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THEOSOPHY WORLD ----------------------------------- November, 2009
An Internet Magazine Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy
And its Practical Application in the Modern World
Special issue on Love and Compassion.
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(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.)
"Love is the Power that Binds," by Eldon Tucker
"The House of the Heart," by Dara Eklund
"Love is the Opposite of Fear," by Katinka Hesselink
"Thoughts on Love," by Katherine Hunt
"Brotherhood Viewed in the Light of Theosophy," by A. Student
"Voyages of Discovery in the Kingdom of Oneself"
by Kenneth Morris
"Gratitude and Love," by R. Machell
"The Relation of Theosophy to the Development of the Humane Life,"
by Gertrude W. Van Pelt
"Rural Antiquities," by R. Machell
> The universe is not chaotic or insane, but is an organism guided
> and controlled from within outwards, not only by infinite and
> omniscient cosmic intelligence -- intelligences rather -- but by
> cosmic love. For love is the cement of the universe and accounts
> for the orderliness of the universe, and its harmony and unity
> that everyone who has the seeing eye may discern in all around
> -- G. de Purucker, STUDIES IN OCCULT PHILOSOPHY, 304
LOVE IS THE POWER THAT BINDS
By Eldon Tucker
Love is the power that causes life to arise out of non-being and
form into harmonious patterns, bringing cosmos out of chaos,
order out of disorder, worlds of fascination and glory out of
In any relationship between two beings, the connecting glue is
love in some form. It is found between a Master and his or her
Chela, between a bodhisattva and those who haven't crossed to the
other shore, between a devotee and the image of contemplation,
and between a lover and the beloved.
We are all deeply connected by karmic bonds, bonds that allow our
life to mingle with others, bonds that draw out of us the karmic
interchange of action and interaction. We are, in fact, not a
fixed, separate egoity, but rather are composed of all those
bonds with others.
Love itself has its phases, much as we find in a world coming
into being. There is the initial creation, exemplified by
Brahma, the enduring connectedness, by Vishnu, and the
dissolution and passing on, by Shiva.
When a deep need arises in us, a connection is made to another,
and the fires of passionate love consume all obstacles between us
and the other. We may find obstacles between ourselves and an
object of worship burned out of our lives, or perhaps it is the
obstacles between us and a beloved, as in a romantic love.
The feeling is intense, consuming, and rips our lives apart.
Everything fades as all our life energies are directed into the
process. Our inner and outer lives are transformed. And if the
process succeeds, we find ourselves deeply bonded with the other,
with the deity, the teacher, the humanitarian effort, or the man
or woman that we adore.
As the feeling consumes us, the other seems dearer than anything
else. Everything about the other becomes precious, sacred,
filled with magic and charm. We contemplate the other but see it
as an unattainable idol and ideal. We must make a sacrifice to
make ourselves worthy. It is forbidden in some way, kept outside
of us because we are a creature of a lesser realm.
If the process succeeds, we meet and know the other. There is a
sense of calm abiding, a connectedness, a deep-rootedness that is
unshakable. We are one with the other in our life essence, and
there is no more fear, no more longing, no more sadness.
Should the process fail, the energy consumes us. We sink into a
sense of blackness, and go through a sense of mourning.
In the love process, we are akin to the baby chick that is
bonding with its mother. There is an unqualified joy in the
presence of the beloved. But when apart, there is an
unquenchable hunger. It is the poignant feeling of losing out on
something precious in life, like the death of a close parent or
child, or the horror as a mother watches a stroller with her baby
starts rolling down the street towards traffic.
In this process, we come to feel like we are melting inside, and
everything is falling away. There is a deep sadness, and the
world and time seem to stop. But this feeling cannot be
sustained. It is consuming, and in the natural order of things,
it burns away obstacles between one and the beloved or deity,
fading to a gentle caring and feeling of connectedness.
If one finds oneself in this process, it's important to recognize
that it's a passing phase, and its end result is unity, the
creation of a new, deep karmic bond. It could lead to a two-way
love between a young couple, a pure bakti love of a deity, or the
love for others of a compassionate person.
The passionate love must be pushed through to a new connectedness
and understanding. Otherwise, it is unrequited love, and
self-destructive. With deity, a true bond must be forged within
to the actual presence behind the mental image. With personal
love, a genuine friendship and relatedness must be forged.
The initial passions are the start of a cycle of relatedness.
This fire is not intended to blaze indefinitely. It's like a
fire that burnt away the underbrush, leaving the giant trees in a
forest standing, not a fire that goes on to burn everything
leaving the hillside in ashes.
When the fieriness departs, one is left with a sense of rapture,
of timeless wonder and amazement. At a more personal level, it
results in a true bonding, a genuine companionship of souls, a
deep connection that nurtures and brightens lives. At the
highest level, the love for the divine leads one to a sense of
divine discontent that leads one to set his or her feet on the
One is enamored by seeing a divine light in another, a brilliant
flood of spiritual and magical energy that brightens the world.
Then as the bonding happens, one becomes deeply connected with
the other, and is raised, ennobled, and becomes both the
recipient of that light as well as a source of it for others.
Sadly, everything in life ends, and eventually a process of
mourning and letting go sets in. As the Shiva or destructive
aspect takes over, it leads one into a mourning process and
provides one the ability to move on.
Seek out the light wherever you may find it, bind yourself to it,
and raise yourselves and the world about you. It's a dark place,
and the light is too precious to see it and not reach out, take
it, and make it a part of your lives. Never ignore an
opportunity to form loving bonds, both for you sake, the other's,
and all of life. We have it in our power to make this world a
place of wonder and joy if only we'd reach out and do so.
THE HOUSE OF THE HEART
By Dara Eklund
[From the Fall 1969 THEOSOPHIA, 15-16.]
It may be a small house with few windows and doors. It may be
too open, too ready and anxious for a passing footstep or
would-be intruder. It may be dull and suspicious or contriving.
The house of a thousand secrets is the human heart. That house,
which thought by thought and deed by deed we daily build, can
expand as large as the great Universe itself, or contract until
its dweller lives fearfully and painfully isolated from its
Arouse now the image of the True Heart. Envision it as a temple,
sturdy-pillared to shelter all. Open it is, to gentle passing
breezes and brisker gusts as well. Lest too strong a gale snatch
the altar fire, or dim its fire for others yet to come, its inner
Guardian is ever aware, neither trusting, nor condemning upon
appearances. The steps of our temple must be mounted first,
before its worth be taken. Yet its very height must pronounce
the access of a ready hand to aid the way-worn traveler; its
light remain a steady beam to dishearten none approaching.
To listen, yet not to lean. To comprehend, but not conclude. To
enrich the understanding, but delay council until asked. The
remain worthy of the trust of secrets shared but not passed on.
What Delphic oracles all might be with lofty aims as these!
Loftier than all could be the kingly silence inviting each to
rekindle his flame before passing on to higher hills.
How did a Dickens glean the human heart? Or a Shakespeare? Can
one imagine that without his early strife, his dismay at his
father's shameless flamboyancy (while yet in debtors prison),
Dickens could have risen to such tender patience for the weak,
the wayward, the inconsistent? How many of the thousand secrets
must a Shakespeare know? And where but from many lives on earth,
from dusty tramp to noble knight, can one gain that peerless
vision which severs mercy from disdain? The cord of self-hood
must be snapped before the pure diamond within maintain its
Long remains that luster, once civilization has risen to such
luminosity, the dust of counties ruins moving with the world. A
German poet, Rudolf Binding, once stated:
> The sensation of light is the most penetrating, most lasting
> sensation one can experience in Greece. Without this light
> neither Greece, nor her art, nor her Gods, nor her people would
> have been possible. Only in such an atmosphere could they have
> existed. It is not so much light as an infinite transparency.
> Not many can say what its colour is, nor can it be described in
> words. It is the very art which these stones breathe. It does
> not blind, it does not beautify. It is all purity, all
> precision. It hates secrecy, and in its brightness Greece lies
> fair and smiling before us.
> -- Quoted in The Acropolis, p. 8, by a German archeologist,
> Gerhart Hodenwaldt
Should he have shared our philosophy, would the poet not say it
is because of her Gods, her art and her people, that this light
pervaded her isles even to this day? In these notes on The
Acropolis is also found a tribute to the Parthenon as a "symphony
of light" to which the archeologist adds:
> Like all Greek temples, the Parthenon is built entirely of
> freestone blocks. No mortar is used, and no rubble to fill gaps.
> No stone has an unexpected and unusual shape accidentally
> received in course of construction ... The whole building is a
> symphony, in which each note, exactly calculated beforehand, adds
> to the harmony of the whole.
Would that the order of the human heart could deserve a form so
rare. Amidst all the rubble of our daily entangled emotions and
misconceptions, where can we begin to build? A heartening
foundation stone might be these simple words of the master
> THE UNIVERSE IS HARMONIZED BY A PROPORTION WHICH GIVES IT THE
> SPIRIT OF FRIENDSHIP.
LOVE IS THE OPPOSITE OF FEAR
By Katinka Hesselink
and written November 10, 2008.]
"What is love?"
"The total absence of fear," said the Master.
"What is it we fear?"
"Love," said the Master.
-- Anthony de Mello
Is Love is the opposite of fear?
Dozens of blogs and articles online say this. Personally I don't
think it's that simple though. I think various emotions can
exist inside us at the same time. But since the people who write
this do have at least part of a point, I'm going to go into this
subject by quoting a few.
> Love is the total absence of fear. Love asks no questions. It's
> natural state is one of extension and expansion, not comparison
> and measurement.
> -- Gerald G.Jampolsky
The underlying assumption is that love and fear are the basis of
all other emotions. In the words of Frank Sant'Agata:
> Love and fear are the only emotions we as human entities are able
> to express. All the others are just sub-categorical emotions.
> For example, on love's side there is joy, peacefulness,
> happiness, forgiveness, and a host of others. On the other hand,
> fear reflects: hate, depression, guilt, inadequacy,
> discontentment, prejudice, anger, attack, and so on.
