THE HEALING OF SOULS
Self-exiled from the spiritual sanctuary at its core and perversely deaf to the divine promptings of intuition, mankind in our time has enacted a protracted melodrama which has become tedious to participants and spectators alike. For a painstaking but utilitarian chronicler like Gibbon, history seemed to be nothing but a record of crimes, follies and misfortunes. Somewhat more perceptive, though shackled by a rationalist framework of truncated idealism, Hegel at least identified the central issue in his laconic observation that if men learn anything from history, it is that they learn nothing at all. Clearly, there is something about human beings that is mulish and proud, that mutilates inner aspirations and divine hopes. When the innate power of learning is obscured, human beings fall prey to an unrelenting succession of misshapen thoughts, distorted emotions and self-negating actions. This intimate if inverse connection between the spiritual anatomy of man and the outward play of events was sensed by Gandhi in his conclusion that history, as ordinarily conceived, is merely a grandiose record of the interruptions of soul-force.
From a diagnostic standpoint, it is as if a heavy stone lodged in the spine were to block the inflow of Divine Light from the top of the head. The baby's fontanelle, connected with the Brahmarandhra chakra, is soft in the first months of life, but, owing to the karma of past misuse of powers, astral calcification of that vital aperture reaches to an unprecedented degree in modern man. Thus the "shades of the prison-house begin to close upon the growing boy", and the essential nadis become listless in the absence of the divine efflux. This morbid condition cannot be corrected from below or from without; it is only a radical realignment of one's inner mental and devotional posture that will restore the free flow of the currents in the spiritual spinal cord. One has to learn before teaching. One must be still and listen before speaking. One must meditate before attempting to conceive and create or engage in outward action.
If human beings are to be more than animals, if they are to reclaim their descent from the Divine, there can be no fakery and foolery, no pretence or deception. They must take their stand as fallible learners, growing and acknowledging errors through candour and self-correction, clearly and cleanly admitting their ignorance but firmly and fearlessly strengthening their own willingness to learn. Regardless of all exoteric and external tokens of class and caste, of culture and social station, each individual must become a humble, though self-accredited, ambassador of goodwill in a global society of learning. If in future lives such honest seekers are to approach the true Mystery temples, they must begin now by laying aside any false sense of superiority and inferiority, all unctuousness and hypocrisy, and learn to greet each other as souls with pride in the beauty and bounty of all lands and in the nobility of common folk and the ancestors of the earth, thereby acknowledging their mutual membership in mankind.
Along with its ancient gurus and preceptors, the human race – most of whose mature graduates are not incarnated at any given time – is waiting to see how many true learners may emerge in our epoch. How many are willing to acknowledge in daily practice what they really know about playing a musical instrument? It is only through years of discipline that one may learn any true art, whether it be meditation or the practice of political diplomacy, the therapeutics of self-transcendence or authentic friendship for one's comrades in humane endeavours. As Cicero taught, divine nature has no interest in perpetually underwriting human folly. Twentieth century America with its celluloid media is neither the first, nor will it be the last, society to be disabused of its self-perpetuated delusions. Even Americans can wisely use their magnificent resources in libraries, the finest available on earth, and really begin to learn. The moment one truly begins to learn, one starts to speak from knowledge, with the accents of genuine confidence that naturally combine with a sense of proportion, without adolescent exaggerations and extravagances. Mature men and women honour their sacred obligations to their children and their moral debts to their fathers and mothers; authentic learners are proud of their illiterate grandparents and rustic ancestors who helped in their own way to make possible the opportunities of the present. The emergence of a widely diffused sense of individual integrity in the common cause of human learning is a mighty undertaking, rooted in a spiritual reformation of the human psyche. It requires saying adieu to the homogenization and humbug of modern mass education, and courageously choosing the elevating ideal of lifelong learning based upon spiritual self-education through ethical self-renewal in the altruistic service of others.
