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By Yogi Ramacharaka
The Yogi Philosophy may be divided into several great branches, or fields. What is known as "Hatha Yoga" deals with the physical body and its control; its welfare; its health; its preservation; its laws, etc. What is known as "Raja Yoga" deals with the Mind; its control; its development; its unfoldment, etc. What is known as "Bhakti Yoga" deals with the Love of the Absolute—God. What is known as "Gnani Yoga" deals with the scientific and intellectual knowing of the great questions regarding Life and what lies back of Life—the Riddle of the Universe.
Each branch of Yoga is but a path leading toward the one end—unfoldment, development, and growth. He who wishes first to develop, control and strengthen his physical body so as to render it a fit instrument of the Higher Self, follows the path of "Hatha Yoga." He who would develop his will-power and mental faculties, unfolding the inner senses, and latent powers, follows the path of "Raja Yoga." He who wishes to develop by "knowing"—by studying the fundamental principles, and the wonderful truths underlying Life, follows the path of "Gnani Yoga." And he who wishes to grow into a union with the One Life by the influence of Love, he follows the path of "Bhakti Yoga."
But it must not be supposed that the student must ally himself to only a single one of these paths to power. In fact, very few do. The majority prefer to gain a rounded knowledge, and acquaint themselves with the principles of the several branches, learning something of each, giving preference of course to those branches that appeal to them more strongly, this attraction being the indication of need, or requirement, and, therefore, being the hand pointing out the path.
It is well for every one to know something of "Hatha Yoga," in order that the body may be purified, strengthened, and kept in health in order to become a more fitting instrument of the Higher Self. It is well that each one should know something of "Raja Yoga," that he may understand the training and control of the mind, and the use of the Will. It is well that every one should learn the wisdom of "Gnani Yoga," that he may realize the wonderful truths underlying life—the science of Being. And, most assuredly every one should know something of Bhakti Yogi, that he may understand the great teachings regarding the Love underlying all life.
We have written a work on "Hatha Yoga," and a course on "Raja Yoga" which is now in book form. We have told you something regarding "Gnani Yoga" in our Fourteen Lessons, and also in our Advanced Course. We have written something regarding "Bhakti Yoga" in our Advanced Course, and, we hope, have taught it also all through our other lessons, for we fail to see how one can teach or study any of the branches of Yoga without being filled with a sense of Love and Union with the Source of all Life. To know the Giver of Life, is to love him, and the more we know of him, the more love will we manifest.
In this course of lessons, of which this is the first, we shall take up the subject of "Gnani Yoga"—the Yoga of Wisdom, and will endeavor to make plain some of its most important and highest teachings. And, we trust that in so doing, we shall be able to awaken in you a still higher realization of your relationship with the One, and a corresponding Love for that in which you live, and move and have your being. We ask for your loving sympathy and cooperation in our task.
Let us begin by a consideration of what has been called the "Questions of Questions"—the question: "What is Reality?" To understand the question we have but to take a look around us and view the visible world. We see great masses of something that science has called "matter." We see in operation a wonderful something called "force" or "energy" in its countless forms of manifestations. We see things that we call "forms of life," varying in manifestation from the tiny speck of slime that we call the Moneron, up to that form that we call Man.
But study this world of manifestations by means of science and research—and such study is of greatest value—still we must find ourselves brought to a point where we cannot progress further. Matter melts into mystery—Force resolves itself into something else—the secret of living-forms subtly elude us—and mind is seen as but the manifestation of something even finer. But in losing these things of appearance and manifestation, we find ourselves brought up face to face with a Something Else that we see must underlie all these varying forms, shapes and manifestations. And that Something Else, we call Reality, because it is Real, Permanent, Enduring. And although men may differ, dispute, wrangle, and quarrel about this Reality, still there is one point upon which they must agree, and that is that Reality is One—that underlying all forms and manifestations there must be a One Reality from which all things flow. And this inquiry into this One Reality is indeed the Question of Questions of the Universe.
The highest reason of Man—as well as his deepest intuition—has always recognized that this Reality or Underlying Being must be but ONE, of which all Nature is but varying degrees of manifestation, emanation, or expression. All have recognized that Life is a stream flowing from One great fount, the nature and name of which is unknown—some have said unknowable. Differ as men do about theories regarding the nature of this one, they all agree that it can be but One. It is only when men begin to name and analyze this One, that confusion results.
