Theosophy and Some of the Vital Problems of the Day

By Katherine Tingley

Theosophy and Some of the Vital Problems of the Day

Address Number Six -- February 28, 1915
Why should it be thought incredible that the same soul should inhabit in succession an indefinite number of mortal bodies, and thus prolong its experience and probation, until it has become in every sense ripe? -- Prof. Francis Bowen of Harvard University


What Theosophy Is and What It Is Not

Friends: It may interest you to know that for about thirteen years the members of the Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society of our International Headquarters at Point Loma have been active workers in sustaining public meetings here in this Theater every Sunday night for the exposition of Theosophy -- the ancient Wisdom-Religion. The doors have been opened for all, that all might come and partake as they wished of these truths which are so old and to us so sacred.

It occurs to me that there are many strangers here tonight who would be interested to know, not only what Theosophy is, but what it is not. Theosophy is not superstition; it is not blind faith; it is not speculation; it is not the product of the brain-mind of man; and it is not miraculous -- it is scientific philosophy and religion.

Theosophy, while accepting and teaching the age-old doctrine of periodic descents or incarnations of rays of the Divine, also sets forth very clearly the danger, both spiritual and social, of blindly following the teachings or beliefs of people who advance claims to divinity either for themselves or others. While of course each such incarnation, or avatara of a ray of the Divine, necessarily must have a human body to appear among men and teach them, no mere claims or representations of being such an incarnation have any value whatever. History both past and present is full of false Christs, false Prophets, and of deluded and deluding teachers.

The Christos Spirit Is Within You

Theosophy teaches that the Christos Spirit is in every man, that he who seeks to resurrect this Christ Spirit within himself, that he who crucifies his own earthly passions, has strength to roll back the stone of matter from the door of his own inner sanctuary. Thus he finds the Christos that was buried in the sepulcher of his desires, risen within himself.

"The Coming of Christ " means the manifested presence of the Christos Spirit in every man, in all men.

If men had the knowledge now that was taught in the early days, long preceding the time of Jesus, they would be in a better position to understand the meaning of Jesus Christ's teachings and of the theosophical teaching of the essential divinity of mankind. They would better understand the inner meaning of the Sermon on the Mount and would be better able to meet the confusing problems of our day. But alas! the world's children have lost their way. There are of course some few who discern the light more or less dimly, but as a body we have strayed afar.

One of these problems lies before us Americans, for our present position as a nation in relation to other nations is a question that demands our closest attention and our greatest effort for the common good.

We, the American people, have had truly greater opportunities than many other nations. We have liberated ourselves to a degree at least, largely through our forefathers' determination to free themselves from ecclesiastical and political domination; but we have much yet to learn, and much yet to do, before we can call ourselves a truly free people.

There is much to admire in the history of our country, and there is also much to regret. Our America would stand out today in the records of the ages, with fewer blemishes and in greater glory, if we could blot out the memory of our wars; if our great America had from the beginning realized that brotherhood is a fact in nature. And if we Americans had lived in the true spirit of the Christos, if we had cultivated the divine in man, and if we had held together as a great brotherhood -- a great Republic of Souls, so to speak. We have had the grandest opportunity of the times to build up a nation so altruistically and so right royally that it would have become, not only the light of the world, but the spiritual Mecca of the world. We must remember that all nations even now are turning to this country as the hope of humanity.

Our country is now in a transition state and has already undergone many changes. Hardly three hundred years ago the United States was almost entirely populated by men of Anglo-Saxon stock, but owing to admixture of various nationalities and by widespread intermarriages, a great change has come to our country. Madame Blavatsky says, in her great work The Secret Doctrine, that we Americans are the seed of the sixth sub-race; and in a few hundred years we shall become the pioneers of the race that shall succeed the present European fifth race.

There is no question in my mind, nor in the minds of H. P. Blavatsky's students, that these facts as stated by her will be proved true, as many of her statements already have been proved true by scientific research and new discoveries in different fields. Even as it is, the American type is already distinct from the European.

A Critical Time in American History

Our country has arrived at a critical time in its national life, and we, as Americans, are being challenged, not only by the Higher Law, but by the needs of the hour in our own country as well as by the needs in other countries. We surely have many things to undo as a nation, and many things to do; and we should study the causes that have led us into the present state of our national affairs.

