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Title: Light On The Path and Through the Gates of Gold
Author: Collins, Mabel, 1851-1927
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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The present edition of LIGHT ON THE PATH
is a verbatim reprint of the 1888 edition
(George Redway, London) in which later edition
the NOTES by the Author first appear. The
COMMENTS, which are not in the 1888 edition,
are here taken directly from _Lucifer_, Volume I,
1887-8, where they were first published.

Also in this volume we reprint verbatim the
original edition (1887) of THROUGH THE
GATES OF GOLD by the same Author, together
with a commentary by William Q. Judge taken
from his magazine, _The Path_, March, 1887.



*Light on the Path*


_A Treatise_

WRITTEN FOR THE PERSONAL USE OF THOSE WHO
ARE IGNORANT OF THE EASTERN WISDOM, AND
WHO DESIRE TO ENTER WITHIN ITS INFLUENCE



_Written down by_ M.C.

_with Notes by the Author_



*LIGHT ON THE PATH*


LIGHT ON THE PATH


I

These rules are written for all disciples:
Attend you to them.

Before the eyes can see, they must be incapable
of tears. Before the ear can hear, it
must have lost its sensitiveness. Before the
voice can speak in the presence of the Masters
it must have lost the power to wound. Before
the soul can stand in the presence of the Masters
its feet must be washed in the blood of
the heart.

1. Kill out ambition.

2. Kill out desire of life.

3. Kill out desire of comfort.

4. Work as those work who are ambitious.

Respect life as those do who desire it. Be
happy as those are who live for happiness.

Seek in the heart the source of evil and
expunge it. It lives fruitfully in the heart of
the devoted disciple as well as in the heart of
the man of desire. Only the strong can kill it
out. The weak must wait for its growth, its
fruition, its death. And it is a plant that lives
and increases throughout the ages. It flowers
when the man has accumulated unto himself
innumerable existences. He who will enter
upon the path of power must tear this thing
out of his heart. And then the heart will bleed,
and the whole life of the man seem to be utterly
dissolved. This ordeal must be endured:
it may come at the first step of the perilous
ladder which leads to the path of life: it may
not come until the last. But, O disciple, remember
that it has to be endured, and fasten
the energies of your soul upon the task. Live
neither in the present nor the future, but in
the eternal. This giant weed cannot flower
there: this blot upon existence is wiped out by
the very atmosphere of eternal thought.

5. Kill out all sense of separateness.

6. Kill out desire for sensation.

7. Kill out the hunger for growth.

8. Yet stand alone and isolated, because
nothing that is imbodied, nothing that is conscious
of separation, nothing that is out of the
eternal, can aid you.  Learn from sensation and
observe it, because only so can you commence
the science of self-knowledge, and plant your
foot on the first step of the ladder. Grow as
the flower grows, unconsciously, but eagerly
anxious to open its soul to the air. So must you
press forward to open your soul to the eternal.
But it must be the eternal that draws forth your
strength and beauty, not desire of growth. For
in the one case you develop in the luxuriance of
purity, in the other you harden by the forcible
passion for personal stature.

9. Desire only that which is within you.

10. Desire only that which is beyond you.

11. Desire only that which is unattainable.

12. For within you is the light of the world--the
only light that can be shed upon the
Path. If you are unable to perceive it within
you, it is useless to look for it elsewhere. It is
beyond you; because when you reach it you
have lost yourself. It is unattainable, because it
for ever recedes. You will enter the light, but
you will never touch the flame.

13. Desire power ardently.

14. Desire peace fervently.

15. Desire possessions above all.

16. But those possessions must belong to
the pure soul only, and be possessed therefore
by all pure souls equally, and thus be the
especial property of the whole only when
united. Hunger for such possessions as can be
held by the pure soul; that you may accumulate
wealth for that united spirit of life, which is
your only true self. The peace you shall desire
is that sacred peace which nothing can disturb,
and in which the soul grows as does the holy
flower upon the still lagoons. And that power
which the disciple shall covet is that which
shall make him appear as nothing in the eyes
of men.

 17. Seek out the way.

 18. Seek the way by retreating within.

 19. Seek the way by advancing boldly without.

 20. Seek it not by any one road. To each
temperament there is one road which seems the
most desirable. But the way is not found by devotion
alone, by religious contemplation alone,
by ardent progress, by self-sacrificing labor, by
studious observation of life. None alone can
take the disciple more than one step onward.
All steps are necessary to make up the ladder.
The vices of men become steps in the ladder,
one by one, as they are surmounted. The virtues
of man are steps indeed, necessary--not
by any means to be dispensed with. Yet,
though they create a fair atmosphere and a
happy future, they are useless if they stand
alone. The whole nature of man must be used
wisely by the one who desires to enter the way.
Each man is to himself absolutely the way, the
truth, and the life. But he is only so when he
grasps his whole individuality firmly, and, by
the force of his awakened spiritual will, recognises
this individuality as not himself, but that
thing which he has with pain created for his
own use, and by means of which he purposes,
as his growth slowly develops his intelligence,
to reach to the life beyond individuality. When
he knows that for this his wonderful complex
separated life exists, then, indeed, and then
only, he is upon the way. Seek it by plunging
into the mysterious and glorious depths of your
own inmost being. Seek it by testing, all experience,
by utilizing the senses in order to
understand the growth and meaning of individuality,
and the beauty and obscurity of those
other divine fragments which are struggling
side by side with you, and form the race to
which you belong. Seek it by study of the laws
of being, the laws of nature, the laws of the
supernatural: and seek it by making the profound
obeisance of the soul to the dim star that
burns within. Steadily, as you watch and worship,
its light will grow stronger. Then you
may know you have found the beginning of
the way. And when you have found the end its
light will suddenly become the infinite light.

21. Look for the flower to bloom in the
silence that follows the storm not till then.

It shall grow, it will shoot up, it will make
branches and leaves and form buds, while the
storm continues, while the battle lasts. But
not till the whole personality of the man is dissolved
and melted--not until it is held by the
divine fragment which has created it, as a mere
subject for grave experiment and experience--not
until the whole nature has yielded and
become subject unto its higher self, can the
bloom open. Then will come a calm such as
comes in a tropical country after the heavy rain,
when Nature works so swiftly that one may see
her action. Such a calm will come to the harassed
spirit. And in the deep silence the mysterious
event will occur which will prove that
the way has been found. Call it by what name
you will, it is a voice that speaks where there
is none to speak--it is a messenger that comes,
a messenger without form or substance; or it is
the flower of the soul that has opened. It cannot
be described by any metaphor. But it can
be felt after, looked for, and desired, even
amid the raging of the storm. The silence may
last a moment of time or it may last a thousand
years. But it will end. Yet you will carry its
strength with you. Again and again the battle
must be fought and won. It is only for an interval
that Nature can be still.

These written above are the first of the
rules which are written on the walls of the
Hall of Learning. Those that ask shall have.
Those that desire to read shall read. Those who
desire to learn shall learn.

PEACE BE WITH YOU.



II


Out of the silence that is peace a resonant
voice shall arise. And this voice will say, It is
not well; thou hast reaped, now thou must sow.
And knowing this voice to be the silence itself
thou wilt obey.

Thou who art now a disciple, able to stand,
able to hear, able to see, able to speak, who
hast conquered desire and attained to self-knowledge,
who hast seen thy soul in its bloom
and recognised it, and heard the voice of the
silence, go thou to the Hall of Learning and
read what is written there for thee.

 1. Stand aside in the coming battle, and
though thou fightest be not thou the warrior.

 2. Look for the warrior and let him fight in
thee.

 3. Take his orders for battle and obey
them.

 4. Obey him not as though he were a general,
but as though he were thyself, and his
spoken words were the utterance of thy secret
desires; for he is thyself, yet infinitely wiser
and stronger than thyself. Look for him, else
in the fever and hurry of the fight thou mayest
pass him; and he will not know thee unless
thou knowest him. If thy cry meet his listening
ear, then will he fight in thee and fill the
dull void within. And if this is so, then canst
thou go through the fight cool and unwearied,
standing aside and letting him battle for thee.
Then it will be impossible for thee to strike
one blow amiss. But if thou look not for him,
if thou pass him by, then there is no safeguard
for thee. Thy brain will reel, thy heart grow
uncertain, and in the dust of the battlefield thy
sight and senses will fail, and thou wilt not
know thy friends from thy enemies.

He is thyself, yet thou art but finite and
liable to error. He is eternal and is sure. He
is eternal truth. When once he has entered
thee and become thy warrior, he will never utterly
desert thee, and at the day of the great
peace he will become one with thee.

5. Listen to the song of life.

6. Store in your memory the melody you
hear.

7. Learn from it the lesson of harmony.

8. You can stand upright now, firm as a
rock amid the turmoil, obeying the warrior
who is thyself and thy king. Unconcerned in
the battle save to do his bidding, having no
longer any care as to the result of the battle, for
one thing only is important, that the warrior
shall win, and you know he is incapable of defeat--standing
thus, cool and awakened, use
the hearing you have acquired by pain and by
the destruction of pain. Only fragments of
the great song come to your ears while yet you
are but man. But if you listen to it, remember
it faithfully, so that none which has reached
you is lost, and endeavor to learn from it the
meaning of the mystery which surrounds you.
In time you will need no teacher. For as the
individual has voice, so has that in which the
individual exists. Life itself has speech and is
never silent. And its utterance is not, as you
that are deaf may suppose, a cry: it is a song.
Learn from it that you are part of the harmony;
learn from it to obey the laws of the
harmony.

9. Regard earnestly all the life that surrounds
you.

10. Learn to look intelligently into the
hearts of men.

11. Regard most earnestly your own heart.

12. For through your own heart comes the
one light which can illuminate life and make it
clear to your eyes.

Study the hearts of men, that you may know
what is that world in which you live and of
which you will to be a part. Regard the constantly
changing and moving life which surrounds
you, for it is formed by the hearts of
men; and as you learn to understand their
constitution and meaning, you will by degrees
be able to read the larger word of life.

13.  Speech comes only with knowledge. Attain
to knowledge and you will attain to
speech.

14.  Having obtained the use of the inner
senses, having conquered the desires of the
outer senses, having conquered the desires of
the individual soul, and having obtained knowledge,
prepare now, O disciple, to enter upon
the way in reality. The path is found: make
yourself ready to tread it.

15. Inquire of the earth, the air, and the
water, of the secrets they hold for you. The
development of your inner senses will enable
you to do this.

16. Inquire of the holy ones of the earth
of the secrets they hold for you. The conquering
of the desires of the outer senses will
give you the right to do this.

17. Inquire of the inmost, the one, of its
final secret which it holds for you through
the ages.

The great and difficult victory, the conquering
of the desires of the individual soul, is a
work of ages; therefore expect not to obtain
its reward until ages of experience have been
accumulated. When the time of learning this
seventeenth rule is reached, man is on the
threshold of becoming more than man.

18. The knowledge which is now yours is
only yours because your soul has become one
with all pure souls and with the inmost. It is
a trust vested in you by the Most High. Betray
it, misuse your knowledge, or neglect it, and
it is possible even now for you to fall from
the high estate you have attained. Great ones
fall back, even from the threshold, unable to
sustain the weight of their responsibility, unable
to pass on. Therefore look forward always
with awe and trembling to this moment, and
be prepared for the battle.

19. It is written that for him who is on the
threshold of divinity no law can be framed, no
guide can exist. Yet to enlighten the disciple,
the final struggle may be thus expressed:

Hold fast to that which has neither substance
nor existence.

20. Listen only to the voice which is soundless.

21. Look only on that which is invisible
alike to the inner and the outer sense.

PEACE BE WITH YOU.



NOTES


_Note on Rule 1._--Ambition is the first
curse: the great tempter of the man who is
rising above his fellows. It is the simplest
form of looking for reward. Men of intelligence
and power are led away from their
higher possibilities by it continually. Yet it is
a necessary teacher. Its results turn to dust
and ashes in the mouth; like death and
estrangement it shows the man at last that to
work for self is to work for disappointment.
But though this first rule seems so simple and
easy, do not quickly pass it by. For these
vices of the ordinary man pass through a subtle
transformation and reappear with changed
aspect in the heart of the disciple. It is easy
to say, I will not be ambitious: it is not so
easy to say, when the Master reads my heart
he will find it clean utterly. The pure artist
who works for the love of his work is sometimes
more firmly planted on the right road
than the occultist, who fancies he has removed
his interest from self, but who has in reality
only enlarged the limits of experience and
desire, and transferred his interest to the things
which concern his larger span of life. The
same principle applies to the other two seemingly
simple rules. Linger over them and do
not let yourself be easily deceived by your own
heart. For now, at the threshold, a mistake
can be corrected. But carry it on with you
and it will grow and come to fruition, or else
you must suffer bitterly in its destruction.


_Note on Rule 5_.--Do not fancy you can
stand aside from the bad man or the foolish
man. They are yourself, though in a less
degree than your friend or your master. But
if you allow the idea of separateness from any
evil thing or person to grow up within you,
by so doing you create Karma, which will
bind you to that thing or person till your soul
recognises that it cannot be isolated. Remember
that the sin and shame of the world are
your sin and shame; for you are a part of it;
your Karma is inextricably interwoven with
the great Karma. And before you can attain
knowledge you must have passed through all
places, foul and clean alike. Therefore, remember
that the soiled garment you shrink
from touching may have been yours yesterday,
may be yours tomorrow. And if you turn
with horror from it, when it is flung upon
your shoulders, it will cling the more closely
to you. The self-righteous man makes for
himself a bed of mire. Abstain because it is
right to abstain--not that yourself shall be
kept clean.

_Note on Rule 17._--These four words
seem, perhaps, too slight to stand alone. The
disciple may say, Should I study these thoughts
at all did I not seek out the way? Yet do
not pass on hastily. Pause and consider awhile.
Is it the way you desire, or is it that there
is a dim perspective in your visions of great
heights to be scaled by yourself, of a great
future for you to compass? Be warned. The
way is to be sought for its own sake, not with
regard to your feet that shall tread it.

There is a correspondence between this rule
and the 17th of the 2nd series. When after
ages of struggle and many victories the final
battle is won, the final secret demanded, then
you are prepared for a further path. When
the final secret of this great lesson is told, in
it is opened the mystery of the new way--a
path which leads out of all human experience,
and which is utterly beyond human perception
or imagination. At each of these points
it is needful to pause long and consider well.
At each of these points it is necessary to be
sure that the way is chosen for its own sake.
The way and the truth come first, then follows
the life.

_Note on Rule 20_.--Seek it by testing all
experience, and remember that when I say this
I do not say, Yield to the seductions of sense
in order to know it. Before you have become
an occultist you may do this; but not afterwards.
When you have chosen and entered
the path you cannot yield to these seductions
without shame. Yet you can experience them
without horror: can weigh, observe and test
them, and wait with the patience of confidence
for the hour when they shall affect you no
longer. But do not condemn the man that
yields; stretch out your hand to him as a
brother pilgrim whose feet have become heavy
with mire. Remember, O disciple, that great
though the gulf may be between the good man
and the sinner, it is greater between the good
man and the man who has attained knowledge;
it is immeasurable between the good man and
the one on the threshold of divinity. Therefore
be wary lest too soon you fancy yourself
a thing apart from the mass. When you have
found the beginning of the way the star of
your soul will show its light; and by that light
you will perceive how great is the darkness
in which it burns. Mind, heart, brain, all are
obscure and dark until the first great battle
has been won. Be not appalled and terrified
by this sight; keep your eyes fixed on the small
light and it will grow. But let the darkness
within help you to understand the helplessness
of those who have seen no light, whose souls
are in profound gloom. Blame them not, shrink
not from them, but try to lift a little of the
heavy Karma of the world; give your aid to
the few strong hands that hold back the
powers of darkness from obtaining complete
victory. Then do you enter into a partnership
of joy, which brings indeed terrible toil and
profound sadness, but also a great and ever-increasing
delight.

_Note on Rule 21._--The opening of the
bloom is the glorious moment when perception
awakes: with it comes confidence, knowledge,
certainty. The pause of the soul is the moment
of wonder, and the next moment of satisfaction,
that is the silence.

Know, O disciple, that those who have
passed through the silence, and felt its peace
and retained its strength, they long that you
shall pass through it also. Therefore, in the
Hall of Learning, when he is capable of entering
there, the disciple will always find his
master.

Those that ask shall have. But though the
ordinary man asks perpetually, his voice is not
heard. For he asks with his mind only; and
the voice of the mind is only heard on that
plane on which the mind acts. Therefore, not
until the first twenty-one rules are past do I
say those that ask shall have.

To read, in the occult sense, is to read with
the eyes of the spirit. To ask is to feel the
hunger within--the yearning of spiritual
aspiration. To be able to read means having
obtained the power in a small degree of gratifying
that hunger. When the disciple is ready
to learn, then he is accepted, acknowledged,
recognised. It must be so, for he has lit his
lamp, and it cannot be hidden. But to learn
is impossible until the first great battle has
been won. The mind may recognise truth, but
the spirit cannot receive it. Once having passed
through the storm and attained the peace, it is
then always possible to learn, even though the
disciple waver, hesitate, and turn aside. The
voice of the silence remains within him, and
though he leave the path utterly, yet one day
it will resound and rend him asunder and
separate his passions from his divine possibilities.
Then with pain and desperate cries
from the deserted lower self he will return.

Therefore I say, Peace be with you. My
peace I give unto you can only be said by the
Master to the beloved disciples who are as
himself. There are even some amongst those
who are ignorant of the Eastern wisdom to
whom this can be said, and to whom it can
daily be said with more completeness.

Regard the three truths. They are equal.



PART II


_Note on Sect. II_--To be able to stand is
to have confidence; to be able to hear is to
have opened the doors of the soul; to be able
to see is to have attained perception; to be
able to speak is to have attained the power
of helping others; to have conquered desire
is to have learned how to use and control the
self; to have attained to self-knowledge is to
have retreated to the inner fortress from
whence the personal man can be viewed with
impartiality; to have seen thy soul in its bloom
is to have obtained a momentary glimpse in
thyself of the transfiguration which shall eventually
make thee more than man; to recognise
is to achieve the great task of gazing upon the
blazing light without dropping the eyes and
not falling back in terror, as though before
some ghastly phantom. This happens to some,
and so when the victory is all but won it is lost;
to hear the voice of the silence is to understand
that from within comes the only true
guidance; to go to the Hall of Learning is to
enter the state in which learning becomes possible.
Then will many words be written there
for thee, and written in fiery letters for thee
easily to read. For when the disciple is ready
the Master is ready also.


_Note on Rule 5_.--Look for it and listen to
it first in your own heart. At first you may
say it is not there; when I search I find only
discord. Look deeper. If again you are disappointed,
pause and look deeper again. There
is a natural melody, an obscure fount in every
human heart. It may be hidden over and utterly
concealed and silenced--but it is there.
At the very base of your nature you will find
faith, hope, and love. He that chooses evil
refuses to look within himself, shuts his ears to
the melody of his heart, as he blinds his eyes
to the light of his soul. He does this because
he finds it easier to live in desires. But underneath
all life is the strong current that cannot
be checked; the great waters are there in reality.
Find them, and you will perceive that none,
not the most wretched of creatures, but is a
part of it, however he blind himself to the
fact and build up for himself a phantasmal
outer form of horror. In that sense it is that I
say to you--All those beings among whom
you struggle on are fragments of the Divine.
And so deceptive is the illusion in which you
live, that it is hard to guess where you will first
detect the sweet voice in the hearts of others.

But know that it is certainly within yourself.
Look for it there, and once having heard it, you
will more readily recognise it around you.

_Note on Rule 10._--From an absolutely impersonal
point of view, otherwise your sight is
colored. Therefore impersonality must first be
understood.

Intelligence is impartial: no man is your
enemy: no man is your friend. All alike are
your teachers. Your enemy becomes a mystery
that must be solved, even though it take ages:
for man must be understood. Your friend becomes
a part of yourself, an extension of yourself,
a riddle hard to read. Only one thing is
more difficult to know--your own heart. Not
until the bonds of personality are loosed, can
that profound mystery of self begin to be seen.
Not till you stand aside from it will it in any
way reveal itself to your understanding. Then,
and not till then, can you grasp and guide it.
Then, and not till then, can you use all its
powers, and devote them to a worthy service.

_Note on Rule 13._--It is impossible to help
others till you have obtained some certainty
of your own. When you have learned the first
21 rules and have entered the Hall of Learning
with your powers developed and sense unchained,
then you will find there is a fount
within you from which speech will arise.

After the 13th rule I can add no words to
what is already written.

