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Title: Evolution of Life and Form - Four lectures delivered at the twenty-third anniversary - meeting of the Theosophical Society at Adyar, Madras, 1898
Author: Besant, Annie, 1847-1933
Language: English
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  EVOLUTION OF LIFE AND FORM

  _Four Lectures delivered at the Twenty-third Anniversary Meeting
  of the Theosophical Society at Adyar, Madras, 1898._

  BY

  ANNIE BESANT

  SECOND EDITION


  LONDON: THEOSOPHICAL PUBLISHING SOCIETY

  BENARES: THEOSOPHICAL PUBLISHING SOCIETY

  1900



             CONTENTS.


                              PAGE

ANCIENT AND MODERN SCIENCE      5

FUNCTIONS OF THE GODS          46

EVOLUTION OF LIFE              90

EVOLUTION OF FORM             124



[FIRST LECTURE.]

ANCIENT AND MODERN SCIENCE.


My Brothers:--The subject on which I am to address you this morning, and
the three mornings that follow, is one of considerable complexity and
difficulty. I do not apologise to you for the difficulty of my theme.
When we meet here in our Anniversary Meeting, we meet as students and
not simply as superficial men and women of the world. We try to prepare
ourselves, by study, for the exchange of thought which in these
gatherings takes place, and although the subject is a difficult one,
although it is not possible to make it clear and intelligible without
the use of certain technical terms, yet, to the student technical
terms--being precise--are really the easiest to understand, and inasmuch
as, in a great majority at least, we are students, I who speak, and you
who listen, we may be content to treat the subject in a somewhat formal
and technical way. Roughly, my outline is this. I want to lay before you
an intelligible conception of evolution, taking it on its two sides,
that of the evolving life and that of the developing forms. I begin by
laying before you a sketch of the methods of "Ancient and Modern
Science," the direction in which each has worked, and is working, the
ultimate union that, we hope, may take place between them. For what
could more fully presage the good of the whole world, what could promise
more happily for the relationship between the different races of
humanity, than to draw together on the plane of mind the science of
antiquity and of modern days, the science of the East and of the West,
and, by wedding them to each other, draw together the nations that are
now divided, and make objective that brotherhood of humanity of which we
dream.

Dealing first with ancient and modern science in this broad and general
way, and taking that as my subject for this morning, I shall pass on
to-morrow to speak on the "Functions of the Gods," meaning by that
phrase the activities of that invisible side of nature on which the
whole of the visible depends. Whether we use here the name "Devas" to
represent those developed spiritual intelligences, or whether with the
child of Islâm, with the Hebrew or the Christian, we speak of the
"Angels" and "Archangels," the name matters nothing; the conception is
common to every faith of man. We shall study their functions in the
universe, and try to understand how they act as the ministers of the
Divine Will. Then we shall pass on to treat of that "Evolution of Life"
which lies underneath the evolution of forms. Finally, we shall treat
the "Evolution of Forms," and see how, in that evolution, is the promise
of final perfection, how all is working to a perfect ending, how the
best that we can dream of is less than the performance of God.

That is the outline of our work. Let us at once begin the first section
of the subject--Ancient and Modern Science.

Now, in the olden times, in those times to which in this land our thought
turns back most fondly with reverence and with pride, in those times,
here, as in every other ancient land, Religion and Science were wedded
together, and there was no discord between the intelligence and the
spirit. It matters not whither you wander amid the ancient nations of the
world: you may travel through the whole of Chaldea; you may study the
remains of ancient Egypt; you may go through Persia and search amid her
monuments; you may cross the Atlantic to America, and unbury the cities
that were lost ere yet the Aztecs had made the mighty State which fell
under the blows of the Spaniards; you may go into China and, in the vast
recesses of that well-nigh unknown land, you may search for what has been
left there from ancient days; or without going outside the limits of your
own land, you may take the literature that is our pride, the mighty books
written by the Ṛishis of the past; and everywhere antiquity speaks with a
single tongue. Religion reveals the spirit, the spiritual truth which is
one. Intelligence studies that truth in its manifold manifestations, and
its work; science, studying the phenomena which are images of aspects of
the Divine, is the handmaid, is the sister, of religion, and between them
discord is unnatural and fatal to progress. That is the ancient view; but
when we come to our own century a new phenomenon presents itself to our
gaze--religion on the one side suspicious of science in its progress,
science on the other hand apt to be proudly contemptuous of religious
claims. How has the divorce arisen? Why this discord between two of the
great helpers of human evolution? The reason is not far to seek. In the
western world the science of the elder time, the science of antiquity,
disappeared in the great flood of barbaric invasions, underneath the
whirlpool caused by the ruins of the Roman Empire, and later on,
underneath the wreckage of that same Empire with its new centre in
Constantinople. The invasions of barbarians, both from the East and the
North, sweeping over the European continent, brought ignorance in the
wake of barbaric conquest. The result was that night came down upon
knowledge and thick darkness enveloped the lands which were to be the
nursery of a new civilisation. When the Sun of science again began to rise
upon the Western world, it presented itself in a form which was alien,
nay, which was more than alien, which was hostile to the dominant religion
of the time. It came from the children of Islâm. It came from those who
recognised Muhammed as their Prophet. From the Muslim schools of Arabia
came the first teachers of modern science to Europe. True, they were
really by their intellectual ancestry descended from the thought of
Greece. They drew their inspiration from the school of Plato through the
Neo-Platonists; they reproduced the ideas of Porphyry and Ptolemy, and of
other Grecian and Egyptian thinkers, Neo-Platonic and even Gnostic. But
they threw over it the garb of Islâm, they presented it in the form of
Arabic thought. The result of this was that, as it made its way into Spain
in the wake of the conquering Moors, as it came with those who drove out
of the Southern Peninsula the rule of the Spanish Christian monarchy, so
the first aspect of science to Christians was an aspect of hostility. It
came as an invading enemy and not as an illuminant to all. Hence conflict
arose; some who were within the limits of the mighty Church of Rome,
touched by a longing for the new learning, stretched out their hands to
take the gifts that science was bringing. These men were regarded with
suspicion, nay, with more than suspicion, with hatred that broke out in
bitter persecution. Who can read the history of Roger Bacon, the wondrous
monk; who can picture Copernicus on his death-bed as his immortal work is
brought to him ere yet his eyes are closed, he having shrunk from earlier
publication, lest the stake should be his portion; who can stand in the
Field of Flowers in Rome, and see there the statue erected where he was
burned to death, who dying in one century, lives for all centuries to
come--Giordano Bruno; who can listen to Galileo, as with faltering lips he
denies the truth he knows and utters the falsehood that he knows not; who
can follow these martyr-steps, led on by bitter memories of blood and
fire, without understanding the reason for the hostility of science to
religion, without confessing with shame and sorrow that that hostility was
caused and was justified by the cruelties wreaked by religion on science,
when science was young and feeble? Every one of us who stands upon the
side of religion should recognise that we are reaping the bitter harvest
of our own past errors, and that the law is just which brings upon us the
difficulties and opposition we encounter in our modern days. For as
science grew strong, she grew strong with the sword in her hands. She
fought for every inch of the ground on which she stood, and only so far as
she could guard herself was she safe from the flame or from the prison.
Hence she searched for everything in nature that could serve as a weapon
against the foe that attacked her. Hence she welcomed eagerly everything
which seemed to show that materialism was the true philosophy of life. If
we go back twenty-five years, to the time when I and some of you were
young, we shall find that over western science there hung the shadow of
materialism, and that stronger and stronger grew the scientific tendency
to "see in matter the promise and the potency of every form of life." You
remember those famous words of Professor Tyndall, no materialist in his
thought and a religious man in his aspirations, but wellnigh driven by
despair to claim fair field for science, and to fling back the claims of
religion, because among them was included the right to gag, the refusal to
allow thought to be honestly uttered by the thinker. But things are
changing more and more; as religion has been growing more liberal and more
rational, science is becoming less materialistic and less aggressive; and
we shall see presently that the most modern of modern science--not quite
the science that you get in your textbooks, for that is practically
out-of-date in the rush of thought which comes from the West, but the
science of the leaders of thought, the science of the first men in the
scientific camp--is more and more approaching the domain where scientists
will recognise religion as helper and not as enemy. In fact, speaking from
the same chair from which Tyndall had uttered his famous phrase that "in
matter he saw the promise and potency of every form of life," his
successor, Sir William Crookes, a member of our own Theosophical Society,
declared, reversing those words of his predecessor, that "In life I see
the promise and potency of all forms of matter."

Such is the great change. Let us now examine in detail. The fundamental
difference between ancient and modern science is that ancient science
studies the world from the standpoint of life which is evolving, while
modern science studies the world by observing the forms through which
that life is manifesting. The first studies life, and sees in forms the
expressions of life. The second studies forms, and tries, by the process
of induction, to find out if there be an underlying principle by which
the multiplicity of forms may be explained. The first works from above
downwards, the second from below upwards, and in that very fact is the
promise of a meeting place where the two will join hand in hand. But
this fundamental difference carries with it very important results. If
we are to study the world from the standpoint of forms, our study will
be almost endless in its multiplicity. Think of a tree; the one trunk
through which the life is pouring, innumerable leaves in which that life
is ultimately expressed; it is an image of the tree of life, that great
Ashvattha, the tree of which we have heard, whose roots are in the
heavens and whose branches spread out over the earth. If we are to study
it where its trunk is, the trunk of life, we have the unity of purpose
and can trace why we have multiplicity of forms; but if we are to start
at the parts where the leaves are growing, leaf by leaf we must examine,
every difference of outline we must record, each little variety in shape
we must carefully note and study. Science studies the leaves in modern
days--the old science studied the life. There is the fundamental
difference. There is also the reason of the difference of methods by
which the study must be carried on. What is the method of modern
science? The use of clear observation, keen judgment, power of placing
like things together, and seeing the differences that divide the
classes of the like from the classes of the unlike. But in order that
this may be done, inasmuch as nature is infinite both in the vast and in
the minute, man demands, to supplement his limited senses, instruments
and apparatus of the most exquisite and delicate character; so that it
has been even said that the progress of science is the progress of the
exquisite nature of the apparatus which science uses, and scientific men
will devise a more delicate balance, a more dainty way of adjustment,
instrument after instrument, until perfection seems well-nigh to be
reached; the modern man of science, to carry on his researches, demands
a vast array of apparatus that he must use for his work, for according
to the delicacy of his apparatus is the extent of his observation of the
forms to which his attention is directed. But the man of science of the
ancient type does not ask for instruments; he is not studying the
evolution of forms; he has to study life, not form; and for such study
he must evolve himself, the life that is within him, for only life can
measure life, only life can respond to the vibrations of the living; his
work is to unfold himself, to bring out of the depths of his own nature
the divine powers that lie hidden therein, not in the senses but in the
Self. His investigations can only be carried on by means of these
powers, and only as he develops the divine within him will he be able to
understand and measure the divine without him. Now this is only possible
because, in essence, the natures of God and man are identical. This
sounds a bold statement, but it is the fundamental truth of all
religions. Need I quote to you the famous saying, "Thou art That"? Shall
I take an equivalent phrase from the Hebrew Scripture, accepted by the
whole Christian world: "God created man in His own image, in the image
of God created He him"? The teaching is identical as all great truths
are identical in the various religions; but what does it mean? God is
manifest in His universe. Would you understand His work, you must
develop the God within yourself, else will He for ever be veiled from
your eyes. Not by the eyes of sense may you behold Him, not by the
vision of intellect may you see that Form, invisible even to the
intelligence. Only as the Self that is God is unfolded within you, will
the Self that is the God without you manifest to you the full glory of
His life. That is the ancient starting point. Thus what the man of old
had to do, if indeed he were to be a man of science, was to become
divine; he was to be a saint before he could be a sage. No man could be
wise until he was pure, for how should impure eyes behold the Pure?
There is the hall-mark of the man of science of the ancient days: he is
developed within before he can be learned without. But from the modern
man of science is not demanded this condition. He must indeed lead a
life that is self-restrained, orderly, and fairly clean; were he to
yield to the riot of the senses, his intelligence would become clouded.
He must have keen power of observation, balanced strength of judgment,
strong patience, unwearied industry, clear insight for differences and
similarities. All these are demanded from him, if he is to be great, and
these are among the noblest powers of intelligence. But all he asks of
religion is to leave him alone. Of old, religion opened the gateway to
science; now-a-days science asks nothing from religion save to stand
aside. That is the difficulty in our way. We have to show that life
cannot be understood until the student lives that which he seeks. That
even the understanding of forms is very imperfect until the life
expressed through them is recognised and partially understood. That
fundamental difference of method then, will cover the whole field, and
will enable us to comprehend the difference of the results.

Now let us try to understand more clearly why it was that the ancient man
of science was taught that the first step to true knowledge, or wisdom,
was the unfolding of the Self. What is life or consciousness--for the two
terms are synonymous? It is the power to answer to vibrations, the power
to respond--that is consciousness. Evolution is the unfolding of a
continually increasing power to respond. The whole universe is full of
the vibrations of Íshvara, of God. He sustains and moves the whole.
Consciousness is the power in us to answer to those vibrations. All powers
lie hidden within us as the oak tree lies hidden in the acorn. But it is
in the process of evolution that the sapling slowly grows out of the seed.
In Eternity, in the Now, all is existent, perfect; in Time only is there
succession, the unfolding of one thing after another. In the changeless
Point everything is present: Space is but the field for diverse sequences.
Hence Time and Space are the basic illusions, and are yet the fundamental
conditions of thinking. Keep, I pray you, that definition of consciousness
in mind, for it will govern the remainder of our study.

The Self in man, being in the image of God, is triple as the Self, the
Divine, is triple. I need not stop to argue this. You know it from that
great literature which lies at the foundation of all Hindu Philosophy.
Whether you speak in abstract terms and say with the Upanishad that
Brahman is threefold, whether you speak of Him as Sat-chit-ânanda, or
whether, instead of using philosophical, abstract terms, you say He is
manifest as Íshvara in the Trimûrti as Mahâdeva, Vishnu and Brahmâ, it
matters not. You may take the concrete form or the abstract, the
fundamental idea is the same: that the Divine Self in manifestation is
triple, and therefore in every great religion God is spoken of as a
Trinity. If this were not so, the relationship between God and man would
remain for ever unintelligible, for man shows a triplicity as he
evolves. The human reflection of that triple Divine Self is the triple
Self in man.

One by one are the Divine aspects unfolded as manifestation proceeds.
The lowest, if I may dare to use such a term, is the aspect which is
first brought into activity for the building of the universe. So also in
man the intelligence awakens and becomes active, the lowest aspect of
the human Self. That is the reflection of Brahmâ, of the Universal Mind,
the creative energy from which all comes forth; and you may find in
yourselves, as you evolve, that creative faculty of imagination which,
working at present in subtle matter, will, when man is perfect, work in
grosser matter as well; for the imaginative power in man is the
reflection of the power that in God created the universe. Brahmâ
meditated, and all forms came forth; and in the creative power of mind
lies every possibility of form. So in man is later evolved the next
aspect, that of A'nanda, where unity is recognised instead of diversity.
Chit, in man, is the intelligence that _knows_, that separates and
divides and analyses, and it has to do with the multiplicity of forms
and with their inter-relations; A'nanda is the wisdom that realises the
unity of all things, and that accomplishes union, thus finding the joy
that lies at the very heart of life; last of all in human evolution, is
developed the third and highest aspect of Deity, Self-Existence, the
Unity that lies beyond union, and this can be developed in man only
because man is one with the Eternal in his nature. By this evolution, in
ages to come, through the countless kalpas that lie in front, Íshvara
after Íshvara arises, each as the fruitage of a universe, to carry on
still more mightily the will of the "One without a second," and to
manifest something of that perfection to the whole of the then
manifested nature. Such, very roughly, is the course of human evolution
into divinity, and this is carried on by races succeeding one another;
as we come to the higher Root-races of man, to those that we speak of as
the Fifth, in which we are, the Sixth, that shall succeed us, and the
Seventh that finishes this cycle of human evolution, we learn that the
characteristic of each of these three Root-races is that each gradually
develops that aspect of God which belongs to it in the due sequence of
evolution. The Fifth is developing the aspect of Chit, Intelligence, the
mind is being evolved, and all the progress of modern science, so marked
in our own days, is but part of the fruitage of that evolution, of that
growth of intelligence which looks on the outer world as not itself--as
the Not-Self--and seeks to study and understand it. The characteristic
attributes belonging to the evolution of the two following races are
even now to be reached by special methods, by individuals who are
willing to take the pains to make the required sacrifices. That which we
know as Yoga is the method by which evolution is quickened in the
individual, and all the powers of the Self, up to the threshold of
divinity, may by it be brought into manifestation in the man of the
present. That is why Yoga training was necessary for the ancient
scientist; he must develop in himself the three aspects of God, if he
were to understand them as manifested in the universe around him.

Now, at our own stage of evolution, it is specially the life of
Brahmâ--or the Brahmâ aspect of God--with which the human mind is coming
into touch, because the mind in man is the reflection of the universal
mind in Kosmos. That life is the life that is the force in the atom,
that vivifies every atom, nay, that brings the atom into existence, as
we shall see, and remains during the whole of the growth of the universe
as the fundamental life that keeps those atoms as active particles
building up innumerable forms. Only as the life of Brahmâ, the aspect of
Brahmâ, is developed in the human Self will man be able to study the
workings of that life in the atomic forms that are filled by it; and it
is very significant that some of the greatest problems of modern science
are now turning on the nature of the atom, and that scientists are
asking, what is it? Is it matter or force? Is it a particle or a vortex?
Never will that question be answered with certainty until man has
developed in himself the power to respond to the life that thrills in
the atom, until, developing intelligence within himself to the fullest
point, he is able to answer by that intelligence to the vibrations of
the atomic life outside him. We have defined consciousness as the power
to answer to vibrations, and if man is to measure life, if he is to know
the underlying causes of phenomena, he must develop in himself the power
to respond to that life outside him; and in the perfection of human
intelligence--the reflection of the Brahmâ aspect of God--lies the only
possibility of solution for this much debated problem in science. I said
it was significant, for this problem belongs to the Fifth race, and the
Western world is at present peopled largely by the fifth sub-race of the
great Fifth. Thus it takes to the very highest point the concrete mind
of man, that marvellous activity of the intellect, that swift and yet
patient study, bringing about the achievements that modern science is
performing. All these are a testimony of the truth of the ancient
teaching that sub-race after sub-race arises, each one with its own work
to do, and we should look on the work of each sub-division of humanity
as good in itself: each should not be regarded as an isolated and
hostile expression, but as part of the Divine manifestation, expressing
that portion which it is destined to express.

Looking thus, then, on the problem of the life that exists in the atom,
we find that in order to understand it, we must develop the pure
intellect in man; but to understand the life that clothes itself in
organic forms, to unravel the secrets which will explain to us why one
is formed thus and another thus, the next great aspect of the Self must
be developed within us--that of the all-pervading life of Vishnu, that
sustains the world as the mighty supporter of everything, the basis, the
foundation of the whole. There alone is unifying energy and there the
root from which all divisions have arisen; only as we realise this
aspect of unifying energy in the Self will the secrets of organised
forms in nature unravel themselves before our eyes. This work is that of
the Sixth Root-race, and those who would ante-date their evolution must
develop Sixth-race powers in themselves by Yoga. Remains one mightier
problem, subtlest and most difficult of all, that of the life of the
human spirit, of man evolving into God. The mysteries of that life may
only be understood when the human Self, which comes forth from the
Father of all--from the mighty One who is sometimes the Destroyer,
sometimes the Creator, but always the Regenerator, the name that
includes them both, Mahâdeva, the mighty God who is Sat, Existence--has
developed the aspect of Sat, of pure Existence, thus becoming the triple
Unity, a Logos, an Íshvara. That is the work of the Seventh Root-race,
and when that is accomplished, then only will the final problems of the
human spirit lie open before our gaze.

The scientific man of antiquity, then, began by that self-attention,
unfolding in himself one by one all those potentialities under a
suitable Guru, passing from step to step till he reached the highest,
and ever worshipping the Mahâguru, the Guru of the universe. Having
unfolded his highest powers, he began to study life, life in its
outpouring, not life in its manifold and veiled manifestations in the
lower worlds. Hence the lofty point at which he started, no less than
the arising of Íshvara enveloped in Mâyâ.

