Cyclic Impression and Return and our Evolution
Lecture, April 25, 1892, Before The Sixth Annual Convention Of American Theosophists.
Theosophy, February, March & April, 1897
Mr. Chairman, Fellow Theosophists, Ladies and Gentlemen: The title of what I am about to say to you is CYCLIC IMPRESSION AND RETURN AND OUR EVOLUTION. Now what is a cycle? It has nothing to do with the word psychic, and I am sorry to have to say that, because I heard some people this morning repeat the title as “psychic” instead of “cyclic,” seeming to think perhaps that that was the same thing, or had some relation to it. The word cyclic is derived from the Greek word Kuklos, or a ring. It has been turned in the English language into the word cycle, by the process of saying Kykle, and then cycle. The corresponding word in the Sanscrit is Kalpa, which has in fact a wider and a deeper meaning; because cycle in English is a word which covers, is used for, and thus somewhat confuses, many cycles. It is used for the small cycles, and the larger cycles, the intermediate cycles and the great ones, whereas the word Kalpa means and implies only one cycle of a large size, and the smaller cycles within that are designated by other words.
What is a cycle? It is a circle, a ring. But not properly a ring like a wedding ring, which runs into itself, but more properly like a screw thread, which takes the form of a spiral, and thus beginning at the bottom, turns on itself, and goes up. It is something like the great Horseshoe Curve in the Pennsylvania Railroad. There you go around the curve at the lower end; you go down into the horseshoe, and as you turn the grade rises, so that when you arrive at the opposite side you have gotten no further than the beginning, but you have risen just the distance between the two ends of the grade.
But what do we mean by a cycle in Theosophy, in our own investigations of nature, or man, or civilization, or our own development, our own origin, our own destiny? We mean by cycles, just what the Egyptians, the Hindoos and the philosophers of the Middle Ages meant by it; that is, that there is a periodical return or cycling back, circling back of something from some place once more. That is why it is called cycle, inasmuch as it returns upon itself, seemingly; but in the Theosophical doctrine, and in the ancient doctrines, it is always a little higher in the sense of perfection or progress. That is to say, as the Egyptians held, cycles prevail everywhere, things come back again, events return, history comes back, and so in this century we have the saying: “History repeats itself.”
But where do Theosophists say that cyclic law prevails? We say that it prevails everywhere. It prevails in every kingdom of nature, in the animal kingdom, the mineral world, the human world; in history, in the sky, on the earth. We say that not only do cycles pertain, and appertain, and obtain in and to the earth and its inhabitants, but also in what the Hindoos call the three kingdoms of the universe, the three worlds; that is, that below us, ourselves, and that above.
Now, if you will turn to Buckle, a great writer of the English school, you will find him saying in one of his standard books, a great book often quoted, that there is no doubt cyclic law prevails in regard to nations, that they have come back apparently the same, only slightly improved or degraded, for there is also a downward cycle included within those that rise; but Buckle did not discover a law. He simply once more stated what the ancients had said over and over again. And it has always seemed to me that if Buckle and other people of that kind would pay a little more attention to the ancients, they would save themselves a great deal of trouble, for he obtained his law by much delving, much painstaking labor, whereas he might have gotten the law if he had consulted the ancients, who always taught that there were cycles, and that there always will be cycles.
Among the ancients they had a great many large and important cycles. In their classification they had a Saros and a Naros, which are not understood today by us. They are known to some extent, but what exactly they are, we do not know. The Egyptians taught that there was a great sidereal cycle, and that is recognized today, at last; that is the cycle of 25,000 years, the great one caused by the fact that the sun went through the signs of the Zodiac in that length of time. Now, I do not assume that you know nothing about astronomy, but in order to make it clear, it will be better for me to state this over again, just as it is. The sun goes through the signs of the Zodiac from day to day and from year to year, but at the same time, in going through the signs of the Zodiac, he goes back slowly, like the hands of a clock ticking off the time. In going through that period he comes back to the same point again, and retards himself, or goes back; that is called the precession of the equinoxes, and it is so many seconds in such a length of time. Those seconds in the sky turned into time show you that the sun takes 25,000 and odd years to come back to the place from which he started out at any particular time; that is to say, if you imagine that on the first of April, this year, the sun was in such a degree of Aries, one of the signs of the Zodiac, he will not get back to that sign by the precession of the equinoxes until 25,000 years have passed away.
