FOR THE CHILDREN WHO ASK WHY ΔΔ
Published in The Magazine "THEOSOPHY" in 1916
Chapter -1- God
Chapter -2- Modes of Consciousness
Chapter -3- Karma – Law
Chapter -4- Reincarnation
Chapter -5- Death
Chapter -6- Prayer
Chapter -7- How Worlds Began
Chapter -8- The Masters
Chapter -9- Former Continents
Chapter -10- Fairies
Chapter -11- Ghosts – Seven-fold Nature of Man
Chapter -12- Dreams
Chapter -13- Devachan and Birth
Chapter -14- Seeds
Chapter -15- Applications
This little book is intended to serve as a guide to the mother who wishes to teach her children the basic facts of life, the purpose of life, and the laws of living it. While many books for children have been written with these Theosophical ideas in mind, the principles have been often so obscured by story and diversion, that no clear ideas have been gained. In this book, the principles are insisted on to the exclusion of story interest, with the idea that each mother in her own way, and according to the nature of her child, may impart – maybe learn at the same time – the teaching more clearly and comprehensively than any other mother could possibly impart it. The work is in reality for the mother the principles here given are undiluted Theosophy as written down by H.P.Blavatsky; the applications in many instances as taught by her colleague, Wm. Q. Judge, and further passed on by one who followed in their footsteps, - in gratitude to each of whom this little book is written by
A Student. (Edited by Robert Crosbie (1849-1919)
BECAUSE- For the Children Who Ask Why
Dorothy and Milton Steward were two very forlorn and miserable little people, as they sat with their father, riding on the train to Aunt Eleanor's house. Things had been all so strange and wrong since their mother went to bed. They could not see her, and someone was always saying, "Hush!" if they spoke much above a whisper. Even when they tried to be quiet, looking at their books, one was sure to fall most unexpectedly, so that they jumped and made more noise than ever. And now, after all their trying, Mother had gone away without kissing them good-bye – gone on a long, long journey, their father said, to get rested and well.
Father always was sober and quiet when Mother wasn't home, but now – seemed as if he just completely forgot they were with him at all. Freddy Baker's mother had come down to the train to see them off, and she cried and hugged them up and called them "Poor little dears!" which was just the way they felt. Someway, a lump seemed to be right where they swallowed, all the time, and it didn't go away even when they saw out of the car window the cunningest little red colts kick up their heels and run away from the train back into the pasture.
Finally, Milton dropped off to sleep, and knew no more till he opened his eyes looking into Aunt Eleanor's rosy face. Then he knew he felt better, and smiled up at her. Aunt Eleanor kept him under one mothering arm, and Dorothy under the other all the way to her house, in the carriage – and it felt so good. And when Father said they were going to stay with Aunt Eleanor now while Mother was away, they knew they would choose to be with her before anybody else but their own sweet mother. Father would come and stay with them too, after a while, he promised, but for now they were content just to look at Aunt Eleanor's bright face and to feel that she loved them.
Such good friends and chums they got to be with Aunt Eleanor, as the days went by! Someway, she never was impatient when they asked her why – and there were so many whys! That is the reason some of their talks together are written down here. Every little boy and girl has many whys, and perhaps Dorothy and Milton have found the answers for those very whys. Who knows?
One Sunday morning Milton ran in to Aunt Eleanor from the yard where he and Dorothy had been playing catch. Chester, the boy next door, had called out to them, "You'd better stop playing ball on Sunday. God doesn't want you to. It's bad – and he'll punish you, if you do."
Milton had replied – "Well, who's God? Is he a policeman?"
"Bigger'n that," said Chester. "And he made the whole world and everything."
"H'm – well, who made God? Was Milton's question.
Chester said – "I've got to go now." As he turned toward the house, Milton whispered to Dorothy: "I think I'll go ask Aunt Eleanor about this God man of Chester's."
Dorothy said: "I guess there must be some God, anyway. I heard Papa and Mamma talk about God one day, and they said that they didn't want to tell us about the kind of a God they had taught them, and we'd better find out about such things for ourselves."
"Well, I guess it must be time to find out now, sister. Do you believe it's wrong to play catch on Sunday because anybody says so? Aunt Eleanor will know, if anybody does."
Aunt Eleanor was reading when he came in, but she put her book down when she saw Milton's face all one eager question mark.
"What is it now, son? she smiled at him.
"Why, Aunt Eleanor, Chester says God will punish us if we play ball on Sunday. Please, is it wrong to play ball on Sunday – and who is God, anyway?
"One at a time," laughed Aunt Eleanor. Especially as your last question might be answered forever and not be done. But now, let's see – before we answer your first question, can't we find out what is doing right – and what is doing wrong?
"Each one has to decide for himself, I think. You see, what might be quite wrong for Chester would be all right for you. If Chester played ball on Sunday, when he thinks it is wrong, when it would be a cause of disturbance to his parents who think its wrong, he then would be doing wrong to play. But you would be doing no wrong to play, because it seems just as right to do so on Sunday what is right on any other day. You know it does not annoy those who are taking care of you, and that they even like you to have the exercise. What you can see harms no one in the world can not be wrong."
But, Auntie, why does Chester pick out Sunday to be so 'specially good in?"
"Long years ago, people thought there was a great Being who made the world in six days, and rested on the seventh. And so they, too, spent the seventh day in rest, or rather in worshipping this Being whom they called God. There are people who still believe that way, but, as a matter of fact, this earth of ours took millions of years to become – to grow as we see it. It isn't that the ancient Bible story is not correct, but the people have misunderstood it from lack of knowledge. I'll have to try to tell you more of how worlds are made, some day. However, one day out of seven for rest is a great help to all of us. There are thousands of people who do nothing but drudge except for that one day. And it is wise generally to do then things not done the rest of the week. So we get a change, and freshened up for the ordinary daily round of duties."
"Then God doesn't have the say of what's right or wrong, Auntie?"
"Well, now, you see, we have to know what God is. I said each one must decide for himself what is right and wrong. Each one must think for himself. Each one really is a Thinker – a Perceiver – looking on all things, yet himself the same Perceiver, the same one who thinks. That is the only God we can ever know, who can ever punish us. It's not a God outside. We ourselves – those Perceivers – are really God. We punish ourselves – we reward ourselves – whether we realize it or not – and we cannot escape either the reward or the punishment. Especially must we never forget that it's the same God in every person we know or meet or hear of."
"But is it always there, Aunt Eleanor? Did I have it when I was a baby, and will I have it next year just the same as now?"
"It is always and always, dear. You don't have it, because it's really what you are. Aren't you Milton just the same now that you were when you were a baby? And next year, you won't be anyone else but Milton, will you? You'll know more then than you do now, of course, but the Milton who knows the more is just the same Milton who can know ten times as much and still be the same Milton."
"But I'll be taller then, Aunt Eleanor, and stronger?"
"Your body will, dear child. But I'm trying to tell you you are not that body. Don't you see, you can't be, because if you were, you would be somebody else when you got into long trousers? And in fact, there won't be a bit of your body as it is now in the body you will have when that time comes."
"But why does my body change so?"
"Well, dear, do you know there is nothing under the sun that does not change excepting that one thing which you are – the one thing Dorothy is – the one thing I am – and everyone else is, I say it is the Perceiver. And there is another name others call it – Consciousness – God, indeed only you see, it is not at all the large-sized man-God that Chester thinks. It is really this God – this Consciousness – this Perceiver – this Inner part of ours that makes the changes in our bodies. We do not realize it – but it is That which causes everything to be done."
"Does That tell us what is the right thing to eat? Is it – when we want something so awfully our mouths water – That tells us?"
"Exactly. If our tastes are not dulled by artificial foods. And our bodies are made from the food we eat. It is really a wonderful story – how the little thinkers all through our bodies set about their work and do it for us. People call them cells, and membranes, and tissues, and many other things, but they too are Thinkers in their way."
"Oh, Auntie, do you mean everything is a Thinker?"
"Everything dear, in the wide, wide world. Only there are different kinds of thinking. The stone doesn't think as much as the plant, you see. The plant doesn't think as much as the animal, and not even the wisest animal thinks as you do, dear, because he doesn't know he's thinking. He doesn't know, for instance, even that he is an animal and you are a boy."
"But won't he sometime ever know?"
"Yes, he will – ages and ages from now, when the men of now have grown so wise they'll go to some other earth to learn. That is Life, dear, the ever growing, the ever becoming something bigger and better and wiser. But enough for this time, son. Now run and play."
MODES OF CONSCIOUSNESS
Dorothy and Milton were not beyond the joy of mud pies, and only the next day after their learning from Aunt Eleanor that everything in its way is a Thinker, as their practised fingers moulded the most luscious pumpkin pies, Dorothy burst out –
"Why Milton, do you suppose even these wee bits of grains of sand think? How can they?"
"Well, if everything thinks, they must someway. Oh, Aunt Eleanor" – he called, as he spied her turning in at the gate.
"Yes indeed, dear." she answered, slipping into the garden chair near by. "Of course, it's a small kind of way the grain of sand thinks and gets experience and knowledge. It's really just this rubbing up against other grains that is its knowing – its living. And take a rock – made up of many such tiny particles that to us seem so solid and quiet, men of science have found that all these particles are in constant rapid motion about some central point – as we call it, the thinker – the consciousness. And in that very rock beautiful crystals form. This amethyst stone in my ring is a higher kind of thinking in some stone. Out of rocks grow lichens – the first of the vegetable world. Growing toward the sun and light is the way vegetables think. It isn't so hard to see how animals think, of course, because we see how they are wise against danger to themselves, and how they take care of their young."
"But Aunt Eleanor, if a little baby lamb got lost, and suddenly saw a wolf that it had never seen before – would it know the wolf was dangerous?" questioned Dorothy.
"Yes, indeed. I think, were you near by to watch, you would see it tremble a great deal, and try to run on its wobbly legs. Something inside – what we call instinct – would tell it the danger. Because other sheep and lambs before him had suffered the cruelty of wolves, that knowledge became a part of the knowledge, or nature, of all lambs. When you are older, I can explain to you just why, but now it is enough to see that in the little lamb, the instinct is much the same thing as in you, that which knows right from wrong, without someone else first telling you. That's your Thinker, isn't it? Some call it Conscience – as well as intuition."
"Oh, Aunt Eleanor, was that it when I didn't go to ride with that man who offered me all that nice candy? I wanted the candy, and I wanted to go to ride, and you weren't here to ask, and he said we wouldn't be gone long – but I just felt uncomfortable to do it. So I ran quick as ever I could into the house and told Norah to lock the door."
"Surely something inside told you, Dorothy girl, just as it did the lamb when the wolf appeared – that there was danger. It may well be that you know a great deal inside that you will gradually rediscover as time goes on. Many times you have had new bodies on this earth – bodies that grew up, grew old and died – while you went on with what you had learned to take other bodies for learning more."
"But Auntie, were we once somebody else?" asked Dorothy perplexedly.
