The Logos and Life
Theosophical Quarterly, July, 1923
E la sua volontate è nostra pace:
Ella è quel mare, al qual tutto si move
Ciò ch’ ella crea e che natura face.
—DANTE, Paradiso, III.
“Nay, ’tis the essence of this blessed being to hold ourselves within the Divine Will, whereby our own wills are themselves made one. . . . And His will is our peace; it is that sea to which all moves that it createth and that nature maketh.”
If we consider the Logos to be infinite Wisdom and Power and Love immortal, we may hold that all life, guided, inspired and ruled by the Logos, has as its purpose to infuse into our hearts wisdom and love and power and immortality, and steadily to increase their measure there toward the measure of its own boundless beneficence.
And, if we hold that the Masters of Wisdom are the ministers of the Logos, we may then consistently believe that the ceaseless purpose of the Masters, the Buddhas and the Christs of all past times and of the present and all time to come, is the same: to infuse into us such wisdom and love and power and immortality as is the essence of their own majestic life; a purpose which in them flames as a fire of benediction, from which we also may catch fire.
If this be true as a universal principle, it must be true in every particular; not only life as a totality, but every detail, every daily and hourly setting of life, must have the same benignant purpose. If this be so, then nothing happens at random or uselessly; all things are weighed and planned and directed to that end.
But before we can become receptive of a consciousness so deep, so rich, so holy, there must be long preparation and apprenticeship. And we may learn to see, in the daily life of the moving crowds among whom we pass our lives, that ceaseless training and preparation are in truth going on, the training of multitudes who, in one sense, are hardly conscious that they are alive; who never pause to ask themselves whither they are bound, and what life’s purpose, for them individually, and for us all, may be.
We may, perhaps, gain a deeper insight into this universal training and preparation, if we ask ourselves what must be the quality of a consciousness which shall be fit to approach, and in due time to enter into the mighty and immortal consciousness oi the Logos; what must be the temper and texture of a soul, fitting it to become one with the Divine Soul.
In such a soul, in such a consciousness, there must be a quick, sensitive conformity with the spirit and nature of the Logos, the essence of filial love and an ever obedient will; a will obedient as Dante tells us that the angels are, because of their own nature they freely will what God wills, and eagerly and joyfully perform whatever they discern of the purposes of God.
Therefore a long training in obedience to law must be essential, a training continued until the soul is saturated through and through with joy in obedience. And it is one of the gravest criticisms of our times, that we have so little reverence for obedience as a principle, so little willingness to obey because it is right to obey, because the spirit of obedience is essential in order that we may respond to the divine leading of the Logos, which penetrates every detail, every circumstance and force of our lives.
It is a part of the same criticism, that men have so largely lost the sense of those powers and qualities in other men which deserve and demand obedience; that so few seek, by their own higher obedience, to bring into activity in themselves that quality of soul which others should obey; neither through fear nor through any shade of self-seeking, but for love of that which deserves love, through reverence of what inspires reverence.
If life were rightly and worthily lived, in filial conformity with the beauty of holiness, there would be, among the visible leaders of men, something of that which disciples reverence in their Master, whom they joyfully obey, not because they seek anything for themselves, not because they fear, but through overmastering love.
Through this joyful, loyal obedience of spirit and heart and mind and the whole nature, disciples grow into the divine nature of their Master, as he has grown, by a like loyal and loving obedience, into the divine life of the Logos.
While the purpose of the Logos and its ministers, the Masters of Wisdom, must in many ways be thwarted and held back by this lack of the quality of nobility in our life today, whether it be the nobility which inspires obedience or the nobility which loyally obeys, yet the Logos, the eternal Wisdom, is too resourceful, too potent, too penetrating, not to seek the same end by some other means which our life today, though lacking in nobility, maybe able to afford.
Perhaps this is one of the causes of what we call the age of industrialism. We may, if we are so disposed, rejoice in its supposed triumphs; or we may lament its hardness and raw ugliness. But we shall be wise also to seek its deeper purpose, its more enduring fruit.
This age of industry is busy, not so much with materials, as with the forces embodied in materials. And no material can be successfully employed except by seeking and gaining an insight into the forces it embodies, and by a faithful obedience to these forces.
We call this the age of iron, of steel; and steel and iron are gathered sheaves of force. They are force made visible, force which must be studied and its laws faithfully complied with, if our structures are to stand up and hold together; if our complex machines are to do their work. In the handling of them, there is a constant compulsion to obedience, an obedience which is in fact willingly and loyally rendered.
It is well worth while, with this thought in mind, to watch those who are engaged in our many mechanical industries and their operations; to see how the complex machine teaches and trains the man, after the man has invented and built the machine; to note the qualities of attention, of alertness and energy which the machine imposes on the man who operates it.
His conscious view is, in all probability, that he is earning money because he needs or wishes to spend it on many things which he desires. But, if our thought be true, there is a second purpose going on, a deeper end attained; the all-wise Logos is teaching him lessons, drilling essential qualities into his soul, while he imagines he is serving his own purposes only.
