Theosophy and Some of the Vital Problems of the Day

By Katherine Tingley

Address Number Four -- January 31, 1915
The origin of all religions, Judaeo-Christianity included, is to be found in a few primal truths, not one of which can be explained apart from all the others, as each is complement of the rest in some one detail; and they are all, more or less, broken rays of the same sun of truth, and their beginnings have to be sought in the archaic records of the Wisdom-Religion (which is Theosophy). -- H. P. Blavatsky
What then is the panacea finally, the royal talisman? It is duty, selflessness. -- William Q. Judge

Liberation for Discouraged Humanity

Friends: I suppose that many of those present this evening are quite familiar with the work of the Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society, which I represent, but it may be possible that there are some who are not familiar with it. And it is necessary, I think, for it to be fully understood that our Society is absolutely unsectarian and non-political, and that the mission of Theosophy is really for the intellectual and spiritual liberation of man, while for the discouraged it has an especial message.

We well know that humanity is discouraged; that is in a condition of deplorable unrest and that it is waiting for the needed help which comes only from the unfoldment of the religious nature of man. For man is in essence and in the great universal plan religious by nature. He has been seeking for the fuller light throughout all time, and he has met with all sorts of presentations of religion and with many varying formulae of truth; while the chaotic condition of the world today is due to these departures from the simple teachings of the wisdom-religion, as given out by the great teachers who lived in ancient times.

Man in his life today is, to a very large extent, separated from the direct inspiration of his inner and essential divine nature. He knows really nothing of that living power, the Christos Spirit within. There are very few human beings in the world today who are absolutely conscious of being a part of the universal life, of being a spark of the fire divine, so to speak, of holding within themselves the Christos Spirit, which is in each one of us the spiritual ray, the living and vitalizing flame, which proceeds from the source of all that is -- the ineffable Deity, but not the personal God of which the old theology teaches us.

I have spoken of discouragement and unrest. One wonders what remedies can be applied to the ills which afflict mankind, and what answers can be given to the questions that come in so many different ways from the anxious minds of heart-aching people -- questions that reach us sometimes through the silence! There are many people who go through life seemingly satisfied, but their faces and their lives, and the very atmosphere of their being, tell another story, of the soul hunger, of the unrest, and of the cry for "that light which lighteth every man." It is the most pitiful cry of the times. And the only answer that I know of is Theosophy.


To me it seems quite impossible for anyone ever to dream of finding that power within until he begins a searching self-analysis -- until he begins to study the mysteries of his own being and his life in a way that will show what his possibilities really are. Think of what a mystery man is to himself -- of how little he knows of himself -- of how much less he knows of the laws that govern his life. He is confounded and confused by the contradictions he finds in himself, and by his own weaknesses, and sometimes even by his aspirations; for weaknesses and aspirations are manifest in the life of every man. There is a lack of balance, a lack of equilibrium, which is so needed to adjust life in accordance with the higher laws which govern us all. And we lack the inner enlightenment which would harmonize the contradictions in us. It is the spiritual will which we lack, for this will is the great harmonizer and adjuster.

And so searching self-analysis is the key to the situation. Let man courageously face himself, be his own confessor, confess his weaknesses to himself, to his higher self, his immortal self. If one has the disposition to do this, and sufficient belief in himself, he has the power to overcome; then he will find in the self-analysis, in the confession, in the bending of the knee of the mortal to the immortal, "the light that lighteth every man." This is the power that we must have today; this is the power that all humanity is crying for; this is the remedy that is needed -- searching self-analysis.


