I AM not here
for the purpose of assailing any man's religion or criticising
any man's life, be he churchman, materialist, or spiritualist.
I am not the authorised representative of any society,
sect, or creed, nor would I willingly misrepresent any
of these, for however false in statement I might believe
them to be, they doubtless represent to others truth, in
such measure as they can conceive and hold. I desire a hearing
for the sake of that one truth which is many-sided, and which
is applicable to all human affairs, and commensurate with
all life. The grandest truth ever revealed
to man has been belittled and obscured, until it is derided
and scorned. The divinity in man has been dethroned and a
fetish has taken its place. I desire a hearing in the interest
of this great truth, and I say to one and all, Come, let
us reason together, and see whether these things are so.
Humanity is in sore distress. Poverty, insanity, disease, and crime beset the children of man, and whether we play comedy or tragedy, the one drop-curtain bearing its emblems of mortality closes the scene, death is written over the portals where young and old have played their parts, and we turn away in silence and in tears. We are told that eighteen hundred years ago Christ came to bring salvation to a fallen race, and yet who dare say that as a whole the human race has been elevated or in any just sense saved. Something must be wrong with our religion or with ourselves. If the religion revealed by Him of Nazareth was true and adequate for all humanity in all time, then we must have misinterpreted and misapplied it. Those who believe and those who deny the religion of Christ are equally interested. If in the sequel it shall appear that the counsels of man have prevailed over the counsels of God, then it may also appear that better counsels will bring us back to the very thing of which we are in search, and for the lack of which humanity is in such sore need. If the disease is in us, and the remedy in our very hands, we have but to apply it in order to be healed.
In the beginning of this quest, protest will come equally from two quarters. Two parties stand opposed to each other, and so far as the subject of religion and all current interpretations are concerned these occupy opposite ground. On the one hand is the so-called orthodox Church [Page 21] man, and on the other the out-and-out Materialist. Let these for the time being make common cause, holding their peculiar views in abeyance, and see if in the end they cannot unite on a common truth. I shall undertake to show that the Law of Christ is not only the corner stone of moral ethics, but the very soul of all religion, and that upon the recognition of this law depends the physical, moral, intellectual and spiritual elevation and well- being of man. I shall further show that while one party misinterprets and the other denies this law, both parties more or less exercise it, and that each and all are indebted to it for all that makes life desirable or beneficent. To this end it will be necessary to examine somewhat into our present conditions and surroundings, in order to see just where we stand, and to enable us to forecast the future.
No human intercourse is possible without compromise. If I assume independence and declare that I have the right to do as I please in this world, another may make the same declaration of independence and with equal right. If our interests are found to clash, we may fight for supremacy and the coveted prize with teeth and claws, or with club, sword, or ironclad, and thus in the triumph of might, demonstrate our animal origin, and what physical science now-a-days calls the survival of the fittest. By-and-bye we begin to look deeper and to climb higher. We remember that life is sweet to all, and that the weak have rights that the strong are not only bound to respect, but that the brave will also defend. Thereupon we amend our declaration of independence, and it now reads in this wise: I have the right to do as I please, provided I do not prevent another from doing as he pleases. My declaration of independence has now become a code of ethics, for over against my own selfish interests are placed the interests of others. The principle of egotism now stands face to face with the principle of altruism. The selfish man who lives near the animal plane, may have outgrown the use of teeth and claws, and may conceal or disguise his club, while he triumphs over the weak for the benefit of self. Such an one reads his code of ethics in this wise: How little can I relinquish, how much can I appropriate to myself in safety, without massing the weak against me, and without losing my respectability or getting into the clutches of the law ? The altruistic individual reads the same code of ethics borne of compromise in this way: How much can I bestow upon others and still have all that I actually need for myself ? These two classes of persons standing upon the same code of ethics thus face opposite ways. The ideal world to the selfish man is one in which neither law nor gospel will interfere with his greed, and he is hardly aware that his face is set toward the animal world, where teeth and claws determine the empire of might, and on the animal plane the survival of the fittest. Such an one will often claim to be a gentleman and profess the Christian religion. [Page 22]
To the altruistic man or woman the ideal world is one in which neither law nor gospel are longer necessary, for the wise and strong are there, the almoners of the divine, the very hand of Providence to the poor, the weak, the helpless, and the despairing, and who thus fulfil the law of Christ, " Bear ye one another's burdens".
