AN OUTLINE OF THEOSOPHY

by the Rt. Rev. C.W. Leadbeater


WHAT THEOSOPHY DOES FOR US

It must already be obvious to the careful reader how utterly these Theosophical conceptions change the manÌs entire view of life when he once becomes fully convinced of them ; and the direction of many of these changes, and the reasons on which they are based, will have been seen from what has already been written.

We gain from Theosophy a rational comprehension of that life which was before for so many of us a mere unsolved problem, a riddle without an answer. From it we know why we are here, what we are expected to do, and how we ought to set to work to do it. We see that, however little life may seem worth living for the sake of any pleasures or profits belonging exclusively to the physical plane, it is very emphatically worth living when regarded merely as a school to prepare us for the indescribable glories and the infinite possibilities of the higher planes.

In the light of the information which we acquire, we see not only how to evolve ourselves, but also how to help others to evolve, how by thought and action to make ourselves most useful, first of all to the small circle of those most closely associated with us or those whom we especially love, and then gradually by degrees, as our power increases, to the entire human race.

By feelings and thoughts such as these we find ourselves lifted altogether to a higher platform, and we see how narrow and despicable is the petty and personal thought which has so often occupied us in the past. We inevitably begin to regard everything not merely as it affects our infinitesimal selves, but from the wider standpoint of its influence upon humanity as a whole.

The various troubles and sorrows which come to us are so often seen out of all proportion because they are so near to us; they seem to obscure the whole horizon, as a plate held near the eyes will shut out the sun, so that we often forget that " the heart of being is celestial rest." But Theosophical teachings brings all these things into due perspective, and enables us to rise above these clouds, to look down and see things as they are, and not merely as they appear when looked at from below by very limited vision.

We learn to sink altogether the lower personality, with its mass of delusions and prejudices and its inability to see anything truly; we learn to rise to an impersonal and unselfish standpoint, where to do right for rightÌs sake seems to us the only rule of life, and to help our fellowman the greatest of joys. For it is a life of joy that now opens before us. As the man evolves, his sympathy and compassion increase, so that he becomes more and more sensitive to the sin and sorrow and suffering of the world.

Yet at the same time he sees more and more clearly the cause of that suffering, and understands ever more and more fully that, in spite of it all, all things are working together for the final good of all. And so there comes to him not only the deep content and absolute security which is born of the certainty that all is well, but also the definite and radiant joy derived from the contemplation of the magnificent plan of the Logos, and of the steady and unfailing success with which that mighty scheme moves to its appointed end.

He learns that God means us to be happy, and that it is definitely our duty to be so, in order that we may spread around us vibrations of happiness upon others, since that is one of the methods by which we may lighten the sorrow of the world. In ordinary life a great part of the annoyance which men feel in connection with their various troubles is often caused by a feeling that they come to them unjustly. A man will say: " Why should all this come to me? There is my neighbour, who is in no way a better man than I, yet he does not suffer from sickness, from loss of friends, or loss of wealth? ; why then should I?"

Theosophy saves its students from this mistake, since it makes it absolutely clear to them that no undeserved suffering can ever come to any man. Whatever trouble we may encounter is simply of the nature of a debt that we have incurred; since it has to be paid, the sooner it is cleared off the better. Nor is this all; for every trouble is an opportunity for development. If we bear it patiently and bravely, not allowing it to crush us, but meeting it and making the best of it, we thereby evolve within ourselves the valuable qualities of courage, perseverance, determination; and so out of the result of our sins of long ago we bring good instead of evil.

As has before been stated, all fear of death is entirely removed for the Theosophical student, because he understands fully what death is. He no longer mourns for those who have gone before, because they are still present with him, and he knows that to give way to selfish grief would be to cause sadness and depression to them. Since they are very near to him, and since the sympathy between them and himself is closer than ever before, he is well aware that uncontrolled grief in him will assuredly reflect itself upon them.

