Man the Microcosm

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MAN THE MICROCOSM


  The great and peaceful ones live regenerating the world like the coming of the spring; having crossed the ocean of embodied existence themselves, they freely aid all others who seek to cross it. The very essence and inherent will of Mahatmas is to remove the suffering of others, just as the ambrosia-rayed moon of itself cools the earth heated by the intense rays of the sun.

Shankaracharya


 My dear friend, you are certainly on the right path; the path of deeds and actions, not mere words - may you live long and keep on! . . . You understand, do you not, that it is no fault of mine if I cannot meet you as I would? Nor is it yours, but rather that of your life-long environment and a special delicate task I have been entrusted with since I knew you. Do not blame me then, if I do not show myself in more tangible shape, as not you alone but I myself might desire! When I am not permitted to do so for Olcott - who has toiled for us these five years, how could I be for others who have undergone none of his training as yet? This applies equally to the case of the Lord Crawford and Balcarres, an excellent gentleman - imprisoned by the world. His is a sincere and noble, though may be a little too repressed nature. He asks what hope he may have? I say - every hope. For he has that within himself that so very few possess, an exhaustless source of magnetic fluid which, if he only had the time, he could call out in torrents and need no other master than himself. His own powers would do the work and his own great experience be a sure guide for him. But, he would have to guard against and avoid every foreign influence - especially those antagonistic to the nobler study of MAN as an integral Brahm, the microcosm free and entirely independent of either the help or control of the invisible agencies which the "new dispensation" (bombastic word!) calls 'Spirits'. . . But see, even after mastering magnetic science and giving his powerful mind to the study of the noblest branches of exact science, how even he has failed to lift more than a small corner of the veil of mystery.

 Ah! that whirling, showy, glittering world, full of insatiable man's nobler nature, as two tigers a carcass, and leave him without hope or light! How many recruits could we not have from it, if no sacrifice were exacted! His Lordship's letter to you exhales an influence of sincerity tinged with regret. This is a good man at heart with latent capacity for being a far better and a happier one. Had his lot not been cast as it has, and had his intellectual power all been turned upon Soul-culture, he would have achieved much more than he ever dreamt. Out of such material were adepts made in the days of Aryan glory . . . .

 Not only have one's spiritual senses to be abnormally opened, but one must himself have mastered the great secret - yet undiscovered by science - of, so to say, abolishing all the impediments of space; of neutralizing for the time being the natural obstacle of intermediary particles of air and forcing the waves to strike your ear in reflected sounds or echo . . . . Your physicists, not having until recently mastered acoustics in this direction, any further than to acquire a perfect (?) knowledge of the vibration of sonorous bodies and of reverberations through tubes, may sneeringly ask: "Where are your indefinitely continued sonorous bodies, to conduct through space the vibrations of the voice?" We answer that our tubes, though invisible, are indestructible and far more perfect than those of modern physicists, by whom the velocity of the transmission of mechanical force through the air is represented as at the rate of 1,100 feet a second and no more - if I mistake not. But then, may there not be people who have found more perfect and rapid means of transmission, from being somewhat better acquainted with the occult powers of air (akas) and having plus a more cultivated judgement of sounds? . . . .

 It is as though a child should ask me to teach him the highest problems of Euclid before he had even begun studying the elementary rules of arithmetic. Only the progress one makes in the study of Arcane knowledge from its rudimental elements brings him gradually to understand our meaning. Only thus, and not otherwise, does it, strengthening and refining those mysterious links of sympathy between intelligent men - the temporarily isolated fragments of the universal Soul and the cosmic Soul itself - bring them into full rapport. Once this is established, then only will these awakened sympathies serve, indeed, to connect MAN with - what for the want of a European scientific word more competent to express the idea, I am again compelled to describe as that energetic chain which binds together the material and Immaterial Kosmos, Past, Present, and Future, and quicken his perceptions so as to clearly grasp, not merely all things of matter, but of Spirit also. I feel even irritated at having to use these three clumsy words - past, present and future! Miserable concepts of the objective phases of the Subjective Whole, they are about as ill adapted for the purpose as an axe for fine carving.

 Oh, my poor, disappointed friend, that you were already so far advanced on THE PATH, that this simple transmission of ideas should not be encumbered by the conditions of matter, the union of your mind with ours - prevented by its induced incapabilities! Such is unfortunately the inherited and self-acquired grossness of the Western mind; and so greatly have the very phrases expressive of modern thoughts been developed in the line of practical materialism, that it is now next to impossible either for them to comprehend or for us to express in their own languages anything of that delicate seemingly ideal machinery of the Occult Kosmos. To some little extent that faculty can be acquired by the Europeans through study and meditation but - that's all. And here is the bar which has hitherto prevented a conviction of the theosophical truths from gaining wider currency among Western Nations; caused theosophical study to be cast aside as useless and fantastic by Western philosophers.