Here are two ideals diametrically opposite, two principles for ever at war with each other, and the theatre of battle is the individual soul of man and the life of humanity. Personify these ideals and they are Christ and Satan, for ever wrestling with man for the empire of his soul. Read the scriptures and read the human soul in the light of these, and Christ will be found to be the embodiment of altruism, as Satan that of egoism. Each is an ideal, the one placed over against the other, that man may not err in his choice of methods or of ends. Christ is lifted up and draws all men unto him through the sympathy and love of his divine beneficence; Satan is cast down, and drags mankind after him through their participation in his supreme selfishness. These are ideals of the divine and the animal in man, and these two strive in him for the possession of his will, his conscience, and his life. And now, my hearers, I ask you, where stands the Genius of Christendom as to this empire of the soul of man and the life of humanity ? How stands the Genius of Christendom in relation to the law of Christ ? Intellectual belief, sensuous emotion, and sentimentality, may be exercised in the name of Satan, and are often found masquerading as his prime ministers. All these may also pertain only to the surface of things, like the rise and fall of tides, or like the waves that come and go on the surface of the sea. The law of Christ converts the cesspool of animal egotism and innate selfishness into the translucent waters of life, that reveal alike the pearls beneath, and mirror the everlasting orbs above.
Christendom today, like the Jews of old, misinterprets and misapplies the law of Christ. The kingdom of Christ is not of this world, for it is within the soul of man, when the Satan of selfishness, like the tables of the money-changers, has been driven out. It is, indeed, not a worldly, but a Divine kingdom. To refer this Divine kingdom to the faraway Heaven somewhere in the still eternities, is to deprive humanity of its blessedness here and now; and to worship the religion of Christ as a fetish, and to ignore and pervert His law, can but dishonour Christ and degrade man. Intellectual beliefs, theological disputations, and all the paraphernalia of sacerdotalism, have often exhibited man's greed and selfishness in an almost unprecedented degree, and it has often happened that the one principle which was the very genius of Christ has been entirely forgotten and had to shift for itself. Professed believers in Christ have fought like very devils, unmindful that no lover of Christ could hate his [Page 23] fellow-men. Diverse intellectual beliefs are an absolute necessity to man, the very basis of his personal existence. As well might the will of man attempt to control the winds of heaven or the waves of the sea, as his intellectual belief, and yet this is just the task that sacerdotalism has attempted. Sects have multiplied and sacerdotalism gone to pieces. No longer able to control the outer life of man by its authority, or to longer persecute for heresy, sacerdotalism clam ours for subsidy, and thus the genius of Christendom has secularized Christianity, making Christ's kingdom a kingdom of this world, rich and powerful in money and lands, and in revenues the envy of princes. The genius of Christendom is thus a civil and temporal power despised by the masses, while its jurisdiction over matters in a future world is treated with derision. The doctrine of rewards and' punishments which has been allowed to usurp the place of justice, is denied for lack of jurisdiction. The genius of Christendom, being convicted of worldliness on the one hand and of shamming other worldliness on the other, has lost the hold it once had on the masses, for saint and sinner seem to enter with equal zeal into the strife for the good things of this world, and instead of religion existing for the benefit of man, man is supposed to exist for the benefit of religion. In thus secularizing religion and trying to hold both worlds, the genius of Christendom holds neither, for it has changed fronts without changing names. Intellectually the result is materialism; Spiritually the result is nihilism. The god of the people is the golden calf. I do not say this is true of all churches, but is it not true in all churches, as out of all? It may thus be seen that the principle of rewards and punishments applied on the principle of favouritism, has been allowed to usurp the law of justice: worldliness, and other worldliness, have lost sight of the law of Christ. This law is said to be so plain that a man, though a fool, need not err therein, and yet it has been so obscured by theology, and so set at naught by sacerdocy as to escape recognition by the masses of men and women, and even of the majority of those who profess Christianity. As secular organizations, many churches are neither better nor worse than others. In the bestowal of charities the members are neither more nor less liberal than others outside of all church organizations, and so far as they are held in communion by intellectual beliefs and mutual interests measured by money, just so far they are not in any essential sense Christian.