"No, never anyone but yourself – nor ever will be – though you have had different names and different kinds of bodies. Always the 'I," the thinker, the Perceiver is the same forever and ever. The 'I" simply uses that body as an instrument for learning, just as we use a telescope to see the stars with. So it is the 'I" that really has the knowledge and experience of all the bodies it ever had. It is the knowledge of the 'I" that is intuition – a memory of past lives, whether or not we can remember them in our brains. We get our brain new every life – so we cannot expect that to remember what it never experienced."
"Oh, but I wish you could tell us about some other of the bodies we have had. Won't you Auntie, some day?"
" That, dears, I cannot do – but I will gladly tell you many things that explain why you have just these bodies as they are now. Why, it is getting late!" she stopped in surprise. "We must hurry to get those muddy little hands washed in time for tea."
KARMA – LAW
two days it rained fast and hard every minute, so that Dorothy and Milton had
to stay in the house, quite as much prisoners as was Robinson Crusoe on his
desert island. Surely Crusoe could not have rejoiced more to see the sail than
the children did, when on the third day the clouds broke, and a fresh wind scudded
them out of the way to let the sun through. Not many minutes passed in getting
on coats and caps and rubbers ready to go with Aunt Eleanor to see the swollen
river in the arroyo. All three of them fairly bounded along in their joy to
be out again in the fresh sweet air. The birds, too, were glad, and singing
away on the telephone wires and fences. And, Oh, how fine the river was when
they reached it at last after a scramble down the banks all soft and slidey
from the rain! To be sure, the water was noisy and muddy, and carried with it
all sorts of debris – but to watch it all and hear it was enough entertainment
to make up for the long indoor exile. On the way home, too, they discovered
several little ponds made by the rain – quiet and clear enough to reflect
the clouds sailing by.
"Throw in a stone, Milton," said Aunt Eleanor," and let's watch what happens. There – see how the circles spread out wider and wider from where the stone dropped in. Now they have reached the shore. Wait – see them go back again – back – ever smaller – to where the stone first dropped! Do you know, that is always just what happens when any stone is thrown by anyone into any pond? The stone makes a point of disturbance – from which ripples go forth and return again to it. The falling of the stone is the cause of the ripples – the ripples are the effect of that cause. If you will remember just how and why it happened this time, you will have learned the most important law anyone can ever know – no matter how wise or powerful he may be. When you are older, indeed, you will learn to say it like this: ' Action and reaction are equal and in opposite directions.' Out to shore was action of the water, back again to the same place from which it started was reaction. But the most interesting thing about this law is that it acts not only where we can see it, but it acts everywhere and all the time, and more where we don't see it than where we see plainly. It works inside us just the same as everywhere else outside. It is this law that we name Karma."
"Tell us how it works inside, Auntie," asked Dorothy, as they then walked on.
"Well, let us suppose that some little girl became angry at her brother and pushed him off the step – that he stumbled and fell and received an injury to his back which made him lame all his life. It would seem as if the little girl got no bad reaction to herself from her anger but, of course, she did, for she never could escape from the sorrow of having so harmed her brother."
"If her brother had been teasing her though, and pulling her hair, maybe, wouldn't she be right in getting angry?"
"No, A wise man once said: ' There is no such thing as righteous indignation." Nothing that anyone does or says should stir us to anger. If we see to it that we do the right and kind thing by others, and remember it is only our own conduct we need to criticize, I someway think that other people would soon find little charm in trying to annoy us. If they find we cannot be annoyed, they'll stop trying that kind of fun."
"But the little boy, Auntie, how did he deserve so much punishment for just teasing his sister?"
"That is one of those ways for reaction harder to see, isn't it? Well, - he did deserve it some way – no doubt of that. You see law would not be law if it would work in some places and not in others. There is no happening – no accident – really. Nothing merely happens – but it comes about under law. It may be that this little boy was born with a tendency to annoy others. It may be that in some other body he had lived in before, he had cruelly teased some unfortunate person so that it resulted in a lasting harm. If that were so, you can see he deserved similar suffering, can't you?"
"Oh, but so long ago, Auntie, seems as if he might be excused, mightn't he?"
"And who would excuse him, dear? No one but himself can excuse him. But even if some other could and did, do you suppose he would have learned his lesson as well as he has to when he himself meets the consequences of what he sees to be wrong acts? The law often seems to us cruel, but it is only just and merciful, you can see, if you remember we are in life and in bodies to learn – to become wise – and then to teach others who know less than we do and who make more mistakes. There are the same lessons for us all to learn, but some learn more quickly than others."
"Oh, yes, Auntie. Why, you know Willie Robbins at school seems never to get his lesson in Geography, even when Miss Dole gives him an extra half hour just for that! Why is he so slow, Auntie?"
"Dear me, younkits – here we are at home," laughed Aunt Eleanor. "We'll have to postpone the case of Willie Robbins, won't we?"
Dorothy and Milton had started a real vegetable garden in Aunt Eleanor's back yard. Dorothy was raising radishes and cucumbers, and Milton was growing onions and string beans. Aunt Eleanor had been a faithful ally and adviser, and the children spent many a busy hour digging and weeding and watering and cultivating. They remembered seeing Mother and Father tending flower beds, but they themselves had never grown things before.
"Aunt Eleanor," exclaimed Dorothy one day, busy with her trowel, 'do you remember that big flower bed Mamma had once, all clear white petunias in the middle and a border of red geraniums? Milton and I loved to watch that bed. Such tiny mites of seed Mamma sprinkled on the soft soil, and so many tiny plants came up! They grew so fast that almost before we knew it, the buds had come, and there were lovely, sweet, white blossoms. But when fall came, Jack Frost killed the plants and they were all carried away and burned. Next spring Mamma didn't make a garden, but the petunias came up just the same as if they had been planted."
"Were they just the same, Dorothy?" queried Aunt Eleanor, "were they just as large as they were the year before, and were all the blossoms pure white?"
"No, Auntie, I know they were smaller because they had no care, but I wanted to ask you, why were some of the blossoms next time pink, and some with little red spots?"
"Well, Dorothy," said Aunt Eleanor, "do you know the answer to that question will help us with the one you asked yesterday about Willie Robbins? For just fancy that you and I and all of us are seeds, like the petunia seeds – we, the Thinkers, I mean. We come into the world in babies' forms – tiny plants – that grow up and blossom into manhood and womanhood, that grow old, and wither and die – and like the dead petunia plants, become ashes again. But we, the seeds, still live and when the soil and season are right, we enter other tiny baby forms, grow up, and bloom with a little different color, or fragrance, because beside us, there were other plants, or persons, who influenced us for better or for worse – just as the petunias were tinged with the color of the geraniums beside them. In their petunia way, they gained knowledge of the geranium's ways, and when their seed sent up fresh plants, these still kept the knowledge that the petunia life had gained.
"When I was a little girl, I remember reading with delight the story of a drop of water. It was drawn by the sun's rays out of the ocean, carried in a cloud over the spreading country to a mountain top, there fell on loose earth, trickled down a ledge to a tiny brook, with that travelled through meadow and forest to a river, and then by towns and cities back again to the ocean. Again it was drawn up by the sun into clouds, and this time fell down in a city street, found a stream in the gutter where merry boys were sailing boats, finally found itself in a long dark pipe, and again when day came, it was once more at home in the ocean.
"Even a drop of water is a Thinker in its way, has its own knowledge and experience. But it doesn't know it is a drop of water it doesn't know it does service when it frees some insect from a perilous position, or refreshes a forget-me-not. Men and women, all human beings, know that they are human beings, know when they are doing service, and only in that are they different from all the other beings and lives in the world. The same laws govern us that govern the plant and the drop of water. We take the same kind of a life journey to learn about men and things and ourselves, and to help others like us and all below us, - and we come again and again until we have learned all that this earth can teach us – until we have given all the service that it needs.
"Now sometimes we neglect our duties. For that we have to pay. In school, if you do not study, you do not learn. In life, it is the same, and if we do not learn the lesson in one life, we have to take up the same lesson in another body. Some people are born with brighter minds than others they have earned promotion to that sort of mind they have. And then some Thinkers have lived in more bodies than have others, and so some people seem wiser than others just as children in the eighth grade seem wiser than children in the second.
"Well, then may we not imagine that Willie Robbins has had less opportunity to gain experience in previous lives, or that sometime he neglected his opportunities to learn, so that now his task is more difficult? Anyway, he has just the kind of a mind he has earned, and he can train it, and earn a better mind both in this life, and in other lives he has to live. But those who now have brighter minds are not excused from helping him the more; he gives us in turn our opportunity to be of service. We can most help those who know less than we know, and if we refuse that help, or ridicule a stupid person, we may quite likely earn a less active mind ourselves in some other life.
"I think there is nothing we should all hold in our minds more carefully than this: We are to learn our lessons well, not in order to surpass someone else, to gain some prize, but that we may be the better able to help and teach others learn well, because everything we have to do, we do in reality for all – for all men and creatures everywhere. They and we are all a part of the great whole, and if we learn well, we help all others to learn well, just by our own learning. That is why doing a wrong and unkind thing brings so much trouble and sorrow; whether we mean to or not, we cause disturbance to every being in the universe. If everyone really did think and act for every other one, wouldn't it be the happy, happy world? Let's try it, anyway – shall we?"
It was not until late in the summer that Dorothy's and Milton's father came to see them. And before he came, they learned why he had seemed so silent and so sad those last days at home. They knew it was Father's writing when they brought the letter in to Aunt Eleanor one morning, and asked her eagerly as she opened it, 'Is he coming, dear Aunt Eleanor?" Strangely enough, Aunt Eleanor seemed sad, too, as she read, and there were tears in her eyes when she drew them to her and said, "Yes, dears, your father will be here in just one week. Run now and play on the joy of that."
So they played and planned, with Father's coming uppermost in their minds, yet wondering, too, why Aunt Eleanor was sad about it. At night, in their cosey hour before the snapping fire on the hearth, they found out.
"Father wants me to tell you, dears," began Aunt Eleanor softly, "that your sweet mother, as you remember her, can never come back to you from her long journey. Like the petunia plants we were talking of yesterday, her worn-out body has died and gone, and she is free from all its sufferings. It was the journey of death she took when you, dears, came to me.
"Father could not bear the pain of telling you then, nor even now. But I think Mother's girl and boy are wise enough and brave enough now to know, and they love her enough to feel that they are always close to her, though they cannot see her face. Her love for you and Father did not die with her body always that love of you is a part of her soul, and even now she is happy in that love. So, too, your love for her is a part of your soul. It doesn't die, because her body is dead – and you can be happy in the love you remember and still have. Yes, and you must try, dears, to be glad for Mother that kind Death came to her tired body. She herself lives just as truly and even more happily.
"If you were to leave me now and go across the hall, drawing the curtains together so that I could no longer see you, you would not love me less, dears? I should miss you from my side, but still you would love me, and I you. So it is with Mother. Your bodies form a curtain through which she cannot look, because she has not your sort of body to see through any longer – but she loves you just the same, for love doesn't need to have eyes – it only feels – and is of our very self that never dies."
Dorothy and Milton held their heads buried deep in Aunt Eleanor's shoulder, as she talked gently on.
