Our Souls Need
by B. P. Wadia
© 2005 Online Teosofiska Kompaniet Malmö
Founder’s Day address delivered by Mr. B.P. Wadia, the FounderPresident of the IIWC. This Lecture was delivered a few days before he passed away, and was his last lecture
ON THE 11th of August 1945, as the first of the Foundation Day Addresses of this Institute was being delivered, there came the good news heralding the dawn of peace over a war-torn world.
On that, our Foundation Day, neither the UNO nor the UNESCO had come into existence. But the ideas for which they now stand already existed and we of the Indian Institute of World Culture made use of them in inaugurating our Institute.
This is the Fourteenth Foundation Day Address and it falls to my lot to deliver it – perhaps the last of such addresses from me, for this body is getting old; but we have now good counselors on our Managing Committee, good helpers and servers on our staff, and friends in many parts of the world. The seed sown on the 11th of August 1945 has grown into a sturdy tree, capable of giving shade and shelter to many. For this, a word of thanks must go to our workers and colleagues, the foremost among whom was our never-to-be-forgotten helper, Dr. L. S. Doraiswamy.
My mind’s eye has roved over several fields, seeking an appropriate subject for this year’s Foundation Day Address. The Cycle of Necessity, called by the Greeks kuklos, has brought humanity to a decisive point in its evolution. Vishnu’s Chakra, which points to humanity’s march of progress, also expresses the same very important truth. A quiet study of the Cycle of Human Unfoldment convinces us – will, we feel sure, convince any dispassionate student who looks into this problem – that the hand of the Clock of Karma points to the dawn of the emergence of man, qua man, man the individual, the Common Man. That expression, however, is often wrongly used, for what we mean by ”the Common Man” is man in possession of a power common to all. That is, every man, every woman, every child who comes into this world by the gateway of birth with the Light Supernal which lightenth him or her.
Through centuries and yugas man has been learning the lessons of life through the avenues of dependence and conflict – dependence on others and conflict with others. The great saying of the Mighty Lawgiver Manu, that ”Self-dependence is Happiness, other-dependence is Misery,” has been applied in different senses in different eras. Thus, in our political struggle for India’s freedom this saying was used by some of us who belonged to the Home Rule League. We explained how Self-rule, the rule of India by Indians, would be happiness, while British Rule brought us the misery of other-dependence.
With India’s winning of political sovereignty a new era commenced and the world also has reached, in its life-movement, a new day. It is the yuga when each human being has to learn Self-dependence, so that he is not dependent on other men, on his Government or political party, on social servants, or on other similar factors. To face difficulties, to unfold resourcefulness, to learn to stand on our own feet, to earn our bread by the sweat of our brow – all this takes us away from abject dependence on others, frees us from enslavement of every kind. This idea we should try to propagate and to popularize in the Indian Institute of World Culture
We speak of Self-dependence. But dependence on which self ? We have the selfish self of passion and anger and greed – the egotistic self whose will is ruled by pride. It is not dependence on that lower or carnal self which Manu recommends. He refers to the One Eternal Self, the Great Self, the Mahat-Atman whose ray abides in the heart of each, and which is the Divine Self of every man. However fallen a person may be, the Light of Divinity is there within him. Within the skin of the leper a God sits; every sinner is a potential saint; every ignoramus of today is a Sage of tomorrow.
This idea gives to the very concept of other-dependence a new meaning, a new function. But the amplification of that idea would take us away from our field of study.
The Divinity within each of us – what a grand, energizing and inspiring truth it is! But how few, how very few, realize the stimulating fact! It is well said,
Alas, alas, that all men should possess Alaya, be one with the Great Soul, and that possessing it Alaya should so little avail them ! Behold how like the moon, reflected in the tranquil waves, Alaya is reflected by the small and by the great, is mirrored in the tiniest atoms, yet fails to reach the heart of all. Alas, that so few men should profit by the gift, the priceless boon of learning truth, the right perception of existing things, the knowledge of the nonexistent !
