Sri Raghavan Iyer – USA
The Wisdom-Religion is everywhere, it assumes strange and manifold guises, but it is always sacrificial. Self-reliance is not to be thrown at others like a weapon, but rather, to be gently exemplified through love. Appeals to lesser authorities are mutually destructive, cancelled by the boundless authority of the universe, with which every man is directly linked without need of intermediary. Every man has his own access to God, as was known by the Puritans who spoke of the civil war within the breast of every human being. When we think of the very idea of God, we know that we have to negate and negate. We must negate until we begin to recognize the relevance of No-thing to everything. To see this in nature with the mind's eye takes time, but once seen, it is the Golden Thread. It shows itself in human affairs as partial representations of the mighty workings of the great wheel of the Law, which is no protector of the illusions of classes, groups, or nations, but which, as the Founding Fathers of the American Republic sensed, can ultimately be understood by all.
The American Constitution is at once a noble document and a threatening one. It is noble because it arose out of the same divine inspiration which is recalled by the third eye on the dollar bill. It is threatening to a country threatened by the magnitude of the Grand Canyon, but which offers every one of its children opportunities which they could use for the sake of all and exemplifies the meaning of the statement, "The whole of nature lies before you. Take what you can." In taking we should not forget to be thankful, not only on Thanksgiving Day, but every day. Then, Theosophy becomes a living power in the life of a man, who can ascend into the hidden realm of occultism in daily life. What is true of scientists like Einstein is even more true of the Brotherhood – that their knowledge cannot be communicated except when preliminary conditions are met. Primary among them, as Shankaracharya pointed out, is gratitude. But any and every man at any time could seek to meet them. Therefore, one of our Masters said, "Take one step in our direction and we will take one in yours."
A man may seek the Golden Thread that binds all religions, sciences and philosophies, and yet never be wholly successful unless he becomes a universal man, a Renaissance man, a man of all cultures. This is a task that is coeval with a whole lifetime. It would be good to begin it in childhood. It is never too late to start, but once started, it is not easy to pursue. Above all, it must be kept in mind with continuity of consciousness if we are to unravel the mystery of mysteries, the mystery of individuality. Who am I? Am I this or that? Am I the person who can be identified in terms of fears and hopes? Am I to be known by my likes and dislikes? Am I the person who masquerades behind a physical form of a certain age and sex, with advantages and disadvantages inherited from a whole line of remote ancestors? We know that over a thousand years every man has had a million ancestors. If a million ancestors have entered into the making of each human being, surely in the complex maze of psycho-physical ancestry there is no clue comparable to the Ariadne's Thread that Theseus used to escape the labyrinth.
Each of us is a labyrinth of complexity today. Everything is in print, but there is scarcely enough time to read or enjoy anything. We suffer from such a surfeit that it is tempting to become nominalists. Yet we know better than that, because we know that refinement of the soul and the culture of the man of the future have nothing to do with class. Therefore, Theosophy can speak to men of all kinds. It cannot be identified with the aristocracy, though H.P. Blavatsky helped them in the nineteenth century. It cannot be identified with the so-called working class, though it benefitted through the laying of the foundations of Theosophical socialism. Annie Besant founded the first trade union for girls in England, while B.P. Wadia founded the first trade union in India. Theosophists who must work in different ways must above all learn to respect diversity. We cannot have a secular fundamentalism wherein each one claims that his is the only diet, the only way. This merely creates more walls that divide men. Each must enjoy his own mode and make his own changes. A Theosophist who learns to set out on his own as an individual cannot make concessions to the conformities of a culture that is now dying. Its death throes, as well as its labour pains, are already evident both in the establishment and elsewhere. The young, with their hungers, sense that something is changing and that something has got to change. Sometimes, even though they love their parents, they cannot outwardly express their respect. In turn, sometimes parents love children so much that they cannot communicate to them the difficulty of the human enterprise. Many a man – almost every great American – knows at some level that God is not mocked, that, "As ye sow, so shall ye also reap." Nature is a teacher here. No man can teach this to another man except by the power of love and the force of example.
The modes of the future will require giving paramount emphasis to that greatest gift possessed by every human being – the most divine gift in the hands of man, treasured in the oral traditions of the past – the gift of sounding the Logos within the frame of the human body. It is the gift of making sound, of speech, of articulation. Appropriate articulation, with intrinsic negations, touches that which transcends all verbalization and is beyond verbal expression, that which must always baffle analysis and defy imitation. If we do not appreciate and respond to these opportunities in relation to self-discovery, it is because of the game of externalization, which people play when they come together in a variety of roles and contexts. We are all violating so constantly the most sacred commandment of the Master Jesus, "Judge not, lest ye be judged," that we are not even aware of it. Ceaseless judgment of other human beings – in small towns, in large cities, and in villages – pursued with loveless intransigence in small companionships and groups, makes us think that there is much we all have yet to do if our divine gifts ~ to become the basis of permanent well-being. What can we do – but not "do" in the sense in which "doing" is usually understood in a society which runs around too much? Can we feel what is in the hearts of the young? Of those who are aging? Can we draw larger circles? Can we learn to come together not to analyze why we cannot cooperate but to forget ourselves and to see beyond ourselves? In simple ways, can we accommodate human foibles for the sake of enhancing the good of all?
