The Word Foundation

When ma has passed through mahat, ma will still be ma; but ma will be united with mahat, and be a mahat-ma.

—The Zodiac.



Vol. 9 AUGUST, 1909. No. 5

Copyright, 1909, by H. W. PERCIVAL.



THERE are many objections as to the existence of adepts, masters and mahatmas naturally arising in the minds of those who hear of the subject for the first time, or who having heard of it consider it irrational and preposterous, or as a scheme to delude the people and to obtain their money, or to gain notoriety and a following. According to their different natures, the objectors mildly pronounce against such belief or vehemently declare it to be a worship of false gods or attempt to wither with their sarcasm and ridicule those who announce their belief in the teaching, while others find opportunity to display their fine wit, and they joke and laugh about the doctrine. Others, on hearing it for the first time or after consideration of the subject, believe it naturally and declare the doctrine to be reasonable and necessary in the scheme of universal evolution.

Among the objections raised is one that if adepts, masters or mahatmas exist, then why do they not themselves come among mankind instead of sending an emissary to declare their existence. The reply is that the mahatma as such is a being not of the physical, but of the spiritual world, and it is not fit that he should himself come to give his message when another in the world can carry that message. In the same manner in which the governor or ruler of a city or country does not himself communicate laws to the artisans or merchants or citizens, but communicates such laws by an intermediary, so a mahatma as an agent of the universal law does not himself go to the people of the world to communicate universal laws and principles of right action, but sends an emissary to advise or remind the people of the laws under which they live. Citizens might declare that the governor of a state should communicate with them directly, but the governor would pay little attention to such statements, knowing that those who made them did not understand the office which he filled and the purpose which he served. A mahatma will pay as little attention to those who think it his duty to bring his message and show himself to prove his existence, as the governor would in the case of ignorant citizens. But the mahatma would nevertheless continue to act as he knew best, notwithstanding such objections. It might be said the illustration does not hold because the governor could prove his existence and his position by appearing before the people and by the records and by those who witnessed his inauguration, whereas the people have never seen a mahatma and have no proof of his existence. This is true in part only. The message of a governor and the message of a mahatma is the essence or substance of the message as it affects or is related to those to whom it is given. The personality of the governor or individuality of the mahatma is of secondary importance as compared with the message. The governor can be seen, because he is a physical being, and the body of a mahatma cannot be seen because a mahatma is not physical, but is a spiritual being, though he may have a physical body. The governor may prove to the people that he is the governor, because the physical records show that he is and other physical men will bear witness to the fact. This cannot be the case with a mahatma, not because there are not records and witnesses of the fact, but because the records of the becoming of a mahatma are not physical, and physical men, while they are only physical, cannot examine such records.

Another objection raised against the existence of mahatmas is that if they do exist and have the knowledge and power claimed for them, then why do they not solve the social, political and religious problems of the day about which the whole world is disturbed and confused. We answer, for the same reason that a teacher does not at once solve the problem over which a child is puzzled, but assists the child to solve its problem by pointing out the rules of the problem and the principles by which it may be worked out. If the teacher were to solve the problem for the child, the child would not learn its lesson and would have gained nothing by the operation. No wise teacher will solve a problem for a scholar before that scholar has worked over the problem and shows by the steadiness and earnestness of his work that he desires to learn. A mahatma will not solve the modern problems because these are the very lessons by which humanity is learning and the learning of which will make responsible men. In the same manner in which the teacher gives advice to the pupil who is puzzled over a difficult and critical stage in a problem, so the adepts, masters and mahatmas do give advice to humanity through the means they see fit, whenever a race or people show their earnest desire to master the problem with which they are concerned. The pupil often refuses the teacher’s advice and will not work according to a rule or principle suggested by the teacher. So also may a race or people refuse to work out their problem according to certain rules or principles of life suggested by an adept, master or mahatma, through such intermediary as he might select to give his advice. A master would not insist then, but would wait until the people he had advised should be willing to learn. It is asked that a mahatma should decide the question and enforce by his knowledge and power that which he knows to be right and best. So he might, according to his power; but he knows better. A mahatma will not break the law. If a mahatma inaugurated a certain form of government or state of society which he knew to be best, but which the people did not understand, he would have to compel the people to act and to perform functions which they would not understand because they had not learned. By so doing he would act against the law, whereas he desires to teach them to live in conformity with law and not against it.

Humanity is at an important point in its development. Mankind is much disturbed over its problems, as a child over its lessons. At this important juncture in the history of the race the mahatmas have offered to mankind such rules and principles of life as will solve their vexed problems. It remains to be seen whether mankind will, like a ready scholar, act on the principles and advice offered, or whether they will refuse the advice and continue to fumble on over their problems in a confused and distracted manner.

Another objection is that if the beings called mahatmas, whether they be facts or fancies, are exalted to the plane claimed for them, this gives them the place of God and does away with the worship of the true God.