Biologically this is true to some extent. Fear and anger are
both biologically expressed with only one hormone: adrenaline.
The response to adrenaline is either fight (anger) or flight
(fear). This duality is pretty basic. It is in fact so basic
that it has been used in the enneagram as the motivating power in
six out of the nine personality types. Three have fear as the
main motivating power and three have anger as the motivating
power. In the enneagram the three personality types left have
sadness or sorrow as the motivating power.
I'm bringing the enneagram into this because it is a way of
talking about the personality that has more dimensions and is
therefor closer to the truth of our lives as we experience it.
Back to the theme of today: love is the opposite of fear. Looked
at biologically this would mean that love is the absence of
adrenaline. This makes some sense. Fear certainly makes a lot
of spiritual practice harder. Breathing for instance becomes
hard when fear takes over. Focusing on the needs of someone else
is harder when we are scared for our own lives, livelihood or
whatever. In other words: fear makes love harder.
As JD says:
> Fear is wired into the biochemistry of our bodies. Fear has been
> a necessary part of physical survival. Fear provided that extra
> amount of strength, speed, and agility to save our pre-history
> ancestor from being eaten by a sabre-toothed tiger. (The Fight
> or Flight Syndrome). Those same physiological reactions are
> present in our modern-day bodies which respond just as strongly
> to psychological fears as they do to physical fears.
> The tiger was real -- our psychological fears are not. Our
> bodies, not knowing the difference, treat them as one and the
> same. Thus, if we are to change our relationship with
> psychological fear, it is necessary to find the source of our
> fear and heal it.
I agree to some extent: our psychological fears are only partly
realistic. The tiger was concrete. But since he could often be
neither heard nor seen -- fear was probably often there even when
the tiger wasn't. Similarly for ordinary healthy people fears
are usually based on something. For instance, with the present
economic difficulties many people are afraid for their jobs or
their business. The foundation is real. However the outcome on
the stock market is by now overdone I think. Most of the
underlying uncertainties have been dealt with reasonably well by
governments (in Europe especially). Once people become afraid --
they infect each other.
I don't think that kind of fear has anything to do with love.
It's not the opposite of love, but rather on a different level or
There are all kinds of things more related to fear than love.
For instance Jiddu Krishnamurti explored the idea that thought
and time are the root of fear. For Sogyal Rinpoche "the ultimate
fear" is "the fear of looking into ourselves."
THOUGHTS ON LOVE
By Katherine Hunt
Some years ago, I sat down to categorize all of the kinds of love
that I could fathom. A lengthy, yet very incomplete list came
from this cognition. I wrote:
> There are many kinds of Love:
> * love for a Teacher
> * love for a Student
> * love of Life
> * love of Being
> * love for a friend
> * love for a beloved
> * love for an ex-boyfriend
> * love for a sibling
> * love for a friend who is like a sibling
> * love for an uncle
> * love for an aunt
> * love for a grandparent
> * love for one's parents
> * love for one's mother
> * love for one's father
> * love for a sister
> * love for a brother
> * love for a cousin
> * love for a cousin who is like a sister or brother
> * love for one's country
> * love for another country
> * love for nature
> * love for an object
> * love of knowledge
> * love for someone you never had a chance with
> * love for your achievements
> * love for your potential
> * love for other's achievements
> * love for other's potential
> * love for a moment in time
> * love of God/"The IS"
> * love of the god within
> * love of music
> * love of art
> * love of movement
> * love for an enemy
> * love for those you pity
> * love for those you admire
> * love for something or someone you could destroy
> * love of power
After this, I began to philosophize about love:
> Romantic love is a spectrum. There are small loves, medium
> loves, and large loves. There are fleeting loves, and loves that
> last a lifetime. There are loves in which you can take pride,
> and loves of which you can be ashamed.
> Love can exist with so many emotions. It can be tinged by
> happiness, sadness, fear. It is a hunger, a thirst, a
> responsibility, a pledge, a hope a promise. It cannot be traded,
> but must be earned; though what earns it is sometimes odd, even
> to those experiencing it.
> Love can be overwhelming, shocking, bold; or soft, gentle, kind,
> sweet. It can be unexpected and arrive from any quarter at any
> time. It's not a dog -- you cannot call it to you. It is
> beautiful when reciprocated, devastating when it is not. It can
> shake the foundations of your world, or leave you feeling
> stronger and more certain of your life than you have ever felt
> before. It can make you laugh and cry. It if fades
> unexpectedly, it can be shocking. But so can it be when it comes
> in unannounced as well.
> Love can be expressed so many ways; with a touch; a look; a
> caress; a caress of the eyes; a hug; a letter; a note; an email;
> a text message. Through words spoken or left unspoken. Through
> demands or lack thereof. Through gifts of many kinds. Through
> absence or presence. Through laughter, through tears. Through
> hopes, through dreams, through knowing looks.
> Love is sometimes sneaky, sometimes bold. It can hide in a
> corner one day, and scream its intent the next. It can wax and
> wane; and leave you with questions of "what if" years after the
> object that inspired it is gone.
> Love can be inspiring, it can take your breath away, or it can
> crush you. It can be a comfort or a burden, a boon or a bane.
> At its best, it is a celebration of life. At its worst, it is a
> Band-Aid slapped on a never healing wound. a putrid, stinking,
> fetid, terrible co-dependent horror that leaves both parties
> feeling betrayed in the end.
> Search for the good. Push away the bad, no matter how seductive
> it may seem. For in the end, you cannot avoid love. Love is
> life. How you shape it, though, is up to you.
In all, the logic behind that small piece seemed sound. However,
since its creation, I have come to realize that there was one
major omission from my list of types of love; one that would
alter the paragraphs I had written after the list. This love is
Unconditional Love is hard to find. It is not an emotion, per
se. Rather, it is a state of being. What do I mean by this?
When feeling Unconditional Love, you look through eyes that can
see nothing as ugly, nothing as wrong. There is no attachment,
no judgment. Rather, one simply sees the beauty that is inherent
in everything. It is as if you are allowing a higher state of
consciousness to flow through you. As it does, you look at the
world with profound compassion and complete acceptance. When
experiencing Unconditional Love, a person could come and yell at
you, and it would be meaningless. You might smile through their
tirade, and then offer them a pleasant, "I'm sorry you're feeling
so upset," in reply.
Of course, this begs the question, "Is Unconditional Love better
than Romantic or Emotional Love?" It is hard to say. I think
most of us would agree that a lot of personal growth has come
from the experiences we've had in romantic relationships, or
other situations that have arisen from Emotional Love. (For
example, the loss of a parent, or the rejection by a schoolmate.)
And yet, Unconditional Love seems to be part of "God
Consciousness" -- that is, experiencing self as divine,
experiencing the world as perfect, rather than flawed. It is, if
I may be so bold, the state in which the Buddha and Jesus lived.
Therefore, it is something that we should all strive to practice.
Perhaps it would be prudent to say that both Emotional and
Unconditional Loves have their places in the development of a
human being. We can strive to practice Unconditional Love, yet
are most immediately able to experience and grow through
Can Unconditional Love be cultivated? Certainly. One of the
methods I have heard for doing so is simply to look yourself in
the mirror and say, truthfully, "I Love You." However, that may
be difficult for many people. Many people judge themselves very
harshly. Perhaps instead of trying to jump into the "I Love You"
deep end, you could start by cultivating compassion, for others
and for yourself. If you see flaws in yourself, and forgive
them, then you can begin to see the flaws in others as less
serious. Perhaps you can forgive the dishes your family leaves
in the sink or the car the cuts you off on the freeway, because
you understand what it's like to be in a hurry. As you begin to
cultivate compassion, Unconditional Love will also grow. Someday
-- one hopes in the not-too-distant future -- your eyes will open
with a new force behind them; and everywhere you look will be
filled with beauty.
BROTHERHOOD VIEWED IN THE LIGHT OF THEOSOPHY
By A Student
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, June 1926, 556-61.]
The true road for Humanity lies in the principle of BROTHERHOOD
-- properly understood. But that word, 'Brotherhood,' needs
careful consideration, if we are to gain an adequate idea of what
it really means, and not be misled by the numerous false
conceptions which are attached to it. Brotherhood, as the term
is usually understood, represents a conception which is much too
small and slight to stand as the salvation of Humanity. Too
often, it means nothing more than a vague sentiment of mutual
toleration, or a system of communal life based on such mutual
toleration. When people speak of Brotherhood, they often have in
their minds something that is difficult and goes against the
grain. To practice Brotherhood, they imagine, means to act
against one's inclinations and maintain towards other people an
attitude of forced benevolence and toleration.
This is because we are trying to practice Brotherhood without
having the real thing in our hearts; and so, instead of being an
instinct, whose gratification is a pleasure, it becomes an
irksome duty. Our motive is wrong. We act from religious fear
or philosophic belief, or some other motive that does not deeply
stir the nature. Brotherhood cannot rest upon sermons nor upon
philosophical treatises. You cannot preach people into
brotherhood, nor argue them into it.
But Theosophy sheds quite a new light on the question. According
to Theosophy, Brotherhood rests on certain great truths which
have long been forgotten by the human race, and which must be
brought back to recollection. The first of these truths is that
of the ESSENTIAL DIVINITY OF MAN. This makes all the difference
in the meaning of the word Brotherhood, because the belief in the
essential divinity of man is not taught either by religion or
science, or, if it is, then only in a vague and ineffectual way.
According to Theosophy, the ordinary life of man is but a poor
shadow of the real Life that should be his. The greater, better,
part of human nature lies still latent and undeveloped OUTWARDLY.
There are possibilities in life that we do not dream of. We go
on theorizing about questions as if the present stage of human
development were the best possible. But it is evident that, if
so many of our powers and faculties are still latent and
undeveloped, we have quite a large and new field of conjecture
left open to us.
The powers of the Soul can only be evoked by a true Brotherhood.
