THEOSOPHY, Vol. 22, No. 2, December, 1933
(Pages 81-84; Size: 12K)
(Number 14 of a 36-part series)
STUDIES IN THE OCEAN OF THEOSOPHY
MAN at the hub of Evolution's revolving wheel -- naturally forms the crux of all Theosophical teachings; yet, the opening of Chapter eight with further discussion of his place in the scheme of things might well give rise to speculation: Why so much repetition and so many shadings of the same theme? One answer lies in the Teachers' invariable effort to concentrate attention upon salient points, preventing deviation from main issues; but there appears another reason also: the casual inquirer never is forgotten, never is there failure to look through his eyes while presenting a subject. This merits the attention of all desiring to fit themselves "to be the better able to help and teach others." It is a method that works two ways: aspects of the doctrine thus clarified for the newcomer are also burned deeper into the student's consciousness.
Accordingly, the opening words of this chapter directly appeal to any reader aware of his own complexity and in search of explanation. Perhaps experience has previously taught the truth of the statement that neither Religion nor Science offers "reasonable reply" to such questions, to say nothing of making "conclusive answer." True, it is sometimes optimistically suggested that these have both changed since "The Ocean of Theosophy" was written -- Religion transcending the personal God idea, and Science cracking its shell of materialism, although weekly church notices and reports of sermons indicate no serious tottering of Jehovah's throne. To it, prayers still "ascend," praising and propitiating the omniscient Almighty and reminding him: "Thou knowest that --"! Moreover, the shell of Science shows no fissures great enough to permit egress of straight-line evolution or ingress of cyclic law and universal intelligence. Common sense is yet revolted by dogmas presenting Man created imperfect by a loving Lord, as well as by scientific postulations of aimless "progress" in a purposeless Cosmos, wherein Humanity ranks first in development, but last chronologically.
Most normal children are "curious" about themselves. When the sense of identity awakens, few fail to perplex their elders with queries of what, whence, whither and why. From some minds, these unanswered questions fade away in time but linger in others to haunt the secret introspections of after years. Occasionally, their importunity prevails over the world's tumult, impelling the man to repeat those interrogations of his childhood. For such hunger, how inane are requests for "faith" in "a God who cannot be found out" and "trust" in a being credited with instituting human life, "with all its sorrow," for his own "pleasure"! And equally empty are hypotheses taking in "but half of life" in their disregard of individual destiny.
Theosophy, on the contrary, appeals to both head and heart. Admitting no unsolvable mystery, denying validity to belief and blind acceptance, it evades no question, asking only for an open mind and studious consideration of its basis. Grounded in "The Three Fundamental Propositions of the Secret Doctrine," it presents the triune aspects of truth: Life, Law, and Brotherhood. Under the vast variety of appearances dwells the One Reality. In That exist all things, of identical Essence, evolving under one inherent Order along a common Path -- a Ladder of Being unbroken in sequence and containing no differences, save of degree. Upon this circling way, the goal recedes ever higher. Forever the host of immortals cycles onward, expanding the sense of selfhood and deepening realization of God-hood. Man, more experienced, hence more advanced, but kin to the least, "stands at the top of an immense and silent evolution." Conviction of this fact reveals the key to all knowledge long hidden in the seeker himself -- an "immortal thinker," possessor of "vast powers and possibilities," a spiritual Rip Van Winkle at last awakening from slumber to ask "why Nature exists, what the drama of life has for its aim, how that aim may be attained."
Sound doctrinal foundations laid and the mighty scope and sweep of human destiny pictured, the Teaching at once throws the questioner back upon himself for corroboration of its tenets, advising that recognition of inherent Law and comprehension of "the meaning and purpose of life" must be gained by observation of his own consciousness. The import of inner experience understood, outer events will yield up their occult significance. The human heart must learn Nature's secret language before the eyes may read her hourly unfolding story.