This objection can be raised only by one who believes that his god is the true God. The mahatmas of whom we speak do not desire the worship of mankind. The mahatmas of whom we speak are better than any of the gods who demand worship of their followers. The real God of the universe cannot be ousted from its place, nor would a mahatma wish to put out of place the one God, were that possible. The mahatmas of whom we speak will not appear to men, because such appearance would excite human beings and cause them to worship them without knowing really what they worshipped. The mahatmas of whom we speak do not enter into competition for the worship or adoration of human beings, as do, according their respective theologies, the different gods of the different religions, each of which claims as the one true and only god, the particular god whom they worship. One who would worship a mahatma or a god proclaims positively by his action that he has no comprehension of the one God through all.

Adepts, masters and mahatmas are necessary links in the plan of evolution. Each has his place in the different planes of being. Each is an intelligence working consciously in the astral, the mental and spiritual worlds. The adept is the conscious link between the physical and the mental. He lives consciously in the astral world. A master is the conscious link between the astral and the spiritual worlds. He lives consciously in the mental or thought world. A mahatma is the conscious link between the mental world and the unmanifested. He lives consciously and intelligently in the spiritual world. Were it not for the intelligences here named adepts, masters and mahatmas, each acting consciously on the unintelligent matter, forces, beings, in his own world, it would be impossible for that which is unmanifested to become manifest to the senses in the physical world and for that which is now manifest to pass again into the unmanifested.

Adepts, masters and mahatmas, each acting from his own world, are intelligent agents of the universal law. The adept acts with forms and desires, and their transformation. A master acts with life and thoughts and their ideals. A mahatma deals with ideas, the realities of ideals.

Adepts, masters and mahatmas are the logical sequence and results of repeated reincarnations. One who believes that the mind reincarnates in physical human forms cannot reasonably suppose that it will continue to do so without acquiring a greater knowledge of life and of the laws of life. He cannot fail to see that at some time in its reincarnations, the mind will come into possession of greater knowledge as the result of its efforts to acquire knowledge. Such knowledge will be used as the means to a growth out of or beyond the limitations of the body. The result is adeptship. As the adept continues to advance in knowledge, to control his desires and to transform lower into higher forms, he comes into possession of a greater knowledge of life and the wonders of thought. He enters consciously into the world of thought and becomes a master of life and of thought. As he progresses he rises into the spiritual world and becomes a mahatma, and is an immortal, intelligent and individualized mind. Adepts, masters and mahatmas are necessary not only to assist the individual members of humanity, but to act with the elemental forces in all nature. They are the links, mediators, transmitters, interpreters, of divinity and nature to man.

History lacks evidence of the existence of adepts, masters and mahatmas in so far as it records the lives and characters of the makers of history. Although adepts, masters or mahatmas may have taken part in historical events and may even have been historical characters, they were disinclined to have themselves known or to appear as different from others. They have seldom allowed themselves to be spoken of by these or similar terms. In fact those who have allowed themselves to be called by the name, adept, master, or mahatma, were least deserving of the term and of what the title implied, excepting the cases of the founders of great religions and the individualities around whom great religions have been built.

Although history does not contain many records of such beings it does mention the lives of some men whose lives and teachings give evidence that they were beyond the ordinary human being: that they were possessed of a knowledge far exceeding human knowledge, that they were divine, that they were conscious of their divinity and that divinity shone through them and was exemplified in their lives.

The name of one of each class will suffice to illustrate. Apollonius of Tyana was an adept. He possessed a knowledge of elemental forces and could control some of them. The history of his time records that he could appear in two places simultaneously; that he did many times appear in places where others did not see him enter and that he disappeared at times when those present did not see him depart.

Pythagoras of Samos was a master. He was acquainted with and did control, as a master, most of the forces and powers with which an adept deals; as a master he dealt with the lives and thoughts and ideals of humanity. He founded a school in which he taught his pupils concerning the laws and forms of thought, demonstrated to them the means by which their thoughts might be controlled, their ideals elevated and their aspirations attained. He knew the law concerning the conduct of human life and the harmonies of thought, and assisted his pupils in becoming masters also of their thoughts and lives. So thoroughly did he impress his great knowledge on the thought of the world that by what he taught and left through the works of his pupils, the world has been benefited, and will be benefited, in proportion as it is able to understand the profound problems which he undertook to teach. His system of politics and his philosophy of numbers, of the movements of bodies in space and of universal motions, are comprehended in proportion to the greatness of those minds who struggle with the problems which he had mastered and taught.

