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THEOSOPHY WORLD ------------------------------------- August, 2008

An Internet Magazine Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy
And its Practical Application in the Modern World

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to theos-world@theosophy.com.

(Please note that the materials presented in THEOSOPHY WORLD are
the intellectual property of their respective authors and may not
be reposted or otherwise republished without prior permission.)

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CONTENTS

"The Flare-Path of Teilhard de Chardin," by Neville Braybrooke
"Are Theosophists Pagans," by Henry T. Edge
"Ramakrishna's Teachings," by Shri Y.S.R. Chandran
"Seeds of a Happier Future," by Kenneth Morris
"The Missionary Function of Theosophy," by Alexander Fullerton
"The Three Planes of Human Life," by W.Q. Judge
"Last Moments Before and After Death," by G. de Purucker

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> Food, sexual relations, drink, are all natural necessities of
> life; yet excess in them brings on disease, misery, suffering,
> mental and physical, and the latter are transmitted as the
> greatest evils to future generations, the progeny of the
> culprits. Ambition, the desire of securing happiness and comfort
> for those we love, by obtaining honors and riches, are
> praiseworthy natural feelings, but when they transform man into an
> ambitious cruel tyrant, a miser, a selfish egotist they bring
> untold misery on those around him; on nations as well as on
> individuals.
>
> -- Mahatma K.H., Letter 10, from THE MAHATMA LETTERS TO A.P.
>    SINNETT.

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THE FLARE-PATH OF TEILHARD DE CHARDIN

By Neville Braybrooke

[From THE ARYAN PATH, November 1966, pages 494-98.]

Descriptions of Teilhard de Chardin have spread like fire. Some
have called him a mystic, a philosopher, a poet, a scientist, a
seer, and a seed-gatherer. Others have coined longer phrases: a
broadcaster of ideas, a naturalist of the open air, and a scholar
of bones. He himself referred to his life as that of a wanderer,
and on many occasions admitted: "I am a pilgrim of the future on
the way back from a journey made entirely in the past."

The pioneer must take risks, and Teilhard, whose maxim was "We
must dare all," was no exception. Among his co-religionists
there were many who eyed his activities with grave mistrust, a
mistrust that frequently bordered on fear. "He thinks too much.
Such men are dangerous . . ." Before now this has caused others
to be regarded with suspicion by Rome -- and yet a thinker can
never abdicate. "If I didn't write," Teilhard once told a fellow
Jesuit, "I should be a traitor."

So, although his religious superiors might prevent his books from
being published, they could not prevent them from being written.
For can a pilgrim of the future grieve unduly if his books appear
posthumously, since, no matter how much an author may enjoy the
praise that his work receives during his lifetime, he knows that
what really counts in the long run is the judgment of posterity?
In one sense, authors must always remain optimistic, so
continuously must they be sending their words out into the
future.

In Teilhard's case, now that death has freed his books from the
ban imposed upon them while he lived, the question to be asked is
what has brought them such an immediate and wide response. On
publication in Paris, THE PHENOMENON OF MAN sold over seventy
thousand copies, and, although its inside story may have
attracted some anticlerical buyers, it scarcely explains the
enormous sales that have met this and other books of his in
France and elsewhere, An author's work that comes out in both
French and English may well be accessible to nearly every
educated person in nearly every part of the globe, but Teilhard's
ideas have quite literally been transmitted even to those
countries where the exceptions occur. His famous account of a
soldier's vision of Christ (which appeared as an appendix to his
essay called "The Heart of the Matter") is a thinly disguised
piece of autobiography. (See PILGRIM OF THE FUTURE.) None the
less it was successfully broadcast to Eastern Europe and Russia
in 1962. Other writings of his have also been successfully
broadcast and published there.

This success, both far and near, stems from his vision of unity,
vision which has synchronized with a general desire throughout
the world for unity. To him Neanderthal man is no more than a
distant cousin, just as in his view he accepted "thirty thousand
years . . . [as] a mere second for evolution."

Pope John XXIII's short but charged reign introduced a new spirit
of good will in a world of differing beliefs where at long last
it was recognized that the similarities between most religions
are far greater, and much more important, than the differences.
In this vision, shared by pontiff and priest alike, charity
unites, because charity leads towards understanding and is a
foretaste of eternity or what Teilhard calls the Omega-point,
that final focal point of his where the material and the
spiritual will converge.

In May 1881, Marie-Joseph-Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was born at
the Chateau de Sarcenat in the Puy-de-Dome. In this part of
France the scenery is dramatic and mountainous, as if the fires
of the local volcanoes had burnt themselves into the rock. There
is about the landscape a rightness that matches the mood of a
child who was later to say:

> During every moment that I have lived, the world has gradually
> been taking on light and fire for me, until it has come to
> envelop me in one mass of luminosity, glowing from within.

Teilhard saw fire as the symbol of all other forces. It might be
the FLASHES of artillery in the trenches; the SPARKS of his own
evolutionary quest fanned in his mind by his "dear sainted
maman," or the FLAMES in Hanoi, burning a forest to the ground,
so that the Chinese might develop it as arable land.

This of course was to see fire in several ways on both a literal
and a metaphorical level, or perhaps it would be truer to say on
both a literal and a mystical level, since for those who can see
far enough the first kind of seeing is, if there is sufficient
faith, but a preparation for the second. That is why Teilhard
has been called a poet and mystic as well as a scientist. He saw
as all three.

The whole of life -- if not in end, at least in essence -- lies
in the verb SEEING, he points out in the foreword to THE
PHENOMENON OF MAN, and it was out of his own particular way of
seeing that his vision was born. When a pioneer-thinker shares
his vision with others, people have a habit of saying afterwards:
"I can't imagine why I didn't understand that before. But now I
see."

Understanding, on all levels, is largely a matter of seeing
through things, of penetrating the different layers of existence.
When a poet uses words, they have layers of meaning, so that
sometimes his lines will be saying several different things at
one and the same time. Fire may serve him as a symbol of love or
destruction, or serve him as a paradox since the same fire that
burns can also cleanse. For the mystic, fire may serve as a
reflection of Divine Love, or as a reminder of the Burning Bush
that Moses saw in the desert -- although no sharp division can be
drawn between the poet's and the mystic's calling since the two
often overlap.

Likewise, when Teilhard writes that at the antipodes of the fire
that unites as love there is the fire that destroys in isolation,
and then adds that the whole process out of which the New Earth
is gradually born is an AGGREGATION underlain by SEGREGATION, he
is writing shorthand that is at once poetic, mystical, and
scientific. It is a triple approach which emphasizes the unity
of poetic, mystical, and scientific truth, and is a risk in
daring that only the pioneer-thinker of genius can afford to
take. For as the poet and the mystic see heaven reflected in the
earth -- the intensity of their vision being in proportion to the
degree that by penetrating the layers of the one they can
interpret the other, so Teilhard, sharing their vision, sees the
whole of creation as a growing state in which a "biosphere" and a
"noosphere" are imposed upon the barysphere, lithosphere,
hydrosphere, and atmosphere.

"Biosphere" and "noosphere" are words that he coins to convey a
layer of living things and a layer of thinking things --
envelopes, as it were, that will gradually enfold the world just
as the atmosphere holds the earth in a kind of envelope. In this
process he does not see man (who is a thinking being) as a static
center of the universe, but as an axis or spearhead of evolution.
He is the unfinished product of past evolution and the agent of
evolution still to follow, and for this reason, in terms of
consciousness and understanding man has a great deal more to
unfold and learn about the future. The greatest achievements may
yet be things to come -- in terms of space discovery (a quite
realistic project now) and in terms, for example, of the fresh
communication that extra-sensory perception may make possible
between men.

The problem in grasping many of his ideas is their apparent
newness. But then new ideas present their own paradox, because
since the Creation nothing is new, and every seed is begotten by
the fruit of another. This may be taken for granted at an
agricultural level, but when Teilhard the seed-gatherer faces the
modern logician in the university, the paradox arises about the
nature of such newness and his vision of God.

For Teilhard, God is the supreme conscious personality in whom
all other conscious personalities will achieve union and harmony.
He is the God of the future of whom this priest is both a pilgrim
and a trailblazer. And yet at the same time, he knows that this
God of the future has been there from the beginning. To speak of
reconciling these two views is to beg the question: only what is
separate, or at odds, needs reconciling, whereas for the man
whose vision will let him look far enough ahead, there is a unity
to be found and worked out.

Teilhard's attempts at seeing frequently took him beyond the
range of his contemporary scientists and theologians. The
originality of his pioneer thinking drew fire on both sides, so
that there were times when he was quite isolated and solitary.
Lesser men might have given up or become dispirited. Indeed
often he must have had to accept his vision as its own reward --
something which it is so much easier to theorize about than
practice.

Logically, easy enough as it may be for the believer to accept
the truth that the more a man extends his awareness of his place
in the universe, the more his adoration of God will grow in
depth, running parallel with this acceptance will be the
knowledge of those spiritual troughs of despair in which any man
of prayer may be caught. Nobody can come away from reading
either Teilhard's letters or journals without realizing the
tremendous inner struggles that must have taken place. Some
writers create a spiritual hush in the mind -- and there are many
passages in Teilhard's books that do this. After reading them,
there comes a feeling that life can never be interpreted in quite
the same terms again.

