Altruism: The Key to Universal Harmony and The Cure for all Ills

By Renée Hall


Talk given in Cork, Ireland, March 1996.

A rich heritage of wisdom has left its impress in this once named Sacred Ireland so Theosophy finds itself very much at home here.

Your lovely landscape cradles a significant number of rough, unhewn remnants of remote antiquity; stone circles, dolmens, menhirs, which continue to baffle archaeologists who measure, quantify, and classify them and mistrust and dismiss the speculations of the unorthodox pre-historians whose open-minded speculations are pretty intuitional. Francis Hitchings, in a book called Earth Magic, takes a dispassionate look at the findings of both sides. He is intrigued by the astonishing similarity of these megalithic lumps, geometric circles, burial chambers, mysteriously aligned stones pointing to the sky, Giant Hill figures that occur all over the Earth and wonders if ” there is a fundamental unity over enormous tracts of time and space.”

He also notes that everybody’s inclination on a first visit to such sites as Carnac and Stonehenge is to invest them with a religious or magical significance and suggests that it’s worth “hanging on to that instinct since mathematics alone can’t provide a total understanding of their place in the ancient world.”

Prof. Thom, a Scotsman and Emeritus Professor of Engineering Science at Oxford University from 1945-61, has dedicated more than half his life to surveying and evaluating the evidence of more than 600 megalithic sites in Ireland, Britain and France and his findings conclude that “an immensely subtle geometry is enshrined in these circles.”

Irish archaeologist Michael Morris considers that the megalithic art on passage-graves and elsewhere is far more than a mere embellishment. The spiral and concentric circle – the dominant motives, “may be a concept of life energy…of cosmic energy and life rhythms.”

The discovery of Ley Lines in an established astronomical pattern is surely proof of design says Hitchings – like a global internet.

He maintains that the impression of megalithic sites holding supernatural force “is supported by an extraordinary wealth of folklore…The vast majority of legends indicate that megaliths generate life, rather than death.”

But researchers on both sides continue to speculate. Unless of course they have looked into Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine perhaps a deeper understanding of Celtic literature would help to decode the secrets of these silent stones. Cryptic hints of timeless ancient wisdom are certainly evident in Irish legends and folklore. These colourful and wondrous tales conceal esoteric truths in the guise of adventures, fantasy and magic. Using the universal key reveals a pattern not dissimilar to other World myths.

Briefly, the protagonists personify the various aspects of human nature and the metaphors represent realities underlying the cosmos. The inevitable quest challenges the aspiring hero who is everyman responding to the irresistible and natural yearning to seek for that something greater than himself. In the course for his quest for truth, be he Odysseus or Ireland’s legendary Oisin, his willpower, motives and moral fibre are challenged and tested to the limits.

First he has to learn self-discipline and overcome his lower animal nature, sometimes portrayed as hounds or demons. He also has to free himself from glamourous distractions; maya or illusions, both material or astral so he can transcend to his higher plane of consciousness and be finally united with the beautiful princess – his divine Self.

Irish Celtic sagas and songs also tell of godlike supermen, called the Tuatha DeDanan who have superior intelligence and esoteric knowledge. Throughout the ages enlightened, superior beings – adepts, “saviours”, sages, druids – feeling compassion for their less evolved brothers have turned back on their own spiritual path to lend a helping hand to their fellow travellers struggling on behind them. In Irish Celtic mythology they were called the Salmon of Knowledge.

So the Tuatha DeDanan instructed Ireland’s early races not only in the sciences, magic, agriculture, art and even domestic skills, but more importantly they taught people morality and ethics by example because knowledge of Divine Wisdom is best and naturally acquired by right living and altruism. “One must live the life if one would know the law”.

Altruism – let’s remind ourselves, is “the principle or practice of unselfish concern for others. The philosophical doctrine that right action is that which produces the greatest benefit to others.” The Latin origin is “other”.

“Other” or “Brotherhood” is of course the crux or heart of the Wisdom Religion. When this ageless truth or perennial philosophy was so clearly and powerfully reintroduced to the West as Theosophy (Divine Wisdom) by Helena Blavatsky over a hundred years ago, the fundamental principle of Universal Brotherhood was established as one of the chief tenets of the Theosophical Society which continues a strong dedication to the practical realization of the oneness of all life.

The idea of oneness can be found in all the great religions:

Confucianism: “Do not unto others what you would not have them do unto you”

Buddhism: “Hurt not others in ways you yourself would find hurtful”

Real Theosophy, says Blavatsky, is Altruism, and we cannot repeat it too often. It is brotherly love, mutual help, unswerving devotion to Truth.