While the workman counts up his earnings, while his employer reckons the gains or losses of the whole complex operation in which the workman is a part, the Logos may draw up a more significant balance-sheet, recording that he has, through so many hours, gained so many units in the practice and training of obedience: not the highest obedience, not the noble obedience of a loyal soul to a greater and more luminously inspired soul, but still obedience; an obedience which, when it has been thoroughly learned, may in the fulness of time be transmuted into the nobler obedience of the consenting heart.
If we take a penetrating and imaginative view of the whole immense and pervading activity of our industry, we shall see that the lesson is going forward on a tremendous scale. While millions of men think they are serving their own ends, they are really being trained to the ends of the Logos; quite unknowingly, but none the less really, they are gaining those qualities which shall fit them, when their day of spiritual birth comes, to enter into conscious conformity with the life of the Logos in the splendour of its immortality.
Take next our commerce: the buying and selling of so many things, useful or useless, which engages large classes from morn till eve, day after day, year in and year out.
It is a truism among these people themselves that the first step toward every sale is to find out what the buyer wants, and to supply it. There would seem to be no exception to the rule that every great fortune has been gained in this one way: by discovering something which large masses of people desire, and by bringing it to them. There may be a good deal of cheating, of fraud, of chicane; but they do not bring the great successes. People know what they want, in a general way. They may, and often do, want things that they would be much better without; but that is beside the question for our present thought. The essential fact is, that the successful merchant must discern exactly what they want, and must supply it.
To do this, he must exercise a quality of divination, he must learn to study and read their wishes, and sensitively to respond to them; and, if he seeks a continuing success, he must give them the feeling that they have got exactly what they desire, so that they will come back to him for more.
So far as he is concerned, his motive may be no better than self-seeking. None the less he is being trained, unknown to himself, in something finer than self-seeking. Looking forward with faith, we can see that the same sensitive divination will, in the fulness of time, when his day of spiritual light has dawned, guide him into seeking and discerning the purposes of the Logos, the thoughts and wishes in the heart of God.
Take another side of our life: the gregariousness so characteristic of the cities, which are so imperiously drawing us into their whirlpool life today. Think of the immense crowds which surge through our railway stations morning and evening, threading their divergent ways among meeting crowds; the swarms of human beings gathered in our factories, our huge office buildings.
Underneath much in all this that is repellent and a ceaseless strain, something of greater value is being gained. Once more quite unconsciously, these seething masses of men and women are being inducted into an instinctive realization of the sea of human consciousness in which they move. In our immense railway stations, in packed trains, in the rushing rivers of the streets, they must take note of each other as living beings, even when there is little sense of finer human values. If only in self-defense, they must be alert, active, observant, on pain of colliding with each other. Thus something of the total of human consciousness, albeit on a level not yet fully human, is trained and driven into them, just as obedience is being driven into those who operate machines.
The swiftly moving crowds teach each other certain essential lessons, one day to become available for larger and nobler ends. As each one is now compelled to remember that he is part of a great human consciousness, so he may in time be prepared to recognize himself as a part of a greater divine consciousness, and with grateful joy to conform himself to its finer nature.
Take again that striking feature of our life today, the swiftness of movement, the ceaseless rushing through space, which is either an overmastering passion or an all-compelling necessity. At no time of which we have any record did each human being average so many miles in his journey from birth to death, or cover them at so great a speed. This must inevitably drive in upon the consciousness a quality of ceaseless motion, an aroused, alert energy, which may gradually ascend step by step to the wide-sweeping yet perfectly focused consciousness and will of the Masters of Wisdom, from whom further steps go upward to the supreme consciousness, the eternal motion, of Life itself, the everlasting Logos.
It is part of the infinite beneficence of that Life, that the Masters of Wisdom come among us, as the Buddha came, as the Christ came, to reveal to us the essential nature of Divine Life, that supreme Consciousness and Will of infinite beauty, infinite wisdom, infinite love, whither all our human pathways tend.
The Buddha in his serene selflessness, the Christ with his passionate love, bring close to us, and put us in immediate touch with, the splendours of Divine Life which are our destiny and goal.
It would not be difficult to press home the same lesson, the ceaseless teaching and guidance of the Logos, with regard to every activity of our complex life. In our consideration, we have touched on only a few external points. We have said nothing of the individual genius of nations and the revelation that underlies true national life. We have said nothing of the finer intimacies between soul and soul, which so evidently teach and inspire. We have said nothing of art, which might reveal so much of the unseen. We have said nothing of the beneficent lessons of pain and suffering and sorrow, which admonish us of laws of the Logos which we are ignoring or violating, thus mercifully doing their part of the eternal work.
All these things must be studied by us and learned, until we see their significance and meaning, seeking to understand them, not as the human souls who are in the midst of them see them, nor as they may appear in our own personal view, but as the Masters of Wisdom see them, as they are directed to serve the eternal ends of the Logos.
