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but let us take comfort from the fact that these laws work for good
to all whether they know it or not, and therefore _this knowledge is
not essential_. They will suffer no great loss because they do not
embrace this doctrine, and they may escape the danger incident to the
possession of “a little knowledge.”

In India where these truths are known and believed by millions, people
make little effort at material progress because they know that they
have endless time, and what they do not accomplish in this life may
wait till the next or a later life. Many Westerners who have embraced
the doctrine of rebirth have ceased to be useful members of their
community by adopting a life of indolence, thereby bringing reproach
on these so-called higher teachings. If your friends will have none
of this teaching, leave them alone. Making converts is by no means
the essential point of the Rosicrucian teaching. The Guardian of the
Gate will not examine them as to knowledge, and he may admit some who
are entirely ignorant of this matter and shut the door in the face of
others who have devoted their lives to studying, lecturing on, and
teaching these laws.

Then if the doctrines of “Causation” and “Rebirth” are unessential,
what about the _complex constitution of Man_? Surely it is essential to
know that we are not merely this visible body, but have a vital body
to charge it with energy, a desire body to spend this force, a mind
to guide our exertions in channels of reason, and that we are virgin
spirits enmeshed in a threefold veil as egos. Is it not essential to
know that the physical body is the material counterpart of the Divine
Spirit, that the vital body is a replica of the Life Spirit, and that
the desire body is the shadow of the Human Spirit, the mind forming the
link between the threefold spirit and the threefold body?

No, _it is not essential to know these things_. Properly used,
this knowledge is an advantage, but it may also be a very decided
disadvantage in the case of those who have only “a little knowledge”
in that direction. There are many such who are always meditating on
“the higher self” while entirely forgetful of the many “lower selves”
groaning in misery at their very doors. There are many who dream day
and night of the time when they will take their daily _soul flights_ as
“invisible helpers” and ease the sufferings of the sick and sorrowful,
yet would not spend a five cent car fare and an hour’s time to bring a
poor, friendless soul in a city hospital a flower and a word of cheer.
Again I say that the Guardian of the Gate is more likely to admit him
who did what he could than him who dreamed much and did nothing to help
his suffering fellow man.

If you could get people to study the Rosicrucian teachings about death
and the life after, you would feel it important that they should
also know about the silver cord remaining unbroken for a period
approximating three and one-half days after the spirit has left the
body, and that it must be left undisturbed while the panorama of its
past life is being etched into the desire body to serve as arbiter of
its life in the invisible world. You would like them to know all about
the spirit’s life in purgatory—how the evil acts of its life react upon
it as pain to create conscience and keep it from repeating in a later
life the acts that caused the suffering. You would have them know how
the good acts of life are transmuted into virtues usable in later lives
as set forth in our philosophy.

You have no doubt been surprised at the assertion that a knowledge of
the great twin laws is unessential. Probably the next assertion that
it is immaterial whether others learn about the constitution of man
as we know it may have scandalized you; and you will undoubtedly feel
shocked to have it stated that the Rosicrucian teachings concerning
death and the passing of the spirit into the unseen worlds are also
comparatively unnecessary to the purpose we aim to accomplish. It
really does not matter whether your relatives understand or believe in
these teachings. So far as your own passing is concerned, an earnest
request that they leave your body quiet and undisturbed for the proper
period will probably be carried out to the letter, for people have an
almost superstitious regard for such “last requests”; and if any of
your friends pass over, _you_ are there with your knowledge and can do
the right thing for them. So never mind if they refuse to take up that
part of the Rosicrucian teaching.

But the student may say, “If a knowledge of the before mentioned
subjects which seems of such practical value is immaterial to
advancement, then it follows that study of the Periods, Revolutions,
World Globes, etc., is entirely so. That disposes of everything taught
in the ”_Cosmo_,“ and there is nothing left of the Rosicrucian teaching
which we have embraced and to which we have pinned our faith!”

