Every thinking man, whether he be of materialistic bent of mind, or mystical or scientific, must realize that because nature proceeds in an orderly manner, its courses can be subjected to categories of logical thinking, if indeed we know those facts of nature. Hence, provided that our method of thinking be based on the established facts of being, there can be no conflict between truth on the one hand and our formulation of truth on the other hand. Theosophy is such a formulation of truth, an aggregate of doctrines dealing with the fundamentals of the cosmos. It is not a new system; it is as old as the ages. If you look back into the literatures of historical periods, you will find it there; and you will recognize also that, in other parts of the world, among nations of men whose literatures have not reached us, there must have been the same method of thinking, the same aspirations towards a universal truth, the same human mentality reducing the facts of being to logical formulation.
It would be an extraordinary fact, inexplicable indeed, if we could imagine a human mind or a body of men, who could think of something which no one had ever thought of before, and thus as being out of the cosmic life and procedure. "There is nothing new under the sun," a wise old Hebrew is reported to have said; and our instinct tells us that that old saying is true.
Nature moves in cycles, and as these cycles run their rounds, nations and men rise, reach their maturity, give forth the flowers of their civilizations; and then, as the wheel of time whirls on in its unceasing course, they in turn fall, to give place to men of newer blood who in turn develop their own systems of thought -- originating them, as they falsely think, but in reality only stating again, albeit in the manner of their own racial genius, the same old truths that had been known in former ages. Yet it is true enough that if we take the larger view of destiny and time, we find that there is a gradual enlargement of what was known in the past: what was the child of the mind and spirit and heart of those who lived in ages long gone by.
Thus we see that the human intelligence operating through the ages, because based fundamentally on cosmic factors, must function or operate analogically. What was regarded as a truth in former ages as based on natural fact, will be recognized on analogical or similar principles in a later age; because the fact remains that while human intelligence advances progressively to higher levels of understanding, such development is always on analogical lines based on the cosmic structure. For the universal organism operates as a consistent whole, and therefore one general pattern of action is discernible in all its parts throughout the entire cycle of manifested life.
Analogy, the much-abused but powerful instrument of human thinking, is now recognized as one of the master keys opening nature's portals. One general law and one common system of manifestation rule throughout the universe, and in this fact lies the meaning of that wonderful Hermetic axiom: "As it is above, so is it below; as it is below, so is it above." Or, expressed more fully: As things are above so are they in all intermediate spheres, and below. And as they are here below, or underneath us in planes still more material than ours, so are they above us in planes vastly more spiritual. This does not imply identities in any collection of cases, but states the operation of uniform action in what we call nature; and any such uniform action, consistent always and continuous, having a beginning and proceeding to its cyclic end, we call a "law of nature."
You know that the old Egyptians had some very wonderful books, very few of which have come down to us except by allusion and by quotation, mostly to be found in the Greek and Latin classics. The foremost among these were called the Books of Thoth; and the old Greeks translated the name of this Egyptian god Thoth by using the name of one of their gods, Hermes, the Interpreter, and thence called these books the Hermetic writings -- unquestionably with some well-defined suggestion of their being interpretative of hid mysteries.
Most of these Hermetic books have been lost, many doubtless destroyed through the early religious bigotry and fanaticism that followed the downfall of the ancient Mediterranean 'pagan' religious beliefs. In any case one or two have survived, which probably have been more or less touched up by Christian hands; but underneath this retouching there still shines the splendor of the ancient thought. These old books cannot be understood as you run through them; they require earnest meditation and intellectual effort, mental exercise, in order to get at the real meaning which lies not alone in the words, but also behind and within them. It is by realizing this and studying them under this light that we may get the secret of the sense which those words imbody.
In one of these 'books,' a very short one, later called "The Emerald Tablet," we find the ancient and universal teaching of analogy. Its opening words are as follows:
True, without any error; certain, very true; That which is Above, is as that which is below; and that which is below, is as That which is Above; for achieving the Wonders of the Universe. . . .
