by John Paul Rolston
In his article, "Yours Till Death and After, H.P.B." William Q. Judge writes that in London he once asked H.P.B. an important question: "What [is] the chance of drawing the people into the Society in view of the enormous disproportion between the number of members and the millions in Europe and America who neither knew of nor cared for it?"
We might well ask the same question today. While in the last few years, two major biographies (by Cranston and Washington) and a host of articles has appeared on H.P.B. (in Gnosis, Smithsonian, Wired, and most recently Tricycle), how many people in the world have heard of H.P. Blavatsky? Of those who have heard of her, how many have any depth of knowledge as to the teachings she delivered last century? As for Mr. Judge and his writings, he is largely unknown today even among a majority of Theosophists! It is easy to feel that the Theosophical effort has failed, or at least that it has lost vitality and relevance today.
Yet H.P.B.'s answer to Mr. Judge's question seems equally applicable then as now:
"When you consider and remember those days in 1875 and after, in which you could not find any people interested in your thoughts, and now look at the wide-spreading influence of theosophical ideas however labeled it is not so bad. We are not working merely that people may call themselves Theosophists, but that the doctrines we cherish may affect and leaven the whole mind of this century. This alone can be accomplished by a small earnest band of workers, who work for no human reward, no earthly recognition ... "
While very few in the general population have heard of dear old H.P.B., the ideas she endeavored to inculcate have begun to take root. Daily reports on Near Death Experiences, Out of Body Experiences, a growing acceptance of reincarnation and karma, a shift in scientific thinking toward an appreciation of the intelligence of nature, and the role of consciousness in evolution all these trends and more show that "Theosophy" (under whatever name) has made and continues to make progress in the world.
We can see that "race mind" is indeed changing before us. In "Another Theosophical Prophecy" William Q. Judge writes, "The Sanskrit language will one day be again the language used by man upon this earth, first in science and in metaphysics, and later on in common life." This was written in 1886, when hardly a person in America had heard the word "karma." Today dozens of Sanskrit words have entered the public vocabulary: yoga, chakra, guru, swami, avatar, mantra, Tantra, Veda and Vedanta, pandit, padma, Buddha, bodhisattva, bhakti, shakti, Krishna, kundalini, maya, mandala, sadhana, shanti, prana, nirvana, deva, akasha, Brahmin, yogi, raja, ayurveda, ashram, vipassana, samadhi, ananda, atman, Mahatma, Mahayana, sutra, puja, and a host of other words and proper names.
In many ways we can see that the Theosophical Movement has been successful. But this is no longer the end of the 19th century, and perhaps the Movement and its needs have changed. It is certainly undeniable that Theosophy has lost the spotlight that it once had during H.P.B.'s lifetime. How, in the pluralistic "global village" of the 20th century, can we best serve our Teachers and their philosophy?
Certainly that is a very personal question. Each individual finds their own strengths and is drawn into what seems to them the most fruitful activities. But three things must hold our attention.
First, it is clear that the Victorian English of H.P.B.'s, William Q. Judge and other founding Theosophists is no longer the vernacular of the masses. The Theosophical teachings very much need effective new statements to keep the message fresh. This does not imply that we throw out the "core" literature which has formed the basis of our teachings. Rather, we need to use those "core" works as a foundation from which to publish short, topical presentations of the teachings in modern language, referring frequently to the original literature for inquirers who seek to go deeper.
Second, the media of communication are different from what they were in H.P.B.'s day. Last century public lectures given by charismatic speakers drew large crowds. Today television, movies and computers have become the major entertainers, and Theosophists have hardly begun to take advantage of these media. The New York ULT hosts a weekly panel discussion carried by a few local t.v. stations, and many Theosophical centers have begun to develop WWW sites, on-line archives of classical Theosophical literature, and one group even hosts a live on-line study class (Theosophy Lodge On-line).
But the classic texts of Theosophy have yet to make it to CD-ROM, and there is as yet only the tiniest worldwide network of leading Theosophical thinkers and writers via email. Many older Theosophists are deeply suspicious of technology and the unknown it seems to represent, and this hinders full usage of the Internet and multimedia technology.
Third, Theosophists this century have been in general rather insular. Unlike last century, when H.P.B.'s and Col. Olcott established ties with many philosophical and spiritualistic groups in India and elsewhere, Theosophists today have rarely been exposed to much more than the history and teachings of their own particular "wing" of the Movement (ULT, Pasadena T.S., Point Loma, etc.)
While Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam have made a major impact on Western cultural centers, and while academia has taken a marked interest in Eastern thought, Theosophists have largely wasted opportunities to establish ties and find common ground with other traditions. The teachings of Tibetan Buddhism, Gnosticism, Vedanta, Gurdjieff, Ken Wilber, Marianne Williamson, Satya Sai Baba, to name just a few, have teachings in many ways similar to Theosophy, and yet Theosophists as a whole have not embraced these movements nor sought allies there.
It is certainly true that Theosophy has a somewhat different approach than many of these movements, and sometimes there is an undeniable element of psychism or other dangerous tendencies in new spiritual groups in the West. This is no reason not to seek out the common ground and emphasize the basics that Theosophy and these new groups share. Nearly all of them would accept the three fundamental propositions of our Secret Doctrine, and that alone should be enough to work together in many projects.
Often pride, ignorance, and lack of motivation have sequestered Theosophists, particularly in those Theosophical traditions which have sought to preserve the "core" teachings of Theosophy from being watered down or endangered by syncretism. But open-mindedness coupled with discrimination will show that Theosophy can find allies and host joint projects with groups without being swallowed up by them.
H.P.B.'s expressed the hope in The Key to Theosophy that by the end of the 20th century there would be "a large and accessible literature ready to men's hands [and] a numerous and united body of people." We may as well be frank that a good part of what may be called "Theosophical" literature in the widest sense today has not come from Theosophists, but from Eastern teachers and popular movements trying, with or without success, to absorb and express the perennial philosophy. We must also face the fact that Theosophists were not able to maintain a united body very long after the passing of H.P.B.'s.
But numerous active and healthy centers may in the long run produce even more good than a single united body especially if those centers recognize one another as helpmates. Therefore it is time we Theosophists recognize the Buddhists, Vedantins, Sufis, and New Age traditions as fully our equals, pursuing the same goals that we pursue, and capable of serving the Masters' plans as fully as we are.
By updating our teachings into modern English, by using modern
technology, and by establishing ties with other perennial
traditions, Theosophists may carry on H.P.B.'s work even more
effectively, and prevent Theosophy from becoming a spiritual
source of for fewer and fewer seekers. Let us use any and every
means which promulgates the ideas of Theosophy, whether or not
the label "Theosophy" will be attached to those efforts.
by David Reigle
[Book of Dzyan Research Report from Eastern School Press, reprinted with permission]
Some seven centuries ago there arose in Tibet a school of teachings which has many parallels to Theosophy. This is the Jonangpa school. Like Theosophy which attempted to restore teachings from "the universally diffused religion of the ancient and prehistoric world"  it attempted to restore teachings of the earlier Golden Age. Like Theosophy which teaches as its first fundamental proposition "an omnipresent, eternal, boundless, and immutable principle on which all speculation is impossible, since it transcends the power of human conception,"  it teaches a principle which is permanent, stable, quiescent, and eternal, which is devoid of anything but itself, or "empty of other" (gzhan stong), and which therefore transcends even the most subtle conceptualization. And like Theosophy, it was persecuted by the orthodoxy.