"And now, you'll soon be going to bed and to sleep. Yet you never knew you slept, did you, dears? You knew you were getting sleepy, but the next thing you knew, you were awake again. You've seen other people sleeping, but you yourselves don't know what sleeping is. It is just in the same way Mother went to sleep in death, but she never knew death. She did not die. She merely waked up again without the pain and tiredness.
"When you are asleep, you don't know anything about what is going on in the street, or downstairs, or in the very room. Your body is quiet and motionless – quite dead, really – except that when you waken, you can set it going again, like a clock that has run down and needs only winding. In sleep, we all of us for a time leave our bodies behind us, and live in other bodies of our souls. In them, we are free to do whatever we please, and we seek out our heart's desires. Untouched by sorrow, we know and live with those we love, whether they have bodies they can waken again, or not. Each night in sleep, then, I doubt not you see and love both your father and your mother; I doubt not they both love you and delight in you and teach you to be strong and brave and true."
"Oh, but Auntie," sobbed Dorothy, "if in the morning we could only remember!"
"Yes, but sometimes we do. Sometimes we waken remembering a dream touch, or kiss, or word, so real we wanted not to wake. It is the realness – the feeling of nearness – that is truly remembering, and oh, it is very sweet and precious!"
They sat then a few minutes before the fire, comforted and quiet. Only when Aunt Eleanor tucked them in did Dorothy cry out"
"Oh, but Mamma will never tuck us in again !"
"Try not to cry, Dorothy dear. Just think that now you will lay your body down to rest, while you yourself go where Mother is. Be with her by night, even though you miss her by day. You, and not Mother, know Death, because you miss her bodily presence. Then think, that sometime again, when you, too, have put off these bodies like clothes that have grown ragged and old; when you, too, have had a peaceful, happy rest away from the world where everyone is doing battle to learn, - in newer, better bodies, you will have your mother again, in her newer, better body – you will know again that happiness with her, now passed away for a time. Goodnight, dear ones " – Aunt Eleanor murmured low, for already the tired eyes had closed, and Dorothy and Milton were long on the way to Dreamland.
It was a red-letter day, when at last toward its close, Dorothy's and Milton's father came. For a special treat they curled up beside him in front of the fire, a whole hour beyond bedtime, and then he went upstairs with them, and tucked each one into bed. Dorothy whispered to him as he kissed her:
"It is so good to hug my dear father again," And Milton called after him sleepily:
"Show you my new little cucumbers in the morning, Daddy."
Had they but known it, Father joined Aunt Eleanor with more happiness in his heart than he had felt for many a day. There was a glint of amusement in his eye, when he said to her:
"I notice the kiddies didn't have any 'Now I lay me" to say, Eleanor. I supposed all respectable children said their prayers."
"Then I'm afraid your children are very disrespectable, Richard," Aunt Eleanor answered, "because I've been teaching them what makes such a prayer as 'Now I lay me," seem absurd. The picture of a Lord sitting on a high throne, with his hands full of children's souls (evidently of some easily handled material of convenient size) for which he finds a capacious pocket, in case the child doesn't waken again – seems to me an insult to any child's intelligence. For the child is a soul – a Perceiver – himself the Lord, one with the pervasive, sustaining principle of all life and being – and the only God he can ever know, or pray to. True prayer is really the command of that high God within to the lower nature to become one with it. The usual prayer is a petition for something not earned nor deserved. As if the law of our own being could be suspended at our caprice!
"By the way, I tried to transpose those little verses one day, so as to suggest the right thought on going to sleep. I didn't have very good luck, for it needs a poet, but I'll repeat them to you, and maybe you can catch the idea.
I lay my body down to sleep,
The while my soul doth vigil keep.
My body lies all still the night,
My soul goes free in lands of light.
O, what I learn, may I bring back
To guide upon this daily track
Of love and duty, joy and pain –
And so God's service I maintain.
"You see, Richard, that makes clear our continuous existence – that we are not our bodies, and that while our bodies sleep, our souls have a life of their own, in which they may receive, or give, help and instruction. I don't know how many souls would have the courage to go on, were it not for this life of the soul in sleep, which sustains them in the trials in the body. Even criminals have respite from wickedness in sleep, and therein is always a seed for their reformation."
"Very interesting, Eleanor. But did you make away with the Lord's Prayer so easily?"
"Richard, do you realize that is the one prayer that Jesus gave, and that his command was to pray in secret? If you wish, I will explain that to you, too, as I did to the children, of course. They say that prayer at the opening of school, you know, and I told them that while many people say it, few understand what it means – that when they repeated it with others, I hoped that they would remember its true meaning. ' Our Father which art in Heaven" means that God within, which we are. ('The Kingdom of Heaven is within' was the teaching). 'Hallowed be thy Name', is rightly translated ' Intoned be thy Name' – such a sounding having the tendency to rouse the higher nature, and call the lower to attention. 'Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven,' means, may the will of the indwelling spirit be done in the body. For our bodies are our earths. We couldn't know a single thing about earth, if we didn't have bodies to learn through. 'Give us this day our daily bread,' means, may we receive spiritual food from our higher aspirations. 'Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,' means – realizing that all men are the same in kind, let us not judge or condemn any other. 'Thine be the glory' is again a harking back to the one Reality – the real part of us – from the basis of which, and for which, every action should proceed. The 'Amen' is really that sounded 'Word' again, which you often see written in Eastern writings – and occurs in ' The Light of Asia' as Om – the Sanskrit word, standing for that God within, the Self of all things and creatures."
"H'm – well, it's reasonable, anyway. So go ahead as far as you like with the kiddies. Maybe they'll be teaching me some day. Who knows? I'm pretty sure, if I'd known these things at their age, I shouldn't have been the poor, scared little rat I was then. Why, do you know, Eleanor, that idea of God watching me every minute, ready to pounce on me with a big stick, if I didn't do the right thing, made me a little cringing coward!
"They couldn't tell me God was 'good,' if he was a-nagging like that with his eyes all the time. And the very thought that God took care of me while I slept made me feel there was something awful to be afraid of, if he had to be so careful as all that. Of course, as I grew older, I saw that such a God was no friend to any man, but I did know that I suffered if I did wrong, and concluded that if I did the best I could, it was all the wisest being could expect of me. At least, I can say, I haven't been a coward since I gave up the idea of God as an extra-sized, powerful man-being."
"You are fortunate, Richard, for it seems to me there are a great many grown-up cowards in the world, because they still believe in that bogey man-God. They are afraid to die, and afraid to live, afraid of their fellowmen, afraid all the time of what may happen to their precious bodies – which are in reality not themselves at all. Of course, fear always comes from ignorance, and it is the most pitiable ignorance not to know that all beings are in essence that one Supreme Reality – a great chain of Brotherhood down to the smallest atom that only the law of our deathless, eternal being metes out justice, - reward, or punishment that the purpose of life is to learn, it matters not under what conditions. Indeed, the only thing we have to fear is doing wrong to others. But you must be tired, Richard, after your journey. I mustn't talk you from your rest."
"No, really, Eleanor," he answered, as he went upstairs, "I'm rested already, as if I'd been breathing fresh air. Good night."
HOW WORLDS BEGAN
With Father's coming, the days were much happier for Dorothy and Milton. Every morning they walked with him to the Bank where he was busy all day, and it was not long after four o'clock, when he was ready to go home with them. Then they all worked in the garden together, or as the short colder days came on, read, and talked, and played games indoors with him and Aunt Eleanor. Sometimes they hurried Father home very fast, as on the night when Aunt Eleanor was to tell them before dinner how worlds were made. Milton had been eagerly thinking about it for some time, and he said to his father as he skipped along:
"Daddy, this town wasn't always here, was it?"
"Nor this state, nor this America?"
"Then, there must have been a time when there wasn't any world, either?"
"Well, Daddy, where were we when there wasn't any earth to live on?"
"We always were, Daddy, so we must have been somewhere," broke in Dorothy.
"How do you know that we always were, little girl? Asked her Father.
"Well, you see, Daddy, we can't think ourselves as nothing. We can think that the whole world and everybody in it burned and there is nothing to see but just darkness. Only who is looking at the darkness? We are, aren't we? We just are, that's all."
"You're quite right, daughter," Father answered, as they went into the house, "and I fancy that Aunt Eleanor will answer Milton's question in her story tonight."
"Yes," Aunt Eleanor began, "we ourselves, the Perceivers, - we only – never had a beginning. Every town, or city, or country, or continent, or world had its beginning, and will have its ending. And there have been many worlds before this we now live in that began, and grew, decayed, and perished – to be born again as other worlds.
"Our Moon that we see in the sky is just an old dead world, where we once lived, but came away from because there was no more for us to learn there. The life that was on the Moon has now another body in this Earth. Very wise men who study the heavens have discovered through telescopes signs of human works there, and many believe there are still inhabitants. The truth is that the Moon is a slowly decaying corpse, and by the time we get ready to leave our Earth, the Moon will have entirely gone to dust, while our Earth, or planet, will be a Moon to the next new Earth we shall build.
"We have our days and nights planets have their days and nights. When we die, we have a longer night time; planets have their longer night times even the whole Universe itself has a day and a night. Let us suppose that we are in the night time of the Universe."
"Oh, yes, Auntie, where would we be? Asked Milton eagerly.
"Where are we when we are asleep? We are not using these outer bodies that we see, though we do use other finer bodies, and waken to use these outer bodies again next day. So in the night of the Universe, we are not using any part of the bodies we had use of in its daytime. In that one state, we share the knowledge all other beings have brought into it. We are not separate from each other any more – the finest bodies we ever had are blended in one substance – we are all Perceivers, with nothing to perceive, resting in the Great Darkness, until the Great Day.
"So, Milton, you see, there isn't any 'where' at all – we aren't in any place – we just are! And when the Great Day comes. We each come out again, clothed in new bodies, and separately take up our tasks again in a different world. Long, long thoughts, aren't they dears? And many wiser than you would not say they comprehend them clearly.
"Well, let us just fancy that we are looking on at this Great Darkness. Somewhere in it all, by and bye, we should see a point of light appearing, then other points, which soon would begin to collect other drops of light, as a snowball gathers snow, then to whirl around in a fiery misty cloud that yet is cold. This misty cloud is what is called in these days, nebulous matter. In Latin, the world 'nebula' means cloud. You can see it any bright night in the sky in what I have pointed out to you as 'The Milky Way.' And you can just think of what you are looking at, that it too, maybe, is getting ready to make a new world in the great Universe.
"As this cloudy, misty cold fire whirls round and round, it grows thicker and brighter with the motion – for at first it was thinner even than air – and it becomes thick as water. Then, when the outside of the ball cools off, and hardens, we have earth, though inside it is so very hot that it actually boils over, and makes mountains and valleys on that cooling earth crust – as you see them on your relief maps at school."
"And then, right off, Auntie, were there trees and flowers just as they are now? Asked Dorothy.
"Oh, no, " Aunt Eleanor went on. "When this globe of ours was very new, it was covered with water – quite warm water, too, and the plants and animals growing in it were tremendous, larger than anything you can imagine. And the men were like giants – not like people, as they look now – but globular in shape – without bones – and almost transparent, like jelly. Man began to have bones 18,000,000 years ago.