Many more people in the world are ready for this today than in any previous epoch. Yet some who desperately want to learn do not know how because they imagine that they cannot start until everyone else does. This is the peasant mentality at its timidest, but it is not the true state of mind of pastoral exemplars of the grihastha ashrama, who have nurtured and sustained humanity over a myriad centuries. Whilst every village and town has its share of those who substitute pretension and crudity for learning and life, there are always a scattered few who are willing to be Promethean. These are the humble pioneers who husband the new seeds and who plan ahead for the coming year's crop. In villages results count, but they are essentially those supported by nature's rhythms. Without the ingenuity and inventiveness of farmers in responding to nature, the subsidies of kings and courts are of no avail, and if in contemporary capitals people have become insensitive to the rhythms of nature and thereby cut off from their sense of the need to learn, so much the worse for them. To the extent that any group of people imagines itself divorced from the natural necessity of learning, its culture is a sham and its society a fabric of deceit built on ignorance. Puzzled and frightened by the raucousness and violence caused by its own unacknowledged delusions, it moves through a succession of misunderstood non-crises to utilitarian non-solutions, unable to learn because unwilling to listen either to its own inner voice or to the wisdom of others.
Who, for example, could tell the facts of life to Americans in this century? How many know anything about what is going on in the world or even in the U.S.A.? As Robert Hutchins warned so poignantly in the thirties, America was facing, and has now realized, the prospect of being a nation of illiterates, who do not know how to read, how to write, how to do arithmetic. What is worse, as an inevitable consequence of this indolence and as a compensation for self-induced inferiority, some hawkers have become the most strident pseudo-enthusiasts of spiritual mountain climbing – a subject about which they know nothing. This is a contagious fever amongst the hucksters and charlatans of the world, many of whom have come to America's shores seeking their fortunes. As H.P. Blavatsky noted in the last century, wherever spiritual truth is dishonoured and elementary discrimination is lacking, the mysteries of nature cannot be divulged. One must begin by honouring the humblest truths by honest application and through some philosophical comprehension before one may raise one's hand to the latch which guards the gate of the Greater Mysteries. Initially, one must be willing to honour the Delphic injunction "Know thyself" on the planes of relative learning, and thereby restore the power of inner perception before one may apprehend any absolute truth.
The Victorian age, with all its cant and hypocrisy as well as its latent sense of human dignity and integrity preserved through the recollection of the Enlightenment, is gone. It is now obvious to many that there was neither irony nor polemic, but only compassion, in the stern warnings that H.P. Blavatsky delivered on behalf of the Mahatmas to Theosophists and non-Theosophists alike. The collapse of the acquisitive and parochial civilizations of the past two millennia is approaching completion, and on behalf of the Aquarian dawn of the global civilization of the future, it was essential since 1963 to encourage rebels and victims alike to come out of the old and decaying order. This anarchic rebellion entailed the risk that the weak would become like Trishanku in the Indian myth, who was suspended between heaven and earth, neither able to land on his feet in the world nor capable of scaling celestial heights. This was a great but well-calculated risk, because large numbers of pilgrim-souls have awakened to a sense of their common humanity, both in the old world and the new. For example, prior to the spiritual upheavals that were initiated in 1963, the depths of self-obsessive messianic delusion were so great in America that scarcely any of her citizens could feel any real kinship with the rest of humanity, whilst outside observers could only wonder whether Americans were becoming en masse a race of megalomaniacs or restless demons. Throughout the world honourable statesmen, scientists, businessmen and even inveterate travellers refused to set foot in America, not because of any ideological or economic considerations, but out of intense moral revulsion.