What is Íshvara? What is Mâyâ? There is the first great problem. Let us
reverently address ourselves to it. The philosophers of India have
answered these questions in different ways, each one containing part
of the eternal truth. Íshvara is that mighty centre of consciousness
that exists unchanged in the bosom of the One Existence. There are
innumerable such Centres of Consciousness, of which you may remember
your own Svâmi Subba Rao wrote as existing in the bosom of the One
Existence. Íshvara in manifestation is like a lamp, a light enclosed in
a shade. Íshvara, enveloped in Mâyâ, brings forth a universe and is
enclosed, as it were, in the universe of which He is the Light. Breaking
the shade, the light shines forth in every direction. Dissolving the
universe, He still remains. The centre remains, but the circumference
that circumscribed it is gone. So is that mighty centre when the
universe vanishes; He alone remains, holding His centre unshaken in the
very act of merging in, expanding into, the Infinite, the Absolute, the
Super-Consciousness, the One. Let us think of Him as an eternal centre
of self-consciousness, able to merge in super-consciousness and to
again limit Himself to self-consciousness.

What, then, is Mâyâ? Mâyâ is prepared in every case by the merging in
Íshvara of the whole of the universe which is come to its ending. As one
loka rolls up and merges in the one above it, all forms in the loka thus
merged disappear, but the consciousness that ensouled those forms does not
vanish; a modification of consciousness remains, a modification expressing
itself by a vibratory power--not a vibration, but a power to vibrate in a
particular way; and though the form vanishes as the loka is merged in the
one above it--because the matter disappears, being disintegrated into
finer matter--in consciousness there remains the power to vibrate in the
way in which it had vibrated in the grosser matter, and power persists
although the forms caused by such vibrations disappear, for lack of
material sufficiently coarse to respond to such vibrations. As one region
passes into the next, this process is repeated over and over and over
again, and loka after loka vanishes. The forms are gone, the vibrations
are gone, only the modifications in consciousness capable of giving rise
to similar vibrations remain until finally, when Íshvara--whose
consciousness was the one consciousness in the universe, whose life was
the one life, who supported every form, who made the possibility of every
separated existence--gathers up His universe into Himself ere He merges
Himself in the ONE, everything has vanished that we know as form, nothing
remains save the centre of consciousness. There remains in Íshvara the
power of vibrating in particular fashions, resulting from the evolution of
His universe, in endless multiplicity of vibrations; when He merges
Himself in the One Existence all has vanished as form, but powers remain
in these subtle modifications, preserved in that unchangeable centre in
the mightiness of the One Life. Is that only a dream?

There was a great teacher, Vâsiṣhtha. He taught Râmâ, as you will
remember, and in the record of his teaching there are hints on some of
the mysteries of life. If you keep what I have now said in mind, if I
have succeeded by the clumsy words which are all that the human tongue
can utter on these great problems, in clarifying at all your thoughts,
then just listen to that same thought as expressed by Sûryadeva, when he
was speaking of the same thing--the ending and the new beginning of a
universe. We have only to add to what I have already said, that when
Íshvara arises in order that a new universe may be formed, He throws His
life into these modifications that had apparently disappeared, and the
Mâyâ in which He arises, enveloped and circumscribed, is His own
re-vivified memory, which can never be separated from Himself; He draws
in His consciousness, under the impulse of the Great Breath, limiting it
to self-consciousness, and turning His attention to the contents of that
self-consciousness, its powers start into activity, and that is Mâyâ. So
it is written: "Thereafter, Thou, O Lord, intent on [maintaining] the
reign of night, fixed within the Self, having indrawn that order of
things, [or universe.]... To-day, Thou hast awakened, and art most
joyfully desirous of again throwing out [manifesting] the universe in
mighty gradations [hierarchies of beings]." [_Yoga Vâsiṣhtha_, lxxxvii,
7, 8.] These nights and days are the "Nights and Days of Brahmâ," the
inbreathing and outbreathing of the One Existence, and Mâyâ is this
indrawn "order of things" that remains fixed through the Night, and
starts forth as Íshvara awakens at the coming of Day. That is Mâyâ and
if you take up the definitions given in the different schools, you will
find that this includes and illumines every one of them, that it shows
you what is meant by illusion, and explains to you what is implied in
dreaming. The joyful throwing out into manifestation of all the powers
that are remembered by Íshvara the moment His attention is turned to
His own Self, that memory-prompted "desire" which arises in the bosom of
the Eternal, is the root of the coming universe. Now this thought will
prove to you the key of much ancient teaching. You have, in the
Universal Mind full of ideas which are not yet concreted into phenomena,
the world of ideas of Plato, the invisible world of the Hebrew Kabbalah;
in every great teaching you find the same thought expressed. If, instead
of being fettered by words, as for the most part we are, and if, instead
of repeating phrases that carry with them no idea in the mind of the
repeater, we would try to read the thought that underlies the words, we
should find the Hindu philosophy in every modern philosophy that is
worthy of the name, and see the traces of ancient India in Greece and in
Rome, in Germany and in the England of to-day.

What is the next stage? The Life-Breath goes forth. Íshvara, the Centre
of all, enveloped in Mâyâ sends forth His breath; as that vibrating
breath falls on the enveloping Mâyâ, Mâyâ becomes Prakriti, or
Matter--rather, perhaps, Mûlaprakriti, the root of matter. As that
breath, with its triple vibratory force falls on this matter, it throws
it into three modifications, or "attributes"--Tamas, inertia, or better,
stability; Rajas, activity, vigour; Sattva, a difficult word to
translate: I am inclined to translate it as Harmony; for this reason,
that wherever there is pleasure, Sattva is present. Without harmony no
pleasure can anywhere exist. All pleasure is due to harmonious
vibration, and that quality of harmonious inter-related vibrations is
the quality that Sattva gives to matter. These three fundamental
qualities of matter--answering to three fundamental modifications in the
consciousness of Íshvara--inertia, activity, and harmony, these are the
famous three Gunas without which Prakriti cannot manifest. Fundamental,
essential, and unchangeable, they are present in every particle in the
manifested universe, and according to their combinations is the nature
of each particle.

Then comes the seven-fold division. In a moment I will tell you why we
speak of it as seven-fold instead of five-fold, which is the more familiar
division to you. The seven-fold division, what is this? Here is matter
with its three Gunas, now ready to receive another impulse from the
Life-Breath; that breath comes forth from Brahmâ, for Íshvara has unfolded
His triple nature into its three aspects, and it comes forth in seven
great waves. Each one modifies matter, and evolves and ensouls those that
follow it. The first two are absolutely beyond our knowing, and belong
not to our present stages of evolution at all; therefore they are
ordinarily left out, and only the five that make up the evolution of our
universe are spoken of in the sacred books. Here and there the seven are
mentioned, but only rarely. You may remember the seven tongues of fire,
for instance, and one or two other similar phrases. But generally
five-fold is Prâna, the five-fold evolving life. First, in every case, is
a modification of consciousness sent forth as a power by Íshvara. Turn to
the _Vishnu Purâna_ and you will see exactly the stage that I am pointing
out to you in more modern phrases. Íshvara Himself, as Brahmâ, sends forth
a power, due to a modification of His consciousness, called in the _Vishnu
Purâna_ a Tanmâtra. In the English translation the word rudiment is used.
You remember the rudiments of sound, of touch, of colour, and so on. All
these rudiments are the tanmâtras. These tanmâtras are the powers due to
modifications in consciousness or life, without which no modification in
matter can be. The consciousness first, then the form. The first great
vibration that goes forth is the vibration that gives rise to what we
speak of here as sound--all our terms being drawn from the lowest, or
physical, manifestations; the form that it brings into manifestation is
A'kâsha, the mighty element of Ether; not the ether of modern science, of
course, although that is its physical representative. Then into that the
next tanmâtra, the next power due to a modification of consciousness, is
sent forth; the A'kâsha, with the primary vibration within it, receives
the second vibration sent out by Íshvara, and this, pervading the matter
around it, brings about the next modification of matter, the element Vâyu,
or Air. Vâyu, permeated, ensouled and enveloped in A'kâsha, receives a
fresh impulse from Íshvara, the third tanmâtra, or power resulting from a
modification of consciousness; this tanmâtra, working on Vâyu, produces
the modification of matter called the element Agni, or Fire, and this
fire-matter is permeated, ensouled, and enveloped in Vâyu, as Vâyu in
A'kâsha. A similar process brings into manifestation the elements Apas and
Prithivî. The "magnetic field" of an atom is composed of all the tanmâtras
and elements above it. Try to realise this process if you can, though I
know the conception is difficult. What has occurred? A modification of
life or consciousness in Íshvara, manifested as a power, a vibration;
everything depends on vibration; ancient and modern science speak alike on
this. The universe is made up of vibrations, the vibrations which are the
modifications of the Divine out-pouring of life. These clothe themselves
in fundamental forms of matter, out of which all multiplicity is
developed. These modifications in matter, these great, or primary,
elements are also called tattvas. Tanmâtras, then, are the powers sent out
by modifications of consciousness, and these are awkwardly translated by
the word rudiments; we have next the modifications in matter, the great
elements, the primary elements, or tattvas. The first of the tattvas is
called A'kâsha; then Vâyu, then Agni, then Apas, then Prithivî, the five
following one after the other; the keynote of this evolution is that the
modification of the previous higher tattva is reproduced within the lower,
pervades it and expands outside it. If you will take the _Vishnu Purâna_,
the second chapter, and read over again the evolution of the five tattvas,
you will find that the Sanskrit word which is used comes from a root which
means to pervade as well as to enclose, giving the idea of permeation as
well as of expanding around to form an envelope. And you must understand
that the central life of each tattva is the preceding tattva with its
tanmâtra; that, with the new tanmâtra, makes up the life; and the outer
form is the new tattva that by that productive action comes into
existence.

Now leaving that, for I cannot go into further details, let me just say
to you one word about the seven and the five, because that has been a
source of great dispute between some of our Hindu Pandits and some of
our Theosophists. In the universe, taken as a whole, seven-fold is the
life of Íshvara. Beyond the tattva that we know as A'kâsha, there is
that tattva which has been called Anupâdaka, and beyond that A'ditattva,
the first. Those are far beyond our knowing; we cannot think so far. For
our life-evolution, the five mark the limit; and only the five,
therefore, as a rule, are given in the books which are to be studied to
show you how to evolve.

Rapidly we must pass onward, then, to these tattvas as, modifying
themselves by aggregations, and by disintegrations and re-combinations
of these, they make innumerable forms. The fundamental conception is
that there are as many basic forms of atoms in the universe as there are
tattvas. The tattva of ancient science is the atom of modern science,
but modern science makes the mistake of supposing that there is only one
fundamental atom. The truth is that modern science is only seeking to
get hold of the Prithivî Tattva, the lowest, or physical, atom, and it
has not yet recognized even the existence of the four (or six) higher
atoms that stretch beyond. These atoms form the regions of the universe.
All that is physical is made up from the Prithivî Tattva. Not only is
this so, but within the limits of this physical region, correspondences
of all the higher six atomic forms are reproduced. The sub-divisions of
the physical region, due to combinations of the Prithivî Tattva, show
forth the characteristics of the great regions which make up the
universe; so that we have here in our solid, liquid, gas, three ethers
and atoms, correspondences of the six higher tattvas, but we have them
all in their Prithivî form; they are the modifications of Prithivî,
reproducing on a lower plane the great primary elements. We might
call them Prithivî A'ditattva, Prithivî Anupâdhakatattva, Prithivî
A'kâshatattva, Prithivî Vâyutattva, Prithivî Agnitattva, Prithivî
Apastattva, Prithivî Prithivîtattva. Above the region of Prithivî comes
the great realm of Apas, with similar sub-divisions, all of the
Apastattva, and so again another seven above that in the higher realm of
Agni, and above that the same in the still higher realm of Vâyu, and
above that again in the A'kâsha, and then the highest two unknown
realms. When you remember that all these regions interpenetrate the one
the other, you will gain some glimpse of a complexity dizzying to think
of, the vast complexity of the universe in which the One Life is
working. Yet that complexity is simplified by thus working downwards,
and there is the line of the study of the ancient science. Working out
from this originally simple life into the endless multiplicity of forms,
we may trace the One among the many, and see the Self in all things, and
all things in Him.

At the ending of a universe, the tattvas merge in each other by
disintegration; Prithivî Tattva, having disintegrated into atoms, these
atoms are themselves broken up, and the tanmâtra that formed them, being
no longer able to express itself for lack of suitable material, ceases
to be a power, and remains only represented by a modification in
consciousness--a permanent possibility. Thus Apas Tattva becomes the
lowest manifestation, and, by a repetition of the above process, ceases
to exist. In like fashion each successively vanishes. Hence, Mahâdeva is
represented as saying in the _Shivâgama_: "The universe proceeded from
the tattvas; it goes on through the tattvas; it vanishes into the
tattvas."

Such is the grandiose conception of the kosmos given by the science of
antiquity; one life, pulsing into innumerable vibrations, and these
throwing matter into forms. On this was based the Pythagorean system of
numbers; on this mathematics and music were founded; on this the "Great
Science," or Magic, of long-perished nations was built up. That science
only survives in its purity in the Great White Brotherhood, but its
traces may yet be seen in the scriptures and the religions of the world.

We take up modern science, and pass into a different atmosphere. Now
phenomena are to be studied, forms are to occupy our attention. But as
we look at modern science we find that it is beginning to transcend the
study of forms; we find the efforts of its greatest men are turned to
seek unity amid diversity. Do not think that, in speaking of modern
science as studying forms, I am indifferent to the mighty achievements
that it has made, or that I would say one word in derogation of the
ability of the leading men of science, and the priceless value of the
work that they are doing for humanity. Their achievements during the
present century are achievements that are worthy of the very deepest
respect, not only for the "sublime patience of the investigator," of
which William Kingdon Clifford so rightly spoke, but also for the
self-abnegation with which many of them have given their lives to follow
truth, to study in the innermost recesses of the phenomena of nature
what secrets she has hidden, what may be underneath the "Veil of Isis."
I do not, then, speak a word against modern science, but I point out
to you this fact, that the greatest work of science has been the
generalisations that have been suggested in the attempt to reach
simplicity, to reduce multiplicity to unity. How far has science gone
from that generally accepted view of the materialistic school of thirty
years ago, that the universe is made up of an indefinite number of
atoms, the atoms being our chemical elements! A phrase from one of the
most famous of the then leading men of science, Dr. Ludwig Büchner, will
mark the greatness of the change: he declared that the carbon atom will
always remain a carbon atom, and has been a carbon atom from all
eternity; that the hydrogen atom from all eternity has been a hydrogen
atom, and to all eternity a hydrogen atom it will remain; for atoms with
their properties are indestructible, and are therefore eternal. What man
of science would dare to allege that to-day, knowing that he would be
laughed to scorn by all his scientific brethren; who would say that
these atoms are eternally of the same nature as they have till now been
made out to be? What is science in fact, doing as to the atom? It is
finding in what is called the atom a composite body, a compound, not an
element. This discovery is chiefly due to the researches of Sir William
Crookes, who is guided in his investigations by a deeper philosophy of
the universe than is common among scientists. It is gradually finding
out that these atoms are things that are built up gradually, and that
the qualities of atoms are not fixed, but are properties that change
with every difference of conditions. Late investigations have shown that
when chemical bodies are submitted to extraordinary conditions of
cold--such cold as makes the air into a liquid and solidifies hydrogen
and oxygen--they suffer the destruction of their supposedly permanent
properties. It is proved that, as these conditions are changed, and as
lower and lower ranges of temperature are brought to bear upon these
chemical elements, one by one their eternal properties disappear, and
they lie there changed in their activities, and lose the characteristic
traits which enabled them to be discovered as parts of the moving world.
Downward and downward falls the temperature, property after property
disappears, until science asks, bewildered, what will happen when we
reach the absolute zero, what will then become of the properties of
matter, what will remain of the characteristics of the elements? Is
there not but one Matter, and are not all chemical elements but
modifications, aggregations, of this one ultimate matter? Similarly with
Force, modern science has made the magnificent generalisation that all
the forces that we know are modifications of one Force, and are
identical in their essential nature; that heat, and light, and all the
various forces around us, electricity, magnetism and the rest, that all
these are but vibrations of varying lengths and activities in a subtle
medium, and that they may be transmuted the one into the other. They are
not fundamentally different, but are one and the same in their root. But
if this be so, if there be but one Matter, if there be but one Force,
then science is now tending towards unity; and as that unity is traced
or aimed at, science will have to pass out of the grosser realm of dense
matter into the realm of forces working in subtle media; and we find
this wondrous change that, whereas in old days the existence of force
was argued for inductively, by studying the changes in matter, now
science is beginning to posit the existence of force and to question
whether matter is anything more than the action of force. Instead of
regarding an atom as a solid indivisible particle, the tendency is to
regard it as a vortex of energy, a centre of force. One writer even goes
so far as to suggest that an atom is a source "through which an
invisible fluid is pouring into three-dimensional space." Other atoms,
"anti-atoms," may be "sinks" through which the fluid pours out. If these
unite, may not inertia be neutralised as well as gravity? May there not
be potential matter, and may there not be such in space, without any of
the attributes which characterise matter, but ready to be vivified and
form a system of worlds? Here we have H. P. B.'s atoms and laya centres,
put forward tentatively as a scientific problem. Science is mounting
into the invisible world and is trying to measure and to weigh that
which therein it finds. Now this tendency to unity is the testimony to
the One that underlies all manifestation; only one Force, only one
Matter; endless diversity of forces, transmutable into each other;
endless diversity of forms, which break up again to recombine; only one
Force under all forces, one Matter under all forms. It is seen that the
very fact of harmony and of evolution points to a root unity, and that
eternally independent self-moving particles would only perpetuate a
chaos.

As science travels along this most hopeful line, we find great changes
are arising in the nature of the studies that are being carried on, and
we have that wonderful theory of Sir William Crookes of the genesis of
the elements. He takes protyle as a starting-point, which is really Vâyu
in its form on this physical plane--Prithivî Vâyu--and out of that
builds one atom after another, making all the chemical elements to be
bodies aggregated together by the action of a positive and a negative
force. Let me just remind you of this, because some amongst you go so
eagerly after modern science and despise your own literature. If you had
read your _Vishnu Purâna_, with your brain, and not merely with your
eyes through modern spectacles, you might have learnt that theory of Sir
William Crookes long, long before he gave it. He has drawn a picture,
and the picture shows an immovable axis, and around it a spiral coil,
and at points in that coil are atoms of the chemical elements, generated
by that coil which represents a swinging and cooling force. That spiral
is in the great ocean of protyle, or primeval matter, and, as that
spiral goes round and round the immovable axis, it generates chemical
elements one after another, and so brings into existence the materials
out of which the world is to be formed. That is the dry scientific
statement summarised from his own address. But I have read in an ancient
book of a mountain--which is the emblem of stability, of an axis round
which everything is to revolve--thrown into a mighty ocean; and I have
read of a great serpent turned round that mountain in spiral coils; on
the one side the Suras are pulling and on the other side the Asuras are
equally busy. Between the two--the positive and negative of modern
science--evolution is started and the serpent spiral begins to turn and
turn round that axis. They call the axis Mount Mandara, and they call
the spiral coil the serpent Vâsuki while the axis rests on Hari as a
pivot; they call the positive and the negative forces the Gods and
Demons, and their churning of the ocean gives rise to the materials of
the universe. Aye! That is from the seer, who, looking at the ocean of
matter, described pictorially what the eyes of the spirit beheld there;
while the other is the dry scientific statement of the modern thinker,
who works out his magnificent generalisation as the result of his study
of the forms. The seer and the scientist have met.

I shall show you, when I come to deal with life, that modern science is
coming towards our view of life. I shall give you, from the latest
declarations of our modern scientific teachers, points which will show
you how they are climbing towards the ancient view which is found in our
sacred books; and I will now finish this first part of our subject this
morning by one plea addressed to all of you, which I would pray you to
think over at your leisure.