Formerly the test for membership was creed rather than character. Now the formulated intellectual belief is by no means so rigidly enforced provided one pays a liberal pew-rent, and is able to move in good "society". So long as these things are allowed to take the place of the deeper convictions of the soul, and to [Page 24] usurp the place of the law of Christ, just so long will they be a reproach upon the distinctive name they bear. All these things are of human origin. Whenever real earnest striving after the higher life and the exercise of the spirit of altruism shall constitute the bond of fellowship, some now in the churches will no doubt go out, and millions now out may be gathered in. Whether such an opportunity be desirable or not, let those determine who hold the keys, but let them cease complaining that they cannot reach the masses. When the churches become Christian they can convert the world.
There is a large and growing class in every community that stands squarely opposed to the churches, though seldom presenting an organized front. The great majority of these were born under so-called Christian influences and have been at some time communicants, in Christian churches, but unable to master the intricacies of theology, they have at length renounced all allegiance to organized forms of religion and are likely to deny whatsoever the churches affirm. A large number of these are, or believe themselves to be, materialists. Witnessing the indifference to spiritual things among large numbers of nominal Christians, and witnessing their zeal and success in the pursuit of worldly things, the materialist is confirmed in his disregard of all religions and in time comes to look upon them all as shams. Even the churches have not escaped this blight of materialism, for the number of their members who are in doubt as to the continuance of conscious life beyond the grave is very large, as any public medium can testify. Whether spiritualism be true or false, it has blocked the wheels of materialism, and at least encouraged the hope of immortality, which mammon worship is fast crushing out. The work actually accomplished at this point by spiritualism can hardly be over-estimated. The beginnings of spiritualism were necessarily crude, and its progress has been hampered by ignorance and fraud, yet thousands who profess to regard it with scorn and contempt have nevertheless consulted mediums on the sly, and other thousands ha ve listened to the recitals of “wonderful coincidents", as they have been termed, with absorbing interest. Materialism is not a crime, but it is the greatest misfortune that can happen to an individual and the greatest blight that can fall on a community. Consciously or unconsciously, man always builds towards his ideals, and whenever these fail beyond the things of sense and time, and are anchored solely to material things, they belittle the life of man and degrade his soul. So long as man aspires to something higher, his aspiration is like wings to his soul, and he may be conscious of the ether even while he grovels in the mud. Shorn of all aspirations for higher and better things, and looking upon death as a finality, selfishness and greed seize upon the soul, and with a wail of despair it cries: “Let us eat, [Page 24] drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die." Life thus becomes but the sickening dance of death.
In all so-called communications with disincarnated intelligences, two factors are involved. There is the medium or seer at one end of the line, and a spirit intelligent is supposed to be at the other. We need not here stop to consider the truth or falsity of this theory as to such communications as are received. Everyone who has given the subject careful and intelligent examination is convinced that genuine psychic phenomena actually occur, and that these phenomena are not satisfactorily explained on any known law of matter or theory of modern psychology. Taking now such genuine cases as no suspicion of fraud or collusion can possibly assail, and we may profitably consider the following suggestion. In all these cases there is an incarnated soul or human intelligence at this end of the line, and this is the point for profitable investigation. The sensitive or medium possesses qualities and exercises powers that are not the common possession of mankind to any large degree, and there is a very wide difference among sensitives as to degree and quality of manifestations. It is furthermore recognised among intelligent spiritualists that the general surroundings, mode of life, condition of health, and spiritual aims and ideals largely determine the character of all messages and phenomena purporting to come from the spirit world. Beyond the general condition requisite for increasing the sensitiveness of the medium, or unfolding this power of a natural sensitive, and that usually only in a limited degree, little has been learned as to the laws governing psychic phenomena. Just at this point lies the most promising and the most legitimate field for experiment and observation. If, instead of trusting to chance, and proceeding blindly, as is too often done, a strict guard were instituted over the life of the sensitive, greater certainty and afar higher character might be given to all psychic phenomena coming from such sources. The opened vision would thus be admitted to higher planes and a clearer atmosphere. Mediumship may be a blessing or a curse to all individual. The individual whose life is habitually low, and who is anchored to the selfish and sensual plane, should avoid the subjective state as he would avoid leprosy, for obsession, insanity, and suicide lie that way, and every pure-minded person should avoid such mediums for a like reason. With better knowledge of the nature called sensitive, and the conditions under which the psychic gift can be developed and exercised, will also come a different class of communications, and also different interpretations of the whole range of psychic phenomena. When the transcendent powers and possibilities of man here on earth are better understood, it will be seen that many phenomena attributed to disincarnated spirits [Page 26] belong to man himself. Whenever the development of the psychic sense moves upward to the plane of open vision, the so-called spirit-controls will hardly be sought and seldom allowed. No sensitive will then submit to all unknown force and be liable thereby to such obsessions as are now sometimes witnessed. Only the development of open vision with full consciousness can reveal the real nature of the so-called control and the result of such possessions. One thing is very certain, and that is, that every time a sensitive submits to such control, whether it be good or bad, it weakens the will and renders subsequent control far more easy and irresistible. It may be seen from these meagre outlines, that the laws governing the psychic nature of man, and the relation of the individual to the objective and the subjective planes, are matters of the very first importance.
