The Way to the Heart of the Universe

By G. de Purucker

All men in their inmost spiritual essence are not merely in kinship, but in an utter and inseparable union. This does not mean that the hosts of monads who are the spiritual portions of men, one monad to one man, are but one monad; but it means that the monads themselves also have a spiritual side, and that that spiritual side or nature of each one has its roots, finds its ultimate fountain of being, in the transcendent divine in which we live and move and have our being.

Therefore through each monad, if we so will it, run the streams of intellectual omniscience, which streams are transmitted to us even through the beclouding veils of the intermediate nature; for we derive both that spiritual life and that intellectual omniscience -- in other words, bliss and pure consciousness and pure understanding -- from the divine which is at the heart or core of every man and of every woman; yes, and also at the heart and the core of the beings beneath us, though they as yet have not evolved the sensitive vehicle which can translate those sublime and supernal mysteries into comprehensible thought-form through their lack of the necessary organ of thought, which in them has not yet expressed itself as a self-conscious faculty.

The human beings who are the chelas of the Teachers, and the Teachers themselves, and the Teachers of the Teachers, are each one respectively a stage nearer than the preceding class to that divine, a degree or a step higher in the buddhic hierarchy, in the Hierarchy of Compassion.

Let us recollect that we are the outmost rank or ring of that buddhic Hierarchy of Compassion, and it depends upon each one of us, not only upon the life that we live, but upon the ideas that we hold inshrined in our minds and in our hearts, to how great a degree we may become faithful transmitters and manifesters of the divine streams from that supernal source. When we can transmit these in their native crystalline purity, when our minds become transmitters so limpid and clear, so high in their aspirations and so unadulterate in their natures that we can consciously receive and pass on these life-giving streams, the streams of understanding from the fountain of the universal life, then indeed we are saviors of men, saviors of our fellows; and this is the goal to which the Teachers call us.

For after all, is not this aim the one which the Teachers have told us is the lifework of themselves, and should be the lifework of us at the present time? It is. In some countries they speak of a Christ; in other countries they speak of a Buddha; elsewhere they speak of one who has found the Way, the Path, who has found Tao. And in each case the reference is to one who has so completely subordinated his individuality to the universe that he thereby becomes the faithful transmitter of the spiritual life.

All these various names and titles mean the same thing. What is this meaning? It is that the mind and the heart, the understanding and the consciousness, and therefore the example and the life, are all at one, all in unity working along the same pathway leading to the sublime goal at which we have hinted; and this life so led brings not only to the heart of each one of us a peace and a joy which pass all ordinary human understanding, but it likewise enables us to give that peace and that joy to others.

It is through and by the lessons that we learn in our daily life that come to us the opportunities of setting our feet upon this pathway. As all of us know, the noblest aim that we can have is to fit ourselves for this lifework. Now, how is it done? Is it by looking for mere mysteries and for weird tests and expected trials? What kind of a test or trial should such be, at a time when one is wrought up to a pitch of exaltation and high expectation so that in a certain sense he is temporarily abnormal and therefore has a transitory but nevertheless an abnormal strength to meet such tests or trials. Such would hardly be tests or trials at all and hence would be of very little profit and very little worth. The testing comes in the affairs of life that concern us daily, in the duties which we perform faithfully or perhaps unfaithfully, in never leaving our task for personal or selfish purposes; for here we are tested in every part of our being, and at every moment, and in the most unexpected and most unforeseen places, and at the most unexpected and most unforeseen times.

Our rejoicing passeth all ordinary comprehension when one, through long and faithful service and unswerving devotion which leads to inner development, which takes him far along the path, follows that still small path which leadeth to the heart of the universe; for we feel that what he then has attained we also may attain and should attain and must ultimately attain if we do as he did; it is a matter for joy to all when this happens.

