The Immediate Future And Other Lectures by Annie Besant - Read online
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FEW words are needed to introduce this book. The five lectures, entitled “The Immediate Future”, were delivered in the large Queen’s Hall, London, on June 11, 18, 25, and July 2, 9, to audiences which packed every part of the building, from which hundreds were turned away. Of the public interest in the subject no doubt was possible; and the lectures reached another great audience by their weekly appearance in The Christian Commonwealth, to which I tender my hearty thanks for the admirable reports herein reproduced. The sixth lecture was given in the Free Trade Hall, Manchester, at the closing meeting of the Spring Assembly of the League of Liberal Christian Thought, and was presided over by the Rev. R. J. Campbell. The seventh was delivered to the Fabian Society, in the Memorial Hall, Farringdon Street, and was presided over by Mrs. Sidney Webb.
I send them forth in the hope that they may serve the purpose for which they were designed: the preparation of the public mind for the coming of the World-Teacher.
FRIENDS: When I chose as the subject for my Sunday lectures this year “The Immediate Future," I felt that some of the subjects were rather far removed from ordinary thought. While such questions as the Growth of a World-Religion, the Coming of a World-Teacher, might, without introduction, be sufficiently familiar to the Theosophist to be placed before him directly, I felt on the other hand that to the general public, who had not made a study of Theosophical ideas, some kind of introduction was necessary in order to make the more obscure subjects intelligible and rational. And so I thought that in the opening lecture I would try to give a common-sense and rational foundation for the hopes that are spreading so widely within and without the Theosophical Society of today; that I would try to show you that these hopes were based on a study of the past as well as on observation of the events of the present; and that our feeling that the world is standing on the threshold of mighty changes is justified by knowledge and is not the mere dream of the enthusiast.
In pointing you to the impending physical changes, I want to show you that similar changes have also happened in the past before the other changes which I have classed together as the Growth of a World-Religion, the Coming of a World-Teacher. For just as you may look upon the plan of an architect stretched out before you on a table, may know that part of the building is already completed, that part is still building, that another part is not yet raised above the surface, but that the whole is one building, traced out on a single plan, so you may look at the great plan whose field of evolution is our world. On that world a great drama is played, divided into different acts. In every act the setting is different, but the plot is carefully carried on. And so in the world’s story, past, present, and future are all part of the same plan, all filling up some of the great outline, and the present becomes more intelligible and the future more hopeful if we see how it is growing out of a past, if we understand how it is linked with events that have gone before. And so, looking at what is being done today, amid all the confusion of the building we may see how, as a matter of fact, the plan is being followed, and may forecast the future because we have caught a glimpse of the whole.
Now I know of only two books in which an outline is given of the whole story of evolution from the beginning to its ending on our globe. One is a series of ancient books, repeating very much the same story that has come down from the far past, in India, whose name, Purana, simply means old. There you may read the story of the world with no distinction made, save that of succession, between past and future. Similarly, in H. P. Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine you may also find an outline of the world’s story from beginning to end consecutively traced. Both those come from the same source, from the reports of great seers who have studied the occult records, where there is neither past nor future, but all is looked upon as present. Because they are the work of great seers reading the same records they tell us the same story, though in the one case in ancient and in the other in modern words. The Secret Doctrine is less obscure, less difficult to follow, than the Puranic writings, but both give the same outline; and it is to that outline that for a moment I would direct your attention now.
I am conscious that in running over for a few moments that record of the past, I may be seeming to give you a somewhat dry and uninteresting history; but if it seem to be dry, if to you it appear uninteresting, it is the fault of the speaker and not of the subject. For what can be more profoundly interesting to humankind than to see outstretched before it some record of its immemorial past; what more inspiring than to realise that you and I and all the nations of the world, made up of countless I’s and You’s, have been treading an appointed path, have been working out a definite destiny, have been passing from strength to strength, from knowledge to knowledge; that, as we have climbed in the past, so shall we climb higher in the future; that, as we have evolved in the millennia behind us, so a mightier evolution stretches in the millennia in front of us? Oh, if I could convey to you one tithe of the interest and the inspiration that I have found in the study of those records, then, though names, races, dates, may be dry in themselves, they would form an entrancing story of the past stretching onward into the dim regions of the future.
And now for the rough outline. The occult records tell us that the story of our globe has as a drama seven acts: seven great Continents form the stage on which the drama is played; seven great Races, each on its own continent, are the actors who play in the drama; and as the actors on the stage pass on from act to act, so the nations of the world, in new forms, pass on from act to act in the world-drama. We are not newcomers in our world; we have lived here many times before; and the story of the past is the story of our childhood; now we are reaching our maturity, to go onward to the highest point that on this earth we shall reach. I need not trouble with the first of those two continents, nor the Races that dwelt upon them, for they were scarcely human; rather embryos of humanity were they than men as we know men. But there are four great continents that I would ask you to glance at for a moment: two of the past that have largely vanished; one of the present that is threatening to change; one of the future that is beginning to emerge. The names are all given in the Puranas, but the Sanskrit would interest you but little; in fact, the only interest lies in the fact that they are given in a list; just as you might give a list of the countries of Europe, so m that ancient book are the names of the continents given one after another, without caring whether they be of the past or the future. They are there recognised as part of the world-story, and each has its own name. Three of them you will recognise the two of the past and the one of the present, under names more familiar in the West. The first, Lemuria, which stretched where now the Pacific rolls. Australia forms the southern part of that mighty continent, New Zealand also was related to it; Easter Island was a mountain top, the rest submerged beneath the ocean; then Madagascar was also a part of that great land; and so up northwards where the mighty Pacific Ocean stretches, there in far-off days lay the continent of Lemuria, which the great German Haeckel speaks of as the cradle of the Human Race. And rightly so. For, as I said, the two preceding continents had but the embryos of humanity upon them, and man, full-formed as we know man, took birth on that third continent of Lemuria It has passed away; it was destroyed by volcanic outbreaks, by fire, by tremendous explosions, as the sea rushed into gulfs rent by the subterranean fires. And so Lemuria was torn into pieces, vanished, having played its part; and the mighty waves rolled over it, leaving only here and there a remnant, and a tradition in the older story of mankind.
And then the growth of humanity passed on from that third Race that occupied Lemuria, of whom the pure negroes are the remnants in the world of today, to another great stage of growth on another continent that has also disappeared, the continent that stretched from Europe to America, the mighty continent of Atlantis. That Atlantis existed is now practically being accepted on all sides. Some of you may have noticed lately how archaeological research on the western coast of Africa has been unburying the ruins of mighty cities, which their discoverer points to as evidence of the high place attained by the Atlantean civilisation. Atlantis, after having sent its children over the whole world of today, living many of them in North America as the North American Indians, colonising Egypt and making one of the mighty Egyptian Empires, spreading over the North of Asia as the Turanians, the Mongols - a tremendous stretch of a Race that still forms the majority of mankind on earth. But its great civilisation perished, not by fire, but whelmed under the waters of the ocean, leaving myths and legends behind in many a country - the Flood of Noah, the Flood of Deucalion, and many another story spread over practically the whole world. Atlantis, by several mighty catastrophes split into pieces, whelmed under floods, also perished, though so many of the Race of its blood survived.
And then another great continent, slowly rising, was prepared for the habitation of the next great Race, the fifth. Europe, swampy for ages after it rose above the level of the sea, began to be prepared for the inhabitants that should dwell upon its surface. The great country of Hindustan, rising also south of the Himalayas, was for long one mass of swamp, uninhabitable by man, until, before the Aryans entered it, some of the outlying nations of the Atlantean people had poured through the Himalayan gorges, and made a mighty civilisation where now India stretches and her Aryan peoples are found. And the fifth Race, the Aryan, was taken away from Atlantis nearly 80,000 years before the Christian era - for in the lifetime of Races you must count by millennia, not by centuries - gathered before one of the great catastrophes, led out by their leader, the Manu, stopping for a short while in Arabia, then northwards to the north of Asia, and finally settling where now the Gobi Desert spreads, where at that time there was a great inland sea, and the land was fertile, fitted for the dwelling and the support of a huge population; that was the cradle-land of our Race, that the home of the mighty people who gradually stretched their power and their numbers over the lands that had risen for their habitation out of the seas.
Before I deal further with them let me turn to the next point, with regard to the continents, so that I may link the coming continent with those that have perished, and with the continent of Asia and Europe, which is the heritage of the great fifth Race. Here, because I would not have you think that I am only telling you Theosophical dreams, let me turn to the eminently respectable body, the British Association for the Advancement of Science, and learn from the geological section, as it met in the last annual meeting, how this question of continents, new as well as old, is being studied by the scientific mind today. I find that Association discussing the formation of a new continent in the Pacific Ocean. Now if you turn to the Secret Doctrine you will find that H. P. Blavatsky declared (she published her book in 1888, when science had not yet dreamed of what now it recognises) that the new continent would arise where Lemuria disappeared, that as Lemuria vanished under the waves of the Pacific Ocean so would the new continent rise above those waves for the home of the new Race. We find in the discussion that occurred that that continent is already beginning to rise. The rapid emergence of the Bogoslof Islands, near Alaska, has caused some alarm among geologists, for they think that if the new continent should emerge at the same rate at which these islands have arisen, a tidal wave would be created which would practically engulf the world. That is the point which was discussed last autumn, and details were given as to the area of the new continent. It is to stretch from the Philippine Islands, Japan, and the Aleutian Islands to the islands of south-eastern Asia, the Malay Peninsula, and Borneo, being about some 4000 miles long, so far as the formative forces are concerned. Then our scientists went on to explain that there is under the Pacific an area called the Fiery Ring of the Pacific, that it is an area of earthquake activity, so active that during the last twenty months no fewer than 1071 earthquakes have been observed, earthquakes so powerful, bringing about such sudden changes, that the officers and crew of the United States steamship “Albatross” watched a great outburst which formed an island round the volcanic peak that was thrown up, and the peak climbed upward till it reached a height of 1000 feet above sea-level. Obviously, if you have great earthquakes under the ocean, there is a danger of tidal waves; as we saw not so very long ago, when a vast tidal wave swept down upon the coast of Japan and spread ruin for many a mile. And if, say the scientists, this continent arises over so vast an area at a rate so rapid, so perilous, then will not a wave be generated which shall sweep away the whole of humanity, and engulf the world in a flood to which the Flood of Noah was but as nothing?
But it is not thus that these mighty changes come. Destruction, yes, that is true, but limited, not world-destruction. When Atlantis was perishing by catastrophe after catastrophe large numbers of people perished, certainly; vast waves swept over the adjoining lands; when its last island, Poseidonis, sank, a great tidal wave swept over the Mediterranean Sea, spreading ruin along all its coasts, emptying, by the accompanying disturbance, the Sahara Sea, so that the desert stretches now where once that ocean rolled. Such great catastrophes in the past most certainly may be followed by great catastrophes in the future; but they are not all together; they are spread, with intervals of thousands, tens of thousands of years. These great seismic changes, while locally destructive, shall never destroy the human Race, and while that continent is rising, gradually, now and then an outburst and then a rest of thousands of years, the Race that is to inhabit it will be slowly preparing on the adjacent continent of America.
Looking, then, at that as one of the great impending, physical changes, you can see it is only on a line with the past story of our globe. Other continents have sunk, other continents have risen; why, then, should men’s hearts be troubled when the old story is told once again on earth? Convulsions and catastrophes, they are one of the means of human progress; unless they took place from time to time the world would not be able to support her children, for the soil of earth grows exhausted with the multitude of the people who are fed from it; and from time to time the old soil is wisely whelmed beneath the waters of a new ocean, in order that it may become virgin again - may arise for the building of a new civilisation, for the home of a new people. Oh! nature is only the garment in which God enshrouds Himself; her catastrophes are only means for the working out of mightier ends; and why should you be troubled, you who are immortal spirits? For continents may break up, continents may emerge, but the human Race is immortal in its origin and in its growth, and there is nothing to be afraid of, even if the foundations of the earth be moved.
Looking at that calmly, quietly, knowing it has happened in the past, and will happen again in the future, let us glance at the Races to which I alluded who are connected with the continent; I am only concerned now with our own fifth Race. But I want you for a moment to follow me, thinking of it as in Central Asia, in the cradle-land, sending out its sub-divisions to subdue and inherit the world. Two of these have well-nigh passed away. The second sub-race, as we call it, an offshoot of the mother Race, this sub-race went out to Arabia, to Egypt, to Africa, built great empires, but now has passed away, and only remnants of it are left in the Arabs and some of the tribes allied to the Arabian peoples. We may let it go; its story is over.
Then came the third sub-race, the Iranian, which made the great Persian Empire - not the later Empire of Cyrus and Darius, but the old Empire that lasted for 28,000 years in the Persian and Mesopotamian lands; that also has practically vanished. Only a remnant, 80,000 Parsis in India, represent that once splendid people, that once mighty sub-race that made so great an empire.
But two sub-divisions of the Race remain as well as the mother-stock, the fourth and the fifth. They left Central Asia some 20,000 years ago, the fourth settling in Georgia, Armenia, and Kurdistan, and on the southern slopes of the Caucasus, spreading down into Asia Minor, and there giving rise to many nations known in history. The most ancient Greeks of all, really Greek in stock, usually called Pelasgians, who, according to the priests who spoke to Plato, checked the great wave of Atlantean invasion when it rolled towards Egypt, and threatened the ancient land of Greece, they were the first European families that grew out of this great sub-race, and they only entered Europe some 10,000 years before the time of Christ. The fifth, leaving Central Asia about the same time, went along a more northerly course to the shores of the Caspian Sea, settling themselves in Daghestan and on the northern slopes of the Caucasus, and remaining there for long, long ages, for some 11,500 years. The fourth sub-race spread through Europe along the southernmost part; it gave us the mighty power of Greece, with its splendid art, with its wonderful literature; it made the Republic and the Empire of Rome; it spread onward into Spain, Spain that well-nigh grasped a World-Empire when she sent her children across the Atlantic, conquered Mexico and Peru; she might have made a World-Empire, had it not been for the national sins of the Inquisition, of the expulsion of the Jews, the expulsion of the Moors, and the cruelties that undermined her rule. For there is a justice which weighs the deeds of nations as well as of men, and no nation may go against righteousness and against mercy, and hope to keep its place among the leading nations of the world. And then that same great fourth sub-race went upwards through France, populated the British Isles, and settled down for many a long, long year, building up the civilizations in the lands it had conquered.
Meanwhile, its successor, the fifth sub-race, coming into Europe about 1500 years later, settled first in Poland, and then, as the swamps of Central Europe gradually dried up and made Europe habitable, it sent out a great Slavonic family; then the Letts, Lithuanians, and Prussians; then the great Germanic peoples; and, lastly, the Goths and the Scandinavians. Of different types, those two sub-races; just as you see in the Root-Race type the difference between yourselves and, say, the Mongolian, the Turanian, the racial type, so you can see the difference between the Kelt and the Teuton in the general form of face, of head, of colouring. You see in the Kelt the round head, dark hair, dark eyes, the somewhat slight and shorter form; you see in the Teuton the longer head, fair hair, blue or light-coloured eyes, large, strong stature. Then, mixing the one with the other, of course the type is largely lost, but if you look at them in the pure type, say, the Italian and the Scandinavian, you see at once the difference between these two great sub-races that have made Europe their home.
And now, if we follow these sub-races further, we find that they gradually spread over the world; especially is that true of the last offshoot, the fifth, or Teutonic, sub-race. You find it there with the Goths and Scandinavians that belong to it, making nations, kingdoms, in Northern Europe; but it has not stopped in Northern Europe, it has spread over the known world. You see it leaping across to America and making there the mighty Republic of the West, and the northern Canadian Dominion, becoming mightier year by year; and just as it leapt across the Atlantic, so also it leapt southward, colonised Australia, New Zealand, took partly South Africa - there mingling with the Dutch blood - where the great Federation is being built up today. And it was not satisfied with spreading over many a colony and making the English tongue practically the language that more than any other today can carry you over the civilised world; we find that it also spread into Asia, and there arises a question of immense interest that I will turn to in a moment.
But before turning to that, for that has to do with the great Empire of the fifth Race, let me remind you that a fifth Race is not final - a sixth and seventh have to come; also as the Teutonic represents the fifth sub-division of the great Aryan stock, there must still be two more sub-divisions to grow, to develop, to evolve. Once more H. P. Blavatsky tells us in the Secret Doctrine that on the American continent will gradually develop the sixth sub-division of this mighty Race; that it is there, near the home of the Root-Race that is to be born, that this sub-race of our own Race will grow up and differentiate itself as the earlier sub-races have done. That is happening in America today. Once again I do not ask you to take Theosophical ideas, but evidence that comes from the scientific world outside. Now Europe has poured her people, immigration on immigration, into the great crucible of the United States. America has welcomed them, has allowed them to settle; for long has it been building up a nation. But what a change! The first settlers that came from England, that settled in what they called, in their love for the old country, New England, those were a type very different from the type growing in America today. It was affected by climate, by conditions, and was shaped largely into the North American Indian type - the rather lantern jaws, the long face, the prominent cheek-bones, the rather straight hair, the type that you know, if I may use a not very courteous word, as the Yankee. That is a type of the North American Indian sort, resembling the previous possessors of the land.
The new type is nothing of the kind; the new type is really new, and the leading ethnologist of America, in making a report to the American Government on his investigations, gave this as the result: That a new race is growing up in America, marked, distinguishable, and clear. He gave the measurement of the head, the type of the features; he pointed out the square jaw, the well-cut face; a type intellectual, strong-willed, and becoming more and more numerous in the United States. Why, you can see it yourself if you keep your eyes open and happen to visit America, for the type is becoming marked in every restaurant that you go into; you can pick them out as a new type, a fine type, full of intellect and power, and promising much for the future of the world. It is the sixth sub-race, the sixth sub-division of the great Aryan people. It has the promise of the future within it; it is the type that will give birth to the next Root-Race in humanity, that will inhabit the continent that is beginning to emerge in the Pacific.
So that you have there, from outside sources entirely, evidence of the new continent, evidence of the new sub-race, physical changes round you and before you that pass by you unnoticed, because you do not realise the significance which underlies them. There is really the advantage the Theosophist has over most of you. He has studied the subject in the history of the past; he has acquainted himself with the records where that history is told; he has looked at the great plan, seen its outline, and when some little bit is tossed up, as you might see a fragment of a child’s puzzle thrown up and wonder what the fragment meant detached from all the rest - if you have seen the picture, ah, then you know where the fragment will fit in when the other fragments have been found. And so, in the study of the great picture we recognise the fragments as they appear, and know the place which they will occupy in the finished picture, because the plan indicates their meaning, and in the great mosaic each fragment has its place.
And so we see a growing sub-race, a growing continent; but what is to come before that race grows into power, before that continent is fit, thousands upon thousands of years hence, for human habitation? Other changes are going on right before our eyes. What is their significance? Your feeling - the older amongst you will, I know, agree with me in this - is changing towards your Colonies, and their feeling is changing towards you. I spoke of the great change which had occurred by the spreading of the fifth sub-race; but when I was a young girl, brought up as I was in a Whig family, I used to hear remarks about the Colonies very different from the remarks I hear today. They were spoken of grudgingly, with the hope that they would break away and make Kingdoms, Republics, as they pleased of their own. They were not looked on as parts of a mighty Empire; they were not considered as daughters of the Motherland, who in other parts of the world should keep links close and loving with the land whence they had gone out. And in the Colonies themselves there was much of the same idea- independence, separation, each in its own country, its own nation, its own people. But how different now! Now the Mother Country is loved in every Colony, now the Mother Country sends out her love to all her many children far across the seas. Now they come and gather together in great Imperial Conferences. What would have been thought of an Imperial Conference in the days, say, when any of you of my own generation were children? An Imperial Council is being spoken of, not a mere Conference now and again, but a permanent Council, in which every part of the Empire shall be represented, not once and again coming across for a few weeks, but permanently, regularly, one Empire, and one Imperial Council to deal with all with which that Empire is concerned. Oh, if that feeling had been in England and in her Colonies more than a century ago, our American brethren would not have made tea in the harbour at Boston and begun the American Revolution. Those Colonies would still be part of the Empire, still bound in love to the Motherland; and that great blunder of trying to tyrannise and making need for resistance will never again be permitted within this Empire, for that lesson has been learned once for all, and it will never need to be learned again. But there is a lesson that is needed to be learned. I spoke of the Mother Race, I spoke of the cradle-land, and that land was emptied through some 8000 years as immigration after immigration crossed the Himalayas, and took the great Aryan Root-Race into India. Beginning in 18,000 B.C., those incursions finished perhaps some 10,000 B.C., and since then the Aryan has multiplied and increased, until that mighty land of India is peopled by children of that Race. Many have tried to conquer, to rule, India. The Greeks came; they were rolled back, leaving many a precious trace behind them. For the conquest of one country by another is not, as many people think, an evil thing. It mingles the peoples, it gives the knowledge of one to the other. The Greeks, who conquered and then were chased out of India, left behind them many a trace on Indian Art which made it more beautiful, more gracious than it was before. And then the Mughals came and made their mighty Empire, coming from Turkestan and other parts of Asia. In a great flood they rolled down into India and made a mighty Empire whose centre was at Delhi, and they lived among the Indian people. But India has conquered them more than they have conquered India; for they are no longer foreigners, they are at home in the house of India the Mother, and those children of the conquerors of the past are proud today to call themselves Indians, for they have grown into the land, and they will never leave again the land that has become so much their own.
And then from Europe many another nation came. The Dutch came and made colonies - how much of them now remains? The Portuguese - they have fragments of Indian land today. The French came, but where are the French colonies now? Chandernagore and Pondicherry - that is all that France can claim of Indian soil. And then England came, the youngest child of the Mother-Race, and grew and increased in power, spread over the Indian land, conquered with the help of Indians the Indian people. Ah, you should never forget that! You could not have conquered India by your own power; you only conquered her because many of her children desired your coming and joined their swords with yours. I have seen in an English paper: “We conquered India by the sword, and we hold her by the sword”. You never conquered her by the English sword, but only by alliance with large numbers of the Indian people, and you do not and cannot hold her save by her own consent. The late Viceroy, Lord Minto, spoke a true word when he said: “If India did not want us to stay here, we could not remain three weeks”. That is true. A few thousand English people, many millions of Indians. Oh, never forget, when you blame the English rule in India, that it could not be if against India’s will. Here and there, yes, you may find a few, but very few, who would break the link, and if it is broken it will be England’s fault.