_Is nothing left?_ Yes, indeed, ALL IS LEFT, for those things mentioned
are only the husks which you must remove to get at _the meat in the
nut_, the kernel of it all. You have read the “_Cosmo_” many times
perhaps. Maybe you have studied it and feel proud of your knowledge
of the world mystery, but _have you ever read the mystery hidden in
every line_? That is the great and essential teaching, the one teaching
to which your friends will respond, if you can find it and give it to
them. The “_Cosmo_” preaches on every page THE GOSPEL OF SERVICE.

For our sakes Deity manifested the universe. The great creative
Hierarchies have all been and some of them still are _our servants_.
The luminous star angels, whose fiery bodies we see whirling through
space, have worked with us for ages, and in due time Christ came
to bring us the spiritual impetus needed at that time. It is also
significant in the extreme that in the parable of the last judgment
Christ does not say, “Well done, thou great and erudite _philosopher_,
who knoweth the Bible, the Kabala, the ‘_Cosmo_,’ and all the other
mysterious literature which reveals the intricate workings of nature”;
but He says, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: * * * enter
thou into the joy of thy lord. * * * * For I was an hungered, and
ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; * * *.” Not
one single word about knowledge; _the whole emphasis was laid upon
faithfulness and service_.

There is a deep occult reason for this: _service builds the soul body_,
the glorious wedding garment without which no man can enter into the
kingdom of the heavens, occultly termed “_The New Galilee_,” and it
does not matter whether we are aware of what is going on, so long as we
accomplish the work. Moreover, as the luminous soul body grows in and
around a person, this light will teach him or her about the Mysteries
without the need of books, and one who is thus God-taught knows more
than all the books in the world contain. In due time the inner vision
will be opened and the way to the Temple shown. If you want to teach
your friends, no matter how skeptical they may be, they will believe
you if you preach the gospel of service.

But you must _preach by practice_. You must become a servant of men
yourself if you would have them believe in you. If you want them to
follow, you must lead, or they will have the right to question your
sincerity. Remember, “ye are a city upon a hill,” and when you make
professions they have a right to judge you by your fruits; therefore
_say little, serve much_.

There are many who love to discuss the harmless, peaceful life at
dinner, oblivious of the fact that the red roast on the table and the
cigar in the mouth dull the effect. There are others who make a god of
the stomach and would rather study dietetics than the Bible; they are
always ready to buttonhole their friends and discourse upon the latest
food fad. I knew one man who was at the head of an esoteric group. His
wife was antagonistic to occultism and the meatless diet. He forced her
to cook his vegetables at home, and told her that if she ever dared to
bring meat into _his_ kitchen or contaminate _his_ dishes with it, he
would pitch her and the dishes into the street, adding that if she must
make a pig of herself she could go and get flesh food in a restaurant.

_Is it to be wondered at that she judged the religion by the man and
would have none of it?_ Surely he was to blame, being “his brother’s
keeper,” and though this is an extreme case, it makes the lesson more
obvious. It is to the everlasting praise of Mahomet that his wife
became his first disciple, and it speaks volumes for his kindness and
consideration in the home. His is an example we should all do well to
follow if we would win our friends to the higher life, for though all
religious systems differ outwardly _the kernel of all is_ LOVE.




Chapter XVIII

STUMBLING BLOCKS


Not infrequently the remark is made by people who have no sympathy with
or aspirations to live the higher life, that it unfits people for the
world’s work. Unfortunately it cannot be denied that there is seeming
justification for the assertion, though in reality the very first
requisite for living the higher life involves an obligation to comport
oneself irreproachably in dealing with material matters, for unless
we are faithful in the little things, how can we expect to be trusted
with greater responsibilities? It has therefore been deemed expedient
to devote a lesson to the discussion of some of the things which act as
stumbling blocks in the life of aspirants.