There is but One Life, the Life of God, within everything in His universe.
No life save His life, no consciousness save His consciousness, no
thought save His thought. This is our glory; for inasmuch as we are in
His image, we can answer to the vibrations of His thinking, and can
reproduce in our minds that which He has initiated in order that we may be
evolved. In all the different parts of this universe, different lines of
evolution are going on; the sun is doing part of it, the vegetable world
another part, the animal world another, the world of man another; but in
the world of man there is more diversity, because there Self-consciousness
is arising. The final image of the Supreme on earth is man; in man alone
is the highest life; the others are climbing towards it, but in them it
has not yet evolved. Therefore in man there is more difference; therefore
in man, for the time, more separation; therefore in man the great danger
of antagonism that the lower kingdoms know not, because they are not
sufficiently evolved. Then comes the conflict: I take my own poor
reflection of one tiny bit of thought of Íshvara, and I say: "This is
Íshvara Himself," and not my poor thought of Him; "Worship this as I see
it," that is, "Worship me instead of Íshvara, and my thought of Him
instead of Him." So man after man puts up his idea of God as God, and we
see all the world divided into many forms of thought and of worship. Then
a man imagines that his brother men are worshipping other Gods, and he
becomes anxious and troubled, not realising that Gods are many because we
are worshipping our own thoughts of God instead of God, our own limited
representations instead of the Universal Self. Nay more--I, perhaps, not
only say to you that you must worship my conception of God instead of your
own, that my knowledge is the limit of manifestation, that my small
fancies make up the universe instead of the infinite diversity that alone
can represent His might; but perhaps I go further and say: "If you do not
worship my idea of God, you are outcaste, you are alien, you belong to a
different faith, you belong to a different creed; stand outside; for I am
orthodox, you are heretic and blasphemous your faith." So speaks religion
after religion, fanatic after fanatic; so one man after another makes his
own reflection the God of the universe, and hence antagonises his
brethren, whose representations of the divine image are as necessary to
its completeness as his own.

That is what I ask you to realise. God cannot be expressed wholly in you
or in me, in our miserable limitations, in our poverty of thought, in
our wretchedness of impudent assumption. He can only be even partially
expressed by all the worlds together; His whole universe is His mirror,
and every fragment in the universe gives back to Him, in part His own
perfections. Is it not nobler, greater, more glorious, to be a fragment
of a perfect whole, making a part of the whole unity itself, subserving
it in mirroring Íshvara, than to be shut in with our own fragment of a
looking glass, trying vainly to make it perfectly reflect the whole, and
refusing any partial reflection of the perfect in our brethren on every
side? That is the thought which these lectures will embody, and they
will fail in their purpose if they do not carry it home to your minds.
For Íshvara, who is Existence and Intelligence, is also A'nanda, Joy,
Bliss inexpressible, and that Bliss is only realized when union is
consciously accomplished, when the whole is known as one. May I but help
you to see the Self in all things: what better service may man do for
man?



[SECOND LECTURE.]

THE FUNCTIONS OF THE GODS.


My Brothers:--Those of you who are familiar with your own sacred
literature will know how great a part is played therein by those
spiritual Intelligences who are spoken of as the Devas, or Gods. As I
said yesterday, the existence, the presence, and the working of these
Intelligences in the administration of nature, in the carrying out of
the will of Íshvara, are recognised in every great faith that the world
has known. The Hindu speaks of them sometimes as Suras, sometimes as
Devas; the Hebrew, the Christian, the Mussulman, speak of them as Angels
and Archangels, making the distinction between the higher and the lower;
the Zoroastrian also recognises their work, speaking of them as
Feristhas; and so, in each of the great religions, we find the presence
of these workers in the Kosmos recognised, and we see their functions
defined. Now it is exceedingly important, especially perhaps for the
Hindu, to understand how wide is the area of their working, how general
their functions, for no subject perhaps is more often made a subject for
attack by those who desire to injure the ancient religion of India, than
the actions of the Gods as detailed in the sacred books. You will
continually find that those actions are being misunderstood or
mis-represented. The mis-representation, one may always hope, is not
deliberate and conscious. It is due to the general materialism of the
age. It is due to the fact that men who believe in a religion nominally
do not realise the effect of that religion in their consciousness. So
that while a man may say that he believes in Angels and Archangels and
so on, he leads his life as though they did not exist. Among our
Christian brothers there is considerable difference of opinion with
regard to these Angels. In the different sections of the great Christian
community, the vast majority of those that profess Christianity--making
up the old Greek Church, sometimes called the Eastern Christian Church,
and those who are numbered in the Roman Communion, the Roman Catholic
Church, the two ancient Churches which have preserved an unbroken
antiquity and an unbroken tradition from the time of Christ and His
Apostles--have maintained and maintain, uninjured and complete, the
ancient belief in the ministry of angels. They really lead their lives
as recognising the part that is played in the world by the angelic
hosts, and not only do they regard the Archangels as the great rulers of
animated nature--the seven chief Archangels taking the place of the
seven Gods in other faiths--but they also recognise the lower host of
angels as concerned continually in administering natural laws, in
guiding human evolution; and indeed they go so far as to say that every
individual man is in special charge of a guardian angel, who ministers
to him from the cradle to the grave, who tries to help him in danger, to
advise him in temptation, to protect him in peril, to ward off all the
evils levelled against him, and who, helping him through the gateway of
death, accompanies him on the other side through the invisible world,
until he surrenders up his charge into the hands of Christ Himself. The
Protestant communities, however, breaking off as they did, roughly and
abruptly, from the ancient tradition, full of occult truth, have lost,
among many other valuable things, this real belief in the work of the
angels. Most members of the Protestant communities, while they
acknowledge the existence of the angels and vaguely regard them as
"ministers of God," have no very definite idea of the part that they
play in the world. They do not address them, as do the Roman Catholics
and the Greeks. They do not pay them reverence and homage day by day,
or look on them as helpers, as intelligences superior to themselves,
always willing to render assistance. Practically the angels have passed
out of their lives, so far as any conscious realisation of their
presence is concerned; and I cannot help thinking that the loss is a
very serious loss when you are dealing with spiritual evolution; the
whole idea of the Supreme tends to become degraded and anthropomorphised
when the intermediate agents are forgotten, and when every petty concern
of human life is, as it were, thrown directly under the immediate
superintendence of the Supreme. We must not, of course, in recognising
the working of the Gods, or the Devas, as I shall call them for the rest
of the lecture, lose sight of the unity of the Supreme Deity. We do not,
in Hinduism, deny or ignore the existence of Íshvara because we
recognise the hosts of the Devas; we do not cloud our belief in the One
because we recognise the innumerable hosts of the ministers of His will;
there is nothing more against the unity of God in the recognition of the
hosts of the Devas, than there is in recognising the diversity of men,
yet it is not pretended that we are clouding the unity of the Divine
Existence when we recognise the hosts of individuals who make up the
whole of humanity. It is mere prejudice or ignorance that makes any one
think that because the Hindu recognises the action of the Devas,
therefore he has lost his belief in the One Existence beyond even
Íshvara Himself, in the fundamental unity that underlies diversity. What
he does is, that instead of regarding the world as superintended by an
extra-kosmic God, separated as it were from His universe, with a mighty
gulf existing between Him and it, he sees in Íshvara the manifestation
of the one Life that pervades and sustains all, he sees in Íshvara the
one Root out of which all separated existences spring; and he sees,
stretching between himself and that Supreme, innumerable hosts of
Intelligences, step after step, rank after rank, and he looks to
climbing up that celestial ladder until he also stands at its very top;
for he knows that he also is divine, although as yet in an early stage
of evolution, and he recognises the more highly evolved divinity above
him, as he recognises the divinity in the stone beneath his feet, in
everything that exists in this universe of God.

With that beginning, so that our study may not lead to a misconception,
let us pass on to ask what are the functions of these Devas, of these
Intelligences, who work in the world. You will at once realise that the
functions must be very different, according to the grade of the Devas
that we may happen to be studying. Through the whole of the Kosmos they
are working. Some are very lofty, some are very little evolved above the
level of humanity. One great difference there is between us and them,
that whatever may be the grade of their mental, emotional, and spiritual
life, they do not, normally, use a physical body. That is a clear mark
or line of separation. The being functioning as man, while spiritual,
intellectual and emotional, uses a physical body, in order to carry on
the activities connected with the physical world. All the hosts of Devas
are without that physical covering or vehicle; they normally use as
their vehicle a body which belongs to the particular region in the
universe in which their normal activities lie. Suppose, for instance,
that a Deva belongs essentially to the spiritual world, he will normally
use a spiritual body; if he wants to function on the mânasic plane, he
will create for himself a temporary mânasic body, drawing together for
this purpose the matter of that plane and holding it as his vehicle
during the period of his functioning thereupon; if he wants to function
in the kâmic region, he will draw together the material of that region
and make of it for himself a temporary body; if he wants to function
visibly in the world of man, he will draw round himself the matter of
the physical plane, and make for himself a body suitable to the
immediate purpose that he has in view. So with every other grade. The
Devas of the mânasic world use normally the mânasic body, and create the
kâmic or physical body as they may want a temporary vehicle. Those of
the kârmic region use the kârmic body normally, and create a physical
vehicle when they require it. Thus, in every case, the Deva's ordinary
body is composed of the matter of the region of the universe to which he
belongs; but he has always the power to create any vehicle that he needs
for carrying out any purpose with which he is charged. This will perhaps
suggest to you one reason for the great variety of forms which a single
God may assume. Those whose inner sight is developed, who can see in the
regions which to ordinary men are invisible, say that the Gods use many
forms. And some of their forms have come down traditionally, described
originally perhaps by a great Ṛishi, preserved by his disciples, then
thrown into some form of earth, or stone, or metal, painted or
sculptured as the case may be; then such an image of the God is handed
down generation after generation, and represents that Deva under that
particular form to his worshippers. We find many forms for one Deva,
just because of the fact that the God makes the form he wants for the
particular work he has upon hand, and that none of those forms bind him.
They are merely transitory vehicles created for a definite purpose. Some
of these forms are indeed relatively permanent, partly because of the
worship which is addressed to them. For the Deva will often graciously
use a particular form in order to meet the thought of his worshippers.
Suppose for instance, taking a lofty example, that Shrî Kṛiṣhṇa willed
to reveal Himself to some Bhakta of His, in order that that devotee
might have the joy of consciously realising the presence of his Lord, He
then most certainly would clothe Himself in the form which that Bhakta
was in the habit of worshipping and which drew up the deepest emotions
of his heart. For these forms are taken for the very purpose of
stimulating devotion, for the very object of attracting the heart by
presenting the illimitable Deity in some conditioned form which the
concrete mind of man is able more or less to grasp, to understand, to
admire and to worship. You cannot love the void of space. You cannot fix
your heart on the depths of infinity; you deceive yourself if, with your
limited intelligence, untrained even in the lowest forms of Yoga, you
think that you can realise Brahman, the Supreme. Too often when we speak
of THAT, no real thought responds to our speaking; the lips speak, not
the intelligence or the heart. Step by step we have to climb from the
manifested to the unmanifested, and, in His compassionate love, God
veils Himself in forms of beauty to attract the human heart, in order
that the human heart may rise adoringly to His Feet, and that some
portion of His life, pouring down thereinto, may enable the Self of the
worshipper to realise even partially its unity with Him.

The Devas, then, in their many ranks and divisions, perform functions
according to their grade. Speaking generally, their work in the world is
to guide evolution according to the design of Íshvara. That really sums
up their functions, although we are going to study them in detail. I say
nothing of the vast functions of the higher Devas that lie beyond our
knowing, beyond the teaching that Ṛishis have given. I deal only with
those lower functions that are concerned with our world, and with the
solar system of which our world is part. Taking that limitation,
suitable to our ignorance, we can study some of the functions of the
Gods within the limits of our solar system.

Speaking generally, as I said, that function is to guide evolution, to
adapt, to correlate, to carry out the living will of the Supreme, and to
carry out that will by bringing together in time and space all the
agents and conditions necessary for carrying it out. There is only one
supreme Will that guides the universe, and that Will points steadily to
progress, to the goal set forth for the universe, the goal towards which
it is evolving. Unchangeable, stable, perpetual, that Will knows no
swerving; to use a Christian phrase, "there is no shadow of turning" in
that immutable Will. The universe rolls along the road traced out by the
Divine Will. It cannot be diverted from that road; it cannot change its
path; that is the law of the universe, the law on which we rest with
faith unshakable. But in the working out of the law in this universe
where men are evolving--men in whom is the germ of that same sovereign
and imperial Will of God, man being made in the Divine image and
containing within himself the germ of the Divine powers--in this
universe, as man evolves, wills also evolve which are separate,
personal, individual. All the confusion in the world of man is due to
this evolution of the separated wills that do not recognise their root
in God, but try to follow their own diverse ways, and want to move after
their own separated fashions; so that in the world of man, as nowhere
else in nature, you have discord instead of harmony, clash instead of
peace, struggle and war instead of tranquillity. The world of minerals
obeys the compulsion of the law; the world of vegetables obeys the
compulsion of the law; the world of animals obeys the compulsion of the
law; but when man arises, man in whom the Supreme is to be developed
after he has climbed through the lower stages, in man there awakens the
germ of the will, and the separated wills bring about the discord which
will yet end in something greater and richer than the harmony of the
stones, of the vegetables, of the animals. For when human evolution is
over, millions of separated wills will join in one mighty chord of
harmonious union, and that union of the wills that voluntarily give
themselves is mightier in its powers, more beautiful in its expression,
than compelled obedience can ever be. The music that humanity sends up
to God, in all its varied melody, is a far more perfect expression of
Divinity than can be drawn from the monochord that we find in the lower
kingdoms of nature; but you will readily understand that when these
warring wills arise, something, some one, is wanted in order to adapt,
to correlate, to bring about equilibrium among the contending forces, so
that the one purpose may be steadily subserved. Let me take a concrete
illustration. Suppose I had here a ball which I want to move. That ball
can be moved along a straight line in innumerable ways. I might give it
a single impulse in the direction in which I want it to move; and it
would move straight on in that direction following my primary impulse.
So would the universe move if it contained only minerals, vegetables and
animals, if there were no clashing wills within it, if it were within
the iron grip of compulsion, which never in any fashion could be
resisted. But I can equally well drive my ball along that straight line,
if I know enough of physics, by correlating different and opposed
forces. I may send two forces against it at a particular angle, and if
my angle be properly measured according to the strength of the forces,
then the ball will travel along the same line by the interaction of the
two forces as well as by the impact of the one; and I may bring three,
or four, or five, or a million forces, to bear upon that ball, and still
it will move along that one definite line, if only the forces are
calculated and balanced so that their resultant shall always be a force
along that straight line. That balancing is one of the functions of the
Gods. They take these warring wills, these different directions that are
being impressed, as it were, on the rolling world that is going along
the road of evolution; they balance, adapt, and correlate them, and thus
always keep the world travelling along the straight line, always
bringing about the same resultant, the accomplishment of the Will of the
Supreme; without them, these wills of ours would work infinite
confusion, and the world would never complete its evolution, would never
roll upwards to its place at the Feet of God.

We find the Gods discharging other functions which subserve the same
purpose. They mould the forms in which the growing life is to express
itself. Evolution depends upon the growing power of the unfolding life,
but it needs forms whereby that growth shall be carried on. These forms
are moulded by the Devas, so that the life, which breaks by expansion
its containing form that is out-worn, may have another form into which
to go fitted for the capacity that was evolved in the form it has
out-grown. We shall find also that they break up forms as well as build
them; being always fixed on the one object of serving the evolution of
the life. Then again they act as teachers, as guides, as councillors, to
those that have gone beyond the normal evolution, that are the first
fruits of the human race. Not acting as teachers directly to the masses,
they take the more advanced human beings in charge, directly instruct
them, test them and try them, as presently we shall see. So that while
the general purpose is the helping forward of evolution, this help is
rendered in a million ways, according to the needs of the time.

Now, in the past, this working of the Gods was recognised, and the
sacred books are full of it. They showed themselves continually among
men, they carried on their work, as it were, in the full blaze of day.
But now no longer do they show themselves to men at large, and many have
forgotten even their existence, and very many people, even in India,
materialised by the thought in which they have been trained, are half
ashamed to say that they believe in the existence and the working of the
Devas. The unbelief makes no difference, save to those who disbelieve.
The working of the Gods remains ever the same. They are ever busy in
carrying out the Supreme Will. Only they do not show themselves, and to
those alone who recognise their existence and their work will they
manifest themselves. If in the old days they showed themselves as they
do not now, it was because men then had reverence and love and were
willing to bow down to those who were wiser and greater than themselves;
because then democracy was not reigning; because then the ignorant did
not think themselves equal to the learned, nor did man deem himself
equal to the Gods. In those days, because they could help they came to
the helping; but they will never come visibly again to earth until men
have learnt to reverence once more what is above them, and to understand
their place in the Kosmos, to worship as well as to command. The Gods
work all the same. They are not deprived of their functions by our
folly, by our conceit, by our ignorance. Only they work unseen, and we
forfeit the sweet comfort of their visible presence, the strength and
joy of the old heroic days, the dignity of conscious companionship with
the Immortals, the ever-renewed assurance of super-physical life. Not
one death that happens on our earth, but a God has struck away that body
whose work is over; not one "natural catastrophe," but a God has guided
it to the happening; not one help given to a man in need, but a God is
the agent behind the visible helper; not one answer to the cry of man in
his distress, that is not the response of a God to human sorrow.
Everywhere they are working. Everywhere they are bringing about what we
see as dead mechanical nature. Every phenomenon is the veil of a God,
and there is nothing done in which an Intelligence does not take part.

Seven are the great Gods below the Trinity, below the Trimûrti. Every
religion, again, acknowledges these Seven. The Christian speaks of the
"Seven Spirits that are before the throne of God." The Zoroastrian
tells us of the seven Ameshaspendas who rule the world. The Chaldean
spoke of the seven great Gods. Five only are working and two are
concealed, for the universe is in process of evolution and only five
stages of it have been reached. Therefore only with regard to five can
we definitely speak as to working. The two concealed are beyond our
knowing; they are related to future stages of the evolution of the
Kosmos. But the five we will now consider. Their names in connection
with their functions you know well enough. They are connected with the
tattvas of which we were speaking yesterday--the Lord of A'kâsha, Indra;
the Lord of Air, Vâyu; the Lord of Fire, Agni; the Lord of Water,
Varuna; the Lord of Earth, sometimes called Kshiti (various names are
used for him); each of these great Gods has what we may call one region
marked out for his working. The matter of that region is the matter in
which he works; but in addition to that, each one is represented in the
realms of the others by a sub-division on which his impression is
especially made. These are the great kosmic planes that I have spoken of
marked off from each other by the tattvas. But if we come down to the
physical plane, dealing only with Prithivî Tattva, we shall then find
that that is also seven-fold in division and that we have physical
solid, physical earth or Prithivî, physical water or Apas, physical fire
or Agni, physical air or Vâyu, physical ether or A'kâsha. Each of these
great Gods works on each plane through the medium that corresponds to
the region which belongs to him in the Kosmos as a whole. How often we
see those correspondences as it were printed in physical nature. We have
light with its seven sub-divisions as seen in the solar spectrums
showing the seven colours, and the scale with its seven notes. Colours
and notes alike result from vibrations, and are determined by the number
of vibrations occurring in a unit of time. As the universe is built by
vibrations, colour and sound are factors of the universe at large, and
every region is said to have its own colour; the God of that region has
his colour--dependent on his vibratory force--which he imprints on the
region over which he rules; so that if a Ṛishi looks at the solar system
from a higher plane, he not only hears the seven fundamental notes of
music, making "the harmony of the spheres," but he sees a gorgeous
display of colours, as the sphere of every great Deva with his own
colour interpenetrates the others, yielding an iridescent splendour of
interfering radiances, the marvellous "rainbow that is round the throne
of God." Such mystic expressions have lost their meaning for the
majority, because the sight of those who wrote them is but little
developed in these days, and few are they who can see as the seer saw of
old.

Each of these great Gods has under him a host of subordinate Gods who
carry out his decrees. The constitution of an ordinary state will give
you a very good picture of the government of the solar system. We have
at the head an Emperor or an Empress; then the officers who represent
that supreme authority in separate divisions of the realm; there is the
one central authority over the whole, and the officers who wield it in
different areas of the Empire. Then these officers are graded in rank,
and we have higher and subordinate Ministers, Judges, Magistrates,
in descending order, each with a smaller and smaller district to
administer, the functions of each becoming more limited as you descend
the official ladder; and each responsible to his official superior. That
is really a very good picture of the government of the solar system; the
head of all is Íshvara Himself; His Viceroys are the great Gods, each
with his own vast area over which he rules, and each with his official
hierarchy under him, until you come down to the lowest Devas, who carry
on the work in the limited area of a village of the solar system.