My peace I give unto you. [Greek: D]

These notes are written only for those to
whom I give my peace; those who can read
what I have written with the inner as well as
the outer sense.



COMMENTS

I


"BEFORE THE EYES CAN SEE THEY MUST BE
INCAPABLE OF TEARS."


It should be very clearly remembered by
all readers of this volume that it is a book
which may appear to have some little philosophy
in it, but very little sense, to those who
believe it to be written in ordinary English.
To the many, who read in this manner it will
be--not caviare so much as olives strong of
their salt. Be warned and read but a little in
this way.

There is another way of reading, which is,
indeed, the only one of any use with many
authors. It is reading, not between the lines
but within the words. In fact, it is deciphering
a profound cipher. All alchemical works
are written in the cipher of which I speak;
it has been used by the great philosophers and
poets of all time. It is used systematically by
the adepts in life and knowledge, who, seemingly
giving out their deepest wisdom, hide in
the very words which frame it its actual mystery.
They cannot do more. There is a law of
nature which insists that a man shall read these
mysteries for himself. By no other method can
he obtain them. A man who desires to live
must eat his food himself: this is the simple law
of nature--which applies also to the higher
life. A man who would live and act in it cannot
be fed like a babe with a spoon; he must
eat for himself.

I propose to put into new and sometimes
plainer language parts of "Light on the Path";
but whether this effort of mine will really be
any interpretation I cannot say. To a deaf
and dumb man, a truth is made no more intelligible
if, in order to make it so, some misguided
linguist translates the words in which
it is couched into every living or dead language,
and shouts these different phrases in his ear.
But for those who are not deaf and dumb one
language is generally easier than the rest; and
it is to such as these I address myself.

The very first aphorisms of "Light on the
Path," included under Number I, have, I know
well, remained sealed as to their inner meaning
to many who have otherwise followed the purpose
of the book.

There are four proven and certain truths
with regard to the entrance to occultism. The
Gates of Gold bar that threshold; yet there are
some who pass those gates and discover the
sublime and illimitable beyond. In the far
spaces of Time all will pass those gates. But
I am one who wish that Time, the great deluder,
were not so over-masterful. To those
who know and love him I have no word to
say; but to the others--and there are not so
very few as some may fancy--to whom the
passage of Time is as the stroke of a sledge-hammer,
and the sense of Space like the bars
of an iron cage, I will translate and re-translate
until they understand fully.

The four truths written on the first page
of "Light on the Path," refer to the trial initiation
of the would-be occultist. Until he has
passed it, he cannot even reach to the latch of
the gate which admits to knowledge. Knowledge
is man's greatest inheritance; why, then,
should he not attempt to reach it by every
possible road? The laboratory is not the only
ground for experiment; _science_, we must remember,
is derived from _sciens_, present participle
of _scire_, "to know,"--its origin is similar
to that of the word "discern," to "ken."
Science does not therefore deal only with
matter, no, not even its subtlest and obscurest
forms. Such an idea is born merely of the idle
spirit of the age. Science is a word which
covers all forms of knowledge. It is exceedingly
interesting to hear what chemists discover,
and to see them finding their way through the
densities of matter to its finer forms; but there
are other kinds of knowledge than this, and it
is not every one who restricts his (strictly scientific)
desire for knowledge to experiments
which are capable of being tested by the physical
senses.

Everyone who is not a dullard, or a man
stupefied by some predominant vice, has
guessed or even perhaps discovered with some
certainty, that there are subtle senses lying
within the physical senses. There is nothing at
all extraordinary in this; if we took the trouble
to call Nature into the witness box we should
find that everything which is perceptible to the
ordinary sight, has something even more important
than itself hidden within it; the microscope
has opened a world to us, but within
those encasements which the microscope reveals,
lies a mystery which no machinery can
probe.

The whole world is animated and lit, down
to its most material shapes, by a world within
it. This inner world is called Astral by some
people, and it is as good a word as any other,
though it merely means starry; but the stars, as
Locke pointed out, are luminous bodies which
give light of themselves. This quality is characteristic
of the life which lies within matter;
for those who see it, need no lamp to see it by.
The word star, moreover, is derived from the
Anglo-Saxon "stir-an," to steer, to stir, to move,
and undeniably it is the inner life which is
master of the outer, just as a man's brain
guides the movements of his lips. So that although
Astral is no very excellent word in
itself, I am content to use it for my present
purpose.

The whole of "Light on the Path" is written
in an astral cipher and can therefore only be
deciphered by one who reads astrally. And
its teaching is chiefly directed towards the cultivation
and development of the astral life.
Until the first step has been taken in this development,
the swift knowledge, which is called
intuition with certainty, is impossible to man.
And this positive and certain intuition is the
only form of knowledge which enables a man
to work rapidly or reach his true and high
estate, within the limit of his conscious effort.
To obtain knowledge by experiment is too
tedious a method for those who aspire to accomplish
real work; he who gets it by certain
intuition, lays hands on its various forms with
supreme rapidity, by fierce effort of will; as a
determined workman grasps his tools, indifferent
to their weight or any other difficulty
which may stand in his way. He does not stay
for each to be tested--he uses such as he sees
are fittest.

All the rules contained in "Light on the
Path," are written for all disciples, but only
for disciples---those who "take knowledge."
To none else but the student in this school are
its laws of any use or interest.

To all who are interested seriously in Occultism,
I say first--take knowledge. To him
who hath shall be given. It is useless to wait for
it. The womb of Time will close before you,
and in later days you will remain unborn, without
power. I therefore say to those who have
any hunger or thirst for knowledge, attend to
these rules.

They are none of my handicraft or invention.
They are merely the phrasing of laws in
super-nature, the putting into words truths as
absolute in their own sphere, as those laws
which govern the conduct of the earth and its
atmosphere.

The senses spoken of in these four statements
are the astral, or inner senses.

No man desires to see that light which
illumines the spaceless soul until pain and sorrow
and despair have driven him away from
the life of ordinary humanity. First he wears
out pleasure; then he wears out pain--till, at
last, his eyes become incapable of tears.

This is a truism, although I know perfectly
well that it will meet with a vehement denial
from many who are in sympathy with thoughts
which spring from the inner life. _To see_ with
the astral sense of sight is a form of activity
which it is difficult for us to understand immediately.
The scientist knows very well what a
miracle is achieved by each child that is born
into the world, when it first conquers its eyesight
and compels it to obey its brain. An equal
miracle is performed with each sense certainly,
but this ordering of sight is perhaps the most
stupendous effort. Yet the child does it almost
unconsciously, by force of the powerful heredity
of habit. No one now is aware that he
has ever done it at all; just as we cannot recollect
the individual movements which enabled
us to walk up a hill a year ago. This arises
from the fact that we move and live and have
our being in matter. Our knowledge of it has
become intuitive.

With our astral life it is very much otherwise.
For long ages past, man has paid very
little attention to it--so little, that he has
practically lost the use of his senses. It is true,
that in every civilization the star arises, and
man confesses, with more or less of folly and
confusion, that he knows himself to be. But
most often he denies it, and in being a materialist
becomes that strange thing, a being
which cannot see its own light, a thing of life
which will not live, an astral animal which has
eyes, and ears, and speech, and power, yet
will use none of these gifts. This is the case,
and the habit of ignorance has become so confirmed,
that now none will see with the inner
vision till agony has made the physical eyes not
only unseeing, but without tears--the moisture
of life. To be incapable of tears is to have
faced and conquered the simple human nature,
and to have attained an equilibrium which cannot
be shaken by personal emotions. It does
not imply any hardness of heart, or any indifference.
It does not imply the exhaustion of
sorrow, when the suffering soul seems powerless
to suffer acutely any longer; it does not
mean the deadness of old age, when emotion is
becoming dull because the strings which vibrate
to it are wearing out. None of these conditions
are fit for a disciple, and if any one of
them exist in him it must be overcome before
the path can be entered upon. Hardness of
heart belongs to the selfish man, the egotist, to
whom the gate is forever closed. Indifference
belongs to the fool and the false philosopher;
those whose lukewarmness makes them mere
puppets, not strong enough to face the realities
of existence. When pain or sorrow has worn
out the keenness of suffering, the result is a
lethargy not unlike that which accompanies old
age, as it is usually experienced by men and
women. Such a condition makes the entrance
to the path impossible, because the first step is
one of difficulty and needs a strong man, full
of psychic and physical vigor, to attempt it.

It is a truth, that, as Edgar Allan Poe said,
the eyes are the windows for the soul, the windows
of that haunted palace in which it dwells.
This is the very nearest interpretation into ordinary
language of the meaning of the text. If
grief, dismay, disappointment or pleasure, can
shake the soul so that it loses its fixed hold on
the calm spirit which inspires it, and the moisture
of life breaks forth, drowning knowledge
in sensation, then all is blurred, the windows
are darkened, the light is useless. This is as
literal a fact as that if a man, at the edge of a
precipice, loses his nerve through some sudden
emotion he will certainly fall. The poise of the
body, the balance, must be preserved, not only
in dangerous places, but even on the level
ground, and with all the assistance Nature
gives us by the law of gravitation. So it is with
the soul, it is the link between the outer body
and the starry spirit beyond; the divine spark
dwells in the still place where no convulsion of
Nature can shake the air; this is so always. But
the soul may lose its hold on that, its knowledge
of it, even though these two are part
of one whole; and it is by emotion, by
sensation, that this hold is loosed. To suffer
either pleasure or pain, causes a vivid vibration
which is, to the consciousness of man,
life. Now this sensibility does not lessen when
the disciple enters upon his training; it
increases. It is the first test of his strength;
he must suffer, must enjoy or endure, more
keenly than other men, while yet he has taken
on him a duty which does not exist for other
men, that of not allowing his suffering to shake
him from his fixed purpose. He has, in fact,
at the first step to take himself steadily in
hand and put the bit into his own mouth;
no one else can do it for him.

The first four aphorisms of "Light on the
Path," refer entirely to astral development.
This development must be accomplished to a
certain extent--that is to say it must be fully
entered upon--before the remainder of the
book is really intelligible except to the intellect;
in fact, before it can be read as a practical,
not a metaphysical treatise.

In one of the great mystic Brotherhoods,
there are four ceremonies, that take place early
in the year, which practically illustrate and
elucidate these aphorisms. They are ceremonies
in which only novices take part, for they
are simply services of the threshold. But it
will show how serious a thing it is to become
a disciple, when it is understood that these
are all ceremonies of sacrifice. The first one
is this of which I have been speaking. The
keenest enjoyment, the bitterest pain, the
anguish of loss and despair, are brought to
bear on the trembling soul, which has not yet
found light in the darkness, which is helpless
as a blind man is, and until these shocks can
be endured without loss of equilibrium the
astral senses must remain sealed. This is the
merciful law. The "medium," or "spiritualist,"
who rushes into the psychic world without
preparation, is a law-breaker, a breaker of
the laws of super-nature. Those who break
Nature's laws lose their physical health; those
who break the laws of the inner life, lose their
psychic health. "Mediums" become mad, suicides,
miserable creatures devoid of moral
sense; and often end as unbelievers, doubters
even of that which their own eyes have seen.
The disciple is compelled to become his own
master before he adventures on this perilous
path, and attempts to face those beings who
live and work in the astral world, and whom
we call masters, because of their great knowledge
and their ability to control not only
themselves but the forces around them.

The condition of the soul when it lives for
the life of sensation as distinguished from that
of knowledge, is vibratory or oscillating, as
distinguished from fixed. That is the nearest
literal representation of the fact; but it is only
literal to the intellect, not to the intuition.
For this part of man's consciousness a different
vocabulary is needed. The idea of "fixed"
might perhaps be transposed into that of "at
home." In sensation no permanent home can
be found, because change is the law of this
vibratory existence. That fact is the first one
which must be learned by the disciple. It is
useless to pause and weep for a scene in a
kaleidoscope which has passed.

It is a very well-known fact, one with which
Bulwer Lytton dealt with great power, that
an intolerable sadness is the very first experience
of the neophyte in Occultism. A sense of
blankness falls upon him which makes the
world a waste, and life a vain exertion. This
follows his first serious contemplation of the
abstract. In gazing, or even in attempting to
gaze, on the ineffable mystery of his own higher
nature, he himself causes the initial trial to
fall on him. The oscillation between pleasure
and pain ceases for--perhaps an instant of
time; but that is enough to have cut him loose
from his fast moorings in the world of sensation.
He has experienced, however briefly, the
greater life; and he goes on with ordinary
existence weighted by a sense of unreality, of
blank, of horrid negation. This was the nightmare
which visited Bulwer Lytton's neophyte
in "Zanoni"; and even Zanoni himself, who
had learned great truths, and been entrusted
with great powers, had not actually passed the
threshold where fear and hope, despair and
joy seem at one moment absolute realities, at
the next mere forms of fancy.

This initial trial is often brought on us by
life itself. For life is after all, the great
teacher. We return to study it, after we have
acquired power over it, just as the master in
chemistry learns more in the laboratory than
his pupil does. There are persons so near the
door of knowledge that life itself prepares
them for it, and no individual hand has to
invoke the hideous guardian of the entrance.
These must naturally be keen and powerful
organizations, capable of the most vivid pleasure;
then pain comes and fills its great duty.
The most intense forms of suffering fall on
such a nature, till at last it arouses from its
stupor of consciousness, and by the force of its
internal vitality steps over the threshold into a
place of peace. Then the vibration of life loses
its power of tyranny. The sensitive nature
must suffer still; but the soul has freed itself
and stands aloof, guiding the life towards its
greatness. Those who are the subjects of Time,
and go slowly through all his spaces, live on
through a long drawn series of sensations, and
suffer a constant mingling of pleasure and of
pain. They do not dare to take the snake of
self in a steady grasp and conquer it, so becoming
divine; but prefer to go on fretting through
divers experiences, suffering blows from the
opposing forces.

When one of these subjects of Time decides
to enter on the path of Occultism, it is this
which is his first task. If life has not taught
it to him, if he is not strong enough to teach
himself and if he has power enough to demand
the help of a master, then this fearful trial,
depicted in Zanoni, is put upon him. The
oscillation in which he lives, is for an instant
stilled; and he has to survive the shock of
facing what seems to him at first sight as the
abyss of nothingness. Not till he has learned
to dwell in this abyss, and has found its peace,
is it possible for his eyes to have become
incapable of tears.



II

"BEFORE THE EAR CAN HEAR, IT MUST
HAVE LOST ITS SENSITIVENESS."


The first four rules of "Light on the Path"
are, undoubtedly, curious though the statement
may seem, the most important in the whole
book, save one only. Why they are so important
is that they contain the vital law, the very
creative essence of the astral man. And it is
only in the astral (or self-illuminated) consciousness
that the rules which follow them
have any living meaning. Once attain to the
use of the astral senses and it becomes a matter
of course that one commences to use them;
and the later rules are but guidance in their
use. When I speak like this I mean, naturally,
that the first four rules are the ones which are
of importance and interest to those who read
them in print upon a page. When they are
engraved on a man's heart and on his life, unmistakably
then the rules become not merely
interesting, or extraordinary, metaphysical
statements, but actual facts in life which have
to be grasped and experienced.

The four rules stand written in the great
chamber of every actual lodge of a living
Brotherhood. Whether the man is about to
sell his soul to the devil, like Faust; whether
he is to be worsted in the battle, like Hamlet;
or whether he is to pass on within the precincts;
in any case these words are for him.
The man can choose between virtue and vice,
but not until he is a man; a babe or a wild
animal cannot so choose. Thus with the disciple,
he must first become a disciple before
he can even see the paths to choose between.
This effort of creating himself as a disciple,
the re-birth, he must do for himself without
any teacher. Until the four rules are learned
no teacher can be of any use to him; and that
is why "the Masters" are referred to in the
way they are. No real masters, whether adepts
in power, in love, or in blackness, can affect a
man till these four rules are passed.

Tears, as I have said, may be called the
moisture of life. The soul must have laid aside
the emotions of humanity, must have secured
a balance which cannot be shaken by misfortune,
before its eyes can open upon the
super-human world.

The voice of the Masters is always in the
world; but only those hear it whose ears are
no longer receptive of the sounds which affect
the personal life. Laughter no longer lightens
the heart, anger may no longer enrage it, tender
words bring it no balm. For that within,
to which the ears are as an outer gateway, is
an unshaken place of peace in itself which no
person can disturb.

As the eyes are the windows of the soul, so
are the ears its gateways or doors. Through
them comes knowledge of the confusion of the
world. The great ones who have conquered
life, who have become more than disciples,
stand at peace and undisturbed amid the
vibration and kaleidoscopic movement of
humanity. They hold within themselves a certain
knowledge, as well as a perfect peace; and
thus they are not roused or excited by the
partial and erroneous fragments of information
which are brought to their ears by the changing
voices of those around them. When I speak
of knowledge, I mean intuitive knowledge.
This certain information can never be obtained
by hard work, or by experiment; for these
methods are only applicable to matter, and
matter is in itself a perfectly uncertain substance,
continually affected by change. The
most absolute and universal laws of natural
and physical life, as understood by the scientist,
will pass away when the life of this universe
has passed away, and only its soul is left in
the silence. What then will be the value of
the knowledge of its laws acquired by industry
and observation? I pray that no reader or
critic will imagine that by what I have said I
intend to depreciate or disparage acquired
knowledge, or the work of scientists. On the
contrary, I hold that scientific men are the
pioneers of modern thought. The days of literature
and of art, when poets and sculptors saw
the divine light, and put it into their own
great language--these days lie buried in the
long past with the ante-Phidian sculptors and
the pre-Homeric poets. The mysteries no longer
rule the world of thought and beauty; human
life is the governing power, not that which
lies beyond it. But the scientific workers are
progressing, not so much by their own will as
by sheer force of circumstances, towards the
far line which divides things interpretable from
things uninterpretable. Every fresh discovery
drives them a step onward. Therefore do I
very highly esteem the knowledge obtained by
work and experiment.

But intuitive knowledge is an entirely different
thing. It is not acquired in any way, but
is, so to speak, a faculty of the soul; not the
animal soul, that which becomes a ghost after
death, when lust or liking or the memory of
ill deeds holds it to the neighborhood of
human beings, but the divine soul which
animates all the external forms of the individualized
being.

This is, of course, a faculty which indwells
in that soul, which is inherent. The would-be
disciple has to arouse himself to the consciousness
of it by a fierce and resolute and
indomitable effort of will. I use the word
indomitable for a special reason. Only he who
is untameable, who cannot be dominated, who
knows he has to play the lord over men, over
facts, over all things save his own divinity
can arouse this faculty. "With faith all things,
are possible." The skeptical laugh at faith and
pride themselves on its absence from their own
minds. The truth is that faith is a great
engine, an enormous power, which in fact can
accomplish all things. For it is the convenant
or engagement between man's divine part and
his lesser self.

The use of this engine is quite necessary
in order to obtain intuitive knowledge; for
unless a man believes such knowledge exists
within himself how can he claim and use it?

Without it he is more helpless than any
drift-wood or wreckage on the great tides of
the ocean. They are cast hither and thither
indeed; so may a man be by the chances of
fortune. But such adventures are purely
external and of very small account. A slave
may be dragged through the streets in chains,
and yet retain the quiet soul of a philosopher,
as was well seen in the person of Epictetus. A
man may have every worldly prize in his possession,
and stand absolute master of his
personal fate, to all appearance, and yet he
knows no peace, no certainty, because he is
shaken within himself by every tide of thought
that he touches on. And these changing tides
do not merely sweep the man bodily hither
and thither like drift-wood on the water; that
would be nothing. They enter into the gate-ways
of his soul, and wash over that soul and
make it blind and blank and void of all permanent
intelligence so that passing impressions
affect it.

To make my meaning plainer I will use an
illustration. Take an author at his writing, a
painter at his canvas, a composer listening to
the melodies that dawn upon his glad imagination;
let any one of these workers pass his daily
hours by a wide window looking on a busy
street. The power of the animating life blinds
sight and hearing alike, and the great traffic of
the city goes by like nothing but a passing
pageant. But a man whose mind is empty,
whose day is objectless, sitting at that same
window, notes the passers-by and remembers
the faces that chance to please or interest him.
So it is with the mind in its relation to eternal
truth. If it no longer transmits its fluctuations,
its partial knowledge, its unreliable information
to the soul, then in the inner place of
peace already found when the first rule has
been learned--in that inner place there leaps
into flame the light of actual knowledge. Then
the ears begin to hear. Very dimly, very
faintly at first. And, indeed, so faint and
tender are these first indications of the commencement
of true actual life, that they are
sometimes pushed aside as mere fancies, mere
imaginings.

