There is no possible way of understanding or explaining the nature of any being whatever except through Evolution, which is always an unfolding from within outwards, the expression of spirit or consciousness through the intelligence acquired. The will of spirit in action has produced everything that exists.
If we understand that intelligent will lies behind everything that exists, is the cause of everything that is, is the Creator in the universe, we may perhaps gain some idea of what it is necessary for us to know in order properly to use our powers.
All stand as creators in the midst of our creations. There are creators below us in the scale of intelligence. We stand in another place, with a wider range of vision, a greater fund of experience; so we can see that below us, infinitely below us, are beings so small that many of them could be gathered on the point of a needle. Yet the scientists who have examined them under many conditions cannot deny to these infinitesimal organisms a certain intelligence, an ability to seek what they like and to avoid what they dislike. From the smallest conceivable point of perception and action there is a constantly widening range of expression, of evolution, a development more and more in the direction of a greater range of being. This evolution of intelligence, or soul, proceeds very slowly in the lower kingdoms, more rapidly in the animal kingdom, and in man has reached that stage where the being himself knows that he is, that he is conscious, that he can understand to some extent his own nature and the natures of the beings below him, and see their relation to each other.
Man has now reached a point where he begins to inquire what more there is for him to know. He has ceased to think exclusively of the material; he is sensing his own nature, and he asks, What am I, whence came I, whither do I go?
If we have these ideas, we can perceive that there must have been in the past some amongst men who asked these very questions that we are now asking, and who took the steps that carried them to a higher point of experience and knowledge than we now occupy. It is these very beings, now above us, who form a stratum of consciousness, of knowledge and power, that we have not—men who have passed through the stages we are now in. They are the very ones who come to this earth as Saviors from time to time.
As Christians, we look back to the advent of One such, and think of Him as unique. Yet He came in His time to but one small nation; He said Himself that He came but to the Jews. Do we not know that every civilization and every tribe that ever has existed has held a similar record—that of some great Personage who came amongst them?
Back of all the religions that ever have been, there is the record, the tradition, of some great Personage. And we find an astonishing fact in studying the scriptures and teachings of other days—each of these great Teachers taught the same doctrines. There is no difference between the teachings of Jesus and the teachings of Buddha, although those teachings are recorded in different languages and an interval of six hundred years separated the two great Teachers. What is true of these two is like wise true of all the other many Saviors of different times and peoples—they all taught the same fundamental ideas.
This fact suggests that there is a body of Men, of perfected men, product of past civilizations and evolution, our Elder Brothers, in fact, who have acquired and are the Custodians of the knowledge and experience gained through aeons of time. Their knowledge is actually the very Science of Life, for it enters into every department of existence, of nature. They know the natures and processes of the beings below man, and above man, as we know the processes of ordinary every-day experience. This knowledge they have preserved and recorded, and they have the memory of it, just as we have the memory of yesterday’s experiences and events.
They have not extended their power to know. We have each of us the same power to know that is theirs. But they have extended the facilities of the instruments which they possess. They have improved what they have. They have better brains. They have better bodies. How did they acquire them? By fulfilling every duty which faced them, regardless of what came to themselves. They thought nothing of acquiring power and knowledge for themselves; they thought only of gaining power that they might expend it for the benefit of every living creature. In so doing they opened the doors to the full play of the power of the Spirit within.
We do the very opposite. We contract the divine power of the Spirit within us to the pin-holes of personal desires and selfishness. Do we not see that? Do we not see that we ourselves stand in the way of the use of the power within us because our ideas are selfish, small, mean?
The great work of evolution proceeds from within outwards. The Soul is the Perceiver; it looks directly on ideas. The action of the will is through ideas. The ideas give the directions. Small ideas, small force; large ideas, large force; the Force itself is illimitable, for it is the force of Spirit, infinite and exhaustless. What we lack are universal ideas. We need to arouse in ourselves that power of perception which will lay the whole field of being open to us. A stream cannot rise higher than its source.