It is a well-known principle in human nature that no partial or one-sided development can ever be lasting or satisfactory. Whenever anyone faculty of man is developed out of all proportion to the rest, the result is weakening rather than strengthening to the whole being. The strength of a chain is only equal to its weakest link, and the real power of a human being consists in the elevation and harmonious relations of every faculty of both body and soul. One-sided development is always a deformity. If, therefore, anyone seeks psychic development in safety and in any high degree, he must move bodily to higher planes. Psychic development thus pursued becomes the journey of the soul toward divinity. In this upward journey of the soul at a certain stage of development, clairaudience and clairvoyance come as a natural result. The conscious soul of man having outgrown the bounds of matter, space, and time, as we understand these terms, will enter consciously into super-sensitive states and ethereal worlds, by the harmony of its own nature and the gifts of the spirit, and be as much at home there as here. Such a result is no doubt the destiny, and should be the aim of every aspiring soul of man and woman, and when this condition is obtained, the kingdom of heaven within the soul will but epitomize the celestial kingdom. It may thus be seen that the true progress of man consists in his rising toward divinity rather than in attempts to drag disincarnated souls down into matter and to our own lower level. Divinity comes to us, only as we rise toward divinity.
Altruism is that principle which determines the ethical relations of individuals on the human plane, and which more than all else raises man toward divinity. The word charity has been so misinterpreted and misapplied that it has lost its original meaning, such meaning, for example, as was given to it in the sermon on the mount. Charity is not comprehended in throwing a few shillings or articles of food and clothing to a class of unfortunates whom we are also in the habit of regarding as [Page 27] inferior, and with whom we would regard it as improper to associate in any other way. That charity which suffers long and is kind, and which covers a multitude of sins, is not thus easily satisfied, though such exercise of clarity may be better than none. In a higher sense, charity is a consideration for others, coupled with a modest estimation of our own virtues and a determination to get rid of all our vices; and all our vices spring from selfishness, which is exactly the opposite of altruism. Those who are rich and prosperous, and whose lines have fallen in pleasant places are apt to thank God that they are not as other men. If these are asked to imagine themselves in the place of the poor and the unfortunate, and so to remember those in bondage as bound with them, they are likely to respond , " these misfortunes are not mine, and therefore do not concern me". Considering that providence has favoured them more than others, they also conceive that they have somehow deserved more. Beneficent opportunity thus ministers to pride and self-conceit, and by withholding genuine charity from others, we thus degrade ourselves. If our position here and now has really been determined by merit earned somewhere previously, and the accounts were to be again adjusted, many of us would find the tables turned, and the balance on the debit side, and that by misusing larger opportunities and selfishly appropriating to ourselves that which has only been entrusted to us as the almoners of Providence, we have become unfaithful stewards. It is thus that selfishness always defeats self, and by withholding good from others we lose sight of our own highest good. The principle of altruism is the law of Christ. The entire life and sayings of Jesus ring the changes on the principle of altruism from the nativity to the crucifixion. Take, for example, the Parable of the Good Samaritan, and the test therein applied to determine who was brother to him that fell among thieves. See how indifference on the one side and caste prejudice on the other have been held up to reproach for nearly two thousand years. See what pains Christ continually took to divert attention from himself, and to direct it to the transcendent principle of altruism, the brotherhood of Man, and then see how we have made a fetish of his name and uncomprehended divinity, and forgotten the lesson that he taught. We have wrangled over creeds, split hairs on theological definitions, and cut each others throats while professing brotherhood in the name of the Lord. The ideal of Christendom today is the golden calf. No mere transient intellectual belief formulated into a creed can possibly take the place of the law of Christ, nor can soul-less and God-less materialism inspire the soul of man with any strong and lasting determination to strive towards a divine ideal. The ritualist has obscured and finally lost the divine ideal. The materialist denies that it ever existed. Between pure and unadulterated worldliness [Page 28] on the one hand, and playing at other worldliness on the other, materialistic nihilism goes marching on and seems likely to have a final conflict with obsession and insanity. Human nature may be becoming refined without becoming elevated, nor is the communication supposed to have been established between human beings here, and the denizens of other worlds, necessarily a refining and elevating process. If certain crude spiritualists make the mistake of regarding all communications and manifestations occurring in the presence of a supposed medium as direct emanations from the spirit world, another class of far more crass materialists make the greater mistake of regarding all such phenomena as due to fraud and self-deception, and the continual effort of the latter class seems to be to prove their own hypothesis, rather than to arrive at the simple truth. Fortunately there is another class holding middle ground, who are neither nihilistic nor over-credulous, and though these make less noise they nevertheless hold the balance of power. It makes all the difference in the world which way we face in viewing these all-important problems in the nature and life of man.