Such is the outline, then, of the functions. The next thing to grasp
is, that, when we see on this plane in which our consciousness is
working--the physical plane--any one of these fundamental forms of
manifestation, we should try to realise the presence of the God behind
the material phenomenon. Not a fire that burns upon the earth, whether
the fire of the volcanic mountain, whether the fire ranging through the
vast forest, whether the fire burning on the household hearth, or on the
sacrificial altar, that is not Agni in manifestation, with the
possibility of his powers coming into visibility. They were not
dreamers, they who bade you of old keep safe the fire, the household
fire which husband and wife at the bridal kindled, and which, when the
life of the married was over in the home, they still carried out into
the forest; they carried with them the fire, and it took with them the
presence of the God, who through the household life had blessed, had
guided, had given prosperity and made the final withdrawal from the
household life possible and desirable. That is one of the many truths
which modern India is losing.

But when these things were believed in, and the ceremonies connected with
them were carried on, then nature worked in a definite order, and there
were not the same continual irregularities that we have in our modern
days. By that harmonious working between man and the Gods, nature answered
to man as man answered to nature; while man did his duty, nature in her
turn did her duty also; the failure of rain, the failure of crops, the
failure of sunshine, the presence of plague, or of any other form of human
misery, was seen as having its root in the failure of humanity; and man
turned dutifully to that which he had neglected, and thus readjusted the
balance which his irregularity had displaced. Let us try and see, as an
example, one concrete working in what we call natural evolution. We will
turn to the great God Varuna. He works through water; every manifestation
of water is his, whether on the physical or on any other plane, in any of
the forms that it may take, for what we call "water" is naturally the
lowest, coarsest manifestation, his physical body, as it were. He works
with it in nature in endless ways--to dissolve, to combine, to dissociate.
When we take the greater workings, how very grand is the conception we may
gain of the might of the God. Come back with me, far back, into the past,
ere humanity had taken form; there see the world as it then was; see how,
as fire and water, Agni and Varuna are working on every material to fit
the world to be the birthplace of the yet unborn humanity. See how Varuna
is working in order to prepare what is wanted of mountain and of valley,
of river and of plain; see the might of his work as well as that of his
brother Agni, in apparent clash but really in harmony; fire and water
meet, explode, and toss up a mountain-chain where before there was none;
see how he gathers snow on the mountain peaks, and gradually fills with
masses of this snow, frozen into ice, the mountain ravines made by the
combined volcanic action; see how the slow ploughing begins; ploughing,
ploughing and ploughing again, as the mighty God works onward in the form
of glaciers, grinding his furrow through the earth, and preparing for the
future; see, ages later, how the channel cut out by the glacier is filled
by the tumbling cataracts from melted snow, and a turbulent torrent rolls
downwards, and against its resistless waves nothing is able to stand; the
valley dug out by the plough of the ice is filled with water, and from it
the soil is gradually deposited, which in the future will make fertile
land for crops in order that man may live. Then Varuna binds his waters
into a narrower and narrower channel, until there is mountain range and
valley and a river flowing through it: and he carries his river downwards
and pours it into the sea and his brother Agni draws it up again to form
the clouds. There has come by that mighty action, destructive as it seems
in appearance, the building of the plain and the valley where men shall
live and love, where children shall be playing, where horses shall graze,
where corn shall grow and ripen in the sunshine, and where, on the
peaceful banks of the river, men shall worship the God who made possible
their happy life.

We talk about the "cruelty of nature." Let us try and understand what
this cruelty means. The world now is inhabited. Crowds of men are here,
and lo! the river, that made the habitation of the valley possible and
keeps it fruitful, now overflows its banks and the mighty flood sweeps
away village and town, men, women, children, and cattle, and only
desolation is left behind. What is this? Is this horror a divine
working? What is this that Varuna has done? Varuna is working for
evolution. His thought is not fixed on the forms in which the life is
cabined, but on the life that is evolving within them, which can make
for itself new forms. When those men are swept away, it is only the
breaking of the forms that happens; the life up-springs uninjured and
set free; for the body is the prison-house of the evolving life, and if
the prison doors were never thrown open, we should be in jail all our
lives and make no progress for the future. The God to whom form is
nothing and life everything, to whom form is but a changing, convenient
vehicle, and the life that moulds the form is the one thing that is
worthy of thought, he strikes away the form when its purpose is
completed; to him such destruction is the act of mightiest charity; it
is the deed most helpful to evolution. We err, my brothers, when we look
on death with eyes that are full of tears, with hearts that are
breaking. Death is he who brings us to a higher birth, and who sets free
the imprisoned soul; it is the liberation of the bird confined within
the limits of a cage, enabling it to soar upwards into the heavens,
singing, as it goes, with joy at the freedom it has recovered. Does that
seem strange? Let us take an illustration from the _Mahâbhârata_:--

There was a council among the Gods in Svarga, how some of them would
take incarnation upon earth for the sake of helping men at a great
crisis in the world's history. Great men were needed, and the question
arose whether some of the Gods were willing to bind themselves within
the limits of human form, in order to give special help to human
progress; among those who were needed for the work that was coming was
the son of Soma Deva, Varchas, as he was called, and the Gods desired
that this Deva should be born on earth. Soma Deva hesitated. He was not
willing that his son should leave him and the heavenly life, and
although he finally consented that he should be born as Abhimanyu, the
son of Arjuna, it was only on the condition that he should live but for
sixteen years, and be killed in the great battle of Kurukshetra. You
say, what a strange view of life! What an extraordinary condition for
love to make, that this youth should die at the age of sixteen, in the
very flower of his dawning manhood, should die a death of violence. Yet
that was the will of the one who loved him best, for heaven sees with
different eyes from earth. Soma saw the life, and cared not for the
form; to a God the form is a prison, death is the gaoler that liberates;
hence the condition was made that only for sixteen years might the
divine youth live a human life, and then "my son of mighty arms shall
come back to me," and that from a battle field, dying gloriously in the
midst of the fight.

Do you know that sometimes the swamping of a civilisation by a natural
convulsion--such as the going down of Atlantis below the waves of the
ocean that we now call the Atlantic, the wiping out of the whole nation
or race--is the best proof of love that the Supreme Íshvara through
His intermediate agents can show to the lives therein embodied. For
there are stages in the world's story where man is so passionately set
on a line of action that is against his real progress, when he so
determinately sets his desires on objects that hold him back and delay
his evolution, that the only mercy that the Gods can show him is to
break his form in pieces, and give him as it were a new start for the
evolving of himself--the life. Sometimes I have felt, as I have gone
through some of the miseries of our great cities in the West, when, in
the pursuance of my duty, I have gone with breaking heart through the
slums of eastern and southern London, or through those of Glasgow, or
Edinburgh, or Sheffield, as I have noted the types of men and women
around me, as I have seen the human almost veiled by the brute, and
humanity degraded well-nigh beyond possibility of recognition, that no
appeal for help was fitting save one that would set free that imprisoned
life. I have felt that nothing save the destruction of the forms could
give any hope for those imprisoned within them; that for those men and
women, as they were, degraded, brutal, drunken, profligate, their very
forms with the impress of the animal, the best mercy that God could show
them would be an earthquake that would swallow the whole great city and
set free the lives pent hopeless within it. For not one life would be
lost, not one life would pass away, but they would be set free to go
into somewhat less unplastic forms and give scope for that divine
working towards evolution, which is in extreme cases only possible when
the forms, forms of evil, are gone. We speak sometimes of the training
of children being easier than that of grown-up people, because they are
more plastic. So also the Gods want oftentimes the child-ego in the
plastic form instead of in the prison-house grown rigid by age; and they
therefore break that environment in order that the young life may grow.

Another great function of the Gods is the dealing with the karma of
nations, "collective karma," as it is sometimes called. Suppose a nation
is acting in its collective capacity--I am not now thinking of the
individuals brought into it by their individual karma but of the nation
acting as a unit--and suppose it commits a crime against another nation.
There has been one working of karma so tremendous during the last year,
that I will take it as an illustration--Spain. Some centuries ago Spain
was at the summit of her power; mighty was she among the western
nations. There was sent to her, in order to help her forward, the gift
of new knowledge. It came truly in a somewhat unacceptable guise, for it
came from Arabia, with the stamp of Muhammed upon it; it was brought by
the children of Islâm; they brought the light of science with them,
and, as they established themselves in southern Spain, they gave that
light to Spain. Universities were established. Large classes were
formed. From every part of Europe men come crowding to the Schools of
Cordova, and there they learnt the beginnings of the Science that has
since grown into so mighty a tree in western lands. What did Spain do?
Spain called up against these Moors, and against the Hebrews--who also
were learned in the learning of the East--the frightful weapons of the
Inquisition, the stake, the rack, the dungeon, the torture of exile. Who
can count the hundreds of thousands driven out from home, the broken
families, the miseries, the poverty and starvation intolerable, which
marked the expulsion of the Jews and of the Moors from Spain? Still her
karma of success was not complete. Across the Atlantic ocean she sped,
Italy lending one of her sons for the glory of the Spanish Empire. In
the wake of the ships of Columbus there followed the ships of the
conquerors of America, full of Spanish soldiers. I cannot dwell on the
story of the conquest of Mexico, and the still more terrible conquest of
Peru; I have no time to wring your hearts, as I might, with the tale of
the destruction of a great civilisation, of the killing out of the last
exquisite traces in Peru of one of the most perfect civilisations that
our world has ever known, of the crushing of the gentle Indian race
there by chains, by imprisonment, shut out from the glorious Sun whose
children their Incas were. Too gentle to struggle, accustomed only to a
life of flowers, of music, and of sunshine, they were crammed into caves
that they were made to dig in ancient cliffs, dying by thousands upon
thousands in the digging out of the gold and silver which their Spanish
conquerors demanded, until the very name of the ancient nation perished,
and only a few scattered Peruvian Indians remained to represent what was
one of the fairest civilisations of the world. Such was the karma made
by Spain in the days of her glory, and the horror of her conquests sank
into the oblivion of the past. But do the Gods forget? Nay, their memory
is perfect. They are the administrators of the divine law, and give the
harvest to the sowers. From the very country which they outraged, from
the very land that they conquered, a new nation springs up as the
centuries go on to take up the old struggle between the two hemispheres,
and to-day we have seen America and Spain closing again in the
death-grip, but the scale of balance is now weighed down on the other
side, and America becomes the karmic agent for working out the woes of
the Aztecs and the Peruvians, and for driving from the western
hemisphere the nation that there outraged humanity in the centuries
gone by. Thus the Gods are needed to bring nations together to balance
up these accounts between the races, and so to restore equilibrium once
again. Thus they work, using men as their agents, and they bring about
these national results. Partly they do it by bringing to birth, at a
particular time, men whose individual karma fits them to be the agents
of the collective karma of the nation. What was more striking in the
Spanish war which has just closed, than the absolute incapacity shown by
the men who were the rulers of Spain? Whence came they? They were men
who in the past by their individual karma had fitted themselves for the
sorry fate of incapable rulers, and they were guided by the Gods to take
birth in the families which give rulers to Spain, in order that, by
their weakness and ineptitude, by their cowardice and their want of
foresight, they might serve as men to lead their nation to destruction,
the fitting instruments for the working out of Spain's evil karma. See
also how at the fit time great men arise to lead a nation to victory.
These men are also chosen by the Gods beforehand because of their
individual karma, and they are brought to birth in the place and at the
time when they are wanted for the working out of the collective karma
of a nation. Not by chance is a man brought into the world, not by the
compulsion of a dead law, or of a blind necessity; the Gods are working
here with an intelligence that foresees and guides, and they choose for
the accomplishment of their ends the men whose own karma fits them to be
their agents for the work in hand, and then guide them to take birth at
the place where that karma can subserve the collective karma of their
people.

This also is true in a much more limited way with regard to the working
of individual karma. Sometimes you must have wondered how, with all the
interfering activities of men, the karmic law could work out with
undeviating justice; it is because the Gods are guiding the working. You
see somewhere a man who is starving and if you misunderstand karma--as
too many of you do, to the shame of India, in a land where this teaching
is of immemorial antiquity--you turn aside from that starving man and
say that it is his karma to starve and perish; in those hardened hearts
of yours you use the will of God as a cover for your own selfishness,
for your indifference and your lack of love. That man's karma to starve?
Aye, and therefore he is starving! But if a Deva guides you to the place
where your brother is starving, it is because he would make you the
agent of his beneficence to that man whose evil karma of the present
moment has been exhausted by his suffering; the Deva thus says to you:
"Man, your brother man is starving, give him the relief it is his karma
to receive, and be my agent in carrying out the law." But if you refuse
the God, if, blinded by ignorance or indifference, you turn aside and
will not carry his message to your brother, he will not for that be
thwarted, he will find some other agent, or, as a last resource, he will
do it himself by some act that may seem miraculous in the eyes of the
blind, for the purpose of the God may not be blocked; but for those who
have refused to act as his agents, who have refused to act as his
messengers, they have made for themselves the karma of being left
unassisted when the hour of their own need shall strike in the future.
For the administrators of the good law forget not; every debt is
collected, every creditor is paid in full. But you may say that it does
not follow that a man's karma is exhausted when you meet him; true, but
that is not your business, it is the business of the guiding God, and he
will frustrate the physical aid if the karma be still evil. If you have
that opportunity given you of making good karma, you have all the merit
of your willingness to act, you have all the virtue of your readiness to
sacrifice; but if it is not yet his time to be relieved, you will not
find the object of your charity; by circumstances, as you will say, he
will have been taken outside your reach. Leave you the Gods to do the
work of the Gods, the administration of the law; do you that charity,
that love and compassion, which it is ever their will that man should
show to man. We cannot break the law; we cannot change their purpose;
but we have the choice of co-working or refusing, and on that our
individual karma depends.

Then we find further that Devas bring people together and carry them
apart, always for the working out of their individual karmas; that men
are guided to places and positions at definite times, according to those
circumstances which, by their karma, they must meet.

Now men are related especially to one or other of the great Gods, by the
constitution of their bodies visible and invisible. That gives them a
special affinity for one Deva rather than for another. For instance, the
lower hosts of Devas who, we will say, belong to Agni, build into a
man's invisible and visible bodies, the kind of matter in which that God
normally works. That gives the man a relationship to that particular
God. Every man is connected with a special manifestation of God, to whom
by his constitution and evolution he should turn. Unhappily ignorance
has so widely taken the place of knowledge, that it is difficult for a
man to discover to which Deva he is thus related. I have not time to
work that out but you will see how thoroughly it supports the ancient
idea that men rightly worshipped different manifestations of the Divine,
and profited by such worship.

But we must hurry on with this outline, for we have yet to deal with the
more highly evolved souls, and on your understanding this last part of
our subject will depend your power to defend our sacred literature when
it is attacked by those who do not understand it. Therefore I will ask
you to follow it carefully, and you can apply the principles that I will
illustrate by special stories in a hundred other cases.

The Devas, in their relationship to the more advanced human lives, have
that function of teaching that I have alluded to, and also the function
of testing and trying them, to see how far they are worthy and reliable,
testing all their weak points in order that those weak points may be
gotten rid of, trying them, where there is a germ of vice still
remaining, in order that that germ of vice may be eradicated. Let us try
to realise the nature of that working. Suppose we see a man who has made
great progress. He is approaching the end of his births. In that man
there is some germ of evil still remaining that has not been brought out
yet into manifestation by the working of karma. He is going to be
liberated, but he cannot be liberated while that germ remains. What
shall be done with him? That germ of evil must be hastened to its
ripening. It must be made to grow more quickly than otherwise it would
grow. It must be gotten rid of, at any cost of pain, of anguish, and of
temporary degradation, and the God will take such action as will ripen
that germ and bring it to fruitage; so that, the man acting as he would
act when that germ had been ripened by evolution, may suffer the results
which would follow from the error, and by such suffering may get rid of
that evil in his nature, which would otherwise have prevented him from
attaining liberation.

Let me give you a story for each of these to make the action clear. You
see that a man is strong; well and good; but that strength must be
tested to see if there be a flaw anywhere; if there is a rope on which
the life of a man is going to depend, he holding it and descending a
precipice, that rope must be pulled and tested to see if there be any
weak point in it which might break when the man's body is hanging upon
it, so that he would fall. There may be a flaw in the rope, and not
till it has been tested will the man risk his life upon it. How much
less then will the Deva risk the progress of an advanced man on a virtue
not strong enough to bear every strain? He will test it with every
possibility of strain, until it has proved itself strong enough to bear
the weight which it may be called upon to hold up. We will take our
stories from the _Mahâbhârata_, which you all know, or ought to know.
Arjuna was seeking to get divine weapons; he was to be a great leader in
a battle still in the future. We are at the time of the thirteen years'
exile, and you may remember that he spent many of these years in the
search for these weapons. During his search, he sought Maheshvara, who
had promised to give him His own weapon, and he performed many
austerities in order that he might come pure into the presence of God.
One day as he was performing worship, a wild boar came along; at the
same time a hunter appeared, a hunter of a very low caste, a hunter of
the hills. Now you remember that Arjuna was a Kshattriya, and he
accordingly caught up his bow to shoot at the wild boar; the hunter also
raised his bow to shoot at the wild boar. Two arrows went from the two
sides and the boar was struck dead. Arjuna was very angry at the
interference of this low-caste hunter, and cried: "How dare you shoot at
the wild boar which was mine?" and he began to quarrel and to threaten
to slay him. Said the hunter: "If you wish to fight, fight"; at that,
Arjuna showered his arrows on the hunter but they all fell off from him.
The hunter, laughing, said: "Excellent! Excellent! go on! go on!"; and
Arjuna hurled at him weapon after weapon, but everything failed. Arrows
fell off him, everything broke against him--trees, rocks, everything; he
remained untouched and uninjured, until at last He showed Himself as
Mahâdeva, and praised the man who had held his own against the God. Thus
He tried Arjuna's strength; could he be sent to Kurukshetra with
celestial weapons if his strength were too little for the fight? Try him
against the Divine potency, limited in order to be faced and fought;
when his courage is found to be dauntless and his strength sufficient,
then send him to Kurukshetra tried and proved, able to lead his men to
victory.