As we move along the path of endeavor, of self-adjustment, we shall find an explanation of those mysteries which have confounded man for ages, for all lie within the economy of man, within his own being -- these wonderful mysteries. Surely we have felt at times in our silent and more thoughtful moments, sometimes under the pressure of great sorrow and suffering or agony, the consoling and helpful power of the higher self, which is the living Christos within; and we have been lifted for the time at least, and sustained, and carried safely through our ordeals of sorrow. But this sweet trust, this inner light, this mighty help, stays not unless it is held by the will -- the spiritual will and our impersonal aspirations. The Christos Spirit is with us always, did we but know it, did we but invoke it; it is ever-present, "the still, small voice" that is continuously calling man to awaken, "to arise, and go to his Father." But we, the children of the inner light, the branches of the spiritual vine, must arouse ourselves and hold it within our heart.

How many men do you think there are in the world today who believe in the living, immortal, real Self within? Do you not recognize and feel that if this were the accepted belief, if it were the controlling power in human life today, we should have a very different world around us, we should lead much fuller and richer lives, and that our literature, arts, sciences, indeed all our institutions and surroundings, would be glorified beyond our dreaming?

It is because we are "separated" from our inner Father, so to speak; because we are "separated" by our passions and desires from the Christos Spirit within (our higher selves), which is an ever-living presence, that we wander and stumble and falter, and sometimes fall. It is indeed our unfamiliarity with these profound yet simple truths that should be the guiding power in human life which is the real cause of our discouragement, of the contradictions in us, and of our weaknesses.

God and the Devil

Ancient religious history shows us that among all nations the teaching regarding the inner Christos Spirit was set forth under somewhat different forms; and it further shows that when an Avatara [a Sanskrit word, meaning " descent," and applied in ordinary usage to signify the descent or incarnation of a ray of the Divine], a great teacher, a Savior, so to speak, came among the people, there was also said to be manifest an opposing force -- an "evil" force. The religion of each of the peoples conceived the gods and the devils more or less in a different way. Research has shown that the "Devil," or "Adversary," as a personal power, was accentuated in the later religious teachings of the Jews preceding the time of Jesus; and it is also shown that the Jews had come under the influence of the Persians, with whom they were more or less associated, who, as is well known, held a dualism in religion. In the Old and New Testaments, we find that this evil force is there personified; and from the establishment of the Christian Church till the present epoch, we have had presented to us, as the greatest foe to human nature and all our godlike aspirations and efforts, a personification of malevolence, His Satanic Majesty, the personified Devil.

It was not so many years ago -- I can recall it from my childhood days -- that hellfire was preached as existing in a place set apart somewhere for the punishment of sinners and for all those who did not acknowledge the orthodox God. This place of torment was said to be presided over by the Devil himself. In those days it was also taught that there was a place set apart at some point in space, called heaven, where the Angels and the Elect played their harps and sang the glory of God, while the rest of humanity was supposed to be in hell, suffering the agonies of eternal damnation. These teachings were spiritual obscurations that clouded the vision and hardened the hearts of our ancestors for centuries. They were instilled into the very blood and fiber of the race, and the mind of man was psychologized with a really terrible fear, which has not yet been entirely eliminated from it.

The Bugaboo of Fear

To my mind, one of the greatest obstacles that the aspirant has to meet and overthrow is fear. It is very true that within the last twenty-five years the "Devil" seems less of a monster. He has changed somewhat because he has been robbed of his power by natural, and more particularly by medical, science as well as by the deliberate judgment of thinking men. In the old days Satan was supposed, for instance, to be the producer of mental diseases, and all the ills that humanity was heir to; but medical science gave the lie to his pretensions on this score -- or rather, to the pretensions of those who so taught. And natural science also explained clearly that the play of the elements, the thunder, the lightning, the winds, the storms, and the earthquakes, were not his work -- nor the work of an angry and avenging God punishing the children he had created.

So today the "Devil" and his realm are thrown on to the rubbish-heap of atrocious absurdities born of the ignorance of the past. Yet while we have cleared from our vision this vicious doctrine of a personal "Devil," and have to a degree at least had removed from our minds the idea of a personal, jealous, revengeful God, there still lingers with us the remnants of that old disease -- fear.