This marvelous conception of the uniformity of universal nature within and without, above and below, existed long before it was committed to writing in Egypt and Greece. It is one of the stock-teachings of mysticism of all antiquity and, so far as we know, of the entire ancient world, Eastern and Western. We also find the teaching given in the Upanishads which are among the most noble mystical writings imbodying the theosophy of the Hindus. For instance, in the Katha-Upanishad, the teacher is setting forth the absolutely essential identical nature of the universe and the human spirit-soul. The words there are:
What is here [in the world which our senses cognize] the same is there [in the invisible world of the spirit]; and what is there, the same is here. He who sees any difference here [between these two, between the invisible and the visible] goes from death to death.
It is by the consciousness (manas) that this [the universe we cognize] is to be understood, and then there is no difference at all [the essential identity of all things is recognized]. He passes from death to death who sees any difference here. -- iv, 10-11
The meaning is that he fails to recognize his essential identity with the spirit-life of the spaces, and is therefore plunged in illusion or maya, which means that he is enchained by the attractions of matter, and therefore follows those attractions from birth to birth in physical and ethereal bodies. In other words, he is compelled to follow the ever-turning wheel of life in reincarnation after reincarnation until he learns the oneness of all things visible and invisible, through the developing of his inner self into intellectual understanding: recognizing that the essence of the universe is the heart of his heart, the soul of his soul, and the spirit of his own spirit. Then, having obtained vision, he is freed from the wheel of revolving destiny. He has attained wisdom and freedom; he has become a master of and in life, instead of remaining a slave of the wheel.
What is in the macrocosm or the great universe is in the microcosm or the little universe, whatever that little universe may be, i.e., in one of the smaller parts which compose the whole. What does this mean and imply? That any one of the numberless hosts of little lives or living entities, as a growing and learning thing, has infinity for its playground of progress and evolution, because in itself are contained all forces, latent or active, and all possibilities which inevitably seek their fields of action sooner or later, and therefore require infinity in space and eternity in time for the expression of incomputable possibilities.
There is no absolute gulf separating part from part anywhere; there are no jumping-off places beyond which is nothing, not anywhere. Everything is connected together by unbreakable bonds of law and order, of causation and of effectuation. Everything is expressing its own inherent powers as well as endless capacities for learning, and thereby developing other powers in the latent, learning each time that it expresses them to unfold them more fully, and thereby to grow larger in comprehension inwardly, and more powerful in the expression outwardly of the spiritual forces within.
It is contrary to reason and logic to suppose that one part of nature operates in contradictory action with any other part. If there be those so-called laws of nature and being, they must function equally and consistently everywhere, and function everywhere similarly. It is upon this one thought, that nature, being a unity in which there is no fundamental or intrinsic diversity anywhere, but in which there exists only the diversity of different entities proceeding towards a larger perfection, from the one fundamental impulse of the one universal life -- it is upon this one thought that the noblest generalization of the ancient outlook was based. This majestic generalization to one fundamental law of life is understandable to human beings because we partake of that life; and the multitudinous variations that we see in the phenomenal world are but the ringing of all possible changes that nature so lavishly provides for our admiration and utmost reverence.
It is upon such basic thoughts as these that the ancients reasoned and founded their systems of religion and philosophy, and they are now discovered to have been right, and their reasoning was, from the above universally accepted bases, called deductive and analogical. These same bases are recognized today as fundamental in all philosophical thinking; and it was merely in order to prove their consequent deductions and analogical discoveries, that they likewise used the inductive method of proceeding from a multitude of small particles in an attempt to check their former reasoning.
In the last century it was customary to teach that the deductive system of thinking was that of the ancient times, when men did not know enough about external nature to think inductively; but that now all true thinking is done by induction, reasoning from details to generals; and that all we have to do is to have, mathematically speaking, an infinite number of details, and we shall, by gathering these and correlating them into systems, reach an infinite truth. But how long would it not take to wander from detail to detail, through an infinite time, in order to reach an infinite truth!
Why did they misrepresent the ancient system of thinking? The idea was that these earlier thinkers were so weak in their intellectual capacities, that they merely imagined general truths and reasoned down from them, in an effort to make that reasoning accord with the observed facts of nature. But that was a sheer supposition and a false one, and was based on nothing but the purely human idea, "We are the latest people, and therefore we must be the most advanced. Our method of thinking is better." Perhaps it was for them. But the ancient thinkers, when they reasoned deductively, did not so think as they are alleged to have done. They in their endeavors to read some of the more recondite, more secret truths of nature, began their thinking from postulates considered as fundamental laws of the human mind.