Not that Theosophy counsels him to forget the dead; on the contrary, it encourages him to remember them as often as possible, but never with selfish sorrow, never with a longing to bring them back to earth, never with thought of his apparent loss, but only of their great gain. It assures him that a strong loving thought will be a potent factor in their evolution, and that if he will but think rightly and reasonably about them he may render them the greatest assistance in their upward progress.

A careful study of the life of man in the period between his incarnations shows how small a proportion this physical life bears to the whole. In the case of the average educated and cultured man of any of the higher races, the period of one life, that is to say of one day in the real life, would average about fifteen hundred years. Of this period perhaps seventy or eighty years would be spent in physical life, some fifteen or twenty upon the astral plane, and all the rest in the heaven-world, which is therefore by very far the most important part of manÌs existence.

Naturally these proportions vary considerably for different types of men, and when we come to consider the younger souls, born either in inferior races or in the lower ranks of our own, we find that these proportions are entirely changed, for the astral life is likely to be much longer and the heaven-life much shorter. In the case of the absolute savage there is scarcely any heaven-life at all, because he has not yet developed within himself the qualities which alone enable the man to attain that life.

The knowledge of all these facts gives a clearness and certainty to our anticipations of the future which is a welcome relief from the vagueness and indecision of ordinary thought on these subjects. It would be impossible for a Theosophist to have any fears about his " salvation" , for he knows that there is nothing for man to be saved from except his own ignorance, and he would consider it the grossest blasphemy to doubt that the will of the Logos will assuredly be fulfilled in the case of every one of his children.

No vague " eternal hope" is his, but utter certainty, born of his knowledge of the eternal law. He cannot fear the future, because he knows the future; so his only anxiety is to make himself worthy to bear his part in the mighty work of evolution. It may well be that there is very little that he can do as yet; yet there is none but can do something, just where he stands, in the circle around him, however lowly it may be.

Every man has his opportunities, for every connection is an opportunity . Every one with whom we are brought into contact is a soul who may be helped, whether it be a child born into the family, a friend who comes into our circle, a servant who joins our household, everyone gives in some way or other an opportunity. It is not for a moment suggested that we should make ourselves nuisances by thrusting our opinions and ideas upon every one with whom we come in contact, as the more ignorant and tactless of our religious friends sometimes do; but we should be in an attitude of continual readiness to help.

Indeed, we should ever be eagerly watching for an opportunity to help, either with material aid, so far as that may be within our power, or with the benefit of our advice or our knowledge, whenever those may be asked for. Often cases arise in which help by word or deed is impossible for us; but there can never be a case in which friendly and helpful thought cannot be poured forth, and none who understands the power of thought will doubt as to its result, even though it may not be immediately visible upon the physical plane.

The student of Theosophy should be distinguishable from the rest of the world by his perennial cheerfulness, his undaunted courage under difficulties, and his ready sympathy and helpfulness. Assuredly, in spite of his cheerfulness he will be one who takes life seriously, one who realises that there is much for each to do in the world, and no time to waste. He will see the necessity for gaining perfect control of himself and his various vehicles, because only in that way can he be thoroughly fitted to help others when the opportunity comes to him.

He will range himself ever on the side of the higher rather than the lower thought, the nobler rather than the baser; his toleration will be perfect, because he sees the good in all. He will deliberately take the optimistic rather than the pessimistic view of everything, the hopeful rather than the cynical, because he knows that to be always fundamentally the true view, the evil in everything being necessarily the impermanent part, since in the end only the good can endure.

Thus he will look ever for the good in everything, that he may endeavour to strengthen it; he will watch for the working of the great law of evolution, in order that he may range himself on its side, and contribute to its energy his tiny stream of force. In this way, by striving always to help, and never to hinder, he will become, in his small sphere of influence, one of the beneficent powers of Nature; in however lowly a manner, at however unthinkable a distance, he is yet a fellow worker together with God, and that is the highest honour and the greatest privilege that can ever fall to the lot of man.