Let us see what men have thought and said about this One—it may help us to understand the nature of the problem.
The materialist claims that this one is a something called Matter—self-existent—eternal—infinite—containing within itself the potentiality of Matter, Energy and Mind. Another school, closely allied to the materialists, claim that this One is a something called Energy, of which Matter and Mind are but modes of motion. The Idealists claim that the One is a something called Mind, and that Matter and Force are but ideas in that One Mind. Theologians claim that this One is a something called a personal God, to whom they attribute certain qualities, characteristics, etc., the same varying with their creeds and dogmas. The Naturistic school claims that this One is a something called Nature, which is constantly manifesting itself in countless forms. The occultists, in their varying schools, Oriental and Occidental, have taught that the One was a Being whose Life constituted the life of all living forms.
All philosophies, all science, all religions, inform us that this world of shapes, forms and names is but a phenomenal or shadow world—a show-world—back of which rests Reality, called by some name of the teacher. But remember this, all philosophy that counts is based upon some form of monism—Oneness—whether the concept be a known or unknown god; an unknown or unknowable principle; a substance; an Energy, or Spirit. There is but One—there can be but One—such is the inevitable conclusion of the highest human reason, intuition or faith.
And, likewise, the same reason informs us that this One Life must permeate all apparent forms of life, and that all apparent material forms, forces, energies, and principles must be emanations from that One, and, consequently "of" it. It may be objected to, that the creeds teaching a personal god do not so hold, for they teach that their God is the creator of the Universe, which he has set aside from himself as a workman sets aside his workmanship. But this objection avails naught, for where could such a creator obtain the material for his universe, except from himself; and where the energy, except from the same source; and where the Life, unless from his One Life. So in the end, it is seen that there must be but One—not two, even if we prefer the terms God and his Universe, for even in this case the Universe must have proceeded from God, and can only live, and move and act, and think, by virtue of his Essence permeating it.
In passing by the conceptions of the various thinkers, we are struck by the fact that the various schools seem to manifest a one-sidedness in their theories, seeing only that which fits in with their theories, and ignoring the rest. The Materialist talks about Infinite and Eternal Matter, although the latest scientific investigations have shown us Matter fading into Nothingness—the Eternal Atom being split into countless particles called Corpuscles or Electrons, which at the last seem to be nothing but a unit of Electricity, tied up in a "knot in the Ether"—although just what the Ether is, Science does not dare to guess. And Energy, also seems to be unthinkable except as operating through matter, and always seems to be acting under the operation of Laws—and Laws without a Law giver, and a Law giver without mind or something higher than Mind, is unthinkable. And Mind, as we know it, seems to be bound up with matter and energy in a wonderful combination, and is seen to be subject to laws outside of itself, and to be varying, inconstant, and changeable, which attributes cannot be conceived of as belonging to the Absolute. Mind as we know it, as well as Matter and Energy, is held by the highest occult teachers to be but an appearance and a relativity of something far more fundamental and enduring, and we are compelled to fall back upon that old term which wise men have used in order to describe that Something Else that lies back of, and under, Matter, Energy and Mind—and that word is "Spirit."
We cannot tell just what is meant by the word "Spirit," for we have nothing with which to describe it. But we can think of it as meaning the "essence" of Life and Being—the Reality underlying Universal Life.
Of course no name can be given to this One, that will fitly describe it. But we have used the term "The Absolute" in our previous lessons, and consider it advisable to continue its use, although the student may substitute any other name that appeals to him more strongly. We do not use the word God (except occasionally in order to bring out a shade of meaning) not because we object to it, but because by doing so we would run the risk of identifying The Absolute with some idea of a personal god with certain theological attributes. Nor does the word "Principle" appeal to us, for it seems to imply a cold, unfeeling, abstract thing, while we conceive the Absolute Spirit or Being to be a warm, vital, living, acting, feeling Reality. We do not use the word Nature, which many prefer, because of its materialistic meaning to the minds of many, although the word is very dear to us when referring to the outward manifestation of the Absolute Life.