Now you cannot leave out India in the World-Empire that you are building; and that is where your Colonies are making a terrible, a frightful mistake. There is no land in all the world in which the Indian cannot travel freely save in English Colonies and under the English flag. Do you realise what that means? A Japanese can go into British Columbia if he has fifty dollars in his pocket, but if one of the citizens of this great Empire, an Indian, goes there, 200 dollars he must produce before he is allowed to come in. Any other Oriental may travel freely in Canada; the Indian, no. He must come direct from India, otherwise he is not allowed in, and if some of his friends have settled in the United States he cannot visit them and go back into Canada. There is another side to self-government in the Colonies; for it is undermining the Empire in India. The Indian resents being treated as an outcast under the flag that he is asked to be proud of, and to shed his blood to defend. You might have lost South Africa had it not been for the Indians who died there, and who nursed your wounded on the battle-field. But now for many a year the Indians have been struggling for decent treatment, and they are treated shamefully under the self-government of South Africa. You must remember this, and recall that you cannot have an Empire, imperial, world-governing, without India as an integral part thereof. You have made this necessary. Young India is working for a United India because you have taught her the ways of liberty, and given her a single tongue. Oh, do not think only of the few mad boys who, pressed on into crime by their elders, who remained safe here in Europe, sacrificed themselves, thinking that they were patriots when they were only criminals - saddest of all disillusioning for the young and the deceived. Oh, do not think of that; they are but a handful; but think of the millions of Indians who love and honour England, who support her rule, who defend her flag.
There are two men living here today who have done more to touch the heart of India and knit her to England than any other two living men. One is the Prince of Wales who went through India, and who said at the Guild-hall in a famous speech that India must be ruled by sympathy; he is now George V, King of England, Emperor of India, whom may God preserve. And the other is the Viceroy who has left her shores, Lord Minto, who in the midst of danger stood firm and calm, who trusted Indians in the day when assassination was prevalent in the capital, and kept an Indian guard round Government House when others would have put Scotchmen there and sent away the Indians from guarding him. For how shall India trust us, he said, if we do not trust India? And he said those words and acted on them at a moment when his life arid his wife’s life were in peril, for he held that love and trust are mightier weapons than fear and suspicion. You do not always know your greatest men, and the debt that the Empire owes to him will be a difficult debt to pay.
And now a great change is to occur. For the first time in the history of the world, a Monarch of the West is to be crowned in the East. He who a few days hence will sit upon the ancient stone to be crowned and anointed King in Westminster - he, with a statesman’s insight, with an Imperial thought, is going over to the Indian capital, capital of Hindu and Mussulman alike, that again the Crown may be set upon his head, and that in India he may be crowned as Emperor of India. Never before has that been seen in history; never before has such an honour been paid to a part of the Empire; and when thus England and India are linked together by the most powerful of all ties, the tie of imagination and emotion, can you not see in that the promise of a mighty Empire in which East and West shall be joined together, and each shall help the other with the special powers that it has? And since this change of policy, a change is coming over India. The Indian Civil Service, on the whole a splendid service, though many an error may be laid to its charge, is trying honestly, bravely, thoroughly, to accommodate itself to the new position, and to show sympathy to rather than to stand apart from the Indian people. Viceroy, Governors, and others, one after another, have called for courtesy, for gentleness, for mutual respect; and that Service is loyally trying to meet the changed conditions, and to do what its rulers have demanded. And so there is hope; if only the Colonies do not destroy it.
But among these impending changes on the surface of our globe it is necessary that men should understand how Empires are builded and how Nations grow. This mighty World-Empire of the fifth Root-Race will have England and India for its centre, and the great outlying countries of America and Germany for a mighty buttress on either side. America is drawing nearer to us, nearer day by day. Oh, will not Germany also link herself by bonds of peace with this country? And when Britain, America, Germany, India, the great Colonies, are all linked together in one pact of peace, who shall dare to break that peace proclaimed on earth, who shall dare to speak of war when such a Power speaks for peace?
Looking around on all the changes, trying to grasp their meaning, and seeing them, not as isolated facts, but as part of a divine plan, you may realise that under the growth of a World-Religion, and the preparation for the coming of a World-Teacher, the nations are drawing nearer together, the land is being builded for the future, for the Race that shall inhabit it; and while that slow building is going on the mighty Empire of the fifth Root-Race is arising. Oh, if you would have it so, learn that it means responsibility, that it means duty, that it means righteousness. If you would be part of an Empire that will last, you must grow into a liberty which is self-controlled, and learn that only m service to the race is perfect freedom.
FRIENDS: Not very long ago I was speaking in Manchester on the same subject with which I am to deal tonight, and the question was raised by a very interesting letter that was sent to the Editor of The Christian Commonwealth, whether the truer view of a World-Religion was the view that I had put, a synthesis of all the world-faiths, or whether it would come by the triumph of a single religion - Christianity. Of course, when the writer spoke of Christianity, he used the word in the widest, the most liberal sense; but he said that he thought that each religion following another in the world’s history made an advance on those that had preceded it in religious evolution, and that, therefore, it seemed likely that Christianity, as the latest of the great religions, should be the crown of the whole, and thus the World-Religion. Strictly speaking, of course, Christianity is not the latest of the world’s religions, for the great Prophet of Arabia, Muhammad, is later, reckoning by dates, than is the Christ.
I am going to try to show you this evening why it is that, looking to the World-Religion, I think we can see something of its outline, something of the way in which it will present itself to the intellect and the heart of man; but, so far as all the religions of the world are concerned, I believe that the men of every religion will see in the World-Religion the soul of their own faith; that it will not be a question between this faith and the other, this prophet and the other, but that in every faith the noblest, the most liberal spirits, those who have most of the divine consciousness, and therefore most love for their fellow-men - that such in every faith will recognise in the World-Religion all that is noblest and dearest in their own, and that each will feel that it is their own faith carried to its highest, and will recognise in it the glory and splendour of their own.
And now I am going to try to trace, so far as I can, something of what, studying the past and looking at the tendencies of the present, we may gradually see unfolding around us as the religion of the world. Naturally, I do not pretend that my imperfect sketch can be all-inclusive, nor have within it all the wonder and the beauty which that world-faith will take on the lips of the World-Teacher. Not for me to hope to describe what His divine consciousness will reveal; only as the humblest of disciples I will try to sketch for you something of the broad outline which He will sketch with a firmness of touch that only the World-Teacher shall possess, with a wealth of detail and of power to reach the hearts of men that can only come from Him who spake as never man had spoken nor can speak save from that pair of lips.
And in order to deal with our subject fairly clearly, let me put first of all the departments into which a religion naturally must fall, if it is to meet the many-sided necessities of men. First of all, evidently, it must be a Religion - I will define my terms as I deal with them separately - then it must be a Philosophy; then it must bring with it Art; it must also be a Science; and, lastly, it must be a Morality. Those are the great departments, it seems to me, under which all human needs may be included. Those cover human life, and under one or other of those names all human thought must fall.
I have put in the forefront, as is fitting, the word Religion. What is Religion, whether you look at religions in the plural or the essence of Religion? Religions in the plural mean God’s answer, through men in whom divinity shines out more than in their fellows - His answer to the search of man after Himself. Man is ever searching for the source whence he has come, searching for the life which is upwelling within him, immortal, nay, eternal and divine; and every religion is the answer from the Universal Spirit to the seeking Spirits of men that came forth from Him. Just as water, flowing downwards, rises again and will ever rise to the height of its source, save as obstacles come in the way, so man’s Spirit, being divine, rises ever to the height of divinity which he seeks to realise, and the strongest proof that man is fundamentally divine is his immemorial search after the God whence he comes. That is the true meaning of the word religion; not rites and ceremonies- man has made them and can make them again; not churches - man has built them, and were they all in ruins he could build them again; not even sacred books - for those also are written by human hands inspired by the God within the prophet, and were they all swept out of the world the power that wrote them could write them once again. But the essence of religion is the knowledge of God which is eternal life. That and nothing less than that is religion. Everything else is on the surface, is superfluous save for the needs of men. The essence of religion is the knowledge of God, and when God is known all else can be builded by man. And the World-Religion will in its very essence be a way of finding out the knowledge, and will proclaim as the foundation of its teaching the Immanence of God.
What is the Immanence of God? It is that in everything that lives, in a universe where all is living; there the Universal Life that is God is present, supporting and maintaining. It is written in the Bhagavad-Gita: “There is nothing moving nor unmoving that can exist bereft of me”. And there is nothing in the whole of the mighty universe, imaging in its great immensity all that infinity of which it is an image, however imperfect; nothing in all the systems of worlds, in suns unnumbered, in space that knows no ending, in lives that know no numbering; nothing from the very lowest grain of dust to the very Logos of a system, that can exist bereft of the Life which is the root, the support of all. If you would bring this great truth closer - for the infinity of space is awe-inspiring, but does not warm the human heart - then think of all that most you love, all that most you admire, all that most you prize; the look of love in the eyes of husband or wife, the smile of the child, the steadfastness of the friend, the grandeur of external nature, the rolling of ocean, and the stillness of the starlit sky; everything that is most beautiful, everything that is most splendid, everything that warms your heart and cheers your life; all that is God individualised in the living object, and all that is beautiful and exquisite is but the reflection of His smile and of His strength. That is what is meant by the Immanence of God, and that will be the foundation-stone of the religion of the future, the World-Religion that is coming. Every religion teaches it, but it has hardly the influence on life it ought to have.
And after that great teaching will come the next; that there is one Teacher of the worlds, one Teacher of angels and of men, one mighty Instructor who reveals God to man and man to God. And that is the mighty Being whom in Christendom they call the Christ, whom in the East they call Him whose essence is Wisdom, the Lord of Compassion, the Lord of Love. Oh, there are many prophets great and dear to the human heart; there are many teachers, many helpers of the world; but above them all, as our sun throws the stars into invisibility, shines the Master of Masters, the Founder of every faith, the Inspirer of every prophet, the World-Teacher.
You think of religions other than your own, and you hear other names. You do not remember that in different languages one object is called by many names. Why, if you name a man, a metal, a stone, in different tongues, if you had not the object before you, you might deem that each name indicated a different thing. And so, when the Hindu speaks of the World-Teacher, and the Buddhist speaks of the Lord of Compassion, then you do not realise that they are speaking of Him who is your Christ, and of none other. The names are different, but that Superman is the same. He loves all faiths, blesses them all alike, sends His Messengers to every one of them, and is the heart and life of each. Oh, is it not a greater thing, you who are for the most part Christian, that the Lord whom you worship is worshipped in eastern lands as well as here? And what matters the name, when the Being is the same? What matters the word that our child-lips may utter, when all words ascend to Him who is but One? For when the Indian worships Shri Krshna, unknowingly he is worshipping One in whom the Christ was incarnate; when the Buddhist raises up his heart to the coming Buddha, unknowingly he is worshipping the Christ. Is it not better, fairer, more beautiful, that all the streams of homage centre in one mighty individual, and that the Divine Man of every faith is one and the same, although His children know it not and do not realise the unity which flows therefrom? And yet, when Christ came in the form you know, He spake words clear and definite enough: “Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold; them also must I bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd”. And when He spake those words, ere Christianity as a separate faith was born, whom could He have spoken of save of those who followed the other great religions of the world? And mark the words: “Other sheep I have,” not “I shall have”.
And in the world-faith, as there is recognised the Immanence of God, so will there be recognised the one World-Teacher. And then will follow the recognition of the great company of those who look to Him as Master, those whom we speak of as Masters, as Apostles, as the Prophets to many nations and many peoples; they are His disciples, they are His messengers, they carry His word abroad among many peoples, and they also are recognised in all the great faiths. The Theosophist is only treading there in the footsteps of the faiths of the world.
And the other great point in the World-Religion after the three I have mentioned will be the Path of Holiness that leads to conscious realisation of Divinity, that leads to union with the Supreme. The great faiths speak of that in the West and in the East alike. And here again the difference of the name clouds and veils the identity of the teaching. Surely all of you must know that in the Christian Church there is a path, which they divide into three stages, that leads to what is called, in the Roman Catholic books, the Divinisation of man, Union with God. It is divided into three - the path of Purification, the path of Illumination, the path of Union. Those are the three divisions that the Christian makes. First, purification, which must come before all else; then illumination, when the divine light begins to flash on the darkness of the soul, until from flashes it becomes a steady light in which everything is seen; and then the third part, the realisation of God, the conscious union of the God within with the God without. The Hindu and the Buddhist teach the same path. Their path of Probation is the path of purification of the Christian; the Path of Holiness, marked by the five great portals of Initiation, that is the path of illumination, and also the path of union; they use the same name, Yoga, which means union. Oh, there is no great religion in the world which is left outside the greatest, the most spiritual teachings. And in the religion of the future that Path will be made clearer, will be again proclaimed, and will be seen to exist by all. And as in the old days, men will tread it; as in the past, men will enter it; and, though it be true that strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to that union with the Supreme, still in modern days as in the elder days there are men ready and willing to tread it, and they, through the study of the Mysteries, know the wonders of divine and human life, and realise as men realised of old, that the Union of Man and God is possible.
Those points, it seems to me, must be the points most salient in the World-Religion. They are the points which the religious consciousness has clearly and definitely marked out for ages upon ages. I know that sometimes people challenge the testimony of the religious consciousness. But why? The surest thing you have is your consciousness. That you exist is to you the one fact beyond all possibility of challenge, made firmer by no argument, and, unshakable by any argument. And in that, consciousness which is your life, that which has responded to Divinity, which has sought and found Divinity, is a part which cannot be taken out of it. It is the most universal testimony of the human consciousness; in all times and ages and countries the religious consciousness has arisen, and claimed the knowledge which is today as of old the bread of life. When it is not admitted, when ignorance dwarfs it and blinds it, then it asserts itself as superstition, the most fatal enemy of man. Man will believe whether people tell him he should believe or not, and superstition, by its very degradation, shows how the religious consciousness strives to find an object, and will rather have a superstition than nothing. “Oh, but,” you say, “it drives people in different directions; here one person believes this and the other that.” Aye, but it testifies not to the names, but to the fact; it is not the labels, but the result on life. You may call God by what name you will; you may worship Christ under what title you please; you may talk as you like in your language about your faith; but if it makes you lead a noble life, if it turns you from evil to good and from selfishness to service, if belief in God under any name makes men heroic, then the consciousness is divine, and the names are matters of indifference when the result is the same.
Next, the religion of the future must have a Philosophy. What is a philosophy? It is an answer satisfactory to the reason to all the great problems of life. That is what is meant by philosophy. It must satisfy the reason, and it must show the unity underlying the endless diversity of the facts that science observes. To see the One under endless forms, to realise the unity amid infinite diversity, and so to satisfy the reason, that is the function of philosophy. Broadly speaking, all schools of philosophy divide themselves into two, materialistic and idealistic: the one sees in matter the source and root of all; the other sees in life the maker and the master of matter; under one or other of those two flags the philosophies evolved by the reason of the race group themselves inevitably. Now there is no doubt that in the World-Religion the philosophy must be idealistic, for it must recognise Spirit as the basis of all, the immanent life of God as the foundation of all. Its answer to the great problems, roughly, we may run over. What is the constitution of the universe? The universe is the manifestation of the divine thought; the thought of God embodies itself in the thought-forms that we call worlds. Bruno said once: “The act of the divine thinking is the substance of the universe”, and I doubt if any philosophy can go beyond that phrase. The substance that underlies all manifestation, that which shows itself with dual aspect as life and matter, Spirit and matter, that substance which underlies everything and is the final unity - that is the divine thought. If that thought were checked, all would vanish. It is the substance, the Reality, that underlies the changing worlds. And when that idea is grasped, that the divine substance is the basis of all, then we realise that from that substance emanates, as it were, the dual force, Spirit and matter; Spirit the source of life, the source of all intelligence, individualising itself in the life of the object, and one in every form; matter, taking countless forms, innumerable shapes, the vast diversity of the worlds that fill space, but one in its essence. Forms pass and take one shape after another, change and make an endless panorama of bodies; but matter is ever there, changeless in itself, the one material of which all forms are but shapes and kinds; life one and matter one, life individualised and matter shaped into form - that is the worlds as seen by philosophy; they are the outcome of thinking, manifesting as the substance I spoke of, and all changes in forms, all diversities of life, are reducible to the one life and the one matter; for, as I said, philosophy seeks unity in everything, and only when diversity is reduced to unity is the reason satisfied, is the intellect at rest.
What is evil? Philosophy must answer that. Evil is only imperfection, that which is not complete, which is becoming, but has not yet found its end. And if for a moment you will think along a line that requires close attention, you will realise that imperfection is necessary m a universe. For what is a universe? Diversity of forms. But every form, not being the whole, must, of necessity, be imperfect; less than the whole, it cannot be identical with the whole, and being less than the whole and, therefore, imperfect by itself, it shows imperfection or evil, and only the totality of a universe can mirror the image of God. Evil is not a positive thing; it is the absence of perfection, the state which is ever growing towards perfection. Evil is only absence of light, but the light is ever becoming. And so it ceases to be a trouble, to weigh upon the heart. And even in the form of evil that we call sin, that which is evil in man, we shall see in a moment that there also there is no reason for discouragement, that that also is on the way to good. But so far as the problem of evil is concerned, without taking humanity for the moment into consideration, it need not trouble you for a moment; for the very condition of manifestation is diversity, and the inevitable result of diversity is imperfection in the isolated objects. But let us come to man, for the answer will not be complete until we have dealt with him. How does philosophy regard man in the deepest, fullest, greatest sense? It sees in man the image of God, and therefore a triplicity: first, imaging the substance, the highest, purest reason, the Self, as we sometimes say, in man; and then it sees, secondly, what is often called the human soul, aspiring to the divine above it, dragged down by the brute below it, the dual principle in man, on which the growth and evolution of man depend; one hand stretched upward towards heaven, the other still clinging to earth. Bruno compared the soul to the moon that always has one side turned to the sun and the other turned to darkness. And you could not have a more vivid image of the soul in man. This is the reflection of the universal life; it is the individualised life incarnate in a form. And, thirdly, the body, representing the matter of the universe. Spirit, soul, body, that is at once the simplest and most philosophic view of man. There are other sub-divisions, but they are all classified under this great triplicity. And so you have the divine m man, which shows itself by thought; you have the soul in man, which is the individualised life; you have the body in which that soul is unfolding. And when you ask: What is sin? you have to answer: It is when the man is doing that which he knows to be the worser when a better is before him. That is sin. It has its root in ignorance, the only original sin in man. He grows out of ignorance into knowledge. Drunkenness, murder, theft; they are not sins in the savage who knows no better; they are sins in the civilised man, because he knows better, and allows the soul to be drawn downwards by the body, instead of rising upwards to the Spirit. And that is the true definition of sin; when knowing right you do the lower, ah, then you sin. Where there is no knowledge, sin is not present. S. Paul said quite truly: “Sin is the transgression of the law”. When the higher law is known, then to transgress it is to sin. But even then it is not hopeless, for as the law changes not, as the law is inviolable, the law we disregard strikes us and suffering is the outcome of the attempt to transgress; and in that suffering lies the lesson, and in that lesson lies the remedy; for in a universe of law you must learn to harmonise yourselves with law, otherwise pain, misery, suffering are around you, and, weary of the suffering, you turn at last to the right. That is why we need not break our hearts over sin; we are growing out of it, passing beyond it, and every struggle - even that which ends in failure - is one step on the ladder by which the soul is climbing to the Spirit.
And what is the creative force in the universe? I have already said that the creative power in God and in man is thought. God’s thought makes universes; your thought makes yourself; thought is the one creative force, the one thing by which you shape, mould, build, your character. Thought everywhere is the creative agent, and it makes the road for the evolution of the soul. The soul grows by reincarnation in bodies provided by nature, more complex, more powerful, as the soul unfolds greater and greater faculties. And so the soul climbs upward into the light eternal. And there is no fear for any child of man, for inevitably he climbs towards God.
And Art? I have said that a World-Religion must have art, and I often think that in the modern world men and women fail to realise the greatness of the influence of art on human life.
Beauty is no dead thing. It is the manifestation of God in nature. There is not one object in nature untouched by man that is not beautiful, for God’s manifestation is Beauty. It shines through all His works, and not only in those that may give pleasure to man. If you take the diatom and look at it through the microscope, you find that invisible shell, invisible to human eye without artificial aid, traced in the most exquisite mathematical patterns, every line accurate, every angle perfect. The divine sculptor has carved it into beauty, although no eye see it save the eye of God. In every natural work there is beauty - it is the condition of manifestation; and even when man makes ugliness, nature soon re-clothes his ugliness in beauty. And the artist? The artist is the priest of the beautiful, whose eyes see more of God than ours do. He is able under the form of nature to see the beauty that that form is veiling, and the duty of the artist is to show to our blinded eyes that which without his genius we cannot see; anything less than that is a profanation of art not worthy of the name. Colour is more to the artist than to you and to me; form is more to the artist than it is to us; melody is more to the artist than to our untrained ears. And every form of beauty hidden in nature, it is for the artist to bring out and place before the eyes of men; he has to see the ideal under every form, the perfect under every imperfection, and his splendid mission is to show the perfect beauty to the blinded eyes of men, so that, seeing it, they may remodel themselves after it, and their lives may be beautiful as is nature which is the life of God. That is what art means. Greece understood it, but scarce a nation save Greece has known the divinity of art; but Greece knew that art is not a luxury as it practically is today. Art is wanted for the masses of the people far more than for you whose lives are fair on the outside. The slum in a great town is not only degradation to the people who live in it, but its hideousness lowers the vitality of the nation. All suffer because of its hideousness amongst us. When you see the face of the slum woman, lined and drawn and haggard, and often vicious, all womanhood is degraded by the misery of her. When you see a man rolling drunken out of a public-house in the East End of London, sodden, brutalised, disgusting, from the vice that is destroying him, all manhood is the lower for the horror that he embodies. And no man can be perfect while one man is brutal. And art is a way of purifying, of refining, of raising. You talk about the beauty of the Greek people. Why were they beautiful? Because they put beauty in their streets, because they had it everywhere for the people to look upon, because their women who were to become mothers were surrounded by the beautiful on every side, and the unborn child took lines of beauty because beauty was the breath of life to Greece. And that we have to learn. When you have a statue too ugly to put in a gallery, you put it in the streets; when you have a picture you hang it always in a gallery, but the people who want it most do not go to galleries. I know things are getting better. I know that down in the East End of London efforts are being made to bring more art within the reach of the people; but is it yet understood enough that to show beauty, to make beauty a common thing in life, is to refine, to make more delicate, more gracious, the common life of man? Good music, good painting, good sculpture, these are among the educators of the race, and every object should have its own beauty. The common household objects should be beautiful. There is nothing to prevent it; but you would rather have a drawing-room crowded like a bazaar with useless things, than have one beautiful object in a room that would make all its atmosphere pulse with delicacy and with life. And your schools for the children ought to be beautiful, for the child-heart and the child-brain are very plastic. And those hideous things you call Board schools, or Council schools, in London are enough to make the whole nation ugly. Whatever room in your house lacks beauty, do not let the nursery lack it. You put miserable paintings there, the degradation of art. “It is good enough for the children.” There is nothing too good for the child, and the religion of the future will bring this bread of life into the home of everyone, and it will be realised that one home devoid of beauty condemns the luxury which wallows in it and shares it not with others.