"Its hard to imagine such a long time, isn't it, even if one should be a hundred years old? And wouldn't it seem foolish if we could live only those few years on an earth so very, very old? But we have lived on it thousands of lives, you see, in other bodies we have had.
"Well, it took many millions of years for the earth to get cool and hard and small as it is now, with men and animals all smaller to fit it. In all that time, you must remember, the globe has gone through many changes. We are the fifth great race of people who have lived on it, and after we have learned all we can from it as it is, there will come floods, and earthquakes, that will send mountains down into the sea and bring up land that once belonged to a continent now buried there, and there will be a new continent. Something of the sort is going on by degrees all the time. You will remember the terrible floods and earthquakes all over the world, and especially in Japan, in January 1914? The really great change will not come till the axis of the earth tips so that it will make summer where now is winter, and winter where summer is now. All that is so far away in the vast future that it does not profit us to think of it – only it explains why bones of tropical animals and tropical plants are found up in Greenland.
" But before that new great continent comes up out of the ocean for the great sixth race to dwell upon, there are two divisions, called sub-races, of the fifth great race yet to come. The sixth sub-race is even now beginning to form here in America, though it will be 16,000 years before it has fully arrived. Then, too, there will be many changes in lands and waters. That race in another 25,000 years will be preparing for the next sub-race, the seventh and last of the fifth great race. Then when the seventh sub-race is through, Nature will begin her spring house cleaning and get ready for the company of the sixth root race. She'll take ample time to do it, too, I assure you. Nature is never in a hurry.
"I think, someway, if we are always mindful of how big life is – how long our world has existed – in how many bodies and races we ourselves have lived before – how everything in the vast world is ever changing, and only we ourselves – the Perceivers – remain unchanged to see all the changes – it will be easier for us to be unselfish – to act so that we may be helpful in all the works and changes of Nature – and helpful of all our brothers who live and learn through them all."
And then Norah called them to dinner, so that the questions must wait for the morrow.
"Aunt Eleanor," began Milton at the breakfast table next morning, 'I don't see how anyone can know about the world as it was millions of years ago, when it has been destroyed so many times. Please, where did you find out about it, and how do you know that it's all true?"
"Well, dear, you learn from me, don't you, because I know more than you do? Just so, I have learned from those older and wiser than I. There is always someone to learn from, and always someone to teach."
"Oh, Auntie," broke in Dorothy, 'I was thinking about that – and who was there to teach when this world began? Weren't all the people new on earth?"
"They all had new bodies on the new earth, Dorothy. But, you see, they had all had other bodies on other earths. So the first Teachers on this earth were those who when the Moon was an earth like this, had grown to be the wisest of men, and were able to choose to come to the new earth to help and teach those who already had been their younger brothers."
"Are those Teachers still on earth, Auntie?" asked Milton.
"Some are, surely. They are wherever they can best help. Some again may have been needed on an older earth than this, and have passed over the work of this earth to another Teacher, whose wisdom is also great. Wherever they may be, they are where they are most needed – because they are wise. And we must always remember, dears, that just as these Masters of Wisdom are wiser than we, so we are wiser than the savages of Africa just as those Masters of Wisdom help us, although we do not see them, so we, by unselfish thoughts and deeds help them, - as well as the African savage, the animal in the forest, and the very grain of sand upon the shore. We are all climbing up the great stairway of Life, and the higher each one goes, the higher rung he leaves for those below him to climb upon."
"Then, Auntie, seems as if it doesn't matter if we are rich and famous, but only if we know how to help others. Is that it?"
"Surely, Milton. All the riches and fame in the world are useless, if they are not used to help others. Riches and fame are not wrong in themselves, but wrong as they have been gained selfishly – as they are used selfishly. If we are trying to serve, instead of to be served, we may not be very famous, and we may not be very rich, but we'll know what riches cannot buy. Such knowledge these Elder Brothers have.
"You asked me, Milton, how anyone can know about earth as it was millions of years ago. Those wise Elder Brothers have kept the records of those times, and of all the races that have perished or still exist on the earth."
"Why, did they have books then, Auntie, just like those we have now?" asked Dorothy.
"Their books did not look like ours, you must understand. Sometimes the records were written on metal discs, on waxen tablets, on palm leaves, on stone. You could not read them, no matter if you can read in the Fourth Reader, for they are written in the signs of a language no longer used, which great scholars can read only after many years of labour and study. Usually these records have been preserved in caves under the ground – cut in the rock – even under vast stretches of desert sand, that have piled over buried cities. For while many cities and many races have perished – there has always been someone left as a witness, someone to guard the ancient records until the time comes for men to use them wisely. Then the Elder Brothers send a Teacher into the world to teach what these records hold – and more, which they can only give to others as they speak it.
"As you grow older, you will find the names of these Teachers with every race in history. It is only about forty years ago since They sent the last Teacher. She was known in the world as Madame Blavatsky, and Mr. Wm. Q. Judge helped her with her work. (And, by the way, all the boys and girls who knew Mr. Judge voted him their best friend and playmate.)
Madame Blavatsky studied these ancient writings and put them into our language for us – and she gave her whole life to make the truth plain to us. So, when you ask me, how do I know these faraway things are true, I'll have to tell you that to me they seem to be true because they agree with many records, and all the facts I see and know. Madame Blavatsky shows me plainly how reasonable the whole universe is, and because whatever else she said I could prove for myself I have found is true, I trust her also to know those things that I have not yet proved for myself."
"Madame must be the wisest one you ever knew, then, Auntie?" Dorothy questioned.
"Yes, dear. I couldn't begin to make you understand how wise she was. But, anyway, the wisest men of Europe sat and listened to her – and however differently they believed, they could not contradict her."
"But you said the Elder Brothers sent her? Why didn't they come themselves, Auntie?" "Well, you see, if they had come, so beautiful and perfect as they are, people would have fallen down and worshipped them, instead of seeking out the truth, and thinking for themselves. And then the people wouldn't have been any wiser than before, would they? They sent one with a body such as we all have, that we should pay attention not to that body or person, but to the words and lessons taught. And now, of course, after all these years, we realize that only a Great Being could have been trusted to do that work."
"Where do these Elder Brothers live, Auntie?" asked Milton.
"Why, they live in all parts of the world, though few know just where they are. Those who taught Madame Blavatsky live beyond the high Himalayan Mountains. But it is more important that we should be learning what they gave us to learn, than to think about where they live or what they are doing. Not being very wise ourselves, we could not understood the life of such Wise Ones."
Then Father broke in – "Should you say, Eleanor, that Jesus was one of those Elder Brothers?"
"Surely. And isn't it strange that when these Messengers come, there are so few to realize their greatness? Only, after hundreds of years did people begin to see in the despised carpenter, son of Joseph, a great Teacher. He taught what Buddha and Confucius taught. All these great Teachers say the same great things to men. They all know each other They know the same things to be true They come from the same place, on the same mission – to tell men those things that are true and that will lead them on to wisdom.
"People are often vain of their learning and proud, and they do not like ideas that would show their own to be wrong. Those that come to bring true ideas are not vain or proud, and because they do not sound their own trumpets, as common men do, are despised, except by a few. Then as the years go on, little by little, their ideas take hold – the old ideas are proved to be false by fresh discoveries – and men finally see that a Messenger has been among them, eager only to give true ideas, and they have not recognized him or been grateful."
"Oh, Auntie," Dorothy questioned, breathlessly, "supposing such a Wise Person could live with us every day, how would we know he was wise?"
"Well, dear – not because anyone else told you he was wise. You would know it by what he said. If he himself said he was wise, you would know it could not be so. All down the ages the Great Teachers never told men to look at them, but only to look at the truth they brought. Then you would study their words to see if they explained all else you already knew. For if they were true, they would explain all things everywhere – and leave nothing out."
Then Father jumped up and kissed them all good-bye, saying:
"I'll have to run to the Bank to get there in time this morning. Be sure to meet me tonight, kiddies!"
Do you know, Auntie," began Dorothy one morning at breakfast, "I like my Geography lessons ever so much better since you told us how worlds began and how they change and grow. And I can see on the map just the very places where once the land must have been that connected these great continents and then broke off from the mainland, and I can almost imagine the shape of the lands that used to be. Do you suppose, if I brought my geography home tonight, you could show us just where those continents are buried under the sea? And tell us their names?"
"Well, dear," answered Aunt Eleanor, "that would be fun for us all, I"m sure. Only about the names, of course, you will have to remember that we are using the language of this continent and this great race now. While there are Wise Men who know those ancient names, they know them in such different forms from any language we speak, it is useless for us to be told them. So we give these buried continents names in our language. Nor can I give you an exact map of these old continents – but just a general idea as to where land once was, and where later it was not. But it will be interesting to go over it together, after dinner. So bring your geographies home, and I'll hunt up a globe I have upstairs that will help, too."
This is the way Aunt Eleanor described those buried lands that evening, as a soft gentle rain fell outside, and made home seem a cosey nest for a bird's eye view of the ages.
The first land crowned the North Pole like a skullcap, and is called "The Imperishable Sacred Land." But Wise Men say this land is still there where it first began, and will always be there till this earth has passed away. In reality, neither Capt. Peary nor Dr. Cooke ever reached the North Pole, which is beyond an inland sea, far, far beyond the frozen fields of snow and ice. Some arctic travellers have seen that sea, but they thought it was a mirage.
Well, then, just let us imagine that 'skullcap' as the head of the world, and that inland sea as her neck. Now, we shall find the Second Continent – the 'Hyperborean,' stretching out her shoulders southward and westward from the neck, and comprising the whole of what is now known as Northern Asia. You will read of this land when you come to study Ancient Greece, though the books will make you think it was only a strange fairy-tale of the Greeks. So you see, Northern Asia is the oldest land we know of in these days – and has been peopled in turn by the Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth races.
You can get a better idea of this continent from the globe here. It began on a line above the most northern part of Spitzbergen, and on the side of the Western hemisphere included lands now occupied by Baffin's Bay, with neighbouring islands and promontories. On the Eastern hemisphere it reached as far as Kamschatka. The continent was in the shape of a horseshoe, you see, - the inner edge connecting the northern part of now Greenland with the northern part Kamschatka by the coasts of Eastern and Western Siberia the lower curve of the horseshoe probably took in the southern end of Greenland and the southern part of Kamschatka. All around this horseshoe, of course, you must picture an immense ocean – from which yet other lands are to emerge, for the use of the Third Race. Their continent we will call Lemuria.
We must not suppose, though, that an old continent went down all at once, and a new one came up in the same way to take its place. The Third Continent contained some of the Second Continent mainland, and again Second Continent land became islands with bays or straits between. Then land kept emerging to the south of where you pictured the Second Continent as the shoulders of the earth; now she seems to be forming a tremendous body. Just fancy a continent big enough to include the Indian, the Atlantic, and the Pacific oceans! – See, I'll draw lines over your map to show you its general shape. Here again we have rather of a horseshoe, the inland sea, that makes its center, covering most of Africa and Europe and the country north of the Himalayas in Asia; while there is left of us most of the Second Continent land, and you see the British Isles have come out of the sea. The Australia of the present time is a remnant of that gigantic continent, which reached over to America – including part of California, Lower California and Central America. Then, too, Alaska was not disconnected by Behring's Straits.
