The Lord of the Three Worlds
The Oriental Department
Theosophical Forum, July, 1898
“All this, verily, is the Eternal; let him draw near to it in the silence, as gleaming through all the world.
“Man, verily, is formed of Will; as a man’s Will is, in this world, so, verily, he himself becomes; and going forth from the world, he is what he has willed; therefore let him follow his Will.
“Formed of mind, bodied in Life, shining like the sun, willing the real, robed in shining ether,—doing all things, desiring all things, savoring all things, tasting all things, embracing all that is, silent, unsorrowing;—this is my Soul, in the heart within, smaller than a grain of rye, than a grain of barley, than a grain of mustard-seed, than a grain of rice, or a rice-grain’s kernel;
“This is my Soul, in the heart within, mightier than the earth, mightier than the firmament, mightier than heaven, mightier than all these worlds.
“Doing all things, desiring all things, savoring all things, tasting all things, embracing all that is, silent, unsorrowing;—this is my Soul in the heart within. When I go forth hence, this shall I become. Who has become this, doubts no more.”
(Chhandogya Upanishad, III, 14.)
I think we may begin by heartily congratulating all who have thereto contributed, on having reached a result, after twenty-three years’ work, and gained a victory, the like of which the world has not seen for centuries,—perhaps for ages.
It is well worth while to consider a little wherein that victory consists.
One has heard good people, during these stormy years, express, with sighs, a deep regret for all our turmoils, and a devout longing that we might have peace, balmy peace. The lords of life who arranged these things, must have smiled,—an inscrutable eastern smile,—knowing well that the turmoil was the work; that all these shocks and storms and stresses were the very heart of the whole matter, the essential part of the educational process; the very end and aim for which they were working. The lords of life have little taste for peace, balmy peace.
And after the prodigious shaking which we have gone through, where are we shaken to? what has come of it all?
First, this: We all,—that is, all the survivors,—have come to hold a very real belief in the Occult World,—to use a fine old phrase that has many excellent associations. We got our training in the Old Lady’s days, and through her temperament and genius. For without the Occult World, Mme. Blavatsky was simply unintelligible, and more than that, exasperating. And she greatly exasperated all who came across her, unless they succeeded in gaining some hold of the Occult World, and some insight into it, and thereby, into her also. One simply could not know Mme. Blavatsky without getting one’s mind full of adepts and initiations, and reincarnations, and elementals, and mysteries, whether lost or found. These things were the air she breathed, and made you breathe, or smother. One had the feeling, in her presence, that it was quite unfashionable not to have been initiated,—like wearing a hat of a by-gone day, in a well-dressed crowd. So she gave you the sense of the Occult World,—the other half of things, and more than half; and reduced to due humility this self-assertive world we are all so fond of. And the other people got wildly exasperated, and fell upon her and multiplied epithets exceedingly, and that was the first glorious row, grim enough as it looked at the time, to all who had the pleasure of taking part in it. And all who survived found that they had a very real and solid belief in the Occult World, though perhaps no quite clear understanding as to what kind of world it might be. And this belief was not a matter of logic or reason at all;—logic and reason really count for so very little in life; it was a matter of character, of will, automatic, involuntary,—a solid reality. People say they believe this or that; but it is character that really counts. They act as they must act; as their will is, to that they go.
Then came the second great row, not equal at all in stress to the first, but yet very full of power and light—for the survivors. This time it was a question of principle,—was the Occult World thus or thus? Or, in other words, am I justified in judging and condemning any person whatever, under any circumstances whatever? And this brings in the question of what is called “brotherhood,” the matter that was really tried, during that second time of storm. And as people talk so much of this brotherhood, one may well make at least an attempt to define it. For brotherhood is like the Self in the Bhagavad Gita:
“Some talk of it as wonderful, some behold it as wonderful, some hear it as wonderful,—but even hearing it, no one knows what it is.”
