Theosophical University Press Online Edition
In these days of unrest and confusion, of human misery and smarting pain, my thoughts often return to the day that suddenly brought us to the threshold of a new world of experience.
I shall never forget the evening following the day on which Holland was compelled to lay down arms. A few bright spring days had gone by, unreal through the events of the war, bewildering by the sudden change from a country at peace to a country at war -- and then the capitulation followed.
We wondered fearfully what the immediate consequences of the capitulation would be.
In the morning we learned that our country had ceased further resistance and that the German troops were to enter our town. The day passed in great suspense, but nothing happened. We remained in our houses and waited. It was very quiet, no one appeared in the streets. Nature breathed peace and quiet, as contrasted with our unrest, but towards the evening it became unbearable to remain indoors any longer.
Then my wife and I went outside and walked along woodland paths leading to the wide, deserted heath. It was an exceedingly beautiful and peaceful evening. We went on in silence and gradually our minds relaxed.
The events of the previous days fell into the background. Nature is good and lenient. It possesses a magic power that speaks to the soul, it brings peace to a restless heart. On this peaceful evening I conquered my oncoming fear. Though the future looked gloomy, though all sorts of things could happen to us, that we could not yet imagine, I asked myself why I should worry unnecessarily. In my life I had always found the power to overcome difficulties; and my inner experience, my philosophy of life, my deepmost faith had always raised me above oncoming feelings of weakness. So why should not I be able to stand this ordeal -- together with those who were dear to me? Even if everything should change, and the storms of war and misery that had risen so suddenly should assail us vigorously, a strong man ought not to go down before it. He ought to collect all his strength for the fight against fear and anxiety.
While I thus meditated, the thought struck me to write down my reminiscences, to inform others of that which would give me strength, to help them in word and writing. I thought: what I gain in faith and insight may be an encouragement to others.
I shall free myself but also others; I shall write down whatever is valuable and I shall string my thoughts and connect them with the golden thread of my soul.
Alternately I shall write about the events that follow -- and, moreover, about that which I feel in my soul.
Thinking thus, my mind calmed down. When I came home, I was prepared for the things to come, whatever they might be.
Life may hurry us, hurt and wound us, terrify us or make us desperate, but only when we forget who and what we are. Behind the part of us that receives these impressions for digestion, there lies in the stillness of our being that which has no name, the Nameless, the Boundless, which we are. This is the background of our life, an unassailable world where we are safe from whatever may happen to us and into the quiet of which the din of this world does not penetrate.
From this invisible and nameless world of our own comes the strength on which we live, whatever name may be given to it. What, as a rule, penetrates to our consciousness are the daily occurrences that influence our feelings and thoughts. Without knowledge of the invisible worlds which form the background of his life, man is helpless, at the mercy of any storm which may drive him hither and thither.
In days of trial he falters.
Well, we, the part of us which has a name, our personality, which lives in the midst of these world-shaking events, we have to pass through this time. But with the knowledge of the boundless background of our being and the certainty of the unassailable peace of the spirit we shall try to be ourselves; that is, to be conscious in our highest Self.
We can find the way to it within ourselves and follow the still path which leads to the highest contemplation.
I want to work out this thought. I want to ask myself why life underwent this sudden change. Though people are startled and driven on by a sudden storm and life is still confused, these thoughts of the higher laws of life and the confidence in them will give us rest. We do not want to perish in a world of war, in a revolution.
Now that life suddenly has assumed vivid colors and people do not want to understand and love any longer, it is now that we must try to rise above it.
The first few days depressed by excitement and fear of the things that are to come, go by. Social life, which for a moment gets out of joint, recovers quickly. Soon the tumult of war fades away, or rather, is farther off. We do hear of much sorrow that has been suffered in our country, and realize that farther south, in Belgium and France, people are enduring the same. Will fate take a turn for the better, after all?