Gautama of Kapilavastu was a mahatma. He possessed not only knowledge and control of the elemental forces and had ceased to make karma by which he would be bound to reincarnate, but he worked out in that life through his physical body the effects remaining over from previous lives. He could consciously, intelligently and at will, pass into or know any thing concerning any or all of the manifested worlds. He lived and acted in the physical, he moved in and controlled the powers of the astral, he sympathized with and guided the thoughts and ideals of the mental, he knew and realized the ideas of the spiritual, and was able to act consciously in all these worlds. As an individual mind, he had lived through all phases of the universal mind and having attained to a perfect knowledge of all phases of the universal mind, passed into or beyond it and was therefore a mahat-ma.

The three, Apollonius, the adept; Pythagoras, the master, and Gautama, the mahat-ma, are known in history by their physical appearance and by their action in and on the world and with man. They may be known by other means and by other faculties than those of the physical senses. But until we have the means and develop such faculties, we cannot know them except by judging their actions. Physical man is such by virtue of physical matter; the adept is an adept by virtue of a body with which he may work in the invisible astral world as the physical body works with things physical; a master is such by means of his having a definite and positive body of the nature and quality of the thought with which he works; the mahat-ma is such by virtue of his having a definite and immortal individuality of mind with which he knows and by which he executes the law according to universal justice and being.

History cannot record the existence and life of these men because history leaves a record of such events only as occur in the physical world. Evidences of the existence of such intelligences are given by the events which were brought about by the presence of such intelligences acting through the thoughts and desires of a people and leaving their mark in the lives of men. Such evidences we find in the great teachings left us by the sages of the past, by the philosophies built up and religions founded by these great men themselves or from and around the doctrines which they have left to mankind. An adept, master or mahatma gives to a people a philosophy or a religion which that people is most ready to receive. When they have outgrown the teachings or ethics given them or when the development of the minds of the people requires a different presentation of even the same doctrines, an adept, master or mahatma furnishes a teaching which is best suited to the natural development of the people’s mind or such religion as the desires of a people long for.

Among the first questions which arise in the mind of one who hears of or is interested in the subject of adepts, masters and mahatmas is this: if such beings exist, where do they live, physically? Legend and myth say that wise men forsake the haunts of men and have their habitations in mountains, forests, deserts and places far removed. Madam Blavatsky said that many of them lived in the Himalaya mountains, in the Gobi desert and in certain other unfrequented parts of the earth. On hearing them thus located, the man of the world even though he may have been inclined to consider the subject favorably will become doubtful, sceptical and will laughingly say: why not put them in the sky, at the bottom of the deep sea or in the interior of the earth, where they would be still more inaccessible. The keener his mind, and the more familiar a man is with the ways of the world, the more suspicious will he become of the sanity or honesty of the person or set of people who speak of adepts, masters or mahatmas and tell of their wonderful powers.

There are frauds among those who talk about adepts, masters and mahatmas as there are among priests and preachers. These the man of the world and the materialist see. Yet the materialist does not understand the power which moves in the heart of the religious man and causes him to hold to his religion in preference to the crumbs of science. Nor can the worldly wise understand why people should believe in adepts, masters and mahatmas placed so far away instead of living in places easy of access. There is something in the heart of the religious man which draws him to religion as a magnet draws the iron, and there is that in the heart of the one who honestly believes in adepts, masters and mahatmas which urges him on, even though he may not be aware of it, to the path of sympathy and knowledge to which adepts, masters and mahatmas as ideals lead the way.

Not all adepts, masters and mahatmas have their habitations in inaccessible places, but when they have there is a reason for it. Adepts may move and live among men and even in the noise and bustle of a city because the duties of an adept often bring him into the maelstrom of human life. A master would not live in the noise and bustle of a large city though he may be near one, because his work is not in the whirlpool of desires and forms, but with the purer life and with the ideals and thoughts of men. A mahatma need not and could not live in the market place or the highways of the world because his work is with realities and is removed from the quarrels and confusion of desires and changing ideals and is concerned with the permanent and the true.

When one stops to think of the nature, development and the place in evolution which the adepts, masters and mahatmas must fill, if such beings do exist, the objections to the inaccessibility of their habitation, appear to be unworthy of a thoughtful mind.

No one thinks it strange that the faculty of a college requires quiet in the class room, because we know that quiet is necessary to profitable study, and no one except the teacher and the students are concerned in the studies of the class while it is in session. No person of intelligence wonders that the astronomer builds his observatory on the top of a mountain in a clear atmosphere instead of in the busy streets in the sink of a city, in an air filled with smoke and gloom, because he knows that the astronomer’s business is concerned with the stars and that he cannot observe these and follow their motions if their light is shut off from his vision by smoke and his mind is disturbed by the din and turmoil of the street.

If we allow that quiet and solitude are necessary to the astronomer, and that those not concerned with the work should not be present during important observations, it would be absurd to suppose that those having no right would be admitted to the fastnesses of a mahatma, or be allowed to look on while he communed with intelligences in the spiritual world and guided the destinies of nations as determined by their own actions and according to the inexorable laws of right and justice.