Of the real nature of The Absolute, of course, we can know practically nothing, because it transcends all human experience and Man has nothing with which he can measure the Infinite. Spinoza was right when he said that "to define God is to deny him," for any attempt to define, is, of course an attempt to limit or make finite the Infinite. To define a thing is to identify it with something else—and where is the something else with which to identify the Infinite? The Absolute cannot be described in terms of the Relative. It is not Something, although it contains within itself the reality underlying Everything. It cannot be said to have the qualities of any of its apparently separated parts, for it is the ALL. It is all that really IS.
It is beyond Matter, Force, or Mind as we know it, and yet these things emanate from it, and must be within its nature. For what is in the manifested must be in the manifestor—no stream can rise higher than its source—the effect cannot be greater than the cause—you cannot get something out of nothing.
But it is hard for the human mind to take hold of That which is beyond its experience—many philosophers consider it impossible—and so we must think of the Absolute in the concepts and terms of its highest manifestation. We find Mind higher in the scale than Matter or Energy, and so we are justified in using the terms of Mind in speaking of the Absolute, rather than the terms of Matter or Energy—so let us try to think of an Infinite Mind, whose powers and capacities are raised to an infinite degree—a Mind of which Herbert Spencer said that it was "a mode of being as much transcending intelligence and will, as these transcend mere mechanical motion."
While it is true (as all occultists know) that the best information regarding the Absolute come from regions of the Self higher than Intellect, yet we are in duty bound to examine the reports of the Intellect concerning its information regarding the One. The Intellect has been developed in us for use—for the purpose of examining, considering, thinking—and it behooves us to employ it. By turning it to this purpose, we not only strengthen and unfold it, but we also get certain information that can reach us by no other channel. And moreover, by such use of the Intellect we are able to discover many fallacies and errors that have crept into our minds from the opinions and dogmas of others—as Kant said: "The chief, and perhaps the only, use of a philosophy of pure reason is a negative one. It is not an organon for extending, but a discipline for limiting! Instead of discovering truth, its modest function is to guard against error." Let us then listen to the report of the Intellect, as well as of the higher fields of mentation.
One of the first reports of the Intellect, concerning the Absolute, is that it must have existed forever, and must continue to exist forever. There is no escape from this conclusion, whether one view the matter from the viewpoint of the materialist, philosopher, occultist, or theologian. The Absolute could not have sprung from Nothing, and there was no other cause outside of itself from which it could have emanated. And there can be no cause outside of itself which can terminate its being. And we cannot conceive of Infinite Life, or Absolute Life, dying. So the Absolute must be Eternal—such is the report of the Intellect.
This idea of the Eternal is practically unthinkable to the human mind, although it is forced to believe that it must be a quality of the Absolute. The trouble arises from the fact that the Intellect is compelled to see everything through the veil of Time, and Cause and Effect. Now, Cause and Effect, and Time, are merely phenomena or appearances of the relative world, and have no place in the Absolute and Real. Let us see if we can understand this.
Reflection will show you that the only reason that you are unable to think of or picture a Causeless Cause, is because everything that you have experienced in this relative world of the senses has had a cause—something from which it sprung. You have seen Cause and Effect in full operation all about you, and quite naturally your Intellect has taken it for granted that there can be nothing uncaused—nothing without a preceding cause. And the Intellect is perfectly right, so far as Things are concerned, for all Things are relative and are therefore caused. But back of the caused things must lie THAT which is the Great Causer of Things, and which, not being a Thing itself, cannot have been caused—cannot be the effect of a cause. Your minds reel when you try to form a mental image of That which has had no cause, because you have had no experience in the sense world of such a thing, and there fail to form the image. It is out of your experience, and you cannot form the mental picture. But yet your mind is compelled to believe that there must have been an Original One, that can have had no cause. This is a hard task for the Intellect, but in time it comes to see just where the trouble lies, and ceases to interpose objections to the voice of the higher regions of the self.
And, the Intellect experiences a similar difficulty when it tries to think of an Eternal—a That which is above and outside of Time. We see Time in operation everywhere, and take it for granted that Time is a reality—an actual thing. But this is a mistake of the senses. There is no such thing as Time, in reality. Time exists solely in our minds. It is merely a form of perception by which we express our consciousness of the Change in Things.