The great Gift which the Gods have transmitted to us, from the Divine Mind – this gift is not used, much less appreciated.It is said,
”Man does not live by bread alone.” But, in this which is called the Economic Civilization, money which buys bread has become the Supreme God. More money, to buy not only bread, but cakes also! What is called a high standard of living – our friends in the USA call it ”the American way of life”– means furnished houses, rich raiment, foods tasty to the palate, visits to cinemas and the like. All these would be perfectly in order were housing and furniture marked by cleanliness; were clothes clean and not gaudy and ostentatious – remember, ”the apparel oft proclaims the man” –but suited to the environmental conditions and the purse. Foods should be not only for the palate, but also for the nourishment of the whole body; cinemas are places of recreation, but recreation means ”re-creation”; do the pictures we see, and are sometimes thrilled by, re-create our mentality, our morality ?
We in modern India are suffering from the reverse of what is called a high standard of living. We of this land fancy that our way represents the way of the simple life; that we are a spiritual people. Our way of life is not simple and it has brought us bodily diseases and mental debility. We are not a spiritual people, but a spiritually fallen people; the only fact behind the prevailing superstition is that Aryavarta of old has left us the superb texts of spiritual wisdom. But how many are educated to understand them and, among the educated, how many are capable of appreciating the Noble Wisdom of the Great Aryas?
To live in an unsanitary hovel is not to live the simple life; to live in a clean hut is, and correspondentially it is better to live in a clean body and an alert mind than in an ailing body and an argumentative or fat mind, unable to jump over any idea.
We reminded ourselves that man does not live by bread alone; then by what else and more than by bread ? What is called a high standard of living implies, does it not, multiplying our physical-plane wants for the body? This may be described as the horizontal progress of the human personality which generates rivalry and competition, ambition and greed, giving birth ultimately to discontent, disappointment, and even despair. There is another line of progress which may be described as vertical – from the senses to the brain, from the brain to the heart, from the heart to the very Soul within. It is the pointing to this vertical line of evolution which is the special dharma of this Institute.
The care of the Soul and the Soul’s instruments requires a higher kind of knowledge; knowledge is the key to personal and physical-plane success; but it is Wisdom which is necessary for seeking the Soul and securing its help and cooperation, its guidance for the mind, its inspiration for the heart.
In heads replete with thoughts of other men,
Wisdom in minds attentive to their own.
The Greek Oracle at Delphi commanded, ”Man, know thyself!”, and in this ancient land the cry went up – Tat tvam asi – ”Thou art That.” But the masses of men and women have gone on without any serious and sincere attempt to ascertain who or what man is. Similarly, the masses of the Indian people, in spite of the Upanishads and the Gita, in spite of the Dhammapada and other superb Buddhistic texts, have gone on as if Atman were nought, the mind were material, and the heart the seat of passion and the love of pelf.
The Indian Institute of World Culture has for its great and chief aim the education which takes the human heart to understanding, the human mind to right morality and the human hands to efficiency – accuracy and punctuality and purity.
The speciality of our Institute’s programme is the spreading of humane ideas. Mere technical and mechanistic thoughts will not serve our people or the world at large. It is the mellowing influence of the classics – the myths, the epics, poetry, etc., which the brain and blood of the men of today are craving, perhaps unconsciously to themselves. We appreciate the work of the great scientists in every field, but by no means do we consider that modern science possesses the last word of Knowledge. Its knowledge and its methods may bring more bread and better bread, but they bring also more bombs, poisonous and devastating. Since man will die by bombs and cannot live by bread alone, therefore humanism, the classic subjects which touch and train not only the senses and the mind but also the heart and the Soul, are of greater value and importance. To spread such thoughts should be one of our aims.