As a matter of fact, these very methods of logic, deduction, induction, and analogy, were taken over by us from the Greek thinkers, the first of the European peoples who investigated logical differences by rules and taught them to us, rules which we willfully misapplied in condemnation of our own masters! These historical facts it is well to recall, for the reason that these logical processes lie in the operations of the human consciousness itself, and our recognition of these facts explains a great many things that puzzle students of the old literatures.
It is good to notice that the methods of analogical thinking are again being used in modern scientific circles. I refer particularly to the matter of the structure of the atom. According to recent scientific theories, atoms are now believed to copy analogically the structure and general operations of the forces in the solar system which we know something about. This shows us that one of the finest and most powerful instruments of thought leads us truly on -- if we be careful and do not reason by false analogies -- to see that nature is built upon a common plan in all its stages from the highest to the lowest, and that it therefore follows similar lines of action everywhere, in the great as in the small.
I might say in passing that had the documents, upon which the Christian religion is said to be founded, been examined in the same spirit of impartiality that is shown today by investigators into the operations of nature, we should know more now about the life of the great Nazarene, about the life of the great Syrian called Jesus, than we do know. But it is one of the weaknesses of the human mind, to wish to establish its own theories as actual truths, in other words to wish to establish its own prejudices as facts.
Let us never forget, then, that the universe is one vast organism. There are no impassable barriers between body and body, between mind and mind, between entity and entity, all of them being children or offspring, that is, coherent parts, of that vast organism of the cosmos; and in consequence having and manifesting in the small all the potencies and powers and energies and forces that exist in that organic universe. The offspring is a replica, a copy in the minute, of the great, the microcosm or little world copying in all respects the macrocosm or great world.
It is along the lines of these forces and energies pouring forth from the heart of the universe ultimately, that proceed the psychic, the astral-vital, indeed, in the higher beings also the intellectual and spiritual powers and qualities which man and all other entities, great or small, manifest.
This sublime fact of nature, that all beings are inextricably linked together on all the various planes, from the spiritual to the physical, we express by the term "universal brotherhood." We might call it the "spiritual or divine oneness" of all that is. Once a man recognizes the working of this law upon the human plane, he knows that every step forward that a brother takes, by so much the more is he himself advanced. More, he knows that by as much as any spiritual unit, any soul, progresses, by so much does it raise the entire body of beings to which it belongs.
This spiritual oneness does not mean sheer identity of consciousness, but oneness in the sense that the innumerable hosts of thinking beings on this planet, as well as on the countless other inhabited celestial bodies of the universe, all spring from one common fountain of life. All are pressing forward through the innumerable gates of life towards the same grandiose and ultimate destiny -- each such entity pursuing its own individual path, but growing itself greater as its consciousness evolves and expands; so that it recognizes in fullness its true oneness in spirit, in sympathy, in destiny, in origin, with everything else. And part of that destiny is that each entity must become a fountainhead of innumerable other entities springing from it, just as a father gives birth to his child, and as that child gives birth to another, and just as the human soul gives birth to thoughts; for thoughts after all are ethereal matter, and therefore are things. Thus are the hosts of lives linked together in an endless chain.
A study of the law of analogy brings with it an ever-greater realization of the fact that all things work together towards a common end. There is no real separation or disjunction between thing and thing, or between consciousness and consciousness; therefore none between world and world, and man and man. The farther we go from the heart of Being, the farther we advance outwards from the splendor within, the more are our eyes blinded by the illusions of the phenomenal world, because we lose the faculty of discrimination, of judgment and of intuitive power, for our conscious life is then centered in the multitude of things around us and beneath us, in the atomic world which enshrouds and surrounds us. Our consciousness is, so to say, become diffused and spread over multitudes, instead of being concentrated, as it always is at the heart of our being, in supernal light.
Yet such is the pathway of progress, and it is in this manner that we learn the nature of this universe surrounding us; and such course upwards from the invisible on each new cycle is each time a course of progress on a higher plane.