Whilst the wisest statesmen and most perceptive peoples of the globe did not think that the Second World War had drained all the sources of discord on the earth, they were nonetheless willing to move towards the establishment of a juridical basis of enduring peace. What they did not foresee was that their endeavours on behalf of a new era of security and welfare for the whole of humanity would be flouted by the flagrant jingoists of the so-called American century, backed by sectarian bigotry and pervasive racism. Like Lisa in Dostoevsky's Notes From The Underground, they may not have comprehended the details of what America claimed to know, but they soon understood that their smug benefactor was so self-deluded as to be incapable of offering timely help. Perhaps now a growing core of Americans has realized that the decent peoples of the world dislike self-righteous bullies. They do not like the bombing of defenceless people, nor do they wish to see what happened to Dresden recur ad nauseam after the war. Rather, they expect true courage and ethical sensitivity from the proud champions of freedom and human solidarity. No one capable of resonating to the authentic meaning behind the American experiment could be but saddened to see it turning into a vulgar display of chauvinistic rhetoric and moral cowardice, an unholy alliance of Mammon, Moloch and Beelzebub.
It was the strange karma of the modern Theosophical Movement to attract many souls who were able neither to stand up in the world nor to renounce it for the sake of the spiritual welfare of humanity, and so in the nineteenth century it largely failed in America. Although it quickly travelled to England and Europe and also found receptive soil abroad, from India to Japan, in North America it engendered a crop of delusions, despite the sacrifices of a few pioneers. People actually thought that simply because they were middle-class salvationists they could pretend to be the chosen race of forerunners of future humanity. These pathetic delusions do not belong to the past, but have persisted like poison amongst pseudo-spiritual coteries and the crowded ranks of those who have not yet learnt that they cannot get something for nothing, or purchase wisdom for a price. Whilst America welcomed the wretched of the earth with a noble promise of liberty and justice for all, it also pampered the shallow autodidacts and plausible hypocrites who treated America as a land where anything goes and all is permitted. Many of these and their descendants eventually congregated in California and in the environs of the city of the angels (which its original Indian inhabitants had prophetically associated with demons). Blind greed, the perverse refusal to learn and the profanation of the sacred are so widespread today that the anger of humanity is sufficiently aroused to call for a halt to the further spread of the diseases of the psyche. The time for fascination with the pathology of the soul is past.
America must now take a firm stand and foster human beings who can marry, bring up children, and can love without merely demanding to be loved. They must learn to show true and direct personal charity to the deserving, and not just presume on some evangelical committee to plan out other lives. They must learn to esteem the ethical dignity of their neighbours every day of the year, regardless of race, creed, sect or ideology. What is required is nothing superhuman, but merely the reduction of subhuman activity through the exemplification of true values, and by a cool recognition of the enormous difference between delusive posturing and the real world in which diverse human beings are born, grow old and die, burdened by the sorrows caused by their own ignorance. Though they suffer, they may learn by acknowledging their errors, and paralysing their pride rather than their spiritual faculties. Relinquishing both conceit and guilt, they can learn to say that they are sorry when they hurt others, and they may begin to learn the manners of the common man and the authentic accents of the voice of mankind. Then they may take their place once again in the community of man by refusing to live like tawdry traducers, cheats and fakes. Each and all must learn to live lives built upon intrinsic value and reality, not upon appearances and noisy self-assertion. The heavenly maiden of Truth can descend only in a context congenial to her, the soil of an impartial, unprejudiced mind, receptive to pure spiritual consciousness.
Whilst it is true that the mad rush of material civilization leaves one little time for reflection, thus increasing the irksomeness of a life of empty custom and barren conventionality, this alienation from humanity and nature is the inescapable karma of past lives. The real danger in the present is that the simulation and deceit of conventional existence will be mistaken for the true substance of fellow-feeling and concern for others. Whatever its varied masks, selfishness remains the same, and its inflammation through "double ignorance" is the primary disease of the soul.
