From the most ancient days man has been described as the microcosm, the "little universe," in whom are to be found all the energies and matters of the larger universe, of which he is an intrinsic part. Tales of the gods, of whatever pantheon, refer equally to the several processes and powers moving within and making up the nature of man, as well as to intelligences and forces that seem to be outside him. In the mythical geography of many older peoples we find the "travels" of hero-gods, saviors, and world teachers charting the journey that all must someday take if they would find the true self hidden within their individual cosmos.
For untold millennia, however, people have been seeking outside of themselves for the Great Gods. They have sought to make them come alive through symbols, worship, and prayer. They have journeyed far, but have missed the thread near at hand, the thread that will lead them safely through the maze of human weakness to the citadel of truth -- their own inner god. Yet strange is the habit of nature: while the signals point but one way -- within -- life in all its expressions, outer and inner, is the soul's schoolroom. That is why in centuries past as well as today, he who would learn the reality of things, though told his search must begin within, is encouraged also to look without. Perhaps it is easier to see spirit stirring in forms apart from oneself.
From childhood to adulthood we scan the world for knowledge until our brains are filled with facts. But knowledge and wisdom are poles apart; and he who would aspire to wisdom must again turn inward. In the early stages of this self-imposed discipline, we must discern the appearance from the real, the shadow from that which casts it: the reflection of leaves in the water from the leaves themselves. . . . And what of the leaves -- the substance of which they are but the shadow, the appearance?
So we learn there is a hidden cause behind every phenomenon, a natural law or "god" as the source of every movement in the cosmos. Yet however much we may discover of the workings of these "laws," we cannot deflect the rhythmic process of cause and effect, action and reaction, inherent in every particle of space. The potter's clay will turn in accordance with the laws governing the circular motion of the wheel; any attempt to mold a pot in conflict with those laws is doomed to fail.
At last, the heart-searching questions arise: Who am I? Why am I here and where do I belong in the overall scheme of life? The answer will never be found in books. It is an experience born within the heart, a spontaneous recognition that all life is spirit in action -- god or consciousness, the will to evolve, divinity or the gods -- each of us a dynamic spark perpetually seeking new ways in which to grow.
We come to know we are more than eyes and ears, hands or even brains. "These are tools!" we say. "Where is the user? Who the craftsman?" And as thought follows thought and we again look at the world outside, at plants and stones, animals and stars, we see each of them as different yet all linked inexorably, participants with us in a grand evolutionary climb. Our world of mind and feeling becomes more than a medley of impressions of colors, sounds, shapes, and scents: each of us is indeed a "little cosmos," pulsating with the same radiating energy that propels suns and comets, atoms and galaxies to take birth.
No, there is no need to look for divinity, for it is the essence, root, and seed of all the "gods" within man the microcosm, as well as without, in the vast macrocosm or greater universe in whose ebb and flow of life all the hosts of god-sparks move and have their being. When the ancients "ascended" mountains to commune with their gods, they discovered the mountains and the gods to be within themselves. They found the spark within their soul to be one with the fiery atom of the Nameless Divinity -- and those who "descended" returned to share their divinely-wrought wisdom with their fellow men.
(From Sunrise magazine, April/May 2004; copyright © 2004 Theosophical University Press)