This experience is the mark of a classic in any sphere, and the
diversity of commentary that follows such work is often a tribute
to the diversity of its nature. It is worth remarking on the
enormous number of different types of books in which T.S.
Eliot's name is listed in indexes; it is a sign of his range of
influence (there has been no abatement since his death), and
something similar, only in this case posthumously, seems to be
happening with Teilhard. Neither italics nor inverted commas are
necessary for the term the wasteland, so much a part of accepted
speech has it become. Maybe the same acceptance now awaits the
term "noosphere."

Teilhard no more wanted to force his life into a series of
separate compartments than he wanted to force all men into one
mould, or to regard science and religion as unrelated facts of
experience. Nor did he accept the conventional dichotomy between
mind and matter, since in his view matter and consciousness were
the outward-facing and inward-facing facets of the same reality.
Moreover, he believed that the inwardness of reality had been
asserting its independence of the outwardness, and that the world
was slowly groping its way, as promised, towards the communion of
saints. Yet he accepted the promise not merely as scriptural,
but because he also saw it as the logical outcome of his own
scientific research. No wonder then that he thought of all
research as adoration, thus bringing out, incidentally, a fresh
meaning from the old Latin tag, Laborare est Orare (to work is to
pray).

To others pursuing this path that he blazed, it would be foolish
to maintain that he succeeded in uniting all the facts of
evolution with the supernatural elements in Christianity, since a
great deal more remains to be done. Nevertheless a gallant
clearing has been made, and Teilhard would have resisted
exaggerated claims for his achievement. He himself, for
instance, always referred to his books as "essays." On four
occasions he uses the term in THE PHENOMENON OF MAN, and his
spiritual masterpiece LE MILIEU DIVIN, he called "an essay on the
interior life."

This kind of modesty is the true mark of the pioneer-thinker.

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ARE THEOSOPHISTS PAGANS?

By Henry T. Edge

[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, October 1934, pages 151-58.]

Yes, Theosophists are Pagans, but this means no reproach to
Theosophists, for I intend to show that the word 'Pagan' is a
term of reproach, one of those words used by people to depreciate
and misrepresent what they regard as opposed to them. On Good
Friday the Episcopal Church prays God's mercy for all Jews,
Turks, Infidels, and Heretics; and the well-known missionary hymn
speaks of the heathen in his blindness bowing down to wood and
stone. Similar misrepresentations can be made against
Christianity, as indeed they are by some anti-Christian bigots
even in Christian countries.

A Pagan means originally a country-dweller, an outsider; as does
also the word 'heathen,' but it has come to mean anyone who does
not hold our own views as regards religion. When I use the word
'Pagan' here, I imply a title of respect; for I am using it as
synonymous with a believer in that ancient and universal
Wisdom-Religion or Secret Doctrine, which, as Theosophy teaches,
is the original and common source of all religions.

What the growing Christian Church called Paganism in the times of
the Roman emperors was the last surviving relics of knowledge of
this ancient Wisdom-Religion. The Christian Church grew up in an
age of declining spirituality and of increasing materialism; the
ancient beliefs had themselves decayed and lost their hold on the
people. The Roman Empire was a melting-pot in which seethed a
medley of faiths; and Christianity is the resultant effect of
many contrary influences -- Pagan, Jewish, Eastern, etc. --
welded together by political influences and crystallized into a
formal creed. Christianity, in fact, is the offshoot of
Paganism, and Pagan beliefs and practices can be traced in it
throughout. Let us consider the most important contrasts between
the Wisdom-Religion and Christianity (as the latter is usually
understood).

MONOTHEISM AND POLYTHEISM

Christianity teaches one supreme God that is separate from the
universe, which he has created, presumably out of nothing. But
polytheism teaches that, between the supreme deity and the world
as we see it, there must be hierarchies of intermediate and
descending powers. Such a teaching was familiar to the early
Christian Church, but it was gradually eliminated under the
influence of warring sects, ecclesiastical councils, and
political policies, until now its only survival is to be found in
a few passages in the Bible referring to principalities and
powers and thrones and dominions and angels and archangels.

Originally these names referred to the hierarchies of celestial
powers just mentioned, and the system is to be found in full in
the teachings of those Gnostic and Neo-Platonist Christians who
were afterwards expelled as heretics -- another word of reproach.
The doctrine was that the Divine Power descends through a series
of emanations of celestial powers, of ever inferior degree, until
it reaches our visible earth, so that the earth is itself
divinely informed by virtue of its derivation and direct descent
from the highest divinity.

This gives the key to the real meaning of polytheism. It does
not mean a mere multiplication of supreme personal gods, such as
the god of monotheistic religion. It means that the ancients
recognized that the Supreme Deity is present throughout the
universe, and that the universe itself is but an aggregation of
divine and creative and intelligent powers, ruling and inspiring
every part. And since there could be no such thing as a blind
unintelligent force, all these powers must be living, conscious,
and intelligent. Therefore we find them represented by names
such as those of the Greek and Roman pantheons, or those of India
or ancient Scandinavia.

In the history of religions, polytheism is the rule and
monotheism the exception; and in this day we have largely
outgrown the foolish pride which allowed us to think that we were
competent to look down from a height of superior wisdom upon the
whole of antiquity and the vast majority of mankind. To support
this false view we have belittled and misrepresented polytheism,
turning the word into a label of reproach; but the signs of the
times show that a reconsideration of our views and a
reinstatement of ancient beliefs is due and will be welcome.

RESTRICTION OF THE SCOPE OF RELIGION

The above leads directly to what here follows; for, owing to the
influence of monotheism, the field of interest and inquiry
covered by religion has become confined to a very small part of
life. What religion teaches us about ourselves and the world we
live in is so meager that, to satisfy the craving for knowledge,
there have grown up other fields of inquiry, distinct from
religion and often hostile to it -- science, philosophy, and a
miscellaneous assortment of social and political speculative
doctrines which form no part of religion and do not take it into
account unless as a partner.

But the ancient idea of religion was that it included the whole
field of inquiry and inspired alike every human interest. Under
our present system a large part of the field of knowledge has
been left unprovided for; since religion tells us nothing about
the constitution of ourselves or of the universe, science
confines itself to a particular outward aspect of these things,
and philosophy can hardly be said to have a practical bearing.
We must mention what is now vaguely called 'psychology,' a name
for various experimental and speculative cults, sadly in need of
some guiding principle, and having but a dubious bearing upon the
question of beneficial results.

All this, then, shows that religion has neglected a vital part of
its duty. And here it may perhaps be conceded that, for purposes
of argument, in the dark ages that preceded us, Christianity may
have assumed the form best suited to the needs of the people.
This we do not affirm, and our point is that Christianity does
not satisfy the needs of today, and is in need of restatement if
it is to meet the demands of the inquiring mind of our times.

THE ESSENTIAL DIVINITY OF MAN

Christian teachers of today take very enlightened views in many
cases, and there is no reproach, but on the contrary commendation
for them; but it will not be going far wrong if we state what
might be called the characteristic Christian view briefly as
follows. Man, originally created pure and innocent, FALLS,
succumbing to the seduction of the evil deity, and becomes
thereby sinful and doomed to destruction; but is saved by the
vicarious sacrifice of Jesus, the son of God, who takes upon
himself the sins of the world. Man therefore is represented as
being 'born in sin,' incapable of salvation by his own efforts,
and requiring the intercession of this Savior.

The ancients taught man that he was essentially divine, being in
truth an emanation from deity and therefore containing within
himself all the potentialities of deity. Salvation was to be
achieved by the exercise of man's own aspiration, will, and
intelligence, enabling him to attach his self-conscious essence
to the Spiritual part of his nature, and to save it from being
carried down to destruction by the desires and lusts of the lower
world.

It is highly important that this nobler view of our own nature
should prevail, since religion has fostered a view so contrary in
its nature and import; and science is abetting the process by its
teachings as to the purely animal origin of man. Self-respect is
needed and cannot be dispensed with; it will save us alike from
despair and from vanity; for along with man's skepticism about
his spiritual nature comes a puffed-up self-conceit about his
lower nature and his prowess in material concerns.

THE LAW OF CONSEQUENCES

Science has accustomed us to expect order and sequence in the
realms of Nature which it studies; but science does not concern
itself with the moral world, nor does religion give us any
definite teachings as to the law of consequences in our lives.
For the orderly working of natural intelligences has been
substituted the will of God; although religious people actually
talk a great deal about Nature, as though Nature were a rival
deity.

Theosophy, in its presentation of the ancient Wisdom-Religion
(Paganism), recognizes the harmonious operation of cause and
effect everywhere. Nothing happens either by chance (an idle
word) or by arbitrary decree, but every experience is the natural
consequence of precedent causes. The causes are set in motion by
the being that experiences the result. This is called the law of
karma.

This great principle is violated by the doctrine that the
consequences of our evil deeds and mistakes can be evaded or
transferred to another being. Further, such a doctrine takes no
account of the effects which our evil deeds may produce upon
others; nor does the ordinary doctrinal view provide for the due
fulfillment of man's unrealized efforts for good.

Such philosophical questions are proper to religion in its true
sense, though they seem to have been eliminated from it during
the dark ages. It is time that religion was reinstated in this
respect. But it is impossible to make any sense out of human
life, so long as we regard man as living but a brief period on
earth, without either a past behind him or a corresponding future
ahead of him. The pattern of a life is not discerned by viewing
so small a fragment thereof. The lost doctrine of reincarnation
needs to be brought back, in order that we may view life as a
whole and have scope to demonstrate the perfectly just workings
of the law of consequences and responsibility for all our acts.