And yet, in spite of all these occurrences higher thoughts again occur to me, thoughts which I write down as in a diary, by the side of the events of the day, collected as a whole, a collection of images that fill my life, give substance to it.
The Germans have come and have occupied our country. Unrest reigns among the Dutch people. They see the change and try to understand what this occupation means. Outwardly life has remained the same. The baker brings bread, the butcher meat, the milkman milk, and yet our hearts are aching throughout these days. In our minds there is a feeling of indignation at the wrong done to us, which determines our attitude and makes us immune to slogans and propaganda.
Strange soldiers march through our streets, singing. They are unobtrusive in their behavior, but we ignore them; they do not belong here. We, civilians, are compelled to perform all sorts of services in the A. R. P.
The war is raging in Belgium and France. Deeper and deeper the German armies penetrate into these countries and we feel that the situation there is leading to a catastrophe; in the night, trains go to Germany; the rails run behind our house and during the night heavy goods-trains go to the East; we realize that our stocks are running short; the press is beginning to change its tone; pamphlets about the new times appear. The N. S. B. [National Socialistische Beweging, the Dutch Quisling Party] shows its head; the first regulations are published. The Dutch people wait and see. They feel that the pressure will become stronger, and they take a firm stand against the things that will come. Convinced that no harm will be done, true-hearted, they fill out the forms that are sent to them, in which they register their possessions, their cars, their stock of gold and foreign currency. They try to keep up their old standards, their societies, associations and parties. It becomes increasingly clear that an inevitable change is being enacted in social life.
Many thoughts occur to me. Above all I want to remain conscious of the immutability of the great background of life, whatever the norms may be that the occupying power will apply to life, whatever the social changes which they want us to get used to, whether good or bad. In reality all events only disturb the surface of life.
Although a hurricane may rage on the ocean, tossing the waves, the deep sea remains unperturbed. Thus it is in human life.
In spite of all the tumult which surrounds us, Creation works on in silence. And in this creation Man lives, partly mortal, partly immortal.
We see the existing form, the personality, which has a name in life, but we do not see behind it, the nameless world of Man, from which he rises, from which be originates and derives his essence, a nameless world, the background of which is the whole creation, the Boundless Self. In the spaceless depth of the core of his soul, Man is eternal. Spaceless because it does not occupy space, deep because it embraces everything. In it is rooted the force on which Man lives and this force pushes humanity along irresistibly. There reign the eternal laws which no man infringes with impunity; and he who looks into this nameless, boundless world of himself sees everything clearly and knows -- in all peace -- that all is well.
This world is unassailable, and it is the foundation of the outward life which changes and passes away.
There, where silence reigns, Nature builds a temple of living bricks; all entities that are created are used in it; their consciousness grows and reflects with increasing clearness the light that shines eternally.
This is the essence of life itself. The divine forces inherent in Man and Cosmos drive Man along with irresistible power. The forces of eternal laws, that no man can escape, control Man's growth from inside. The evil that happens to Man is of his own making; it results from the infringement of these laws. So why should we worry? Who is able to come into touch with this deepmost life within ourselves; who can penetrate into the silence and peace that reign there?
When these days or years of trial have gone by, we shall have gained in inward strength. The stream of life will flow with greater force, because it had to flow narrowly between the rocks of our sorrow.
Ordinances to surrender foreign currency. Declaration of Aryan descent. Action of W. A. [a group of armed Dutch Quislings, corresponding to the German S. A.] detachments. Persecution of the Jews.
Strikes, fines, hostages, new ordinances. The National Socialistic system is applied with increasing rigor and begins to influence social life.
Shops sell out, display-windows are filled with dummies; purchases rationed, prices fixed.
Now that people begin to realize the uncertainty and unsafeness of their existence, they are going to look for other ways. Many of them become contemplative. It is not so much the social problems that confront them, but rather the vital questions of life and death. The furrows of life are ploughed in the field where later on the seed of new norms of life will be sown. A new time is coming, but it is different from that which we are made to believe in now.
