How little is said or taught about the soul-life and its complete identification with the human being! To most men the soul is something apart from themselves that is only to be talked of and trusted in on special occasions: there is no real companionship, no intimate affiliation, between men's minds and souls in their everyday existence. Now there is in every man a divine power, and when that divinity, which is his real self, is acknowledged and understood by the mind, it takes a very active part in man's life -- indeed, it should fill at the very least one half of his thought-life. When we have this full view of the identity of man with the soul, we move outside the ordinary way of thinking and find ourselves on a new path, daring to think towards the unknowable, the seeming impossible. In doing this, we bring the soul into action.
According to my philosophy, every normal child when it is born is enveloped and covered, protected so to speak, with soul-forces. We must not think of the soul as something apart from ourselves, as something that occupies a special compartment in our brains or in our thoughts, for every time a child is born, through the operation of those sacred and wonderful laws of nature which men do not yet understand, it has the spiritual backing, the spiritual support, the divine enfoldment of the soul. And if the child is rightly understood, this spiritual part will be at least as fully recognized as the material part.
The soul of man is seeking to utter itself from the time of its physical incarnation. It knows its birthrights, it knows more than is apparent. But it is thrust into the world under very adverse circumstances, and the child is fed, cared for, loved, and nurtured as a physical being and as little more, with the vague possibility of having a future life somewhere or somehow. But we are sacredly and divinely made and built for this life, and only by understanding the lives of our children, approaching and reaching them from the standpoint of spiritual knowledge, can the soul speak.
To me one of the most beautiful experiences in life is to retire into the inner sanctuary of one's own being, away from all the rush and so-called allurements of the outer life, and in the silence to listen to the voice of the soul, to hear its pleadings, to know its power. According to the teachings of theosophy, we are religious beings by nature, the soul-life being an essential part of ourselves -- the real, eternal man. The rest of man dies when the body dies, including the brain-mind upon which we all depend so much, and upon which we should indeed depend to a large degree. All the mental faculties, including personal memory, die when the physical man dies. But the real man, the spiritual man, lives on forever.
Let us have common sense and illumination enough to believe that we are something more than we seem, and that in the wonderful universal scheme of life there is a great destiny in which we are to be very active, in which we are to live and work, fully conscious of our own essential divinity. One of the greatest secrets of life is for a man to believe in his own divine qualities, in his power to surmount all difficulties and to overleap all conditions -- especially to overleap the irrational and gloomy picture of death which so many people hold.
Each one evolves according to his understanding of the facts of nature and according to his education and his environment, so each has his own way of learning, which is different from that of everyone else because no two have evolved to an equal degree. The beauty of reincarnation is that it gives every man another chance. It is one of the brightest and most beautiful doctrines that I have ever been able to present to anyone, even to the condemned in prison: yes, there is another chance for all.
Be willing to struggle, if there is struggle; be willing to be disappointed, and be willing to suffer, and be willing to be misunderstood -- anything in the world that will give you the chance to throw away all personality and bring home to yourself the realization that soul-power is the only thing that will make life livable. We have only to think just a little deeper and look a little farther away from our personalities to realize the mightiness of life and to feel our closer association with the higher possibilities in our own natures and a rising quality of sincerity. This is what is needed more than anything else to awaken humanity to deeper thinking and to a realization that man is in essence a mighty creature; and that a human being with all his possibilities, with all that nature has given him, and with all that lies within the soul is afforded rich gifts continuously.
Man undervalues himself in the spiritual sense. He undervalues his responsibilities, and therefore he is very apt to undervalue his neighbors. If, on the other hand, he begins to value his inner life and the spiritual side of his being, he is bound to reach a quality of his nature that will bring him to more conscientious thought of his neighbors. Pursuing this line farther, we shall find ourselves working out a grand scheme of justice for all men to each other, and we shall begin to have some idea of the splendid promises that are written in every moment of our lives.
If we all lived in the consciousness and the conviction of our own great possibilities, we should realize that we are souls and that we too have divine privileges far beyond anything that we know of or even think of. Yet we throw these aside because they are not acceptable to our limited, personal selves. They do not fit in with our preconceived ideas. So we forget that we are a part of the divine scheme of life, that the meaning of life is sacred and holy, and we allow ourselves to drift back into the vortex of misunderstanding, misconception, doubt, unhappiness, and despair.