I have just spoken of the pathway which leadeth to the heart of the universe. Now what is that heart? Is it "God"? What god can we conceive of which is not, after all, the noblest figuration of our own imagination? Such a god after all would be but a name, a breath, and nothing more, for it is a conception originating in our own minds. We do not mean by the phrase, "the heart of the universe," some divine being who after all is but an aggregate, a collection, a synthesized unity of the various individuals of the hierarchy of which it is the controlling head. We do not mean this, for what sense would it have since these hierarchical heads are more numerous than the sands on the shores of an infinite ocean, for they are infinite in number; and how should any one such be the heart of the universe? Nay, that is not our meaning. We mean by the heart of the universe that consciousness, that light, that understanding, that nature whose essence is bliss, which is the life of the universe -- not a personal life but an impersonal life, from and through which the universe draws the forces which infill it, which forces are the gods, the spiritual beings, the playing of whose vitality we sense even through the shell of the physical world, and therefrom take the term so familiar to us, the forces working in matter.

This consciousness, this light, this understanding, this nature whose essence is bliss, are collectively what we mean by the heart of the universe, a heart which is nowhere in particular, because everywhere; called the "heart" only because it is the secret center in each one of us, the core of our being, and which is not only the source but also the passageway, or the canal, or the channel, through which those supernal forces of the divine do pass into us; and, reduced to the last analysis, we are they and they are we, because the recondite and secret fountains of our being are all these things.

You know the teaching of the old Eastern philosophy, the Vedanta of Hindustan, which in this respect is likewise the teaching of Northern Buddhism, and is also ours, to this effect: the universe is one vast organism, an organism which is composite of organisms still smaller, still more minute, not located in any particular place but spread throughout the spaces, indefinitely in all directions, and likewise inwardly and outwardly, in the inner worlds as well as in the outer worlds. And these are full of these still smaller, still more minute organisms, which in their aggregate form the vast organism of the cosmos.

I fancy that after all it is only a figure of speech to speak of the universe as one vast organism, for the reason that any organism, in strict logic, must be a limited entity, and the thought that we are endeavoring to express is dealing with That which is limitless in all senses. Hence the expression "vast organism " is a metaphor, a trope, a manner of speech in order to express an idea almost too subtil and high to put in ordinary language.

This vast organism of the cosmos then is an organism only by philosophic license, so to say. It is an organism in the sense in which the human race is an organism, formed, as the latter is, of individuals, composite of men, men who are minuter organisms of the corporate body we call humanity, of men whose bodies in their turn are composite of entities still more minute; and these entities still more minute are again composed of entities still smaller than they, and so forth indefinitely.

Let our minds pass in thought in the reverse direction towards macrocosmic spheres, and there also do we find the same law of unity in diversity, prevailing everywhere. We may reach in our imagination an ultimate point and say, this is the universe; but by a still stronger effort and looking beyond that point not only do we sense other universes still more remote, but our instinct, our intuition, alike tell us that through these more distant aggregates, as through our own universe, play the same deific forces that we know, the same divine energies, the same driving urge to progress, the same call to come up higher, having the same forces playing through them, their brother-universes or sister-universes, if you will. And there are indefinite numbers of such, incomputable hosts of them, hosts visible and invisible, hosts without and within. So that all that we can mean when using the phrase, "the universe is one vast organism" is to carry our thought ever onwards and to realize that it is boundless space, without limitations, without frontiers, without ending places.

Remember, furthermore, that any such organism exists only in periods of its own manvantara; for manvantara is a word which we may by analogy employ for both the great and the small. There may be a manvantara of a universe as well as a manvantara of an aggregate of universes; nor does any such universe, nor does any such aggregate of universes, necessarily have its period of manvantara or its period of pralaya contemporaneously with all other aggregate bodies.

Let us be cautious about this. When we speak of "universal manvantara" we mean the manvantara of our own cosmic aggregate; but another universe may be in pralaya while we are in manvantara; many other universes may be in pralaya, or in manvantara, while we may be conversely in manvantara or pralaya.