Not a time in which people aim only at solving economic problems, but one that will build a new life out of ruined existence, one in which the inspiring strength and beauty of the spirit will flourish.
Life is a wonderful mystery. The outward phase is full of noise, the inward phase invisible, silent, but always active. It is as if a great vital project is materializing, conducted from within, which infuses every human being. No haphazard destiny is man's; the soul drives him through many experiences, and humanity, living and learning, laboriously grows into a better future. I want to look upon this time in its new significance. The accidental events like the arresting of innocent people, the imprisonment of hostages, the infliction of punishments, the stiffening of the anti-Jew laws, all these events which lay hold of a man -- and which agonize the victims involved -- are in fact only of minor importance in the great perspective of cosmic time. We must trace the ways of the destiny and evolution of humanity to receive an answer to the question why these calamities befall our world.
When our thoughts wander back to pre-war days, we remember hours of relative peace and rest, of legal security and safety. In reality we lacked every feeling of enthusiasm, of inward contemplation, of spiritual edification or consideration. People were obsessed by a craving for wealth or distraction, or by a passion for material benefit. There was no figure, no leader, no reformer to whom they listened. We did have spiritual movements which aimed at renewal, but they obtained no hearing. It was as if life prepared humanity for an even deeper fall to bring it back to itself, to its deepest Self. People had strayed far from the things that are of real value, and the form in which this value found expression was old and worn.
New movements hardly excited interest. What could be expected by a world that lived in this way? The river of life flowed sluggishly and became muddy. Such was the world which preceded the second world war. The "mene tekel" was written in large letters on the wall of life and everybody saw it.
This community headed for a catastrophe; it was drawn to it inevitably.
When people are guided by a vision which calls up what is best in them, when they live with their eyes fixed on the real inner beauty of their essence, when they see the relation between the temporary and its eternal background, they live in peace, supported by the strength of their souls.
An old Hebrew expression says: "Where the people have no vision, they will perish." Humanity had no spiritual vision, no inner life, no inspiration and strength to elevate life.
They had ceased to know the beauty of the soul which may illuminate a whole epoch. This was the real cause of the catastrophe. People did not ask for a catastrophe, it befell humanity like an ordeal.
If people have no vision, they are liable to be guided by slogans; if there are no real spiritual leaders the demagogues get their chance.
True spiritual leaders lead people back to spiritual heights. They appeal to man's higher consciousness, they make him realize the true essence of his being. When their voices are heard and people's eyes are opened again, when their doctrines find acceptance in the hearts of the people, then a new community gradually arises, guided from within.
The Sun of their Eternal thoughts drives away the clouds of sorrow, decline and chaos in which people roam about, and a new era of hope and joy has come. For all injustices and calamities, war, unemployment and terror, result from the incapability of seeing the truth that man is a spiritual being with a boundless background of life, which may extend and deepen itself indefinitely and which is inexhaustible in its possibilities to reveal higher truths in himself.
The cause of decline and chaos, of which life shows such a sad picture, is to be found in the great contrast between a community guided by the thought explained in the last paragraphs, and a world without vision, in which people are unconscious of their greatness, of their lofty parentage and ultimate destination, a world without hope and spiritual light.
This may suddenly be realized when we call up the picture of a world as it might have been and compare it with the picture afforded by a soulless and materialistic era.
Thus this chaos arose, thus terror and war could rage, this self-destruction that could not be averted.
But behind the sorrow of this life the compassionate forces of the soul are preparing a new future of spiritual growth that will come when a new feeling will touch the hearts of suffering humanity. Compassionate, because all the sorrow that is suffered brings us closer to the true, inner life. No sorrow is purposeless, every painful experience softens our hearts and makes us sensitive to the sorrow of our fellow-men, who are our other selves. They compel us to look for a solution that will bring us peace and the strength to accept our fate; thus germinates the seed of life and starts a new: period of growth.
