THEOSOPHY, Vol. 15, No. 12, October, 1927
(Pages 529-535; Size: 24K)
(Number 13 of a 13-part series)
THE RISING CYCLE
WHEN Jesus of Nazareth went to the Temple in Jerusalem he, it is said, drove the money changers out of the courts; and later he said that many false prophets should arise. Jesus, with a prophet's eye saw what has so often come to pass since then -- false prophets arising on every side, both in and out of the Church that bears his name. In the earliest centuries of Christianity, no less than at the present time, schisms and heresies multiplied. Most of these lasted but for the generation of the particular disciple, to be succeeded by corruptions of the original corruption. A few endured and became the religious moraines which follow vast glacial movements. Most of these old heresies are as dead as those who proclaimed them and those who believed in them, but ideas of any kind have self-reproductive power. They are seeds of thought which need but to find mental soil in order to germinate and flourish. Lapse of time does not affect their vitality. So, in our day, one may find under other names every early Christian dogma to the most absurd and bizarre. The great historical divisions of the Christian church and the sects of each division change in name only. Spirit and Matter are co-existent, the true and the false are almost inextricably interwoven and interblended in human nature, and few are they who have the Karmic stamina to persevere in the great task of self-education which is Spiritual evolution.
The six schools of Hindu philosophy, not to speak of the numberless castes and sub-castes, all trace back to teachings originally unitary and synthetic, but now buried under the successive stratifications of those who sought to improve upon, to expand and apply, to adopt and adapt according to their own understanding or desires. It is recorded that during the very life-time of the Buddha no less than forty heretical teachers were active -- one for each year of his mission -- each and all proclaiming their several heresies as the true and only doctrines of Buddha. Buddhists, Hindus, Mohammedans, are as much divided among themselves as are the Christians. In every generation there arises one or another in the various sects who tries to restore the original unity, and who, at best or at worst, only succeeds in multiplying the divisions and conflicts already existent.
All this mountain of history shows that merely to escape from one delusion does not insure exemption from falling into another. Spiritual vaccination is no more a preventive or a safeguard than its physical counterpart, but the one and the other, in one form or another, persist and thrive at the expense of misguided enthusiasm and enthusiasts, and to the profit of the prophets as of yore. Guile and credulity in holy alliance build the Temple of matter. The adepts of the Left-hand path are as active as those of the Right. Human ignorance is invincible and impregnable to any but Self-conquest and the greatest of Great Souls can do no more than repeat--"The Path is one for all; the means to reach--and go on restating the ancient timeless Truth in the face of the ancient timeless False; pointing to the lesson of all the Past to teach the lesson of the Present.
the goal must vary with the Pilgrim"
Theosophists, scattered hither and yon in all religions and in all sects, in all societies and associations of mankind, quite as much as in bodies called Theosophical in name, have, then, no cause for surprise, no occasion for discouragement; but they have much need to study and apply the lessons of history and of their philosophy to themselves before setting out in their turn to teach and instruct their fellows. The rising cycle shows a greater turmoil, a greater spiritual unrest the world around than that world has ever experienced within the cycle of recorded history or the silhouette of tradition. Buddha stirred up India as Lao-tse moved China, as Pythagoras and Plato affected Greece, as Christ's blood was spilled in Palestine to reproduce rivers of blood in Western and Eastern lands. But vast as these movements were, no one of them affected more than a portion of mankind. Gradually, as the centuries passed, each produced -- rather, resulted in -- an immense and wide-spread leveling down, not up, of the race-mind(1), an ironing out of barriers, not the restoration of the Path which was lost to mankind in Atlantean(2) days. But that very silting up of religious channels, that very wearing away of religious mountain ranges, was by nature and by the Masters of Wisdom turned to joint-account in every range of human energy and enthusiasm. The discovery of America, of gunpowder, of printing, of the compass, of the means of mutual intercourse -- the very initial step to Brotherhood -- paved a new way as well as blasted a new path for the whole human family. To-day, he would be esteemed mad who dreamed that the old isolations, the old barriers, could ever be restored. Apply this same sequence of thought to any and all attempts to restore, to stabilize, to hold on to the old views of God, and Man, and Nature, so long deemed inviolate and inviolable -- and you have the picture of The Rising Cycle of all mankind in a greater angle of vision, but in the same true perspective.