SELF-KNOWLEDGE

How can man learn the mysteries of his own nature, the secrets of
life and death? How can he become conscious of his spiritual
nature and learn to exercise the powers to which that fact
entitles him? Not from religion as it is known today; not from a
science too exclusively concerned with interpreting the physical
universe; nor from a materialistic biology, or experimental
dabbling in what is called 'psychology,' nor yet from the lessons
of psychic quacks and self-styled teachers of oriental mysticism.
It can only be done by reviving knowledge of that ancient and
universal Wisdom-Religion or Secret Doctrine whereof Theosophy is
the modern presentation.

The symbolism of ancient cults (called Pagan) shows us that
knowledge of the existence of such a system was once universally
diffused. But the evolutionary progress of mankind includes dark
cycles; and it is during one of these that our present
fragmentary knowledge has grown up; so that today, in place of
one all-embracing gnosis, we have a number of separate
departments -- religion, science, and philosophy -- each fatally
handicapped by its separation from the others.

To unify the field of knowledge must be our aim; and this is to
be done, not by attempting to patch together the fragments, but
by restoring their original unity. Man, being essentially
divine, and endowed with the power of self-conscious choice, must
save himself by his own efforts, assisted however by his natural
guides and instructors, namely, those who stand ahead of him in
evolution, just as a parent teaches a child, or an expert teaches
a neophyte.

The expression 'Secret Doctrine' merely records the fact that the
Wisdom-Religion is not generally known in dark cycles of the
world's history; but it is not secret to those who are fit to
unlock its mysteries. Knowledge of any kind is taught in
schools, by professors, to pupils; and it is not otherwise with
the knowledge of which we are now speaking.

IS RELIGION HOSTILE TO KNOWLEDGE?

It would be idle to say that Theosophists are seeking to impose
upon people a new belief, for Theosophy so evidently answers the
questions which are everywhere being asked. The foundations of
belief are being overhauled today as never before; but the
unaided efforts of thoughtful and inquisitive minds are in great
need of coordination and of a definite direction. These needs
are supplied by Theosophists, whose purpose is to show the
foundations of belief, and to reveal in the ancient mythologies
that Wisdom-Religion which is the parent of all religions.

Theosophy may be said to be the champion of Christianity, since
it aims to show Christians what a sublime thing their religion
really is, and to rescue that faith from the condition into which
it has degenerated. It has been a standing reproach against
religion that it has so often found itself in conflict with the
desire for knowledge; and it is needless here to air the familiar
theme of the religious persecution of great innovators in the
realm of inquiry.

The desire to know has often been represented as impious.
Knowledge confers newfound freedom upon its possessor, which may
not suit the view of those who are anxious to keep his footsteps
in the narrow way and the beaten path; nor will the plea that
this freedom is often abused suffice for a wholesale condemnation
of intellectual inquiry in general.

It is a paramount teaching of the Wisdom-Religion that man, at a
particular stage of his evolutionary progress, acquired the
faculty of self-conscious mind, the power of free choice, the
ability to distinguish between good and evil. This power was
derived by man from certain divine beings who were themselves men
in a former cycle of evolution whose duty it is now to become the
teachers and inspirers of their younger brothers.

We find this teaching conveyed in symbolic form in the early
chapters of the Bible, where man is at first an innocent being
dwelling in Eden. But knowledge is awakened in him by the
'Serpent,' who gives him the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.
This teaching has been perverted, so that man's teacher has been
represented as his would-be destroyer, and the Serpent has become
the Devil.

We find the same doctrine in the old Greek story of Prometheus,
who brings to mankind fire from heaven, thus quickening their
intelligence and endowing them with useful arts. Countless
variants of this story are to be found scattered throughout the
religious myths of the world, and all to the same effect. Man,
formerly incapable of good or evil and without self-consciousness
and free will, is awakened and quickened by the influence of
beings higher than him; and the result is that man becomes a
pilgrim, learning through his mistakes. He goes far astray, but
in the end is saved by the very same power which first inspired
him.

Knowledge can never be the enemy of man's soul. The real enemy
is selfishness, which causes him to turn his knowledge to
destructive uses. If people are forbidden the legitimate use of
a thing, they will resort to illegitimate means. It is a poor
religion which feels itself obliged to prohibit inquiry, or sees
in inquiry a foe. Today we see eminent divines upholding the
doctrines of science and seeking ways to harmonize them with the
teachings of religion. This proves that the undying spirit of
man is asserting itself, and justifies Theosophists in claiming
that they are responding to a need.

THE HERITAGE OF THE PAST

The doctrine of evolution refers to a general principle, and
modern science has been studying the physical aspect of it; but
it needs to be studied as a whole. For evolution applies not
merely to visible organisms but to the invisible lives which
animate them; and the evolution of man concerns his spiritual,
mental, emotional, and psychic nature, besides the physical.

The progress of evolution is cyclical or spiral, so that it
carries the evolving being (whether man or any other being)
through downward and upward curves, though always forward.
Humanity, having attained its greatest materiality at an epoch
now in the past, is at present ascending an upward curve. This
means that we return to the same level as that which we had
reached on the downward curve; and therefore are recovering some
of the knowledge which was ours before. Hence the importance of
a study of the records of the ancient Wisdom-Religion, as
preserved in myth and symbol; a study which is giving the very
clues of which humanity today is in search. If this be called a
return to Paganism, the expression must be used in a different
sense from the derogatory one usually intended.

It is generally admitted that recent experiences have given a
blow to our self-satisfaction, causing us to question the
stability of standards which have served us so long. But this
does not mean that we are going all to pieces; it means that we
must dig deeper. Archaeologists can reconstruct the splendor of
ancient architecture by uncovering its ruins; and in the same
way, the mighty knowledge of our ancestors has been buried
beneath its ruins and can be disinterred and reconstructed.

If charges of superstition are to be brought, they lie rather
against those who advocate the customary and orthodox views,
whether in religion, or in science, or in rationalism. Those who
make so much fuss about evidence and proof are accustomed to
misinterpret historical evidence to suit their own foregone
conclusions, while the plain laws as to the credibility of human
testimony are stretched to the limit in either direction in
support of predetermined conclusions.

Theosophists are not seeking to superimpose a sort of occult
world on the top of a real world; that so-called real world is
getting shaky, and Theosophy endeavors to make it more real.
Pagans may be accused of introducing gods into a dead world of
Nature, actuated by blind forces and moving without purpose or
end; but actually they are interpreting Nature in a better way
than our science has been able to do, and they are rapidly
converting science to their view.

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RAMAKRISHNA'S TEACHINGS

By Shri Y.S.R. Chandran

[From THE ARYAN PATH, August 1963, pages 356-60.]

Pearls of Wisdom are scattered by the great sage in
conversational homely style; scriptural truths of the utmost
value and the highest subtlety are made to sink straight into the
heart by the method of simile and parable adopted by him in
preference to the barren method of logical and learned
exposition. Ramakrishna, in this respect, continues the hoary
tradition of India, that of a preceptor educating the masses as
much by the influence of his life as by the clarity of the
teachings born out of the maturity of experience and the glow of
Realization. The bees go to the full-blown rose and not the rose
to the bees; the multitudes, hearing about the success that
attended his God-quest, thronged to him. How blessed they were
to have tasted of the manna of his thought!

Ramakrishna worshipped the Mother and later Aurobindo also
worshipped God as the Mother. This may be jarring to the Western
mind, which is acquainted only with the term "Fatherhood of God,"
but the explanation given by the Paramahamsa (Divine Swan) should
be most convincing: if the child is most free in the company of
his mother, the devotee, to give himself the same freedom, may
conceive of God as mother.

He never accepted the Western theory that man is a sinner. On
the contrary, he held that man is God in embryo; life itself is
an opportunity given him to become full-fledged God; life is a
Kalpavriksha, sitting under which man can become whatever he
desires and struggles to become.

The rich wardrobe of a washerman is after all not his; the moment
the clothes are put to the wash the wardrobe becomes empty; men
who do not have original thoughts are in the same perilous state.
Books may contain useful directions; they may be replete with
virtuous sayings; but a mere study would not make us virtuous
even as squeezing the Hindu Almanac, because it contains
predictions of annual rainfall, will not produce a drop of rain.
Trying to know or have an idea of God by mere book-learning is as
foolish as trying to know sacred Banaras by referring to a map.

The views of Ramakrishna should help to lay to rest permanently
the hot controversy regarding the personal and the impersonal
God; they are as inextricable and indistinguishable as the milk
and its whiteness or the gem and its brightness; discussion about
those aspects, which appear different but are one and the same,
is as interminable as the dispute about the colors of the
chameleon.

Out of the same substance of gold different ornaments could be
made; out of the same clay various pots could be made; ice may
float for some time, being congealed, on the water, but the rays
of the sun of knowledge may melt it into the water again, the
form thus becoming formless. The jug, when immersed in water,
will be full of water both inside and outside and so the real
Jnanin or Knower sees God within and without. Like the sound of
a bell, God is with and without form; when there is a continued
ding-dong, there is no shape, but when there are individual
strokes, there is suggested a distinct shape for each.

Ramakrishna gives us a verbal picture of the worldly man. He may
put on the airs of a devotee and parrot-like repeat the name of
the Lord, but in a moment of crisis, even like the parrot in the
paws of a cat, crying "Kaw, Kaw," he too shows his real nature.
A spring cushion is pressed down under the weight of the persons
sitting on it, but quickly resumes its usual shape when they
rise; so, too, the worldly man may make a number of pious
resolutions, in the heat of the moment, but they are soon
forgotten in the stress and the preoccupations of his contact
with the world. The iron which is red-hot in the glowing fire
resumes its natural color when it is exposed; so too the worldly
man resumes his petty normal self, laying aside the exaltation
gained in a moment.

