Originally printed in the July - August 2000 issue of Quest magazine.
Citation: Burnier, Radha. "The Ever-Present Reality." Quest 88.4 JULY - AUGUST 2000): pg 146-147.
By Radha Burnier
Among members of the Theosophical Society, it would be hard to find materialists who deny the existence of anything beyond the scope of the human senses and the human mind. But there are people, particularly in India, who are inclined to imagine that the Theosophical philosophy is a form of theism, accepting a God of some kind. This could be attributed to the general tendency to study insufficiently, or to wishful thinking based on desire for crutches and unwillingness to break old habits of thought, or to the belief that their own ancient religion, with many encrustations, can be subsumed under the name â€œTheosophy.â€
J. Krishnamurtiâ€™s insistence that neither the word â€œgodâ€ nor the idols and mental images that people invent and call â€œgodâ€ have anything to do with the truly sacred is of immense relevance for the progress of humanity. Religions have put the stamp of authority on a god or gods fashioned by the human mind and provided with attributes characterizing the average human being. Gods are not infrequently pictured as behaving like erratic or errant human beings, demanding praise and flattery, rewarding mindless obedience and punishing â€œenemies.â€
The Theosophical view of the sacred, ever-existent Reality is different. The well-known Mahatma Letter number 10 (chronologically no. 88) makes this clear:
The God of the Theologians is simply an imaginary power, un loup garou [a bogeyman]. . . . Our chief aim is to deliver humanity of this nightmare, to teach man virtue for its own sake, and to walk in life relying on himself instead of leaning on a theological crutch, that for countless ages was the direct cause of nearly all human misery.
Even today, when the majority of people think they are living in an age of progress and in spite of whatever intellectual emancipation the study of science has achieved, the concept of god and the authority of churches are causing havoc. The bitterly destructive hatreds and feuds between the faithful of different religious denominations--in Bosnia, the Middle East, Ireland, the Indian subcontinent, Indonesia and so on--bear witness to the folly of humanityâ€™s continued belief in a mind-projected God.
What is the alternative? It is obviously not a return to materialism, which has promoted crass selfishness and the greed, cruelty, and other evils of which selfishness is the progenitor. To be a Theosophist is not necessarily to believe in and pay allegiance to any special god or deity. As Madame Blavatsky wrote:
One need but worship the spirit of living nature, and try to identify oneself with it. To revere that Presence, the invisible Cause, which is yet ever manifesting itself.
Life functions in dazzling ways in the minutest of forms as well as in the greatest. Annie Besant quotes from Giordano Brunoâ€™s Della Causa, Principio ed Uno in her series of lectures on Bruno delivered at the Sorbonne:
Be it ever so small a thing, it has in it part of the spiritual substance, which, finding appropriate conditions, expands into a plant or an animal. . . . There is not the minutest particle which does not contain such a portion in itself, which is not ensouled.
Bruno also wrote in another work, Delâ€™ Infinito, Universo e Mondi, that â€œas all proceeds from good, so everything is good, works towards good, and ends in good.â€ This fact in itself is a marvel that could change the human heart when it takes it in.
The Mahatmas are clear that the universal, all-pervading Life is the only God:
If people are willing to accept and to regard as God our ONE LIFE, immutable and unconscious in its eternity, they may do so. . . . It penetrates, nay is the essence of every atom.
Recognition of the Divine Presence in everything, whether it appears animate or inanimate, must be encouraged and become part of every personâ€™s education, for it is the only kind of religion that can, in the present day, save the human and other kingdoms, as well as the planet. Such awareness forms the basis for the unfolding of human consciousness to ever higher levels and for establishing harmonious and respectful relationships among human beings and between human and other forms of existence.
The number of people interested in saving the environment is increasing, but environmentalists and ecologists do not necessarily experience lifeâ€™s sanctity; they have plans, they organize, at times ruthlessly, culling animal herds or manipulating nature according to their own ideas. Likewise, holistic philosophy does not always turn into compassionate action.
A new world religion must be founded on a sense of the sacredness of all life, all forms of life being manifestations and revelations of the transcendent Reality. As Light on the Path says: â€œThe principle which gives life dwells in us, and without us, is undying and eternally beneficent.â€ This is the truth of truths propounded from the time of the Vedas: â€œThe one Reality lies hidden in all beings, is all pervasive, is the innermost core of all things.â€
When the manifested god is ever present, ever near, what need is there of invented gods? In the words of Dr. I. K. Taimni in his Glimpses into the Psychology of Yoga:
This outer physical universe is a projection or reflection of the inner spiritual universe, a fact which is hinted at in the occult maxim â€œAs above so below.â€
And in this outer universe we can see, even with our ordinary physical eyes, the extraordinary beauty, the wondrous and inexhaustible creativity, the harmony and order of Life even in this small part of existence in which the Reality manifests itself to our perception, that is, in Nature and in human consciousness. Then why invent?
Radha Burnier is the international President of the Theosophical Society, as well as of the Theosophical Order of Service, and is a lifelong worker for both organizations.