That is like brotherhood. No one seems to know what it is. It seems to be something like this. Having got some sense of the Occult World, we begin to look at life, in the light of it, and to see the mysterious side of life turning up in all sorts of unexpected quarters. We used to look at people as things outside ourselves, not in any sense a part of us; whom we had to profit by, or suffer by, as the case might be; but always in relation to ourselves. But, with the sense of the occult in life, we begin to get a sense of the occult in people. We begin to feel a second element in them. besides their relation to our own profit and loss. We begin to get a glimpse of their individual selves. It may seem a small thing to say this, but it is not really a small thing. On the contrary, it is the greatest thing possible, excepting only one thing. And most people are born, get married, and die, without ever getting a glimpse of any individual life of anyone whatever, beyond their particular selves. To touch the life of another person, really and consciously, is the rarest thing in this cloud-wrapped world. We all live in a maze of mirrors, and even when we look into each others’ eyes we see—ourselves. So with the sense of the Occult, came the revelation; the sense of the individual life of other people: in whatever small and limited degree. And the moment when you first feel the life of another, as vividly as if it were a part of your own consciousness,—that moment is the beginning of an epoch. You realize that the life of each is as interesting to him, as important to him, as much his own possession, as your life is for you. And from that time forth, it becomes inherently impossible to judge or condemn anyone whatever for anything whatever. The thing is a part of his life; his life is his own possession, and there is an end of it. This is not the doctrine of non-resistance. On the contrary. It may be a man’s Karma to do something I greatly resent. That is his affair, and I do not dream of condemning him. It may be my Karma to club him for doing it. That is my affair, and he should not dream of condemning me. But the truth is, once, after all the ages, we begin to get a real sense of the fact that other people have souls,—have real lives that can touch our consciousness—that moment all talk of condemning, and judging, and all the rest of it, becomes out of date. We have entered a new epoch. As Paul would say, we are not under the Law; we are under Grace. And there is no use saying, or pretending, or wishing, to have reached this insight. It is a question of fact. Either we have, or we have not. And as our will is, so shall we act, no matter what we believe our convictions to be. And the second great storm brought out that sense of things. Those who had the intuition went one way; those who had not, went the other way. And all judgments and condemnations were ludicrously irrelevant, as they always are. So we took our second step in the Occult World. We “gained the human world” and the fulfillment of our desires. And we might indeed spend a series of ages very beneficially in working out that part of our lesson, as indeed we are like!y to do. For the problem is, to touch the souls of all other people, in an inward and intimate way, until they are as vivid for us as our own. And then I trust we shall have found a better word to express the result than “brotherhood,”—a term rather stale, and fallen into bad repute.
Now there comes another question to be tried. When we have gained some sense of the Occult World,—when we have consented that is, to live for our souls, as well as for our bodies,—and when we have further opened the doors of our souls, just a little, so that we get faint glimpses of other people, and see that they have souls too,—there comes another matter to be decided. Are we going to get carried away by the genius of other people, and follow after what we see in their souls? or are we going to hold a balance between our souls and theirs, giving due allowance to each? And this question brings us to the third world. For, if we are to find a true balance, we can only do it in one way. The matter seems to be something like this. We all have our desires, and our fancies, and our hopes, and our fears. And we might well spend an age in watching these things in each other, and find great entertainment therein. But there is more of us than our desires, our hopes, our fears. There is the Will in us; the Genius; the common Power, which possesses us all, rather than is possessed by us. And this Will in us has this quality: whereas our desires may contradict each other, and bring us into conflict with each other, our wills never contradict each other, and they never imitate each other. Thus: all true poetry is the work of the Genius, the Will, above the man’s desires. And all true poets have united in singing one great poem, the song of man. There is no contradition; no imitation; no repetition. There is absolute originality throughout, yet perfect oneness of design. And thus the Will works through our lives. Each of us has an inner power, a genius, a gift; something that never was before, nor shall be again. Something spheral and infinite and immortal. And for that, we live. The whole purpose of our lives is to draw that genius forth through ourselves, and thereby to be ourselves. And I do not mean a poetic gift, or any artistic production of any kind, but something quite different, and much more vital: namely, that each of us has a gift for dealing in a certain way with all other souls; for standing in a certain relation to them; for affecting them by our wills; for touching them and being touched by them; and this gift is singular, and peculiar to each of us. It has never been anticipated, and will never be repeated. Now the question comes: have we the courage to be ourselves?—to stand by our gift, our own revelation?