Let us be watchful over our thoughts, keeping close guard over our minds, for in this manner we shall never allow our minds to crystallize into a mere succession of phrases and thus make of the thought a dogma. We learn much by thus watching ourselves and by thus studying ourselves, and by reaching ever inwards into our own spiritual natures, guided by the teaching which the Masters have given to us; and the essence, or, so to say, the keynote of all these teachings is that the way to light and to life and to peace and to bliss and to understanding is within ourselves; and we obtain these wonderful things by reaching or striving ever farther inwards, inwards, inwards, endlessly. For the farther we reach into ourselves, so to say, the farther we follow that pathway leading inwards, the more we become conscious of still greater things, still wider visions, and the pathway thus followed becomes space itself.

Is this pathway a different path from that which leadeth outwards, outwards, outwards, still farther outwards to spaces and cosmoi which we can intuitively sense as existing beyond the boundaries of our own universe? No, it is the same path, exactly the same path; it is only our mind of matter, in which we of necessity must work in this our present period of evolution, that conceives of the mysteries of consciousness as occupying space, or as following lines of directional expansion. All these things exist in our consciousness, not along any material directions; it is consciousness which understandeth, and consciousness is neither forwards nor backwards, nor to the right nor to the left, nor up nor down, but is. It is all things at all times, and because it is everywhere, it is nowhere in particular.

Where then abides this consciousness which is in each one of us? It is within, it is found by reaching inwards; it is the great searching, the great quest; it is the seeking the light; it is likewise the finding it; it is seeking the life; it is the finding of it. This consciousness should be sought for by turning inwards therefore; yet when we say that the path is inwards, it is, after all, but a figure of speech; it is a manner of verbal expression, in order to convey an idea, and we must not let our minds crystallize around a mere figure of speech.

What is initiation? The word itself really means a beginning, the first steps of a beginner, and there are many beginnings. There is the beginning for the man of the world; there is the beginning for the true chela; there is the beginning for the Mahatma; there is the beginning for his Teacher, and so on indefinitely. It is the opening of the course for development of a beginner, and he who guides his first steps will do so with much the same care and attention that a mother uses in guiding and watching the first steps of her little one.

Gnothi seauton, said the Greeks: "Know thyself," an injunction carved over the temple of Apollo at Delphi; this mandate comprises in two words the whole secret of initiation and of the initiations, because it comprises the path which the expanding consciousness follows in its growth: know thyself.

Thyself -- what is it? It is consciousness; it is also the heart of the universe. Thyself, that self which is the same in thee and in me, in you and in all others, which is not different in any one of us, as compared with any other one of us. It is the ultimate self, the spiritual oversoul; and therefore it is the one self, the heart of the universe. It is the consciousness in you which says simply "I am," and that same consciousness is in me and in all others: in the Teacher, in the chelas of the Teachers, in the Teachers of the Teachers, in the Silent Watcher of our supernal sphere -- that overself is the same in all entities comprised in any hierarchy.

But while that overself is the same in you, and in me, and in all that is, not different anywhere from what it is anywhere else; yet this does not comprise all there is of us psychologically speaking. There is something else within us, not different from the oversoul but a ray of that oversoul, so to say, and this something else in each one of us is the individual ego: that part in each of us which says not merely "I am," but "I am I," and not you. Think over this psychological mystery as it is to those who are not well acquainted with the ancient wisdom; for truly one of the most wonderful mysteries of the ancient wisdom, of esotericism, lies in a correct understanding of this psychological mystery.

In order to make my meaning more clear, please remember that while it is a perfectly true statement that the inner nature of man is the seed of his individual consciousness, that consciousness is but a reflection, so to say, of the universal consciousness which abides in all other entities whatsoever and wheresoever they may be. It is quite true that we reach into this universal consciousness and partake of its universality by following the path leading inwards; but this is not a procedure of the consciousness; and the mind should not be allowed to crystallize around any idea of mere directional expansion.