Take another case, more difficult. Yudhishthira is sad at heart; he
is struggling, has failed, and is in danger. Drona is there, leading
the hosts of his enemies, and he has been driven by him from the
battle-field. No one is able to stand against Drona; every one flies
before the face of that mighty warrior; he turns back every attack. What
can be done? Yudhishthira is in despair. Is he to be conquered? A
stainless king was this son of Pându, one of the noblest and most
blameless figures that ancient literature paints; but with a strain of
weakness in him which in critical times would sometimes show a too great
readiness to yield, too little of the Kshattriya's power of standing
alone against any force that might be brought to bear against him; a
little germ of weakness was there, that had in it the possibility of a
fatal fall. Shrî Kṛiṣhṇa is there, the great Avatâra, and Bhîma comes
rushing up from the battle-field saying that he has slain an elephant,
whose name is the same as the name of the son of Drona. If Drona hear
that his son Ashvatthâmâ is dead, he will drop his weapons, he will let
go his enemy; no further will he fight when his beloved is gone. "I told
him that Ashvatthâmâ was dead, but he would not believe me; he sent me
to you saying that Yudhishthira is a devotee of truth, he will not tell
a lie for the sovereignty of the three worlds. If he says Ashvatthâmâ is
dead, I will believe." Terrible is the strain; mighty the force brought
to bear against the man who has a weakness in him; and Shrî Kṛiṣhṇa,
standing by him, watching him steadfastly, advises him to utter that
which is not true. God advises this almost blameless man to tell a lie?
How strange the scene! Yudhishthira, yielding to Shrî Kṛiṣhṇa, tells
the falsehood, and Drona lets fall his weapons and is killed. If the
story stopped there, we might well be puzzled. If Yudhishthira's life
was no further told, we might well ask: what is this that we have
studied? But when we remember that one of the great functions of the
Teacher, the Gurudeva, is to bring out any weakness inherent in His
pupil, because otherwise that weakness will keep the man tied, and he
will not be fit to be liberated, we pause and read on. When that lie was
spoken, the chariot of Yudhishthira sank downwards to the ground, no
longer able to support itself, truth having been violated. And as years
went on, the bitterness of that memory of a falsehood remained; the
sorrow of the slaying of the preceptor by a lie ate deep into the heart
of the king; he never recovered from it, he never got rid of its effect;
over and over again, he breaks from his repose in anguish; "I have slain
my Guru." The sorrow worked and the shame, till the anguish purified
that noble soul from the last stain of weakness; and when the Great
Journey is over, when wife and brothers lie dead behind him and he
utters not a word of protest against the death of his beloved, when he
stands ready to ascend to heaven, when only one living creature remains
with him, the dog who had followed after him faithfully through all his
wanderings since he left his capital, when that dog remained his sole
companion, trusting his master's love faithfully unto death, then comes
down a mighty God and stands beside him. "Your time has come; mount on
my celestial chariot, and ascend in your body unto the heaven where you
have won the right to sit and reign." Will he now yield to the
invitation of the God? He said: "This dog is here; he has trusted to my
protection and I cannot leave him alone; I must take him with me." The
God answered: "Dogs have no place in heaven; dogs are unclean, no place
for them is there; you have left your dead brothers behind, and your
wife when she perished; why should you remain still with this dog?"
"They are all dead," he answered "for the dead, the living can do
nothing. This creature is still living and has sought my protection; I
will not abandon him." "Nay," the God said, "be not so foolish; leave
the dog there." But Yudhishthira stood firm; he was strong enough to
stand against the God, and to show righteousness and fidelity to the
poor brute that had placed his love in him; unless he might take the dog
with him, he would stay on the earth and do his duty. Such lesson had he
learnt from his fall; such is the result of the working of Shrî Kṛiṣhṇa
on his evolution. We can see this same working throughout the whole of
that struggle. Trace Shrî Kṛiṣhṇa through the pages of the
_Mahâbhârata_, and you will find that He never deviates from one steady
purpose--to bring the great struggle to a foreseen ending, where justice
shall triumph and the Kshattriyas of India shall disappear; He was at
once destroying injustice and preparing for the future of India,
breaking down the iron wall of her warring caste that ringed her around
with safety. There is a particular aim in everything that He does, and
you will see that His purpose is immovable, if you study carefully. He
is working towards its accomplishment the whole way through. Look at the
way in which He steps in when His strength or protection is needed; see
how He tries to stimulate the Pândavas to do their duty, and only takes
their place when they fail. See the case where Shrî Kṛiṣhṇa having
promised that he would do no battle, Arjuna falters before the face of
Bhîshma and has no heart to strike; you remember how sad was the
struggle. Arjuna was not able to strike harshly at Bhîshma, the greatest
of all men and all warriors, perfect in Dharma, the grandsire and the
teacher of all. "How can I slay him?" insisted Arjuna; "I remember when
as a child soiled with dust, I climbed on to his knees and throwing my
arms around him called him 'Father,' and he said to me, 'I am thy
father's father.' How can I bring myself to slay him?" And you will
remember how Shrî Kṛiṣhṇa Himself told him not to shrink, 'bade him slay
him.' Hard was the task; Arjuna's memory was too strong for him; he only
fought in appearance with restrained might, not with vigour, until at
last Shrî Kṛiṣhṇa saw that He must stimulate this man to do his duty,
and to fight, though it were against his old teacher himself; He throws
down the reins of His horses, takes the whip, and leaps down from the
chariot, and with the whip He rushes through the brunt of the battle to
attack Bhîshma Himself. Ah! that sight is hard for Arjuna; it appeals to
him as Kshattriya, and duty is remembered instead of emotion; throwing
his arms round Shrî Kṛiṣhṇa to stop him he says, "Go back! Go back! and
drive me yet again, and I will do my duty even to the slaying of
Bhîshma." Now what does that mean? It means that the purpose of the God
will be accomplished, whether or not a man is found to do it; that
evolution will proceed, no matter who may falter or who may hinder; that
while evolution will go on under the Will of God, individual progress
depends on individual co-operation with that Will; that God evolves His
agents by setting them to His work, and that their progress depends on
the extent to which they are able to receive the impulse that He
imparts. Only one other case I will take to show you how Shrî Kṛiṣhṇa
worked when the force was too great for Arjuna to meet, when He saw
Arjuna could do nothing with all the valour at his command, that no
force of appeal, no stimulus, could enable him to defend himself. One
weapon was thrown that might not err in its aim, one weapon a celestial
weapon that He had given as a boon, when He waked from His thousand
years of sleep. That weapon was cast against Arjuna. Arjuna could not
avert it. Alone of all the weapons in earth and heaven, that weapon must
go to its ending, and Arjuna would have been slain in the midst of the
battle. What can be done? He could not cut it with the arrows from
Gândîva, he could not use against it any of the mighty weapons that the
Gods had given him. This was the weapon of the Supreme, which nothing
was able to oppose. Shrî Kṛiṣhṇa then, at that last moment, as the
weapon flies straight at the breast of the warrior throws Himself in
front, and, as it strikes His bosom, it knows its Master and is changed
into a garland of flowers. So also with the chariot on which He drove.
He bade Arjuna first get down. He bade him take his weapons, and until
Arjuna had left it, Shrî Kṛiṣhṇa stood there immovable, He would not
stir; and the moment He left it the whole chariot burst into flames, for
only His presence had kept it together, He who was the Lord of fire, as
well as the Lord of all else. You see, my brothers, how fruitful is the
study of this subject, when you are dealing with the sacred literature;
how you may be able to explain it to men of your own faith, and defend
it against the attacks of men of other creeds. Do not defend it with
bitter words, do not defend it with harsh language, do not defend it
with wrath in your mind, and indignation making your tongue poisonous;
but remember that where ignorance attacks, it is the duty of knowledge
to defend; and that when that which ignorance attacks is the spiritual
food of millions, every man of knowledge should spring forward to defend
it, lest the ignorant of that faith should swerve, when they see the
truths in their books assailed by those who do not understand.

That then is the outcome of this lecture. I ask you to remember that in
every stage of your life, Gods are around you. No karma that you make,
that they will not remember; no appeal that you utter, that they will
not answer. If for a moment no answer seems to come, or if sorrow that
you shrink from falls upon you, remember that the hand of love allows it
thus to fall, and that in bearing that sorrow bravely, you are swiftly
working out your own deliverance. You are to be men, not children, in
the future; men-sons of the living Íshvara whose image you are, and not
babies that He must for ever carry in His arms. He asks from you the
strength of men to help the Gods. He is evolving you as the agents for
His future universe. You may delay, if you will. You may lose time, if
you will. Kalpa after Kalpa, you may remain at a low stage. If so you
choose, He will not force your will; but your wisdom lies in letting His
Will work in you to your swift and perfect evolution, that you may have
the joy of carrying out that Will in other worlds, of consciously being
His agents under other conditions; for men are Gods in the making, and
we are preparing to discharge the functions of the Gods.



[THIRD LECTURE.]

EVOLUTION OF LIFE.


My Brothers,--We have reached a point in our study from which we may
begin to trace the Evolution of Life in our own system that evolution
takes place on the various planets, but it is similar in its general
outline, though modified in its details on the different globes. We
shall chiefly confine ourselves to our own world and our own humanity at
the outset we shall be obliged to go somewhat further afield, but for
the greater part of our study we may confine ourselves to the evolution
of life on our earth. Now we are seeking in our study to find a common
ground of agreement on which co-operation may arise between peoples of
different faiths and of different schools of thought. If we are trying
to find a meeting-place for western and for eastern Science, if we are
seeking in the light of Religion to understand some of the mysteries of
life, it is right and fitting that we should remember that no one
religion has a monopoly of truth, and that any one who is seeking to
expound the truth should be able to fortify his position from the
different religions of the world, and to show that on all great,
essential, and fundamental truths they speak with a single voice, they
teach an identical lesson. Therefore in dealing with my subject this
morning, I shall, as before, draw your attention on the main points
where challenge might arise to the consensus of religious opinion, to
the definite statements of the world's Teachers; so that the tendency
towards unity, on which the future evolution of life depends, may be
helped to develop amongst us. And there is a special reason for that
just now. We shall see, as we trace out the evolution of life, that we
are in the very crisis of the intellectual evolution, and we shall find
that the characteristic of that stage of evolution is division and
separation, and the placing of the individual apart from, and somewhat
in conflict with, other individuals. And we shall find that the next
stage in the evolution of life is the seeking for union amid the
individualised units; that the next divine aspect that man has to
develop in the Self within him is the aspect of union and not the aspect
of diversity; and it is of importance that those who are seeking the
light, those who are striving to co-operate with nature by understanding
her hidden ways, should realise the next step of evolution as well as
the present, in order that they may co-operate with nature by themselves
taking that step, thus quickening the possibility of similar taking for
all mankind.

Now with regard to life in its relation to forms, change at the present
time is coming over the thought of western Science. I pause on this for
a moment in order to substantiate that assertion, for it is important in
the search for the means of drawing together the two kinds of science,
ancient and modern, to notice how much the position of the leading
scientists of the West has been modified with regard to life and form
during the last ten years. I take as a declaration on this subject of
life, issued some years ago, the article on Biology in the last edition
of the _Encyclopædia Britannica_, written, as all the articles in that
_Cyclopædia_ are written, by a prominent man in the scientific world. In
dealing then with life, the writer of the article in question distinctly
states that "a mass of living protoplasm is simply a molecular machine
of great complexity, the total results of the working of which, or its
vital phenomena, depend, on the one hand, upon its construction, and on
the other, upon the energy supplied to it and to speak of 'vitality' as
anything but the name of a series of operations is as if any one should
talk of the 'horologity' of a clock." That is to say, that to regard
life as being in any sense a common existing principle, as anything more
than a mere succession of phenomena in connection with a particular
apparatus of matter, is as foolish and unreasonable as if, looking at a
clock, you should separate its going property from the mechanism of the
clock itself. A purely mechanical view of nature is thus taken, and
life-processes are regarded as being due to the unstable equilibrium of
protoplasm; the series of these life-processes is brought about merely
by mechanical and chemical changes, the actions called vital being thus
mechanical in their character. But at the last meeting of the British
Association, the President of the Chemical Section--chemistry having
been the very science to lead the scientific world towards materialism
in this respect--has taken up an entirely different standpoint, a point
that brings the question into a line with ancient thinking, and that
starts the investigations of western Science along a road whereon the
most fruitful results are likely to be encountered. Dr. Japp, the
President of that Section, compares the action of life to the action of
an operator who is deliberately working with a purpose, using knowledge
and will in order to bring about a definite result. "The operator," he
says, "exercises a guiding power which is akin, in its results, to that
of the living organism," and, going on to explain in very technical
language the ground on which this view is based, he concludes by saying:
"Every purely mechanical explanation of the phenomenon must necessarily
fail. I see no escape from the conclusion that at the moment when life
first arose a directive force came into play--a force precisely of the
same character as that which enables the intelligent operator, by the
exercise of his will, to select one crystallised enantiomorph and reject
its asymmetric opposite." That is the declaration: that with the arising
of life there is an arising of consciousness which exercises a directive
force in nature, as we see it exercising a directive force in the choice
exercised by men. Put those two statements side by side, see the entire
reversal of the attitude, and then you will be able to measure to some
extent the change that has come over western thinking--the recognition
of life as identical with consciousness, a position which has ever been
taken in the hoary Science of the East.

Now let me, before going into details, suggest to you the path that we
are to follow. From the One Existence, that One without a second,
arises, as we saw in our first study--Íshvara, God in His creative and
manifested aspect, Íshvara clothed in Mâyâ, out of which a new universe
is to be builded. Threefold we found Him to be in His manifestation,
threefold in the aspect that He showed forth; so that a Trimûrti, or
Trinity, is the aspect towards this universe of the manifested God; His
working will show this triple character, and the evolution of life is
threefold, whether we study it in nature or in man. I know the thought
that arises in many of you, accustomed to the broad statements in
eastern literature. You think of the building, the sustaining, and the
disappearing of a universe. Perfect, you say, is the One Existence,
infinite, unchangeable; perfect in the ending is the universe, as
perfect in the beginning; why then this long evolution of life with all
its struggles, with all its imperfections gradually and slowly
transcended. Why from the perfect should the imperfect come forth? Why
should it be trained into perfection, and then return into that
perfection whence it came? That question is based on a fundamental
misunderstanding which it is necessary to correct; a misunderstanding
which never could have risen amongst you if the Scriptures had been read
in the light of the Yoga-developed consciousness, and if the broad
outline which is presented had been followed out carefully in thought so
that its stages might be marked. You will remember how it is written in
the _Chhândhogyopanishad_ that the One willed to multiply; and the
moment you grasp the idea of multiplication, if you think of what it
means instead of merely repeating the word, you will realise that
multiplication must necessarily mean division and therefore limitation,
and that limitation necessarily implies imperfection. But having gone so
far, you would then have proceeded to ask: By what words is the universe
described, and what idea is hidden beneath the words? And you would find
that when God is spoken of as a Fire, the universe is not spoken of as a
Fire, but as a spark, and the lives of men are described as millions of
sparks that come from the illimitable Fire. Not only is that word
"spark" used, showing you the limitation that comes with manifestation,
giving you the idea that the spark, fed by suitable fuel is to be
developed into the likeness of the Flame whence it came; but as the
spark is of the same nature as the flame, so we are told "Thou art
That," the Self in man is identical in nature with the Self that gave it
birth. You will remember another word which is constantly used to
describe alike the universe as a whole, and also the parts of which it
is composed--the word germ or seed. Let me ask you to turn to the
_Bhagavad Gîtâ_ so familiar to every student amongst you, and to listen
for a moment to the words chosen by Shrî Kṛiṣhṇa when He desires to
convey the idea of the nature of the universe, and its relation to the
Supreme What does He say?

    Mama yonir Mahad Brahma tasmin garbham dadâmyaham.
    Sambhava sarva bhûtânâm tato bhavati Bhârata.

"I place the germ in the womb of Mahad Brahma." What do these words
imply? for the whole turns on our understanding of that word "germ."
Mahad Brahma is the matter of the universe, vivified by Brahman in His
third aspect--that which Theosophists call the Third Logos, which in the
Trimûrti is spoken of as Brahmâ. Looking on Brahman as the _One_, Mahad
Brahma is the third aspect of His revealing, which vivifies and makes
atomic the matter of the universe, the womb of the seed of the Eternal
Life. In that, brought into manifestation by Brahmâ, or the Third Logos,
the Second, the generating Father, Vishnu, places that germ of life that
therein it may develop; not Himself in all the might of His Deity, not
Himself in the force of His unfolded powers, but the seed of His
life--capable of evolution, containing everything within it potentially,
but showing forth nothing in manifestation at the beginning of the
universe. True, the child is the father revived; true, the child is the
same as the father. None the less, the life which the father gives is
the seed containing the power of development, and the universe is but
the seed of Deity, with every power involved within it, and capable by
its evolution of becoming the image of the Supreme: none the less is
every power germinal, not developed, potential, not actual; only at the
ending will that seed, grown into perfect manhood, show forth the image
of its generating Sire, and give a new Íshvara to the future from whom
further universes may evolve. That is the answer to the question: Why
this long evolution? It is this evolution that we are to trace from the
germ to the perfect, life given as germ to grow to the God.

Let us look first at the matter in which this life is to be clothed--not
in detail, that is to-morrow's work--but just as to the principle involved
in the evolution of the matter through which the life is to express
itself. We heard the first day about tattvas. We found that they were
modifications of Prakriti, the primary matter, brought out one after the
other as the regions of the universe were builded. All that we need for
our purpose this morning is to remember that five of these are concerned
with the present evolution, that the highest of these is the A'kâsha in
the highest sense of the term, then Vâyu, then Agni, then Apas, then
Prithivî; all these are kosmic and they represent vast planes in the
universe, but have their correspondences in the physical globe--ether,
air, fire, water, earth, these being only the reflections in miniature of
their great prototypes in the system at large. The only other thing we
need to remember this morning with regard to matter, is that the whole of
these are animated by the life of the _third_ aspect of God. Here is a
point where we may pause for a moment and look at other religions, and we
shall find that they all tell us exactly the same. Not only do we find in
Hinduism, in such a book as the _Vishnu Purâna_ that the Divine creation
was from Mahat--the third manifestation--that these great tattvas were
evolved by modifications from the principle of individuality which is the
characteristic of that aspect; but if we turn to the Hebrew teachings we
shall find that it is distinctly stated that the "Spirit of God," the
third aspect, or Wisdom, moved on the face of the waters. Translating the
symbol of water we have matter; it is so used in every great religious
scripture, and when it is said that the Spirit of God moved on the face of
the waters, we have the picture of a brooding life, brooding over and
permeating the ocean of primeval matter, giving to it the life that will
enable it to serve as the womb for a higher life; the divine energy that
thus vivifies matter comes from the third Person of the Christian
Trinity. That Hebrew statement dominates the whole of Christendom,
inasmuch as the Christian Churches take the older part of their scriptures
from the hands of the Hebrew people; and in quoting that, I am not quoting
it only as an authority from the Hebrews but as including the authority of
the whole of Christendom, bound by that Hebrew teaching. I might show you,
did time permit, that other great Teachers have spoken in the same sense;
the outcome being that the matter in which evolution is to take place--of
which our world of organisms, including our own bodies, is to be
formed--that matter is permeated by the Divine life, and the aspect of
Divine life that permeates it is that of the third manifestation of God.
That is the fundamental reason why Brahmâ is no longer worshipped. That is
why no temples are raised to Him and why worshippers do not throng to His
shrines. His work was dominant in the earlier stages of the universe, but
is now overshadowed by the working of another aspect of the mighty God,
Vishnu as Preserver, as Sustainer, and as Organiser. He is the life which
is active in all organisms; and the life which animates the atoms of
matter having been given and partially evolved, the continuing aspect of
that work is hidden at the present stage of the universe; the main
evolution of life that is now occurring is carried on and directed by
other aspects of God.

Sometimes in theosophical literature, that vivification and building up
of matter is spoken of as the work of the first great life-wave in the
solar system; as a wave rolling forth so does the life of God go forth
for the building of the atoms whereof the system is to be composed. The
critical point is this: that the life is veiled over and over again in a
five-fold involution; we find it said that Prâna five-fold divides
itself, for five are the types of the atoms, five are the great
divisions of the materials, and in each successive type, the previous
type permeates and encloses it, as we found we could read in the _Vishnu
Purâna_, dealing with the building up of the tattvas. (It will be
remembered that the types are really seven, but that two are concealed.)
One important result comes from this which I will deal with more fully
to-morrow, that the form--being built up from matter containing within
it this involved and concealed life--has the power of unfolding to the
highest possibility of the life thus concealed. Sheath after sheath is
made in order that sheath after sheath may be brought into activity as a
vehicle of the Self, and that five-fold ensheathing for the human Self
is wrought in order that it may have a vehicle capable of responding to
every vibration that it sets up or that it receives. As the vibrations
become subtler and subtler in their character, sheath after sheath
becomes active and responsive, and enables the life to function
externally by means of the sheath. Let us however turn--for that will be
fully worked out to-morrow--to the next great life-wave with which we
are concerned; it is the life of the second aspect of Deity, spoken of
in Hinduism as the life of Vishnu, spoken of in Christianity as the life
of the Son of God by whom all things were made. As that life outpours
into the universe prepared to receive it, as that life begins to draw
together the matter which, vivified by the first out-pouring, is now
ready to respond to the vibrations of the life that organises and
sustains, vibrations are sent out by this Divine Life into the higher
regions of the universe, beginning the task of drawing the matter
together into forms. The earliest stages of these are the ante-types of
what shall be in evolution--not such forms as we speak of in the lower
world, concrete objects which can give rise to concrete ideas, but that
which dimly we are trying to reach in the mind to-day, when we abstract
from a great class of concrete objects its uniting quality, its common
characteristic, and formulate this apart from the objects themselves. I
have sometimes taken the triangle as the very simplest image which
thought can form. You may have triangles of any size, you may have
triangles of almost any shape, provided only three lines are used,
and those lines are right lines, or unbent. What is the governing
characteristic of the triangle? That its three angles, formed by the
meeting of enclosing sides, must be equal to two right angles. Now
supposing that you have the power of brain, the power of abstraction, to
take ten, twenty or thirty concrete triangles and hold them in the mind
as though you were looking at them in outer form, to create their mental
images so that every form is present in your mind, you directing your
attention to them all at the same time, then--if out of these many
concrete objects that have the particular properties in common of the
three right lines that enclose and the sum of the three angles equalling
two right angles--if you can draw out the idea of that common property,
separated from every concrete triangle, and make it an object in
consciousness, then you will have risen from the concrete to the
abstract, and will have some idea of what is meant by an archetype in
the higher world. The earliest actions of the Deity in evolving a system
are of this nature; He generates certain types or archetypes, and by the
sub-division and multiplication of these the whole universe of concrete
objects is formed; each one of them is capable of generating innumerable
forms that reproduce its own characteristic amid endless diversities of
subsidiary properties.

