Rosicrucian Writings Online


[H. Spencer Lewis]

[From The Rosicrucian Digest June 1932]
MOST certainly there is nothing that counts so greatly in the mastership of life as the elements of human evolution. We may speak of culture, refinement, art, and all the other niceties of life and character that go to make up the so-called polished man or woman, but, after all, it is the evolution of the higher instincts in man or in the animal that makes it rise toward that degree of perfection intended by God and nature.
As one travels around the world and notes the manner in which some groups or races of people live he can see how in one city, let alone in one country, there can be those of the same race and same racial ancestry and of the same historical background who live like the lowest of animal creatures, while nearby are those who live like highly evolved human beings.
We find men and women and children indifferent to all of the improvements that have been made in sanitation, hygiene, and personal and community cleanliness. We find them indifferent to the opportunities for education. We find them indifferent to any and all moral codes, ethical codes, and even legal codes. We find them satisfied to live in dark, damp, unclean, unwholesome huts, while around them on all sides is the bright sunshine and the clear air. We find them contented with unclean food, unclean water, and unclean surroundings, where for the mere effort of moving themselves and their few personal belongings to another location they might have at no greater cost to themselves, clean and beneficial conditions.
We find men and women having no ambition and going through life with no prospects of change for the better and no desire to rise above the conditions which surround them. We find them eating and sleeping along the highways and by-ways, or in grovels. We find them out of work and out of employment and out of money even while employment may be secured just around the corner and money may be secured in exchange for service of all kinds.
We find, on the other hand, men and women in every country who have risen from poverty and from limited and restricted environment to great heights. We have wealthy men and women who have attained their present position of affluence solely through the exertion of their own efforts and the development of their own special abilities. We find young men and old men whose parents were grossly ignorant, but who are learned and occupy high places of wisdom.
We certainly do become what we have been taught to think and believe. Our education, our thinking, and understanding create new cells of character in every part of our being and awaken the dormant instincts and qualities that make man a super-animal and a creature far above all other members of the animal kingdom.
By studying the life of domestic animals we may easily see the result of this cultural influence. We see the well-trained cat and dog who will refuse to eat unclean food, who will refuse to allow their own bodies or sleeping places to become soiled or contaminated. We find such animals more select and more critical about their personal existence than many of the human beings we meet in foreign lands.
Only recently this story of evolution and of cultural development was impressed upon me in a very personal way. One of my younger children had adopted and brought into the cellar of the house a typical "alley cat." We knew nothing of the ancestry of the cat, of course, but its appearance as a young kitten was certainly against any belief that it had been properly cared for by either its own mother or anyone else. Tenderness, affection, food, and some very positive training developed the cat into a likable little creature except that it manifested its preference for the dark parts of the cellar and did not mind eating its food in unclean places to which it would drag whatever was given to it. After months passed by the children looked forward to the birth of a litter of kittens and we wondered what kind of mother this strange cat would prove to be. Everyone who told us they knew all about cats and dogs reminded us that "instinctively she was a mother" and that the alley cat would prove to know as much about motherhood as any cat that had been trained or any being that had been educated. Every opportunity was afforded to make the expectant mother cat contented and to provide every proper convenience.
At last the litter of five kittens was born. One of them was smothered lifeless within a few hours after birth and thereafter we noticed that this cat had about as much interest in her kittens as a wagon wheel has in the driver of the wagon. She would allow the kittens to nurse, of course, but it was unquestionably the attitude of a trial rather than that of love or affection. She made no attempt to clean the kittens nor to lift them out of the corner of the box in which they were born, nor to uncover them when they would tangle themselves in the loose cloth that was provided for them to sleep on. She would get up and leave them for long stretches at a time and then go back and throw herself upon them without any concern as to their comfort. Every few days one of the little kittens passed to the Beyond until before one of them reached the ninth day and had its eyes open they were all gone to the little Heaven for kittens. The mother then stretched herself and discovering the box was empty and the little lifeless bodies had been removed, let out a wail or two and made a pretense of hunting around for them for a few minutes, and then continued her interrupted social engagements around the back yards and the streets.
This cat had probably inherited just such instincts as she manifested. There were undoubtedly higher instincts lying dormant in that cat but they had not been awakened. I believe from the few hours of moaning and wailing that we heard, that this mother might actually have missed the kittens when it was too late, and I believe she learned her first Karmic lessons. The chances are that if she ever has any other kittens she would give them just a little bit more attention than she gave these first ones.
But the whole incident illustrates to me just what I have seen among human beings in many foreign lands and, I am sorry to say, right here in our own glorious, progressive, highly civilized, cultured, modern country. My younger children felt badly about the incident. The greatest shock to them was the shock to their faith in animal instincts. What the teachers at school had told them and what they had learned about the kindness of dumb animals toward their own off-spring, and upon which they built a faith in the manifestation of God's love through all living things, was badly shattered.
I know of many human beings who are living much like that cat lives. She is well fed when she cannot find food for herself and she always knows where there is a place to sleep and if she wants her back scratched she only needs to come near the children and hump her back and cry a moment when she will get all the attention she wants, and so why bother with the development of any instincts or the perfection of any super-qualities, traits, or abilities that may lie within?
But there is coming a time when that cat, like millions of human beings, will want the personal power to do for herself what she finds others will not do for her. There is coming a time when a very nice little wooly dog or some other fluffy kitten will take the place of that cat in our house. Then this poor, unwise creature will find that she must go out and hunt for her food and hunt for affection and hunt for warm and safe places to sleep and she will meet with personal inabilities to do the things she should be able to do. I do not know whether a cat can soliloquize or not, and I do not suppose it would begin its little personal discussion with the famous words, "To be or not to be," but it will probably perch itself on the top of some fence some night when it is cold and dreary and when the moon is clouded out and she will say to herself something like this: "What a nice failure I have made of my life! I had no good training at home when I was with my parents and when I was taken to a better home I thought all I had to do was simply take all that was given to me and make no effort to improve myself. And when the time came for me to demonstrate the great miracle of life and be a mother I still failed to do the things I should do and here I am now an outcast when I might have been the proud mother of an admiring little bunch of kittens and all of us playing around the fireside in that home over there."
If we, as human beings, depended upon the divine instincts in us and the Godly consciousness in us to arouse us and force us to live the life we should live, we would turn out to be nothing more than this alley cat. It is through our own efforts, through a wilful, determined, systematic effort to understandingly develop the dormant instincts within us, the unawakened consciousness within us, that enables us to evolve and become living images of God. We must develop the psychic emotions, the psychic discriminations, the psychic tests and preferments and know of all the spiritual evaluations of life, if we want to become perfect, more masterful, more happy, and contented in life.

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