When people have passed through this phase of suffering, only a new insight in life can help them to find the strength to straighten themselves, an insight which comes to them as a revelation and inspires them to begin a new and happier life, a vision that frees them from the psychomagnetic power of the world of desire. The absence of this insight and the lack of inspiration, a life devoid of the splendor of spiritual beauty, brought them to ruin.
Men long for possession, for the satisfaction of their desires, whatever they may be, but in many lives also they feel the nobler and loftier aspiration to truth and light.
The problems of life ask for a solution; unsatisfied desires lead to disappointment; fulfilled wishes only bring new ones in their train.
The price which life demands of those who are immersed in selfishness and desire is unrest and sorrow.
They find rest and peace in whose hearts there arises, a longing to search for truth and light behind the veil of life in order to serve their fellowmen. I do not say "The Truth," for this transcends all human thinking, but a search for truth, for ways that will advance them a step in their inner growth, that will help them forward a little on the path leading to enlightenment.
This path is trodden by every man who has become conscious, however little, of the spiritual splendor which shines from the core of his being, and which incites him to investigation.
Many have already gone before us who have followed this path. They have been the leaders and guides of humanity throughout the ages.
Alas, people do not ask themselves what may have induced a sage or teacher to promulgate his doctrines; they do not follow him on his path to enlightenment to become enlightened themselves. They quote his statements and formulate them into a religion, while the living fire which kindled the teacher is extinguished. That is why there is no sense in asking what religion a man professes; for him his religion is the right one. But what internal light has been kindled in him, to what extent has his consciousness become alive to the great mystery, in other words what has the doctrine made of him?
Some chosen people have access to the realm of the spirit. It is especially in these confusing and hard times that we realize how much humanity owes to them. In the core of their being they have discovered the background of life, each of them to an extent corresponding with his state of consciousness, and they have brought us their messages. They are for all times. One who wants to remain himself, who wants to hold the bond with the life of his highest consciousness, derives his consolation and understanding from their experiences.
The times rush on, life throws us hither and thither, fear tries to get hold of us.
However, our highest Self is unperturbed.
This is the problem before us: to remain our highest Self, never to, lose sight of the background of life, to feel keenly that nothing can harm us because -- however much our personal feelings may be hurt -- we can never be touched in the essence of our selves. The fear loses its grip on us, unrest disappears and peace takes its place.
This does not mean a flight from life, but a continuous contact with, and a constant drawing on, the source of our being, in order that we may become in this life what we are, the boundless and infinite Self. The task which life sets us is devotion to the higher Self.
Life produces from itself numerous forms, all of which show a certain degree of consciousness. The inspiriting forces of Creation descend into the beings they create and drive them along, and among all these beings is also "man."
I will talk now only about man, though I believe that Creation pursued a definite object in ensouling also the other entities that issued from nature's womb. If there is any sense behind life, the great vital principle arranges itself through all creatures, and the Nameless, the Sublime, surpassing all understanding and thinking, unfolds itself as "Creation." Let us therefore try to build a bridge that will connect men with the sublime background of the Creation of Life, which animates not only man but all living creatures, in order that we may understand its purpose and consciously cooperate with it.
Every man is a center of consciousness. His perceptions, his emotions, his thoughts, in short all his reactions to the outer world, are focused into one central point, the "I." This invisible vital center is the pivot of our existence. So many men, so many beings who can say "I." Thus every man forms a world in himself. So long as people do not have a profounder insight into themselves, and live on as separated units, live on blind to the endless possibilities of the development of their spiritual consciousness, these separate lives will keep colliding and there will be strife, either on a large or on a small scale.
Preservation of the personal self is based on a broken picture of life. This small world draws the limit within which the average man lives "his workaday life," a secluded existence, blind to the splendid beauty of his real self.