We, the American people, in studying the present terrible war in Europe, have no right to defend one country rather than another, or to blame one country more than another. If we would have permanent peace, we should create the international spirit and sustain it; otherwise we cultivate that which is contrary to the spirit of true brotherhood and justice. We must aim to discover the causes set in motion generations ago, that have brought about this terrible conflict in Europe, as well as the conflicts of a different nature that we have in our own country.

In this research we must take a broad view of life, while if we would advance the truest interests of our country in the future, we must cultivate a new kind of patriotism. We surely cannot presume to consider ourselves as superior to any other nation, or to imagine that we are "the chosen people," until we have at least proven ourselves to be such, until we have higher standards of morality, higher ideals, until we have made laws that will sustain these standards properly and will make them a living power among us, until in short we have a complete understanding of our duty to each other -- until we have made our country what it is destined to be, the great Republic of Brotherhood. In fact, we, as Americans, have arrived at a point in the history of our country, where we must choose our path and build anew. We must overcome our religious, political, national, and international prejudices.

I wonder, oh, so often, why the people of this promising nation can be satisfied with duties only half done! We are citizens of the greatest American Republic; we declare ourselves to be a liberty-loving, moral people; we have made laws, but we have failed to make laws and to follow ideals of a kind that would be so just as to enable us, as a nation, to appeal forcefully at this moment to the contending nations, that war cease.

Let us think together for a moment. If each unit in this great country had done his full part, if each had ingrained into the public spirit of the age and of the generation that quality of justice that Jesus speaks of in his greatest sermon; if we could have had the right kind of national life and national liberty; if we could have had the treaty laws justly and more spiritually conceived, we could stand today before the world as the saving power of the nations -- as the torch-bearers of peace of the twentieth century.

But alas! we cannot do this with full and convincing effect, because we have permitted our religious prejudices, our weaknesses and selfishness, to warp our judgment and blind our intuition. The brain-mind alone has made the laws of our land; and we have not fallen back upon the strength of the higher self, on the higher knowledge, on the immortal part, on the soul-knowledge within us. We have lacked that understanding that would be ours if we had done our whole duty.

So we are in truth facing some very vital problems, though there is not time here to discuss them in detail. We are indeed absolutely at a point where we are almost overwhelmed by the deplorable conditions that meet us on every side. We know that we have problems that we cannot meet or control. We temporize with our opportunities and let the days pass without doing our full part.

Springing up in all walks of life are different minds offering different corrective measures; this body of people and that body of people organize; they may be all aiming possibly to attain the same goal; but they are under the limitations of the brain-mind, and the immortal self, the true life of man which holds real knowledge and can give it, is not yet by any means manifest. The soul-light is not burning in the hearts of the American people as it should; and if you could see conditions menacing our country as I do, you would soon realize that we are suffering, though in another way, almost as much as the unfortunate people of Europe.

It is true that we do not have before our physical eyes the horrible picture of the brutal struggle now in progress there -- we have not yet seen our homes destroyed, our families separated, and our loved ones slaughtered before our eyes -- but still our nation is aching with a pain that few of us dare to consider. We have vices creeping upon us; and in proportion to our population the vices are greater in number in this country than in any other country I know of, and I have visited nearly all of them. I have carefully studied all classes of society for many years, from the poorest to the richest -- the social conditions, the political conditions of Europe; and I know whereof I speak. The opening of our country to other countries in the past has brought to us much that we would not have permitted, if we had remained true to the spirit of the old pioneers, and had more fully followed the divine laws of our being. But since we have opened our gates, since we have now this admixture, since all these things are happening, we have no right to blame any country. We have to realize that our weaknesses -- the weaknesses of the American people -- have been growing from day to day, have interblended with the weaknesses of other nationalities here; and that the selfishness, vices, and crimes have been growing apace. Through our indifference, if in no other way, we have permitted them to grow; we have not done our full duty to our fellows nor to our nation; we have permitted the brain-mind plans of the time to psychologize us into a state of apathy, and up to the present moment we have not yet evoked the power which will enable us to stem the tide of ignorance, vice, and disintegration that is upon us. So it is plain to be seen that there is an increased responsibility upon us, which is growing every day. The sense of this responsibility is something that must enter into the life of every unit in this nation before the real reformative work can be done.

