Out of the East to the westward we wandered in armies slow.
And many a rich land called us to stay on the way and rest;
And many a while we waited, but our eyes were always aglow.
And west of the West is the Star we sought;
And wet with the West Sea's wandering foam
Is the prize of the World-Old fight we fought.
Who is he? Where shall he be found? Our experience of life leads us to doubt his existence, and yet the belief in him is deep in the heart. As children, with our yet unburdened atmospheres, how often have we thought we saw him? Our parents, in the first place, were perfect, and later many others surrounded by the haze of distance. And when a nearer approach disclosed their failings, our unfaltering faith often made us ready to transfer the title to some other figure shining with reflected glory, until on reaching years of maturity, one by one, all our idols had fallen. And yet this faith has a meaning. No man is perfect, but all are perfectible. As children, ourinstincts told us this. But so dense are the clouds in this age, they have almost covered this truth for the man.
Our skepticism is born of our ignorance as to what man is. We have confused the image with the reality. No wonder we have been utterly mystified and confounded, and that theory after theory, dogma after dogma, has been formed to account for the bewildering array of facts before us. Truly, the ray of sanity remaining expressed itself in the honest agnosticism of this century, which knew it did not know. Poor humanity! deceived, deluded, discouraged and disheartened; knowing not whence it came, nor whither it was going, and too blind to see the few lights over the earth, not yet extinguished.
From many, many quarters came the cries of distress. And they were heard. In 1875 the answer came, clarion-like, ringing over the earth. "Man is divine, and not originally sinful. Within him lies a god. Awaken! ye sons of God!" And some were aroused. And the voice from above, has gone on sounding louder and louder, and has been taken up an ever increasing army of warriors.
As we study ourselves and those about us more deeply, we perceive that this part of ourselves which we can see and communicate with in the ordinary way - our personality, so called - is simply a reservoir and transmitter of something. Although there is always a certain amount of permanence during a lifetime, there is always a still greater degree of impermanence. This centre, through which streams of force of different kinds are constantly passing, we think of as being ourselves. We may not, perhaps, think thus when we stop to philosophize, but practically we look at one another and think, "He is noble, truthful, attractive, artistic, entertaining, vicious, clumsy, or one of the other manifold qualities," and we think of this individual as being separate from others in a way, and in possession of these faculties, and we admire or condemn him accordingly. The idea of personal possession is everywhere so strong that we may desire to possess this other individual, who seems to us to possess these
desirable qualities. And men may even come to the absurd position of fighting each other for the possession of a third person. Now, although no creature can possibly possess anything, except what all possess, and although every Soul is in itself free, the whole civilization is based on the belief in and the desire for personal possessions. So full is this earth of delusions that we must gain the power to dispel!
For that alone which knows, feels, suffers, enjoys - which possesses because it is everything in the eternal divine spirit, which is one in essence, and is in and through every thing and every creature. It breathes itself out as a tree, and though each leaf appears separate, yet are their spirits one. It breathes itself out asmany trees, and though each tree appears separate, yet the spirits of all are one, sleeping or waking in mother earth. It enlivens the waters of the deep. It stirs the bird to song. It moves the inert stone to crumble. Even all these objects which are acted upon, must he but that part of itself which has not learned to move. For can any part of the universe be divided against itself?
In like manner it breathes itself out as many men, and though each man seems separate, yet is the spirit, the essential man, common to all. But man's personal life is fleeting, as the leaf. Like it, it will drop, and be no more. Why should it concern us so deeply? Why should our doings, our disappointments, seem of such moment to us?
The mysterious delusive difference seems to be in this, that consciousness as it flows into the leaf, cannot there inject the idea of self-consciousness. The leaf, as a leaf, does not know itself. And so the expression there is more free and without the opposition of the idea of separateness. But into the vehicle we call man, a higher quality of consciousness can enter - that which has the godlike faculty of knowledge of its existence. This consciousness animates this vehicle, which is as much above the leaf vehicle, as man's consciousness is above that of the leaf's. And there it remains, pent up for a time, so to speak, because the avenue of its connection with the vast ocean of which it is a part, is so narrow, that it is not seen or understood. This portion of universal consciousness, called man, which has all its potentialities, is for the time being placed in such a position that he is deluded, and thinks his life is separate.
Here is the beginning of evil, so called. Yet dimly we can see, that even this is beneficent, that to become godlike, each spark must for itself discover the truth. It must learn little by little, under the most adverse circumstances, to know the truth, so that nothing can ever have the power to deceive it. And so it, as the son of man, is sent, is born into this wonderfully complex vehicle, which it has itself evolved and intellectualized through the ages, and which represents, and which is subtly connected by manifold unseen threads with all the forces of the universe, which are opposing the onward march - the inert - the so-called forces of evil. It creates, and then throws into its creation a part of itself, bidding its offspring know itself. This offspring, thrown off as is the
leaf, with its vehicle, we call man. And as life after life is lived in failure to penetrate the darkness, and recognize his divinity, they seem to have passed in vain. And so the process must be repeated again and again, until little by little, comes that which will liberate the Soul. All true religious teachings can be seen to lead to that end. To do with others as we would be done by, to love each other, is the natural method by which a Soul comes into sympathy with other Souls and learns its unity with them.
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