A man, by considering the starry orbs which he sees over his head at night, may as easily follow the path inwards as another man may by sitting in a corner with his attention concentrated on his navel or the tip of his nose, in the manner of some exoteric yogis, so called. The truth is that it is an arousing of the consciousness to self-understanding, and to developing it towards the universal.

Therefore, once you begin that undertaking, and once you begin to follow that path, you will find that mere directional expansions are but words. The consciousness itself will give you the meaning of these things, and such meaning is always away from the directional limitations or particularities of the material world. It is a growth of consciousness actually, rather than a following of any path so called in any particular direction. As a man's consciousness expands he realizes that it is growing; but he will probably smile if he hears one, whose consciousness has not expanded equivalently, talking of any particular direction in space as being that which the pathway towards the light follows.

This relative I, this ego-self, this individual I in each one of us, is not the heart of the universe; but it is rooted in the heart of the universe, therefore rooted in the universal life, in the universal consciousness, for it is a ray of it. It is that part of us which, by the magic of evolution, by the wondrous magic which the gods work in their deific energies, forming and framing the cosmos as a wonderful web of being -- it is that part of us, I say, which grows from unself-consciousness to self-understanding, to self-consciousness.

In the vast womb of eternities past it began its career as an unself-conscious god-spark; and its destiny is to flower out in due course as a self-conscious god, becoming so through the unwrapping or unfolding or evolving of the potentialities which are latent or inherent in its very nature as a spark of the universe. This is spiritual evolution, and can be considered as a building up of a god from the forces and faculties and powers inherent in its own self, the pouring forth of the latent or sleeping energies which intrinsically belong to it; yes, a self-conscious god, as it will finally become, infilled with and by the heart of the universe, which is the universal self. It is the building up of a god through and by means of the ego-self, its periodic mirror or reflection.

As Katherine Tingley expresses it in her most beautiful invocation:

O my Divinity! thou dost blend with the earth and fashion for thyself temples of mighty power.
O my Divinity! thou livest in the heart-life of all things, and dost radiate a golden light that shineth forever and doth illumine even the darkest comers of the earth.
O my Divinity! blend thou with me that from the corruptible I may become Incorruptible; that from imperfection I may become Perfection; that from darkness I may go forth in Light.

The universal self is the heart of the universe, for these two phrases are but two manners of expressing the same thing; it is the source of our being; it is also the goal whither we are all marching, we and the hierarchies above us as well as the hierarchies and the entities which compose them inferior to us. All come from the same ineffable source, the heart of Being, the universal self, pass at one period of their evolutionary journey through the stage of humanity, gaining thereby self-consciousness or the ego-self, the "I am I," and they find it, as they advance along this evolutionary path, expanding gradually into universal consciousness -- an expansion which never has an end, because the universal consciousness is endless, limitless, boundless.

Yea, in very truth, it is all a most wondrous mystery, using the word "mystery" here in its Greek sense of something secret and wonderful. We leave our deific source as unself-conscious god-sparks, and our destiny is to become self-conscious gods, thereafter taking a direct part in the vast cosmic labor.

But is this the limit which we reach, thereafter to go no farther ahead? Do we then reach the frontiers of consciousness-space, thereafter finding or discovering nothing still grander or greater to know or to be? No indeed, the truth is the exact reverse of this. The consciousness expands gradually, and the more it expands the more it learns, and that expanding is timeless, outside of time and space. It expands forever.

We have spoken of the hierarchies above us, that is to say, of the hosts of hierarchies who have passed through the human stage and who are marching along their own respective evolutionary pathways towards still greater destinies; but let us not forget that beneath us there are other hosts of hierarchies composed of lives innumerable, uncounted hosts of them, trailing after us, consciously or unconsciously looking up to us as we look up to those who have preceded us, even as we have trailed after, in former manvantaras, those who are now ahead of us, whom we look up to as gods or spiritual beings or, to use the term adopted from Buddhism, dhyan-chohans.