We cannot think of Time except in connection with a succession of changes of things in our consciousness—either things of the outer world, or the passing of thought-things through our mind. A day is merely the consciousness of the passing of the sun—an hour or minute merely the subdivision of the day, or else the consciousness of the movement of the hands of the clock—merely the consciousness of the movement of Things—the symbols of changes in Things. In a world without changes in Things, there would be no such thing as Time. Time is but a mental invention. Such is the report of the Intellect.
And, besides the conclusions of pure abstract reasoning about Time, we may see many instances of the relativity of Time in our everyday experiences. We all know that when we are interested Time seems to pass rapidly, and when we are bored it drags along in a shameful manner. We know that when we are happy, Time develops the speed of a meteor, while when we are unhappy it crawls like a tortoise. When we are interested or happy our attention is largely diverted from the changes occurring in things—because we do not notice the Things so closely. And while we are miserable or bored, we notice the details in Things, and their changes, until the length of time seems interminable. A tiny insect mite may, and does, live a lifetime of birth, growth, marriage, reproduction, old age, and death, in a few minutes, and no doubt its life seems as full as does that of the elephant with his hundred years. Why? Because so many things haze happened! When we are conscious of many things happening, we get the impression and sensation of the length of time. The greater the consciousness of things, the greater the sensation of Time. When we are so interested in talking to a loved one that we forget all that is occurring about us, then the hours fly by unheeded, while the same hours seem like days to one in the same place who is not interested or occupied with some task.
Men have nodded, and in the second before awakening they have dreamed of events that seemed to have required the passage of years. Many of you have had experiences of this kind, and many such cases have been recorded by science. On the other hand, one may fall asleep and remain unconscious, but without dreams, for hours, and upon awakening will insist that he has merely nodded. Time belongs to the relative mind, and has no place in the Eternal or Absolute.
Next, the Intellect informs us that it must think of the Absolute as Infinite in Space—present everywhere—Omnipresent. It cannot be limited, for there is nothing outside of itself to limit it. There is no such place as Nowhere. Every place is in the Everywhere. And Everywhere is filled with the All—the Infinite Reality—the Absolute.
And, just as was the case with the idea of Time, we find it most difficult—if not indeed impossible—to form an idea of an Omnipresent—of That which occupies Infinite Space. This because everything that our minds have experienced has had dimensions and limits. The secret lies in the fact that Space, like Time, has no real existence outside of our perception of consciousness of the relative position of Things—material objects. We see this thing here, and that thing there. Between them is Nothingness. We take another object, say a yard-stick, and measure off this Nothingness between the two objects, and we call this measure of Nothingness by the term Distance. And yet we cannot have measured Nothingness—that is impossible. What have we really done? Simply this, determined how many lengths of yard-stick could be laid between the other two objects.
We call this process measuring Space, but Space is Nothing, and we have merely determined the relative position of objects. To "measure Space" we must have three Things or objects, i.e., (l) The object from which we start the measure; (2) The object with which we measure; and (3) The object with which we end our measurement. We are unable to conceive of Infinite Space, because we lack the third object in the measuring process—the ending object. We may use ourselves as a starting point, and the mental yard-stick is always at hand, but where is the object at the other side of Infinity of Space by which the measurement may be ended? It is not there, and we cannot think of the end without it.
Let us start with ourselves, and try to imagine a million million miles, and then multiply them by another million million miles, a million million times. What have we done? Simply extended our mental yard-stick a certain number of times to an imaginary point in the Nothingness that we call Space. So far so good, but the mind intuitively recognizes that beyond that imaginary point at the end of the last yard-stick, there is a capacity for an infinite extension of yard-sticks—an infinite capacity for such extension. Extension of what? Space? No! Yard-sticks! Objects! Things! Without material objects Space is unthinkable. It has no existence outside of our consciousness of Things. There is no such thing as Real Space. Space is merely an infinite capacity for extending objects. Space itself is merely a name for Nothingness. If you can form an idea of an object swept out of existence, and nothing to take its place, that Nothing would be called Space, the term implying the possibility of placing something there without displacing anything else.