 How shall I teach you to read and write or even comprehend a language of which no alphabet palpable, or words audible to you have yet been invented! How could the phenomena of our modern electrical science be explained to - say, a Greek philosopher of the days of Ptolemy were he suddenly recalled to life - with such an unbridged hiatus in discovery as would exist between his and our age? Would not the very technical terms be to him an unintelligible jargon, an abracadabra of meaningless sounds, and the very instruments and apparatuses used but 'miraculous' monstrosities? And suppose, for one instant, I were to describe to you the hues of those colour rays that lie beyond the so-called 'visible spectrum' - rays invisible to all but a very few even among us; to explain how we can fix in space any one of the so-called subjective or accidental colours - the complement (to speak mathematically),moreover, of any other given colour of a dichromatic body (which alone sounds like an absurdity), could you comprehend, do you think, their optical effect or even my meaning? . . . . Modern science has hitherto been unable to bring under any theory even so simple a phenomenon as the colours of all such dichromatic bodies. And yet - truth knows -these colours are objective enough!

 So you see, the insurmountable difficulties in the way of attaining not only Absolute but even primary knowledge in Occult Science, for one situated as you are. How could you make yourself understood - command in fact, those semi-intelligent Forces, whose means of communicating with us are not through spoken words but through sounds and colours, in correlations between the vibrations of the two? For sound, light and colours are the main factors in forming these grades of Intelligences, these beings, of whose very existence you have no conception, nor are you allowed to believe in them - Atheists and Christians, materialists and Spiritualists, all bringing forward their respective arguments against such a belief - Science objecting stronger than either of these to such a 'degrading superstition'!

 Thus, because they cannot with one leap over the boundary walls attain to the pinnacles of Eternity; because we cannot take a savage from the centre of Africa and make him comprehend at once the Principia of Newton or the 'Sociology' of Herbert Spencer, or make an unlettered child write a new Iliad in old Achaean Greek; or an ordinary painter depict scenes in Saturn or sketch the inhabitants of Arcturus - because of all this our very existence is denied!Yes; for this reason are believers in us pronounced impostors and fools, and the very science which leads to the highest goal of the highest knowledge, to the real tasting of the Tree of Life and Wisdom - is scouted as a wild flight of Imagination! . . . .

 My time is precious and I have none to lose. Still less ought you to see in this an effort to disgust or dissuade you from the noble work you have just begun. Nothing of the kind; for what I now say may avail for as much as it can and no more; but - vera pro gratiis - I WARN you, and will say no more, apart from reminding you in a general way, that the task you are so bravely undertaking, that missio in partibus infidelium - is the most ungrateful, perhaps, of all tasks! But, if you believe in my friendship for you, if you value the word of honour of one who never - neverduring his whole life polluted his lips with an untruth, then do not forget the words I once wrote to you (see my last letter) of those who engage themselves in the occult sciences; he who does it "must either reach the goal or perish. Once fairly started on the way to the great Knowledge, to doubt is to risk insanity; to come to a dead stop is to fall; to recede is to tumble backward, headlong into an abyss." Fear not - if you are sincere, and that you are - now. Are you as sure of yourself, as to the future? But I believe it quite time to turn to less transcendental and what you would call less gloomy and more mundane matters. Here, no doubt, you will be much more at home. Your experience, your training, your intellect, your knowledge of the exterior world, in short, all combine to aid you in the accomplishment of the task you have undertaken . . . .

 I hope that at least you will understand that we (or most of us) are far from being the heartless, morally dried up mummies some would fancy us to be. "Mejnour" is very well where he is - as an ideal character of a thrilling - in many respects truthful story. Yet, believe me, few of us would care to play the part in life of a desiccated pansy between the leaves of a volume of solemn poetry. We may not be quite the "boys" - to quote Olcott's irreverent expression when speaking of us - yet none of our degree are like the stern hero of Bulwer's romance. While the facilities of observation secured to some of us by our condition certainly give a greater breadth of view, a more pronounced and impartial, as a more widely spread humaneness - for answering Addison, we might justly maintain that it is" the business of 'magic' to humanize our natures with compassion" for the whole mankind as all livings beings, instead of concentrating and limiting our affections to one predilected race - yet few of us (except such as have attained the final negation of moksha) can so far enfranchise ourselves from the influence of our earthly connection as to be insusceptible in various degrees to the higher pleasures, emotions, and interests of the common run of humanity.