Now, the sun is the center of our solar system and the earth revolves around it, and as the earth revolves she turns upon her axis. The sun, it is known now by astronomers, as it was known by the ancients (who were ourselves in fact), revolves around a center. That is, that while we are going around the sun, he is going around some other center, so that we describe in the sky not a circle around the sun, but a spiral, as we move with the sun around his enormous orbit. Now do you grasp that idea exactly? It is a very important one, for it opens up the subject to a very large extent. There is a star somewhere in the sky, we do not know where—some think it is Alcyon, or some other star, some think it may be a star in the Pleiades, and some others think it is a star somewhere else—but they know by deduction from the known to the unknown, as Brother Thomas told you this morning, that the sun is attracted himself by some unknown center, and that he turns around it in an enormous circle, and as he turns, of course he draws the earth with him. In the course of 25,000 years in going around the signs of the Zodiac, he must take the earth into spaces where it has never yet been, for when he reaches this point in Aries, after 25,000 years, it is only apparently the same point, just as when I came around the curve of the Horseshoe, I started around the first point and went around the curve, came back to the same point, but I was higher up; I was in another position. And so, when the sun gets back again to the point in Aries, where he was on the first of April this year, he will not be in the exact position in the universe of space, but he will be somewhere else, and in his journey of 25,000 years through billions upon billions of miles, he draws the earth into spaces where she never was before, and never will be as that earth again. He must draw her into cosmic spaces where things are different, and thus cause changes in the earth itself, for changes in cosmic matter in the atmosphere, in the space where the sun draws the earth, must affect the earth and all its inhabitants. The ancients investigated this subject, and declared long ago this 25,000 years cycle, but it is only just lately, so to speak, that we are beginning to say we have discovered this. We know, as Nineteenth century astronomers, that it is a fact, or that it must be a fact, from deduction, but they knew it was a fact because they had observed it themselves and recorded the observations.
The Egyptians had also the cycle of the Moon, which we know, and they had more cycles of the moon than we have, for the moon not only has her cycle of twenty-eight days, when she changes from full to disappearance, and then again to youth, but she also has a period of return somewhere over fourteen years, which must itself have its effect upon the earth.
Then they said, also, that the human soul had its cycle, it being 5,000 years. That is, the man died, or the king died, and his body was turned into a mummy in the hope that when, after his five thousand years cycle had elapsed and he came back once more to earth, he would find his mummy there? No; but that no one else should have taken his mummied atoms and made a bad use of them. Mummification is explained by us in another way. Their knowledge of the law of cycles caused them to make the first mummy. They held that a human soul returned; they also held that all atoms are alive, just as we do; that they are sensitive points; that they have intelligence belonging to the plane on which they are, and that the man who misuses atoms of matter, such as you have in your bodies and your brains, must stand the consequences. Consequently, saying that to themselves, they said, “If I die, and leave those atoms, which I have used so well, perhaps some other man will take them and use them badly, so I will preserve them as far as possible until I return, and then by a process destroy the combination of atoms, absorb them into some place, or position, where they might be put to good use.” That may seem offensive to some today, but I am merely repeating the theory. I am not saying whether I believe it or not.