Just as the sublime harmonies of music require the consonance of
many tones tuned in accord, so many hearts beating together in
perfect mutual understanding and love evoke the sublime harmonies
of the Soul-life.
To most believers in religious creeds, the Soul-life is a thing
of the hereafter, not to be enjoyed on earth. And even thus,
there is never any idea of a blending of hearts, but rather one
of selfish bliss -- if such a thing were possible. But in the
light of Theosophy, the Soul is ever present with us,
overshadowing us each and all, and waiting for our recognition.
This is surely no strange doctrine, but only the one that Christ
taught. But we have perverted his kindly teaching into a cold
and barren dogma.
It is open to everyone to enter upon the Path that leads to
eternal peace and knowledge. The one essential is that he should
give up those personal prejudices and delusions that hide from
him the light. But to be willing to do this, he must become
convinced that there IS such a Path, and that it is worth
striving for. This is where the need for Theosophical teachings
comes in. There are many, many sad hearts and puzzled brains in
the world who are ready to come to the light, but are kept from
it by the almost impassable barriers of false knowledge and
mistaken ideals that exist in the world. Many hear of Theosophy
and pass it by without further inquiry, when it is the very thing
they are in search of; and all because of the number of times
they have been deceived. They think Theosophy is one more sham
and delusive hope.
Since humanity has no creed or faith on which it can base a
doctrine of true Brotherhood, it needs more than all else a
proper understanding of the laws of life and of the constitution
of human nature. HUMANITY NEEDS A NEW HOPE. Without hope and
the faith of knowledge, the heart is cold. How are we to restore
the lost hope and faith of humanity? By restoring the knowledge
of man's essential divinity.
The Theosophical teachings as to the history of humanity are more
scientific than those that are current today. Theosophy teaches
that Man has had an immense antiquity on the earth, as our
archaeologists are now beginning to discover. Science admits
that the rocks and plants and animals are millions of years old,
but, with strange inconsistency, will not accord a corresponding
antiquity to Man; but, instead, makes him the creature of a few
paltry centuries, while its ideas as to the status of the
ancients are often childish and silly. The Wisdom-Religion, more
consistent, gives Man an antiquity commensurate with that of the
The life-history of humanity comprises a cycle of fall and
descent, and a cycle of reascent and rise. It is what is meant
by Paradise lost and regained. There have been times in the far
past when humanity was more glorious and happy than it is now --
times dimly spoken of in legend as the 'Golden Age.' All nations
have traditions of these times, when Gods and Heroes walked the
earth. Also we have legends of the Fall of man, when, led away
by the misuse of his divine prerogative of free will, he forsook
the Light and turned to sensual pleasures and worldly power. The
purpose of life is the experience of the Soul, which, being
essentially divine, descends into fleshly bodies for the purpose
of adding to itself the knowledge and dominion of all the lower
kingdoms of nature.
It is the destiny of man, by virtue of his free will, to stray
far from the light in his quest of experience and happiness. It
is also his destiny to return to the light after his long
pilgrimage and to become master of all the forces of his lower
nature. But the path of humanity is always forward, though
sometimes leading along a descending slope. Viewed in this
light, the present age, and indeed all the period covered by
history as we know it, is a cycle of materialism and spiritual
darkness. Man has been engaged in bloody wars of conquest, in
religious quarrels, in the struggle for material wealth, and all
things that are earthly. But we have now passed the lowest point
of the cycle and a return to more spiritual ways of life is
impending. This explains the universal hunger for reality and
faith that is heard everywhere today.
It is a sad thing to have to confess, in a so-called scientific
and cultured age, that people are in a state of absolute doubt
and ignorance, as to how to deal with the most vital problems of
human life: -- how to bring up children, how to stop vice and
crime, how to prevent disease and secure health, what is the
right form of government, how to prevent industrial strife and
financial corruption, what constitutes truth in religion, what is
the nature of the human mind and heart, and innumerable other
questions. It is not very flattering to have to confess that we
cannot prevent international wars, bloody massacres, political
dishonesty, and the ravages of selfishness, cruelty, and lust.
In short, the outfit of knowledge that we can claim in this age
is confessedly altogether inadequate to solve the simplest
problems of human life.
Is there not need to bring back to humanity its lost faith and
The secret of happiness is SELF-CONTROL. But what is to be the
controlling agency? The only self-control we know is where some
greater passion controls the lesser ones, as when ambition rules
a man's life, or love of ease. Or perhaps religious fear may
keep us in order. Fortunately, the greater part of humanity is
governed, not by the contradictory voices of religion, nor by the
wild guesses of scientific opinion, but by the sane and healthy
instincts of human nature which make themselves felt and which
impel men to observe the laws of self-sacrifice and mutual
helpfulness which alone can render society stable. But these are
only instincts, and people do not understand their reason.
What we have to learn is that the law of Brotherhood is founded
on eternal truth, that it is the very fundamental LAW of all
life. The higher life is not a kind of supplement added to the
ordinary life. It is the only real life, and what we know as
life is only a counterfeit. Theosophy teaches that, while the
lower mind of man is personal and separate, the Soul is one for
all and knows no self-interest.
If we should rise above the delusions created by our selfish
passions, we should become illuminated by the light of the Soul
shining into our minds and making us see things as they really
are. We should then be inspired with the universal Love that
would impel us to act in the common interest and would dominate
and supersede all self-interested motives. Instead of having a
lot of ordinary people actuated by ethical and religious
principles in which they only half believe, we should have people
who were illuminated and to whom the teachings of true Religion
were natural instincts instead of difficult tasks.
Modern opinion fluctuates to every point of the compass; all the
departments of inquiry are at cross purposes; there is no unity
or agreement in modern thought, and it is a perfect Babel. How
can we find in the midst of this confusion any authority, any
certainty, anything that can serve as a sure guide in life? We
have lost the unifying factor of knowledge, the keystone of the
arch. Instead of knowledge, we have multitudinous opinion, and
if it were not for the natural healthy instincts, society could
not exist at all.
The unifying factor that we have lost is the ancient
Wisdom-Religion -- Theosophy -- that knowledge which in antiquity
was widely diffused and generally recognized, but which was
obscured by false doctrine and gradually lost from public
knowledge during the dark cycles. In this Knowledge, there is no
contrariety between science and religion and the whole fabric of
knowledge coheres and is perfectly consistent and harmonious. It
replaces the everlasting doubt and fear about the future life and
the Soul by a certain conviction of the immortality and essential
divinity of man's nature, and thus gives a new hope, strength,
and dignity to life.
No longer need we live without a purpose, drifting along we know
not whither. The assurance that there is a larger knowledge and
a fuller, richer life open to each and all who are willing to
enter the path of wisdom gives man a sure goal to aim at.
The True Road to truth must be sought within oneself. In the
Soul is the ultimate criterion of truth. The religious bodies of
the Occident are to some extent beginning to realize this; that
is to say, they are getting back to the original teachings of
their Master, who taught that we must look within ourselves for
our divine nature. But it needs Theosophy to put this teaching
into a form that will make it real and practical; for without the
knowledge regarding the nature of man there is no rational basis
for the doctrine to rest on and it will not satisfy the reason.
Theosophy indicates how we may so direct and fashion the course
of our lives as to approach that fount of divine strength and
wisdom which is in each one of us. That way is by the practice
We must realize that the selfish propensities are fetters on the
Soul, chaining it down to a narrow and sordid life, when it might
be free and soaring like a bird. By recognizing the unworthiness
of our personal desires and ambitions, and forcing them to give
way to the unselfish aspirations that we are cultivating, we can
gradually rise to a calmer, happier life.
This is no idle dreaming. The Theosophical or Brotherhood-life
is being actually lived before the eyes of the world in Lomaland,
and is rapidly becoming the source of wonderment and admiration.
For the world hungers for, and can appreciate, a practical
Theosophy does not divide life into compartments, but regards it
as a whole. Hence, the whole nature is developed harmoniously,
as the ancient Greeks sought to develop it. Body, Mind, and Soul
are all cultivated. Theosophy contains the laws of right living
on every plane; so that it includes the laws of bodily health.
The most striking instance of the effects of practical Theosophy
now before the world is the Raja-Yoga school-system. The quality
of the children that that system of education brings forth is
astonishing the eyes of the people. In the Raja-Yoga Schools,
true self-command is taught, for the children are taught from
their earliest years to rely on the indomitable strength and
purity of their own Soul, and by it to control all their
faculties of mind and of body and to drive out all the intrusive
passions and ailments which afflict and mar the life of less
fortunate people. The Raja-Yoga system, as applied to children
and to grown people, may truly be described as the hope of
VOYAGES OF DISCOVERY IN THE KINGDOM OF ONESELF
By Kenneth Morris
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, November 1918, pages 461-68.]
No one ought to give up hope, or indulge in pessimism, while
there is so infinitely much that we do not know. I mean about
Man himself; about you, me, every one of us. There is more in
this sea than ever was taken out of it; there are hidden
splendors we guess not, and always the possibility of their
coming to light. With all that man has accomplished, in deeds
and art and literature, we have never yet sounded the depths or
soared to the heights of human nature; we cannot tell what we may
become. And yet, what astonishing summits have been climbed!
Supposing you found, in some little remote village, an old fellow
of eighty or so, who should tell you that in all his long life he
had never been twenty miles from his native place; had never seen
a railway train, much less an auto or an airplane. You would
think him pretty rustic and unprogressive; his claim to know the
world, on the strength of having been once or twice to the next
village, would make you laugh. And yet the fact is that perhaps
most of us are rather like him -- in another way.
Our world and all that we possess are within us. One may have
visited all the capitals of the earth, and remain an uninstructed
boor and provincial; one may never have left his native hamlet,
and yet be a more daring voyager than any in Hakluyt. One's true
possessions are the things no one and no circumstance can take
away from one. But of course anything outside of oneself,
anything that money can buy, may be taken away. The right kind
of books are, in a way, a great treasure; but one may easily be
separated from one's books.