A Secret Doctrine
The teachings of the Jonangpa school were originated by Yumo Mikyo Dorje (yu mo mi bskyod rdo rje), an eleventh-twelfth century yogi. He was a student of Soma-natha, the Sanskrit pandit and Kalacakra master from Kashmir who translated the great Kalacakra commentary Vimala-prabha into Tibetan. Yumo is said to have received the Jonangpa teachings while practicing the Kalacakra six-limbed yoga in the Mt. Kailasa area of western Tibet. The Jonangpa teachings include primarily the Kalacakra transmission and the "empty of other" or shen-tong (gzhan stong) doctrine. Yumo expounded these as a "secret doctrine" (lkog pa'i chos).  He did not, however, put these teachings into writing; so we do not have from him a work called The Secret Doctrine, like we do from H.P. Blavatsky. The task of putting them into writing was left to a successor, Dolpopa.
The Heart Doctrine
These teachings were passed down orally to Dolpopa (also written Dolbupa, 1292-1361) who set into writing the shen-tong or "empty of other" teachings in his most famous book, The Mountain Dharma The Ocean of Definitive Meaning (ri chos nges don rgya mtsho). These teachings are referred to as the "heart doctrine" (snying po'i don), so Dolphin describes his book as the "Lamp of the Heart Doctrine." 
Regarding the heart doctrine, H.P. Blavatsky states: 
To any student of Buddhist Esotericism the term, "the Mystery of the Eye," would show the absence of any Esotericism. Had the word "Heart" stood in its place, then it would have meant what it now only professes to convey. The "Eye Doctrine" means dogma and dead-letter form, church ritualism intended for those who are content with exoteric formulae. The "Heart Doctrine" or the "Heart's Seal" (the Sin Yin), is the only real one.
Golden Age Tradition
Dolpopa wrote another famous book, The Fourth Council (bka' bsdus bzhi pa), which lays out the relationship between the four yugas and the decline of the doctrine. In the Golden Age (krta yuga) the teachings of the Buddhist sacred canon were understood correctly, but this understanding was gradually lost as the third age, the second age, and the dark age progressed. Thus many Buddhist writers of later ages who no longer had the true understanding wrote commentaries which do not explain the teachings correctly. It is Dolpopa's purpose to restore the correct understanding as it was in the Golden Age. Hence he refers to the Jonangpa teachings as the "Golden Age Tradition" (rdzogs ldan lugs). 
In the Theosophical article entitled "Tibetan Teachings" H.P. Blavatsky's Tibetan correspondent agrees that the Tibetan Buddhist canon has a dual meaning, and that many Buddhist commentators have not understood the true meaning: 
No doubt but that the Chinese and Tibetan Scriptures, so-called, the standard works of China and Japan, some written by our most learned scholars, many of whom as uninitiated though sincere and pious men commented upon what they never rightly understood, contain a mass of mythological and legendary matter more fit for nursery folk-lore than an exposition of the Wisdom Religion as preached by the world's Savior. But none of these are to be found in the canon; ... [the canonical texts] contain no fiction, but simply information for future generations, who may, by that time, have obtained the key to the right reading of them.
Note: Dolpopa's books were banned in the 17th century and became extremely rare. In the 1970's and 1980's a few of his books were located and reprinted. In 1990 Matthew Kapstein visited what had been far eastern Tibet, now western China, where some Jonangpa monasteries had survived, and obtained for the U.S. Library of Congress a complete set of Dolpopa's Collected Works. These were reprinted in Delhi in 1992.
The Jonangpa Teachings: Kalacakra and Maitereya
The Jonangpa teachings are based primarily on Kalacakra and the works of Maitreya. I have elsewhere provided evidence linking the "Book of Dzyan" on which The Secret Doctrine is based and the lost mula Kalacakra Tantra.  An important passage from a letter of H.P. Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett also links the Book of Dzyan and the work of Maitreya: 
I have finished an enormous Introductory Chapter, or Preamble, Prologue, call it what you will; just to show the reader that the text [of The Secret Doctrine] as it goes, every Section beginning with a page of translation from the Book of Dzyan and the Secret Book of "Maytreya Buddha" Champai chhos Nga (in prose, not the five books in verse known, which are a blind) are not fiction.
Blavatsky here refers to a secret book of Maitreya as opposed to the five books known. It is noteworthy that there came to Tibet from India two schools of interpretation of the Maytreya works: a doctrinal or analytical school whose textual exegesis is still current, and a meditative or practice school thought to have disappeared several centuries ago. According to Leonard van der Kuijp, this school did not die out but rather became the basis of the Jonangpa teachings: 
As such, future research may show two things. Firstly, the forerunner of the so-called Jo-nang-pa position and the 'Great madhyamaka' was the meditative, practical school that grew up around these teachings of Maitreya[natha]. In course of time, other texts which expressed similar sentiments, or which were interpreted as maintaining similar ideas, were added to the original corpus of texts on which this tradition based itself. In the second place, it may become possible to show that Dol-po-pa's efforts could be characterized as an attempt to redress the 'Meditative School' according to the normative methodology of the 'Analytical School'.
The specific book of Maitreya on which the fundamental Jonangpa doctrine of shen-tong or "empty of other" is based is the Ratna-gotra-vibhaga, also called the Uttara-tantra. This book contains a synthesis of the tathagata-garbha or "Buddha-matrix" teaching. The tathagata-garbha teaching of a universal matrix or Buddha-nature, which all people have, is so different from other Buddhist teachings that Buddhist writers disagreed on how to classify it. In Tibet, it was classified by some writers as a Madhyamaka teaching, and by others as a Yogacara teaching, though it did not fit well in either category. An early Chinese writer, Fa-tsang (643-712), put it in its own separate category beyond the three accepted ones of Hinayana, Madhyamaka, and Yogacara.  Analogously, H.P. Blavatsky speaks of a seventh school of Indian philosophy (darsana) beyond the six accepted ones, the esoteric school: 
This is the view of every one of the six great schools of Indian philosophy the six principles of that unit body of Wisdom of which the 'gnosis,' the hidden knowledge, is the seventh.
The Seven Great Mysteries
The Theosophical Mahatma known under the initials K.H. speaks of seven great mysteries of Buddhist metaphysics: 
In connection with this, let me tell you before, that since you seem so interested with the subject you can do nothing better than to study the two doctrines of Karma and Nirvana as profoundly as you can. Unless you are thoroughly well acquainted with the two tenets the double key to the metaphysics of Abhidharma you will always find yourself at sea in trying to comprehend the rest. We have several sorts of Karma and Nirvana in their various applications to the Universe, the world, Devas, Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, men and animals the second including its seven kingdoms. Karma and Nirvana are but two of the seven great mysteries of Buddhist metaphysics; and but four of the seven are known to the best orientalists, and that very imperfectly.