Size, of course, is but another form of speaking of Distance. And in this connection let us not forget that just as one may think of Space being infinite in the direction of largeness, so may we think of it as being infinite in the sense of smallness. No matter how small may be an object thought of, we are still able to think of it as being capable of subdivision, and so on infinitely. There is no limit in this direction either. As Jakob has said: "The conception of the infinitely minute is as little capable of being grasped by us, as is that of the infinitely great. Despite this, the admission of the reality of the infinitude, both in the direction of greatness and of minuteness, is inevitable."
And, as Radenhausen has said: "The idea of Space is only an unavoidable illusion of our Consciousness, or of our finite nature, and does not exist outside of ourselves; the universe is infinitely small and infinitely great."
The telescope has opened to us ideas of magnificent vastness and greatness, and the perfected microscope has opened to us a world of magnificent smallness and minuteness. The latter has shown us that a drop of water is a world of minute living forms who live, eat, fight, reproduce, and die. The mind is capable of imagining a universe occupying no more space than one million-millionth of the tiniest speck visible under the strongest microscope—and then imagining such a universe containing millions of suns and worlds similar to our own, and inhabited by living forms akin to ours—living, thinking men and women, identical in every respect to ourselves. Indeed, as some philosophers have said, if our Universe were suddenly reduced to such a size—the relative proportions of everything being preserved, of course—then we would not be conscious of any change, and life would go on the same, and we would be of the same importance to ourselves and to the Absolute as we are this moment. And the same would be true were the Universe suddenly enlarged a million-million times. These changes would make no difference in reality. Compared with each other, the tiniest speck and the largest sun are practically the same size when viewed from the Absolute.
We have dwelt upon these things so that you would be able to better realize the relativity of Space and Time, and perceive that they are merely symbols of Things used by the mind in dealing with finite objects, and have no place in reality. When this is realized, then the idea of Infinity in Time and Space is more readily grasped.
As Radenhausen says: "Beyond the range of human reason there is neither Space nor Time; they are arbitrary conceptions of man, at which he has arrived by the comparison and arrangement of different impressions which he has received from the outside world. The conception of Space arises from the sequence of the various forms which fill Space, by which the external world appears to the individual man. The conception of Time arises from the sequence of the various forms which change in space (motion), by which the external world acts on the individual man, and so on. But externally to ourselves, the distinction between repletion of Space and mutation of Space does not exist, for each is in constant transmutation, whatever is is filling and changing at the same time—nothing is at a standstill," and to quote Ruckert: "The world has neither beginning nor end, in space nor in time. Everywhere is center and turning-point, and in a moment is eternity."
Next, the Intellect informs us that we must think of the Absolute as containing within Itself all the Power there is, because there can be no other source or reservoir of Power, and there can be no Power outside of the All-Power. There can be no Power outside of the Absolute to limit, confine, or conflict with It. Any laws of the Universe must have been imposed by It, for there is no other law-giver, and every manifestation of Energy, Force, or Power, perceived or evident in Nature must be a part of the Power of the Absolute working along lines laid down by it. In the Third Lesson, which will be entitled The Will-to-Live, we shall see this Power manifesting along the lines of Life as we know it.
Next, the Intellect informs us that it is compelled to think of the Absolute as containing within Itself all possible Knowledge or Wisdom, because there can be no Knowledge or Wisdom outside of It, and therefore all the Wisdom and Knowledge possible must be within It. We see Mind, Wisdom, and Knowledge manifested by relative forms of Life, and such must emanate from the Absolute in accordance with certain laws laid down by It, for otherwise there would be no such wisdom, etc., for there is nowhere outside of the All from whence it could come. The effect cannot be greater than the cause. If there is anything unknown to the Absolute, then it will never be known to finite minds. So, therefore, ALL KNOWLEDGE that Is, Has Been, or Can Be, must be NOW vested in the One—the Absolute.
This does not mean that the Absolute thinks, in any such sense as does Man. The Absolute must Know, without Thinking. It does not have to gather Knowledge by the process of Thinking, as does Man—such an Idea would be ridiculous, for from whence could the Knowledge come outside of itself. When man thinks he draws to himself Knowledge from the Universal source by the action of the Mind, but the Absolute has only itself to draw on. So we cannot imagine the Absolute compelled to Think as we do.