Modern physical science places man with his back toward divinity and his face toward the animal world. Science talks learnedly of the laws of matter and force, and believes in substantiality, yet confesses its entire ignorance of the essential nature of anything. Science points man to the conditions of heredity, environment, natural selection, and the survival of the fittest, to prove that man after all is only an improved animal. True religion places man with his hack toward the animal world, and his face toward divinity, and bids him move onward and upward. Man may thus regard himself as an elevated animal or a fallen God. One thing is very certain: and that is, that man advances toward liberty and light, and unfolds the divine nature in his own soul, only as he puts behind him his animal instincts and innate selfishness, and thus may he rise from height to height of being. But he who is content to face forever toward his animal origin, and who steadfastly denies the divinity within him, and that any higher planes of conscious being are possible to man, cannot expect to rise higher than his ideals, more than a fountain can rise higher than its source. Man must indeed feel the germs of a higher life stirring within him, and open his soul to the divine light, before the seed can sprout with promise and potency of flower and fruit. To deny and repudiate one's divine heritage is doubtless the surest way to alienate and destroy it. Consciousness is the basis, and experience the way of the higher life of the soul, just as they are also related to the sensuous life of the body; and the divine spirit of altruism, or the law of Christ, defines the terms, and points out the way, by which the divinity in man may become [Page 29] the genius of his life. The creeds and rituals of the world have for untold ages hung like a crown of thorns on the brow of charity. Charity has been recommended and its beauties extolled, while creeds have been enforced by anathema and by the sword. Against this incubus, bearing the name of religion, the law of Christ has had to make such headway as it could. Mammon worship and materialism may justly be called the genius of Christendom today, for these are found in the churches as out of them. On the other hand, the law of Christ struggling everywhere and at all times for recognition, and for ever at war with the innate selfishness of man, is also found exemplified by the practice of charity and helpfulness, both in the churches and outside of all such organizations. Charity is not the distinctive characteristic of the nominal Christian, for the simple reason that it has never in modern times been made the test of fellowship. The test applied has been assent to an intellectual form of belief, and yet every so-called saint, recognised as such beyond the canons of the Church, by his daily life among the poor, has been pre-eminent in deeds of charity and sympathy with the afflicted children of men. In other words, orthodoxy has never been made to depend upon charity. Orthodoxy has been considered essential, and charity incidental. Christ made charity essential, and orthodoxy incidental, and plainly declares by precept and example, that whatever else we have, and have not charity, we have nothing, and it is thus that we have allowed the commandments of men to usurp the commandments of God, and set at nought the law of Christ. Charity does indeed exist among nominal Christians, but in spite of orthodoxy, not as a result of that which is termed evangelical and orthodox, and while texts of scripture may be so grouped as to prove orthodoxies innumerable, the law, the life, and the genius of Christ is charity through and through, and this is the one principle that brings men together as brothers, and is to redeem the world.