The nature of man can never be understood in the least degree by the ideas and methods which modern psychologists and scientists and popular religions are following. They all proceed from the basis of physical life, many of them from the basis of one life only. They tabulate experiences of many kinds, with out any firm basis upon which to fix their thought, their reason, and so never arrive at any definite conclusion or real knowledge of what man is, or of the powers that he may exhibit. This is their use of the creative power, but it is a limited use, a misuse. Those who follow that way usually have some selfish purpose at the base of their desire, something they wish to achieve for themselves, some benefit they desire for themselves. This is not the way. Theosophy says that if the desire or aspiration is unselfish, noble, universal, then the force which flows through the individual is grand, noble, universal in its character. Further, that every human being has in him the same elements, the same possibilities, as any other, even the noblest and highest beings in this or any solar system. This puts man in quite a different position from where our religions, our science, or our philosophy of the West place him. They all treat of man as if he were his body or his mind, as if he were the creature and not the creator.
The body changes; we change our minds; but there is a Something in us which does not change, which does not depend on change, whether of body, mind or circumstances, but which is the creator, the ruler, the experiencer of all changes of every kind. It is this portion of our nature—the real Man within us—that we need to know the nature of. If we can reach such a point of perception that we can grasp the fact of the Spirit within us, we shall have reached a point where a knowledge of ourselves is possible; and if a knowledge of ourselves, then a knowledge through that of all other beings whatsoever.
The great Teachers point to the fact that the real basis of man’s nature is Divinity, Spirit, God. Deity is not some other being, however great. It is not something outside. It is the very highest in ourselves and in all others. That is the God, and all that any man may know of this Spirit is what he knows in himself, of himself, through himself. This is the idea that all the ancients put forward in saying there is but one Self, and that we are to see the Self in all things and all things in the Self. That is what we all do to some extent; we see the Self, more or less. Nothing is seen outside ourselves; everything that we see or know is within ourselves. But we think of the Self in us as mortal, perishable, having no existence apart from this body and this mind, and as separate from the Self in all other forms.
If we had within us and behind us all the power that there is in the universe, and we had no channel through which that power could flow—or only a narrow, twisted, distorted channel—that great Power would be of no use to us. would be non-existent to us. To open up the channel it is necessary for us to understand the real basis: the God within, immortal and eternal, the Source of all being, our very selves; second, that all action proceeds from that Source and Center of our being and of all being. Then who is the constructor of all? How was all this evolution brought about? All the beings involved in it make up both the world and its inhabitants; all that exists is Self-produced, Self-evolved—the creation of Spiritual beings acting in, on, and through each other. The whole force of evolution, and the whole power behind it, is the human will, so far as humanity is concerned. We do not realize that every form occupied by any being is composed of Lives, each undergoing evolution on its own account, aided, impelled or hindered by the force of the higher form of consciousness that evolved it. For this universe is embodied Consciousness, or Spirit. And just as a single drop of water contains within it every element and characteristic of the whole ocean, so each being, however low in the degree of its intelligence, contains within itself the potentiality and possibilities of the highest. The will of the Spirit in action has produced all.
The great Message of Theosophy has provided for every interested enquirer the means by which he may know the truth about himself and nature. Just as the Elder Brothers have provided in the past, so They have again in our day. Everything that Humanity needs has been given to us. But can you give to any one what he does not Want? Can you cause to enter into the mind of another what that mind will not receive?
There has to be an open mind, a pure heart, an eager intellect, an unveiled spiritual perception, before there is any hope for us. As long as we are self-centered, as long as we are satisfied with what we know and what we have, this great Message is not for us. It is for the hungry, for the weary, for those who are desirous of knowledge, for those who see the absolute paucity of what has been put before us as knowledge by those who style themselves our teachers, for those who find no explanation any where of the mysteries that surround us, who do not know themselves, who do not understand themselves. For them there is a way; for them there is food in abundance; for them this whole Movement is kept in being by one single will, the Will of the Elder Brothers who have carried these great eternal truths through good and evil in order that mankind may be benefited; not desiring any reward, not desiring any recognition, desiring only that Their fellow men, Their younger brothers, may know, may realize what They know.