A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.
Max Planck (1858 1947), in Scientific Autobiography
by Eldon Tucker
The conference, held May 30 and 31, at The Forum, Pasadena City College, California, was sponsored by the American Section of the Theosophical Society [Pasadena]. Offered free, the conference featured seven programs, by speakers including a Professor of Physics from the University of Oregon, a Senior Member of the Engineer Staff at JPL, and the head of the California Homeopathic Association (and an M.D.).
The site is located on the foothills of a towering mountain range to the north. There was a cool breeze, a sunny California sky, green trees all over, and wide open spaces. The beauty of the place lended itself to our dwelling on the profound, seeking the vastness in thought that we found about ourselves in physical nature.
Members of all the different theosophical groups attended, including members at the Pasadena T.S., the Adyar T.S., and the ULT. Students of the local college were there too. And many books were sold. Perhaps a few new people came across Theosophy for the first time, but it was not a recruiting meeting. It was an exploration of truth and the celebration of the wonder and mystery of nature and life.
In the lecture on "The Quantum Theory of Reincarnation," Professor Amit Goswami described an experiment that demonstrated the quantum nature of mind/thought. Two subjects would meditate together, and then be separated. They would still have a non-local connection, and their brain waves would still be correlated.
In another lecture, David Doody showed various NASA slides, including a series of three-dimension pictures sent back from the recent mars lander, pictures we all viewed using red-and-blue 3-d glasses handed out. There were a number of interesting astronomical facts mentioned.
Some facts included the moon was 1 1/2 seconds away, at the speed of light, the sun 8 minutes away, and neptune 5 1/2 hours away. On venus, the atmosphere filters out all red and blue light, leaving a yellowish sunset-like light on the surface. There is frozen water at the poles of mercury. One billion years ago the whole surface of mars was resurfaced; there were oceans on it at that time. In 150 million years we'll have another supercontinent on earth, the various continents coming together again. There have been six planets discovered around different stars, including one around a binary star. And saturn rotates in 11 hours, and has flattened poles and a bulging center because of the fast rotation.
Other programs included an artist's appreciation of the vastness
of nature, again with astronomical slides. There was an review of
antropology and the orgins of humanity, with a theosophical slant.
Yet another program discussed Theosophy and Medicine. The
conference was well-received, and the only possible complaint was
that such conferences were held so infrequently!
by Paul Johnson
[based upon a January 26, 1995 post to email@example.com.]
Recent discussions on both various mailing lists have inspired the following reflections. It seems that violence, at least of a psychological sort, is the shadow of reverence. In Jungian terms the shadow is the unconscious, unacknowledged side of ourselves. Enantiodromia is the tendency of things to turn into their opposites; in this case conscious reverence becomes unconscious violence. How does this happen?
Reverence is a universal human response to our experience of the sacred. Each person has the capacity to have the experience of awestruck contemplation and worshipful yearning towards the transcendent. The encounter with the sacred and the reverent response can only happen within our souls; yet it is stimulated by external circumstances like "sacred" places, books, teachers, institutions. These things are only sacred in that they stimulate our contact with the Unknowable Divine. But the intensity of the reverence response causes us to project what is really our own sacredness onto environmental circumstances. We make fetishes of books, places, etc. through projection of what is noblest and most holy in the inner world onto outer objects. Gurdjieff would call this "identification."
This isn't blameworthy in itself, but it sets us up to behave in a blameworthy fashion. Any criticism or irreverence by someone else directed toward the objects we have identified as sacred is taken by us as a personal attack, because we have projected our personal energies into it. Perception of attack evokes a primitive reptilian-brain fight-or-flight response. The belief that "we cannot coexist" may become a stimulus to violent aggression justified as "self-defense" or to avoidance of the source of threat, or some combination of the two. I vividly remember walking down a street minding my own business and being violently attacked by a Blue Jay because unknowingly I was approaching too close to the nest where his/her babies were. The bird was totally identified with that nest and those chicks, caught up in the sacred cycle of life, and convinced (to anthropomorphize) that anyone treading on this sacred ground deserved violent punishment. People do the same thing on a regular basis, and in our case religion is a major stimulus to violence.
Khomeini's fatwa on Salman Rushdie was based on a sense that he had violated the sacredness of a book revered by Muslims. Reverence for the book transformed itself into violence against Rushdie. Jim Jones and David Koresh believed that they had created sacred communities; their followers' reverence for them led to the murder of outsiders perceived as threats, and then to self-destruction. The centuries-old mosque in Avodhya was destroyed last year by a Hindu mob, convinced that the sacred site of Rama's birth had been defiled by Muslim construction and that reverence for the site demanded violence toward the mosque. Violence isn't just physical. Abusive language is a form of psychological violence, and it appears pretty regularly on religion-oriented newsgroups and mailing lists. On Talisman, the violent shadow of reverence has shown itself most vividly when people close to the House of Justice (who had worked at the World Center) reacted to criticism of that institution. My first reaction was to blame that body for fostering an atmosphere conducive to such behavior, but this seems unfair. On reflection, it seems likely that those who have worked there will have the highest degree of identification with the institution, will therefore interpret criticism of it as a personal attack, and are therefore most susceptible to the shadow-side of religious violence. On theos-l, psychological violence has been evoked in response to criticism of historical persons revered by some participants and not others.
A cross-post seems justified by the fact that Baha'i and Theosophy are both explicitly devoted to ending religious violence. It seems that when we are most consumed by a conviction that we are defending God by attacking our fellow (wo)man, we are in fact at our most diabolical. As Baha'u'llah wrote about Baha'is who murdered three Azalis, "My captivity cannot harm Me. That which can harm Me is the conduct of those who love Me, who claim to be related to Me, and yet perpetrate what causeth My heart and My pen to groan...That which can make Me ashamed is the conduct of such of My followers as profess to love Me, yet in fact follow the Evil One." Talisman subscribers who either use or encourage abusive language in this newsgroup might well read the above passage another time or two.
For Theosophists, H.P.B. stated much the same argument when she
wrote to the American T.S. weeks before her death: "Now I have
marked with pain a tendency among you...to quarrel over trifles,
and to allow your very devotion to the cause of Theosophy to lead
you into disunion...advantage is often taken by our ever-watchful
enemies of your noblest qualities to betray and mislead you."
Moral: Baha'is and Theosophists, if you ever think that your
reverence for God or Masters etc. is inspiring you to treat your
fellows with abuse, be aware that the true inspiration for such
behavior comes from a very shadowy place indeed.
by John R. Crocker
[based upon a December 26, 1998 posting to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
One question posed us is how we proposed help bring about agreement between theosophical factions.
Like many others, I've joined theosophical lists to help this. After having belonged to the American Theosophical Society out of Wheaton for probably around a decade now, and having fallen in love with its ideals, I found the practice of them was perhaps a tad lacking. The factionalization and wrangling about what seemed to me to be insignificant personality issues was forming anything but a "Universal Brotherhood". I thought the freedom of the Internet, where perhaps members from the different factions might be able to engage discussion of theosophical ideas free of affiliation, might provide a better forum for theosophical discussion.
Universal Brotherhood is not the absence of conflict, nor the unification of viewpoints rather it lies in achieving the proper attitude towards conflict and differences of thought. This, I think, in practice could be called the paradox of the seeker, when one makes the inward decision to follow the path, and begins doing both the physical and mental disciplines required by such a decision.
It almost invariably produces a great strengthening of the entire personality structure. Thoughts become far more powerful and focused, and the core individuality of the person states itself with greater and greater clarity. It makes conflict far more, rather than less likely. And it is in this that I think Theosophy has something to say to the 21st century:
With population growing exponentially, and Universal Brotherhood (by whatever name the sentiment is called) coming to be no longer a nice thought, but rather almost a requirement for our species, Theosophy could be a place where the models of Brotherhood are worked out.
The vast majority of models of Universal Brotherhood that have been tried up to now (including Communism) have, in practice, meant harmony through the voluntary submission or involuntary subjugation of some people at the expense of others, in which the final image of the harmony was either the dissolution of all into a collective mush, or some sort of dictatorship (whether relatively benevolent or not). The mission that I believe H.P.B. handed to Theosophists is perhaps the most difficult and increasingly essential problem posed to modern humanity: How does a group of people who are all strong, i.e., none able to be dominated by others and none willing to simply swallow their perspectives for the sake of a false harmony. How can such a group create a Universal Brotherhood?
When I first came to Theosophy, and in the years since then, this has always seemed to be the potential light within it. The occultism and minute details of esoteric ideation seemed quite secondary (I had met and been trained by what Theosophy calls the Angelic kingdom before I even heard of Theosophy, and the experiential touching of the inner realms renders most books about them kind of uninteresting) But the more I thought about the First Object, meditated on it, attempted to grasp its root, the more I understood why H.P.B. kept emphasizing it, kept trying (with only partial success) to keep members focused on that
rather than on starting yet another small and isolated occult brotherhood obsessed with the study of the minute distinctions between philosophical ideas (as many members then, and now, wish to do).
