Role of revolutions
Under the influence of the different rays as they cycled in and out of activity, little groups of men emerged, played their part in group formation, and disappeared, often unaware of their inherent synthesis and of their co-workers. As can be seen in any intelligent historical retrospect, the work that they did for the race and their contribution to the pageant of the progress of mankind stands out with clarity. I have not the time to take this procession of groups, each custodian of a special contribution, and trace for you the work they did or the subjective impulses under which they worked. I can but indicate the trend of their endeavour, and leave to some illumined student of history the delineation of the golden thread of their spiritual work as they raised the mental standard of the race and put man en rapport with the world in which he lived, opening his eyes not only to the nature of matter and of form but also to the hidden depths of his own being.
Hence, during the past three centuries, group after group has appeared and played its part, and we today reap the benefit of their accomplishment. Under the cultural group for instance we find emerging the poets of the Elizabethan age, and the musicians of Germany and of the Victorian era. Groups of artists are likewise to be found, giving us the famous schools which are the glory of Europe. Two famous groups, one cultural and the other political, also played their parts, the one producing the Renaissance and the other bringing about the French Revolution. The effects of their work are still to be felt, for the modern humanistic movement with its emphasis upon the past which is completed in the present, and its search for the roots of man's equipment in the earlier trends, harks back to the Renaissance. Revolution and the determination to fight for the divine rights of man find their prime inaugurating influence and impetus in the revolution in France. Revolt, the formation of political parties, the class warfare which is so rampant today and the splitting of every country into warring political groups, though sporadic always, have become universal during the past two hundred years, and are all the results of the group activity started by the Masters. Men have grown thereby and have learnt how to think, and even though they may think wrongly and may initiate disastrous experiments, the ultimate good is inevitable and unavoidable. Temporary discomforts, passing depressions, war and bloodshed, penury and vice may lead the unthinking into the depths of pessimism. But those who know and who sense the inner guiding hand of the Hierarchy are aware that the heart of humanity is sound and that out of the present chaos and perhaps largely because of it, there will emerge those competent to deal with the situation and adequate to the task of unification and synthesis. This period has been occultly called the "age of restoration of what has been broken by the fall". The time has come when the separate parts can be reunited and the whole stand together again in its earlier perfection.54
Notice should be taken also of the world idealists and workers, who are pledged to the working out of some ideal which seems to them to embody all that is desirable and to solve the problem as they see it around them. Under this group could be placed the leaders and dictators of the world at this time, no matter by what name they call themselves. That their methods may not be desirable, is of course often true but is relatively immaterial. Rightly or wrongly, they are working under the inspiration of an idea; they are bringing about definite changes in the minds of their fellow men and in world conditions; they are evoking a mental response from the public and the world. They are, therefore, placing the world in their debt, by inaugurating those changes which are altering the world rhythm and speeding up its tempo.55
The educators who face the present world opportunity should see to it that a sound foundation is laid for the coming civilization; they should undertake that it is general and universal in its scope, truthful in its presentation and constructive in its approach. What initial steps the educators of the different countries take will inevitably determine the nature of the coming civilization. They should prepare for a renaissance of all the arts and for a new and free flow of the creative spirit in man. They should lay an emphatic importance upon those great moments in human history wherein man's divinity flamed forth and indicated new ways of thinking, new modes of human planning and thus changed for all time the trend of human affairs. These moments produced the Magna Charta; they gave emphasis, through the French Revolution, to the concepts of liberty, equality and fraternity; they formulated the American Bill of Rights, and on the high seas and in our own time and day they gave us the Atlantic Charter and the Four Freedoms. These are the great concepts which must govern the new age with its nascent civilization and its future culture.56
About the beginning of the eighteenth century, after a meeting of the Hierarchy at its great centennial gathering in 1725, an effort was determined upon which would bring a more definite influence to bear upon a group of souls awaiting incarnation, and thus induce them to hasten their entry into the life of the physical plane. This was done, and the civilisation of modern times came into being, with both good and bad results. The era of culture which was the outstanding characteristic of the Victorian age, the great movements which awakened the human consciousness to a recognition of its essential freedom, the reaction against the dogmatism of the Church, the great and wonderful scientific developments of the immediate past, and the present sexual and proletarian revolutions now going on, are the result of the "impulsive" hastenings into incarnation of souls whose time had not truly come but whose conditioning influence was needed if certain difficulties (present since 1525) were to be averted. The bad effects above mentioned are indicative of the difficulties incident to premature development and to the undesirable unfoldments of what might be termed (injudiciously nevertheless) evil.
These incoming souls have, through their highly developed understanding and by means of their "self-willed power," frequently wrought havoc in various directions. However, if we could look on, as can Those on the inner side and if we were in a position to contrast the "light" of humanity as it is today with what it was two or three hundred years ago, we would recognise that enormous strides had been made. This is evidenced by the fact that the emergence of a band of "conditioning souls", under the name of the New Group of World Servers, has been possible since 1925. They can now come in because of the work already done by the group of souls who hastened their entrance into incarnation, under the impulse of the Hierarchy. The words "condition" or "conditioning" are here used quite frequently because of the aptness of the phrase to indicate function. These souls, because of their point in evolution, because of their stage in unfoldment and because of their impressibility to the group idea and to the Plan, can come into incarnation and begin, more or less, to work out that Plan and evoke a response to it in the human consciousness. They are thus in a position to "prepare the way for the coming of the Lord." This latter is a symbolic phrase indicating a certain level of spiritual culture in humanity. They are sometimes dimly conscious of this stupendous task, but they are, in the majority of cases, quite unconscious of their "qualifying" destiny. As souls, under the guidance of the Hierarchy and prior to incarnation, they are conscious of the impulse to "go in and help the sorrowing planet and thus release the prisoners held in durance hard by low desire" (quoting from the Old Commentary), but once the garment of flesh has been assumed, that consciousness too dies out and in the physical brain they are not aware of that which their souls have purposed. Only the urge for specific activities remains. The work nevertheless proceeds.