For we shall be well advised to hold that, however much men and devils may seek to pervert life, to make it mischievous and destructive, the Masters of Wisdom and the Logos in the long run win, the divine ends are always served and attained, even in the face of perpetual blindness or opposition. Every detail, every quality and fact, is being used and turned to the uses of divinity, not occasionally or at favorable junctures only, but everywhere and always.
If this be so, then it would seem that we may draw certain conclusions for our own use.
If the whole of human life, and even all the perversions of life, are being directed by a conscious, divine purpose to beneficent spiritual ends, in the transmutation of human consciousness into divine consciousness; if this be true of life in general, it must be true of my life and yours. It must be true of us in every detail, at every point of our lives; in every hour, every moment even, the divine lesson is being presented for our learning, and therefore at this point, this hour, this moment; the lesson which, as we learn it, will lead us a step nearer to divine wisdom, divine love, immortality. We must learn to see these lessons; we must teach ourselves to look for them, that we may see them. The first step is to understand that they are there, and that to a considerable degree we are missing them because we keep our eyes shut.
A second conclusion we may draw is that, if humanity as a whole and all human beings are being so taught and guided and helped in spite of blind incomprehension, in spite of recalcitrance and resistance, in spite of willful disobedience and evil contrary purposes; if, in the teeth of all this, true progress is being made toward the divine goal, then it must follow that, if we substitute for resistance a loyal and eager obedience, if we are willing to open our eyes and to be cured of blindness, if we will go gallantly forward to meet the divine teaching, we shall instantly change the complexion of our lives, bringing our wills into conformity with the purpose of the Logos, bringing ourselves into harmony with the teaching of the Masters of Wisdom; and the gain will be incalculable.
The child whose heart is filled to overflowing with loving obedience, the pupil who is full of enthusiasm, the student whose soul kindles with intuitive and sympathetic understanding, how rapidly and with what joy they learn, how splendidly they go forward! The willing, eager co-working of genuine love, alight and aflame, is the true stone of transmutation, transforming, purifying, enkindling heart and soul and understanding. The disciple who has given his whole heart to the Master in devoted love, receives in full the blessing of the Master’s peace, a peace which. is full of the consuming activity of devotion. In the fulness of time, he learns to set his hand wisely and effectively to his Master’s work, even to lift something of the heavy burden his Master bears; in time he too may become a minister of the Logos, working to lead mankind forward on the way of Divinity.
We may elect to be pushed and dragged along that way, like prisoners under arrest, or to go forward of happy choice, inspired by love. It will be profitable, perhaps, in the beginning, to realize that what we call our minds, practically everything we now think of as ourselves, is so much plastic material, to be moulded to better uses. We may begin by directing our powers of thought and understanding firmly to impress on these minds of ours the primary truth that each moment, each juncture, has its divine lessons; and, when we have imbued our minds with this fundamental truth, we may then take the step that logically follows, and set our intelligence to work to seek the lesson, enkindling our hearts to learn it, to follow it, to put it into effect.
Since we have so long been willfully or heedlessly blind, we shall at first see vaguely and indistinctly, with the eyes of infants not yet coming to a clear focus; we shall go forward with the halting steps of little children, not yet able to stand firmly, or to walk without unsteadiness and feebleness.
Like infants, like little children: could there be any simile of more evident promise? Is it not of universal experience that infants learn to see, that little children learn to walk?
Let us borrow from them something more: the happy, confident faith with which all childhood accomplishes these miracles, and the continuing joy in effort which sets the child going again, after never so many falls.
The lessons are there, set as clearly in the frame of day and hour as the pictures on our walls; as the child learns in no long time to see the pictures on the walls, and to understand their meaning, so may we, if we put our hearts into it, learn the significance of the day, the hour, the task, discerning just what lesson, what fault to be corrected, what gift of illumination, of humility, has been put there by the Masters of Wisdom, ministers of the Logos; put there, waiting for us to see. It is possible to long ardently to be taught by Masters, and to sit through lesson after lesson with our eyes shut.
As our love is kindled by reception of the spirit of Divine Life, we shall see, we shall learn, we shall obey. We shall muster courage to drive the self of evil out of ourselves with increasing detestation, to draw into our hearts in stead obedience and light and love; we shall see that these days of ours are veils of the Eternal, not in some vague or abstract way, but instantly, in every moment, at every point. By desiring to cooperate, we shall already begin to cooperate in the great and magnificent work the Lords of Life, the Masters of Wisdom, have in hand. By receiving the spirit of obedient love into our hearts, and entering in spirit with our own efforts into the divine purpose, we shall share in the work of leading the innumerable assemblage of souls forward to ward the everlasting home; toward a life which is infinite love, infinite beauty, infinite wisdom, infinite beneficence.
We shall discover that work to this divine end, in the spirit of obedient love, far from wearying us, deeply refreshes us. As we spend ourselves and pour forth our efforts, we become thereby richer, not poorer; as we follow the light, we shall gain light; as we surrender joy, we shall increase in joy. But we shall do this, not because of these rewards, but rather in purity of heart, through love, in humility and obedience, in reverence and awe before the living miracle of divine love and mercy and benediction.