I believe the patterns of relationship required to form a genuine Universal Brotherhood in which everyone feels fully empowered (that is, not at the expense of some; not premised upon suppression) literally do not yet exist. We, Theosophists, at our highest and most brilliant point of development, could become one of those very few groups that discover and articulate those patterns. And at this point in humanity's history no organization could hand to humanity any greater gift.
When I think of this possibility, I begin to understand what H.P.B. poured her whole life into, I begin to understand why the Masters put such a relatively large amount of their very rare and scarce energy into the T.S.
I certainly do not claim to know what such a thing as true Universal Brotherhood looks like, but I have, after a decade of meditation on that one concept, concluded that its manifestation lies in patterns of relationship. Thousands of groups and philosophies have a notion of the idea, and there are countless books written full of wonderful sentiments about "loving" one another, treating one another with respect and dignity & etc.
Literally hundreds of millions of people mouth pithy little aphorisms, but the whole thing falls apart at the level of interpersonal relationships. To discover how to have those wonderful ideas penetrate that layer of human living where a few people engage one another on a topic about which there is great disagreement is to most fully engage the task embedded in the First Object and it takes the full courage of the first ray, the enormity of the understanding of the second ray, and the clarity of intellect of the third ray to even undertake such a project.
The issue at hand is great, and I personally couldn't care less about the personality quirks of any particular theosophical figure historic or modern-day it is the very core of Theosophy.
I have worked in the realm of conflict resolution and have even written about it, written about it, and as I understand the process, what has happened on the mailing lists at time have been very good, but is only halfway done. The first step is to allow all of the bottled up stuff full expression, then to intend to drive the discussion deeper, to stay engaged in spite of the enormity of differences.
A tactic I developed in groups where two or three members were really going at things was to ask both to spend one hour, only one hour, as the pupil of the other. Each person then had an hour in the teacher role, and each an hour in the pupil role. Further, the "teacher" could choose any topic they wished to teach, and usually it wound up having nothing to do with the conflict at hand (curiously enough).
The teacher has to try to be the perfect teacher, to really attempt to convey his/her ideas clearly. The pupil has to genuinely engage that role to (for the moment) see the teacher as worthy of respect and put all their effort into understanding the topic of the teacher. After this is done, both then again engage the topic of dispute, and invariably (if both genuinely engaged the teacher/pupil roles) the entire tenor of the dispute altered. In fact the most surprising solutions often wind up arising. Even more than that, an extremely deep level of friendship often comes about between the people.
This works among people that have no spiritual orientation, among Theosophists there is something far more powerful that provides additional aid: the fact that we are Brothers and Sisters on the Path, the most powerful bond that can exist between humans because it transcends individual lives and personality structures.
The present theosophical leadership is, for the most part, fully into conflict avoidance, and the last thing they are likely to do is to take up something as contentious as the real history of theosophical figures. If Theosophy survives and flourishes in the 21st century it will be in spite of, not because of the current "elected" leadership.
The probationary path is composed of the form side of life, and often becomes nothing but abstract intellectualism. The path itself engages the life side, and takes far more courage. The whole being becomes engaged powerful emotions are unleashed every aspect of the personality structure engages in a battle with the spiritual impulses, and any comfort zone within the person's life is dissolved.
Historic discussions, with all their surface appearance of discord, are, if the participants can stay engaged, far closer to true Theosophy than anything theosophical groups have approached in years. They are Alive.
Blake, I think, somewhere described the inner kingdom as "a democracy of Kings," a curious sentiment because it seems to describe so fully the relationships between the Masters. All of them that are glimpsed in Theosophical writings are fully powerful beings, but a harmony exists between them that flows from a much larger, common purpose.
My own image of universal harmony is not one of dissolution into one common set of ideas (the "oatmeal" form of unity so common nowadays), but rather that of a galaxy of fully shining stars, each radiating its fullest light, none needing submission to any other, but each knowing where it belongs and all revolving in harmony within a much larger, almost inconceivable pattern.
The ancient Greeks thought that courage was the first of the
virtues, that without it no other virtues were really possible.
I hope we will stay engaged in our discussions, and allow the
rest of us the privilege of watching a demonstration of the very
core of Theosophy: Powerful people who seem to have
irreconcilable differences, but still deeply desire to travel the
path and arrive at Universal Brotherhood.
by Dallas TenBroeck
We are all of us as Units of Consciousness in the middle of a very long course of study. The Great Adepts, the Mahatmas stand in respect to us as our Teachers at school or college stood to us we are their pupils, although we may not be in constant contact with them. Their knowledge of our common universe and its laws is deeper than ours. But they are there to help us to learn. The book The Secret Doctrine is part of the evidence of this concept and teaching. Are we ready to use it as a real "text book?" What efforts are we making? Are we allowing ourselves to be "defeated" before we try?
There are important points for us to consider.
What and Where are the essential "We" the Monad which is immortal. Are we an immortal Pupil working at learning all that can be acquired from Nature and the Universe?
Can we consider that the Universe is run and governed by innate Laws which adjust, with minute but complete precision, all the beings and changing situations in which they/we are involved. Science uses this concept, and our lives are made to depend on this, in every aspect of our ordinary/extraordinary lives.
Around us are, in their turn, our own "host" of "pupils." I mean the equally immortal "little lives," the "life-atoms," or the "Skandas," as they are sometimes called. They make up our bodies, astral-body, life-principle and the Kamic (passions and desires) principle. Collectively these are the "Lower Quaternary." These are seen to be linked to the Higher set of principles by a thread, consisting of the "Lower-Mind," or that power of thought that gives us all a perception of the eternal/mortal condition we find ourselves in.
It the "Lower Mind" shares of potentials and capacities from both sides: the immortal ideals, and the personal ambitions. It gives us balance and direction. Yet, it is also a "tool," and the immortal we within, is its director and user. In vanity it thinks itself to be preeminent, but in fact, it is weak and changes with every causal thought or emotional flow that influences it. Using our own memory and introspection, we can prove this to ourselves. It is to our own selves a great puzzle. But with the information that Theosophy offers this puzzle can be resolved.
Superior to the lower principles of the personality (in terms of experience and understanding) are the three principles that make up the Eternal Divine Man present in each of us: 1. Atma, the universal Spirit; 2. Buddhi or Wisdom-experience; and 3. the Mind in all its various aspects, but essentially it is that which gives us our sense of independence and immortal endurance.
Three Universes conjoin ( using the figure 3 to simplify ) at all points in and around us:
1. Spirit (or perfect wisdom and knowledgewhich, being an expression of the eternal law, does not change ),
2. Matter (or the many kinds of forms, illusionary as they change, some faster than others ), and
3. Intelligence-Mind-Sensitivity (or that which links the two polar extremes of Spirit (perfection) and Matter (ignorance) together.
We, humans, are the "links."
1. On one side we Aspire to Altruism and Wisdom; [qualities of the Adepts];
2. We think at all times, and know we are independent of what we observe and feel; [qualities of being human], and
3. We sense emotionally, or feel deeply, about the situations and conditions we are in. [qualities of being encased in a form of constantly changing material entities].
From the point of view of embodied consciousness where the mind is conjoined closely with the desires and emotions our condition as humans. We find that confusion reigns in psychological terms, because the clear distinction between mind and feeling is not yet achieved by our modern psychologists. [We "feel" about thinking, and we "think" about feelings. ]
If these were taught and made clear, we would immediately see that "the One Consciousness" working through Mind, and thus thinking, is separate from and not involved (unless it allows itself to be involved) in "the One Consciousness" when it penetrates and becomes enmeshed in the plane of emotion and desire or Kama.
"Competition" and "Survival of the Fittest" are not factors of importance to the "One Consciousness," as it is immortal. It persists. These two are illusions for the simple reason that none of them has any "persistence" beyond the death of the physical human body and its limited imaginative fancies. But, Theosophy states, and we can corroborate this accurately by deep thinking, that in the Eternal, there is no need for those purely emotional concepts.
Brotherhood and working "for others" are indeed difficult to put into practice in our everyday world until we take the concept of the Eternal School, Pupils, Teachers, and continuing One Consciousness into account. The alternative is the chaotic and emotional unstable condition of most humans today. They are unable to determine who or what they are, and where they are going, or why. The 5th question of "how" where do we go from here, arises. We are all in that stage. But the power to change the indecision of ignorance into the progressive assurance of a reasonable "goal" has permanence once that we assume to be able to dominate and control though right use our "emotional feelings."
[Note that the "feelings" do not have independently the power to visualize the future. It is only when the mind is called to help that the power to anticipate is used by the"feelings and desires" to envisage an ambition, and, employing that construct, discipline and force the whole personality to achieve such an ambition. We see examples of this all around us every day. But their mere presence does not "make them right."]
If we know what is reasonable and basically true in theory, in ideal, and fail to practice that, it is normal for all of us, as we have all the habits we have set up in the past to contend with.