And the religion of the future must have a Science; but it will not be a science restricted to the physical world, but including all worlds of matter; for just as philosophy is the recognition of unity in diversity, so is science the observation of the diversity, the observation of the facts in nature. And the science of the future in the religion of the future will be a science of all worlds, and not only of the lowest and densest, those of the physical plane. It will observe the world of the emotions, clothed in subtler matter; the world of the mind, clothed in subtler matter still; the world of the Spirit, where matter is but the obedient expression of the life, and hampers it in nothing, being utterly plastic to the will. The science of the future will observe the facts, the forces and the laws of nature in all of the worlds in which man’s evolution is going on. It will study the laws of nature, not only physical, but moral and mental, so that evil-doing and evil-thinking will be realised as against the law of progress. And science must do it by observation, by observing the result of evil thought and evil act, and so establishing in those worlds as well as in the physical that law of action and reaction that in the East is called karma. If you feel wrongly, you will think wrongly, you will act wrongly. If you desire wrongly, then thought and action will go along the same line.
What you think, you become inevitably. That is the law. And when science studies the three worlds of human evolution, it will be able to place that law on a definite scientific basis. We reap in one world what we have sown, not always in the same world; but in one world or another that which is sown we reap, and from that law none may escape. It will be the duty of the science of the future to do what only a few can do today - to observe the laws of human evolution, to see how that law works out in thought and character. And just as it examines the laws of nature in the three worlds, so it must examine the forces of nature in those worlds, and thus establish, on the basis of observation, that thought is the creative power. That is done now, I know, by those who are trained in the science that is called Occultism, but the ordinary science of the future will extend its ken to those subtler regions of our life, and then, observing the forces of nature, it will speak with authority on their scope and their results. It will not only examine the laws of nature and the forces of nature in all the worlds in which we are living, but the facts of nature as well in all those worlds. The inter- mediate world beyond what we call death, the world beyond the intermediate world that is known as heaven - those will be as much subject to observation as the world of the physical body. And the science of the World-Religion will give observation of laws, of forces, of facts, as the basis for the teaching of morality, bringing morality into the realm of law instead of it being the sort of chance subject that it is today.
And then that science will train men in studying as science trains men today in the way that they should use their apparatus and their instruments; only the science of the future will train the student in developing the powers that lie hidden within himself, and not only in shaping iron and brass and glass into instruments to supplement the senses. The finer bodies of men, the keener, subtler senses, those will be developed in man by that science which is the material side of Yoga. Man’s power to know will thus be increased. The bodies in which emotion and thought work will thus more swiftly be evolved, and just as surely as science, by studying animal and vegetable nature, has taught man how to evolve in a few years what nature, unaided, would take centuries to accomplish, so shall that science of Yoga teach man to evolve his own bodies to fuller usefulness by an application of the laws of the subtler nature, by the quickening of the evolution along the lines on which ah cannot work today.
And when this World-Religion has thus taught the essence of Religion, satisfied the reason with a true Philosophy, raised Art to its rightful place in life, and given a Science for the establishment of the basis of the whole, then it will finally crown its work by a noble Morality, applying the truths it possesses to the elevation of human life. It will teach man to live a noble life, and tell him why it is desirable. Remember what I said to you of the soul - one hand stretching upward to the Spirit, one clinging to the body, with all that the body means. Man will be taught to lead the heroic life, when he realises in himself the possibilities that lie before him and in the power of thought the instrument whereby his ideal may be realised. He will begin to understand that since the life eternal is inhabiting the body, all that is base, mean, animal, is below the height of his responsibility and his duty; he will begin to understand that the man who knows that life is one and that life embodied in himself can only live the life that is noble; for very shame’s sake he cannot live the life of the animal, whence his body is derived.
You must realise your own Divinity; realise what man really is, an evolving Son of God. You do not need threats, curses, anathemas. It is said that pleasure is easy and that good is difficult. That depends in what part of yourself you are living. Where is the centre of your consciousness? If it is in the body, yes, then animal pleasures are attractive; but if you live ever in the mind, the animal pleasures shrink down into insignificance. Beside a splendid picture, beside a noble melody, beside a noble book, what are eating and drinking and the pleasures of sense? Man needs no threats, he only needs understanding. He needs no curses, he only needs illumination. Give him a chance of the better, and he will spring forward to it and embrace it and love it, for the highest pleasures are the most delicious, as the air of the mountain tops is pleasanter than the atmosphere of a slum.
And out of that growing nobility of the individual, out of the same basis, the oneness of life, will grow the realised Brotherhood of Man. I have come back at the end to that with which I began. I spoke first of the Immanence of God. With that there must be Brotherhood of Man; for as a circle returns upon itself and, starting from one point and going round, you come back to the same point again, so the World-Religion, starting with the Immanence of God, His presence in every object, must fulfill itself in Universal Brotherhood, the recognition of the unity of life. And it means all that that word implies. Oh, if it were your brother, your sister, dying of starvation, rotting with disease, crushed under ignorance, hopelessly impoverished, would you sit easily, comfortably, happily, in your better homes, in your pleasanter surroundings? Would not your own happiness become intolerable while brother or sister was writhing in pain or anguish? And that is what Brotherhood means; it means holding everything for all, and using all you have that others also may share, and rise to where you are today. I t means sharing all willingly, not by compulsion of law, but by the more imperious compulsion of the Spirit within, which knows the unity of all. And Brotherhood realised means the lifting of the human race; it means the real becoming of man into God. And as you know the beauty of your own lives, that which you have around you to make life fair and pure, oh, when you realise that all are brethren, then you will be impatient of your enjoyments until you are working for the good of all. That is the lesson, that is the last that comes, that nothing is so great for embodied Divinity as service taken freely to all who are in need. If you are learned, share your learning; if you are pure, share your purity. There are women amongst you pure and clean and good; there are women in the streets who lack every virtue you possess. Oh, your purity would be brighter if you shared it with the impure, and tried to raise your sisters to that which is the blessing of your own lives.
And as the World-Religion comes with all the force that He will give it who is the World-Teacher, these truths that stammeringly I utter will become full of the most inspiring power to your hearts. He will make living that which I can only describe; He will make attractive that which I can only put to you in poor human words; for He will speak to your Spirit where I can only speak to mind and heart, and His voice will raise the world towards Divinity because Divinity will shine out so clearly from Himself.
FRIENDS: I will ask you to throw your thoughts back for a moment to the first lecture of this series. I shall have to refer to it more definitely in a moment, for deliberately in that lecture I tried to lay the foundation on which the superstructure of tonight might appear to you more natural and more convincing; for an isolated fact, separated from all those to which it is related, may seem strange, bizarre, incredible. Just as a fragment of a child’s puzzle, lifted from the table, unrelated to any surroundings, shows curious outline, unintelligible form, but dropped into its proper place in the puzzle completes the whole, which is seen to be natural and significant, so the great happenings in the history of the world, looked at divorced from all else, seem unintelligible, impossible; but when they come in a regular sequence, when they are recognised as part of a perfect whole, then that which was strange becomes natural; that which was incredible becomes believable; and we realise that, however strange it may have appeared, torn away from its place in history, there is nothing in it incredible or even strange when we see it in its rightful place.
But before I turn to the right place of the great World-Teacher in history, let me for a moment raise you above the outer story of events that men call history, and ask you to turn your eyes to Those who guide the events in history, who shape human evolution, who administer the laws of nature. There is beyond and behind all physical happenings a mighty Hierarchy of graded order, in the hands of which lies the government, the direction of the world; a mighty Hierarchy, the true Rulers of men, of whom all earthly Kings and Teachers are but the shadows or the symbols; a great Hierarchy which has guided our race and shaped its destinies from the birth of our humanity down to the present day, and which will guide in the millennia of the future as it has guided in the millennia of the past. That mighty Hierarchy has two chief departments concerned with the growth and the evolution of man - one the department that guides the outer evolution, that shapes the forms of races, that raises and casts down civilisations, to whom Kings and the nations of the world are as pawns in the mighty game of life; the other the department of teaching, which gives religion after religion to the world as the world has need of it, which, holding in its hands the vast circle of the Truth, gives out portions of that Truth from time to time in forms to be understanded of the people; that which gives to the world its spiritual Teachers, the Founders of all its faiths, and guides all its spiritual and moral unfolding: And in those two great departments visible throughout human history by their working, you have in each of them a Head, who uses the forces of the whole, who directs their energies to foreseen ends.
At the head of the ruling department - so far as appearance in the world is concerned - stands the mighty Being from whom our very name of man is drawn. He is the Manu, The Man, the type of each race as it gradually is builded, the perfect man of every race, who gradually develops in the race the qualities embodied in Himself. And as the name Man means the thinker, the reasoner, the intelligent one, so this name of the typical man, the Manu, stands for the Ruler, the Lawgiver of the race. And side by side with him, his Brother in the great work of evolution, stands the World-Teacher, called by that name in some of the ancient books of earth, known as the One who embodies in Himself the wisdom which is the truth that feeds the human race. And those two, the Ruler and the World-Teacher, stand at the head of the two departments of which I have spoken, stand as types of the Hierarchy as a whole in its ruling and its teaching power. And in the Scriptures of the faiths from time to time this comes out, although unless you know the underlying truth, the fact as it occurs in history may not strike you with its full significance. And yet, to those of you who have been brought up from childhood on the Christian Bible, the Jewish Bible, this fact ought to come out as natural and customary; for you see there at the head of the young Jewish nation the two types of which I am speaking, in the well-known familiar names of Moses the Lawgiver and Aaron the High Priest of the Jewish people; for in all these Scriptures you have represented over and over again the same great facts of human evolution. And under those two names the same facts come out of the Lawgiver and the Teacher, the Head of the State and the Head of the Religion. And that which is sometimes called the Great White Lodge, that mighty body of the Guides and Teachers of mankind, that is the root of all the great thought which from time to time comes out to the helping of the world. Its messengers are ever moving among men, bringing to them the truth of which the age has need. And you may trace in the long line of the great geniuses in literature, in art, in science, the messengers of that one great Hierarchy which, hidden out of sight, guides the destinies of men.
In the old days, long; long ago, ere our own proud fifth Teutonic sub-race had taken into its hands the sceptre and the leadership of the world, among the earlier peoples and in the earlier days, the messengers were honoured, the teachers were welcomed and revered. Only with the growth of the concrete mind in man, and of that self-assertive individuality which is priceless for the evolution of man, although in many of its manifestations repugnant and distressing; only since that particular part of human nature took the predominant place and stood at the head of evolution, only since then have the messengers been slighted instead of reverenced, been despised instead of welcomed. And hence the danger today, that the story of the Messenger, of the mighty Teacher rather, who came to the childhood of the fifth sub-race, the Teutonic, may be repeated again in our own days when that sub-race has reached its maturity; for the story of the messengers since Christ came to earth has been a story of persecution, of torture, of murder, of uttermost rejection. And sometimes one wonders, looking over the recent past, whether the world be ready for the coming of a World-Teacher once again, or whether the measure meted out to the smaller teachers may perchance again be meted out when the Greatest stands on earth, visible once more.
But here we challenge that question, let us consider that the World-Teacher is the one who is the Founder and the central figure of each great faith in turn; for each sub-race, as you know, has its own religion, given to it in its earlier days, moulding and shaping its expression as it grows to youth and to maturity. So, looking at the world-faiths in relation to the world sub-races, we find a great succession of mighty Teachers who in very truth are all one and the same Teacher, appearing upon earth again and again for the helping and the teaching of the people. For while the Ruler gradually evolves the people and shapes sub-race after sub-race, the World-Teacher, standing beside him, comes out to sub-race after subrace, and gives each a religion appropriate to its needs, carefully designed for its own special and peculiar evolution.
And ever the World-Teacher is connected with what are called the Mysteries; that is the Secret Teaching, the esoteric side of the religion which is given to those strong enough to receive it, old enough to understand it, the backbone of every exoteric religion, that which Origen called Gnosticism, the Knowledge, without which a religion tends gradually to decay and to pass away. The World-Teacher, when He comes, ever gives to the religion its Mysteries, in and by which the truth shall be kept alive. Ready you are to recognise that in the past history of faiths older than your own; but many of you do not realise that the World-Teacher, when He came to you; reestablished for Christianity the Mysteries that the elder faiths also had enjoyed, and that, in the writings of the early Church those Mysteries are spoken of; that, as seen in the teaching of the early bishops and martyrs of the Church, it was in the Mysteries that they gained their knowledge. But these Mysteries pass away when pupils are lacking, though the teaching belonged in the early days to the Christian Church, quite as much as to any of the elder faiths of the world.
And in those Mysteries the teaching of the World-Teacher was ever one and the same. You may recognise them when glimpses of the teaching come out in the philosophy or the religion of the time. It is ever the proclamation of the universal Self, and of the particular or specialised Self which is the individualised fragment of the whole. The existence of those is the fundamental fact that man needs to know for his progress - the identity of nature between the two, and the need for man to realise that identity and to know himself as one with the Universal Life - that supreme teaching by symbol, by allegory to the outer world, and plainly expressed to the inner, is the very central truth which all the Mysteries were established to teach, to impart to their Initiates.
If we look at the different sub-races and trace it thus, using the knowledge that may be gained of those inner things, we may see how each time the World-Teacher used a symbol a little different, but ever enwrapping the same fundamental truth. We may look over the sub-races that have preceded our own, and see how in each of those the teaching was given which left traces on the outer Scripture, on the exoteric teaching of the faith. In the stock of our race, the first great Aryan people, there they had as the World-Teacher the great One known under the name of Vasa, and He taught the one truth by the figure and the symbol of the Sun. The Hindu today will tell you of the Person, of the Spirit, in the Sun, and the most sacred formula, the most powerful mantra of Hinduism is still a cry to that supreme Sun, and the prayer that it may irradiate the hearts of men. The Sun in the heavens - yes, the visible symbol of the Godhead; the Sun in the heart of man, the Self individualised in him; that both were identical, and that man must find the Reality within himself ere he can know it as a certain truth outside him. It was in that form that the teaching was given to the mother of our sub-race, and still exists in the Indian land today.
Then when He came to the second sub-race, and taught in Egypt under a different name, the name of Thoth whom the Greeks called Hermes, there He took the light as symbol, and first spoke those words familiar to you in the Egyptian fourth gospel that you find in your New Testament today; for He then proclaimed “the Light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world”, the Light in the heart of man as well as the Light in the universe outside. And the King of Egypt was taught to “Look for the Light”, because only the King who sees God in his subjects’ heart can be verily a King, and evoke the divine side of the nature of his people. And you find that just as the King was taught to look for the Light, so the people were taught to “Follow the Light”. And the doctrine of the Light within and the Light universal was the very centre of the Egyptian or Hermetic Mysteries.
Then He came to the third sub-race, to the Iranians, and He came then under the name of Zarathustra, better known as Zoroaster, and there the Fire was the symbol by which the same great truth was taught; Fire in the heart of man, Fire in the temple for the worshippers, Fire in the sky that gave light to the world. And in those early days, when the priests were really Magi, and knew the great arts that control the elements of nature, then the uplifted hand of the priest of the Fire - like that of Zarathustra, the Son of the Fire - lifted up to heaven, drew down the Fire from the clouds and flung it upon the altar and made that burst into flame. And so great was the impression that the teaching made, that the modern Parsi who still keeps the memory and the tradition of the older worship, when he lights the fire in his temple, the sacred fire that is kept alight year after year, cannot light it in a new temple until after having gathered the fires of earth - the fire of the household hearth, the fire of the blacksmith’s forge, the many fires which men make for labour - he cannot finally light the sacred fire till the lightning which he can no longer call from heaven bursts out in the thunderstorm in the atmosphere, and from a stricken tree, lighted by the lightning, he takes the fire which must burn on the fire-altar of his temple.
Then a fourth time He came to the fourth sub-race, the Greeks, now as Orpheus; but He no longer spoke in Light but in Music, and by the mysteries of Sound he taught the unfolding of the Spirit in man. And to the Greek He spake in Music, and the Orphic Mysteries were those in which the same knowledge was given, and the greatness of Greece was reached. And so by the Sun, by Light, by Fire, and by Music the World-Teacher spoke to the sub-races that have gone before.
Then that Mighty One returned to earth but once more, to become the Lord Buddha, and to found the religion that still outnumbers any other faith on earth. And then He passed away, never again to take a mortal form, and handed on the duty of the world-teaching to His Brother, who had come side by side with Him through many ages, to Him who is the World-Teacher of today, the great Lord Maitreya, whom Christendom calls the Christ. And between these two, identical in thought, identical in teaching, there was yet a difference of temperament that coloured all they taught; for He who became the Buddha is known as the Lord of Wisdom, and He who was the Christ is known as the Lord of Love - one teaching the law, calling on men for right understanding, for right thinking; the other seeing in love the fulfilling of the law, and seeing in love the very face of God. Lord of Wisdom! Lord of Love! It is the Lord of Love who is the World-Teacher of today.
First He showed Himself to His ancient people, the Founder of that cult in India which still holds within it the vast majority of the Indian people. The philosophers may worship the Mighty God; the stern intellectual thinker may speak of the One All-Pervading Self; but the Form under which God is worshipped in the myriad homes of India, the Form to which is poured out a devotion and a passionate love that no religion on earth can possibly exceed - it is the Form of Shri Krshna; not the statesman, the warrior, not the one whom you think of when you read the great story of the Mahabharata, but the Shri Krshna who was the Lover of men, the Child and the Youth who is to every Hindu heart today exactly what the Hebrew prophet spoke of when he said: “Thy Maker is thy Husband”. Lover and beloved! Such is the divine Form that holds the heart of India captive in chains today, and while they call Him Krshna you call Him Christ; but He is the one Lord of Love that is worshipped by you both.
Then He came to our fifth sub-race, the great Teacher to give a new religion and to shape the spiritual growth of the Teutonic peoples. He came, and for three brief years of perfect life He carried on His ministry among the Jewish people; but it was pathetically said: “He came to His own and His own received Him not”; and though it was said that He spake as never man had spoken, only for three years could they tolerate the Lord of Love amongst them. And after they had slain Him, the records of His Church declare that only some poor hundred and twenty gathered together as disciples. A strange record for the coming of a World-Teacher; but history has vindicated the power of the teaching, for if His own generation rejected Him, hundreds of generations since have done Him homage, and over Christendom today H is Name is taking on a mightier and ever mightier power, for men are beginning to realise that Christianity is not a church, is not a book, is not an organisation, but is the recognition of a living Christ, and the development of the Christ-life in man.
Now that I have led you up to that point, sub-race after sub-race, with the World-Teacher coming to each in turn and giving to each a religion, and when I remind you that in our own days, by the testimony of the ethnologists, a new type of sub-race is now beginning to arise, what is the inevitable corollary, what the next thing in succession that you and I should look for? If, during five sub-races, ever the Teacher has appeared to teach and help, shall the one that is now being born be alone left without a Teacher? Shall the World-Teacher refuse to come, as He has come in every similar case before? That is the argument from the rational standpoint that I would ask you to consider, if it seems so strange and so impossible that in our own days, as aforetime, some mighty Teacher should come into the world to uplift and to help. We are so apt, with all our pride of intellect and of nationality, to deem ourselves too small to be blessed with the presence of a World-Teacher; and yet, if He has come five times before, under the exactly similar condition of a new type appearing on the earth, why should this one be left out of the series, and that which has been done five times before fail to our own generation? That is one thought you may well consider when you are making up your minds whether, in speaking of the World-Teacher coming, I am dreaming and fancying, or am speaking words of truth and soberness, like those who bore witness to His coming when last His Feet pressed the surface of our earth.
There is another argument, not historical, but yet strongly appealing, it seems to me, which you may consider when you are thinking over the likelihood of such an event; and it is that in the study of history, wherever you see the signs of a great idea spreading over the mind of the people, a tendency which is going to accomplish itself in human history, that then, when the time is ripe, the idea ever becomes incarnate in a person, and the person makes visible on earth that which has gradually been growing into the hope and longing of the people. In smaller cases you recognise it is so. Men thought and dreamed of a United Italy, and that idea took form in Mazzini the prophet and Garibaldi the warrior. And so in the case of Germany. Much talk of a German Fatherland, poets singing of it, men who wrote books speaking and pleading for it; but it was only when the idea became widespread, when the hearts of the nation were turning towards it, that it became incarnate in Bismarck the statesman, in Moltke the general. And so it is ever true that where an idea is burn in the hearts of the people and spreads far and wide among them, some great man is born in whom that idea takes shape, who carries it to realisation. And when you see, as I pointed out to you a fortnight ago, a growing tendency towards union among religions and among peoples; when you find men speaking of universal peace; when you find them discussing the possibility of federation - then you may know that the world-movement towards union must needs take incarnation in those who shall accomplish it. And who shall make the union of religions actual save the World-Teacher who has given religions to the world? In this sense it is true what the proverb says, that “coming events cast their shadows before”; for the events occur in the spiritual world, and the expectation of those events is the shadow in the minds of men which gradually forecasts the realisation here. And so, when w e hear on all sides the cry that a great religious teacher is needed; when we find from pulpit after pulpit there rings out the longing for a great teacher who shall draw men’s hearts together and make the brotherhood of religions an actuality in the world; then we begin to understand that we are face to face with one of those world-movements that embody themselves in world-leaders, and that the longing for a universal World-Religion will become incarnate in the person of a World-Teacher, who will make that religion manifest on earth.