But before these are capable of becoming
more than mere imaginings, the abyss of
nothingness has to be faced in another form.
The utter silence which can only come by closing
the ears to all transitory sounds comes as
a more appalling horror than even the formless
emptiness of space. Our only mental conception
of blank space is, I think, when reduced
to its barest element of thought, that of black
darkness. This is a great physical terror to
most persons, and when regarded as an eternal
and unchangeable fact, must mean to the mind
the idea of annihilation rather than anything
else. But it is the obliteration of one sense
only; and the sound of a voice may come and
bring comfort even in the profoundest darkness.
The disciple, having found his way into
this blackness, which is the fearful abyss, must
then so shut the gates of his soul that no
comforter can enter there nor any enemy. And
it is in making this second effort that the fact
of pain and pleasure being but one sensation
becomes recognisable by those who have before
been unable to perceive it. For when the solitude
of silence is reached the soul hungers so
fiercely and passionately for some sensation on
which to rest, that a painful one would be as
keenly welcomed as a pleasant one. When
this consciousness is reached the courageous
man by seizing and retaining it, may destroy
the "sensitiveness" at once. When the ear no
longer discriminates between that which is
pleasant or that which is painful, it will no
longer be affected by the voices of others. And
then it is safe and possible to open the doors
of the soul.

"Sight" is the first effort, and the easiest,
because it is accomplished partly by an intellectual
effort. The intellect can conquer the
heart, as is well known in ordinary life. Therefore,
this preliminary step still lies within the
dominion of matter. But the second step allows
of no such assistance, nor of any material aid
whatever. Of course, I mean by material aid
the action of the brain, or emotions, or human
soul. In compelling the ears to listen only to
the eternal silence, the being we call man
becomes something which is no longer man. A
very superficial survey of the thousand and
one influences which are brought to bear on
us by others will show that this must be so.
A disciple will fulfil all the duties of his manhood;
but he will fulfil them according to
his own sense of right, and not according to
that of any person or body of persons. This
is a very evident result of following the creed
of knowledge instead of any of the blind
creeds.

To obtain the pure silence necessary for the
disciple, the heart and emotions, the brain and
its intellectualisms, have to be put aside. Both
are but mechanisms, which will perish with the
span of man's life. It is the essence beyond,
that which is the motive power, and makes man
live, that is now compelled to rouse itself and
act. Now is the greatest hour of danger. In
the first trial men go mad with fear; of this
first trial Bulwer Lytton wrote. No novelist
has followed to the second trial, though some
of the poets have. Its subtlety and great
danger lies in the fact that in the measure of a
man's strength is the measure of his chance of
passing beyond it or coping with it at all. If
he has power enough to awaken that unaccustomed
part of himself, the supreme essence,
then has he power to lift the gates of gold,
then is he the true alchemist, in possession of
the elixir of life.

It is at this point of experience that the
occultist becomes separated from all other men
and enters on to a life which is his own; on to
the path of individual accomplishment instead
of mere obedience to the genii which rule our
earth. This raising of himself into an individual
power does in reality identify him with
the nobler forces of life and make him one
with them. For they stand beyond the powers
of this earth and the laws of this universe. Here
lies man's only hope of success in the great
effort; to leap right away from his present
standpoint to his next and at once become an
intrinsic part of the divine power as he has
been an intrinsic part of the intellectual power,
of the great nature to which he belongs. He
stands always in advance of himself, if such
a contradiction can be understood. It is the
men who adhere to this position, who believe
in their innate power of progress, and that
of the whole race, who are the elder brothers,
the pioneers. Each man has to accomplish the
great leap for himself and without aid; yet it is
something of a staff to lean on to know that
others have gone on that road. It is possible
that they have been lost in the abyss; no
matter, they have had the courage to enter it.
Why I say that it is possible they have been
lost in the abyss is because of this fact, that one
who has passed through is unrecognisable until
the other and altogether new condition is attained
by both. It is unnecessary to enter upon
the subject of what that condition is at present.

I only say this, that in the early state in
which man is entering upon the silence he loses
knowledge of his friends, of his lovers, of all
who have been near and dear to him; and also
loses sight of his teachers and of those who
have preceded him on his way. I explain this
because scarce one passes through without
bitter complaint. Could but the mind grasp
beforehand that the silence must be complete,
surely this complaint need not arise as a hindrance
on the path. Your teacher, or your
predecessor may hold your hand in his, and
give you the utmost sympathy the human heart
is capable of. But when the silence and the
darkness comes, you lose all knowledge of him;
you are alone and he cannot help you, not
because his power is gone, but because you
have invoked your great enemy.

By your great enemy, I mean yourself. If
you have the power to face your own soul in
the darkness and silence, you will have conquered
the physical or animal self which dwells
in sensation only.

This statement, I feel, will appear involved;
but in reality it is quite simple. Man, when
he has reached his fruition, and civilization is
at its height, stands between two fires. Could
he but claim his great inheritance, the encumbrance
of the mere animal life would fall away
from him without difficulty. But he does not
do this, and so the races of men flower and
then droop and die and decay off the face of
the earth, however splendid the bloom may
have been. And it is left to the individual to
make this great effort; to refuse to be terrified
by his greater nature, to refuse to be drawn
back by his lesser or more material self. Every
individual who accomplishes this is a redeemer
of the race. He may not blazon forth his deeds,
he may dwell in secret and silence; but it is
a fact that he forms a link between man and
his divine part; between the known and the
unknown; between the stir of the marketplace
and the stillness of the snow-capped Himalayas.
He has not to go about among men in
order to form this link; in the astral he _is_ that
link, and this fact makes him a being of
another order from the rest of mankind. Even
so early on the road towards knowledge, when
he has but taken the second step, he finds his
footing more certain, and becomes conscious
that he is a recognised part of a whole.

This is one of the contradictions in life
which occur so constantly that they afford fuel
to the fiction writer. The occultist finds them
become much more marked as he endeavors to
live the life he has chosen. As he retreats within
himself and becomes self-dependent, he finds
himself more definitely becoming part of a
great tide of definite thought and feeling.
When he has learned the first lesson, conquered
the hunger of the heart, and refused
to live on the love of others, he finds himself
more capable of inspiring love. As he flings
life away it comes to him in a new form and
with a new meaning. The world has always
been a place with many contradictions in it,
to the man; when he becomes a disciple he
finds life is describable as a series of paradoxes.
This is a fact in nature, and the reason for it is
intelligible enough. Man's soul "dwells like
a star apart," even that of the vilest among
us; while his consciousness is under the law of
vibratory and sensuous life. This alone is
enough to cause those complications of character
which are the material for the novelist;
every man is a mystery, to friend and enemy
alike, and to himself. His motives are often
undiscoverable, and he cannot probe to them or
know why he does this or that. The disciple's
effort is that of awakening consciousness in
this starry part of himself, where his power
and divinity lie sleeping. As this consciousness
becomes awakened, the contradictions in the
man himself become more marked than ever;
and so do the paradoxes which he lives
through. For, of course man creates his own
life; and "adventures are to the adventurous"
is one of those wise proverbs which are drawn
from actual fact, and cover the whole area of
human experience.

Pressure on the divine part of man re-acts
upon the animal part. As the silent soul
awakes it makes the ordinary life of the man
more purposeful, more vital, more real, and
responsible. To keep to the two instances
already mentioned, the occultist who has withdrawn
into his own citadel has found his
strength; immediately he becomes aware of
the demands of duty upon him. He does not
obtain his strength by his own right, but because
he is a part of the whole; and as soon as
he is safe from the vibration of life and can
stand unshaken, the outer world cries out to
him to come and labor in it. So with the heart.
When it no longer wishes to take, it is called
upon to give abundantly.

"Light on the Path" has been called a book
of paradoxes, and very justly; what else could
it be, when it deals with the actual personal
experience of the disciple?

To have acquired the astral senses of sight
and hearing; or in other words to have attained
perception and opened the doors of the soul,
are gigantic tasks and may take the sacrifice
of many successive incarnations. And yet, when
the will has reached its strength, the whole
miracle may be worked in a second of time.
Then is the disciple the servant of Time no
longer.

These two first steps are negative; that is
to say they imply retreat from a present condition
of things rather than advance towards
another. The two next are active, implying the
advance into another state of being.



III

"BEFORE THE VOICE CAN SPEAK IN THE
PRESENCE OF THE MASTERS."


Speech is the power of communication; the
moment of entrance into active life is marked
by its attainment.

And now, before I go any further, let me
explain a little the way in which the rules
written down in "Light on the Path" are arranged.
The first seven of those which are
numbered are sub-divisions of the two first
unnumbered rules, those with which I have
dealt in the two preceding papers. The numbered
rules were simply an effort of mine to
make the unnumbered ones more intelligible.
"Eight" to "fifteen" of these numbered rules
belong to this unnumbered rule which is now
my text.

As I have said, these rules are written for
all disciples, but for none else; they are not
of interest to any other persons. Therefore
I trust no one else will trouble to read these
papers any further. The first two rules, which
include the whole of that part of the effort
which necessitates the use of the surgeon's
knife, I will enlarge upon further if I am asked
to do so. But the disciple is expected to deal
with a snake, his lower self, unaided; to suppress
his human passions and emotions by the
force of his own will. He can only demand
assistance of a master when this is accomplished,
or at all events, partially so. Otherwise
the gates and windows of his soul are blurred,
and blinded, and darkened, and no knowledge
can come to him. I am not, in these papers,
purposing to tell a man how to deal with his
own soul; I am simply giving, to the disciple,
knowledge. That I am not writing even now,
so that all who run may read, is owing to the
fact that super-nature prevents this by its own
immutable laws.

The four rules which I have written down
for those in the West who wish to study them,
are as I have said, written in the ante-chamber
of every living Brotherhood; I may add more,
in the ante-chamber of every living or dead
Brotherhood, or Order yet to be formed. When
I speak of a Brotherhood or an Order, I do not
mean an arbitrary constitution made by scholiasts
and intellectualists; I mean an actual
fact in super-nature, a stage of development
towards the absolute God or Good. During
this development the disciple encounters harmony,
pure knowledge, pure truth, in different
degrees, and, as he enters these degrees, he
finds himself becoming part of what might be
roughly described as a layer of human consciousness.
He encounters his equals, men of
his own selfless character, and with them his
association becomes permanent and indissoluble,
because founded on a vital likeness of
nature. To them he becomes pledged by such
vows as need no utterance or framework in
ordinary words. This is one aspect of what I
mean by a Brotherhood.

If the first rules are conquered, the disciple
finds himself standing at the threshold. Then
if his will is sufficiently resolute his power of
speech comes; a two-fold power. For, as he
advances now, he finds himself entering into
a state of blossoming, where every bud that
opens throws out its several rays or petals. If
he is to exercise his new gift, he must use it
in its two-fold character. He finds in himself
the power to speak in the presence of the
masters; in other words, he has the right to
demand contact with the divinest element of
that state of consciousness into which he has
entered. But he finds himself compelled, by
the nature of his position, to act in two ways
at the same time. He cannot send his voice up
to the heights where sit the gods till he has
penetrated to the deep places where their light
shines not at all. He has come within the grip
of an iron law. If he demands to become a
neophyte, he at once becomes a servant. Yet
his service is sublime, if only from the character
of those who share it. For the masters
are also servants; they serve and claim their
reward afterwards. Part of their service is to
let their knowledge touch him; his first act of
service is to give some of that knowledge to
those who are not yet fit to stand where he
stands. This is no arbitrary decision, made by
any master or teacher or any such person, however
divine. It is a law of that life which the
disciple has entered upon.

Therefore was it written in the inner doorway
of the lodges of the old Egyptian Brotherhood,
"the laborer is worthy of his hire." "Ask
and ye shall have," sounds like something too
easy and simple to be credible. But the disciple
cannot "ask" in the mystic sense in which the
word is used in this scripture until he has
attained the power of helping others.

Why is this? Has the statement too dogmatic
a sound?

Is it too dogmatic to say that a man must
have foothold before he can spring? The position
is the same. If help is given, if work is
done, then there is an actual claim--not what
we call personal claim of payment, but the
claim of co-nature. The divine give, they
demand that you also shall give before you
can be of their kin.

This law is discovered as soon as the disciple
endeavors to speak. For speech is a gift
which comes only to the disciple of power and
knowledge. The spiritualist enters the psychic-astral
world, but he does not find there any
certain speech, unless he at once claims it and
continues to do so. If he is interested in "phenomena,"
or the mere circumstance and accident
of astral life, then he enters no direct ray
of thought or purpose, he merely exists and
amuses himself in the astral life as he has
existed and amused himself in the physical life.
Certainly there are one or two simple lessons
which the psychic-astral can teach him, just
as there are simple lessons which material and
intellectual life teach him. And these lessons
have to be learned; the man who proposes to
enter upon the life of the disciple without having
learned the early and simple lessons must
always suffer from his ignorance. They are
vital, and have to be studied in a vital manner;
experienced through and through, over and
over again, so that each part of the nature has
been penetrated by them.

To return. In claiming the power of speech,
as it is called, the Neophyte cries out to the
Great One who stands foremost in the ray of
knowledge on which he has entered, to give
him guidance. When he does this, his voice is
hurled back by the power he has approached,
and echoes down to the deep recesses of human
ignorance. In some confused and blurred manner
the news that there is knowledge and a
beneficent power which teaches is carried to
as many men as will listen to it. No disciple
can cross the threshold without communicating
this news, and placing it on record in some
fashion or other.

He stands horror-struck at the imperfect
and unprepared manner in which he has done
this; and then comes the desire to do it well,
and with the desire thus to help others comes
the power. For it is a pure desire, this which
comes upon him; he can gain no credit, no
glory, no personal reward by fulfilling it. And
therefore he obtains the power to fulfil it.

The history of the whole past, so far as we
can trace it, shows very plainly that there is
neither credit, glory, nor reward to be gained
by this first task which is given to the Neophyte.
Mystics have always been sneered at,
and seers disbelieved; those who have had the
added power of intellect have left for posterity
their written record, which to most men appears
unmeaning and visionary, even when the
authors have the advantage of speaking from a
far-off past. The disciple who undertakes the
task, secretly hoping for fame or success, to
appear as a teacher and apostle before the
world, fails even before his task is attempted,
and his hidden hypocrisy poisons his own soul,
and the souls of those he touches. He is
secretly worshiping himself, and this idolatrous
practice must bring its own reward.

The disciple who has the power of entrance,
and is strong enough to pass each barrier, will,
when the divine message comes to his spirit,
forget himself utterly in the new consciousness
which falls on him. If this lofty contact can
really rouse him, he becomes as one of the
divine in his desire to give rather than to take,
in his wish to help rather than be helped, in
his resolution to feed the hungry rather than
take manna from Heaven himself. His nature
is transformed, and the selfishness which
prompts men's actions in ordinary life suddenly
deserts him.



IV


"BEFORE THE VOICE CAN SPEAK IN THE
PRESENCE OF THE MASTERS, IT MUST HAVE
LOST THE POWER TO WOUND."

Those who give merely passing and superficial
attention to the subject of occultism--and
their name is Legion--constantly inquire
why, if adepts in life exist, they do not appear
in the world and show their power. That the
chief body of these wise ones should be understood
to dwell beyond the fastnesses of the
Himalayas, appears to be a sufficient proof that
they are only figures of straw. Otherwise why
place them so far off?

Unfortunately, Nature has done this and
not personal choice or arrangement. There are
certain spots on the earth where the advance
of "civilization" is unfelt, and the nineteenth
century fever is kept at bay. In these favored
places there is always time, always opportunity,
for the realities of life; they are not crowded
out by the doings of an inchoate, money-loving,
pleasure seeking society. While there are
adepts upon the earth, the earth must preserve
to them places of seclusion. This is a fact in
nature which is only an external expression of
a profound fact in super-nature.

The demand of the neophyte remains unheard
until the voice in which it is uttered has
lost the power to wound. This is because the
divine-astral life[A] is a place in which order
reigns, just as it does in natural life. There
is, of course, always the center and the circumference
as there is in nature. Close to the
central heart of life, on any plane, there is
knowledge, there order reigns completely; and
chaos makes dim and confused the outer margin
of the circle. In fact, life in every form
bears a more or less strong resemblance to a
philosophic school. There are always the devotees
to knowledge who forget their own lives
in their pursuit of it; there are always the
flippant crowd who come and go--of such,
Epictetus said that it was [as] easy to teach
them philosophy as to eat custard with a fork.
The same state exists in the super-astral life;
and the adept has an even deeper and more
profound seclusion there in which to dwell.
This place of retreat is so safe, so sheltered,
that no sound which has discord in it can reach
his ears. Why should this be, will be asked at
once, if he is a being of such great powers as
those say who believe in his existence? The
answer seems very apparent. He serves humanity
and identifies himself with the whole world;
he is ready to make vicarious sacrifice for it at
any moment--_by living not by dying for it_.
Why should he not die for it? Because he is
part of the great whole, and one of the most
valuable parts of it. Because he lives under
laws of order which he does not desire to
break. His life is not his own, but that of the
forces which work behind him. He is the
flower of humanity, the bloom which contains
the divine seed. He is, in his own person, a
treasure of the universal nature, which is
guarded and made safe in order that the fruition
shall be perfected. It is only at definite
periods of the world's history that he is allowed
to go among the herd of men as their redeemer.
But for those who have the power to separate
themselves from this herd he is always at hand.
And for those who are strong enough to conquer
the vices of the personal human nature, as
set forth in these four rules, he is consciously
at hand, easily recognised, ready to answer.

[Footnote A: Of course every occultist knows by reading
Eliphas Lévi and other authors that the "astral"
plane is a plane of unequalized forces, and that a
state of confusion necessarily prevails. But this does
not apply to the "divine astral" plane, which is a
plane where wisdom, and therefore order, prevails.]

But this conquering of self implies a destruction
of qualities which most men regard
as not only indestructible but desirable. The
"power to wound" includes much that men
value, not only in themselves, but in others.
The instinct of self-defense and of self-preservation
is part of it; the idea that one has any
right or rights, either as a citizen, or man, or
individual, the pleasant consciousness of self-respect
and of virtue. These are hard sayings
to many; yet they are true. For these words
that I am writing now, and those which I have
written on this subject, are not in any sense
my own. They are drawn from the traditions
of the lodge of the great Brotherhood, which
was once the secret splendor of Egypt. The
rules written in its ante-chamber were the same
as those now written in the ante-chamber of
existing schools. Through all time the wise
men have lived apart from the mass. And
even when some temporary purpose or object
induces one of them to come into the midst of
human life, his seclusion and safety is preserved
as completely as ever. It is part of his
inheritance, part of his position, he has an
actual title to it, and can no more put it aside
than the Duke of Westminster can say he does
not choose to be the Duke of Westminster. In
the various great cities of the world an adept
lives for a while from time to time, or perhaps
only passes through; but all are occasionally
aided by the actual power and presence of one
of these men. Here in London, as in Paris and
St. Petersburgh, there are men high in development.
But they are only known as mystics by
those who have the power to recognise; the
power given by the conquering of self. Otherwise
how could they exist, even for an hour,
in such a mental and psychic atmosphere as is
created by the confusion and disorder of a city?
Unless protected and made safe their own
growth would be interfered with, their work
injured. And the neophyte may meet an adept
in the flesh, may live in the same house with
him, and yet be unable to recognise him, and
unable to make his own voice heard by him. For
no nearness in space, no closeness of relations,
no daily intimacy, can do away with the inexorable
laws which give the adept his seclusion.
No voice penetrates to his inner hearing till it
has become a divine voice, a voice which gives
no utterance to the cries of self. Any lesser
appeal would be as useless, as much a waste of
energy and power, as for mere children who
are learning their alphabet to be taught it by
a professor of philology. Until a man has
become, in heart and spirit, a disciple, he has no
existence for those who are teachers of disciples.
And he becomes this by one method only--the
surrender of his personal humanity.

