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IN THE . . .
OUTER COURT



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ANNIE
BESANT



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IN THE OUTER COURT.



IN THE
OUTER COURT



BY

ANNIE BESANT



FIFTH REPRINT



The Theosophlcal Publishing Society
London

1915



T (p



CONTENTS.

Purification 9

Thought Control 45

The Building of Character 81

Spiritual Alchemy 119

On the Threshold ,....157



The above are the verbatim reports of five Lectures given in
the Blavatsky Lodge, London, at the Headquarters of the
European Section of the Theosophical Society, during August,
1895.



900



PURIFICATION



LECTURE I.

Purification.

If it were possible to place ourselves in thought
at a centre in space from which we might see the
course of evolution, from which we might study the
history of our chain of worlds rather as they might
be seen in imagination, in picture, than in the
appearance that they present as physical, astral and
mental, I think that thus looking outwards on these
evolving groups, this evolving humanity, we might
figure the whole in a picture. I see a great
mountain standing in space, with a road that winds
round the mountain, round and round until the
summit is reached. And the turns on this road
round the mountain are seven in number, and on
each turn I see seven stations where pilgrims stay
for a while, and within these stations they have
to Climb round and round.* As we trace the road

*The pilgrimage of humanity during its present cycle of evolu-
tion consists in passing seven times round a chain of seven globes ;
on each globe a stay is made of many millions of years, and of these
stays there are forty-nine — seven globes each dwelt on seven times.



10 /// the Outer Court.

upwards along this spiral track we see how it ends
at the summit of the mountain — that it leads to a
mighty Temple, a Temple as of white marble,
radiant, which stands there shining out against the
ethereal blue. That Temple is the goal of the
pilgrimage, and they who are in it have finished
their course — finished it so far as that mountain is
concerned — and remain there only for the help of
those who still are climbing. If we look more
closely at tlie Temple, if we try to see how that
Temple is built, we shall see in the midst of it a
Holy of Holies, and round about the centre are
Courts, four in number, ringing the Holy of Holies
as concentric circles, and these are all within the
Temple ; a wall divides each Court from its
neighbours, and to pass from Court to Court the
wayfarer must go through a gateway, and there is
but one in each encircling wall. So all who would
reach the centre must pass through these four gate-
ways, one by one. And outside the Temple there
is yet another enclosure — the Outer Court — and
that Court has in it many more than are seen within
the Temple itself. Looking at the Temple and the
Courts and the mountain road that winds below,
we see this picture of human evolution, and the
track along which the race is treading, and the
Temple that is its goal. And along that road



Purification. 1 1

round the mountain stands a vast mass of human
beings, climbing indeed, but cUmbing so slowly,
rising step after step ; sometimes it seems as though
for every step forward there is a step backward,
and though the trend of the v/hole mass is upwards
it mounts so slowly that the pace is scarcely
perceptible. And this asonian evolution of the race,
climbing ever upwards, seems so slow and weary
and painful that one wonders how the pilgrims
have the heart to climb so long. And tracing it
round and round the mountain millions of years
pass in the tracing, and millions of years in following
a pilgrim, and while he treads it for these millions
of years an endless succession of lives seems to
pass, all spent in climbing upwards — we weary even
in watching these vast multitudes who climb so
slowly, who tread round after round as they mount
this spiral pathway. Watching them we ask our-
selves : Why is it that they climb so slowly ? How
is it that these millions of men take so long a
journey ? Why are they ever striving upwards to
this Temple that stands at the top ?