If I may give an example from ordinary life, I should like to compare human consciousness to a wireless set that can be tuned in to various wave-lengths. If the center of our consciousness can be shifted, this center receives impressions from other spheres of life. Unconscious of this possibility, most people live in one sphere, which is determined by their emotions and thoughts.
Yet our consciousness is open to endless perspectives of spiritual growth, and people possess many powers which are not active in this phase of their evolution, but which may be stimulated to action. There is a way of self-directed evolution and growth by which searching man may travel, a way which opens his consciousness to other worlds of existence; which may bring him wisdom and experience as yet unknown to him.
The center of his consciousness, which now receives the impressions of the personal, earthly man, is infinitely susceptible to perceptions.
If we manage to withdraw our attention from this life outside ourselves, which, as it were, holds humanity in its forcible grip, and calmly turn our thoughts to the higher worlds of life, we enter fields of consciousness which we had not touched, where we never had left a trace so far.
This is no faith; it cannot be imparted to any person. Everyone has to discover it for himself. The way we have to go may only be pointed out; our hearts' craving for enlightenment and emancipation induces us to follow it.
All humanity is irresistibly urged on to follow this path of voluntary spiritual growth, as in spring the fermenting, rising sap swells and bursts the buds. He who remains blind to the power that sustains life, exposes himself continuously to a source of disappointment and unfulfilled desires; even if he is unconscious of their cause. He is liable to all sorts of grief to which life subjects him, because his desires make him attached to the object towards which his thoughts and desires are directed; and this object causes him eternal sorrow. He who wants to raise himself above it, finds a possibility in himself, by devotion to, by absorption in, that which is above the temporal and passing.
I can only for a moment call forth the vision which leads to an escape from this sphere of life, a vision on which our thoughts must be continuously bent. Our thoughts must become contemplative so that we can, as it were, see the sublime beauty of the spirit shining in the mirror of a quiet mind.
Many generations have attempted to record, their experiences on this point in a special form, they wanted their devotion to this higher life made clear to others. Many religions and many quarrels have resulted from it. It does not matter in what form man gives expression to it, if only he lives and moves and has his being in "it." Deep within himself every man is divine; his being is anchored in, and is a part of, a more sublime consciousness. At last the separate centers of consciousness unite and dissolve in the cosmic consciousness from which they sprang.
If we could look into the long distant past and into the far future, we should discover that our descent is just as glorious and sublime as our future; that this phase of our existence is only a period of darkness on our journey to the boundless. Life is a fragment, a part of a larger arc, of consciousness, from which we shall one day draw our strength.
If I say: man is essentially divine, I do not mean that at this stage of his evolution, in this phase of his life, he can give expression to this divine power.
Light shines through many and different veils more or less vaguely, more or less clearly, into creatures that are all without exception on their way to a higher form of existence. In fact, our whole life is a hierarchy of different creatures, closely connected, all in different phases of development, unfolding or growing, coming from and going back to the source of life from which it resulted. There is no death, there is only life, there is a continuous metamorphosis and development of consciousness, an ever extending growth, an eternal waking up of consciousness to self-consciousness, to divine self-consciousness. Life is the mirror in which the Unknowable learns to know itself.
Our life is a pilgrimage, our past extends into infinity and there never was a time when we were not; our future is the infinite, the boundless. Nay, even more: We are the Boundless Infinite Self. We have always been and shall always be it. He who dwells and reflects in silence on this sublime truth, learns more than can be found in all books.
In a very old and sacred work I read these words:
Look about you, O pupil, observe this infinite, boundless Creation -- and now -- look into yourself: "You are it."
Man is a center of consciousness. His sensations converge in an invisible center, his "Self." This "Self," the pivot of his consciousness, extends from the one river bank of life to the other, from the boundless to the boundless, it is eternal, indestructible. It embraces everything: "This am I."
