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THEOSOPHY WORLD ----------------------------------- October, 1997

An Internet Magazine Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy
And its Practical Application in the Modern World

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(Please note that the materials presented in THEOSOPHY WORLD are 
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be reposted or otherwise republished without prior permission.)


"Call for Papers" by Ernest Pelletier
"What is It in Us that Sees the 'Passage of Time'?" 
    by Dallas TenBroeck
"Historic and Spiritual Truth" by Eldon Tucker
"Theosophical Search Engine" by Scott J. Osterhage
"Additions to Online Books" by Sarah Bell Dougherty
"Studies in 'The Voice of the Silence', Part II" by B.P. Wadia
"Book of Enlightened Masters" by Paul Johnson
"Conditioned and Abstract Time" by Eldon Tucker
"Light in the Daily Routine" by Annette Rivington
"Animal, Group & Folk Souls" by Mark Kusek
"Paradigms of Consciousness During Sleep" by Donald J.
    DeGracia, Ph.D.
"Karma and the Victorian Mind" by Chuck Cosimano
"Disseminating Theosophy" by Andrew Rooke


Some men think that the gratification of curiosity is the end of
knowledge; some the love of fame; some the pleasure of dispute;
some the necessity of supporting themselves by their knowledge;
but the real use of all knowledge is this, that we should dedicate
that reason which was given us by God to the use and advantage of

-- Francis Bacon


by Ernest Pelletier

The Edmonton Theosophal Society is issuing a call for papers for 
its upcoming conference. Papers on "The Works and Influence of 
H.P. Blavatsky" are being sought. The focus is on what HPB 
presented and her influence on 20th century thought.

This conference will provide a forum for presentations and open 
dialogue. It will be held July 3 to 5, 1998, in Edmonton, Alberta, 

For further details, email

or write:
    Edmonton Theosophical Society
    Box 4587
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Canada  T6E 5G4


by Dallas TenBroeck

The past of our whole life to date lies in "memory." There are
layers of memory.  Some come easily to the surface of the mind on
recall, and others come with difficulty.  But their existence,
and the "power of perception" as a fact, but also as a quality
that is difficult to measure to its depth is show by some
experiements in hypnosis which revealed the existence of some of
them, when the "active mind of our day-to-day life is made
quiescent, and deeper layers emerge, on order, by the

[I am not going into the matter of the morality of using hypnosis
here.  That is a different question on which Theosophical
doctrine has some definite statements.]

> What is Time...but the panoramic succession of our states of
> consciousness?
> -- 	SD I p. 44 top

> Occult philosopy has taught since the existence of human speech
> and languagee...on the principle of the immutable law of
> analogy--"as it is above, so it is below"--that other axiom...
> That there is neither Spirit nor matter, in reality, but only
> numberless aspects of the Once, ever-hidden IS (or SAT)...
> The homogeneous primordial Element is simple and single only on
> the terrestrial plane of consciousness and sensation, since
> matter, after all, is nothing else than the sequence of our own
> states of concsiousness, and Spirit an idea of psychic
> inuition....
> -- SD I 542 top [some modifications to the quote for emphasis by
> me --DTB]

Now what is "psychic intuition? Seems like a mixture of kama and
buddhic memories, or perceptions of Buddhic intuition passing
through our own layer of kamic limitations, colors and
perceptions? Very curious expression.

My guess is that the basis for all our evalution of "time" lies
in that resident ray (aspect?) of SAT in each of us.

Using our physical based brain-intelligence we speak of "my time"
and "my memory." We then concede that for our era, we have all
shared in the passage of the moments in time of the whole era in
which we live.  We have, in other words, shared the same time,
but our perception is limited to OUR LIMITED EXPERIENCE.

By analogy we concede to others their own share of this common
time and of their particular slice of "time" because of their
personal experience.

If SAT is the omnipresent SPIRIT of the Universe, then we all
bathe in IT, conceivably, and IT forms the basis for our common
"Universal Brotherhood." -- and our brotherhood with all other
beings.  If we can extend this concept, we may see that which
Theosophy lays down as an axiom : all MONADS are in evolution
together, and the differences that we perceive, say between an
atom and a Man, or between a Man and the World, the World and the
entire Universe are matters of degree of experience, and not
limited to those forms that we contact and sense physically.

By this thinking, we are passing beyond the realm of the purely
physical into metaphysical space and metaphysical "time." I do
not mean by this multidimensioned transference (a la Science
Fiction genre) of the physicall body and personality from era to
era, but of the transfer of the power of thought to revisit and
review, say, the tablets of the "unseen Universe," names in
antiquity the tablets of AKASA.  But that is only looking from
the "present to the "past."

What of the "future"? Does not the doctrine of KARMA take care
of that on the basis that we are creating our future intermeshed
with the "future" of all the beings we employ (the skandhas,
"little-lives" or "life-atoms"), and all the "mind-futures" of
humans around and about us?

Thus the idea of any "future" has to be bound to our "past"
choices, thoughts, desires and actions.  We have then, and now,
today, set up the arena for our own futures in terms of psychic,
physical, emotional, and mind experiences?

Are not our lives (as we remember them) so far, examples of this

And for us to say: "I lived through that." implies automatically
that their is inherent in us an aspect of our being which does
not alter with circumstance and mood, but is able to remain
detached as a kind of an "observer." Is this a proof of the
"Higher Self?"

If we think of the seven-fold nature of the Cosmos, and of man,
the we have indeed, in addition to our physical brain and
personality limited mind, the vista of other ways of thought [ Is
this Manas-mind?].

In this search : I have raised the idea of the residual layers of
memory, which our daily consciousness seems unable to easily
raise.  Then there is the concept of the "astral brain" in which
the electro-magnetic impressions of all observations and thoughts
and feeling are resident as "pictures." [ this may be the "Lower,
Kama-Manas."] Then there is that aspect in us of the
"SAT"-Spirit which is universal, and presumably, through that
alone, the tablets of Akasa can be contacted, when necessary. 
Cosmically, as I understand it, the Akasic records are accessible
through "Buddhi."

Such an esay opens so much thought and ends in drawing on many
aspects of the Theosophical philosophy as these cohere to

Also consider an extract from Notes on the Bhagavad Gita, chapter
3, is interesting in this context:

> Our consciousness is one and not many, nor different from other
> consciousnesses.  It is not waking consciousness or sleeping
> consciousness, or any other but consciousness itself.
> Now that which I have called consciousness is Being.  
> The ancient division was:
> 	SAT, or Being;			{  	These together
> 	CHIT, or Consciousness, Mind;	{	are called
> But SAT--or Being--the first of the three, is itself both CHIT
> and ANANDA.  The appearing together in full harmony of Being and
> Consciousness is Bliss or ANANDA.  Hence the harmony is called
> But the one consciousness of each person is the Witness of
> Spectator of the actions and experiences of every state we are in
> or pass through.  It therefore follows that the waking condition
> of the mind is not separate consciousness.
> The one consciousness pierces up and down through all the states
> or planes of Being, and serves to uphold the memory--whether
> compelete or incomplete --of each state's experiences.
> Thus in waking life, SAT experiences fully and knows.  In dream
> state, SAT again knows and sees what goes on there, while there
> may not be in the brain a complete memory of the waking state
> just quitted.  In Sushupti--beyond dream and yet on indefinitely,
> SAT still knows all that is done or heard or seen.
> -- WQJudge -- Gita Notes 98-100


by Eldon Tucker

[based upon a May 16, 1994 posting to]

We read of historic truth, and will often find a growing
difference between the literal facts, as we can glean from
historic records, and the myths and grand stories we have of
great people of bygone ages.

Is there really a distinction between historic and spiritual
truth? Is the past an objective reality, or does it only exist as
effects in the present?

As time moves on, the distant past becomes less real. The
literal facts and experiences of an event long ago eventually
become recycled as more recent memories or the stuff of what is
happening now. We could not continue to exist if we could not
forget, really forget, permanently forget, and move on. There is
a purpose, for instance, in our forgetting the details of
previous lifetimes on the earth.

The energy invested in events of the past, in the images of
things that have happened and are no more, needs to be freed. 
The images need to be broken and die. This energy is needed to
animate new forms in our lives. Do not dwell in pride over great
accomplishments of the past. This prevents you from doing your
next great work. Or consider a murderer, unable to heal himself
and move on until he can break free of his dreadful contemplation
and reliving of the horrid crime!

The historic facts are but one aspect of an event. There are the
effects of the other principles (astral through Atman) too. 
These effects of the past change or transform as we grow and
change. They are not static.

People take on mythic proportion over time. This is not because
unreality sets in. The higher truths sought expression in
someone's life. These truths may have only partially come out in
their lifetime. In the years following their physical deaths,
the effects continue, and history has a chance to *correct

The higher truths still have an effect on us and continue to come
out, altering us in the present and altering our appreciation of
the person in the past. History literally changes itself as
inner forces behind the historic people and events change us and
our experience of it.

Certain seemingly ordinary people can be elevated to mythic
proportion over time because of continued effects on us from
causes that originated while they were alive. Others with a
mixture of good and evil could be redeemed. This might happen as
benefits of the good deeds continue to help while the evil deeds
are no longer seen or felt.

In once sense history in written in stone, forever unchanging. 
In another sense, history is a living, dynamic, changing
influence, an integral part of our lives.

Impermanence is the keynote of life. Failure to accept the
impermanence of life is the primary cause of suffering. Most of
us accept the impermanence of the future, rejecting a literal
sense of predestiny. Some people embrace the impermanent nature
of the present; they see the great Emptiness in outer life. How
many of us, though, embrace the impermanence of the past as well?

A sense of dynamic past, both in one's private life and one's
relationship with the outer world, is an important part of the
spiritual path. It does not deny those scraps of paper, once
written, that tells us of the thoughts of a day long gone. It
instead frees us to fashion our minds and hearts according to the
spiritual will. We are freed to move on in life and not be
enchained by the personal baggage that we carry with us. 


by Scott J. Osterhage

For those who may be interested, The Theosophical Society
International Headquarters ( ) has
added a search engine to its site which will allow the user to
search the full text of all the books online.  Theosophy
Northwest --

-- has also added a search engine to their site which gives it
the capability of searching the over 450 articles and many other
items online.

The newest addition to this site is the "Collation of
Theosophical Glossaries." This work contains definitions of
theosophical and metaphysical terms from several theosophical
books integrated into one alphabetical listing.

These include Blavatsky's "Theosophical Glossary," Judge's
"Working Glossary," Purucker's "Occult Glossary," and Barborka's
"Gods and Heroes of the Bhagavad-Gita" in their entirety; the
glossaries from Blavatsky's "Key to Theosophy" and "Voice of the
Silence," "Five Years of Theosophy," Titchenell's "Masks of
Odin," Moffett's in "Esotericism of the Popol Vuh;" terms from
"Isis Unveiled," Tyberg's "Sanskrit Keys to the Wisdom Religion,"
and Hall's "Sanskrit Pronunciation." (All Copyrighted material
included with permission.)


by Sarah Bell Dougherty

Theosophical University Press Online --

-- has uploaded the first installment of its electronic edition
of "The Secret Doctrine" -- Volume 1, Book 1 (vol.  1 to page
300).  The other 5 books which comprise the 2 volumes will be
added as they are ready.

This full-text version is verbatim with the facsimile edition of
1888, except for minor changes, such as those noted below, and
the correction of obvious typographical errors such as dropped
letters.  In html, it retains page-breaks so that researchers can
find material referred to by page in other sources.

Differences from the print version include: removing all
diacritical marks (for ease in searching); using multiple
asterisks instead of daggers, etc., to mark footnotes; and
transliterating Greek characters into Latin italics (Hebrew
characters appear as pictures inserted in the text).

Please send any comments or suggestions about formatting, errors,
or other technical matters to  Recently
added to the TUP Online site is G.  de Purucker's "Studies in
Occult Philosophy," 760 print-pages of short articles, answers to
questions, and remarks at study-groups on "The Secret Doctrine"
and "The Mahatma Letters."

Published posthumously, it covers a very wide range of topics,
from technical theosophical teachings to human problems.  It is
particularly useful in conjunction with the on-site search


by B.P. Wadia

[From the 1989 ULT pamphlet containing a reprint from THE
THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT, X, August 1940, pages 151-54.]

[6] The asceticism which ~The Voice of the Silence~ advocates is
that of the thinking principle -- the withdrawal of the mind from
its present position in which it is a slave.  The mind is a
victim of internal images composed of elemental-lives which form
the desire-principle, and these awaken the senses to activity and
make them the feeders of that principle.  Man's objective world
is but a reflection -- a shadowy emanation -- of this subjective
plane of desire-images.

In the waking state of consciousness man does not live in the
world of the mind but in that of the senses ensouled by desires
within which the mind is captive.  Man's so-called reasoning is
not a pure activity engendered by the mind but is premised on
sense- impressions which are permeated by desires.  Even men of
Science in using their minds proceed from sense-data to
deductions, and, though in most of them personal desires in
connection with the objects of observation are in abeyance, they
yet suffer from their dependence on desire-shot senses.  The eyes
of a drunken man see things askew: the mind of one who in drawing
his conclusions depends on the senses fraught with the
desire-principle also sees askew.  Sense-data to be true and
sense-observations to be accurate must be devoid of the forces of
the desire-principle.  When Esoteric Philosophy calls the world
of objects illusory it means that it is so not in the sense that
the objects do not exist but in the sense that our valuation of
them is false.  The objective world may well be compared to a
great bazaar in which desire-enslaved minds, not knowing the true
prices of things, are taken in, have to bargain, to haggle and to
wrangle for things needed and have to be tempted to want and to
acquire other things.  The mind thus exploited in the bazaar of
the objective world gains experience and learns to evaluate each
object at its proper worth, and then -- and not before then --
man begins to live in that world.

Our difficulty, then, as will be readily seen, does not inhere in
the objects but in our ignorance of the true values of those
objects, due to our desires in which the mind is imprisoned. 
Desires by themselves, unaided by the power of thought, would be
innocuous; energized by it they make man the worst of the animal
kingdom.  Therefore our textbook calls this mind the Slayer of
the Real and at the very outset gives the injunction to the
Disciple to slay the Slayer.  It also states the method --
"become indifferent to objects of perception." This mind,
captivated by desire, which courses in the nervous system of the
body, is called the chief of the senses, and it is this
mind-sense which makes man different from the animal -- capable
of becoming superior to it as also of developing into the most
cunning and the most carnal of beasts.

> [7] Having become indifferent to objects of perception, the pupil
> must seek out the Rajah of the senses, the Thought- Producer, he
> who awakes illusion.  The Mind is the great Slayer of the Real. 
> Let the Disciple slay the Slayer.
> [1-2 ULT; 1 TUP]

It is the activity of this mind in the objective world which has
first to be handled by the aspirant-chela.  Unless we see that
these objects become channels, offer food to internal images and
help to satisfy our cravings we shall not be able to evaluate
them correctly.  We value an object in terms of the satisfaction
or the delight which it gives to our desire-fraught senses.  This
is the cause of illusion which is ignorance -- not total absence
of knowledge but the false evaluation of objects, mistaking lust
for love.

> If thou would'st cross the first Hall safely, let not thy mind
> mistake the fires of lust that burn therein for the sunlight of
> life.
> [7; 6]

The Thought-Producer makes love out of lust and when this is seen
in actual life-experience a real step forward is taken by the
practitioner.  When this is seen the weakness of the world of
objects compared to the strength of the world of images is
recognized.  It is this seeing, when not understood, which tempts
the aspirant to run away from the world to the jungle.

When a seeker after the Light within sees the activity of the
outer world of objects he naturally attempts to close the windows
through which the objects attack him.  In that retreat,
psychological or physical, a short respite from that attack is all
that he obtains.  Very soon he locates the root of his trouble: 
the attraction or the aversion which the objects exert over him are
not in the external objects but in the internal images -- memory
pictures of the past, not only of this life but also of previous

> Withhold thy mind from all external objects, all external sights. 
> Withhold internal images, lest on thy Soul-light a dark shadow
> they should cast.
> [20; 19]

This is the formidable work compared to which retreating from the
objects of the senses is easy.  If in the first exercise the
chela learns the illusory nature of the objective world, now he
encounters the delusive nature of his own subjective world. 
Looking for the God within he comes upon the devil; seeking soul-
light, he finds darkness -- so thick that he does not realize
that it is a shadow.  "O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of
noon." [Milton, ~Samson Agonistes~ line 80] It is in that dark
that we meet our fancy-created idols, our thought-created images,
our desire-created phantoms.  But that darkness has the peculiar
power of deluding our consciousness.  Very soon the sphere of
darkness looks to us the region of pearly light -- of soothing,
restful, twilight sleep.  The Maya of the objective world is but
an effect caused by the Moha-delusion of this sphere of
self-created subjectivity, lighted up by human passions.  This is
the world of Probationary Learning, which the Chela has to
abandon, [8] and he cannot do so till he understands it.  The
first real pitched battle of the greatest of all wars is in this
region, called the Astral Light.  When the Power of his Vow, made
in the objective world, stirs in him, the fighter in the Astral
Light feels that he is in a place where he ought not to be; that
he must not listen to the sounds of these images, but to the word
of the Soul within.

Theoretically every student knows that Lower Manas is different
from Higher Manas, that Kama-Manas is demoniac and Buddhi-Manas
divine.  But the truth has to be experienced and we know the
nature of the Soul's mind when we overthrow some of the enemy
troops, ~i.e.~, when we destroy some of our thought-created
images.  The great temptation for the Probationary Chela issues
forth from the enhanced sense-delight when the plasticity of
astral light is handled and absorbed; it is like the exhilarated
state of the person who has just taken strong drink.  Often,
instead of fighting right away the already created images, he
falls prey to the temptation of creating new ones.  In the
objective world we have to control the wandering mind, but here
we have to fight the creative mind.  Thus come a period of
intense fight, and victory ensues when the soldier-soul has
grasped this truth:

> Ere thy Soul's mind can understand, the bud of personality must
> be crushed out; the worm of sense destroyed past resurrection. 
> [13; 12]

The grasping of this truth means that the Probationer has seen
that he is other than the Personality, that the worm which early
and late feeds upon the senses, once crushed, would lead to the
death of the separative and ever-separating self which makes the
Personality the supreme enemy.  The glimpse of the Soul which
uncovers the inimical nature of the Personality makes the
fighting Probationer take refuge in that Inner Soul.  And this
implies some knowledge of the nature and the powers of that Soul.

> Silence thy thoughts and fix thy whole attention on thy Master,
> whom yet thou dost not see, but whom thou feelest.
> [17; 16]
> Thyself and mind, like twins upon a line, the star which is thy
> goal burns overhead.
> [21; 19]

The Master is the Higher Self, "the equivalent of
~Avalokitesvara~, and the same as ~Adi-Budha~...  CHRISTOS with
the ancient Gnostics." [3fn.; 73-4 note 4] Unless this Master is
felt as a Presence in Hall the second, that of Probationary
Learning, entrance into the third, the Hall of Wisdom, remains
closed.  It is through the mind of the Soul that we touch the
radiance of the God within, and it is through contact with the
great Gurus that we touch the radiance of the God within Nature
-- Compassion Absolute.

When the mind-activity is silenced, the soul, aided by the Light
of the Spirit, perceives itself as distinct and separate from the
mind.  Freed from Kama, it sees the possibility, nay, the
certainty of a perfect unison with its Star -- its Father in
Heaven.  In the translucent lake of the pure mind the star in
high heaven reflects itself, and even that reflected [9]
influence stirs the mind to behold the glory that is -- the
greater glory to be.  It is not sufficient to silence the
thoughts; it is necessary to perceive the Star of Hope -- the
Parent Star, the Dhyani-Buddhic Source of our existence.

The obliterating of the internal images is the same as crushing
the craving for sensuous existence.  The process demands that we
centre our attention on the inner Light.  But turning away from
internal images is not to be accompanied by turning away from the
objective world.  To be in the midst of objects but not to be
their slave makes the fight a long one; for, in the long past we
have created a whole army of personal thought-images; by our
moods we have given birth to a brood of vices; by our mental
indulgence we have committed many sins.  One by one we have to
slay them.

> Woe, then, to thee, Disciple, if there is one single vice thou
> has not left behind....  Woe unto him who dares pollute one rung
> with miry feet....His sins will raise their voices like as the
> jackal's laugh and sob after the sun goes down; his thoughts
> become an army, and bear him off a captive slave.
> [16-17; 15-16]

This does not mean that the Probationer is expected to be
flawless ere he starts, but he has to learn and attain purity ere
he passes through the Golden Gate into the Hall of Wisdom, and
has won the right to abide therein permanently.  As a Probationer
he has his day when he basks in the radiance of the Spiritual
Sun, and then his night -- the dark night of the Soul, during
which his mind-sins laugh the jackal's laugh which is the cry of
agony, terrifying to him, tempting him to his fall, nay, to his
very doom.  The jackals move in packs and therefore are able to
hunt down sheep and even antelopes.  When unable to obtain living
prey they feed on carrion, and cunningly they follow cheetahs and
even lions in order to finish the carcase after the latter have
eaten their fill.  The comparison of our lower thoughts to
jackals is most apt, for they attack in packs our high thoughts
and our noble aspirations, and when they cannot prey upon these
living images they sniff out slumbering and dying ones and gorge
on the latter -- a phenomenon which is related to precipitation
of Karma and the like.  Also, like the jackal, our lower
thought-images have an offensive odour, for they, too, like the
jackal, secrete foulness from the base of their tails.

Now, we are told how we should deal with these our past

> One single thought about the past that thou hast left behind will
> drag thee down and thou wilt have to start the climb anew.  Kill
> in thyself all memory of past experiences.  Look not behind or
> thou art lost.
> [18; 16-17]

If we do not choke off the memory of the past, if we dwell in it,
we re-live the past ~subjectively~ and rejuvenate the thought-
images.  But now we have increased our power of thought and so
those images express themselves more strongly.  All students of
Theosophy know that a [10] storehouse of past Karma exists, but
all do not know that in the subjective realm ghosts and
elementaries of dead objective actions often work havoc.

The last quotation of the first Fragment of our textbook that we
should consider is this:

> Before the path is entered, thou must destroy thy lunar body,
> cleanse thy mind-body, and make clean thy heart.
> [12; 11]

In a footnote H.P.B.  explains that the astral form produced by
Kama has to be destroyed.  The Kama-rupa, ordinarily, is formed
after the death of the body and ere the Ego goes into Devachan,
freeing itself from that form.  But in the life of the
Probationer, as he enters the kingdom of the quickened, leaving
behind that of the dead, there is the Kama-rupa phenomenon
related to that of the Dweller on the Threshold.  The quickened
soul becomes consciously alive when, by chasing away from the
field of the mind all Kama-fed thought-images, he begins to live
by the power of the clean heart, ~i.e.~, by the influence of
Buddhi.  For this dual process -- dispersing the Kama-rupa and
awakening Buddhi so that it can ensoul Manas, the objective world
proves of great benefit.

The objective world of actions is not only valuable for enabling
us to compare, to contrast and discriminatively to learn to
concentrate, but it also proves a most helpful sphere when the
strife of the subjective kind is on, of which mention is made
above.  The way the Probationer has to learn to make use of the
objective world is through the right performance of duty.  Duty
is the axis round which his objective world rotates: mistakes
made about Duty, neglect of or dilatoriness in that which should
be done, undertaking that which is not our business, etc., all
become sins of omission and of commission.  If a Probationer is
rightly busy with real duty he finds no time for "mischief" --
unconsciously done.  Furthermore when attacks come from the
subjective side of his lower nature, a wise engagement of the
senses and the brain in objective functioning weakens the attack. 
Occultism advocates that we do not strengthen the enemy by
brooding about him, nor by directly fighting him.  Take no
particular notice of the enemy, but keep the consciousness busy
with protective and profitable mental and physical work.  No
Probationer can meditate and study hours on end and therefore
calls of mundane duty like the earning of livelihood, etc., are
highly beneficial and very necessary.  Not the invention of
special work but the doing of what there is to do expands the
field of duty till humanity becomes our family and the world our
country.  Duty is the Divinity that shapes our objective world to
perfection: Duty is the God of the objective world -- that is the
Truth: OM TAT SAT.


by Paul Johnson

We just got in a new book that should interest theosophical
readers.  The author, Andrew Rawlinson, is a retired university
professor in England who attended at least one Theosophical
History conference in the 1980s.  I went with him and Leslie
Price to examine the Mahatma letters in the British Museum one
afternoon.  Now he has produced an amazing cornucopia of
information, which his subtitle describes as "Western Teachers in
Eastern Traditions." Almost 500 pages of the book is an
alphabetical listing of Westerners who became teachers in Eastern
spiritual lineages and some of their Eastern initiators.  HPB is
listed but almost all of the many subjects of the book are more

The first 150 pages, which I haven't examined as thoroughly yet,
is an introduction to spiritual teachers in various traditions
followed by an explanation of how Westerners entered those
lineages and a discussion of the issues raised by this change.

It's a bit pricey, $29.95 for a large paperback, but if you can't
afford it try to find it at a library.  This is a wonderful
survey of the results of the East/West opening inaugurated by HPB
and her teachers, and any Theosophist or admirer of HPB should
enjoy it.


by Eldon Tucker

[based on an April 12, 1994 posting to]

As with space, there is a duality to time. There is an abstract,
perfect, unmanifest side to time, and an conditioned, limited,
manifested side. As individual Monads, we have a *person- al*
experience of both.

This experience is one that happens in our consciousness, and
does not depend upon our state of being. We do not have to be
dead, disembodied, and away from manifestation in order to
experience the unconditioned side to things. And we do not have
to have a body to experience the limited, conditioned side of

Standing side-by-side with another, we could be having an
experience of abstract time in our own consciousness, while the
other person is only aware of his conditioned, mortal existence.

What determines our experience is the focus of our awareness. If
we are centered in the higher principles within, we have the
higher, the unconditioned consciousness. If we are centered in
our lower principles of consciousness, we are aware of the
conditioned consciousness related to our current existence.

In the world, there is conditioned time. Above it, and beyond
the reaches of the world, in the deep silence that surrounds
things, there is unconditioned time, abstract time.

But it does not stop there. Yet higher is Timelessness, but
still in relation to time, looking down upon it, standing as an
Ideal to our existence throughout the sweep of time.

And a second step higher is Perfection, without any relation-
ship to the lower, to temporal existence, being too perfect to
need to relate to anything or participate in the drama of life. 
And this is part of us too, the deepest part, the highest we can
penetrate within before coming to an unknowable Mystery, which
cannot be penetrated.

When we come into manifestation in a world, we take on its sense
of time, we have an experience of its cycles, of the flow of life
in it. We establish relationships with its inhabitants and make
karma in it, and we gather memories and build a future in it.

Stepping out of the Ego, the center of consciousness that we have
build for ourselves for that globe, and moving on to the next
globe to experience life on another plane, we then take on a
different sense of time. On the next globe, we have another Ego
which we have evolved for it, and that Ego participates in the
different sense of time appropriate to its own globe. As we do
so, our Globe D Ego becomes dormant, inactive, asleep, without
any sensation of the passage of time because it is out of time --
the conditioned time of its world -- for the present.

Stepping into different parts of ourselves, into the Egos or
centers of consciousness for the other globes as we go from one
globe to the next, we find different qualities of time, of
cycles, a different sense of duration that we experience.

The sense of "this is the way that things are," of this is the
time periods of evolution and where we are with respect to them
-- this is all different in the different globes, the different
worlds that we visit on the other planes.

We need to give a special meaning to the word *eternity,* to put
it in the proper perspective. There is no such thing as
eternity, when is spoken of as an absolute forever, without end
regardless of whatever universes may come and go, of whatever

But there is a relative, a conditioned, a manifested eternity. 
It would denote a time period of the existence of the world or
universe, a manvanatara. This time period is as long as things
can be, the finite version of *forever.*

If something can exist until the end of the manvantara, it is
eternal, because it has existed as long as time itself, until the
end of time. When the universe ends and ceases to exist, its
time goes as well, and that is the practical and actual point
when the end of time happens. But this *end of time* is
relative, for bigger universes still exist, with their greater
senses of time.

Starting with pure, abstract time, the particular way that it is
cut up into cycles and made apparent in a manifested universe is
uniquely personal to the universe in question. And our
experience of time in that universe is based upon our relation to
its grand cycles and who and what we are in that universe.

Out of manifestation in that universe, we are not in relation to
time, so there is no sense of what is happening. We need at
least Atman, the pure sense of manifest being, in that world, in
order to participate in the sense of time and duration in that

The events of a world go on, even when you're out of existence
and not there to experience them. You may come back into
existence later and find that time has marched on, that things
have changed and are different, that the various cycles have
moved foreword since your last dip into existence. But did you
miss out on something? No. Did life pass you by? No again.

You always have a choice to be or not, and there is nothing to
miss out on. If you are ready to manifest yourself, you are in
existence somewhere, and enjoying its sense of time and its own
unique feeling of the nature of eternity. Or if you are out of
existence, you have been enjoying a sense of peace and perfection
for a moment.

When you come into existence in a world, it is there that you
project your personal space for the moment. And it is there
where you undergo change, experience duration, and give your
personal sense of time.

You take your time and space with you, and it is experienced
wherever you may go or whatever you may be. The clock may be
ticking away in all the many globes that you are not existing on,
and it may seem as if you are missing something. But not really. 
Your clock is ticking too, and it is where you are, and it is
what you experience of time. Nothing is missed, nothing is lost.

When you come into existence in a world, your personal time, your
personal clock synchronizes its beat to that of the world you are
in. But leaving that world, and going elsewhere, you synchro-
nize with that other place.

The only time that is going on, and the only time that you need
be concerned with is your personal time, and it is an important
part of that stream of consciousness which you are.

Looking at each world, it has its own clock, ticking at its own
rate. There is no absolute clock, one by which all the rest can
be measured. Just as there is no greatest space, but only the
Boundless All, so there is no greatest time, but only the Eternal
Now, a time that transcends all particular times and is really
abstract, unconditioned time.

Although there is no absolute clock, ticking away the seconds of
time for the Boundless All, for a particular world there is its
own time, its own clock, its own ruling cycle that governs its
lifetime. And the ticking of that clock is alike to the
heartbeat of that world, the steady circulation of life energies
and flow of events as time unfolds.

For our universe, that greater being is Brahma^, with a lifetime
of 311,040 billion years. One day in His life is called a
Planetary Manvantara. Including the night, it is 8,640,000,000
years, and constitutes the period of evolution for us in the
human kingdom. It marks off a great evolutionary period.

This entire lifetime is a mahamanvantara, and even across it, to
the next lifetime of Brahma^, our unmanifest part, our Auric Egg,
contains seeds of karma, the essence of the experiences of our
previous existences. For the Auric Egg, as an unmanifest
principle, exists in unconditioned space and abstract time, it is
unaffected by the cyclic appearances and disappearances of the
manifold universes on the waters of space.

We can further understand time by making some comparisons to
space. There is the particular space of our earth, of our solar
system, our galaxy, and known universe. There are unique spaces
to every world and universe, existing at greater and greater
scales of being.

Taking one such world, we can define a coordinate system, and
give an object the frame of reference of that world. We thereby
are able to give that object position and velocity. Without that
frame of reference, there is nothing to compare to, so we could
not say that the object had any particular position or motion.

By taking the space of a particular world, we are able to cut out
and measure space, we have a particular, finite, manifested space
to contain finite objects, objects that come into manifesta-

In a bigger world, we have a bigger frame of reference, and find
that what we thought was the absolute standard, the absolute
coordinate system, is only one of many subspaces in a bigger
scheme of things.

And when our world goes away, when it ceases to exist, all is not
gone, for the bigger space is still there, and the Skandhas of
the world that was, the world that has entered pralaya, return to
their respective places in that bigger space.

The same is true for time. We have a time for the earth, for the
solar system, the galaxy, and so forth. We can define a sense of
time, the particular eternity, the reality of things, using a
particular frame of reference. We thereby give beings in that
world a place in time and a chance to participate in the drama of

Without a frame of reference for time, without a governing clock
to the flow of life, we could not say that we were at any
particular place in time, and there would be no way to grow and
change. There would be no world of beings in flux, no world of
beings to interact with and be changed thereby.

In yet a bigger world, we have a bigger time, a bigger clock to
measure time by, and we find that what we thought was an absolute
standard is only one of many secondary schemes of life, secondary
cycles of existence, secondary experiences of time in a bigger
scheme of things.

And when the world goes away, all is not gone, time does not
stop. All does not stop because that bigger clock is still
ticking, and the experiences are still possible apart from the
world that has been, whose clock is now gone, keeping pace with
the heartbeat of its parent universe.

Looking about us, we can see ourselves existing in a Golden Tree
of Life. Beyond any manifest universe hosting us is yet a higher
one, without end, without a top -- it is a Golden Tree rooted in
abstract eternity.

And it's time is kept by a Grand Clock -- a time that is beyond
all measure. For beyond the time of any universe is the time of
its parent universe. And beyond that yet another more grand time
still, also without end.

Anywhere along these grand trees should a universe cease to
exist, we still continue to exist. We are simply left in its
parent's time and space. There is never a time when we are
totally orphaned and entirely cease to exist.

Life exists, and always will. And it is grand beyond measure.


by Annette Rivington

[based upon a July 27, 1997 posting to]

Here's what I have been doing, on and off, since I was old enough
to remember:

Every morning, in those few seconds before I become aware of my
physical body and all those daily "burdens" manifest themselves,
I try to maintain the state and feeling of first awakening.

In this state, I am free, my body is not a weight, there are no
rules and restrictions, and I let myself go where I go and think
what I think.  Sometimes I can't do it, but often, I "see"
answers to things and always I start off the day in a positive
and happy state (even if only for 10 seconds!).

Next I look out the window and thank the "Great Spirit" for the
day, whatever kind of weather it is.  I greet Mother Earth and
say I am glad to be still here, part of the magic.

Then I have a shower and under the running water, plan my day,
solve business problems and get new ideas.

Then I drive to work along back roads that take me past farms and
open spaces and I usually have a conversation with either myself
or an imaginary friend and as I get closer to that Corporation
that keeps me in currency, I have to work hard at staying calm
and in focus and telling myself that the point of it all is
greater than all the little tasks I will probably end up getting
embroiled in.

Practically every day I fail to retain that focus, so I wait
until every one has gone home at 5.00 p.m., and then I work until
what ever time it takes for me to get the tasks done to my level
of perfection with my energy infused in whatever I produce.

Sounds nutty doesn't it? But more and more, I am unable to work
amongst the chaos and as I get older, I am losing the ability to
shut out the back ground noise and focus.

On the positive side of things, more and more I am successful for
a few seconds at a time in "completely joining" with what I am
doing.  For example, "joining" with my computer during doing a
spreadsheet, so that I feel at one with the energy that is
manifest in the "thing" that is my PC.

During these times, I don't have to "remember" what to click on
etc.  like some learned behaviour, I do what ever is required
naturally, and often do something new that I have not "learned"
before, but that then becomes part of what I do and always speeds
up the process.

This latter concept is not new, either to me or to others, and
the theory is that we develop this to give us more time to
meditate and think -- hence melding the how, what and why in our
daily lives.  We once thought that a kinder, gentler "man" was
developing technology so that we could all be philosophers for
more of the day.

No deal! The more you achieve, the better you produce, the more
you are given to do, until you are overloaded, solving everyone's
problems, finishing up everyone's unfinished tasks, like some
scabby old workhorse.

Usually I take a break with the night shift.  A cosmopolitan
group of highly educated immigrants who cannot get well paid day
jobs because of restrictions in acceptance of qualifications
between countries.  We often debate many of the issues I see on
your network and sometimes, for a brief moment, in the middle of
the night a group of people from diverse religions and cultures
get so close that I can see the light come into the room and feel
the love.  Then we all go back to work or home and it is lost.

Now, if you could bottle those moments ...

The other day, I thought briefly about a world without
electricity and computers, and whether this was destined, part of
a test.  Hard not to do with all this talk and fear about the
"end of the world as we have known it".  The progression of my
thought was that, sooner or later, we will all face a time of no
computers, jobs, material comforts, whether individually or
globally.  Am I ready for that? No, but I think I'm being "told"
to get into training pretty fast.  


by Mark Kusek

[based upon a July 28, 1997 posting to]
"Some might say that we appear externally to be individual,
single egos, but when seen spiritually we are as though embedded
in an etheric cloud. As one of us thinks or feels, the effects
are radiated into the common folk soul." This makes sense to me.

People, by and large, are not completely autonomous individuals. 
We all participate in group psychology at many levels; family,
school, profession, church, community, nation, etc. We share and
share alike. We build group thought and feeling forms, largely
share common cultural values (conflicts notwithstanding), and get
much of our socialization from these "clouds" of knowledge and
attitude. Consciously or unconsciously, they impact us through
our community and broadly through our "civilization". It happens
subtly. It's one of the major factors that help to form our
personality in childhood. We have connections with small and
large groups of people in many different ways.

It's no wonder that there might be equivalents of these on the
inner planes that could be viewed, nor that they are
participatory or active.