The ancient Egyptians who held these theories have disappeared and left nothing behind but the pyramids, the temples of Thebes, the Sphinxes and all the great monuments which are slowly being discovered by us. Where have they gone? Have they come back? Do the Copts now in Egypt represent them? I think not, although heredity is the boasted explanation of everything. The Copts are their descendants? They know nothing, absolutely nothing but a simple language, and they live the life of slaves, and yet they are the descendants of the ancient Egyptians! What has become of them? The ancient Egyptians we think were co-laborers with the ancient Hindoos, whose cycle remains; that is to say, whose descendants remain, holding the knowledge, in part, of their forefathers, and we find that the Hindoos have held always the same theories as to cycles as the Egyptians held. They divided the ages of the world. They say manifestation begins, and then it lasts for a period called a Kalpa, an enormous number of years; that Kalpa is divided into ages. The small cycle is composed of a large number of years; one will be four thousand, another four hundred thousand, another will be a million, and so on, making a total which we cannot grasp with the mind but which we can write upon the paper.
Now, the idea of cycles came from the Hindoos, through the nations who spread out from there, for it is admitted that the land of Hindustan is the cradle of the race. The Aryan race came down into Christendom, so that we find the Christians, the Romans, the Greeks and all people around that time holding the same theories as to cycles; that is, that cyclic law prevails everywhere. We find it in the ancient mystics, the Christian mystics, the middle age mystics and the mystics of times nearer to ours.
If you will read the works of Higgins, who wrote the Anacalypsis, you will find there laborious compilations and investigations on the subject of the cycles. Do they obtain? Is there such a thing as a cycle which affects human destiny?
Coming closer to our own personal life, we can see that cycles do and must prevail, for the sun rises in the morning and goes to the center of the sky, descends in the west; the next day he does the same thing, and following him, you rise. You come to the highest point of your activity, and you go to sleep. So day follows night and night follows day. Those are cycles, small cycles, but they go to make the greater ones. You were born, at about seven years of age you began to get discretion to some extent. A little longer and you reach manhood, then you begin to fall, and at last you finish the great day of your life when body dies.
In looking at nature we also find that there are summer and winter, spring and autumn. These are cycles, and every one of them affects the earth, with the human beings upon it.
The esoteric doctrine that Brother Mead has been talking about, the inner doctrine of the old theosophists and the present day theosophists, to be found in every old literature and religious book, is that cyclic law is the supreme law governing our evolution; that reincarnation, which we talk so much about, is cyclic law in operation and is supreme. For what is reincarnation but a coming back again to life, just what the ancient Egyptians taught and which we are finding out to be probably true, for in no other way than by this cyclic law of reincarnation can we account for the problems of life that beset us; with this we account for our own character, each one different from the other, and with a force peculiar to each person.
This being the supreme law, we have to consider another one, which is related to it and contained in the title I have adopted. That is the law of the return of impressions. What do we mean by that? I mean, those acts and thoughts performed by a nation—not speaking about the things that affect nature, although it is governed by the same law—constitute an impression. That is to say, your coming to this convention creates in your nature an impression. Your going into the street and seeing a street brawl creates an impression. Your having a quarrel last week and denouncing a man, or with a woman and getting very angry, creates an impression in you, and that impression is as much subject to cyclic law as the moon, and the stars, and the world, and is far more important in respect to your development—your personal development or evolution—than all these other great things, for they affect you in the mass, whereas these little ones affect you in detail.
This Theosophical doctrine in respect to cycles, and the evolution of the human race, I think is known to you all, for I am assuming that you are all theosophists.