It is my purpose today to present to you some ideas on this highly important topic which pertain to our future progress. Allow me to do so and, to begin with, do not consider the theme to be impractical. The present-day world conditions are a direct result of the ”practicality” of the politician and the legislator in every land. There is no time for me to offer facts and figures and statistics to show how common is juvenile delinquency, how widespread are the diseases of the adult, how many the immoralities, as witness the venereal diseases, alcoholism, the psychoses and the neuroses. Condemning others will not bring us wisdom. The search for the Soul, the living of the life of the Soul is practical, most practical, and also creative of national and international peace and good will for all humanity.
It is sometimes said that every man is a philosopher, i.e., every man lives according to his own understanding, the power of his own consciousness. This, in a way, is true. But does this idea not carry the implication that the culture of that consciousness, that understanding, is a pressing need of all people today?
What definite knowledge can we supply, in however small a measure, through the channel of this, our beloved Institute, so that those who come here may benefit from it and start their journey Soul-ward? We aspire that all of us should seek the Light of Wisdom which unfolds the power of Contentment and of Peace; and the strength of the Self. The Ancient Philosophy, that which antedates the Vedas themselves, offers a Way of Life and some of its very definite principles we should now like to consider.
To begin with the doctrine of Evolution: the Ancient Sages did not teach Evolution as modern science does. Its picture of progression presents the truth of Emanation. What is Emanation ? How is it different from modern science’s doctrine of Evolution ? Emanation is not opposed to Evolution.
The Emanationists hold that nothing can be evolved – or, as the word means, be unwombed or born – unless it has first been involved, thus indicating that life is from a spiritual potency above the whole. The doctrine of Emanation deserves study by every sincere and serious mind.
Emanations imply that from the One Supreme emanate Intelligences of different grades on the side of consciousness and also the worlds of graded substances on the side of Matter. Lords of Light and of Wisdom, Great Buddhas and Dhyanis and Rishis; and then, grade by grade, lesser intelligences and, appropriate to each host of intelligences, worlds in which these function. Thus, e.g., the well-known Three Lokas – Spiritual, Psychic and Material – are worlds of substances of different grades in which intelligences live and function and evolve.
Then the second implication is this: On this physical, material globe which we call Earth, all intelligences, from the highest to the lowest, live and labour and evolve. Here we find living Great Souls, Mahatmas, laboring for human welfare and helping Nature in Their own seclusion and by Their own silence. And there are on Earth geniuses, mystics, poets, philosophers, mathematicians and scientists and their students and pupils. Here also are the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms. And behind what is visible to the naked eye and audible to the ear of flesh are the universes or lokas of sights and sounds. The Invisible Universe, with its lights and its darknesses, is not taken into account by modern knowledge; a great deal of human suffering is due to the non-recognition of this very important truth. One of our aims should be to bring the Invisible – the dark psychic and the bright spiritual – nearer to the consciousness of all who come under the influence of the Indian Institute of World Culture. Next, in this ancient and immemorial philosophy the Human Kingdom occupies a unique position in as much as self-consciousness is acquired and used by man alone. All-kingdoms in visible and invisible Nature are living; every atom is a Life and is conscious, but not self-conscious. The Human Kingdom alone possesses the power of self-consciousness, i.e., reflective consciousness, with the ability to compare, contrast and draw conclusions, to evaluate objects and events, which are all forms and processes of life. There are those who have passed through (shall we say graduated from ? ) the human kingdom, who guide and instruct ready learners. There are men and women now learning and evolving in the human kingdom – from the abject savage to the materialistic scientist, from the philosopher to the poet, from the mathematician to the mystic. The Indian Institute of World Culture should keep in view these different types of learners and offer to those of each type the best nourishment available for them.
