THEOSOPHY AND LIFE’S DEEPER PROBLEMS
by Annie Besant
THEOSOPHICAL CONVENTION LECTURES
Amid the excitements of the present National Week, amid all the Conferences on matters of importance to the Nation, amid the discussions–industrial, commercial, political–which are agitating this great City, and will agitate it during the next week, we, of the Theosophical Society, have ventured to invite you here to consider not the passing concerns of the moment but the perpetual concerns of the life dealing with the eternal interests, the life wherein alone permanence can ever be found.
I have chosen for the subject of our Convention Lectures, those great problems of thought which ever challenge the attention of the highest mind of man. That question of questions of the nature, of our conception, of God; the nature of man, his relation to the Universe in which he finds himself–the evolution of an intelligent spiritual Being amid the transitory phenomena of passing worlds; then that profound question of conduct, what is Right and what is Wrong? is it possible to find a standard of ethics? is it possible to find a canon of conduct which will guide us in that tangled path of action which is one of the hardest problems of human life? Then, lastly, the meaning of Brotherhood, on what it is based, in what it consists, what duties it imposes upon us, what is to be our attitude to our brethren on every side. These questions, that on these four mornings we are to consider, are not questions of the passing time, but are the problems that confront humanity at all the stages of its evolution. Not only is that so, but in this alone can we find peace, amid the turmoil of the world; not in the constant struggles of outer life may peace be found, but in the heart of peace which abides in the ETERNAL, that can remain peaceful in the midst of storms, amid friends, amid enemies, amid neutrals; only in the Peace of the ETERNAL may the human Spirit find abiding rest. When that centre is found, when that knowledge of God which is eternal life has been realised by man, then, and then alone, can action be wisely taken, not swayed by passion, not moved by prejudices, having nothing to gain which the outer world can give and nothing to lose which that world can take away; asking for nothing, desiring nothing, save to be an instrument of the Will that works for Righteousness, seeing in the world around us the field of action where God is working, and where we can be co-workers with God. There, and there alone, can you work above the guṇas, using them for the Divine purposes, but not permitting yourself to fall under the glamour of their phenomena; making use of all: of the passions of man, of the aspirations of man, of the good and of the evil, turning them all to send man forward on the path which God has marked out for human progress. That is the high activity which finds its expression in Service, and that can only be where God has been realised, and where the Spirit of man, consciously one with the Spirit Eternal, sees everywhere one Will, one Wisdom, and one Activity, and men, in all their different workings, the instruments whereby the Divine Will is worked out in evolution.
Hence, our study in these four morning hours is not apart from the day’s activity, but is really the source, the spring, of that activity; and so, loving all because in all the Self abides; seeing the inner Self, unblinded by outer appearances; thus may work the messengers of the great Hierarchy that guides our world. It is to a treading of the path that leads to Service, it is for that, that I invite your attention to these profound problems of the spiritual life of man.
Now, to-day, we are first to consider the nature, the existence, of that One Life in which we all subsist, and the views that man has taken thereof.