Self-Knowledge, the Key

To bring about the proper reformation we must first know who we are, and why we are here; we must seek to know the meaning of the immutable, spiritual laws of life which hold us in their keeping; we must find the Christos Spirit within us; we must bring it into action; we must make it a living power in our lives; and when it becomes a living power, when we have resurrected the Christos Spirit within, and rolled away the stone of matter from the doorways of our inner sanctuaries, then we shall begin to know our duties and responsibilities to all men. Then we shall awaken to the fact that Deity is in all the universe and that the form of religion that will best respond to the innate religious nature of man is a universal religion of brotherhood, based on the fact that man is essentially divine, that brotherhood is a fact in nature, and that we are our brothers' keepers.

Then we shall see that what affects one, affects us all; and that what affects one nation, likewise affects all other nations. And as far as we climb to the heights of knowledge, so far will other nations climb to the heights; and vice versa, just as far as we go down from our ideals and possibilities into the valleys of selfishness, separateness, and unbrotherliness, just so far all other nations will suffer with us. According to the teachings of Theosophy, we must partake of the good or bad karma of all peoples -- now, particularly, of the suffering of the people across the water; and while it may not express itself in the same form with us, yet it is for us as it is for them; we cannot avoid it; and I hold that it will require the rarest discretion and the exercise of real soul-wisdom to hold this nation from being blindly involved in complications that may bring to us a war more terrible than any we have ever read of. We have not to look far to see how menacing the conditions are.

Verily, the higher law of our being demands that we should build our nation on the rock of soul-knowledge, and that we should rear our children in accordance therewith. We must daily consider it our sacred duty to employ our efforts, individually and collectively, to stem the tide of ignorance and egotism, vice and crime, selfishness and unbrotherliness, by true, reformative means based on enlightenment such as Theosophy affords. Unless we do this, then we must take our medicine, bitter though it may be.

Another picture is before me: although we must suffer for the seeds of evildoing sown in the past through our negligence and lack of insight into the spiritual laws of life, yet there is no uncertain meaning in our being a part of this promising nation. It is, really, our karma to be here; and we have the opportunity of sowing good seeds, not only for our nation and for other nations, but for our children and for the children who are to come in succeeding generations.

That is why I am pleading so earnestly. It is not only for the present time, not only for the adjustment of the social and political conditions of the present, but for the homes and for the children of the future, that they and the children who will be born from them shall not know the sorrow that we have known, and the sorrow that we shall know; that they shall have the rich results of our unselfish, altruistic efforts, something that will be the foundation of a magnificent "Republic of Souls" chosen by the Higher Law to be the pioneers of the coming race that shall succeed the present European race. So if we think earnestly of our duty, we can see that we have much to do.

Reform Must Begin with the Self

I confess that my talks may not be always agreeable to some minds, because I am eternally challenging my listeners, even as I challenge myself. I am trying to arouse your minds to the knowledge of your superb possibilities, and of the superb possibilities of our country. I appreciate the fact that many of you have pure motives, high ideals, strong purposes, and large sympathies; and I realize that you are seeking to do your part in the world's work. But I would dig just a little deeper into your hearts, and go a little beyond the outward aspects of your lives. For I believe in the heart doctrine. I believe in the essential divinity of man; and when I am speaking, I am endeavoring to reach out beyond your prejudices, or your limitations, or your criticism; and I am conscious that sometimes I do sound a note in the natures of my audiences that brings a response from the divinity within and makes them feel more truly the power of the living spirit -- not spasmodically, not only for one moment or one hour, not just on Sunday, you know, but all the time. What we need is the continuous presence of our higher selves.

It is regrettable that we cannot reach our suffering European brothers with our sympathetic thoughts and feelings tonight through utterance, and that we cannot tell them that we have in part failed in our duty to them as our brothers, that we cannot tell them that we have taken, to a degree at least, a part in the causes of their suffering -- not perhaps directly or intentionally, but we have added to the brutality and the insanity of the age by our negative efforts and by our own selfishness, by permitting dividing lines to loosen the bonds of real fellowship among men.