These things about which I am writing, "the Self-discovery of Man," are very sacred. They are doctrines that make us see the essence of life; they tower high above the life, as we see it, they give an answer to our most vital questions. No system of social reformation can give an answer to it -- these throw no light on the questions life asks us: "Why was I born, why must I die, what is the purpose of life?"
These doctrines are like a rock in the surf of life, firm and immutable, they are like "a lamp unto our feet, a light unto our path."
People who are only absorbed in every day life have forgotten their divine parentage and have no vision of their sublime future; they are dead people. The cords of their consciousness vibrate only to the gross tones of their lower emotions, the divine harp-player within them is heard no longer.
It is the tragedy in the lives of many people that they live on, consumed with unrest, driven by a desire which is never satisfied, while they possess everything and do not realize it.
Great consternation prevails among the people: the first hostages have been shot. The injustice done to their fellow-men is felt deeply by the people. How much fear they must have gone through! What was their attitude towards the problem of death? In my profoundest conviction there is no reason to await death with fear. Life itself, in the dark spheres of the earth, is the only place of suffering. In the brief space of time between birth and death -- one single day of life in our boundless existence -- the soul leads a sad, wretched life, limited in its expression by human inadequacy.
When a man dies, his soul is freed, and the consciousness of spiritual beauty, for which our eyes were closed, is released.
Why then do people fear death? Why do they set so much value on life? If it is not love for those who are dear to them, what binds them so much that they do everything to forget that they do not live here, and that their souls are hardly able to breathe here?
When a man is born, the light of his higher consciousness is extinguished, his spiritual world closes itself to the trials of their being which has to orient itself in this underworld.
And when a man dies he gets back the splendor of his higher consciousness, unhampered by the restrictions of the earthly existence. When a man dies, he looks back on the life he has passed through. This narrow existence, full of disappointments and uncertainties, this blindfold groping was "his life," his home; and without understanding the great miracle which is about to happen in himself now that he gets back the light of a higher consciousness, he leaves this life which only at a few definite moments was enlightened by the heavenly splendor of the spirit. Let us not fear death. Owing to a Fear of death many people hardly live.
They are unconscious of the fact that they have a task: they do not know that the powers of the soul want to manifest in them.
So, how could they be induced to cooperate in the great plan of life: the growth, the raising of man? They do not know who they are, they do not listen to the inspiration of their souls; they do not know the vision of him who, within himself, has discovered the light that shines in the darkness. So let us not fear death, it brings us peace and light. This is what I would have liked to say to the hostages.
When we look about us in these days, now that many pronounced injustices manifest themselves, we wonder: does justice exist? Of course, in peaceful times there is also injustice. The personal interests of people devoid of vision induce them continuously to cause each other sorrow and to commit injustice on a large or small scale. Now that the interests of nations and groups of people are wronged, the injustice is all the more conspicuous.
What must we tell these injured people when they see an injustice in the bitterness of their fate, and when the hatred which is growing in their hearts is the only weapon for self-defense? Are they able to understand that we cannot speak of injustice or justice in the case of all the things that happen, that compassionate powers guide the fate of humanity and that nothing befalls them which they themselves have not called forth?
Let us try to look more closely at these acute questions, and search the essence of life to find an answer.
The growth from limitation -- in which we live now -- to the Boundless, briefly called evolution, does not occur at random. The awakening to a supersensual life, the development of consciousness, the continuous growth, take place under fixed immutable laws. We see the same phenomenon in the material worlds; the growth of plants, animals and men, of constellations and the Cosmos, occurs along lines which we call laws. These laws are, as it were, the lines of action of a Regulating Principle: if these laws did not exist, chaos would reign supreme. The development, the unfolding of the invisible cosmic life and consciousness, is the work of the same Regulating Principle.
Before a material object is made, it exists as an idea in the brain of time who gives expression to it. A composer who produces a piece of music, a poet who lays down his inspiration in the form of a poem, an architect who constructs his edifice, have the abstract form within them as an idea, an idea which gradually takes shape in their consciousness before their thoughts or their hands give expression to it.