The boastful detachment of the householder is well brought out in
an appropriate illustration. The husband decides to give a rupee
to the beggar; he confers with his wife about the charity
intended; she conveniently scales it down to two annas; and so
his detachment is a glorified name for his hen-pecked condition.
The stone is impenetrable for water; the hide of the alligator is
sword-proof; and the worldly man is equally impervious to
spiritual precepts or counsels. His hankering for the dung-hill
of materialism forcefully brought out by the example of the
fisherwoman. To escape being drenched in rain, she takes shelter
in a florist's shop; the smell of the flowers is too much for
her; and she can fall asleep only with her basket with its smell
of fish under her head.

Ramakrishna administers a sound warning about egoism. Egohood
dies hard; it is like the smell of garlic which does not leave
the bottle even after its being emptied. Even the sage Narada
was not free from it. He considered himself the greatest
devotee. The Lord, to save him from the fall which goes with
pride, advised him to make acquaintance with another devotee, a
farmer. But Narada with undiminished pride came back and
reported that the farmer was not a devotee at all since the
farmer chanted the name of the Lord once to begin the day with
and concluded with another chant of his name, while Narada
chanted His name incessantly. But the sage was humbled when he
was asked to go round the world without spilling a drop of oil
from a cup he had to carry on his head, and when he had to
confess that he could not remember the Lord ever once in his
anxiety for the cup. Egoism therefore is something that one
should guard himself against; it may lead to the downfall even of
one within an ace of realization.

Intellectual argumentation will not lead to realization. The
rationalist would make much of his study of the trunk, the
branches, and the foliage of the mango tree; but the man of
vision would make friends with the gardener and actually know the
mango by tasting its juice. The book-learned are compared to the
bee which makes much noise being outside the petals of the lotus.
The moment it is within, it is silent, drinking in the honey; the
man who has obtained Vision enjoys the ecstasy and discards
argumentation altogether. An empty vessel when it is being
filled makes a bubbling noise; the moment it is full there is not
the slightest whisper; the Jnanin is similarly lost in
contemplation and does not associate himself with any wordy
wrangles.

Ramakrishna warns us against the pseudo-Sadhus who are easily
distinguished by their use of medicines, intoxicants, and display
of psychic powers. These hypocrites are exposed the moment they
are rubbed against the touchstone of adversity. Certain psychic
powers may lie as baits on the way, and a devotee on the quest of
God should resist them and go his way; a certain disciple went to
his teacher and boasted of his acquisition, by dint of hard
penance for twelve years, of a miraculous power to walk on the
waters. The teacher derided the pupil for having wasted a
precious period on doing something which the ferryman could help
him in, for a trifle, in a few minutes.

He extols humility as the jewel among virtues. The tree laden
with fruit is always bent; the heavier scale sinks low while the
lighter one shoots up; and the man of realization is always
humble and meek.

Ritual by itself may be as useless as the husk on rice; but the
grain within the husk can be the seed for paddy: it may help to
gather the wandering thought to a focal point of concentration.
The mind must be attuned, made single-pointed, before it can
penetrate the great mystery, even as the fine-pointed thread the
eye of the needle; the scattered mustard seed can be picked up
only with much difficulty. The ritual connected with worship may
be viewed as a preventive measure against the dispersal of
thought.

The slightest stain on a piece of white cloth will be conspicuous
and the smallest lapse or failing may invite an unenviable
prominence.

Good society is compared to the warmth supplied by fire to the
moist wood; latent good impulses which may be waning away may be
kindled into activity by the spark of ennobling company.

The bark of the human mind keeps floating or tossing in all
directions on the waves of learning or passion or reason, unless
it is steadied by the buoy or the anchor of faith. There is a
story of a holy man cursing his son to become an outcast for the
wavering or doubtful faith shown by him in his advice to the king
that he should repeat the name of the Lord twice to wash off his
sin of homicide. The utility of faith is illustrated by the
story of the well-digger, who went on shifting the scene of his
operations in impatience after digging a few feet and not
noticing a drop of water; if he had concentrated at a single
spot, with the same effort he would have been rewarded for his
labor. Ramakrishna cites the answer of Mahadeva to Parvati's
question regarding the root of eternal bliss: "Faith."

Among the birds the swan alone can separate the milk from the
water and among men it is only the perfect man that can see God
distinct from Maya. The life he leads is one unblemished; he
remains unaffected by the impurities of the world around him even
as the wind by the good and the bad scent it carries. He carries
on just enough work even after obtaining contact with God to keep
body and soul together; but that is an activity which does not
bind him, as the rope which is burnt will not bind though
apparently retaining its shape yet.

The man who has seen God is little attracted to the fleeting
vanity fair of the world. The young girl is absorbed in domestic
duties soon after marriage, but the birth of a child breeds an
indifference to what was of absorbing interest formerly;
similarly the man whose divine sight is opened finds little
fascination in worldly pleasures. Totapuri tells his disciples
that a prayer every morning keeps the soul bright even as a daily
rinsing a brass vessel, but Ramakrishna says that such scrubbing
is not necessary for a gold vessel. The difference between the
pine trees and the grass will be striking, seen from the plane of
the earth; but the difference vanishes when seen from the
mountain top: when the divine sight is opened such differences as
high and low vanish.

The real Sadhu, though he moves in the world, is like a boat in
the water; the boat may be in the water but water should not be
in the boat! He is as unattached; his activities may continue for
a time. When milk is converted into butter, it floats in water,
does not mix with it; the man who has attained Godhood may remain
similarly unaffected by any company he may be thrown in.

We conclude with a story told by Ramakrishna: a kite with a fish
in its beak is pursued by several of its companions; it flies on
with the treasure, gets tired, and finally drops the fish. Then
the relentless pursuit of the enemies ends. An ascetic accepts
this kite as the Guru and concludes that the peace of mind
necessary for contemplation can come only when one rids himself
of one's worldly burdens.

------------------------------------------------------------------
SEEDS OF A HAPPIER FUTURE

By Kenneth Morris

[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, April 1935, pages 464-67.]

As long as you believe in a 'God' who created the conditions in
which you find yourself, or by whose will such conditions exist,
you will not better them; all your riches will be a supreme
excuse for your inertia. The belief in 'God' has made western
humanity shuffle off all its responsibilities and brought it
drifting passively to the brink of cataclysm. If it had been a
true belief, it would have led us to blissful conditions. When
you know the science of a thing, the Way it Is, and work with
that knowledge in your consciousness, you succeed; but we have
not succeeded; we set out to build a civilization; and if you
think we have built one, I wish you joy of your belief!

Spengler shows that each cycle of civilization is started off by,
or with, a religious impulse; that in time that religious impulse
dies down and a scientific one takes its place; but that the
scientific impulse is not by any means different from the
religious impulse, of which it is simply the reaction, on the
same plane. Our western civilization set out with the impulse of
Christianity: the Gothic Cathedral was its symbol. See how every
tower, spire, arch, and pinnacle leaps away from the earth,
points outward into space, proclaiming the outsideness and
farness away of the Thing-to-be-Sought: 'God.'

The temples of earlier architectures seem as if they had grown
out of the earth, and were made by Nature, like the trees and
mountains; they grace their landscapes and harmonize with them.
But the Gothic cathedral rises most fitly and awe-inspiringly
from the midst of city slums; directing the gaze of the
slum-dwellers away from their appalling conditions, away and away
-- into or towards what? The emptiness of space, and the Big Man
they are to imagine enthroned in it, whose will is not their will
and not controllable by them; who made them to be slum-dwellers,
and against whom it is impious to struggle.

The worse kind of human tyrant loves to be flattered and is good
to his flatterers; this is but a Bigger Sort of Big Man, the
Universal Tyrant: lard him with flattery then! Abase yourself;
grovel in the mire of your sins and impotence: something may come
of it! It is a Man alike yourself that, made in your own image,
you must cajole into helping you; of yourself, you can do
nothing.

Personal, and outside yourself; and omnipotent. Well -- and now
it is the stronger sort speaking -- at least one can imitate and
model oneself on him. How? By getting for one's personal being
what one can of money and power, and playing the tyrant on earth
as he in the universe?

Someone has pointed out that all the world-shaking conquerors and
great blood-spillers of history have been believers in a personal
Emperor of the Universe: they build themselves up on their
conception of their deity, and imagine themselves his agents on
earth to punish mankind. Indeed it is probable that all tyrants,
bullies, and megalomaniacs everywhere have their spiritual
disease rooted in this concept; and we can see why the enemies of
mankind make it always their first business to instill the belief
in a personal god; why that belief creeps in with the decline of
movements started to ingeminate truth; whose interest it is to
make it creep in.

Megalomania comes of it, and still more generally, the
disappearance of self-reliance; and, that which rules our destiny
being thought to be out of our control, and accessible to
flattery and self-abasement, a servile and deceitful turn of
mind. Individual men are often better than their creeds, and you
get noble souls among the personal-god-worshipers; but that is
because will he nil he there is a real god in man, that will not
be utterly silenced in any age. But the tendency of a false
Weltanschauung, a false view of the universe or philosophy of
life, is to mold the masses to ignobility, or to falsehood: for
what falsehood is among doctrines, so is ignobility among human
characteristics.