Looking at them, it seems that they travel so
slowly because they see not their goal, and
understand not the direction in which they are
travelling. And as we watch one or another on
the pathway, we see that they are always straying



12 /// the Outer Court.

aside, attracted hither and thither, and with no
purpose in their going ; they walk not straight
onwards as though intent on business, but wander
hither and thither, hke children running after a
blossom here, and chasing a butterfly there. So
that all the time seems to be wasted, and but little
progress is made when the night falls upon them
and the day's march is over. Looking at them, it
does not seem as though even progress in intellect,
slow as that also is, made the pace very much more
rapid. When we look at those whose intellect is
scarcely developed, they seem after each day of life
to sink to sleep almost on the place they occupied
the day before ; and when we glance over those
who are more highly evolved so far as intellect is
concerned, they too are travelling very, very slowly,
and seem to make small progress in each day of life.
And looking thus at them, our hearts grow weary
with the climbing, and we wonder that they do
not raise their eyes and understand the direction in
which their path is taking them.

Now that Outer Court that some of the climbers
in front are reaching, that Outer Court of the
Temple, seems not only to be gained by the path
that winds round and round the hill so often ;
for as we look at it, we see that from many points
in this spiral pathway the Outer Court may be



Purification. 13

reached, and that there are briefer ways that wind
not round the hill but go straight up its side, paths
that may be climbed if a traveller's heart be brave
and if his limbs be strong. And trying to see
how men find their way more swiftly than their
fellows to the Outer Court, we seem to gather that
the first step is taken off this long spiral road, the
first step is taken straight in the direction of this
Outer Court that men can reach from so many
points in the long roadway, when some Soul v/ho
has been travelling round and round, for millen-
niums perhaps, recognises for the first time a
purpose in the journey, and catches for a moment
a gleam from the Temple on the summit. For that
White Temple sends rays of light over the
mountain side, and now and then a traveller raises
his eyes from the flowers and the pebbles and the
butterflies upon the path, and the gleam seems to
catch his glance and he looks upward at the
Temple, and for a moment he sees it ; and after
that first momentary glimpse he is never again quite
as he was before. For, though but for a moment,
he has recognised a goal and an ending; for a
moment he has seen the summit towards which he
is climbing, and the pathway, steep, but so much
shorter, that leads directly up the hill-side beyond
which the Temple gleams. And in that moment of



14 In the Outer Court.

recognising the goal that hes in front, in that
moment of understanding, if it be but for an instant,
that instead of climbing round and round full seven
times and making so many little circles on the
upward path — for the path winds upon itself as
well as round the hill, and each spiral round the
mountain side has seven turns within itself and they
too take long in the treading — when tlie Soul has
caught these glimpses of its goal and of the directer
pathway that leads towards it, then it understands
for that moment that the pathway has a name and
that the name is " Service," and that those who
enter on that shorter pathway must enter it
through a gate on which " Service of Man "
is shining in golden letters ; it understands that
before it can reach even the Outer Court of the
Temple it must pass through that gateway and
realise that life is meant for service and not for self-
seeking, and that the only way to climb upwards
more swiftly is to climb for the sake of those who
are lagging, in order that from the Temple more
effective help may be sent down to the climbers
than otherwise would be possible. As I said, it
is only the flash of a moment, only a glimpse that
comes and that vanishes again ; for the eye has only
been caught by one of these rays of light that
come down from the mountain. And there are so



Purification. 15

many attractive objects scattered along this winding
path that the Soul's glance is easily again drawn
towards them ; but inasmuch as once it has seen
the light, there is the possibility of seeing it again
more easily, and when once the goal of achievement
and the duty and power of service has had even
this passing imaginative realisation in the Soul, then
there remains a desire to tread that shorter pathway,
and to find a way straight up the hill to the Outer
Court of the Temple.

After that first vision, gleams come from time to
time, and on day after day of this long climbing the
gleam returns to the Soul, and each glimpse perhaps
is brighter than the last, and we see that these
Souls who have just for a moment recognised that
there is a goal and purpose in life, begin to climb
with more steadfastness than their fellows ; although
they are still winding their way round the hill, we
see that they begin to practise more steadily what
we recognise as virtues, and that they give them-
selves more persistently to what we recognise as
religion, which is trying to tell them how they may
chmb, and how the Temple may finally be won.
So that these Souls who have caught a gleam of
this possible ending, and feel some drawing towards
the path that leads thereunto, become marked out
a little from their fellows by their diligence and