And as, by thinking along these and other lines, we see in the world around us, in the changing events of the great panorama that is ever moving before our eyes; as we realise by our reason that we are just touching on one of these great crises in human history; as intuition, which is the voice of the far-seeing Spirit, confirms the conclusion at which the reason has haltingly arrived; ah, then shall arise in our hearts a question: When He comes, will the world receive Him? When He comes how shall we know Him? How shall we avoid repeating the sad tragedy of His last appearance upon earth? Shall history here repeat itself, and the story of Judea, Jerusalem, and even Calvary once more be played, a mighty tragedy on the stage of the theatre of the world?
If, instead of across the glamour of the centuries and the wonderful radiance which the worship of millions has shed on the figure of the Christ, if instead of that which draws your worship now, you were looking at Jerusalem of 2000 years ago, how different then would seem the story of that life, how different the judgment you would pass on that new Prophet that had arisen among the Jews! Can you not by your imagination to some extent recall the inevitable features of the time? Can you not picture to yourself the young, unknown man rising amid a proud, a haughty people, and giving them a message other than the message they expected? Can you not realise the type of onlooker who criticised the new Preacher, who questioned His sanity, His morality? Some said: “He is a good man”; “Nay,” said others, “He deceiveth the people”; and others called out: “He hath a devil and is mad; why hear ye Him?” Oh, try to live for a little time in those early centuries; try to realise the feeling of the people, the fickle populace who for a moment heard Him gladly and then caught up stones to cast at Him; the people swayed by every breath of change, now loving and now hating, now shouting “Hosanna!” and then “Crucify!” Try to think what you would have felt had you been one of that Jewish people then - a stranger, a man not learned in the teaching of the Pharisees, no Rabbi or recognised teacher of the people; perhaps stirring up the people, perhaps causing discontent and even rebellion, a heretic in religion, perchance a danger to the State. And then you will understand the satisfied calm that fell on Jerusalem when the people knew Him dead, and they felt a source of danger had been cleared away, a possible cause of evil had been cut down at the root. For how shall a man know the Teacher? Only by the teaching that He gives. The value of the teaching of the Christ showed itself in history; it did not show itself to the people who heard the words fall from His lips. And it is not surprising; for the higher the Teacher the more difficult is it to grasp the value of the teaching that He gives. The acceptable teacher is the man who says a thing a little better than we can say it, but says what we want said; not the man who is high above us and who speaks the things of heaven in the dull ears of earth. Oh, would you and I recognise such a teacher, if He came in the London of today instead of in the Jerusalem of 2000 years ago?
In order that that question may be answered more or less by some suggestion, let me bring it down from 2000 years ago to the London of our time, and see how far the prejudice of the day would be against the coming of such a Teacher, how far the thought of today would be willing to bow before the words that He might speak.
Take one thing, very common, very simple, very widespread - your prejudice against races whose colour is other than your own. Suppose the Christ took the body of a coloured man, would you be willing to recognise Him as the Supreme Teacher? Why! He could not go into many of your colonies; He would be shut out of Australia, Canada, South Africa. And that prejudice is no more strange than the prejudices which prevented the Jews from recognising the Christ in one of their own people. This is one of the practical questions you want to consider; for in the past the Teachers have all been Easterns, of the races that now you despise and think to be lower than your own. How then if He takes an eastern body? will you be willing to acclaim Him as your Teacher? The Christ was an Eastern. But the men who worship Him shut out the Easterns who are nearer to Him in blood than they are themselves, and no one here seems to think very much of it; no one here seems to consider that they may be building up a wall of prejudice which shall prevent their eyes from recognising Him when He comes. And so one of the things from which you should clear your minds, if your vision you would have clear, will be every prejudice of race, every prejudice of colour, all that pride that makes you think the white man is the favourite of God and none other. Until that is thrust out of the heart of every one of us, until we extend hands not of patronage and condescension but of equal brotherhood to men of every race and every colour, may it not be that when the Christ is amongst us we shall reject Him because He is not of our blood and kind?
The Teacher, I said, is justified by the teaching. How shall we be able to recognise the spirituality of the teaching, if it puts things in a different way from the way to which we are accustomed: if it presents some great spiritual truth from a new aspect and in a new light? First, by trying in our own selves to develop the spiritual above the intellectual and the emotional, to unfold in ourselves the spiritual life which will recognise its kin when it sees spirituality in its highest and most wonderful form. For the measures of heaven are not the measures of earth, and the divine scales differ very much from our human balances. We admire very often pride and high estate, splendour of intellect or magic of emotion. But the spiritual man is gentle, calm, meek, and un-resentful. How shall you, ever ready to defend yourselves against unjust attack, ever ready to prove you are in the right and the other in the wrong, ever eager to take up the weapon to strike when you have been struck, who think it unmanly to bear insult in silence - how shall you appreciate the majesty of the dignity which when accused remained silent before His judges, and to every threat and accusation made He answered not a word? Why! if you hear an accusation against anyone and that person remains silent and does not defend himself, you say he is guilty, otherwise he would defend himself, bring a suit for libel, or take some other means of that kind. But that is not the way of the spiritual life. Those are not the weapons of the great Ones of the race. “When He was reviled He reviled not again; when He suffered He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously.” There is the spiritual secret; the law is sure, the law is just, the law is good; you do not need to avenge yourselves. If you have been wronged the great law will right you; and none can harm you unless you have made the weapon for your striking; for only those who have wronged receive back the blow on themselves. And so, if you would know the Christ when He comes, cultivate the spirit of the Christ - to bear insult with forgiveness, to bear accusation in silence, to refrain from anger, not to return evil with evil but with good. And if in yourselves you can develop those Christ-like qualities, then shall your vision be clear to recognise Him when He comes; for although in you they are imperfect and in Him perfection, still the nature will be the same and will know its own, and recognise the greatness that otherwise would blind the vision.
If you would know the Christ when He comes, try to develop in yourself not only that gentleness and patience, but all the qualities which go to the making of the spiritual man - the love for all you meet, whether attractive or unattractive; the patience which becomes more patient face to face with ignorance and stupidity; the love which becomes more gentle when it finds shyness, when it finds weakness in its way; the qualities that are sometimes laughed at as womanly - but would that every woman had them; the heart that feels and understands when misery is before it, and that keeps nothing back when it has aught to give.
If you would know Him when He comes, then check the tendency to decry the great, and to find faults in what is noble. So many people, looking at the sun, only see the spots; and no man, they say, is a hero to his valet de chambre. But why not? Not because he is not heroic, but because the heart of the valet de chambre cannot appreciate heroism. We criticise; we find petty faults; we lay stress on petty mistakes; and we miss the soul of goodness and of greatness, perchance, in those who are around. Oh, cultivate reverence, although it be against the common feeling of the time. Be not ashamed to admire. Be not ashamed to be reverent to that which is greater, nobler than yourself, for the power to admire means really the faculty to achieve. That which you recognise to be noble, by the very recognition you rise nearer to it and become liker to it. Reverence greatness wherever you see it, in outer life, in inner life, in the genius of the writer, the painter, the sculptor, in the holiness of the saint, in the compassion of the pitiful. In every one that you meet try to see the best and not the worst. Meet every one, be it even the criminal, as the potential saint; for by that love and respect to that which only exists in germ, the seed will burst, and presently will grow into flower and into fruit.
God is in every man, and if you do not see Him it is your eyes that are blinded; and if you would see the divine in its mighty perfection in a Christ, then see the Christ in your poorest fellow-man or fellow-woman, and verily then you shall know Him when He comes.
When you are able to feel reverence, then do not put a check on the love that flows out to that which you see to be greater than yourself; but nourish the feeling of devotion which is ready to love, which is ready to give, which is able to give itself utterly to that which it knows to be greater than itself. Oh, they said of old that there were some who, when they met the Christ, left all and followed Him. And if, when He stands amongst us in our twentieth century, any of you would fain be among those who on seeing Him leave all and follow, then cultivate that feeling in your daily life while still He is not present manifest amongst us. Thus practise the virtues that will burst into flower when you are in His presence. Try to realise what He must be, the Teacher of angels and men. Try to catch some touch of His spirit of perfect love, some gleam of His nature of perfect purity, some understanding of a power which conquers everything because it wins everything to knowledge and to answer.
If it be so amongst some of us, enough of us to influence the public opinion of our time, then when the Lord of Love comes again, it shall not be a Cross that will meet Him; then when He stands amongst us, it shall not be hatred that shall be poured out against Him; not three brief years alone will He stay with us, but our love will not let Him go, for love fetters even the Lord of Love.
Then we who have tried to grow into H is likeness, we who have longed for the glory of His presence, we with our eyes shall behold the King in His beauty, and know the Supreme Teacher when again, were very long, He treads the roads of earth.
FRIENDS: Some of you may think, in looking at the title of my lecture for tonight, that it forms rather a descent from the subjects that we have been considering on previous occasions. We turn from the study of a World-Religion, from the contemplation of a World-Teacher, to plunge into the social problems of our time, and to ask whether they shall be solved by self-sacrifice or revolution. And yet, rightly looked at, the subject of human needs and human difficulties should properly follow on the consideration of those loftier topics with which, so far, we have been concerned; for the rapture of the Mystic in the Beatific Vision does not really work out its due results unless he brings some of the beauty and the harmony which have delighted him into the jangle and the noises of our earthly life. That keen air of the mountains, delicious as it is, should not incapacitate us, but rather invigorate us for the meeting of human troubles, for the healing of human woes. And when the World-Teacher is amongst us to spread the wisdom of His teachings and to shed abroad His love, surely part of H is work will be to lay the foundation of that Kingdom of Righteousness, which His followers shall have the task of slowly building upon earth. And so I do not think our subject tonight should really be considered a descent, but as the natural and rightful subject towards which we should now turn, in order that we may try to understand how we may help our brethren, and in the very act of helping may prepare the way for the coming of the Lord.
Now, those of you who have read the newspapers of the last fortnight and have looked at them with intelligence awake and bent on the larger outlines of what you see there - even perchance if you read carelessly - you must have been struck with the three special subjects which occupied the columns on the first page of the newspapers, and struck you by their juxtaposition side by side. One of these would deal with the great pageants of the last days, with all that accompanied the crowning of the King and Queen. Next to that you will have noticed day after day accounts of the strikes that are going on amid the workmen of the North, the struggles there between labour and capital, the bitter strife which is rending and threatening industry. And then, after those two - the splendour of the civilisation and the strife which mars the splendour - you will have seen almost invariably, I think, a column devoted to the latest triumphs of aviation, the flights of men in the air, the races over land and sea.
Now, of those three subjects thus steadily reproduced side by side each has its significance, its instruction for us tonight, for together they give us a vision of the civilisation of our day, of the forces at work amongst us, of the tendency of the civilisation of which we are a part; and I take the three as an opening in order to see in these the conditions that surround us, in order to look at the factors of our problems, that we may be able to judge of the solution which it may be possible to find.
I pause for a moment on the first of these that has occupied so much of thought and attention during the last days - the many pageants, processions, spectacles, which have accompanied the crowning of our Rulers.
Looking at the crowds that took part in all of those, trying to catch what was for them the attraction and the pleasure, we ask: What are the points that come most clearly out of those dense, serried ranks of men and women? Clearly part of it was enjoyment of the spectacle as spectacle, the enjoyment of seeing something bright and brilliant that changed for a moment the dull and sluggish current of their daily life, the pleasure in the mere sight, the beauty, the splendour; a change from the dull London streets, from the grey, cheerless houses of so many millions of the population; a pleasure bright, although passing, in for a moment catching a glimpse of a life so far removed from their own. And then, after that natural pleasure, you could distinguish a certain pride amongst the people of the greatness of the panorama of Empire that was unrolled before their eyes as the long processions passed through street after street. You could notice how the warmest welcome went out towards the great constituents of that Empire - the men who represent the Colonies, those who represent the great Indian Empire; there you had the two groups that most typified for the crowd the greatness of their country, the power and might of the Empire that stretches round the world. And then the third factor: a real, fairly strong, affection for the two royal figures round whom the whole splendour was centring. No one who looked at those crowds with the eye that sees beyond the physical could but notice the great crimson clouds that rolled out as the procession passed, and enwrapped the royal pair, almost hiding them in the depth and beauty of their colour. And those who know aught of those colours that mark the emotions know that those crimson clouds meant a real love, a real affection, for the crowned man and woman who were driving through the streets. And some, perchance, who might have seen the great processions in which Queen Victoria took part - her Diamond Jubilee, for instance - would have noticed a difference in the greeting, marked by the difference in the colour whereof I speak; for round that venerable lady, who so long had wielded the sceptre of the Empire, there rolled out a feeling that was almost more devotion than love - love raised to a very high point, love that was full of devotion to her person, of reverence for her as Queen - whereas the other day there was less of the exquisite blue that shows devotion tinged with worship, and more of the natural human feeling of love and sympathy for these, almost as yet untried, round whom the nation’s heart is swiftly beginning to cling. And that part of the pageant was of the profoundest interest, for this love is one of the great conservative forces in the nation. I do not mean Conservative in the political sense as party, but conservative in the human sense of constructing, maintaining, and upbuilding; for the love and loyalty of a nation to its Chief is one of the mighty forces which bind an Empire together, and in that love to the Crown, raised above all party struggle, there is the promise of the endurance of the Empire, of the strength that will hold it firm, no matter what the difficulties in front of it may be.
But now from one here and there, sometimes spoken, sometimes only felt, questions have arisen as regards the value of those pageants. Is it not a great waste of money? is one reflection that one has seen now and again in reckoning up the cost in money which obviously was involved in the spectacle. Covent Garden Opera-House filled with roses may naturally, in the minds of some, gleam doubtfully when it is placed side by side with hungry men, women, and children, living in the same city where the splendid spectacle is seen. And yet that human feeling, natural as it is, seems to me to have in it something of error, something of shortsightedness, for the using for the poor the pounds spent upon the spectacle would only for a moment lift the burden of hunger from masses of miserable people, whereas the emotion of love and loyalty that is evoked in the heart of the nation is priceless beyond all reckoning. And when you have a nation like our own, you can see far worse ways in which money is wasted than in showing a nation’s joy over the crowning of its King. You might have many a coronation for the drink bill which is paid year by year - a drink bill that means beaten wives and tortured children and wrecked homes and ruined strength; and I don’t think it lies in the mouth of a nation that wastes millions on strong drink to complain of the expenditure incurred during the last few days. And when to that you add the millions spent on war - think how you build war-vessel after war-vessel to outrace in the costly game other nations whom you dread - when you reckon the light hearts with which you waste your millions for the possible destruction of human life, then I rather challenge the reality of complaint against the cost of those pageants.
But it is said they were too military - too many soldiers, too much of uniform and glitter. But that is your own fault. You have made the common life so ugly that you can only find beauty and splendour when you turn to your Court, your Army, and your Navy. Even the Church itself - though on an occasion like this it adds its quota of splendour and of beauties still largely under the influence of the Early Victorian and Mid-Victorian age, when everything that was ugly was thought to be spiritual, and all that was beautiful was regarded as tending towards the worship of the devil. And so you must not blame, for if we are to have beauty at all we can only have it where beauty has been allowed to remain. Beauty, ceremonial order, those are now restricted to the Court, to the Church, to the Army, and to the Navy. Common life has been made ugly, common dress has been made hideous. How could you build a pageant out of figures in top-hat and morning coat and trousers? There is no material for beauty in the common life. You must have historical pageants in order to see how gracious and how beautiful may be the common life of man. You must go back to the time of Elizabeth, back to the time of the Charleses, and then you see beauty and grace and colour in the ordinary life of the common people as well as in that of the middle classes; but in this civilisation of ours we have thrown aside the beautiful and exhibited the ugly, so that naturally when we want grace and beauty we must go to the Services, which alone have provided and kept it in our midst. And I know in my own eyes the pleasure with which, after seeing the great crowd - grey, dull, ugly in colour and in appearance - I saw the First Lord of the Admiralty come walking along with his gold-laced coat and his cocked hat. It was quite a pleasure to see a man in clothes that were not repulsive and ugly. And if you want to change the military aspect of your pageants, then learn to bring beauty into the home and the common life, and do not think it is practical to be ugly, and that all that is of beauty is simply dreamy and superfluous.
Turning from that, glance for a moment at my second column, the column devoted to the record of the lamentable strikes going on today. The saddest part of those is to see how crime is accompanying them; acts of incendiarism, deliberate firing of ships, five deliberate fires breaking out in one single liner of a great steamship company. Injury to those who are not even immediately concerned in this war between capital and labour is becoming a more and more lamentable and common incident in our days, and it is that partly which points to the possibility of revolution when only hatred is felt and longing for revenge occupies the human heart. You see it more in France than you do over here, because still in France you have some of the spirit which made the revolution of the past; and there you see a railway partly torn up because the railway employees are discontented, and the danger to hundreds of innocent lives, because this may count for something in terrorising those whom the strikers desire to vanquish in the struggle. I have heard it said that that is always the case in war, the innocent must suffer as well as the guilty, and this is war. But what does that mean? It means there is so little strength in our civilisation that class is set against class in war all but in name; when the strikers take advantage of the public need, when they strike at the moment when they think most public inconvenience will be caused, then you are face to face with a social condition which only in name is removed from civil war. The sense of responsibility, the sense of public duty, of the place of each citizen in the social order, and of his duty to the State - these are largely absent, are passing away from the masses of our workers, passing away from those also who are higher m the social scale. And when the sense of duty to the nation falls into the background, where shall there be the shield from the possibility of civil war or of revolution?
Pass to the third column. I only allude to it as a mark of the progress of science, so marvellous in her conquest over nature during the nineteenth century and the twentieth, the powers that science has found herself able to harness, applying her knowledge to the conquest of nature in order to enrich and make easier the life of man. Look back over the past and compare it with the present, and that one point is the point that comes out most strongly, and is really one of the factors which make inevitable a mighty social change; for this is the age of machinery, of power applied to every form of human production and of human labour. The introduction of applied science into industry has revolutionised industry, has changed all its conditions, and has enormously multiplied the power of production. Where once the handicraft flourished, now the rattle of the machine is heard; where once the artisan laboured with his hands, now the machine takes his place, and he is only wanted to guide it; and even that guidance is diminishing more and more as machines become more and more perfect. And not only is industry being revolutionised, but all human communications are undergoing the same change, slower methods giving way to more rapid methods, life to varieties of machine. Looking at our London streets we can see the revolution in progress, horses disappearing everywhere and motors taking their place. On the sea steam is likely to be displaced in its turn by the power of electricity; similarly, in the very air we find man is making his way. In the household the same thing is beginning to appear: carpets swept by machinery, bread kneaded by machinery. More and more the machine is taking the place of human labour.
Ask yourself what that ought to mean, and then inquire what it does mean in solid and actual fact. What it ought to mean is clear. Increased production should mean increased comfort for the whole of the commonwealth; it should mean longer education, so that boys and girls might complete their education, their work no longer needed where the machine has multiplied man’s power to produce; it should mean the cessation of child labour, of boy and girl labour, and education should be their work instead of production; it should mean less struggle in every part of industry, increased leisure to the worker, who can produce fifty times as much in an hour of his labour as he could two centuries ago; it should mean that the leisure which is now the appanage of a class should be spread over the whole of the people, with all the immense benefits and pleasures which grow out of adequate leisure. I do not mean idleness, for man takes joy in work when the work is congenial and not over-laborious. In general, idleness is as wearisome as unending labour. But leisure, the leisure that recruits the strength, that gives time for the cultivation of literature and the enjoyment of art - oh, surely that should have been a gift brought in the hands of applied science to our people; and the people at large should have been the happier because science had learned to utilise the mighty forces of nature. Machinery should gradually do all the unpleasant work of the community, should hew the coal in the mine instead of men, who burrow there like moles underground; machinery should take the place of the pit ponies, tortured continually in their miserable toil. Machinery that does not feel, that has no senses through which it can suffer, should bear the burden of all forms of labour which are toilsome, unpleasant, and degrading. That is what machinery should do for a people.
But what has it done? It has piled up vast fortunes for the few, and left the worker sadder in many ways than he was before. It has poisoned our air, poisoned our water, crowded our people together in the miserable, gloomy streets of a Sheffield, of a Bradford, of a Leeds, cramping their lives; undermining their health, diminishing their vitality. While it has brought wealth to the few it has brought diminution of life to the many. I am not forgetting that it has made products cheaper and commoner, but very often at the cost of their value both in material and in beauty. And it might have been wholly a blessing where it has so largely become a curse.
Now why? Why should that be? From the lack of the sense of responsibility and of public duty that I alluded to just now in the case of those strikers, who are willing to take criminal action and injure the public good in their struggle with their employers. Indifference, irresponsibility, are more blameworthy in the educated and in the wealthy than in the ignorant and in the poor. And that lack of responsibility began above and has gone down like a poison through all parts of the body politic; for the sense of duty, public duty, is divorced from rank and power and wealth in this civilisation as it has never been before in any civilisation that we know in history. And there lies the danger, there lies the menace of tomorrow, lest the loss of the sense of public duty in the various ranks of the community should make possible a violent uprising with all the inevitable misery that would follow in its wake. And it is because of that that the sense of public duty must be revived, that men must understand again that with wealth and rank and power goes duty to the community, to the country. And until that sense revives in England - and there are signs of its revival - there will always be a danger between the class unfairly rich and huge masses unfairly and most miserably poor.
I used a phrase that some of you may be inclined to challenge - that in the present civilisation the sense of duty was more divorced from wealth and rank than in any previous civilisation that you may meet in history. Let me for a moment attempt to justify that by referring to two of the great systems which still may be studied, for they are sufficiently recent to bring them within what is called the historic period. Take the civilisation of India as it existed some four or five thousand years ago, not to go further back into the past. It has fallen into ruins now, but still the value of its central ideas remains. It was called, and is called still, the system of castes. Now, what was that in its inception and its working for many a thousand years? Highest in the community was a great class of men, poor in all the world’s wealth, but distinguished by their learning - the class of Brahmanas. They, by hereditary duty, were bound to study, deeply, profoundly, during all the years of boyhood and of youth, and then it became their duty in manhood to be the teachers of the people, without reward, without payment, bound to give to any boy that came to them the learning that he asked for, the education that he craved. Poor, supported mainly out of the charity of the people, but honoured by the people as none other caste was honoured; though he were clothed in but a couple of cotton cloths, Kings would rise from their thrones and bow at the feet of the Brahmana; honour was given to him instead of wealth, and duty was expected from him, duty to the people.
