I will ask you to remember the point at which we had arrived when the first lecture was concluded. We had studied the nature, the existence of God, and we had come to the point where we realised one all-pervading Life, the One without a Second, the One Life permeating every form from the lowest mineral to the highest Ḍeva, nay–the Lord of the Universe, Īshvara Himself. He also is an embodiment of the Supreme Self, showing forth infinite Power, Wisdom and Activity, the attributes of the Self, showing them forth in supreme measure. But even in Īshvara Himself, the Lord of the Universe, we recognise that He is an embodiment, and that, as is written in the _Bhāgavaṭa_, there are many Īshvaras, many Shivas, Viṣhṇus, Brahmās, each triplet the centre of a Universe, each the Īshvara of a Kosmos. Realising that, then, as our foundation, and that everything in a Universe, in its measure, is animated by the One Life, inspired by the One Energy, moved by the One Will, we then descend from those great heights to study one phase of the embodiments, that which we know as MAN. Realise that Man is only one grade in this mighty hierarchy of existences, that, beginning with the mineral, passing onwards through the vegetable, then ascending through the animal, culminates in Man, more and more of the Supreme Life shown out stage by stage. You may remember how the great commentator Sāyaṇa pointed out that the Supreme Self in the mineral shows out only the quality of existence. Passing onwards to vegetable and animal, He shows out there the attribute of consciousness. Passing onwards to Man, He reveals Himself in fuller measure–Man, who remembers what is past, who forecasts that which is yet to come. While man heads these ascending grades in our normal world, we yet pass onward in thought to the great hierarchies of Super-Men, of Ḍevas–Angels, call them what you will–then still onwards and onwards, ever in ascending grades of Power, of Wisdom and of Activity, until we reach those mighty Spirits who stand, as it were, around Īshvara Himself, His Viceroys in the mighty Empire of our system, all subordinates and ministers, who carry out the will of the Supreme Lord.
Now in this great Ladder of Life, Man occupies what we may call a middle place. The characteristic of Man is that in him there is a warfare of Spirit and of Matter, striving for the mastery. In the mineral, in the vegetable, in the animal, there you find Matter is supreme; Spirit is most deeply veiled in the mineral, rather less veiled in the vegetable, still less in the animal. When we come to Man, in his lowest condition we find that Matter is still triumphant; then a struggle begins, and at last Spirit shows himself triumphant. Matter is spiritualised by the indwelling Life, and instead of being a fetter and a clog it becomes a vehicle, an expression of the indwelling, the directing, Spirit. The interest then of Man is that in all the stages of his long evolution the struggle is going on. First we see Matter is supreme. Gradually as Mind develops, the lowest manifestation of the Spirit, the struggle becomes marked; then slowly and gradually evolving, ever further and further, in the Saints, in the Sages of our race, we find the triumph of the human over the animal, the triumph of the Spirit over Matter; it is that mighty evolution that is the subject of our study this morning.
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Where shall we begin? We must necessarily begin in the bosom of Īshvara Himself, whence come forth the human Spirits, the Jīvāṭmās. For is it not written that as millions of sparks go forth from the flaming fire, so do the Jīvāṭmās go forth from Īshvara Himself; or again, do we not find it said by Shrī Kṛṣhṇa, speaking as the Supreme Īshvara: “A portion of Myself–Mamāmsha–a fragment of Myself, going forth into the world of Matter, draws round itself the senses, and mind as the sixth.” There you have the definition of Man. A portion of Īshvara Himself, a fragment of that illimitable Life, thrown down into the world of Matter, which incases the fragment within itself, which that fragment is destined to turn into a vehicle for the unfolded powers of God. As a seed is cast into the ground and within that seed lie hidden every power, every beauty, every possibility of the tree that sent it forth, so from the eternal Tree of Life of God Himself the seed is cast into the soil of our world, impotent, helpless, nescient–knowing nothing at first. But, inasmuch as it is a seed of God, it is destined to unfold Divine Powers, and to become in the course of ages the image of That from whom it has come forth. And so we find it written in the _Bṛhaṭ Āraṇyaka_, showing the contrast between the Supreme Āṭmā, the Paramāṭmā, and the Jivāṭmā, the human Spirit: “All-powerful the one, but powerless the other.” In the one, all power manifests; in the other, every potentiality is present. And so, you find also in the later religion of Christianity, that it is declared by the mouth of the Christ Himself: “Be ye therefore perfect, as your Father which in Heaven is perfect.” I ask all of you to realise what lies in those words of the Christ; as God in Heaven is perfect, such is the destiny of the children of men; not always to be weak and frivolous, not always to be childish and impotent, but to become, in the course of ages, _perfect_ as God Himself is perfect. That, and nothing less than that, is the destiny of every one of you. You may delay it; you may retard it; you may wander in many bye-ways and lose ages of time; but what is time, however long, to you who are eternal, for whom there is no limit of space or time, inasmuch as your essence is the essence of God Himself. Nothing less than that, your Future.