There have been in all ages not only individuals who saw clearly this distinction, but organizations of noble men and women ha ve been formed, not only for the purpose of exercising this divine principle of altruism, but to stand as living witnesses that this is the law of Christ. These have ever insisted that intellectual beliefs are a matter of temperament, inheritance, and education, and necessarily changing, and in no sense essential. These have also held that, that faith in justice and right that is born of charity, has power to transform the life, as it in-forms the consciousness of man, and that in this way only can selfish man become Christ-like. The basis of these organizations has been the essential Brotherhood of man, which is but another name for the application of the law of Christ to all human relations, the practical outward living of [Page 30] the faith of the soul. How little this principle of Universal Brotherhood is understood by the masses of mankind, how seldom its transcendent importance is recognised, may be seen in the diversity of opinion and fictitious interpretations regarding the Theosophical Society. This society was organized on this one principle, the essential Brotherhood of Man, as herein briefly outlined, and imperfectly set forth. It has been assailed as Buddhistic and anti-Christian, as though it could be both these together, when both Buddhism and Christianity, as set forth by their inspired founders, make brotherhood the one essential of doctrine and of life. Theosophy has been also regarded as something new under the sun, or at best as old mysticism masquerading under a new name. While it is true that many societies founded upon, and united to support, the principles of altruism, or essential brotherhood, have borne various names, it is also true that many have also been called theosophic, and with precisely the same principles and aims as the present society bearing that name. With these societies one and all, the essential doctrine has been the same, and all else has been incidental, though this does not obviate the fact that many persons are attracted to the incidentals who overlook or ignore the essentials. It must not, however, be conceived that these so-called incidentals are unimportant. Christ predicted that certain signs should follow them that believed, and if any further evidence were needed to show that this word "believe" has been misunderstood, it can be found in the fact that no so-called believers possess the signs. This fact is, however, explained away by assuming that the statement of Christ had reference only to his early disciples, an explanation rendered necessary by lack of signs in professed believers. Now if we imagine that one had come to Christ with the proposition that if he would guarantee that the disciple should be taught to heal the sick and raise the dead he would believe, thus stipulating rewards on the principle of cent. per cent., it would not be difficult to imagine what answer such an one would have received. Such an one would have proven himself incompetent to exercise the faith to which Christ referred, which must be the spontaneous and unreserved gift of the soul, rather than a matter of bargain and sale, altruistic and not selfish. Now in everyone of the societies to which I have referred, it was known and declared, and more or less exemplified, that " these signs follow" the faithful, as the gift of the spirit, as the natural result of the exercise of the law of Christ. That which follows as a natural result of well-doing, may, in a certain sense, be regarded as a reward for well-doing, but such reward is based on the principle of justice, and in no sense is a matter of favouritism. Therefore the essential thing for man is the life [Page 31] that leads to the above-named results, but these results are essential to the principle of justice, and are beneficent to humanity, whose servant the obedient soul has become. There have been those in the Theosophical Societies, both of the past and the present time, who have coveted these spiritual powers, and who were willing to exercise just so much of the principle of altruism as they imagined necessary to secure them, thus showing themselves incapable either of obtaining any powers except of a very low and questionable order, or of appreciating the philosophy and the divine science upon which the progress of man toward divinity always and everywhere depends. Neither the indifferent, the Nihilistic, nor the time-serving, will live the life essential to a knowledge of the true doctrine and the unfolding of the transcendent powers of the soul. It is in relation to these powers as the result of an altruistic life and a continual aspiration toward divinity that psychic phenomena comes into the present consideration. Psychic phenomena may be indifferent, egotistic, or altruistic, according as they are governed by no motive springing from constitutional peculiarities, and indulged from mere curiosity, or as the motive is good or bad. This fact shows that the nature of man may be refined without being elevated, and this refinement may lead downward. On the other hand, the altruistic life is always an elevating process, and such elevation of spirit inevitably tends to the refinement of individual life. Of this altruistic life it was said of old that it has the promise of that which now is and of that which is to come. The Theosophical Society seeks no proselytes, and promises no rewards or favours to its members or fellows. Membership in this Society assures neither knowledge nor salvation. The Society stands squarely on the principle of Universal Brotherhood, and proclaims the law of Christ and the result that everywhere follows the altruistic life. It stands as a witness of the truth, the one truth proclaimed by Buddha and by Christ, and by every truth. seer throughout the ages. People may hear or forbear to hear, may enter the society or remain outside as seemeth to them best. Not from the indifference, independence, or arrogance of the few thousand who constitute the society, but from the knowledge of the fact that neither persuasion nor coercion can ever turn an indifferent soul toward the light, or induce an obdurate soul to forsake and despise darkness. Neither will anyone deserving the name of theosophist be found boasting of his own gifts, for the highest Mahatma realizes that he has only begun to learn wisely and well the infinite mystery of being, and the neophyte is admitted as such because of his teachableness and desire for the simple truth. The most that any theosophist will say is, that he has learned the way, entered the path, and seen the light, and that henceforth [Page 32] he desires nothing else but to advance along the "small old path", the "narrow way".