Here let me digress a little, and consider what books are for.
I said we are like the old fellow in the village. We live in an
enormous world; I cannot tell how many continents and oceans it
may contain. There are no geographies to give the information;
because, in this world of human consciousness, however far one
may travel, there are always regions beyond. It is like voyaging
among the stars; not sailing round the globe. If you set out,
and press on, you will not presently find yourself back in the
port from which you started; the way is infinite, and there are
infinite riches and wonders to be found. But how many of us can
boast, like that old rustic, that we have been as far as twenty
miles from here?
We are like people dwelling on a barren shore, who venture not,
or rarely, and on but short excursions, into the vast continent
within. We are content with the sterility we are used to; the
petty increment of small thought and feeling that serves here for
the commodities of life. We think and feel as we have been
brought up to think and feel; just about as our neighbors think
and feel; just about what our newspapers tell us to. These
reiterate and reiterate the stale old tidings of the narrow
coast. We feed on the blubber and poor fish we can catch, on the
poor crops we can grow under the sea-winds; our wealth is the
poor pebbles we can pick up on the beach. And all the while we
brag ourselves wondrous rich and cultured, and call these
unsavory cabins a high civilization.
But now and again someone looks up into the hills, and says: "I
am going up into them, to find what is beyond." He goes; fights
his way up and through; conquers wild beasts and demons; braves a
million perils; and presently discovers gold mines; discovers
rich pastures and a marvel of harvests; regions where sapphires
and diamonds are strewn. He comes into the domains of great and
civilized kings; whereas we on the coast are about as great and
civilized as Eskimos. He enters the Palace wherein reigns that
monarch whose name is the Human Soul; and still his journey is
not done, for the empire of the Soul is infinite. No famine
shall trouble him further; the dearth and dismay that visit the
coast periodically shall not affect him. He leaves a record of
his journeys; and these records are the great books. Shakespeare
was such a discoverer; and Dante; and all the great prophet-poets
and mystics. The value of the records they leave us lies just in
this: they are incitements to us to travel and discover for
Of course there are all sorts of shanties on the near foothills:
where are those who tell us: "Thus far thou shalt go, and no
further"; who tell us there is nothing beyond; and that what
offerings we may have brought with us for some possible potentate
in the Interior, had best be left with them. But they do not
know, not having traveled. They too, like the lave of us, go
upon tradition, and know nothing for themselves; they have not
the keys, the clues, the charts. So we remain here, and age by
age, generation by generation, perish; starve; live beggarly
lives and know no purple and royal hours; while all the great
Golcondas and the Wheat fields of Wonderland wait us, within,
beyond. . . . Oh, Man, Man! is it not time you rose up and
sought and found yourself, your treasure?
We are not the poor things we seem. There is a way to the
Fountain of Life, to the Center of Things. All Beauty, all
Wonder, all Mightiness lies within us. Think! Think! Think! Only
not with the mere intellect; not with the brain-mind; find the
deeper organs of thought, which lie within the human heart also
-- what we call metaphorically the heart. It is not escape from
this world that is commended; it is not the selfish peace of the
anchorite; this refuge may go with us right through the battles
of life. It is not to save our own souls that is our proud
destiny as human beings; it is to change the world, to bring the
Kingdom "on Earth, as it is in Heaven." This barren coast too we
must make fertile, and build with palaces and temples, and people
with a progeny of Gods. But we must find ourselves before we can
do it -- the selves in us that are divine.
There is little to be done with patching and tinkering; we must
find the Gods in ourselves, and build life on a new and firm
foundation. We have tried the quicksand of passion; we have
tried the low beaches of intellect, over which the tides of time
wash. They will not serve us; we cannot set up a true world, a
firm civilization on these. We must have stable truth, or we can
do nothing. Are we content that the future shall be no better
than the past, or than the present? Yet how is it to be better,
unless we find the true means of making it so?
That means lies within us. Hell lies within us; but heaven lies
within us also. It is our own greatness that we miss, when we go
about living petty lives such as we live now. Our own greatness.
There have been and there are those who have proved and do prove
how magnificent Man may be. All the potentialities of a
Shakespeare, of a Joan of Arc, lie deeply hidden in the least and
worst of us. All the potentialities of a Buddha, of a Christ.
It is because we have left enormous fields untilled, enormous
continents undiscovered in our own beings, that we are so small
and weak, so unsuccessful in the things that concern the greater
life. But if we bestir ourselves, there is a way.
We are cribbed, cabined and confined between the cradle and the
grave; there seems so little we can do in this short
sorrow-strewn time we call our lives. What if internal research
and discovery might rid us of the limiting walls of birth and
death; might make known to us what lies beyond? What if we should
discover ourselves at last to be Gods, immortal essences, that
were never born and shall never die? Indeed we might; men have
been, that have done so.
The Human Soul stands beyond the bounds of mortality; death
frightens us, birth obstructs our vision, only because we have
not discovered that Central Fact of ourselves. Sink thought deep
enough into your own being, and you come to regions where time is
not; where birth begins nothing, death is no end. Here and now
is the Kingdom of Heaven; what is there in death to fear or heed?
Sink thought deep enough, and you shall find that this
consciousness you call 'I', immersed in a realm of passions and
desires, tinged with selfishness, concerning itself with the
small motions and concepts of the common-day mind, is not
Would you call your clothes yourself? They are important,
certainly; they make a great factor in the distinctions we set up
between man and man. But -- to think along this line is to land
soon in absurdity. No; the clothes are not the man; he is still
there when you have stripped him of his clothes; as he is still
there when you have stripped him of his body. Your body is not
much nearer to you than your clothes are; like them, you take it
off o'nights to go to bed. Only the days during which you wear
it are longer -- a matter of seventy years or so; and the nights
during which it is not worn are longer.
Ah, THEN, you say, you come to yourself; the next layer inwards
after the clothes and the body. But it is not so. There is your
personality: the mixture of passions, small thoughts and
concepts, the characteristics by which the world knows you.
These still are only clothes; there is something deeper within.
A crisis comes, and your true character is revealed: a man that
went unsuspected by the world before; very likely unsuspected by
yourself. But note: it is your character; not yourself. What
then is yourself? -- The outer man, the personality, began when
you were born, and went growing and modifying itself as you grew
up; it will die presently. It lives in this confined coast
strip; it stares and struts and shams as if it were the Business
of Life. Behind it, latent mostly, is that more fundamental
character revealed by the crisis; when it shows itself, you say:
THIS IS THE REAL I. But it is only something that the real 'I'
We cannot creep at truth, but must soar to it; not Aristotle's,
but Plato's method, must serve us, if we are to get at any
reality as to the greatness of our inner selves. From these poor
huts here, these desolate banks and shoals of time, we cannot
argue to the grandeur of the empires of the Inland. We are born;
live out our few years; die; and leave the results of our living
behind us. In the midst of all this: in the midst of the
pleasures that turn to ashes and bitterness, of the sorrows that
spring up so thickly: what evidence can we find of the Kingdom of
Heaven that is within, of the Glory of God which is concealed?
How can we argue from this to that? No; we must look deep; we
must go upon the grand voyage of discovery; we must search.
Sometimes thoughts like great white birds are wafted down to us
from beyond the wall of mountains; sometimes a wind from the Soul
Land blows down, laden with the odor of flowers and spices; then
we are touched into the remembrance, the intuition, that we are
banished angels, gods immersed in oblivion.
I will mention one such idea: it is that of Reincarnation. By
the light of it, all the facts of our lives become changed in
aspect: sorrow loses her frown; Death unveils, and we see the
grandeur and loveliness of his face; Life, whose laughter seemed
so laden with hideous mockery, reveals herself to us as the
Teacher, stern, but infinitely tender. We that seemed so poor
and helpless, are immortal. We are here in the world for a grand
purpose; we are not the sport of cynical gods or fate or chance.
This life is a splendid field of adventure, wherein we have a
splendid function to perform. It is one of an infinite series of
lives; and the whole series is for a grand heroic purpose. I
will give you the story of Creation, as it was taught by the
ancient Druids in Wales; it is to be taken as allegoric, as
symbolical; because that high story cannot be expressed in any
other way; you cannot put the vast facts of the life of the Soul
in any other language than that of symbol or parable.
They taught that at the dawn of time and the Universe, the
Lonely, the Spirit, God, awoke from Its sleep of ages in what is
called Ceugant, the Cycle of Infinity. The Universal Night had
ended; the Universal Day was to begin; there had been an endless
series of Universal Days and Nights before. To call things out
of latency into manifestation, out of be-ness into being, That
Lonely One chanted Its own name; whereupon, as it says, these
worlds and systems "flashed into being more swiftly than the
lightning reaches its home."
Then the Blessed Ones, that we call in Welsh the Gwynfydolion,
the Host of Souls, that had slept throughout the Night, awoke in
Cylch y Gwynfyd, the Cycle of Bliss. And they looked out over
the spaces, and beheld that there was a height they had not
attained. They saw far off the Lonely in Ceugant; and it
appeared to them that the bliss of their own cycle of existence
could be nothing to them but worthlessness and bitter
deprivement, while they were not in union with That.
They took council together, and were for riding forth, and taking
Infinity by storm. In their winged and flaming cars they rode:
Dragons of Beauty; their bugles sounding the Grand Hai Atton, the
war-cry of the Soul. The depths of space lay before and below
them: the infinite darkness of the material world -- Inchoation,
the Cycle of Necessity; little they heeded its perils in their
heroic pride, and with that Light shining above them. They
declared war on God, not of hostility, but of compelling love.
But it was infinite darkness they had to traverse. Crossing that
abysm, oblivion took hold on them; they were sloughed in the vast
mires of matter; they forgot their origin and high purpose, and
fell into incarnation. Through long cycles of time they climbed
through the lower worlds: elemental, mineral, vegetable, and
animal: till they reached the state of humanity. Then it became
always possible for them to remember: to don the grand armor
again, and fight their way upwards. It became always possible
for them, listening deeply, to hear in the silence within their
own being the Grand Hai Atton that called them forth at first.
And at last all shall hear it and remember, and rise up; and the
war shall be carried to the Gates of Infinity; and triumphant at
last we shall enter in. In every life some upward step may be
This much of it at any rate is plain truth: We are divine in our
origin; we are immersed in the material world, forgetful of our
divinity; the purpose of all life is to reinstate ourselves
divine, with the added wisdom gained through these many lives of
our exile. We are in fact as great as those old Druids deemed we
were: flames out of Heaven -- flames lit from the Flame of God;
but dimmed and encumbered here with the clay of the lower world.
But the flame is to find; it is deep in our being; the clay we
are incarnate in may be so transfused with it, so purified, that
its light shall shine visible; we may know ourselves for divine
beings. What hinders? Ignorance; passion; selfishness.
Brotherhood is indeed a fact in nature; because all that is real
and permanent in us is that blissful Flame which is God. The
sense of separate selfhood is but the aroma of the clay. It
stupefies us; it conceals from us our true being; we confound
ourselves with it; but it is not ourselves. Only the clay dies
or is born; the clay, and this lower personal consciousness which
is the aroma of the clay. But find the flame, and death becomes
for you a most trivial -- aye, but also a most gracious --
How then of misfortunes, disease, all the grimness that haunt our
lives? Find the Flame; discover those grand empires of the
Interior; and you shall understand well enough. Life, the ruling
of this universe, is a most gracious and a most tender thing.
Misfortunes do not attend our real selves; they are but incident
to the outer and unreal. We must realize sometime that Justice
is the only Mercy. I speak not of what we call human justice;
which is imperfect always, because we never can know all the
facts on which we presume to sit in judgment. But the Divine,
the Universal Justice -- that is another thing altogether.
You have some weakness, some failing. The imperative thing, the
one thing that counts, is that you shall rid yourself of it: be
strong instead of weak; upright instead of failing. How shall
you learn that? Will it teach you, that someone shall tell you
so? Are you to be cured of a cancer, by hearing a lecture or
sermon? No; you must learn in a real sense; there is no playing
tricks with the Laws of God. You yourself must substitute the
strength for the weakness; you must do it by hard work; and you
must have the will to put that hard work through. And you must
see a reason for it before you can call up that will; and the
reason must be of a vital, an absolute nature; it must be
inevitable, utterly valid. It must be fundamental truth; which
you must learn and know. It is in fact ignorance which lies at
the root of all wrong doing.
What is weakness? What is what we call sin? Simply this: working
not with, but against, Universal Law. The Soul in us calls us
upward to where bright Infinity waits to be taken heroically by
storm. To that end we and time and the universe exist. But the
lower nature calls us with a thousand lures to remain where we
are, or to become further immersed. 'Sin' is to ignore the
higher voice, to follow the lower. To waste time and the
substance of our being; not to be "about our Father's business."
How should we learn this, unless there were sure stability in
things? Unless there were sure stability in the ruling of the
Universe: an absolutely Just Law? There is. Injustice only seems
to be, because, taken up with the concerns of this present life,
which we imagine to be the only one, we do not see the grand
sweep and purpose of things.
We came into the world, not a clean slate or an empty vessel; but
there was writing already; there were contents. Our life is a
palimpsest; time has scribbled trivialities over the grand
blurred hieroglyphs of eternity. We brought with us out of the
unknown a treasure or a difficult burden: our character. We have
gone on modifying it since we came; but it was there already when
we came. Where is God's Justice, if this character was something
we did not make for ourselves? Do not blaspheme; Justice IS; or
there is nothing divine, and we ourselves are no better than the
Gadarene herd on its last and memorable journey.
We brought many other things with us too; or rather, found many
other things awaiting us: fate; our parents, with what heredity
they provided for us; our wealth or poverty; our chances of any
kind of success, or apparent total absence of chances. And all
these came to us haphazard, did they? Did they indeed! -- And
you, who have done something today, which you feel secure will
never in this life be found out or punished: you who -- very
wisely -- do not believe in hell (because the very idea of hell,
the old orthodox hell, is in itself a shocking piece of
blasphemy) -- do you think you are to retire from this Universe,
from existence, and leave an entry against your name on the debit
side of the account? Who then shall pay that debt? or how shall
there be peace in things until it is paid? -- Oh, but we have a
firm and stable Universe to deal with; there is no chance about
it at all; there is LAW!
We know that Law. Our scientists have discovered it; our
chemists are there to swear by its existence. Action and
reaction, they say, are equal and opposite: there you have the
scientific statement of it. A religious statement you shall find
in your Testament; it is:
> "Brethren, be not deceived; God is not mocked; whatsoever a man
> soweth, that shall he also reap."
Now then, with that text in the Testament; presumably therefore
to be taken, by all who profess and call themselves Christians,
as a truth -- where shall we find room to complain of the
sternness of fate and the ugliness of things? Look round upon
this suffering and ugly world, and realize that it is the harvest
we have sowed -- we, that is humanity. Look at your own life,
with all there is in it you wish, or ought to wish, were not
there; and realize that it is the harvest you yourself have
sowed. Whatsoever a man reapeth, that also hath he sowed. And
when? When? -- since he began to reap it the morning he was born.
You transgress -- sin -- do wrong: and what is it you do? Disturb
the harmony of the Universe; that is all. Put some cog in the
endless machinery -- and also I apologize for calling it
machinery -- out of gear. What is the reaction for, but to
restore the harmony -- to bring the scheme of things entire into
We are so divine: so mighty in our power, that we can upset the
whole Universe; for that is what it means when we do wrong. But
the Universe is divine, and will readjust itself; and that
readjustment, in its action or effect upon us, is what we call
punishment: sorrow and what not that hurts. You see, we are free
agents: we are free; there is free will. Free even to sin; the
limitation of our freedom comes in, in this: we are not free to
escape the results of our sin. As much force or energy as we put
out in our transgression, that much must come back against us in
the readjustment. How else should we learn? Our fallen state is
in itself the proof of our godhood; when you see men behaving
like devils, remember that devils are fallen angels: the depth of
their degradation argues the height from which they fell. I
heard men say: "We are poor miserable worms"; and laughed,
wondering how worms could turn a beautiful blue-skied world into
a raving hell. They have not the power to do it; only devils
could do it; only fallen angels,
> Princely Dignities,
> And Powers that erst in Heaven sat on thrones.
The very might they used to do it can also be used to change this
hell again into a beautiful heaven; because it is, in its
essence, the might of Gods. And
> Who can yet believe, though after loss
> That all these puissant legions, whose exile
> Hath emptied Heaven. shall fail to reascend,
> Self-raised, and repossess their native seat?
So there is abounding hope for humanity: we have the power of
Gods in our hands, and must learn to use it for good. The one
thing we cannot do, is forever to avoid this learning. The
divine Law of Justice will not let us alone till we have learned.
It is at work on us with its merciful and patient inflictions of
suffering; its incessant adjustment; its omnipatient restoration
of the harmony we almost omnipotently elect to disturb. Eternity
is before us; it has taken eternity to bring us to our present
Today has been strewn with failures; we have not lived up to our
resolves. Very well then; tomorrow is a new day; we can seize
the first opening moments of it, and launch the day aright,
setting its prow towards the sun. This present life has been
strewn with failures; very well then; there is a tomorrow life.
Learn the lessons of today; tomorrow you shall have a new chance;
you need not repeat the failures. Is not the Mercy of the Law
GRATITUDE AND LOVE
By R. Machell
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, February 1912, pages 111-114.]
Water is such a necessity of life on this earth, as we know life
on the earth, that we take its presence for granted, much as the
ordinary citizen takes the food supply for granted; and the
stoppage of the supply causes him consternation and bewilderment.
The water supply in great cities, as well as in arid countries,
where large territories are made fertile by irrigation, is
established and maintained by an enormous expenditure of skill,
labor, and engineering genius, with constant care and attention.
The proper distribution of the supply also demands the utmost
care and ingenuity with extreme regularity and systematic
attention. The ordinary person pays no heed whatever. It is
accepted as a natural right. The taxes imposed to provide the
necessary funds for this work are resented as an imposition upon
the long-suffering people, so it is with all the adjuncts of
social and civic economy.
There is a lack of gratitude on the part of the public to those
who provide the means of distributing the necessaries of life,
which gives cause for reflection. Are the people ungrateful?
Would not their gratitude be perhaps rather unreasonable? Are the
necessaries of life to be regarded as luxuries kindly provided by
a benevolent lord? Or is not the apparent ingratitude of the
people based upon a deep-seated conviction of their right to the
necessaries of life?
The term "necessaries" seems to justify this view of the subject,
and the elasticity of the term has nothing to do with the justice
of the sentiment or the sense of right involved in the acceptance
of all that is provided for the comfort and convenience of the
Such questions are usually settled by "begging the question," by
assuming some fundamental axiom, such as the equality of man, or
the omnipotent wisdom of a God, or the abstract theory of pure
chance, and including this assumption in the proposition, and
then by elaborate reasoning trying to prove the truth of the
axiom on which the whole argument rests. This is a waste of
Is the attitude of simple acceptance a right of all that comes to
us without our personal effort a better attitude than that of
gratitude, which must include the necessaries of life and indeed
life itself to be reasonable.
What is gratitude? Is a child grateful for its food and clothing?
Is it grateful for the air it breathes? Or does it breathe the
air unconsciously as a right and indeed as a necessity of life?
Is not the joy of life of the child more akin to the high ideal
of love -- what we usually call gratitude?
We are so terribly commercialized in our modern civilization that
gratitude merely means paying back a debt, a mere matter of
commercial probity. The reason this is considered a high virtue
today is that all our life is based upon the unwritten law of
"get all you can and give as little as possible for it," and this
becomes a general system covered by the old axiom of caveat
Against this view of life, which is perhaps perfectly justifiable
if man is merely a material evolution without inner union with
the rest of his kind, the heart rebels reaching out in love to
all creation, yearning to give without thought of return, reward,
This deep yearning in the heart is so universal that almost every
human being has at some time in his life felt the desire at least
to give without thought of return, and this in spite of his
acquired conviction of the folly of so doing and of the stern
duty of getting all he can and of giving only what he must in
Men have formulated and taught doctrines of the coldest
selfishness and believed their own teachings, while constantly
acting from motives of altruism and general benevolence that give
the lie to their own theories. The heart-life is deeper than
most of the thoughts that function through the brain, and is not
always subject to the ruling of the tyrant "egotism."
When the Samoans wanted to do something for Robert Louis
Stevenson, who had won their confidence and affection by his love
and wisdom in dealing with them, they proposed to build a road to
his house for him; and he accepted, saying, "It shall be called
the road of the grateful hearts." But they were hurt, and gently
replied, "No! It must be called the road of the LOVING HEARTS."
The Samoans were not commercialized, and they knew that the heart
of humanity is one.
When the commercialized white man sets out to convert and to
civilize the "poor heathen" or the "primitive savage races," he
is constantly shocked by their lack of appreciation for the
so-called Christian virtues. These primitive races may have
inherited from their remote ancestors the remains of a more
spiritual philosophy than we, who are evolving a new form of
civilization, have as yet attained to.
When we have passed the stage of evolution, which is now marked
by intense selfishness, separateness, and unbrotherliness, with
the disintegration of society and the demoralization of great
masses of the people as a necessary result, we may learn that
beyond the gratitude that merely pays its debts is the gratitude
Then we may learn that giving is not limited only to giving
money, but that giving means loving. We shall feel that the life
of others is our life and our heart is alive with the one life
that is in all, and so must beat in sympathy with all others.
When this becomes a truth to our minds, as well as a feeling in
the depths of our hearts, we shall necessarily give the joy of
life to all we meet. We shall be cheerful in appearance, kindly
and courteous in manner, considerate of others in all ways, and
all naturally and spontaneously.
As we are now walled in by our egotism and shut off from the
world by a shell of complete indifference to the wants and
feelings of others, we have to be taught specific virtues, which
act as correctives to our brutal selfishness, and as stepping
stones to civilization with its ultimate aim of true
A man who is so brutally self-absorbed as to take no heed of any
but his own wants must be taught to perform acts of courtesy as a
kind of moral gymnastics, so he learns to say "please" and "thank
you" instead of grunting. He learns to smile instead of
scowling, to perform small services without waiting to be asked,
and to refrain from hurting other's feelings. He is taught to
give an equivalent for everything he receives, and this is his
first lesson in gratitude.
Later he learns to give without having received, and then he
learns to accept without a humiliating sense of obligation, which
is a mark of one who knows that he would and will do for others
on all occasions what is now being done for him. Then he learns
to give that perfect fullness of joy which the flowers and plants
give without thought of giving at all, simply living their life
to the utmost of their ability, giving to the world their life in
living, and their very selves in the necessity of
As the lesser mysteries must precede the greater, and as a man
must fulfill the lower law before he can invoke the higher, so a
man must be perfected in virtue before he attains to wisdom. He
must practice gratitude until he has learned the higher law of
Love which is the law of Life.
THE RELATION OF THEOSOPHY TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE HUMANE LIFE
By Gertrude W. van Pelt
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, January 1916, 5-8.]
Theosophy is in its philosophical aspect a true expression of the
origin of life and the laws governing its growth. In its
scientific aspect, it unveils the working of nature. In its
moral aspect, it reveals the true relation between man and man,
and between man and the lower kingdoms. In its spiritual aspect,
it expounds man's essential divinity, his link to the finer
forces of spiritual life, and to the Absolute Deity. In its
practical aspect, it teaches of the art of living.
To its ocean of knowledge may turn the physicist, the naturalist,
the archaeologist, the historian, the astronomer, the legislator,
the humanitarian, and all others; each may find therein the
guiding star to lead him out of the labyrinth of darkness to the
light of day.
It embraces all life from its most rudimentary to its most
complex expression. It conducts the mind in an unbroken journey
from the stone to the starry ether, from the atom to the
Absolute. It is the source of all knowledge that has ever come
to man, the foundation of every true religion, under whatever
name. It is the pure stream that, since the beginning of time,
has periodically poured its inexhaustible treasures into human
life, but that, among every race so far, has been gradually
corrupted or lost to view in the muddy waters of ignorance.
It is reembodied in this age in a movement, founded in New York
in 1875 by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, continued by her successor
William Q. Judge, and now under the leadership of Katherine
Tingley -- a movement that is "established for the benefit of the
people of the earth and all creatures." It must, of necessity, as
it becomes gradually known and recognized, become the leader in
any movement for reform, the guide for all humane legislation,
and the restorer of natural HUMAN relations.
Being the harmonizer of all life based on truth, through its
teachings alone can every one and all of the infinite human
interests work to a common end, each one supporting and none
undermining the other. Under its guidance can the present races
become true builders on eternal foundations.
It thus is a study vital to all, but especially appealing to
those who are seeking to benefit their fellow men; to those whose
avowed objects are furthering of the means that will bring health
and happiness to the citizens of the world.
Its force and power lie in the fact that it shows man
conclusively his real position of dignity in nature. It makes
apparent to him his responsibility for the past, present, and
future. And coincident with this vision, it throws the rays of
the Sun upon the unmistakable difference between LIBERTY and
LICENSE. The free man is he who lives within the law, the
physical, the mental, and the spiritual, which are but different
aspects of one and the same. It shows beyond the last suspicion
of doubt that every reform must begin at home and within, and
that with this alone can come the power and discrimination to
guide others, to institute reform measures, to become an integral
part of social life.
The weakness of much that has been done for centuries (during and
since the dark ages, which well nigh wiped out our knowledge of
the past) has consisted in its being based upon imperfect
theories. They have been formulated without knowledge of the
complex nature of man and his environment, and like all theories
founded on partial or incorrect ideas, they have crumbled to
nothing in the light of a larger experience.
It is certainly a mistaken notion that philosophy is merely for
dreamers and that our practical workers are concerned only with
concrete ideas. Without the union of the abstract and the
concrete, the unseen and the seen, coherent work is impossible.
To attempt to work out details without knowledge of, or without a
reference to, the whole of which they are a part, is much like
building a house upon the sand.
For instance, an educational system, really to educate, must be
based on an understanding, first, of the human being's physical,
mental, moral, and spiritual nature, and their interrelationship;
and second, on the duality of all life, its two poles, so to
speak. For all these exist IN FACT, and to leave any of them out
of account must result in a deformity. A healthy, well-developed
body is essential to the highest attainment, but to stop here
would not lead us beyond the animal. A well-balanced and trained
mind is also essential, but if its powers are not used wisely and
with beneficent purpose, the education may result in but a menace
to society and a wreck of the individual.
As a rule, education has confined itself to these two aspects.
It is being recognized that there must go hand in hand with the
former a training of the moral nature. And this is something
quite separate from a teaching of dogmas and creeds, which has
been tried, and which in the first place is really directed
toward the mental nature, and in the second, has not freed the
mind, but on the contrary has only imprisoned it in invisible
splints, and weakened or deformed it.
A genuine moral TRAINING must come into the education to make it
complete, and finally the spiritual will must be aroused to
enforce the moral training, which in its turn will guide the
mind, which again will care for the body and its needs. Unless
all of these principles in human nature are intelligently
handled, how can there be true education? All these principles
EXIST, and the balance is lost if any are neglected.
In education, as in all else, we feel the need of a broader
outlook, a deeper insight, a larger sympathy, a fuller knowledge.
And all this -- Theosophy can give us.
Just as in education we have suffered from imperfect theories, so
have we in every effort toward humane reforms. Failing a true
philosophy of life as a basis of ethics, it is impossible to act
in accordance with the Higher Law, for too many related facts are
either unknown or overlooked in an attempt to solve the problems.
In the question of Capital Punishment, for instance, we may
assume that the framers of the law had in mind the safeguarding
of society. But the fuller knowledge of facts that Theosophy
supplies shows clearly that, on the contrary, this law is a
MENACE to society. The criminal cannot be destroyed in this
manner. The evil principles are thereby only liberated to act
more subtly, yet more surely, on the living, and all chance of
transmuting his evil energies has been lost by removing him from
the related sphere of action. Crime increases under this law,
which must inevitably be the case. This is not the place to
enter more fully into a discussion of this subject, but those
interested are referred to the numerous articles in the
If the relation of man to man could be, even to a limited extent,
grasped by the race as a whole, and gradually form a part of
their outlook, the problems of capital and labor would disappear.
We would not have to fight for just labor hours, for mutual
consideration, for living wages, and so on. They would follow in
the natural course of events.
If the absolute unity of life were taught and explained; the
common origin and common destiny; the interrelation and
interdependence; the absolute community of interests; if there
were a general effort to weave these ideas into the thought-life
of the race, in a few generations, we would certainly have quite
a different world in which to live. They would become a part of
the general consciousness and each man would regard his neighbor
in a new light, and love would by degrees supplant hate. And a
like improvement would follow if man's true relation to the
animal kingdom were realized. Vivisection and all cruelty would
be seen as an offense against the laws of nature and an offense
against man's own true interests.
Had the old teachings that Theosophy now brings again to light
remained common property in the past, the pages of history would
not be written in such heavy letters of blood. And if today this
philosophy could be sown broadcast, it would be the most
effective peace measure conceivable. THEOSOPHY IS IN ITSELF THE
HIGHEST EXPRESSION OF THE PEACE MOVEMENT. Although it may
include the various related measures, such as courts of
arbitration, peace conferences, international law, and the like,
it goes deeper. It meets the disease at its source.
Why should we expect that individuals who are at war within their
own natures; who are the victims of jealousies, envies, selfish
ambitions, and pride; who are grasping each for the best, should,
when massed together, produce a peaceful, considerate city or
nation, one willing to recognize the rights of others and
unwilling to take an unfair advantage? It is a simple sum in
addition. We have got what we put together. We may argue the
advantages and disadvantages of war until the last man has been
destroyed, but until we have lighted the fire of truth that will
burn out the passions of hate, we have not really touched the
This is where Theosophy comes to the rescue. It makes the
"Brotherhood of Man" a living, glowing reality. It sends its
subtle flame into every nerve and atom; into the finer essence of
the mind; into the inner chambers of the heart; and then from out
of those windows of the soul -- the eyes -- the man looks upon a
new world, peopled with brothers, having hopes and aspirations
similar to his own, capable of the same keen suffering and joy,
struggling, and often with despair, against obstacles similar to
his own, and he looks into the eyes of him he would have killed,
and finds them to be the eyes of a friend. What if he HAD killed
that friend, his own brother, a part of himself, and as necessary
to the eternal order of things as himself!
Theosophy is NOT a new cult, a new religion. It is a statement
of Law. It interferes with no one's religion, for it is the
embracer of all religions. It takes nothing real from any, but
adds richness to every avocation. Applied, it clarifies the mind
and purifies the life.
By R Machell
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, March 1918, pages 298-307.]
Bisby was independent of seasons; there were no trees to speak of
in the village and the old church-tower was not deciduous; it
looked as well against the evening sky in winter as in summer,
and on the day when Jim came back from London, it looked its
best, to him at least.
He rode from Framblesea along the cliff because the footpath was
better than the road at this time of year, although more
dangerous because of the landslides that are frequent in the wet
season. But the cliff-road was deserted, and it had the further
advantage of leading to the lane that ran past old Jasper's
cottage to the village, by which way he could arrive unseen.
He rang his bicycle bell as he got near the house, knowing that
the old man was 'hard of hearing' and that his granddaughter was
not. And when she heard the sound, she thought the angels had no
bells in heaven as beautiful as that.
Old Jasper wondered what kept the lass so long tonight. She had
been pining lately; he had good eyes although his hearing had
begun to fail, and he knew what the trouble was. Poor little
lass! But when she at length came in and the glow of the fire lit
up her figure in the doorway she seemed to be glorified as a
figure in a dream. The old man scarcely dared to speak; the
cottage was suddenly transformed like the pictures he saw
sometimes in the fire; and Janet came to him and sat at his feet
laying her head upon his knee as she used to do when a child
asking to be told a story. But tonight there was silence between
them, silence and sympathy.
The stars were shining when the artist reached the 'Royal
George.' The venerables were assembled, and his welcome was
wholehearted. The contrast was startling between this and the
dinner at Hampstead, even more so than that between the 'Royal
George' and Oakleythorpe, though those two might seem as far
apart as the poles. He was at home in his sister's house in
spite of its magnificence, and he was at home in Bisby in spite
of its poverty. Home has so little to do with luxury or want.
But Jim had work to do and could not make any long stay at the
little village, which he called his headquarters. His work now
took him to the towns that he had neglected during the summer and
autumn, and he was busy in this way for some weeks, after which
he went to Oakleythorpe according to promise, and there he
received the formal announcement of the engagement of Mary
McNorten to George Dunlop.
The letter was delayed by following him from place to place, so
that his sister happened to see a notice of the coming marriage
in the paper on the same day.
McNorten was fond of publicity and the Dunlops loved it dearly.
So Jim was spared the embarrassment of telling his sister news
that he felt should have been painful to him. He really was
puzzled to know how to feel about it, not being naturally
hypocritical. He was very sorry for poor Mary when he thought of
George Dunlop and contrasted him with the kind of man that such a
dear good girl as that was worthy of.
Beatrice was a little surprised at her brother's indifference,
and wondered what it meant. The explanation came to her
accidentally. While on a tour of inspection through the house,
she saw a sketchbook in Jim's bedroom and took it with her to
look over at her leisure. When she closed the book, her face was
serious. She knew now why Bisby had become her brother's
She put the sketchbook back a little guiltily and wondered who
was the girl. The book was full of her, and it seemed to
Beatrice that she could read the whole romance in those sketches.
A village girl, but not an ordinary type. In that face, she saw
intensity and earnestness and character.
This was serious and must be stopped at any cost, or Jim would be
compromised, and might even be dragged into a disgraceful
marriage that his family would have to repudiate. She thought it
over and decided that Jim must be saved.
She was impetuous by nature, and always acted on impulse, fearing
perhaps lest her purpose should cool on the anvil. "Strike while
the iron is hot!" was her motto, and the result was that at times
the sparks would fly freely in her neighborhood.
She must go to Bisby, she must see the girl and reason with her.
She would be reasonable. Evidently from the sketches, she was
not of a scheming type, rather a dreamer, romantic most probably,
but one who could be made to see the folly of such an
entanglement. But what possible excuse could she invent for a
sudden visit to such a 'jumping-off place' as Bisby at that time
of year? It was miles from anywhere. The little seaside town of
Framblesea was bad enough in summer, but in winter, it would be
impossible. She knew of no one in the neighborhood to whom she
could propose a visit.
Alice had told her what a deadly dull part of the country it was.
As she put it: "Everywhere was twenty miles from anywhere and the
roads were vile." Alice knew people somewhere there; why not get
her to go and see the place? Alice was such a dear girl. She
would understand the situation without too much explanation and
would be able to report upon the woman if nothing more, and Alice
was staying with the Johnstones of Balderwick not more than ten
That settled it. The carriage was ordered for Balderwick next
day and a 'wire' was sent announcing a luncheon-visit. The
Johnstones were always delighted to see her, and Alice would be
sure to be at home to meet her friend Beatrice. Nothing was said
to Jim, who was out all the time with his brother-in-law or
scouring the neighborhood in search of antiquities.
When Alice Chesterton heard the story of the sketchbook, she
behaved magnanimously and did not remind her friend that she had
foretold this most unfortunate affair. She even went so far as
to express surprise. But seeing that Beatrice really was
distressed, she promised to help her save the family name from
such disgrace as Jim would surely bring upon them all if he were
not promptly provided with a suitable wife. Once that was
accomplished, she felt that the family would have done all that
was necessary in self-defense.
Alice became quite heroic in her desire to serve in such a good
cause, and even went so far as to propose that she should go down
to some friends of hers in that neighborhood and go over to Bisby
to see the girl herself. She could find some excuse. She was
delighted to help her friend, and was not sorry to have a chance
to square her account with Master Jim for the wound he had
inflicted on her vanity. So Beatrice went home satisfied that
she had done her duty, feeling once more at peace with all
mankind, having prepared a mine that was meant to shatter her
brother's idyll and wreck the happiness of the woman who had
forgotten herself so far as to love and trust a man who was not
of her class.
A few days later, Jim went farther north. He said that he
intended to stay some weeks and finish his work before going to
London to see the publisher and revise the illustrations for the
second volume of the great work that was to make him famous. He
said it would be a month or more before he would be free again.
Then he proposed to go to Bisby to finish pictures begun there
for the spring exhibitions. So the coast was clear for Alice
Jim hated letter writing and never wrote a letter if a telegram
would serve the purpose; so Janet never expected to hear from him
when he was away, although she pined for him in the long winter
evenings when her grandfather would dose in his chair before the
fire; he was failing rapidly.
Before Jim had been gone a fortnight, the old man had passed
away, and Janet was alone in the cottage that was now her own:
alone and very lonely. She tried to write to Jim, but could not.
She could only wait for him.
Her aunt from Framblesea had been with her for the funeral, but
could not stay long; she had her own family to think of, and
tried to persuade Janet to go back with her. But Janet said she
could not bear to leave the cottage where she had been so happy;
and that seemed natural enough; besides it was her own home now.
The village was sympathetic and extremely curious to know what
her 'young gentleman' would do now. But Janet went about her
work as usual, and dreamed of him, and waited for his coming.
One day a dogcart rattled up to the 'Royal George,' and the
landlady bustled out to receive the unusual visitors. The
dogcart was driven by young Mr. Duckworth from Righead, and
beside him sat a fashionably dressed lady who asked if Mr.
Alexander was at home. She seemed so disappointed at hearing
that he was still away that the good woman became communicative,
and told her that Mr. Alexander never wrote to say when he would
be back, so that they kept his room ready for him. Would the
lady come in and look at his pictures? There were two of them in
the parlor; but she thought that the best must be over at Jasper
Mickelthwaite's, where he was painting mostly; but Jasper he was
dead, good man, and buried, and his granddaughter was all alone
there now. Maybe she would know when the gentleman was coming
back, if the lady would drive round that way and enquire.
Alice Chesterton thanked the good woman but said she did not
think that she could spare the time. However, young Duckworth
said there was no hurry, and if Mrs. Chesterton liked to go and
see the place, they had time enough, though he thought she would
find it more interesting to see the country. Alice decided to go
as far as the lane. Then she got out and left the dogcart and
her youthful escort to wait for her while she went on to the
Janet received her quite simply and appeared to find nothing
unusual in the visit. Any friend of Jim's was naturally welcome,
though she did not particularly like this fashionable woman of
the world who tried to be patronizing at first.
Janet explained that she knew nothing of Mr. Alexander's
movements. He had been very fond of listening to her
grandfather's tales. Yes! He was dead. Would Alice like to see
his grave? No! Alice declined (she was not fond of graves), but
she would like to see some of the pictures, she was a great
admirer of Jim's painting. She called him 'Jim' and talked of
Beatrice in such a way as to make it clear that she was a very
intimate friend of the family.
She showed the greatest interest in the paintings and talked of
the high hopes his family had of the success of the young artist.
Then she grew confidential and told of his sister's anxiety to
see her brother married to a lady whom Alice seemed to suggest
was already almost as good as engaged to dear Jim.
She said that this charming girl was all that could be desired
both as to her family and fortune, and excused her friend
Beatrice for thinking about such things, because Jim was so
dreadfully unpractical. He had no private fortune, and had been
brought up in a most extravagant family with a house full of
servants and all that, and consequently would be miserable if he
were to make a bad marriage.
