Brotherhood is good wherever and whenever practiced, but considering all the wars going on around us, and the violent explosions that are said to occur among the stars, how can the Theosophical Society proclaim as its main tenet that brotherhood is universal? How can one prove that it is not an idealistic, utopian fantasy, but something real? Such thoughts were on my mind one day when I visited my philosopher friend Melis van der Eijk, who lives north of San Francisco in a cozy home overlooking the Pacific Ocean. A retired electrical engineer, he is a life-long student of The Secret Doctrine, Spinoza, and Jacob Boehme. Over a cup of fragrant mint tea Melis was ready, not with one but many answers:
"Everything that exists, be it consciousness or matter, is rooted in an unfathomable, transcendent, all-pervasive, purposeful wholeness that is evolution's origin and not, as the scientists might think, its end product. Periodically it manifests the whole universe, including us humans, with streams of consciousness and life that flow through all kingdoms -- the gods, all human beings, as well as the lower kingdoms, including the atoms of the physical universe which link them all seamlessly together. Thus everyone is an inseparable part of the universe, not only physically but also psychologically and spiritually. There is no separateness or any empty distances anywhere.
"Consciousness in all its varieties pervades everything, including all our different minds -- the monadic mind, soul mind, and brain mind -- in the same way as, for instance, electricity is contained in a battery. At the core of every mind there always abides a natural conscience of divine and ethical principles because our monadic mind -- our Self-knowing, innermost spark of the Absolute -- unknown to the brain-mind is radiating its wisdom into the soul-mind as intuition. The opportunity to access this higher mind is always present, but the extent to which it occurs is dependent on our karma, our accumulated ethics and conscience.
"During any incarnation, or at rebirth, we humans are privileged to have this sacred wisdom enter, not as something new but as a memory of what we have been as monads throughout eternity, you see?"
"You see?" is one of Melis's favorite expressions, and no wonder -- here was so much to think about, but there was more. Melis continued:
"In every human heart there is a hunger for something truer than what we are normally conscious of, a thirst for what is real, for the sublime, for wisdom, peace, love, beauty, and equality, for a world of mutual understanding and universal friendship. It is a nostalgia, a longing, a homesickness brought about by the soul's memory of the place we came from, our original spiritual abode toward which we are on a return journey.
"Universal brotherhood is in fact the path by which we all come in contact with the heart of the universe, and we ourselves, our own inner being, our spiritual self, is the path to all the mysteries and wonders of boundless infinitudes! To walk it requires a clean heart, a pure mind, and an eager intellect. With skill, wisdom, intuition, ethics, conscience, loving-kindness, and a deep desire for genuine peace the world can be changed into a realm of love, beauty, peace, equality, and freedom.
"Since all beings, from the smallest to the greatest, have been, are, or in the future will be our brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, mothers, fathers, and children, in one sense or another, they deserve our sincere loving-kindness and deep compassion. Matthew Arnold's statement that
Yes! in the sea of life enisled, . . .
We mortal millions live alone.
is based on a misconception. Even though we sometimes might feel alone, we are not unconnected, exiled, orphaned aliens!
"The term universal brotherhood succinctly expresses the essential quality of our whole existence. Far from being an illogical brainchild, universal brotherhood is a fact, both as a noumenal subjective truth and as a phenomenal objective reality. It is the source, not only of our conscience, but also of intuition, instincts, far-reaching memories, and the innate urge for improvement. It is the only path for growth into full unity-consciousness -- you see?"
Yes, I saw! In spite of what we sometimes think, the universe is divine through and through, with unimaginable possibilities. It felt good to know that creation, from its apex throughout all its manifestations, had an unfathomable core of down-flowing love and perfection.
I thanked Melis for giving me so much to think about, and for the inspiration to do so. With a last glance at the Pacific Ocean, on whose surface the setting sun cast a glittering, golden path to its heart, I turned homeward wanting, like the ocean, to mirror the firmament Melis had so eloquently unfolded.
(From Sunrise magazine, June/July 2002; copyright © 2002 Theosophical University Press)
Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the oftener and the more steadily we reflect on them: the starry heavens above and the moral law within. I have not to search for them and conjecture them as though they were veiled in darkness or were in the transcendent region beyond my horizon; I see them before me and connect them directly with the consciousness of my existence. The former begins from the place I occupy in the external world of sense, and enlarges my connection therein to an unbounded extent with worlds upon worlds and systems of systems, and moreover into limitless times of their periodic motion, its beginning and continuance. The second begins from my invisible self, my personality, and exhibits me in a world which has true infinity, but which is traceable only by the understanding, and with which I discern that I am not in a merely contingent, but in a universal and necessary, connection, as I am also thereby with all those visible worlds. -- Immanuel Kant