The seed of this idea lies much deeper; it springs from the fields of the higher consciousness where the thought has not yet taken shape, but announces itself as an inspiration. The germ is boundless life, boundless consciousness, the source of our being, the Spirit. It compares with the creation of the Cosmos.
The germ is the Boundless. This germ springs from the fields of the highest cosmic consciousness and impresses itself on it as a cosmic idea.
The lines of growth are divine laws which rule these invisible worlds. Our life is also subject to these laws. They guide the evolution of all that lives.
Thus man fights against himself, his highest self, when he infringes these laws; he owes his sad experiences to himself. They may appear to him as an injustice, and cause his mind to rebel, or fill his heart with bitterness; in reality all painful experiences are the fault of him who has passed through them. He has drawn them towards himself by his own actions. Life is a magic art; we conjure up our fate and it leads us to wisdom and insight. In this way the forces of the soul drive man through experiences that are necessary to his growth. He who sees life thus, does not grumble at fate, neither does he allow himself to be cast down. He accepts life as willed by himself, in the conviction that nobody can wrong him, and he follows the path that leads to perfection, knowing that he takes an active part in a great plan of life.
When we want to rise above this dark time, our thoughts must be raised towards a height which endures for all time.
Thoughts that centuries ago brought people happiness and gave substance and depth to their lives, are of the same importance in these days. There are such great differences among thoughts that we really must linger here for a moment. There are eternal thoughts and there are temporary thoughts; valuable thoughts, which withstand the ages, and worthless thoughts, which form the rubble of life; vigorous and powerless, creative and purposeless thoughts; contemplative thoughts which reflect themselves in the light of the spirit, and dark thoughts. If a thought is to be of any value, it must raise us and open prospects to us.
The highest knowledge is that which we cannot put into words, or that which we can hardly define, Sometimes it is still and clear before us, indescribable in its grandeur and beauty. How are we to give expression to it?
When I say every man contains the Boundless -- nay, more: he is the Boundless -- then it is quite clear to me, but much of what I say in these words remains unspoken between you and me. Again and again I am looking for another way to approach this highest thought that lives in me.
When I analyze man, when I try to define the essence of man, not a single fixed point remains of which I can say: this is man.
His body, his feelings, his intellectual life, his reason, his soul, they are as many expedients or aspects of perception of his consciousness. The body causes the consciousness, of which the invisible center is the "I," to react to physical vibrations, the emotions to psychical, and the thoughts to mental vibrations; the spiritual rouses higher reactions.
But time and again the body, the feelings, the thoughts or the soul find a consciousness that absorbs these perceptions. The consciousness itself is unfathomably deep, it is started into motion and the "I" concentrates the perceptions in itself.
I must add something. Man has another wonderful capacity: memory. Just as on a photographic plate which fixes the image after it has been taken, the image absorbed registers itself in the memory of the "Self," no matter by which organ (the body with the senses, the feelings, the intellect, reason, intuition) it has been received; and as a matter of course, we come to the conclusion that some medium of a very ethereal nature is necessary to transmit the reactions of the "I" to the consciousness. If we had no memory, our reactions would volatilize like vapor and leave no lasting impression. The "I" is lasting and it is infinite.
I can imagine a man who is completely immune to any impression outside himself; his senses are at rest and inactive, his feelings, his intellect -- all that connects him with the outer world -- are completely shut off, but all the same the "I" absorbs impressions, experiences that rise high above those which ordinary life gives him.
Indeed, the fields of our consciousness extend to infinity, and man makes one discovery after another in proportion as he raises himself.
These fields extend behind the intellect; untrodden by those who are unable to raise themselves above the mind, whose intuition has not yet been awakened; they are of a heavenly beauty and very real to those who succeed in gaining admittance to them.
Where is the limit?
