Neither is there a smallest part of what is small, but there is always a smaller (for it is impossible that what is should cease to be). Likewise there is always something larger than what is large.
Anaxagoras (c. 500 BC c. 428 BC)
The Thomas Pecora Show, based in Chicago, Illinois, USA, will feature Joy Mills on Monday, May 4, 1998. The radio talk show reaches up-to-three million listeners locally, but is also streamed live over the Internet during showtimes, Monday's from 7 to 10 PM Central Time. (In GMT, the show will run midnight to 3 AM GMT, Tuesday May 5th.)
This talk show will be a rebroadcast of a previous interview.
More information on the show and other talk shows featured can be found at:
The Third Symposium on The Secret Doctrine will be coming up on May 21 to 24. It will be held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA. See the following URL for more information:
by Alan E. Donant
May 30 31, 1998
The American Section of The Theosophical Society, Pasadena, is sponsoring a two day conference on theosophy and modern science. There is no admission charge and all are welcome to attend. The following are the subjects to be presented:
Ina Belderis, PhD Geography
Reference Librarian Theosophical
Amit Goswami, PhD
Professor of Physics, University of Oregon
Author: The Self-Aware Universe
David Pratt, BA Languages
Wynn Wolfe, Artist
David Doody, MA Human Development
Senior Member Engineering Staff, JPL
William A. Savage, MS Chemical Engineering
Richard Hiltner, M.D., Homeopathic Physician
For meeting place, and schedule of events see The American Section Homepage at:
by L. Gordon Plummer
[Based upon a tape recording from the 1970's of a private talk on Theosophy.]
I was talking with our host about what might be interesting for this evening, and I suggested talking about the Sacred Seasons. She pointed out that on Wednesday they were planning to play a tape by Boris de Zirkoff on the same subject. So we then wondered if it would be good to have it presented by two speakers though each one is bound to have his own particular way of presenting it, as the Teachings may be exactly the same. But, it is very natural that each speaker is going to have a stamp of his own characteristic in his own particular way of looking at it.
I hope, if it is agreeable to you, that I may speak about the Sacred Seasons. Repetition never hurts anyway, because none of us have learned it on one hearing only. We have heard it many times. We have read it many times. And because of this repetition, we have been able to learn it sufficiently to tell it in our own words. Of course, that is what is desired.
And so, I thought first of all that I would point to the symbolism of the cross, the cross inscribed within the circle so that its arms are both diagonals of it. In that form, it is a particularly interesting symbol because it represents cycles in nature in a way that nothing else can. For every cycle has four critical points. The daily cycle has sunrise, noon, sunset, and midnight. The cycles of the moon have their four phases. The tides have the low and the high tides, but then there are two highs and two lows to each day. Alternating current cycles go through zero voltage, peak positive voltage, zero, peak negative voltage, and back again to zero. You have the four points there.
The year has four seasons, which are as you of course know the winter, summer, spring, and autumn. These are known as the two solstices and the two equinoxes. They are of particular interest to us in our studies as they tie in with genuine Esoteric Astrology. They are the times at which Initiations can more easily take place. And so I think it would be good to talk a little about the nature of the various Initiations and then see how they fit into the four seasons.
Initiations are usually numbered as seven, which is very good for our purposes. They again may be grouped into two under the general headings the Lesser Mysteries and the Greater Mysteries. In the Lesser Mysteries, the beginner is taught, he is disciplined, he is trained, he is encouraged to tread the Pathway using his own will power, making his own decisions, taking the consequences of his own choices. He is told that the Teachers do not place tests in his way. They merely watch him, to see how he reacts to the natural contingencies of life. His natural reaction when he is not aware that he is under a test is by far the greatest indicator of the real man. If a person knows he is under a test, he is going to act accordingly, and he is not going to give a true picture of himself. It is just when we least suspect it that we are being tested the most.
Now the first three degrees would then, of course, represent varying stages of training. Starting with the most elementary, we might say that certainly for our purposes because we are studying Theosophy, it is our chief interest, although we should not think that the Theosophical Movement is the only channel through which the Teachers work, because it has been told us many, many times that they work wherever work is possible, and wherever they can help they do. But the Theosophical Movement was founded by them, or under their direction, so it does have their special interest. Therefore, we might say that a close and concerted study of the Teachings just naturally leads one into the first degree of Initiation. And the degree to which that can be accomplished will depend entirely upon the student; the drive he feels to study and the drive he feels to make these Teachings a part of his life are the great indicators as to where he stands.
Then comes the desire to know more than what is found on the printed page, and he may find that through meditation he can glean as it were between the lines. He can learn to read far more than appears upon the printed page, because his own thoughts have led him to a certain amount of intuitive understanding that belongs to him, it does not belong to the book. And the whole objective of the training is to encourage the pupil to do his own delving, his own thinking supported, of course, by the Teachings that he receives. All of his own thinking must be built upon the Teachings, but he must move ahead from there.
As he gradually learns as I like to use the expression to take knowledge from within himself, he is moving into higher degrees of learning, and it is doubtful whether anyone could say for a particular individual in the first degrees of Initiation when he leaves one and moves into another. I do not think that anyone could very easily judge that. Certainly not at the present time, when I myself am not aware of any qualified person who could do that. It does not really matter. In our stage of the game the important thing is that we are learning, that we are striving, that we are trying to make these Teachings an actual part of our lives: not only to study them theoretically, but to live them.
Then comes the third degree of Initiation, not necessarily marked by a close dividing line in one's life. Who can say where anyone stands? I would not attempt to! Nevertheless, there does come a time for the individual when he is ready for far more tangible help than he has ever before received. That may or may not come in the life of an individual, knowingly or unknowingly who can say it depends upon the individual. The point is that to enter into the third degree of Initiation, one has by that time learned to pledge himself irrevocable to the Work, to the Theosophical Movement, so that there is no turning back. There is no question in the minds of the Teachers that he will move forward. There is no question in their minds that he will be trusted to assume wider responsibilities.
In these higher levels of learning, he is given much more specific Teachings about his nature, about the nature of the Universe about him, how he relates to it, and more specifically what is the nature. Of the later Initiations into which he will some day move, as he progresses from the Lesser Mysteries into the Greater. The Lesser Mysteries involve, as I said, study, training, work, responsibility and the willingness to assume the responsibility for the choices we make.
Then, when one is ready for the fourth Initiation, he is ready to move from the Lesser into the Greater Mysteries. By that time he knows that he has a Teacher. He knows by personal, individual instruction; and he knows, furthermore, just what to expect in Initiation. He never goes into it blindly. He knows all of the dangers. He knows all of the pitfalls. He knows all of the rewards of successful Initiation.
Some of the simpler facts of Initiation have been given to us. In G. de Purucker's books, you will find a great deal of material that can be immensely useful for anyone to study. We learn that the four Sacred Seasons of the year are directly related to the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh Initiations. They are not so much related to the first three which are of a more general character.
When one moves into the fourth Initiation, which is related to the Winter Solstice, he has learned that the four seasons of the year relate generally to the four periods of human life: infancy, adolescence, maturity, and then death, or the passing. The Initiation at the Winter Solstice, which is the fourth, brings the Initiant to the point where he experiences what he had previously been taught: he begins actually to learn by experience. And when he comes back, he then is able to Teach.
Now the various things that we are learning at the present time are as it were the letters of an Occult alphabet. Especially when our learning becomes somewhat more technical: when we begin to learn something about Esoteric Astrology; when we begin to learn something about the correspondences between the various principles in man and the various elements in the universe; when we learn the correspondences between the various principles in man and the Planets; and when we learn further correspondences of a deeply recondite nature. He learns that these are the alphabet to an Occult language. He has not yet learned to put the letters together into meaningful words, but he is learning the letters. Well, with Initiation comes the ability to put the letters together, make meaningful words, and use them for Teaching. There is the difference between the Teacher and the student. We are all students, we are all learning. But with Initiation comes the power to Teach.
There is much more in Teaching than merely conveying information. When a Teacher is really Teaching, he is actually helping the disciple to reshape his life, and it is a tremendous responsibility. It involves far more than merely repeating lessons, repeating what we have learned for the benefit of an audience, or what we have thought about and how these various Teachings have affected us, so that we can give them with the stamp of our own characteristics. Real Teaching involves far more than that!
When it comes to the higher degrees of Initiation, the relationship between a Teacher and his disciple is a very, very Occult one, and a very deep one, because in a certain sense the Teacher becomes a parent who is going to give, or is going to lead, the disciple to a second birth, a birth into the realm of Spiritual knowledge. In the Bible you have the mystical saying: "Except a man be born again, he shall not see the kingdom of God." That is the biblical language, the Christian phraseology for a very Occult truth, and the actual experience of entering into Initiation is the taking on of a second birth. And when one has successfully passed through such an Initiation, he is known as a dvija, a Sanskrit word meaning "twice-born," born of the flesh originally and then born of the Spirit. And he is, actually, a new being.
We have the beautiful symbol of the caterpillar turning into the butterfly. The first birth was the hatching from the egg, and you have the caterpillar. It leads its life eating, eating, and eating. Then it goes through that mysterious rest. It goes to sleep and pupates, all of its internal organs break down and are reshaped, reformed. And when it awakes from this sleep, it is this beautiful butterfly. There is a marvelous symbol! Because the butterfly is paradoxically the same entity that it was before, and yet it is a different entity. It is an outgrowth of what it held latently within itself while it was the caterpillar. Nothing was added to it that it did not already have, but it brought out into actuality what it had in potentiality as the caterpillar.
In the same way, we as students have potentially what will later be brought out in Initiation. And with the varying degrees of Initiation, that which will be brought out will almost seem like another person, we will be so different. Yet, paradoxically, we will be the same. But it will mean that so much which is latent within us will have been brought out into full flower and full manifestation, ever fuller as each succeeding Initiations takes place. So the fourth is related to the Winter Solstice.
And then the fifth is related to the Spring Equinox. In the Spring Equinox, well, he learns more about the inner planes of consciousness than was possible before, because each stage of Initiation is an ever greater learning along the same lines. And he learns how to become as it were a denizen of the various planes of consciousness. Rather than merely going to perceive, he learns to actually experience what it is like to be in those planes of consciousness.
Then, as he moves on into the Summer Solstice, still greater learning is ahead. But now he takes an active role in Teaching the world, in a new scope, in a new field, as it were. There is a very Occult saying: "the Guardian Wall." You will find the expression in The Voice of the Silence, and it is spoken of in various of G. de Purucker's works. This Guardian Wall is composed of high Initiates, those who are specifically trained and Initiated into the work of coming to found the great religions of the world, those who actually work in the human life as Saviors of the race.
Then, in the Autumnal Equinox, there is what is known as the Great Passing. Those who might have been there this afternoon heard the Teachings concerning those who do pass on into the Nirvana. That is the Initiation known as the Great Passing. Or again, there are those who can and do turn back. They are very few in numbers, but they turn back, they renounce the Nirvana, they return as Bodhisattvas and perform their magnificent work in the world, work which never ceases, which goes on for centuries and centuries.
Now there are certain words which were brought from the Greek, the Assyrian Mysteries, which are very interesting with respect to these various Initiations. And these words apply particularly to the fifth, sixth, and seventh Initiations, giving another slant on their nature. The three words are theophany, theopneusty, and theopathy. Those were words used in the Mystery Schools to represent three of the stages of Initiation. Now the word theophany literally means the vision of a God, that of one's own Inner God. Being where we are now, we read in books, we meditate on the fact that each one of us is an immanent Inner God, each is an embryo God but that God has no actual, tangible reality to us. We can see evidence that it is there in the noble impulses toward compassionate deeds, toward heroism, toward genuine creativity all of these provide evidence of the Spiritual and Divine energies that make up a human being. But as far as the learner is concerned, these are rather nebulous energies, they do not have much tangibility to him, and it is not until he is ready for the fifth Initiation that he can actually stand face-to-face with his own Inner God. And that is the Theophany: where he actually has the vision of his own Inner God.
This is represented in The Bhagavad-Gita at the end of the book, where Arjuna has the actual vision of Krishna. And it is a very moving chapter in The Bhagavad-Gita, how he is so overpowered by the vision. It is such a stunning, such an awe-inspiring vision, and it is told most graphically in The Bhagavad-Gita. So there is the Theophany, the vision of the God within as an actual entity.
Then, in the sixth Initiation, there is the Theopneusty. The root pneus meaning breath. Pneumonia is a disease of the lungs. Pneumatic tires are tires pumped up with air. It is related to breathing or air and it literally means the breathing into the Initiant of the God himself. In other words, not seen merely as a vision, the energies of that God flow through the man himself so that for the time being he actually is omniscient. His consciousness actually is Universal for the time being. And for those who are with him, his own Guides, his own Teachers, they see an actual light shining about him, particularly about the head.
It is in this fact that you have a very dimly remembered point of Occultism in the religious paintings where a halo is drawn around the heads of the Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the various Saints. The halo is just a mere fragment of a memory of an Occult truth. One who has been Initiated in this way in fact, I would venture to say in the case of the fourth, more increasingly so in the fifth, and increasingly so in the case of the greater Initiations this nibus, aureole or halo is more and more vivid. It may even last for several days during the tremendous influx of energy from the God within, which is also, in a sense, Solar energy. In the view of Occultism, the Solar orb that we see is but the outer, visible representative of an actual God, a being who is a part of the Hierarchy of Compassion. And when we speak of a son of the Sun, using a mystical phrase straight from the Mystery Schools, we refer to the one who has successfully passed through Initiation. And upon rising, the mystical resurrection, he actually does glow with light.
You have Theophany, the vision of the Inner God; Theopneusty, the breathing into the Initiant of all of the energies and vitality of the Inner god. Finally there is the Theopathy. You have our word path, meaning to feel, to sense; also, in a certain way, meaning to suffer, but not quite as we mean "suffering." Perhaps more in the sense that Christ said "suffer little children to come unto me," allow, permit. And the Theopathy means, in the seventh and the highest Initiation of all, that the one undergoing the Initiation which very, very few achieve, a high Mahatma, actually allows his Inner God to become at-one with him.
Now, pointed out this afternoon, the word atonement, so misunderstood in our Christian phraseology, is really at-one-ment, the actual combining and uniting of the natures of two entities which were one all the time anyway. This matter of the difference between ourselves and the Inner God is a matter of illusion. It is a seeming separateness. It is part of the illusion of separateness. And as we progress, learn more and more and pass through the various stages of evolution, that illusion becomes less and less. When we see the Truth as it is, we discover that the Inner God and the Initiant are one and the same thing. That is the Theopathy. So there are three words, really great keywords as to the nature of these three Initiations, the three last ones.
I might just say a final word or two. Because living in a Christian world with certain symbols practiced in the churches, much of their meaning lost, if we point out their esoteric character and what they should represent, then they can mean more. The baptism is one taken from the Mysteries, but in its present form it means virtually nothing. The baptism of a baby means nothing to the baby. It is done more for the parents than for anything else. It is somehow supposed to insure that the baby is going to arrive in heaven when he dies.
Now in the Mysteries, the baptism was a preparation for Initiation. It would occur only in manhood or womanhood, whichever was to be Initiated when its meaning would be understood. It would be utterly useless to convey baptism, in the true sense of the word, to an infant. The baptism consists of a cleansing process. We have the expression baptism by fire, as well as baptism by water. Of course no child is burned in any ceremony; it is an expression meaning that when a candidate is to be Initiated, he must go through a cleansing process first. In the Mystery Schools this was known as the catharsis. It might involve physical cleansing, cleansing of the mind, cleansing of the emotions. The candidate may go through a period of intense discomfort or suffering. But knowing that it is a preparation for the sublime event of Initiation, he undertakes it knowing exactly what it means. And if he is not thoroughly cleansed beforehand, he cannot succeed in the Initiation.
Initiation is an awesome thing, awesome in the true sense of the word awe, not awful in the sense of something terrible, but an awe-inspiring experience. And there is such a thing as failure. There is no guarantee of success unless the candidate is absolutely cleansed before he goes into it there is the real meaning of the baptism.
The real meaning of the sacrament, where the wine and the bread are supposed to be turned into the blood and body of Christ, is again a carry-over from the Mysteries, with its meaning completely lost. The wine was simply taken as a symbol of the Spirit. The bread was taken as a symbol of the flesh. The candidate did undergo a ceremony very similar, pure symbolizing the fact and you can understand it was merely symbolic of the fact that he then understood that not only has he been born of the flesh, but that he was about to be born of the Spirit. And unless he is also born of the Spirit, he cannot possibly be an Initiate. And there is the true meaning of the sacrament. So you see, there is really a great deal in Christianity, if correctly understood.
The life of Christ, the various events in the life of Christ, are
not really the story of a man supposed to have lived. Really
replete with meaning, they represent events in the life of an
Initiate as he passes through the various stages of Initiation.
But it has been so clouded over by translation and
mistranslation, and with creeds and dogmas piled onto it galore,
that it is now practically unrecognizable.
by Eldon Tucker
[based upon an October 5, 1994 posting to email@example.com.]
When the subject changes to evil, sorcerers, the Dark Brotherhood, and such things, do we feel a dreadful chill? Is there an uneasy feeling that something dark and fearful is waiting for us, once we've paid it some attention? This should not be the case!
Should we dwell on evil and those working for it? No. But should we seek to understand it and it's place in the scheme of things? Yes, that's useful. The importance of good is realized by its contrast with the bad. We further appreciate the path of Holiness when we know where the path of selfishness leads us.
Someone may have horrible dreams, nightmares, and even be afraid of the dark. I even knew one man, years ago, a member of the Salt Lake T.S. Study Center, whom was continually in fear of dark forces; he felt under constant psychic attack. Why does this happen?
We need to learn to face evil, and not tremble in fear and flee from it, nor respond to it with anger, viewing the situation as good forces fighting bad forces. All sense of fear and the threatening nature of evil goes when we are rooted in good spirituality. Should we be afraid? Absolutely not! When we establish ourselves as firmly rooted in the spiritual, evil has no hold over us, and runs from us. Being rooted in the Spiritual, we manifest the Natural Order and our very nature hastens the predestined dissolution of evil beings, their Fear and horrid Fate! There is no sense of using the light to battle the darkness; rather, we become the light and the shadows disappear (hide from our sight).
The disappearance of evil does not result from the denial of a dark side to life, repressing it into our unconscious. There is not an equally-valid evil side of consciousness that thereby becomes the qualities of our alter-ego, the shadow. Evil disappears as we become firmly rooted in the incorruptible, in the immortal, in the impersonal. We attain a wholeness that is not based upon embracing good and evil equally, and being indifferent to them. The wholeness means that we are clear to manifest the spiritual nature, and are firmly rooted in the One Life. We have attained a clarity of mind where we are unbiased by the structure and inclinations of our current personality. This loss of bias allows us to respond freshly to any situation in life. Unbiased and rooted in the highest, we see what is good and right to do.
This is not a denial of evil in the world, nor of the results of the actions of evil people. And it is not painting everything in a stark black-and-white good-and- bad character. There are a multitude of shades of gray, and often no clear-cut right way to make a decision. Often, our only distinguishing factor in making a decision a particular way comes from our motivation.
How do we distinguish the corruptible from the incorruptible? How do we tell the mortal from the immortal? How do we separate the personal from the impersonal? We might ask ourselves how we experience the situation. What is the viewpoint, the perspective, the perceived action and actor? Is the greatest good foremost in our consciousness, or is the emphasis on a greater sense of a separate self, a sense of us versus them, a sense of us versus the rest of the world? Is there a sense of rightness, fairness, and general principles at play, or just a sense of greed and personal acquisition?
When we make decisions based upon the greater good, unbiased by self-interest, this does not, though, mean that we automatically choose to "do for others." Sometimes the greatest good is in our favor. The sense of impersonality comes from a lack of bias in the evaluation, in the clarity of vision, and not from the resulting decision. The greatest good, for instance, may be to kill plants for food, even though they might not wish to give up their lives.
There are different ways that life appears, depending upon one's state of consciousness. Life is the same, and remains unchanged, although the apparent nature of things changes, as for instance, one shifts consciousness from ordinary waking consciousness to the Devachanic or Nirvanic experience. The same is true of the dualism of good versus evil. This duality appears as part of one's experience until one has become firmly, unshakably rooted in the good spiritual. This rootedness, this certainty, brings an experience of life where the evil side of things drops away.
A psychologist might attempt to describe this "rootedness" as being possessed by an archetype. He might say that there is a weak and helpless person, with a puny personality, desperately clinging to something external as a crutch, as a substitute for his own personal maturity and strength. This idea might be voiced, but it is often a cry of "sour grapes" by psychologists unwilling or unable to move beyond the realm of the personality and embrace the Higher.
We are required to rely on our personal strength. The need for self-direction and independence is greater as we approach the Path. But the basis of awareness is from a clear insight into the overall good, upon the real impact of our actions, a clear and penetrating ethical or buddhic consciousness.
This rootedness is a natural thing, a solidarity with life, a conscious identification, relatedness, and awareness of our identity with the universal One Life. Although open to much criticism, Christian Fundamentalism is superior to skeptical science in this respect, because of the conviction in the reality of the spiritual and one's firm relationship to it. This is attained for them at the great price of rigidity of mind and lose of Reason and spiritual insight. That price, though, is not a natural consequence of identification with the Root. Science, on the other hand, has flexibility of mind and open inquiry into things, but pays the price of a loss of fundamental spirituality.
The common believer in western science has lost the non-dualistic consciousness, and lives in a universe where both good and evil do battle, where they both exist, and there is no ultimate standard rising out of life itself. This viewpoint causes a gnawing doubt, an uncertainty, a skepticism, out of a self-imposed isolation from the awareness of the higher principles, Atma-Buddhi. There is a great sense of loneliness, of being alone in a big, empty, dark universe of Maya. The experience, though, is but one stage of development. We must take this self-imposed limitation to our awareness, this Ring-Pass-Not, and step beyond it into the light of universality.
Life and the universe itself is a cooperative venture. We co-create it, in interaction with the rest of living things. Each of us, as Monads, projects a ray into matter and adds our own splash to the pond. In our experience of life, we may take our material existence too seriously, and forget our essential source. We may lose a sense of our rootedness in the One Life and experience the dualism of good and evil as battling forces. We don't, though, have to forget; and we can remember the essential unity and good spirituality that pervades and guides all things.
Evil is like a mayavic, illusory shadow cast by an imperfect
light, without a substantial nature of its own, and destined to
destruction as the light perfects itself and becomes
all-pervading. That happens as we become rooted in the
incorruptible, and the corruptible about us becomes subject to
dissolution. Let's pass through this Ring-Pass-Not and rebecome
rooted in the Highest!
by Roar Bjonnes
[Roar Bjonnes is a writer whose articles have appeared in dozens of newspapers and periodicals in the US and Europe. This article is an excerpt from a book in progress tentatively titled The Spirit of Society: Designing an Eco-Spiritual Economy for the 21st. Century. Roar can be reached at the follwing address.]
Food, values, and ecology are all intimately linked to our spiritual existence. Thus we have to view each as an intrinsic part of a spiritual and holistic world view.
Throughout history, human beings guided by self interest have been neglecting ecology at every step. But the sky and the air, the hills and the mountains, the rivers and forests, the wild animals and reptiles, the birds and fish, and all sorts of aquatic creatures and plants, are all inseparably related to one another. We must therefore be cautious from now on; we must restructure our thoughts, plans and activities in accordance with the dictates of ecology. There is no alternative.
Many environmental experts and activists would argue that to live a life according to the directives of ecology, is the most urgent task for humanity right now. But what does it mean? How can we develop a genuine environmental ethics? What will it look like?
For science, viruses represent the smallest accumulation and diversity of molecules which is recognized as "life." Maybe in the near future, when more advanced techniques are employed, we will recognize the sentience of smaller aggregations of molecules. For now, viruses personify the boundary between life and non-life. But in the wheel of creation whether in the descending and devolutionary phase, or in the ascending and evolutionary stage there is Consciousness at every level of the way. Even stones and crystals are "alive" and have dormant minds and are expressions of Cosmic Consciousness. For the spiritual sages of India, it is therefore impossible to draw a final line between animate and inanimate beings. In the so-called inanimate world there is mind, but the mind is dormant, as if asleep, because there is no nervous system. And according to the so-called Santiago theory, developed by Francisco Varela and Humberto Maturana, the process of cognition is intimately linked to the process of life. hence the brain is not neccesary for the mind to exist. A worm, or a tree, has no brain but has a mind.The simplest forms of life are capable of perception and thus cognition.
Native Americans certainly experienced this mind in the cosmos. In the international best-seller, The Secret Life of Plants, Peter Thompkins and Christopher Bird reports that, when killing a tree, the tribal would have a heart-to-heart conservation with the tree. In no uncertain terms would he let the tree know what was going to happen, and finally he would ask for forgiveness for having to commit this unfortunate act of violence.
In the same book, they also documented scientific experiments on plants with a modified lie detector. The instrument would register when a plant's leaves were cut or burnt. Not only that, when a plant "understood" it was going to be killed, it went into a state of shock or "numbness." Thus, the scientists explained, possibly preventing it from undue suffering, which again may explain the "warnings" given to trees by the Native Americans.
Such laboratory tests, may sound outrageous to materialists, but not to the ancient, animist peoples from all over the world, nor to Indian yogis or Westerns mystics. They have for long informed us that we do not live in a dead and meaningless universe. There is spirit and creative will everywhere. There is longing for song in the heart of stones, and there is love for the Great in the bosom of trees. But unfortunately, nature cannot always express its grief when it is damaged or destroyed. To protect it, we must therefore conserve and properly utilize all natural resources.
Poets and sages throughout the ages have observed a deep grief in nature. In the poetry anthology News of the Universe, poet Robert Bly writes about nature having a kind of melancholic mood, or "slender sadness." Buddhists associate this intrinsic grief with the incessant wheel of reproduction.
If nature earth, trees, and water truly experience a form of existential pain or grief, at least when destroyed and polluted, our conservation efforts and our ecological outlook must first and foremost acknowledge this innate suffering. And by acknowledging it, nature becomes part of us. To paraphrase noted psychologist James Hillman one of the innovators in the new field of eco -psychology our mind is enlarged to include nature; the world becomes us. And if we destroy that world, out of ignorance or greed, we destroy a part of ourselves.
Since mind or consciousness is expressed even in so- called inanimate objects as rocks, sand or mud, it perceives an intrinsic oneness in all of creation. Thus in Tantric philospher P. R. Sarkar's world view, we grant existential rights or value to all beings whether soil, plants, animals and humans. He concedes that inprinciple all physical expressions of Cosmic Consciousness has an equal right to exist and to express itself.
This sentiment is echoed by Norwegian eco-philosopher Arne Naess, whose "biospherical egalitarianism" is advocated by the deep-ecology movement, which he founded. But as evolution is irreversible amoebas eventually evolve into apes, but apes never transform into amoebas Tantra also acknowledges "higher" and "lower" expressions of Consciousness. This differentiation is crucial, and it is on the basis of this that Tantra and deep-ecology differ.
The Tantric ecological world-view is both egalitarian and hierarchical. Evolution proceeds by expressing more and more complex beings who are able to express higher levels of consciousness. On this evolutionary ladder, amoebas are at the "bottom" and humans are at the "top." Within this hierarchical system there are various levels of egalitarian cooperation, but the system as a whole is hierarchical.
This notion is also supported by the new systems sciences, which proclaim that one cannot have wholeness without hierarchy. As Ken Wilbur explains: "'Hierarchy' and 'wholeness,' in other words, are two names for the same thing, and if you destroy one, you completely destroy the other." Each hierarchy is composed of increasing orders of wholeness organisms include cells which include molecules, which include atoms.
In an evolutionary context, the new stage of development has extra value relative to the previous stage. An oak sprout is more complex and therefore endowed with a fuller expression of consciousness than an acorn. A monkey has a more evolved nervous system and mind than an insect, and a human has a more evolved brain and intellect than an ape.
This crucial definition of subsequent higher stages of consciousness, of a hierarchy of being, is central to Tantra. But, and with potential dire consequences, it is often overlooked by many Greens or deep-ecologists. They often equate hierarchy with the higher exploiting the lower by transferring human pathological experiences of hierarchy - - such as fascism, for example to the study of nature. But the ecological universe of nature could not exist without hierarchy, and humans, for good or for worse, are, as the most advanced expression of consciousness in evolution, stewards of the natural world. Hence we need to acknowledge both unity and oneness as well as high and low (or deep and shallow) expressions of consciousness when developing an ecological world view.
We need to emulate nature in advancing what Riane Eisler calls "actualization hierarchies," we must learn to maximize our species' potential, both in relation to ourselves and to nature. In other words, a self-actualized humanity can learn to integrate itself in relation to nature. Learn to realize our oneness with the "other." Learn to recognize that being on top of the evolutionary ladder does not give us the right to rob and exploit those lower than ourselves.
Because of the many pathological expressions of hierarchy in human society such as fascism, Nazism, communism, or corporate multinationalism many so-called new paradigm thinkers are suggesting a new and supposedly healthier model termed heterarchy.
In a heterarchy, rule is established by an egalitarian interplay of all parties. For example, atoms may have a heterarchical relationship amongst themselves, but their relationship to a cell is hierarchical. In other words, the various heterarchies are strands in the ever -evolving web of hierarchies, and when functioning optimally, the relationship between them is one of coordinated cooperation. By negating hierarchy and favoring heterarchy only, we establish another pathology, because the existence or validity of heterarchy does not disprove the existence or importance of positive or actualized hierarchy. There is an ongoing movement toward greater complexity and higher consciousness in evolution, while at the same time there is, on a deeper level, ecological cooperation and spiritual unity amongst all beings.
In other words, there are both heterarchy and hierarchy. To disprove the hierarchical flow of evolution by saying that all of us whether leaf, tree, monkey, or human are equal, heterarchical partners in the great web of life, is to impose on nature faulty and limited concepts. It reduces the wondrous complexity of creation to a lowest common denominator, and that serves neither nature nor humans well.
There is unity of consciousness amongst all beings, because we all come from, and are created by, the same Spirit. But nature is also infinitely diverse, and we need to embrace variety in al its forms. One such unique variety is expressed in terms of consciousness. A seedling is more complex and therefore more conscious than and acorn, and an oak is more complex and conscious than a seedling.
Another way of expressing this is that a dog has more capacity for mental reflection and self-consciousness than a fir tree. Both are manifestations of Cosmic Consciousness, both have mind, and both have equal existential value but because of the difference in expression of depth and quality of consciousness, the dog is higher on the natural hierarchy of being than the fir tree. So when we develop our ecological ethics, both the "low" and the "high" expressions of nature must be valued and accounted for.
Nonhuman creatures have the same existential value to themselves as human beings have to themselves. Perhaps human beings can understand the value of their existence, whilean earth worm cannot. Even so, no one has delegated any authority to human beings to kill those unfortunate creatures. But to survive, we cannot avoid killing other beings.
To solve this dilemma, articles of food are to be selected from amongst those beings where development of consciousness is comparatively low. If vegetables, corn, bean and rice are available, cows or pigs should not be slaughtered.
Secondly, before killing any animals with "developed or underdeveloped consciousness," we must consider deeply if it is possible to live a healthy life without taking such lives.
Thus, in addition to existential value, various beings, based on their depth of consciousness, have a variable degree of what is often termed "intrinsic value." The more consciousness a being has, the deeper the feelings, and the more potential for suffering. Eating plants is therefore preferable to eating animals. As George Bernhard Shaw once said: "Animals are my friends ... and I don't eat my friends."
It is also ecologically more sustainable to extract nourishment from entities lower down on the food chain. Vast land areas are used to raise livestock for food. These areas could be utilized far more productively if planted with grains, beans, and other legumes for human consumption. It is estimated that only 10 percent of the protein and calories we feed to our livestock is recovered in the meat we eat. The other 90 percent goes literally "down the drain."
In addition to existential value, and intrinsic value, all beings have utility value. Throughout history, human beings usually preserved those creatures which had an immediate utility value. We are more inclined to preserve the lives of cows than of rats, for example. But, because of all beings' existential value, we cannot claim that only human beings have the right to live, and not non-humans. All are the children of Mother Earth; all are the offspring of the Cosmic Consciousness.
Sometimes it is difficult to know what the utilitarian value of an animal or a plant is; therefore we may needlessly destroy the ecological balance by killing one species without considering the consequences of its complex relationship or utility value to other species. A forest's utility value, for example, is more than just x number of board feet of lumber. It serves as nesting and feeding ground for birds and animals; its roots and branches protect the soil from erosion; its leaves or needles produce oxygen; and its pathways and camp grounds provide nourishment for the human soul. As a whole, the forest ecosystem has an abundance of ecological, aesthetic, and spiritual values which extends far beyond its benefits in the form of tooth picks or plywood.
All of nature is endowed with existential, intrinsic value, and utility value. This hierarchical, and ultimately holistic understanding of evolution and ecology, formulates the basic foundation for a new, and potentially groundbreaking ecological ethics.
If we embrace the divinity in all of creation, the expression of our ecological ethics will become an act of sublime spirituality. Our conservation efforts and our sustainable resource use will become sacred offerings to Mother Earth, and ultimately to Cosmic Consciousness, the God and Goddess within and beyond nature.
Capra, Fritjof, The Web of Life, Anchor Books, 1996
Sarkar, P.R., Neo-humanism:The Liberation of Intellect, Ananda Marga Publications 1982
Wilber, Ken, Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, Shambala, 1996
Parham, Vistara, What's Wrong With Eating Meat, Sisters Universal Publishing, Northnampton, 1979
Eisler, Riane, The Chalice and the Blade, Harper,1987
Sessions, George and Duvall, Bill, Deep Ecology, Peregrine Books, 1985
Bly, Robert, News of the Universe, Sierra Club Books, 1980
by Eldon Tucker
[based upon a September 20, 1994 posting to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
There are many ways in which Theosophy, the Wisdom-Religion, is adapting to western society. The Teachings are blending into popular thought and thereby creating various flavors of Neo-Theosophy. These adaptations of the core philosophy blend in with established belief systems, enriching them. But the central philosophy stands, apart from any particular variant.
One adaptation has adopted Christianity, and incorporates many beliefs from Christian thought. This approach may also include Jungian psychology, which has a strong Christian bias. This approach would have us becoming priests, going to church, taking the sacrament, believing in angels and fairies, and looking for a return of the Christ.
Another adaptation has adopted Buddhism, and incorporates many beliefs from Buddhist though. This approach gives considerable status to anyone having learned Sanskrit or Tibetan. It accepts Tibetan scriptures as authoritative, rather than being the works of an exoteric religion. It would have us seeking for extant works of eastern religions as the basis for the Teachings. Again, exoteric religions are being embraced as authoritative.
A third adaptation is based upon Animism. It is centered about the love and celebration of Mother Nature. Goddesses are talked about. Nature walks become religious observances. The multitudes of living creatures about us are looked to for guidance: they are used to help us escape the burden of our false, but sincere beliefs, that prevent us from otherwise seeing the Real and True.
These adaptations have the useful effect of changing public thought. They give a new direction to religious, philosophical, and scientific thought. As we participate in them, we assist in the effort to uplift humanity. It is a good form of public work. But there is much more to be had. Those of us feeling a need for more can find it. The core concepts of Theosophy, untainted by the public adaptations, provide us with a starting point. The only limit as to how far we may go with them is ourselves, a self-defined limit based upon our individual capacity.
The heart of the Teachings are rooted in the Mysteries. It does not consist of ideas or rules of behavior that change with passing trends. The Teachings that are available to Generation X (a nickname for the current generation in the United States) are the same as those available to the generation of Blavatsky's time, or even to those of Plato's time, or the time when the pyramids or stonehenge were built. These Teachings are a divine gift from a higher Kingdom of Nature than humanity, from the Dhyani-Chohans, and the Mahatmas preserve it to this day. And the Teachings are build up about certain core concepts, many of which we have been given, and are free to study and contemplate.
When talking of these things to someone educated in the west, some self-censorship may be necessary, so that the person does not reject the whole philosophy out of hand as seeming nonsense. If even higher Teachings were told, they might seem to be "insane gibberish," simply because there would be so much that needed to be unlearned.
We are told that the effort of the modern Theosophical Movement is to attract the attention of the highest minds of western civilization. It might be asked: what for? If popular thought is influenced in the right direction, the work is being done. Until someone has reached the appropriate stage of inner readiness, it means nothing to simply tell him some of the higher truths. When he is ready, that person needs no coaxing to seek out the higher life. Where, then, lies our responsibility?
First, we can assist the work of karma, being agents for the good karma of those whom are ready for the philosophy. We can assist by making the philosophy readily available. This does not mean advertising it, making it well-known to all, presenting it with an in-your-face assertiveness to others. No. It means having books, groups, centers, libraries, organizations, classes, and all the other ways and means of allowing someone to come and learn and grow. Having these places is almost enough by itself, for a person when ready will "stumble" upon us when the time is right. This does not preclude advertising, but just in a form that does not draw lots of attention to itself.
Second, we can be serious about it ourselves. It is a Wisdom-Religion. That means there *is* a religion there, but one based upon Wisdom, not upon mere profession of belief. A religious practice is required, but one that is self-devised. We are expected to not just play with the ideas, but start taking the first steps, without any external coaxing, and undertake the initial growth through self-initiation. We must begin an inner ripening, and become a light unto the world. The world is brightened by the dawn of our own inner light.
Until we approach the Gate, and pass through it, we stand
outside. We go to theosophical meetings and see a crowd of
average people with an above-average number of personal problems.
We see common people thinking they are somehow special. We hear
a strange-sounding philosophy taught and argued about by people
whom poorly understand it and hotly disagree with it at times.
What are we to think? This is all the smoke outside the Gate.
Have a peek inside. There are treasures inside.
by Kenneth Morris
[from THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, September 1950, pages 535-548.]
The most interesting thing in all Welsh literature is the matter contained in a book called Barddas or Bardism, which won a prize in the National Eisteddfod of 1858. It is the most interesting thing, because it expounds a great system of thought. That great system purported to be the doctrine of the ancient Druids. It is freely accused by the pundits of having been forged by a man named Iolo Morganwg in the eighteenth century. To a student of history and world literature, it is quite certain that it that is, the system of thought, the philosophy could not have been created by any native of a sleeping race, Welshman or other. It comes out of Wales beyond doubt; it explains and makes intelligible a thousand references in early Welsh literature. But no Welshman could have invented it in the sleeping time of Wales; because that would have implied a highly dynamic use of creative thought, which does not happen among a sleeping people. Nor could it have been invented in a twilight time, or say between the Roman conquest of Britain in 68 A.D. and the battle of Bosworth; because in such twilight periods you can get literature with a reminiscence or echo of ancient greatness, but not great creative thought such as is implied in the thinking out of a philosophy to explain life and the universe. The conclusion therefore is irresistible that this system does come down from a time when the Celtic peoples were awake, alive, dynamic; which they have not been since the Romans landed in Britain.
Now when you get that law of history firmly fixed in your mind, that for every people periods of activity and periods of rest alternate; and put that side by side with what the classical writers, Greeks and Romans, say about the Druids as possessors of a lofty philosophy, you will, I think, conclude that (1) the Celts had a waking period which ended, for the Welsh, with the Roman conquest; and (2) that a lofty philosophy broached in Wales in the eighteenth century could only have been an echo of the philosophy held to and believed in in Wales before the Roman conquest: or in other words, that the doctrine put forward in the book Barddas echo or reminiscence of Druidism.
An echo or reminiscence necessarily; not the complete thing. A pagan system that had come down in Christian and troubled Wales through all those troubled Christian centuries, could not but have been corrupted in some degree; could not but have lost some elements of greatness and taken on some elements of imperfection. Just as old Welsh literature has a thousand references in it that need this philosophy of Barddas to make them intelligible; so does the philosophy of Barddas need Theosophy to explain and complete it. To explain and show the real meaning of certain parts that have become dimmed by age; to fill in certain parts that have been lost through the centuries.
We are introduced first to two principles: Duw and Cythraul, names very familiar to the Welsh, being the common words for "God" and the "devil." I shall however leave them both in Welsh, to come at their meaning more easily. Duw undoubtedly has taken on something of personality from Christian teaching; but this personalizing has not gone the whole way; in the case of Cythraul it has not even begun. Cythraul, the opposite pole of existence to Duw, is thus defined: it "is destitute of life and intention" a thing of necessity, not of will; without being or life in respect of existence and personality; vacant in reference to what is vacant; dead in respect to what is dead; and nothing in reference to what is nothing.
Duw, uniting Itself with Cythraul with the intention of subduing it to life, imparted the existence of vitality to animated beings; and thus did life lay hold upon the dead, whence intellectual animations first sprang Intellectual existence first began in the depths of Annwn for there is the lowest and least grade. The greatest cannot exist in an intellectual existence before the least; there can be no intellectual existence without gradation. Thus may be seen that there is to every intellectual existence a necessary gradation, which begins at the lowest grade, progressing from thence incessantly along every addition, intervention, increase, growth in age, and completion. Animations in Annwn are removed gradually, by means of dissolution and death to a higher degree, where they receive an accumulation of life and goodness, and thus they progress from grade to grade nearer and nearer to the extremity of life and goodness. That state of extremity of life and goodness is to be reached when these "intellectual animations" have attained to the state of humanity.
Now there we see that Duw and Cythraul, in simple modem terms, are translatable as Spirit and Matter; Duw uniting itself to Cythraul, speaks of the involution of spirit into matter, whereby is caused the evolution of matter towards spirit. The Druidic map of the universe, so to speak, consists of two concentric circles. The space within the inner circle is called Cylch yr Abred, the Cycle of Inchoation; it is the world in which we live, the plane we live on. The space between the inner and outer circle is called Cylch y Gwynfyd, the Cycle of Bliss; it is the world above ours, so to say, the state to which we evolve after learning all the lessons existence as human beings can teach us. Outside the outer circle are rays shooting out; they represent the Cylch y Ceugant or the Cycle of Infinity, in which we are told there is only Duw.
Now below the innermost circle or Abred there is what is called Annwn, the great deep; a word I believe poetically used for hell; a word occurring much in Welsh folklore with more or less that meaning. But in Bardism it is explained as simply the inception point of existence; where life begins; the worlds below the human, through which in Druidism as in Theosophy, all life, all existence, must gradually evolve up to the human stage. There, says Barddas, are the manred or atoms, the stuff out of which the worlds were built; Duw uniting itself with Cythraul started these on the pilgrimage of evolution. Each had innate in itself its own awen, different from that of all others; its own peculiar nature, which should be evolved, during the course of innumerable ages, by undergoing every imaginable, every possible, form of experience, in stage after stage of evolution: elemental, mineral, vegetable, and animal, up to self-consciousness in the human stage or state: that which began as the unselfconscious god-spark becoming the self-conscious human being.
The further you go down in Annwn, says Barddas, towards the beginnings, the more does the nature of Cythraul, and the less does the nature of Duw, preponderate; until when the human state is reached, the two natures equiponderate, and you have free will, and a choice between good and evil at every turn of thought or action. If, says Barddas, the nature of Cythraul has come to preponderate in a man, through gross thought and evil action, dying, that man descends below the human state to that point in Annwn or the evolutionary journey which corresponds to the character he has made for himself. If, through noble thought and action the nature of Duw has come to preponderate in him, dying he passes out from the human state, and from the Cycle of Abred, into the Cycle of Gwynfyd.
Now there you see what main doctrine, known to have been the cardinal doctrine of Druidism in the days when it was a living religion, has dropped out of Druidism as presented in this book Barddas. I refer to Reincarnation. The philosophy of Barddas is absolutely sound and logical and inspiring as far as it goes; but since its chief insistence is that evolution comes by experience, by the gaining of all possible experience, we can see that logically human reincarnation is a necessity. There is no passing out of Annwn into Abred we are told, without gaining first all the imaginable experience every state of existence in Annwn can teach us; and no passing out of Abred into Gwynfyd without gaining first all the possible experience that life in Abred can give us; and as you can't get all possible human experience in one human life, we have to see that sometime during the troubled centuries of Welsh history the folk who were the custodians of the tradition of Druidism withdrew the teaching of Reincarnation; ceased to speak of it. They ceased to speak, also, of the evolution of the soul beyond the human stage; of the existence of the Gods; although we know that this teaching was a part of Druidism of old.
Now I shall turn from Barddas to another matter. When European civilization was at its lowest depths of degradation and brutality, in what are called the Dark Ages, a light shone out into it from Wales through the Normans who came here conquering. It was chivalry, centering about the Arthurian legend; at the core of which was the legend of the Holy Grail. This was supposed to be a vessel which held the blood of Christ; it was very miraculous in character; vision of it might be attained by the absolutely pure in heart. Now England had its national legend of Beowulf; and France had its, of Charlemagne; but this legend from Wales drove out and covered over both of those, so that Englishmen forgot Beowulf and talked of Arthur as their national hero although he was supposed to have spent his life fighting them, and Frenchmen forgot Charlemagne and his Paladins, and both tried more or less, as did Spaniards, Italians, Germans, to model their lives on the knightly ideals of Arthur's court: that purity being the center most one, which might enable them to have vision of the Holy Grail.
Now, what was that Holy Grail?
There's no time to prove it to you now, but it can be amply proved. It was originally the symbol of Druidism just as the cross is the symbol of Christianity. In the old Welsh stories it is called Pair Ceridwen, and Pair Dadeni: the Caldron of Ceridwen, the Caldron of Rebirth.
Dadeni, Rebirth, Reincarnation: you can't make it mean anything else; the ideas, the symbolism that lie behind it are vast.
First of all, it was the symbol of Initiation. There is a cave in Snowdon, and a rock on Cadair Idris, of which the popular legend is that one who spends a night in the one, or on the other, will wake in the morning either dead, or mad, or an initiated bard, inspired with wisdom and illumination beyond what normal human beings possess. This shows how that great central idea of all the ancient religions, Druidism included, impressed itself in Druid days on the race mind. Otherwise it could not have lived on in folklore through the Christian centuries. The candidate for initiation, whether in Greece, Egypt, India, or Wales or any other country, prepared himself for it by a long course of training and discipline, the object of which was to bring all the lower elements of his being into subjection. Then, when he was ready, the initiation took place. In some kind of crypt in the King's Chamber of the Great Pyramid, for example; probably in the cave on Snowdon also: he, or his body, was placed in a vessel or receptacle or sarcophagus, or tied to a wooden cross; and he himself, the human soul, voyaged out into the inner spaces of the universe and learned the secrets of these inner spaces at first hand. Returning, he was illuminated, an initiate; in Welsh, Bardd, a bard; which word does not originally mean a poet, but an illuminated seer, a teacher, an initiate.
In Druidism, that receptacle, or vessel, or sarcophagus, was called a caldron the Pair Dadeni, or Caldron of Rebirth, or the Caldron of Ceridwen, the Goddess of Universal Nature. It took the place in Druidism that the cross does in Christianity; it was the symbol of Religion. Religion existed to bring men to the point of initiation, to the Caldron of Ceridwen as it were; the initiation, which made of the neophyte a Bard, was regarded as a rebirth, a second birth Dadeni.
Of the seventy-seven poems of Taliesin one stands out as, I think, the greatest; it is my favorite, because of its more than Miltonic loftiness of tone. It is called Preiddiau Annwn, the spoils of Annwn; which, as you will remember, is the deep, the underworld, even by an extension of meaning, this material universe. It tells how the Caldron was held in Annwn in Caer Pedryfan, the four-square Castle, in Ynyns Pybyddor, the Strong-doored Isle; and how Arthur voyaged in Prydwen, his ship of Glass, into the Underworld to recover it; and Taliesin with him.
One could spend an evening, or many evenings, lecturing on Arthur alone, with all his implications and meanings. No doubt there was a Welsh prince who died in the year 540, after winning some striking victories over the Saxons; whose invasion of Britain certainly was held up for some twenty or thirty years before 540; that invasion actually made no progress during those years. But unquestionably that chieftain came to be identified with one of the old Gods of Druidism; we know of a Gaulish god named Artaios; the Egyptian god we know as Osiris, was called in Egyptian Ausar; he may be the same god. Scholars have identified Arthur with Hu Gadarn, Hu the Mighty, the chief God of Druidism; who figures a good deal in the Welsh triads; and who was actually worshiped in Wales as late as the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. In 1538, in the reign of Henry VIII, a statue of this god, known as Darfell Gadarn, which attracted great crowds of worshipers, was, with its priest, brought up from Wales to London and burnt at Smithfield: the priest, the last Druid martyr; and in the fifteenth century Welsh poetry there are many references to Hu Gadarn, hymns to his praise; also a poem by a Christian priest-poet, Sion Cent, which says that there were then two religious influences in the world: one from Jesus Christ, and the other from Hu Gadarn among the bards of Wales. Thus we see that even then, in the time of Owan Glyndwr and Joan of Arc and the Wars of the Roses and the first Tudor kings of England, Druidism was still alive in Wales.
But to go back to the poem, the Spoils of Annwn. The Arthur it tells of is the first Arthur; the earliest stage we have in his metamorphosis from the Leader of the Gods to the chivalrous king who appears in Malory and Tennyson. He voyages through the deep, he descends into the underworld, the manifested universe, in quest of the caldron of initiation. I do not know any poem, in any language, that conveys to me so much of that sense of hidden and mysterious grandeur as this one does. What does it mean? It figures the involution of spirit into matter; the descent of the gods into the underworld, this world, this life we live, in quest of what? Wisdom, experience, initiation. For the Caldron, the sacred symbol of Druidism, means not only that receptacle or sarcophagus that held the body of the neophyte while he himself explored the inner universe; it means that, and something more. It means life, the world. It was the Caldron of Reincarnation; the world into which we incarnate again and again; each life in its degree an initiation, a gaining of wisdom by experience. Sublime thought, this of the evolution of the god-spark in each one of us into at last the fully self-conscious God, through endless life, successions of experiences of life, of entries into the Caldron of Reincarnation, until that entry into it which shall bring us initiation, and from men we shall become bards and gods.
H. P. Blavatsky says, in an article published after her death, that in the century before Christ, Druidism was the only branch of the Mysteries of the Old World which had not degenerated; and that Caesar was inspired to attack and conquer Gaul by the black forces, the enemies of mankind, in order to stamp out that last pure light, to break its power. But even though be did so; even though he forced it underground as it were, so that from the ruling religion of Britain, Gaul and Ireland, it became a secret cult, we see that he could not quench its power and influence. Here in Wales it lived on; and, as Wales inch by inch was conquered by the Normans, its influence, spiritual and uplifting still, though strangely metamorphosed, spread out into the darkness of Christian Europe, a light to lighten the Gentiles with the noble ideals of chivalry, the vision of the Holy Grail. This illustrates the workings of the spirit, of the Masters of Wisdom, the spiritual Leaders and Guides of Mankind. There is nothing about it you can prove. You can't prove that Iolo Morganwg, the eighteenth century Glamorgan stonemason, didn't forge every document in the book Barddas; you can't prove anything spiritual for that matter. No; proof you may not have; but you may have suggestion; a hint; which, taken, used and followed up, will lead you on to heights of ennobling thought and knowledge. You may take these things and ideas that the materialist and the academic reject as unproved, and let them work upon your inner nature until they have made a god of you.
I told you the subject was a vast one; and far beyond my
satisfactorily setting forth in an evening's lecture. But what I
hope you may have gotten out of it is this: New evidence of the
universality of the grand Theosophical teachings; evidence, too,
that will show you that in bringing Theosophy to Wales, we are
bringing nothing strange, exotic or foreign; but simply the lost
secret of the ancient greatness of the Celtic peoples.
by Eldon Tucker
[based upon a September 12, 1994 posting to email@example.com.]
Two terms that we read about in Theosophy are "evolution" and "emanation." They are sometimes used as though they mean the same thing. At other times they are shown to have different meanings. What is the difference between them?
The word "emanation" refers to the bringing forth of that which already exists within. An example is found in our childhood: we emanate some of our talents, our skills that we have acquired in previous lifetimes. We bring forth some facets of the Reimbodying Ego, some of our personal treasury of experience. Someone with considerable musical experience, may be a prodigy, and write concerts long before adulthood. Another person may never have an ear for music. What is the difference? One has acquired musical skills through many lifetimes of training and effort. These talents are retained in the Reimbodying Ego, although they do not show up in the personality unless they are emanated in this life.
The totality of ourselves, what we have made over countless previous existences, is carried in our Auric Egg. It is unmanifest. It consists of karmic seeds, of latent potential for action. It is ourselves, what we have made ourselves into being, our entire nature both seen and unseen as of this moment in time. At each moment, with increasing experience, we, as personalities, grow. And the Auric Egg also grows, and the envelope of the outer bounds of our consciousness expands.
The particular personality of any lifetime can only contain a portion of the totality of ourselves. Only part of it may be emanated into manifest existence. When such a part of ourselves is being emanated, we may feel that we are learning new things, but we are not. We are remembering things that we already knew, and carry in a deeper part of ourselves. Emanated talents, emanated capabilities come forth easily, quickly, and almost without effort. It is a form of recapitulation, a recovery of territory previously covered.
There are other things in life that we cannot do. They are simply too hard. We have no latent talents in a particular direction, and can seem to evoke nothing from within to readily learn and grow in the new direction. This is where evolution begins. When we have nothing more to emanate, and face the slow, hard work of embracing in our consciousness that which it has never contained before, we are undertaking new evolution.
With evolution, we are not dealing with the recapitulation of previously-acquired faculties. We have nothing in our karmic treasury to draw upon. There are no contents of our Auric Egg of that nature. Instead, we are exploring new territory. We are embracing the unknown, and it is not easy work. Emanation comes easily; we can readily be many different people in different lifetimes, because only a portion of our totality comes out in any lifetime. Evolution, though, is slow, because we have no previous experience to draw upon.
Evolution and emanation can be the same thing, in a sense. When we are actually evolving, the new consciousness arises simultaneously in our karmic treasury, the Auric Egg, and in our outer, manifest personal self. Since it happens at the same time, we cannot say that it happened first in the Auric Egg, and then was emanated, nor can we can that it happened first in the personality, and then was stored in the Auric Egg as the resultant karmic seed. Rather, emanation and evolution are one and the same at the moment of new evolution.
With increased evolution, the Auric Egg is growing, expanding in size, embracing more of the unknown. Projecting itself into the manifest world, with increased emanation, it gives expression to more of the totality of itself. The ray of consciousness that it, the Monad, projects into matter, widens, becomes brighter, shows more of its light. With increased emanation, then, the manifest Self grows, expands in size, and embraces more of the contents of its parent.
Consider a little girl getting ready to draw. She gets out her crayons, paper, and drawings being worked on (gathers the Skandhas or attributes of previous manifest existence). Drawings are selected to continue work on (emanation of previously- developed talents). And she starts drawing (new evolution which surpasses previously visited territories).
The Auric Egg is beyond manifest existence. It grows with each cycle of evolution. Is it not immortal? No. Since it is ever-changing, and thereby subject to conditioned time, it has a beginning and an end. What is its lifetime? That of a Mahamanvantara, the duration of a Life of Brahma.
The Auric Egg, like the other principles, could be considered dual in nature. There is a part that is material, form-like, looking-down in nature. There is another part that is energic, wave-like, looking-up in nature. It is the lower or material side of the Auric Egg which is subject to periodic dissolution. But when or how could this happen: the dissolution of something that does not exist? The answer has to do with the fact that the Auric Egg participates in the sense of time.
The lower part of the Auric Egg looks down upon manifest existence. It participated in conditioned time, time that is measured, cut-up, relative to the changing nature of a world. That world has its periodic manvantaras (periods of existence) and pralayas (periods of dissolution or non-existence). The down- looking Auric Egg participates in this. It changes with the flow of life in the world that it looks upon, but never directly participates in.
With complete dissolution of that world, its death or Mahapralaya, the world completely ceases to exist. The Auric Egg participates in the waking and sleeping of that world, its manvantaras and pralayas of lesser nature, but with the death of the world, there is no longer anything to participate in. The world is gone, for an indeterminable period of time, and the lower nature of the Auric Egg also dies.
The upper-looking portion of the Auric Egg still persists, that aspect of its nature that has always gazed upon the Timeless, and remained untouched by the temporal events of the manifest world. This part of the Auric Egg also participates in time, but it participates in unconditioned time, time not in relation to conditioned or manifest things. The higher part of the Auric Egg is immortal because it clings to Timelessness.
Besides the growth of the Auric Egg, evolution, and besides the pouring forth of the Auric Egg into manifest life, known as emanation, we have a third aspect of the experience of consciousness: creation. The consciousness of the moment is the creative consciousness. It consists of that portion of our personal selves, the sumtotal of our emanation, that we are aware of at this very moment.
Consider the mind. Within its contents, we carry with us a considerable amount of learning and memories. What are we thinking of at this moment? Certainly not all that we know. There are certain ideas that take center stage, that get the spotlight, that are the leaders at this moment in time. That spotlight which we cast upon those ideas is the creative consciousness. How conscious we are at this moment depends upon how bright that spotlight is. And how broad our outlook, how vast and sweeping our awareness depends upon how wide the beam of that spotlight, upon how much it illumines. We train, in meditative practice, to both brighten and broaden that beam of light, which in a sense is our "inner eye," when taken as a metaphor (rather than considered as extended-sensory perception or psychical faculties).
We have, then, three degrees of the unfolding of consciousness.
The awareness of the moment, creation, comes first. Then the
limits of what we have made ourselves into in this lifetime,
emanation, second. And finally the limits of all our previous
existences, our outer bounds of experience, evolution. Were we
in a near-perfect world, the three would be one and the same: the
consciousness of the moment would bring in the totality of the
personality and the personality would contain the totality of
previous evolutionary experience. Life is not perfect, though,
and our world is far from being completely responsive to the life
within. But we continue to grow in the right direction, and in
later Rounds, and in still later days of Brahma, we'll find life
becoming more expressive.
by Kenneth Morris
[Appearing in The Theosophical Forum in October 1950, this was an address given before a group of Welsh miners in the Rhondda Valley where Kenneth Morris from 1930 until his death in 1937 labored to establish active theosophical centers among his countrymen.]
In the Chinese language the word JEN is written first with a stroke which looks like the numeral "1" in our Arabic figures, and then two horizontal strokes. The first element, the figure one, stands for Man. The two horizontal lines stand for the numeral "2". The word means to do unto others as you would they should do unto you. Man + two. The Individual, you or I, any man, and the plurality; the Ego and the Non-ego; the right relation between a man and the world, humanity, the universe; which is, according to the Chinese way of thinking, reciprocal love, or ourselves and others and that relation that does really, and ought actually, to exist between us.
Now, what are we? It explains nothing to say that we are human beings. If you don't think at all, if your life is as that of the beasts of the field, why, that statement is quite satisfactory; all that needs saying has been said. But if you think and examine into things, you will need much more than that. You think a little more, and perhaps say: I am two things in one, a body and a soul. Or you may go to your Testament and say with Paul, a body, soul and spirit. Then comes up the question, What is the soul? And then, What is the spirit? And what is the difference between the soul and the spirit? Possibly, if you are curious, you will go to your minister about that. I don't know what he will tell you.
Let us look into ourselves, and see what we can find out. Here first are our bodies: are they ourselves? Are our clothes ourselves? Of course not! We put on our clothes in the morning, and take them off at night; we get a new suit, and it lasts us a year or two, and then gets sold in a jumble sale we have done with it. Our bodies are suits of clothes we put on at birth and take off and discard at death; they are the means whereby we live in this world and gain experience of life in this world.
Next consider the consciousness inside the body, the consciousness, I said; but I am not so sure about that; I should have said consciousnesses, I think. For all in the same day three different types of thought may come into your mind or mine, and may find expression in words on our lips. We may say, I am hungry, I want a drink, I want a smoke; I desire this, that, or the other thing. Or we may say, reasoning from the evidence in front of me, I believe the world to be round; or, I think man is a good deal more than his body; or, I believe in this or that philosophy or religion. Or again, the thought may come into your mind and pass your lips as words, I love my country; I wish to God I could do something to better the condition of humanity; I aspire to be much grander and more noble than I am.
Here we see a different self speaking in three ways. This exemplifies three souls at least. Lowest is the animal soul, the soul that desires. Above it is the human soul. We can call it so, as we have called the other the animal soul, because the lowest soul we have in common with the animals; they too desire things, but they don't think and reason; they don't believe the world is round, or that the angles at the base of an isosceles triangle are equal, or have religions or philosophies. And then, above the human soul, is what we may call the divine soul: that in us which aspires, which loves impersonally loves without thought of getting anything in return for us.
Now, which of those is our self our self-most self, so to say? Not the animal because the animal soul may say, I want a drink, I desire this or that: and something else in us may reply: Yes, but you are not going to get it, because it would be bad for you! The thinking soul, the human one, may reason it out from experience that gratification of the desires of the animal self or soul leads to bodily sickness and to the dimming of its own, the human soul's, powers to think; so it may exercise control over the animal soul, and forbid it what it clamors for. So obviously that human soul is, so to speak, a selfer self in us than the animal self.
As the human soul can train and educate the animal self, can permit it this and forbid it that, can hold it in check, and even direct its energies, so that it will come to desire ever finer and finer things; does it not follow that the divine soul can also so educate and raise up the human soul? Doesn't it also follow that the three are associated thus together in each human individuality, for the purposes of evolution? The animal may evolve by association with its betters, the human. The human may evolve by association with its better, the divine.
Did you ever think of the meaning of self-sacrifice? To sacrifice is what they call a transitive verb. It must have a subject, the one who does the sacrifice, and an object the thing sacrificed. Thus, we read of Abraham sacrificing the ram. Subject Abraham; verb sacrifice; object or thing sacrificed, the ram. And we read of many who sacrificed their lives for great causes, as Joan of Arc to free France from the English. But the fact that she sacrificed her life gave her body to be burned proves that her body was not herself, her life was not herself. Her Self was something behind and above body and life that decided that she could afford to give up body and life, things not herself, for the cause she believed in, because the Self-most-self of Joan of Arc is something higher and more inward still. And it is Compassion.
Now what is compassion? The deepest feeling within one, that although one knows oneself to be suffering hell forever, yet there is a more real self within that will live forever, that Joan of Arc, for example, would live on forever in her people, her freed people. France was more really herself, more permanently herself, than she was herself. The self that was sacrificed was all that could be included under the term Joan of Arc, now and forever; the sacrificer was something greater than Joan of Arc.
To extend this thought. There is still a bigger self in us than the self of our country. It is the self of humanity. The man who had really found himself would live in and for humanity. He would never be able to rest content till all the suffering in the world was eliminated; he would feel it his not duty so much as ardent pleasure to be making war on human suffering, and what causes human suffering, which is human selfishness; and what causes human selfishness, which is human ignorance. That ignorance which makes us identify ourselves with the lowest selves in us; which keeps us from feeling and acting as the higher selves, the real selves in us. Now if we are those higher selves really; if the highest self is the most divine and inmost self in us there is a saying of Jesus that ought to take on a new light: "Ye are Gods; be ye perfect," Ye are Gods that is, I am a god, thou art a god, he is a god, she is a god; we are gods; you are gods; they are gods.