It is not without interest that some of our scientific men have tried to
find unity amidst diversity, and to discover the types of the animal
kingdom amid the innumerable diversities of the separated animal forms.
One of the most famous of those men, Sir Richard Owen, tried to
formulate an archetype which should represent every fundamental
characteristic of the vertebrate, like no particular vertebrate but
showing forth the qualities present in every vertebrate; he worked this
out from a study of vertebrates, setting aside the characteristics in
which they differ and synthesising into a single form the qualities
possessed by all. The reverse process is what really occurred; the
archetype which came forth from the Divine Mind generated in the world
of matter myriad different types in each of which it is itself
expressed. That gleam of genius which illuminated the mind of the modern
scientist is interesting as a ray from the conception of creative action
given in our sacred literature; and you will find, if you study
carefully, that the earliest forms are not concrete objects but
generative powers, and that these coming forth from God make models for
the future types, each type being related to its ante-type, each
concrete object to its abstract idea. Thus also the Greeks taught,
Pythagoras and Socrates and Plato; thus also many of the Hebrews taught,
the doctors of the Kabala; and both the Greek Philosopher and Hebrew
Kabalist have declared that the visible world of objects could never
have come into existence had not the invisible world of Ideas preceded
it, so that the objects repeated in multitude what an Idea presented in
unity. That Idea thus coming forth from God and drawing to itself forms
in subtle matter, produces the types of forms that are gradually to be
worked out in evolution; and those of you who have studied the _Secret
Doctrine_ of Madame Blavatsky may remember that the archetypal world is
therein spoken of as the first which is created, and as that on which
the whole of the evolution of denser worlds depends. It is made of the
A'kâsha which contains within itself the possibility of all forms as we
are told, and these Ideas are drawn forth and reproduced in greater
detail by the Builder on the A'kâshic correspondences of Agni. Life is
evolved by the modifications in consciousness which Íshvara brings
about; the modification in the consciousness of Íshvara preceding the
moulding of the matter. As that life-wave descends into denser and
denser matter, it draws together more and more separate forms, that
become denser in their nature, until at last, through kingdom after
kingdom, it comes down to the mineral forms, where life is most
restricted in its operations, where consciousness is most limited in its
scope. This is the process of the involution of life in matter, the
descending arc. From this lowest point the life ascends, revealing more
and more of its powers, and ordinary western "evolution" begins here,
the earlier process being ignored.

How did that Divine life and consciousness, in the first upward stage of
evolution, evolve in the germinal life the power to respond? The life
within the stone has the capacity to respond, but in a very limited
fashion, partly owing to its germinal nature, partly owing to the
rigidity of its surrounding vehicle; therefore the brooding life of
Vishnu, nourishing this germ, at once stimulates it by impacts from
without and gradually modifies the rigidity so as to make progress
possible. Long, long remains the life imbedded in this rigid material,
working from within outwards, as all life works, playing upon and thus
softening the rigidity, and slowly giving the form more plasticity in
response; we can sum up the whole of the working of the life, as the
receiving of vibrations from matter without and the answering of
vibrations from itself within. Notice in the earliest stages how
tremendous are the impacts; if you go back to the time when the world
knew not humanity, how gigantic are the operations of nature showing
herself in her mineral forms; earthquakes, eruptions, crushing and
grinding of materials, disintegration and reconstruction, all on the
mightiest and most gigantic scale; under all that, the life, trying to
make the matter more plastic and able to answer more readily; and
inasmuch as there is life, there is consciousness, _i.e._, the power to
respond, that power is developed within it, stimulated by the brooding
life of Íshvara. He dwelling within, and enveloping and permeating all
objects, makes the seed of life extend and grow by his nourishing
warmth, that it may become finally an independent centre. We see the
life within the stone beginning to vibrate more actively as these
tremendous blows come upon it from without; and mass is thrown against
mass, and mountain is piled upon mountain, until at last these mineral
materials gain larger power of transmitting impulses to the life within;
the impulse coming through more strongly because of the lessened
opposition from the form, the life responds more actively and begins to
evolve, developing more definitely the power of response. As this
process is repeated over and over again, the life within the minerals
vibrates with ever increasing rapidity, and the matter yields to it with
ever greater readiness, until a stage of plasticity is reached at which
the beginnings of the vegetable world can be brought into existence.
Between mineral and plant in the lowest stages no definite dividing line
can be drawn by science. So general is this absence of dividing lines in
nature that a separate kingdom has been recognised as including low
types of both vegetable and animal, and between the vegetable and
mineral kingdoms a class is recognised in which the rigid crystal which
belongs to the mineral kingdom has become the plastic crystalloid that
belongs to the vegetable; maintaining the outline of the mineral form,
but showing the plasticity of the vegetable, and thus yielding far more
readily to the moulding influences of the life within. The life thus
encased in more plastic material receives vibrations from without
more easily and responds more strongly, until in the ascent that it
is beginning to make, it adds the early beginnings of a power of
consciousness that in the mineral was not present. We call it sensation:
the power of feeling pleasure and pain, the power of responding to the
outside impact by a feeling within the life. After the life in the
mineral has developed the power of response, then the next stage in
evolution is that the response takes on the sensations of pleasure and
pain, appearing as that within the life which responds severally to
harmonious or discordant impact from without. As the life develops this
power of sensation, progress becomes more rapid. The animal kingdom is
gradually builded and the power of sensation is the great characteristic
which is developed through that kingdom, until--the animal forms having
been rendered plastic through many ages by the impulse of life, and the
life having formed and strengthened the power of responding by pleasure
and pain to harmonious and discordant vibrations--the next stage is
ready to be taken, the building of the vehicle for man.

That outer body in which man is to dwell resembles closely in its
nature, in some of its fundamental characteristics, the animal bodies
which the life had vivified before man was called into existence. "Out
of the dust of the ground," says the Hebrew scripture, God formed the
body of man, a symbolic way of saying that out of the material that had
made the lowest forms of life, was also to be made the outer coating of
that vessel, into which a new flood of Divine life was to be outpoured,
forming the human Self, or Spirit. We learn, when we study occultism,
that this third outpouring of Divine life comes neither from the Third,
nor from the Second, but from the First Logos, therefore called
Mahâdeva, the Great God, the Supreme. From Him comes the third impulse
which is to complete evolution, the third outpouring of life, that only
accomplishes its final evolution in this age by methods of Yoga;
therefore is He often represented as the great Yogî, the great Guru,
under whose instructions the latest stages of evolution are to be
carried out. When that life-force comes down, and the human Self is sent
forth to occupy its tabernacle, the ancient process is again repeated,
and it is only the germ of the highest life that is given and not the
completed life. Round it are vehicles that are able to respond, round it
are vehicles that have the power of developing more highly, that are
already capable of sending in vibrations arousing feeling in the life
that they enclose, and now--enwrapped by the life of Vishnu--this germ
of the Divine Self begins to stir and live as man.

At first there comes from it very little response to the life that is
transmitted, very little answer to that which is outside; but what are
the characteristics of this infant Self, this spark of the Eternal Fire?
Triple in aspect is the life in man as it is triple in the Deity, and
its characteristics are the same, Sat, Chit, Ananda. We speak thus of
Brahman, and if we study the human Self we shall find these three
aspects present also in that human Self; and the first to develop in
man, as in the Kosmos, is Chit or knowledge. All the earliest stages of
human evolution have to do with the evolution of Intelligence; it is
that with which we are now concerned, as we climb this mighty ladder. We
are evolving intelligence or intellect, and if we trace its stages from
the earliest germs as they appear in the primeval races of the humanity
of our globe, and as fostered in those races by the Great Ones who came
to us as Teachers from other worlds, we shall find that the dawning
intellect in man was but very slightly responsive to anything that came
to it from without, and that at first every effort of the intelligence
was stimulated by the promptings of the animal nature, by the sting of
desire, by the passions which belong to the animal part of man. Consider
a savage. When is a savage active? Only when some animal desire awakens
within him. If he is hungry, yes, then he will begin to think, "where
can I find food?" If he is thirsty, he will ask, "where shall I find
liquid?" Any animal prompting that arises within him, his dawning mind
applies itself to satisfy; and the germ of mind is stimulated by the
promptings of animal desire. In that stage he knows not right from
wrong; right and wrong for him have no existence; hunger and thirst,
sexual desire, and the need for sleep, these are the things that make up
his life and that move his dawning consciousness; these only are strong
enough to stir it into activity; it cannot yet initiate activity from
within. But as these play upon it, life after life, birth after birth,
century after century, in successive incarnations of this germinal but
growing life, as these vibrations continually arouse, awaken the life of
the intelligence, which is the third aspect of the Self, these repeated
vibrations, repeated over and over and over again a thousand times, by
that very repetition bring about an internal tendency to repeat it again
without a fresh stimulus from outside; and we find in the next stage of
the evolution of intelligence, still in the savage, that the savage does
not wait for hunger in order to search for food, but that the memory of
hunger and the memory of food are enough to send him out, before the
hunger strikes him, in search of the meal that to-morrow he will require
to satisfy the needs of the body. But what a change is there if we
consider it, small as it is in appearance. The man is no longer
stimulated by an outer impulse coming from the animal nature; he is
stimulated by a mental image, a connected picture of the painful state
of the body wanting food and of the food which is able to change that
state into one of pleasure; that is, he is now able to form mental
images, and these stimulate him into activity. How great the change! No
less than a change of the centre of consciousness from the animal to the
human, one of the most significant changes in the evolving life. Now,
for the first time, he does not wait to be pushed from without. He
begins action from within, and the body obeys the impulse that comes
from the centre, instead of the impact that strikes the centre from
without. Now evolution becomes more rapid, for as this great change, one
of the hardest of changes, is made, the intellect in man begins to
cognise itself, and Self-consciousness begins to arise. Separation is
recognised between its own centre, that thinks, and the things outside
that make it think; the "I" and the "Not-I" arise, and the centre begins
to shape itself and to be capable of growth.

How shall the growth go on? By conflict. This is the characteristic of
the intellect. It has to make the "I" a strong centre, a separate
centre, otherwise no further evolution is possible. You may say that
this looks like going downwards; nay, it is the germ of a new centre of
life in which Divinity itself shall unfold when evolution is complete.
There must be a clearly defined centre of consciousness, else how shall
it work onward to perfection? And that centre grows by struggle. All
strength comes by struggle of one kind or another. If you want your arms
to become strong, it is no good to lie on a sofa and leave the muscles
to grow merely by the nourishment that you give them. They want more
than nourishment, they want exercise; and it is the law of all growth of
form that the life must be drawn into the form, for only then can the
form expand and become capable of receiving a further impulse of life;
if the muscles are to grow, the cells that compose them must be
stretched by exercise, and the life must flow into the expanded cell;
only then does it become capable of multiplication, so that there may be
many cells where before there was only one. The difference between the
weak man and the strong man, the man who is feeble and the man who is
athletic, is the difference brought about by exercise and struggle, by
pulling against resistance, by taking up a weight and whirling it round
and making the muscles strain against the weight. That is a picture of
the way in which all life is working for development of form; the
impulse of life leads to the exercise of the form, the exercise makes it
plastic and increases the form, through which the life is thus enabled
to flow more largely. That is as true in the mental world as in the
physical world; for the mental world is also a world of phenomena. It is
not the One; its characteristic is diversity, each being standing by
himself, and regarding other things as separate. I know an object. How?
By its differences from some objects and its likenesses to others;
otherwise I could not know it. You cannot think of unity until you have
seen variety; you cannot recognise likeness until you have seen
unlikeness. The characteristic of intellectual evolution is the
discrimination of differences followed by the recognition of likenesses;
thus the intellect recognises object after object, each of them by its
own characteristic marks. Analysis precedes synthesis. Differences are
seen before an underlying unity is recognised.

As this intelligence develops, we find the recognition of the Self and
the Not-Self giving rise to struggle all over the world, social struggle
as well as mental struggle. In every civilisation in which the intellect
is developing from its earlier stages, you must have struggle without in
order to stimulate the evolution within; it is a necessary stage,
although it be a passing one, and it need not distress us, who see its
end, in a world guided by the Gods. All the stages through which a
nation passes are necessary for its growth, and need not be condemned
merely because of their being limited and imperfect. In practical
politics condemnation is useful as a stimulus, as one of the agents for
bringing about the evolutionary changes, but the philosopher should
understand, and, understanding, he cannot condemn. The worst struggle
that we may see, the most terrible poverty, the most shocking misery,
the strife of man against man and nation against nation--all these are
working out the Divine purpose, and are bringing us towards a richer
unity than without them we could possibly attain.

Let me take one instance which seems to be the most hopeless of all--the
instance of war. What can be more inhuman than war, what more brutal and
more terrible, stirring the angriest passions of man and making him like
a wild beast in his rage? Aye, but that is not all. Let us look at the
life within a soldier which has been evolved by this terrible discipline
without. What is that life learning as its vehicles are plunged into
strife, into blood-shed, into mutilation, into death? It is learning
lessons that without that stern experience it could not learn, without
which its evolution would be checked and be unable to proceed it is
learning that there is something greater than the body, something
greater than the physical existence, something higher, more noble, more
compelling, than the guarding of the physical vehicle from injury and
even from death; and the poorest soldier who goes out on a campaign, who
goes through hardship after hardship, who finds himself frozen with cold
or burnt up with heat, who plunges through frozen river or toils across
sandy desert, who learns to preserve discipline and submission under
hardship, who learns to keep cheerful under difficulty, so that his
comrades may not be depressed, who is moved, not by the thought of the
body which is suffering, but by the great ideal of the military renown
of his regiment, and the safety of the country which he is serving, who
is learning thus to sacrifice himself for an ideal, is developing
thereby qualities invaluable in lives to come. Need I say this to you,
who know the place of the Kshattriya in human evolution? Did Manu when
he described these different castes demarcate a caste that had not its
place in the evolution of life, that had not something to teach? Was not
a man kept in the Kshattriya vehicle until he had learned that life was
not dependent on the body, that life was to be held at the service of
the ideal, at the service of the mother-land that gave him birth, of the
king who ruled him, and who to him stood, as to every Hindu the king
should stand, as an Avatâra of God? He learned that when that king
called him to the battle-field, he had to give his body to mutilation
and to death, because the life that was in him recognised the service of
the ideal as evolving the real life, and the body as a mere garment to
be thrown aside when duty called? Without that training, no Brâhmana
could be; no man could come into the caste of the Brâhmana, save as he
had gone through that discipline in the ranks of the Kshattriya; because
until he had learned that life was everything and form nothing--and that
is the lesson which war teaches when it is rightly understood--until
that lesson was learned, he was not prepared for the far harder
evolution of the life, which is to master the lesson of unity beneath
diversity, of love beneath antagonism, of being the friend of every
creature and the foe of none.

When the intelligence has developed, when it has reached a fairly high
standpoint, the germs of the next aspect of Deity begin to show
themselves in man and that aspect is A'nanda, Joy or Bliss. But in what
does A'nanda really consist? It is in the drawing together of separated
objects and uniting them into one. That is the essence of Bliss, that
the very core and heart of the next stage of evolution. In the old days
of Hinduism, this was called the life of the Brâhmana, when the Brâhmana
was really a Brâhmana and had no further birth before him on the wheel
of births and deaths. In the Christian symbology it is called the
Christ stage, that of Divine Sonship, and you will find in a great
prayer of Jesus, called the Christ, that in praying for His disciples He
asked that "they may be one in me," in union with each other and
Himself. There is a grander unity yet, the unity between the Son and
Father, a unity of nature not a union of the erst-separated; but before
that unity can be reached, man must have realised the union with his
brother men, must see humanity as united, and not as separate; that is,
he must have changed his centre of consciousness--that responds to the
impacts from without--from the vehicles in which the intellect and the
feelings were developed to the life itself, which is one and the same in
all. No longer is he to think himself as separate, inasmuch as the "I,"
the separated self, is now to be transcended, is to be merged in the
uniting aspect of the Deity, the Vishnu or the Christ. That is to be
developed as the life of man, with all its wonderful beauty and power,
with its unifying force. Therefore did Shrî Kṛiṣhṇa come as an Avatâra
to this Eastern world to show forth the life of Love; for the life of
A'nanda, or Bliss, is ever the life of Love, and by Love alone may we
evolve it within ourselves. The aspect of God that is Bliss shows itself
as Love; and in word and in action, in simile and in parable, did the
Beloved and the Lover of man reveal that Divine aspect to the longing
hearts of his Bhaktas. That was His special work, to show out the Love
power of God; and only as that is developed within us can the life take
on this lofty unfoldment that knits all selves in the One Self, that
sees all lives in Him. Now, in evolution, the Self knows itself as the
Life, and is no longer deluded by the ignorance that made it identify
itself with the Form; it is life which realises itself as Life. When
this stage is reached by the evolving life, the man who was separated
becomes Humanity, and is one of the Saviours of the world. There is
nothing apart from him, nothing separate to him. He stands in the very
Life itself, and sheds his light in every direction into whatever
Upâdhi, or vessel, may be in need of it; wherever there is want or cry
for his aid, thereto flow his powers. As the sun shines forth in heaven,
and may shine unto a million houses, the only condition of his rays
entering being that the houses shall lay themselves open to the
sunshine, so is the man who has become the second aspect of Deity, in
whom that perfection of Divine Sonship is revealed. Man, as the Son of
God in Heaven, is above all the distinctions that you find on Earth. He
sends down his rays into the waiting hearts of men, and the only
condition necessary for his entrance, the one thing that ensures his
coming, is that his brother will open his heart to receive him. For he
will not break his way in, he will only come where he is welcome. Thus
this great life of God shows itself forth now in the man who has become
the Saviour, the Son, the Initiate, as a deep compassionate love for
all. Every man who reaches that stage is a new force for the uplifting
of humanity. Every man who develops that aspect of life is one more wing
with which to lift everything upwards. If a man be weak, his life can go
to him to strengthen him; if a man be sorrowful, his life can go to him
to make him glad; if a man be sinful, his life can go to him to make him
pure from sin. To all men he says: "Wherever a man is there will I meet
him, and there will I accept him." That is Shrî Kṛiṣhṇa in
manifestation, that the love that shines forth from the bliss aspect of
the Human Self.

One step remains, the last, of evolution for this rapidly perfecting
life. Again I take up my Christian symbol and venture the quotation:--
"As Thou, Father, art in Me and I in Thee, that they also may be
one in Us." The Son becomes in fact what he has ever been potentially,
one with the Father. He enters into the mighty realm of Self-Being,
where God, in the Christian phrase, is "all-in-all." Do not let the
narrower presentations of Christianity that here meet you blind
you to these fundamental identities of the deeper and more spiritual
Christianity with our own ancient faith. Shall these pettinesses, or
even outer divergencies, separate those whom the living Spirit would
unite? We learn, as we study the Hindu Scriptures, that man after having
reached the second stage rises by Yoga, until he attains the last, and
becomes one with the Deity Himself in full power of eternal Self-Being.
It was because your own Svâmi T. Subba Rao knew this occult truth, which
too many know not, that he spoke, as I before mentioned, of the
innumerable Centres, or Logoi, in the One, every one of which could be
the beginning of a new universe, of a new out-pouring of life. The
building of those Centres is a purpose of Life-evolution. The building
them up stage by stage is done as the life passes from form to form; and
end or ending there is none in the infinite series of the future. What
that life holds for us we cannot tell; how should we imagine that far
off land, those distant reaches? But this we know: that no will of the
Eternal is ever frustrate, no purpose of the Eternal lacks its fruit or
misses its goal; and if our eyes fail us in the dazzle of the light
wherein we see our unity with the Eternal Father--that unity that
transcends our dreaming, when we shall know ourselves to be one with
Him--it is enough that at last the evolution of all lives leads into
that unimaginable splendour, known only to Íshvara Himself, who pours
out His life that we may know it also. And Mahâdeva shall return to It
with all the centres that His life has brought into existence, with all
the new lives and joys that His imprisonment in His universe has made.
That is enough for us to give us the hope--hope, do I say? it is too
feeble a word--the joy inexpressible and the certainty which are founded
on the very Life of God; for is He not the Truth, the Foundation of the
Universe? And when we enter into SAT we shall know the future as we see
the past, for we shall be not only immortal but Eternal.