There is nothing more cleansing than the truth, for, as Jesus taught, it is by learning and knowing the truth that one becomes free. Wherever the truth is obscured, whether by individuals or governments, responsibility is weakened, and with it the connection between the higher Triad and the lower principles. Hence, it is a form of needless self-destruction to be continually speaking of the so-called predicament of the age, and never facing one s own failings. The critical question is not what is wrong with the world, but what is one's own individual responsibility for particular choices and acts. There is need for less talk of nihilism and Nietzsche and more attention to one's individual responsibility to parents, to spouse and children, and to those nobler human souls with whom one has the privilege of associating in the pilgrimage of life. Vast numbers of people in America and all over the globe are pleased with the prospect of the termination of a tired old cycle of cowardly irresponsibility, and the burgeoning promise of a saner and more cooperative way of life. Many young people are aware that what Lenin called the bourgeoisification of the proletariat is doomed. The time has come for perceptive Americans of all ages to cherish their common ancestry with the rest of mankind, neither from gorilla nor Jehovah, but from the solar Fathers of the human race, the Agnishwatha Pitris, the mythic Lords of Light, who long ago breathed life into those who were human in form but devoid of self-consciousness. Through the controlled power of mystic ideation, they lit up the divine spark in the soul which makes possible both learning and choice, and thereby all spiritual, moral and mental growth.
The authentic learner will seek to rekindle and strengthen that light, the Akashic lustre in the saddened eyes of every human being. Witnessing the world with eyes of maturity, of honesty and truth, one must learn to be on the side of germinal goodness, not debasement, of inner beauty, not crudity, of light itself, not shadow, and above all, the needs of the many rather than the cravings of a few. One must make a decisive break with the endless chain of personal self-pity, and affirm pure "I am I" consciousness in order to prepare to take one's true place, stand confidently in the Light of the Spiritual Sun, and ardently follow the Way of Wisdom-Compassion. That way is as high as the stars. It is also as near as the next step, for it is the way of humanity. It is the way of humility and true affirmation, and the way of the inmost camaraderie of spirit which is more profound and potent than outward speech can convey.
When people are lost in silent thought, like Rodin's statue, asking not who they are or what is their tribe and pedigree, but thinking of the nature of man and the future of all mankind, that is the sign of growth. When people learn to forget themselves and their petty concerns, and to think instead of the stars and of all the souls on earth and of the resources of the globe and of world peace and government, then they will discern the great challenge of our time. They will see that they must come out of the multitude and out of the forests of delusion and exemplify through their endeavours the true meaning of human existence. They will live richly yet humbly and without guarantees or scapegoats, but purely for the joy of breathing benevolently and working quietly. Guided by a calm and secure intuition of the possibilities of the academies, ashrams and monasteries of the future, the initiation chambers, mystic rites, and sacred sanctuaries to be spread all over the globe, those who courageously seek the privilege of inclusion without any glory other than in the joy of participation may stand up and be counted. Though they make their mistakes and are put through many trials, they will still govern themselves and crucify the pride of self rather than the imago of Christos, spurning the Kamsa within the mind rather than the life-giving gift of Krishna.
Present in every human heart, and hidden by the veil of the mystery of the Atman, the life-giving power and spirit of eternal Truth finds its voice in the languages of love, of truth, and of purity of intention, purpose and will that is awakened when one gains the priceless privilege of being in the presence of the self-luminous Mahatmas and their Avatar on earth. Like the central sun and the sacred planets, they are ever present in their invisible forms. Having nothing to prove to human beings of any age or clime, they are simply yogins who love mankind. Masters of themselves, they are the illustrious servants of the human race and the inimitable embodiments of the unmanifest universe of divine obeisance and sacred learning. In the mystical language of the Anugita:
If the highest jnanis are also the purest bhaktas, responding in magical sympathy to the cosmic will of Krishna, entering the stream of incarnation or abiding in the regions of invisible space only for the sake of service, can souls on earth who aspire to learn take any other standard? In the present period of human transformation, the opportunities for growth are great although the law of retrogression claims its toll amongst the weak. It may help to recall Longfellow's reminder that "Dust thou art, to dust returnest, was not spoken of the soul." One need not be like a dumb driven creature; but through unassuming heroism one may live a real life of earnest striving after the good. In a time of profanation one must refine the potent energy of thought through the living idea of the sacred, and though one might have humour and humanity, this need never be at the expense of another human being. One should recognize that ahimsa sweetens the breath, that non-violence dignifies the human being and straightens the spine, and that prostration adds inches to one's stature and health to one's frame. Integrity resides in the ability to recognize the difference between what one knows and what one does not know, coupled with a commitment to make good use of the divine gift of the power of learning right until the moment of death, so that one may arrive at the farther shore of earthly life with a sense of having contributed to that which was vaster and more profound than anything that could be contained in the compass of one lifetime.