 Until final emancipation reabsorbs the Ego, it must be conscious of the purest sympathies called out by the esthetic effects of high art, its tenderest cords respond to the call of the holier and nobler human attachments. Of course, the greater the progress towards deliverance, the less this will be the case, until, to crown all, human and purely individual personal feelings - blood ties and friend patriotism and race predilection - all will give away, to be blended into one universal feeling, the only true and holy, the unselfish and Eternal one - Love, an Immense Love for humanity - as a Whole! For it is 'Humanity' which is the great Orphan, the only disinherited one upon this earth, my friend. And it is the duty of every man who is capable of an unselfish impulse to do something, however little, for its welfare. Poor, poor humanity! It reminds me of the old fable of the war between the Body and its members; here too, each limb of this huge 'Orphan' - fatherless and motherless - selfishly cares but for itself. The body uncared for suffers eternally, whether the limbs are at war or at rest. Its suffering and agony never cease. . . . And who can blame it - as your materialistic philosophers do - if, in this everlasting isolation and neglect, it has evolved gods unto whom "It ever cries for help but is not heard!" Thus -

Since there is hope for man only in man
I would not let one cry whom I could save!

 The British President labours under the most original ideas about us, whom he persists in calling "Yogis", without allowing the slightest margin to the enormous differences which exist even between 'Hatha' and 'Raj' Yog . . . . Reflect well, how bold a thing it is to endorse phenomena as adeptic which the Spirits have already stamped as proofs of mediumship and sceptics as legerdemain. You should not omit one jot or tittle of collateral evidence that supports your position. . . . Then you will, of course, aim to show that this Theosophy is no new candidate for the world's attention, but only the restatement of principles which have been recognized from the very infancy of mankind. The historic sequence ought to be succinctly yet graphically traced through the successive evolutions of philosophical schools, and illustrated with accounts of the experimental demonstrations of occult power ascribed to various thaumaturgists. The alternate breakings-out and subsidences of mystical phenomena, as well as their shiftings from one centre to another of population, show the conflicting play of the opposing forces of spirituality and animalism. And lastly it will appear that the present tidal-wave of phenomena, with its varied effects upon human thought and feeling, made the revival of Theosophical enquiry an indispensable necessity.

 The only problem to solve is the practical one, of how best to promote the necessary study, and give to the spiritualistic movement a needed upward impulse. It is a good beginning to make the inherent capabilities of the inner, living man better comprehended. To lay down the scientific proposition that since akarsha (attraction) and Prshu (repulsion) are the law of nature, there can be no intercourse or relations between clean and unclean Souls - embodied or disembodied; and hence, ninety-nine hundredths of supposed spiritual communications are, prima facie, false. Here is as great a fact to work upon as you can find, and it cannot be made too plain . . . .

 What I meant by the 'Forlorn Hope' was that when one regards the magnitude of the task to be undertaken by our theosophical volunteers, and especially the multitudinous agencies arrayed, and to be arrayed, in opposition, we may well compare it to one of those desperate efforts against overwhelming odds that the true soldier glories to attempt. You have done well to see the 'large purpose' in the small beginnings of the T.S. Of course, if we had undertaken to found and direct it in propria persona very likely it would have accomplished more and made fewer mistakes, but we could not do this, nor was it the plan . . . . Under the surface of Spiritualism runs a current that is wearing a broad channel for itself. When it reappears above ground its effects will be apparent. Already many minds like yours are pondering the question of occult law - forced upon the thinking public by this agitation. Like you, they are dissatisfied with what has been hitherto attainable and clamour for better. Let this - encourage you.

 It is not quite accurate that by having such minds in the Society they would be "under conditions more favourable for observation" for us. Rather put it, that by the act of joining other sympathizers in this organization they are stimulated to effort and incite each other to investigate. Unity always gives strength: and since Occultism in our days resembles a 'Forlorn Hope', union and cooperation are indispensable. Union does indeed imply a concentration of vital and magnetic force against the hostile currents of prejudice and fanaticism . . . .

 All quick thinkers are hard to impress - in a flash they are out and away in 'full cry', before half understanding what one wants to have them think. . . . Women do lack the power of concentration . . . . Should you actually need now and again the help of a happy thought as your work progresses, it may, very likely, be osmosed into your head - if sherry bars not the way, as it has already done at Allahabad.

 May the 'deep Sea' deal gently with you and your house.

Mahatma K.H.
Circa February 20, 1881