The religion that inspired the start of our cycle of western
civilization having as its main theme or motif that 'God,'
'Salvation' and truth were things to be sought and found outside
ourselves, it was but the natural reaction that science, when it
came, should seek its objectives in the same direction, and
imagine truth discoverable by physical means. Now in whatever
direction you approach Nature, you will make discoveries; and
science, driving outwards and away from the one place where truth
abides, made discoveries in plenty. But if we keep the fact well
in mind that truth corresponds with nobility, and therefore leads
to happiness: it hardly needs saying that all unhappiness grows
out of ignobility: we see at once that science has looked in the
wrong direction for truth.

Scientific discovery tends to disintegrate human life and
civilization. War had difficulty of old in exterminating
populations; it was mostly an affair of a few thousand or
hundred-thousand men, and what territory they could, on foot or
on horseback, cover and ravage; now when war is being waged, no
one on earth can be happy. Science has supported every
antisocial force, and dealt out most of the trumps to crime.
This could not be if science had not imagined a vain thing when
she went truth-seeking outward into matter.

Wrong ideas or doctrines have brought to being the miseries of
the world. Put your 'God' outside your Self, and you will not
look within yourself and discover the noble elements. You will
take yourself just on face value and develop a terribly low
conception of the nature and value of man. Outwardly, yes, you
are a worm, a sinner, a miserable offender; man is all that in
his lower nature; and it was because religion was so intent on
looking outward for 'God' that it never discovered anything in
man but the outermost part of him; denying the existence of the
Higher Nature in him, you may say it did its best to stamp that
Higher Nature out. And that being the stance of religion,
science in its turn never dreamed that there was an inward
direction or anything to be discovered there.

There are many things: generosity, magnanimity, courage,
compassion; the loving of one's neighbor as oneself -- that is,
recognition that one's neighbor -- humanity -- is oneself. And
who is such a fool as not to know that it is precisely these
things which could cure our human ills? Apply them to the
problems of capital and labor, of nation and nation; and -- what
of the problematic would be left?

These poison and disease-generating bodies of ours are the
outermost husks of us; then if you believe in an outside 'God,'
you will believe somewhat religiously in that outermost of
yourself; it will catch the infection of your belief, so to say;
so of course heaven would not be heaven without it; you had to
believe the Resurrection of the Body.

So the seeds of any future are to be found in the religious
inspirations of any present you may be considering; the seeds of
our future now, speaking as nations or a civilization, are to be
found in what religious inspirations are in being today. If
there is one such that directs men to look for God-ness -- not
goodness, but God-ness -- for the Divine, for Truth and
salvation, for all the objectives of Religion, inwards into the
deep innermost and root of human consciousness, then such
inspiration will assuredly be the seed of a happier future.
There is of course such an inspiration: we call it Theosophy.

Just to get that one Noble Truth into the thought-atmosphere of
the world -- that would be something worth living for! -- The
Truth that the Divine is within ourselves, something that we
could use and be and put through our being to sweeten the life of
the world and antidote its poison. That is a concept it does not
take scholars to understand; it is something to inject into the
thought-life of the masses.

The Divine is not approachable by prayer; we go away from it when
we flog ourselves with remorse and repentance. We insult it when
we wail, "Have mercy upon us, miserable sinners!" But it is
approachable and easily approachable; go into the part of you
that is generous, magnanimous, brave, and compassionate, and you
have drawn near to it in the most practical manner.

You need help; your difficulties are appalling; then go into that
part of yourself and you will find, not help from outside, but
power from within to meet and overcome your troubles. If that
part of you, so far as you are aware, does not exist, set to and
imagine that it does exist; imagine it into being and place
yourself within it. It is a spiritual impossibility to have
troubles that cannot be met and overcome by that Divine Power
within you; it is omnipotent. Thought for others and life for
others can make a man omnipotent so far as his own need for help
is concerned.

For the Churches, it is simply a matter of 'Back to Jesus' --
back to what he believed and taught, and away from legends made
up about him which have hidden from the world all that he
considered important. The churches are fighting for their life
now; thousands of ministers perceive quite clearly that the old
scheme of salvation is gone, and yet know that the world needs
religion; as it most emphatically does. So they grope and give
out what light they can, eager to combat materialism and what
they call 'paganism' -- living for self and pleasure alone.

The idea that Jesus died to save us from the consequences of our
sins is revolting to the noblest in us; it was a house built on
the sands of selfishness and ignorance, and the waves of time are
washing it away. But the idea of Jesus, that whatsoever a man
reapeth, that has he sown, and whatsoever he soweth he shall
reap. With whatsoever measure ye mete, it shall be meted to you
again: that is unassailable. Science could never be more
scientific; every single discovery of science merely reaffirms
the truth of it.

Self-reliance comes of that as it does of his teaching as to
'God.' The kingdom of heaven is within you, said he; and Our
Father which art in heaven. That 'Father' is within us, then,
according to Jesus. And he defined the 'Father' and told us what
He is: "God is love." Put impersonal love, delight in and desire
to help all beings, through your mind, and then you are using and
being 'God.'

------------------------------------------------------------------
THE MISSIONARY FUNCTION OF THEOSOPHY

By Alexander Fullerton

[From THE PATH, April 1890, pages 2-7.]

We Theosophists can prosecute our work far more intelligently and
hopefully if we understand just what we have to do, just how we
ought to do it, and just what results we have a right to expect.
Theosophical effort, like every other effort, is ineffective if
it defies facts or laws, and, conversely, bears fruit in
proportion as all such facts or laws are heeded. Theosophical
truth, like every other truth, is wasted if cast on soil unfitted
to receive it; and Theosophical hope, like every other hope, must
wither from disappointment if it is irrational or rootless. Only
as we perceive the conditions of the problem, and then conform to
them, are we justified in looking for success.

The great public work which Theosophists at this era have to do
is to disseminate knowledge of Theosophy. In our hemisphere it
is a new system; old, older than anything else, as it really is,
here it has the interest, as also the opprobrium, of entire
novelty. On the side of its interest, we have to aid us the
insatiate thirst of the present day for all that is fresh or
strange or promising, together with the vigorous rivalry of the
press to furnish draughts of each; and on the side of its
opprobrium, we see the host of those who are indifferent or
contemptuous to any system of spiritual vigor, backed-up by the
churches and religionists who cherish petrifaction as heirlooms
and who are horrified and embittered when Truth appears as a
sprightly youth, rather than as a palsied centenarian with one
book chained to his waist.

A great preparatory step is gained when either the freethinking
are caused to inspect Theosophy from curiosity, or the orthodox
to attack it from dislike, for in each case it secures publicity
and notice. But there is also a third class -- those who desire
satisfaction for the higher instincts in man, who cannot find it
in the artificial theologies of the sects, who distrust anything
bearing conventional or worn-out names, and who have an open mind
for a teaching which gives intelligent solution to the questions
of life and adequate answer to its aspirations. As we have no
means of discerning the members of this third class and of
communicating solely with them, our only course is to scatter
Theosophy broadcast through the land, fill the air with it, and
make it as familiar a word as Christianity or Spiritualism.

When the whole social atmosphere is suffused with it, it will
come in contact with every nature fitted to receive it, and so
there will be no hungry soul unfed, no ready recipient
unsupplied. When the secular press expounds it and the religious
press analyzes it, and when its terms are understood and its
distinctive marks perceived, joining the Theosophical Society
will be as easy a thing as now is joining a church, and Branches
will be as numerous as, and far more cooperative than, the very
churches themselves.

As has been said, there is only one way to make this happen: to
spread everywhere knowledge of what Theosophy is. In the simple
form of elementary tracts, in the fuller statement of pamphlet or
document, in the copious exposition of detailed treatise, all
phases of the topic are presented, all queries duly met, all
degrees of intelligence provided for. There is absolutely no
limit to the possible literature of Theosophy, for it embraces
every department of being and has the promise of a continuous
revelation from its Adept teachers.

As fast as Their present teachings are popularized and absorbed,
new and richer ones will be given. The peculiar duty of the day
is to give the utmost clearness to what is known, to make it
intelligible and attractive to the masses, to promote its
circulation with energy -- prodigality even, to ensure that it
shall be a theme for conversation, perusal, research, and study.
One hardly overstates the case when one avers that the one
preeminent work of Theosophists at this era is to sow
Theosophical seed in every quarter and with abundant measure.

But there were two other questions raised at the beginning of
this paper -- just how we ought to work, and just what results we
have a right to expect. They may be called the Method and the
Rationale of our mission.

The essential principle in the Method of Theosophical work, I
take to be the avoidance of controversy. This is not merely
because argument is a battle in which passions are roused and the
desire to conquer overcomes the desire to learn, or even because
the consequent inflammation unfits the mind for such a topic as
Theosophy, but because, as all experience shows, of the futility
of argument in changing conviction.

Nothing in literature is deader than the patristic and scholastic
controversies, whereas the "Meditations" of Marcus Aurelius will
have perennial life. And it would seem that what is needed in
Theosophy is a perspicuous exhibition of its tenets, supported,
indeed, by all props from reasoning and analogy, but free from
conflict with opposing faiths, and set forth rather as a
suggestive and plausible explanation of facts than as a dogmatic
system vying with others.