So first is the grasping of the idea of true individual immortality. Then follows the question how should an immortal live and behave. Following that is the consideration that we are not alone. We are a brotherhood of many different entities and experiences, but all of us are potentially identical in those potentials when finally and fully realized. As mind-endowed beings we are now responsible for the consequences of our thinking and acting.
[And this is precisely where the greatest of our problems arises. We have the interesting (but strange) psychological condition of being well aware of the fact that we cannot "escape" the consequences of what we do, but hope that through invisibility or some hocus pocus we can somehow escape the inevitability of karmic response to what we do and say. And from this have arisen all the sacerdotal creeds.]
This finality (the "goal" of Evolution) will forever remain an ideal (to the embodied consciousness) since as we advance and conquer step by step the rungs of knowledge and wisdom, we find that there are causes and forces and potentials that underlie those we though to have defined earlier, and those that remain to be attained, forever draws us onward to higher and greater levels of achievement. That is why "Brotherhood" is so basic to Theosophy. Without it as challenge and ideal, the personal man cannot evolve into the Ideal Man, the Real Man, and knows himself as the Immortal, that He is at Root Base.
It is the personal emotional/thinking man that has to do this for himself once that he realizes that it is within his grasp. At that point all conflict for mastery, pride of achievement, uniqueness, struggle to be recognized or admired, etc. vanish as generating causes for our life and work. We begin to do things because they are right to be done, and we may then become and be models, here and now, of how an Ideal Human would live.
But we are continuing beings. We have our past which forever
pursues us, as "karma" (good and bad). Having lived for untold
lives in a way which "pleased" us, and perhaps careless of others
and their rights and needs, we have now to bring our own personal
natures to a position of harmlessness and harmony with the rest
of Nature that surrounds us. It becomes a twofold struggle:
first to learn to be better here and now, so that our future is
not tarnished morally, and second to settle our debts of karma
due to others and to Nature as a whole.
by Eldon Tucker
[based upon a January 18, 1995 posting to email@example.com.]
Comments on a Buddhist Practice
There is a Buddhist meditative practice where we are asked to take in the evil in the world about us, to purify it, then to release it as something good. As a statement openly made, it is an exoteric truth. What could its inner meaning be?
At face value, we are being asked to literally take evil in and absorb it in ourselves. But are we expected to take on evil qualities, and live out degraded actions? Certainly not! But it is possible to twist words into condoning evil ways. There is always the temptation or force in that direction, something that originates from those whom would have our spiritual work fail. For those looking for an excuse to do what they know, in their innermost natures, is wrong, here is an opportunity. But no one is fooled; we know when we do wrong; excuses are for other people, they do not truly hide anything from our eyes.
A better interpretation of the practice is to say that we are to become transparent to the evil in the world, so that it simply passes through us. We are clear panes of glass; the evil passes through us, rather than being mirrors that reflect the harm back to its originators.
But can the evil really pass through us without leaving a trace? No. All life is interconnected. The harm cannot be done without the rest of the universe ourselves included feeling its effects. So how, then, do we respond? First we have to ask who it is that responds.
Taking the standpoint of a separate self, we get the evil from the environment. We could hold it inside ourselves and deal with it internally, rather than perpetrate the continuation of the evil in the world. We would, for example, not respond to anger with anger, even if we are mad ourselves!
We can, though, rise about the sense of a separate self. We are not different that the other people, the source of the evil. We embrace the evil or take it in by becoming at one with its source, by taking on the Sukshmopadhi vesture, the conscious sense of non-separation from those about us. We further rise about duality by passing, in our consciousness, above any sense of inside or outside. To the harmful influences in the world, we "pull them in" by making inside and outside the same. (It should be noted that when we take on this state of consciousness, although our experience of life has changed, the world remains the same to everyone else. Our perspective has changed because we have ourselves shifted into a different mode of experiencing life; others remain in whatever consciousness they already function in.)
We are unified now with the others, the source of the darkness in life. We purify their consciousness by being so positive in our goodness and in higher, superior qualities, that through our consciousness connectedness with the others, through an active, alert Buddhi we change the other people as well as transform the content of their consciousness.
Our transforming effect on the others is through our karmic link with them, part of the karmic web that defines both our unique personal nature in life as well as helps define them and the rest of the universe as well. All that comes to one in life is karmic. From the standpoint of a personal self, we have a karmic cycle, a give and take, an action and resulting reaction from the other people. From this standpoint, we break a cycle of evil by not allowing ourselves a resulting reaction in kind, of a like nature, to what we have received.
A better response is to not resist evil as we see it coming. We do not separate off from the experience by feeling repelled or offended. There is no sense of horror, rejection, of pushing back from ourselves that which is offensive. We do not respond to what comes to us in anger, nor in avoidance, it simply passes by us as "water off a duck's back."
When we've risen above any conscious sense of the other as separate from ourselves, we "take within" the evil contents because we are both recipient and originator. But we still remain non-responsive to its contents and substitute in ourselves the stronger contents of our own consciousness.
And having taken in and purified the foul, dark contents of the world, how do we return to life the cleaned-up life energies? We simply return to the dualistic consciousness again, separating back to the Nirmanakaya vesture, where we are again separate from others, and no longer unified with the other, troubled people.
Note that the practice we are considering is described in terms of a metaphor, and not as literal instruction. We are really learning to become a source of light and truth and beauty in the world. Such a practice could be described as "destroying darkness," as taking in evil and replacing it with good. It could be described as filling a void, where light is missing. Or it could be described as simply being a source in the world of the brilliant, diamond-like nature of our Inner God.
How this practice, or any Teaching, is described, depends on
which of many ways of looking at it is being taught us. We need
to see things from many standpoints to keep fluidic in our
understanding and not crystallize our thinking, not having our
thought life imprisoned in rigid molds of mind. Having shocking,
outrageous, startling ways of expressing the inner truths is a
method of teaching, one that tries to awaken the student to
freshly rethink the key ideas of the Philosophy. Can problems
ever arise from this method of teaching? No, not as long as we
maintain the necessary clarity of mind and purity of heart.
Whenever life shakes us, or knocks us off course, we simply
return to what is right, like a good compass, once bumped,
returning quickly to true north.
by John Patrick Deveney
[Sponsored by the Edmonton Theosophical Society, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, July 3 5, 1998.]
The Edmonton Theosophical Society hosted an extremely well-organized and creative conference over the July 4th weekend at the Holiday Inn in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The conference was called: "The Works and Influence of H.P. Blavatsky, A Forum for Presentations and Open Dialogue," and lived up to its promise. It drew speakers from all across Canada and from the U.S., and should serve a model for future gatherings. It provided a friendly and stimulating forum for discussion and friendly debate on many subjects of interest to Theosophists and to scholars.
On Friday night, July 3rd, Rogelle and Ernest Pelletier presented a slide show of fascinating and rarely seen photographs of and drawings by H.P.B. and photographs of her relatives and ancestors.
Saturday saw a full day of presentations, including a paper by Joan Sutcliffe on A.L. Cleather and the H.P.B. Library, and one by Sharon Ormerod on the famous "Meditation Diagram" of H.P.B. David Reigle then elucidated the relations of the Secret Doctrine to the Buddhist Wisdom Tradition, and Anna Lemkow spoke on the emerging consensus of modern social and scientific theory with the ideas of H.P.B.
Several presentations were made on the relationship of H.P.B. to the artistic world. Dr. Ann Davis of Toronto spoke on the influence of Theosophical ideas on the Canadian artists Lawren Harris and Emily Carr, and Pat Deveney sketched out the history of "spirit painting" in 19th-century spiritualism and H.P.B.'s role in that phenomenon.
Michael Gomes discussed the problems inherent in editing the works of H.P.B., illustrated by his recent abridgment of Isis Unveiled, and also announced several projects for the future, both of them fascinating. The first is a facsimile, color edition of The Mahatma Letters, and the second a "Festschrift" in honor of Ted G. Davy, whose long and careful work in establishing Theosophical history on a solid factual foundation surely deserves exactly this sort of recognition.
Dara Eklund spoke movingly of H.P.B.'s ideas on the unity of nature and harmony with it, and R. Bruce MacDonald closed the day with a thought-provoking paper on H.P.B.'s ideas on the "Black Brothers," the counterweight of progress, and their influence on history.
The day closed with a delicious and friendly dinner at the hotel, with speeches (short!) and music by a string quartet composed of four lovely and talented girls, 9 to 12 years of age.
The conference continued on Sunday morning, with Ted Davy speaking on the "Material Body Which Suffocates the Soul: H.P. Blavatsky's Attitude to Ritual" a fascinating and much-needed presentation.
A paper by Dr. Yuri Gorbunov of Russia was read that detailed a side of Theosophical history that has largely been unavailable: H.P.B.'s influence on her native land. With the opening of Russia, it is hoped that more works of this nature will appear. Jerry Hejka-Ekins presented a fascinating paper on the real and lasting influence of Theosophy on William Butler Yeats, and Nancy Reigle spoke on the "heart doctrine" and The Voice of the Silence.