For the voice to have lost the power to
wound, a man must have reached that point
where he sees himself only as one of the vast
multitudes that live; one of the sands washed
hither and thither by the sea of vibratory existence.
It is said that every grain of sand in the
ocean bed does, in its turn, get washed up on to
the shore and lie for a moment in the sunshine.
So with human beings, they are driven hither
and thither by a great force, and each, in his
turn, finds the sunrays on him. When a man
is able to regard his own life as part of a whole
like this he will no longer struggle in order
to obtain anything for himself. This is the surrender
of personal rights. The ordinary man
expects, not to take equal fortunes with the
rest of the world, but in some points, about
which he cares, to fare better than the others.
The disciple does not expect this. Therefore,
though he be, like Epictetus, a chained slave,
he has no word to say about it. He knows that
the wheel of life turns ceaselessly. Burne Jones
has shown it in his marvellous picture--the
wheel turns, and on it are bound the rich and
the poor, the great and the small--each has
his moment of good fortune when the wheel
brings him uppermost--the King rises and
falls, the poet is _fêted_ and forgotten, the slave
is happy and afterwards discarded. Each in his
turn is crushed as the wheel turns on. The disciple
knows that this is so, and though it is his
duty to make the utmost of the life that is his,
he neither complains of it nor is elated by it,
nor does he complain against the better fortune
of others. All alike, as he well knows, are but
learning a lesson; and he smiles at the socialist
and the reformer who endeavor by sheer force
to re-arrange circumstances which arise out of
the forces of human nature itself. This is but
kicking against the pricks; a waste of life
and energy.

In realizing this a man surrenders his
imagined individual rights, of whatever sort.
That takes away one keen sting which is
common to all ordinary men.

When the disciple has fully recognised that
the very thought of individual rights is only
the outcome of the venomous quality in himself,
that it is the hiss of the snake of self
which poisons with its sting his own life and
the lives of those about him, then he is ready
to take part in a yearly ceremony which is open
to all neophytes who are prepared for it. All
weapons of defense and offense are given up;
all weapons of mind and heart, and brain, and
spirit. Never again can another man be regarded
as a person who can be criticized or
condemned; never again can the neophyte
raise his voice in self-defense or excuse. From
that ceremony he returns into the world as
helpless, as unprotected, as a new-born child.
That, indeed, is what he is. He has begun to
be born again on to the higher plane of life,
that breezy and well-lit plateau from whence
the eyes see intelligently and regard the world
with a new insight.

I have said, a little way back, that after
parting with the sense of individual rights, the
disciple must part also with the sense of self-respect
and of virtue. This may sound a terrible
doctrine, yet all occultists know well that it
is not a doctrine, but a fact. He who thinks
himself holier than another, he who has any
pride in his own exemption from vice or folly,
he who believes himself wise, or in any way
superior to his fellow men, is incapable of
discipleship. A man must become as a little
child before he can enter into the kingdom of
heaven.

Virtue and wisdom are sublime things; but
if they create pride and a consciousness of
separateness from the rest of humanity in the
mind of a man, then they are only the snakes
of self re-appearing in a finer form. At any
moment he may put on his grosser shape and
sting as fiercely as when he inspired the actions
of a murderer who kills for gain or hatred,
or a politician who sacrifices the mass for his
own or his party's interests.

In fact, to have lost the power to wound,
implies that the snake is not only scotched,
but killed. When it is merely stupefied or
lulled to sleep it awakes again and the disciple
uses his knowledge and his power for his own
ends, and is a pupil of the many masters of
the black art, for the road to destruction is very
broad and easy, and the way can be found
blindfold. That it is the way to destruction
is evident, for when a man begins to live for
self he narrows his horizon steadily till at last
the fierce driving inwards leaves him but the
space of [a] pin's-head to dwell in. We have
all seen this phenomenon occur in ordinary life.
A man who becomes selfish isolates himself,
grows less interesting and less agreeable to
others. The sight is an awful one, and people
shrink from a very selfish person at last, as
from a beast of prey. How much more awful is
it when it occurs on the more advanced plane
of life, with the added powers of knowledge,
and through the greater sweep of successive
incarnations!

Therefore I say, pause and think well upon
the threshold. For if the demand of the neophyte
is made without the complete purification,
it will not penetrate the seclusion of the
divine adept, but will evoke the terrible forces
which attend upon the black side of our human
nature.



V


"BEFORE THE SOUL CAN STAND IN THE
PRESENCE OF THE MASTERS, ITS FEET MUST
BE WASHED IN THE BLOOD OF THE HEART."


The word soul, as used here, means the
divine soul, or "starry spirit."

"To be able to stand is to have confidence";
and to have confidence means that the disciple
is sure of himself, that he has surrendered his
emotions, his very self, even his humanity;
that he is incapable of fear and unconscious of
pain; that his whole consciousness is centered
in the divine life, which is expressed symbolically
by the term "the Masters"; that he has
neither eyes, nor ears, nor speech, nor power,
save in and for the divine ray on which his
highest sense has touched. Then he is fearless,
free from suffering, free from anxiety or dismay;
his soul stands without shrinking or
desire of postponement, in the full blaze of the
divine light which penetrates through and
through his being. Then he has come into his
inheritance and can claim his kinship with the
teachers of men; he is upright, he has raised
his head, he breathes the same air that they do.

But before it is in any way possible for him
to do this, the feet of the soul must be washed
in the blood of the heart.

The sacrifice, or surrender of the heart of
man, and its emotions, is the first of the rules;
it involves the "attaining of an equilibrium
which cannot be shaken by personal emotion."
This is done by the stoic philosopher; he, too,
stands aside and looks equably upon his own
sufferings, as well as on those of others.

In the same way that "tears" in the language
of occultists expresses the soul of
emotion, not its material appearance, so blood
expresses, not that blood which is an essential
of physical life, but the vital creative principle
in man's nature, which drives him into human
life in order to experience pain and pleasure,
joy and sorrow. When he has let the blood
flow from the heart he stands before the Masters
as a pure spirit which no longer
to incarnate for the sake of emotion and
experience. Through great cycles of time successive
incarnations in gross matter may yet
be his lot; but he no longer desires them, the
crude wish to live has departed from him.
When he takes upon him man's form in the
flesh he does it in the pursuit of a divine object,
to accomplish the work of "the Masters," and
for no other end. He looks neither for pleasure
nor pain, asks for no heaven, and fears
no hell; yet he has entered upon a great
inheritance which is not so much a compensation
for these things surrendered, as a state
which simply blots out the memory of them.
He lives now not in the world, but with it: his
horizon has extended itself to the width of
the whole universe.



KARMA


Consider with me that the individual existence
is a rope which stretches from the
infinite to the infinite and has no end and no
commencement, neither is it capable of being
broken. This rope is formed of innumerable
fine threads, which, lying closely together,
form its thickness. These threads are colorless,
are perfect in their qualities of straightness,
strength, and levelness. This rope, passing as
it does through all places, suffers strange
accidents. Very often a thread is caught and
becomes attached, or perhaps is only violently
pulled away from its even way. Then for a
great time it is disordered, and it disorders the
whole. Sometimes one is stained with dirt or
with color, and not only does the stain run on
further than the spot of contact, but it discolors
other of the threads. And remember that the
threads are living--are like electric wires,
more, are like quivering nerves. How far, then,
must the stain, the drag awry, be communicated!
But eventually the long strands, the
living threads which in their unbroken
continuity form the individual, pass out of the
shadow into the shine. Then the threads are no
longer colorless, but golden; once more they lie
together, level. Once more harmony is established
between them; and from that harmony
within the greater harmony is perceived.

This illustration presents but a small
portion--a single side of the truth: it is less
than a fragment. Yet, dwell on it; by its aid
you may be led to perceive more. What it is
necessary first to understand is, not that the
future is arbitrarily formed by any separate
acts of the present, but that the whole of the
future is in unbroken continuity with the
present as the present is with the past. On one
plane, from one point of view, the illustration
of the rope is correct.

It is said that a little attention to occultism
produces great Karmic results. That is because
it is impossible to give any attention to
occultism without making a definite choice between
what are familiarly called good and evil.
The first step in occultism brings the student to
the tree of knowledge. He must pluck and eat;
he must choose. No longer is he capable of the
indecision of ignorance. He. goes, on, either on
the good or on the evil path. And to step
definitely and knowingly even but one step on
either path produces great Karmic results. The
mass of men walk waveringly, uncertain as to
the goal they aim at; their standard of life is
indefinite; consequently their Karma operates
in a confused manner. But when once the
threshold of knowledge is reached, the confusion
begins to lessen, and consequently the
Karmic results increase enormously, because
all are acting in the same direction on all the
different planes: for the occultist cannot be
half-hearted, nor can he return when he has
passed the threshold. These things are as
impossible as that the man should become the
child again. The individuality has approached
the state of responsibility by reason of growth;
it cannot recede from it.

He who would escape from the bondage of
Karma must raise his individuality out of the
shadow into the shine; must so elevate his
existence that these threads do not come in
contact with soiling substances, do not become
so attached as to be pulled awry. He simply
lifts himself out of the region in which Karma
operates. He does not leave the existence which
he is experiencing because of that. The ground
may be rough and dirty, or full of rich flowers
whose pollen stains, and of sweet substances
that cling and become attachments--but
overhead there is always the free sky. He who
desires to be Karmaless must look to the air
for a home; and after that to the ether. He
who desires to form good Karma will meet
with many confusions, and in the effort to sow
rich seed for his own harvesting may plant a
thousand weeds, and among them the giant.
Desire to sow no seed for your own harvesting;
desire only to sow that seed the fruit of which
shall feed the world. You are part of the
world; in giving it food you feed yourself. Yet
in even this thought there lurks a great danger
which starts forward and faces the disciple,
who has for long thought himself working for
good, while in his inmost soul he has perceived
only evil; that is, he has thought himself to
be intending great benefit to the world while
all the time he has unconsciously embraced the
thought of Karma, and the great benefit he
works for is for himself. A man may refuse to
allow himself to think of reward. But in that
very refusal is seen the fact that reward is
desired. And it is useless for the disciple to
strive to learn by means of checking himself.
The soul must be unfettered, the desires free.
But until they are fixed only on that state
wherein there is neither reward nor punishment,
good nor evil, it is in vain that he endeavors.
He may seem to make great progress, but some
day he will come face to face with his own
soul, and will recognise that when he came to
the tree of knowledge he chose the bitter fruit
and not the sweet; and then the veil will fall
utterly, and he will give up his freedom and
become a slave of desire. Therefore be warned,
you who are but turning toward the life of
occultism. Learn now that there is no cure for
desire, no cure for the love of reward, no cure
for misery of longing, save in the fixing of the
sight and hearing upon that which is invisible
and soundless. Begin even now to practise it,
and so a thousand serpents will be kept from
your path. Live in the eternal.

The operations of the actual laws of Karma
are not to be studied until the disciple has
reached the point at which they no longer affect
himself. The initiate has a right to demand
the secrets of nature and to know the rules
which govern human life. He obtains this right
by having escaped from the limits of nature
and by having freed himself from the rules
which govern human life. He has become a
recognised portion of the divine element, and
is no longer affected by that which is temporary.
He then obtains a knowledge of the laws
which govern temporary conditions. Therefore
you who desire to understand the laws of
Karma, attempt first to free yourself from
these laws; and this can only be done by
fixing your attention on that which is unaffected
by those laws.



*THROUGH THE GATES OF GOLD*

*Through the

Gates of Gold*


*A FRAGMENT OF THOUGHT*

PROLOGUE


Every man has a philosophy of life of his
own, except the true philosopher. The most
ignorant boor has some conception of his object
in living, and definite ideas as to the easiest
and wisest way of attaining that object. The
man of the world is often, unconsciously to
himself, a philosopher of the first rank. He
deals with his life on principles of the clearest
character, and refuses to let his position be
shattered by chance disaster. The  man of
thought and imagination has less certainty,
and finds himself continually unable to formulate
his ideas on that subject most profoundly
interesting to human nature,--human life
itself. The true philosopher is the one who
would lay no claim to the name whatever, who
has discovered that the mystery of life is
unapproachable by ordinary thought, just as
the true scientist confesses his complete
ignorance of the principles which lie behind
science.

Whether there is any mode of thought or
any effort of the mind which will enable a
man to grasp the great principles that evidently
exist as causes in human life, is a
question no ordinary thinker can determine.
Yet the dim consciousness that there is cause
behind the effects we see, that there is order
ruling the chaos and sublime harmony pervading
the discords, haunts the eager souls of the
earth, and makes them long for vision of the
unseen and knowledge of the unknowable.

Why long and look for that which is beyond
all hope until the inner eyes are opened? Why
not piece together the fragments that we have,
at hand, and see whether from them some
shape cannot be given to the vast puzzle?



CHAPTER I

THE SEARCH FOR PLEASURE

I


We are all acquainted with that stern thing
called misery, which pursues man, and strangely
enough, as it seems at first, pursues him with
no vague or uncertain method, but with a positive
and unbroken pertinacity. Its presence is
not absolutely continuous, else man must cease
to live; but its pertinacity is without any break.
There is always the shadowy form of despair
standing behind man ready to touch him with
its terrible finger if for too long he finds
himself content. What has given this ghastly
shape the right to haunt us from the hour we
are born until the hour we die? What has
given it the right to stand always at our door,
keeping that door ajar with its impalpable yet
plainly horrible hand, ready to enter at the
moment it sees fit? The greatest philosopher
that ever lived succumbs before it at last; and
he only is a philosopher, in any sane sense, who
recognises the fact that it is irresistible, and
knows that like all other men he must suffer
soon or late. It is part of the heritage of men,
this pain and distress; and he who determines
that nothing shall make him suffer, does but
cloak himself in a profound and chilly selfishness.
This cloak may protect him from pain, it
will also separate him from pleasure. If peace
is to be found on earth, or any joy in life, it
cannot be by closing up the gates of feeling,
which admit us to the loftiest and most vivid
part of our existence. Sensation, as we obtain
it through the physical body, affords us all that
induces us to live in that shape. It is inconceivable
that any man would care to take the
trouble of breathing, unless the act brought
with it a sense of satisfaction. So it is with
every deed of every instant of our life. We
live because it is pleasant even to have the
sensation of pain. It is sensation we desire,
else we would with one accord taste of the deep
waters of oblivion, and the human race would
become extinct. If this is the case in the
physical life, it is evidently the case with the
life of the emotions,--the imagination, the
sensibilities, all those fine and delicate formations
which, with the marvellous recording
mechanism of the brain, make up the inner
or subtile man. Sensation is that which makes
their pleasure; an infinite series of sensations
is life to them. Destroy the sensation which
makes them wish to persevere in the experiment
of living, and there is nothing left.
Therefore the man who attempts to obliterate
the sense of pain, and who proposes to maintain
an equal state whether he is pleased or
hurt, strikes at the very root of life, and
destroys the object of his own existence. And
that must apply, so far as our present reasoning
or intuitive powers can show us, to every
state, even to that of the Oriental's longed-for
Nirvana. This condition can only be one of
infinitely subtiler and more exquisite sensation,
if it is a state at all, and not annihilation; and
according to the experience of life from which
we are at present able to judge, increased
subtility of sensation means increased vividness,--as,
for instance, a man of sensibility
and imagination feels more in consequence of
the unfaithfulness or faithfulness of a friend
than can a man of even the grossest physical
nature feel through the medium of the senses.
Thus it is clear that the philosopher who
refuses to feel, leaves himself no place to
retreat to, not even the distant and unattainable
Nirvanic goal. He can only deny himself
his heritage of life, which is in other words
the right of sensation. If he chooses to sacrifice
that which makes him man, he must be
content with mere idleness of consciousness,--a
condition compared to which the oyster's
is a life of excitement.

But no man is able to accomplish such a
feat. The fact of his continued existence proves
plainly that he still desires sensation, and
desires it in such positive and active form that
the desire must be gratified in physical life. It
would seem more practical not to deceive one's
self by the sham of stoicism, not to attempt
renunciation of that with which nothing would
induce one to part. Would it not be a bolder
policy, a more promising mode of solving the
great enigma of existence, to grasp it, to take
hold firmly and to demand of it the mystery
of itself? If men will but pause and consider
what lessons they have learned from pleasure
and pain, much might be guessed of that
strange thing which causes these effects. But
men are prone to turn away hastily from self-study,
or from any close analysis of human
nature. Yet there must be a science of life as
intelligible as any of the methods of the
schools. The science is unknown, it is true,
and its existence is merely guessed, merely
hinted at, by one or two of our more advanced
thinkers. The development of a science is only
the discovery of what is already in existence;
and chemistry is as magical and incredible now
to the ploughboy as the science of life is to
the man of ordinary perceptions. Yet there
may be, and there must be, a seer who perceives
the growth of the new knowledge as the
earliest dabblers in the experiments of the laboratory
saw the system of knowledge now
attained evolving itself out of nature for man's
use and benefit.



II


Doubtless many more would experiment in
suicide, as many now do, in order to escape
from the burden of life, if they could be convinced
that in that manner oblivion might be
found. But he who hesitates before drinking
the poison from the fear of only inviting
change of mode of existence, and perhaps a
more active form of misery, is a man of more
knowledge than the rash souls who fling themselves
wildly on the unknown, trusting to its
kindliness. The waters of oblivion are something
very different from the waters of death,
and the human race cannot become extinct by
means of death while the law of birth still
operates. Man returns to physical life as the
drunkard returns to the flagon of wine,--he
knows not why, except that he desires the sensation
produced by life as the drunkard desires
the sensation produced by wine. The true
waters of oblivion lie far behind our consciousness,
and can only be reached by ceasing
to exist in that consciousness,--by ceasing to
exert the will which makes us full of senses
and sensibilities.

Why does not the creature man return into
that great womb of silence whence he came,
and remain in peace, as the unborn child is at
peace before the impetus of life has reached
it? He does not do so because he hungers for
pleasure and pain, joy and grief, anger and
love. The unfortunate man will maintain that
he has no desire for life; and yet he proves
his words false by living. None can compel
him to live; the galley-slave may be chained to
his oar, but his life cannot be chained to his
body. The superb mechanism of the human
body is as useless as an engine whose fires are
not lit, if the will to live ceases,--that will
which we maintain resolutely and without
pause, and which enables us to perform the
tasks which otherwise would fill us with dismay,
as, for instance, the momently drawing
in and giving out of the breath. Such herculean
efforts as this we carry on without complaint,
and indeed with pleasure, in order that
we may exist in the midst of innumerable
sensations.

And more; we are content, for the most
part, to go on without object or aim, without
any idea of a goal or understanding of which
way we are going. When the man first becomes
aware of this aimlessness, and is dimly conscious
that he is working with great and
constant efforts, and without any idea towards
what end those efforts are directed, then
descends on him the misery of nineteenth-century
thought. He is lost and bewildered,
and without hope. He becomes sceptical, disillusioned,
weary, and asks the apparently
unanswerable question whether it is indeed
worth while to draw his breath for such
unknown and seemingly unknowable results.
But are these results unknowable? At least, to
ask a lesser question, is it impossible to make a
guess as to the direction in which our goal lies?



III


This question, born of sadness and weariness,
which seems to us essentially part of the
spirit of the nineteenth century, is in fact a
question which must have been asked all
through the ages. Could we go back throughout
history intelligently, no doubt we should
find that it came always with the hour when
the flower of civilization had blown to its
full, and when its petals were but slackly held
together. The natural part of man has
reached then its utmost height; he has rolled
the stone up the Hill of Difficulty only to watch
it roll back again when the summit is reached,--as
in Egypt, in Rome, in Greece. Why this
useless labor? Is it not enough to produce a
weariness and sickness unutterable, to be forever
accomplishing a task only to see it undone
again? Yet that is what man has done throughout
history, so far as our limited knowledge
reaches. There is one summit to which, by
immense and united efforts, he attains, where
there is a great and brilliant efflorescence of all
the intellectual, mental, and material part of
his nature. The climax of sensuous perfection
is reached, and then his hold weakens, his
power grows less, and he falls back, through
despondency and satiety, to barbarism. Why
does he not stay on this hill-top he has
reached, and look away to the mountains
beyond, and resolve to scale those greater
heights? Because he is ignorant, and seeing
a great glittering in the distance, drops his
eyes bewildered and dazzled, and goes back
for rest to the shadowy side of his familiar
hill. Yet there is now and then one brave
enough to gaze fixedly on this glittering, and
to decipher something of the shape within it.
Poets and philosophers, thinkers and teachers,--all
those who are the "elder brothers of the
race,"--have beheld this sight from time to
time, and some among them have recognised
in the bewildering glitter the outlines of the
Gates of Gold.

Those Gates admit us to the sanctuary of
man's own nature, to the place whence his
life-power comes, and where he is priest of the
shrine of life. That it is possible to enter here,
to pass through those Gates, some one or two
have shown us. Plato, Shakespeare, and a few
other strong ones have gone through and
spoken to us in veiled language on the near
side of the Gates. When the strong man has
crossed the threshold he speaks no more to
those at the other side. And even the words
he utters when he is outside are so full of
mystery, so veiled and profound, that only
those who follow in his steps can see the light
within them.



