Dramas of the Mysteries
Theosophical Quarterly, October, 1924
Let the king resolve to change the face of his court and forcibly evict the animal from the chair of state, restoring the god to the place of divinity.—Through the Gates of Gold.
Throughout all ages, there has been the tradition of a glorious possibility for mankind, an illumination that makes man immortal and divine. The oldest mythologies of the remotest peoples, the great scriptures of all ages, ring with this high inspiration; there is, indeed, no other theme in all religions.
Our own age, with its skepticism and fever, has heard the great tidings. The word has been clear, insistent; clearer, perhaps, than in any period for millenniums, in part because of the greater need created by our darkness, in part because our age has rid itself of some of the shackles and cruelties of superstition.
Man has worked his way up through innumerable ages, the unconscious Spirit co-operating with the animal nature in his development; through endless struggle and striving, in satisfaction and in suffering, man comes to clear individuality, the intense realization of his personal existence. The light drawn from many realms has been brought to a sharp focus.
When this full individuality is reached, the glorious possibility arises: taking firm hold of his individual nature, man may surrender it to gain a greater. Ceasing to be man, he may become divine, entering into the infinite being and power and wisdom of Divinity; but on condition that he shall at all points, the least as the greatest, surrender his own will to the Divine Will, emptying mind and heart of every lingering shadow of self-seeking, so that there shall be room only for selfless wisdom and beneficence. It is the perfect offering that all ritual sacrifices foreshadow, the attainment of a divinity forecast by all that has been told of the gods.
In the path to this divine event there are tremendous difficulties, all of man’s own making, even though he did not create them of deliberate purpose. Just because, from the beginning, unawakened Spirit has been working in man, together with animal perception and desire, there have been immense possibilities of harm: the distortion of spiritual force in the perversion of animal powers; the exaggeration of individuality into egotism, envy, hatred; malice, ambition.
Therefore, when man catches a glimpse of his possible divinity, when the universal message of the glorious future that may be his, awakens his heart, he does not find himself free, unshackled, a light-hearted spirit, ready to speed forth toward the Light; on the contrary, with the vision of the goal, he becomes aware of the impediments, the tremendous drag of the personal self which he has built up, and of the kindred impulses in mankind all about him. He realizes that it is not a question only of enthroning a king; there is first a usurper to be driven out, who will fight every inch of the way, and who has innumerable allies in the man himself, in the human nature about him, and in those older powers of darkness, carried forward from remote spiritual failures in the past.
The Eternal is there, one in essence with his Spirit, drawing him toward divine union; inimical powers, into which he has put so much of his own life, are there also, entwined with the sloth and cowardice and allurement of mankind; the perception of the Eternal is the signal for the battle.
The Eternal is the very essence of humanity, it is Divine Humanity itself, that which mankind shall be when man has become immortal. Therefore, if in the battle the warrior be able to make complete surrender of self, the surrender of cowardice as well as of desire, so that he wins the victory and loses himself in the Eternal, he thereby becomes one with Divine Humanity. Thereafter, through the very essence of his being, he is bound and compelled to toil for the redemption and liberation of all mankind, knowing that the heavy task will not end until all human beings, with hearts and spirits cleansed, have sought for and attained the Light. He accepts that age-long sacrifice with eager love. A part of the true Nirvana is the renouncing of Nirvana.
Since the oneness of man’s essence with the Divine Essence is the central fact of all life, and the attainment of that unity is the one true goal of all effort; it is but natural that human records should be full of that great adventure, innumerable writings tell something of the Light and the way thither; some few have undertaken to reveal, so far as may be, the whole of the battle, to chart to the end the pathway to Divinity. The best books have this one theme; the worst books cannot escape from the battlefield, since they depict the mire from which we must rise, the bonds we have created to hold us back.
Because the Eternal is Divine Humanity, because he who gains the Eternal, thereby enters into Divine Humanity, so that the redemption of every human being becomes his concern, his most ardent longing,—therefore those who have won the victory, who have become Masters of life, are impelled by their very nature, the new, divine nature into which they have entered, to stretch out a helping hand to us, to put on record for our better guidance, the incidents and dangers of the way they have passed, the perils of the battle, which are behind them, but still before us. So it comes that we have, among the best books, many Dramas of the Mysteries, or of the one great Mystery of man’s redemption.