One might object to the analogies used and say that we do know that teachers of colleges exist because thousands of men and women have been taught by them and large edifices bear witness of their office; that we do know that astronomers live and work because they give the results of their observations to the world, and we may read of their work in the books which they have written; whereas, we have nothing to prove the existence of adepts, masters and mahatmas, because we have nothing to show that they act in capacities similar to the teacher or the astronomer.

What makes the physician a physician, the teacher a teacher, the astronomer an astronomer? and what makes the adept an adept, the master a master, the mahatma a mahatma? The physician or surgeon is such because of his familiarity with the body, his acquaintance with medicine, and his skill in the treatment and cure of disease; the teacher is such because he has learned the rules of speech, is acquainted with the sciences, and is able to and does impart information thereof to other minds who are able to embrace it. A man is an astronomer because of his knowledge of the laws governing the movements of the heavenly bodies, his skill and accuracy in observations following their movements and in his ability to record such observations and predict celestial phenomena according to law. Usually we think of the professions as intelligent physical bodies. This is an erroneous notion. We cannot put our hands on the skill of the physician, the learning of the teacher, nor the knowledge of the astronomer. Nor can we hold the astral body of the adept, the power of thought of a master, nor the immortal being of a mahatma.

It is true that we can put our hands on the bodies of physicians, teachers and astronomers. It is just as true that we could do the same with adepts, masters and some mahatmas. But we can no more touch the real physician, teacher or astronomer, than we can the real adept, master or mahatma.

Adepts, masters and mahatmas may and do have physical bodies as have physicians, teachers and astronomers. But not everybody would be able to point out the physicians, teachers and astronomers in a crowd, any more than he would be able to distinguish adepts, masters and mahatmas from other men. Physicians, teachers or astronomers do look somewhat different than farmers and sailors and one who is familiar with the professions would be able to distinguish a type of a physician from those who are unlike him, and to tell the characteristic schoolman. But in order to do so he must be familiar with these professions or have seen these men at their work. Their work and thought lends character and habit to their appearance and movement of body. The same may be said of adepts, masters and mahatmas. Unless we are familiar with the work and thought and knowledge of adepts, masters and mahatmas we can not distinguish them as such from other men.

There are as many evidences of the existence of adepts, masters and mahatmas, as there are of physicians, teachers and astronomers, but in order to see the evidences we must be able to recognize them as evidences when we do see them.

The universe is a great machine. It is composed of certain parts, each of which performs a function in the general economy of action. In order that this huge machine be kept running and in repair it must have competent machinists and engineers, able and skillful chemists, intelligent scribes and exact mathematicians. One who has passed through a large printing establishment and has seen a typesetting machine and large cylinder press in operation would reject the suggestion that the typesetting machine or printing press could have been evolved and be kept running without any guiding intelligences. The typesetting machine and printing press are wonderful machines; but the universe or a human body is infinitely more wonderful than either of these intricate and delicately adjusted inventions of the human mind. If we should scout the notion that a typesetting machine or a printing press could have happened to be as they are without human intervention, and that the typesetter would set type and the printing press print it into a book intelligently written without human aid, why should we not also scout the suggestion that the universe was simply evolved from chaos into its present form without guiding intelligences and builders, or that the bodies moving through space in a harmonious and rhythmic order and according to definite and unvarying law should continue to be so moved without intelligences to guide or direct the unintelligent matter.

This world does more wonderful things requiring intelligence than the setting of type or the printing of a book without human hands or human mind. The world develops the different kinds of minerals and metals within her body by definite laws, though unknown to man. She pushes up the blade of grass and the lily; these take on colors and give forth odors and wither and die and are reproduced again, all according to fixed definite laws of season and place, though unknown to man. She causes mating, the gestation of life, and the birth of animal and human bodies, all according to definite laws but little known to man. The world is kept revolving in and through space by its own motion and other motions which man knows little about; and the forces or laws of heat, light, gravitation, electricity, become wonderful and more mysterious as they are studied, though as laws in themselves they remain unknown to man. If intelligence and human agencies are necessary in the construction and operation of a typesetting machine and printing press, how much more necessary must be the existence of adepts, masters and mahatmas, as beings of intelligence who fill offices and positions in the economy of nature and act with and according to the laws by which the universe is maintained and operated. Adepts, masters and mahatmas must of necessity exist in the present as they have in the past in order that the organism of nature might be kept in repair and continue in operation, that the power which impels the machine might be supplied and directed, that the unformed elements might be fabricated and given form, that gross material may be turned out into finished products, that animal creation might be guided into higher forms, that the ungoverned desires and thoughts of men might be turned into higher aspirations and that the human who lives and dies and comes again might become one of the intelligent and immortal host who aid in the carrying out of law, which operates in every department of nature and of human life.

To be continued.