Next truth: Evolution in the human kingdom is not only by the Impelling Force of Nature, or by Natural Impulse, guided by Divine Will and Divine Mind. Part of our human progress is by and through that process. But there is to be taken into account also the important factor of the freedom of the Human Will and man’s Moral Power of determining his own course of life. In this every man is checked or helped by his own self-made destiny. To fulfil, in some measure at least, the purpose of his evolution man must possess real knowledge of his own origin and nature, and of the goal of life. Modern knowledge is not sufficient and the instruction of the Sages and Seers of the entire Ancient World and Their modern Heirs have much more to teach us.
What will be the most practical way for us today to perceive, even in silhouette, the basic principles of this ancient Divine Wisdom? Let us present to you three Great Ideas on which the Science of the Soul is founded. The Ancient Sages and Their modern Heirs have taught:
I. Everything existing, exists from natural causes.
II. Virtue brings its own reward, and vice and sin bring their own punishment.
III. The state of man in this world is probationary.
These three fundamentals are the pure essence of all religions, however distorted the existing creeds. Let us consider them:-
The first, that everything existing, exists from natural causes, cannot be rejected by any thoughtful, educated man. Even the scientist, circumscribed by his incomplete knowledge, will agree to this proposition in principle. But let us apply that to ourselves, to each one of us. Here and now we exist with our bodily health or ill health, our brain knowledge and ignorance, the merits and limitations of heart of each of us. Natural causes produced every one of us. But who are ”we ”? What do we mean by ”I” and ”we”? Are we the ever-aging and continuously dying body? Are we our unsteady and wandering mind ? Are we our emotions, our longing for pleasures and our desire to avoid pains? Who says, ”I am getting old”? Who says, ”My mind is wandering”? Who says, ”I feel elated” or ”I feel frustrated”? And who determines what I shall eat and drink, what I shall read, what I shall do ?
The Man is truly the Human Soul who uses the body, improving or degrading it; who uses the mind, elevating or corrupting it; who uses the character, ennobling or degrading it. We, as Souls, are the creators of our Destiny. This is Karma: what we are in body, mind, character, is what as never-dying Souls we have made of these in the School of Life. Of course, this implies Reincarnation: Heredity, atavism and the environment in which we find ourselves are but avenues of the Law which moves to progression and, through righteousness, to perfection. Life is a Great School; each one of us is a pupil in a particular grade; each one is learning, diligently or slothfully. Reincarnation is the Doctrine of Hope, provided we also perceive the value of the Law of Karma, the Doctrine of Responsibility. It is the hope born of the conviction of Reincarnation which is the leaven that leaveneth the whole life.
That brings us to the second proposition: Virtue brings its own reward and vice and sin bring their own punishment. Our deeds and words, our thoughts and emotions, are effects of the virtues and vices which we have gathered from the past and which it is our privilege and responsibility to improve or correct in the present. By virtue we ennoble, by vice we degrade our character; we gain knowledge or remain ignorant; we build health or ill health. It is the morality of each man which has been building him through the long past and is building him in the living present. In this civilization we put undue emphasis on mental knowledge which is really dangerous to the Soul; further, there is the unwise emphasis on technology and mechanics. Therefore in our Indian Institute of World Culture, while valuing the knowledge of science and praising the painstaking and truth-seeking labours of the great scientists, we must lay special stress on the humanities, which directly touch the moral basis of man – the primary instrument of the human soul. Virtue begets virtue; vice begets vice.
Let us turn to the third truth: The state of man in this world is probationary. The aim of existence, the purpose of life, is not inquired into by most men. ”Who knows? God only knows,” they say. Then there are people who exclaim, ”What else is there to do but to eat, drink and be merry? For tomorrow we die.” Such ignorance, such cynicism, is unworthy of Man, the Thinker.
Who has not experienced the buffeting, the tests and trials of life ? But how many ask, ”Why is there so little of joy, so much of pain and sorrow in our lives?” The Divine Wisdom lays down the principle that in the School of Life we are learners on probation; we have tests and trials and they are explainers of the processes of life. Every event of life brings its lesson, its test, and so it is said that ”the state of man in this world is probationary.” In what way are we to understand this proposition? There is this verse which gives us a clue:
This earth. Disciple, is the Hall of Sorrow, wherein are set along the Path of dire probation’s, traps to ensnare the Ego by the delusion called ”Great Heresy.”