Then you came to the ruling class, second, not first, in the land, for learning was the test of social greatness, and not either power or wealth. The ruling class, strong and splendid the King, those who administered the laws, the soldiers who defended the nation, the police who preserved internal order; those were the members of the second great caste in the State. And then the organisers of industry, the bankers, the merchants, whose duty was the gathering of wealth, but the gathering, not the hoarding, the gathering in order that it might be used. And that was the caste on which fell the real burden of the nation. Great wealth accumulated in order to be spent in the helping and the succouring of the people, building temples for the nation’s worship, supporting Brahmanas for the nation’s teaching, building rest-houses by the side of the road for the passing traveller, digging wells where water could be given to all, planting trees that the roads might be shaded from the sun, building and supporting hospitals alike for men and animals; those were the great duties of charity imposed by the law and public opinion on the merchant caste.
Then below them the great caste of the artificers, the artisans, the agricultural labourers, to be regarded, it is said in the Law, as the younger children in the household, whose duty was service, whose reward was comfort and protection. That system is now in ruins. Why? Because the highest forgot their duty. That is for the most part the answer which comes to the question as to why a nation fell. Those who ought to have been poor and learned grasped at the wealth of the world, and used their power to enrich themselves instead of to serve; made their caste a narrow trade union, as it were, from which all others were excluded, whereas in the earlier days a man might enter it if he showed the qualities which justified the entry. And so, step by step, the civilisation descended, until from these great days in which it is written in their history that there was not a man who did not know how to read and write, you come down to the present condition of ignorance and degradation. And yet, even in its ruins, even with all its faults, even after a millennium of conquest, the Indian population, the labourers, the hand workers, are a much happier population than the same class of people here. Their faces are brighter; their lives are gladder; they have beauty in their homes, beauty in their clothes and their surroundings; they are refined and gentle; they behave as you only find people of gentle birth behave here - with a courtesy and gentleness belonging here only to the highly trained, but there to the masses of the people. You meet them after their work is over, smiling, singing, bright and gay; and, except in the times when famine sweeps over the land, they are a happy, a contented, and a sober population. So admirable even in its ruins is that great social system of India.
Pass from that to the feudal system of Europe. There you had a feudal nobility who paid in service for the rank and power that they held. All the older families of nobles held their land on military tenure; to defend the people was their duty, and in exchange for that they held the land; no taxes for army, no taxes for navy, no taxes for fortifications along the nation’s borders; the whole of that fell upon the highly placed, whose service in return for privilege was to risk their lives and limbs. They called it Merrie England in those days. You would not call it Merrie England now.
Oh, you say, there were many abuses. Yes, there were; but the masses of the people were happier than they are in the present day; their lives brighter, gayer, more joyful than they are in our twentieth-century civilisation; divisions between classes less marked, communion between classes very much freer; because it was a system, not an anarchy, as is the so-called civilisation of our own days. And there you come to a point of vast importance. An order, even if it be not a perfect order, is better for man than disorder and absence of organisation. In the one he grows; in the other he decays. And there lies the danger of our modern life. Because of those facts of the past, I used the phrase that never before in history had we seen rank and wealth so divorced from public duty as they are today. And there lies the evil that demands a remedy; there lies the possibility which still is open in our English land. For look for a moment how things are going now - the endeavour is being made, ill or well conceived, according to your party views, to take from one class and to give to another; but taking by force, even if it be the force of a majority, can never make a settled social peace.
Oh, you say, but let us get rid of the House of Lords, and then we shall be better off. And you forget, in the appealing to popular passion, that only part of your House of Lords sits there because they are sons of their fathers; and that you have gathered in that House representatives of literature, of art, of science, given the outer title because of the inner nobility. You forget that the men who made your Empire are there, and that when a man stands out above his fellows it is to that House that the Crown sends him, to add his knowledge and his experience to the treasury of the permanent Council of the nation. Do as you will, for yours is the power; but remember that counting heads without weighing them is not always the way to the building of a mighty Empire.
And, after all, what can you do? What is one of the great reforms that has made one of your statesmen apparently almost a hero in England? - old-age pensions. I do not deny that it is better to have that than to have the condition that preceded the granting; but, after all, if you clear your mind of the prejudice which imagines that the masses of the people must always be poor, are a few shillings a week to keep a man out of the workhouse a fair return from a nation for the strength of his youth, the industry of his manhood, the drudgery through which his life has been passed year after year in struggle and in toil? Is that England’s only recognition of her workers, to give them a few shillings out of the vast wealth they have produced? Oh, not in that way by small reforms wrung out by the exigencies of party strife, will you build up the nation that should be a model of civilisation in the world. Not by struggles in Parliament, but by a development of conscience among the people, must come the great changes that are necessary to make this Empire what it should be, what perchance it yet shall be, among the nations of the world.
But you may say: If you would not have alterations made by a mere attack on privilege, by a tax here and a tax there, how do you propose to make the changes that all admit are needed? By the self-sacrifice of those who have, and not by the revolution and the uprising of those who have not.
Revolution can destroy; it cannot build. The ignorant can rise up; they cannot construct. Not by the starving and the miserable can a social order be established wherein all shall live in peace and happiness, wherein all shall share leisure and the beauty and grace of life. And if I would plead for that self-sacrifice today, it is because to me there are certain priceless things that exist in this nation that a revolution would destroy and bring to naught the accumulated results and the habits of centuries, the dignity, the grace, the sense of beauty that make life human, and not a mere struggle between contending savages. Those things, which now belong only to a class, should be spread over the whole of the nation. Not to pull down those who are higher, but to lift up those who are lower, that should be our aim. It is so easy to destroy, so difficult to make again. And the France of today should mark for you the losses which grow out of the violence of a revolution made by reforms too long delayed.
Now, what might be done if the highly placed, the wealthy, and the powerful in social life made up their minds that their position demands from them self-sacrifice, and not mere idle luxury and self-indulgence? In the first place, the stronger brains amongst them should, in the leisure of their guarded lives, think out some reasonable plan of social order which might take the place of the disorder of the present - an order based on reason and on facts, an order to which they could bring their knowledge of the world and their experience of practical life. For what is wanted today is that a new social order should be thought out, not fought out - made by thinking, and not made by struggle either in Parliament or in the streets. For the politician lives from hand to mouth. What else can he do while party government is the rule in our country? He must get the better of his opponents; he must deny to-day in Opposition what tomorrow in Government he will affirm. It is the play backwards and forwards of parties that we see, while we need a scheme for the building of a nation. Strong brains, then, in the classes that have leisure - there lies their first great task.
And when you turn then to the holders of fortunes, huge, vast, accumulated out of the labour of millions, what is their duty in the struggle of our times? You see the beginning of that in the great organisations that have been built up in America. And some of you will remember that two years ago, speaking of the coming changes, I pointed to the likelihood that that very extreme of competition embodied in what is called the Trusts would bring about its own remedy, and result ultimately in a fairer and happier state of things. And what is happening now in America? The head of the largest of those Trusts, the great Steel and Iron Corporation, is advising the Government of America to appoint a Department of Industry, and to vest in a Minister of Industry the control of the vast organisation that he now rules, bringing it under a State Department, and no longer leaving it a monopoly of a few men gathering enormous fortunes; he argues that a nation cannot always go on by the wasteful way of competition, now that the Trusts have shown how much more economically it is possible to organise industry. And he suggests that the nation should do it instead of the company; that it should be a national organisation, and not a monopoly inimical to the State. And so the first great step is being taken to change the tyranny of individuals into a national organisation which shall regulate the industry for the benefit of all, and put an end to strikes by co-operation and economical organisation. There is one step along the right lines to which men of great fortune should address themselves.
Then comes the question of education. The duty of those who have taken wealth from the nation at large is to give it back in the form of education for the masses of the people who have made those fortunes possible; that also is beginning in America, vast endowments giving back to the people that which has been drawn from their labour. And here in England, only the day before yesterday, I saw how four wealthy people had just given an endowment of two hundred thousand pounds to build up the college at Reading to the status of a university. Oh, if that spirit spreads, if men use wealth for educating instead of in idle luxury, then the beginning of true self-sacrifice is seen, and shall prevent revolution; for men give instead of waiting to have things taken from them, and hold out their hands full of gifts instead of waiting till their riches shall be torn from them by law.
Another thing that great fortunes can do in the hands of large manufacturers is what one or two have done already - to make conditions better for the workers than they are, for the most part, today; they should build everywhere garden cities where the workers may live, away in the country, and may recruit the energies which they have exhausted in the labour of the day; where games may be ready for them, where fields may stretch around them, where the theatre may give them drama, where the hall may give them lecture or concert. There, again, is a line along which great fortunes may be sacrificed to the common good, to reap a vaster fortune in love and gratitude, and in the greater stability of the nation to which they belong.
And just as we see that great brains at leisure may work out intellectually the problems, that great fortunes accumulated may be spent along the lines that the thinkers have devised, so does it come as a personal duty to every young man and woman in the leisured class to find some useful work to which they shall turn their hands, to justify their existence by being the unpaid workers of the nation. I am not ignoring the fact that many are doing it already; I am not forgetting that the social conscience is growing among the classes to which I refer; but I do declare here that no one - no man or woman, strong, healthy, with hours of leisure on their hands - but should give some of those hours to unpaid work among less fortunate individuals, should share among them the refinement and the culture which become a cancer unless given to the people, and injure rather than uphold. Oh, there is not one amongst them that could not add something of greater happiness to the crowded masses of our poor. They might open free theatres, where noble drama could be played; they might have free concert halls, where good music should be given - I do not mean such scientific music as the untrained people at first could not understand, but music that should gradually lift them a little higher, until their taste was more ennobled, until their faculties were more evolved. And in doing that you would help them after death as well as before, for you would be drawing out the life of the higher emotions, of all that which makes them men. And then they should mingle with them more freely in sport as well as in learning. It is easy in the country; there the way is very open. It is harder m the town, but not too hard for loving hearts and good brains to work to make a way. And if they would share with the masses of the people -I am not thinking of money; I am thinking of comradeship and friendship and helpfulness and the sharing of refinement and of culture - if they would do that, all danger of revolution would pass away, for none would be willing to rise against those whose hearts were knit by love and service to the helping of the masses of the people.
It means a change of values, a change of ideals. It means the realisation that life is only precious as it is spent in service, and in making happier the world in which we have been born. Money perishes in the using, but knowledge and love multiply as you give them away and share them with your fellow-men; if you have knowledge and give it, you are none the poorer; you yourself know the better, because you have tried to teach. And so all great intellectual and artistic pleasures and powers become the more fruitful the more they are given away. Give with both hands, and your hands will ever be full; for no hands can ever be emptied of those gifts which are poured out more abundantly the more freely they are scattered among men.
And today that is, in the sense of the world, to make a sacrifice. But what is sacrifice? In reality, it is not pain but joy. It is not really self-denial, but it is self-expression. You only think of sacrifice as pain, as I said, because you look at it from the standpoint of the body. Look at it from the standpoint of the eternal Spirit, and you will know that his joy and delight is in pouring himself out, and that it would be in self-repression that suffering would be found.
You realise yourself as you give yourself. You realise your own divinity as you pour out your life on others. But sacrifice is not pain, it is delight. And just as the intellectual enjoyment of a splendid poem, or the emotional delight of some marvellous symphony, is a hundred times keener, more satisfying, and more delicious than the food with which you support the body, so is the joy of the Spirit that pours himself out more delightful and more joyous than the joy of intellect and emotion. As those transcend the body, so does the joy of the Spirit in turn transcend them; and only when you have learned the joy of giving, when you have found your own life grow mightier because you have emptied yourself into the life of others, only then will you know that the uttermost service is the most perfect freedom, and that in giving one’s life to others one finds the life eternal which is the very Self in man.
FRIENDS: We have now come to the last of the present course of lectures, and just as on last Sunday I tried to draw up into two words the choice that lies before society with regard to the social difficulties, so tonight I have tried to sum up, again in two words, the problems which lie before the religious world imperatively demanding solution; upon the answer given to those problems seems to depend the future of Religion amongst us. It is not that with regard to the permanence of Religion any anxiety need be felt, for Religion - the search after God and the answer to the searching - that is everlasting as humanity, and it can never cease to be while man is living upon earth. But sometimes there comes over parts of the world at least that which has been truly called the eclipse of faith. Sometimes a cloud appears and veils for the moment the light of the great Sun of Truth; and although the sun be ever shining, no matter how the clouds may gather over us, to us dwellers upon earth the sun can be shrouded by the clouds. Such times have been and may come again, and though Religion will not perish, much of human anguish, of human misery, may come between the man and the knowledge of the life he seeks. And it seems from many signs as though our world during the last few years had been facing such a crisis, that it had had presented to it a choice, a terrible choice. There was doubt enshrouding religious truth, questioning of the true meaning and scope of life; during these years of quickly growing science, of questionings on the part of religious people, during these years it seemed for a time - I am thinking of some thirty or forty years ago - as though the intellectual must needs pass into scepticism, as though the emotional would have no refuge save superstition. Unbelief on the one side, superstition on the other, menaced the Religion of man, and threatened it with at least temporary eclipse. And if today the horizon is brighter than before, if today we see tendencies in the religious world which promise a fuller faith, a deeper knowledge, yet we cannot hide from ourselves that that great problem for parts of Christendom has by no means yet been answered, although it may press for solution. Looking at the great Roman Catholic Church, the mightiest organisation of Christianity that Christendom knows or has known, we see that in that Church dogma, almost in its crudest form, is being vehemently pressed upon the masses of its adherents. We have seen coming from the throne of the Pope declarations so hopelessly at variance with modern thought, so widely condemnatory of modern progress, that sometimes it almost seems as though the danger of Rome threatened to outweigh the value of its priceless discipline, of the Occultism widely spread throughout it. And even today that mighty Church is faced with the choice as to whether it will grant a wider liberty, or whether it will press upon the people fetters of dogma too heavy for the modern mind to bear.
Outside Rome the prospect is brighter, for gradually a deeper, more spiritual view is spreading through the Churches, is showing itself not only in those that are called technically Churches, but also in the great Nonconformist communities. We see a more spiritual way of looking at Christian doctrine; we see a growth of mystic interpretation, a recognition that a spiritual truth cannot ever be confined within the limits of an intellectual statement. And I am told, although I do not know that by my own experience, that in the great Greek Church also there is a change of spirit, a revival of its ancient mysticism, a lifting up of hearts towards the heights to which only the Mystic can climb. So that all over Christendom, save with the one danger I have mentioned, it does seem as though it were true that the light is rising on the horizon, and that there is a hope, well-nigh a certainty, that the deeper, more mystical view of Christianity will prevail above the more crudely dogmatic. And in order to clear our way, let me define what I mean by Dogma and Mysticism.
By dogma I mean a statement, elaborated by the reason, embodying a truth, or that which is believed to be a truth, and imposing it by authority from outside. I think, if you bring that definition and apply it to the dogmas that you find in the Churches, you will find that it is inclusive and accurate. The dogma is necessarily intellectual, not spiritual; is necessarily a statement elaborated by the reason embodying some truth, imposed by authority, whatever that authority may be. It may be the authority of an ancient Church or of some sacred Scripture, or of a man regarded as supreme; but in any case it is an authority outside the man from whom belief is demanded. And it comes to him with the claim of that authority for his submission; he must bow to it, accept it as the truth.
Mysticism, on the other hand, is the inner recognition of a spiritual truth, which the man accepts because he sees it to be true, knows it to be true by the testimony of the Divine within him. He does not seek an outer authority; he recognises only the authority of the Inner God. He does not demand that reason shall be able to argue to it; he sees it in the light of the Spirit that transcends the reasoning of the mind; and the only authority to which he bows, the only authority on which he accepts the truth, is the authority of the God within him, whose eyes are opened so that he can see. He needs no outer argument, he needs no outer assent. Crowds may deny the truth he knows, but he feels his feet are founded upon a rock; the truth is within him enlightening the reason; and though heaven and earth and hell were to proclaim the contrary, he would hold to the truth he knows, and cling to it despite every power that might strive to wrench it from his grasp.
We have then a clear distinction - an outer authority, an inner authority. The one presents the dogma, the other is the light by which the Mystic sees the truth. Those distinctions then will govern us in our thought tonight. And glancing at the past, the growth of religions, we can see that they pass through different stages. First, when the Teacher, the Founder of the faith, speaks and declares the truth, it is accepted then by many who hear Him, accepted from Him by a spiritual answer aroused by His spiritual power. Such a Teacher truly teaches with authority; but it is the authority of Spirit appealing to Spirit, and not as do the scribes and the doctors of the law. It is the recognition by the Spirit within of the Spirit in the Teacher, assenting without reasoning and without argument. And wherever a mighty spiritual Teacher is made manifest on earth, and speaks with the power of the Spirit, there the awakened Spirits answer in glad acceptation of the teaching, not regarding it as an outer authority, because the inner assent approves that which the Teacher affirms. And so you find, when you read the teachings of the Lord Buddha, the teachings of the Lord Christ, that He speaks with such force and such illumination that the Spirit answers from within us and recognises the truth of the words.
And then, when He has passed away from earth, when the great spiritual truths that flowed from His lips are taken up by smaller men, by less spiritualised minds, then we come to the age of intellect, the age of dogma, where the truths are crystallised into a form of words, and those are presented to the world cut and dried - a system, rather than an inspiring life. Later on, when the age of faith has passed, during which the words were accepted as dogmas, then you come to a stirring of the intellect, the challenge of the mind. The mind has grown since the days when the dogmas were formulated, and the mind - stronger, wider, deeper - demands something more than that which the dogma presents and contains. In such a time we are standing now; such a breath has breathed over Christendom; and according to the way in which we solve our problem will be the immediate result on the great religion of the West.
Suppose, then, that for a moment, seeing these stages through which we have passed and in which we stand; suppose before we go forward to a consideration of the mystical stage which follows on the dogmatic and the doubting; suppose we glance for a moment at dogma, and try to estimate its place in religious teaching, in the religious life. It has a place, and that is in our own time sometimes too much forgotten. Dogma has a value; it is necessary at a certain stage of evolution of the human mind and thought. Just as in the statement of every science you find inevitably certain dogmas, which contain truths that have been ascertained, so in the facts of the religious life, in the great verities which cannot change, you inevitably have a period when they must be taught in the form of dogma, otherwise they cannot be grasped at all. The use of the dogma in religious knowledge is just the same as that of the statement of the expert in any science to the pupil who is learning that science at his hands. There are experts in religion as well as experts in science, and they have their place as teachers. The mischief of it only arises, as it might arise with the teacher of science, when, -after the pupil has learned, he is forbidden to investigate further, or to verify for himself by new experiment that which his teacher has declared. Dogma as a way of learning truth, as the early step on the ladder of knowledge - there dogma is in its right place. But when from being a help it becomes a limitation; when from being a support it becomes a hindrance to further advance; when the teacher demands that the pupil shall never rise into the stage of knowledge but always remain in that of submission and belief, then religious progress is cramped, then religious growth is hindered, and the dogma that helped has to be shattered into pieces, because it has become an obstacle to further advance on the road to truth.
But that is so with science. The scientific man gives you his formula, tells you the experiments you are to make; but what would you think of him if he said to you: “You must never experiment for yourself in order to find out whether the formula I have given you is true or false”. There lies the danger, and it only arises when the teacher of dogma is beginning to feel in himself the doubt which he desires should not arise in the pupil’s mind. The Dogmatist tries to force dogma on others when he himself has doubt as to whether it is a full statement of the truth or not. And if you look into the mind even of the persecutor, you will find his persecution arises from doubt, and not from faith. He would fain silence, because he fears questions he cannot answer. He would forbid inquiry, because he fears lest it should show some aspect of the truth that he has overlooked. And often a doubt unrecognised, a doubt that he does not know as doubt, is gnawing at the root of his faith when he forbids inquiry and shrinks from experiment. Hence the importance of realising the place of dogma, and to know it is a crutch to help us and not a barrier to prevent further advance. Then it will play its part in religious evolution, and will be useful and not dangerous to the growth of man.
But dogma must always be inadequate, for dogma compared to the Mystic’s knowledge is as the feeling of the hands compared to the sight of the eye. Dogma feels round a truth, expresses the part of it which it is able to gain by feeling, handles it, and tries to realise the form, tries to understand the shape. But just as the man who tests an object by feeling, and then opens his eyes to see it, grasps the difference between touch and sight, so is it with the Dogmatist and the Mystic. The dogma gives but one aspect of a truth; the Dogmatist can only see the truth from a particular view-point, and cannot express its full roundness, its perfection of depth and height. And so those who stay for the time in the dogma must ever remember that it is only one view of the many-sided truth; for spiritual truth can never be wholly grasped by the reason, and the things of the Spirit transcend the powers of the intellect.
But if we are to grow, if we are to reach the stature of the spiritual man, then we must transcend the dogma, and rise into the spiritual atmosphere and open the spiritual eye.
Let us now turn to a few of the great dogmas of Christianity, and see how they gain - they do not lose - when they are seen by the eye of the Mystic, when they are contemplated in the light of the Spirit. For it is worth while to take a few of these, and show how different they are in dogma and in mysticism, albeit it is true that there is ever a reality under the dogma, and the Mystic sees the truth through the veil that oftentimes covers it. He gives you more, he does not really take away; he does not rob you of your priceless treasure, he only shows you new points of beauty that up to that point you had missed. It is as though you had a jewel in a casket and, looking upon it, were fascinated by the beauty of the one facet you see; but the Mystic takes the jewel and lifts it high into the sunlight so that all the facets send back the light, and it shines with a brilliance and a beauty and a splendour that it never had before. Oh, do not fear when we lift the jewel from the casket, as though the casket were necessary for the safety of the gem In the sunlight it will gleam more splendidly than in the obscurity of the casket, and you will lose nothing, you will gain a thousand-fold, when you see your jewel in the sunlight and know it in the fulness of its beauty.