All this, it goes without saying, is merely negative progress for the race. It is disillusionment as to old fetishes and altars, but it is not education. More than ever before the ordinary man, and even the ordinary woman, is emancipated from old shackles on the feet of progress, old manacles on the hands of adventure, old leading-strings of race, creed, caste, color, and condition. To-day a man may say, "my soul is my own," and a woman may say, "my body is my own," where hitherto we have for ages believed the one to be the feudal property of our heavenly King and the other the vested interest of our earthly Lord. But this gives no one Wisdom, and, Masters of our own bodies and minds, the question is, for every incoming Ego of to-day, "Am I able to guide myself? Able to employ and enjoy my new-found freedom in such manner as shall ensure against falling into fresh durance vile? Am I competent to govern myself to any better or more enduring benefit and advantage to my fellows and myself than under a foreign master?" An Indian politician's saying has been widely quoted and repeated by adoption in every land:"I will rather go to hell under my own governmentFew of those who adopt, few of those who oppose, the idea expressed in the phrase perceive the falsity of the implied syllogism. It is possible for any man to "go to hell" under his own volition and conduct, as it is possible for any man to "go to heaven" under the same auspices, but no man can be driven one step in either direction by any imposed dominance whatever. Our slavery, whatever it is, of body or mind or soul, is never from without; nor is our emancipation in any degree possible by external Powers. Our circumstances, whether of latitude or constriction are -- circumstances, mere soil for one class or another of the seeds of thought already in us, constituting our mind as they germinate, our soul as they remain latent in us. The sought-for emancipation and education therefore lie in a change of soul and mind -- "a change in the Buddhi and Manas of the race,"(3) as Mr. Judge so wisely placed in a phrase the Path of spiritual evolution. And this placement may well stand in contrast to the Hindu orator's words as the epitome of the Theosophical Movement versus the maelstrom motion of materialism in its apotheosis -- human nature set free from restraints.
than to heaven under alien instruction and direction."
Theosophists who hoped that the mission of H. P. Blavatsky would produce the millennium simply fell into the old heresy of an outside Savior whose Coming, whose Miracles and whose Message should restore heaven on earth. Our predecessors of the first generation of the Movement have an abundant progeny in this in the various theosophical, mystical, and occult apostles and messages which profess, directly or by suggestion, to do that very thing for the faithful follower and the true believer. More than one of these false prophets has achieved a far greater audience and commanded far greater devotion and sacrifice than ever yet attended the presence, the works and the teaching of a true Messenger from the Masters of Wisdom in the same length of time.
Yet the "Two Paths" are ever clearly and plainly distinguishable, without as within, in another as in ourselves, and hence the nature of the Voice which appeals to us. Deluded as we are, we think to distinguish between true and false, between the Voice of spirit and the voice of matter, by what they say, by the terms they employ, by the language that they use, by the admonitions. We forget our own life-history and the life-history of the race in forgetting that politicians speak the language of politics, of "spoils," only among themselves. To the public on which all politicians, of no matter how apparently opposing policies and persuasion, must thrive, they speak in the language of patriotism, of the public welfare, of the common weal. We forget that it is only among themselves that the augurs of religion "greet each other with a smile:" to their faithful devotees they use the "language of the gods." Christians read that "the devil cites Scripture for his purposes," and then go to their preferred theologians for instruction on baptism, the "unpardonable sin," and "what Christ meant" by this, that, or the other injunction and parable; to Church to hear of the "forgiveness of sins" and partake of the Sacrament of Holy Communion, and go away refreshed, sure they have shared in "the Lord's Supper."
Christ's teaching that we "cannot serve both God and Mammon" is as familiar to every Christian as is to the Theosophists H.P.B.'s "the self of Matter and the Self of Spirit can never meet." They are but aphoristic utterances of the eternal fact that there can never be a conversion or transformation of darkness into light, of evil into good, of ignorance into Wisdom. Yet these phrases are on every man's lips as if the understanding of them were as patent as the fact itself. Even when self-questioning arises who seeks the answer in the same source as the question, namely, in himself? No; we go to our several oracles, propound our soul-questions, and go away content with the oracle's response -- or at most seek a fresh prophet.