[FOURTH LECTURE.]

EVOLUTION OF FORM.


My Brothers,--We are now to concentrate our attention on the phenomenal
side of the universe, that is, on the varied appearances that surround
us, whether those appearances be visible to the physical eyes or not;
for we must remember that the principle of form is to be found in every
stage of the manifested universe, and that when the phrase "the formless
world" is used, the word "formless" is only true in relation to the
worlds below the one so spoken of. All higher worlds are "formless"
regarded from below, that is, regarded by the organs of perception which
are fitted for exercise in the lower world; but if a person has
developed the capacity to respond to the vibrations in any given world
of manifestation, then that world to him is a world of form and not of
formlessness. Everywhere manifestation implies form, however subtle may
be the matter which composes it; and you may remember that it is said in
the _Vishnu Purâna_ that the one characteristic of matter which is
always present is extension, that is, the capacity of taking form, of
being shaped in a definite way.

Now before we take up the details of evolution, there are one or two
great principles that I want to ask you to keep in mind; for we shall
never be able to understand the complexity of detail, if we take it as a
series of isolated details; we need to classify these under certain
fundamental principles and then, those principles being clear in the
mind, we can easily, as it were, pack every detail into its appropriate
pigeon-hole in our thought. I shall not trouble you this morning at all
with that threefold division of the evolving life with which we dealt
yesterday. We can, for our work now, treat life as a unit, speaking of
the Divine Life as Íshvara, and of the reflection of that life in man as
the Self. We will keep these two terms to avoid confusion: Íshvara as
the Divine Life which is the source of evolution; the Self as the human
life which is gradually evolving. And we need these two distinguishing
names, without going into any of the sub-divisions that we dealt with
yesterday in connection with life, in order that we may be able to see
how forms are shaped, and to which principle, if I may say so, we are to
refer the special modifications.

The next thing that we must realise is the respective functions of these
sources of life; one working through the whole kosmos, and therefore
coming to man as a part of that kosmos, the other working in man as an
individual through the early stages and transcending individuality at the
close. The great life of Íshvara as it rolls outwards, building the
universe of forms, expresses itself, as we have seen, by a certain series
of vibrations, and every modification in the form is the result of an
impulse coming by way of vibrations from the ensouling life. Now the point
that strikes us most in this manifestation of Íshvara, as we study it, is
the unutterable patience of it. We are impatient for results, He never. We
are impatient for results, because, limited by time, we crave to see the
outcome of our action; He being the eternal is unspeakably patient, set
upon perfection and careless of the time which that perfection may take in
evolving. For the evolution of forms this patience is absolutely
necessary; when we come to think, we see that any impatience in the
evolution of forms would mean the over-rapid breaking up of the forms. The
form is comparatively rigid as compared with the life. If the life
vibrates too rapidly for the form which it is evolving, the form will
shatter under the stress of those vibrations. Let me give you a very
common illustration to show you what I mean; a tube of glass, or an
ordinary lamp-glass if you like, has a certain note to which it vibrates;
and if that note be sung near the lamp-glass, you will hear the note sound
out independently from the lamp-glass, as though the lamp-glass were
singing; the glass has vibrated in answer to the vibrations of the sound
sung to it, it having the capacity of that vibration in it, and thus it
reproduces the note. If you increase the force of that note, if you
continue vibration after vibration, beyond the point at which the glass is
able to respond, your glass will shiver into pieces, shivered by the force
of the effort to respond to vibrations beyond its limit of rigidity. I
only take that as an illustration, as a picture; it is true in every world
of form; and if Íshvara were to send forth vibrations too swift, too
subtle for the form which He is ensouling to respond to, that form would
be shivered into pieces, and its evolution would be stopped; nature would
have again to begin to build a similar form in order to again reach the
point which it had already reached. This patience of Íshvara is the thing
that strikes us first as we study the evolution of forms. How slow are the
changes, how gradual the modifications, what thousands of successive forms
are worked in, how wellnigh imperceptible are the changes in their
minuteness, although so great when we look at them in the mass; that is
one great principle to bear in mind.

Another great principle is the double and parallel action of Íshvara and
of the evolving Self. Íshvara is present in the Self of man that is
formed within Him. Every evolutionary impulse in the earliest stages
comes directly from the life of Íshvara, and as He moulds the form
without, He gradually strengthens the centre that He is building up
within. His object is to make that centre the image of Himself,
self-sustaining; but enormous reaches of time are needed for the
building; as He shapes the forms, He builds the centre; and as He builds
that centre, and it becomes more and more active, answering to the
vibrations that He transmits to it from the outer world, it begins to
take on a little action of its own and to send out vibrations, as we may
say, on its own account. As this double action goes on within the form,
more and more does that evolving centre begin to control the form within
which it is developed. As this power of control develops and increases,
He withdraws more and more of His directive energy as Íshvara; the
energy drawn from Him is now beginning to work _quasi_-independently in
the separated centre that He has been building, until at last that
centre reflects Himself, and is able to be self-existent by the very
life that it has drawn from Him. If this conception be a little
abstract, let me give it again in a concrete form. There is one symbol
that the sages have used over and over again, in order to express this
wonder of the brooding life of Íshvara making an image of Himself and
giving to that image the possibility of independent life. It is the
symbol of the mother and the child within the womb. As the life of the
mother passes into the child that is building within her, transmitting
to that new form all the nourishment which is necessary for its growing
life, the whole life of the child is dependent on the mother and the
life-streams that nourish it are drawn from her own life. The building
goes on, and on, and on, till the new centre of life has grown strong,
but not until that centre can hold itself together amid the vibrations
of the outer universe, is the new form with its ensouling life sent
forth on its own independent course. So does the brooding mother-life of
Íshvara envelope the children of His love, and so does He nourish them,
building them within Himself as the ages pass, until they are able to
hold their own centres in the illimitable life of the One, the Supreme.
That is another principle which you have to remember throughout the
details of the evolution of form.

One other that has two divisions and then the statement of our main
principles will be sufficiently complete. There are three aspects, we
recollect, which the evolving Self has to unfold. We must add to this a
comprehension of the nature of these aspects, when externalised; for we
did not yesterday, for lack of time, glance quite precisely at the in
characteristic outer mark of each aspect of life. As these aspects
modify the evolution of form, the form cannot be understood unless its
relations to the aspects of life be realised. We have, as we know, to
show forth Knowledge, Bliss, and Being. These will come out as powers
into the world of form as evolution reaches its later stages, and the
form will be able to express those powers of the evolving life.
Knowledge, showing forth through form, has as its power Intelligence;
Bliss, shown forth through form, has as its power Love; Being, shown
forth through form, has as its power Existence; so that the fundamental
aspects may be said severally to manifest as the powers of intelligence,
of love, of existence. Otherwise put, the nature of intelligence is
knowledge, the nature of love is bliss, the nature of existence is
being. The intelligence, love and existence of our worlds are the
manifested Knowledge, the manifested Bliss, and the manifested Being of
the Self. That is the outward aspect of the Self as the other is the
inner aspect, and these characteristic natures seek their expression in
form. This expression is sought cosmically and individually, alike by
the life of Íshvara and the life of the Self. Cosmically they make the
planes of the manifested universe, the five planes on which we are
evolving. That which manifests as existence, the power of Being, has as
its form the Akâsha of the higher realm; that which manifests as love,
the power of Bliss, has as its form of matter Vâyu; that which manifests
as intelligence, the power of Knowledge, has as its material Agni. These
are the three fundamental manifestations in form. The other two are
reflections: That which is love, reflecting itself in the lower form of
matter--the denser matter of Varuna--takes on the aspect of desire and
passion, and becomes kâma. That which is existence, reflecting itself on
the yet grosser form of Prithivî, shows forth what we call objective
reality. See how the planes correspond, the one with the other. Try and
make a picture of a mountain reflected in a lake; and if you have that
in your mind, you will follow exactly the way the reflection takes
place. There is no reflection of intelligence because it is the central
quality; the intelligence is the centre of the five, two are above it
and two are below it. It is the central region, the pivot on which the
whole has to turn. If you look above to the higher regions, we find love
and existence showing themselves forth as the powers of Bliss and
Being. That is as it were, the mountain. Now look at your reflection in
the lake; the middle part of the mountain is reflected half-way down in
the water. The shore is the dividing line between object and image, and
represents the intelligence; below that, half-way down, will come the
reflection of love showing itself as emotion and desire; then we see the
highest peak reflected in the deepest depth of the lake, the existence
above, the power of the real Being, reflected below in the plane of
physical matter as that illusory existence which man calls real. Try and
keep that picture, for the principle of reflection from above to below
is one of the keys to understanding both above and below. It helps you
to see why emotional love passes into devotion, and how, in the passing
from emotion into the higher love which is devotion, it passes from
the kâmic plane to the buddhic, where bliss is the distinguishing
characteristic; and you will understand why action, the most illusory of
things, has to us the sense of reality. It gives that peculiarly
definite sense of reality to us because it is the reflection of the
real, of the existence of which it is the lower form.

Now these are the principles. Let us try to carry them out in our
evolutionary study; for if you hold firm to the principles, the study
of detail, of forms, will seem less confusing, less complex and less
difficult; you will not lose your way among the trees, when once you
have looked down on the forest as a whole; that is a simile I once heard
from Professor Huxley, as illustrating principles and details, and it is
a suggestive one.

We begin then the detailed evolution of form; it is like a great circle
traced downwards and upwards. There is a great difference between the
downward arc, the one-half of the circle, and the upward arc, the other
half of the circle. In the one case, coming downwards, Íshvara imparts
qualities and attributes; in the other half, going upwards, He builds
the qualities and attributes into vehicles. These are the two great
differences between the downward and upward arcs. In the downward,
matter takes up qualities; in the upward, matter is formed into
vehicles, or sheaths, or bodies, whatever may be the term we prefer. A
process of specialisation goes on, up to a certain point. After a time
the specialised materials are drawn together and combined into a
vehicle, an organised unity, serving as a tabernacle for the Self. First
comes differentiation, and the first step to that is to impart qualities
to matter. Let me remind you, as the subject is so difficult a one, what
is meant by tattvas, the fundamental forms of matter, and recall once
more that passage in the _Vishnu Purâna_ where their evolution is
described, and where it is stated that the tanmâtra of sound produces
A'kâsha; that is, a modification of the consciousness of Íshvara
produces the form of matter that we call the atom of A'kâsha; that atom
has a mere film of subtlest matter for its envelope, and the vibrating
life of Íshvara for the force within. Then we are told that A'kâsha
generates another tanmâtra which is touch, and that, enveloped,
permeated by A'kâsha, produces the film of denser matter which is called
Vâyu, the two tanmâtras and the A'kâsha being the generating force.

This goes on through the whole of the five stages, so that when we get
down to the physical plane, we find an atom showing a wall of denser
matter, within it the involved life and without it the magnetic field,
made up of the higher tanmâtras and their atomic sheaths. The Prithivî
atom hence consists of its own tanmâtra plus the matter and the life of
Apas; the matter and life of Agni; the matter and life of Vâyu; the
matter and life of A'kâsha: so that on the physical plane, the physical
atom is a mass of five interpenetrating spheres in which is present as
life the whole of the matter and the life of the worlds above it, the
envelope, or wall, of the physical atom alone showing forth any
characteristics of the physical world--a fact inexpressibly important
for evolution. For, each of those sheaths or koshas--as the student of
Vedânta calls them, and there is no better word--every one of them is
latent in and around the physical atom; and in the upward evolution,
every one of them becomes active and strong as evolution proceeds,
sheath after sheath being vitalised. How could these koshas, or sheaths,
of ours learn to respond to the vibrations of the evolving life, unless
every one of them was latently present in us, waiting to be brought into
activity? The root of that possibility lies in the atom itself, with all
its interpenetrating spheres of life and matter, the sheaths that are
within it and around it. That is not the only thing which we understand;
as this conception grows clear, we understand a phrase that had often
puzzled us in the old days, that "the spirit is senseless on the plane
of matter." What does that mean? The spirit, the very essence of
consciousness, senseless and helpless on the plane of matter! Why?
Because if you take spirit as pure spirit, the intermediate sheaths are
not there by which the matter-vibrations are able to reach it, and
without these sheaths it is unable to receive and respond to the
vibrations of physical matter. It remains unconscious of their very
existence, there being no bridge by which they can pass over and affect
that life. This is really a perfectly simple statement of Madame
Blavatsky's, but it is one that I have heard challenged over and over
again as entirely meaningless, as conveying no idea, for how could
consciousness be unconscious in any region? A little more knowledge
would make us less rapid in our condemnation of our betters. That idea,
then, we will take to help us in the first conception of how evolution
can take place.

Now let us look how, in the downward arc that we spoke of, Íshvara is
imparting qualities. According to the nature of the vibrations that He
sends and of the matter that answers to them will be the quality imparted.
As to the idea that difference of vibrations implies a difference of
manifestation, let me buttress myself on the great reputation of Sir
William Crookes. He issued, two or three years ago, I don't remember the
exact date, in 1896 I think, a table of vibrations, confined of course to
the physical world; a very interesting table, giving a series of
classified vibrations and pointing out which were known to science, and
gave rise to what we call sound, light, electricity, and so on, the
difference of vibratory frequency, and the subtlety of the matter in which
the vibration was set up, giving rise to a particular impression, received
and answered by a sensation in us.

That is the principle which I am now applying to our system as a whole.
According to the density of the matter will be the rapidity of the
vibrations which that matter is capable of expressing; Íshvara sends out
vibrations, and the mânasic matter, we will say, is thrown into
corresponding vibrations or waves of a frequency identical with those of
the life-impulse sent out from Him, so far as it is capable of
responding, a limit being set by its fineness on the one side and by its
density on the other. Its limit of fineness is the atom of the plane.
Its limit of density is the coarsest aggregation of these atoms in the
densest solid of the plane. If we take the physical plane for a moment,
we have solid, liquid, gas, ether, finer ether, finest ether, and atoms.
The lower five are related to the five senses in man as they are at
present developed on the physical plane. These five correspond to the
sense-organs and the senses that work through them, as is suggested in
the names of the tanmâtras. The Solid is related to the sense of Smell;
Liquid to the sense of Taste; Fire to the sense of Sight; Air to the
sense of Touch; and A'kâsha to the sense of Sound. Nov these are not
stated in the order given by the western scientist, but I have no time
to go into the reason for the difference and to show you where his outer
observation fails, because he is not able to trace beyond the limits of
his senses into a finer working; in dealing with our Vâyu and A'kâsha,
he classes them together, and his air is our Agni. These senses and
their evolution belong to the upward arc. Coming downwards, Íshvara
only gives the power to matter to respond to these particular vibrations,
and these vibrations are connected on the physical plane with the
sub-divisions that I have just mentioned, the different sub-divisions of
matter, solid, liquid, gas, and so on, corresponding in the sense-organs
to the senses.

Coming downwards, beginning on the mental plane with Intelligence--missing
the two higher ones of Existence and Love--He sends out vibrations to make
the matter of the mental plane answer, and the vibrations with which that
matter answers, that is, a certain range of vibrations, are called mental
or intelligent. You may say, Why? Just for the same reason that in Sir
William Crookes' tables definite names are given to the different classes
of vibrations, which produce sound, light, etc., names are given in order
to express a certain limit of vibratory force; within one set of limits
the vibrations affect the ether, give "light," and the eye receives them.
Similarly, vibrations that fall between certain limits of vibratory
frequency affect the matter of the third plane, and when they are
received by an organ fitted to focus them in a centre, thus giving rise to
self-consciousness, we call that organ Mind, and the action through that
Mind, Intelligence. The mere name is as arbitrary as any other name, and
we class these under mental, just as a certain range of etheric vibrations
is classed as light, is received by an organ fitted to focus them that we
call the eye, and the action through that eye is vision. If we are to talk
at all, we must have names to describe different classes of phenomena, and
we use the word mental or intelligent to describe the range of vibrations
working in the particular kind of matter of which, in the upward
evolution, an organ is builded that we call the Mind. So, again, to the
vibrations that He sends out into the next coarser form of matter, called
Apas, or astral, we give the name Sensory. He imparts to them the quality
of responding to pleasure and pain, and as He makes this downward sweep He
brings into renewed existence on each plane Devas, or beings which have as
their characteristic manifestation the quality of their own plane; thus
the Devas of the mental plane have the quality of intelligence as their
chief peculiarity, and the Devas of the next lower plane have as their
chief quality feeling, or the power of sensation, and those of the lowest
plane have as their chief quality action, activity. Each Deva class shows
out specially the quality of its plane, and inasmuch as these Devas draw
into their own bodies the matter of the plane in which they live, they
help on its evolution; for they draw it in, use it and thus develop it,
and throw it out again into the general reservoir, just as man draws in
physical matter, uses it in his body, and again throws it out into the
physical world. As that process goes on and on and on through the ages,
the whole of that kind of matter we call mental passes through the bodies
of these Devas, takes on to itself the habit of responding readily to the
vibrations of intelligence, and thus becomes ready for building into the
mental body of man. The matter of the astral plane is builded into the
bodies of the Devas of that plane until it takes up this habit of more and
more definitely responding to pleasure and pain, when impacts are made on
it, and thus can be used for the building up of the sensory bodies of the
lower world. On each plane this downward sweep brings into activity these
classes of Devas, making the intermediate links which are to work in the
building of forms. The essence of the building of forms by a Deva is that
he builds them of the matter of which his own body is composed. Prepared
by that earlier evolution, qualities being developed in the downward
sweep of the life of Íshvara, matter is, in the upward arc, gathered into
definite forms, the bodies of plant, animal and man: thus definite
vehicles are made, by which the highest consciousness can communicate
with, and receive vibrations from, the lowest world.

Let us now, having taken this very rapid sweep downwards, begin to climb
upwards. Each kind of matter is now seen to possess certain qualities.
Every physical atom has a number of sheaths interpenetrating and
surrounding it, the sheath of astral matter with its power of responding
to sensation, the sheath of mental matter with its power of responding
to intelligence, as well as the sheaths, if they may be called so, of
the two higher, Love and Existence, that will not be brought into
activity for a long, long time. All is there. Íshvara now begins the
great stage of brooding action that I spoke of the building up of a
centre, and it is His first work to build physical forms out of this
prepared material, all the Devas of the physical plane being ready to
act as His agents, working under His impulse and under the direction of
the Lord of the Devas of the physical plane. All these innumerable
intermediate agents are wanted; for innumerable are to be the forms, and
every one of them has to be builded.