Ernest Pelletier closed the conference with a resume of the highlights of the conference, and in the afternoon, with his wife, Rogelle, hosted an open house at the Edmonton Theosophical Society's headquarters, where they put on display the extremely impressive list of Theosophical works they have published over the years.
This conference was a model for such meetings. It brought
together people of diverse points of view and backgrounds and
provided a forum for the presentation and discussion of a variety
of subjects of interest to scholars and Theosophists generally.
The Edmonton Theosophical Society is to be commended and, I
by Vic Hao Chin
The Secret Doctrine software is available in five diskettes and requires approximately 7.5 MB hard disk space. It contains the complete text of the 1888 original edition, including all the diagrams, Greek and Hebrew texts. The pagination follows the said edition. The Secret Doctrine can be read on-screen like a book. It requires Windows 3.1 or Windows 95 (or later).
The search facility is very fast since it has been pre-indexed, and can look for any word in the two volumes. It automatically lists down the chapters that contain the word, according to the frequency of occurrence, and the reader can click on any chapter to find the word. Search can be done on the entire book or on a single chosen chapter. It can search for various forms of a single word, by putting an asterisk at the end. For example, "karm*" will highlight all words beginning with "karm," such as karma, karman, or karmic, thus identifying all texts where the word karma is discussed.
The software also contains a history on how The Secret Doctrine was written, as well as a brief biography of Madame Blavatstky.
The floppy disk is presently being distributed in the United States by the Theosophical Publishing House, Wheaton, Illinois, at $35.00. Interested persons may call, fax or email the TPH.
For all other inquiries outside the United States, they may contact the Theosophical Publishing House, Manila, at
Fax No. (63-2) 740-3751
by Allen Moore
I twinkle as a lights in the night sky, I warm worlds with my fire, I kiss the heavens with my heart. I feel the rain on virgin earth, The grasses caressing my feet, I am worshipped at the alter of Elements, Running, skipping, cajoling, triumphant. I move through the great oceans of both earth and heaven, Through cool depths and warm currents I bubble joyously, ever effervescent, Irrepressible am I. I am the smile on the face of lovers, The beauty of an infants face, The soft caress of silk, The wisdom of stone and tree, ever watchful. Knowledge is my self, Wisdom is my soul, Love is my hopefulness and fear is but a fool to me. Across your path I move, Within and without and around you am I. I stalk endless worlds, I am both form and formlessness, I am the desire to move, the desire to love and the desire to be loved. I am white, I am black, I am blue, green I am all colors and all shades of color, I am the sound of tinkling brooks and roaring waves, I am sound heard and unheard. I am the might of the strong, the speed of the quick I am the courage of the indomitable Death is my shadow and plays like a dark light wherever I am. I am ever present. The divided indivisible. All enter flaming into my endless mouths I devour endlessly but do not consume Happiness of the negation of negation I am Joy of joy fulfilled I move through all and all through me Like the currents of air across the air You know me and fear my absence But I am never absent. I hear you pray, your every thought, I am your thought and the prayers, spoken and unspoken. I now your need, your love, your fears I will fulfill all I am unforgettable memory, ever constant mind I give freely but never take, I accept all offered with love I fill the hearts of lovers with my love I shine brighter in the embrace and kiss I move powerfully in the passions of generation I am all progenitor and all generation I am the future, I am ever present and eternal past. My shadow does leap around and illusion abounds Yet the shadow is but a door to my everlasting bounty and love None fall that I do not lift, non suffer pain that I do not ease Non lose a love that I do not console and return a thousand fold. I wipe away tears and I remove death. Death is naught to me For I am you and what is you and what you will become. I am your life and the life all things. I am ever-present life and the end of darkness The destruction of death and the ending of pain. I am the approached unapproachable, endless, eternal current of Life, I am the everlasting unborn, person of God. In my arms I will hold you and love you forever.
by Eliphas Levi
[From Trancendental Magic: Its Doctrine and Ritual, London, 1896, pages 191-99.]
Every intention which does not assert itself by deeds is a vain intention, and the speech which expresses it is idle speech. It is action which proves life and establishes will. Hence it is said in the sacred and symbolical books that men will be judged, not according to their thoughts and their ideas, but according to their works. We must act in order to be.
We have, therefore, to treat in this place of the grand and terrific question of magical works; we are concerned no longer with theories and abstractions; we approach realities, and we are about to place the rod of miracles in the hands of the adept, saying to him at the same time: "Be not satisfied with what we tell you; act for yourself." We have to deal here with works of relative omnipotence, with the means of seizing upon the greatest secrets of nature and compelling them into the service of an enlightened and inflexible will.
Most known magical rituals are either mystifications or enigmas, and we are about to rend for the first time, after so many centuries, the veil of the occult sanctuary. To reveal the holiness of mysteries is to provide a remedy for their profanation. Such is the thought which sustains our courage and enables us to face all the perils of this enterprise, possibly the most intrepid which it has been permitted the human mind to conceive and carry out.
Magical operations are the exercise of a natural power, but one superior to the ordinary forces of nature. They are the result of a science and a practice which exalt human will beyond its normal limits. The supernatural is only the natural in an extraordinary grade, or it is the exalted natural; a miracle is a phenomenon which strikes the multitude because it is unexpected; the astonishing is that which astonishes; miracles are effects which surprise those who are ignorant of their causes, or assign them causes which are not in proportion to such effects. Miracles exist only for the ignorant, but, as there is scarcely any absolute science among men, the supernatural can still obtain, and does so indeed for the whole world. Let us set out by saying that we believe in all miracles because we are convinced and certain, even from our own experience, of their entire possibility. There are some which we do not explain, though we regard them as no less explicable. From the greater to the lesser, from the lesser to the greater, the consequences are identically related and the proportions progressively rigorous. But in order to work miracles we must be outside the ordinary conditions of humanity; we must either be abstracted by wisdom or exalted by madness, either superior to all passions or beyond them through ecstasy or frenzy. Such is the first and most indispensable preparation of the operator. Hence, by a providential or fatal law, the magician can only exercise omnipotence in inverse proportion to his material interest; the alchemist makes so much the more gold as he is the more resigned to privations, and the more esteems that poverty which protects the secrets of the magnum opus. Only the adept whose heart is passionless will dispose of the love and hate of those whom be would make instruments of his science; the myth of Genesis is eternally true, and God permits the tree of science to be approached only by those men who are sufficiently strong and self-denying not to covet its fruits. Ye, therefore, who seek in science a means to satisfy your passions, pause in this fatal way; you will find nothing but madness or death. This is the meaning of the vulgar tradition that the devil ends sooner or later by strangling sorcerers. The magus must hence be impassible, sober and chaste, disinterested, impenetrable, and inaccessible to any kind of prejudice or terror. He must be without bodily defects, and proof against all contradictions and all difficulties. The first and most important of magical operations is the attainment of this rare preeminence.
We have said that impassioned ecstasy may produce the same results as absolute superiority, and this is true as to the issue, but not as to the direction of magical operations. Passion forcibly projects the astral light and impresses unforeseen movements on the universal agent, but it cannot check with the facility that it impels, and its destiny then resembles Hippolytus dragged by his own horses, or Phalaris himself victimized by the instrument of torture which he had invented for others. Human volition realized by action is like a cannon-ball, and recedes before no obstacle. It either passes through it or is buried in it, but if it advance with patience and perseverance, it is never lost; it is like the wave which returns incessantly and wears away iron in the end.
Man can be modified by habit, which becomes, according to the proverb, his second nature. By means of persevering and graduated athletics, the powers and activity of the body can be developed to an astonishing extent. It is the same with the powers of the soul. Would you reign over yourselves and others? Learn how to will. How can one learn to will? This is the first arcanum of magical initiation, and it was to make it understood fundamentally that the ancient depositories of priestly art surrounded the approaches of the sanctuary with so many terrors and illusions. They did not believe in a will until it had produced its proofs, and they were right. Power is justified by victories. Indolence and forgetfulness are enemies of will, and for this reason all religions have multiplied their observances and made their worship minute and difficult. The more we restrain ourselves for an idea, the greater is the strength we acquire within the scope of that idea. Are not mothers more partial to the children who have caused them most suffering and cost them most anxieties? So does the power of religions reside exclusively in the inflexible will of those who practise them. So long as there is one faithful person to believe in the holy sacrifice of the Mass, there will be a priest to celebrate it for him; and so long as there is a priest who daily recites his breviary, there will be a pope in the world. Observances, apparently most insignificant and most foreign in themselves to the proposed end, lead, notwithstanding, to that end by education and exercise of will. If a peasant rose up every morning at two or three o'clock, and went daily a long distance from home to gather a sprig of the same herb before the rising of the sun, he would be able to perform a great number of prodigies by merely carrying this herb upon his person, for it would be the sign of his will, and would become by his will itself all that he required it to become in the interest of his desires. In order to do a thing we must believe in the possibility of our doing it, and this faith must forthwith be translated into acts. When a child says: "I cannot," his mother answers: "Try." Faith does not even try; it begins with the certitude of completing, and it proceeds calmly, as if omnipotence were at its disposal and eternity before it. What seek you, therefore, from the science of the magi? Dare to formulate your desire, then set to work at once, and do not cease acting after the same manner and for the same end; what you will shall come to pass, and for you and by you it has indeed already begun. Sixtus V. said, while watching his flocks: "I desire to be pope." You are a beggar, and you desire to make gold; set to work and never leave off. I promise you, in the name of science, all the treasures of Flamel and Raymond Lully. "What is the first thing to do?" Believe in your power, then act. "But how act?" Rise daily at the same hour, and that early; bathe at a spring before daybreak, and in all seasons; never wear dirty clothes, rather wash them yourself if needful; accustom yourself to voluntary privations, that you may be better able to bear those which come without seeking; then silence every desire which is foreign to the fulfilment of the great work.
"What! By bathing daily in a spring, I shall make gold?" You will work in order to make it. "It is a mockery!" No, it is an arcanum. "How can I make use of an arcanum which I fail to understand?" Believe and act; you will understand later.
One day a person said to me: "I would that I could be a fervent Catholic, but I am a Voltairean. What would I not give to have faith!" I replied: "Say 'I would' no longer; say 'I will,' and I promise you that you will believe. You tell me you are a Voltairean, and of all the various presentations of faith that of the Jesuits is most repugnant to you, but at the same time seems the most powerful and desirable. Perform the exercises of St Ignatius again and again, without allowing yourself to be discouraged, and you will attain the faith of a Jesuit. The result is infallible, and should you then have the simplicity to ascribe it to a miracle, you deceive yourself now in thinking that you are a Voltairean."
An idle man will never become a magician. Magic is an exercise of all hours and all moments. The operator of great works must be absolute master of himself; he must know how to conquer the allurements of pleasure, appetite, and sleep; he must be insensible to success and to indignity. His life must be that of a will directed by one thought, and served by entire nature, which he will have made subject to mind in his own organs, and by sympathy in all the universal forces which are their correspondents. All faculties and all senses should share in the work; nothing in the priest of Hermes has the right to remain idle; intelligence must be formulated by signs and summed by characters or pantacles; will must be determined by words, and must fulfill words by deeds; the magical idea must be rendered into light for the eyes, harmony for the ears, perfumes for the sense of smell, savours for the palate, objects for the touch; the operator, in a word, must realize in his whole life what he wishes to realize in the world without him; he must become a magnet to attract the desired thing; and when he shall be sufficiently magnetic, he must be convinced that the thing will come of itself, and without thinking of it.
It is important for the magus to be acquainted with the secrets of science, but he may know them by intuition, and without formal learning. Solitaries, living in the habitual contemplation of nature, frequently divine her harmonies, and are more instructed in their simple good sense than doctors, whose natural discernment is falsified by the sophistries of the schools. True practical magicians are almost invariably found in the country, and are frequently uninstructed persons and simple shepherds. Furthermore, certain physical organizations are better adapted than others for the revelations of the occult world; there are sensitive and sympathetic natures, with whom intuition in the astral light is, so to speak, inborn; certain afflictions and certain complaints can modify the nervous system, and, independently of the concurrence of the will, may convert it into a divinatory apparatus of less or more perfection; but these phenomena are exceptional, and generally magical power should, and can, be acquired by perseverance and labor. There are also some substances which produce ecstasy, and dispose towards the magnetic sleep; there are some which place at the service of imagination all the most lively and highly colored reflections of the elementary light; but the use of such substances is dangerous, for they commonly occasion stupefaction and intoxication. They are used, notwithstanding, but in carefully calculated quantities, and under wholly exceptional circumstances.
He who decides to devote himself seriously to magical works, after fortifying his mind against all danger of hallucination and fright, must purify himself without and within for forty days. The number forty is sacred, and its very figure is magical. In Arabic numerals it consists of the circle, which is the type of the infinite, and of the four, which sums the triad by unity. In Roman numerals, arranged after the following manner, it represents the sign of the fundamental doctrine of Hermes, and the character of the Seal of Solomon:
X / \ X X X X X \ / X X
The purification of the magus consists in abstinence from coarse enjoyments, in a temperate and vegetable diet, in refraining from intoxicating drink, and in regulating the hours of sleep. This preparation has been indicated and represented in all forms of worship by a period of penitence and trials preceding the symbolical feasts of life-renewal.
As already said, the most scrupulous external cleanliness must be observed; the poorest person can find spring water. All clothes, furniture, and vessels made use of must also be carefully washed, whether by ourselves or others. All dirt is evidence of negligence, and negligence is deadly in magic. The atmosphere must be purified at rising and retiring with a perfume composed of the juice of laurels, salt, camphor, white resin, and sulphur, repeating at the same time the four sacred names, while turning successively towards the four cardinal points. We must divulge to no one the works that we accomplish, for, as already said in the Doctrine, mystery is the exact and essential condition of all the operations of science. The inquisitive must be misled by the pretence of other occupations and other researches, such as chemical experiments for industrial purposes, hygienic prescriptions, the investigation of some natural secrets, and so on; but the forbidden name of magic must never be pronounced.
The magus must be isolated at the beginning and difficult to approach, so that he may concentrate his power and select his points of contact, but in proportion as he is austere and inaccessible at first, so will he be popular and sought after when he shall have magnetized his chain and chosen his place in a current of ideas and of light. A laborious and poor existence is so favorable to practical initiation that the greatest masters have preferred it, even when the wealth of the world was at their disposal. Then it is that Satan, that is, the spirit of ignorance, who scorns, suspects, and detests science because at heart he fears it, comes to tempt the future master of the world by saying to him: "If thou art the Son of God, command these stones to become bread." Then it is that mercenary men seek to humiliate the prince of knowledge by perplexing, depreciating, or sordidly exploiting his labor; the slice of bread that he deigns to need is broken into ten fragments, so that he may ten times stretch forth his hand. But the magus does not even smile at the absurdity, and calmly pursues his work.
So far as may be possible, we must avoid the sight of hideous objects and uncomely persons, must decline eating with those whom we do not esteem, and must live in the most uniform and studied manner. We must hold ourselves in the highest respect, and must consider that we are dethroned sovereigns who consent to existence in order to reconquer our crowns. We must be mild and considerate to all, but in social relations must never permit ourselves to be absorbed, and must withdraw from circles in which we cannot acquire some initiative. Finally, we may and should fulfill the duties and practise the rites of the cultus to which we belong. Now, of all forms of worship the most magical is that which most realizes the miraculous, which bases the most inconceivable mysteries upon the highest reasons, which has lights equivalent to its shadows, which popularizes miracles, and incarnates God in all mankind by faith. This religion has existed always in the world, and under many names has been ever the one and ruling religion. It has now among the nations of the earth three apparently hostile forms, which are, however, destined to unite before long for the constitution of one universal Church. I refer to the Greek orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, and a final transfiguration of the religion of Buddha.
We have now made it plain, as we believe, that our magic is opposed to the goetic and necromantic kinds; it is at once an absolute science and religion, which should not indeed destroy and absorb all opinions and all forms of worship, but should regenerate and direct them by reconstituting the circle of initiates, and thus providing the blind masses with wise and clear-seeing leaders.
We are living at a period when nothing remains to destroy and
everything to remake. "Remake what? The past?" No one can remake
the past. "What, then, shall we reconstruct? Temples and
thrones?" To what purpose, since the former ones have been cast
down? "You might as well say: my house has collapsed from age, of
what use is it to build another?" But will the house that you
contemplate erecting be like that which has fallen? No, for the
one was old and the other will be new. "Notwithstanding, it will
be always a house." What more can you wish?
by Gerald Schueler
[based upon a January 27, 1995 posting to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Synchronicity is necessarily acausal because that is Jung's own definition. Jung and Pauli worked out a very simplified model which has a vertical line crossing a horizontal line to form a cross.
At the top is pure energy (what I would call spirit). At the bottom, as its counterpart, is our spacetime continuum (matter or physical manifestation).
On the left is causality (which I would interpret as Karma when defined as the Law of Cause and Effect).
And on the right is Synchronicity, which Jung defines as the acausal connecting principle or a meaningful coincidence. In other words, Jung defines synchronicity as the polar opposite or complement (Jung uses the Greek/Gnostic term syzygy) of causality. It refers to things that happen without a physical cause, as when you catch a glimpse of some future event and then later that event really does happen.
The difference between a synchronicity and pure coincidence is that it must be meaningful to the psyche experiencing it.
Until this century, physicists thought that the world was ruled only by causality and thus saw it a mechanistic; a vast machine that was totally deterministic if one simply knew the right equations. Einstein, Bohr, and many others have shown this to be untrue. There is an indeterministic element in our universe. Physicists call this element chance or randomness and describe it in terms of statistical probabilities. I call it the Chaos Factor, but it is all the same thing.
On the other side, many religious and occult-oriented people who believe in Karma, also see the world as deterministic. They believe that every event is destined to occur as the result of past karma.
When our cat barfs on the rug, they would have us believe that once upon a time we were a cat and barfed on someone's rug. Tit for tat. Such folks believe that all events can be foreknown if we but have the Knowledge of past karma. Adepts or Masters, for example, can look at a person, see their past karma in the akashic records, and tell them exactly what kind of coffee they will order for breakfast next weekend.
I am sorry for these people, but science has burst their bubble during this century, and such a worldview is no longer acceptable. I realize here, that by saying this I am treading on a lot of toes. Buddhist Sutras, for example, abound in the wonders of knowing countless ages of past karma. However, it just isn't so. Not totally anyway. Rather, lets just say that all of this is exoteric, and the esoteric truth is that our world has an underlying probabilistic nature.
Anyone today who thinks that our world is deterministic is in serious conflict with modern science. This probabilistic underpining makes us shift our worldview. Before, a Master could see future events. Now, a Master sees highly probable events. The future is shown to be a realm of possibilities, each with a probability attached to it. Because of this, we can never really know what is going to happen in the future with certainty this is but one result of translating the Heisenburg Uncertainty Principle from the scale of the quantum to our everyday world. Thus every now and again during the course of our normal lives a surprise will jump out at us. This affords us the freedom to grow and change, but also cannot be accounted for in the deterministic world of Karma.
Only by positing a counterpart to Karma, such as synchronicity, can we account for these surprises. Jung believed that the indeterministic element of our universe was responsible for such things as ESP and Psychism. I believe that as we bring psychic phenomena into our conscious control, we translate synchronistic events into karmically determined ones. In other words, just as matter and energy are convertible, so are causality (Karma) and acausality (synchronicity) thus the cross in Jung's model.
Again, there are several definitions of karma, and the only one that I am looking at here is as the Law of cause and Effect, or the principle of causality. But I think that the idea of determinism by knowing past karma (which many theosophists subscribe to) is just as flawed as the idea of determinism by knowing mathematical equations (which physicists have recently and very reluctantly agreed is untrue). As above so below if our physical world is probabilistic, then the other cosmic planes probably are too.
Some readers whose worldview depends on karmic determinism will be very upset by this view for which I am sorry. The ideas expressed in this short article are a result of my own attempts to integrate science, Jungian psychology, theosophy, and occultism. camps, when there was any, was typically barley husks mixed with sawdust or ulcer-producing tree bark.
Monks and lamas were special objects of Chinese persecution. Lamas, formerly heads of monasteries, were lashed through the streets of Lhasa with heavy statues of Buddha strapped to their backs. Monks and nuns were forced to copulate in public or branded with irons, There were crucifixions. Monks and nuns were forced to marry while other Tibetans were sterilized in large numbers. One of Tibet's highest lamas, the Panchen Lama, was publicly beaten in his trial for "crimes against the state" chiefly his support of the Dalai Lama. His aged tutor was sent to Golomo where he shortly died and the Panchen himself was imprisoned for fourteen years, and released in 1978 for political reasons. It is still illegal today to even have a picture of the Dalai Lama. NBC recently reported an arrest for having his picture on a T-shirt.
In China's "development" of Tibet, the provinces of Gansu and Amdo were transformed into what a 1979 "Time" magazine article calls a "vast sea of prison camps" with up to ten million Tibetan and Chinese prisoners a "black hole... from which little information ever reached the outside world." By 1978 China's largest nuclear weapons factory was located at Nagchuka 165 miles north of Lhasa. Whole mountain ranges have been denuded of timber. Tibet's vast herds of wild yaks have become nearly if not extinct and her formerly endless flocks of ducks and geese have disappeared. Sixty western scientists were allowed to visit Tibet in 1980 and according to their account there is not a large wild mammal to be seen anywhere and only a few birds in Tibet's now steril landscape.
In short, there has been nothing worse in Nazi Germany, Stalin's Gulags, or under the Khymer Regime in Cambodia that what has occurred in Tibet under the Chinese. There is no outcry in the West, however, over this atrocity or even sparse public knowledge. It is good politics to be friends with China and its billion people, while Tibet is important neither economically or militarily and Buddhism matters very little in the political grist mills of the world. Our country, which prides itself for its stand on worldwide human rights, has chosen expediency and officially recognizes China's claim to right of sovereignty over Tibet.
What was to befall Tibet was perhaps forseen by the Thirteenth Dalai Lama when he wrote in 1932, a year before his death:
It may happen that here, in the center of Tibet, religion and government will be attacked both from without and within. Unless we can guard our own country, it will now happen that the Dalai and Panchen Lamas, the Father and Son, and all the revered holders of the Faith, will disappear and become nameless. Monks and their monasteries will be destroyed. The rule of law will be weakened. The lands and property of government officials will be seized. They themselves will be forced to serve their enemies or wander the country like beggars. All beings will be sunk in great hardship and overpowering fear; the days and nights will drag on slowly in suffering.
While the present Dalai Lama has become a world ambassador in his never ending efforts to gain independence for Tibet, his attitude is also objective and philosophic.
There are many prophecies which indicate that I will be the last Dalai Lama.... The world is changing so dramatically, that there may no longer be a need for the lineage.
Elsewhere he has stated that
The very aggregates of a human mind and body have, as their actual nature, suffering. They serve as a basis for suffering, and as long as one has them one is susceptible to suffering. Form a deep point of view, while we Tibetans don't have our independence and are living in someone else's country, we are subject to a certain type of suffering, but when we return to Tibet and gain our independence, then there will be other types of suffering. So, you see, this is just the way it is. You might think that I'm pessimistic, but I am not. This is Buddhist realism. This is how, through Buddhist teaching and advice, we handle situations. These sorts of thoughts make one stronger, more active.
In Exile From the Land of Snows, John F. Avedon, Alfred A. Knopf, NY, 1984
The Making of Modern Tibet, A. Tom Grunfeld, M.E. Sharp Inc.,
Armonk, NY, 1987
by Eldon Tucker
[based upon a January 30, 1995 posting to email@example.com.]
The subject of chaos, as a new subject of study, has the potential of enriching our understanding of live, and the law of cycles, and how the world works. We can derive many new keys to unlock the mysteries that stand before us in our theosophical studies.
There's a very good book, Turbulent Mirror, by John Briggs & F. David Peat, Perennial Library, Harper & Row Publishers, New York, 1989. This 222 page paperback presents the many areas of thought related to the study of chaos in both a mathematical and scientific manner, and in a well-digested, clearly-presented philosophical presentation. I'd highly recommend it as an important supplement to theosophical studies, and would personally place it much higher than "The Source of Measures."
When we come to a study of chaos, as a modern discipline, we first need to realize that the term "chaos" was coined. Nonlinear dynamics and other areas of mathematics and physics, grouped under the term "chaos," are not extensions of early religious thought, simply because the same term was used.
There is not the duality of chaos versus cosmos in the sense of randomness versus order. We don't have "accidents" at times and the karmic results of actions, the results of previous causes, at other times.
This is not to say that everything appears to be ordered and well-behaved. While the mathematics of a living system, of a system undergoing continual iteration or self-feedback, is deterministic, ordered, and not random in nature, the matter of predictibility is a different subject.
There are certain basic stages to the manifestation of a living system. A good graphic analogy, a good metaphysical symbol, is the bifurcation curve. At a low energy level, life cannot sustain itself, and death results. At a slightly higher energy level, life adjusts to its environment and can exist. At this stage it is stable, balanced, and ordered in a predictable, near-linear way. At yet a higher energy level, it undergoes its first bifurcation, where it now has a dual state, and it goes back and forth. At yet higher levels, the number of states that it goes through become more and more varied and unstable, until its state is totally unpredictable or chaotic.
Again, we don't have a duality of chaos versus cosmos in the sense of randomness versus order. What we rather have is predictability versus unpredictability, but order nevertheless. We can have a system where we can, say, plot on a x/y graph an ellipse that represents all states of a system. That system is well-defined, is ordered; its states only exist on that curve. But the system may be "chaotic" in the sense that we cannot predict from one moment of time to the next where on that graph its state will be. The system is chaotic in the sense we cannot predict a precise future state, but is ordered. That order, that holds it to the well-defined set of stages, is called a "strange attractor."
Another example of apparent chaos is in the static on phone lines, which comes under "intermittency." No matter how clear we try to make the line, there will be small, apparently random bursts of noise. When we examine those bursts of noise, they have the same pattern of small bursts of noise, at increasing degrees of magnification. We have a fractal order to the signal on the phone line. The order is not random, accidental, but described by fractals.
(Fractals represent another area of study, that related to theosophic thought. We have a type of mathematical object that has fractional dimension, that has an infinite amount of detail, that at different levels of magnification shows the same pattern or richness of detail [the macrocosm/microcosm idea], and models real-life processes.)
With chaos, we have order in the universe, but sometimes that order eludes us, sometimes that order is unpredictable in either time or space. That unpredictability and apparent disorder arises from living systems being at too high an energy level, being at too high a level of self-feedback, and where they have moved from an ordered existence along the turbulent pathway towards "chaos".
When the apparent order is gone, the higher type of order is maintained in an almost metaphysical way, in strange attactors, in unseen forces that maintain order in the apparent external chaos of external unpredictability.
Consider karma. If life were operating at a slower pace, we might have a more-immediate sense of cause-and-effect feedback for our actions and interactions with others. Now, in the turbulent, tense, difficult Kali Yuga, our karmic web is in a chaotic stage, where karma acts as a strange attractor, still guaranteeing that our results come back to us, but not externally predictably in a linear fashion in time and space. We know that the fruits of our actions will return to us, but cannot say when or where.
Is everything karmic? No. There are accidents. Life is imperfect and all beings, even the highest Dhyani-Chohans, are subject to error. And there is yet an even more important ingredient: the free will of others in the present. Everything that other people do is not simply the results of our past actions. The whole of life is not merely a puppet show for us. Others have their free will do, and everyone participates in making what will happen. The interaction between us and others is negotiated in the sense that the person on each side of a relationship has an influence on what will happen. We have, between ourselves and others, not so much a give and take of x units of "karmic currency" as we have a living bond through which we co-create what happens.
Coming back to chaos, an important idea is the "butterfly effect," the sensitive dependence on initial conditions. Certain systems may be living at a point where the slightest external change, the slightest perturbation, would cause a radical state change. A pencil balanced on its lead point would be an example of this. As we increase our energy levels, and move from the regions of ordered to turbulent existence, we find such points becoming more frequent.
Taking some of the symbols from chaos, and using them as theosophical symbols, we could consider three for now. A fractal shows the macrocosm/microcosm relationship, and a study of how and when fractals occur in nature is rewarding. The bifurcation curve is the best mathematical illustration of the law of cycles, and should replace the symbol of the serpent swallowing its tail. And the mandelbrot set (which I haven't discussed in this posting) is an excellent example of the karmic web, of the law of living relationships.
A caveat must be given at this point. Mathematics is a tool to model life, but is not life itself. Life has many options as to how it will manifest itself, and external forms are patterned after mathematical principles, but the life itself was not "caused" or controlled by the mathematics of those forms. The forms and the associated mathematics were chosen by the life, not the causes of the life.
A second warning is that when we deal with a new field of
scientific and philosophical thought, we approach it with an open
mind, but not accept everything on face value, and assume that
because many ideas are attractive and ring true, that we accept
everything without due critical thought. The Wisdom Teachings in
Theosophy relate to a far grander type of learning that we find
in popular disciplines, and it's important to never lose sight of
its majestic heights.
by Nicholas Weeks
[based upon a January 30, 1995 posting to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
It's been said that experience is not all that it is cracked up to be, but on the other hand it's really about all we have.
Neither Buddhism nor Theosophy teaches reliance on "only our personal experiences as our guide". Nor do they teach incorporation of "only those teachings that fit in with those experiences."
In one of Buddha's last teachings before his body died, he said to Ananda:
It may be that some among you will think, 'Our Guru's teachings have stopped, we no longer have a Guru.' But that is not so Ananda. That which I have proclaimed and made known as the Teaching and the Moral Rules, that shall be your Guru after I am gone.
If Buddha's Middle Way means anything, it means avoiding exclusive reliance on either our own or others' views.
H.P. Blavatsky, in The Key to Theosophy, and in The Secret Doctrine, writes of Adepts accepting a personal vision as true, only if it coincides with the previous visions of other Adepts. So if anything, the balance swings away from self reliance and towards a collective or shared view of truth.
Throughout Asia, one would never take an inner experience, whether a logical conclusion, a dream or a meditative insight, and appraise it based only on one's own personal experience. You would approach your Guru first, (and other Sages too if he was not sure of the value or meaning), and seek from him verification, denial, or explanation of it. You would also study the scriptures of your own tradition to see what light they might shed on this event.
The dangers of relying too heavily on self-instruction are many.
Not the least of which is strutting about as an Initiate, Buddha
or any Christ-like sage; when all you have had, at best, is some
astral vision, or perhaps a samadhi-like state of concentration.
by Mark Jaqua
[From Protogonos, Winter 1987-88.]
In what was to be the beginning of one of the periodic madnesses that grip parts or all the globe, in the spring of 1950 Tibet was invaded by China after China's declaration that it intended to free Tibet from the "influence of foreign imperialists" (there being six westerners in Tibet at the time.) It was to prove the total destruction of the base of exoteric Mahayana Buddhism, which has identical doctrines to that of Theosophy. The invasion was to directly and indirectly result in the death of some one million Tibetans and to make refugees of 100,000 others including the Dalai Lama.
Before China's attempted "modernization" of Tibet, it was the home of some 3,000 Buddhist monasteries and 200,000 monks. By 1984 these vast numbers had shrunk to a remaining or rebuilt 45 monasteries housing some 1,400 monks. For years any practice of religion was forbidden in Tibet, but in the last ten years under a new Chinese administration some of these strictures have been loosened. Partially this change in policy is due to the value of Buddhism as a tourist attraction. While the superficial ceremonial practice of Buddhism is allowed, any serious scholastic study of its scriptures is forbidden.
Most the destruction of monasteries occurred during the chaos of China's "Cultural Revolution" in the 1960's. Some monasteries were taken apart brick by brick while most were dynamited or shelled with field artillery although the walls of most were too thick to be totally destroyed. The process was to first take an inventory of all valuables. Gold and silver artifacts were taken in truck convoys to China to be melted into bullion. Manuscripts were either burned on the spot or sent for use as shoe padding and toilet paper. Clay images were pulverized and recast for the specific purpose of making public lavatories. At the central temple in the capital at Lhasa, sacred manuscripts kept bonfires burning for five days. Monasteries not totally destroyed were used for granaries, barracks or offices. The temple at Lhasa was renamed "Guest House #5" and used for government offices and its courtyards for keeping pigs.
Monks were either killed or shipped with other Tibetans to work
camps such as that at Golomo to build railroads, Tsala Ka to mine
borax, or Kongpo for timbering. At Golomo, which is at 10,000
foot elevation and has six months of winter with gale force winds
much of the time, large numbers died almost immediately from
exposure and starvation. One account claims that 1,400 of 1,700
prisoners held at Drepang monastery died of starvation from
Novermber 1960 to June 1961. Tibetan's homes were arbitrarily
seized and all their possession sold. During this period Tibet's
agricultural production actually increased, but nearly all the
harvest, except that kept for Chinese troups, was shipped to
China to offset its own famine. While famine was previously
unknown in Tibet, formerly prosperous peasants were reduced to
stealing scraps from the Chinese's pigs, picking horse offal for
undigested grain, and feeding their own blood mixed with tsampa
(tea) to their to their starving children. Fare at the work
by Reed Carson
1. The home study course announced one month ago has been quite successful. Over 40 people have subscribed to it. More subscribe each day. (During this month we got 5 of the topics online.)
2. Book store pricing change: During the early part of July it quickly became apparent that the discount approach we launched on July 1 was not what visitors wanted. So we scraped it. Instead we examined thoughtfully the pricing structure of the well known online booksellers. It is very obvious that significant book discounts are readily available online. We consider this not a fad but a basic change in the way society does things on this new medium of the internet and we deem it to be just and proper (even wonderful) economics. Accordingly we reevaluated the price of all books and have set competitive prices for all. To our knowledge, we have met or beaten all the prices of the other well known online booksellers. We aim to keep it this way. You should enjoy the prices.
3. Bookstore shipping policies: Our shipping cost method has been changed to "per book" rather than "total cost of purchase" so that people can compare shipping cost at Blavatsky Net to the shipping cost of the prominent online booksellers. In each case the BN cost is less for comparable delivery times. Also, in response to customer needs, we have made available faster and slower means of delivery than we offered previously.
4. In the past, as BN has been getting started, we have sold Theosophical books from only one publisher Theosophy Company. Theosophy Company sells its publications for a remarkably low price and historically has been notably faithful to the originals. During this month we have expanded to include some offerings from three other Theosophical publishers, namely Theosophical Publishing House, Theosophy University Press, and Point Loma Publications. Some of their recent important work is quite helpful and we regard it as an asset for the Theosophical community. We have selected the the abridgement of Isis Unveiled by Gomes, the new Secret Doctrine index by Van Mater, Vernon Harrison's latest book, along with the low price paperback version of The Secret Doctrine and Isis, and some others. These can all be found in the "Blavatsky Aisle" along with the "About H.P.B." aisle in the bookstore at this site. All these changes make Blavatsky Net Bookstore an attractive and competitively priced place to purchase Theosophical books. We are working on more.
5. Now getting back to Theosophy itself: The "Judge articles" page has been enhanced with links to articles by Judge on other sites. The result is a "judge articles" page having links to the full text of 120 judge articles. The "judge articles" page can be found in the "online text" section of the home page.
6. Another study class was added. This one is in Malbu California and is studying the Secret Doctrine. We have heard it has many "old timers" in attendance and is doing an excellent job.
7. A question arose as a result of receiving some email: "How does one practice Theosophy?" The "Thoughts" page now has an article called "Practical Theosophy" that gives one student's answer to that question. (The "Thoughts" page is dedicated to member submitted articles.)
8. The Pope has done it again. He has issued a proclamation that may hasten those outcomes he is trying to prevent. See the Weathervane for this.
9. Membership increased more rapidly during July at a little
more than two per day. No one resigned.
by Doreen Domb
[based upon an December 16, 1994 posting to email@example.com]
The freedom to think for oneself which I believe true Theosophy supports is more important to me, rather than getting bogged down in what others say we ought to think and do. I think it is realistic that we recognize that theosophists are no more exempt from fundamentalism than are any other human beings who support particular belief systems. Many of us have acknowledged, time and again, how wonderful it is that (original source) Theosophy is ensconced in no dogma or rules to follow. The embracing of brotherhood and the basic understanding of the three fundamental principles are sufficient as springboards to get on with one's own individual quest. And it is one's choice to further explore and implement the aforementioned.
Thus, I feel a little distressed when I hear theosophists express fears such as, being at the mercy of Masters, or the like, telling us how to be "good" theosophists. We are under no obligation to accept everything we come across "theosophically." There are times when each of us needs to decide what resonates to us as "theosophical" and what does not. This is freedom of thought, and it is our birthright.
I believe reasonably intelligent and ethical human beings possess the capacity to utilize common sense (remember that H.P.B. stressed the use of common sense). It's remembering that we have the ability of common sense that seems to be a problem! Why is it that the seemingly simple things give us so much trouble at times? It is not these things that make trouble for us it is ourselves that bring the trouble about!
Certainly there are some aspects of the teachings that I don't accept because they don't ring true for me. There are other facets that I don't understand and that I am still working on. I believe the bottom line is a relative and subjective one: To trust your own intelligence and intuition enough in striving to see the whole picture. Goodness knows it's far from easy. We think that we crave freedom, yet we get in our own way sometimes when the opportunity arises. I know I do that to myself one too many times!
For example, there seems to be various controversies as to whether the Mahatmas really exist/existed or not. I probably believe that they do/did, but that's not the important thing. The principles and teachings are what matter most, in addition to how we understand them, and how effectively and practically we can work them into our daily lives.
It is a wonderful freedom to be able to carry on one's original or basic beliefs (e.g., Jewish, Buddhist, Christian, etc.), while integrating a theosophical worldview into them. There is nothing one needs to give up or compromise, but one certainly can refine, enhance and/or broaden one's worldview. And occasionally, we will have to deal with individuals and/or organizations that tell us what's what and what's not, an activity that is as far removed from Theosophy as one can get, in my opinion.
I am no lofty being who knows it all. I've got such a long,long way to go. Earthly life can be a bummer sometimes, but isn't it marvelous that we have the timeless Ancient Wisdom to strengthen our foundation and keep us going! I would like to compassionately suggest that each of us try to follow our own hearts and intuition, with some intelligence and a lot of common sense thrown in for good measure.
From time to time, there will be those out there who continue to trash each other and give each other a hard time, because they strongly feel they have the one true answer. It's hard to get past our own individual garbage sometimes, but acknowledging this is an important first step. It seems to be the human condition. The challenge involves a raising of our consciousness out of our personalities/egos, and a centering of it with greater and greater frequency within our divine selves. And perhaps most important, to operate from within that higher self into our daily lives.
I don't understand why we human beings perpetuate this kind of fear and inject it into our theosophical (and other portions of) lives. We have enough to deal with, in just getting through each day on earth.
Here's to onward and upward ethical evolution!
by Eldon Tucker
[based upon a January 18, 1995 posting to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
There are various levels to our inner nature, various ways of experiencing and appreciating life. Going inward and upward to the top, we reach the Unknowable. As we move away from that Mystery, step-by-step closer to coming into existence, we take on different types of limitations, each bringing with it a different manner of the experience of life. Each step that we take in coming into existence is another veil put on over our ultimate nature. These veils make up the twelve principles of consciousness; we need them all to be fully-embodied and manifest on a plane, down and through the physical body or a mind-created substitute (Mayavi-Rupa).
It is true that if we go deep enough within, we reach a stage or level where we are perfect, above evolution, and not lacking for anything. But this does not mean we are free of the necessity of evolution. There is a deep part of us that transcends time and existence; it is not subject to evolution. But there are other, "lower" parts of us that are both eternal and subject to the demands of evolution over time. There is a part of us that transcends existence, yet participates in time, and is subject to growth, change, iteration, self-feedback, evolution, self-genesis.
Following is a list of the twelve principles. For purpose of discussion, names are given to those usually unnamed; these names are not taken from a theosophical authority, and could be considered arbitrary. (Note that although in Blavatsky's writings, specific mention is made of just seven principles, Purucker goes on to mention twelve. From my studies, my current thinking leads me to outline them, hypothetically, as follows.)
Label ## Name F 11 Tat (Mystery) can never know by either negation or attribution E 10 Parabrahman unconditioned perfection, beyond need to exist or not exist, not looking down upon the world D 9 Swabhava ideal nature, beyond time, ever-present, unchanging as we know change C 8 Auric Egg karmic treasure, beyond space, form, or existence, non-being but looking upon manifest world B 1-7 Atma to Physical our seven principles of conscious existence A 0 Tat (Mystery) unknown root materiality
Let's go over this table. The seven principles (B) are as we have learned in Theosophy. They are the basic ingredients of manifest consciousness. We take on Atman in coming into existence, and clothe ourselves in all the other principles as we become fully-embodied. Without these seven principles, we still are, but continue in a state of non-being, of non-manifestation, of being formless and out of relationship with conditioned existence.
Why do we come into existence? There is a periodic desire for manifestation, a thirst for life, sometimes called "tanha." A positive experience may be desired, where we seek adventure and have an urge towards creativity and self-expression.
Outside of existence, what are we? We are the remaining, higher principles. In (C) we have our essential nature as of this moment in time. It is the transcendent part of us that is subject to time. It contains the fullness of ourselves, as compared to that small portion that is emanated in any single existence. It is the Auric Egg, and contains as its contents the karmic seeds or treasury of our previous spiritual evolution. This part of us transcends existence, but looks down upon the waters of space and is the silent observer of our manifest existence. It is this part of us that is subject to spiritual evolution, that grows and changes over time.
How can we go higher than this? Into timelessness, into a manner of perfection that has no room for improvement, into a part of ourselves that is our unique, personal, essential nature or Swabhava (D). This part of us never changes, but is still unique and individual. It is the Monad. It is perfect, but of a type of perfection that is concerned with the imperfection of the world. It is a downward-looking perfection, like Avalokitesvara; it is a nurturing Inner God. This principle of consciousness is the driving force behind our personal evolution; it compels us to ever strive to be more truly ourselves, to strive to better and better express what we are in our heart. It is the heart that seeks expression, whereas in the Auric Egg (C) we have the eternal pilgrim on the never-ending trek.
With Swabhava, we have risen above both space, and manifest existence, and above time, or being subject to change. How could we possibly go higher? With Parabrahm, or Paramatman (E), we reach beyond ourselves. There is not a sense of our ideal nature, but rather of embracing everything. And it is the part of us that is too perfect to be concerned about manifest existence. Paramatman is absorbed in stillness or absolute motion. It is the realm of absolutes, where they take on a literal reality because there is no limitations due to conditioned existence. In this part of ourselves we are too perfect, too near the ultimate root of all, too far-removed from the outer world to care about it in any way. We are in absolute peace, without concern for outer existence, inward at our core, beyond any relationship whatever with the drama of life.
Now if Paramatman (E) is the highest we can experience, what of Tat, the Mystery, (F)? What do we experience of this part of ourselves? Nothing. Not a word can be said about it, either as an attribute or by negation. It is both a part of us that is inseparable and yet never-knowable. It is simply the Grand Unknown. It is both the highest and lowest principle of consciousness, both (F) and (A).
Coming back to the idea of evolution, it is an eternal urge.
When we drop out of our Ideal Nature (Swabhava) into
participation in time (Auric Egg), a dynamic tension is created.
That tension arises from the loss of our timeless perfection,
which we are ever seeking after, in an endless evolutionary
journey. We are thrown into the process of self-becoming,
self-expression, self-unfolding over time. This evolution is not
"jumping through hoops." It is not something arbitrary, something
to be escaped from as a trap. And it is not something that is
every ultimately completed. To rise above evolution, we shift
our consciousness into our highest principles, above those that
participate in time; to redescend into evolution we shift our
consciousness back into the lower principles. There never comes
a time where the part of us subject to evolution over time can
say "I'm done!"