The good of all is the key to the Golden Thread. No wonder Pythagoras" disciple Plato taught that the best subject for meditation is the universal Good – to agathon. He who wishes to meditate on the universal Sun, the source of life and light, is invited to dwell on the sacred mantram, the Gayatri:
Aum bhur bhuvah svah
tatsaviturvarenyam bhargo devasya dhimahi
dhiyo yo nah prachodayat. Om.
Let us adore the supremacy of that divine sun who illuminates all, from whom all proceed, to whom all must return, whom we invoke to direct our understandings aright in our progress towards his holy seat.
Anyone who wishes to meditate upon the Sun must see beyond the planets, beyond the diversity of the myriads of galaxies, to the midnight sun in the darkness of the firmament. He must see the Sun as the source of one flame from which shoots a ray of light that kindles every spark in every atom. It is that which is differentiated into innumerable monads and is the only line that persists through its reflection within the human being. Therefore, this is the thread upon which hang like pearls all the personalities of human beings over an immensity of lives in the long journey already extending over some eighteen million years of human existence on this planet.
Every human being has played every role from Puck to Prospero. There is hardly a person who has not held the burden of kingly office. There is no human being who has not known the iniquity of poverty and deprivation. Thoreau understood this when he said, "I was in Judea once, in Greece, in Egypt, everywhere." Whitman knew this and sang of it with love in his heart in the Song of the Open Road so that we may all become compassionaters, brothers and lovers of all men, nations and races. It is a teaching sung throughout the history of this Republic. Theosophy is an integral part of the inheritance of the American Republic, originally conceived as a Republic of Conscience.
It has been forgotten. Men have tried to limit America. Men have tried to say that this is a three-religion country, and that each American has to choose between being a Catholic, a Protestant, or a Jew. Now, there is a great deal to learn from the Jewish tradition. It speaks of justice. It speaks of the joy of God when a man and woman come together. It is linked up with the honesty of the psychiatric tradition. Every human being is an honorary wandering Jew. But every human being can also learn from the Catholic tradition, in terms of its current emphasis upon simple decency and the beauty of simple things that can be made sacramental. Just as every boy who is born Jewish has the right of choosing to be as Jewish as he pleases, so every Catholic boy or girl must choose his or her own ways of making moments in daily life sacramental. Also, we are all Protestants because we are all protesting against the views of authority. This was at the very basis of the inspiration of the Constitution. It is imperfect, but it is too late merely to condemn the Protestant tradition. Perhaps it is not three cheers, but it is surely at least two, for the Protestant ethic. It came with the Reformation as a part of the work of Tsong-Kha-Pa and the Brotherhood for the sake of a spiritual reformation within Christianity, comparable to a concurrent spiritual reformation within Hinduism and Buddhism and earlier work within the Catholic church. The last Adept actually to work within the church was Nicolas of Cusa.
No religion or institution is exempt from the all-seeing gaze of Migmar, whose eye sweeps over slumbering Earth. Every sincere human being who seeks to become a true disciple of the divine discipline of the Wisdom-Religion has the protective aura of the hand of Lhagpa over his head. When things go wrong we cannot blame our Teachers. Accepting or assuming our own limitations, we must not limit the Brotherhood. Men have often limited and crucified those the Brotherhood sent. They did it again in a subtle psychological way in the nineteenth century. They will surely attempt to do it in this century and in the future, but will always fail because a great galaxy of Beings is involved, within a carefully designed plan providing lines of retreat to one and all. It was only the Buddha who could take the sacred decision in Kali Yuga, where all men have failed and no man can condemn another as a sinner, that although the rules cannot be changed (since occult laws are inviolable), nonetheless access could be made easier for more souls in every part of the world to the wisdom and its mystery temple.
The key always lies within. Tom Paine was prophetic when he anticipated the religion of the future as a trimming away of all the excrescences upon the original substratum. In the beginning was the Word, the Verbum. That was Theosophia. Students of Theosophy should not be sensitive to ill-considered criticisms by those non-Theosophists who are also non-everything else, due to the fear of belonging to anything. This fear has become an obsession among human beings consumed with fear for themselves and therefore of others. Instead of worrying about the opinions of others, Theosophists should display the courage of the lion wed to the gentleness of the dove.