In the Bible story where the king sent out his servants with
invitations to the feast he had prepared, we are told that his
invitations were refused on various grounds. Each one had material
cares, buying, selling, marrying, therefore they could not attend to
the spiritual things, and such people we may say represent the greater
number of humanity today, who are too engrossed in the cares of the
world to devote even a thought to aspiration in the higher direction.
But there are others who become so enthusiastic upon the first taste
of the higher teachings that they are ready to give up all work in the
world, repudiate every obligation, and devote their time to what they
are pleased to call “helping humanity.” They will readily admit that it
takes time to learn how to be a watchmaker, a shoemaker, an engineer,
or a musician, and they would not for a moment dream of giving up
their present material business to establish themselves as shoemaker,
watchmaker, or music teacher just because they felt enthusiastic about
or inclined to take up such work. They would know that lacking the
proper preparation and training they would be doomed to failure, and
yet they think that just because they have become enthusiastic over the
higher teachings they are at once fitted to step out of the world’s
work and devote their time to service similar, even though in a lesser
degree, to that rendered by the Christ in His ministry.

One writes to Headquarters: “I have given up flesh eating, and I long
to live the ascetic life, far from the world’s noise that jars upon me.
I want to give my life for humanity.” Another says: “I want to live the
spiritual life, but I have a wife who needs my care and support. Do
you think I would be justified in leaving her to help my fellow men?”
Still another says: “I am in a business which is unspiritual; every
day I must do things which are against my higher nature, but I have a
daughter dependent upon me for an education. What shall I do: continue
or give up?” There are of course many other problems presented to us,
but these serve as fair samples, for they represent a class which is
ready to give up the world at the slightest word of encouragement,
and rush off to the hills in the expectation of sprouting wings
immediately. If the people who are in that class have any ties, they
break them without a scruple or a moment’s consideration.

Another class still feels some obligation, but could be easily
persuaded to repudiate it in order that they might live what they call
“the spiritual life.” It cannot be denied that when people get into
this state of mind, when they lose their ambition to work in the world,
when they become shiftless and neglectful of their duties, they merit
the reproach of the community.

But as already said such conduct is based upon a misunderstanding of
the higher teachings and is not at all sanctioned by the Bible or the
Elder Brothers.

It is a step in the right direction when a person ceases to feed on
flesh because he feels compassion for the suffering of the animals.
There are many people who abstain from flesh foods for health’s sake,
but theirs being a selfish motive, the sacrifice carries with it no
merit. Where the aspirant to the higher life is prompted to abstain
from flesh food because he realizes that the refining influence of a
meatless diet upon the body will aid him in his quest by making the
body more sensitive to spiritual influences, there is no real merit
either. Truly, the person who abstains from flesh foods for the sake
of health will be much benefited, and the person who abstains to make
his body more sensitive will also get his reward in that respect, but
from the spiritual point of view neither will be very much better. On
the other hand, whoever abstains from flesh food because he realizes
that God’s life is immanent in every animal just as in himself, that
in the final analysis God feels all suffering felt by the animal, that
it is a divine law, “Thou shalt not kill,” and that he must abstain
out of compassion, this person is not only benefited in health and by
making his body more sensitive to spiritual impacts, but because of the
motive which prompts him he reaps a reward in soul growth immeasurably
more precious than any other consideration. Therefore we would say by
all means abstain from flesh food, but be sure to do so prompted by the
right spiritual motive or it will not affect your spiritual interests
one iota.