To recover one's own inheritance as a Manasic being, and to resonate to the vibration of the Avatar which reverberates throughout the invisible world, one must raise one's horizons of thought. One must renounce the confined chronologies and parsimonious ontologies of Western thought. Almost by definition, a Westerner is an individual who believes in only one life. Yet there are many both in America and throughout the world who take rebirth for granted, integrating it into their way of life. Whilst there is a risk that one may speak in terms of many lives but act in terms of one life (which is cheating), once the mind and heart are firmly fixed upon the idea of karma, there is a spontaneous recovery of the capacity to learn and to show reverence and kinship to other human souls. Like the majority of mankind and the ancient inhabitants of the New World, the early Americans, including the Founding Fathers, believed in reincarnation. What, then, is the point of cowardice? Reincarnation is not merely a fashionable topic of conversation for actors and prostitutes sharing autobiographies, nor is it only designed for behind-the-scenes discussions. It should be brought out into the open, as the great sages have always done. If one has doubts, one must ask oneself if there is any reason to affirm another alternative. If so, then freely adopt the philosophy of the behaviourists and nihilists who openly expect to end their existence at death. As Jesus taught, either blow hot or blow cold, for the lukewarm are spewed forth.
If you choose the language of karma and the logic of reincarnation, universal unity and causation, and human solidarity, then you must also accept that theory is only as good as its practice. On this clarified and purified basis it becomes possible to make some small difference by one's life to the lives of others through showing true reverence and humility and an authentic agnosticism because of the ineffability of the One, the universality of the Law of Karma, the intricacy and exactitude of philosophical astrology, and the mysterious mathematics of sum-totals pertaining to the series of reincarnations. Thus one may learn to take an accurate account of the heavy toll exacted by the blockage of the Divine Light in the interior principles. A strenuous effort is required to learn the ABC's of occultism, and it would be folly to expect to discover the origins of consciousness through the self-restricted evidence of only one of its states. The ontological depths of Prajna can only be approached after there is a thorough mastery of the psychological and moral planes of human existence. Through firm detachment and unwavering attention, one must make oneself invulnerable to the siren calls of the past and cloying fantasies about the future, for the narjol is not safe until after having crossed beyond the regions of illusion, in which, as the Anugita teaches:
Above all, if one would seek freedom from the forests of delusion, from the enslavement of Manas to the senses, one must turn to the one and only source which can give protection and refuge, the Kshetragna within the sun. This is not to be understood in terms of any of the foolish salvation myths built up by failed disciples, but rather because of the logic and the law of the reflection of supernal light. Try to see the world not from below above but from above below. Try to see the world through the eyes of all those yogins, Mahatmas, who live both in the Himalayan crests of consciousness and in the lowliest heart of every sincere and aspiring human being. They can pass through any metal or substance named by man, and be simultaneously in many places. Established in the transcendental freedom of Mahat, they travel at will throughout the planes of the globe, though this has nothing to do with pseudo-occult notions of astral travel. They are masters; their life-atoms are so pure that they can never hurt a single being. Supremely chaste, men of truth who never know what it is to foster a lie, they are perfected in the practice of Karma Yoga, using many guises, playing jokes, veiling themselves constantly and thereby always guarding and protecting each and every human being without exception. They are what they are before they ever take illusory birth in the races of man, and they do not become anything different. Taking on illusory bodies of form from time to time for the instruction of mankind, Avatars create before mortal eyes a re-enactment of the path towards supreme enlightenment, but it is only a foolish fancy that supposes, for example, that Christ was not Christ, that Buddha was not Buddha, aeons before taking birth in a mortal frame. It was only for the sake of instruction that Jesus the Chrestos became Christos seemingly in three years, or that Gautama the Prince became the Enlightened Buddha through his travail in the forest on behalf of mankind.
