Madame Blavatsky, in her Key to Theosophy, in the important section entitled "What is Practical Theosophy?" has mentioned the four Links of the Golden Chain—"Universal Unity and Causation; Human Solidarity; the Law of Karma; Reincarnation." She states that, if applied in daily life, these Theosophical principles not only bring about social amelioration, but also bind humanity into one family, one universal Brotherhood. It may seem strange to those not acquainted with Theosophical teachings that these abstract principles can bring about unity and harmony in this world of chaos and confusion, strifes and struggles! To a convinced student of Theosophy these principles become practical in the measure of his reflection over and application of them in daily living. They are all interrelated, and in order to establish true harmony and brotherhood their clear understanding is absolutely essential. Let us consider here the first of the four links.
One world and one humanity has been the cry for ages. Poets and philosophers have dreamed of it. Statesmen and politicians all over the world are trying to find a solution to the great problem of disunity. They have not succeeded yet because they do not have the right approach to this important problem. It is not through legislatures that harmony and peace can be established between different nations. What is needed is a change of mind and of heart on the basis of a correct understanding of the fundamental ideas and facts as given out by great Teachers down the ages. These ideas were resuscitated for the benefit of our civilization by Madame Blavatsky. The ideal of a united world appeals to the common man as to the scholar; but, unless a thorough understanding of the source of that unity is acquired, it is not possible to put into practice this ideal or to bring about the required result. Today humanity is divided into sects and cults, castes, creeds and classes, religious denominations and political ideologies, so that instead of bearing love and friendship for one another, nations and races are engaged in opposing and attacking one another.
What exactly is meant by universal unity and causation? From the Theosophical point of view, this universe was brought into being, not by a personal creator, but by an omnipresent, omnipotent, imperishable principle of Life, the root and the source of all that exists. It is Theosophically known as the rootless root and the causeless cause, as "Beness" rather than Being. In that eternal, imperishable background periodically appear and disappear and reappear numberless universes, called the "sparks of eternity." Each spark, each universe, has its active period of manifestation and rest; a Day of Brahma is followed by a Night, and another Day again. That principle of Life which is the omnipresent Reality and the one radical cause awakes and Causation starts at the dawn of manifestation, not in a haphazard way, but in terms of the Law, on the model and pattern of the preceding world. The one homogeneous Principle is behind all forms of Life; therefore there is universal unity. It expresses itself through various degrees of consciousness and various grades of matter on seven planes of being. Only the physical, objective plane is visible; behind and beyond the physical and interblended with it are the invisible planes, the higher and purer bringing forth the lower and grosser.
When this connection is understood, no doubt can remain about the unity and interdependence of all Life. Causation on all planes starts from within without, and the evolutionary stream is always in motion. The One Life is made up of infinitesimal lives which are constantly exchanged among different beings in terms of the law of consubstantiality. That is another reason why universal unity is a fact. All beings and creatures work under one Law, immutable, impersonal, universal; therefore justice and mercy equally prevail everywhere. Is this not proof positive that universal unity is a fact and a reality? All beings move towards the one centre, the Divine Spark, the goal of evolution; that is yet another evidence of universal unity. This is not recognized by the majority of human beings because of their ignorance of the One Reality, and therefore they take that which is real to be unreal, and that which is unreal to be real. That which is Light seems to them like darkness because they themselves are enveloped by the darkness of ignorance.
How to remove this ignorance? The Voice of the Silence instructs on p. 61: "Thow hast to study the voidness of the seeming full, the fulness of the seeming void." People are so glamoured by the allurements of the phenomenal world, are so absorbed in the ever-changing panorama of life, that they cannot realize that it is not worth while giving so much importance to this maya of worldly existence. They are so attached, now to one thing and then to another, that this earth has become a veritable Hall of Sorrow fo them! They have been entrapped by their many delusions and cannot find a way out! The voidness of the seeming full can be realized as we detach ourselves and make proper use of the Law of Necessity. A toy is necessary for a child, not for a grown-up man or woman! This detachment can only come about through daily reflection upon the fulness of the seeming void. Intelligences, powers of light as also forces of darkness, exist in that seeming void. In the lower kingdoms there is no struggle between light and darkness, but man, through his self-effort and energization, can always try to ally himself with the powers of light. There is certainly needed a change of mental attitude, a correct evaluation of life, and then only the law of interdependence can be recognized and true brotherhood be established. It is more difficult to understand the fulness of the seeming void than to perceive the voidness of the seeming full. The invisible realms may lead one to great bewilderment and danger.
In order to demonstrate universal unity, Krishna described his Divine Excellences in the Tenth Discourse of the Bhagavad-Gita, and showed his universal form to Arjuna. This he was able to see because of his whole-hearted devotion to Krishna, the Supreme Spirit. In every task we perform, in every thought or feeling we generate, the Supreme Spirit should be remembered. Causation exists on all planes, but only human beings are responsible for the causes they generate; therefore either unity or disunity results, depending on the direction they take—whether they work with the Law or against it. To work with the Law is the only way to the practical realization of universal unity and the establishment of true brotherhood.
Universal unity and causation cannot be thought of by the finite mind and cannot be spoken about by the mortal tongue but can be sensed and felt within the innermost consciousness. A truer realization of the Self, a profounder conviction of universal brotherhood can be cultivated. The relationship between the noumenal and the phenomenal has to be clearly grasped. Each is necessary to the other and to all; therefore they have to be viewed with equanimity.
We cannot do away with the phenomenal world, impermanent and transitory though it be. It is necessary to acquire experience and gain knowledge of the objective world, but these should be viewed with calm indifference though with just appreciation in a detached manner. Then none would act selfishly, looking only to one's own interest, apart from all others. "To act for and as the Self of all creatures" would be the rule adopted by everyone. Each would become his brother's keeper; each would see to his brother's good. All things and creatures would receive respect and reverence and help and guidance in their upward way, and no obstructions would be created in the harmonious working of the Law. As each man, each woman, changes his mind and heart in the right direction, towards the Centre of Light, he becomes an instrument for the generation of right causes which would lead to the practical realization of Universal Unity.
The world moves in cycles, which proceed under the impetus of two mutually antagonistic and destroying Forces, the one striving to move Humanity onward, toward Spirit, the other forcing Mankind to gravitate downward, into the very abysses of matter. It remains with men to help either the one or the other. Thus, also, it is our present task, as Theosophists, to help in one or the other direction.