Now we have come back to our starting point again, the Chinese word jen. Ourselves and Others who are ourselves.
Let us approach it from another angle. Let us forget all we have been taught, all religious and scientific views, and become as little children, that we may enter into the kingdom of heaven and discover something about the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. For if you are going to believe Jesus, the kingdom of heaven is something we can get into at any moment, because as he said, It is within us here and now. Religion, however, has made it something you can get to when you are dead; but Jesus when he used those words and his opinions, like yours and mine and anybody else's, are worth finding out and looking into meant something within us that is not generally known or considered; something divine that we could come to know about. Let us call it the truth, or the secret of life and death, or the reality behind Religion. So if we are going to enter into it, we have to approach things with a child's mind: seeing what we do know very well for ourselves, and never mind what we have read in books or been taught in Sunday school or chapel or church or wherever else. What is the one thing you know for certain? Why, that you exist, that you are a conscious being. What is the one book you can read, everyone can read, literates and illiterates, Jews, Turks, infidels, and heretics, and you and I? Why, ourselves!
And starting out from that certain knowledge, what can we infer? That we are conscious beings, and that we know we come from this universe. We know we are the children of the universe. And we have seen that our inmost self is universal; that the most real man is the most compassionate man; the biggest man is the man with the biggest and widest sympathies. He is the man in whom the human soul has trained the animal soul to discipline and obedience. He is the man whom the divine soul has trained the human soul to think and feel as it, the divine soul, does. He therefore is the man in whom the process of evolution has gone furthest. Now, doesn't it strike you that there we have stumbled on the purpose of life? evolution.
There those three are associated in each of us. Unless we take the lowest of them, the animal soul, in hand, and evolve it, make it evolve, by disciplining our desires and passions, we suffer in health. Doesn't that suggest that they are there to evolve? And if so, that such evolution is the purpose of life? The purpose of nature the thing the universe is doing, that it exists for?
It isn't a case of monkeys changing gradually, in generation after generation, until their children have miraculously been born men. That theory should not be called evolution at all, because evolution means the unfolding out of something, of some potentiality that is already in it; thus, the oak tree evolves out of the acorn. The Darwinian theory ought to be called, not evolution, but as it is in French, Transformism. Evolution, so far as we are concerned, denotes the possibility of the human, thinking soul in man capturing, taming, and training the animal soul, and making it human, and of the divine soul capturing and inspiring the human soul, and making it divine. Anyone who wants to believe that this process begins, for every triad of animal, human, and divine souls, at the birth of the body they are to inhabit, and that it ends with the death of that body, may do so; but he must have queer ideas as to the economy of the universe. It would be like a book that begins half way down page 308 and ends in the middle of a sentence; but for the moment, never mind that. What I want you to hold in mind is that the purpose of life, of nature, of the universe, is evolution.
Now who is wise, who is sensible, who is likely to succeed, the man who works in accordance with natural law, or the man who works against it, the man who furthers the purpose of the universe and life and nature, or the fool who tries to stop the broad stream of evolution from flowing on its majestic way? I need hardly ask, need I? Obviously the man who allies himself with evolution is the sensible man. How can we do it?
Well, first and foremost, by being the human soul in us instead of the animal soul. That can only be done by making the human soul gravitate up toward the divine soul. Now what is the divine soul? The one that thinks and feels not in our limited personalities, but in humanity. The one that lives for others, not for self. The motivating force of evolution.
That much can be said to everyone in the world. I want to say something particularly to the Rhondda people.
My home, up till two years ago, was in one of the most beautiful spots in one of the loveliest countries in the world, California. There the sun shines, I suppose at least three hundred and fifty days in the year; all day long on about three hundred days. There the cities have wide clean streets; the buildings are fine and handsome, nearly all of them. In the suburbs, where the people live, the gardens run down to the pavements, with no dividing wall or hedge; you walk with the flowers beside you; at the ends of the streets you see vistas of mountains, pale blue, dark blue, purple, sometimes capped with snow. The streets are avenues of beautiful trees. That is a lovely land, and, in general, mankind works to preserve and enhance its loveliness. Well hiraeth called me back to Wales.
And then I chanced to come to the Rhondda to lecture. And I saw the Rhondda that once was a valley of pure beauty; how grimly hideous men have made it. And I spoke to Rhondda people, and I said to myself, there is where I must live.
I saw the Rhondda, where there is not a street or building that isn't hideous; where even, so far as it is possible to do it, men have spoilt the outlines of the eternal hills themselves with vile coal-tips; where the children seem to have nowhere to play but in the hideous streets where the automobiles kill them. Little Doris Pennington was killed at Llwynypia the other day; I owe it to her memory and her parents' sorrow to press this point on you. And I spoke to Rhondda people.
It wasn't just that they are my own people: of my own race, or if not that, of my own country. There was more to it than that. I'll try to tell you how I felt: how I always feel in speaking to Rhondda people; how they how you make me feel.
Have you ever tried the experiment with salt and a glass of water? You put a spoonful of salt in, and it melts, and the water is still clear. And you put in another, and the water is still clear. And you go on putting salt in, spoonful by spoonful, until what I think is called the saturation point is reached; anyhow, that will convey the meaning. Then suddenly, after the last spoonful is put in, there is no longer clear water in the glass, but opaque, unliquid salt.
Or, haven't you felt in singing: that you can start singing, and go on, and in your singing reach upwards, and get something greater, and something greater again, and something still greater; until you feel that somewhere above you or ahead of you that you might reach is a point where you could transform the universe; where it wouldn't be just singing anymore, but magic?
Or again, sometimes in the East, in China or Japan, you bear the temple bells. They are not like our church bells that flurry out their peals impatiently, and seem extraordinarily excited about something. Instead, a low, deep, round, clear note booms out, and drifts along the twilight valleys, and steals into your consciousness with deep and deep and deeper peace. And when the vibration is dying, out it booms and sings and rolls again, and lifts you yet higher; until you feel that sometime will come a boom, gong-like, that will shatter the visible universe, and reveal the fairyland that is behind it, and reveal the villagers, the coolies, everyone, yourself included, as a god, an angel, the disguise of his vulgar humanity thrown aside.
Well that's how the Rhondda miner makes me feel every time. That if just the right note could be struck; just the right word said; just the last spoonful of the salt of inspiration put into the water of his mind there would be a transformation.
I see a lot of evidence of the animal soul in him, and above all in the valley he lives in. It is chaotic, undisciplined, unimproved; hideous is this once lovely valley; and it is man that has made it so. But, I see a deal of evidence of the human soul behind all that waste. I contact the men who think, who study. I speak to men who listen keenly, who weigh what I say, who appreciate thought and reason. But and here is the point: I never look into your eyes but I see the divine soul. I meet young men roaring and shouting through the streets at night, keeping sleep from the eyes of tired women, of the sick and the aged: and, Yes, the animal soul is undisciplined, I say to myself; and that is the work of the chaotic, undisciplined animal soul; but behind it there is still that which makes me say to myself: Yes; Jesus was right after all when he said, Ye are Gods; that each of us, in the inmost reality of his being, is a god, a divinity, a thing of wisdom, power, beauty, and compassion. And, a passion comes on me to evoke, to call forth, to bring into conscious life and action, that wonderful divinity I sense in you.
How do we do it? You who are out of work, who have all the hours of the day to fill somehow, could you find no means of furthering the work of evolution in those hours? To go against nature is to live in and for yourself; to go with nature is to live for others. He who makes what is hideous to be beautiful, what is inharmonious to be harmonious, is working with and for evolution. He who joins with his fellows in such a work, subordinating himself and his desires, is doubly working with and for evolution. Is there no way in which the unemployed could combine to improve the Rhondda, to make beauty of this ugliness, brightness of this gloom, playgrounds for the kiddies or parks or gardens of the vile coal tips? I don't know. But is there no way? And it would be bringing happiness into lives that can't be too happy; because there is no happiness like that to be gained from working for no reward, for no personal benefit, but for the good of others. There is no happiness like that because think! when the animal soul or self gets what it desires, it looks upon that as happiness. But there comes a quick reaction; to tell us that that animal soul or self is not really ourself but something in our charge; a servant we must train; gratifying it is not gratifying our Self. To gratify the human self, to think yes, that is not so bad; that is satisfying up to a point; but it does not bring the real thrill of happiness which gratifying the divine self does.
And there is one other point I would like to bring before you.
There is a way of finding out about things. If you have been
interested in any of the thoughts I have brought before you:
there is a way of following it up. The kingdom of heaven is
within you, here and now; it may be given to you to know the
mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. Or rather, that privilege is
one that you may take for yourself; as it says, the kingdom of
heaven is taken by violence, that is, by a man's own efforts.
What does that mean but that a man may come to know, he may
learn, he may find out for himself, the truth about the universe
and life, the hidden things? I have just been trying to tell you
a little about Theosophy, which word means divine wisdom, wisdom
from the divine self in man. If you want happiness, why, follow
up that teaching, and find out by its aid for yourselves: it will
give you the key, what is the real truth about ourselves and
others. It isn't a new religion; it isn't a religion, one of the
many religions, at all; but simply the key to the truth
underlying all religions.