belgium, and finally came to London in 1887. Here she founded the Magazine Lucifer, and here, at 19 Avenue Road, was built the first Theosophy Hall, as she named it. Here she met the distinguished men and women of all Europe—poets, writers, statesmen, philosophers, scientists. It was during this time she wrote The Secret Doctrine, The Key to Theosophy, The Theosophical Glossary, and The Voice of the Silence. Here in London she gathered around her earnest and able young Theosophists and taught them how to apply Theosophy in their daily living with each other, as also how to work for Theos-
ophy. She taught them, above all, how to follow the Path of Self-Knowledge—how to “Follow,” as she said, “not me, nor my path, but follow the Path I show—the Masters who are behind.” It was from London she wrote each year till 1891 to the Conventions of American Theosophists her great “Five Messages.”
Some of H. P. B.’s pupils have told how incessantly she worked, and oftentimes in spite of illness. The forces used by her were too mighty for an ordinary healthy body to endure, and she drove it to the utmost that her work should not fail to be completed. She was up and at her desk at seven o’clock in the morning; often the lunch provided her went untouched, because she would not stop her work. After dinner, were always people to interview, when there were not meetings of the Lodge. She was incessantly writing—letters, articles for the Magazines, as well as her books—nor should it be forgotten that all this writing was in her own hand!
In April of 1891 occurred an epidemic of influenza in the household at Avenue Road, which struck H. P. B. She was very seriously ill, but seemed to be recovering, so that on May 6th she walked into the sitting-room, and was at her desk for a few moments even the night before she died. This great event oc-
curred on Friday, May 8th, at 2:25 P. M., and left stricken the whole Theosophical world. For while H. P. B. had many enemies, because of her outspoken truths, because of the mission hers to destroy superstition and sow broadcast the great ideas of Theosophy, there were other thousands who loved her for her never-failing kindness and sympathy; thousands who recognized in her a teacher and friend; thousands who were grateful to her that she brought Theosophy once more into the world of men.
Said Mr. Judge: Her aim was to elevate the race. Her method was to deal with the mind of the century as she found it, by trying to lead it on step by step; to seek out and educate a few, who, appreciating the majesty of the Secret Science and devoted to “the great orphan Humanity,” could carry on her work with zeal and wisdom.
That H. P. B. saw into the future of the world is now very clear; that she saw what would be the fate of Theosophy is also clear. Once she wrote to Mr. Judge of a vision she had had of the Theosophical Societies. She said:
“I saw a few earnest reliable Theosophists in a death struggle with the world in general, with other—nominal but ambitious—Theosophists. The former are greater in numbers than you may think, and they prevailed, as you
in America will prevail, if you only remain staunch to the Master’s programme and true to yourselves.”
H. P. B. left the clearest of directions in her books and articles, and in her Convention Letters, for living the Theosophical life; that is, for being “true to yourselves.” As in The Key to Theosophy, she said, “Theosophist is who Theosophy does,” she never tired of showing that Theosophy is for every day and every hour and everywhere. The following are her words:
“Theosophists are of necessity the friends of all movements in the world, whether intellectual or simply practical, for the amelioration of the condition of mankind. We are the friends of all those who fight against drunkenness, against cruelty to animals, against in justice to women, against corruption in society or in government, although we do not meddle in politics. We are the friends of those who exercise practical charity, who seek to lift a little of the tremendous weight of misery that is crushing down the poor. But in our quality of Theosophists, we cannot engage in any one of these great works in particular. As individuals we may do so, but as Theosophists we have a larger, more important, and much more difficult work to do.”
“The function of Theosophists is to open men’s hearts and understandings to charity, justice, and generosity, attributes which be long specifically to the human kingdom and are natural to man when he has developed the qualities of a human being. Theosophy teaches the animal-man to be a human-man; and when people have learned to think and feel as truly human beings should feel and think, they will act humanely, and works of charity, justice, and generosity will be done spontaneously by all.”
“The only man who is absolutely wrong in his method is the one who does nothing; each can and should cooperate with all and all with each in a large-hearted spirit of comradeship to forward the work of bringing Theosophy home to every man and woman in the country.”
“After all, every wish and thought I can utter are summed up in this one sentence, the never-dormant wish of my heart, ‘Be Theosophists, work for Theosophy!’ Theosophy first, and Theosophy last; for its practical realization alone can save the Western world from that selfish and unbrotherly feeling that now divides race from race, one nation from the other; and from that hatred of class and social considerations that are the curse and disgrace of so-called Christian peoples. Theosophy alone can save it from sinking entirely into
that mere luxurious materialism in which it will decay and putrefy as civilizations have done. In your hands, brothers, is placed in trust the welfare of the coming century; and great as is the trust, so great is also the responsibility.”
So, H. P. B. came for the world—not just
to form a Theosophical Society! She came to open the way to the practical
realization of the Brotherhood of all men; to help on men’s mental and moral
improvement, and thus to better even their material surroundings and conditions.
Her last words were: “Keep the Link unbroken. Let not my last incarnation be a
failure.” Then, let us follow the Path she showed!
“Do you know, Alice,” began Bertha, as she looked into the heart of a great white rose, “whenever May 8th comes around, the greatest longing seizes me to know just what H. P. B. looked like, and was like, as a person. We talk of her Work, and of her as a Being—but, just the same, it haunts me to know exactly what was the color of her eyes—what her voice was like—and----and—yes, what kind of clothes she wore
“Well, can’t you guess the color of her eyes
by her pictures? And don’t they tell you enough about the clothes?”