1 6 In the Outer Court.

heedfulness, and they go to the front of this
endless multitude that is climbing along the road ;
they travel more swiftly, because there is more
purpose in their travelling, because they are taking
a direction which they begin to understand, and
they begin, though very imprerfectly, to walk with
a definite aim, and to try to live with a definite
purpose. And although they scarcely yet recognise
what that purpose in the end will be — it is rather
a dim intuition than a definite understanding of the
way — still they are no longer roaming aimlessly
from side to side, sometimes a little upwards and
sometimes a little downwards ; they are now
climbing steadily up the winding pathway, and each
day of life sees them climb a little faster, until
they are distinctly ahead of the multitudes in
spirituality of life, in the practice of virtue, and in
the growing desire to be of service to their fellow-
men. They are in this way travelling more swiftly
towards the summit, though still on the winding
road, and they are beginning to try to train
themselves in definite ways ; they are beginning
also to try to help their neighbours, that they too
may climb with them, and as they are making their
way a little more swiftly forward they are always
reaching out helpmg hands to those around them,
and trying to take them with them upwards more



Purification. 1 7

swiftly along the path. And presently, with those
they are thus loving and serving, they are met by
a form that is beautiful, though at first somewhat
stern in aspect, which speaks to them and tells them
something of a shorter way ; we know that the
form which comes to meet them is Knowledge,
and that Knowledge is beginning to whisper to
them something of the conditions of a swifter
progress ; the Religion that has been helping them
in the practice of virtue is, as it were, the sister of
this Knowledge, and the Service of Man is sister
to it also, and the three together begin to take
charge of the Soul, until at last a brighter dawning
comes, and a fuller recognition, and you hear this
Soul beginning to make definite to itself the purpose
of its climbing, and not only to dream of a future,
but to make that dream more definite in its purpose,
and you find it recognising service as the law of
life. Now, with deliberate intention, a promise to
help in the progress of the race breathes softly
forth from the lips of the Soul ; and that is the
first vow the Soul makes, to give itself sometime
to the service of the race — a vow not yet of full
purpose, but still with the promise of purpose
hidden within it. It has been written in a Scripture
that one of the great Ones who trod the shorter
road, one of the great Ones who climbed the steeper

B



1 8 In the Outer Court,

path, and Who chmbed it so swiftly that He kit
behind Him all His race and stood alone in the
forefront, the firstfruits, the promise of humanity ;
it is said of Him, Who in later ages was known as
the Buddha, that " He perfected His vow, Kalpa
after Kalpa " ; for the achievement that was to
crown His life had to begin with the promise of
service, and it is that vow of the Soul which links
it to the great Ones that have gone before, that
makes as it were the link that draws it to the
probationary path, the path that leads it into and
across the Outer Court, up to the very gateway of
the Temple itself. At last, after many lives of
striving, many lives of working, growing purer and
nobler and wiser, life after life, the Soul makes a
distinct and clear speaking forth of a will that now
has grown strong ; and when that will announces
itself as a clear and definite purpose, no longer the
whisper that aspires, but the word that commands,
then that resolute will strikes at the gateway which
leads to the Outer Court of the Temple, and strikes
with a knocking which none may deny — for it has
in it the strength of the Soul that is determined
to achieve, and that has learned enough to under-
stand the vastness of the task that it undertakes.
For that Soul that now is standing at the outer
gateway of this Court, knows what it is striving to



Purificatton. 19

accomplish, realises the vastness of the difficulty
that lies in front. For it means nothing less than
this, that it is going to come out of its race — that
race which is to be climbing round and round and
round for endless millenniums, still passing from
globe to globe, round that which we know as the
chain, passing round and round that chain in weariful
succession ; this brave Soul that now is knocking
at the outer gateway means to climb that same
mountain in but a few human lives, means to take
step by step, breasting the hill at its steepest, the
path that will lead it right upwards into the very
Holy of Holies ; and it m.eans to do within a space
of tim_e that is to be counted by but a few lives, that
which the race will take myriads of lives to
accomphsh — a task so mighty that the brain might
almost reel at its difficulty ; a task so great that
of the Soul that undertakes it one would almost say
that it had begun to realise its own divinity, and
the omnipotence which lies enshrined within itself.
For to do in a few lives from this point of the
cycle that the race has reached, what the race as
a whole is going to do, not only in the races that
lie in front, but in the rounds that also lie in the
future — to do that is surely a task worthy of a God,
and the accomplishment means that the divine
power is perfecting itself within the human form.