This holds equally of the verbal statements Theosophists are
constantly called upon to make. If their tone is that of
infallible assurance, of a combative readiness to defend, to
attack, and to impugn, a like spirit will be evoked in the
questioner; whereas, if they are given as the solutions found
satisfactory by the holder, though in no way obligatory on any
other thinker, if they are commended as interesting rather than
urged as final, the spirit of antagonism is disarmed at the
outset, and the genial influence of a gentle unobtrusiveness
extends itself from speaker to hearer.

Beliefs can hardly be ARGUED away. They may crumble or melt
under the quiet effect of more potent considerations, or they may
simply fade out as better ones come to view, just as the pictures
of a dioptric lantern grow less vivid and disappear when their
successors are disclosed, but they will gain obstinate rigidity
through any attempt to displace them with violence. The tactful
presentation of Theosophy therefore means that each written or
spoken word should be pacific, uncombative, gently proffering an
idea rather than pronouncing a dictum, letting the hearer himself
contrast the opulence of Occult Science with the penury of
Christian isms, seeking no rebuttal, inviting no contest,
striving for no victory.

The other question -- the Rationale of our mission -- goes to the
root of the whole matter of that mission. If Theosophy is to be
promulgated in every direction and through every channel, if a
very large part of the community is indifferent to it or hostile,
and if controversy is to be foresworn, what gains may we really
expect to make?

Fitness to receive Theosophy is preeminently a case of Evolution.
As the wave of life has passed through the several kingdoms of
nature, lifting to various heights of development the different
individuals in them, effecting an infinite diversity in progress
from the shell-fish to the anthropoid ape, so the Spiritual wave
exhibits in the countless multitudes of men the equally countless
degrees with which it has been received.

There are human beings in whom hardly a trace of spiritual
feeling can be detected; there are innumerable graduations in
which it expands from a feeble sentiment to a ruling principle;
and there is a small but exalted class in which it has
overmastered and overcome every other impulse and desire.
Intelligence, too, has like differentiations, and when this and
the spiritual principle are united in every possible combination
of degree, intensity, and power, we see the infinitude of
variety, the measureless complexity, exhibited in the status of
men.

Now while Theosophy is truly a system of the highest
intellectuality, feeding the loftiest minds produced in the race,
this is not its primary function. That function is the supply of
spiritual pabulum, the furnishing to aspiration a justification,
a method, an assurance. Its note is responded to by the devout
and the ardent, unheard or unheeded as it may be by the clever.

So it comes to pass that no small part of the members of the
Theosophical Society are very poor in intellectual gifts, little
competent to seize much more than the elements of the system,
powerless to analyze or to combine or to express its truths, a
feeble folk as to brain or tongue, and yet sound in purpose and
in conviction, resolute in aim and life, clear of vision into the
eternal realities. They feel far more than they can state; they
are strong, gigantic even, in a conscientiousness which knows no
paltering, and a devotion which knows no sleep. And to this they
have come through incarnation after incarnation.

Precisely what stage of spiritual evolution must be reached
before Theosophy is acceptable? Who can say? Yet evidently there
is needed some real, even if vague, conviction of the greater
value of the unseen, and some decided, even if flexible, desire
for its attainment. If there is neither, Theosophy is a
meaningless babble, a sound without import or significance. To
SOME point the spiritual principle must have been evolved, the
spiritual interest grown. Before that, there could be no
comprehension and no response.

In respect to this, receptivity to the Theosophical idea is
exactly like receptivity to any other idea; it is an affair of
evolved readiness. If you tell a young man in his teens that the
loftiest reach of human happiness is not in converse with an
undeveloped girl, and that insipid talks and unfledged affections
are only the contents of a stage and a class, he will probably
smile at your little knowledge of life and your little ability to
comprehend it. And yet the mature man, rich in experiences of
varied tenderness, knows how faint and flimsy are the sentiments
of such youths.

Each attitude is proper to its time. You could not expect sage
discrimination in a boy, or appreciation of other things which
are in advance of his period. If you speak to a small tradesman
of the forces governing international commerce, and of the happy
day when an understanding of them shall sweep away every obstacle
raised by ignorant cupidity, his eye will glaze and his mouth
open. If, forgetting your hearer in your topic, you discourse to
a commonplace person on the mental triumphs of the century, and
how intelligent thought is asserting itself in civic ideals and
in legislation; you will soon perceive his incapacity to
understand you.

I once travelled in Italy with an acquaintance that gave no eye
to its architecture, galleries, or scenery, but was alert for
horses, dogs, and women. All these things mean simply that the
individual has not reached the point where higher themes become
conceivable. To present them is to appeal to a blank; the
faculty is not there. Give the topic appropriate to the
development, and you have response at once. It could not be
otherwise. Men are what they ARE, not what they will be. To
expect perception of things out of sight or to blame for devotion
to those only which are perceived is to be unphilosophical and
unpractical.

And so it is in Theosophy. Exhibit it to the sectarian, the
conventionalist, the mere businessman, the gourmet, and its broad
doctrines and high impulsions seem but fanatical raving. Tell
its principle of unselfishness to the monopolist who seeks for
opulence through oppression, or the religionist who hopes for
glory through gore, and you might as well speak in Arabic or
Hindi. In fact, any one of its spiritual sides is unintelligible
to the man who has not within him a counterpart to that side. If
the faculty has not evolved, it obviously cannot act. And this,
too, is another reason why one should not attempt to argue or
persuade into Theosophy. To do so implies the presence of an
interest or an aspiration which argument or persuasion can
arouse, whereas it is the absence of them which makes the attempt
hopeless.

Sketching the area of human evolution, we may say that each human
being passes through successive stages of thought, conviction,
and emotion, and that certain habits are appropriate to each. To
whatever the dominant interest of the life may be, there are
topics and practices which match it. These are natural. They
may not be elevating or elevated, but at least they are fit. One
need not marvel to find obtuseness as to spiritual things any
more than as to art or literature or science. The whole question
is set to rest by the simple explanation that the individual is
still on a lower plane. There is no use in worrying over it, for
the matter is beyond all other remedy than that of limitless
time, which will in its course bring about through many
incarnations the stage of spiritual interest. THEN Theosophy
will attract.

These facts show what the philosophy of Theosophical missionary
effort is. The method has been stated to be the widest possible
circulation of Theosophical information, the filling the
atmosphere with Theosophical truths and ideas. Why? Not because
it is supposed that to any considerable proportion of the
community they will be either intelligible or welcome. Not
because their intrinsic value can be perceived by souls which as
yet are not percipient. Not because that any cogency of argument
or felicity of diction will evoke interest or gain adhesion. Not
because they hold out inducements which, like Sunday School
picnics or Church socials, may avail to entice outsiders. Not at
all because it is believed that more than perhaps one out of many
hundreds is ripe for a welcome to them.

Then there is that one. He has risen in former embodiments
through eras of struggle and solicitude, and stands now ready,
open-eared for the note of Theosophy. He may be a member of some
great family in the metropolis and come in touch with Theosophy
through the gilded libraries which are ever open to him. He may
be a journeyman in a factory and stumble on a paragraph of
revelation in the only newspaper he sees. He may be a merchant
in a far-off city, or a doctor in as country town, or a
blacksmith in an inland village. He may be a miner in Colorado
or a herdsman in Texas or a pioneer in a Western hamlet; but if
prepared in past incarnations for Theosophy in this, it needs but
a line to transmute him into a Theosophist. Perhaps yours may be
the hand which has guided it to him, Karma conferring on you the
privilege and on him the benefit of adding another to the ranks
of the illuminated.

What if scores of editorials and hundreds of editorial items and
thousands of circulars die straightway and fruitless! Who can
say, indeed, that they do? But if they did, there is always the
one upon whom we may count, the one who has a right to our
treasures, the one who will spread them in his turn, the one who
will be the nucleus for further strength coming from the unseen
powers. Nor must we forget the stimulus which a diffused
knowledge of Theosophy has upon forming, growing souls. They are
not ripe for it yet, but acquaintance with it helps to make them
so. A seed may be lodged in thought which will grow no less
surely than do the seeds scattered by the sects about us, and, as
they expect fruitage in years to come, so may we in incarnations
to come.

Probably we shall not need to wait so long. There are
indications that every effort now has promise of a soon result.
The very name "Theosophy" was strange but a few years ago; now it
is a common sound. The topics collateral to it and which point
to it were formerly in disrepute; now they are investigated as
legitimate studies. Once a "fad" or a "craze," Theosophy has now
established itself as a recognized form of religious belief, and,
while the Society disclaims being a "Church," it will very likely
in time receive all the distinction of such.

We may not be covetous of that; we may not even gauge our
progress by the membership we can show; but we can certainly do
our very utmost that Theosophical truth shall be sped throughout
the land and pervade the thought of the age. We shall not expect
to make "converts" or to pillage on the preserves of sect or
Church; we shall not look for accretions through any process of
argument or persuasion or teasing; but we shall enjoy the right
to make the positions of Theosophy everywhere clear and
understood, and the certainty of believing that no intelligent
effort to enlighten and stimulate the human conscience can be,
will be, a failure.

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THE THREE PLANES OF HUMAN LIFE

By W.Q. Judge

[Under the pen name Eusebio Urban. Subtitled Jagrat, Svapna,
Sushupti: Waking, Dreaming, Dreamless Sleep. From THE PATH, III,
pages 147-99, reprinted in ECHOES OF THE ORIENT, I, pages 73-76.]