Nowhere. On this earth we are only passing through a phase of Creation which is enacted within ourselves, a fragment of the cosmic evolution of the universal I. As a matter of fact, we have not started it on Earth -- that which is now temporary man, is eternal. That which forms the source of his existence has always been. What we call life on this earth is only a short period in which becomes active our human sphere of consciousness, which is a part of the boundless sphere of consciousness, of which our "I" is the center.
He who thinks about this experiences the unspeakable beauty of the temple of life and Creation, which is built in silence, and gets an insight into what he himself really is. He gets an idea of the infinite background of his existence.
In the Boundless our desire for life is extinguished; there we only exist; it is in the original cause of our existence, it is the beginning and the end, absorbed in the complete stillness of our being.
We can also try to approach in another way the thought that we are the Boundless.
Our material body is built up from the elements of the earth, from the substance by which it is surrounded. Thus my feelings and my intellect are an individualization of a world of feelings and a world of thoughts by which I am surrounded. There are numerous minds, each one in a different phase of development.
Mind is only a center of consciousness, abstracted or withdrawn from the great cosmic Mind.
It is the same with every power I possess, whether it is intuition or the soul life, or what not. We always see beside and about us separate lives, separate beings who have the same faculties.
All these beings, even if they are separated by a different phase of growth or development, spring from one source of life, which has, as it were, divided itself into the various beings to whom it gave separate lives. Every being has been abstracted from the Cosmos. If I should break the chains of my individualization, if I could remove the restrictions of my human existence and unfetter myself completely, my consciousness would be absorbed by the cosmic consciousness from which I arose, from which I sprang.
The limitations would cease to exist, my self-consciousness would be lost because it would dissolve in a consciousness of a higher Self -- a cosmic consciousness.
Finally the I, which now defines my essence, would dissolve in the Boundless.
When we have gained this wonderful insight -- a discovery greater than any -- and pay full attention to it, think of it devotedly, we surround ourselves with a protecting power.
For this higher and highest consciousness which is our being, which we are -- guides our life. It is the driving power of our development, it defines the lines of our growth; in other words, the will of this higher consciousness reveals itself in the form of divine laws to which our life is subjected and which we cannot infringe with impunity. The pattern of life is printed there. The life we see there is the canvas on which the weird sisters embroider life, the pattern of which is but vaguely visible.
This great idea that man is the absolute, the boundless, is the only Truth that all great Teachers of Religion -- each of them in the form that was most suitable for their time -- have brought their followers. Jesus founded his doctrine on the expression: "The Kingdom of God is within you -- or about you."
Gautama the Buddha preached: "Aim at liberation, raise yourself above your personal existence, follow the internal path that leads to Nirvana to be absorbed by a new existence beyond any understanding."
Krishna taught that man should practise Yoga and should gain his liberation, that is, by becoming one with the Highest Self.
Laotse spoke of the path, the Tao which leads to the endless.
What does it matter which direction we go? They all lead to the same goal -- the acknowledgment of the highest essence of boundless man. This is the torch of the light which the most prominent people throughout generations have handed to each other.
Whatever direction man may take, whatever his faith or conception of life, it is of no value to him so long as he does not devote himself to it fully. A religion without continued inspiring urge, without a prospect of ever-increasing perspective, without a means to make man grow steadily, does not possess living power. When man really discovers that he is the Endless and the Boundless, then this single acknowledgment is of no value. His vision suddenly revives when he goes through the experience and so reaches a height which he is unable to express in words. For a single moment he becomes a Seer.
But when he does nothing else, and lives with the conviction just gained as if no revelation had taken place within himself, he has achieved nothing. Every day anew this recognition must be experienced by him, so that he learns to live as in a sphere of eternity. He must learn to turn the search-lights of his spirit on the highest fields of his consciousness and to illuminate all perspectives of it, so that day in and day out he fills his life with it and steadily grows to a greater height.