And yet -- ignorance and wisdom both exist, good and evil both survive and continually reproduce themselves; light and darkness are, as always, "the world's eternal ways." Their alternation is the law of cycles. Unless, then, there is a Path other than that which we call Spirit and a path other than that which we call Matter, the rising cycle but breeds the falling and the falling cycle but reappears as the rising. Is there still another Path for the Pilgrim?
There is indeed, and it is the Path that all the Sages have taught. It can be found in every ancient scripture no less and no more than in the message of H. P. Blavatsky. It can never be found in any religion, any theology, any more than in what we fondly and fatuously call science, philosophy. Knowledge is always a revelation, but it is in every case a self-revelation. It does not come from circumstances, any more than from prophet or seer, genuine or spurious. It comes only to those who "see without eyes, hear without ears, and sense without organs," according to the graphic expression to the Commentary on this Secret Doctrine -- the doctrine of the SELF.
For this "middle path," as the Buddha called it, is not the path of compromise between spirit and matter, good and evil, religion and science, as the interpreters and revealers would have us believe, each according to his addiction -- and ours. It is the path of the Pilgrim himself."The whole nature of man must be used wisely by the one who desires to enter the way. Each man is to himself absolutely the way, the truth, and the life. But he is only so when he grasps his whole individuality firmly, and by the force of his awakened spiritual will, recognizes this individuality as not himself, but that thing which he has with pain created for his own use, and by means of which he purposes, as his growth slowly develops his intelligence, to reach to the life beyond individuality."The nature of the Voice that reaches us in the Name of the Highest, can be quickly discerned by self-examination as to the nature of the highest aroused in us by the voices we hear. "Is it the Way you desire, or is it that there is a dim perspective in your visions of great heights to be scaled by yourself, of a great future for you to compass?"
Regarded from this point of view is it not clear that the founders of sects, the leaders of cults, the great names which stare at us in human history sacred and profane have not been men of clean heart, but merely disciples in whom the vices of the ordinary man reappeared with changed aspect -- occultists who fancied they had removed their interest from self, but who in reality only enlarged the limits of experience and desire and transferred their selfish interest to the things which concern the larger span of life -- that of the reincarnating Ego?"Search for the Paths. But, O Lanoo(4), be of clean heart before thou startest on thy journey. Before thou takest thy first step, learn to discern the real from the false, the ever-fleeting from the everlasting. Learn above all to separate Head-learning from Soul-wisdom, the 'Eye' from the 'Heart' doctrine."So the Voice of the Silence, repeating the age-old admonition. "Of seekers there are many," but for the most part what do we all seek? Is it not some one or some thing on which to rely, content that our faith and their works shall prove our salvation? Or do we not seek a sign of some kind -- something we can see? Seek an "easy road" to stamina? Seek a larger field, a brighter opportunity, a richer harvest for our endeavors? Is this to be of clean heart, of open mind, of eager intellect?
Then if not, must it not be a surety that whatever of the pure water of the Spiritual Life may enter us will become fouled as in a scavenger's bucket?
So little have any of us learned of our "whole nature" that when the second layer of mere Matter becomes porous to our senses we infallibly take it to be the Spirit itself, and our astral(5) visions become our God, ourselves vested with Spiritual authority to give as we have received -- absolution to those who accept us as we have accepted our visions.
The Rising Cycle of the Theosophical Movement is not witnessed by the growing numbers of psychics and psychical societies calling themselves theosophical and occult; nor by the great growth in the license which men and women now give themselves in every grade of human life -- license formerly reserved to the privileged orders in church and state, and to church and state themselves; nor by any form of associations; nor by the multitudes of writers and writings devoted to supplying the ever-growing multitudes of those who want spiritual knowledge, do not doubt that it has a commodity value, and, being honest, are willing and anxious to pay the price in the only currency they know. All these are but the waking up of layers in human nature still within the domain of Matter -- each fresh layer certainly at last the Spirit to those to whom it has been hitherto an unknown quantity in themselves. These things are at last pandemic, the democracy of disease -- the only self-communion of Matter. Soon they will become wholesale.