If we have not come to feel any such gift, it is no matter. There are all the ages before us. There is plenty of time. But having once felt it we are either to have the courage to stand by it, or we are going to go under. Again, it is a question of fact, to be tried as such, and not of convictions, or of what people say that they believe. There is this to be added: the sense of one’s own genius, of one’s own will, carries with it the sense of immortality, of dawning omnipotence, for the will is at one with the Will universal; and is thereby different from the desires. So that to feel one’s own genius, one’s own will, one’s own Self, is to become immortal; to become lord of the third world.
And the third great storm in our sea decided that. Either we elected each to stand by his own genius, or we did not. And to criticise, and to judge, and to condemn, and to recriminate, are ludicrously irrelevant; they simply have nothing at all to do with the question at issue; nothing at all to do with the Occult World; but belong wholly to the region of desire and fear, and general cussedness. in which one side of us will still linger through long, glad, enjoyable ages. It is curious, but it is absolutely true, that while we condemn each other, we remain wholly unconscious of each other. The moment we reach the first real consciousness of each other, of each others’ lives and souls, that moment we become wholly incapable of condemning at all. Life looks so different after that.
So the survivors have become conscious of three things: first, of their own souls; then of other peoples’ souls; then of the universal Soul, manifested in themselves, as in others. And that is our victory, and it is one worth cheering over, for long ages to come.
And to become conscious of these three things is to make a certain very definite attainment in Occultism,—to begin, at least, to hold lordship over the three worlds. And that attainment, our twenty odd years of storm and stress have brought. A certain very definite attainment in Occultism. That is the first part of the victory, on gaining which we tender our humble congratulations to the lords of life. But that is not all. We have further the fact that this attainment has been reached by a number of people together,—fighting together, very often, it may be; but that only promotes good feeling. The point is, that a number of people, knowing each other, are more or less clearly conscious that they have all reached this definite attainment in Occultism, and have reached it together. A further tender of congratulation to the lords of life,—again most humbly offered. Nor is this yet all.
We have further done this in the midst of the working world, in the eye of day, amongst the great crowd of humanity; not in monastic cells, or out of the way corners of jungle or hill, but “right here,” in the world of day. And, so far as I have heard, not one of us has been crucified, or made to drink the hemlock, or burned at the stake. If one were allowed to nominate the aspirants for martyrdom, one might be disposed to regret this. But let that pass. The point is, that no one of the band of the elect of the ages has missed a meal, as a punishment for his faith. So let no one talk of terrible persecution. Thus the third element of our victory. We are yet in the world, mildly tolerated by the world, and with all our knowledge, and holding that knowledge in common.
Now that a number of people should make this attainment in Occultism,—namely, to become conscious of their own souls, their neighbors’ souls, and the universal Soul over all; that they should make this attainment in common, and make it in the world;—this is a threefold victory, the like of which has not been seen for ages, and on which we sincerely congratulate the lords of life, and as sincerely congratulate ourselves. The cosmic gods may rest a while on their oars and smoke the cosmic pipe of contentment, and bask in the Central Sun, and contemplate, and generally have a good time, on the strength of all this. The Masters in occult arts may take a holiday, conscious that they have earned it, and enjoy their sweet repose. And so, for a while, may we; and let the deep contentment of our peace steal in upon us, and feel the great quietness and serenity, and eternal youngness of real life. Such peace may be ours, for a while, at least, till the voice arises in the silence, saying: “It is not well. You have reaped, now must you sow.”
For it is but natural to think that such great attainments as we have seen ourselves to possess, carry with them certain responsibilities,—or shall we be sanctimonious, and say ‘certain sweet privileges’?—but of these responsibilities, more anon.