No human being capable of receiving truth in any fair measure or high degree, will ever attempt to monopolize or conceal it. The same faculty that enables us to appreciate truth, makes us desirous of using it for the benefit of man. That which passes for the truth and is subject to traffic and labelled merchandise in the intellectual or the so-called spiritual markets of the world, is not truth, but opinion. Opinion is to truth what the rippling waves of the ocean are to the rising and falling tides. The one babbles to the wind, the other thrills with the pulse-beats of the world. If the relation of theosophy to the religions of the world has been misconceived and misjudged, its relation to Spiritualism have been equally misinterpreted. If theosophy stands for the great central fact in Christianity, the law of Christ, but discards the obscurations and false interpretations of man that only obscure that law, so in regard to psychic phenomena, it accepts the facts but questions and often denies the conclusions, and places other interpretations on many phenomena. Whenever the reasons for these different interpretations are carefully examined, and dis-passionately weighed, they are seldom scorned, though they may not always be accepted. True Theosophy is the core of true religion and the key to all psychic phenomena. As to mediumship and all psychic manifestations, the position of the Theosophist may be thus stated. When we know more of the real nature and transcendent powers of man here on earth, and in the body, we shall not only enter broader realms and higher degrees of psychic displays, but we shall put a different interpretation on much that we now find confused and misleading, and there are those in the T. S. who already possess this larger knowledge.
This knowledge is not withheld from any who desire and who will prove worthy to receive and competent to understand it. For the past two or three centuries there has been very great intellectual advancement and material progress, but it is not generally realized that all such progress is altogether one-sided and incomplete. The great majority of persons, even among the upright and intelligent, seem to be entirely ignorant of the fact that man possesses also a spiritual nature equally subject to cultivation with his mind and body, and yet altogether transcending these. Failing thus to recognise even the existence of his spiritual power and divine nature, it is seldom that any well-directed efforts are made to enlarge the sphere and develop the power of man's higher nature. To most persons it is quite inconceivable that man may be very highly developed physically and intellectually, and yet be spiritually a barbarian. Yet such is the fact. Even among the Spiritualists, only the more advanced [Page 33] thinkers seemed to have realized this fact. The great bulk of so-called spirit communications even when of a high order intellectually, which is rather the exception, do not enter the higher realms at all. This is stated as a fact, rather than a criticism, but the sooner the fact is realized in all its bearings, the greater the spiritual advancement likely to follow. The demonstration of the fact that conscious existence continues beyond the grave is a great comfort to the sorrowing and a consolation to the despairing, but such knowledge may be the reverse of elevating, as the records of spiritualism show. Every thoughtful and aspiring soul is aware that something more is needed to inspire the life, elevate the aims, and purify the ideals of man here on earth. It is generally admitted by all communications supposed to come from the departed, that retribution in some form follows the evil- doer beyond the veil, but the old orthodox idea of heaven and hell everywhere now so modified as to be scarcely recognised, is in these communications almost universally denied, and it cannot be denied that this has often led to license, instead of to that liberty through which the soul aspires to the truth as it inspires the diviner life. There is no lack of facts and materials from which to construct a science of psychology and a true philosophy of spiritual life, but these materials are disorderly, often contradictory, and hence seldom lead to lasting results and orderly living. Most persons, even among the so-called liberal, still cling to authority. They have, indeed, repudiated authority in one form, only to turn to it, perhaps unconsciously, in another. Very few persons seem able to judge of any matter solely on its merits. This is because few persons keep the windows of their souls open to the truth, and are willing and anxious to accept truth from any source and from every quarter. Those who boast that they have long ago discarded the orthodox religious labels, are still ready to indorse the orthodox scientific, the orthodox spiritualistic, or the orthodox materialistic label. It hence follows that the source of a doctrine or a fact is carefully regarded, before the doctrine or fact is regarded at all. If instead of estimating truth by its messenger, we were to estimate the messenger by the truth he brings, and so really to judge the tree by its fruit it bears, we should find the recognition of truth far easier, and obtain it also in far greater measure than we do now. But this is not all, for we should also avoid many unjust judgments and much of repentance though scorning the messengers of truth. Never until man holds his soul open to the truth as the flower opens its pencilled cup to the dew and sunlight of heaven, can he expect it to bear the fragrance and reflect the beauty of the divine life from the great spiritual sun.
