One important mission of H.P.B. was to proclaim to the world the fact that Sages or Mahatmas or Great Teachers not only existed in a bygone age but exist today; to show the Path that leads to them; for they can be found and are willing to teach today as they were willing to teach in that bygone age. How could the teachings of Theosophy be true if the Teachers of Theosophy did not exist? The central truth of Theosophy in all ages and all climes has been that the teaching leads to the Teachers, who are the embodiments of Wisdom. We cannot accept the one and reject the other.
The Secret Doctrine describes the descent of the "Wondrous Being," the "ever-living-human-Banyan," from a "high region" at a time when man in form was not man in mind.
In the first or earlier portion of the existence of this Third Race, while it was yet in its state of purity, the "Sons of Wisdom," who as will be seen, incarnated in this Third Race, produced by Kriyasakti a progeny called the "Sons of Ad" or "of the Fire-Mist," the "Sons of Will and Yoga," etc. They were a conscious production, as a portion of the race was already animated with the divine spark of spiritual, superior intelligence. It was not a Race, this progeny. It was at first a wondrous Being, called the "Initiator," and after him a group of semi-divine and semi-human beings. "Set apart" in Archaic genesis for certain purposes, they are those in whom are said to have incarnated the highest Dhyanis, "Munis and Rishis from previous Manvantaras"—to form the nursery for future human adepts, on this earth and during the present cycle. These "Sons of Will and Yoga" born, so to speak, in an immaculate way, remained, it is explained, entirely apart from the rest of mankind.
There have, then, always been in the world those Initiates who keep the light of Wisdom ever burning bright.
For us who have been brought up according to our modern system of education, the questions naturally arise: How can we know that these Masters exist? How is it that there are no historical records of their existence? If they exist, why do they keep themselves secret? Why do they not come out openly and give to the world what the world needs?
It is not so difficult to understand that those great spiritual beings do live and labour in the world if we believe in the existence of the human soul as an individualized entity, evolving stage by stage. When we see gradations of beings from the foolish man to the genius, from the sinner to the saint, living side by side on this earth of ours, is it not possible for us to conceive that when a being evolves further along the path of self-consciousness and deliberate evolution he may flower into the great Sage who knows and understands the mighty laws of Nature, and, understanding them, works them out in his own life and teaches others by the power of that life what those laws mean and stand for? If we are evolving individuals, if we grow stage by stage through the process of reincarnation and according to the laws of cause and effect, where can we come ultimately but to the stage of a perfected human being, perfected as we know perfection, measured by the limitations of our own knowledge and our own spiritual perception? The knowledge of a great scientist or of a great philosopher, for instance, would appear to a savage to be of the nature of a miracle. So also when we begin to contemplate upon the nature of those great Souls, those perfected human beings, we are apt to look upon them as the products of some miraculous process, while as a matter of fact they are the natural consequences of the natural law of evolution.
The Great Masters, then, were once human beings like ourselves, who have climbed the ladder of life stage by stage, by dint of hard and persevering effort continued self-consciously and deliberately through many lives, and by the help of the knowledge gained from their predecessors. The spiritual life is possible for all, but the spiritual life that leads to adeptship is a different and definite kind of a spiritual life, and the Master has attained to his high position by that particular kind of a life whose main impetus is deliberate and self-conscious effort.
A Master is a saint and a sage combined into one, and a soldier too, for he has had that indomitable courage to dare and to conquer the Kingdom of Heaven "by violence." A Master of Perfection has the saintliness of the saint by virtue of his purified feelings, the wisdom of the sage because of the profound quality of his mind, and the indomitable courage of the soldier who has fought his way to light, to immortality and to perfection, sure of his way, removing all obstacles, because he has known what lies beyond the obstacles. He knows because he has understood the scheme of evolution and its meaning and the way by which the steps of the great ladder of life may be ascended. He has reached the light because to the purity of his character and the profundity of his knowledge he has added the power of his indomitable will, thus manifesting the quality of the true soldier.
Step by step, understanding the great process of spiritual evolution, he has conquered his own lower nature, and out of that conquest has come into existence the flower of compassion. Hence he is known as the Master of Compassion. Conquering the defects of his lower mind, he has brought into existence the flower of perfect wisdom, which makes no mistakes; hence he is known as the Master of Wisdom. By the indomitable courage of the soldier, removing the obstacles of darkness, he has come to the Kingdom of Light; hence he is known as the Lord of Light. Because of his Compassion, his Wisdom and his Light, what else can he do but serve the great race whose product he is and whose troubles he is fully cognizant of? Hence his fourth great name—Servant of Humanity.
Contemplating this fourfold quality of wisdom, of compassion, of light and of self-sacrificing service, we are able to understand a little about the nature of the Master of Wisdom. He is a conqueror of the world in which he finds himself, the world in which intellect takes the place of wisdom, personal attention takes the place of impersonality, the common concept of self-aggrandizement takes the place of self-sacrifice, intricate ways of darkness take the place of the straight path of light.