I speak of ordinary men. The Adept, the Master, the Yogi, the
Mahatma, the Buddha, each lives in more than three states while
incarnated upon this world, and they are fully conscious of them
all, while the ordinary man is only conscious of the first -- the
waking-life, as the word conscious is now understood.

Every theosophist who is in earnest ought to know the importance
of these three states, and especially how essential it is that
one should not lose in Svapna the memory of experiences in
Sushupti, nor in Jagrat those of Svapna, and vice versa.

Jagrat, our waking state, is the one in which we must be
regenerated; where we must come to a full consciousness of the
Self within, for in no other is salvation possible.

When a man dies he goes either to the Supreme Condition from
which no return against his will is possible, or to other states
-- heaven, hell, avichi, devachan, what not -- from which return
to incarnation is inevitable. But he cannot go to the Supreme
State unless he has perfected and regenerated himself, unless the
wonderful and shining heights on which the Masters stand have
been reached while he is in a body. This consummation, so
devoutly desired, cannot be secured unless at some period in his
evolution the being takes the steps that lead to the final
attainment. These steps can and must be taken. In the very
first is contained the possibility of the last, for causes once
put in motion eternally produce their natural results.

Among those steps are an acquaintance with and understanding of
the three states first spoken of.

Jagrat acts on Svapna, producing dreams and suggestions, and
either disturbs the instructions that come down from the higher
state or aids the person through waking calmness and
concentration, which tend to lessen the distortions of the mental
experiences of dream life. Svapna again in its turn acts on the
waking state (Jagrat) by the good or bad suggestions made to him
in dreams. All experience and all religions are full of proofs
of this. In the fabled Garden of Eden the wily serpent whispered
in the ear of the sleeping mortal to the end that when awake he
should violate the command.

In Job it is said that God instructeth man in sleep, in dreams,
and in visions of the night. And the common introspective and
dream life of the most ordinary people needs no proof. There are
many cases are within my knowledge where the man was led to
commit acts against which his better nature rebelled, the
suggestion for the act coming to him in dream. It was because
the unholy state of his waking thoughts infected his dreams, and
laid him open to evil influences. By natural action and reaction
he poisoned both Jagrat and Svapna.

It is therefore our duty to purify and keep clear these two
planes.

The third state common to all is Sushupti, which has been
translated "dreamless sleep." The translation is inadequate, for,
while it is dreamless, it is also a state in which even criminals
commune through the higher nature with spiritual beings and enter
into the spiritual plane. It is the great spiritual reservoir by
means of which the tremendous momentum toward evil living is held
in check. And because it is involuntary with them, it is
constantly salutary in its effect.

In order to understand the subject better, it is well to consider
a little in detail what happens when one falls asleep, has
dreams, and then enters Sushupti. As his outer senses are dulled
the brain begins to throw up images, the reproductions of waking
acts and thoughts, and soon he is asleep. He has then entered a
plane of experience which is as real as that just quit only that
it is of a different sort.

We may roughly divide this from the waking life by an imaginary
partition on the one side, and from Sushupti by another partition
on the other. In this region he wanders until he begins to rise
beyond it into the higher. There no disturbances come from the
brain action, and the being is a partaker to the extent his
nature permits of the "banquet of the gods." But he has to return
to waking state, and he can get back by no other road than the
one he came upon, for, as Sushupti extends in every direction and
Svapna under it also in every direction, there is no possibility
of emerging at once from Sushupti into Jagrat. And this is true
even though on returning no memory of any dream is retained.

Now the ordinary non-concentrated man, by reason of the want of
focus due to multitudinous and confused thought, has put his
Svapna field or state into confusion, and in passing through it
the useful and elevating experiences of Sushupti become mixed up
and distorted, not resulting in the benefit to him as a waking
person which is his right as well as his duty to have. Here
again is seen the lasting effect, either prejudicial or the
opposite, of the conduct and thoughts when awake.

So it appears, then, that what he should try to accomplish is
such a clearing up and vivification of the Svapna state as shall
result in removing the confusion and distortion existing there,
in order that upon emerging into waking life he may retain a
wider and brighter memory of what occurred in Sushupti. This is
done by an increase of concentration upon high thoughts, upon
noble purposes, upon all that is best and most spiritual in him
while awake. The best result cannot be accomplished in a week or
a year, perhaps not in a life, but once began, it will lead to
the perfection of spiritual cultivation in some incarnation
hereafter.

By this course a center of attraction is set up in him while
awake, and to that all his energies flow, so that it may be
figured to us as a focus in the waking man. To this focal point
-- looking at it from that plane -- the rays from the whole
waking man converge toward Svapna, carrying him into dream-state
with greater clearness. By reaction this creates another focus
in Svapna, through which he can emerge into Sushupti in a
collected condition. Returning he goes by means of these points
through Svapna, and there, the confusion being lessened, he
enters into his usual waking state the possessor, to some extent
at least, of the benefits and knowledge of Sushupti.

The difference between the man who is not concentrated and the
one who is, consists in this, that the first passes from one
state to the other through the imaginary partitions postulated
above, just as sand does through a sieve; while the concentrated
man passes from one to the other similarly to water through a
pipe or the rays of the sun through a lens. In the first case
each stream of sand is a different experience, a different set of
confused and irregular thoughts, whereas the collected man goes
and returns the owner of regular and clear experience.

These thoughts are not intended to be exhaustive, but so far as
they go it is believed they are correct. The subject is one of
enormous extent as well as great importance, and theosophists are
urged to purify, elevate, and concentrate the thoughts and acts
of their waking hours so that they shall not continually and
aimlessly, night after night and day succeeding day, go into and
return from these natural and wisely appointed states, no wiser,
no better able to help their fellow men. For by this way, as by
the spider's small thread, we may gain the free space of
spiritual life.

------------------------------------------------------------------
LAST MOMENTS BEFORE AND AFTER DEATH

By G. de Purucker

[From STUDIES IN OCCULT PHILOSOPHY, pages 350-56, referencing
Mahatma Letter #XXc.]

One of the things people are most interested in is death: What is
going to happen to me when I die? And we have to show men how so
to live in the present as to fit themselves for the future, for
death, and for the next life. How you live now will determine
what happens to you after death, and what your next life will be.
The Buddhists phrased this beautifully: every man's future is the
result of his present living. A man's present life is the result
of his past living. So to me really the question of how to live
our present life is but another way of saying what is going to
happen to us when we die, and what our next life is going to be.

You have the answer to this in the one word, karma, the doctrine
of consequences, the doctrine that consequences or effects follow
causes inevitably and the effect is sequential upon the previous
cause. If the preceding cause be good, the effect will be good.
If the preceding cause be evil, the effect will be evil. Just as
much as it is nature's law that if you put your hand in the fire
it will be burned; it will not be frozen. That is simply what
karma means: what you sow you reap, NOT SOMETHING ELSE. What
your present living is determines your state of consciousness
after death and what you will be in your next life and succeeding
lives.

Now as regards the last moments after death, it is so simple
really. A man's life is the result of his past, not of a part of
it, not of portions of it, but of it all. Can you omit any part
of your past? Can you cut it out of the memory of nature? Can you
efface a part of your character which you built to be your
character in your past lives? The answer is obviously no.
Therefore we are treasuries of the past. We are built of thought
from the past, which means the past life and the past lives, and
all of them. Thus a grown man is the result of every year since
he was born, and of every month and of every week and of every
day and of every hour, and of every minute and of every second.
You cannot wipe out a day or a year or a month of that past. It
is all built into you in your present.

Now apply this rule of nature, this law of karmic consequences.
It simply means that what the major force in your past life has
been is going to be the major thought-force in your consciousness
when you die. Because it is obvious that ten is greater than six
or five or four, and a hundred is greater than ten, and that a
strong force will prevail over a weak. Therefore what your
predominating thought-current, thought-impulse, feelings,
emotions, have been in your past, are going to be the ones which
by force of weight, by their energy, by their predominant power,
will prevail as your last consciousness flickers on this plane.
Isn't that simple?

The meaning is not that the vagrant thoughts that may tramp
through our minds when we die are going magically to govern and
shape our future existences. That is an absurdity because it is
against logic and against the way nature builds. It simply means
that before the balance of power of all your years before your
death hour comes, the prevailing energy in other words, is going
to be felt just at your moment of death.

In other words, your character is going to be seen by you in the
pre-dying panorama, the panoramic vision which takes place for
everyone. The last thoughts of a dying man are simply like the
indicator of a machine, for instance a thermometer or barometer.
The indicator points to the temperature of the moment when you
look at it. The barometer points to the change of pressure,
meaning fair weather or foul, when you look at it. Now that
indicator is not the magic agent which is going to give your bad
weather or your fair weather. It merely tells you what the
weather is and probably will be.

It is so with character. What your character is will give you
certain thoughts just as you die. Your consciousness will have
reached a certain state just as you die, and by those last
moments of consciousness, of thinking, you know what your
character is, therefore probably what your after-death state of
consciousness will be, therefore probably what your next life
will be. And as character is an exceedingly complex thing, it is
naturally swayed this way and that, backwards and forwards, or
upwards and downwards, whichever form of speech you may please.

It seems so simple and so logical to me. The prevailing power of
thought in your life is going to be the one which will be the
prevailing thought or thoughts at the moment of death, because it
is the dominant, the powerful thing in your character. It won't
be the weak things that will come out. They have not the
strength, the energy. It will be the strong that will come to
the fore.