Maitreya's Ratna-gotra-vibhaga, source book of the tathagata-garbha or "Buddha-matrix" teaching, opens by listing seven vajra-subjects. Vajra means diamond; and the analogy is given in the commentary by Aryasanga that like a diamond is hard to penetrate, so these subjects are hard to understand. Thus they may be called mysteries. Here is this opening verse:
1. Buddha, doctrine (dharma), community (gana = sangha), element (dhatu), enlightenment (bodhi = nirvana), virtuous qualities (guna), and lastly buddha-action (karma); these seven diamond-like subjects (vajra-pada), are in brief, the body of the whole text.
[notes: Dhatu is perhaps the key term in the Ratna-gotra-vibhanga. Its basic meaning is "Element" (Hookham), also "the Germ (of Buddhahood)" (Obermiller), "the Essence [of the Buddha]" (Takasaki), "buddha-nature" (Holmes). The seven vajra-padas each have a conventional (samvrti) and an ultimate (paramartha) aspect.  Dhatu when obscured is called tathagata-garbha; when unobscured it is called dharma-kaya. ] This text gives these seven vajra-subjects from the standpoint of non-dual wisdom (jnana). In other words, it gives them in a form which is not very accessible to the mind. Thus readers should not expect to find the seven great mysteries spelled out clearly for them in this text. For as H.P. Blavatsky says regarding one of the stanzas she translated from the "Book of Dzyan:" 
Its language is comprehensible only to him who is thoroughly versed in Eastern allegory and its purposely obscure phraseology.
However, some of these seven subjects, such as karma, are given in a form which is more accessible to the mind (i.e., from the standpoint of prajna) in a work which forms part of the standard monastic curriculum, the Abhidharma-kosa by Vasubandhu. 
The One Element
The key term in Maitreya's Ratna-gotra-vihhaga is dhatu, or element. It is described in the following important verse:
80. It is not born, does not die, is not afflicted, and does not grow old, because it is permanent (nitya/rtag-pa), stable (dhruva/brtan-pa), quiescent (siva/zhi-ba), and eternal (sasvata/g.yung-drung). Ratna-gotra-vibhaga or Uttara-tantra, by Maitreya, verse 80
As noted earlier, this one thing, dhatu or element, may be called tathagata-garbha or Buddha-nature when obscured, and dharma-kaya or body of the law when unobscured.
The one element is also a key concept in the Theosophical teachings as found in the Mahatma letters:
However, you will have to bear in mind (a) that we recognize but one element in Nature (whether spiritual or physical) outside which there can be no Nature since it is Nature itself, and which as the Akasa pervades our solar system, every atom being part of itself, pervades throughout space and is space in fact, ... (b) that consequently spirit and matter are one, being but a differentiation of states not essences, ... (c) that our notions of "cosmic matter" are diametrically opposed to those of western science.
Perchance if you remember all this we will succeed in imparting to you at least the elementary axioms of our esoteric philosophy more correctly than heretofore. 
Yes, as described in my letter there is but one element and it is impossible to comprehend our system before a correct conception tion of it is firmly fixed in one's mind. You must therefore pardon me if I dwell on the subject longer than really seems necessary. But unless this great primary fact is firmly grasped the rest will appear unintelligible. This element then is the to speak metaphysically one sub-stratum or permanent cause of all manifestations in the phenomenal universe. 
We will say that it is, and will remain for ever demonstrated that since motion is all-pervading and absolute rest inconceivable, that under whatever form or mask motion may appear, whether as light, heat, magnetism, chemical affinity or electricity all these must be but phases of One and the same universal omnipotent Force, a Proteus they bow to as the Great "Unknown" (See Herbert Spencer) and we, simply call the "One Life," the "One Law" and the "One Element." 
These last three epithets, the "One Life," the "One Law," and the "One Element," correspond well to the Ratna-gotra-vibhaga's terms tathagata-garbha, dharma-kaya, and dhatu, respectively.
Tsong-kha-pa's Critique of the Jonangpa Teachings
The Jonangpa teaching of a permanent, stable, quiescent, and eternal dhatu or tathagata-garbha or dharma-kaya which is "empty of other" (gzhan stong) and therefore ultimately beyond the range and reach of thought, was apparently criticized by Tsong-kha-pa, founder of the Gelugpa or "Yellow Hat" order. One of Tsong-kha-pa's most famous books is the Legs bshad snying po, or "Essence of True Eloquence," which he wrote after emerging from his highest enlightenment experience, so it is thought to give his final insights.  While it never mentions names, the object of much of its critique is identified by
Gelugpa exegesis as Dolpopa and the Jonangpa teachings. Tsong-kha-pa, 1357-1419, lived just after Dolpopa, 1292-1361. This critique is of much importance to Theosophists, since Dolpopa apparently teaches the first fundamental proposition of The Secret Doctrine, and Tsong-kha-pa apparently refutes it; yet Tsong-kha-pa is regarded by Theosophists as "the reformer of esoteric as well as of vulgar Lamaism,"  and as "the founder of the Gelukpa ("yellow-cap") Sect, and of the mystic Brotherhood connected with its cheifs,"  "the founder of the secret School near Shigatse, attached to the private retreat of the Teshu-Lama." 
In regard to this question, we may compare a Brahmin Theosophist's comments on a somewhat analogous situation with Gautama Buddha and Sankaracarya, remembering that Theosophical sources place Buddha's death in 543 B.C. and Sankaracarya's birth shortly after in 510 B.C.: 
The movement of Lord Buddha must have produced an enormous confusion in this land as you may all imagine and the great philosopher who took upon himself the task of restoring order is Sankaracharya. He preserved the essence of what Lord Buddha had said and spoke as was suitable to the people of the time. For example he substituted the Vedantic Parabrahman for the Buddhistic No-thing [emptiness, sunyata] ... The object of our great reformer was not to teach any esoteric science but to restore order in a country which could not bear up the boldness to catch the truth that Lord Buddha taught and consequently fell into confusion. He therefore did not take up things in any puranic fashion to trace the operation of tile cosmic law which has brought about this wonderful variation in manifestation from the one nonmanifestation. That the world is an illusion and Parabrahman is alone real is a good cover under which shelter could be taken under circumstances which require a revelation of esoteric truth for clearing up ... Note here my friends, how the great philosopher has evaded the business of giving out esoteric truths which alone serves as a unifying power at reconciling the apparent contradictions in ancient writings.
The Teacher wanted only to impress upon the minds of the students that the universe is one in its essence and apparently many in its manifestation. That has had its own share of evil effect on the minds of the students at least as they are found now. The vast majority of Vedantic students learn by their study only the quibble "Parabrahman truth, everything illusion." I shall not now go into a declamatory flourish of language against our poor Vedantists but I shall say a few things for your benefit and guidance in the study of the Bhagavad Gita from the standpoint of the ancient yajnikas. To these philosophers, Nature is not an illusion but the eternal ground of evolution, of an infinite one existence which permeating every point in the infinity of space or taking the place of the heart in all, tries to obtain a more and more vivid consciousness by its own ideal life processes. This heart of the universe, existing everywhere in it, is called by them the eternal yajna-purusha or the purusha who underlies all cosmic manifestations.
Tsong-kha-pa in his highest enlightenment experience would have achieved full insight into the operation of the twelvefold chain of causation, and would have seen the future effects of whatever teachings he might give. For the Buddhist enlightenment is, as described by H.P. Blavatsky: 
... the attainment of that supreme perfection which leads the Initiate to remember the whole series of his past lives, and to foresee that of the future ones, by the full development of that inner, divine eye in him, and to acquire the knowledge that unfolds the causes (the twelve Nidanas called in Tibetan Ten-brel Chu-gnyi, which are based upon the "Four Truths") of the ever-recurring cycles of existence ...
Thus Tsong-kha-pa may well have chosen to give public teachings which his insight showed him would be most effective in meeting the spiritual needs of his future audiences, while at the same time keeping his esoteric teachings from public view. His public teachings did indeed radically transform Tibetan Buddhism, being aptly compared to the Copernican Revolution wherein Europeans discovered that the earth revolves around the sun rather than vice versa.  His His on esoteric teachings was reported by H.P. Blavatsky's Tibetan correspondent: 
Our world-honored Tsong-kha-pa closing his fifth Dam-ngag reminds us that 'every sacred truth, which the ignorant are unable to comprehend under its true light, ought to be hidden within a triple casket concealing itself as the tortoise conceals his head within his shell; ought to show her face but to those who are desirous of obtaining the condition of Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi' the most merciful and enlightened heart.
We have another somewhat analogous situation in our own time with Helena P. Blavatsky, 1831-1891, primary founder of the Theosophical Society, and Jiddu Krishnamurti, 1895-1986, who left the Theosophical Society in 1929 and spent the rest of his life teaching that people should not rely on authority. For Theosophists, he did not deny the Theosophical teachings, but only repudiated the role of the Theosophical Society and the beliefs accepted by Theosophists on authority as leading to truth. He taught that one cannot come to truth through any organization or belief.  For most followers of Krishnamurti's teachings today, however, he also refuted the Theosophical teachings, such as that of an omnipresent, eternal, boundless and immutable principle which transcends the power of human conception; just as for his own Gelugpas, Tsong-kha-pa refuted the Jonangpa teaching of a permanent, stable, quiescent and eternal dhatu or tathagata-garbha or dharma-kaya which is devoid of anything but itself (gzhan stong) and so transcends even the most subtle conceptualization.
1. The Secret Doctrine, by H.P. Blavatsky, 1888; reprint, Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1978, vol. I, p. xxxiv.
2. The Secret Doctrine, vol. I, p. 14.
3. See: "The Jo nan pas: A School of Buddhist Ontologists According to the Grub mtha' sel gyi me lon," by D. S. Ruegg, Journal of the American Oriental Society, vol. 83, 1963, p. 83.
4. See: The Buddha Within: Tathagatagarbha Doctrine According to the Shentong Interpretation of the Ratnagotravibhaga, by S. K Hookham, Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991, p. 142.
5. The Secret Doctrine, Adyar 6-vol. edition, vol. 5, p. 407; or, H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, vol. XIV, Wheaton, Illinois: Theosophical Publishing House, 1985, pp. 444-45.
6. See: The 'Dzam-thang Edition of the Collected Works of Kun-mkhyen Dol-po-pa Shes-rab Rgyal-mtshan: Introduction and Catalogue, by Matthew Kapstein, Delhi: Shedrup Books, 1992, p. 51.
7. H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, vol. VI, 1954; 2nd ed., Wheaton, Illinois: Theosophical Publishing House, 1975, p. 100.
8. See my: "New Light on the Book of Dzyan," in Symposium on H.P. Blavatsky's Secret Doctrine ... Proceedings, San Diego: Wizards Bookshelf, 1984, pp. 54-67.
9. The Letters of H.P. Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett, 1925; reprint, Pasadena: Theosophical University Press, 1973, p. 195.
10. Contributions to the Development of Tibetan Buddhist Epistemology, by Leonard W.J. van der Kuijp, Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1983, p. 44.
11. See: The Awakening of Faith, trans. Yoshito S. Hakeda, New York and London: Columbia University Press, 1967, p. 14: "In the introduction to his commentary to the Awakening of Faith, Fa-tsang made an attempt to classify all Indian Buddhism under the following four categories: (1) Hinayana; (2) Madhyamika; (3) Yogacara; and (4) Tathagatagarbha."
12. The Secret Doctrine, vol. I, p. 278.
13. The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, compiled by A.T. Barker, 1923; third and revised edition, Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1962, p. 107.
14. See: "The Sublime Science of the Great Vehicle to Salvation," by E. Obermiller, Acta Orientalia, vol. IX, 1931; reprinted as Uttaratantra or Ratnagotravibhaga, Talent, Oregon: Canon Publications, 1984, p. 111.
15. See: The Buddha Within: Tathagatagartha Doctrine According to the Shentong lnterpretation of the Ratnagotravibhaga, by S. K. Hookham, p. 93.
16. The Secret Doctrine, vol. I, p. 106.
17. English translation by Leo M. Pruden as Abhidharmakosabhasyam, from the French translation by Louis de La Vallee Poussin, 4 vols., Berkeley: Asian Humanities Press, 1988, 1988, 1989, 1990. Includes commentary ( bhasyam). Karma is the subject of chapter 4.
18. The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, 3rd ed., p. 63.
19. The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, 3rd ed., p. 89.
20. The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, 3rd ed., pp. 155-56.
21. English translation by Robert A. F. Thurman as Tsong Khapa's Speech of Gold in the Essence of True Eloquence: Reason and Enlightenment in the Central Philosophy of Tibet, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984.
22. The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, 3rd ed., p. 44.
23. The Theosophical Glossary, by H.P. Blavatsky, 1892; reprint, Los Angeles: The Theosophy Company, 1971, p. 305.
24. H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, vol. XIV, p. 425.
25. For the dates, see: Five Years of Theosophy, [edited by George Robert Stow Mead,] 1885; second and revised edition, London: Theosophical Publishing Society, 1894, pp. 195, 236. The quotation is from Thoughts on Bagavad Gita, by A Brahmin F.T.S., 1893; reprinted as Some Thoughts on the Gita, Talent, Oregon: Eastern School Press, 1983, pp. 100-103.
26. The Secret Doctrine, Adyar 6-vol. edition, vol. 5, p. 397; or, H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, vol. XIV, p. 432.
27. See: Contributions to the Development of Tibetan Buddhist Epistemology, by Leonard W.J. van der Kuijp, p. 45: "I do not think it an exaggeration to suggest that what Tsong-kha-pa succeeded in doing constituted nothing less than a 'Copernican Revolution' for Tibetan Buddhism, and the significance of his reinterpretation of Indian Buddhism cannot be stressed enough, particularly with respect to the later developments of Tibetan Buddhism."
28. In: "Tibetan Teachings," H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, vol. VI, pp. 99-100.
29. See: Krishnamutti: His Life and Death, by Mary Lutyens, New
York: St. Martin's Press, 1990, p. 149: "Truth is a pathless
Land. Man cannot come to it through any organization,, through
any creed, through any dogma, priest or ritual, not through any
philosophical knowledge or psychological technique."
by Dara Eklund
[from "The Theosophist", June, 1996]
The ancient sages recognized that proof of reality lies ultimately in man himself, testing and discerning the facts of Nature with his divine counterpart within. Know Man and you can know God, say the mystics. According to the Pantheists: know Nature and you may know God. Every outward scene has a counterpart within to be discerned.
In his Introduction to The Esoteric Tradition, G. de Purucker wrote:
Believe nothing that your conscience tells you is wrong, no matter whence it comes. If the very divinities came to earth and taught in splendor on the mountain-tops, believe naught that they tell you, if your own spirit- soul tells you that it is a lie.(1)
This reflection is balanced by the idea that Elder Brothers are the culmination of a natural evolutionary stage, forming a bridge between Divine Beings and men. This evolutionary drama unfolds a hierarchy of conscious Life, beings from life-atoms to gods, from Buddhas to Dhyani-Buddhas and beyond. So that, while it is claimed that "Truth is a Pathless Land," there is still a rugged pathway that leads to that condition where "we see the world as one vast plain, one boundless reach of sky.". There are those who can guide us to it those who have gone on before. We in turn have the obligation to aid our younger brothers as well.
G. de Purucker devoted an entire little booklet to The Masters and the Path of Occultism. He states:
Records exist to be investigated by anyone who has an open mind and who can see, and has brains enough to judge according to the preponderance of evidence showing that the great Seers of the ages have penetrated behind and beyond the veil of appearances; have gone behind that veil to the roots of things; have sent their souls deep into the womb of being and have brought back knowledge therefrom. Wonderful indeed are the systems of thought that these great Seers and Sages of the ages have formulated in human language, touching every phase of the human being; systems which are so symmetrical, so profound in philosophical and scientific reach, that every fact that exists in human psychology finds its proper niche ...
Great Intellects, titanic spiritual Seers, have sent their consciousness behind the veils of the outward seeming ... have formulated their knowledge into a grand system of thought. This system of thought we today call Theosophy. It is the Mother of all the great religions and great philosophies of the past time, and will be so of those of the future; for this reason: that every one of these other great systems of thought has been founded upon the teaching of some great spiritual Seer and Sage.(2)
Who then are the Masters? How may we know them? For the beginning student it is first vital to know their message. If we, illumined by the heart, act by the heart's guidance, we will by this light reveal them to ourselves. This "light" does not mean astral light, but the light of intuition, a wisdom of our divine link with all Beings, both higher and lower than ourselves. Some persons, using psychic means, claim they have seen the adept's rooms clairvoyantly, and have cited their locales or identified their previous incarnations. Yet, neither the brain-mind, nor the psychic approach work. Why? Because: "The real Mahatma is ... not his physical body but that higher Manas which is inseparably linked to the Atma and its vehicle (the 6th principle) ... " (3)
In The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, we learn how rarely they interact with Westerners. Yet, for the sake of their beloved Aryavarta and to forestall the ever steeper decline towards materialism in the 19th Century, they did so. In the Master's philosophical teachings we find how we may touch the "garment hem of truth", and in time achieve their wisdom. One necessary condition is to become utterly impersonal. Another is to cultivate the gratitude due to those from whom we receive the teaching. Realizing ourselves as an integral part of the One Life, there is service to others; there is a labor of lifetimes to perfect. By such sacrifice alone may we hope to join them in this endeavor, and become companions in the effort to uplift mankind.
Why not study the Masters' letters for their advice on how to reach them. In "Some Words on Daily Life"(4) we are told repeatedly that if we expect to have their help, we must apply ourselves to the work of helping humanity. We are also told that the highest Adepts work on the inner planes. Only through interior development and constant upliftment of the One Life in All can we achieve a similar state. The "revelation" must come from within. This applies even with respect to the highly revered Lord Buddha, who admonished:
"Do not regard the Tathagata as a form. Regard him as the [embodiment of the] qualities of the dharmakaya, the Dharma Body." [Thrangu Rinpoche comments:] What does this mean? 'Form' here means matter. Of course the enlightened state possesses three kayas, but the form-body is not the true Buddha. It means we should not think of the Buddha as being composed of physical characteristics, but should consider him as the embodiment of dharmakaya. 'Dharmakaya' means the 'body of enlightened qualities' [of perfect knowledge, perfect love and perfect capability]. This is the ultimate way of regarding the Buddha.(5)
In "Letters to a Lodge" Jasper Niemand (Julia Keightley) wrote upon the matter as follows:
Those who come to rely upon appearances (or sounds) of a Master, such as may be experienced by physical or psychic (lower) sense, soon lose touch with His true and real Being, for the cheating powers gladly rush in to deceive that person ...
When the Master Himself uses such forms as His temporary vehicles or modes, reaching a man by the only avenue as yet opened by that man, He trains the disciple to the use of the "spiritual quality," and the disciple is soon beyond the need and reach of form and sound manifestations, in the usual acceptation of "sound" and "form." In other words, the disciple is helped to enter that condition which is the One Master, Alaya's Self ...
Niemand goes on to say that chelas under the direct supervision are taught in more particular ways. However, regarding their statement to "Form an image of the Master in your heart as a focus of will-power," she states that this does not mean a image of the Master's physical body.
It means that you should dwell in thought upon the great qualities of the real Master, the perfected Being (not his house, or form, which he uses) and do this until your imagination warms to the sublime conception of absolute justice and wisdom, and the heart (the inner heart) kindles and emits its energies: the divine conception, immaculate, invokes the Soul; it arises in majesty and goes forth to find its own ... .
To take in a literal sense the directions given to disciples living under conditions quite different from our own is to make a grave mistake. We live where gross magnetisms, lower psychic action and low grade emissions of nervous ether make up picture-forms which will vibrate into objectivity under the play of currents corresponding in grade wherever and however such currents arise. Therefore let us arise and go unto the Master within ... (6)
1. Point Loma, California, Theosophical University Press, 1935, p.12.
2. Point Loma, Theosophical University Press, 1939, p.17, 19.
3. Blavatsky Collected Writings, Vol. VI, p. 239, Theosophical Publishing House, Wheaton, 1975.
4. B.C.W., Vol. VII, pp.173-75
5. King of Samadhi, Commentaries on The Samadhi Raja Sutra, by Thrangu Rinpoche, p.95. Hong Kong, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1994.
6. The Irish Theosophist, September 15, 1895, Vol. III, No.12,
pp. 209-11. Intended to be published in book form by The
by Richard Taylor
Ergates ("The Energetic Worker") is a newsmagazine about Theosophy around the world late-breaking events and new ideas for successful teaching and learning, technology and book reviews to support efforts to educate the public about Theosophy, and correspondence from students everywhere.
Ergates is published by students of U.L.T. San Francisco, and maintains the U.L.T. tradition of impersonal contributions (no names or ego-boosts) and holding to the lines laid down by the Founders, but Ergates does not limit itself only to U.L.T. students or U.L.T. events.
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by John H. Drais
The Paracelsian Order as a theosophical organization has an interest the "Truth". We know only too well that this truth can never be expressed, but at least we can do our part to keep our search for it on course. So much information was released by the early Theosophical Societies that even today it is not well digested. To make matters worse, the original flavoring has been altered by too many cooks in the kitchen. Almost all, if not all in fact, of the original writings have been "improved" by these later hands so finding what the original actually said is getting more difficult with each new publication.
We have no dogmas to promote. We have no belief system we think is incumbent on anyone to believe. We appreciate all sincere attempts to display the truth, even if it is not done in our way, "the correct way", or imprinted with someone's stamp of "authority". We do not accept the word of authority, even that of the Masters, Blavatsky, Judge, or any of the worlds "revealed" sacred literature. We do respect the opinions of those whose life efforts demonstrate their sincere care for the "orphan humanity". We think, among others, Blavatsky and Judge demonstrated such a care.
Our Home Page is now on-line and ready for review, even though it is still under construction. We have reproduced several articles, the first in a series, and certify them as accurate republications of the originals. We do not promiss they are free from errors, either ours or those present in the originals. We do want to be notified of any errors you may find in them, and we will publish notations to suggest corrections to the originals.
Now on-line are:
* The Voice of the Silence (HP Blavatsky) Original Edition of 1889.
* "Culture of Concentration" (WQ Judge) The Path, 1888 and 1890.
* "Pen-Names of William Quan Judge" (Fussell and Small) Eclectic Theosophist, 1981.
* "The Paracelsian Order" (J. H. Drais) Theosophical History, 1991.
* "Roots of Madre Grande" (J. H. Drais) The Philosopher's Stone, 1991.
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by Rodolfo Don
We are ready to embark on a new attempt to start a theosophical discussion list on the internet. It seems to me that it would be appropriate to go back to the founding of the Theosophical Society and read what the founders wrote about theosophy and the Theosophical Society.
In "The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett", (letter #4) "The term 'Universal Brotherhood' is no idle phrase. Humanity in the mass has a paramount claim upon us, as I try to explain in my letter to Mr. Hume, which you had better ask the loan of. It is the only secure foundation for universal morality. If it be a dream, it is at least a noble one for mankind: and it is the aspiration of the true adept." K.H.
In the same book, (letter #6) "The Chiefs want a 'Brotherhood of Humanity,' a real Universal Fraternity started; an institution which would make itself known throughout the world and arrest the attention of the highest minds." K.H.
Further on, (letter #138) "You cannot have forgotten what I told you repeatedly at Simly and what the Master K.H. wrote to you himself, namely, that the T.S. is first of all a universal Brotherhood, not a Society for phenomena and occultism." H.P. Blavatsky
In her message sent to the American Convention, April 7, 1889, H.P.B. writes: "But our union is, and ever will be, our strength, if we preserve our ideal of Universal Brotherhood. It is the old 'In hoc signo vinces' which should be our watch-word, for it is under its sacred flag that we shall conquer."
There is no mystery why the founders decided to give us our Three Objects, and the First One: "To form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or color". Like Master K.H. says: "It is the only secure foundation for universal morality ... ..and it is the aspiration of the true adept."
How do we work for Universal Brotherhood on a theosophical discussion list? That is the question! We know how we participate in conventional discussion lists: we have an opinion, we use our reasoning and try to convince the others that our opinion is the correct one. In the process our ego gets inflated. We hear very little about Universal Brotherhood in those discussions because that term is not welcome in the realm of the ego. Basically, I must forget about myself in order to understand and work for Universal Brotherhood. Universal Brotherhood means that Humanity comes first. My primary concern should be the welfare of Humanity, not my own welfare, whether spiritual or material.
Once we have our priorities straight, we realize that the mind can serve us, but only to a point. We may have some questions that require answers, and realize that the mind cannot provide those answers. If we have the right motive: to serve humanity, we will be able to transcend the mind. But, we must have the right motive, otherwise it won't work. So, eventually, with the right motive, we will get in touch with our True Self and find our answers.
It is true that theosophy is Altruism, and theosophy is also Universal Brotherhood. Let us work to fulfil our First Object!
by Jerry Hejka-Ekins
There is much talk about the place of our booming computer technology and its contribution to a new paradigm shift that is without question taking place. Those of us with computers and a connection to internet have the means to communicate instantaneously with people of like interest and we can access the major libraries of the world. Information is more available and communication is more possible than ever. The technology is here and those who are engaged in these activities are riding the wave crest of change. Where it will lead us is still too early to tell, and the consequences of today's technology will be changing society in ways not yet predicted. On the other hand, personal computers are only in about ten percent of the households. For most of the population, this wave crest will produce ample side effects that will bring about further changes in society. For them, computers are still too complicated to learn and too expensive to buy. They represent the backwash of technology on the one hand, and an ever present potential market on the other.
Also present with this new technology is a shift in the way people are beginning to think about information. The platonic concept of "Transcendental Truth" is now on the trash heap. The whole concept of authority is falling more and more under suspicion. Morals and ethics are becoming regarded as quaint ideas of a less enlightened past. Western Society is regulated more and more by laws and less by society's self regulation. It is no wonder that the Theosophical Society, an organization born in the Victorian age, has become irrelevant to the thinking of a postmodern society. Here are a few examples:
The theosophical writings assume a transcendental Truth, and the members of the Theosophical Society were originally committed to seeking it. Today, transcendental truths are replaced by relative truths. Nineteenth century Theosophical doctrines suggest a moral and ethical code of behavior in common with the world's major religions. Today, ethics are considered to be an artificial construct used by the churches to control the population. Rather than ethical choice making, people fall back upon the law and calculate the risks against the benefits in breaking them. Theosophical teachings such as the seven principles, rounds and races, and cosmic evolution are understood by only a very few and considered irrelevant by most. Interest in psychic and spiritual development remains high because of its potential utilitarian value. But other organizations have capitalized upon these teachings and have exploited them to better effect than the Theosophical Organizations.
So what significance does a Victorian organization have in a post
modern society? Obviously very little. If theosophy was
meaningful today, it would attract a significant percentage of
the population. It does not, and will not unless it somehow
connects with the needs of our postmodern society. But what are
those needs? How can the Theosophical Movement meet them? How
will the new technology help in meeting those needs? It what way
does the values of the Theosophical Movement interface with the
very different values of today? I hope that these and like
questions become grist for future discussion in future issues of
by Bee Brown
[This article is written from my present understanding which I hope with grow and expand as time and experience pass on. It is a subject that has fascinated me for some time and the quote below is the starting point of this article.]
The new vehicle in any reincarnation gathers together and is composed of the same identical life-atoms that composed both the soul-structure and the physical body of the last incarnation on earth. Yet both these vehicles are in the new incarnation improved somewhat over their state or condition of development of the last incarmation for evolutionary growth by stages and changes is Nature's first law.
[G. de Purucker, Esoteric Tradition, I, 268]
This paragraph gave much food for thought and a lengthy investigation of what life-atoms were and how they operate. They are also known as elemental essence and elementals yet even that is inadequate because everything is composed of life-atoms that began in many different ways. Even our thoughts create thought elementals that are composed of life-atoms. How they came into being is a huge subject in itself and not really assimilated in my mind yet so I do not feel competent to write on this aspect of it.
Most of the information on life-atoms that I have came from G. de Purucker and one or two other sources including The Secret Doctrine, W Judge, A E Powell and bits picked up here and there. This article is only my understanding of what I have read.
Now if it is correct that we attract to ourselves the same life-atoms that we used in our last incarnation then it throws much more light on the emphasis that various self-realised persons have given to right living. While we are in incarnation, we are meant to be the masters of our life-atoms if we are prepared to exercise our will over them, otherwise they go about their own evolution in their own way and we wonder why we get into bad habits which then seem so hard to break out off. None of the spiritual practices we adopt are easy to do but in a way they are designed to educate our life-atoms to vibrate at a higher level so that our soul may have a more effective vehicle in the physical world. While we are concerned just with our physical welfare, our life-atoms and our personality drift along in the slow evolution of nature but when we take ourselves in hand even just to stop eating something that isn't good for us, we begin exercising our will over our life-atoms. It is they who compose every part of us and are really not too bothered with what our spiritual aspirations may be. They are consciousness centres or monads intent upon their own evolution that will in long ages hence become human monads with life-atoms of their own to manage.
G de Purucker places much emphasis on the fact the we are composite beings and this thought has a way of reducing one's feeling of self-importance. As I come to terms with the idea that various monads and life-atoms make up the various vehicles that my soul uses then it changes the way I see myself and everything around me. The idea of coming back in my next incarnation a little better than I am in this one seems a good idea so what to do. There are so many methods around that suggest ways to improve one's attitudes and spiritual status that all we can do is choose the one that seems approproate to ourselves. Then comes the practice of the chosen method and that is where we run into our life-atoms who do not see the point in changing. There are many methods that suggest a sort of go with the flow but from what I have gathered by now, it is by the exercise of our higher will over our lower aspects that progress can be made.
Theosophy has given me the knowledge but I need to do something with it if I want to realise and find the truth within it. By practicing the method that I find suits me, I do so in the hope that my composite being can be influenced to help rather than hinder the evolutionary path we are all on because of the urging of the soul to take charge of spiritual growth rather than drift with the tide. The first attempts to meditate show how resistant the life-atoms can be especially the thought ones that will not keep quiet while I am intent on my new activity. It is the struggle to overcome the habit patterns of our life-atoms that can cause us to give up our practices rather than persevere and show them who is boss.
In an article in Theosophy in New Zealand, March 1995, Jack Patterson wrote a two-part article on "Elements, Elemental Essence and Elementaries" and this is what started my interest in this subject. He paraphrases from Chapter VI of First Principles of Theosophy by C. Junarajadasa as follows:
He explains at length the body consciousness of the three vehicles (of humans) as the life of mental, astral and physical elementals. He points out that this elemental life has stored in its memory banks an immense amount of experience in handling "bodies" or vehicles. During the personal life of a human being the elemental life of each body has a very close relationship with human consciousness and has a taste of individual experience. This experience can only be attained through association with other forms of life (vicariously) but thus gains a second-hand sense of being alive and conscious.
The body elementals therefore protect the body by automatic reactions like closing the eye immediately against flying substances. This is rightly considered instinctive activity because the elemental world appears to have access to the Universal Mind from which the behaviour of all species is programmed. In fact the body elemental (probably from the etheric and astral level) is through the cell structure capable of carrying out the automatic or mechanical activities of the body such as the circulation of the blood, breathing and digestion and looks after the body while its controller is absent when asleep. Thought and attention must be given to learning to ride a bicycle or driving a car but when the skill is learnt the mental elemental takes over and the whole process becomes automatic - unless, of course, some out-of-the-ordinary situation develops which requires conscious control.
Although human self-consciousness brings the gift of being able to choose how we will act it is a sad comment that for most of us, most of the time, the desires or inclinations of the body elementals rule our lives. It is sadder still that we are almost entirely unaware of this.
It is this lack of awareness of our physical composition that
allows our life-atoms to form habits and addictions on the
various levels of our being. Some people seem addicted to
negative thinking while others are slaves to alchohol. The
advise from the Masters to live a good and pure life has real
consequences when seen in the context of training our life-atoms
to obey our will rather than their own inclinations. With this
training we ensure that our life-atoms are easier to manage in
the next incarnation and so by aggregate training we may speed up
our own spiritual evolution during our future incarnations.
by Charles Johnston
[From a conversation between Charles Johnston and Madame Blavatsky]
Then she told me something about other Masters and adepts she had known ... , from Northern and Southern India, Tibet, Persia, China, Egypt; of various European nations, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, English; of certain races in South America, where she said there was a Lodge of adepts.
"It is the tradition of this which the Spanish Conquistadors found," she said, "the golden city of Manoah or El Dorado. The race is allied to the ancient Egyptians, and the adepts have still preserved the secret of their dwelling place inviolable. There are certain members of the Lodges who pass from centre to centre, keeping the lines of connection between them unbroken. But they are always connected in other ways."
"In their astral bodies?" "Yes," she answered, "and in other ways still higher. They have a common life and power. As they rise in spirituality, they rise above difference of race, to our common humanity. The series is unbroken. Adepts are a necessity in nature and in super-nature. They are the links between men and the gods; these 'gods' being the souls of great adepts and Masters of bygone races and ages, and so on, up to the threshold of Nirvana. The continuity is unbroken."
"What do they do?"
"You would hardly understand, unless you were an adept. But they keep alive the spiritual life of mankind."
"How do the adepts guide the souls of men?"
"In many ways, but chiefly by teaching their souls direct, in the spiritual world. That is difficult for you to understand. But this is quite intelligible: At certain regular periods, they try to give the world at large a right understanding of spiritual things. One of their number comes forth to teach the masses, and is handed down to tradition as the founder of a religion. Krishna was such a Master, so was Zoroaster; so were Buddha and Sankaracharya, the great sage of Southern India. So also was the Nazarene [Jesus]."
"Have the adepts any secret records of his life?"
"They must have," she answered, "for they have records of the lives of all Initiates. Once I was in a great cave-temple in the Himalayan mountains, with my Master. There were many statues of adepts there; pointing to one of them, he said: 'This is he whom you call Jesus. We count him to be one of the greatest among us.'
"But that is not the only work of the adepts. At much shorter periods, they send forth a messenger to try to teach the world. Such a period comes in the last quarter of each century, and the Theosophical Society represents their work for this epoch."
"How does it benefit mankind?"
"How does it benefit you to know the laws of life? Does it not help you to escape sickness and death? Well, there is a soul-sickness, and a soul-death. Only the true teaching of Life can cure them.. The dogmatic churches, with their hell and damnation, their metal
[FOOTNOTE: Streets paved with gold]
heaven and their fire and brimstone, have made it almost impossible for thinking people to believe in the immortality of the soul. And if they do not believe in a life after death, then they have no life after death. That is the law."
"How can what people believe possibly affect them? Either it is or it isn't, whatever they may believe."
"Their belief affects them in this way. Their life after death is made by their aspirations and spiritual development unfolding in the spiritual world. According to the growth of each so is his life after death. It is the complement of his life here. All unsatisfied spiritual longings, all desires for higher life, all aspirations and dreams of noble things, come to flower in the spiritual life, and the soul has its day, for life on earth is its night. But if you have no aspirations, no higher longings, no beliefs in any life after death, then there is nothing for your spiritual life to be made up of, your soul is a blank."
"What becomes of you then?"
"You reincarnate immediately, almost without an interval, and without regaining consciousness in the other world." ... .
"So that is what the adepts sent you forth to teach?"
"Yes, that and other things things which are very important, and will soon be far more important. There is the danger of black magic, into which all the world, and especially America, is rushing as fast as it can go. Only a wide knowledge of the real psychic and spiritual nature of man can save humanity from grave dangers."
"Witch-stories in this so-called nineteenth century, in this enlightened age?"
"Yes, Sir! Witch-tales in this enlightened age! And mark my words! You will have such witch-tales as the Middle Ages never dreamt of. Whole nations will drift insensibly into black magic, with good intentions, no doubt, but paving the road to hell none the less for that! Do you not see the tremendous evils that lie concealed in hypnotism? Hypnotism and suggestion
[FOOTNOTE: Advertising, political campaigns, etc., etc., are built on "suggestion." The opposite of this is "inspiration," such as that used by Gatto in his teaching methods. One enlivens and allies itself to the potential "greatness" in each of us, the other enlivens and allies itself to the weaknesses of man entangled in his sensations and personality; one manipulates and bewitches, the other sets-fire-to and transforms.]
are great and dangerous powers, for the very reason that the victim never knows when he is being subjected to them; his will is stolen from him. These things may be begun with good motives, and for right purposes. But I am an old woman, and have seen much of human life in many countries and I wish with all my heart I could believe that these powers would be used only for good! If you could foresee what I foresee, you would begin heart and soul to spread the teaching of universal brotherhood. It is the only safeguard!"
"How is it going to guard people against hypnotism?"
"By purifying the hearts of people who would misuse it. And
universal brotherhood rests upon the common soul. It is because
there is one soul common to all men, that brotherhood, or even
common understanding, is possible. Bring men to rest on that,
and they will be safe. There is a divine power in every man
which is to rule his life, and which no one can influence for
evil, not even the greatest magician. Let men bring their lives
under its guidance, and they have nothing to fear from man or
by Henry T. Edge
[Reprinted from The Theosophical Path, January, 1923]
On August 4, 1789, a large and unruly Parliament of excited men sat in a hall at Versailles. It was the National Assembly of revolutionary France, and it was framing a new constitution for the country. But what was agitating the assembly at the moment was the preamble to that constitution a Declaration of the Rights of Man. Suddenly one of the members interposed with an amendment. He proposed that the Declaration of the Rights of Man should also be a Declaration of the Duties of Man. His amendment was impatiently rejected, the majority being 575 against 433; and the assembly proceeded to adopt almost unanimously the motion that the preamble should consist only of a Declaration of Rights.
Human nature has not changed much since then. We still hear much about the rights of man. About the duties we do not hear quite so much. The lesson is applicable to the present situation, if at all.
When we demand our rights, or promise other people their rights, the motive concerned is self-interest, the self-interest of an individual or of a class. When duties are spoken of, it is conscience that is appealed to. Which is the better for the welfare and progress of the individual self-interest or conscience? Which is better for the welfare of the community?
This mention of rights and duties suggests that they are opposed to each other. Rights are pleasant things, and duties are painful things. Rights are what we want and can't get, and duties are what we get and can't want. So perhaps it is advisable to find another word that will suit the case better. That is why the word 'Privileges' was chose for the third of our title.
What are the Privileges of Man? Do they include the Rights or the Duties or some of both?
I believe that a man's Rights and Duties and Privileges are really all one and the same thing. But the word 'Rights,' in this case, means something that cannot be taken away from a man. He does not have to clamor for this kind of Rights; no one can do him out of them.
To be a Man, a human being is not that privilege enough? Does it not confer power enough? For what is Man?
An ancient emblem represents him as having a human head, the body of a lion, and the wings of an eagle. The human head represents man's intellect; the lion's body, his daring and will-power; the eagle's wings, his power of aspiration. With these divine gifts, man can make himself what he will; and yet he abrogates them and clamors for lesser things he calls his rights.
We do not need to clamor for our rights; we only need to recognise them. The real Rights of man are his birthrights, and we know that he is born of the Spirit as well as of the flesh. Leastwise, however the doctrine and theology may run, it is an indisputable fact that you and I are somehow mysteriously endowed with a Mind and a Heart and a Will and good many other things that money cannot buy and thieves cannot steal. The sooner we recognise these gifts, the sooner we shall have our Rights. The sooner we exercise these gifts, the sooner we shall do our Duties. And, as to Privileges, all this will be privilege enough and to spare. Let us claim our Birthrights.
Would you like to be a strong man or a weak man? A strong man is self-dependent, but a weak man is always leaning on other people. The weak man has his eyes fixed on the past and on the future, but never on the present. The future is always getting away from him as he goes, like his shadow thrown before him; and the past is always receding from him. Only the present stays with him, but this he seems to have no use for. He is the unpractical man. The weak man is affected by the opinions of others, by praise and blame; he is alternately exhilarated and depressed by the turns of fortune. He lives in an atmosphere of expectation and fear and is a creature of vain emotion. The strong man simply takes his life as he finds it and acts strongly here and now in the present place and the present moment.
Why be a weakling? Why not face boldly the life in which you find yourself and determine to utilize you wonderful resources to the full?
Surely it is the venturous man who discovers things. The man who waits for a lead never starts at all. Yet how many people there are today who say feebly that they do not know the mysteries of life, and that they can never know; people who demand to be shown before they will move; people who will stay where they are until they can see something better? These people do not realise that it is often necessary to take a step first before you can see where to plant the next step.
If you would discover something about the mysteries of your own nature, you must have faith enough and grit enough to start. You must not wait for knowledge to fall into your lap. The kingdom of heaven has to be taken by might; it will not throw itself at our heads.
When we try to imagine the future of humanity, and can think of nothing better than a lot of people, of different classes, all clamoring for what they consider their rights, we do not get a very edifying picture. What is needed is that people should be taught to recognise their privileges the rights that they have, not the rights that they think they ought to have. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you," means that, if you attend to your duties, your rights will take care of themselves.
Surely it is a privilege to have duties!
Man has many more rights and privileges than the thinks he has. What he is clamoring for is mere pittance. There are rights and privileges waiting to be claimed; but they are the price of duty. A man who has not the faith or the grit to do his duty will stay where he is and will go on hungering for his rights. But the man who recognises that duty is his privilege will obtain all the rights he expects and more.
And remember that your better nature has its rights as well as your inferior nature. Why not give it a chance? And it is just because you will not give it a chance that 'Fate' steps in and does it for you. The human race would soon perish from self-indulgence if it were left to choose its own fate according to its selfish desires. Fortunately, a power wiser and stronger than our selfish desires steps in and gives us what is good for us. What is this power? It is the power that rules our destiny; it is our own real Self, the light behind our mind, the guiding star of our lives. Why not recognise its claims and admit that our higher nature has also its rights and privileges?
To follow duty is simply to recognise the claims of our higher nature. What we call duties are the rights of our higher nature; and when we sacrifice a duty to a personal pleasure, we starve our higher nature to feed our lower.
So much has been dinned into our ears about our animal nature
that it is time a little more was told us about that spark of
divine creative fire that is in all of us. Then perhaps we would
have more self-reliance and not be expecting so much from systems
and regulations. If you think you are as good as the other man,
it is up to you to show it. No doubt social conditions are wrong
in many points; but they would stand a better chance of righting
themselves if a little more of the spirit of true self-reliance
and self-respect were abroad in the world.