IV


What men desire is to ascertain how to
exchange pain for pleasure; that is, to find out
in what way consciousness may be regulated
in order that the sensation which is most
agreeable is the one that is experienced.
Whether this can be discovered by dint of
human thought is at least a question worth
considering.

If the mind of man is turned upon any
given subject with a sufficient concentration,
he obtains illumination with regard to it sooner
or later. The particular individual in whom
the final illumination appears is called a genius,
an inventor, one inspired; but he is only the
crown of a great mental work created by
unknown men about him, and receding back
from him through long vistas of distance.
Without them he would not have had his material
to deal with. Even the poet requires
innumerable poetasters to feed upon. He is the
essence of the poetic power of his time, and
of the times before him. It is impossible to
separate an individual of any species from
his kin.

If, therefore, instead of accepting the
unknown as unknowable, men were _with one
accord_ to turn their thoughts towards it, those
Golden Gates would not remain so inexorably
shut. It does but need a strong hand to push
them open. The courage to enter them is the
courage to search the recesses of one's own
nature without fear and without shame. In
the fine part, the essence, the flavor of the
man, is found the key which unlocks those
great Gates. And when they open, what is it
that is found?

Voices here and there in the long silence
of the ages speak to answer that question.
Those who have passed through have left
words behind them as legacies to others of
their kin. In these words we can find definite
indications of what is to be looked for beyond
the Gates. But only those who desire to go
that way read the meaning hidden within the
words. Scholars, or rather scholiasts, read the
sacred books of different nations, the poetry
and the philosophy left by enlightened minds,
and find in it all the merest materiality.
Imagination glorifying legends of nature, or
exaggerating the psychic possibilities of man,
explains to them all that they find in the Bibles
of humanity.

What is to be found within the words of
those books is to be found in each one of us;
and it is impossible to find in literature or
through any channel of thought that which
does not exist in the man who studies. This
is of course an evident fact known to all real
students. But it has to be especially remembered
in reference to this profound and obscure
subject, as men so readily believe that nothing
can exist for others where they themselves find
emptiness.

One thing is soon perceived by the man
who reads: those who have gone before have
not found that the Gates of Gold lead to
oblivion. On the contrary, sensation becomes
real for the first time when that threshold is
crossed. But it is of a new order, an order
unknown to us now, and by us impossible to
appreciate without at least some clew as to its
character. This clew can be obtained undoubtedly
by any student who cares to go through
all the literature accessible to us. That mystic
books and manuscripts exist, but remain inaccessible
simply because there is no man ready
to read the first page of any one of them,
becomes the conviction of all who have studied
the subject sufficiently. For there must be the
continuous line all through: we see it go from
dense ignorance up to intelligence and wisdom;
it is only natural that it should go on to
intuitive knowledge and to inspiration. Some
scant fragments we have of these great gifts
of man; where, then, is the whole of which
they must be a part? Hidden behind the thin
yet seemingly impassable veil which hides it
from us as it hid all science, all art, all powers
of man till he had the courage to tear away
the screen. That courage comes only of conviction.
When once man believes that the thing
exists which he desires, he will obtain it at any
cost. The difficulty in this case lies in man's
incredulity. It requires a great tide of thought
and attention to set in towards the unknown
region of man's nature in order that its gates
may be unlocked and its glorious vistas
explored.

That it is worth while to do this whatever
the hazard may be, all must allow who have
asked the sad question of the nineteenth century,--Is
life worth living? Surely it is sufficient
to spur man to new effort,--the
suspicion that beyond civilization, beyond
mental culture, beyond art and mechanical
perfection, there is a new, another gateway,
admitting to the realities of life.



V


When it seems as if the end was reached,
the goal attained, and that man has no more
to do,--just then, when he appears to have
no choice but between eating and drinking and
living in his comfort as the beasts do in theirs,
and scepticism which is death,--then it is that
in fact, if he will but look, the Golden Gates
are before him. With the culture of the age
within him and assimilated perfectly, so that
he is himself an incarnation of it, then he is fit
to attempt the great step which is absolutely
possible, yet is attempted by so few even of
those who are fitted for it. It is so seldom
attempted, partly because of the profound difficulties
which surround it, but much more
because man does not realize that this is actually
the direction in which pleasure and
satisfaction are to be obtained.

There are certain pleasures which appeal
to each individual; every man knows that in
one layer or another of sensation he finds his
chief delight. Naturally he turns to this systematically
through life, just as the sunflower
turns to the sun and the water-lily leans on the
water. But he struggles throughout with an
awful fact which oppresses him to the soul,--that
no sooner has he obtained his pleasure
than he loses it again and has once more to
go in search of it. More than that; he never
actually reaches it, for it eludes him at the
final moment. This is because he endeavors to
seize that which is untouchable and satisfy
his soul's hunger for sensation by contact with
external objects. How can that which is
external satisfy or even please the inner man,--the
thing which reigns within and has no
eyes for matter, no hands for touch of objects,
no senses with which to apprehend that which
is outside its magic walls? Those charmed
barriers which surround it are limitless, for
it is everywhere; it is to be discovered in all
living things, and no part of the universe can
be conceived of without it, if that universe is
regarded as a coherent whole. And unless that
point is granted at the outset it is useless to
consider the subject of life at all. Life is indeed
meaningless unless it is universal and coherent,
and unless we maintain our existence by
reason of the fact that we are part of that
which is, not by reason of our own being.

This is one of the most important factors
in the development of man, the recognition--profound
and complete recognition--of the
law of universal unity and coherence. The
separation which exists between individuals,
between worlds, between the different poles of
the universe and of life, the mental and
physical fantasy called space, is a nightmare
of the human imagination. That nightmares
exist, and exist only to torment, every child
knows; and what we need is the power of
discrimination between the phantasmagoria of
the brain, which concern ourselves only, and
the phantasmagoria of daily life, in which
others also are concerned. This rule applies
also to the larger case. It concerns no one
but ourselves that we live in a nightmare of
unreal horror, and fancy ourselves alone in
the universe and capable of independent
action, so long as our associates are those
only who are a part of the dream; but when
we desire to speak with those who have tried
the Golden Gates and pushed them open, then
it is very necessary--in fact it is essential--to
discriminate, and not bring into our life the
confusions of our sleep. If we do, we are
reckoned as madmen, and fall back into the
darkness where there is no friend but chaos.
This chaos has followed every effort of man
that is written in history; after civilization has
flowered, the flower falls and dies, and winter
and darkness destroy it. While man refuses
to make the effort of discrimination which
would enable him to distinguish between the
shapes of night and the active figures of day,
this must inevitably happen.

But if man has the courage to resist this
reactionary tendency, to stand steadily on the
height he has reached and put out his foot in
search of yet another step, why should he
not find it? There is nothing to make one
suppose the pathway to end at a certain point,
except that tradition which has declared it is
so, and which men have accepted and hug to
themselves as a justification for their indolence.



VI


Indolence is, in fact, the curse of man. As
the Irish peasant and the cosmopolitan gypsy
dwell in dirt and poverty out of sheer idleness,
so does the man of the world live contented
in sensuous pleasures for the same reason. The
drinking of fine wines, the tasting of delicate
food, the love of bright sights and sounds, of
beautiful women and admirable surroundings,--these
are no better for the cultivated man,
no more satisfactory as a final goal of enjoyment
for him, than the coarse amusements and
gratifications of the boor are for the man
without cultivation. There can be no final
point, for life in every form is one vast series
of fine gradations; and the man who elects to
stand still at the point of culture he has
reached, and to avow that he can go no
further, is simply making an arbitrary statement
for the excuse of his indolence. Of course
there is a possibility of declaring that the gypsy
is content in his dirt and poverty, and, because
he is so, is as great a man as the most highly
cultured. But he only is so while he is ignorant;
the moment light enters the dim mind the
whole man turns towards it. So it is on the
higher platform; only the difficulty of penetrating
the mind, of admitting the light, is even
greater. The Irish peasant loves his whiskey,
and while he can have it cares nothing for the
great laws of morality and religion which are
supposed to govern humanity and induce men
to live temperately. The cultivated gourmand
cares only for subtle tastes and perfect flavors;
but he is as blind as the merest peasant to the
fact that there is anything beyond such gratifications.
Like the boor he is deluded by a
mirage that oppresses his soul; and he fancies,
having once obtained a sensuous joy that
pleases him, to give himself the utmost satisfaction
by endless repetition, till at last he
reaches madness. The bouquet of the wine he
loves enters his soul and poisons it, leaving
him with no thoughts but those of sensuous
desire; and he is in the same hopeless state
as the man who dies mad with drink. What
good has the drunkard obtained by his
madness? None; pain has at last swallowed
up pleasure utterly, and death steps in to
terminate the agony. The man suffers the final
penalty for his persistent ignorance of a law
of nature as inexorable as that of gravitation,--a
law which forbids a man to stand still.
Not twice can the same cup of pleasure be
tasted; the second time it must contain either
a grain of poison or a drop of the elixir of life.

The same argument holds good with regard
to intellectual pleasures; the same law operates.
We see men who are the flower of their
age in intellect, who pass beyond their fellows
and tower over them, entering at last upon a
fatal treadmill of thought, where they yield
to the innate indolence of the soul and begin
to delude themselves by the solace of repetition.
Then comes the barrenness and lack of
vitality,--that unhappy and disappointing
state into which great men too often enter
when middle life is just passed. The fire of
youth, the vigor of the young intellect, conquers
the inner inertia and makes the man
scale heights of thought and fill his mental
lungs with the free air of the mountains. But
then at last the physical reaction sets in; the
physical machinery of the brain loses its powerful
impetus and begins to relax its efforts,
simply because the youth of the body is at an
end. Now the man is assailed by the great
tempter of the race who stands forever on the
ladder of life waiting for those who climb so
far. He drops the poisoned drop into the ear,
and from that moment all consciousness takes
on a dulness, and the man becomes terrified
lest life is losing its possibilities for him. He
rushes back on to a familiar platform of
experience, and there finds comfort in touching
a well-known chord of passion or emotion.
And too many having done this linger on,
afraid to attempt the unknown, and satisfied to
touch continually that chord which responds
most readily. By this means they get the assurance
that life is still burning within them.
But at last their fate is the same as that of the
gourmand and the drunkard. The power of
the spell lessens daily as the machinery which
feels loses its vitality; and the man endeavors
to revive the old excitement and fervor by
striking the note more violently, by hugging
the thing that makes him feel, by drinking
the cup of poison to its fatal dregs. And then
he is lost; madness falls on his soul, as it
falls on the body of the drunkard. Life has no
longer any meaning for him, and he rushes
wildly into the abysses of intellectual insanity.
A lesser man who commits this great folly
wearies the spirits of others by a dull clinging
to familiar thought, by a persistent hugging of
the treadmill which he asserts to be the final
goal. The cloud that surrounds him is as fatal
as death itself, and men who once sat at his
feet turn away grieved, and have to look back
at his early words in order to remember his
greatness.



VII


What is the cure for this misery and waste
of effort? Is there one? Surely life itself has
a logic in it and a law which makes existence
possible; otherwise chaos and madness would
be the only state which would be attainable.
When a man drinks his first cup of pleasure
his soul is filled with the unutterable joy that
comes with a first, a fresh sensation. The drop
of poison that he puts into the second cup, and
which, if he persists in that folly, has to become
doubled and trebled till at last the whole cup
is poison,--that is the ignorant desire for
repetition and intensification; this evidently
means death, according to all analogy. The
child becomes the man; he cannot retain his
childhood and repeat and intensify the pleasures
of childhood except by paying the
inevitable price and becoming an idiot. The
plant strikes its roots into the ground and
throws up green leaves; then it blossoms and
bears fruit. That plant which will only make
roots or leaves, pausing persistently in its development,
is regarded by the gardener as a thing
which is useless and must be cast out.

The man who chooses the way of effort,
and refuses to allow the sleep of indolence to
dull his soul, finds in his pleasures a new and
finer joy each time he tastes them,--a something
subtile and remote which removes them
more and more from the state in which mere
sensuousness is all; this subtile essence is that
elixir of life which makes man immortal. He
who tastes it and who will not drink unless it
is in the cup finds life enlarge and the world
grow great before his eager eyes. He recognises
the soul within the woman he loves, and
passion becomes peace; he sees within his
thought the finer qualities of spiritual truth,
which is beyond the action of our mental machinery,
and then instead of entering on the
treadmill of intellectualisms he rests on the
broad back of the eagle of intuition and soars
into the fine air where the great poets found
their insight; he sees within his own power of
sensation, of pleasure in fresh air and sunshine,
in food and wine, in motion and rest, the possibilities
of the subtile man, the thing which
dies not either with the body or the brain. The
pleasures of art, of music, of light and loveliness,--within
these forms, which men repeat
till they find only the forms, he sees the glory
of the Gates of Gold, and passes through to
find the new life beyond which intoxicates and
strengthens, as the keen mountain air intoxicates
and strengthens, by its very vigor. But
if he has been pouring, drop by drop, more
and more of the elixir of life into his cup, he
is strong enough to breathe this intense air and
to live upon it. Then if he die or if he live in
physical form, alike he goes on and finds new
and finer joys, more perfect and satisfying
experiences, with every breath he draws in and
gives out.



CHAPTER II

THE MYSTERY OF THRESHOLD

I


There is no doubt that at the entrance on
a new phase of life something has to be given
up. The child, when it has become the man,
puts away childish things. Saint Paul showed
in these words, and in many others which he
has left us, that he had tasted of the elixir of
life, that he was on his way towards the Gates
of Gold. With each drop of the divine draught
which is put into the cup of pleasure something
is purged away from that cup to make room
for the magic drop. For Nature deals with
her children generously: man's cup is always
full to the brim; and if he chooses to taste
of the fine and life-giving essence, he must
cast away something of the grosser and less
sensitive part of himself. This has to be done
daily, hourly, momently, in order that the
draught of life may steadily increase. And to
do this unflinchingly, a man must be his own
schoolmaster, must recognise that he is always
in need of wisdom, must be ready to practise
any austerities, to use the birch-rod unhesitatingly
against himself, in order to gain his
end. It becomes evident to any one who regards
the subject seriously, that only a man who has
the potentialities in him both of the voluptuary
and the stoic has any chance of entering
the Golden Gates. He must be capable of
testing and valuing to its most delicate fraction
every joy existence has to give; and he must
be capable of denying himself all pleasure, and
that without suffering from the denial. When
he has accomplished the development of this
double possibility, then he is able to begin
sifting his pleasures and taking away from his
consciousness those which belong absolutely to
the man of clay. When those are put back,
there is the next range of more refined pleasures
to be dealt with. The dealing with these
which will enable a man to find the essence of
life is not the method pursued by the stoic
philosopher. The stoic does not allow that
there is joy within pleasure, and by denying
himself the one loses the other. But the true
philosopher, who has studied life itself without
being bound by any system of thought, sees
that the kernel is within the shell, and that,
instead of crunching up the whole nut like
a gross and indifferent feeder, the essence of
the thing is obtained by cracking the shell and
casting it away. All emotion, all sensation,
lends itself to this process, else it could not be
a part of man's development, an essential of
his nature. For that there is before him power,
life, perfection, and that every portion of his
passage thitherwards is crowded with the means
of helping him to his goal, can only be denied
by those who refuse to acknowledge life as
apart from matter. Their mental position is so
absolutely arbitrary that it is useless to encounter
or combat it. Through all time the unseen
has been pressing on the seen, the immaterial
overpowering the material; through all time
the signs and tokens of that which is beyond
matter have been waiting for the men of
matter to test and weigh them. Those who
will not do so have chosen the place of pause
arbitrarily, and there is nothing to be done
but let them remain there undisturbed, working
that treadmill which they believe to be the
utmost activity of existence.



II


There is no doubt that a man must educate
himself to perceive that which is beyond matter,
just as he must educate himself to perceive
that which is in matter. Every one knows that
the early life of a child is one long process
of adjustment, of learning to understand the
use of the senses with regard to their special
provinces, and of practice in the exercise of
difficult, complex, yet imperfect organs entirely
in reference to the perception of the world of
matter. The child is in earnest and works on
without hesitation if he means to live. Some
infants born into the light of earth shrink from
it, and refuse to attack the immense task which
is before them, and which must be accomplished
in order to make life in matter possible.
These go back to the ranks of the unborn;
we see them lay down their manifold instrument,
the body, and fade into sleep. So it is
with the great crowd of humanity when it has
triumphed and conquered and enjoyed in the
world of matter. The individuals in that
crowd, which seems so powerful and confident
in its familiar demesne, are infants in the
presence of the immaterial universe. And we
see them, on all sides, daily and hourly, refusing
to enter it, sinking back into the ranks of
the dwellers in physical life, clinging to the
consciousnesses they have experienced and
understand. The intellectual rejection of all
purely spiritual knowledge is the most marked
indication of this indolence, of which thinkers
of every standing are certainly guilty.

That the initial effort is a heavy one is
evident, and it is clearly a question of strength,
as well as of willing activity. But there is
no way of acquiring this strength, or of using
it when acquired, except by the exercise of the
will. It is vain to expect to be born into great
possessions. In the kingdom of life there is no
heredity except from the man's own past. He
has to accumulate that which is his. This is
evident to any observer of life who uses his
eyes without blinding them by prejudice; and
even when prejudice is present, it is impossible
for a man of sense not to perceive the fact. It
is from this that we get the doctrine of punishment
and salvation, either lasting through great
ages after death, or eternal. This doctrine is a
narrow and unintelligent mode of stating the
fact in Nature that what a man sows that shall
he reap. Swedenborg's great mind saw the fact
so clearly that he hardened it into a finality in
reference to this particular existence, his prejudices
making it impossible for him to perceive
the possibility of new action when there is no
longer the sensuous world to act in. He was too
dogmatic for scientific observation, and would
not see that, as the spring follows the autumn,
and the day the night, so birth must follow
death. He went very near the threshold of the
Gates of Gold, and passed beyond mere intellectualism,
only to pause at a point but one
step farther. The glimpse of the life beyond
which he had obtained appeared to him to
contain the universe; and on his fragment of
experience he built up a theory to include all
life, and refused progress beyond that state
or any possibility outside it. This is only
another form of the weary treadmill. But
Swedenborg stands foremost in the crowd of
witnesses to the fact that the Golden Gates
exist and can be seen from the heights of
thought, and he has cast us a faint surge of
sensation from their threshold.



III


When once one has considered the meaning
of those Gates, it is evident that there is
no other way out of this form of life except
through them. They only can admit man to
the place where he becomes the fruit of which
manhood is the blossom. Nature is the kindest
of mothers to those who need her; she never
wearies of her children or desires them to lessen
in multitude. Her friendly arms open wide to
the vast throng who desire birth and to dwell
in forms; and while they continue to desire
it, she continues to smile a welcome. Why,
then, should she shut her doors on any? When
one life in her heart has not worn out a hundredth
part of the soul's longing for sensation
such as it finds there, what reason can there
be for its departure to any other place? Surely
the seeds of desire spring up where the sower
has sown them. This seems but reasonable; and
on this apparently self-evident fact the Indian
mind has based its theory of re-incarnation, of
birth and re-birth in matter, which has become
so familiar a part of Eastern thought as no
longer to need demonstration. The Indian
knows it as the Western knows that the day
he is living through is but one of many days
which make up the span of a man's life. This
certainty which is possessed by the Eastern with
regard to natural laws that control the great
sweep of the soul's existence is simply acquired
by habits of thought. The mind of many is
fixed on subjects which in the West are considered
unthinkable. Thus it is that the East
has produced the great flowers of the spiritual
growth of humanity. On the mental steps of a
million men Buddha passed through the Gates
of Gold; and because a great crowd pressed
about the threshold he was able to leave behind
him words which prove that those Gates
will open.



CHAPTER III

THE INITIAL EFFORT

I


It is very easily seen that there is no one
point in a man's life or experience where he
is nearer the soul of things than at any other.
That soul, the sublime essence, which fills the
air with a burnished glow, is there, behind the
Gates it colors with itself. But that there is no
one pathway to it is immediately perceived
from the fact that this soul must from its very
nature be universal. The Gates of Gold do
not admit to any special place; what they do
is to open for egress from a special place.
Man passes through them when he casts off
his limitation. He may burst the shell that
holds him in darkness, tear the veil that hides
him from the eternal, at any point where it is
easiest for him to do so, and most often this
point will be where he least expects to find it.
Men go in search of escape with the help of
their minds, and lay down arbitrary and limited
laws as to how to attain the, to them, unattainable.
Many, indeed, have hoped to pass
through by the way of religion, and instead they
have formed a place of thought and feeling so
marked and fixed that it seems as though long
ages would be insufficient to enable them to
get out of the rut! Some have believed that
by the aid of pure intellect a way was to be
found; and to such men we owe the philosophy
and metaphysics which have prevented the race
from sinking into utter sensuousness. But the
end of the man who endeavors to live by
thought alone is that he dwells in fantasies,
and insists on giving them to other men as
substantial food. Great is our debt to the meta-physicians
and transcendentalists; but he who
follows them to the bitter end, forgetting that
the brain is only one organ of use, will find
himself dwelling in a place where a dull
wheel of argument seems to turn forever on
its axis, yet goes nowhither and carries no
burden.