It is sometimes thought that a Master is one whose consciousness has so unfolded that he knows everything that is taking place at every moment of time and in every point of space. That is not the right way of describing the power of his wisdom. It can be said that he has the faculty of knowing anything that he wants to know. Similarly he has evolved the faculty of loving all beings. It is these faculties that make the Master—the faculties of indomitable will, of the illuminated mind and of an immense love which makes us forget ourselves and enables us to realize that we, too, can become what he is.
Those who seek the Master from the side of the body do not get the reality and do not understand that body, but when the Master's love is touched, when his compassion fills our life, when his wisdom is made ours and his indomitable courage and will move us from within, then we come to see who a Master is. He is an individualized, unfolded consciousness who, though working in a body, does not work with the bodies of other people, but works with the consciousness of souls of other people, and therefore his work does not always require him to come out in the public world.
The Masters teach the laws of spiritual unfoldment, laws which enable individual souls to do in a short compass of time what ordinary humanity will be able to achieve only after long aeons. They are the custodians of that Wisdom which enables us to take our soul-evolution into our own hands and work deliberately and self-consciously according to the rules of the spiritual life, so that our unfoldment is quickened and we begin to perceive in a short period of time what otherwise we would take ages to find out.
The first of the necessary qualifications for contacting the Masters is an unshakable belief in our own inner powers; the recognition that each one is an immortal entity, the Initiator of Initiates. Having recognized ourselves as spiritual entities, we need to remove from our constitution all obstcles of thought, of feeling and of action which hinder spiritual expression, the purification of our moral nature and the unfoldment of that mighty quality of love which embraces all mankind. We need to do in a small way, in our own circle and in our own work, what the Masters are doing in their work and in their perfect way. We then come out of this world of matter and begin to live in the world of consciousness, of soul and spirit. It is not a different world, but the world with all its objects and beings and states becomes different for us because we look at it not with material vision but with spiritual vision. it is an inner change which is brought about by that first of the necessary qualifications, an unshakable belief in our own inner powers. When we begin to live in that world of consciousness or spirit, everything in the world of material objects becomes a symbol, an idea.
We come ultimately to the great idea that at the back of all types there is an archetype, that at the back of all forms there is the formless; and the idea of the One expressing itself through the many forms, the many types, brings to us the conviction that we ourselves are not separate individuals but channels of that One Life. And when we recognize ourselves as channels we begin to think and act differently and to perceive who the Masters are.
They are not individuals as we know individuals. They are channels of that mighty Life and are able to show us the unity of that Life because they are Its pure embodiments. They are Light personified. It is said in many an Eastern scripture that the great Masters cast no shadows, and it is a profound truth. They cast no shadows because they are self-luminous; and because they are self-luminous and radiate that Light continuously, all those who come in the pathway of that Light are illumined themselves and see by the power of that illumination the true nature of all things.
This is the business before us. Knowing ourselves as spiritual entities, living in the world of the Spirit, beholding objects as symbols, we begin to perceive by the light that comes from the Masters the true value of all symbols. What shall we do to come to that position? "Awake, arise, seek the Great Ones, and learn!" is the Upanishadic cry—awake from the world of ignorance, selfishness and mortality; arise and walk the path of holiness.
The Masters are more anxious to find us than we are eager to find them. Their compassion is such that they wait, with extended hands, for one or another among us to come out of this world of illusion into that world of reality in which they live. They wait patiently, not year after year, not decade after decade, but century after century.
It is possible for us to reach them, for what men have done in the past men can also do in the world today. The resolve to reach them, carefully fostered, will one day bring us to that glorious height. The Masters were men like ourselves in ages past. So there is hope for all. From their height they look into the valley below, into the darkness of the earth, and see a light here and a light there, the light of daring burning in the heart; and they feed that heart-light until it grows brighter and brighter. They bless and help all sincere devotees though the latter often know it not.
This teaching about the Masters that H.P.B. proclaimed gives us the enthusiasm and the energy to light within us a spark of the Tathagata Light and to go forward and find them.
In the case of Prometheus, Zeus represents the Host of the primeval progenitors, of the PITAR, the "Fathers" who created man senseless and without any mind; while the divine Titan stands for the Spiritual creators, the devas who "fell" into generation. The former are spiritually lower, but physically stronger, than the "Prometheans"; therefore, the latter are shown conquered. "The lower Host, whose work the Titan spoiled and thus defeated the plans of Zeus," was on this earth in its own sphere and plane of action; whereas, the superior Host was an exile from Heaven, who had got entangled in the meshes of matter. They (the inferior "Host") were masters of all the Cosmic and lower titanic forces; the higher Titan possessed only the intellectual and spiritual fire. This drama of the struggle of Prometheus with the Olympic tyrant and despot, sensual Zeus, one sees enacted daily within our actual mankind: the lower passions chain the higher aspirations to the rock of matter, to generate in many a case the vulture of sorrow, pain, and repentance.