But, lest we be misunderstood regarding this phase of the subject, we may say here that the highest occult teachings inform us that the Absolute does manifest a quality somewhat akin to what we would call constructive thought, and that such "thoughts" manifest into objectivity and manifestation, and become Creation. Created Things, according to the Occult teachings are "Thoughts of God." Do not let this idea disturb you, and cause you to feel that you are nothing, because you have been called into being by a Thought of the Infinite One. Even a Thought of that One would be intensely real in the relative world—actually Real to all except the Absolute itself—and even the Absolute knows that the Real part of its Creations must be a part of itself manifested through its thought, for the Thought of the Infinite must be Real, and a part of Itself, for it cannot be anything else, and to call it Nothing is merely to juggle with words. The faintest Thought of the Infinite One would be far more real than anything man could create—as solid as the mountain—as hard as steel—as durable as the diamond—for, verily, even these are emanations of the Mind of the Infinite, and are things of but a day, while the higher Thoughts—the soul of Man—contains within itself a spark from the Divine Flame itself—the Spirit of the Infinite. But these things will appear in their own place, as we proceed with this series. We have merely given you a little food for thought at this point, in connection with the Mind of the Absolute.
So you see, good friends and students, that the Intellect in its highest efforts, informs us that it finds itself compelled to report that the One—the Absolute—That which it is compelled to admit really exists—must be a One possessed of a nature so far transcending human experience that the human mind finds itself without the proper concepts, symbols, and words with which to think of It. But none the less, the Intellect finds itself bound by its own laws to postulate the existence of such an One.
It is the veriest folly to try to think of the One as It is "in Itself"—for we have nothing but human attributes with which to measure it, and It so far transcends such measurements that the mental yard-sticks run out into infinity and are lost sight of. The highest minds of the race inform us that the most exalted efforts of their reason compels them to report that the One—in Itself—cannot be spoken of as possessing attributes or qualities capable of being expressed in human words employed to describe the Things of the relative world—and all of our words are such. All of our words originate from such ideas, and all of our ideas arise from our experience, directly or indirectly. So we are not equipped with words with which to think of or speak of that which transcends experience, although our Intellect informs us that Reality lies back of our experience.
Philosophy finds itself unable to do anything better than to bring us face to face with high paradoxes. Science in its pursuit of Truth finds it cunningly avoiding it, and ever escaping its net. And we believe that the Absolute purposely causes this to be, that in the end Man may be compelled to look for the Spirit within himself—the only place where he can come in touch with it. This, we think, is the answer to the Riddle of the Sphinx—"Look Within for that which Thou needest."
But while the Spirit may be discerned only by looking within ourselves, we find that once the mind realizes that the Absolute Is, it will be able to see countless evidences of its action and presence by observing manifested Life without. All Life is filled with the Life Power and Will of the Absolute.
To us Life is but One—the Universe is a living Unity, throbbing, thrilling and pulsating with the Will-to-Live of the Absolute. Back of all apparent shapes, forms, names, forces, elements, principles and substances, there is but One—One Life, present everywhere, and manifesting in an infinitude of shapes, forms, and forces All individual lives are but centers of consciousness in the One Life underlying, depending upon it for degree of unfoldment, expression and manifestation.
This may sound like Pantheism to some, but it is very different from the Pantheism of the schools and cults. Pantheism is defined as "the doctrine that God consists in the combined forces and laws manifested in the existing Universe," or that "the Universe taken or conceived as a whole is God." These definitions do not fit the conception of the Absolute, of the Yogi Philosophy—they seem to breathe but a refined materialism. The Absolute is not "the combined forces and laws manifested in the universe," nor "the universe conceived as a whole." Instead, the Universe, its forces and laws, even conceived as a whole, have no existence in themselves, but are mere manifestations of the Absolute. Surely this is different from Pantheism.
We teach that the Absolute is immanent in, and abiding in all forms of Life in the Universe, as well as in its forces and laws—all being but manifestations of the Will of the One. And we teach that this One is superior to all forms of manifestations, and that Its existence and being does not depend upon the manifestations, which are but effects of the Cause.