Should there be any narrow-minded, self-opinionated egotists here tonight, they may not be able to take the same viewpoint that I present to you; but the broad-minded, the liberal, unselfish, human-loving people will understand that I know what I say, and they will endorse me in saying that we have added to the misery of the world, and particularly to the present terrible crisis in Europe, by permitting conditions to grow and flower in our country, the influence of which has reacted on Europe.

To me it is plain that if we do not begin to rebuild our American Republic on a more moral and spiritual basis, it will not be more than a few hundred years before we shall be considered by the people of that future day as moral barbarians, in spite of our professions of culture, and in spite of our considering this a Christian age. Pray remember I am not losing sight of our worldly prosperity as a nation. Surely we can keep our heads above water on that line. I am also fully appreciative of that quality of culture which makes us consider ourselves now as superior to barbarians.

The foundation work of our public schools has its disadvantages. So much depends upon the way we begin with our youth in preparing them to fight the world's battles and to become reliable homemakers and citizens. Let us look in upon the primary department of our schools. Here sits the child of a Methodist; here the child of a so-called Atheist; here the child of a Roman Catholic; another a child of a Baptist; still others are children of Episcopalians or Unitarians, etc. As it is, the dividing lines in human life are defined sufficiently to show that even the minds of the little children are feeling the separateness of their lives from those of their brothers and sisters -- not that the different doctrines are taught in the schools, but they are taught in the homes of these children and in the many different churches. And so right here in the lives of the little ones there is growing a subtle influence of unbrotherliness, although hidden.

What do the children know of their essential divinity -- or of their duties to one another? What do they know of the Christos Spirit within, or of the teaching that we are all of one great family? Do you not see, my good friends, that "it is the letter that killeth"? It is the forms of religion that hold us apart; it is the limitations of the human mind that separate us; it is the difference in doctrines that prevents the Christos Spirit in man from expressing itself in all its glory in the lives of our children, the builders of the coming generation. It prevents the real spiritual life -- knowledge -- from expressing itself in the Senate and in the House of Representatives, in the pulpit, and in our educational institutions. It is the selfish doctrines of the age that prevent man from living according to true standards and teaching the youth of our age soulfully and understandingly in the spirit of true brotherhood, free from the limitations of dogmatic beliefs. The science of living must be taught even to the little ones.

There is not only disagreement in religious matters among us, but in our civic and social life there is division everywhere. I will admit that there is a great deal of apparent friendliness and good fellowship existing among people; but we know that there is a tremendous amount of deceit also; and our children breathe this deceit into their own lives and carry it with them to taint the coming generations.

These general conditions that I refer to, and these insincerities that I name, Theosophy protests against as stumbling-blocks. Yes, in the truest sense this is an age of insincerity and hypocrisy. It is the more pitiful because there are in the world today men and women of splendid aspiration and right royal devotion to high principles; but it is the form in which these aspirations and principles are worked out that kills the real life of endeavor. The wrong path is followed, often unconsciously, so that by half-doing even the best are wandering away from the possibility of great achievements -- from the light of the god in man, from the omnipresent, all-powerful, unknowable God in nature.

There is truly something most pathetic in the picture of men and women lugging to their hearts their creeds and dogmas, their schemes for self-aggrandizement, their petty political and social cliques and coteries. And they too are not satisfied, even though they pretend to be. They are full of unrest -- indeed, the whole world is teeming with unrest.

Here we have vivid pictures to urge us to further endeavor, that we may more fully know our duty to all men, that we may aid in resurrecting the Christos Spirit within man and enable it to become a living power in the lives of us all. This power would give us the knowledge and ability to stay the hand of all the disintegrating forces that confront us, and we could then as a people, working unitedly, stem the tide of war and conflict.

War is not Necessary

The American people would then no longer have to advocate war to protect their homes and institutions. They would no longer find themselves preparing to place thousands of men in battle array to protect their country. They would no longer permit the manufacture of arms and ammunition for the destruction of their fellow beings. What a victory it would be for the American people to realize and proclaim that the mind of man can be infused with the spirit, the knowledge, the power, of the Divine Life, and that this would secure permanent peace! Is not the picture encouraging? Do not lose it. Take it away with you and give more thought to it.

