“The Crown of Life”
Theosophical Forum, November, 1899
“Laying all thy works in thought on me, and full of me, let thy imagination be ever bent on me, holding firmly to the illumined soul.
“With thought full of me thou shalt cross over all hard places by my sovereign grace. But if through vanity thou obey not, thou shalt perish.
“If clinging to vanity, thou thinkest: ‘I will not fight the fight,’ thy decision is delusive, for nature will constrain thee.
“Bound down by the power of thine own work that was born with thee, what thou wilt not do in thy delusion, thou shalt do against thy will.
“The Master stands in the heart of all beings, leading all beings onwards through the world-glamor, as though carried forward by some outward power.
“Take thy refuge in him with all thy heart and soul. By his sovereign grace thou shalt come to the eternal dwelling-place and everlasting peace.
“Thus do I teach thee wisdom, more secret than all secrets. Perfectly pondering it, as thou desirest, so do.
“Hear once again my last word, the final secret. My beloved, thou art firm of heart, therefore I shall declare to thee thy desire.
“Let thy soul rest in me, let thy love be toward me, offering all to me, full of reverence for me. Thou shalt verily come to me,—this is truth I promise thee, for thou art dear to me.
“Giving up all other laws and bonds, take refuge in me alone; I will free thee from all the hosts of darkness. Sorrow no more.”—Songs of the Master.
After the servitude of sensual life is broken, and the weakness of vanity is overcome, there are long gray days of quietness, and at last, for those who endure, there is the sunrise of the everlasting Life.
The victory is gained. Eternity is begun. The mortal rises up immortal from the fire of death, in a vesture colored like the sun. And thenceforward each day and every work accomplished add to the certainty of victory, the firm knowledge that liberation has been won. And the fruits of victory are these:
There is first an abundant sense of life; a full and throbbing vigor, that makes glad the heart, changing the old-time burden of our natural life into a pleasure; a pastime whose charm grows, not dulls, with use. Nature’s law is cheerful energy, effective, abundant, adequate. And coming under the power of the law, we inherit the secret of nature’s immortal youth, and find life not a struggle but a delight. We catch the great chords of the eternal song, and know in our hearts that the heart of things is altogether well.
Yet this flowing vigor, splendid as it is, is but the outer vesture of a far higher gift, the sense of inward rightness and power. We have opened the everlasting fountains, and henceforth our wellsprings can never go dry. In the days of our vanity, a little calamity was enough to overwhelm us, for vanity is the weakest thing in the world. But now we are unconquerable, we are of the stuff that the gods are made of, and calamity can knock no longer at our doors.
In our human life, there was one thing more notable than all others, a shadow of utter blackness. We felt ourselves of more worth than the stones, yet the stones remained, while we passed away. We had a higher life than the streams, yet the streams failed not, though our knell was rung. In a nature that moved and lived eternally, man, the best work of nature, was doomed to die.
But that cloud has lifted. We have conquered death. And though we cannot tell of a certainty what awaits us in the great Beyond, yet we do know this: that with us it will be altogether well; for there is that in us which laughs at death, or greets it as a friend and ally, bending death with all things else to the furtherance of our everlasting ends.
And there is that in us which laughs at separation. We are already in some sense, and we feel that we shall be ever with less reservation, lords and masters over space. Wherever living souls are, we are; our interests are there, our work is being done there, our spirit is conscious there. For there is but the one world-old Soul of Man, the Divine, and that Soul we know ourselves to be. And this knowledge is not of the lips, but of the heart and will. We can feel the everlasting Soul throbbing in us, and without us, in every soul of our other selves. We exiled ourselves for ages from our dominion in our other selves by our vanity and lust. But the days of our exile are ended, and we have come again into power. Henceforth, whatever the soul of man attempts, whatever the Soul attempts in man, we have a share in it; whatever good thing is undertaken, that makes for the honor of our life, we can help it, and bring support to every struggling heart of man.
Nor need we rely on our own sense of oneness only; our secret will instantly be guessed by our other selves. They will open their hearts to us, making us the allies of their wills, for nothing wins and charms like the living presence of the Soul. All men recognize their lord, and give him welcome, with relief and gladness opening their doors. That is a dominion which grows forever; not in abstract theory, but in living possession. We have kindred in every heart of man; we have fellowship in all his infinite work.
Yet greatest boon of all, greater even than the splendid victories over time and space, over death and separation, is the present power that initiates us into the secret of the creative gods. We are become children of the Will. There is no misery like the sense of wasting powers and slipping opportunities, when the days of life are falling through our fingers, and we cannot lay hold on them, nor gain the mastery over them. That sense of impotence, of foiled will, of weakness, is the greatest curse of life; and there is no boon like the getting rid of it.
Out of the futility into power; into conscious firmness and mastery; that is the essence of our victory, of our initiation into the Soul. For this is the heart of our secret, that the Soul is, that it is here and now; and that our doors open into the Soul.
