THEOSOPHY, Vol. 15, No. 5, March, 1927
(Pages 194-199; Size: 20K)
(Number 6 of a 13-part series)
THE RISING CYCLE
HOW far the energic force of H. P. Blavatsky's great mission and message has affected the higher mind of the adult generation is visible on every hand. Its effects on Youth, the youth of today, in whose hands lie the destinies of the Movement until 1975, is well worth the thoughtful attention and consideration of Theosophists. Even in the midst of the pre-occupations of 1875-1896, while the Message was in process of delivery and record, H.P.B. and Mr. Judge never forgot the Future, and their writings and examples are filled with the urgencies of Theosophical education of the growing generation as well as its elders. The comparative failure of the present is due largely, if not solely, to deficiency in that education and its concomitant, lack of solidarity. As the children of Theosophists gain better and truer perceptions, not so much from their elders, the youth of yesterday, as from the recorded Teachings, the Higher Mind, the Buddhi-Manas(1) of the incoming Egos, will regain orientation and the Movement will right itself, from within outwardly. The United Lodge of Theosophists is an example of the true modulus for all Theosophical associations, not necessarily in its adaptations and applications, but in principle and in policy, for its one and only objective is the education of its Associates, and the dissemination of Theosophy as originally recorded. Its "Theosophy School" for children as well as adults is a direct embodiment of the practical wisdom and advice of H.P.B. in her "Key to Theosophy." As the Youth of today grow into the men and women of tomorrow, intellectual evolution will have proceeded apace with their physical development, and the world at large will have intelligent as well as inspired instruction and example by which to benefit.
Outside of such Theosophical education, idealistic as well as realistic thinkers and free-thinkers can advance no farther than the knowledge already gained, for they are but the outcome and natural product of their respective environments and periods. Their ideals are only the necessary results of their temperaments, and the outcome of that phase of intellectual progress to which a nation, in its collectivity, has attained. Hence, their highest flights must fall far short of the Truth, and they must, in the end, because of the gravitational pull of the race-mind(2), "return to earth" -- whether to the bosom of convention, or creed, or materialism. None of them, unaided, can live in the pure empyrean of the Higher Mind, because they have not found "whereon to stand."
Nevertheless, all such Thinkers form a necessary sequence in the operation of Law -- the law of Karma. They are the Bridge, the connecting Link, between those who are "Initiated into perceptive mysteries" and those who neither are nor aspire to be so initiated, but are content to go on browsing the dead herbage of the Past. However unconscious their service it is none the less genuine, for it is a continual heaping of fresh fuel on the altar of the Undying Fire lighted by the successive Messengers of the Wisdom-Religion.
The World Tomorrow, now in its tenth volume, is "A Journal Looking Toward a Social Order Based on the Religion of Jesus." Putting aside, for the moment, the intellectual misconception indicated by the phrase "the religion of Jesus," who was a Teacher and Reformer and in no sense a religious founder, the quoted declaration is, implicitly, an affirmation of the failure of nineteen centuries of Christianity to establish a "social order" based on His teachings. But why the "religion of Jesus" any more than the "religion of Buddha," or of any other Great Teacher in the long series? Simply because the ideals of The World Tomorrow are, at their best, "only the necessary results of the temperaments" of its individual editors and contributors, and, at the worst, hampered and constricted by the race-ideas of Jesus and His mission.
In recent months The World Tomorrow has had a notable list of contributions from idealistic and realistic thinkers and free-thinkers who have sent aloft their intellectual kites, all tied to the string of some inherited or acquired idea, but, like Franklin with his kites, each of them has brought down to earth something at least of light and lightning. Recently The World Tomorrow called for essays in its "First Annual Youth Contest" -- the word "contest," again, showing the "vestigial relics" in intellectual progression, just as Science is puzzled over the same "relics" in its study of physical evolution. The issue for January, 1927, contains the award essays, together with editorial comment -- both of value as showing the rising cycle prevalent in quarters as little associated with the Movement by Theosophists themselves as by the inhabitants of those quarters.
