“There is a small white lotus bud in this house of the Soul; in it there is a firmament, and what is therein is to be searched for and sought.
“And if they should ask: As to this white lotus bud in the house of the Soul, and the firmament that is within it what is hidden there, that should be searched for and sought? Let him answer thus:
“As great as are the heavens above, so great is the heaven within the heart; in it both Heaven and Earth are set, both the Fire and the Breath, the Sun and the Moon, the Lightning and the Stars. All that is in the world, and all that is not,—all is set therein.
“And if they should ask: If in this house of the Soul all is set all beings and all desires, when old age comes upon it, and it fails: what is left behind? Let him answer:
“This grows not old when the house grows old, this dies not when its dwelling dies. The house of the Eternal, wherein all desires dwell, endures; it is the Soul, free from evil; for it is neither old age, nor death, nor sorrow, hunger nor thirst; its desires are true, its will is true. Therefore whatever beings seek for here, whatever estate they desire, whatever people or land, in to that they are born.
“But these true desires are covered up with false; of these desires, being true, there is a covering of falsehood. So whoever belonging to him, dying, goes forth from the world, him he cannot find, to behold him. So whoever there is belonging to him, living or dead, and whatever else he wishes for but cannot obtain, when he goes thither, he finds it all; for here his true desires are covered up with false.
“And like as when a treasure of gold is hidden in a field, those who are familiar with the field, walking over and over it, know it not, so, verily, all these beings go day by day to the world of the Eternal, and know it not, for they are covered up with falsehood.
“This is the Soul, in the heart within; and he who knows this, goes day by day to the celestial world. This is the place of peace, and he who rises above the body, enters the Higher Light, putting off his mortal form. This is the Soul, the Immortal, the Fearless, this is the Eternal, and the name of the Eternal is Everlasting Life.”—Chandogya Upanishad.
The truth above all truths is this: the mighty Power, the abounding and exalting Life, which men of old have called the Soul, is very near to us at all times; and only our many-colored fancies hinder us from knowing the Soul, entering the Life, becoming the Power. If we feel ourselves bereft, deserted, and forlorn, that too is fancy; it rests with us, when we will, to inherit the realm and the radiance.
The prophets have been rather lugubrious and sad-eyed. They seem to have put themselves on record while the sacrifice of the old Adam was still a recent and painful memory, even a sentimental and comforting regret. One would willingly put the affairs of the Eternal in a more cheering light.
This very sentimentality is itself a fancy, the last self-indulgence of the heart; as the palate, jaded with sweet things, finds a sensual relish in bitter; and as people please themselves, after too much love, by a little hate. So the ascetics dearly relished their mood of sadness, and found much pleasure in their tears.
And it is nothing but a web of fancies that prevents us from here and now inheriting our immortality. The sad prophets have spoken of renouncing the body and all its works. In truth the body has very little to do with it. But fancies about the body have a great deal. It is the fancy that the body is such a warm and comfortable dwelling-place, that keeps us all from becoming aerial travelers. We are so pre-occupied with our bodily lives, and our imaginations are so full of our bodily concerns, and all the sorrows and joys we have come to think of as the body’s heritage, that we have literally not a free moment for the Higher Light.
It is really the most natural thing in the world for us to be serene, well-balanced, full of power; with an overflow of energy and vigor that makes all things we do creative, and with a real feeling of the throbbing and pulsating life all round us, a sympathy which makes our lives tenfold more interesting and full of force. It is really the most natural thing for us to feel our immortality, not only once and again, in beatific vision, but at all times, all through our lives. It is really proper for us to feel the strength within, far outweighing all the confusion of events without; to feel events rising up within, and coming forth through us to the outer world, instead of invading and intimidating us from outside.
That is what we should be: what we are, is the result of fancy. Death and separation and sorrow are mere fancies, and if we were not so wholly engrossed with our dreams, we should know it, and rate them at their very moderate real values. No one has ever yet put on record what an incredible amount of illusion comes into all our lives. We keep crying and lamenting, because we are afraid of the Quiet. We keep ourselves in the dark, because we are afraid that the Light would shine through our sad, beloved dreams, and show them to be the flimsy things they really are. But some one should state, in good round terms, the positive and affirmative side. We need not really shiver, while there is so much sunlight going to waste. We need not fear change, when every new step will be the finding of a hidden treasure; and one of the characteristic things about these new treasures is, that each one, as we find it, seems so very familiar; each new footing gained seems so very natural and homelike, that we come to wonder how our former resting-place seemed a permanent home.
The Law and the Life have ordained matters thus: every day we do a certain amount of real work, springing directly from the will: work which rises up within us and demands to be done. But this work we wrap round with clouds and mists of fancy, of fears and hopes, of all kinds of vain imaginings, which have simply nothing to do with things as they really are. And at last the rush and torrent of our fancies wear us out, and bring us to the time of wrinkles and grey hairs. But work did not wear us out, nor the exercise of creative will. The more the will does, the stronger it grows, the better able to create. What wears us out, is the incredible amount of foolishness we manage to mix in with our work, the noise and stir of which must create much unfavorable comment among the dignified mountain pines.
As our lives wear us out, so does each day of life. And then we enter the world of dreams, and fancy carries us away altogether, and has things all her own way. And curiously enough, though the dreams are very unpleasant while we are awake, they begin to be pleasant as soon as we go to sleep; and the reason of this is, that, in going to sleep, we really triumph over one fancy: the fancy that we, personally, are responsible for the working of the material world. It is this responsibility which gives the modern man his brow of care; and the archangels, whose real charge it is, must find his interference rather trying. We are not really so very responsible; not the personal part of us, at least. So we are much easier in our minds, when we elect to let the good world go on without us, and sink for a while to sleep. We feel that there is still some risk of the universe going awry, and that half-conscious feeling will in due time wake us again.
But while we sleep, we feel easier. We take our fancies as they come, the gay with the grave, and we are not responsible. Then, after a while, we rise above the colored clouds, and enter the sunlight of the Life, where our peace is, and our power: our proper dwelling-place and home. It is strange to think that the eternal secret is not further off than that. A little dreaming, a little sleep, and we are in the midst of it; and it would be well for us, if the dreaming did not begin again. We should find we had gained very much, and lost very little; we should find we had gained the Radiance and the Realm, the Life and the Power; and that we were amongst a serene and very august company, whom we should recognize with a certain awestruck surprise.
And this happens to us day by day, for that life in the Radiance is our real day; and not the sad outward hours of our tribulation. Yet we are foolish enough to leave it all, to come back again and dream and lament, and think it all so real and so sad. We have become once more, in our fancy, responsible for the right working of the whole visible world.
Then we are all very much afraid of each other, and fear has torment. And from fear come envy, hatred, all uncharitableness. When we grow a little, we shall find that no one can trespass in our kingdom; that each of us is sovereign lord; and then we shall grow very benevolent.
There is great solace for us, within the curtains of the night. But we are not meant to withdraw and hide ourselves in the darkness. We are to come forth and work; our wills are to subdue the whole visible world, and the instinct to work and to conquer is strong and sound within us.
Conquerors we shall be, and victors, and immortal, when we shake off the web of fancies. The white lotus of the soul, still in the bud with us, will then open in full bloom, and we shall come forth exultant, under the opening eyelids of that morning, the morning of the everlasting day.