That the dramatic form is natural, almost inevitable, is suggested by such a sentence as this, toward the end of The Crest Jewel of Wisdom:
“Thus, through this dialogue of Master and disciple, the revelation of the supreme Self has been made, to awake to joy the souls of those who seek liberation.”
Dialogue is the first step toward drama, and when the disciple says: “I was wandering in the great dream forest of birth, decay and death created by delusion, day by day afflicted by many pains, stalked by the tiger, egotism; through infinite compassion awakening me from my dream, thou, Master, hast become my saviour!”—the picture which he has evoked almost demands dramatic treatment.
Take another expression of the same conflict, this time from the letter of a living Aryan Master, written forty years ago:
“The path has to be trodden laboriously and crossed at the danger of life; every new step in it leading to the final goal, is surrounded by pit-falls and cruel thorns; the pilgrim who ventures upon it is made first to confront and conquer the thousand and one furies who keep watch over its adamantine gates and entrance—furies called Doubt, Skepticism, Scorn, Ridicule, Envy and finally Temptation—especially the latter; and he who would see beyond has first to destroy this living wall; he must be possessed of a heart and soul clad in steel, and of an iron, never-failing determination, and yet be meek and gentle, humble, and have shut out from his heart every human passion that leads to evil.”
These enemies are all of our making; they are the substance of unregenerate human life; therefore, he who fights toward regeneration is inevitably in conflict with them; the conquest of Doubt and Envy and Temptation is that regeneration which carries him forward toward the Eternal.
Just because these enemies are of the essence of human life not yet redeemed, the stuff that human beings are made of, it is easy to find human types that embody them, and thus to turn the contest into drama. As it stands, the Aryan Master’s sentence is the argument of a mystery play.
The Crest Jewel of Wisdom is cast in dialogue form, which is the first stage of drama; the Master and the disciple embody the Divine Being, and the human being straining toward the Divine, the Universal Soul and the individual soul, Divine Humanity and one of its fragments seeking union with the whole. The Master and the disciple are not merely personifications of these; they are the realities themselves; unless the Master be one with the Universal Soul, he is no true Master; and in the disciple is every strand of human nature, the evil with the good. It follows that his fight is a fight for humanity; his victory is a victory for all mankind, and in that degree enriches and heals mankind.
The Katha Upanishad is also a revelation in dialogue form; the effort has been made, through translation and commentary, to show that it is a true Drama of the Mysteries. Much more in the great Upanishads is of the same texture.
The Bhagavad Gita represents a further development. It is, as regards its central theme, a dialogue between Master and disciple. But, while the Crest Jewel does not set the stage of the dialogue, nor even name the speakers, the Bhagavad Gita does both. The setting is a battlefield; the Master Krishna and Arjuna his disciple are the central persons; the enemies are not so much personified as embodied in the leaders of the opposing host.
Through the Gates of Gold suggests, in the sentence quoted at the outset, that the problem is not only the enthroning of a king, it includes also the eviction of a usurper; and this is the motive of many Dramas of the Mysteries, including the Bhagavad Gita. The names, as so often in the Orient, are symbolic: Dhritarashtra, “he who has seized the kingdom,” is the father of the usurping Kurus; Duryodhana, “the foul fighter,” is the leader of the usurpers; of the two counselors of the Kuru brothers, Bhishma is “fear,” while Drona is the “dark cloud” of delusion, the name meaning also “raven” and “scorpion,” both of evil omen. It is as though the enemies in the passage quoted from the Aryan Master had taken form and come to life. So, on the side of the Pandus, Dhrishtadyumna means “he who has seen the splendour,” the gleaming of the Gates of Gold, called in the Gita “the door of heaven.” Arjuna’s son, Abhimanyu, means the kind of “self-consciousness” which is akin to self-conceit. Fitly, he is slain in the great battle. Finally, though Arjuna is fighting for the kingdom, the throne is not for himself, but for his elder brother. Not the individual self, but the Higher Self, attains the throne; not the man but the god, whom the man thereafter reverently serves.