Because Theosophy is ultimately beyond names, the Wisdom-Religion is known by many names in all times. Today, the largeness and magnificence of the Wisdom-Religion is a Golden Thread of retreat for any man who wishes to make his own contributions to the future or who wishes to come out and become separate from the cycles of the past which must run their course. He should learn from the old man in the Japanese film Ikiru, who, when suddenly told that he had only another week to live, said "Good heavens, what can I do in a week?" He tried everything he had tried before – drinking, doing this, doing that – but time was running out. Suddenly it occurred to him that he had never really lived, or at least that there was still something fundamental he had yet to learn about living. There was no time to make a trip to Tibet or Timbuctu. He had to find his inspiration where he was. He sat sadly, very sadly, until he saw some children playing. He saw how they were doing what Buckminster Fuller teaches – making a little go far – getting a great deal of fun out of very little. They did not even have a proper children's park, but they were having a whale of a time. Then he knew he had something which he could use, that he had tremendous gifts in certain areas. He rushed like a man on a mission and organized with all his wisdom a park where these and many more children might play and enjoy themselves. In effect, he followed the advice that the inventor of supermarkets, Edward Bellamy, gave in the nineteenth century as the secret of self-transcendence. Bellamy felt that the time would come when the only self-transcendence that people would know – and he said it would not work – would be the lesser mystery, sexual love. He predicted that men would desperately want some other mode of seeing beyond themselves, and advised that there is a joy and a thrill which every human being knows in losing himself within the welfare of others. Without this, mothers would not have brought their children to birth and suffered the trials that all mothers have suffered to see their children grow.
Life is a great teacher of the Self and of the teaching about the Self. The Golden Thread binds the various centres within the human constitution. In every human being the sutratman, the thread-soul, is sutratma buddhi. It is reflected in an innate sense of intuitive recognition, decency, fairness, kindness and minimum self-transcendence. In our culture minima have become profoundly important. They will be the foundations for the maxima of the future. Anyone who has contacted the Path of the Wisdom-Religion can, at the minimum, grasp the simple message, a reminder of what everyone already knows, that it is possible at this moment to make a difference to the moment of death. Follow the injunction of The Voice of the Silence:
"Great Sifter" is the name of the "Heart Doctrine," O Disciple. The wheel of the Good Law moves swiftly on. It grinds by night and day. The worthless husks it drives from out the golden grain, the refuse from the flour.
Every man can sift from experience what is worth saving from what cannot be taken or must later be discarded. This was part of the training of the disciples of Pythagoras. It is part of the American Dream. Every human being can, with psychological as well as social mobility, rearrange his critical luggage in the realm of the mind. This has to do with chains of self-reproductive thought, which cannot be stilled suddenly by a dramatic attempt at meditation. Meditation involves the hindering of hindrances. Patanjali's Yoga Sutra defines meditation as the hindering of the modifications of the thinking principle. Each must do this in his own way. In the old traditions of Tibet, where all the various schools of Buddhism respected each other and tolerance and civility were shown between the different orders, the distinctive teaching of the Gelukpa Yellow Cap tradition was that the best thing to meditate upon is meditation.
The Golden Thread eludes us when we try too hard to think about it. At the same time, when we do make the attempt we must think seriously about what it is and what it is not. The Golden Thread cannot be discerned in the realm of the physical body which lives through food – the annamaya kosha, the lowest, grossest sheath. The Golden Thread cannot be discerned in the pranamaya kosha, the sheath in which the lower currents of energy circulate. The Golden Thread is not to be picked up from those portions of the manomaya kosha which are made up of thought-patterns that come from outside and that do not originate from above. The Golden Thread can be picked up in that aspect of the manomaya sheath which negates externals and seeks the sheath of Atman, the vignanamaya kosha, having to do with vignam, discrimination or buddhi.
The Golden Thread can only be genuinely picked up in the realm of discriminative insight, available to every man. When it is picked up, then one must seek by negation to become self-conscious in one's awareness of continuity of consciousness. Thereby, manas itself can shine and then in turn illuminate the sutratma thread which is sutratma buddhi. This, then, can become manas sutratman. A person could become self-consciously a being who knows "I am I" and could proudly take his place in the cosmic scheme of things. Every human being is a unit ray reflecting the light of the Logos. It is the light with which every man was born, according to the gospel of St. John, and with which he may become resplendent in its fullness. It may be found by all men who choose the heroic steps outlined in the Book of the Golden Precepts:
Shun ignorance, and likewise shun illusion. Avert thy face from world deceptions: mistrust thy senses; they are false. But within thy body – the shrine of thy sensations – seek in the Impersonal for the "Eternal Man"; and having sought him out, look inward: thou art Buddha.
From Hermes, November 1976. Click HERE
Read THE TRIBUTE to Sri Raghavan Iyer HERE
The editor wishes to thank THEOSOPHY TRUST MEMORIAL LIBRARY
Link to Part one: