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Autobiography of Alice A. Bailey - Chapter II
The next episode took place in Quetta. I made up my mind that it was absolutely necessary both for my peace of mind and the good of the soldiers that I give a talk on hell. In all my years as an evangelist I had never done so. [84] I had evaded the problem. I had skirted the issue. I had never come out with a definite statement that there was a hell and that I believed in it. I was not at all sure about hell. The only thing I was sure about was that I was saved and that I wouldn't be sent there. Surely, if it existed, it should be talked about particularly since God used hell so much in which to deposit so many undesirable people. So I decided to read up on hell and I made up my mind to find out more about it. I studied the subject for a month and I particularly read the works of that disagreeable theologian, Jonathan Edwards. Have you any idea how abominable some of his sermons are? They are quite atrocious and show a sadistic nature. In one place, for instance, he talks of the babies who die unbaptised and speaks of them as "little vipers," burning to a crisp in hell fire. Now that really did seem unfair to me. They had not asked to be born; they were not old enough to know anything about Jesus, why, therefore, should they be burned to a crisp for all eternity? I saturated myself with the thought of hell and, glowing with information and forgetting that nobody had ever come back from hell to tell us whether it was true or not, I stood up that afternoon on the platform before five hundred men prepared to terrify them into the courts of heaven.

It was an immense room, with long French windows opening out into the rose garden and the roses at that time were in full bloom. I spouted my piece; I declaimed vociferously; I talked and I emphasized the dire need of my audience. I was carried away with my subject; I forgot my surroundings in the thought of hell. Suddenly at the end of half an hour I discovered I had no audience. One by one they had sneaked out of the French windows. One by one they had listened until they could stand no more and they congregated among the roses to laugh at the poor [85] little fool. I was left with a small handful of religiously minded soldiers (irreverently called "Bible thumpers" by their comrades). They were members of the prayer-meeting group and silently, stolidly and politely waited for me to get through. When it was all over and I had fumbled to a feeble finish, a sergeant came up to me with a pitying look in his eye and said,

"Now, Miss, just so long as you speak the truth we will sit and listen to anything you have got to say, you know that, but the moment you start telling lies most of us will up and go. And we did."

It was a drastic and violent lesson and one which at the time I did not understand. I believed that the Bible taught the fact of hell and all my values were being shaken. If teaching about hell was untrue, what else was false?

These three episodes threw my mind into the most violent questioning and helped eventually bring about a nervous breakdown. Had I been wrong right along? Were there a few things which I still had to learn? Were there other points of view which might possibly be right? I knew there were a lot of nice people who did not think as I did and hitherto I had only been sorry for them. Was God just as I had pictured Him and, (awful thought) if God was as I had pictured Him and if I really understood God and what He wanted, could He be God at all - because (if I could understand Him) He must be as finite as I? Was there a hell and if so, why on earth did God send anyone there if it was such an unpleasant place and He was a God of love? I knew I couldn't do so. I knew I would say to people: "Well, if you cannot believe in Me that's too bad, for I'm really worth believing in, but I cannot and will not punish you just for that. Perhaps you cannot help it, perhaps you have not heard of Me or perhaps you have heard wrong things about Me." Why should I be kinder than God? Did I know more about love than God did and if [86] I did know more about love how, then, could God be God, because I would be greater than He along some lines? Did I know what I was doing? How could I go on teaching? And so on and so on. A change in my point of view and attitude began to show itself. A tiny fermentation had started which was basic in its results and agonizing in its application. I was thoroughly worried and began to sleep badly. I could not think clearly and did not dare ask anyone about it.

In 1906 I began to break down physically. The headaches to which I had always been subject increased and I was worn to a frazzle. Three things were responsible for this break. First, I was shouldering far too much responsibility for my years and, secondly, I was undergoing acute psychical disturbance. When there were catastrophies and difficulties in connection with the work, I shouldered the blame in my own mind. I had still to learn the lesson that the only true failure is being beaten and then being unable to keep on going on. But what mattered to me the most was that it seemed that the inner fabric of my life was beginning to crumble. I had staked my entire life on the words of St. Paul; "I know Whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him until that day." But I was not sure any more about there being a judgment day; I was not at all sure what it was that I had committed to Christ; I was questioning all the facts about which I had been persuaded. The only fact which I have never questioned and of which I am eternally sure is the fact of Christ Himself. I do know Whom I have believed. That fact has stood the test and is no longer on the basis of belief but of knowledge. Christ Is. He stands - "the Master of all the Masters and the Teacher alike of angels and of men."

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