As compared with the Crest Jewel, the Bhagavad Gita is not only more dramatic, richer in action and in colour; it has also a fuller content. The Crest Jewel limits its purpose to two things: the lucid revelation of the Eternal as the real Self, not of one man but of mankind; and the undermining of the unreal “me,” which is the root of all evil. The supersession of the false self by the Eternal, is the motive of the dialogue. The Bhagavad Gita adds more of human feeling, more of religious passion also; it appeals to spiritual valour as well as spiritual wisdom. But both have this in common: they record real experience, the experience of a Master who has fought the battle and attained the victory, and who can, therefore, speak of that high and immortal consciousness which comes with the entry into the Eternal, so far as words can compass it at all. Lacking that immediate experience, the realized consciousness of one who has attained, who has been initiated into the Most High, we cannot have a genuine revelation, an authentic Drama of the Mysteries. The revealer must have made the journey, before he can tell authentically of the way. He must be in the full mystical sense an Initiate.
There is, therefore, a special significance for students of Theosophy, in the declaration of The Secret Doctrine, that “old Aeschylus was an Initiate, and knew well what he was giving out,” when we come to consider certain of his plays as Dramas of the Mysteries. Aeschylus was born at Eleusis, 525 years before our era, and a formal accusation of revealing the Eleusinian mysteries was brought against him before the Areopagus. But The Secret Doctrine suggests that the revelation made by Aeschylus was concerned, not with Demeter or Ceres, the central personage of the mysteries at Eleusis, but with the sacred allegory of Prometheus. Aeschylus wrote three dramas with this theme: Prometheus Bound, Prometheus Unbound and Prometheus the Fire-bringer, of which only the first has come down to us; of the second, we have a bare outline, while of the third we know practically nothing.
The Secret Doctrine makes a profound study of Prometheus Bound:
“The crucified Titan is the personified symbol of the collective Logos, the ‘Host,’ and of the ‘Lords of Wisdom’ or the Heavenly Man, who incarnated in Humanity. . . . Zeus represented in the Mysteries no higher a principle than the lower aspect of human physical intelligence—Manas wedded to Kama; whereas Prometheus—the divine aspect of Manas merging into and aspiring to Buddhi—was the divine Soul. Zeus, whenever shown as yielding to his lower passions, is the Human Soul and nothing more—the jealous God, revengeful and cruel in its egotism or ‘I-am-ness,’ . . . ‘The lower Host, whose work the Titan spoiled and thus defeated the plans of Zeus,’ was on this Earth in its own sphere and plane of action; whereas the superior Host was an exile from Heaven, who had got entangled in the meshes of Matter. . . . This drama of the struggle of Prometheus with the Olympic tyrant and despot, sensual Zeus, one sees enacted daily within our actual mankind; the lower passions chain the higher aspirations to the rock of Matter, to generate in many a case the vulture of sorrow, pain and repentance.”
The whole study should be read and pondered over, and the drama of Aeschylus with it. Of the three parts, we have only the first, wherein is depicted the spirit of man chained and bound by the Enemies already enumerated, the Enemies which spring from unregenerate man himself; the spirit of man straining toward liberation. Aeschylus has given, in majestic symbolism, the history of the binding of that spirit, and has foreshadowed the redemption. When Prometheus says of himself:
Fettered, the god ill-fated,
The foeman of Zeus, the detested
Of all who enter his courts,
And only because of my love,
My too-great love for mankind . . .”
he reveals the oneness of the immortal Self with Divine Humanity; he records something of the toil of the Masters in the work of Humanity’s liberation.
Plato was one of those, we are told, who had passed through the Gates of Gold. Plato’s books are full of the Mysteries, and contain many explicit references to the Mysteries. Yet there appears to be no one of Plato’s dialogues that is in form a Drama of the Mysteries. The Trial and Death of Socrates describes the Via Dolorosa, but without the Resurrection. When we come to the history of the Master Christ, which our last reference suggests, we have not so much a Drama of the Mysteries, as the enactment of the supreme Mystery, with the precedent Temptations, and the hard trials of the three years’ mission; not the symbolic record, but the Reality. The Apocalypse is rather a Drama of the Mysteries, a symbolic record of spiritual experience.
Whether or not the sixth book of the Aeneid is a true Drama of the Mysteries has been debated for generations. It would appear to introduce us to a phase of the subject upon which we have not yet touched. The accusation brought against Aeschylus, that he had revealed the Eleusinian Mysteries, may remind us that the word is used in two senses: first, the actual divine experience, the great Initiation, through which the Spirit of man becomes one, in consciousness and power and love, with the Eternal; in that Initiation, the Spirit of man is the Eternal. This is the true Mystery.
