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The Hill of Discernment

By Alfred Trevor Barker

A Call to Action: Individual Regeneration or World Chaos

For our doctrines to practically react on the so-called moral code or the ideas of truthfulness, purity, self-denial, charity, etc., we have to popularise a knowledge of Theosophy. . . . For as everyone knows, total emancipation from authority of the one all-pervading power or law called God by the priests — Buddha, Divine Wisdom and enlightenment or Theosophy, by the philosophers of all ages — means also the emancipation from that of human law. Once unfettered and delivered from their dead-weight of dogmatic interpretations, personal names, anthropomorphic conceptions and salaried priests, the fundamental doctrines of all religions will be proved identical in their esoteric meaning. Osiris, Krishna, Buddha, Christ, will be shown as different names for one and the same royal highway to final bliss — NIRVANA. Mystical Christianity, that is to say that Christianity which teaches self-redemption through our own seventh principle — this liberated Para-Atma (Augoeides) called by some Christ, by others Buddha, and equivalent to regeneration or rebirth in spirit — will be found just the same truth as the Nirvana of Buddhism. All of us have to get rid of our own Ego, the illusory apparent self, to recognise our true self in a transcendental divine life. But if we would not be selfish, we must strive to make other people see that truth, to recognise the reality of that transcendental self, the Buddh, the Christ or God of every preacher. — Letters from The Masters of The Wisdom
We recognise no higher authority than the writer of that letter, and therefore at least all Theosophists will pay a good deal of attention to these words that come from a great Master of Wisdom, although it is from an abridged letter. The point that I want to draw attention to is that it does not very much matter what you call this universal Divine principle in nature — something which the Christian is accustomed to call "God"; which in older times in Egypt they referred to as Osiris; which the Buddhists look upon as Nirvana; which the Hindus look upon as Brahman, with the Teacher, the incarnate God, as Krishna — Krishna, whom many of you are probably familiar with now, through the Hindu epic of the Mahabharata, where he appears as the Divine Teacher speaking to Arjuna in very much the same way as the Jesus of the Gospels is the God incarnate giving his Divine message to the Theosophists of that age.

Now, the thing that I want to talk to you about tonight is the problem of how we are going to contribute something — to do our part in solving the crisis towards which Europe and the Western peoples generally are hurtling at breakneck speed. You and I know, if we have read the signs aright, that something is on the way, and that something we are going towards very, very fast; and unless there is a universal Spiritual awakening now immediately, particularly amongst the Western peoples — this civilization is in danger of destruction. Can the Theosophical Movement contribute to the solution of that problem in a dynamic and practical way which you and I as ordinary men and women can apply, or are we going to talk high metaphysics and be generally and beautifully vague — not really getting down to brass tacks in our own lives, and certainly not bringing any real influence to bear upon the hearts and minds of the people at large or the world in general?

One of the purposes of the Theosophical Movement is to change the hearts and minds of the peoples of the world, so that we can usher in a new world order based, not upon selfish and materialistic thinking and living, but upon the realization by each individual man, that he is literally in himself the Temple of an incarnate God — that he is an incarnate God. This Deity is his very essence, the root of his being, which means if you understand it correctly, that we — not as separate isolated personalities, but as Spiritual beings — are one with the heart of the Universe. Again not to be abstruse and metaphysical, but striving to find words to express the sublimity of the idea, the Universal Self is that which is the same in you and in me: that something in which we live and move and have our being; which is nearer to us than hands and feet, and closer than breathing. All men and women can, if they will, have at their command the knowledge, the wisdom, the power, to solve the world problem we are facing today, and stop this headlong rush along the broad road to destruction. Do you believe that to be a practical possibility? I do, and that is why I am here tonight; and every man and woman who seizes hold of the ideas that I am going to try and lay before you can in proportion to their sincerity, their determination and self-abnegation, become resolvers of chaos, first in their own lives, then in their homes, then in their towns and in their nations. Thus by transforming and changing the lives of individuals, they become instruments for the universal splendor of Divine power, wisdom and love to flow into the world. Wherever we live we shall be able to bring to bear that resolving, ameliorating, inspiriting, purifying, energizing, dynamic force of the Supreme itself.

It is useless to talk about serving humanity in some vague way, and appealing to people in the mass — it cannot be done if we cannot go to a single individual and meet his needs and problems. And unless you and I as individual Theosophists are convinced from having proved it in our own lives, from having conquered ourselves, and are therefore able honestly and sincerely to declare a victory where we previously had defeat, we cannot do anything. It is useless to attempt to solve the world problem until we have solved our own problem. Theosophy is there if you want it; and if you don't want it, it has nothing to say to you. If you have suffered, if you have struggled, if you have had to register defeat in your moral and spiritual life — (and show me the man or woman who has not) and more, if you see men and women and children around you that you want to help by bringing to them the saving and regenerating power of Spiritual knowledge — then you will come to recognise that you never will be able to do it, until you have learnt the secret of regenerating your own life and making of yourself a reborn man, a spiritual man. Does this mean years and years and years of studying endless books, and a tremendously complex, metaphysical and philosophical system; or is it something that you can apply here and now? Again, there is no time to teach men abstruse metaphysics and philosophy in this hour of universal crisis. The World today is on the brink of collapse, and it is not an economic collapse primarily, but a spiritual one, as all collapses are. If a man collapses it is because his spiritual life is at fault, and if our own nation, and if our own homes, are in chaos or misery or disharmony, it is because the spiritual life of that home, the spiritual lives of the individuals concerned in it, are wrong. It is the mission of the Theosophical Movement at all times, but particularly in these hours when we are hurtling to destruction, to change this state of affairs and to change it rapidly — but this means you and me. You cannot leave it to somebody else. The human race is made up of individuals, and you are one of them.