The Editors remark that "the words that best reveal the state of mind of the winners are doubt, dissatisfaction, disgust, bewilderment, hunger, aspiration, determination, trust, hope." Formidable as is their characterization of the "state of mind" of Youth today, in its best aspects, it becomes still more instructive and impressive when made following the statement:"An analysis of the poorest four-fifths reveals the distance we have yet to travel before we come in sight of a generation which clearly discerns the signs of the times, knows where it wants to go and how to get there. Many of these essays were wholly lacking in significant ideas..."Five hundred manuscripts were received, from the United States, Europe, and Asia. The Editors of The World Tomorrow themselves seem at no loss to discern at least some of "the signs of the times" portrayed by these essays, for their deductions are in reality a verdict, not upon Youth, but against our most venerated institutions -- Church and Science and Government. We read:"...the most alert of our youth are dissatisfied and disgusted with the sordid materialism, bitter strife, shallow optimism and dogmatic intolerance of our more-than-half-pagan society....the desertion of the church and other organized institutions of religion by large numbers of our most thoughtful young men and women may mean one of two things. On the one hand, it may mean that modern scientific education creates agnostics and atheists; on the other hand, it may mean that the type of religion presented in many churches and similar institutions is so gross a caricature and is so destitute of vital reality and reverence that it fails to satisfy the hunger and thirst of young people. The latter is unquestionably true for thousands of youth with a deep spiritual yearning."But why attribute this direct resultant of nineteen centuries of Christianity and of four centuries of Modern Science to the Ancients or to the "heathen," as is implied in the phrase "more-than-half-pagan?" Perhaps both horns of the dilemma posed by the editors are equally piercing the vitals of the youth of today: modern scientific education does, unquestionably, "create agnostics and atheists;" the Churches are, unquestionably, of "so gross a character and so destitute of real vitality and reverence" that their "type of religion" does fail to satisfy. For the one, we have the unanimous testimony of the Churches, and for the other the unanimous evidence of "modern scientific education." Hence the dissatisfaction of Youth, and its "resentment and rebellion against rigid control by the older generation" which has made such a failure of both science and religion. The Editors express the true Theosophical modulus of education in saying:"If mature men and women are wise they will place their knowledge and experience at the disposal of youth and allow the latter to choose as little or as much as seems valid and desirable. The greatest contribution that the elder generation can make to the younger is to encourage it to independent thought and experimentation and to make readily available the experience of the race. Such a policy may be full of peril, but it is certainly full of promise. Indeed it is the only possible way to bridge the chasm between the world that is and the world that might be."Brave words and true, but how can the elder generation make a contribution of that which it never had -- "independent thought" and liberty of conscience? The priest in the church and the pedagogue in the class room -- the two sanctuaries of progress in our day -- are the natural foes of the very prescription submitted by the Editors. It is in Theosophy alone that exist both the longed-for atmosphere of freedom and the religious science that are demanded by Youth -- today as much as in former generations. Theosophy knows that the unsatisfied hunger of Youth for the bread of life, which its elders attempt to satisfy with dust and ashes where not with the stone, the mill-stone of the "letter of the law" -- Theosophy knows that this hunger for freedom and knowledge in Youth is the reincarnating Ego's search for contact with the Higher Self of his own being. But let us see what Youth itself has to say.
The prize essay, by Betty Webb, is entitled: "We Who Doubt." It begins by quoting the confession of Charles Lamb: "Nothing puzzles me so much as time and space; but nothing puzzles me less, for I never think of them." Miss Webb, speaking for college Youth says:"...one of us could easily say the same thing regarding the attitude of most college students today toward the world in which they live. Certainly no one would maintain with any correctness that students are thinking -- some are, most are not; they are too busy taking notes and learning them for exams to be thinking. However, in those rare moments when we do think, we find ourselves puzzled by nearly everything in the universe....our student generation threatens to develop into a huge interrogation mark.... We have been born into a world, weary, brow-beaten, yet with the determination not to be changed. The wonder is that we have not lost faith in life itself during this period of transition, of muddling through. Instead we are restless, skeptical, not knowing where to place our faith, yet half-consciously wanting to find a consistency among these seeming conflicts; a vital relation between creed and deed, between religion and life. We have truly become disgusted with this merry-go-round of history, as the world insists on repeating its same old blunders every few years. And so young people are questioning old motives, old philosophies, old institutions -- and they are perfectly ready to throw overboard anything that refuses to be questioned."After this "reaction" to the "established order," the writer endeavors to formulate the demands of youth which accompany this rebellion against "existing things." Epitomized, they run:"1. There are many of us who want facts -- ...we can never know what to build until we know the foundations on which we are placing our structure. A vague, diffused goodwill is not all we need; -- unless we understand what we and our fellows are like and how we come to be so, unless we know present situations in accurate terms, all our good intentions without intelligence will not go far in remaking a world that is as badly warped as ours is. We want something definite to fasten our thinking to."Their elders, parents, teachers or priests, have but to hark back in memory to the days "when we were twenty-one," to know that the formulary of Youth today is the same urge for a Magna Charta that inspires Youth in every succeeding generation. We failed to grasp it, because we succumbed to what Jacob Behmen called "the great turba," the suction of the race-mind. We, too, rebelled against the "vested interests" of the established order of things: but we lost faith in our own Inspiration. Miss Webb points the "finger of scorn" at us in these words of Youth today:
"2. We want a dream, an ideal. ... We have been told so often that 'this is human nature and cannot be changed,' or 'that has always been so and always will be,' that we are ready to think that nothing has always been as we see it now and nothing as we have it now need always be so! ... Youth is unreasonable enough to know the hard, discouraging facts about the world today -- to look at them steadfastly and yet say, 'Oh, the glory of the years to be, I, too, would labor at their fashioning!'"
