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Great article

Oct 10, 1996 10:33 AM
by Nicholas Weeks


Gertrude van Pelt

Theosophy, however conceived, brings one face to face with the
real issues of life.  It may be constructive or (in a sense)
destructive; it may be an intellectual guide or an inspirer of
song, verse, or pictorial art; it may be an avenging judge, or
the gentle companion and friend; but whatever it is, with
unerring precision, it leads to the eternal verities.  It throws
off the husks and reveals the kernel within.  It uncovers the
vampires of vice and corruption, eating at the heart of national
and individual life, and tears to shreds their borrowed garments
of purity.  It opens up vistas of glory and beauty which awaken
the sleeping faculties in the hearts of men.  Those who shun the
truth, dislike it, and attack it with virulence.  Those who
hunger and thirst after truth, embrace it, and find in its
ever-expanding horizon, in its unfathomable depths, in its
infinite heights, those forces which make for the upbuilding of a
real life.

Under its searching illumination, Nature throws off her mask, and
shows that it is not in any of her outward manifestations that
her secret heart lies hidden.  All of these may vanish in a
night, while that of which they are the flower, remains
untouched.  And in its light, the accomplishments of man, however
great, are lifted from their throne as objects themselves of
final attainment, and perceived as instruments through which the
goal may be reached.  "The universe exists for the experience of
the soul."

Nature is infinite in her resources in stimulating to effort.
Man's struggles to produce glorious monuments of art and
architecture, to invent new devices for comfort, to create
inspiring works, thinking always to rest content if the ambition
is realized, but Nature smiles behind her veil and whispers that
in the struggle lay the purpose; in the effort these could induce
and produce.  For each one dies at his appointed time, or
unhappily, before it, and what is it alone that he retains? Whole
nations, even races disappear off the face of the earth, and
their achievements in matter, however sublime, are, like the
crystal palace of ice, wiped away by time.  Only enough records
of their greatness are preserved by the guides of this planet, to
tell their story to future races and keep unbroken the history of
man's pilgrimage.

All the phenomenal universe comes and goes, yet man, the eternal,
remains.  Stripped of all his accessories, robbed of all his
imagined supports, deprived of all his accustomed incentives to
action, he stands, just what he has made himself, no more and no
less.  And when life blossoms again, and again he finds himself
on the arena, his power to meet the events which confront him is
just what he has made it.  One thing alone, of all those which he
fancies he ever has or ever can possess, is his -- that
indefinable yet comprehensive thing, his character.

Nature works upon the lower forms of life.  A higher power than
the stone has formed it; the trees, the flowers, even the insects
and beasts are plastic materials in the hands of the great
potter.  Through It, in unthinkable time, the bodies are formed
for man.  He enters the Temple prepared for him, and Nature who
has been supreme, now bows before the mystery.  She sees before
her not alone the world-stuff to be fashioned, but the very
creative spark.  No longer can she mold unaided.  It becomes her
office now to furnish the opportunities for the entering man, who
has before him the herculean task of evolving the human mind.  No
outside force alone, can make him.  The creative seed is itself
within him.  Every event, every circumstance, is something to be
met and acted upon by *him*, the creator of his own destiny.
Whether ignorantly or consciously, he works in the illimitable
and exhaustless laboratory of nature, and therein slowly but
surely fashions -- character.  Human laws may be framed and
forgotten; temples may be reared and crumbled; whole races may
pass through their allotment of sorrow, despair, and joy, and be
no more; continents my rise and sink; but character, by means of
which all these things are formed and colored, character, as part
of man, the immortal, endures.

The seriousness of this would be sufficient, were the results
only good or negative; but when one reflects that they are potent
for evil or for good, words fail to express its import.  For the
necessity of forming character is something which can be escaped
by no one, not even for a moment.  Every instant, whether
apparently active or otherwise, each one is forming his
character.  It is one of the inevitable facts of nature.  Every
thought is leaving its imprint, every breath is carrying its
influence, making the personality of today different from that of
yesterday.  In strenuous as in careless moments, whether
apparently striving for self or another, the secret motives are
at work behind, like tools of inevitable precision in the hands
of their master, man, chiseling on the indestructible human mind
-- clearing, purifying, and enriching it; or clouding, degrading,
and contaminating it.  These marks may appear to be ineffective;
but under the sway of impulse, in moments of crisis, in the
crucial periods of life, they all come forward to decide the
issue.  With resistless force they assert themselves, leaving the
actor aghast and asking with horror, "Is it indeed I, who did
this thing?" or, haply, standing in silent awe and gratitude,
thanking the beneficent power which worked through him.  Sooner
or later it becomes evident that nothing can be hid.

As our civilization is but the outcome of national character - -
the aggregate of the character of the units, all reforms of
whatever kind, except the reformation of character, can have no
lasting results.  All this perhaps no one disputes.  The trouble
is that while none object to the reformation of others, but few
are willing to reform themselves.  And so the wheel of sorrow
ceaselessly revolves.  For whatever laws we make can be evaded.
Whatever systems of adjustment we may devise can and will be
undone by be very forces which called for their need.  As long as
unbrotherliness is in the heart, the strife between men must grow
more intense.  As long as our selfishness breeds criminals, no
improvement in prison discipline can check their growth.  As long
as the desire for honesty is not stronger than the desire for
gain, no supervision of business can keep it sweetly clean.
Patent nostrums without end are offered, and we live in a Babel
of ideas.  We are lost in a multitude of issues, when in truth
there is but one.  Why reform forever on the surface? An ethical
veneer may cover systems rotten to their core.

It is this thorough, basic method that Theosophy enforces.  It
touches the root of the disease.  It holds the power to awaken
the soul, and purify the stream of life at its source.

[*The Theosophical Path*, Vol. 3, pp. 160-62, Sept. 1912]

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