It is to be described somewhat in this way: Imagine that before this earth came out of the gaseous condition there existed an earth somewhere in space, let us call it the moon, for that is the exact theory. The moon was once a large and vital body full of beings. It lived its life, went through its cycles, and at last having lived its life, after vast ages had passed away, came to the moment when it had to die; that is, the moment came when the beings on that earth had to leave it, because its period had elapsed, and then began from that earth the exodus. You can imagine it as a flight of birds migrating. Did you ever see birds migrate? I have seen them migrate in a manner that perhaps not many of you have. In Ireland, and perhaps in England, the swallows migrate in a manner very peculiar. When I was a boy, I used to go to my uncle’s place where there was an old mass of stone ruins at the end of the garden, and by some peculiar combination of circumstances the swallows of the whole neighboring counties collected there. The way they gathered there was this: When the period arrived, you could see them coming in all parts of the sky, and they would settle down and twitter on this pile of stone all day, and fly about. When the evening came—twilight—they raised in a body and formed an enormous circle. It must have been over forty feet in diameter, and that circle of swallows flew around in the sky, around this tower, around and around for an hour or two, making a loud twittering noise, and that attracted from other places swallows who had probably forgotten the occasion. They kept that up for several days, until one day the period arrived when they must go, and they went away—some were left behind, some came a little early, and some came too late. Other birds migrate in other ways. And so these human birds migrated from the moon to this spot where the earth began (I dont know where it is—a spot in space—) and settled down as living beings, entities, not with bodies, but beings, in that mass of matter, at that point in space, informed it with life, and at last caused this earth to become a ball with beings upon it. And then cycles began to prevail, for the impressions made upon these fathers when they lived in the ancient—mind fails to think how ancient—civilization of the moon, came back again when they got to this earth, and so we find the races of the earth rising up and falling, rising again and falling, rising and falling, and at last coming to what they are now, which is nothing to what they will be, for they go ever higher and higher. That is the theory, broadly, and in that is included the theory of the races, the great seven races who inhabited the earth successively, the great seven Adams who peopled the earth; and at last when this earth shall come to its time of life, its period, all the beings on it will fly away from it to some other spot in space to evolve new worlds as elder brothers who have done the same thing before in other spaces in nature. We are not doing this blindly. It has been done before by others—no one knows when it began. It had nothing in the way of a beginning, it will have no end, but there are always elder brothers of the race, who live on. As some have written, we cannot turn back the cycles in their course. The fire of patriotism cannot prevail against the higher destiny which will plunge a nation into darkness. All we can do is to change it here and there a little. The elder brothers are subject to law, but they have confidence and hope, because that law merely means that they appear to go down, in order to rise again at a greater height. So that we have come up through the cyclic law from the lowest kingdoms of nature. That is, we are connected in an enormous brotherhood, which includes not only the white people of the earth and the black people of the earth, and the yellow people, but the animal kingdom, the vegetable kingdom, the mineral kingdom and the unseen elemental kingdom. You must not be so selfish as to suppose that it includes only men and women. It includes everything, every atom in this solar system. And we come up from lower forms, and are learning how to so mould and fashion, use and abuse, or impress the matter that comes into our charge, into our bodies, our brains and our psychical nature, so that that matter shall be an improvement to be used by the younger brothers who are still below us, perhaps in the stone beneath our feet. I do not mean by that that there is a human being in that stone. I mean that every atom in the stone is not dead matter. There is no dead matter anywhere, but every atom in that stone contains a life, unintelligent, formless, but potential, and at some period in time far beyond our comprehension, all of those atoms in that stone will have been released. The matter itself will have been refined, and at last all in this great cycle of progress will have been brought up the steps of the ladder, in order to let some others lower still in a state we cannot understand come up to them.
That is the real theory. Is that superstition? If you believe the newspapers that is superstition, for they will twist and turn everything you say. Your enemies will say you said there was a man in that stone, and that you have been a stone. You have not been a stone, but the great monad, the pilgrim who came from other worlds has been in every stone, has been in every kingdom, and now has reached the state of man, to show whether he is able to continue being a man, or whether he will once more fall back, like the boy at school who will not learn, into the lowest class.