When the enthusiast says that he wants to get away from the world and
the noise that jars upon him to live the ascetic life, it is truly
a strange idea of service. The reason why we are here in this world
is that we may gather experience, which is then transmuted into soul
growth. If a diamond in the rough were laid away in a drawer for
years and years, it would be no different than before, but when it
is placed against the grindstone by the lapidary the harsh grinding
process removes the last atom of the rough coating and brings out the
beautiful, luminous gem. Every one of us is a diamond in the rough,
and God, the Great Lapidary, uses the world as a grindstone which rubs
off the rough and ugly coating, allowing our spiritual selves to shine
forth and become luminous. The Christ was a living example of this. He
did not go away from the centers of civilization, but moved constantly
among the suffering and the poor, teaching, healing, and helping until
by the glorious service rendered, His body was made luminous on the
Mount of Transfiguration, and He who had trodden the Way exhorted His
followers to be “in the world but not of it.” That is the great lesson
that every aspirant has to learn.

It is one thing to go out in the mountains where there is no one to
contradict or to jar upon our sensibilities and keep our poise there;
it is another thing entirely to maintain our spiritual aspirations and
keep our balance in the world where everything jars upon us; but when
we stay on this path, we gain a self-control which is unattainable in
any other manner.

However, though we are careful to prepare our food well and to abstain
from flesh eating or any other contaminating _outward_ influence,
though we want to get away to the mountains to escape the sordid
things of city life, and we want to rid ourselves of every outward
thing that may prove a stumbling block to our progress, still what
about the things that come from _within_, the thoughts we have in our
minds and our mental food? It will avail us not one iota of good if we
could feed our bodies upon nectar and ambrosia, the ethereal food of
the gods, when the mind is a charnel house, a habitat of low thoughts,
for then we are only as whited sepulchres, beautiful to behold from
without but inwardly full of a nauseating stench; and this mental
delinquency can be maintained just as easily and perhaps it is even
more apt to be maintained in the solitude of the mountains or in a
so-called spiritual retreat than in a city where we are busy with the
work of our vocation. It is indeed a true saying that “an idle brain
is the devil’s workshop,” and the safest way to attain to interior
purity and cleanliness is to keep the mind busy all the time, guiding
our desires, feelings, and emotions toward the practical problems
of life, and working, each one in his own immediate environment, to
find the poor and the needy that he may give them whatever help their
cases require and merit. That class which has no ties of its own may
profitably make ties of love and friendship with those who are loveless
and friendless.

Or if it is the care of a relative—wife, daughter, husband, or anyone
else that claims us, let us remember the words of Christ when He
said, “Who are my mother and my brother?” and answered the question
by saying, “Those who do the will of my Father.” This saying has been
misconstrued by some to mean that the Christ repudiated His physical
relationships for the spiritual, but it is only necessary to remember
that in the last moments of His life on earth He called to Him the
disciple whom He loved and brought him to His mother, giving him to
her as a son and charging the disciple to care for His parent. Love is
the unifying force in life, and according to the higher teachings we
are required to love our kin, but also to extend our love natures so
that they may also include everyone else. It is good that we love our
own mother and father, but we should also learn to love other people’s
mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, for universal brotherhood
can never become a fact so long as our love is confined only to the
family. It must be made all inclusive.

There was one among the disciples of Christ whom He loved especially,
and following His example we also may bestow a particular affection
upon certain ones, though we ought to love everyone and do good even to
them that despitefully use us. These are high ideals and difficult of
accomplishment at our present stage of development, but as the mariner
steers his ship by a guiding star and reaches his desired haven though
never the star itself, so also by setting our ideals high we shall live
nobler and better lives than if we do not aspire, and in time and
through many births we shall eventually attain, because the inherent
divinity in ourselves makes it imperative.