Next the continent of Atlantis rises from the ocean floor, or grew, we might say, from the Atlantic portion of Lemuria, while the Pacific and Indian portion were falling to pieces. Atlantis covered the whole of the North and South Atlantic regions, portions of the North and South Pacific, and had islands even in the Indian Ocean. In fact, you see, if someone had seven-league boots, he could have walked right over from India to the America's without wetting his feet. That is how it happens that we have the same trees and flowers here as in the other continent now – because they were once connected.
There is so much to tell about Atlantis. Many scientists have written about it, and when you are older you will find a whole book written of it (Donnelly's Atlantis) which tells about the people, their arts and sciences, and monuments. For they were very wise, those Atlanteans! They had a language, an alphabet, books. And they knew many things we are now trying to find out. They had better aircraft then than we have now, as well as telephones, and far more wise physicians. Almost every day there are fresh discoveries that point to these ancient peoples. Even the ancient Egyptians were not so wise, though from the Atlanteans their knowledge came.
Isn't it interesting that the name Atlantis really was a name used on this old continent? It isn't a Greek word, as we might imagine. A city named 'Atlan' existed in Darien when Columbus made his discovery, and there are several words in the Toltec language that belong with it. Then, too, America is a native word. In Central America is a mountain range called 'Americ,' and it is far more likely America was really named from that, than for Americo Vespuccio. (Anyway, his name was Alberico, not Americo.)
This continent of Atlantis was distinguished by its high mountains – just as was Lemuria by its great rivers. (The Wealden in England is the bed of one of these great prehistoric rivers.) The Rockies and the Andes were then up, and the Himalayas, and the Azores and Teneriffe Peak were part of another mountain chain. Down in the ocean now is to be found a ridge 9000 feet high that stretches 2000 or 3000 miles south from the British Isles to Tristan d'Acunha, with connections on the coast of Northwestern Africa and of South America, near the mouth of the Amazon. These ridges must have been tremendously high mountains in those days. Only the northwestern part of Africa was out of the water then, but it was joined on to Spain, and the solid land connected Spain and the British Isles.
Well, Atlantis began to break up several millions of years ago. It divided into seven great islands, the largest of which disappeared 850,000 years ago. A small remnant of one of them, the last of Atlantis, called Poseidonis by the Greeks, sank 11,000 years ago.
But meantime, the Fifth great continent was forming. Africa came first out of the ocean mud, long before France and the British Isles emerged. (Just think of it, those island have gone down and come up again, four times!) Now the Sahara Desert was a great sea. But later, Africa separated from Spain, when the ocean rolled in to make the Mediterranean Sea, and then the Sahara became an arid waste of sand. In our America, I fancy, all our Middle Western states were covered with water in early Atlantean days, but were dried off and drained by the Mississippi and Great Lakes to suit the purposes of the Fifth Continent. South America has been lifting itself more and more from the sea. Europe has done likewise. Now, we shall have to watch the changes in the future. For there will be another continent, and still another. Parts of old Atlantis may come up again to belong to these; certainly many lands we know now will go down into the sea.
"But 16,000 years is a long time to wait for that, isn't it? We'll just watch – not wait – and learn from watching – won't we, boys and girls? No, not a single question tonight. Let's sleep on this! " Aunt Eleanor smiled as she kissed Dorothy and Milton, and sent them to bed.
It was a gala day for Dorothy and Milton when Father drove up the graveled driveway to the house in a shiny new automobile – just big enough to carry all the Family, Father said, and small enough so they could keep it shining and in good running order all themselves. The car meant many gala days to follow – every Saturday and holiday being the occasion for a trip into the country with lunch-baskets and Thermos bottles, and oftentimes fishing rods. There was always room too, for some friend of Aunt Eleanor's or a joyful little companion of Dorothy's or Milton's, whose appreciation of the treat gave almost as much pleasure to the Family as the trip itself. It was on one of these holiday excursions into a lovely canyon that the children learned much of fairies which they had not known before. It came about in this way.
Spinning merrily over the shining boulevard, they came under a long green archway of pepper and locust trees, - the blossoms of the locust gleaming like great pearls against the green, - with pepper berries here and there glowing as rubies might.
"Oh, oh," exclaimed Dorothy, "wouldn't you think this might be the very avenue Cinderella came down to meet her fairy Prince?"
"Why, Dorothy!" serious eyed Louise Tabor answered, "Didn't you know that that is just a fairy story? There aren't really any fairies. It's just like Santa Claus – you see – only 'magination1"
Dorothy's face clouded with perplexity, and she turned to Aunt Eleanor with the question in her eyes which she felt sure would be answered somehow to make things straight.
"Well, Louise," Aunt Eleanor began slowly, "I know many people think as you do in regard to fairies – but there are so many more people who do believe in them, so many people in the past who have written of them, perhaps we'd better look more thoroughly into the matter.
"Now, as we ride, just look ahead into the air toward the sun, very intently. Do you not see movements there – vapory, wavery forms, whirling and darting?"
"Yes, yes," the children answered after a moment. "What are they?"
"They are tiny lives in the atmosphere – the stuff we might say that air fairies are made of – those we call sprites and sylphs. For there are many kinds of fairies. Those that dwell in the fire element are called salamanders those of the water are nymphs and undines while those of the earth are gnomes and elves. It may be hard to see how these vague air-shapes make forms of miniature human beings so that anyone might notice them, but in reality it is the thoughts of real human beings that give them shape.
"You see, each thought we think goes out into space on the wings, we might say, of these little elemental lives, is borne along by them till the force of the thought is spent. That is why it is so necessary to think right true thoughts. Thoughts are really alive; they have their bodies they are things. So they can help or harm whomever they touch.
"Well, then, don't you see how there really is a Santa Claus where the people believe in him and think of him and picture him as a being? Can you not see how there are fairies, good and bad? More fairies, of course, dwell in countries such as England and Ireland, because the land is old and the people's thoughts for centuries have given fairies an abiding place there. I know of several English people who have come unseen upon a little water-nymph beside a quiet pool, or seen a tiny elf perched upon a swaying flower. And one Welsh gentleman, whom you both know, to this day remembers the sight of those fairies his old nurse showed him on their rambles in the forest."
"Then do you think, Miss Eleanor," asked Louise, "the story of Cinderella is true?"
"I should hardly like to say it could not be true anyway, Louise, in Fairy World. For like you, I have never seen such fairies as are described in the tale, and I do not know their language. But I suspect all fairies speak and act much as the people think who see them. Our delightful Grimm perhaps did conjure up the tale entirely out of his imagination – but maybe he really understood fairies, for all that. You know, all of the books we love best are not about actual people, but about people pictured so vividly in the writer's mind that to us also they speak and do just what they would actually have to speak and do under the conditions. In our hearts and sympathies we feel them true and real – often more real and true than many people we see and talk with every day. So many of the tales about the little sub-humans we call fairies might be true in a way similar to that, don't you see?
"There is so much going on about us all the time that we don't notice. You wouldn't think, would you, that it's fairies who set those little whirlwinds stirring in quiet fields? And, don't you remember, Dorothy, the other day when we were sewing together, I laid down my needle and thimble and went out of the room for a moment? When I came back, there was no needle nor thimble in sight, and I asked you if you had been using them. You said 'No, Auntie," and helped me in the search. After we had looked everywhere in the room, I came back to my chair, and there beside it on the table in plain view was the missing needle and thimble! You didn't suspect fairies of that, did you, dear? But it was some mischievous little elementals that did that to us. Of course, the needle and thimble were there all the time – only the elementals covered them up from our view. But remember, children," warned Aunt Eleanor with a smile, "you mustn"t after that blame elementals for your not being able to find things! Anyway, it happens almost exclusively in the case of metal objects. Those same little busybodies couldn't so well manage a book, or cap, or gloves, or lunch-basket!
"Well, we mustn't get into the habit of thinking that men and animals and birds and fishes and insects are the only live things in the world. There are lives whose actions we do not ordinarily see, just as there are colors seen by some people which others cannot see sounds high and low, heard by some, which others cannot hear. Maybe I can tell you more of the fairies after we get up in the canyon."
It was such a beautiful canyon – with rocks and trees overhanging the clear running water, blue in the swirling pools, and foaming white over the rocks! Above on either side rose high mountain walls, and birds called gaily to their neighbors in the treetops. After lunch, Father and Milton went off on an exploring 'hike', while the girls and Aunt Eleanor, drowsy from the drive and satisfied sharpened appetites, curled up on the ground beside the brook to rest. But it was not long before Dorothy called out:
Eleanor, where is the music?"
"What does it sound like, Dorothy/"
"Why, it's a band – not very far away. Don't you hear it, Louise?"
"Yes, Dorothy," said Louise, "I was listening to it when you spoke, but I don't hear it any more now."
Eleanor laughed merrily. "There isn't any band of music inside of fifty miles,
girls. You didn't know, did you, that you were listening to the fairies?"
"Oh, but Miss Eleanor," said Louise, "it was so real and loud! And how could fairies play cornets?"
"Certainly, child, they don't play cornets – but the music you heard like that of the cornet is made by the fairies – or elementals – this time, the water elementals. The water you might think of as something like a phonographic record kept and played by the elementals. But I have heard them at this sort of thing much nearer home, and when I tell you about it, may be you can see more clearly how the music came about.
"You remember you were very quiet when you heard the music – almost ready to drop off to sleep? It was then you heard from an inner ear – not listening, really, nor paying particular attention to outside things. So, one night not so very long ago, during a heavy rainstorm, I found myself wishing that the people passing by on the sidewalk would be more considerate of those who wished to sleep at eleven o'clock at night. They were laughing and talking noisily, and I recognized Mrs. Harter's voice especially. I thought she must have been having a party and her guests were leaving. Imagine my perplexity when I remembered she had been away for three days and would not be home for another week! I listened more intently, and heard Chester's voice teasing, and his mother talking to him, sharply scolding. I even heard your father's voice calling to you! And then it dawned on me. Not far from my chamber window is the storm-drain between our house and Chester's. Down it the water was pouring noisily – and all those voices were in the water! The water was playing the records made by the elementals of the words and laughter of people living in the vicinity. The records were made in the air and the water furnished the power to make them audible!
"As soon as I realized the meaning of it, I turned over on the other side contented, and went to sleep.
"So, this band music you have heard today may have been impressed on the atmosphere a hundred miles away, and the air-fairies brought it to this lovely canyon , for the water-fairies to play the record."
"Now, Aunt Eleanor," Dorothy said, "you've told us something of the fairies of earth, air, and water. Could you tell us something, too, of the fire-fairies?"