But, before this profound experience, and as a preparation for it, there are symbolic representations of this experience, such as the ceremonies at Eleusis; and, as a third step, we may have a graphic description of these symbolic ceremonies. Such a description, the sixth book of Virgil’s Aeneid would appear to be; not, therefore, a record of spiritual experience; probably not the work of an Initiate at all.
The mention of Virgil in connection with the Mysteries brings us almost inevitably to Dante, and the Divina Commedia. The first thing to be noted is that Virgil does not complete the threefold journey; he does not ascend to the Celestial World. It would seem, then, that Dante thought of Virgil as one who had a human knowledge of the Mysteries, not a divine knowledge; that he had not passed through that supreme spiritual experience, that complete entry into the being of the Eternal, which we think of as the great Initiation.
To speak with confidence of these tremendous realities would be presumption; but Dante reveals the Divine with a sureness of touch, that indicates direct experience. Only true spiritual vision could have created these lines:
“’Tis the essence of this blessed being to hold ourselves within the Divine Will, whereby our own wills are themselves made one. So that our being thus, from threshold unto threshold throughout the realm, is a joy to all the realm as to the King, who draweth our wills to what He willeth; and His will is our peace; it is that sea to which all moves that it createth and that nature maketh.”
So of all that Dante says of the Divine World, the realm of the Eternal; it has the ring of authenticity, the stamp of immediate experience, that Virgil seems to lack. We should be inclined, then, to think that. Dante is an Initiate, while Virgil is not.1
It may seem strange that, in the Divina Commedia, there is no dominating representation of the Master Christ, as Krishna, for example, dominates the Bhagavad Gita. There is one fugitive reference, among others, in the eighth Circle of the Inferno: “Our Lord demanded nought but ‘Follow me!’” There is the symbolic figure in the Pageant of the Earthly Paradise. There is the Light in the supreme realm of the Paradiso.
This reticence is in all likelihood due to profound reverence; but it is also true that the Master Christ may be thought of as permeating the whole poem, because Dante sees human life as we may conceive that Master sees it.
There is, in the Inferno, the life of the unregenerate will, obdurate in sensuality and disobedience; that side of human life which Zeus typifies in the story of Prometheus; those qualities and powers that can never enter Heaven. Then, in the Purgatorio, the painful task of transmutation and redemption begun by that complete reversal of the obdurate will, which brings the escape from Hell. Finally, the will redeemed, become one with the Divine Will, the individual losing himself to find himself in the Eternal. It would be difficult in all literature to match Dante’s living revelation of the ascending spiritual realms.
In The Secret Doctrine, Shakespeare is bracketed with “old Aeschylus the Initiate” as a Sphinx of the ages. He is cited with Plato, as one who passed through the Gates of Gold. There has for centuries been a haunting sense of mystery about him, which has been the impelling force of the myth-making that has centred round him. A good many years ago, a student of Theosophy put forth the theory that Hamlet was a true Drama of the Mysteries, and there was this to support the theory, that it repeated the age-old theme of the lawful king and the usurper, with the passionate struggle to overthrow and cast out the usurper.
The parallelism was worked out in detail. The murdered king, representing the Higher Self driven from the throne by egotism, appeared only when the usurping king was asleep or drunk. Polonius was the lower human reason, Ophelia, the personal emotional nature, both meeting death in the fierce conflict. Hamlet, the Soul straining toward liberation, wages an agonizing battle against Doubt, and, though he slays the usurper, perishes himself in the inconclusive contest. That there is more than a tinge of mysticism in Hamlet, is universally admitted; his soliloquies have been accepted as the supreme expression of the struggling mind.
More recently, a thoughtful and valuable effort has been made to sustain the same thesis with regard to The Tempest, by Colin Still, in Shakespeare’s Mystery Play, published in London in 1921. Summing up his case, the author says:
“Broadly considered, the meaning I have ascribed to The Tempest is certainly not one which is in the smallest degree peculiar in itself and inconsistent with the history of the drama up to Shakespeare’s time, nor is it one which makes the Play utterly unlike any other masterpiece of art or literature. There is nothing odd or fantastic, nothing that the trained intelligence immediately and instinctively resists, in the essential idea I have sought to establish-namely, that Shakespeare wrote a dramatic version of the one theme which has appealed unfailingly to the imagination of mankind through all ages. There is nothing contrary to reasonable expectation in the argument that such a work must inevitably be found to contain points of resemblance (whether intended by the Poet or not) to those parts of the Bible, of the pagan mythology and ritual, of the writings of Dante and Virgil and others, which demonstrably deal with the same great theme. Nor can it be denied that there is a singular fitness in the suggestion that the zenith of the drama, as represented by the climax of Shakespeare’s power, was marked by a Mystery Play corresponding very closely to the ancient religious ceremonies with which the early art of the theatre was allied.”