Finally then, to sum up, it does not really matter where we are placed
in life, whether in a high station or a low. Present environment with
its opportunities and limitations is such as suits our individual
requirements as determined by our self-made destinies in previous
existences. Therefore it holds for us the lesson we must learn in order
to progress properly. If we have a wife, a daughter, or other family
relations to hold us to that environment, they must be considered as
part of what we have to reckon with, and by doing our duty to them we
learn the required lesson. If they are antagonistic to our belief, if
they have no sympathy with our aspirations, if we have on their account
to stay in a business and do things which we are not pleased with, it
is because we must learn something from these things, and the proper
way for the earnest aspirant is to look conditions squarely in the face
with a view to finding out just what it is that is needed. This may
not be an easy matter. It may take weeks, months, or years to solve
the problem, but so long as the aspirant applies himself prayerfully
to the task, he may be sure that the light will shine some day, and
then he will see what is required and why these conditions were imposed
upon him. Then having learned the lesson or found out its purpose, he
will if he has the right spirit prayerfully bear the burden, for he
will know that he is upon the right road and that it is an absolute
certainty that as soon as the lesson of that environment has been
learned a new way will be opened up showing him the next step upon the
path of progress. Thus the “stumbling blocks” will have been turned
into “stepping stones,” which would never have happened if he had run
away from them. In this connection we would quote the beautiful little
poem:

“Let us not waste our time in longing
For bright but impossible things.
Let us not sit supinely waiting
For the sprouting of angel wings.
Let us not scorn to be rush-lights,
Everyone can’t be a star,
But let us fulfill our mission
By shining just where we are.

There is need of the tiniest candle
As well as the garish sun;
And the humblest deed is ennobled
When it is worthily done.
We may never be called on to brighten
Those darkened regions afar,
So let us fulfill our mission
By shining just where we are.”




Chapter XIX

THE LOCK OF UPLIFTMENT


Have you ever seen how ships going up a canal or river are lifted from
one level to another? It is a very interesting and instructive process.
First the ship is floated into a small enclosure where the water level
is the same as that of the lower part of the river where the ship has
previously been sailing. Then the gates of the enclosure are shut and
the ship is cut off from the outside world by the high walls of the
lock. It cannot go back to the river without; even the light is dimmed
around it, but _above_ the moving clouds or the bright sunshine are
seen beckoning. The ship cannot rise without assistance, and the law of
gravitation makes it impossible for the water in that part of the river
where the ship has been sailing to float it to a higher level, hence no
help may be looked for from that source.

There are also gates in the upper part of the lock which prevent the
waters on the higher levels from rushing into the lock from above,
otherwise the inrushing water would flood the lock in a moment and
crush the ship lying at the bottom level because acting in conformity
with that same law of gravitation. It is from _above_, nevertheless,
that the power must come if the ship is ever to be lifted to the higher
level of the river, and so to do this safely a _small stream_ is
conducted to the bottom of the lock, which lifts the ship _very slowly
and gradually but safely_ to the level of the river above. When that
level has been reached, the upper gates may be opened without danger to
the ship, and it may sail forth upon the expansive bosom of the higher
waterway. Then the lock is _slowly_ emptied and the water it contained
added to the water at the lower level, which is thereby raised even if
but slightly. The lock is then ready to raise another vessel.

This is, as said in the beginning, a very interesting and instructive
physical operation, showing how human skill and ingenuity overcome
great obstacles by the use of nature’s forces. But it is a source of
still greater enlightenment in a spiritual matter of vital importance
to all who aspire and endeavor to live the higher life, for it
illustrates the only safe method whereby man can rise from the temporal
to the spiritual world, and it confutes those false teachers who for
personal gain play upon the too ardent desires of the unripe, and
who profess ability to unlock the gates of the unseen worlds for the
consideration of an initiation fee. Our illustration shows that this is
impossible, because the immutable laws of nature forbid.

For the purpose of elucidation we may call our river the river of
life, and we as individuals are the ships sailing upon it; the lower
river is the temporal world, and when we have sailed its length and
breadth for many lives, we inevitably come to the lock of upliftment
which is placed at the end. We may for a long time cruise about the
entrance and look in, impelled by an inner urge to enter but drawn by
another impulse towards the broad river of life without. For a long
time this lock of upliftment with its high, bare walls looks forbidding
and solitary, while the river of life is gay with bunting and full
of kindred craft gaily cruising about; but when the inner urge has


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