"Very little other than you have seen for yourselves. Sometimes it seems a very mysterious thing that several fires will occur in the same vicinity at about the same time for which no apparent reason can be found, so that each fire is declared to be caused by spontaneous combustion. That really is the work of naughty fire elementals. Don't you remember, both of you, when Mr. Flower's house burned down, how angrily the flames seemed to resist the water and fairly to eat up the timbers? We all felt as if some ruthless monster were at work! And there was good reason to feel so, as you now know.
"Well, such are certainly destructive elementals, but there are those that even build cities! They hold pictures of cities in the air, just as we imagined them holding records of the music, and somehow men see with an inner eye, and are impelled to begin the building. Very few people know why there are so many cities unearthed, one on top of the other – like Troy, and Pompeii, and Herculaneum. Very few people know why cities grow in one direction first – rather than in another which should have been thought more favourable. It is the elementals (the thoughts of ancient peoples still alive in the atmosphere) that draw newcomers to the spot – just as a magnet draws steel filings – and urge them on in directions that have been taken before."
"Oh, thank you, Miss Eleanor," said Louise. "It is lovely to know such things. And to think there is a real reason for fairies!"
Just then Father and Milton rounded the turn in the road to tell them of a bank all sweet with maidenhair ferns and columbines. They did not say fairies were growing there, too, but if Dorothy and Louise half expected to spy a little elf swinging on a columbine, you don't wonder, do you, that they jumped right up to look?
GHOSTS – SEVEN-FOLD NATURE OF MAN
Only a few days after this excursion into the canyon, Dorothy came running home from school to find Aunt Eleanor, with another question
"Auntie, there really are ghosts, too, aren't there, just like fairies?"
"Yes, dear – there are. But what makes you think so?" "Well, you see, we were reading the 'Legend of Sleepy Hollow" this afternoon in school, and it says there that ghosts flourish in that vicinity because people believe in them. And that's just what you said about fairies. Why is it that in stories people never seen afraid of fairies, yet are just scared to death about ghosts? What is the difference, Auntie?"
"For one reason, I suppose, that fairies are diminutive, tiny beings, and ghosts are 'life-size." Ghosts are commonly supposed to be dead men coming back to this world of living men. But in reality, of course, a man is always alive – and it is only his body that goes to pieces. Once a man leaves the earth, he waits to come back again in an infant's body. I have told you before that we have also inner bodies besides this of flesh and blood and bone and muscle. The physical body is changing all the time in its molecules and atoms, and we would not long look like the same person, if there were not a pattern, or inner model body, for the new molecules and atoms to grow into. This model body is usually called the 'astral body". ('Astra' means star – and so 'astral' would mean made of starry matter but in this case merely made of a finer kind of matter than the physical body.)
"When, then, a man 'dies,' as we say, he simply slips out of this physical and astral body, and goes on living in other still finer bodies. But meantime on earth his physical body is decaying, and just so in the astral world, his astral body is also going to pieces – even more slowly than the physical body, however. It is like a photograph of the man who once lived in it, and is so strongly impressed with the thoughts and desires of its former owner, that the elementals, pushed on by the thoughts of living people, can stimulate this photographic man into apparently real action and speech. That is all a 'ghost' amounts to, generally speaking, for it is another thing when at death, or shortly after, the going one appears to those most beloved in astral form and again, 'ghosts' are credited for doing wonderful things, which in reality have quite other causes.
"As for ghosts, well, you know how it is when Father is driving the automobile on a level road. Suppose he shuts the power off – the machine goes on for several yards by its own momentum, as we say. The more power he has previously applied, the farther the car goes. So the astral bodies of men who have thought most about eating and drinking and other selfish pleasures – with very little thought about the fine beautiful things of life – live longer in the astral world. And that is why ghosts, or so-called 'spirits,' never say anything wise. The real man isn't there to speak – it's only an echo of the old earthy thoughts that the elementals have set to sounding. To suppose ghosts are real men is as foolish as to suppose, Mr. Judge said, 'that a lot of educated parrots left in a deserted house were the souls of the persons who had once lived there and owned the birds, … a good parrot behind a screen could make you think that an intelligent man was hidden from view but speaking in a voice you hear and words you understand."
"So there is certainly nothing to fear from ghosts – and there is certainly nothing to gain from thinking about them. The fear comes from not knowing what they are. We are wise to put our thought and attention on the duties and services of our everyday life in the world where we are living. There is plenty of wisdom to guide us here; and there are plenty of souls in bodies to help, without seeking the companionship of bodies without souls. In fact, there is grave danger in that sort of seeking. And there are so many mysteries under our noses right in the sunlight for us to explore and learn by!"
"But I wish you would tell us more about those other bodies we have, Aunt Eleanor," said Milton wistfully. "How many are there, and why do we need more bodies than this one?"
"One question at a time, son, please," replied Aunt Eleanor. "And that one I will answer by reminding you of how many number sevens we have in Nature. There are seven colors in the rainbow – violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, red. There are seven notes in the scale. The body is completely changed in its atoms every seven years. There are seven openings in the head – eyes, nostrils, ears, mouth, - and when later you study Physiology, you will find little groups of sevens all over the body. Our seven days of the week follow out this natural order of Nature.
"Now we, as bodies, are just copies of big Nature. Just as our earth has seven bodies, so have we. We couldn't live on this solid earth, if we didn't have a body belonging to it. The air sprites couldn't make their journeys in the air, if their 'bodies' weren't made of air – and so, if the life of our earth has seven bodies belonging to it, we just have other bodies similar to earth's bodies, in which to learn what there is to know anywhere.
"You remember how we spoke of worlds being made – first issuing as a fiery cloud from the Great Darkness. We were there, and have bodies of that cold fire-matter. Some call that the etheric body. But before this body, even, was one of finer thought-force – which in its turn was like a shadow thrown from the finest spirit-matter, which makes the basis of all bodies – and contains them all.
"Then came a more gaseous state of matter, and we had bodies made of that. Then air was our habitation, and next we came into the astral state – with, finally, earth, the most solid of our bodies. Now you mustn't think of these various bodies as separate. They are not even so separate as the rounds of skin on an onion! I told you the astral body is what makes us keep the same likeness – but you can see that the physical body is so blended in with it, very few people suspect the existence of the astral body. They don't suspect they hear only with an inner ear see, with an inner sight, that all our senses and nerves belong to the astral body. Take the matter of Father's pipe smoke, for instance. You see it is in the air – and yet you know it is pipe smoke, different from the air which surrounds it and holds it up. So our various bodies are distinctly bodies – yet they interblend and penetrate each other.
"All these bodies are in use by us – whether we are conscious of it or not. We use chiefly the astral and physical bodies while we are awake, but when we sleep, we spend our time in finer bodies. We are never idle, you see. Life – (which is We) goes on always some way, somewhere. And what we learn in those finer bodies, sometime we may be able to know while we are awake. That would mean we were really and truly awake. So the great Masters of Wisdom are always awake in their earth bodies. They are able to use their finer bodies as they will – and remember."
Auntie!" exclaimed Dorothy, wondering, "do you mean such Wise Ones never have
"Yes, indeed, that is just what I mean. Suppose we talk about dreams tomorrow. Would you like that dears?" asked Aunt Eleanor.
"Oh, yes, Auntie," both agreed. And Milton added to Dorothy in a whisper:
"Let's dream something extra-special tonight to find out about – sister!"
Next morning, as Milton came down to the breakfast table with rosy cheeks and shining eyes, Aunt Eleanor chuckled softly –
dreams for this boy last night, I can see that! Anyway, you can't remember any,
can you Milton?"
"No, Aunt Eleanor, I don't remember any. But didn't you say once that everyone dreams every night?"
"Yes, everyone goes into the land of dreams every night on his way to Deep Sleep, and comes back from there to waking through the land of dreams. But each one has his own dreamland, just as he has his own thoughts when wide awake No two people ever dream the same dream. But there are various kinds of dreams. One kind Milton knew a great deal about, before we realized he must eat just his bread and milk at night. For his body was too tired to take care of a hearty dinner, and so was uncomfortable enough to keep telegraphing news of disquiet to the brain. Then the Perceiver kept watching the movements of the poor tired little brain, instead of going free into the state of deep sleep. Such horrid dreams those were, weren't they Milton? 'Nightmares," everyone calls them.
"You see, it's just as if the brain were a hallway leading from waking to Deep Sleep. On its walls the Perceiver has been hanging all kinds of pictures during the day, and these the Perceiver sees all in a tangle, if his body is not comfortable when he tries to go through the hall. But if the body is comfortable, then the Perceiver just glances at them in their order as he passes through, and forgets them till he comes back through the hall to waking again. But what he has seen in Deep Sleep, he connects when he is awake with the pictures in the hallway, so that he cannot be sure of just what did happen in that world on the other side of the hall."
you have any dreams, sister?" queried Milton.
"Yes," answered Dorothy. "But, Aunt Eleanor, if you please, I'd rather not tell it just now."
"Certainly, dear, don't tell it unless you care to. Sometimes, people lose the sense of the rarest dreams by repeating them idly. Anyway, it's nearly time to be starting for school."
That evening, however, when they were all sitting quietly in the firelight, Dorothy spoke up:
"Aunt Eleanor, I think I'd like to have you know about my dream now. It was a dream about my Mother. We seemed to be walking in the twilight together through a lovely garden. It was too dark to see Mother clearly, but the flowers seemed to be shining like stars. I could smell the violets, and the lilies were so bright in their white and gold I just held my breath to look at them. All the while my hand was in Mother's, but we were not speaking, till at last we came to a dark wall and Mother put her arms about me, saying:
" ' Now, run along, Little Daughter."
"That was all of the dream, but when I woke up, it seemed as if Mother was standing there beside my bed. I lay very still and quiet and just felt her there, until I had to look to see. And then I knew that she was gone."
Everyone was quiet for a few moments.
"That was a real dream, dear," Aunt Eleanor said. "Your feeling, when you woke, was the memory of what happened while you were away in that far Land of Deep Sleep. You surely were with your Mother there. On coming back through the hallway of the brain, you saw such pictures of radiant beauty, because what took place in reality called up in your brain the most beautiful pictures ever hung there."
"Why is it, Eleanor, that often people dream of accidents or death, that some time after really come to pass?"
"That is another kind of dream, Richard – the dream of premonition. But you must understand that it would not be possible to dream such events, if the causes for them were not already set in motion. The Perceiver, seeing the cause in his inner vision of Deep Sleep, would just naturally follow it out to its effect in this outer world. The effect is always wrapped up in the cause, just as a blossom is wrapped up in a tiny seed. Or, you might look at the law of cause and effect as a coin with two faces. You can't say either side of the coin is the coin [or law], yet both sides belong to it. Now a matter of terrible catastrophe or death seen in Deep Sleep probably shocks the physical brain into remembering – just as the meanest of men sometimes becomes a great hero, when a terrible catastrophe in waking life shocks him into a sudden swift remembering from his inmost soul, - and he acts as that soul, sublimely.
"One day, children, you asked me to tell you about some other bodies you had when you lived before this time. I said I could not do that. But it is quite possible as the years go on that you may catch glimpses of some of them in dreams. You may even know the names that you were called when living in those bodies. The record of them all is in that Land of Deep Sleep."