Perhaps by now you will be wondering how these things are to be accomplished. First you will have to ask yourself the question: Do you believe that in your own inmost essence there is Divinity, Power, Wisdom, Knowledge? If you believe in it because you have experienced its strength and its peace, then your problem is how to incarnate it in your life so that you become a center of conscious, dynamic, spiritual energy — going out into the world as ordinary men and women but capable spiritually of doing extraordinary things. That is the first question you have got to ask yourself: Do you believe in the Divinity and power of your own innermost nature, and if so how are you to reach it and make it effective so that it will not only transform your own life, but transform the environment around you? Do you believe that the Sermon on the Mount is a practical affair, a practical statement that can be lived in this modern world by ordinary men and women; or do you regard it as a beautiful ideal to be put on the shelf somewhere and worshiped from a distance — to dream about as a possibility for us in some infinitely remote future; or do you think that that great master mind that lived and worked in Palestine meant what he said when he commanded all men to be perfect as their Father in Heaven is perfect? So many of us just shrug our shoulders and say "Stuff, platitudes, impractical nonsense!" What do YOU think about it? I believe it is not only practical, but that it is sheer folly to ignore it.

Of course it means, if you are going to tackle it, that you have to begin with being honest with yourselves, and with others. It means sincerity; it means truth in daily living; it means love at all times and in all circumstances and in all situations. I do not mean personal love, I mean Divine love, shining like the sun impersonally for all men, whether you like them or whether you dislike them; whether they are your friends or you think they are your foes. And therefore it means unselfishness, real unselfishness, absolute unselfishness, to the extent and power of your being.

There are four keynotes: honesty, unselfishness, love, and purity of life, of beauty of thought, heart and mind. Is that an impossible standard? If we mean business, it must not be an impossible standard. It has got to be the only standard that is worth living by, and it is the condition of our success, it is the condition of our power to save the situation today.

Now let me tell you — you cannot change yourselves, make yourselves over over-night, conquer yourselves. I cannot conquer myself as I am, with my own feeble personal will. I cannot do it, you cannot do it — and I am differentiating now the personal man from his Divine counterpart of which he is the child. Somehow you have to find the means of dropping that personal self, losing your ego, losing your life and finding it in a spiritual regeneration and rebirth. You have got to find the means of uniting the scattered parts of your being which are now being pulled hither and thither in this direction and that, so that you are enabled to conquer yourself and transform your own life, and affect the environment for good in which you live. And if you have reached the point where you have suffered enough, when you really hate the rotten, weak side of your nature, with its faults and weaknesses, and have within you that yearning of your heart towards what you may call God or Deity, or Goodness or Wisdom — then you can do something. But make no mistake about it, it does mean that you will have to exert every ounce of physical, emotional, psychic, intellectual and spiritual powers that you possess. You will have to go all out for it, and you will have to dedicate everything that you are and have. Every day surrender your personal will and your personal ego; and then if you know how to pray in the real sense of the word — which means the upward urge of your purified desire or aspiration to the God within you, to the universal and supreme Spirit that dwells within you and around you everywhere — it will flow into you, it will make you a new being instinct with power to change yourself and the world. You cannot do it by yourself, but you need the power of the Supreme itself — God, Buddha, Christ, it does not matter what you call it. It is a Divine power, a Godlike power; and every one of us is an incarnate God, and we have only got to learn how to lose ourselves, forget ourselves and make ourselves instruments, willing to go anywhere, do anything, that is dictated by that inward power of Divinity, to get a new direction in our lives, and a God-directed one; not an impossible dream, but a minute to minute and hour to hour and day to day direct guidance and inspiration. That can be done by every man and woman that lives if they want to do it. Moreover it is the only thing that makes life worth living.

There is an old saying that one man and God is a majority, and he is, because one man dedicated, cleansed, purified, filled with the power of the spirit, can work what seem to the ordinary man and woman miracles. They can change the lives of people and help them to a recognition of their own divine nature. I have seen it work, and I have seen men and women who have all their lives registered spiritual and moral defeat transformed by just these ideas — and they are ordinary men and women, and their faces reflect the splendor of a risen sun, and they are able to bring into the lives of others, into their businesses, into their factories — aye, into the very Parliaments, the strength, the peace and spiritual vision that is theirs. And that work is going on, but it is not going on fast enough, and the Theosophical Movement must wake up and do something about it. Wherever there is a Theosophical Lodge, provided those who are responsible for it have dedicated themselves strongly enough, they will become centers of that holy and spiritual power which will enable them to take the message of good news, glad tidings, hope, and spiritual beneficence everywhere they go.

The world problem is the individual problem. Once we change ourselves, and what is more, invoke the Holy Spirit within us to bring about that alchemical transmutation and change which can only take place in a dedicated life, then we will begin really to do something. And when we can live in terms of absolute honesty and sincerity with ourselves and others, a life of purity, selflessness, and a life of love, then we have taken the first step — the first step mark you — on the small, ancient and narrow way that leads to Life; but we shall have done enough, even in that short time, to have made a profound impression upon the collective state of the world's misery. Just imagine, if all the Theosophical and religious communities throughout the world were filled with regenerated, vital, spiritual, purposeful men and women. Is there any limit to the possibilities? None. There would be no universal chaos under those conditions. We have got to work a spiritual revolution, and we cannot do it unless we work a spiritual revolution in ourselves, and that we can do if we want to. Every man and woman of us has the responsibility to be up and doing in this hour.



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