Theosophy in our own time, as years ago when H. P. Blavatsky came to the Western World in 1875 and reopened the teachings of the Wisdom-Religion, declares that all the devil that we have to fear is the devil within ourselves, the animal, the undeveloped part of our natures, the mortal part, full of errors and weaknesses, blindly pursuing the path of digression; and that our inner god, the Christos Spirit, has ever been urging man towards the path of righteousness and noble service. Alas! humanity still retains in its mental life the subtle psychological effect of false doctrines and horrid idolatries, and it has actually grown timid and negative and suspicious, under these influences. If we discern rightly we shall see that in the truest sense man has lost faith in himself -- in his own inner, essential divinity, and in its power to aid him to gain complete mastery of the lower self.

We also know that in every community and in every country there are a goodly number of people who have, through their aspirations, their courage, and their study, largely thrown off the influence of barbarous dogmatisms, and have stepped out and are moving along a path of advancement, measured by their individual efforts and force of character. But the human family as a whole has not reach that stage, as we well know; and therefore the teachings of Theosophy are needed to lift the veil and inspire the human mind to make it practical in the daily life of humanity. Yes, the teachings of Theosophy apply to the needs of humanity today in a peculiar way; they are as truly for the many as for the few.

If we are to improve in a truly spiritual sense, and to gain the strength of character that is needed for the advancement of the human race, if we are to become more truly civilized, we must take a courageous step forward. We can wait no longer. We are becoming more and more conscious of the pathetic, of the tragic side of life, of the chaotic, discouraging conditions which face us on all sides; and we must act. It is mankind in the aggregate that we must work for. There lies our true field of service. And we cannot serve effectively, we cannot give the needed help to the discouraged and the despairing, until we have lifted ourselves, our mortal selves, into consonance with the divine part of us, the Christos Spirit within.

Our first step on the path is to eliminate fear, for this is a great obstacle in the path of the aspirant -- yes, fear; doubt; lack of faith in the essential divine self, in the possibilities of humankind, and in the possibility of achieving self-conquest. True it is that fear, dread, and despair -- the negative tendencies of the human mind -- weaken man's will and trust, and he then falls, lost in the hurly-burly of life, a victim of his own folly. Eliminate fear. Fear produces endless difficulties. It is the producer of more diseases than any other cause known to science. Fear was accentuated in definite and destructive forms in the lives of our ancestors, preeminently the fear of the "Devil" and the fear of death, and it affected the emotional life of man and created disease by reacting on the body. Theosophy, the hope of mankind, teaches that man must seek purification through his own efforts, through a wise self-analysis, through aspiration and noble service. Then shall all men become whole.

Spiritual Growth Must Keep Pace with Material Advancement 

Every age, every generation, brings forth great intellects, and we have had our share here in America -- men of superb ability, men who have lent their energies for the advancement of the human race upon material, scholastic, and scientific lines. But, great as these men have been, they have in many instances missed the mark. I wonder sometimes if he who has achieved perhaps the greatest success in these fields of effort is not at times conscious of the divine quality and inspiring force from within, stimulating his mind towards profounder research, leading him to larger and greater achievements.

If the equilibrium that I have spoken of were manifested in reality -- that is, if the spiritual consciousness were as living and vibrant in our life today as is the material consciousness -- then all our achievements, great as they have been, on every line of human thought and endeavor, would sink into nothingness in comparison with the grandeur and the sublimity of a true manifestation of the intellectual life fired by the light of the Christos Spirit. But in spite of the efforts of our great writers and inventors, our artists and our poets, human life lacks balance. The material aspects of life may be said to have attained a certain splendor; but man needs the guiding power living in the inner chambers of his being -- that warrior-spirit, that urge of spiritual life in his daily doings -- in order to guide the material efforts of the age and to lead him to a higher morality and a greater destiny.

"Let humanity know its essential divinity!" is the cry of Theosophy. Let man rely upon the Christos Spirit living within him, in all his ways, and let him fashion his life by those higher laws which proceed from that source.