Virtue (or what seems to each man to be
virtue, his own special standard of morality
and purity) is held by those who practise it to
be a way to heaven. Perhaps it is, to the heaven
of the modern sybarite, the ethical voluptuary.
It is as easy to become a gourmand in pure
living and high thinking as in the pleasures of
taste or sight or sound. Gratification is the
aim of the virtuous man as well as of the drunkard;
even if his life be a miracle of abstinence
and self-sacrifice, a moment's thought shows
that in pursuing this apparently heroic path he
does but pursue pleasure. With him pleasure
takes on a lovely form because his gratifications
are those of a sweet savor, and it pleases him
to give gladness to others rather than to enjoy
himself at their expense. But the pure life and
high thoughts are no more finalities in themselves
than any other mode of enjoyment; and
the man who endeavors to find contentment
in them must intensify his effort and continually
repeat it,--all in vain. He is a green
plant indeed, and the leaves are beautiful; but
more is wanted than leaves. If he persists in
his endeavor blindly, believing that he has
reached his goal when he has not even perceived
it, then he finds himself in that dreary
place where good is done perforce, and the
deed of virtue is without the love that should
shine through it. It is well for a man to lead
a pure life, as it is well for him to have clean
hands,--else he becomes repugnant. But
virtue as we understand it now can no more
have any special relation to the state beyond
that to which we are limited than any other
part of our constitution. Spirit is not a gas
created by matter, and we cannot create our
future by forcibly using one material agent
and leaving out the rest. Spirit is the great life
on which matter rests, as does the rocky world
on the free and fluid ether; whenever we can
break our limitations we find ourselves on that
marvellous shore where Wordsworth once saw
the gleam of the gold. When we enter there
all the present must disappear alike,--virtue
and vice, thought and sense. That a man reaps
what he has sown must of course be true also;
he has no power to carry virtue, which is of the
material life, with him; yet the aroma of his
good deeds is a far sweeter sacrifice than the
odor of crime and cruelty. Yet it may be,
however, that by the practice of virtue he will
fetter himself into one groove, one changeless
fashion of life in matter, so firmly that it is
impossible for the mind to conceive that death
is a sufficient power to free him, and cast him
upon the broad and glorious ocean,--a sufficient
power to undo for him the inexorable
and heavy latch of the Golden Gate. And
sometimes the man who has sinned so deeply
that his whole nature is scarred and blackened
by the fierce fire of selfish gratification is at
last so utterly burned out and charred that
from the very vigor of the passion light leaps
forth. It would seem more possible for such
a man at least to reach the threshold of the
Gates than for the mere ascetic or philosopher.

But it is little use to reach the threshold of
the Gates without the power to pass through.
And that is all that the sinner can hope to
do by the dissolution of himself which comes
from seeing his own soul. At least this appears
to be so, inevitably because his condition is
negative. The man who lifts the latch of the
Golden Gate must do so with his own strong
hand, must be absolutely positive. This we can
see by analogy. In everything else in life, in
every new step or development, it is necessary
for a man to exercise his most dominant will
in order to obtain it fully. Indeed in many
cases, though he has every advantage and
though he use his will to some extent, he will
fail utterly of obtaining what he desires from
lack of the final and unconquerable resolution.
No education in the world will make a man
an intellectual glory to his age, even if his
powers are great; for unless he positively
desires to seize the flower of perfection, he will
be but a dry scholar, a dealer in words, a proficient
in mechanical thought, and a mere wheel
of memory. And the man who has this positive
quality in him will rise in spite of adverse circumstances,
will recognise and seize upon the
tide of thought which is his natural food, and
will stand as a giant at last in the place he
willed to reach. We see this practically every
day in all walks of life. Wherefore it does not
seem possible that the man who has simply
succeeded through the passions in wrecking the
dogmatic and narrow part of his nature should
pass through those great Gates. But as he is
not blinded by prejudice, nor has fastened
himself to any treadmill of thought, nor
caught the wheel of his soul in any deep rut
of life, it would seem that if once the positive
will might be born within him, he could at
some time not hopelessly far distant lift his
hand to the latch.

Undoubtedly it is the hardest task we have
yet seen set us in life, that which we are now
talking of,--to free a man of all prejudice,
of all crystallized thought or feeling, of all
limitations, yet develop within him the positive
will. It seems too much of a miracle; for in
ordinary life positive will is always associated
with crystallized ideas. But many things which
have appeared to be too much of a miracle for
accomplishment have yet been done, even in
the narrow experience of life given to our
present humanity. All the past shows us that
difficulty is no excuse for dejection, much less
for despair; else the world would have been
without the many wonders of civilization. Let
us consider the thing more seriously, therefore,
having once used our minds to the idea
that it is not impossible.

The great initial difficulty is that of fastening
the interest on that which is unseen. Yet,
this is done every day, and we have only to
observe how it is done in order to guide our
own conduct. Every inventor fastens his interest
firmly on the unseen; and it entirely
depends on the firmness of that attachment
whether he is successful or whether he fails.
The poet who looks on to his moment of
creation as that for which he lives, sees that
which is invisible and hears that which is
soundless.

Probably in this last analogy there is a
clew as to the mode by which success in this
voyage to the unknown bourn ("whence,"
indeed, "no traveller returns") is attained. It
applies also to the inventor and to all who
reach out beyond the ordinary mental and
psychical level of humanity. The clew lies in
that word "creation."



II


The words "to create" are often understood
by the ordinary mind to convey the idea of
evolving something out of nothing. This is
clearly not its meaning; we are mentally obliged
to provide our Creator with chaos from which
to produce the worlds. The tiller of the soil,
who is the typical producer of social life, must
have his material, his earth, his sky, rain, and
sun, and the seeds to place within the earth.
Out of nothing he can produce nothing. Out
of a void Nature cannot arise; there is that
material beyond, behind, or within, from which
she is shaped by our desire for a universe. It
is an evident fact that the seeds and the earth,
air, and water which cause them to germinate
exist on every plane of action. If you talk to
an inventor, you will find that far ahead of
what he is now doing he can always perceive
some other thing to be done which he cannot
express in words because as yet he has not
drawn it into our present world of objects.
That knowledge of the unseen is even more
definite in the poet, and more inexpressible
until he has touched it with some part of that
consciousness which he shares with other men.
But in strict proportion to his greatness he
lives in the consciousness which the ordinary
man does not even believe can exist,--the
consciousness which dwells in the greater
universe, which breathes in the vaster air, which
beholds a wider earth and sky, and snatches
seeds from plants of giant growth.

It is this place of consciousness that we
need to reach out to. That it is not reserved
only for men of genius is shown by the fact
that martyrs and heroes have found it and
dwelt in it. It is not reserved for men of genius
only, but it can only be found by men of
great soul.

In this fact there is no need for discouragement.
Greatness in man is popularly supposed
to be a thing inborn. This belief must be a
result of want of thought, of blindness to facts
of nature. Greatness can only be attained by
growth; that is continually demonstrated to us.
Even the mountains, even the firm globe itself,
these are great by dint of the mode of growth
peculiar to that state of materiality,--accumulation
of atoms. As the consciousness inherent
in all existing forms passes into more
advanced forms of life it becomes more active,
and in proportion it acquires the power
of growth by assimilation instead of accumulation.
Looking at existence from this special
point of view (which indeed is a difficult one
to maintain for long, as we habitually look
at life in planes and forget the great lines
which connect and run through these), we
immediately perceive it to be reasonable to
suppose that as we advance beyond our present
standpoint the power of growth by assimilation
will become greater and probably change into
a method yet more rapid, easy, and unconscious.
The universe is, in fact, full of magnificent
promise for us, if we will but lift our
eyes and see. It is that lifting of the eyes
which is the first need and the first difficulty;
we are so apt readily to be content with
what we see within touch of our hands. It is
the essential characteristic of the man of genius
that he is comparatively indifferent to that
fruit which is just within touch, and hungers
for that which is afar on the hills. In fact
he does not need the sense of contact to arouse
longing. He knows that this distant fruit,
which he perceives without the aid of the
physical senses, is a subtler and a stronger
food than any which appeals to them. And
how is he rewarded! When he tastes that
fruit, how strong and sweet is its flavor, and
what a new sense of life rushes upon him!
For in recognising that flavor he has recognised
the existence of the subtile senses, those
which feed the life of the inner man; and it is
by the strength of that inner man, and by his
strength only, that the latch of the Golden
Gates can be lifted.

In fact it is only by the development and
growth of the inner man that the existence
of these Gates, and of that to which they
admit, can be even perceived. While man is
content with his gross senses and cares nothing
for his subtile ones, the Gates remain literally
invisible. As to the boor the gateway of the
intellectual life is as a thing uncreate and
non-existent, so to the man of the gross senses,
even if his intellectual life is active, that which
lies beyond is uncreate and non-existent, only
because he does not open the book.

To the servant who dusts the scholar's
library the closed volumes are meaningless;
they do not even appear to contain a promise
unless he also is a scholar, not merely a servant.
It is possible to gaze throughout eternity
upon a shut exterior from sheer indolence,--mental
indolence, which is incredulity, and
which at last men learn to pride themselves
on; they call it scepticism, and talk of the reign
of reason. It is no more a state to justify pride
than that of the Eastern sybarite who will not
even lift his food to his mouth; he is "reasonable"
also in that he sees no value in activity,
and therefore does not exercise it. So with the
sceptic; decay follows the condition of inaction,
whether it be mental, psychic, or physical.



III


And now let us consider how the initial
difficulty of fastening the interest on that
which is unseen is to be overcome. Our gross
senses refer only to that which is objective in
the ordinary sense of the word; but just beyond
this field of life there are finer sensations
which appeal to finer senses. Here we find
the first clew to the stepping-stones we need.
Man looks from this point of view like a point
where many rays or lines centre; and if he
has the courage or the interest to detach himself
from the simplest form of life, the point, and
explore but a little way along these lines or
rays, his whole being at once inevitably widens
and expands, the man begins to grow in greatness.
But it is evident, if we accept this illustration
as a fairly true one, that the chief
point of importance is to explore no more
persistently on one line than another: else the
result must be a deformity. We all know how
powerful is the majesty and personal dignity
of a forest tree which has had air enough to
breathe, and room for its widening roots, and
inner vitality with which to accomplish its
unceasing task. It obeys the perfect natural
law of growth, and the peculiar awe it inspires
arises from this fact.

How is it possible to obtain recognition of
the inner man, to observe its growth and
foster it?

Let us try to follow a little way the clew
we have obtained, though words will probably
soon be useless.

We must each travel alone and without
aids, as the traveller has to climb alone when
he nears the summit of the mountain. No beast
of burden can help him there; neither can the
gross senses or anything that touches the gross
senses help him here. But for a little distance
words may go with us.

The tongue recognises the value of sweetness
or piquancy in food. To the man whose
senses are of the simplest order there is no
other idea of sweetness than this. But a finer
essence, a more highly placed sensation of the
same order, is reached by another perception.
The sweetness on the face of a lovely woman,
or in the smile of a friend, is recognised by
the man whose inner senses have even a little--a
mere stirring of--vitality. To the one
who has lifted the golden latch the spring of
sweet waters, the fountain itself whence all
softness arises, is opened and becomes part of
his heritage.

But before this fountain can be tasted, or
any other spring reached, any source found, a
heavy weight has to be lifted from the heart,
an iron bar which holds it down and prevents
it from arising in its strength.

The man who recognises the flow of sweetness
from its source through Nature, through
all forms of life, he has lifted this, he has
raised himself into that state in which there is
no bondage. He knows that he is a part of
the great whole, and it is this knowledge which
is his heritage. It is through the breaking
asunder of the arbitrary bond which holds him
to his personal centre that he comes of age
and becomes ruler of his kingdom. As he
widens out, reaching by manifold experience
along those lines which centre at the point
where he stands embodied, he discovers that
he has touch with all life, that he contains
within himself the whole. And then he has
but to yield himself to the great force which
we call good, to clasp it tightly with the grasp
of his soul, and he is carried swiftly on to the
great, wide waters of real living. What are
those waters? In our present life we have but
the shadow of the substance. No man loves
without satiety, no man drinks wine without
return of thirst. Hunger and longing darken
the sky and make the earth unfriendly. What
we need is an earth that will bear living fruit,
a sky that will be always full of light.
Needing this positively, we shall surely find it.



CHAPTER IV

THE MEANING OF PAIN

I


Look into the deep heart of life, whence
pain comes to darken men's lives. She is always
on the threshold, and behind her stands
despair.

What are these two gaunt figures, and
why are they permitted to be our constant
followers?

It is we who permit them, we who order
them, as we permit and order the action of our
bodies; and we do so as unconsciously. But
by scientific experiment and investigation we
have learned much about our physical life, and
it would seem as if we can obtain at least as
much result with regard to our inner life by
adopting similar methods.

Pain arouses, softens, breaks, and destroys.
Regarded from a sufficiently removed standpoint,
it appears as medicine, as a knife, as a
weapon, as a poison, in turn. It is an implement,
a thing which is used, evidently. What
we desire to discover is, who is the user; what
part of ourselves is it that demands the
presence of this thing so hateful to the rest?

Medicine is used by the physician, the knife
by the surgeon; but the weapon of destruction
is used by the enemy, the hater.

Is it, then, that we do not only use means,
or desire to use means, for the benefit of our
souls, but that also we wage warfare within
ourselves, and do battle in the inner sanctuary?
It would seem so; for it is certain that if man's
will relaxed with regard to it he would no
longer retain life in that state in which pain
exists. Why does he desire his own hurt?

The answer may at first sight seem to be
that he primarily desires pleasure, and so is
willing to continue on that battlefield where
it wages war with pain for the possession of
him, hoping always that pleasure will win the
victory and take him home to herself. This is
but the external aspect of the man's state. In
himself he knows well that pain is co-ruler
with pleasure, and that though the war wages
always it never will be won. The superficial
observer concludes that man submits to the
inevitable. But that is a fallacy not worthy
of discussion. A little serious thought shows
us that man does not exist at all except by
exercise of his positive qualities; it is but
logical to suppose that he chooses the state
he will live in by the exercise of those same
qualities.

Granted, then, for the sake of our argument,
that he desires pain, why is it that he
desires anything so annoying to himself?


II

If we carefully consider the constitution of
man and its tendencies, it would seem as if
there were two definite directions in which he
grows. He is like a tree which strikes its roots
into the ground while it throws up young
branches towards the heavens. These two lines
which go outward from the central personal
point are to him clear, definite, and intelligible.
He calls one good and the other evil. But
man is not, according to any analogy, observation,
or experience, a straight line. Would
that he were, and that life, or progress, or
development, or whatever we choose to call it,
meant merely following one straight road or
another, as the religionists pretend it does.
The whole question, the mighty problem,
would be very easily solved then. But it is not
so easy to go to hell as preachers declare it
to be. It is as hard a task as to find one's
way to the Golden Gate! A man may wreck
himself utterly in sense-pleasure,--may debase
his whole nature, as it seems,--yet he fails
of becoming the perfect devil, for there is still
the spark of divine light within him. He tries
to choose the broad road which leads to
destruction, and enters bravely on his headlong
career. But very soon he is checked and
startled by some unthought-of tendency in
himself,--some of the many other radiations
which go forth from his centre of self. He
suffers as the body suffers when it develops
monstrosities which impede its healthy action.
He has created pain, and encountered his own
creation. It may seem as if this argument is
difficult of application with regard to physical
pain. Not so, if man is regarded from a loftier
standpoint than that we generally occupy. If
he is looked upon as a powerful consciousness
which forms its external manifestations according
to its desires, then it is evident that physical
pain results from deformity in those desires.
No doubt it will appear to many minds that
this conception of man is too gratuitous, and
involves too large a mental leap into unknown
places where proof is unobtainable. But if the
mind is accustomed to look upon life from
this standpoint, then very soon none other is
acceptable; the threads of existence, which
to the purely materialistic observer appear
hopelessly entangled, become separated and
straightened, so that a new intelligibleness
illumines the universe. The arbitrary and cruel
Creator who inflicts pain and pleasure at will
then disappears from the stage; and it is well,
for he is indeed an unnecessary character, and,
worse still, is a mere creature of straw, who
cannot even strut upon the boards without
being upheld on all sides by dogmatists. Man
comes into this world, surely, on the same
principle that he lives in one city of the earth
or another; at all events, if it is too much to
say that this is so, one may safely ask, why is
it not so? There is neither for nor against
which will appeal to the materialist, or which
would weigh in a court of justice; but I aver
this in favor of the argument,--that no man
having once seriously considered it can go back
to the formal theories of the sceptics. It is
like putting on swaddling-clothes again.

Granting, then, for the sake of this argument,
that man is a powerful consciousness
who is his own creator, his own judge, and
within whom lies all life in potentiality, even
the ultimate goal, then let us consider why he
causes himself to suffer.

If pain is the result of uneven development,
of monstrous growths, of defective
advance at different points, why does man not
learn the lesson which this should teach him,
and take pains to develop equally?

It would seem to me as if the answer to
this question is that this is the very lesson
which the human race is engaged in learning.
Perhaps this may seem too bold a statement
to make in the face of ordinary thinking,
which either regards man as a creature of
chance dwelling in chaos, or as a soul bound
to the inexorable wheel of a tyrant's chariot
and hurried on either to heaven or to hell. But
such a mode of thought is after all but the
same as that of the child who regards his
parents as the final arbiters of his destinies,
and in fact the gods or demons of his universe.
As he grows he casts aside this idea, finding
that it is simply a question of coming of age,
and that he is himself the king of life like any
other man.

So it is with the human race. It is king of
its world, arbiter of its own destiny, and there
is none to say it nay. Who talk of Providence
and chance have not paused to think.

Destiny, the inevitable, does indeed exist
for the race and for the individual; but who
can ordain this save the man himself? There
is no clew in heaven or earth to the existence
of any ordainer other than the man who suffers
or enjoys that which is ordained. We know
so little of our own constitution, we are so
ignorant of our divine functions, that it is
impossible for us yet to know how much or
how little we are actually fate itself. But this
at all events we know,--that so far as any
provable perception goes, no clew to the
existence of an ordainer has yet been discovered;
whereas if we give but a very little
attention to the life about us in order to
observe the action of the man upon his own
future, we soon perceive this power as an
actual force in operation. It is visible, although
our range of vision is so very limited.

The man of the world, pure and simple,
is by far the best practical observer and
philosopher with regard to life, because he is
not blinded by any prejudices. He will be
found always to believe that as a man sows so
shall he reap. And this is so evidently true
when it is considered, that if one takes the
larger view, including all human life, it makes
intelligible the awful Nemesis which seems
consciously to pursue the human race,--that
inexorable appearance of pain in the midst of
pleasure. The great Greek poets saw this
apparition so plainly that their recorded observation
has given to us younger and blinder
observers the idea of it. It is unlikely that so
materialistic a race as that which has grown
up all over the West would have discovered for
itself the existence of this terrible factor in
human life without the assistance of the older
poets,--the poets of the past. And in this we
may notice, by the way, one distinct value of
the study of the classics,--that the great ideas
and facts about human life which the superb
ancients put into their poetry shall not be
absolutely lost as are their arts. No doubt
the world will flower again, and greater
thoughts and more profound discoveries than
those of the past will be the glory of the men
of the future efflorescence; but until that
far-off day comes we cannot prize too dearly
the treasures left us.

There is one aspect of the question which
seems at first sight positively to negative this
mode of thought; and that is the suffering in
the apparently purely physical body of the
dumb beings,--young children, idiots, animals,--and
their desperate need of the power
which comes of any sort of knowledge to help
them through their sufferings.