There are two main elements in the author’s argument. First, there is a gathering together of many fragments concerning the ceremonies called the Mysteries, which have come down to us in the Greek and Latin classics, and which were brought together in Warburton’s eighteenth century effort to prove the same thesis for the sixth book of the Aeneid. A consistent, interesting and, on the whole, very convincing attempt is then made to show that, in The Tempest, all these signs and passwords of the Mysteries, so to speak, are used correctly, in their right places, and with their true mystical meaning. Second, there is a philosophical study of the spiritual essence of the Mysteries, avowedly based on the theosophical teaching of the Seven Principles, including the “four bodies,” as set forth in the Mandukya Upanishad, though that most mystical text is not named. The author seeks to show that The Tempest conforms not only to the verbal passwords the Mysteries, but to the spiritual tests also; that it does, in fact, describe the way of liberation, the entrance of the individual Soul into the Oversoul.
There is also, to sustain the mystical view of The Tempest, the consistent portrait of Prospero as the Magician, almost the Adept, and, to crown all, the superb expression of the Oriental doctrine of Maya:
These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air;
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palace.
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
Are we, then, to say, on the basis of Hamlet and The Tempest, both of which can be consistently interpreted in terms of the Mysteries, that Shakespeare is an Initiate, as we may say that Dante, or Aeschylus is an Initiate, that Shankaracharya is an Initiate, that the revealor of the Bhagavad Gita is an Initiate; and that The Tempest is a Drama of the Mysteries in the same sense, and to the same degree, that the Katha Upanishad is a Drama of the Mysteries?
Let us consider first what we have called the signs and passwords of the Mysteries. Regarding these, we may quote Conington’s analysis of the famous attempt of Warburton to prove that the sixth book of the Aeneid was a record of initiation:
“The circumstances connected with initiation were one thing, and the grand secret itself another: and while the latter has been so successfully preserved as to have perished with its depositaries, the former meet us openly in ancient literature, in allusion or in detail, so that we may be sure that they were perfectly at the service of any uninitiated poet who chose to avail himself of them to garnish and authenticate his narrative.”
To what Conington says regarding the “grand secret” we shall presently return. In the meantime, we wish simply to make the point that what Conington says of Virgil, may be equally true of Shakespeare: “the circumstances connected with initiation” were largely available for his use. Shakespeare may not have been a skilled classical scholar, but he had an immense knowledge of the substance of classical literature; beginning with the Renaissance, it was in the air, and Shakespeare’s works are saturated with it. The author of the very thoughtful study of The Tempest does not undertake to show in detail the ways in which Shakespeare may have gathered the fragments of technical knowledge regarding the ceremonies of the Mysteries, which are to be found in the poem; but there is no great difficulty here. Shakespeare was familiar with Plutarch’s Lives, in the English version of Sir Thomas North, who translated the French of Amyot; it is not difficult to believe that Shakespeare may also have had access to some version of Plutarch’s treatise on The Mysteries of Isis and Osiris. Or, to put it more generally, the research into the traditions of the Mysteries which was possible for Warburton in the eighteenth century, was equally possible for Shakespeare, or for some scholar among his many friends, perhaps even Bacon himself, in the early seventeenth, though the ferocious spirit of persecution may have made it expedient to preserve greater reticence.