The Spiritual Life in the Home

Where shall we begin? Does not the home afford us opportunities for living the grander life? May we not through the home bring more quickly something new and uplifting into the world? If the spiritual life were understood and were the prevailing influence in us, our homes would already be sanctified; for man once convinced of his power, of his spiritual strength, and of his possibilities and his responsibilities to his fellows, would walk like a god among them, and his home would be blessed. And woman too would be also there, in noble womanhood, wifehood, and motherhood -- a lovely expression of the diviner self. And what think you of the children of two such as I here bring before you? Is my word-picture far-fetched? Is it mere speculation and theory, think you? Surely your hearts will say nay! If you ignore the possibility of such a fulfilment of the inner promise, you ignore the spiritual power of your own natures; you then admit that you are failures, and but poor apologies of men and women. Surely you do not want to do this!

I hold that man is even now half conscious all the time of the splendor of the light within, but he does not bring it into action. His fear, his mental limitations, his prejudices, his misconceptions, egotism, and lack of faith, hold him back, and he depends for his salvation, if at all, upon outside sources. Some have simply not the courage to enter the new path -- it requires, they think, too much energy, too much effort, and too much self-sacrifice and self-forgetfulness; and there are others who do not take to the new way because it is not the fad, or the fashion, and it may not pay, for to be absolutely truly religious is not popular. And then there are others who are so greatly controlled by the conventional ideas of life, and by the pleasures and gratification of their own personal desires; they too have closed the doors to the voice of the divinity within, they have shut out this wonderful and wondrous power of the Christos Spirit, of which I so often speak, and so they just half live; they vegetate.

But let us look again upon the picture of the home I have drawn for you, where the two warrior-spirits, the husband and the wife, are seen. What of the progeny of these two home builders? Is there not new hope in the thought of their possibilities? Is there not therein great and splendid encouragement for the human race? Humanity needs health, physical, mental, and moral; and children born under right conditions, in the atmosphere of the real harmonies of life, born physically strong and well, alive to that light which has been implanted in the life under prenatal conditions, cannot help but become splendid vehicles for spiritual development, for the making of the temple of the inner, living God. Balanced physically, mentally, and morally, there will be innate in them, not only the devotional and pure religious life, but the intellectual aspiration for all that is high and noble. Such children would grow day by day under the guidance of parents who had placed themselves in harmony with the Higher Law and who, in their aspirations to serve and pass down to later ages a noble expression of childhood, manhood, and womanhood, would not only be building for the present, but for all time. Such home builders as I have here mentioned would perpetuate their ideals in their children, and would begin to make that kingdom of heaven on earth which we have been promised.

The Kingdom of Heaven is Within You

The charm and the fascination of the picture is that the kingdom of heaven lies within. Storms without; trials, poverty, struggles, tragedies, disappointments of all kinds, may be without. But no matter how many there are, or how great their force, they cannot daunt. Within is heaven, reflected in that home which is the expression of the Higher Law, of the Christos life, the life of the real man, the life of the real woman -- of woman in her true place, and of man in his, as the Higher Law intended them to be. Is not the picture fascinating? Is it not inspiring? And best of all, is it not possible?

There are some here tonight, I am sure, and many more out in the great wide world, who have advanced along the path of life half-heartedly, avoiding the extremes of effort or of evil, and the making of serious mistakes. They are not satisfied. They realize by the very yearning of their hearts that something is amiss, is lacking in their lives. These can find inspiration in the teachings of Theosophy -- they especially who have lost courage, who are in the depths of despair, who have lost faith in themselves and their fellows, and are simply existing. Yes, Theosophy brings new hope to discouraged humanity, for it is the royal panacea for all the ills of man. It imparts knowledge, and knowledge is power; power is light, and light gives man the strength to overcome and the ability to serve.