Our Western civilization, crudely designated as Christendom, is by no means Christian in the highest sense, nor will the creeds and rituals of [Page 34] man ever make it so. These creeds are so divided and so at war with each other that they have long ceased to minister to that power and compactness which once presented a solid front capable of wielding secular and temporal dominion. As a mere matter of fact, coincident with the multiplication of sects and creeds, there has arisen in every direction humanitarian enterprises for the relief of the poor and for bettering the condition of the lower classes. I therefore hold that the law of Christ is steadily advancing into the life of Christendom, and that the councils of the Infinite are thus demonstrated to be higher and more powerful than the councils of man. This is the transformation that is slowly being wrought out in the life of humanity, and it is by no means an indifferent matter with us an individuals. We may retard this onward march of the race, we may be blind and indifferent to it, or we may intelligently and zealously advance it. If we are really inspired by the spirit of altruism we need not wait for the churchman to abandon the last stronghold of creed, but we will join him in every good word and work for the elevation of man and the uplifting of humanity. The actual and universal brotherhood of man is the idea aimed at; mutual toleration of differences in beliefs, mutual helpfulness, mutual work for the elevation of the whole human race. If we are seeking the causes of disease, insanity, crime, and death, we may find them one and all in the innate selfishness of man; and if we are seeking the remedy for all these we may find it in the law of Christ. Whenever our eyes are sufficiently opened by charity and just recognition of truth, wherever it may be found, we shall also discover that this law of Christ, is also the law of Buddha, and that in one form or another it has been the core of all the world's great religions. It is thus that the Infinite Father of all souls has disregarded the barriers erected in all times by the selfishness of man, and has come to every nation, people and time, and bestowed the gift of His spirit in such measure and in such form as they were ready and willing to receive. A broader charity will thus teach us that the divine light is not a rushlight to be hid under a bushel, but like the rains and dews of heaven that descend on the just and on the unjust, and like the great orb of day that shines for all, so also the divine light of the Father's face beams on all His children, and the divine voice whispers in every soul, and its message is the Brotherhood of Man. Christ said, " I was hungry, and ye fed me; naked, and ye clothed me; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me; inasmuch as ye did it to the least of these my brethren, ye did it unto me." Place over against this one saying, the human creeds of all the ages, and the intellectual gymnastics of the whole human race, and see how utterly insignificant they become in the presence of this announcement [Page 34] of the law of Charity and the Universal Brotherhood of Man, and then contend for a creed that makes brothers aliens, and dooms more than half the human race to perdition if you will, but don't, I beg of you, for the sake of common intelligence and common honesty call it Christian. Let us no longer insult the Man of Sorrows who proclaimed the brotherhood of man and preached the gospel to the poor; who called the Magdalen sister, and declared that the dying thief should with him enter paradise.
I am unorthodox enough to believe that the spiritual powers of man are just what Christ declared them to be, and that he knew and declared openly the signs of spiritual power that follow — not mere intellectual belief — but that living faith that transforms the life, elevates the soul, and opens the spiritual faculties of man, and that these gifts of the spirit and powers of the soul are latent, and waiting development in every human being. I furthermore believe that not only the Bible, but the sacred books of all religions, and more or less the initiations into ancient mysteries include this same knowledge and point out the method of attaining to this illumination. No man ever found this great truth, or attained to this illumination who like a mole burrowed in the earth, and hemmed in his soul with narrow bounds, and turned his back to every ray of light that refused to shine through his own selfish sense. To obtain this illumination man must indeed be a brother to every soul that suffers, and to every spirit that aspires; and he must open his soul to the divine ray and climb toward it with all his strength, with all his mind, and with every faculty of his soul. Christ thus becomes for every man and every woman, the way, the truth, and the life.
One may criticise a practice without condemning an individual, and it is in this spirit that the foregoing criticisms have been made. Only in this way could that which is held to be true be contrasted with that which is held to be false. It is, indeed, an easy matter to understand the meaning of the law of Christ, but a very hard matter to apply it to daily life, for it comes into continual conflict with the innate selfishness of man and begets continual warfare. If man would at once relinquish self, the victory would be won. As this theatre of the conflict between selfishness and altruism is the soul of man, man is therefore at war with himself. The God in man is at war with the Satan in man, and the former triumphs only as the latter is put under foot and driven out. The peace that passes all understanding comes to man when he relinquishes self, when his members no longer war with each other, but when the God in him becomes all and in all.
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