Let us see if that be not true. Let me take first of all, because it is the one rightly nearest to the heart, let me take the great question of the nature of the Christ, of His relation to the believer, of His place in the heart.
Now, on the nature of the Christ there has been many a dogmatic statement. You find it more or less defined in the great Christian creeds written by Mystics, repeated by Dogmatists; they are taken as dogmas instead of as efforts to syllable out a truth too mighty for human words perfectly to explain. And yet in the grandeur of their language, in the stateliness of their expression, if you dwell upon them, brood over them, you will find depths of truth which may almost dazzle you sometimes by its splendour. For when you hear them repeated over and over again, when perchance you repeat them without any depth of thought behind them in your minds, you see only the dogma and not the truth behind it, and may even shrink from that you misunderstand because the light of the Spirit is wanting. You have there the Christ who is spoken of as Very God of Very God, the Only-Begotten of the Father. How does the Mystic see that truth? What to him is the Christ when thus dogmatically defined? He sees in Him the very image of Divinity, truly the very Son of God, in whom the Spirit is ever begotten of the Eternal Father, the Spirit that ever descends to become incarnate in matter, to suffer, to rise again triumphant, carrying with Him the manhood into God. He sees in that statement of the splendour of the Christ not an isolated figure, but humanity seen as one, humanity in all the splendour of its unity, humanity in all the Divinity of its birthright, perfect God and perfect man, the human race the God-Begotten, to ascend to the God whence it is derived. He does not deny Christ - the Mystic never denies; he affirms Christ in the whole of humanity of whom the Christ is the symbol and the promise. Because in Him humanity rose up triumphant, therefore all men shall rise in Him, and know the reality of the Divinity embodied in the flesh.
Just as He is very God, so are His brethren who do not yet realise their own Divinity. And in the proclamation of that mighty manhood all humanity rises triumphant and knows itself as verily divine. “First-born among many brethren” - that is the name that was given to Him; but there would be no brotherhood were He divided from us by the vast gulf that, according to this view, separates God and man. Because God is in Him, He is also in us; because God became man in Him, He is also becoming man in us. And so we fall back on those great words of the Christ, when in His life on earth He was accused of blasphemy: “Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are Gods? If he called them Gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; say ye of Him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?” He is not less divine because His brethren are also divine. People say we drag Him downwards; nay, we lift humanity up to Him It is not a pulling down but a splendid rising, an ascension into heaven for the whole race of men.
And the Mystic sees in the life of Christ on earth not only the history of a perfect life, though that it is, but also the history of humanity. Born in weakness, raised in power; passing through all the stages of the great Initiations; born under the Star that shone above the manger; baptized into the divine life when the Spirit of God descends upon Him; transfigured in the mountain when the realisation of Divinity is touched; agonising in the garden; crucified on the cross in the anguish which precedes the triumph of every Spirit knowing its own Divinity; and then in the triumphant rising, in the glorious ascension, the man become the divine Man, fully conscious of his own Divinity - the wondrous story of the Christ is repeated in the life of every man growing to Divinity; in the words of S. Paul the Christ is born in him, and in him grows to the full stature of the measure of the fulness of the Christ.
Sometimes one feels that the thing is so marvellous and so magnificent that we dare not think it true of ourselves with all our weaknesses, our faults, and our limitations. And yet, for what did He, that great Son of God, take on Him our humanity, save to show that man can rise to Deity? And nothing less than the accomplishment of His words will satisfy the yearnings within us; some day, some time, it shall be true of you and of me: “Be ye therefore perfect, as your Father in Heaven is perfect”.
Turn from that and take another dogma. Take this time the relation of the Christ to the human soul, embodied in the doctrine of the Atonement, with all the many phases through which, historically, that Christian doctrine has passed. I have no time to dwell upon them phase by phase, although they well deserve your careful study, your thought, for each stage has its lesson and its meaning. Take it in the broadest sense in which the Christ as Saviour approaches the human being, and, to use the phrases of an older generation, pays the debt of the man to God, and clothes the sinner in the garment of H is righteousness. Now, that doctrine was taught to many of you, men and women of about my own age, in a crude, sometimes called a legal, form It is not so long ago, it is within our own lifetime, that we heard of a contract between God and man, of a substitution of the Christ for the sinner, of vicarious atonement, of imputed righteousness. And many of us can remember how we began to question, and how the revolt that arose within us against that form of the dogma was not merely the revolt of the intelligence; but also the revolt of the conscience and the heart. We felt to the depths of our being that we did not want an imputed righteousness. We wanted to be righteous ourselves, and not merely accounted righteous before God. We felt that what we were offered was not that for which our souls were craving, that we cried out for bread and the Church gave us a stone. And yet there is something in that doctrine which has won the human heart, attracted the human affection, inspired men and women to the most splendid self-sacrifice, and by the strange paradox that you often find in Religion, despite the error of the presentation, the inner truth has fed the life of man. And what is the inner truth? That the Christ is able to help us, not by substitution of outer persons but by identity of nature; that He is able to share with us; that the Christ who saves is not a Christ outside pacifying the wrath of an angry God, but a Christ within, who transmutes the nature into Divinity, and works out the life of Christ within the limits of the believer’s heart. We learn that when one rises so high in the spiritual life as the Christ has risen, that then, like the sun in heaven, He can pour down His light, His life, His love, into the vessels of human lives that are open to Him on earth; that just as barriers here separate one spot from another, as those divide the sunlight in your garden from the sunlight in mine, but to the sun there are no barriers, to the sun there are no walls of division, all the surface of the earth is his, as his light pours down upon it, life-giving - so do the light and the life of the Christ fall down from above our petty human limitations, knowing nothing of division, but realising H is unity with ourselves; so does that life pour into us, and become our own as we appropriate it. And as the sunshine gives life to earth, so does that Sun of Life give life to our Spirits.
And then we realise that it is by sharing His nature with us that the Christ helps, us to rise to Him By pouring His strength into our weakness, His wisdom into our ignorance, by that He lifts us towards Himself. And it is the glory of the Christ-nature, in whomsoever that nature may develop, that it ignores the differences and realises the unity, and that the lowest of sinners becomes illumined by the life of a Christ, and transformed into the divine image by the life and love that pour out from that triumphant Son of God. And therefore the apostles speak of being “in Him”, and speak of His helping and His saving. But not till you begin to live the life of the Christ can you know the glory of that salvation; for the human Spirit will never be satisfied until he realises his own Divinity and knows himself one with God.
And so with many another Christian dogma. You have difficulties over the dogma of the Trinity, what it means, the phrase that you meet, three Persons and one God. And yet, if you looked into your own nature, you would find the difficulty solved when it passed from the dogma to the fact of human experience; for look at your own consciousness, the image of the divine, realise your own nature, which is part of the nature of God. You find in yourself the power to will, the power to know, the power to act. And your Trinity is the Father who is Will, the Son who is the Wisdom, the Spirit who is the creative Activity. And as ever in nature the Spirit embodies himself, so the three aspects become three persons; although but one divine consciousness showing out in triple way. And by understanding yourself you begin to understand the Godhead; you shake off the shackles of the arithmetical statement, and rise to the reality of the life that you see as the model on which your own is formed; and you know that where people see a difficulty there, it is because they have not yet sounded the depths of their own nature. For just as the water reflects the planet that shines down upon it, so does the consciousness in man reflect the mighty consciousness which is God. Thus gradually you come to realise that what you need is a spiritual vision, the open eye of the Spirit, that which is kin to Deity Himself.
But you may say: How shall the Spirit be unfolded; how shall we be able to become the Mystic; how shall we cast aside the fetters of dogma and rise into the liberty of the realised sonship? There is but the one way - the narrow, ancient path. Strait is that gate, narrow is that way; for you can only pass that gate when you have thrown aside all that the world counts of value, and you can only tread that path in truth when the knowledge of God has become to you the one thing of worth in life.
Let us see how that path stretches itself out; let us see how we may approach the gateway that is so strait. What are the methods - the preparatory, and then the actual? The preparatory is the purification of the life, of the heart, of the whole nature. In an ancient Upanishat it is written of the man who would see the Self: “First, let him cease from evil ways”. Without that all else is useless; without that all else is futile; unchangeable the law, that only the pure in heart shall see. Arid as long as one evil way is followed, you cannot tread that path which leads to life. But not only must you cease from evil ways; you must also actively pursue the good. “Cease to do evil, learn to do well”, is in the Scripture familiar to all of you; the same thought that I have just quoted from the Upanishat, for after the evil ways are cast aside the active treading of the path begins. Purification, then the first step, strenuous, persevering, determined. And then what you all know, by name at least - meditation. There is no other way. For what is it that you are going to try to do? You are going to try to raise your consciousness into regions higher than that in which it dwells and works in your daily life; you are going to lift your individuality, your sense of “I”, above the mind with which you reason, above the mind with which you go out into all your business on earth and your pleasures of life. That consciousness you know and call it “I”, but you have to rise beyond it, to transcend it, to know that it is not you. And how shall you reach that higher consciousness and realise it as yourself, while your minds are full of all the business and the pleasures of earth; in which the higher consciousness has no place and no concern? And so the next step is clear; you must learn to control the emotions; you must learn to control the mind. That whirl of emotion in which many of you live - you cannot live in that and in the calm spaces of the Eternal where the Spirit abides who is yourself Your mind that is full of change, that is full of passing moods, ever flying from one thing to another, taking up one thing and throwing aside another day by day, night by night - what has that in common with the serenity of the Spirit whose eye is fixed on God, who knows the real from the unreal, the eternal from the fleeting? Why, if you want to learn a science, you give some hours a day to it; and yet you would learn the science of the Spirit in the fragments of time that you can spare from your occupations and pleasures of earth! Not thus is the kingdom of heaven conquered, the kingdom of heaven that is within you. Surely that may claim as much attention as you would give if you were trying to conquer mathematics, if you were trying to become skilful in chemistry! And yet, for some mysterious reason you, who know you must give time and thought to conquer things of earth, imagine the heavenly things can be had for the mere asking, the whim of a passing moment! Quiet emotions, mind that is still - those are the conditions of the dawning of the higher consciousness. Again it is written in the Upanishat: “In the tranquillity of the senses, in the quiet of the mind, he shall behold the glory of the Self’. That is the next task, to empty the mind, to empty the emotions; there, in that quiet and that silence, comes the dawning of a new light, the whisper of a hitherto unheard voice; the first notes of the Spirit steal gently over the quietude of the senses and the stillness of the mind; you hear, and scarce know you are hearing; you see, and scarce know whether it be sight or fancy that is beginning to gleam upon your mind. And slowly, quietly, steadily, day by day and week by week the music sounds more clearly, the vision becomes more radiant and more real, until in some great day of awakening, suddenly the mighty consciousness that is your Self shines out, and in its light all things are seen and known. Then no doubt is possible; no questions then can arise. As the glory of the crimson sun that leaps over the horizon and floods the earth with light, so is the glory of the spiritual sun when first it rises over the mind and heart of man.
And then you know what meditation means, and the reality of the path which has led you to that goal; and then meditation becomes a means that you can use for further travel along the path. You may, if you will, take the path of knowledge, and by that great illumination you may know what you desire to know. Or you may take the path of devotion, and in the rapture of the Mystic’s love may rise to union with Deity Himself. If by the path of knowledge you would climb, then illumination of the problems else obscure - that is your guerdon and your prize; you know truth at sight; you recognise truth from falsehood, without possibility of blunder, not by reasoning but by insight, not by argument but by intuition. As surely as the musician knows a discord from a harmony, so do you learn to know a falsehood from the truth; for your innermost Self is truth and not lie; your innermost Self is divine, is the truth on which the universe is built; and in the presence of that truth a lie is seen as a lie; you do not argue, you merely behold.
And if you tread the path of devotion, then you learn that the Godhead is not only truth but bliss; for, rising on the wings of love and service, you enter into the very being of that life which is Love eternal and infinite. The rapture of the Mystic is as real a thing as the insight of the Mystic; the one satisfies the intellect, the other fills the heart. Tread either path as your temperament bids you, for the end of all is the same. That which is Truth is no other than that which is Love. Truth and Love - these are both expressions of the divine life, and perfect knowledge changes to perfect love, and perfect love irradiates as perfect knowledge. There are differences here, but the end of all is one. We separate knowledge and love; really, they are only two sides of a single life. And for each of you that vision is possible; for each of you that attainment is within reach; but on the old terms, the old conditions. The heart full of earth has no room for the birth of the Child Christ; the hands that cling to earth cannot be raised to heaven. And so, whatever your life may be, full of interest, of duty, of occupation - if you would be a Mystic your treasure must not be where your duty may bind your activities; for it is not the outer form, but the inner life which is necessary for the true Mystic. You may be highly placed or lowly, it matters not; you may be wealthy or poor; you may be King or peasant; but your heart must be fixed on the one truth: your life must be pure as the mountain air; and then, whatever your circumstances, the Spirit who is you can rise above them, and you will find that in realising your own Divinity you realise as you never have done before your Brotherhood with everything that lives.
FRIENDS: I thought of speaking to you, first, of the great difference between the world of thought today and the world of thought as it existed in previous ages with regard to religion; then to ask the question whether the next step forward is to be of the nature of a synthesis, a building together, or whether there will be an effacement of differences rather than unity amid diversity; and then to see if we can find any clue to a plan which the world unconsciously has been following both in its religions and in its civilisations - a plan that man does not make but unconsciously carries out, as a great temple may rise under the work of the builder, the painter, the sculptor. Just as we know that behind that rising temple, with its multitudes of workmen, there stands the architect who planned it and marked out the various departments of the work that he gave over to be finished one by one, so behind the great crowd of human workers, behind the nations in their rising and their falling, the nations that are building the great temple of a divine humanity, there stands the great Architect of the universe, whose plan is being carried out by the multiplicity of workers.
Now, are there signs today of a possible coming together of the many religions of the world? In the chaos of controversy and in the battle-shocks of warring creeds, can we distinguish the possibility of a Unity, which shall make the whole of the war into peace, and build the fragments into one splendid whole?
Let us glance backward into the far-off past, down to about 2,000 years ago. Religions were national wherever you found them over the surface of the globe. The Indian then had the Hindu faith; the Persian the Zoroastrian; the Greek, the Roman, the Egyptian, and many other still older nations of the world, each had its faith; each nation’s religion was a national religion; and while you found religions living fairly peacefully side by side, where a man left his national religion he was regarded more as a traitor to the State than as a heretic to the faith; and that you may see over and over again in looking over the past. You do not find any attempt in the elder world on the part of one nation to convert the people of another faith within their borders. The many religions of the world stood side by side, worked side by side, and the nation and the faith were practically indistinguishable. It is not without interest (I am digressing for a moment from the historical retrospect) that the theory of the Church of England today is the same as that ancient thought. The Church of England in theory is a national Church; everyone who is born into the English people is in theory born into that national Church, and the Church and the Nation are thought of as conterminous. I say, in theory, because you know how different the practice is in this country; but in the older days theory and practice went together, and only now and again, as, say, among the Hebrews, a few proselytes were made from some of the surrounding nations. Speaking generally, then, faiths were national, and you find that the polity, the whole social arrangement of the nation, was practically built up by the religion which was really its foundation.
Take India, because it is the oldest of the living religions and goes far back into the darkness of a past that none can pierce. You find there that the Hindu polity is the polity of the Indian people. It was the way among the Hindus that, provided the authority of a sacred Scripture, the four Yedas, was admitted, provided the social order was obeyed, then the intellect was left absolutely free. Within that great circle of Hindu faith you might have a dozen different cycles of thought, but, provided that all paid their reverence to the Veda - although afterwards they might go along their own road - provided they kept to the social polity and did not go outside its order, in every religious matter intellect was left utterly and completely free, and within the great pale of Hindu faith every philosophy was allowed to flourish, every school of thought was recognised as within the faith.
You find when you look to other faiths the same thing to some extent is true. If you come down to the time when Imperial Rome sent her eagles over the then civilised world, you find that those eagles spread their wings over a multiplicity of faiths; and when persecution began against the Christian faith it was less as a new religion that Rome raised her sword against the Christian than against those who would not bow down to the Emperor and pa him divine honours as head of the State; rather as a traitor to the Imperial rule than as a heretic did Rome strike at the Christian. It was the uniqueness claimed for Christianity, it was the refusal to recognise the Emperor among the Gods, that in Rome made persecution rise against the Christian regarded as a danger to the Imperial rule.
And so with regard to the other nations of the past the same was true. But now if you look at those religions for a moment, not as belonging to their nations, but rather as what each religion is in itself, what do you see gradually emerging from that mass of opinions, from that vast tangle of faiths? You see certain doctrines emerging which are common to them all. The unveiling of the records of the past by antiquarians and archaeologists, the study of ancient faiths and the literature that they have left behind them, have made in our modem days a consensus of educated opinion, that there are great doctrines common to all the great religions coming up time after time in the story of the past, and suggesting a common origin for them all. It is not, however, on that that I want to dwell at the moment, but rather on another fact which has not been as widely recognised - that while it is true that every religion contains a small number of universal teachings, every religion also is dominated by a spirit peculiar to itself. As you look over the world’s religions this comes out strongly, and it is one of the signs of the plan whereof I spoke. For every religion has its own note, its own special characteristic, and the whole of them do not sound out a monotone, they sound out a splendid chord when all the whole are heard together. Take the religion of India, and take not from me but from a Christian missionary who lived, I think, some forty years in India, and knew well the religion of the country and the hearts of the people - Dr Miller, the well-known Presbyterian, who founded the Christian College of Madras. After his retirement, writing some three years ago to the college that he founded and built up, to the Hindus who for so many years had been his pupils, he used one remarkable phrase. Remember, he said, what the Hindu religion has given to the world; “it has given the Immanence of God and the Solidarity of Man”. Those two are really sides of one great truth. Admit the universal life living in all around us, and the brotherhood of man is only the earthward side of the great spiritual reality; the two must ever go together; and that, Dr Miller said, is the great note of the Hindu faith.
Pass on to the religion of Zoroaster, and ask what is its special contribution to the thought of the world, and you will find there rings out the note of Purity. Good thought, good deed, good word, that is the triple statement that every Parsi makes every day as part of his daily devotion. Purity of mind, purity of heart, purity of action; that is their special contribution, and purity that goes through every part of life. You must not pollute the earth, the water, the fire; thus the elements, as it were, are to be kept pure, otherwise man’s physical life inevitably becomes polluted. And one knows how much in our modem life’s welter that note is needed now. For no Zoroastrian would pollute a stream If Zoroastrians were living here, the streams that go through Manchester would flow as pure and as bright as when this was only a village. That was the great note of the Zoroastrian faith, that man must live a pure life amid pure surroundings.
Coming westward from Persia, what was the note that Egypt sounded in her religious life? It was that of Science, the study of man and the worlds around him, and of finding in the higher worlds the realities of which down here we have the shadows. And so did Egypt follow science that your very name of chemistry is taken from the land of Chem, the land of science of the past; so deeply did she mark her name on her favourite subject of investigation.
Passing from Egypt across to Greece, though but a little space divides them physically, how vast the difference that divides them intellectually, for where Egypt spoke of science Greece Spoke of Beauty, and worked the beautiful into the lives of her people as no nation has done before or since. This was a lesson to her whole population. The beauty of Greece was not a beauty of closed galleries, of pictures and statues veiled by walls. The beauty of Greece spoke in architecture, in statues open to the masses of the people, and she understood, as England does not yet understand, that beauty ought not to be a luxury of the few but the common bread of life for all mankind.
As Greece spoke of beauty, Rome spoke of Law, the greatness of the State, the might of the people as embodied in its government and representatives. Rome thought little of the individual; she thought of the nation; the State was the Roman ideal, and the citizen was law-abiding because, save where law is omnipotent, no true freedom for a nation may exist.
Then when you spring back from Rome and Greece, the parents of modern civilisation, there rises up in India another religion, the great religion of the Lord Buddha, and the note of that was Knowledge; right thought was the keynote of His teaching. Then coming westwards again you find the Hebrew, the note of whose religion is Righteousness, the righteous Lord who loveth righteousness; and in the bosom of that the later religion of the Christ was born. What is the special note that Christianity gave to the world? First; the Value of the Individual, which the older nations of the world had not recognised to the same extent. They built their civilisations on the family. The family was the unit, not the individual. Christianity struck the keynote of individualism, and it was in order that that might be fully and thoroughly developed that some of the earlier doctrines for a time were submerged in Christendom The great doctrine of re-incarnation, taught in the primitive Church and reappearing in our own days, dropped for a thousand years out of Christian thinking - wisely and well, as all things are when you see them in the right proportion and the right perspective - for it was necessary to build up the individual, and the idea of one life gave to the individual an activity that he would not have had if he had thought that many lives stretched before him and behind him; the need of exertion built up that idea of individuality necessary for further progress. Oh, you look round and you see the evils of individualism; look a little further, and you will see also the good. You cannot build a house without bricks, and you cannot build an international community until your individuals are developed and have grown strong and mighty.
But there was another note in Christianity not thought of so much at first, but now beginning to make itself clearly heard. For while the idea of one life and of an everlasting heaven and of an everlasting hell stimulated well-nigh to madness the value of the individual soul, there was something else than the doctrine: there was the example of the Founder, and that sounded the note of Self-sacrifice, and that will in time become the dominant note of Christian nations. For if it be true, as it is true, that Christendom has made the individual more than he ever was before, it is also true that with strength comes the duty of self-sacrifice, and the magical example of the Christ gradually trained the noblest spirits into a desire to emulate the sacrifice they saw. And so in Christendom today, imperfect as it is, you find more of altruism than you do in any other nation of the world. I speak what I know, for I have travelled in many lands, and often have I told my Indian friends: Your want of public spirit, your want of patriotism, your apathy in the face of wrong - in those things Christendom is ahead of you, and not behind. While in many points of spiritual living India is greater than England, in the sense of public duty, the duty of the man to oppose evil, to protect the helpless and to sacrifice for the miserable, in that England is beginning to grow, and to show that strength means duty and not oppression.
