THEOSOPHY, Vol. 38, No. 2, December, 1949
(Pages 69-71; Size: 10K)

YOUTH-COMPANIONS ASK--

[Article number (27) in this Q&A Department]

ROBERT CROSBIE'S constant emphasis on the need for "following the lines laid down" seems to suggest imitation more than original thinking. Is it not implicit in the doctrine of growth and evolution that we MOVE ON beyond the formulations of all past and present teachers?

We always have to move on beyond formulations, for they are only mechanical approximations of a truth perceived. No real teacher ever thinks of a formulation as anything more than this -- something that may serve to carry an idea across to another mind and then be discarded. But "the lines laid down" are more than formulations or specific directions. The lines which H. P. Blavatsky laid down for us to follow were really lines of force drawing men on toward greater expression of their powers for the good of a greater number of people.

Take, for instance, the Three Objects of the Theosophical Society. How soon, do we think, will the First Object of the Society be outdated? When shall we have progressed beyond the need for a nucleus of universal brotherhood? As for the Second Object, the prevailing sectarianism is enough to show us that we have by no means demonstrated for ourselves the importance of the study of comparative religions, else bigotry would be only a word in the dictionary and all men would unite on the platform of the truths held in common. Then, how close are we to explaining all the laws of nature, and when will the time come when we shall have drawn out and mastered all the "psychical powers latent in man"?

There is no imitation in following these lines of direction, and yet we perhaps would do well not to call it "original thinking," either. Something in that phrase suggests separateness -- possibly we think of ourselves as busily creating great thoughts whose genius is due to us alone. But this is not so, for are not our thoughts built on assumptions passed down to us, for better or for worse, by our predecessors? Willy-nilly we are following some "lines laid down" ages ago in our common human nature. The illusion of our own complete originality in giving form to ideas is one thing which a "study of ancient and modern religions, philosophies and sciences" will promptly dispel for us.

Yet the true meaning of originality is to be found in this very process we go through of ourselves evolving an idea. No matter how apparently familiar it may be to other people, it is a new idea when we envision it. We cannot expect to be little gods who say, "Let there be light," and forthwith the heavens are aflame for the whole world to see and wonder; but we can interiorly utter that command and create a mental illumination within ourselves. The fire of mind, made manifest at each step forward in the "lighting up of Manas," makes the most commonplace truth bright and new for the man who "creates" it and for those who witness and share his discovery. Our progress does not consist in discovering things which nobody knew before, but in encountering and mastering those things which were previously unknown to us, and in helping to make them understandable to others who may also be ignorant of them.

Can it be said that holding the idea of a personal God could actually affect a man's courage in facing life -- or is this an unwarrantable assumption?

There is nothing at all unwarrantable in that assumption, provided we mean by "holding the idea of a personal God" that the person's whole nature is impregnated with that concept. In a large majority of cases, though, since human beings are not completely logical, people have accepted certain aspects of a personal God as ideals of virtuous and fearless living, without following through all the implications of their belief. Generally speaking, of course, the fear of death is vastly greater in our Western lands than in those where the old Eastern religions such as Buddhism hold sway.

Is it possible to imagine that a being who thought himself weak and sinful and dependent for his being and his salvation on some Force outside himself would ever see Life as a challenge which he was eager to meet? The answer is obvious. The man who considers himself the creature of a God, without power and rights of his own, is not going to be found triumphing over obstacles (unless some such experience succeeds in wrenching him free from his depressing ideology). "The whole solar system's weight of life," wrote Mr. Judge in the Ocean, "is pitted against the power to resist focussed in one small human frame." Anyone who can even temporarily glory in this seemingly unequal contest must be sustained by a feeling that he partakes of a very real divinity. It is not that a man who believes in a personal God cannot be courageous, but that his courage will manifest itself in spite of his ideology. [Note: "Ocean" refers to the book entitled "The Ocean of Theosophy".--Compiler.]

What causes young children to make up stories out of their own heads and pass them off as if they actually happened, or to exaggerate their own experiences all out of proportion to the truth? This isn't exactly in the category of deliberate lying, and yet it seems to be something which should not be left uncontrolled.

Well, if we pass over cases where the child has learned that telling great tales will bring him desired attention from surrounding adults, we can imagine several causes for this tendency. Which, if any, are right would be difficult to determine -- a child's mind isn't put together like a watch to tick in a predetermined way. But we know, for instance, that the infant does not really learn to see for some time after birth. This is because the eye, in transmitting an image to the brain, reverses the picture, and the baby has to learn to right the image again when it reaches the brain. May there not be some mental parallel to this situation, requiring the child to make an adjustment between things that his imagination suggests to him as real (which we call subjective) and things which he must learn, in common with all around him, to consider as real and objective?

After all, the child is fresh from the state of Devachan, a world wherein his thoughts were very real -- the only reality, in fact. Is it any wonder that the internal world still holds the dominant place in his concept of reality? And may this not make him relate his fancies as though they were facts? Also, the child's circle of activity is so small that his physical and mental horizons are drawn in close around him. What of those soul-memories of lives past and great deeds done, perhaps -- must they not be crowding and straining against the narrow confines of his new-brain limitations?

Perhaps giving the child real heroes to read about and emulate would suffice to take his mind from himself as the fancied centre of great deeds. But if a child is given enough opportunity to use and expand his developing physical and psychic powers, he should pass from the world of imagination into the world of action quite naturally and painlessly.


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