Then incidentally, she spoke of a friend of her own who had done
that kind of thing; and she made a vivid picture of the remorse
of the woman who had ruined his career. She thought a woman
ought to be too proud for that.
She talked uninterruptedly in this strain for an hour or more,
and finally talked herself out of the house and into the lane
with Janet's large eyes fixed on her in a way that made her
extremely uncomfortable. When she said goodbye, she kissed the
girl and tried to feel that she had done what was best for all.
But the girl's eyes haunted her.
To tell the truth, she was a little scared at what she had done.
The girl's eyes had a look in them that seemed to recall some
tragedy that she had read or dreamed of. There was something
about this village-girl that made her wonder if she would have
been like that if she had been brought up away from the world.
It was unusual for Alice to be disturbed by anything, but this
was a new experience. She knew the women of her own class
thoroughly, but in that cottage she had felt strangely out of
place, and in her heart, she was ashamed.
She had done her work well. The picture she had drawn of a
mesalliance was no fiction, in that she was able to speak from
direct observation, and what she said was true. The poor girl
saw the picture and realized its possibility. It came upon her
as a revelation. She had been living in a dream. This talk
appeared like an awakening to real life, and yet the waking
state, if this was indeed an awakening, seemed more like a
nightmare than like truth.
She felt as if she were a somnambulist as she returned to the
cottage and stood there dazed by an awakening. Where was her
home? The house was there; the things around were in their usual
place; nothing was moved; and yet her home was gone; and what
remained was but a dead shell in which the very air was tainted
with corruption. What had this woman done to wreak such ruin? It
seemed as if some horrible plague-pit had been uncovered and the
fair earth defiled with death in its most hideous form. The
pestilence had laid its foul touch upon her pure dream of love.
She shuddered as she stood there in the house of death. Then a
ray of sunlight came peeping through a window and shone on the
chair her grandfather had used so long. She watched the light
grow as the clouds parted, and it seemed as if some horror lifted
from her mind, so that her thought came clearer. Gradually the
air grew purer and Janet breathed more freely. She tried to
throw off the blight that had fallen upon her mind and lay on her
heart like a sense of shame she had never yet known, but the
misery of it still clung to her. A old proverb says, "Throw mud
enough and some of it will stick."
Alice had followed this plan and had succeeded in her purpose.
She had shown the girl that her lover's future was in her hands
to mar or to let go. Janet had seen the alternative just as it
was presented to her, and she had made her choice exactly as she
was meant to do. Her heart was generous and she did not
hesitate, but the sacrifice was like death, and she stood long
unconscious of anything but the awful sense of loneliness that
had closed in upon her.
When she came to herself and looked round the room in search of
some landmark on which to focus her mind, the silence and the
darkness were all that she could feel except the loneliness that
had suddenly become part of her life. Her dream had been too
beautiful. This was the awakening.
When Jim returned to Bisby, unannounced as usual, he found the
cottage empty. Janet was gone. There were letters for him at
the inn, one of which was from Janet Thorpe, and with it was the
cumbersome old key of the cottage door.
The letter was very simple. It merely told him she had gone away
as it was best for both: but she hoped he would use the cottage
just as if it were his own. It would make her so happy to think
that it could be of use to him for his pictures. She thanked him
for his kindness to her grandfather and for all the happy days
that she had known there, and said that when his name became
famous, she should feel proud to have known him, and would share
in his triumphs wherever she might be. There was no attempt at
explanation, reproach, or expression of regret. It was not
For a moment, he was dazed as by a blow from an unseen enemy.
His mind asked whose hand had struck him treacherously, and he
recalled the old saying, "A man's enemies are they of his own
Then he knew that some member of his family had taken this means
to save him from a mesalliance that would discredit the family
name. He had made no secret of his visits to Bisby and the whole
village knew of his intimacy with Janet Thorpe. Any visitor who
cared to make enquiries could learn all there was to know and a
good deal more from village gossip.
At first, he thought it was his father's doing; but the garrulous
innkeeper soon cleared the matter up by his detailed description
of the lady who had come in Mr. Duckworth's dogcart. The
description could only apply to one person, and that was Alice
Chesterton, who was a friend of the Duckworth's and his own
sister's dear friend.
Jim reflected bitterly that no one but a woman would have struck
him in the dark in this way, and he knew that the weapon was
poisoned by memory of a slight. Had she been a man, he felt he
could have cursed her more becomingly. His indignation fell upon
the one who must have planned this piece of treachery, his sister
Beatrice. Oh! She would have done it for his good no doubt, and
for the honor of the family. He understood all that, and could
not blame her on that score; but he felt the unspoken pain in the
letter that he still held in his hand. It seemed to throb like a
On the impulse of the moment, he sat down and wrote to Beatrice a
letter such as she had never thought to get from light-hearted
Jim. It was so cold and cutting, and so scrupulously just, that
Beatrice scarcely recognized the writer; and when she laid it
down, it was with the conviction that she had lost her brother
and had failed in her design.
Such letters are like the closing of a door that cannot be
reopened. Jim felt it so, and let it go. It was indeed the
closing of a door; but it seemed to him as the opening of a new
era in his life, in which he would free himself from the fetters
of conventionality. His days of drifting with the tide were
passed. He felt as if he had suddenly attained to his majority
and become a man.
Alice Chesterton had freed him in a way that she had not
intended; and her friend Beatrice was ungrateful to her when she
realized the fruits of her interference.
Jim felt a strange sense of relief as he dropped that letter into
the box at the post office and turned down the lane towards old
He sat down at the door where the old man used to sit to watch
the sunset, and he let his mind call up for him pictures of the
happy days that he had passed here listening to the endless
stories and painting innumerable sketches for future pictures.
As he sat there alone, the sun went down, and he seemed to hear
Janet calling him to come and watch the sunset from the cliff as
they so often did in the happy days that seemed so long ago.
Instinctively he rose and followed his fancy up to the point from
which the old church looked its best against the afterglow.
Where was she now? Watching the same sunset perhaps, but alone,
nursing the dead body of a dream. Was the dream dead indeed?
Perhaps, as the day dies, but the sun will rise tomorrow on a new
day, and the dream of yesterday may be reborn as a reality
The thought came to him as a challenge from his heart to
vindicate his own ideal. The scene before him took on a new
dignity, and life itself seemed filled with a strange
Behind him, as he stood, the sea moaned drearily, and clouds were
gathering in the sky, but the glow of sunset made them glorious,
and the sea's monotonous plaint was like life's undertone of
suffering, in which lay menace of many a storm such as may test
the power of man's will.
Jim Alexander hardly had learned yet the meaning of that word
'will.' Life had come easily to him and pleasantly, and he had
gone his own way almost unconscious of effort in setting aside
such opposition as he had met.
Now for the first time, he realized the meaning of the choice
that lay before him; he knew that his future hung in the balance
and his will could turn the scale. He saw the two alternatives.
One was to give way to his family with the reward of general
approval coupled with a sufficient allowance in the present and
prospect of a wealthy wife, a position in society that most men
would consider more than desirable, as an introduction to public
life that would surely open for him opportunities of honorable
On the other hand, there was the uncertainty of an artist's life
with the assurance of social ostracism when he should marry this
village girl, the loss of all possible income or inheritance from
his parents, and the certainty that none of his family would ever
recognize his wife.
To balance these considerations, he had Love, Hope, and Liberty:
love of a good woman; hope of success in his career; and liberty
to live up to his ideal. There was no hesitation in his choice.
He saw the narrow path that led to the village past old Jasper's
cottage suddenly begin to shine like gold where the glowing sky
mirrored in the pools along the muddy way. It seemed symbolical
to him of the path that he had chosen, with all its difficulties
and 'mud holes' lighted by a glory that could transform it as the
setting sun out there transformed the muddy lane.
In that moment of choice, he had seen a picture of the future as
it might be if he abandoned his ideal, and he faced it squarely.
He knew that in defying social conventions, he was challenging an
invisible and unassailable antagonist, one as hard to fight as a
fog that quietly envelops its victims and leaves them to blindly
stumble, or fall, or find their way, with absolute indifference
to their success or failure. He had seen something of the seamy
side of life in his bohemian associations. He knew a little of
what it means to fail on the path that he had chosen. But he had
courage and faith in the woman whom he had found waiting for his
coming in the little village by the sea. She was at this moment
more to him than a woman; she was an emblem of his ideal in life.
She seemed involved in all his secret aspirations, as though she
were created for him by his own craving for freedom, and by his
yearning for comradeship. To lose her now would be to lose
himself, his better self. To renounce her would be to purchase
the approval of the world at the price of his soul.
His choice was made, and in his heart, he knew it was
irrevocable. There are such moments in a man's life, when he
alone knows the actual reality of his power of choice, and when
he consciously accepts the full responsibility of his own
decision. In such moments, a man knows that his will is free and
that his decision is binding. He may forget it later, he may
repudiate it as a mere freak of imagination, he may fail to live
up to it; but it is made; it is a fact in nature, recorded in his
own subconscious memory ineffaceably; and one day he will
Jim saw the dark clouds in the sky, he saw the muddy lane, but
also with the vision of an artist, he saw the glory that ensouled
the scene and made it beautiful. So he went home to old Jasper's
cottage with a glow in his heart that was not the glow of
passion. It awed him with a sense of revelation, as if it were
the seal of an initiation through which he had passed in his
solitary meditation, when he had felt, if only for a moment,
something of what it means to be a Man.
When the second volume of RURAL ANTIQUITIES appeared, it bore as
its frontispiece a charming painting of an old church tower that
seemed to be melting into the rich glow of a western sky; while
the last picture in the book had the suggestive title "Mors janua
vitae." In it was a tall and graceful girl, who was placing a
wreath upon a grave.
The grave was Jasper's, and the girl was Jim Alexander's wife.
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application