The Pantheistic Universe—God is but a thing of phenomenal appearance, but the Absolute is the very Spirit of Life—a Living, Existing Reality, and would be so even if every manifestation were withdrawn from appearance and expression—drawn back into the source from which it emanated. The Absolute is more than Mountain or Ocean—Electricity or Gravitation—Monad or Man—It is SPIRIT—LIFE—BEING—REALITY—the ONE THAT IS. Omnipotent, Omnipresent; Omniscient; Eternal; Infinite; Absolute; these are Man's greatest words, and yet they but feebly portray a shadow thrown by the One Itself.
The Absolute is not a far-away Being directing our affairs at long range—not an absentee Deity—but an Immanent Life in and about us all—manifesting in us and creating us into individual centers of consciousness, in pursuance with some great law of being.
And, more than this, the Absolute instead of being an indifferent and unmoved spectator to its own creation, is a thriving, longing, active, suffering, rejoicing, feeling Spirit, partaking of the feelings of its manifestations, rather than callously witnessing them. It lives in us—with us—through us. Back of all the pain in the world may be found a great feeling and suffering love. The pain of the world is not punishment or evidence of divine wrath, but the incidents of the working out of some cosmic plan, in which the Absolute is the Actor, through the forms of Its manifestations.
The message of the Absolute to some of the Illumined has been, "All is being done in the best and only possible way—I am doing the best I can—all is well—and in the end will so appear."
The Absolute is no personal Deity—yet in itself it contains all that goes to make up all personality and all human relations. Father, Mother, Child, Friend, is in It. All forms of human love and craving for sympathy, understanding and companionship may find refuge in loving the Absolute.
The Absolute is constantly in evidence in our lives, and yet we have been seeking it here and there in the outer world, asking it to show itself and prove Its existence. Well may it say to us: "Hast thou been so long time with me, and hast thou not known me?" This is the great tragedy of Life, that the Spirit comes to us—Its own—and we know It not. We fail to hear Its words: "Oh, ye who mourn, I suffer with you and through you. Yea, it is I who grieve in you. Your pain is mine—to the last pang. I suffer all pain through you—and yet I rejoice beyond you, for I know that through you, and with you, I shall conquer."
And this is a faint idea of what we believe the Absolute to be. In the following lessons we shall see it in operation in all forms of life, and in ourselves. We shall get close to the workings of Its mighty Will—close to Its Heart of Love.
Carry with you the Central Thought of the Lesson: CENTRAL THOUGHT. There is but One Life in the Universe. And underlying that One Life—Its Real Self—Its Essence—Its Spirit—is The Absolute, living, feeling, suffering, rejoicing, longing, striving, in and through us. The Absolute is all that really Is, and all the visible Universe and forms of Life is Its expression, through Its Will. We lack words adequate to describe the nature of the Absolute, but we will use two words describing its inmost nature as best we see it. These two words are LIFE and LOVE, the one describing the outer, the other the inner nature. Let us manifest both Life and Love as a token of our origin and inner nature. Peace be with you.
In our First Lesson of this series, we brought out the idea that the human mind was compelled to report the fact that it could not think of The Absolute except as possessing the quality of Omnipresence—Present-Everywhere. And, likewise, the human mind is compelled to think that all there IS must be The Absolute, or of the Absolute. And if a thing is of the Absolute, then the Absolute must be in it, in some way—must be the essence of it. Granting this, we must then think that everything must be filled with the essence of Life, for Life must be one of the qualities of the Absolute, or rather what we call Life must be the outward expression of the essential Being of the Absolute. And if this be so, then it would follow that everything in the Universe must be Alive. The mind cannot escape this conclusion. And if the facts do not bear out this conclusion then we must be forced to admit that the entire basic theory of the Absolute and its emanations must fall, and be considered as an error. No chain is stronger than its weakest link, and if this link be too weak to bear the weight of the facts of the universe, then must the chain be discarded as imperfect and useless, and another substituted. This fact is not generally mentioned by those speaking and writing of All being One, or an emanation of the One, but it must be considered and met. If there is a single thing in the Universe that is "dead"—non-living—lifeless—then the theory must fall. If a thing is non-living, then the essence of the Absolute cannot be in it—it must be alien and foreign to the Absolute, and in that case the Absolute cannot be Absolute for there is something outside of itself. And so it becomes of the greatest importance to examine into the evidences of the presence of Life in all things, organic or inorganic. The evidence is at hand—let us examine it.