If Universal Brotherhood is the panacea and its practice will lead us to the life of Understanding, of Peace and of Light, the idea that man lives in the midst of enemies and not of friends creates and envelops us in illusions, delusions, discontent and darkness.
Philosophically it is taught by all mystics that Unity binds all souls into one grand mosaic. The test for every human soul consists in his understanding and appreciation of the fact that the human kingdom should be, must be, regarded as a family. Behind and underlying diversity there is Unity. There are feud and war between us and others, individually and nationally, because there is strife between our own two natures – the animal and the human. Our test therefore lies in destroying in ourselves the immorality which springs from egotism and in acquiring the spirit which sees the Divine at work everywhere. The Beautiful is hidden in the ugly; the True is at the core of every untruth; the Good ensouls the Evil. Satan is the Archangel and His lust carries within it God’s Love; His Wrath, God’s Mercy; His Greed, God’s urge to Righteousness. We are so saturated with our small sins and petty crimes that we fail to see that our greatest sin, our ghastliest crime, is to live and labour each as a unit separated from others. Destiny, Nature, God, tests us on this point of Love for all as against the love of our own self, or even the love of a few – our kith and kin, our friends and countrymen. Every time we widen our circle of friendship, bur sphere of service of others, and offer our compassion to all, our gratitude to the Givers of bounty,– on each such occasion we have passed our test as probationers on the path of life. Underlying all our labour of love in this Institute should be the inculcating of this grand verity by precept and by example.
And now a few closing words:
First, may I appeal to you who are members of the Institute and also to those who are friends and admirers of the Institute to cherish its unselfish spiritual principles ? Pragmatism and utilitarianism are not always and uniformly beneficent; idealism and the power to hitch our wagon to a star have invariably produced good results – developed courage, patience, hope. Mammon Worship is not conducive to moral unfoldment. The wealth of knowledge which purifies and elevates truly enriches life.
We have already spoken of Universal Brotherhood. To love our neighbours, whatever their race or religion, whatever their social status, whatever their customs, habits and manners – this represents the highest form of human morality. We must develop that morality, that moral outlook and for this we need two principles. We need the spirit of real tolerance and we can unfold that tolerance, leading to appreciation, by a proper comparative study of our brethren’s religion, customs and habits, manners and points of view. But for such a study to bring us practical benefit we have to look at the forces and faculties which unite man to man. Every human body is different from every other human body, and yet all human bodies are similar in as much as all of us have two eyes, two ears.. two hands, two feet and one tongue. The constitution of all human beings is also similar. Each is a Soul and has a mind nature, an emotional nature and a bodily nature. We cannot love our fellow men with understanding without adequate knowledge of the complete constitution of the human being.
Finally, allow me to give expression to my conviction, and I do so in the interest of this Institute. All of us desire intensely and fervently that it should grow, vibrating at the same rate and in the same fashion as in the past. What has created that vibrant power? What my colleagues and myself who are students of Theosophy as taught by H. P. Blavatsky, whose 127th Birth Anniversary we are also celebrating today, have been able to achieve is wholly and entirely due to the power and wisdom of Theosophy. The Institute does not aim at proselytizing anyone, but we who have laboured for it have done so under the inspiration of the writings of H. P. Blavatsky and William Quan Judge, for whom the Cosmopolitan Home for our young friends is named. What I have presented to you today for your consideration is the direct result of the study of Theosophy as recorded in their writings.
And now may I, before I conclude, offer to one and all of you who are present and also to those friends who are not here today, my heartfelt thanks for all the kindness shown, and for the opportunity to offer a slight.
B. P. WADIA
Founder’s Day address, 11th of August 1958
Indian Institute of World Culture
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