Now then, this law of impressions I have been talking about can be illustrated in this way: If you look at one of these electric lights—take away all the rest, leaving one only, so as to have a better impression—you will find the light makes an image on the retina, and when you shut your eye, this bright filament of light made by a carbon in an incandescent lamp will be seen by you in your eye. You can try it, and see for yourselves. If you keep your eye closed and watch intently, you will see the image come back a certain number of counts, it will stay a certain number of counts, it will go away in the same length of time and come back again, always changing in some respect but always the image of the filament, until at last the time comes when it disappears apparently because other impressions have rubbed it out or covered it over. That means that there is a return even in the retina of the impression of this filament. After the first time, the color changes each time, and so it keeps coming back at regular intervals, showing that there is a cyclic return of impression in the retina, and as Brother Thomas said this morning, if that applies in one place, it applies in every place. And when we look into our moral character we find the same thing, for as we have the tides in the ocean, explained as they say by the moon— which in my opinion does not explain it, but of course, being no scientist, my view is not worth much so in man we have tides, which are called return of these impressions; that is to say, you do a thing once, there will be a tendency to repeat itself; you do it twice, and it doubles its influence, a greater tendency to do that same thing again. And so on all through our character shows this constant return of cyclic impression. We have these impressions from every point in space, every experience we have been through, everything that we can possibly go through at any time, even those things which our forefathers went through. And that is not unjust for this reason, that our forefathers furnished the line of bodily encasement, and we cannot enter that line of bodily encasement unless we are like unto it, and for that reason we must have been at some point in that cycle in that same line or family in the past, so that I must have had a hand in the past in constructing the particular family line in which I now exist, and am myself once more taking up the cyclic impression returning upon me.
Now this has the greatest possible bearing upon our evolution as particular individuals, and that is the only way in which I wish to consider the question of evolution here; not the broad question of the evolution of the universe, but our own evolution, which means our bodily life, as Madame Blavatsky, repeating the ancients, said to us so often, and as we found said by so many of the same school. An opportunity will arise for you to do something; you do not do it; you may not have it again for one hundred years. It is the return before you of some old thing that was good, if it is a good one, along the line of the cycles. You neglect it, as you may, and the same opportunity will return, mind you, but it may not return for many hundred years. It may not return until another life, but it will return under the same law.
Now take another case. I have a friend who is trying to find out all about theosophy, and about a psychic nature, but I have discovered that he is not paying the slightest attention to this subject of the inevitable return upon himself of these impressions which he creates. I discovered he had periods of depression (and this will answer for everybody), when he had a despondency that he could not explain. I said to him, you have had the same despondency maybe seven weeks ago, maybe eight weeks ago, maybe five weeks ago. He examined his diary and his recollection, and he found that he had actual recurrences of despondency about the same distance apart. Well, I said, that explains to me how it is coming back. But what am I to do? Do what the old theosophists taught us; that is, we can only have these good results by producing opposite impressions to bad ones. So, take this occasion of despondency. What he should have done was, that being the return of an old impression, to have compelled himself to feel joyous, even against his will, and if he could not have done that, then to have tried to feel the joy of others. By doing that, he would have implanted in himself another impression, that is of joy, so that when this thing returned once more, instead of being of the same quality and extension, it would have been changed by the impression of joy or elation and the two things coming together would have counteracted each other, just as two billiard balls coming together tend to counteract each others movements. This applies to every person who has the blues. This does not apply to me, and I think it must be due to the fact that in some other life I have had the blues. I have other things, but the blues never.
I have friends and acquaintances who have these desponding spells. It is the return of old cyclic impressions, or the cyclic return of impressions. What are you to do? Some people say, I just sit down and let it go; that is to say, you sit there and create it once more. You cannot rub it out if it has been coming, but when it comes start up something else, start up cheerfulness, be good to some one, then try to relieve some other person who is despondent, and you will have started another impression, which will return at the same time. It does not make any difference if you wait a day or two to do this. The next day, or a few days after will do, for when the old cyclic impression returns, it will have dragged up the new one, because it is related to it by association.
This has a bearing also on the question of the civilization in which we are a point ourselves.
Who are we? Where are we going? Where have we come from? I told you that the old Egyptians disappeared. If you inquire into Egyptian history, the most interesting because the most obscure, you will find, as the writers say, that the civilization seems to rise to the zenith at once. We do not see when it began. The civilization was so great it must have existed an enormous length of time to get to that height, so that we cannot trace it from its beginning, and it disappears suddenly from the sky; there is nothing of it left but the enormous remains which testify to these great things, for the ancient Egyptians not only made mummies in which they displayed the art of bandaging that we cannot better, but they had put everything to such a degree of specialization that we must conclude they had many centuries of civilization. There was a specialist for one eye and a specialist for the other, a specialist for the eyebrow, and so on. In my poor and humble opinion, we are the Egyptians.