A few souls come into incarnation of their own free will and accord; they work with clear knowledge and proceed to the task of the day. They are the key people in any age, and the determining factors, psychologically, in any historical period. It is they who set the pace and do the pioneering work. They focus in themselves both the hatred and the love of the world; they work as the Builders or as the Destroyers, and they return eventually to their own place, carrying with them the spoils of victory in the shape of the freedom which they have won for themselves or for others. They bear the scars, psychologically speaking, which have been given to them by opposing workers, and they bear also the assurance that they have carried forward the task to which they have been assigned and which they have successfully undertaken.57
Mankind had evolved so well that today the goals and theories, the aims and determinations now expressed in human thinking and writing showed that the will aspect of divinity, in its first embryonic manifestation, was beginning to make its presence felt. Have you followed this hint? Have you realised that the uprisings of the masses and their determination to overcome handicaps and all hindrances to a better world state are indicative of this? Do you grasp the fact that the revolutions of the past two hundred years are signs of the striving of the spirit aspect? That spirit is life and will; the world today is showing signs of new life. Think this out in its modern and immediate implications and see the way that the world is going under the inspiration of the spiritual Will.58
The completely atheistic approach of Russia to the problem of religion at the time of, and during the period of, the revolution is much more sound than the German approach. The spirit of man in its essential divinity can be trusted to arise unhurt from the experience in answer to the call of the undying spirit. This call can sound forth clearly in a void and be evoked by time and circumstance—unopposed if the only difficulty with which it is confronted is the spirit of agnosticism and an attitude of questioning. But the imposition of the ancient myths in an effort to still the demand for truth and the carefully planned attack upon the Christ of the world is dangerous, evil, and will cause retrogression. Of these, the rulers of Germany were guilty. They did not succeed in quenching the spiritual life of the nation because religion in Germany was not corrupt as it was in Russia and needed not such a drastic purification. These are points which thinkers would do well to remember. In mystical Russia, the seeds of the spiritual life are emerging to fresh beauty and a triumphant religious ideal is on its way to manifest.59
The present program of the Catholic Church has definite political implications; their attitude to Communism has in it the seeds of another world war. The political activities of the Catholic Church have not built for peace, no matter under what guise they are presented.
The Greek Orthodox Church reached such a high stage of corruption, graft, greed and sexual evil that, temporarily and under the Russian revolution, it was abolished. This was a wise, needed and right action. The emphasis of this church was entirely material but it never wielded (nor will it wield) such power as the Roman Catholic Church did in the past. The refusal of the revolutionary party in Russia to recognize this corrupt church was wise and salutary; it did no harm, for the sense of God can never be driven from the human heart. If all church organizations disappeared from off the earth, the sense of God and the recognition and the knowledge of Christ would emerge in strength and with a fresh and new conviction. The church in Russia has again received official recognition and faces a new opportunity. It does not yet constitute a factor in world affairs but there is hope that eventually it may emerge as a regenerating and spiritual force. The challenge of its environment is great and it cannot be reactionary as can—and are—the churches in other parts of the world.60
The intelligent youth of all countries are rapidly repudiating orthodox theology, state ecclesiasticism and the control of the church. They are neither interested in man-made interpretations of truth nor in past quarrels between the major world religions. At the same time, they are profoundly interested in the spiritual values and are earnestly seeking verification of their deep-seated unvoiced recognitions. They look to no bible or system of so-called inspired spiritual knowledge and revelation, but their eyes are on the undefined larger wholes in which they seek to merge and lose themselves, such as the state, an ideology, or humanity itself. In this expression of the spirit of self-abnegation may be seen the appearance of the deepest truth of all religion and the justification of the Christian message. Christ, in His high place, cares not whether men accept the theological interpretations of scholars and churchmen, but He does care whether the keynote of His life of sacrifice and service is reproduced among men; it is immaterial to Him whether the emphasis laid upon the detail and the veracity of the Gospel story is recognised and accepted, for He is more interested that the search for truth and for subjective spiritual experience should persist; He knows that within each human heart is found that which responds instinctively to God, and that the hope of ultimate glory lies hid in the Christ-consciousness.
Therefore, in the new world order, spirituality will supersede theology; living experience will take the place of theological acceptances. The spiritual realities will emerge with increasing clarity and the form aspect will recede into the background; dynamic, expressive truth will be the keynote of the new world religion. The living Christ will assume His rightful place in human consciousness and see the fruition of His plans, sacrifice and service, but the hold of the ecclesiastical orders will weaken and disappear. Only those will remain as guides and leaders of the human spirit who speak from living experience, and who know no creedal barriers; they will recognise the onward march of revelation and the new emerging truths. These truths will be founded on the ancient realities but will be adapted to modern need and will manifest progressively the revelation of the divine nature and quality. God is now known as Intelligence and Love. That the past has given us. He must be known as Will and Purpose, and that the future will reveal.61