Self-study must needs begin with the obvious and familiar. First, then, each knows that he is and undertakes enterprises upon this earth; that daily activity is broken nightly by a period of inactivity and apparent unconsciousness; that for all there eventually comes a permanent break, called death. The physical being begins, reaches its zenith, declines, and ends -- instant change marking every phase of its span. Yet, dawn brings back the same Consciousness that ceased to function here the night before. The "I"-Witness of yesterday -- returns today, intact and remembering yesterday and many other yesterdays. So through all the days from childhood to old age, he comes, goes, and returns again, unaffected. Noting physical changes and purposely instituting many mental and moral changes, the man himself remains unmodified by any of them.
Periodic alternations of activity and rest, waking and sleeping, bear indisputable testimony regarding the long respite from which no personality returns to labor. The daily overpassing of sleep brings contemplation of death as just another experience to pass through and survive. For no one can think himself out of existence. Even the materialist's "annihilation" requires his presence to behold the void and gaze upon naught. Obviously, the perceiver is not his perceptions, but an immortal Spectator of transient spectacles, using the body as garment, the mind as instrument. But who would have thought of all this or analyzed its implications without Theosophy to first point it out!
Permanent Being in an impermanent body and his continuous task in a changing world point definitely to Reincarnation as the process of evolution. Strongly supporting this conclusion, stands the testimony of the human heart. Has any man ended his mortal days fully satisfied with his accomplishments, with sense of duty fulfilled, assured that nothing was left undone? All too familiar is the cry: "Oh, if I had my life to live over again!" Are the scales of justice perfectly balanced by the passing generations of mankind? History records the reverse. Why, again, is the word "Reincarnation," once heard, so unforgettable, resisting the cleverest sophistry and always pleading its case in the repudiator's unwilling ear -- as so many have eventually admitted? Could anyone doubt this to be the eternal Ego's voice supplicating recognition and co-operation from its fleeting representative?
Honestly regarded, no less convincing is the scientific evidence of Soul unfoldment through repeated lives on earth. The statement of Theosophy that Man "has been built up" from "every secret part of Nature" does not refer to the "immortal thinker," per se, but to his conditioning when embodied. The personal man is thus connected "with every secret part" -- on all four planes of manifestation; but the Thinker's connection is Karmic, not material. He was never "built up" and is not subject to dissolution. Architect of bodies, the Soul-Man exists independently of them. Science, however, recognizes merely the physical encasement, regardless of finer vestures, in its theories of human ascent from the lower kingdoms. By overlooking the dual scheme of evolution and missing its causal side, modern investigators lose the vital import of their findings. Reincarnation is actually "demonstrated by science" in its revelation of alterations, transformations, and remodelings, which prove that for "both matter and for man there has been a constant change of form." What else is this, broadly speaking, but reincarnation?
This universal application of the doctrine is boldly stated by Theosophy. Manifestation represents "lives" invisible as well as visible -- all unconsciously following the path Man consciously travels. Every unit will "be raised to man's estate when man has gone further on himself." No residuum shall "be disposed of or done away with in some remote dust-heap of nature." But what seems "residuum" will be "worked up into other states." The mineral matter of future great periods will be formed of "lives" now undergoing "lower transformations on other planets and in other systems of worlds." "Nothing is or is to be left out," because "every atom is alive and has the germ of self-consciousness." The material of our fleshly robes was once "wholly mineral, later on vegetable, and now refined into human atoms." Man's body is Nature's crucible; his thought, her transmuting power. Unfoldment from the state of matter to the state of spirit necessitates passage through the human form, where the fires of self-consciousness lit in prior evolutions work their wondrous magic. Once the Temple of Solomon is dedicated to Brotherhood and consecrated to its purpose, all lesser "lives" shall be lifted up and Humanity raised to heights presently undreamed.
"This is evolution carried to its highest power; it is a magnificent prospect; it makes of man a god, and gives to every part of nature the possibility of being one day the same; there is strength and nobility in it, for by this no man is dwarfed and belittled, for no one is so originally sinful that he cannot rise above all sin."
STUDIES IN "THE OCEAN OF THEOSOPHY"
(Part 15 of a 36-part series)
Back to the
"STUDIES IN THE OCEAN OF THEOSOPHY"
series complete list of articles.
Back to the full listing containing all of the
"Additional Categories of Articles".