The Buddha taught that the entire world is like a lake of lotuses, each representing beings in different stages of maya. He explained that his life was not for the sake of those few who had already approached the Light of the Spiritual Sun, nor for those so deeply plunged in the mud of maya and moha that they could make no significant progress in their present incarnation, but rather for those in the middle, struggling to come out, those who need the assurance and the confidence that they too can move further up through the swirling currents of earth life and reach the surface of the waters and open to the sun. All such births of spiritual Teachers of Mankind are conscious incarnations of beings who knew millions of years ago who they were, and who, in enacting their self-knowledge that spells out as self-conquest, assume a compassionate veil.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna explains that there are seven classes of human beings. There are those who are wicked, those who are deluded, and those who are totally drunk with passion. These three classes neither know nor recognize Krishna. Then there are the four classes of true and good beings who have some degree of recognition: the sufferers and afflicted, who, in their pain, desperately want to find peace and give their lives meaning; those who seek truth and spiritual knowledge which could be used for self-transformation, knowledge that by use they could convert into wisdom which, through suffering, becomes compassion; and then there are those who are wise and yet seek further wisdom, understanding that the basis of all wisdom is the knowledge of Krishna. Finally, there are those who already know Krishna because they are already a part of Krishna. These beings are the dearest unto Krishna; eternally united to him, they are never apart from him. They are the Mahatmas difficult to find. They became Mahatmas in the only way that any human being ever can, out of many lives of struggle and search, of honest striving and pure devotion. They are the custodians of the Seventh Mystery, that most secret Wisdom, which ever lives in the heart of every being and from which ultimately none is excluded.
Krishna explains that when he comes into the world, any beings who recognize him at any level and truly place their hearts on him – in their thoughts and dreams, their hopes and aspirations – and who truly think of him in times of trouble will be helped. Those who truly love him for his own sake and not for their own will certainly find the grace that comes with such honest love. Those whose minds are still enthralled within the forest of illusions, and who seek therein their good, will under karma find there the sad fruits of their misguided search. But as Bhagavan revealed in the Anugita, for those who have learnt to subdue their senses and for whom the light of Buddhi-Manas has begun to dawn,
Those who seek for nothing in the world but only wish to serve humanity and Krishna in the heart of every being are fortune's favoured soldiers. They alone come to Krishna, realizing that they are already in him though he is not contained in them, for he is everywhere and cannot be only in a few. This is the supreme mystery of the Adhyatman, the comprehension of which dispels all darkness. It is the mystery of immortality veiled by the appearances of the life and death of beings. It is the supreme glory and light of the Divine made visible by the Divine, and it is beyond all light and darkness, beyond all the wondrous and myriad forms and shapes of the celestial and terrestrial worlds which are only the veil upon itself. It is the very Self of Wisdom and Compassion, and the secure refuge of truth sought by all beings in the vast vale of soul-making called the world. It is the deathless core of fearlessness in all the prisoners in all the dungeons of the world, in the hearts of all the children who hope against hope that there will be a tomorrow, hope that despite the errors of generals, the follies of politicians, the ignorance of pseudo-spiritual leaders, there will be peace and goodwill amongst men, and there will be some rare breeze over the Himalayas which comes to bless all beings.
Hermes, January 1982