Henceforth, our separate lives are closed. There is no more of them, nor of our separate interests and fears. We are the Soul, doing the work of the Soul, and sharing its everlasting power and youth. We need not defend the outposts of our little lives against the fancied hosts of enemies who threatened us all around; we can fall back on the reserve of the army, the host of universal Life. If our hearts are weary, if the battle has worn us out, we can withdraw into the shadow of the Soul, and there in silence and in peace, draw in great refreshment, coming forth again into the morning of the gods. Great horizons begin to glint and gleam to us, and we are already guessing at the mighty secrets of hidden life.
The greatness and the beneficence of all life are beginning to be revealed to us; the awful majesty and might that runs through us all, as the warp and woof of our being. We are initiated into the tremendous purposes that underlie it all, till our hearts thrill with dread and echo with deep delight. It is the Life, splendid, majestic, full of darkness and awe, thrilling with beneficence and power; we feel ourselves in presence of the Life.
As the mists scatter and lift before the sunrise, so do the shadows that surrounded us pass away. And so rapidly does the complexion of our life change with the lifting mists, that we are left breathless, hardly able as yet to steady ourselves in thought amid the dawning of this new-opening world. It was for this we were so long kept waiting; it was for this we endured the interminable watches of the night. Time seemed to go so slow with us that we feared old Time was dead. Now we are caught up and carried forward so rapidly that we have scarce time to feel our great alleviation, the splendid liberty that has at last descended into our days.
Henceforth, it matters little what we do, in our separate and isolated selves. For the great Life works, though we sleep. The Soul builds, even though we pass idle days. Whatever is good, the Life is carrying forward incessantly; and the Life cannot but win. Whatever is evil is rushing into conflict with the Soul, and the Soul cannot but prevail. Yet it shall be our pleasure to take our share in the building; in honor, we shall be abashed to be found shirking, while great nature throbs with creative life.
Of old time, we worked falsely, not knowing where our true power lay. We labored for our sensual satisfaction, never suspecting that sensuality can never bring us satisfaction, but only weakness and numbness and death. We worked for vanity, longing and thirsting to see admiration of ourselves and our wealth in others’ eyes; never seeing that the preoccupation of vanity made us detestable to all men of good-will, and a laughing-stock to everyone in whom was rather malice than good-will.
Therefore our work of other days was doomed before it was begun. At the best, it brought us the opiate of delusion, and we 1ived the fools of hope. Most men still live thus, and will for ages. They dream that their reward is the sensual fruit of their labors, not seeing that their reward was their work itself. Therefore they live, working wisely, but believing very foolishly; and at last, finding no lasting delight in the sensual goal they set themselves, they droop, and incontinently die.
But not so shall we work. The Life is not pre-occupied with our sensual delights, nor striving to gratify our vanities; the Life is not working for any ends like these. The Soul works to create, in us, and with our hands. And for every creative work, the Soul has set its own reward; the power of a further and better creation, with every circumstance, every advantage of position or possessions, which that new creative act demands. If I have worked wisely and joyfully, and, coming to the end of my work, require large material resources to embody my new vision, the title-deeds to new possessions will presently come to light; if I need a nation to work out my revelation of the Soul, I shall find myself leader of a nation; or, if I need nothing but the simplest natural life, with large, plain outlines quite unadorned, the Soul will give me that. Thus is our payment and our promotion, and the manner and measure of it is best left in the hands of the Soul.
This we come to see, throughout all life. Life is not a bill of pains and penalties, but an endless vista of opportunities for us and all men; a vista in no wise barred by sorrow and separation, nor in any way broken by death. The splendid march of life, and of all life, goes forward incessantly, from instant to instant, from hour to hour. That is where we have our inheritance. We are of the stuff that moves the world, that builds high heaven, that glows through death, and knows itself immortal.
If you are oppressed with sorrow, lonely and alone, deeming yourself forgotten of the gods, and outcast in the desert of a world where is no good, nor any love or tenderness, be sure that you are deluding yourself with the misery of things that are not, and shutting yourself out from the splendor and joy and solace of the things that are. Though the darkness is round you, and there is no sound but the cry that is so miserable, it fears to utter itself aloud, yet know with certainty that unseen beneficence is near; your sorrow is known, you are not forgotten. Not a pain will go without its solace, not a sorrow will fall on you, but it is the shadow of a coming joy. You are very well provided for, through you know it not; every least desire and effort is counted, nothing goes for naught; the perfectest justice will be measured out, where justice is all mercy, for you are not alone, but though you know it not, held firm in the arms of infinite Life.
The darkness will change tot he gray quietness of dawn; after dawn will come full sunshine, and you will recognize with gladness and rejoicing that there are no more sad tomorrows, for you have been born into the light of everlasting day.