“But, you see, those were dress-up clothes in the pictures. And besides, I guess that wasn’t really what I meant by ‘clothes’—not the way they looked. What I was thinking about was the Her-ness of the clothes she wore
“Goodness gracious, Bertha, you are the queerest girl. Whatever in the world do you mean "Why, isn’t there something about the clothes of the people you love best that tells you whose they are, no matter whether you ever saw them wearing them, or not? I think it must be the stream of elementals — lives — coming and going through the garments. It isn’t perfume—fragrance—exactly, nor odor, but it reminds you of things. Now,” Bertha went on, half-musing, “with Mother’s—I al ways think of spicy roses. Margaret’s bring a dim thought of violets. And Brother Ted’s”— Bertha’s voice grew merry—“they carry me off to far hills where the sage brush grows. But H. P. B.—”“Oh, now I know!” exclaimed Alice, with the light of a new vision in her eyes. “H. P. B. was like the sun — and the wind — and the waves — and the stars. Sunlight doesn’t have odor, but it brings out sweet odors in the
flowers. And the wind doesn’t have any odor,
but it bears sweet odors from many gardens. And the waves don’t have odor, but
they send a salty tang into the air. The stars —”
“That’s it, Alice” — caught up Bertha breathlessly. “And the stars don’t have odor either, but they are a Presence. Yes — that was H. P. B.”
Then, after a pause, “Would you think her eyes must have been very blue, Alice, from the way they look in her pictures?”
“Yes, I think they were blue. But I think they were other colors, too. Grandfather’s eyes were like that—I mean, the way I think hers were. Sometimes, his were turquoise blue; sometimes, they were gray; and sometimes, when he was talking about Theosophy, they were so violet blue they were black! And that reminds me, Bertha. Grandfather read me one day a description Col. Olcott wrote of the time when he first met H. P. B. Let’s see if we can find it. I think you would love it.”
And Bertha did “love” it. For it was this:
It was from the entrance door of the bare and comfortless dining-room that I first saw H. P. B. She had arrived shortly before noon with a French Canadian lady, and they were at table as we entered. My eye was first attracted by a scarlet Garibaldian shirt the former wore, as in
vivid contrast with the dull colors around. Her hair was then a thick blond mop, worn shorter than her shoulders, and it stood out from her head, silken-soft and crinkled to its roots, like the fleece of a Cotswold ewe. This and the red shirt were what struck my attention before I took in the picture of her features. It was a massive Calmuck face, contrasting in its suggestion of power, culture, and imperious ness, as strangely with the commonplace visages about the room as her red garment did with the grey and white tones of the walls and woodwork and the dull costumes of the rest of the guests.
“There must be some other place in the book where he tells about her appearance, Alice. Don’t you remember any others?”
“No, but there was one I remember about her laughter — Let’s hunt for it. See here :“
I do not know how I could better illustrate this joyous exuberance of hers than by quoting the expression used by a Hart ford reporter in writing to his paper. “Madame laughed,” he writes. “When we write Madame laughed, we feel as if we were saying Laughter was present! for of all clear, mirthful, rollicking laughter that we ever heard, hers is the very es-
sence. She seems, indeed, the Genius of the
mood she displays at all times so in tense is her vitality.” This was the tone
of our household; and her mirthfulness, epigrammatic wit, brilliance of
conversation, caressing friendliness to those she liked or wanted to have like
her, her fund of anecdote, and chiefest attraction to most of her callers, her
phenomena—made the “Lamasery” the most attractive salon of the metropolis from 1876 to the close of 1878.
And Bertha sighed, saying: “I’m glad she was merry like that. Her eyes are too far seeing for gayety—so full of world-sadness in the pictures of her later years.”
“Yes, but she was too brave and too undaunted to lose the power of laughter, surely. And don’t you remember, when Mr. Judge himself was suffering from the wrongs done him, what he said: ‘Who is greater than our old and valiant “old Lady”? Ah, were she here, what a carnage! Wonder, anyhow, how she, or he, or it, looks at the matter? Smiling, I suppose, at all our struggles.’”
“How strange, Alice, that he speaks of H. P. B.— from the body—as ‘she’ or ‘he’ or ‘it’!”
“Well, you couldn’t think of electricity as
‘he’ or ‘she,’ could you? Perhaps, that is just what he meant—that H. P. B. is a living conscious Force, rather than a Person.”
“Yes, I know. But still—I would have loved her as a Person, too. I think her face is beautiful, because it is so noble. I would not have her different in any way.”
“I would, Bertha — next time He or She comes, anyway. I would have her always joyous, seeing the Work go on with ever greater knowledge and power. White Lotus Day is the Great Reminder, isn’t it, of what ought to be because of Her sacrifice?”
Alice stepped back to view the World Mother face, framed between the jars of stately pure white roses. “Oh,” she murmured, “What a wonderful world it is that there may come to it such Beings!”
DECLARATION OF THEOSOPHY SCHOOL
The purpose of Theosophy School is:
First: Devotion to the cause of Masters by studying and applying the Three Truths of Theosophy. This means understanding the laws of Brotherhood; it means to realize the SELF by acting for and as the SELF of all creatures.
Second: To understand the work of all the Great Teachers of Theosophy down the ages. This means understanding in especial the life and work of H. P. Blavatsky and Wm. Q. Judge, and the meaning of the present Theosophical Movement.
Third: To fit its members to become true citizens of a Republic of Brotherhood in this land, and brothers to all men and nations throughout the world. This means becoming true Theosophists.
Theosophist is who Theosophy does