"3. We want to act. ... Are we lazy? ignorant? afraid? Here at this point we are thrown back to an examination of our personalities and to our philosophies of life to see why they are pale and negative and not vital enough to express themselves in action. How can we develop within us that dynamic, that power which will make us big enough persons to live rather than just talk? We are woefully lacking in courage based on real conviction."
"4. Here we come to the fourth thing many students are wanting, many without being very coherent about what it is they want -- courage growing out of a new, vital philosophy of life; and help in developing and integrating our personalities so that we may live up to it.""The generation before us and many of us waded up to our ears into the job of righting the world without even rolling up our sleeves or looking over the situation -- no wonder we floundered.... Most of us have lost the only God we were taught to believe in -- which does not mean that we are godless or 'lost' in a theological sense, please. Our generation is moving out into unexplored areas of thinking and the growing pains are so severe that many of us have decided not to go any further. When we try to see a Oneness in it all, a feeling that 'the Universe is One and that it lives,' somebody cries 'Pantheism' and declares it to be unmoral. As surely as we verge on mysticism someone impresses us with the fact that it is unscientific and a relic of superstition. A purely rationalistic philosophy leaves us rather cold and unsatisfied, having no place for the aesthetic part of our makeup. We might like to creep back into the comfortable little shells which we burst out of -- but somehow we can't. Most of us are not godless in the sense of revelling in iconoclasm and atheism, but we doubt. Yet, in our calmer lives, which others hardly see, there are times when we feel we can almost touch the fringes of a deeper Reality which can never be captured and forced into outgrown terms and forms."But -- the essay goes on -- "it is going to take young people who are not afraid to doubt the status quo. ... This is the creed of an experimentalist, an adventurer. And 'those who venture take risks, but so do those who do not venture -- not the risks of shipwreck but the risks of rust and decay.' And with this spirit thousands of students are wanting to venture forth, yet without knowing where they want to go."
Well, for all these the tide of the rising cycle of the Theosophical Movement is part of the Karmic provision of the mission of H. P. Blavatsky, as her Theosophy will provide charts and direction -- the lack of which Youth feels.
Certainly the academic, the prosaic, the commonplace and complacent, as well as the orthodox and sectarian mind in religion and science, will feel no fine outburst of sympathy and understanding with the Mind of Youth as expressed by the Editors of The World Tomorrow, or as delineated in the extracts given from the leading essay. But Theosophists may well see therein one of the fruits of the Theosophical Movement -- unripe fruit as yet, but growing; fruit and fruitage that it is our part more than that of any and all others to nourish and safeguard, for the answers to the demands of Youth are in the custody of those informed of the teachings of the Wisdom-Religion. The requisitions of Youth should encourage and inspire every student-Theosophist to "spread broadcast, as widely and as quickly as possible, the fundamental teachings of the Masters of Wisdom, as recorded in the writings of H. P. Blavatsky and William Q. Judge," lest the generations of the present be led away and astray, both by the very violence of their own unguided efforts to "recover the knowledge which was theirs in former births," and by their ignorance of the aids afforded in the record of those who have preceded them in Spiritual and Intellectual evolution.
The Rising Cycle
(Part 7 of 13)
Back to the
"About the Theosophical Movement"
complete list of articles.
Back to the full listing containing all of the
"Additional Categories of Articles".
TWO (2) FOOTNOTES LISTED BELOW:
COMPILER'S NOTE: I added these footnotes; they were not in the article. If any of them don't paint an accurate enough picture, or are incorrect, I hope the Editors of THEOSOPHY magazine will spot them and point the inaccuracies out to me, so that I can make the necessary corrections.
(1) "Buddhi-Manas": "Buddhi" means Intuition (or Spiritual Soul); "Manas" means mind. "Buddhi-Manas" means Intuitional-Mind (Higher mind). "Atma-Buddhi-Manas" means Spirit-Intuition-Mind: the immortal Triad -- the Eternal Pilgrim, the Higher Self, the Reincarnating Ego, what and who we really are: an Eternal Thinker, in or out of a physical body. "Atma-Buddhi" means Spirit-Intuition (but without the Mind principle developed, such as is the case in the animal kingdom and all of the other kingdoms below Man, the Thinker).
Back to text.
(2) "Race-Mind" refers to the whole human race.
Back to text.