We have come back again, after our five thousand or whatever years cycle it is, and we have dragged back with us some one called the Semitic race, with which we are connected by some old impression that we cannot get rid of, and so upon us is impinged that very Semitic image. We have drawn back with us, by the inevitable law of association in cyclic return, some race, some personages connected with us by some acts of ours in that great old civilization now disappeared, and we cannot get rid of it; we must raise them up to some other plane as we raise ourselves.
I think in America is the evidence that this old civilization is coming back, for in the theosophical theory nothing is lost. If we were left to records, buildings and the like, they would soon disappear and nothing could ever be recovered; there never would be any progress. But each individual in the civilization, wherever it may be, puts the record in himself, and when he comes into the favorable circumstances described by Patanjali, an old Hindu, when he gets the apparatus, he will bring out the old impression. The ancients say each act has a thought under it, and each thought makes a mental impression; and when the apparatus is provided, there will then arise that new condition, in rank, place and endowment.
So we retain in ourselves the impression of all the things that we have done, and when the time comes that we have cycled back, over and over again, through the middle ages perhaps, into England, into Germany, into France, we come at last to an environment such as is provided here, just the thing physically and every other way to enable us to do well, and to enable the others who are coming after us. I can almost see them; they are coming in a little army from the countries of the old world to endeavor to improve this one; for here ages ago there was a civilization also, perhaps we were in it then, perhaps anterior to the ancient Egyptians. It disappeared from here, when we do not know, and it left this land arid for many thousands of years until it was discovered once more by the Europeans. The ancient world, I mean Europe, has been poisoned, the land has been soaked with the emanations, poisoned by the emanations of the people who have lived upon it; the air above it is consequently poisoned by the emanations from the land; but here in America, just the place for the new race, is an arable land which has had time over and over again to destroy the poisons that were planted here ages and ages ago. It gives us a new land, with vibrations in the air that stir up every particle in a man who breathes it, and thus we find the people coming from the old world seeming to receive through their feet the impressions of an American country. All this bears upon our civilization and race.
We are here a new race in a new cycle, and persons who know say that a cycle is going to end in a few years and a new one begin, and that that ending and beginning will be accompanied by convulsions of society and of nature. We can all almost see it coming. The events are very complete in the sky. You remember Daniel says, “A time, half a time, and a time,” and so on, and people in the Christian system have been trying to find out the time when the time began, and that is just the difficulty. We do not know when the time began. And the only person who in all these many years has made a direct statement is Madame Blavatsky, and she said, “A cycle is ending in a few years, you must prepare.” So that it was like the old prophets who came to the people and said, “Prepare for a new era of things, get ready for what you have to do.” That is just what this civilization is doing. It is the highest, although the crudest, civilization now on the earth. It is the beginning of the great civilization that is to come, when old Europe has been destroyed: when the civilizations of Europe are unable to do any more, then this will be the place where the new great civilization will begin to put out a hand once more to grasp that of the ancient East, who has sat there silently doing nothing all these years, holding in her ancient crypts and libraries and records the philosophy which the world wants, and it is this philosophy and this ethics that the Theosophical Society is trying to give you. It is a philosophy you can understand and practice.