And so, looking over these religions of the world so hastily, what is the outcome? That everyone had its own note of music, and each one is different; that though each incarnates one life, one love, the mode of expression differs, and the difference is a gain, not a loss. There is not one of these that you can afford to lose, not one of these dominant keynotes of the many faiths that you can leave out of your coming World-Religion. You must take from India her doctrines of the immanence of God and the solidarity of man; from Persia her teaching of purity; from Egypt science, which is part of religion, and not against it; from Greece beauty; from Rome law; from the Hebrew righteousness; from Christianity self-sacrifice. Which of these jewels of the faiths can you do without when your World-Religion emerges? The truth is that all the differences due to differences of mind, differences of temperament, tell one great truth - that spiritual truth cannot be transmitted by the intellect in its perfection. Only the Spirit in man can realise spiritual truth. The intellect grasps phenomena, and reasons upon them to principles; the Spirit intuits the Spirit and knows itself at one with all; and all your religions, the religions of the world, are the intellectual presentments of the one great spiritual truth. The intellect is like the prism which splits up the white sunlight into its constituent parts; all of them are in the white light, although not visible there till it has passed through the prism, and all the beauty of the world comes from the differences, all the colours, of the world are born of the whiteness of the sun. The difference is not in the sun; it is the difference of the constitution of the various things on earth that causes colour and that makes the beauty of the world. The blue sea, the green meadow, the colours of the flowers, all the exquisite shades which ravish your eyes with their delight; all take their colours from the one white light, taking some for nourishment, and throwing out the rest for beauty; and so the world is clad in colours, although the one light is white. So is it with the spiritual Sun. There is one Sun of Truth that shines through every religion that has guided and consoled humanity; but each has taken the part that it needed, and thrown the rest out; like the rainbow which makes the sky beautiful because every drop reflects at a different angle and not all at the same. And so the religions of the world are all wanted, for each reflects the light along a different line of the many-coloured glory; the World-Religion shall be taken from the diversity of world faiths, synthesising them all into one.
That is the first point I want to leave clear and distinct. Unity and uniformity are not the same. The life is one, but the splendour of the world depends upon the diversity of forms. Why, what is evolution? - the protoplasm becoming plant and tree, animal and man; and the greater the difference the greater the amount of the divine light that shines through all. That life is so full, so rich, that it cannot body itself out in a single form, and only the totality of the universe can mirror the divine image. In multiplicity, then, not in uniformity, lie the richness and the beauty of religion, as of all else there is in the world; and the World-Religion will not, I believe, wipe out the differences between faiths, but blend them all into one. There is not very much power, perhaps, in the scale of notes that you play on a piano one after another as you runup the keys; but if the notes are well chosen and blended together with the magic of a Beethoven or a Wagner, then the musical chord swells out, the grander, the more moving, the more the notes that the magic of the master has blended into a single chord. When the World-Religion emerges it will not be this religion or that, one religion or another; it will be one great chord of harmony, swelling up from humanity together, in which every note is perfect, but on their union into a chord depend the splendour and the force of the whole.
Let us next consider what are the conditions that would make the emergence of the World-Faith possible. Clearly it was not possible 200 years ago. All the different religions were then, as it were, each shut in within its own little ring-fence, knowing nothing of the other religions of the world. How much did Christendom know of the great eastern faiths of 200 years ago? Many things have contributed to make the change. First of all, the progress of science in making means of communication easier and swifter. When it took you months to travel half way round the world, a man went and settled in a new country, made his home there, lived and died there. But when communication is easy, when you can run across to India from London to Bombay in less than fourteen days, as I did only a few weeks ago; when you see the means of communication becoming swifter and swifter, it is inevitable that the men of different faiths shall come into contact with each other, and learn each other’s thoughts and ways.
When I was a little child they used to issue missionary maps in which the nations of the world were painted according to their faith. A bright yellow, symbolical of light, was painted over the countries that were Christian, and black, symbolical of darkness, over the whole of the rest of the world. They called the blackness heathendom and the bright spots Christendom, and it was a little depressing to the childish mind to see how much larger heathendom was than Christendom Then Christians thought their faith unique - the one revelation. But not so long ago an Archbishop of Canterbury, speaking in Exeter Hall to a number of assembled missionaries who were going out to India, told them to remember that they were going to a country that had its own Scriptures, its own philosophy, its own faith, and that they must not forget that all Scriptures were God-inspired, although he naturally thought his own the most inspired of all. But when an Archbishop can speak like that, when in the very act of sending out missionaries he bids them to remember, as S. Paul said many years ago, that God in many ways and divers manners spake in time past by the prophets; when people begin to recognise that prophets are of no one nation, but of all; when people begin to understand that Scriptures belong to every religion, and not to one alone; when they realise that in the divine kingdom there are no aliens and no outcasts, but that in that great household all are in their Father’s house - ah, when that begins to dawn on men, and it is dawning on the flower of humanity today in every nation, then the conditions become possible for a World-Faith as they have never been possible before; and one understands that perchance the feeling may spread which is voiced in one of the ancient Scriptures of the Indian people, where in the person of Shri Krshna the supreme God is speaking, and He declares: “Mankind comes to me along many roads, and on whatever road a man approaches me, on that road do I welcome him; for all roads are mine”. That is a great truth. God is the centre, the religions are all on the circumference, and as all the radii lead to the centre so all religions lead to God at last. What is needed is not that we should convert each other, but that each of us should deepen and spiritualise his own religion, and find out its value for himself. And as that spirit spreads, as men more and more realise that all have something to learn and all have something to teach, as that idea spreads over the civilised world, surely the emergence of a World-Religion becomes possible.
But more than that is in our favour today. I alluded just now to antiquarian and archaeological research, to the labours of scholars, to the study, oriental and occidental, everywhere proceeding. Out of all that research and all that scholarly investigation the truth has emerged that I mentioned - that there are certain great doctrines believed everywhere, at all times, by all peoples, which we find in all the religions of the world. That is the true Catholicism - the doctrines believed always, the doctrines believed everywhere, the doctrines believed by all. And why the true Catholicism? Because it is the testimony of the religious consciousness to the communion of man with God.
Now in the last century, as you know, at the time when science seemed to be building up an impregnable materialism, Professor Huxley and many of those who thought with him took the name Agnostic to describe their intellectual position. The name was quite significant. Translated, of course it sounds absurd - without knowledge - seeing it was taken by scientific men, men who certainly were not ignorant; but everyone knows what it meant: “Agnostic”, “without the Gnosis”, and the Gnosis was not knowledge in general, but knowledge of a particular kind. Professor Huxley said that man had two means of knowledge - the senses whereby he observed external phenomena, and the reason by which he considered those phenomena and drew conclusions from them Those, he said, were man’s two means of knowledge, and the only ones that he could see that man was possessed of - senses to observe, reason to understand. But the Gnosis-that is not known by the senses, it is not reached by the intellect; it is the knowledge of the Spirit by the Spirit, and that was said to be unknowable.
Now look any one of you at yourself, or at human history as a whole. Clearly you have a body and senses, emotions and a mind; have you nothing more? On the answer to that the future of religion must depend. For every Scripture is at one in this idea, that neither can the senses see nor the reason understand the Spirit which is life universal and eternal. Do you not find anything within you beyond senses and intellect? Has there been no moment in your life when you felt that there was something more than that? History shows us that what is called the religious instinct is the most widely spread and the most persistent of all the testimonies of human consciousness. That is one point that you must consider when you are thinking of the agnostic position. All you know depends on the testimony of consciousness. That is the deepest, the surest, within you. Your senses may deceive you; they tell you the sun rises and sets when it does nothing of the kind. Your reason also sometimes misleads you, for it has often not data enough on which to work, and the conclusions of the reason must depend on the perfection of the data on which the conclusions are founded. But both from great intellects and small, from nations of every type and kind, the testimony of the religious consciousness has arisen and arises still today. Are you going to trust consciousness in everything else and refuse its evidence here? Can you ignore that universal testimony from the oldest ages down to the present? It is from that, that testimony universal, immemorial, that religion springs. For religion is the answer to the search of man for God; that is the real meaning. And what is interesting is this, that when you go beyond the senses and the reason you go beyond difference; for the testimony of all the Mystics to religious experience is the same. The Indian yogi, the Roman Catholic saint, the Protestant devotee, all have the same experiences and speak with the same tongue. They differ in ceremonies, beliefs, outward things; but in the region of the Spirit they speak one language, and not the babel of the crowds that you hear down below.
If you are inclined to throw that aside you have another difficulty that arises before you that the men whom humanity most reverences, the men that humanity looks up to most, are the men whose religious consciousness has spoken the most clearly and the most decisively. Conquerors come and go, Kings rule and perish, statesmen appear and disappear, but the geniuses of religion endure from generation to generation, from age to age, holding the homage and the veneration of humanity. What conqueror of ancient or of modem times, what mighty King, what genius of a statesman, dare you put beside the Buddha and the Christ as types of the supreme humanity? Their crown is immortal, it does not fade; Their empire is continual, it does not pass away. Millions upon millions in every generation do homage to the greatness of those Two. I do not raise in Them the theological question; I do not ask whether They were more than man; but I say that among all the men that humanity has produced whose names are remembered, there are none that approach those mighty Two in the reverence and the love of countless myriads of men. There, again, is a testimony to greatness of the religious kind.
And now for the first time it has become possible for us, looking over the world, to see that all the great Teachers were animated by a single spirit, and that the great truths, as I said, were one and the same. But then comes another question: If this be so, how will you get rid of all the differences where they raise controversy? By trying to raise men from the intellectual ground to the spiritual consciousness where all men are at one. That is the answer. The World-Religion cannot be dogmatic; it must be what is sometimes called mystic. What do the two words mean? I am not one of those who in the study of religious history are inclined to throw contempt and scorn on dogma. I believe it is necessary at a stage of religious evolution as at a stage of education. A dogma is only the statement of a truth, or what is believed to be a truth, imposed upon a person from outside. He is taught it by authority; it may be the authority of a book, a man, or a Church - it does not matter; it comes to the man from outside and demands belief. Now that is true in science when you are learning it. When you go to the laboratory, to the school, to learn science you are bound to learn by dogmatic statements. The expert in science says such and such is the truth, and if your boy won’t accept it for the time he will never make much progress in his scientific research. If he wants to be an entire free-thinker in the laboratory, he is likely, rather, to go to pieces. If he says: “Oh, I cannot take anything on authority. I am not willing to take it on the testimony of someone else that if I combine nitrogen and chlorine there will be an explosion” - well, if he tries he will find it out for himself, but he will have to record his experiment in other worlds than this. You must have dogmas; you cannot help it for a time; but that which the student learns through dogma he finds out later by his own experiment, and then only does it become to him knowledge. That which you are told is not knowledge; you may repeat it, but you do not know it; and the very object of all education is to train the student from the dogmatic stage to the stage where he knows by his own reason and his own intelligence. So also with religion. In the childhood of the soul, in the boyhood of the soul, dogma is necessary for the training of the soul, and the objection to it that is heard on every side is largely the objection of ignorance, not realising what it means, nor its place in the long evolution of human consciousness. But there is a stage where dogma must give way to knowledge. The belief of the Mystic, the knowledge of the Mystic is not the acceptance of a truth imposed upon him by authority from without, but the recognition of a truth that arises within him, and compels his own obedience. That is what the Mystic is. The man who sees truth. For your need is knowledge. What is the condition of knowledge? That you have modified part of yourself to answer to that which comes to you from outside. You see only because you have ether in your own body, and the ether in the retina of the eye can be thrown into vibration by the waves of light, waves of ether, and you see because you can reproduce. The same is true of all your senses. You only know of the outer world that which you can answer to from within yourself. Your hearing, your smelling, your tasting, your seeing, your feeling, are all modifications of your body, which has learnt in that part to receive, to answer to the vibrations that come to you from outside. There are millions of vibrations that beat up against you, and you know them not, because you cannot reproduce them; to carry on the analogy - for all the world is really one - the man who has developed within himself the spiritual nature can answer to the spiritual vibrations of the universe, because he can reproduce them within himself. That is the condition of knowledge when the God within you answers to the God without you; then and then only have you reached the Gnosis, and then only can you know that God exists. You cannot demonstrate Him by the reason; you can only make a probability. You cannot see Him by the senses; “Not in the eye resides his form”, an Indian Scripture declares; but the Spirit in you which is part of Himself - a spark from the eternal Fire, a seed from the eternal Tree - that knows the source whence he comes; and when the Spirit opens up, then only God is known. If you seek Him within rather than without, if you sound the depths of your own nature instead of looking only at the outside nature where least of Him is seen, ah, then, when once you have found Him within, you will see Him everywhere outside, and then none can shake your belief, for it is knowledge and no longer hearsay.
There is the testimony of the Mystic; there is the type of the World-Religion. It will impose no dogmas from without; it will evoke answer from within; it will seek to develop the spiritual nature, and will know that truth is believed the moment it is seen. Oh, the great blunder of religious people has been that they have used swords to recommend their truth. Why, truth wants nothing but its own appearance before the Spirit of man. If you are shut up in a dark room into which the sunlight does not penetrate, although it is bathing the house outside, should I say to you: “You shall be cursed because you deny the sun?” Or should I say: “My brother, come outside the house and see where the sun is shining?” That is the nature of truth; you only want to know it, and you must believe it; and you must know it for yourself. When the World-Religion has emerged, then every man shall find in himself the power to know, and therefore the spiritual consciousness.
Never try, then, to impose from without a belief from which another man shrinks. The moment he has risen to the place where it is visible, that moment it will shine out before his eyes. We cannot do much in this for others; we can tell them what we have experienced, what we know; but man must know for himself, for only then is the knowledge sure. When you have reached that you will know that every stage has its own place, has its own beauty; you will not complain because the child-souls still find picture and symbol the way in which they best can realise the divine; you will understand that every teaching has its place, every religion has its work, but that a religion to be world-wide must be greater than man, other wise some will escape it, and it must be all-inclusive.
My last word to you, friends, is that if you desire the coming of such a World-Religion which shall lay the basis of a civilisation of Brotherhood and bring about universal peace, then you must begin within yourselves rather than without. As we deepen our own spiritual nature, as we find out one truth after another for ourselves, as we realise what we are - Gods in the making, growing into the perfection of the divine image - oh, as we recognise that, we are laying the bases of the World-Religion, and that which can never come by argument, by controversy, by intellectual reasoning, will come when the heart of love within us has awaked the spiritual nature. For love is deeper than intellect; love is greater than intelligence; and the love nature and the divine nature are so closely blended that the man who loves his brother will not be long ere he loves God.
IT has been my lot for almost eighteen years to spend the greater part of my time in India, and perhaps it is because of that long dwelling in an eastern land, and of a very keen and lively sympathy with eastern thought and eastern ways - it is probably because of that that the Executive of your Society asked me to speak on this occasion on England and India. May I preface what I have to say by venturing to suggest that a good deal - I was going to say nonsense, but perhaps that is hardly polite - a good deal of want of sense is shown in the talk that we so often hear as to the profound difference between the eastern and the western mind, the impossibility of the Indian understanding the Englishman and the equal impossibility of the Englishman understanding the Indian? It is perfectly true that the attitude of the Indian to life and thought differs very largely from the attitude of the Englishman; but that, I think, is more a question of long custom, environment, and conditions of life than of any fundamental difference of intelligence, of thought. It is sometimes said that the East is subtle, while the West is scientific. It is quite true that the average, even uneducated, Indian has a greater aptitude for abstract thought, for spiritual response, than the average dweller in the West; but, on the other hand, it is well that the West should understand - for I think that the error lies at the root of a great deal of the misconception between England and India - that, given similar conditions in the East, - the Indian responds to those in very much the same way as the Englishman would do, and that the lack of understanding of that Indian response to western influence lies very much at the root of much of the misunderstanding and of the unrest today. Difference of attitude towards life - yes, that certainly exists; fondness for metaphysical and abstract thinking - that, certainly, you continually find but, on the other hand, that attitude is capable of very rapid modification, when the Indian mind comes into touch with western thought and western ways. And it is very largely that response in India, apparently unexpected, which has given rise to much of the trouble, much of the discomfort, on either side, that we have met during the last few years, much of what is called unrest in India, much of unnecessary anxiety as to the outcome of that unrest in England. And I want, if I can, tonight to try to put to you some of the results of long experience of life in India, living also under conditions of close friendship, of close intimacy, with a very considerable number of the Indian educated class. In order that I may make clear what I mean by saying that the attitude towards life is different when you compare the Englishman and the Indian, but that fundamentally there is not the difference that so many people talk about so largely - in order that I may not be misunderstood in that, let me preface what I have to say by a few words on the conditions of Indian life before the influence of England had spread far and wide, and especially before English education had made any way in the country.
The caste system in India, primarily intelligent and useful in orderly social progress, has become split up, as most of you know, during the later centuries into innumerable sub-divisions which are neither justified by nature nor useful in their working. The original division into four great castes you find in one form or another in every civilised country: the class of the thinkers, the teachers, the leaders of religious thought; the class of the law-makers, of the rulers, of the preservers of ordinary civil order; the class of the organisers of industry, the merchants, those who direct agriculture; the bankers, and so on; and then the great mass that over here would be called the proletariat, the tillers of the soil, the artisans, the workers at the various arts and crafts; you have there a system of natural divisions which is only mischievous when it becomes too rigid, when it loses the flexibility of the elder days, and when the passage of a man from one into the other is barred not by natural but by artificial conditions. As gradually the rule passed away from Indian chieftains belonging to the Hindu faith, and the Mussulmans conquered large portions of the Indian land, you found side by side with that difference of religion comparatively little of social or civil disability; the Mussulman rulers quite wisely tried to propitiate the vast majority of their subjects of the Hindu faith; and even down to the present day the division between the Mussulman and the Hindu does not exist in Indian States as it exists under the British Government. If you go to the great territories of the Nizam in the Deccan you find there from time to time a Hindu prime minister, masses of Hindus, the majority of the subjects of that Mussulman rule, but socially, civilly, you do not find any very broad dividing lines. The same is the case when you deal with the Mussulman under a Hindu ruling Chief. It is the interest of the Chief to be friendly with the whole of his subjects, and if you go to Kashmir, where the majority of the people are Mussulman and not Hindu, but where the Maharaja is a Hindu, you will find that there Mussulmans and Hindus mingle in the friendliest fashion, and that there is practically no line which divides them which gives rise to evil feeling or to bitter trouble. It is not the same in British India. It is there and there alone in India that you find growing deeper and wider this religious gulf which is splitting the nation into two, and that gulf is growing deeper and wider year after year; so that men today who will tell you that their fathers were closely intimate with Mussulman families, that they took food of certain kinds together, and had much social intercourse - they will tell you that they cannot do as their fathers did, and that the social and the civil cleavage is becoming more and more distinct as years go on. Now, when you remember how long the Mussulmans had been in India, when you remember that they number a fourth of the total population, you will at once see that if an Indian nation is to grow up, Mussulman and Hindu must both learn to be Indians, and to feel that the common Indian nationhood is greater than the religious separation, the religious division. Hence it is most unfortunate - so far as I myself judge in the matter, and I believe that the great bulk of educated opinion in India goes with me - it is most unfortunate that the late scheme of reform, useful and far-reaching and pregnant with self-government in India in the future - it is most unfortunate that that was marred by the introduction of Mussulman electorates. I was going to say Mussulman and Hindu electorates, but the latter have no privileges and elections like those given to the Mussulmans. So that you have in India today, with the beginnings of self-government, a religious cleavage, which is as though you went back for a century in England, and divided off your Roman Catholics and your Protestants into two opposite camps, hostile in all political matters.
Now, the political life of India can never grow strong and healthy until an Indian thinks of himself as an Indian, rather than as either a Mussulman or a Hindu; their interests are really the same, although superficially for a moment they may seem to be divided. This most unhappy marring of a great act of justice, full of great possibilities for the future, one may hope will gradually disappear, and that the same evil road will not be further trodden by the English rulers.
Remembering that - the difference between these two communities at present - let us turn to some things that come out strongly of very considerable importance in the future work; and I will put those for a moment before taking up again the gradual change of Indian life which has landed us to some extent in the present difficulties. The fact that the Mussulman in India has exercised rule to a very large extent, that he came as an invader and remained as a conqueror, has given to the Mussulman population one great advantage, as regards all the movements which are taking place in India today, and will take place more markedly in the future. The Mussulman has what you may call a political instinct, which the Hindu has not. You can see it coming out very strongly in the present discussion as to the founding of universities in India. The very moment the Mussulman University was proposed, the population, the Mussulman population, practically massed itself together as a unit, without troubling itself as to details, without discussing questions before they were ripe for discussion; they took up the cry of the Mussulman University as one man might take it up. But when you turn on the other hand to the Hindus, you find divided counsels: one man wants one kind and one another, all desiring to carry their own particular fancy, even though it might wreck the scheme as a whole, and long before the subject is fully before the community you find the camp divided into a number of different classes; no man willing to sink his own idiosyncrasies in order that the whole of them by a rational compromise may carry that at which they aim And in considering the political future of India that is a very important point. The Hindus tend to divide up into small parties gathering round a particular man; there is no cooperation, no tendency to combination. The lack of political power for so many centuries seems practically to have eradicated that political instinct, strong in Hindus in the past, and showing itself from time to time in individual Hindus today.
Now, before coming back to the point which I shall want to carry further, let me glance at the condition which has made the Hindu mind what it is. I spoke of those four great divisions naturally existing practically everywhere; but as those grew more and more rigid, and no passing from one caste to another was possible, you found classes growing up claiming privileges, and entirely forgetting the duties on which those privileges had originally rested. You find a class of learned men, profoundly learned and scholarly, the Pandit class, versed in their own classical language of Sanskrit, and knowing practically nothing outside that save their own vernacular, untouched by western thought, uninfluenced by western spirit, becoming more and more a class entirely apart from the life and the movement in the country; the class that by its knowledge ought to be among the leaders of thought, but which by ignorance of modem conditions is entirely cut off from all influence over the thought-currents of the time; and yet a class which by tradition, by custom, has an enormous, almost omnipotent power over the mass of the population; and, while it practically can do nothing with the educated class, it has always that vast mass of the population whom it can sway as it will, and whom it is ever inclined to sway against everything along the lines of modem thought, unknowing as it is of any life or thought outside its own ranks.
Then you have the peculiarity of Indian life that the learned class has always been poor. Money and learning have not gone together in the East. The glory of the learned man lay in his learning, not in his possessions, and so you have a class hereditarily apt to learn and claiming by long tradition the right to learn, but a class that, coming face to face with unusual conditions, finds it impossible to meet those conditions, or to gain under English rule the education to which it considers it has this hereditary right.