There is a class of people who think my speech far-fetched and merely speculative -- the class that live shut up in little squirrel-cages of egotism, and who live day in and day out, all the years of their lives, quite separated from their brothers, in the real sense -- who read the morning papers, telling of the slaughter of thousands of their brothers across the waters, while they up their coffee and think of the day's coming pleasures. Such as these are bound to be satisfied as long as the invaders do not strike their town, or interfere with their worldly interests, just as long as none of their boys have to go to the front to be butchered.

These presentations that I give you tonight are perhaps in part unpleasantly graphic; they are passing pictures in my mind, and there is not time to elaborate them; yet there is time to place them before you in such a way that you may possibly gain a new point of view as to what we must do if we are to sustain the dignity of our beloved homeland. My words in this connection have been evoked here tonight because some of the brightest minds in our country today -- the men whom we have put in public places by our votes and endorsement -- are urging further preparations to defend our country by force of arms. Yet the soul-knowledge is waiting to point the way for more peaceful means. The soul of man seeks manifestation; but it cannot come forth, and it never will come forth in our country, until the American people step out into broader views of thought and action -- until they, as a body and as units, reach a point of advancement where they will not sacrifice principle for self-interest, where none will sell his soul for the almighty dollar and public position, where all will stand as soldiers in the truest sense, sustaining peace in defense of the divine rights of man.

Oh, that we could have the sweeping wave of the Christos Spirit in our country today -- the higher patriotism! It could be so, if we did but will it so! Ere long we would find the boys in our army, who are imbibing in their daily life the spirit of war, in the fields and in the colleges, in our educational institutions and in our House of Representatives or in the Senate, helping to build truly their nation; while the promoters and supporters of warfare, and the makers of ammunition and implements of slaughter for men, would have lost their vocation.

Yes, with the Christos Spirit alive in everyone, our country would be ablaze with a new spiritual and mental light -- a new kind of patriotism, the patriotism of soul-life, the patriotism of true manhood -- the patriotism founded on love for the nation's true liberty. The soul of our American nation is calling for something new -- for a quality of self-analysis that shall fit us in the coming years to bring honor and glory and eternal life, not only to our own America, but to all the peoples of the world.

If man could see himself as his weaknesses make him! Then slowly but surely, the living power of the Christos, the eternal man, would be aroused; man would lift the veil hiding the potentiality and powers of his nature, and he would also catch glimpses of the results sure to follow. Indeed, if all men worked shoulder to shoulder and heart to heart, living in the spirit of the heart doctrine, the human family would have one superb, glorious, and inspiring religion, that of universal brotherhood, to sustain them.

Raise the morals of the people by your unselfish efforts, and you will arouse the Christos Spirit and will eliminate from the brain-minds of men the shadows and obscurations that now hold them; then will follow the illumination, the enlightenment and the joy, that Jesus taught, as indeed did all the great teachers who preceded him. Human life is in truth a great and wonderful mystery, and the study of Theosophy lifts the veil of ignorance and obscuration, and points the way to the great truths lying behind all manifestations of life. It compels man to see justice in the working of the immutable laws that govern him and all nature, and it brings home to each and all of us a clear and convincing proof of the equitable nature of suffering, and of the meaning of karma. Karma is the law of universal, absolute justice. It gives to every man that which he has himself earned, and thus gives to human life a rational explanation and makes its sorrows more bearable.

Karma and reincarnation are two great foundation doctrines that man should take to heart. They bring enlightenment to all. Why not make Theosophy the world's universal sermon and song? Why not take it into the home of the rich and poor, and teach it to the children? No one can give you in fulness all the richness of this divine philosophy. You must evolve it in your own inner being, by application and study and by the living of the life. Hug to your hearts this message -- this joyful, optimistic message that Theosophy brings to you -- of the essential divinity of your own natures, of the knowledge of immortality, and of the eternity of being lived out in many schools of experiences, from one life to another. Yes, find the truth and live the life. And in the conquering of the lower self you will remove the barriers that now separate you from the mysteries of your inmost nature. Thus you will know yourself as you really are, and the laws governing your being, and the splendor of the universal life. Then we shall all be able to interpret those glorious words of one of the great teachers: "Peace on earth, and good will to men"; for we shall then be the united citizens of the inner Republic of Souls.


Those who dare to differ or offer advice are looked at with jealous eyes. Too often everything is done to block the way of the reformer, not always from any base motive, but from sheer inability to appreciate what is proposed. -- Anonymous

Address No. 7