Loving one’s neighbour is much more than a worthy adage or moral precept. Compassion underpins the very edifice of oneness which is rooted in the Nature and harmony of being. Striving towards an insight and larger understanding of this Reality will lead to gleaning and experiencing enlightenment to those ultimate questions of where we come from? Why are we here? And where are we going? The Secret Doctrine, H.P. Blavatsky’s magnificent masterpiece unravels the cosmic basis for these truths in mind-stretching and panoramic horizons.

The Secret Doctrine’s pages of inner knowledge make abundantly clear that there is nothing random or chaotic about life; a truly wonderful pattern of harmony, law and order reigns eternally in total and detail from the humblest level to the loftiest sphere you can imagine.

All manifestation i.e. each and every aspect comes from and is identical in essence to the same divine source; the All – the ultimate, unknowable Cause; boundless and unspeakable because its magnitude is beyond the capacity of our comprehension. A return to our divine source or fountainhead is also the common goal and destiny of the entire innumerable myriad and gamut of existence; every kingdom’s kind whether elemental, mineral, plant, animal, human, god, or universe grows and evolves during aeons or repeated embodiment or reincarnation until another day in the life of Brahma ends; the Great Breath is inhaled and another night of blissful rest begins. This cyclic law of the perpetual rhythm of universal harmony; beat and pulse, ebb and flow, rest and activity is fundamental to Nature.

Oneness embraces the coexistence of spirit and matter – the two opposite poles of the one unknown principle. They are not separate nor separable from each other. William Quan Judge reminds us of the Hindu scriptures which say “there is no particle of matter without spirit, and no particle of spirit without matter.”

A human being then is much more than a body, or emotions, or mind. Our inner core is an indestructible atom of the spiritual consciousness of the universe. (He is a miniature of the universe). But unlike the kingdoms below, man has innate self consciousness and intelligence. He is a thinker and has the ability, if he so wishes, to know, to choose in other words to be responsible for his thoughts and actions. He can will himself to live in harmony or disharmony.

“When a man acts harmoniously, he acts in accordance with universal scheme and law: and harmony in consciousness and thought and therefore in action is what men understand by the term ethics” – G de Purucker, Golden Precepts of Esotericism.

The whole purpose of man’s pilgrimage of self discovery is the expansion of consciousness, transcending the various layers of his sevenfold constitution until he becomes one with his godspark, or divine Self. (Remember the mythical heroes referred to previously).

To this end the wise ones give dire warning about being lured by the glamourous lights of the lower nature, and particularly of the lower intermediate nature – the psychic. The false lights of maya are deceptive: Oisin the legendary Irish hero mounts on his white horse with Niam. “As they pass over the waters they saw “many wonderful things on their journey – islands and cities, lime white mansions, bright greenans and lofty palaces.” It is the mirror of heaven and earth, the astral light, in whose glass a myriad illusions arise and flees before the mystic adventurers. Haunt of false beauty – a veil dazzling before the true beauty..” – from The Irish Theosophist, Vol. 3, March 1895 by George Russell or AE, reprinted in Sunrise January 1978.

It is imperative that we strengthen our own faculties of discernment; refine our vision and will power and then these other faculties will grow naturally, properly and easily in the fullness of time.

This doesn’t of course mean a selfish concentration on one’s own personal spiritual development. The ideal way is self-forgetfulness. Why? Because this is in accord with the prime and natural law of the universe – “Give up thy life if thou wouldst find it.”

It is the results of selfishness which disturbs and distorts the natural harmony, but equilibrium is sooner or later restored by the operation of Karma.

The bottom line then is that “no man is an island”. All in nature is coordination, cooperation and mutual helpfulness. In other words Universal Oneness – everything in the universe lives for everything else.

Whatever any one of us may think or do reacts with corresponding force upon all other entities and things – either positively or negatively depending on our motive.

“It is an occult law, that no man can rise superior to his individual failings, without lifting, be it ever so little, the whole body of which he is an integral part. In the same way, no one can sin, nor suffer the effects of sin, alone. In reality there is no such thing as “Separateness” and the nearest approach to that selfish state, which the laws of life permit, is in the intent or motive.”

– H.P. Blavatsky, The Key To Theosophy, p.203.

In our Western culture we have become accustomed to identifying with the outer form or exterior as the reality. The universe is just the transient garment or shadow of an invisible inner life of which each human and every entity is an inseparable part; we are linked together by our unbreakable bonds of origin and destiny.

The most compelling and beautiful plea for altruism is found in a few verses of HPB’s The Voice Of The Silence translated by heart from a work even more ancient than the “Book of Dzyan”.

“Let thy Soul lend its ear to every cry of pain like as the lotus bears its heart to drink the morning sun.

Let not the fierce Sun dry one tear of pain before thyself hast wiped it from the sufferer’s eye.

But let each burning tear drop on thy heart

And there remain, nor ever brush it off, until the pain that caused it is removed.”

Fragment 1, p.13.

This then is the path of compassion. To a lesser and greater degree we all have the choice. The Tuatha DeDanann were of this mettle.