20 In the Outer Court.

So the Soul knocks at the gateway, and the door
swings open to let it through, and it passes into the
Outer Court. Through that Court it has to go,
traversing it step by step until it reaches the first
of the gateways that lead into the Temple itself —
the first of those four gateways, every one of which
is one of the great Initiations, beyond the first of
which no Soul may tread that has not embraced the
Eternal for evermore, and that has not given up
its interest in the mere transitory things that lie
around. For when once a Soul has passed through
the gateway of the Temple, it goeth out no more ;
once it passes through that gateway into one of the
inner Courts that lie beyond it and that lead to the
Holy of Holies, it goes out never again. It has
chosen its lot for all the millenniums to come ;
it is in the place which none leaves when once he
has entered it. Within the Temple itself the first
great Initiation lies. But the Soul whose progress
we are tracing is as yet only going to prepare itself
in this Outer Court of the Temple, in order that
in lives to come it may be able to ascend the
seven steps to the first gateway, and await
permission to pass over the threshold into the
Temple itself. What then shall be its work in
the Outer Court ? Hovv shall it lead its lives
therein, in order that it may become worthy to



Purification. 2 1

knock at the Temple gate ? That is the subject
that Hes in front of us — the subject I am going to
try to put before you, if I may speak but to one
or two to whom the speaking may appeal. For
well I know, brothers and sisters mine, in depicting
this Outer Court, that I may say much that may
seem unattractive, much that may seem even
repellent. Hard enough is it to find the way to the
Outer Court ; difficult enough is it to practise
religion and all the virtues wiiich m.ake the human
Soul fit even to knock at the gateway of this outer
stage, this Outer Court around the Temple, and
they who enter into that Court have made great
progress in their past ; it may be, it will be, tliat
to some the life that is led therein may scarce seem
attractive — to some who have not yet definitely
recognised the aim and the end of life. For, mind
you, none are in the Outer Court save those who
have definitely vowed themselves to service, those
who have given everything, and who have asked
for nothing in return save the privilege of serving,
who have definitely recognised the transitory
nature of earthly things, who have definitely
embraced the task which they desire to achieve,
who have turned their backs on the flowery paths
which ^o round the mountain, and are resolutely
determined to climb straight upwards, no matter



22 In the Outer Court,

what the cost, no matter what the strain as day after
day of life swiftly succeed each other. There is
to be struggle, and much of struggle, in this Outer
Court, for much has to be done therein in brief
space of tim^e.

The divisions of this woris: that I have made are
arbitrar}^ They are not steps, as it were, across the
Court, for each of these divisions has to be taken at
one and tlie same time and is always being worked
at ; it is a simultaneous training, and is not divided
into stages as I have had to divide it for cleai -
ness of explanation. I have called these divisions
" Purification," and " Thought Control," and the
" Building of Character," and " Spiritual Alchemy,"
and " On the Threshold." These divisions do not
mean that each is to be taken separately, because all
these things have to be done at one and the same
time, and the Soul that is spending its lives in the
Outer Court is busy with all this work in all the lives
that it spends there ; it is these tasks that it must
partially, at least, have learned to accomplish, ere
it dare stand at the Temple gate itself. And if I
take them now one by one, it is in order that
we may understand them the better ; but we must
also understand throughout my sketching of these
steps, that it is not perfect accomplishment of any
one of them that the Soul must have achieved ere