Of the hosts of these small and inferior entities who are trailing after us, one portion of them is comprised in the multitude of minute, even infinitesimal, lives which compose our bodies: that is to say, the physical body, the astral body, the mental body, the intellectual body, and the spiritual body, which aggregate hosts composing these respective bodies, being of different grades or in different stages in evolution, and each such host furthermore interlocking with each other and with all others, and with different hierarchies of the world around us -- all the hierarchies composing these various bodies of man's septenary constitution together form the composite unity through which man's inmost self works, because in them, in another sense than that used by Paul of the Christians, we live and move and have our inferior being.

What is this inmost self? It is that part of us by which we conjoin with the heart of the universe -- in very truth, it is the heart of the universe, limited only by the individualized expression of our spiritual nature; and this spiritual nature itself is the source of our ego.

Let us try briefly to sketch the constitution of our inner nature, and I select us men as examples because we have developed up to the point where self-consciousness is beginning to manifest itself, and thereby we may illustrate more clearly and more easily how evolution proceeds.

First, then, is the universal self, the heart of being, which is the same in all of us. This universal self pours out its energies through the highest in man's constitution, which in each one of us is the monad, our inner spiritual god. The monad working through the various spheres builds up man's intermediate nature, which is the ego-self; and this ego-self, as its consciousness expands away from personality and limitations towards universality, spontaneously enters upon greater and ever greater spheres of life and activity, until this ego becomes in its turn a fully self-conscious expression of its inspiriting monad, which is but another way of saying that it rebecomes that monad itself, plus the experiences that the ego has acquired from absorbing the aroma of the various lives which it has had.

When the ego has thus rebecome monadic, in other words has become a monad itself -- its own inspiriting monad meanwhile having itself advanced to spheres of life and activity still more sublime than it formerly had -- the ego-monad then assumes a cosmic nature, and in its turn evolves an intermediate self or intermediate selves, which works or which work through our lower natures, helping thereby the lives beneath us and in us, in whom we live and move and have our inferior being, as I have already said. It is through these inferior lives composing our intermediate or lower natures that the ego-self finds its fields of self-expression; and when it finally becomes an egoic monad, it becomes to the hosts of lives on these intermediate and lower spheres their divine oversoul, the hierarch of their hierarchy.

Thus then, as a parting thought, let us realize the responsibility -- spiritual, mental, psychical, emotional, astral, and physical -- which is ours. And when I say "ours," I mean ours as self-conscious beings, egos. We are responsible for what these intermediate and lower lives undergo to a very large extent; we realize that as we impress them, so will they self-express themselves, until they have attained self-consciousness in their turn; we realize that we give them the initial impetus towards evolutionary unfolding, and that as we set their faces, so to say, so will they travel the path.

We realize, finally, that ethical values are in human life, and in the connections that I have just hinted at, what the laws of the universe are in the cosmos. Both signify harmony; both signify consistency in action; both signify an identic source; and both point to the fact that both we and they, these lower entities, are treading the path which they who have gone before us have trodden. This treading of the path is a growth of consciousness, it is an expansion of the conscious understanding; and hence it is that these entities ahead of us are where they are, because, having trodden that path, they have come to know.

The Buddhists have a most beautiful expression to illustrate this fact of the common nature of those who have gone before ourselves, and those who are coming after us. They speak of a Buddha as one who is a Tathagata, a Sanskrit expression compounded of two words meaning either "thus come" or "thus gone," for the Sanskrit is susceptible of either translation; but the meaning is identical, signifying one who has followed the inward way, the inner pathway, the still small path coming down, so to say, from the universal self, passing through the human constitution onward until it disappears again in the heart of being from which we came.

All of you are that pathway. I mean that each one of you men and women is for yourself that pathway; there is no other for any one of you, because it is yourself traveling along the path of understanding consciousness, and reaching ultimately its evolutionary goal, when you become a god.

  • (From Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy by G. de Purucker)

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