If during your lifetime, suppose for sixty years you have led a
grand and noble life, and then for four or five or ten years more
you have suddenly gone crazy and lived an evil life -- which is
going to be the dominant force when you die, the dominant note of
consciousness? It is the strongest. If sixty years of a noble
life is going to be overcome by four or five or ten of an evil
life, then it will be the evil thoughts that will be predominant
when you die, because it will mean you have led a terrifically
evil life in ten years, overthrowing, overpowering, the sixty
years of good. But that is almost impossible. The sixty years
in continuous thinking and feeling will make themselves felt;
though the evil life will likewise never be forgotten, but will
be imprinted on your character. Some day it will produce itself.
But at the moment of death, this evil is not the prevailing
powerful thing. The good in you, the sixty years of high living
and high thinking, will come stealing in and the evil will slink
away, and the sixty years of good will make the man die in peace
and happiness. Thus you see the importance of living in the
present.

These are practical, hard facts that we should learn and follow.
They are the primordial rule of conduct, and please do not forget
it. That is the teaching of all the great sages and seers the
world has ever known. What you do you yourself are responsible
for and will be held accountable for. What you think likewise,
what you feel likewise. Therefore let every moment be a change
for the better, a seed of finer and greater and grander things,
bringing finer and greater and more beautiful fruitage for the
future.

So the present is very important, and I think one reason why
people are so anxious about death -- and I say this with all
kindness and respect for my fellow-men -- is that they know from
what they already have been taught, they know inwardly, even if
they cannot perhaps intellectually state it to others, that evil
thoughts make an evil character.

We are taught by our mothers that, even from the cradle, good
thoughts build up a symmetrical and beautiful and strong
character, and so they think of themselves: I am no longer a
child. I am an adult. Death may come to me tomorrow. I may
meet it in an automobile accident, in a train accident, in an
airplane. I may meet it in almost any way. My time of
accounting may come to me before I draw the next ten breaths. My
heart may suddenly give up. What is going to happen? Isn't there
an answer to the riddle of the future? And we Theosophists say
there is no riddle of the future; that is an idea that has come
from the materialistic teaching of the last eighty or one hundred
years in the West.

No such question would ever occur to an Oriental. It is not
logical. It is not sensible when you really think about it. For
you have the teaching: As ye live ye make yourselves. Good
thoughts make good men. Good clean thoughts make good clean
conduct. Evil thoughts, hatred, make evil and hateful men and
unhappiness. For can you think of anything more dreadful and
horrible than a man to be locked in the sphere of his own
consciousness, his only companion the hatred of his own heart, a
hatred which grows apace and develops talons which tear his
vitals out, his own offspring, his own brood? Sometimes we call
it the pangs of remorse.

None of us has led a spotless, perfect life. We would be gods
were that the case; and naturally therefore, men wonder, because
they do not know the holy truth, what am I? What shall I be after
death? What is going to happen? The churches can tell me nothing.
They just teach me to hope and to rely on a God. But something
in me tells me the Divine has placed an inextinguishable hope in
my heart, an inextinguishable intuition that there is truth in
this world, and it can be had by us men, AND I WILL HAVE IT.
Life is tawdry and not worth living without it. That is what
they hope, that is what they think, and that is why they are
interested in death. They do not want to die. They have not
learned enough yet to know that this very plane of earth to which
they cling so desperately is the plane of suffering and sorrow
and pain and disappointment and wretchedness and misery. Yes,
and it is our School of Experience as well.

And this brings me to my next point. People talk of immortality.
Do you know what they mean in the West? And this is what the
Masters had in mind in the passage quoted, which was the subject
of study this evening. They were answering these questions to
Hume and Sinnett, and they talked to them as you or I would talk
to a young untutored child. They did not overburden their minds
with what we now know from our studies and our readings and the
teachings we have received.

So when these men asked about immortality, the Masters knew
perfectly well what Hume and Sinnett had in their minds, because
they had no faint conception of immortality. They thought it
meant to continue as Hume forever and continue as Sinnett
forever; and can you imagine a worse immortality than that, a
worse hell, never advancing, never changing, never growing,
always Hume, and forever Sinnett, no matter how much he learned,
no matter how much he grew, always Hume, always Sinnett?

To us Theosophists that would be a consciousness in hell. Show
me anything in universal nature that continues unchanged for the
fraction of one second: the growing plant, the changes in health,
the movements of the planets, the vibrations of the atoms and the
electrons and what not, and the changes in growth, the changes in
everything, everything changed from what it was a million years
ago or ten thousand years ago, a thousand, or a year, or a minute
or a second ago, to something new; and, as we see, to something
better. Always a movement in evolution and progression forwards.

The historical studies, the geological researches that our
scientists have made, show in fact that in very truth there is
such an evolutionary advancement if only of form, a form of life.
But we say there can be no evolution unless there are evolving
beings. Otherwise evolution is just an empty abstraction. The
only evolution we know is that of evolving beings, who evolve,
who progress, and who move. Evolution therefore is merely a name
we give to these processes of growth. It is not something that
exists somewhere out in the absolute or in the abstract and which
pushes things or punches them or moves them. Evolution means
growing beings.

Now then, Immortality. Would you like to be forever and forever
and forever and forever endlessly what you are? The Gods save me
from such a hell! And the answer of the Masters was simply this.
They said to themselves: Brother Sinnett, Brother Hume, we
understand you, if you understand us not. We know you are
speaking of what you think is immortality, in other words your
body or at least your soul never changing, always you. Never
changing your egoity, always you. Very well, we will give you an
answer such as your untutored minds, uninstructed in the archaic
wisdom, can comprehend. Yes, there is an immortality of the
spiritual ego, and we call it pan-aeonic immortality, an
immortality which endures, that is for all the eons of the
maha-manvantara. And those who have evolved or who have advanced
spiritually, who have trained and disciplined themselves to ally
themselves with the spirit even now, because of that alliance
with the spirit can carry on pretty much as now they are, as
great Mahatmas enjoying pan-aeonic immortality to the end of the
manvantara. But then that immortality ends, my brothers. And
then they said: Don't you see my brothers that an immortality
which has an ending is not immortality, because it is death? No
matter how long it lasts, if it ends sometime, it is not truly
immortal.

Now we know that although the jivanmukta, a high adept, growing
in wisdom and experience all the time, might self-consciously
endure as an ego to the very end of the manvantara -- when that
end comes what we call the prakritika pralaya sets in, in which
the whole solar system vanishes; its end has come, and it dies.
Its atoms disappear.

This is brought about because what we may call the spirit or soul
of the solar system goes to higher things. The body dies, the
body of the solar system dies, the spirit advances to higher
things, repeating in the solar system what a man does when he
dies. We men, children of the solar system, die because it is
also the destiny of the solar system when its time comes to die.

Nature has one law -- not one law for the sun, and another law
for man, another law for the beast or the plant. Nature has one
law throughout, and this one law is as it were a body of laws
which we call the laws of nature. So that what takes place in
the great, is of necessity copied in the small because the small
is a part of the great; and if the small could free itself from
the dominance of the great, it would no longer be less than the
great, but greater than the great, which is absurd. The part
follows the whole. Isn't that clear?

So then, what is immortality? The only immortal things in the
Theosophical sense of the word are spirit and matter -- matter I
mean as mulaprakriti, or primordial stuff, which is but the
shadow of spirit. And even here there are times when I ask
myself, can it be said that spirit, that even god-stuff, is
eternal? In its essence, yes, everything in its essence is
eternal even on this plane. But there are times when I ask
myself, is not even purusha, is not even Brahma non-immortal in
the absolute sense? And my answer to myself, the whisperings of
my intuition to my own soul tell me, ay, even the gods themselves
are but immortal for their own lifetime as we men are on our
plane.

What a blessing this is. Have we not just discussed together the
hell that it would be if I was always I, and never could change
to something grander than I? Oh no, no such immortality for me.
I want it not. I want to advance. I want to change to better
things. I want my ego to become grander and greater, and if it
changes even by a fraction of consciousness, in other words if it
grows and develops, it is no longer the same ego, and therefore
is not immortal. Cannot you see it? Cannot you see the enormous,
the wonderful promise, the beauty of it all, that we are not
immortal, not changeless -- always forever me?

People want to live on this plane and be immortal on this plane.
It reminds me of the fevered dreaming of children who dream of
finally quaffing the chalice of immortality and living in a body
that never dies. They love it so. They want to eat and drink
and be merry, ay, and to see diseases around them and to have
earthquakes and electric storms, perhaps to be struck by
lightning, blasted by it, or their bodies burned and rendered
corrupt and rotten by some loathsome disease. Why, they want to
be immortal as they are.

Wretched life! Horrible! No such immortality for me. I want to
advance to grander and greater things. A son of the sun am I, an
offspring of the cosmic spirit. There is my home. I am here on
this earth because my thoughts and my actions and my character in
other spheres have brought evil karma upon me, and I am but a
man. I want to grow out of a man to be a god, to lose my
manhood, to merge into godhood; and when I become a god, I shall
still have, I hope, this yearning, this unsatisfied hunger for
something grander and greater still than godhood, always marching
upwards and onwards, into ever larger, into ever enlarging,
spheres and grander consciousness, deeper appreciation of beauty
and of holiness and of peace and of justice and of love and of
right -- weak human terms but which yet represent a gospel of
conduct which gives us hope.

No immortality for me! Let me advance through unceasing change
from less to ever greater things. Let me grow greater, let me
leave my low-vaulted past and come out into the sunlight, into
the very air, into the freedom, into the majesty of the eternal.

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