It is well enough to say to a man, Do right, but after a while, in this superstitious era, he will say, Why should I do right, unless I feel like it? When you are showing these laws, that he must come back in his cycle; that he is subject to evolution; that he is a reincarnated pilgrim soul, then he will see the reason why, and then in order to get him a secure basis, he accepts the philosophy, and that is what the theosophical society and the theosophical movement are trying to do. Brother George Mead said the other day, in speaking of a subject like this, that the great end and aim is the great renunciation. That is, that after progressing to great heights, which you can only do by unselfishness, at last you say to yourself, “I may take the ease to which I am entitled.” For what prevails in one place must prevail in another, and in the course of progress we must come at last to a time when we can take our ease, but if you say to yourself, “I will not take it, but as I know this world and all the people on it are bound to live and last for many thousand years more, and if not helped perhaps might fail, I will not take it but I will stay here and I will suffer, because of having greater knowledge and greater sensitiveness”—this is the great renunciation as theosophy tells us. I know we do not often talk this way, because many of us think that the people will say to us at once when we talk of the great renunciation, “I don’t want it; it is too much trouble.” So generally we talk about the fine progress, and how you will at last escape the necessity of reincarnation, and at last escape the necessity of doing this or that and the other, but if you do your duty, you must make up your mind when you reach the height, when you know all, when you participate in the government of the world—not of a town, but the actual government of the world and the people upon it—instead of sleeping away your time, you will stay to help those who are left behind, and that is the great renunciation. That is what is told of Buddha, and of Jesus. Doubtless the whole story about Jesus, which cannot be proved historically to my mind, is based upon the same thing that we call renunciation. He was crucified after two or three years work. But we say it means that this being divine resolves he will crucify himself in the eyes of the world, in the eyes of others, so that he can save men. Buddha did the same thing long before Jesus is said to have been born. The story that he made the great renunciation just means that which I have been telling you, instead of escaping from this horrible place, as it seems to us. For this is indeed horrible, as we look at it, surrounded by obstructions, liable to defeat at any moment, liable to wake up in the morning after planning a great reform, and see it dashed to the ground. Instead of escaping all that, he remained in the world and started his doctrine, which he knew at least would be adhered to by some. But this great doctrine of renunciation teaches that instead of working for yourself, you will work to know everything, to do everything in your power for those who may be left behind you, just as Madame Blavatsky says in the Voice of the Silence, “Step out of the sunshine into the shade, to make more room for others.”
Isn’t that better than a heaven which is reached at the price of the damnation of those of your relatives who will not believe a dogma? Is this not a great philosophy and a great religion which includes the salvation and regeneration, the scientific upraising and perfecting of the whole human family, and every particle in the whole universe, instead of imagining that a few miserable beings after seventy years of life shall enter into paradise, and then they look behind to see the torments in hell of those who would not accept a dogma?
What are these other religions compared with that? How any man can continue to believe such an idea as the usual one of damnation for merely unbelief I cannot comprehend. I had rather—if I had to choose—be an idolator of the most pronounced kind, who believed in Indra, and be left with my common reasoning, than believe in such a doctrine as that which permits me to suppose that my brother who does not believe a dogma is sizzling in hell while I, by simply believing, may enjoy myself in heaven.
Theosophists, if they will learn the doctrine and try to explain it, will reform this world. It will percolate everywhere, infiltrate into every stratum of society and prevent the need of legislation. It will alter the people, whereas you go on legislating and leaving this world’s people as they are, and you will have just what happened in France. Capitalists in that day, in the day of the revolution—that is the royalists—oppressed the people. At last the people rose up and philosophers of the day instituted the reign of reason, and out of the reign of reason—mind you they had introduced there a beautiful idea of mankind, that idea struck root in a soil that was not prepared—came the practice of murdering other people by the wholesale until streams of blood ran all over France. So you see if something is not done to raise the people what the result will be. We have seen in Chicago the result of such acts, the mutterings of such a storm if the theosophical philosophy—call it by any other name you like—is not preached and understood. But if these old doctrines are not taught to the race you will have a revolution, and instead of making progress in a steady, normal fashion, you will come up to better things through storm, trouble and sorrow. You will come up, of course, for even out of revolutions and blood there comes progress, but isnt it better to have progress without that? And that is what the theosophical philosophy is intended for. That is why the Mahatmas we were talking about, directing their servant H. P. Blavatsky, as they have directed many before, came out at a time when materialism was fighting religion and was about getting the upper hand, and once more everything moved forward in its cyclic way and these old doctrines were revivified under the guidance of the theosophical movement. They are doctrines that explain all problems and in the universal scheme give man a place as a potential god.