The difficulty which will arise in the mind
with regard to this comes from the untenable
idea of the separation of the soul from the
body. It is supposed by all those who look
only at material life (and especially by the
physicians of the flesh) that the body and the
brain are a pair of partners who live together
hand in hand and react one upon another.
Beyond that they recognise no cause and
therefore allow of none. They forget that the
brain and the body are as evidently mere mechanism
as the hand or the foot. There is the
inner man--the soul--behind, using all these
mechanisms; and this is as evidently the truth
with regard to all the existences we know of as
with regard to man himself. We cannot find
any point in the scale of being at which soul-causation
ceases or can cease. The dull oyster
must have that in him which makes him choose
the inactive life he leads; none else can choose
it for him but the soul behind, which makes
him be. How else can he be where he is, or be
at all? Only by the intervention of an impossible
creator called by some name or other.

It is because man is so idle, so indisposed
to assume or accept responsibility, that he falls
back upon this temporary makeshift of a
creator. It is temporary indeed, for it can only
last during the activity of the particular brain
power which finds its place among us. When
the man drops this mental life behind him,
he of necessity leaves with it its magic lantern
and the pleasant illusions he has conjured up
by its aid. That must be a very uncomfortable
moment, and must produce a sense of nakedness
not to be approached by any other sensation.
It would seem as well to save one's
self this disagreeable experience by refusing to
accept unreal phantasms as things of flesh
and blood and power. Upon the shoulders of
the Creator man likes to thrust the responsibility
not only of his capacity for sinning and
the possibility of his salvation, but of his very
life itself, his very consciousness. It is a poor
Creator that he thus contents himself with,--one
who is pleased with a universe of puppets,
and amused by pulling their strings. If he is
capable of such enjoyment, he must yet be in
his infancy. Perhaps that is so, after all; the
God within us is in his infancy, and refuses
to recognise his high estate. If indeed the soul
of man is subject to the laws of growth, of
decay, and of re-birth as to its body, then there
is no wonder at its blindness. But this is
evidently not so; for the soul of man is of that
order of life which causes shape and form,
and is unaffected itself by these things,--of
that order of life which like the pure, the
abstract flame burns wherever it is lit. This
cannot be changed or affected by time, and is
of its very nature superior to growth and
decay. It stands in that primeval place which
is the only throne of God,--that place whence
forms of life emerge and to which they return.
That place is the central point of existence,
where there is a permanent spot of life as
there is in the midst of the heart of man. It
is by the equal development of that,--first
by the recognition of it, and then by its equal
development upon the many radiating lines of
experience,--that man is at last enabled to
reach the Golden Gate and lift the latch. The
process is the gradual recognition of the god
in himself; the goal is reached when that
godhood is consciously restored to its
right glory.


III

The first thing which it is necessary for the
soul of man to do in order to engage in this
great endeavor of discovering true life is the
same thing that the child first does in its desire
for activity in the body,--he must be able to
stand. It is clear that the power of standing,
of equilibrium, of concentration, of uprightness,
in the soul, is a quality of a marked character.
The word that presents itself most
readily as descriptive of this quality is
"confidence."

To remain still amid life and its changes,
and stand firmly on the chosen spot, is a feat
which can only be accomplished by the man
who has confidence in himself and in his
destiny. Otherwise the hurrying forms of life,
the rushing tide of men, the great floods of
thought, must inevitably carry him with them,
and then he will lose that place of consciousness
whence it was possible to start on the
great enterprise. For it _must_ be done knowingly,
and without pressure from without,--this
act of the new-born man. All the great
ones of the earth have possessed this confidence,
and have stood firmly on that place
which was to them the one solid spot in the
universe. To each man this place is of necessity
different. Each man must find his
earth and his own heaven.

We have the instinctive desire to relieve
pain, but we work in externals in this as in
everything else. We simply alleviate it; and
if we do more, and drive it from its first chosen
stronghold, it reappears in some other place
with reinforced vigor. If it is eventually driven
off the physical plane by persistent and successful
effort, it reappears on the mental or
emotional planes where no man can touch it.
That this is so is easily seen by those who
connect the various planes of sensation, and
who observe life with that additional illumination.
Men habitually regard these different
forms of feeling as actually separate, whereas
in fact they are evidently only different sides
of one centre,--the point of personality. If
that which arises in the centre, the fount of
life, demands some hindered action, and consequently
causes pain, the force thus created
being driven from one stronghold must find
another; it cannot be driven out. And all the
blendings of human life which cause emotion
and distress exist for its use and purposes as
well as for those of pleasure. Both have their
home in man; both demand their expression of
right. The marvellously delicate mechanism of
the human frame is constructed to answer to
their lightest touch; the extraordinary intricacies
of human relations evolve themselves, as
it were, for the satisfaction of these two great
opposites of the soul.

Pain and pleasure stand apart and separate,
as do the two sexes; and it is in the merging,
the making the two into one, that joy and deep
sensation and profound peace are obtained.
Where there is neither male nor female
neither pain nor pleasure, there is the god in
man dominant, and then is life real.

To state the matter in this way may savor
too much of the dogmatist who utters his
assertions uncontradicted from a safe pulpit;
but it is dogmatism only as a scientist's record
of effort in a new direction is dogmatism.
Unless the existence of the Gates of Gold can
be proved to be real, and not the mere phantasmagoria
of fanciful visionaries, then they
are not worth talking about at all. In the
nineteenth century hard facts or legitimate
arguments alone appeal to men's minds; and
so much the better. For unless the life we
advance towards is increasingly real and
actual, it is worthless, and time is wasted in
going after it. Reality is man's greatest need,
and he demands to have it at all hazards, at
any price. Be it so. No one doubts he is right.
Let us then go in search of reality.



IV


One definite lesson learned by all acute
sufferers will be of the greatest service to us
in this consideration. In intense pain a point is
reached where it is indistinguishable from its
opposite, pleasure. This is indeed so, but few
have the heroism or the strength to suffer to
such a far point. It is as difficult to reach
it by the other road. Only a chosen few have
the gigantic capacity for pleasure which will
enable them to travel to its other side. Most
have but enough strength to enjoy and to
become the slave of the enjoyment. Yet man
has undoubtedly within himself the heroism
needed for the great journey; else how is it
martyrs have smiled amid the torture?
How is it that the profound sinner who lives
for pleasure can at last feel stir within himself
the divine afflatus?

In both these cases the possibility has arisen
of finding the way; but too often that
possibility is killed by the overbalance of the
startled nature. The martyr has acquired a
passion for pain and lives in the idea of heroic
suffering; the sinner becomes blinded by the
thought of virtue and worships it as an end,
an object, a thing divine in itself; whereas it
can only be divine as it is part of that infinite
whole which includes vice as well as virtue.
How is it possible to divide the infinite,--that
which is one? It is as reasonable to lend
divinity to any object as to take a cup of water
from the sea and declare that in that is contained
the ocean. You cannot separate the
ocean; the salt water is part of the great sea
and must be so; but nevertheless you do not
hold the sea in your hand. Men so longingly
desire personal power that they are ready to
put infinity into a cup, the divine idea into a
formula, in order that they may fancy themselves
in possession of it. These only are those
who cannot rise and approach the Gates of
Gold, for the great breath of life confuses
them; they are struck with horror to find how
great it is. The idol-worshipper keeps an
image of his idol in his heart and burns a
candle always before it. It is his own, and he
is pleased at that thought, even if he bow in
reverence before it. In how many virtuous and
religious men does not this same state exist?
In the recesses of the soul the lamp is burning
before a household god,--a thing possessed
by its worshipper and subject to him. Men
cling with desperate tenacity to these dogmas,
these moral laws, these principles and modes
of faith which are their household gods, their
personal idols. Bid them burn the unceasing
flame in reverence only to the infinite, and
they turn from you. Whatever their manner
of scorning your protest may be, within themselves
it leaves a sense of aching void. For
the noble soul of the man, that potential king
which is within us all, knows full well that
this household idol may be cast down and
destroyed at any moment,--that it is without
finality in itself, without any real and absolute
life. And he has been content in his possession,
forgetting that anything possessed can only by
the immutable laws of life be held temporarily.
He has forgotten that the infinite is
his only friend; he has forgotten that in its
glory is his only home,--that it alone can be
his god. There he feels as if he is homeless;
but that amid the sacrifices he offers to
his own especial idol there is for him a brief
resting-place; and for this he clings passionately
to it.

Few have the courage even slowly to face
the great desolateness which lies outside themselves,
and must lie there so long as they cling
to the person which they represent, the "I"
which is to them the centre of the world, the
cause of all life. In their longing for a God
they find the reason for the existence of one;
in their desire for a sense-body and a world to
enjoy in, lies to them the cause of the universe.
These beliefs may be hidden very deep beneath
the surface, and be indeed scarcely accessible;
but in the fact that they are there is the reason
why the man holds himself upright. To himself
he is himself the infinite and the God; he
holds the ocean in a cup. In this delusion he
nurtures the egoism which makes life pleasure
and makes pain pleasant. In this profound
egoism is the very cause and source of the
existence of pleasure and of pain. For unless
man vacillated between these two, and ceaselessly
reminded himself by sensation that he
exists, he would forget it. And in this fact lies
the whole answer to the question, "Why does
man create pain for his own discomfort?"

The strange and mysterious fact remains
unexplained as yet, that man in so deluding
himself is merely interpreting Nature backwards
and putting into the words of death the
meaning of life. For that man does indeed
hold within him the infinite, and that the ocean
is really in the cup, is an incontestable truth;
but it is only so because the cup is absolutely
non-existent. It is merely an experience of the
infinite, having no permanence, liable to be
shattered at any instant. It is in the claiming
of reality and permanence for the four walls of
his personality, that man makes the vast
blunder which plunges him into a prolonged
series of unfortunate incidents, and intensifies
continually the existence of his favorite forms
of sensation. Pleasure and pain become to him
more real than the great ocean of which he is
a part and where his home is; he perpetually
knocks himself painfully against these walls
where he feels, and his tiny self oscillates
within his chosen prison.



CHAPTER V

THE SECRET OF STRENGTH

I


Strength to step forward is the primary
need of him who has chosen his path. Where
is this to be found? Looking round, it is not
hard to see where other men find their strength.
Its source is profound conviction. Through this
great moral power is brought to birth in the
natural life of the man that which enables him,
however frail he may be, to go on and conquer.
Conquer what? Not continents, not worlds, but
himself. Through that supreme victory is
obtained the entrance to the whole, where all
that might be conquered and obtained by effort
becomes at once not his, but himself.

To put on armor and go forth to war,
taking the chances of death in the hurry of the
fight, is an easy thing; to stand still amid
the jangle of the world, to preserve stillness
within the turmoil of the body, to hold silence
amid the thousand cries of the senses and
desires, and then, stripped of all armor and
without hurry or excitement take the deadly
serpent of self and kill it, is no easy thing.
Yet that is what has to be done; and it can
only be done in the moment of equilibrium
when the enemy is disconcerted by the silence.

But there is needed for this supreme
moment a strength such as no hero of the
battlefield needs. A great soldier must be filled
with the profound convictions of the justness
of his cause and the rightness of his method.
The man who wars against himself and wins
the battle can do it only when he knows that
in that war he is doing the one thing which
is worth doing, and when he knows that in
doing it he is winning heaven and hell as his
servitors. Yes, he stands on both. He needs
no heaven where pleasure comes as a long-promised
reward; he fears no hell where pain
waits to punish him for his sins. For he has
conquered once for all that shifting serpent
in himself which turns from side to side in
its constant desire of contact, in its perpetual
search after pleasure and pain. Never again
(the victory once really won) can he tremble
or grow exultant at any thought of that which
the future holds. Those burning sensations
which seemed to him to be the only proofs
of his existence are his no longer. How, then,
can he know that he lives? He knows it only
by argument. And in time he does not care to
argue about it. For him there is then peace;
and he will find in that peace the power he
has coveted. Then he will know what is that
faith which can remove mountains.


II

Religion holds a man back from the path,
prevents his stepping forward, for various very
plain reasons. First it makes the vital mistake
of distinguishing between good and evil.
Nature knows no such distinction; and the
moral and social laws set us by our religions
are as temporary, as much a thing of our own
special mode and form of existence, as are the
moral and social laws of the ants or the bees.
We pass out of that state in which these things
appear to be final, and we forget them forever.
This is easily shown, because a man of broad
habits of thought and of intelligence must
modify his code of life when he dwells among
another people. These people among whom
he is an alien have their own deep-rooted
religions and hereditary convictions, against
which he cannot offend. Unless his is an
abjectly narrow and unthinking mind, he sees
that their form of law and order is as good as
his own. What then can he do but reconcile
his conduct gradually to their rules? And then
if he dwells among them many years the sharp
edge of difference is worn away, and he forgets
at last where their faith ends and his commences.
Yet is it for his own people to say he
has done wrong, if he has injured no man and
remained just?

I am not attacking law and order; I do not
speak of these things with rash dislike. In
their place they are as vital and necessary as
the code which governs the life of a beehive
is to its successful conduct. What I wish to
point out is that law and order in themselves
are quite temporary and unsatisfactory.
a man's soul passes away from its brief
dwelling-place, thoughts of law and order do
not accompany it. If it is strong, it is the
ecstasy of true being and real life which it
becomes possessed of, as all know who have
watched by the dying. If the soul is weak, it
faints and fades away, overcome by the first
flush of the new life.

Am I speaking too positively? Only those
who live in the active life of the moment, who
have not watched beside the dead and dying,
who have not walked the battlefield and
looked in the faces of men in their last agony,
will say so. The strong man goes forth from
his body exultant.

Why? Because he is no longer held back
and made to quiver by hesitation. In the
strange moment of death he has had release
given him; and with a sudden passion of
delight he recognises that it is release. Had;
he been sure of this before, he would have
been a great sage, a man to rule the world,
for he would have had the power to rule
himself and his own body. That release from
the chains of ordinary life can be obtained as
easily during life as by death. It only needs a
sufficiently profound conviction to enable the
man to look on his body with the same emotions
as he would look on the body of another
man, or on the bodies of a thousand men. In
contemplating a battlefield it is impossible to
realize the agony of every sufferer; why, then,
realize your own pain more keenly than
another's? Mass the whole together, and look
at it all from a wider standpoint than that
of the individual life. That you actually feel
your own physical wound is a weakness of
your limitation. The man who is developed
psychically feels the wound of another as
keenly as his own, and does not feel his own
at all if he is strong enough to will it so.
Every one who has examined at all seriously
into psychic conditions knows this to be a fact,
more or less marked, according to the psychic
development. In many instances, the psychic is
more keenly and selfishly aware of his own
pain than of any other person's; but that is
when the development, marked perhaps so far
as it has gone, only reaches a certain point.
It is the power which carries the man to the
margin of that consciousness which is profound
peace and vital activity. It can carry him no
further. But if he has reached its margin he
is freed from the paltry dominion of his own
self. That is the first great release. Look at
the sufferings which come upon us from our
narrow and limited experience and sympathy.
We each stand quite alone, a solitary unit, a
pygmy in the world. What good fortune can
we expect? The great life of the world rushes
by, and we are in danger each instant that
it will overwhelm us or even utterly destroy us.
There is no defence to be offered to it; no
opposition army can be set up, because in this
life every man fights his own battle against
every other man, and no two can be united
under the same banner. There is only one way
of escape from this terrible danger which we
battle against every hour. Turn round, and
instead of standing against the forces, join
them; become one with Nature, and go easily
upon her path. Do not resist or resent the
circumstances of life any more than the plants
present the rain and the wind. Then suddenly,
to your own amazement, you find you have
time and strength to spare, to use in the great
battle which it is inevitable every man must
fight,--that in himself, that which leads to
his own conquest.

Some might say, to his own destruction.
And why? Because from the hour when he
first tastes the splendid reality of living he
forgets more and more his individual self. No
longer does he fight for it, or pit its strength
against the strength of others. No longer does
he care to defend or to feed it. Yet when
he is thus indifferent to its welfare, the individual
self grows more stalwart and robust,
like the prairie grasses and the trees of untrodden
forests. It is a matter of indifference to
him whether this is so or not. Only, if it is so,
he has a fine instrument ready to his hand; and
in due proportion to the completeness of his
indifference to it is the strength and beauty
of his personal self. This is readily seen; a
garden flower becomes a mere degenerate copy
of itself if it is simply neglected; a plant must
be cultivated to the highest pitch, and benefit
by the whole of the gardener's skill, or else it
must be a pure savage, wild, and fed only by
the earth and sky. Who cares for any intermediate
states? What value or strength is
there in the neglected garden rose which has
the canker in every bud? For diseased or
dwarfed blossoms are sure to result from an
arbitrary change of condition, resulting from
the neglect of the man who has hitherto been
the providence of the plant in its unnatural
life. But there are wind-blown plains where
the daisies grow tall, with moon faces such
as no cultivation can produce in them. Cultivate,
then, to the very utmost; forget no inch
of your garden ground, no smallest plant that
grows in it; make no foolish pretence nor fond
mistake in the fancy that you are ready to
forget it, and so subject it to the frightful consequences
of half-measures. The plant that is
watered to-day and forgotten to-morrow must
dwindle or decay. The plant that looks for no
help but from Nature itself measures its
strength at once, and either dies and is
re-created or grows into a great tree whose
boughs fill the sky. But make no mistake like
the religionists and some philosophers; leave
no part of yourself neglected while you know
it to be yourself. While the ground is the
gardener's it is his business to tend it; but
some day a call may come to him from another
country or from death itself, and in a moment
he is no longer the gardener, his business is at
an end, he has no more duty of that kind
at all. Then his favorite plants suffer and die,
and the delicate ones become one with the
earth. But soon fierce Nature claims the place
for her own, and covers it with thick grass or
giant weeds, or nurses some sapling in it
till its branches shade the ground. Be warned,
and tend your garden to the utmost, till you can
pass away utterly and let it return to Nature
and become the wind-blown plain where the
wild-flowers grow. Then, if you pass that way
and look at it, whatever has happened will
neither grieve nor elate you. For you will be
able to say, "I am the rocky ground, I am the
great tree, I am the strong daisies," indifferent
which it is that flourishes where once your rose-trees
grew. But you must have learned to study
the stars to some purpose before you dare to
neglect your roses, and omit to fill the air
with their cultivated fragrance. You must
know your way through the trackless air, and
from thence to the pure ether; you must be
ready to lift the bar of the Golden Gate.

Cultivate, I say, and neglect nothing. Only
remember, all the while you tend and water,
that you are impudently usurping the tasks of
Nature herself. Having usurped her work,
you must carry it through until you have
reached a point when she has no power to
punish you, when you are not afraid of her,
but can with a bold front return her her own.
She laughs in her sleeve, the mighty mother,
watching you with covert, laughing eye, ready
relentlessly to cast the whole of your work
into the dust if you do but give her the chance,
if you turn idler and grow careless. The idler
is father of the madman in the sense that the
child is the father of the.man. Nature has
put her vast hand on him and crushed the
whole edifice. The gardener and his rose-trees
are alike broken and stricken by the great
storm which her movement has created; they
lie helpless till the sand is swept over them
and they are buried in a weary wilderness.
From this desert spot Nature herself will
re-create, and will use the ashes of the man
who dared to face her as indifferently as the
withered leaves of his plants. His body, soul,
and spirit are all alike claimed by her.


III

The man who is strong, who has resolved
to find the unknown path, takes with the
utmost care every step. He utters no idle word,
he does no unconsidered action, he neglects no
duty or office however homely or however
difficult. But while his eyes and hands and
feet are thus fulfilling their tasks, new eyes
and hands and feet are being born within
him. For his passionate and unceasing desire
is to go that way on which the subtile organs
only can guide him. The physical world he has
learned, and knows how to use; gradually his
power is passing on, and he recognises the
psychic world. But he has to learn this world
and know how to use it, and he dare not lose
hold of the life he is familiar with till he has
taken hold of that with which he is unfamiliar.
When he has acquired such power
with his psychic organs as the infant has with
its physical organs when it first opens its lungs,
then is the hour for the great adventure. How
little is needed--yet how much that is! The
man does but need the psychic body to be
formed in all parts, as is an infant's; he does
but need the profound and unshakable conviction
which impels the infant, that the new
life is desirable. Once those conditions gained
and he may let himself live in the new atmosphere
and look up to the new sun. But then
his must remember to check his new experience
by the old. He is breathing still, though differently;
he draws air into his lungs, and takes
life from the sun. He has been born into the
psychic world, and depends now on the
psychic air and light. His goal is not here: this
is but a subtile repetition of physical life; he
has to pass through it according to similar
laws. He must study, learn, grow, and conquer;
never forgetting the while that his goal is that
place where there is no air nor any sun or
moon.

Do not imagine that in this line of progress
the man himself is being moved or changing
his place. Not so. The truest illustration of the
process is that of cutting through layers of crust
or skin. The man, having learned his lesson
fully, casts off the physical life; having learned
his lesson fully, casts off the psychic life; having
learned his lesson fully, casts off the contemplative
life, or life of adoration.