Auntie," asked Dorothy, "how could we tell it was a dream of a past life, or
just a mixing up of the pictures of this one?"
"Yes, Auntie," added Milton. "Or something we remembered out of a book or what someone else had told us?"
"That, in many cases, could be easily checked up. It would certainly be wise to examine the dream for any apparent cause first, and if you found one, let it go at that. But if you can find, for all your thinking, no cause at all, quite likely it is a memory of other lives. I have known of people dreaming scenes they had never read of, heard of, nor fancied – of implements they likewise never heard of – of costumes and strange peoples – yet having in the dream no sense of strangeness, themselves being a part of the scene, and clothed like the other actors. Their sense of 'I am I" simply belonged there. So, as it is that 'I am I" which is ourselves, and which we can never think out of existence, it seems quite likely, doesn't it, that the 'I" can make a connection with its other lives in Deep Sleep? Anyway, such is the fact, which some day you may prove for yourselves."
"Ah, I seem to see, Eleanor," Father went on, "it is that feeling of 'I am I" that shows the difference between the dream of a past life, and a dream of this present one. Is it not true that we dream dreams of mere fancy? The Perceiver catches hold of some picture in the brain, and builds and builds upon it a real tower of meaningless actions and events? But in that case the 'I am I" belongs to the circumstances and body of this present lifetime, and we know it. Is that right?"
nodded Aunt Eleanor.
"Auntie," said Dorothy, "some of the girls at school have dream-books that, they say, tell the meaning of dreams. Do they?"
"No, dear, I'm sure they don't. Every dreamer dreams differently, and only the dreamer can get the meaning of what he dreams.
there are other kinds of dreams than those we have spoken of. There is very
much more known about all kinds than we have said. But after all, the important
thing is to keep out thoughts unselfish, true, and clean during our daytimes;
then our voyages into the Land of Deep Sleep are bound to be fair ones that
bring us back to waking time refreshed, and eager for our daily tasks. So, sweet
dreams to you, boys and girls," smiled Aunt Eleanor, as she led the way upstairs
for Dorothy and Milton, while Father called after them:
"I'll be up as soon as you're ready, youngsters."
DEVACHAN AND BIRTH
Dorothy and Milton had some very companionable playmates. One of these was Eloise Moore, who lived about two blocks away, the happy possessor of a tennis court, where they spent many gay hours. It was there one day they met Helen Brown, a small, bright-eyed girl, who seemed to have an endless variety of questions at the end of her tongue, when they stopped playing between sets. Dorothy and Milton had often seen her in the neighborhood and at school, but had never spoken with her before.
live with your aunt, don't you, Milton?"
"Did your mother die and go to heaven?"
"No," answered Dorothy, as Milton hesitated. "My dear Mother still lives, but we see her only in the Land of Deep Sleep."
"That's queer," said Helen. " My mother said she was in heaven with the angels."
Though the children then went to playing, you may be sure they did not forget Helen's remark, and Aunt Eleanor that evening must needs explain to them 'heaven' and 'the angels.'
"There are just as many 'heavens," dears," said Aunt Eleanor, "as there are dreams and dreamers. ' Heaven" by many people is thought of as a place where souls go when they leave their bodies, and where they live forever, as angels, dressed in shining white robes, and singing songs in praise of the Being they call God (such a God as, you remember, Chester spoke of long ago). So the people who think that way will really have that kind of a 'heaven," after they leave their bodies, and it will be thousands of years, probably, before they come back again to earth in infants' bodies.
"There are people who think there is no life but this present earthly one. They, on dying, would scarcely have a 'heaven" but come back very quickly to earth, very little wiser for the life lately lived.
"Then there are others, who have lived pure, unselfish lives, who think of 'heaven' as some place of rest, about which they can know nothing until they reach it. Their 'heaven' would be a state of complete happiness, - surrounded by all those dear to them, - allowing the pursuit of every high ideal, which in a physical body, they may have been denied. But no 'heaven' is a place, any more than the Land of Deep Sleep is a place.
"You remember our talk about our seven-fold bodies. Well, 'heaven,' then, we might say, is simply the element of one of our finest inner bodies – just as we know the water is the element of the fish, and the air, of the bird. Within our true bodies are all elements, you see. To be living in one element doesn't mean that the other elements are thousands of miles away. Just a thought takes us from one to the other. A beautiful, unselfish thought puts us in 'heaven' a bad thought keeps us away from it, - chains us to unhappiness, discomfort, and discontent.
"The same people, by the way, who think of 'heaven' as a place, also think there is a place of evil, which they call 'hell.' But neither is 'hell' a place. It is simply the suffering for evil thoughts which we feel in our physical bodies.
"I like the Theosophical name of 'Devachan,' – meaning 'the place of the gods' – for expressing the condition of souls, who have finished one life in the body and are getting ready for another, - because that word has never been taken to mean a place, like a fine city."
"Then, Auntie," queried Dorothy, breathlessly. "Devachan must be like the real dreams that we bring back sometimes from Deep Sleep?
dear, there is no better way to describe it."
"Auntie, what sort of a Devachan do you think Mother is having?" asked Milton.
Well, in the first place, I am sure she would have her boy and girl, and their father, there. I fancy she would be sharing her delights with them – whatever those may be. You remember, don't you, how dearly she loved her music? Quite likely in Devachan she is working out in music all the beautiful things she longed to create, while she was on earth, but which were never possible – chiefly because of her devoted care of her two babies."
Then Father put his head in at the door with:
son, are you going to help me clean the car now?"
"Yes, Dad, I'll get on my overalls in a jiffy. Please excuse me, Auntie?"
Then Aunt Eleanor and Dorothy went on with their talk alone.
best part of her lovely dream of Devachan, you see, Dorothy, is that when Mother
comes back, she may bring with her some of the music she created there. Maybe
some day on earth she will compose the sweetest lullabies ever written, - some
songs that will reach the heart of all the world."
"But, Aunt Eleanor, how will she ever get back to earth? I just can't understand how it will happen."
"It is a great mystery to every one, Dorothy dear, but the most beautiful mystery there is, - so sacred that we never speak of it except with those who are our nearest and dearest and who understand us best. You can appreciate that from the way you felt about your dream of Mother. That was sacred, but this mystery of birth is even far more sacred.
"First, let us remember that when Mother's body grew tired and died here, she was born into Devachan. Before she left her body, however, she saw in lightning-flash a sort of moving picture of all her lifetime, and knew the meaning of it all. So in Devachan, even, she will at last grow tired and long to come back to earth again, and her Devachanic body will cease to be. When that comes about, another lightning-flash will show her what her next life on earth will be. Then she will be ready indeed to come back again, for as your Mother, she has died to Devachan."
"But how will she be able to find her father and mother, Aunt Eleanor? And will she next time be a little girl?"
"Your last question first, Dorothy. She may be a little girl, and she may need a boy's body next time. Whichever the soul needs, that it finds. But there won't be any searching for her parents. It will be just as if a hole in the sky opened for her – for her alone – and only through that can she go."
"Would her parents be looking for her, Aunt Eleanor?"
"Yes, I think they would. They might not know it to speak of it, but deep within, and in the Land of Deep Sleep, they would know. The love between father and mother is a part of the great mystery, too, you see, and it acts like a magnet to that soul waiting to come back. The soul knows its mother where it finds her, and waits the opportunity to build its own house with her help."
"Why then, Aunt Eleanor, the stork doesn't bring babies. They just come by themselves?"
"No, we couldn't say they come by themselves either, dear, although, of course, the stork story is just an invention of those parents who know so little of the mystery that they do not care to undertake a true explanation to their children. No one ever came into the world without the help of others. A soul might be near the mother it was due to come to, but the parents refuse it entrance into life. This means we must study the body for a moment and understand what a wonderful and precious thing it is.
"All Nature is made up of the pairs of opposites. You know there is heat and cold we wouldn't know we were happy, if we were not sometimes unhappy we wouldn't know light, without dark. So the body of a man is a necessary opposite to the body of a woman, and together they furnish proper material for the body of a new life. There are especial organs for this most wonderful process, and you can easily understand, it is those organs we instinctively do not speak of that are the instruments used in such a precious way.
"All our organs seem to have two different uses. All of them are means of taking care of waste-matter, but their other use is higher and very much more important. How little good would our eyes be to us, though, if there were not other pairs of eyes to look back at us! And of what use would the ears be, if there were no one to speak what could be heard? We never could learn anything, nor do anything, if it were not for other selves, who have in their organs by which they receive knowledge from us. So those secret organs, too, are used. The father gives of his sacred store a precious fluid. The mother receives it in the place consecrated to that use. But it is not the father alone, nor the mother alone who can do it: it is love that works the miracle needed for the coming soul.
"You know Father has explained to you about the making of water from two gases. Two parts of hydrogen and one part oxygen in a glass jar remain the separate gases, until an electric current is thrown into the jar. Then there is a spark, and the two gases become transformed into water. So love is the electric current which unites the precious life fluids within the mother, and the spark kindled is the center of a new physical body. For it fuses to the mother's body the design body of the waiting soul, and on this the new body of flesh begins to grow.
"That is miracle enough, isn't it, dear? But all that follows is just as marvelous. Ten times the moon is young and old before the little body is ready to come out of its warm nest into our world. All that time, the mother has been furnishing material for it out of the food she eats. Those are wise fairies, indeed, aren't they, who carry that material and lay it in place in the dark, without the sound of a hammer or a saw? All silently the work is done, and Oh, so perfectly!"
how then does the baby get out from that dark place, Aunt Eleanor?"
"Why, when the baby is ready, the doors of the temple just opens up. That is all. And when the little one comes forth, it cries – because, ancient peoples used to say, it knows the time has come to begin school again in earnest. They also said that when we die is time for smiling, since school is 'out' for a while."
"Well, Aunt Eleanor, dear, it is a beautiful story. I'm always going to remember it. And I think I'm going to take kinder care of my body, now I know how wonderfully it was made."
"Yes, and how wonderfully it is all the time being made. Your own small body will grow with the years, and will sometime become a temple of the holy mysteries.
"There is another thing, too, to remember, dear. What I have told you of the process of birth of the human being is the same process for the world itself, in which we live. It is just so that the great forces of Nature brought our earth, and our whole solar system into being!"
"Oh, Aunt Eleanor, just isn't the world interesting!" exclaimed Dorothy, as they started hand in hand for the dining room, where Father and Milton were already waiting them.
Mrs Moore was calling on Aunt Eleanor one day while the children were at school.
"I've really come on a particular errand, Miss Broughton," Mrs. Moore began. "I am daily more surprised at the way Eloise is beginning to think. For instance, just yesterday she found a little dead linnet under the orange tree. She crooned to it 'Poor little brother!" and then smiled up at me, 'But some day soon, he'll have a new little body, Mother."
"Last week she was telling me of one of her schoolmates, whose father had warned him not to jump on streetcars while they were in motion. The boy was just bright and merry and quick, and thoughtless, and so in the habit of jumping on successfully, that he forgot the warning. The poor little lad failed for once, however, and it likely that now he will always be lame. We were all expressing our regret at the accident, when Eloise remarked, 'My, that was quick Karma, wasn't it Mother?"
