Indicative Words for the Future
Theosophical Forum, December, 1899
“You are to hand on this teaching of mine; yet never to those who lack fervent aspiration, who love not, or who will not listen, condemning me.
“He who shall set forth this highest mystery amongst my lovers, with uttermost love for me, shall of a surety come to me.
“Nor amongst all mankind shall any be dearer to me throughout all the world, nor shall any other offer me more acceptable sacrifice.
“And whoever shall recount this sacred discourse between us two, offers to me the sacrifice of wisdom; this do I declare.
“And whoever listens, full of aspiration and eager for wisdom, shall go at death to happy worlds, the reward of righteous works.
“Have you heard and understood with singleness of heart? Are your delusions of unwisdom gone, conqueror of enduring wealth?”—Songs of the Master.
Friends, Countrymen and Lovers: let me for once lay aside the impersonal form of these papers, to speak to you direct. In a sense the work they were intended to accomplish is completed; the result is attained; the account is closed.
We have passed through a long period of transition with what grace and patience the gods vouchsafed; it is ended, and the victory is with us. Not such a splendid victory, perhaps, as some of us hoped for; not so showy or magnificent; yet, believe me, a victory very substantial and real; of such profound significance and far-reaching effect that we shall not live to see the final fruit of it; no, nor those yet unborn who shall in due time take our places.
The heart of our victory is this: the divine power of spiritual self-reliance, the present sense of the Eternal within ourselves. This give us individual insight into the law of the real, with individual initiative to embody the light of the highest in our own acts and lives. We are become substantial and alive, responsible agents, so that each one of us could and would carry on the purposes of the gods, alone and in the dark; how much more then, united and in full light. Of our own knowledge, we now know something of the soul; of our own power, we can and will act out that knowledge.
To the gaining of this end, as we now can see, the period of darkness and silence was indispensible; had we still been visibly led, we would not have learned to find our way. Had we been fed with outward signs, we should have failed to recognize the inward light. But now we know.
Nor will it be long before we are called to make our knowledge effective. For cyclic time, which seemed to stand still with us, will presently begin to bring in his revenges. The tide is turning; has in truth turned. We shall soon have ample opportunity to see why it was imperative, just at this juncture, to stop the general outflow of force, and so to stop it as to compel us to find our feet.
The law which has dominated us for the last quarter-century, and with many of whose effects we are familiar in the incidents of our own lives, will presently set the tide flowing full in the opposite direction, and this tide we shall have to meet, guiding it so far as may be, giving to its currents such direction as may be most profitable in the next springtime of the gods.
We have for years seen an outflow towards spiritual liberty; towards freedom from ecclesiastical dogma and gross materialism. We are now to meet the reaction; dogma, gathering its forces once more together for a mighty and sustained effort, will try to force a definite mold and impress on all thought; it is for us to see that this mold shall not become a prison. Materialism, more in morals than in philosophy, more as an avowed purpose and ideal of life than as a speculation, will arise, awakened after a sleep of a generation, eager to recover the ground it has lost.
There will be a universal tendency, a steady tide setting in through the moral world, and inwardly affecting our hearts and minds, in the direction of hardness, of uniformity, of consolidation. We must be prepared to act as the centers of that radiant force which will run counter to this tide. Look back a few years, and you will understand this better. Just at the time dogma and materialism were breaking up, under the periodic influence of cyclic law, we were put in possession of a definite and complete system. We were ranged into an ordered army, to meet and face the cyclic tide. Look back a few years, and you will understand this better. Just at the time dogma and materialism were breaking up, under the periodic influence of cyclic law, we were put in possession of a definite and complete system, we were ranged into an ordered army, to meet and face the cyclic tide. With the reverse current, we must take the opposite course. We must separate and dissolve, so as to be, not a united and uniform body, but so many effective units, each a center of radiant force drawn direct from the highest, from within, from the fountain of life. We must give up our serried conformation, and learn the methods of guerrilla warfare.
This is not because of our lessened numbers. Quite the contrary, the lessening of our numbers is the effect, the natural selection of the law. For many who were fit enough to hold their own in a crowded host would be quite unable to take their place as guerrillas, to exercise that individual responsibility, initiative, alert inventiveness and self-reliance which make us able to do battle alone and in the dark, and, if need be, to die in the dark and alone. This requires finer mettle, and a more carefully selected force. And this we now have and are.