All are cast aside at last, and he enters the
great temple where any memory of self or sensation
is left outside as the shoes are cast from
the feet of the worshipper. That temple is the
place of his own pure divinity, the central flame
which, however obscured, has animated him
through all these struggles. And having found
this sublime home he is sure as the heavens
themselves. He remains still, filled with all
knowledge and power. The outer man, the
adoring, the acting, the living personification,
goes its own way hand in hand with Nature,
and shows all the superb strength of the savage
growth of the earth, lit by that instinct which
contains knowledge. For in the inmost sanctuary,
in the actual temple, the man has found
the subtile essence of Nature herself. No
longer can there be any difference between
them or any half-measures. And now comes
the hour of action and power. In that inmost
sanctuary all is to be found: God and his creatures,
the fiends who prey on them, those
among men who have been loved, those who
have been hated. Difference between them exists
no longer. Then the soul of man laughs in
its strength and fearlessness, and goes forth
into the world in which its actions are needed,
and causes these actions to take place without
apprehension, alarm, fear, regret, or joy.

This state is possible to man while yet he
lives in the physical; for men have attained it
while living. It alone can make actions in the
physical divine and true.

Life among objects of sense must forever
be an outer shape to the sublime soul,--it can
only become powerful life, the life of accomplishment,
when it is animated by the crowned
and indifferent god that sits in the sanctuary.

The obtaining of this condition is so supremely
desirable because from the moment it
is entered there is no more trouble, no more
anxiety, no more doubt or hesitation. As a
great artist paints his picture fearlessly and
never committing any error which causes him
regret, so the man who has formed his inner
self deals with his life.

But that is when the condition is entered.
That which we who look towards the mountains
hunger to know is the mode of entrance and
the way to the Gate. The Gate is that Gate of
Gold barred by a heavy bar of iron. The way
to the threshold of it turns a man giddy and
sick. It seems no path, it seems to end perpetually,
its way lies along hideous precipices,
it loses itself in deep waters.

Once crossed and the way found it appears
wonderful that the difficulty should have looked;
so great. For the path where it disappears does
but turn abruptly, its line upon the precipice
edge is wide enough for the feet, and across
the deep waters that look so treacherous there,
is always a ford and a ferry. So it happens in
all profound experiences of human nature.
When the first grief tears the heart asunder it
seems that the path has ended and a blank
darkness taken the place of the sky. And yet by
groping the soul passes on, and that difficult
and seemingly hopeless turn in the road is
passed.

So with many another form or human torture.
Sometimes throughout a long period or
a whole lifetime the path of existence is perpetually
checked by what seem like insurmountable
obstacles. Grief, pain, suffering, the loss
of all that is beloved or valued, rise up before
the terrified soul and check it at every turn.
Who places those obstacles there? The reason
shrinks at the childish dramatic picture which
the religionists place before it,--God permitting
the Devil to torment His creatures for their
ultimate good! When will that ultimate good
be attained? The idea involved in this picture
supposes an end, a goal. There is none. We
can any one of us safely assent to that; for as
far as human observation, reason, thought, intellect,
or instinct can reach towards grasping
the mystery of life, all data obtained show that
the path is endless and that eternity cannot be
blinked and converted by the idling soul into
a million years.

In man, taken individually or as a whole,
there clearly exists a double constitution. I am
speaking roughly now, being well aware that
the various schools of philosophy cut him up
and subdivide him according to their several
theories. What I mean is this: that two great
tides of emotion sweep through his nature, two
great forces guide his life; the one makes him
an animal, and the other makes him a god. No
brute of the earth is so brutal as the man who
subjects his godly power to his animal power.
This is a matter of course, because the whole
force of the double nature is then used in one
direction. The animal pure and simple obeys
his instincts only and desires no more than to
gratify his love of pleasure; he pays but little
regard to the existence of other beings except
in so far as they offer him pleasure or pain; he
knows nothing of the abstract love of cruelty or
of any of those vicious tendencies of the human
being which have in themselves their own
gratification. Thus the man who becomes a
beast has a million times the grasp of life over
the natural beast, and that which in the pure
animal is sufficiently innocent enjoyment, uninterrupted
by an arbitrary moral standard, becomes
in him vice, because it is gratified on
principle. Moreover he turns all the divine
powers of his being into this channel, and degrades
his soul by making it the slave of his
senses. The god, deformed and disguised,
waits on the animal and feeds it.

Consider then whether it is not possible to
change the situation. The man himself is king
of the country in which this strange spectacle
is seen. He allows the beast to usurp the place
of the god because for the moment the beast
pleases his capricious royal fancy the most. This
cannot last always; why let it last any longer?
So long as the animal rules there will be the
keenest sufferings in consequence of change,
of the vibration between pleasure and pain,
of the desire for prolonged and pleasant
physical life. And the god in his capacity of
servant adds a thousand-fold to all this, by
making physical life so much more filled with
keenness of pleasure,--rare, voluptuous,
aesthetic pleasure,--and by intensity of pain
so passionate that one knows not where it
ends and where pleasure commences. So
long as the god serves, so long the life of
the animal will be enriched and increasingly
valuable. But let the king resolve to change
the face of his court and forcibly evict the animal
from the chair of state, restoring the god
to the place of divinity.

Ah, the profound peace that falls upon the
palace! All is indeed changed. No longer is
there the fever of personal longings or desires,
no longer is there any rebellion or distress, no
longer any hunger for pleasure or dread of
pain. It is like a great calm descending on a
stormy ocean; it is like the soft rain of summer
falling on parched ground; it is like the
deep pool found amidst the weary, thirsty
labyrinths of the unfriendly forest.

But there is much more than this. Not only
is man more than an animal because there is
the god in him, but he is more than a god because
there is the animal in him.

Once force the animal into his rightful
place, that of the inferior, and you find yourself
in possession of a great force hitherto unsuspected
and unknown. The god as servant
adds a thousand-fold to the pleasures of the
animal; the animal as servant adds a thousand-fold
to the powers of the god. And it is upon
the union, the right relation of these two forces
in himself, that man stands as a strong king,
and is enabled to raise his hand and lift the
bar of the Golden Gate. When these forces
are unfitly related, then the king is but a
crowned voluptuary, without power, and whose
dignity does but mock him; for the animals,
undivine, at least know peace and are not torn
by vice and despair.

That is the whole secret. That is what
makes man strong, powerful, able to grasp
heaven and earth in his hands. Do not fancy
it is easily done. Do not be deluded into the
idea that the religious or the virtuous man does
it! Not so. They do no more than fix a standard,
a routine, a law, by which they hold the
animal in check. The god is compelled to
serve him in a certain way, and does so, pleasing
him with the beliefs and cherished fantasies
of the religious, with the lofty sense of personal
pride which makes the joy of the virtuous.
These special and canonized vices are
things too low and base to be possible to the
pure animal, whose only inspirer is Nature herself,
always fresh as the dawn. The god in
man, degraded, is a thing unspeakable in its infamous
power of production.

The animal in man, elevated, is a thing unimaginable
in its great powers of service and
of strength.

You forget, you who let your animal self
live on, merely checked and held within certain
bounds, that it is a great force, an integral
portion of the animal life of the world you
live in. With it you can sway men, and influence
the very world itself, more or less perceptibly
according to your strength. The god,
given his right place, will so inspire and guide
this extraordinary creature, so educate and
develope it, so force it into action and recognition
of its kind, that it will make you tremble
when you recognise the power that has awakened
within you. The animal in yourself will
then be a king among the animals of the world.

This is the secret of the old-world magicians
who made Nature serve them and work
miracles every day for their convenience. This
is the secret of the coming race which Lord
Lytton foreshadowed for us.

But this power can only be attained by giving
the god the sovereignty. Make your animal
ruler over yourself, and he will never rule
others.



EPILOGUE


Secreted and hidden in the heart of the
world and in the heart of man is the light
which can illumine all life, the future and the
past. Shall we not search for it? Surely some
must do so. And then perhaps those will add
what is needed to this poor fragment of
thought.



THROUGH THE GATES OF GOLD

From _The Path_, March, 1887


The most notable book for guidance in Mysticism
which has appeared since _Light on the Path_
was written has just been published under the
significant title of _Through the Gates of Gold_.
Though the author's name is withheld, the occult
student will quickly discern that it must proceed
from a very high source. In certain respects the
book may be regarded as a commentary on _Light
on the Path_. The reader would do well to bear
this in mind. Many things in that book will be
made clear by the reading of this one, and one will
be constantly reminded of that work, which has
already become a classic in our literature. _Through
the Gates of Gold_ is a work to be kept constantly
at hand for reference and study. It will surely take
rank as one of the standard books of Theosophy.

The "Gates of Gold" represent the entrance to
that realm of the soul unknowable through the
physical perceptions, and the purpose of this work
is to indicate some of the steps necessary to reach
their threshold. Through its extraordinary beauty
of style and the clearness of its statement it will
appeal to a wider portion of the public than most
works of a Theosophical character. It speaks to the
Western World in its own language, and in this
fact lies much of its value.

Those of us who have been longing for something
"practical" will find it here, while it will
probably come into the hands of thousands who
know little or nothing of Theosophy, and thus meet
wants deeply felt though unexpressed. There are
also doubtless many, we fancy, who will be carried
far along in its pages by its resistless logic until
they encounter something which will give a rude
shock to some of their old conceptions, which they
have imagined as firmly based as upon a rock--a
shock which may cause them to draw back in alarm,
but from which they will not find it so easy to
recover, and which will be likely to set them
thinking seriously.

The titles of the five chapters of the book are,
respectively, "The Search for Pleasure," "The
Mystery of Threshold," "The Initial Effort," "The
Meaning of Pain," and "The Secret of Strength."
Instead of speculating upon mysteries that lie at the
very end of man's destiny, and which cannot be
approached by any manner of conjecture, the work
very sensibly takes up that which lies next at hand,
that which constitutes the first step to be taken if
we are ever to take a second one, and teaches us its
significance. At the outset we must cope with
sensation and learn its nature and meaning. An
important teaching of _Light on the Path_ has been
misread by many. We are not enjoined to kill out
sensation, but to "kill out _desire_ for sensation,"
which is something quite different. "Sensation, as
we obtain it through the physical body, affords us
all that induces us to live in that shape," says this
work. The problem is, to extract the meaning which
it holds for us. That is what existence is for. "If
men will but pause and consider what lessons they
have learned from pleasure and pain, much might
be guessed of that strange thing which causes these
effects."

"The question concerning results seemingly
unknowable, that concerning the life beyond the
Gates," is presented as one that has been asked
throughout the ages, coming at the hour "when the
flower of civilization had blown to its full, and when
its petals are but slackly held together," the period
when man reaches the greatest physical development
of his cycle. It is then that in the distance a great
glittering is seen, before which many drop their
eyes bewildered and dazzled, though now and then
one is found brave enough to gaze fixedly on this
glittering, and to decipher something of the shape
within it. "Poets and philosophers, thinkers and
teachers, all those who are the 'elder brothers of the
race'--have beheld this sight from time to time,
and some among them have recognized in the bewildering
glitter the outlines of the Gates of Gold."

Those Gates admit us to the sanctuary of man's
own nature, to the place whence his life-power
comes, and where he is priest of the shrine of life.
It needs but a strong hand to push them open, we
are told. "The courage to enter them is the courage
to search the recesses of one's own nature without
fear and without shame. In the fine part, the
essence, the flavor of the man, is found the key
which unlocks those great Gates."

The necessity of killing out the sense of separateness
is profoundly emphasized as one of the most
important factors in this process. We must divest
ourselves of the illusions of the material life. "When
we desire to speak with those who have tried the
Golden Gates and pushed them open, then it is very
necessary--in fact it is essential--to discriminate,
and not bring into our life the confusions of our
sleep. If we do, we are reckoned as madmen, and
fall back into the darkness where there is no friend
but chaos. This chaos has followed every effort of
man that is written in history; after civilization has
flowered, the flower falls and dies, and winter and
darkness destroy it." In this last sentence is indicated
the purpose of civilization. It is the blossoming
of a race, with the purpose of producing a certain
spiritual fruit; this fruit having ripened, then the
degeneration of the great residuum begins, to be
worked over and over again in the grand fermenting
processes of reincarnation. Our great civilization
is now flowering and in this fact we may read the
reason for the extraordinary efforts to sow the seed
of the Mystic Teachings wherever the mind of man
may be ready to receive it.

In the "Mystery of Threshold," we are told that
"only a man who has the potentialities in him both
of the voluptuary and the stoic has any chance of
entering the Golden Gates. He must be capable of
testing and valuing to its most delicate fraction every
joy existence has to give; and he must be capable of
denying himself all pleasure, and that without
suffering from the denial."

The fact that the way is different for each individual
is finely set forth in "The Initial Effort," in
the words that man "may burst the shell that holds
him in darkness, tear the veil that hides him from
the eternal, at any moment where it is easiest for
him to do so; and most often this point will be
where he least expects to find it." By this we may
see the uselessness of laying down arbitrary laws
in the matter.

The meaning of those important words, "All
steps are necessary to make up the ladder," finds a
wealth of illustration here. These sentences are particularly
pregnant: "Spirit is not a gas created by
matter, and we cannot create our future by forcibly
using one material agent and leaving out the rest.
Spirit is the great life on which matter rests, as
does the rocky world on the free and fluid ether;
whenever we can break our limitations we find ourselves
on that marvellous shore where Wordsworth
once saw the gleam of the gold." Virtue, being of
the material life, man has not the power to carry
it with him, "yet the aroma of his good deeds is a
far sweeter sacrifice than the odor of crime and
cruelty."

"To the one who has lifted the golden latch
the spring of sweet waters, the fountain itself whence
all softness arises, is opened and becomes part of
his heritage. But before this can be reached a heavy
weight has to be lifted from the heart, an iron bar
which holds it down and prevents it from arising
in its strength."

The author here wishes to show that there is
sweetness and light in occultism, and not merely a
wide dry level of dreadful Karma, such as some
Theosophists are prone to dwell on. And this sweetness
and light may be reached when we discover
the iron bar and raising it shall permit the heart
to be free. This iron bar is what the Hindus call
"the knot of the heart"! In their scriptures they
talk of unloosing this knot, and say that when that
is accomplished freedom is near. But what is the
iron bar and the knot? is the question we must
answer. It is the astringent power of self--of
egotism--of the idea of separateness. This idea has
many strongholds. It holds its most secret court and
deepest counsels near the far removed depths and
centre of the heart. But it manifests itself first, in
that place which is nearest to our ignorant perceptions,
where we see it first after beginning the search.
When we assault and conquer it there it disappears.
It has only retreated to the next row of outworks
where for a time it appears not to our sight, and
we imagine it killed, while it is laughing at our
imaginary conquests and security. Soon again we
find it and conquer again, only to have it again
retreat. So we must follow it up if we wish to
grasp it at last in its final stand just near the "kernel
of the heart." There it has become "an iron bar
that holds down the heart," and there only can
the fight be really won. That disciple is fortunate
who is able to sink past all the pretended outer
citadels and seize at once this _personal devil_ who
holds the bar of iron, and there wage the battle.
If won there, it is easy to return to the outermost
places and take them by capitulation. This is very
difficult, for many reasons. It is not a mere juggle of
words to speak of this trial. It is a living tangible
thing that can be met by any real student. The
great difficulty of rushing at once to the centre lies
in the unimaginable terrors which assault the soul
on its short journey there. This being so it is better
to begin the battle on the outside in just the way
pointed out in this book and _Light on the Path_,
by testing experience and learning from it.

In the lines quoted the author attempts to direct
the eyes of a very materialistic age to the fact which
is an accepted one by all true students of occultism,
that the true heart of a man--which is visibly represented
by the muscular heart--is the focus point
for spirit, for knowledge, for power; and that from
that point the converged rays begin to spread out
fan-like, until they embrace the Universe. So it is
the Gate. And it is just at that neutral spot of
concentration that the pillars and the doors are fixed.
It is beyond it that the glorious golden light burns,
and throws up a "burnished glow." We find in
this the same teachings as in the Upanishads. The
latter speaks of "the ether which is within the
heart," and also says that we must pass across
that ether.

"The Meaning of Pain" is considered in a way
which throws a great light on the existence of that
which for ages has puzzled many learned men.
"Pain arouses, softens, breaks, and destroys. Regarded
from a sufficiently removed standpoint, it
appears as a medicine, as a knife, as a weapon, as a
poison, in turn. It is an implement, a thing which
is used, evidently. What we desire to discover is,
who is the user; what part of ourselves is it that
demands the presence of this thing so hateful to
the rest?"

The task is, to rise above both pain and pleasure
and unite them to our service. "Pain and pleasure
stand apart and separate, as do the two sexes; and
it is in the merging, the making the two into one,
that joy and deep sensation and profound peace are
obtained. Where there is neither male nor female,
neither pain nor pleasure, there is the god in man
dominant, and then is life real."

The following passage can hardly fail to startle
many good people: "Destiny, the inevitable, does
indeed exist for the race and for the individual;
but who can ordain this save the man himself?
There is no clew in heaven or earth to the existence
of any ordainer other than the man who suffers or
enjoys that which is ordained." But can any earnest
student of Theosophy deny, or object to this? Is it
not a pure statement of the law of Karma? Does it
not agree perfectly with the teaching of the Bhagavat-Gita?
There is surely no power which sits apart
like a judge in court, and fines us or rewards us
for this misstep or that merit; it is we who shape,
or ordain, our own future.

God is not denied. The seeming paradox that a
God exists within each man is made clear when we
perceive that our separate existence is an illusion;
the physical, which makes us separate individuals,
must eventually fall away, leaving each man one
with all men, and with God, who is the Infinite.

And the passage which will surely be widely
misunderstood is that in "The Secret of Strength."
"Religion holds a man back from the path, prevents
his stepping forward, for various very plain reasons.
First, it makes the vital mistake of distinguishing
between good and evil. Nature knows no such distinctions."
Religion is always man-made. It cannot
therefore be the whole truth. It is a good thing for
the ordinary and outside man, but surely it will
never bring him to the Gates of Gold. If religion
be of God how is it that we find that same God
in his own works and acts violating the precepts
of religion? He kills each man once in life; every
day the fierce elements and strange circumstances
which he is said to be the author of, bring on
famine, cold and innumerable untimely deaths;
where then, in The True, can there be any room
for such distinctions as right and wrong? The disciple,
must as he walks on the path, abide by law
and order, but if he pins his faith on any religion
whatever he will stop at once, and it makes no
matter whether he sets up Mahatmas, Gods, Krishna,
Vedas or mysterious acts of grace, each of these
will stop him and throw him into a rut from which
even heavenly death will not release him. Religion
can only teach morals and ethics. It cannot answer
the question "what am I?" The Buddhist ascetic
holds a fan before his eyes to keep away the sight
of objects condemned by his religion. But he thereby
gains no knowledge, for that part of him which is
affected by the improper sights has to be known by
the man himself, and it is by experience alone that
the knowledge can be possessed and assimilated.

The book closes gloriously, with some hints that
have been much needed. Too many, even of the
sincerest students of occultism, have sought to ignore
that one-half of their nature, which is here taught
to be necessary. Instead of crushing out the animal
nature, we have here the high and wise teaching
that we must learn to fully understand the animal
and subordinate it to the spiritual. "The god in
man, degraded, is a thing unspeakable in its
infamous power of production. The animal in man,
elevated, is a thing unimaginable in its great powers
of service and of strength," and we [are] told that
our animal self is a great force, the secret of the
old-world magicians, and of the coming race which
Lord Lytton foreshadowed. "But this power can
only be attained by giving the god the sovereignty.
Make your animal ruler over your self, and he will
never rule others."

This teaching will be seen to be identical with
that of the closing words of _The Idyll of the White
Lotus_: "He will learn how to expound spiritual
truths, and to enter into the life of his highest self,
and he can learn also to hold within him the glory
of that higher self, and yet to retain life upon this
planet so long as it shall last, if need be; to retain
life in the vigor of manhood, till his entire work is
completed, and he has taught the three truths to all
who look for light."

There are three sentences in the book which
ought to be imprinted in the reader's mind, and we
present them inversely:

"Secreted and hidden in the heart of the world
and the heart of man is the light which can illumine
all life, the future and the past."

"On the mental steps of a million men Buddha
passed through the Gates of Gold; and because a
great crowd pressed about the threshold he was able
to leave behind him words which prove that those
gates will open."

"This is one of the most important factors in
the development of man, the recognition--profound
and complete recognition--of the law of
universal unity and coherence."





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