Are we not looking for something better than what we have now? Are you satisfied with life as it is? Are you ready to go on and on and see children born in ignorance, unwise marriages and tragic divorces, and murders and unnamable crimes sweeping in to the very threshold of your own homes, and not turn for knowledge to these higher laws? Certainly something is lacking, and that lack can be met by each of us if we can have courage enough to believe that we are something more than what we seem in our merely physical aspect, that we are a part of the divine scheme of life, and that we have within us those latent powers which Jesus referred to when he told us that the kingdom of heaven is within us.
You may have glimpses of a solution of life's problems in your own mental attitudes, you may have touches of it in your hearts, but the world does not propose -- according to our present form of civilization so called -- that you shall grow spiritually. The general opinion of mankind today is that man is weak, vacillating, and has no spiritual basis upon which to work. But while it is true that we are all subject to the laws of change in evolution, still, life is a superb challenge if one knows how to meet it. The idea that man is born in sin and is helpless is nonsense; there is nothing reasonable in it. On the contrary, man is essentially divine, he is a part of the eternal plan and has within himself the key to the mysteries of the universe and therefore of his own nature. If he hasn't it consciously, he should find it.
I do not talk very much about humility; I do not believe that a man or a woman should be humble in the ordinary sense. I believe that they should find the strength of their own characters. They should analyze themselves cleanly, find out whence they came, what they are here for, and what life means. They should challenge themselves and move away from the nonsense that they have been taught for so long about being such dreadful sinners. Move out into a great world of superb thought and universal ideas!
We are either going up or we are going down -- we do not ever stand still. Continuous and confident virtue comes from the knowledge of one's soul-life. It is the expression of the strength of the inner man, that part of one which does noble things, aspires to do them, and is ever restless until one has done them. Love is the greatest power in the world and self-control is the magic talisman. With love in our hearts, and self-control, we are on the path that leads to the relative perfection of man.
The voice of the soul is seeking expression in the outer world in order to bring to the recognition of men the real spirit of brotherhood, that spiritual unity that belongs to us. I am absolutely assured of the essential divinity in man, of his power to conquer conditions and to make the whole world over again. Bring yourself to the knowledge of your essential divinity, of your strength and your real purposes, your hopes and your visions. The will which makes a man a good man and brings these things into realization is the spiritual will, whereas that will which makes him lose his way is the will of the personality, of the body only, and dies when the body dies.
The great beauty and charm of life is to have knowledge -- not just belief and faith. All our disappointments and trials and apparent injustices will not disappear immediately, because the basis of most of them was sown by ourselves; but they can be so well understood and so intelligently met that we can rise above them and soar beyond them, and bring out before the world the richer and deeper meaning of our life.
It is a mighty thing to know that there are laws, so infinitely and divinely true and just that if we will reach out to them in aspiration, we can find ourselves in a new world of thought; and when we are discouraged or despairing, we can fill our lives with a royal optimism, for we can take in the grandeur, the beauty, the mercy and, above all, the superb justice of life. We can look into our own hearts and go back to the aspirations of our youth, when we were trying to do some of the grand things that earth life offers us opportunity to do, and we move away from the limited conception of one short life on earth and see the vision of another chance, and another chance, in repeated incarnations.
In the deeper sense there is no such thing as chance in life, but everything is a part of the universal laws. As far as we choose to work with them, to clasp hands with them though we see them not, we feel them in our innermost natures, in our hearts, and their light shines through our eyes. Thus we work in harmony with the divine qualities within ourselves and we make the great wheel of human evolution move more rapidly forward towards the goal of ultimate perfection. Man is something more than most of us ever dream of being, and the divine qualities of man are seeking to express themselves in every hour that we live, almost in every breath that we take. But the larger number of people have depended so long on the mentality alone that spiritual, knowledge has been to a large degree ignored.
The mind of man is indeed a wonderful power. When rightly used it can be a guide and a help, but it is not the highest part of man's nature. When this higher part impresses the mentality with those inspirations that distinguish real men and women from merely human beings, it brings joy into life to replace the travesty on real life that we see all about us. Then one can speak of the soul of man. Then one can know how beautiful, how superb, how grand the spiritual things in life really are. Then one realizes that just as today is an experience and tomorrow another experience, so is a lifetime just one experience in the progress of the soul of man towards perfection. It is not the only one; there are more and more, and still more. Thus the soul advances, becomes strong, grows powerful, and at last has the foresight to direct its own destiny. If a man will set his feet firmly on the path of self-directed evolution, believing in the eternal verities that make life joy, that make life peace, that make life powerful and just, then he will begin to hear the voice of the soul.