The ancient occultists of all peoples always taught that the Universe was Alive—that there was Life in everything—that there was nothing dead in Nature—that Death meant simply a change in form in the material of the dead bodies. They taught that Life, in varying degrees of manifestation and expression, was present in everything and object, even down to the hardest mineral form, and the atoms composing that form.
Modern Science is now rapidly advancing to the same position, and each months investigations and discoveries serve only to emphasize the teachings.
Burbank, that wonderful moulder of plant life, has well expressed this thought, when he says: "All my investigations have led me away from the idea of a dead material universe tossed about by various forces, to that of a universe which is absolutely all force, life, soul, thought, or whatever name we may choose to call it. Every atom, molecule, plant, animal or planet, is only an aggregation of organized unit forces, held in place by stronger forces, thus holding them for a time latent, though teeming with inconceivable power. All life on our planet is, so to speak, just on the outer fringe of this infinite ocean of force. The universe is not half dead, but all alive."
Science today is gazing upon a living universe. She has not yet realized the full significance of what she has discovered, and her hands are raised as if to shade her eyes from the unaccustomed glare that is bursting upon her. From the dark cavern of universal dead matter, she has stepped out into the glare of the noon-day sun of a Universe All-Alive even to its smallest and apparently most inert particle.
Beginning at Man, the highest form of Life known to us, we may pass rapidly down the scale of animal life, seeing life in full operation at each descending step. Passing from the animal to the vegetable kingdom, we still see Life in full operation, although in lessened degrees of expression. We shall not stop here to review the many manifestations of Life among the forms of plant-life, for we shall have occasion to mention them in our next lesson, but it must be apparent to all that Life is constantly manifesting in the sprouting of seeds; the putting forth of stalk, leaves, blossoms, fruit, etc., and in the enormous manifestation of force and energy in such growth and development. One may see the life force in the plant pressing forth for expression and manifestation, from the first sprouting of the seed, until the last vital action on the part of the mature plant or tree.
Besides the vital action observable in the growth and development of plants, we know, of course, that plants sicken and die, and manifest all other attributes of living forms. There is no room for argument about the presence of life in the plant kingdom.
But there are other forms of life far below the scale of the plants. There is the world of the bacteria, microbes, infusoria—the groups of cells with a common life—the single cell creatures, down to the Monera, the creatures lower than the single cells—the Things of the slime of the ocean bed.
These tiny Things—living Things—present to the sight merely a tiny speck of jelly, without organs of any kind. And yet they exercise all the functions of life—movement, nutrition, reproduction, sensation, and dissolution. Some of these elementary forms are all stomach, that is they are all one organ capable of performing all the functions necessary for the life of the animal. The creature has no mouth, but when it wishes to devour an object it simply envelopes it—wraps itself around it like a bit of glue around a gnat, and then absorbs the substance of its prey through its whole body.
Scientists have turned some of these tiny creatures inside out, and yet they have gone on with their life functions undisturbed and untroubled. They have cut them up into still tinier bits, and yet each bit lived on as a separate animal, performing all of its functions undisturbed. They are all the same all over, and all the way through. They reproduce themselves by growing to a certain size, and then separating into two, and so on. The rapidity of the increase is most remarkable.
Haekel says of the Monera: "The Monera are the simplest permanent cytods. Their entire body consists of merely soft, structureless plasm. However thoroughly we may examine them with the help of the most delicate reagents and the strongest optical instruments, we yet find that all the parts are completely homogeneous. These Monera are therefore, in the strictest sense of the word, 'organisms without organs,' or even in a strict philosophical sense they might not even be called organisms, since they possess no organs and since they are not composed of various particles. They can only be called organisms in so far as they are capable of exercising the organic phenomena of life, of nutrition, reproduction, sensation and movement."