The building of the physical bodies begins with the formation of the
minerals. As a mineral body is formed, perhaps some crystal, the crystal
of an element or a salt, a definite form is built up by a Deva of the
physical plane. He takes up the material of his own body and such material
of the physical plane as is of similar nature to himself, and he begins
shaping these crystalline forms. He builds them on the lines of the
life-energy sent out by Íshvara Himself, those lines which Science calls
the axes of the crystal, "imaginary" lines; "imaginary"--aye; but they are
from the creative imagination of Íshvara, that is far more potent than the
lower matter in which He builds. That lower matter follows the creative
imagination of the Lord, and these imaginary lines govern the shaping of
that crystal that is builded by the Deva. Tyndall believed not in the
working of the Devas, yet when he was lecturing on crystals to a popular
audience in Manchester he declared that as he pictured to himself the
building of a crystal, he found himself imagining tiny architects at work,
placing every atom with exact precision, with all the intelligence and
skill of a human architect, employed in making a building. Tyndall was
speaking better than he knew. His imagination was answering to the truth
more keenly than he realised. For it is the privilege of the man of
genius who loves truth as Tyndall did--who was willing to break up every
fetter of dogma rather than be a traitor to his conception of truth--to
unconsciously intuit the truth that he seeks, so that his words give out a
higher meaning than he dreamed of. Tyndall was wise in recommending what
he called the scientific flight of the imagination, for that power of
imagination is a most useful thing. Never clip the wings of your
imagination when you are employed in your scientific work; for it may
often give you glimpses of truths that without its aid you would never
find. Thus the Devas work and build crystals, and those crystals have some
remarkable properties. Professor Japp tells us that some crystals turn a
polarised beam of light in a particular way; and he declares that in some
of these forms there is a power which is directive and somewhat akin to
the intelligence of man. Truly is it akin to human intelligence, inasmuch
as it is the parent of human intelligence, the latter being the child that
is developing the parental powers. This building goes on through stages on
which we must not tarry, through the whole of the mineral world, gradually
giving to matter the power to change shape between larger and larger
limits without losing cohesion. This is what is called plasticity, the
power of changing shape without disintegration. Matter also gains that
which science speaks of as elasticity. Now what is elasticity? Not, as
people generally think the mere power of elongation, calling a thing
elastic that can be pulled out like a piece of India-rubber. An elastic
body in the popular sense is not an elastic body from the scientific point
of view, and, strange as it may sound, glass is much more elastic than
India-rubber. Yet the glass does not elongate and is brittle. The proper
definition of elasticity is the power of recovering the original form
after distortion, and matter gradually acquires this power. As life
develops, the equilibrium of the compounds that make up the form becomes
more and more unstable, while at the same time the general cohesion of the
form increases; when we come to the higher forms, such as the body of man,
we find a power of maintaining the central position greater than we find
in any other form, together with an increased plasticity and elasticity;
so that a man can adapt himself to the cold of the polar regions, and to
the heat of the tropics and of the equatorial zone, without losing his
body, in a way that no lower animal can match, that is, he has the power
of adapting his physical body to surrounding conditions to a greater
extent than is the case with any other form. Coming back to the mineral
kingdom we left, let us take the next stage; Íshvara can now expand and
modify His material a little more than was originally possible without
breaking it up. He begins the moulding of the vegetable kingdom, and there
also he sets axes of growth, as "imaginary" and as real in their
controlling force as in the crystal, though they are not always quite as
easy to trace, they are nevertheless there. All the vegetable matter is
built in according to these axes, and the natural classification of plants
is largely determined by the numerical relations of the parts; thus the
law of number shapes the form. As the matter becomes more plastic and
yields more readily to the indwelling life, the higher members of that
kingdom begin to show the dawning of sensation. That is due to the
beginning of the vivification of the next sheath above the physical,
composed of what we call astral matter, that which goes to make part
of the manomaya kosha of the Vedântin. We see in that a growing
susceptibility, an increasing sensory power, very slight in the vegetable
world, but still present, and developed much more largely where the
vegetable has a long experience of separated life. Take for instance a
tree that has endured for centuries, and let me just trace the stages in
which the dawning sensation is found, and even a dawn, though I hardly
venture to use the word, a dawn of mental quality. That life in the tree
responds to the vibrations received from outside, of cold and heat, of
wind and rain, of sunshine and storm, and as the physical sheath is built
up and developed by the action of the Devas working upon it, the etheric
matter in it is continually thrown into vibration by the changes in
temperature, light, and electrical conditions. The vibrations in the
ethers that enter into the physical body are passed on to the atomic
sub-plane, and as the atoms of the physical plane have their spirals made
of the coarsest matter of the plane of Apas, or astral matter, a slight
quivering is caused in that coarsest matter of the astral plane, and that
sets up a little movement in the tree, responded to by the indwelling life
by sensation, a massive and general feeling of pleasure or pain.

Have you never walked through a forest, and felt as though all nature
were enjoying the sunshine? This sensation of pleasure is shown still
more strikingly when the hot season comes to its ending, and the first
rains fall on the thirsty ground, and the well-nigh withering vegetation
sends out a conscious thrill of joy and life renewed. The very trees and
bushes rejoice as the rain comes down upon them with its message of life
and of hope. At such moments we recognise that the vegetable world is
sensitive, although the sensation be widespread, that which is called
massive in character.

Forgive me if for a moment I here digress, to say that this fact is one
of the reasons why we owe a duty to the vegetable world, not needlessly
to cause sensations of dawning suffering. We live too carelessly, my
brothers, in this world which is all-living, where there is no atom that
is dead, and especially is this sad here in India, where once there was
so strong a reverence for life. That is now, alas, beginning to pass
away. You are forgetting that all life is Íshvara, that according to the
stage of His lower self-evolution is the power of response that is given
to the form. In the old days, I remember how, when man took his food, he
met the food with gracious greeting because it was sacrificing its life
in order to build, through that sacrifice, his own. Though it did not
possess the higher powers of sensation as we find them in the animal,
but only the lesser sensation powers of the vegetable world, still, even
then, he met it with reverence, as a sacrifice which was being made to
him, and took it with gratitude and with love; that lower life was
yielding itself up to him for his up-building. But to-day, so lost is
that gentle grace in many of our Hindu people, that they not only
disregard the sacrificed lives of the vegetable kingdom, but also those
of the far more sentient forms which Íshvara has developed in the animal
kingdom of His world. We find men who wear the outer shape of the Hindu,
who have his colour, his form, his face, who boast themselves of their
descent from antiquity, who hold themselves therefore in thought above
the western nations, forgetting the life of the Self in this sentient
creation, and nourishing their bodies with the bodies of their lower
brethren, without showing any sense of the sacrifice made, or feeling
even a passing gratitude for the life which is given for them.

Let us come back to the tracing of our forms. Íshvara, brooding over the
evolving forms, continues His patient work--patient, that the form may
never be broken by an overstrain, but may be slowly developed into a
vehicle of the life that ensouls it. In every form He lives, evolving
it, but He limits with illimitable patience His manifestation of life to
the poor capacities of the form, that it may grow and not be destroyed.
Do you remember an old story of the ancient days, in which most of you
would be ashamed to acknowledge belief, for are you not graduates and
men of western knowledge? Though descendants from the old time, you have
naught to do with it, but I, who was trained in the West, I have no
feeling of shame in acknowledging my belief in the strange things that
come down to us from the times when truth was less veiled than it is
now. So I dare to recall the story to you, although you may think that
it is but a fable or legend. There was a boy who believed in Vishnu or
Hari, in whom his father believed not, Prahlâda he was named; and that
boy went through many trials, but in all his faith in the Supreme
defended him; at last his father, scoffing, said, turning to a pillar in
his room: "You tell me that Hari is everywhere: is He in that pillar?"
"O Hari, Hari!" cried the boy, and forth from the pillar in the form of
a Lion burst an avatâra of Vishnu and the pillar was shivered into
pieces. Truly is He everywhere, in every particle of matter; there is no
one particle from which He cannot come forth in all the might of His
Godhood, in all the majesty of His Deity. But He will not, because if He
did, the form could not bear that revealing, and would shiver into
pieces as the God appeared. A profound truth, even if you regard the
story as an allegory, a truth which teaches us what evolution means.

Thus Íshvara worked on age after age and æon after æon, with that
marvellous patience of which I spoke, until matter was made sufficiently
plastic to build it into the form in which His highest life was to begin
its development, the form of man; building that form, He begins also to
strengthen very much the centre which the form is for a while to
protect. Let me say in passing one thing that I have omitted, that
whenever a form has reached its highest possible point, its limit of
expansion, He breaks it, in order that, in a new form better adapted,
the ensouling life may continue to grow; for He knows when to break as
well as when to hold; He knows when to destroy as well as when to
preserve; and the moment that the limit of a form has been reached, and
its matter can yield no further, He bursts the form asunder, that its
materials may recombine themselves, under the impulse of life, into a
more plastic organism, and that the life may thus gain further
evolution, ensouling a higher form more fitted for the expression of its
increasing powers. We call this breaking of the form death, and we fear
and shrink from it, and if people talk to us of death, in the flush of
our life, it comes as a jar and a shock. But, as I told you in the
beginning, you may see very plainly that death is that beneficent aspect
of Íshvara, which breaks a form that has become a prison, in order to
give the life a new form in which it may continue to grow; He breaks the
rigid form when it can develop no further, and gives the life the
plastic form of a baby, that may be shaped more easily by the moulding
forces of the life within it, yielding itself to every impulse from
within. It seems then, that when we see things rightly, we should hail
death as birth rather than as death. For looked at from the side of
life, every death is a being born into the higher possibilities of a new
shape that will adapt itself to the growing life.

When man begins his long pilgrimage, a form is ready for his ensouling,
prepared to receive and to respond to the impulses which come to it from
the physical, astral and--to a small extent--from the mental planes. His
physical atoms are considerably evolved, the sensory sheath is working
actively, and there is a very imperfect lower mental sheath; these have
been built up through the evolution of the animal realm. Do not fall
into the mistake of the western way of thinking, and say that man
descends from the animal; that is not true. It is only a fragment of
truth half seen and thereby distorted. What is true is this: that the
matter of his lower vehicles has been prepared by evolving through the
stages of the elemental, mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms, in
order that it may be builded into the form of man; that _in previous
kalpas_ forms had been evolved that might fairly be described as
half-ape, half-human, that were never occupied by the triple Self, and
that therefore belonged to the animal, not to the human kingdom; that
in the present cycle the human form evolved, as a fœtus evolves, passing
rapidly through the lower stages on the way to the human, as in
pre-natal life, and it therefore has stamped upon it the stages through
which it has passed. I have been going over, roughly and swiftly, those
stages through which the matter of which the body is composed has gone
in the past, and you will see that the true theory of evolution is
different from the somewhat crude view that there is a regular
succession of births from the animal into the man. The matter has been
made plastic in the animal, but man in his form is the result of a
higher working; the germ of his life can never develop into the animal,
but only into the human, because more has been infolded into it, and
that germ must unfold along a line which is that of direct human growth.
Remembering that, to prevent a possible misconception, we turn to the
human centre that is now definitely formed. We speak of its encircling
form as the causal body, or Karana Sharîra, the form by which the Self
is limited; the Karana Sharîra is not the Self, remember, but is the
containing vehicle of the triple Self, and the organ of one aspect of
that Self, the aspect of knowledge, shown forth as intelligence. This
sheath is important, being relatively of a permanent nature, and it goes
on from birth to birth; death cannot touch it, birth cannot modify it;
it is the treasure-house or receptacle of all the qualities acquired by
experience through human evolution, and passes through the whole cycle
of re-incarnations; it is the special _human_ characteristic. The form
begins to adapt itself more and more to the life, and here comes in a
growing difficulty. The characteristic of the life of man is the life of
the intellect; this the specifically human part of evolution; but the
life of sensation is far more vivid and tumultuous in the beginning, and
the earlier stages of form are adapted to answer to these impulses. You
may ask, why not give the man at once a mental body only, in which to
work out his evolution, why must he struggle through the evolution of
this body of sensation? Because, if he misses that stage, he will not be
able to make up the links which are necessary for the continuity of his
consciousness. At a later time the perfect man is conscious on all
planes from Nirvâna downward to the physical, from the physical upwards
to Nirvâna. On every plane in unbroken continuity of consciousness the
Jîvanmukta lives and works. There is no link lacking. If, then, the man
does not establish, in the building of his body of sensation, certain
centres or, as they are called, chakras--that drawing into centres
which is the work of the upward arc, as giving qualities is the work of
the downward arc--if he does not draw the powers of sensation into
definite centres in the sheath of his astral body, he will not have the
links which he requires to receive impacts from the astral plane, and
through which he can send out thrills of consciousness in order to
impress it, rule it and guide it. That is why there is so much delay in
the savage condition, where the life of sensation is supreme; these
astral chakras are being builded up as centres of the senses, and they
are built firm and strong; the outer organs, the eye, the ear, the nose,
the tongue, the skin, these are merely the necessary organs in the
physical body for the expression of consciousness through these chakras.

If we take, for a moment, a swift survey of the evolution of forms, we
shall find that the building of organs follows the exercise of
life-functions; in the earliest forms there are no organs, but the
functions of life are present and active; the creature breathes and
assimilates, circulation goes on; but there are no organs for digestion,
no organs for breathing, no organs for circulation; the whole body does
everything. But as evolution proceeds and definite organs are formed in
the physical body, in the nervous system, and as later, in the astral
body, chakras or astral centres of sensation are formed--as this goes
on, we find a more specialised being developed with definite organs.
Always the organ comes after the function, and through the organ the
function expresses itself more and more perfectly. That is a fundamental
principle. And do not forget that in this you are on what is thought the
safer ground of western science. You do not find an organ appearing
before the development of its function. You always find the life-impulse
first, and then the moulding of the matter into a shape which enables
that impulse to express itself more perfectly. If we trace evolution
from the amœba upwards we find differentiation and specialisation
becoming more marked the whole way through, yet man himself turns round,
and with the very brain which has been formed under the vibrations of
intelligence he reverses the whole process, and asserts that thought is
produced by the brain; but every organ is formed as the organ of a
function, it is produced by life, and is not its creator.

This process goes on until the necessary organs are made and the nervous
system is linked to the chakras in the astral body, chiefly through what
is called the sympathetic system. There are certain nervous cells of a
peculiar kind in that system, of which modern science does not say
much, beyond giving you the forms and contents, and these are the links
between consciousness in the physical body and in the sensory body. Then
come the chakras already spoken of as the centres for the working of
consciousness in the astral body. A similar process goes on in the
mental body under the action of thought-impulses, and there we have also
an organised body able to respond to different kinds of thought, and
thus to serve consciousness as its organ for expression in the mental
world. As we grow mentally we build our organs for consciousness.

Coming to this building of form practically, we learn that we organise
the body of sensation to higher purposes by checking the life-impulse as
it runs out to the object of the senses. These objects gradually turn
away from the abstemious dweller in the body, it is written, and as the
lower world ceases to attract, the higher world begins to use the form
for nobler ends. If we desire to increase mental power, we must practise
steady thinking, and check the rovings of intelligence over the
phenomenal world. As a matter of fact, many people never really think at
all; what they call their thoughts are nothing more than the reflections
of other people's thoughts to which their consciousness responds; their
minds are looking-glasses, not productive organisms; most men's minds,
I fear, are looking-glasses reflecting objects that are before them, and
contemplating these reflections a man says to himself: "See! how I am
thinking!" when he is only repeating the thoughts of others. Now we are
not to be mere looking-glasses; when the objects of the outer world give
rise to images, the mind is to work on them, analyse, re-arrange,
combine; thinking is the work of the mind itself on the mental images
supplied through sensation, the working on the materials which have been
gradually gathered by experience. As soon might you call a loose heap of
bricks that you see in the compound of a house, a building, as call the
reflection of other people's thoughts, your thinking. That is only the
material for thought. Thinking is the work of the architect, of the
builder that builds these bricks into a definite edifice, and until we
have built up thoughts in our minds, we have no right to arrogate to
ourselves the name of thinkers. Practise then this independent thinking;
it is hard; you will not know how hard until you try it. Never let pass
a day without reading something that gives you material for thought. No
matter if the book be not religious; if it be only intellectual, that
will make you stronger in intellect. Even leaving spirituality aside
with its nobler possibilities, take some great book worthy of being
thought over, not a newspaper, not a sensational novel, not a child's
book, but a BOOK--an original book, on a real topic; what Charles Lamb
called a book. Read, but do not read much, perhaps not more than a dozen
or twenty lines; think these lines over and over and over for at least
thrice as long as you have taken to read them slowly. Do that every day
regularly, and do not miss it. You find time for your dinner; why, if
you can find time to feed your body and to talk, can you not find time
to feed your mind? Then your mind would grow. If you do that as an
experiment, say for three months only, never missing a day--for if you
miss a day, you will slip back and lose the value of the automatic
action of your mind--do that for three months as an experiment, as a
scientific man makes an experiment, and thus train yourselves for three
months in power of close attention and thought, and at the end of the
three months, you will be startled to find how much these powers have
grown. When you have put yourself through this experiment, then you will
not want a lecturer to tell you about the value of such self-discipline,
for you yourself will have proved it to be good. Take one faculty after
another to train; train your reasoning faculty, your memory, your power
of comparison and contrast. Take up a faculty, just as any one takes up
a study that he is working at, and work at it until you are an artist
in that particular faculty.

That is how form is builded, when the human Self is beginning to
co-operate with the work of Íshvara, when the centre is beginning to
take the control of its vehicles. It rationalises its workings, and
builds and modifies them step by step. When this has been done for many
lives, then comes the life for Yoga; then the man may be taught how to
make more rapid progress, and how to vivify the inner and subtler
sheaths of his being by certain practices, that will be taught him the
moment he is ready--but that will never be taught him until he _is_
ready, nay though he range the world over in search of a Guru, or live
the life of an ascetic in the cave or in the jungle. That is not enough,
so long as his desire is unconquered, so long as his mind is still
restless. When the senses are dominated, when the mind is controlled,
and not before--but then, as certainly as before there will not be the
coming--a Guru will appear who will take that man by the hand and lead
him along the path that is narrow as the edge of a razor, that may only
be trodden by the controlled in sense and by the steady in mind, for the
fall either to the one side or to the other means delay for many a birth
to come. Then is developed that aspect of Bliss which shows itself
outwardly as love; a faint reflection of that bliss is felt in many
stages of meditation, and joy has birth within you, wells up within you,
enwraps you fold by fold, until you in yogic trance reach the true
A'nanda, which is the essence of beauty, and makes you quiver under its
subtle vibrations of ineffable delight. And later, later still, at a
stage that you may reach, when all is purified through long evolution,
there comes the rising into the highest, where the subtlest matter
becomes the vehicle of that developed centre, now no longer a
circumference restraining and necessary, but an obedient vehicle which
will serve when it is wanted and fall away when wanted it is not. As it
is written that in the A'kâsha there is every possibility of form, so
the life that has reached Self-existence is a being that garbs itself in
any form by gathering the A'kâsha around it. Thus it may develop vehicle
after vehicle until the whole of the human series is builded for use,
but none of them is prison for limitation; then we say that the man is a
Jîvanmukta, He is free, and all matter has become His servant, to use
when He has need of it, to cast aside when He needs it not; every region
of the world is His to use, no region of the world is its own to bind
Him; He is liberated, and as the liberated Self He may, if He will,
still work for His brother men, remaining, as Shrî Shankarâchârya
taught us, until the end of His age, in order to lift humanity more
rapidly on its upward climb. Thus are formed Those who are the
co-workers of Íshvara in the helping of humanity, who, having gone
through all suffering, throw everything they have gained at the feet of
the Lord, who turn back to the world, never again to be bound by it, but
still responding to the compassion which is the very life of Íshvara
Himself. As long as Íshvara wills to remain in manifestation, so long
does He whose will is one with that of Íshvara, will also to remain. He
has nothing to gain, nothing to learn, nothing to take that any world
can give Him; but He stands beside His Lord as an organ of the
expression of the highest life, existing no longer for anything that He
takes, but as the channel of the life of God. That is the prize of our
calling, that the goal on which our hearts are fixed.


Women's Printing Society, Limited, 66, Whitcomb Street, W.C.


       *       *       *       *       *


TRANSCRIBER'S NOTES

The following variants appear in this text: "A'kâsha" and "Akâsha",
"A'nanda" and "Ananda", "Kabbalah" and "Kabala", "kârmic" and "karmic",
"out-pouring" and "outpouring", "Self-existence" and "Self-Existence",
"wellnigh" and "well-nigh".

The spelling "Brahmâ" appears to be standard, but "Brahma" also appears,
in the phrase "Mahad Brahma".

The phrase "may by" in "may by it be brought" on p. 20 should possibly be
"may be" but has been left unchanged.

Words in italics are indicated by underscores, _like this_.

The following amendments to spelling and punctuation have been made:

1) "hierachies" amended to "hierarchies" on p. 27.

2) "philosphy" amended to "philosophy" on p. 28.

3) "manâsic" amended to "mânasic" on p. 52.

4) Period added after "tato bhavati Bhârata" on p. 97.

5) "Avâtara" amended to "Avatâra" on p. 119.

6) Comma added after "kingdom" on p. 119.





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