Now, not only is this class, the ablest, the most brilliant, the most apt to learn, largely shut out from education because of the expense which has come hand-in-hand with English education, but also, most unfortunately, they have a prejudice against almost every form of employment which is not either a learned profession like the law or medicine, or government service. Accustomed for ages past to live by teaching, not being paid for teaching but being supported and teaching freely every student who came to them to learn; supported by the householders of the population, especially by the legislating and even more by the merchant class; considering that it was not theirs to earn, no duty of theirs to support themselves; learning was their one wealth, and that they gave freely to whoever desired to ask it. The system of education has been that a boy could go to a Pandit, not only have from him teaching, but clothes, food, shelter, everything that he wanted during the time of education. And so strongly is that feeling still existing in India, that from time to time at our own Central Hindu College - where our conditions are modem, where many of the professors are paid, and where the whole arrangements are largely influenced inevitably by the English spirit - every now and then a boy will come - sometimes have walked even hundreds of miles - because he has heard that schooling is to be had there; and you have a lad coming to you asking to be taught, and if your school is full, if you can’t afford to take any more free scholars, if you have no more room in your boarding-house where you can let him live, giving him board and lodging, you may explain the whole truth to him over and over again, and when you have finished your elaborate statement of the impossibility, he will only turn to you, as he has often done to me, and say: “But, mother, I want to learn!” There you have the old view of teaching in India. Every young person who wants to learn has the right to learn, and he is not supposed to pay for the learning.
Now, when English education came to a nation that - has grown up for ages with these ideas, which fed freely the whole of its teaching class, which expected that teaching class in return to give free education, board, lodging, shelter, to everybody who came and asked for it, you will very readily understand that, with such a tradition, English methods and English education were at first unintelligible, and then to a very, very large extent caused widespread discontent. The difficulty there has been that education has become more and more costly as time has gone on; school fees, college fees, have been raised time after time. The class that most wants education finds itself largely shut out because it cannot afford to pay the fees demanded in the school and in the college; and so you have a class which naturally grows discontented, desiring the learning it cannot gain, and unable to turn to any means of livelihood in consequence of the old tradition and the old custom Those who went into the English education found before them only certain narrow lines of employment: Government service - that was regarded as honourable, however poorly it was paid; the law - that, by a perversion of the old thought, was also taken up by numbers of the teaching class; and so gradually you have had overcrowded the professions of the law and of medicine and Government service. Then by an economic law which should be familiar to you here, the payment in all those avenues of employment sank lower and lower, and more and more outside were unable even to gain admittance by selling the education that they had obtained at high cost.
You have there one of the causes of a very widespread discontent. The education on the whole was not well planned, well as it was meant. In the first place, it transplanted English education rather than took certain principles of education, and adapted them to the planting in a different land; educating men along lines which made only these special professions open to them, they gradually overcrowded those and yet left a discontented crowd outside.
Now, there is one phrase that is very often used over here, a very offensive one. They talk about Babus, and by that apparently is meant a clerk. It used to mean a prince, and that phrase - which is used by Englishmen who do not in the least know its meaning, and who repeat it one after another always in the sense of contempt - is applied to huge classes of Indian gentlemen, every one of whom feels insulted and annoyed when he hears himself called by a name like that. Indian names of honour have become names of contempt in the English mouth; and then that is widely re-echoed, foolishly repeated, until the natural and rightful sensitiveness of the educated man finds itself continually suffering very, very often from the unintentional insult on the part of the Englishman. You hear phrases like “Babu English”. Now, if the English of the educated Indian is bad, it is the folly of the teachers to begin with, not the fault of the student, who has only learned what his teacher has taught him You scoff because sometimes the style is inflated, when you insist on teaching your students Addison and the writers of the time of Queen Anne, and discourage their reading the popular works of the day or the ordinary newspaper, which would give them the more conversational style. To mock at them for using the English you yourselves have taught them is not a wise thing to do with a proud and high-spirited people. And may I say that, on the other side, while the Indian does not talk so loudly as the Englishman, his contempt for the Englishman’s Hindustani, and Bengali, and Tamil, and Telegu, and all the rest of the vernaculars, is quite as active as any contempt that the Englishman may feel for the Indian’s English. The most ridiculous mistakes are constantly made, the most absurd phrases are continually used, and though the Indian, being polite and courteous in his ways, will not laugh out in the face of the Englishman who murders his language, still at home I have heard many a laugh and many a joke made about the murder of their mother tongues in the mouth of highly placed officials in the English service. As a matter of fact, the educated Indian as a rule - not the half-educated, but the educated Indian gentleman - talks very much purer and better English than the average Englishman talks. He does not talk slang; he does not pick up all the fashionable clippings which happen to be the mode at the moment; he talks a pure classical, uninflated English; and if you have ever been fortunate enough to hear an Indian orator eloquent in your mother tongue, which is not his, then you will understand something of the ability at which ignorant writers so often scoff; for you will hear your tongue talked with a purity and a beauty that might very well, if transplanted into the English Parliament, make its debates rather less dreary to listen to than they are at the present time.
Now, it is true that there is a very large amount of discontent in India, but it is very largely a righteous and hopeful discontent, and how has it arisen? English people have gone there, and they have practically said to the Indian people: “See what a fine people we are! see how prosperous we are! see how wealthy we are! see how we are very much grander than you! Why don’t you take example by us?” You have taught them history, including the cutting off of the head of Charles I. You have held up your Constitution to them, with all the cant phrases about taxation without representation being robbery, and the rest of it; you have trained the boys in the most plastic time of their life in the idea that English liberty, English constitutionalism, English ways, and English government are the model for the whole civilised world. Well, you have taught them that now for a very large number of years, and they have quite naturally turned round and said to you: “Very well, if it is so good for you, why should it not be also good for us? If these things have made you so magnificent a people, may not we have a few crumbs of the same bread, so that we also in return may grow more magnificent than we are?” They have simply echoed what their teachers have taught them, and when they came and asked for representation, for a small share in the government of their own country, when they asked that the executive posts should be thrown open to them as well as the judicial, when they asked that they should be allowed to take some effective interest in public affairs, and that their voices should be heard, then the Englishman suddenly jumps up and says: “Revolt, rebellion, anarchy”, and all the words that frighten the people at home; and it is not known how exaggerated they are when they have sounded over ocean and land to strike the English ear. Now, there is nobody more moderate really in his demands than the ordinary Indian Nationalist. There are some extremists, granted; but the great mistake that was made over there for a long time was to mass together as one party those who were literally anarchists and those who only demanded some small measure of constitutional reform It was not until Lord Minto came, until he refused to be frightened by the bomb-throwing into putting off the small measure of justice which was granted, it was not until he made it possible for the nationalist party to separate itself from the anarchical - it was not until then that it was seen how small was the real party of revolt. But the original discontent is one which ought to be understood over here and sympathised with, for it is the desire of a great and intellectual people to realise their own nationality and to feel that they are not strangers on their own soil. Remember that in India it is you who have made an Indian nation possible. There was no nation in India before England went there - only a number of warring States, one at the top today and another at the top tomorrow; there was no Indian nation, there was no common language, there was no common people. But now, gradually and slowly, the sense of Indian nationality is rising, and you cannot stop it; the English language has become a common tongue in India, so that men in the north in the Panjab, who could not talk with men in the south in Mysore, because the vernaculars are utterly different, meet today in congresses and in conferences, and the English tongue is the common language in which they all understand each other. And that fact of a common tongue is doing much towards building a common nationality, for only when men can freely exchange their thoughts is it possible that they shall build themselves into a united nation.
And then, in addition to that, the very fact that you imposed peace upon a number of warring States made the arising of the feeling of nationality gradually certain. When people are very busy fighting the one against the other, they think of their enmities, not of common objects. Among the many rulers of India there was none, save perhaps the great Akbar, who realised the possibility of a united India, and tried to lay the foundations of it. Such an India might have been builded if his successors had been as great as he was himself, but the feeling of provincialism in India is very strong. We have found it in our own Central Hindu College, where boys come from every Indian province. For a very considerable time there was much antagonism between the Bengali boys, the Up-Country boys, and the Panjabi boys, and the rest. For years we have laboured to make the boys feel that they are Indians rather than dwellers in a particular province; and gradually the feeling of nationality is growing, gradually the antagonisms are dying away, and, while I will not say they have absolutely disappeared, they are fast disappearing, so that we are getting Indian, not Panjabi, or Up-Country, or Bengali, or Madrasi, as the feeling at the heart of the students.
Then there came, as another cause of the unrest, the cause that lies at the root of most of the bitterness in it, the evil element- the way in which the Englishman constantly treats the Indian. You know that when the Indians come over here to England they are astonished to find what decent people the English are. When they once come amongst you and see you in your own ways, your own homes, your own country, they realise that what they have known as Englishman is something very different from what we know as thy Englishman in England. The Indians are a stately and courteous people. One Indian would not contradict another rudely; he would only make a suggestion that perhaps it might be looked at from a different point of view. The younger man will never speak roughly to the elder; he will be silent if he disagrees with what the elder has said. The whole type of the nation is aristocratic right through, not democratic. And when sometimes you send over to India, as the results of your competitive examinations, young men who have never given a single order in their lives, even to a servant, so as to learn the common courtesies of language that we use in English homes; when a young man like that - rough in his manners, and rude in his speech - is put over a large number of Indian gentlemen, stately, courteous, accustomed to respect, there is a very lively source of discontent that arises in outraged feeling and injured dignity.
Now this, of course, is not true of all. There are many civil servants there who are sympathetic, kindly, well-mannered, English gentlemen; but one man who is a ruffian undoes the work of a thousand men who are courteous and gentle in their ways. And then there is another thing that makes a difference. An Englishman will speak to an Englishman quickly and promptly; if he speaks to an Indian like that, the Indian thinks he is bullying him - misunderstanding there on the Indian’s side. One of you in a hurry will speak quite roughly to another, perhaps, as the Indian judges roughness; speak like that to the Indian, and he will think you intend to insult him, and you are doing it because you are proud of yourself. I am not a particularly rough speaker myself, but I can assure you that in India I have very, very often softened my voice more than I should do in talking with English people, spoken more slowly more gently, with more circumlocution, in order to do away with the instinctive feeling of the Indian that the English person who speaks to him wants to rule and to dominate.
And there is worse than that - there is roughness, not only of speech but of blow. You have no idea over here how much of persona violence there is in India from English people to Indians. The other day a leading American professor, coming to see me, spoke of the horror he felt at the things that he had seen during fifteen minutes in Calcutta as he was standing at a hotel window looking down simply into the street. A policeman several times hit a boy with a cane, because the boy was in a block he could not get through. Two men were beaten for blocking the way. A passenger pulled a cabman off his box and kicked him What passed before, one cannot tell: the cabman may have been rude; but no Englishman would do that to an English cabman if the English cabman were rude; but he will do it to an Indian, and there lies the difficulty. Indian servants are often struck, Indians in inferior positions are often kicked. The other day in Madras there was a case where an Englishman on a bicycle ran over and knocked down an old man, and then struck the old man for getting in his way. You do not hear much of those things over here. I met not long ago an Indian gentleman, a wealthy landowner, who, in walking past a young officer riding, had not made any salutation - why should he, as he did not know the Englishman? The Englishman got off his horse and thrashed him with a riding-whip. These are the things that may explain to you something of the violent feeling that you occasionally hear about. What else can you expect?
I am a peace-loving person in my elder days, but I have very often said in India that part of the training in every Indian school ought to be to train the boys physically so that they shall know how to defend themselves if they are insulted or injured, because no law can change this; there is no public opinion over there strong enough to change it; the only way it will stop is when the Indian learns to strike back when he is struck, and for the ordinary citizen that is quite good morality - not for the saint; but your ordinary citizen cannot be a saint, is not at the stage of evolution where sainthood is possible; and it is necessary in India that the Indian should show that he will not submit to the outrages to which he is very constantly exposed. It is worse in the south than in the north, because southern people are very much gentler. A Panjabi would not be struck in that way, because it is known he would strike back.
When you hear all this talk about unrest and violence, you want to know, before you judge, what are the conditions under which these people live. No hearts are easier to win than the Indian heart; gratitude is given for services that do not deserve it. Any official in India who behaves with decent humanity is loved and honoured by all the people amongst whom he lives. That there are many such officials makes possible the English rule in India. There is no real difficulty in India except the difficulty there that we make for ourselves; and if England should ever lose India - and that they may be together for centuries is my hope, for I do not believe that the one can do without the other in the days to come - if England should ever lose India, it will be England’s own fault, because she does not know how to win the Indian heart.
Take Lord Minto. You do not appreciate that man over here at his real value. He did more to undo the evil results of Lord Curzon’s viceroyalty than one would have imagined possible to be done in the brief space of his rule. Genial, sympathetic, kindly to all who came, not making distinction in manners between his way to an Englishman and his way to an Indian. And there are some men like that in India, high in position, though none so truly great as he; it is with the lower officials that the real difficulties arise, and not as a rule with the higher; and if you could devise same way over here of putting your younger men through a school of manners before they go out to India, you would do very much to get rid of the hatred that is often aroused by lack of thought and lack of courtesy. For as a rule they are just, they are fair, except where their own countrymen are concerned. And in the higher courts even that would be an unfair exception. In the lower magistrates’ court the complaint of an Indian against an Englishman is got rid of, as a rule; in the higher courts that is not so. The judges of the High Courts are absolutely fair even where race is concerned, and it is the English justice that is the buttress of rule in India.
One difficulty that has to be faced there is the winning of the people themselves to take part in the work which is not of the highest kind along governing lines. The municipalities, for instance, are very unsatisfactory. There is there the right of popular election. The municipal councils are elected. The Collector, who is an Englishman, is the chairman of the Municipal Board, and you have the difficulty that over and over again the Indian will say ditto to the Englishman, not because he agrees with him, but because he does not like to oppose him Oh, you say, then he is cowardly! It is a hard word to use under the conditions. In a sense, yes; but to be brave under the present conditions means to be a hero. For if you oppose the man immediately over you, all sorts of difficulties come into your daily life, in your comfort, in your ordinary goings-out and comings-in. To have a black mark against you in the books of an official is a very, very serious thing in India. It means very often false witness among the police; it means very often cases trumped up which ruin the man.
It is very easy to call a man a coward, but you want to know the conditions amid which the man lives before you have a right to judge him from that standpoint; and while, speaking to Indians, I constantly say: “You must learn to state your own opinion, to hold your own ground; why should twenty men give way to one?” when I am speaking over here to the English and not to the Indians, I say that it is the English duty to see that frank speech does not mean social and commercial ruin, and that until danger of that is cleared away you must not blame the silence of the Indian where it is his duty to speak.
But there is another difficulty on the Indians’ side. It is that they have not the habit of freedom They have not been trained up as you have been for centuries and centuries, growing a little more free perhaps with the passing of every century; they are suddenly plunged into it, and they do not yet distinguish and understand that if a man is to be a citizen he must be willing to go through drudgery and to do the public work which means self-sacrifice, which means time and labour and thought given to subjects that do not in any way bring gain to himself. We want to persuade our Indian young men to take up the drudgery of municipal life, to understand municipal questions, and so train themselves for the higher paths of political life. They want to leap suddenly into full-fledged citizenship, and they have not yet learned its duties, although they are clamouring for its rights. But the wiser, the more thoughtful, the more educated - they are ready and eager to learn the ways and the methods of benefiting their country. You have over there a number of men of splendid intelligence, of wide sympathies, of statesmanlike ability, and if only England would take them into her counsels and treat them as friends and equals, not as inferiors, you would find their discontent very rapidly disappear; for they know that they still need England, that they are better with her than apart from her.
Apart from that, the great economical question is of enormous importance in India. Very slowly and very gradually the children of the higher classes understand that there is nothing degrading in going into manufacturing and industrial life. Slowly and gradually they are realising that it is not necessary to be a lawyer or a doctor; that a man may be a manufacturer, that a man may labour with his hands, without losing cultivation, without falling in social regard. There has been a great prejudice against using one’s hands in India. It has been thought only to belong to the lower class of the population. That is beginning to die out, and if it be possible - as it is becoming possible - slowly and gradually to turn the bright brains of India along economic lines, so that they may understand, not your political economy as applied to England, but true principles of production and distribution suitable for India - if that can spread, and the movement for manufacture within their own borders could be divorced from politics and made purely economic, as it ought to be, it would do more in bringing about Indian prosperity perhaps than any one other single thing. The opposition to “Svadeshi” - which only means one’s own country, which means manufacturing what they can manufacture on their own soil - grows out of its use as a political weapon by unscrupulous anarchists. The commercial improvement of India is warmly desired by English officials in India, and it is frankly admitted that in this there is very much to make India discontented. India grows cotton, exports it over to England, gets it back as cloth. If she were fairly treated economically, if she were not sacrificed to Manchester and Lancashire as she is sacrificed today, from the standpoint of manufacture, there again you would strike at one of the roots of Indian discontent which grows out of Indian poverty. Education, political freedom, economic freedom- these are the things which are wanted in India today. England can give them, and only England can give them at present, and by that win Indian hearts for many a century to come.
One point that it would be well to remember, though perhaps you will be inclined to laugh at me for that, is that in India personal attraction plays a very, very great part in the life and the thought of the people. Once before, speaking in England many, many years ago, I ventured to say that the present plan of appointing a Viceroy, changing him in five years, taking anyone whom a political party wants to reward, and sending him over to India, was not one of our ways that appealed to Indian loyalty. The Indian normally is loyal to a person, and that has been unhappily forgotten over here; a constantly changing Viceroy to him is very largely a chief clerk, who is just part of the government machine, and comes and goes each five years. If you sent over one of our Royal Family, you would find that that would do a great deal in drawing Indian hearts toward yourself. You do not realise the power of Kingship in India, and the love of the personal Ruler. India is not yet sufficiently Anglicised, although a few of her children may be, to have lost her old belief in the divine right of Kings; and if, instead of doctrinaires, you were statesmen, you would utilise that, you would send over a Prince who would draw around him the Indian Princes, and would make the people feel that they had a Government in which their own ancient rulers were taking a part. Those Princes will not bow to a Viceroy save outwardly; in their hearts they resent the putting over them, who count generations back for thousands of years, of some Englishman of whom perhaps they never heard before. One of the things that gave most offence at the Delhi Durbar was that the Duke of Connaught had to play second fiddle to Lord Curzon. From the English standpoint, it was quite right; Lord Curzon was the representative of the Imperial Crown. From the Indian standpoint, it was all wrong; for the royal blood flowed in the Duke of Connaught’s veins, and Lord Curzon was only a nobleman. And so some of the proudest Indian Chiefs were taken very ill when the time came for the Delhi Durbar; one whom I know of, who was dragged there practically by force, had a bad fever on the day when he ought to have gone to do homage to Lord Curzon. Men who look back beyond historical records to an unbroken line of Kingship have a feeling which makes it impossible for them to bow to some official of the English Government, who comes to them today and goes away a few years afterwards. You lack imagination and you lack sympathy as a nation. You think that what suits you suits anybody else. It is not so. You think that what you like other people like; and that is not true either. If you would feel India, then you could easily rule India; but you have not yet to any very great extent succeeded in doing it. There again Lord Minto did well. He asked advice of Indian Princes; he took their counsel on questions affecting themselves and their people; he made them feel that their voice had weight in the Government. And their power is greater than you know. A statesman should utilise all the peculiarities, if you will, of the people, remembering at the same time that they are changing very rapidly; but that if you do not try to Anglicise too much, if you give what you have to give, but do not impose your manners and your customs, which are not always admirable, then you can make a stronger England and a stronger India, for India has very much to teach as well as very much to learn.
Our chairman spoke of the soul of India, and through that you might easily reach her people. To ignore religion in India is a blunder. There is a small party of non-religious educated men there, but they are a grain of sand among the countless millions of the Indian people. To penetrate the whole of India with religious sympathy would do much towards drawing India nearer to yourselves. Not to Christianise - you will never do it; the dream of the missionary of making India Christian is a dream from which men are slowly awakening; but the great points of contact between the religions might be emphasised, and might be made part of the education of college and of school. I know that over here there is much feeling in favour of secular education - because you have never had it and know not its results. New Zealand has it, and her youth is a problem she has to solve - racing, gambling, lack of all control and subordination. If democracy is to live, it must be built out of citizens who know how to control themselves, and till men have learned that lesson they are not fit to be free. It is a lesson England has to learn as well as the English colonies. They are great and strong, but their youth is their least satisfactory part.
Australia has given a vote to every man or boy of twenty-one, to every woman of twenty-one, as far as the Federal Parliament is concerned; but they care more about football on the one side and bonnets on the other than they care about the problems of economics and politics, on which good government must depend. Until youth has learned responsibility, youth is not fit to rule. In India the idea of the training of youth before it takes power is beginning to disappear, and it will only come back by way of religion and of scientific morality.
India has much to give you along religious lines. She can give you a scientific religion, which as yet you have hardly dreamed of. Religion over here is often blind belief or emotional ecstasy. Religion in India is intellectual and scientific. Indian psychology is part of Indian religion. India understands the mind and the Spirit, and knows how they can be unfolded and trained. Because East and West in that are different; because the West is concrete in her science, with a science restricted to the physical world, and India is scientific in her religion and carries her science into the realms of psychology - not much yet into the realm of physics - because of that England and India might be two halves of a single whole; each might give to each what the other lacks. India can make religion here a power to which intellect shall bow; England can teach India the science which will give material prosperity, material welfare. Either of those divorced from the other is like a man who has lost one hand. A one-armed people will never rise to the greatness of the destiny which I believe to lie before England and India united, friendly and sympathetic. You need India as much as India needs you; you can learn from India as much as India can learn from you. But the first thing to realise is that you are not conquerors and conquered, but citizens of a common Empire, belonging to one imperial people. And when England recognises that in India, and India feels that she is friend and not only subject, then you will have a bulwark in the Indian people, while without that it will ever be a danger. In the time of your peril India will be your dearest friend, if you will give her sympathy, if you will let her grow into liberty today. But if you hold her back too long, if you will not listen to her reasoning, and cast scorn upon her longing to be free, then in the hour of your danger she will be your greatest enemy; and the nation that, rightly treated, would have been the bulwark of your future, will become a mine full of gunpowder under the foundations of your Empire. And the choice is yours far more than India’s. For in your hands is the power, and therefore the responsibility.
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