But Knowledge is no more contagious than good health. The one is as much under Law as the other -- is Law. The sure witness of the rising Cycle is the fact that the Messenger has been here; that the Message is of record and accessible, free from the rubbish of the ages of materialism and superstition which have entombed all former messages. But it is as inaccessible as ever, though in plain print, to those who come unlawfully into the pronaos of the Temple of Divine Wisdom. The rising cycle is witnessed by the individual disciples who, a generation after the departure of the Messenger, hold fast to the Path she showed -- to the Masters who are behind. The rising cycle is witnessed by the ever-augmenting number of those to whom her Message upon its contact awakens their Spiritual Will to "follow in the Path of the Predecessors" -- the noble path of making Theosophy the living power in their lives.
COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:
DISCERNING TRUE MOTIVES(6)
Question -- How can we discern whether it is the divine conscience animating us and directing us in a certain direction, or the animal soul seeking release from seemingly unfavorable environments?
Answer -- The divine conscience acts in all struggles for betterment, but clouded more or less in each by reason of education and habit of thought; hence it varies in brightness. It is not possible to make a hard-and-fast fixed rule for finding out what is the animating motive. If we are trying to get into a better state, it is for us to decide if that be simply and wholly selfish. All actions are surrounded by desire as the rust is round the polished metal or the smoke round the fire, but we must try. So if we fix for ourselves the rule that we will try to do the very best we can for others, we will generally be led right. If we rely on the higher self and aspire to be guided by it, we will be led to the right even if the road goes through pain, for sorrow and pain are necessary for purification of the soul. But if we wish to run away from an environment because we do not like it and without trying to live in it while not of it, we are not altering ourselves but simply altering the circumstances, and may not always thereby gain anything.--W.Q.J.
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SIX (6) FOOTNOTES LISTED BELOW:
(6) The Theosophical Forum, March, 1894.
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COMPILER'S NOTE: I added these additional five footnotes; they were not in the article. If any of them don't paint an accurate enough picture, or are incorrect, I hope the Editors of THEOSOPHY magazine will spot them and point the inaccuracies out to me, so that I can make the necessary corrections.
(1) "Race-Mind" refers to all of humanity here.
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(2) "Atlantean": The last long evolutionary racial cycle for humanity was named the "Atlantean" one, and was the Fourth Race (or the Fourth Root Race). The long evolutionary cycle before the Atlantean one was the Lemurian one, and was the Third Race (or the Third Root Race). "Aryan" is the name of the present long evolutionary racial period (or cycle) that we are in as a whole humanity, and is known as the Fifth Race (or the Fifth Root Race). A "Root-Race" is contained within a much longer evolutionary period (or cycle) called a Manvantara, which has a beginning and an ending. In the present Manvantara we are in the evolutionary period of humanity known as the Fifth Sub-Race of the Fifth Root-Race. A Manvantara is many millions of years long. Within that immense period there are seven Root-Races, each of which is divided into seven "Sub-Races", which are each divided into seven "Family-Races". It is always cycles within cycles. The shortest of these cycles is about 30,000 years. There is always a long period of overlapping as one racial period of development blends into the next one. But it is we, each eternal soul, individually, and all of us together, who are going through all of these evolutionary periods over and over again, incarnation after incarnation, from age to age, with no final end to this cosmic process.
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(3) "a change in the Buddhi and Manas of the race,": "Buddhi" means Intuition (or Spiritual Soul); "Manas" means mind; "Race" is all of humanity. "Buddhi-Manas" means Intuitional-Mind (Higher mind). "Atma-Buddhi-Manas" means Spirit-Intuition-Mind: the immortal Triad -- the Eternal Pilgrim, the Higher Self, the Reincarnating Ego, what and who we really are: an Eternal Thinker, in or out of a physical body. "Atma-Buddhi" means Spirit-Intuition (but without the Mind principle developed, such as is the case in the animal kingdom and all of the other kingdoms below Man, the Thinker).
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(4) "Lanoo" means a Disciple.
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(5) "Astral" means the Electro-Magnetic spectrum at every level. The "Astral Body" is the electromagnetic design body that the physical molecules adhere to in the building up of every form, in every kingdom, on the physical plane. The theosophical "Astral Light" is the "Ether" of modern science. It is the source of the idea known as the "Recording Angel" -- because every thought, word, and deed is recorded, stored, and magnetically reflected back to its source at a dynamically proper time: in other words, when conditions naturally warrant or permit it. We call this Karma, or Lawful action and reaction. All of us are also magnets for imprints in the "Astral Light" which were put there by others and which are similar to us in character. So we constantly affect and infect each other in this way -- for good or for bad.
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