Going somewhat deeper than the catchwords and phrases of the ceremonies, to the spiritual content of the Mysteries, there is much evidence, which is being constantly added to, that no period, either before, during, or since classical times, has been without knowledge of the Mysteries, both as ceremonies and as spiritual realities. There are, for example, the traditions of the Freemasons; there are schools like the Rosicrucians, of whom the Aryan Master already quoted writes: “These expound our Eastern doctrines from the teachings of Rosenkreuz, who, upon his return from Asia dressed them up in a semi-Christian garb intended as a shield for his pupils, against clerical revenge.” Traditionally, this was about a century before Shakespeare’s birth. During the reigns of James the First and Charles the First, the doctrines of the Rosicrucians, avowedly based on the Mysteries, attracted much public attention and excited keen controversy. Robert Fludd published his well-known Apologia Compendiaria Fraternitatem de Rosea Cruce in 1616. In Elizabeth’s time, although discussion of the subject was not carried on quite so publicly, Europe was honeycombed with small “secret societies” of scholars, avid of knowledge, who studied everything they could lay their hands on, exchanging information widely, and particularly anxious to explore the secrets of Greek, Roman, Arabic and Jewish authors who referred in any way to the Mysteries, or to the correlated subjects of the Philosopher’s Stone and the Elixir Vitae. It is certain that there were branches of these societies or “schools” in Shakespeare’s England, and it is entirely possible that Shakespeare may have belonged to one or more of them. His powerful, many-sided intellect, open to all impressions, gathering materials from all possible sources, and at the same time free from dogmatic bias, makes that quite credible.
It is easy to believe, therefore, that Shakespeare may have written a drama conforming to the plan of the Mysteries, and embodying the signs and passwords of the Mysteries, and that he may have done this of deliberate purpose.
Is Shakespeare, therefore, an Initiate? To begin with, how are we to understand the declaration, already quoted, that Shakespeare had passed through the Gates of Gold? We may understand it best, perhaps, in terms of the definition given in that wonderful treatise itself:
“The Gates of Gold do not admit to any special place; what they do is to open for egress from a special place. Man passes through them when he casts off his limitation.”
It is truer, perhaps, of Shakespeare than of anyone in all literature, that he has cast off his limitation. He transcends his own personality so completely that it is in fact a subject of debate among scholars, whether the personality of Shakespeare had any existence. He has taken into his vast, sensitive intellect, all the men and women of all the ages, from the dawn of Hellenic civilization in the days of Theseus and the Heroes, through Homer’s Troy, later Athens, the Egypt of the Ptolemies, Rome of the Kings, of the Republic, of the Empire, many European lands through many centuries; all these men and women are equally near to him; neither race, creed, caste, colour nor sex is a barrier; neither space nor time. He has cast off his limitations. In that sense, he has passed through the Gates of Gold. Perhaps this is the reading of his riddle, as “intellectual Sphinx.”
To come back to what Conington says about the “grand secret” of the Mysteries. We do not agree with him that it has perished, or that it can ever perish, if we are right in thinking that the supreme secret is the unity of the Soul with the Oversoul, of the Spirit of man with the Eternal, not as a doctrine formally conveyed, but as a profound experience, to be gained only through the intermediation of Masters, in the great Initiation of the Lodge. On that basis, to have passed through this experience will mean a spiritual illumination, a transformation of consciousness, which will reveal itself in such a spirit, let us say, as that of Dante, and, on a much greater scale, in the spirit of Shankaracharya, of the Buddha,—a spirit of wisdom and fervour and love and power, a:spirit of Divinity revealed in humanity.
Certain qualities of this spirit, it seems to us, Shakespeare conspicuously lacks. Where is the religious passion in him that inspires Dante? Where is the living intuition of Divine Humanity? From one sonnet, we may quote:
Then, Soul, live thou upon thy servant’s loss,
And let that pine to aggravate thy store;
Buy terms divine in selling hours of dross;
Within be fed, without be rich no more:—
So shalt thou feed on death, that feeds on men,
And death once dead, there’s no more dying then.
This, it may be said, if pushed far enough, will lead us to the Elixir of Life; but did he push it far enough? Is there more here than the understanding of a luminous intellect, which understood to that degree all human life? Is there the transformed, divine consciousness, which is the “grand secret” of the true Initiate?
The answer is, No. For all his transcendent genius, he lacks that fine spiritual quality which is the hall-mark of the Initiate of any degree. His emotional and intellectual powers are beyond question. His inner knowledge is second-hand.
It is not necessary to make a plea for the spiritual content of the Divina Commedia or the Upanishads; the impossible task would be, to prove them anything else. But it can hardly be maintained that The Tempest reveals the consciousness become divine, though it may follow a consistent plan that symbolizes it. But the ultimate Real is not there, though the symbol may be: at least so it seems to us.
There is, then, this high hope, this divine Reality, announced by the supreme Scriptures, the spiritual lining of our human life. Now, as always, living Masters of wisdom and power and love are ready to help the pilgrim, making their life the bridge for him to pass over; now, as always, there is the invitation, insistent, perhaps, as never before.
1. N. B. Initiate does not necessarily mean Master.