"Not only does she think, but she has taken to her piano practice much more assiduously than ever before, and is exact as to her hour, for, she says, Dorothy tells her that by keeping the regular 'cycle' she will accomplish more with the time!
"Now, Miss Broughton, what magic is this that you use with the children.?"
Aunt Eleanor smiled as she answered: "Why, its only the magic of the truth. Do you know I think most parents greatly underrate a child's intelligence? I don't believe in 'talking down' to children, myself. I had a lesson in that once from a friend of mine.
"Her baby girl was very fond of singing, and before being put to bed was quieted down by her favourite songs. Whenever a new song was brought out, the baby would say, 'What is dat song, Mamma?" Sometimes Mother's repertory would run low, and she would improvise. The baby noticed the difference at once, and asked the usual question. Mother answered, 'Why, that's improvised." Baby seemed quite content with the answer, but her mother told me she had not heard the word three times, when I chanced there one day.
was eighteen months old at the time, and carried airs perfectly, herself. She
sat on the floor playing with blocks, and singing her own compositions so lustily
that her mother and I were quite drowned out by the din. Thinking to divert
the stream of melody, her mother asked, "
' What is that song, little girl?"
"The mite answered: 'Dat's improbised!"
"I fairly gasped. It was evident that she knew the exact meaning of the word.
"Most people, you see, Mrs. Moore, think a soul comes brand new to the earth ; that this is the first time it has ever had experience here. In my opinion, we should have very wonderful children, if we realized that they are old souls in new bodies. Dorothy and Milton are gradually coming to realize that in sleep they are really 'grown-ups," and that they know, within. So some of the knowledge really does come through."
"Why that is wonderful, Miss Broughton, for I never saw more genuine child-children than they are! They do have the best times. Their fertile imaginations keep the other children all aglow. They have a new game for every day – and somehow, there never seems to be any quarrelling among them."
"They have a wider field of true adventure than the others, I think, Mrs. Moore. And certainly they should not be prigs, because they have a clearer understanding of life than others."
"But where do you yourself find the answers to all their questions?"
"It is in Theosophy, Mrs. Moore."
thought I should like to study that sometime, but I had no idea it would be
a really useful study."
"On the contrary, I'm inclined to think it is the most useful study there is. It includes all departments of nature, and leaves nothing out. It is a statement of Law – and the real value of it consists in using it."
"Miss Broughton, I am sure there are other mothers than myself who would be glad to take up the study for their children's sake. Would it be asking too much of you to have a class for us?"
"There is nothing I would do more gladly, Mrs. Moore. The world is in sore need of the teaching, and if we can start the children right, we shall be doing the world a great service – as well as saving the children a store of false ideas, which would prove the greatest obstacles in their lives."
"How would you recommend us to begin?"
"First, of course, the mothers must know the philosophy. Then we can study the applications together. First, I think we might read and study 'The Ocean of Theosophy," by Wm. Q. Judge, and 'The Bhagavad-Gita," which he has rendered into English."
"Why, may I ask, do you use the Hindu Bible rather than our own?"
"For the same reason that I might recommend our Bible to the Hindu. It is easier to get rid of our wrong ideas, I think, by taking an altogether different presentation from the one we are accustomed to. After you have the ideas from a different angle, however, you will be surprised at the illumination our Bible will receive from it. For children especially it enforces the idea that true religion is not confined to one book, nor to one people; and also that the true things were as true thousands of years ago, as they are now, and will forever be. We read a little aloud from it every day now and the interest and memory of the children are an amazement even to me. Moreover, I have a shrewd suspicion that the Gita is cultivating in them a true literary appreciation.
"Well, it isn't so important to read many books as it is to understand what we do read. We can find the whole philosophy in just those two. The first thing to do is to start, of course, and good methods of study will soon suggest themselves."
"I can see that, Miss Broughton. I think we shall all profit by the study, more than we now realize. So, I'll talk with other mothers, and come soon to see you to make further arrangements. But do you know," said Mrs. Moore, as she rose to go, "I'm not sure that we aren't quite as little children as our babies – in that we have so much to learn."
"Perhaps that is the first step, though. Did not Jesus tell us we must become as little children, before we could enter the kingdom of heaven?"
and Dorothy came romping up the walk as good-bys were said, and Aunt Eleanor
standing at the door whispered softly to herself:
"My dear little sowers of seeds!"
All these things Dorothy and Milton learned from Aunt Eleanor in the first year they were with her. But you must not suppose that questions stopped then. Just as you learned your tables of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, to use all your life long in whatever mathematical problems you may study, so Dorothy and Milton had these facts as a guide in answering their own questions.
We never grow so old, nor so advanced in school, that there are no more questions to ask of those who know more than we. The wiser we grow, the wiser our questions are. Always life is changing for us; the people in our lives are changing always the problems are changing. We only have to remember that We, the Perceivers, do not change, but look at the changes the Law does not change only we see it working in different combinations and always our problem is to act in our daily lives according to the Law, to benefit all our brothers – near to us, or far away – those in human bodies, or those still imprisoned in mineral or vegetable or animal bodies.
Here then, are just a few of the questions Dorothy and Milton asked. See if you can answer them, too!
"Aunt Eleanor, it's not so hard to choose between doing what is right and what is wrong, seems to me. But sometimes you have to choose between two things that seem good. Does it make any difference which way you choose?"
"Yes, wherever you have to choose, one way is the better, whether you can see it or not. We build our characters out of these small choices. But a little thought ought to show you which is the better way. Suppose you ask yourself these questions:
"Which would I rather do? Why? Is it easier for me? Would the other way make it easier and happier for others? Which way will bring most happiness to others, and least inconvenience and discomfort to others?"
"It is the same way of choosing, you see, as between right and wrong. Sometimes, of course, you will make mistakes, because you did not see clearly far enough, but next time, you will have the benefit of that mistake to help you. Keep right on choosing the more unselfish way always, and the time will come when you won't have to be puzzled any more, for you can't do anything else but choose right."
"Why is it, Aunt Eleanor, that when we don't deserve cross words, they make us feel so badly?"
" A harsh word uttered in past lives ever comes again. The cross words are some of your own, coming back to you out of the ages. Isn't that a good reason for trying to be gentle and patient, now, in this life?"
"Aunt Eleanor, some of the new boys at school are picking on me and trying to make me fight them. I don't know what to do. I've told them I don't want to fight, and have laughed at them when they called me names, but every day they are nagging me more and more, and call me a coward."
"Well, Milton, suppose they were treating some other boy that way? How would you feel?"
"Why, Auntie, don't you think I ought to stop it?"
"Yes, I do. Especially if he were not able to take care of himself. Well, then, in this case, the boys are bullies, and their example is bad for other boys. Tomorrow, when they begin their taunts, if I were you, I should offer to fight any boy who wants to fight. Quite likely your exercise with Father and the boxing gloves will give you a surprising advantage, and you will not have any provocation to fight after this affair is over. The bullies may seek another kind of fun hereafter.
"As in everything else, it is your motive that counts. You don't need to fight in anger, but simply with the hope of curing a quarrelsome disposition in those boys, and showing them that a boy who doesn't want to fight can not be safely classed a coward."
"In war, Aunt Eleanor, if a man dies killing another, would he in a future life suffer as a murderer would suffer?"
"Again, the motive counts. A soldier, believing it his duty as a patriot to kill, would die for his principle – not to defend himself as a person. He suffers with his nation in a future life, and has his share in the punishment due his nation for that killing. As a person, he would not have the punishment of a murderer, unless his heart were filled with feelings of hatred and revenge such as a murderer's would hold."
"Minnie Lake came to me at recess today, Aunt Eleanor, and said she was so sorry for me, because I was a Theosophist! I asked her why she thought that was bad, and she said that meant that I was a 'heathen' and didn't believe in God. I told her that even 'heathen' believed in God, if that was what troubled her, but anyway, I was very happy to be a Theosophist."
"Well, Dorothy, you see there are people who think that only their idea of God is the right one. So they would have everyone accept their idea – without themselves looking at the truth in other people's ideas. You can only convince Minnie that Theosophy is good by being a good Theosophist. To be kind and true and patient and gentle and honest, not speaking of the faults of others, and considerate of others rather than of yourself, will teach her that Theosophy is good, far more than any words you can ever say."
"Aunt Eleanor, I'm so afraid I haven't passed my test in Arithmetic! I just got fussed up over the first problem, and then my head ached, and I didn't get all the problems done."
"Well, the question is, have you been doing your best every day in your Arithmetic? If so, you did your best with the test. If you did your best, that is all anyone could ever ask of you. You are in school to learn, not to get higher marks than someone else, nor to envy those who have higher marks than yours. But it may be, the test showed up a weak place in your Arithmetic. So it is important to make that weak place strong, and see that there are no weak places when the next test comes. If you have failed, then learn from your failure.
"But why get fussed up over any problem? If one seems harder than the others, do the simpler ones first, and then go to the hard problem. You will then have the benefit of the exercise on the others. But remember the best you can do is all that is expected. It is to do your best, even if it's only tying your shoelace! And doing your best means that whatever you are doing, you are doing for the good of the Great Self of all creatures, as you are a part of that Self."
"Is it ever right to tell a lie?"
"Motive again, boys and girls. Suppose by saying 'Yes" when 'No" were the truth, you would save the life of a good man unjustly attacked by an angry mob? Wouldn't you be rendering a service by that lie to the angry mob as well as to the good man? In smaller matters, I know, it is harder to see, and lies, perhaps, are easier to tell. If Emma says, 'isn't my dress pretty?" and you think it very ugly, of course, it will hurt Emma's feelings to say that. Then don't say it, but think what best you can say, as for instance, 'Well, I rather think I like you better in your blue dress." Or, just exclaim, 'My, a new dress!" Trying to make her feel comfortable will tell you what to say, I think.
"Generally speaking, a lie is an abomination, and, told to protect one's self or for one's gain, it is the beginning of a downward path that is far from the places of peace. When one's sense of honesty is lost, he himself is lost indeed, for he soon cannot be honest with himself."
"There's one queer kind of lie we don't understand, Aunt Eleanor. Bessie Jones came to school the other day with her eyes all swollen up, nose running, and a terrible cough. Somebody said to her, 'What an awful cold you have!" And she answered, 'Oh, no, I'm a Christian Scientist I haven't any cold!" What kind of a lie is that?"
"We can't deny that such a statement is a lie, naturally. But it is not told to be a lie nor does it deceive anyone but the one who tells it. The idea of Christian Scientists is that by denying sickness, they put it out of existence. But it is as foolish to think that, as to think in the full sunshine there is no such thing as darkness. People think that way because their main desire is to be well and comfortable they believe such thinking cures their bodies. You see, after all, the lie exists in ignorance rather than intention. If they realized that their ills are the working out of Karma, they would not try to dodge them. If they realized that their present bodies will be followed by others in other lives, and that the Real Thing is not those.
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