This power is not acquired from above or below; it is not brought into a man's life from without, but it is within. It is ever-present. It is ever calling, ever urging, pleading, working for man's true progress. It is the light itself. It is the Christos Spirit. May I ask you what possible explanation we can give of the lives of man on earth, if they are not for the unfoldment of the divinity latent within? Can you believe that we are mere bodies of vitalized matter thrown on to the earth-plane to live for seventy-seven or one hundred years, to do our little part and to go with the tide -- to live out our limited lives, and then go, either to nothingness, or to a condition that we really know nothing about?

Do you believe that such is the great plan? I cannot conceive that you do. It is not possible for even the densest, the most prejudiced mind to believe that man is so insignificant a thing that he has only a short space of one earth-life to live out his heart-yearnings, his aspirations, and in it to make his record on the screen of time as a soul. And then, what about that record? The causes set in motion, the forces set in action, all by man? These cannot suddenly cease, but must act and react on their maker, in later incarnations.

If all aspirants for the higher life, for the nobler and better life, were to begin it with the conviction that there is a divinity within, all would be changed. The whole world would have a different complexion; and the optimistic spirit would take possession of them. All life would seem different, all nature nearer; all men would seem like brothers, and there could be no loneliness or separateness. Verily, "Man is his brother's keeper."

Let Us Be Up and Doing

Why tarry? Why wait? Why hold ourselves away from our grand possibilities? Why remain indifferent or callous? Why lose our opportunities for beginning to walk in the way of spiritual progress? Can we not evoke the strong spirit of brotherly love? Is it not our selfishness that holds us back?

It is true that when our family suffers, we suffer also to a degree. And when our neighbors suffer, we do likewise to a lesser degree. But do our interest and our sympathy extend to the great human family, even in an approximate measure with what it does to our own kin? There may be some here tonight, and I know there are many throughout the world, who feel that they are doing God's work, if we are to believe them, and are quite satisfied with themselves. But their faces and the very atmosphere which surrounds them tell another story. They may have joined some society of endeaver for the benefit of the human race; they may have become prominent sometimes, and stand out conspicuously, or they may even be satisfied with humble positions; and they, feeling that they are on the right path, wonder why anyone should presume to espouse a cause that requires so much effort and energy and self-analysis and self-sacrifice as Theosophy does. Then there are others who square their accounts with the Almighty by the service they render in other ways, and who think themselves doing their full duty when they send their checks in graciously and courteously to help "the cause"; but many hold back the real service, for they have not the key to the situation. Self-reliance is lacking; self-knowledge is lacking; and the power which comes from these two is not theirs.

So we see that in spite of our sympathy (if we have it) for our brothers; in spite of our sympathy for the unfortunates behind bars and the unhappy women walking the streets of the world at night, simply for the privilege of living; in spite of sympathy for the young boys and girls who are going wrong; or for the discouraged and down-trodden, the despairing and the sinful -- all these in the very shadow of the churches -- we are yet doing but half our duty, and are in many ways useless factors in the great human family of which we are inseparable parts. Alas! We stand aside and lead our half-hearted, selfish lives, and in the truest sense fail in our duty to our fellow men.

Everywhere in human life is there need of strong men, able men, spiritual-minded men, men who know how to meet the vital problems that face us. Let us no longer believe that man must be saved by creeds and dogmas, outside of which he shall not be saved at all. Let us, by our noblest and most unselfish efforts, do our part to bring into every department of life that knowledge which is not to be purchased, but which is found in man's surrender of his lower nature, of his passionate, his selfish, lustful nature, to the god within, to the Christos Spirit; and finally let us complete our part by calling forth the inner, divine power, which will then illuminate the mind and bring men to the heights of spiritual discernment -- to the knowledge of their higher selves, to the realization of the real life.


. . . Fair truth's immortal sun
Is sometimes hid in clouds, not that her light
Is in itself defective, but obscured
By my weak prejudice, imperfect faith,
And all the thousand causes which obstruct
The growth of goodness. . . . Hannah Moore

Short Addresses: Woman's Mission