Our self-reliance and initiative as radiant centers will be exercised in two ways, according as we have set firm our foothold in the psychic or the causal world; after that great and vital division of inner things which has been insisted on again and again. To the psychic world belong understanding of law, the dear grasp of principles, a firm apprehension of the doctrine, and ability to apply the teaching at whatever point and in whatever way instant occasion may demand. A thousand of us, putting this power and energy into practice, will have to meet with a thousand different conditions, and to deal with them in a thousand different ways. Each of us has to become a radiant center for our own environment, our own circle of mental and moral energies, and therein to apply the tradition we have received to the best advantage; to sow such seed as may bear fruit in the next two generations. We must speak ever as original centers, each one of us; never as representatives of a movement or a body, for thus the personal and local application of the teaching would be lost. A general rule will fit no individual case. Therefore we shall look to it that each one of us is ready to answer for himself, armed at point, alert, girt for the battle. We shall have to look to our clearness and sufficiency of thought, as never before; and remember this, the responsibility for neglect or failure will no longer be shared with some central or guiding body,—the general staff, as it were,—but must be met in full, and paid for, by the individual alone. In this sense, we shall be an instrument for distributing the teaching, but as a congeries of living, self-reliant, fully responsible centers, not as an organized machine.
But this is not to be a crusade of lip-service. The will must vivify and ensoul everything. We shall be met at all points with set of circumstances in which we shall be compelled to decide, not in theory but in act, whether we shall do what is good and pleasant-seeming for our personal selves, or what makes for the general welfare. Our first choice will be between energy and sloth, between work and waiting. And the responsibility will lie wholly with each of us. The time for laying the blame on leaders is gone by.
We are come of age, and must pay our debts. Nor will it be the duty of anyone esteemed a leader to point out, direct, guide or encourage. Freely they stand who stand, or fall who fall.
This is not because the heart of pity is hardened, or because the fountains of mercy are dried up. It is the word of the law. That tendency towards hardening, conformity, rigidity which comes with the turning tide, and which makes dogma and materialism inevitable,—that tendency will not halt for us. If we give it a center to work on, it will harden us, beat us into dogmatism, force us into materialized forms. This will be visible soon enough in all bodies which do rely on leadership, on uniformity, on orthodoxy, on hidden ambition. But we shall escape. And we shall escape without dissolution, for though divided outwardly, each a separate, fully responsible unit, we shall be united inwardly, in a deeper place to which the reaction cannot come, we shall be united in the oneness of our inspiration.
Thus far, for our work as it springs from stability in the psychic world, Those in whom the causal self has come to conscious life will not be engaged chiefly with principles and laws, doctrines and traditions, but with the living and immortal powers that make law and principle alike. They will work directly from the soul, listening to no other oracle. What their work shall be, is known only to the soul in them; it shall be creative, issuing new upon the universe. They will lift for themselves that dark veil which shrouds the hidden divinity; they will make manifest to men what the gods make manifest to them. For them, who can offer counsel? For to them shall inwardly speak the soul; when that voice is uttered, all human tongues are still.
Once more, though wise words will be potent, deeds will be far more vital. We must win the victories of the will. It is not an opinion which we are to meet, but a forceful tide, bearing upon us inwardly, subtly, urging us by voices which shall seem our own. Glib talk will then profit little. We cannot cheat the gods.
We must have the courage of the soul. With valor, all things are possible; without it, what profit is there in the tongues of men and angels? We must choose and act upon our choice: choose between valor and cowardice; between vigor and sloth; between light and darkness; between moral life and death. Above all, we must choose between the universal soul as it speaks to us, and our personal welfare, our personal comfort, our personal profit. We are living either for vanity or for worth; but by no possibility for both.
We are living either for inner rightness with the law, or for appearances, for the opinions of others who, if truth be told, are very indifferent to all we can say and do, unless we can be made to serve their own vanities. We shall live either for the immortal in us, who has seen so many births, or for the craven person who usurps and shivers in usurping.
We shall be radiant centers for the work of the common soul, the ancient immortal who from the beginning has accepted all worship and all prayers, to whatsoever deity offered. We shall not so much talk rebirth and immortality, as live rebirth and immortality, bearing the responsibility of the soul as faithful ambassadors and envoys. The time has come for sending forth the disciples. We have reaped; now we must sow.
Nor shall we be downcast at this new charge put upon us, but rather encouraged, glad of heart that in the fullness of the time we also have been deemed worthy; entering our inheritance, not as a burden of debt, but as a splendid opportunity to gather strength and wisdom, to make our own the treasures of the power and the light, until the hour strikes for us to enter into peace.
We shall need forethought; we shall need knowledge; we shall need wisdom and good-will; but above all, courage, the fire that enkindles the heart and makes it glad; the flame that warms the blood, till it rises in full and stimulating force; the brightness which lights the eye to see everywhere the joy of victory. Therefore let us fight the fight.
We shall live and work in the midst of a thousand illusions, with no measure of the real values of the dim, hurrying powers that hem us in on all sides, mysterious, menacing or encouraging; with no guiding light but the star within, that shines from everlasting. The holy source of that light we now know, how it stands as the sentinel of the Eternal, on the confines of our darkness and night. All things may change, but that light will never change, glowing with steady radiance in our souls. Where much is vague in our dreamland, this at least we know: living faithful to that inward fire, following wherever it may lead, even through the black darkness of death, even through evil report, danger, destitution, we cannot take one step amiss, but will complete the perfect work allotted to us of old, and in the great day awake to find we have rendered worthy service, breaking down one more barrier between the souls of men and the everlasting Light.