Purification. 23

it may reach the gateway of the first Initiation ; but
only that it must have partially accomplished, only
that it must be striving with something of success,
only that it must understand its work and be doing
it with diligence ; when the work is perfectly
accomplished, it will be in the Holy of Holies itself.
Purification then is to be part of its work, self-
purification, the purification of the lower nature,
until every part of it vibrates perfectly in harmony
with the higher, until everything is pure that
belongs to the temporary part of man, to that which
we call the personality, that which has not in it the
permanent individual, but is only the assemblage
of qualities and characteristics which that individual
gathers round it in the course of each of its many
lives — all the outer qualities and attributes round
the Soul, all these garments in which it clothes
itself, and which it carries wath it often life after
life, all that which it takes up as it comes back to
incarnation, all that which it builds during incarna-
tion, all that which the permanent individuality
gathers round itself during earth-life and out of
which it extracts the essence in order to transfuse
it into its own growing and eternal Self. A phrase
that very well symbolises the position of the Soul
at this moment, when it has deliberately entered this
Outer Court and sees the work stretching in front



24 In the Outer Court.

of it, a phrase that very well describes its attitude
has been used lately by Mr. Sinnett. It is the
phrase of " allegiance to ihe Higher Self," a useful
expression, if it be understood. It means the
dehberate decision that all that is temporary and
that belongs to the lower personality shall be cast
aside ; that each life that has to be lived in this
lower world shall be devoted to the single purpose
of gathering together material which is useful, which
then shall be handed on to the Higher One who lives
and grows out of that which the lower gathers ;
that the lower self — realising that it is essentially
one with the greater that is above it, that its only
work in the world is to come here as the temporaiy
active agency which gathers together that of which
its permanent Self has need — determines that the
whole of its life down here shall be spent in that
service, and that the life's purpose is merely the
gathering of material which then shall be taken
back to the Higher, who is really the essence of
itself, and who shall thus be enabled to build up
the ever-growing individuality which is higher than
the personality of a life. The " allegiance to the
Higher Self " means the recognition of this service
by the lower, the living of the lower no longer for
itself but for the purpose of serving that which
endures ; so that all the life in the Outer Court is



PiirificoJion. 25

to be this life of definite allegiance to the Higher,
and all the work that is done in the Outer Court is
to be work that is done for the sake of that
greater One, who is now realised as the true Self
that is to endure throughout the ages, and that is to
be built ever into fuller and fuller life by this
deliberate, loyal service of the messenger that it
sends into the outer world.

In this work that which is sometimes spoken of in
the great Scriptures of the world as the preliminary
step for the successful searching after the Soul, is
one that I am imagining as now lying behind the
Soul. You may remember to have read in one of
the greatest of the Upanishads, that if a man would
find the Soul the first thing to do is to " cease from
evil ways " ; but that I am presuming the Soul has
done ere yet it has entered into the Outer Court.
For those who enter it are no longer subject to the
commonest temptations of earth-life ; they have
grown beyond those, and when they come into the
incarnation which is to see them within the Outer
Court, they Vv'ill at least have turned from evil ways
and will have ceased from walking therein with
pleasure. If ever they are found in such ways at
all it v/ill be by a sudden slip immediately retrieved,
and they will have been born into the world with
a conscience which refuses to let them go wrong



26 /// the Outer Court.

when the right is seen before it. And though the
conscience might have sometimes bkmdered in its
choice — though the conscience (not yet perfect in
its experience) might sometimes have chosen
wrongly ere entering within this Outer Court, and
even after having entered, still it vrould be keenly
desirous to choose rightly. The lower self would
not deliberately go against this voice, for any one
who deliberately goes against the voice of con-
science has not entered into this Outer Court at all,
nor is ready to enter it ; the Souls that have
entered therein have at least chosen to strive after
the right, and they would fain obey this voice that
bids them choose it, and not deliberately disobey ;
they would come into this world with that much of
their climbing behind them, and with a deliberate
will to do the highest that they see. They now


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