I don't think it's so much a heretical issue of comparing us to
animals, or fearing it to be such. I suppose it could very well
be some sort of vestige or remnant of animal group psychology. 
We are sooooo much animal, in ways we often take for granted to
be human, that it's not funny. It could also just be a part of
what it means to be human. Formation of a healthy personality
and true individuation of ego vis-a-vis self, is a process that
has not completely occurred, by and large. We are still very
much in it.

If you take it theosophically, we're in the middle of the fifth
root race. It's in this period that we are, as a race,
supposedly compeled to utilize, refine and develop lower manas. 
The result of which creates strong egoic personalities, and
hopefully some growing sense of awareness of something higher. 
This only happens by individualizing out of a psychological
collective. It needs context. You could say that this
collective is something like a human group soul.

Blavatsky said there are "soulless" people that we meet on the
street every day. It's true in a sense, if you take "soul" to
mean individuality. There are relatively unindividualized people
who mill about in their lives unconsciously acting as automatons
of cultural collectivism, doing more or less "what they're told
to", what's "expected" of them or what they "should". You could
call them people of the "group or folk soul", or of the "mass
consciousness". If you honestly and bravely look hard enough
within yourself, you can see places where you're doing it to, and
then, there it is, right under your feet, the royal road to


by Donald J. DeGracia, Ph.D.

Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics
Wayne State University, Detroit, MI

[Originally published in REVER No. 3, Summer Issue, in French. 
Permisson to reprint granted by the editor of REVER and by the


The purpose of this article is to shed light on various
frameworks available for understanding the nature of conscious
experiences which occur during sleep. More specifically, this
article would like to compare the ideas of "lucid dreaming",
"out-of-body experiences" (OBEs) and "astral projection" from a
historical and scientific perspective. There is a great interest
in conscious sleep phenomena, but there also tends to be a
confusion of terminology which results from a bewildering array
of literatures about the nature of such experiences. This
article will discuss the fact that there are presently multiple
paradigms in operation which people use indiscriminately and
interchangeably to describe conscious sleep experiences. The
purpose of this article is to lay these paradigms side by side
and compare the features and history of each. This will only be
a cursory overview because the history and features of the
paradigms to be discussed are very complex. The hope of this
article is that such a comparative analysis will help eliminate
some of the confusion of terminology and thought which has
resulted from mixing incompatible paradigms, and thereby help
pave the way for the development of a richer scientific and
empirical approach to conscious sleep experiences.

Let us begin by noting that scientific ideas always undergo an
evolutionary development. In the early stages of scientific
understanding of a phenomena, conceptions of the phenomena are
often of a "common sense" nature (Churchland, 1986). In time,
common sense approaches are superseded by more empirical and
scientific understanding. There may be a stage in the
development of understanding in which multiple frameworks for
conceptualizing a phenomena exist side by side. Consider, for
example, the idea of motion. Our understanding of motion has
passed through several stages of development. In the Middle
Ages, motion was conceptualized by Aristotle's idea of "natural
place", which stated that bodies fall towards the Earth because
that is their "natural affinity". Eventually this idea was
replaced by Newton's conception of gravitation as being the
attraction between objects which contain mass, as embodied in
Newton's three laws of motion. Newton's conceptions held sway
for several centuries until Einstein replaced the Newtonian idea
of gravity as "action at a distance" with the notion of gravity
as the bending of space-time. Today we do not take seriously
Aristotle's notions of motion; however, the Newtonian and
Einsteinian views do indeed exist side by side. These latter,
however, are clearly distinguished, and confusion between their
tenets is unlikely.

The evolution of scientific ideas entails the establishment of
paradigms, and the transformation of these paradigms through time
(Kuhn, 1971). The history of science is a living testimony to
this pattern of intellectual evolution. Other examples in the
history of science include the evolution of notions such as
"heat", "atoms", "electricity", "gene"; all of these notions have
undergone substantial paradigm changes through history. We will
argue that such is the case with paradigms attempting to
conceptualize conscious sleep experiences.

In the above example, there was only one phenomena, that of the
motion of natural bodies. However, there were three completely
different ways to conceptualize the nature of this phenomena
(e.g. Aristotelian, Newtonian and Einsteinian). This is a
critical point to make: there are multiple ways by which to
conceptualize a phenomena, and each of these can be considered a
paradigm. This then is our point of departure for considering
the various paradigms used to conceptualize conscious experiences
during sleep. We can presume that there is one essential
phenomena, which I have chosen to term "conscious experiences
during sleep". My thesis is that there are currently multiple
paradigms used to conceptualize this phenomena. Let us first
review what I mean by "conscious experiences during sleep" and
then I will lay out the three main paradigms used to
conceptualize such experiences.


First we must begin by defining what is meant by "conscious". I
am not using this term in any metaphysical sense at all but am
using it in a purely pragmatic sense. By "conscious" I mean that
which fills direct, subjective awareness. This is to be
contrasted to unconscious. For example, the operation of
neurological reflexes involved in maintaining balance are
unconscious aspects of psychological operation. Visual
perceptions, and in general, any sensory experience to which we
pay attention, are conscious. The contents of conscious
awareness can include sensory, emotional and mental components. 
This view of consciousness is taken directly from that of Baars
(Baars, 1988). Hence, when speaking of conscious experiences
during sleep, I mean sensory, emotional or mental content which
exists in direct subjective awareness during sleep.

The most common conscious sleep experience is dreaming. Dreams
are a form of conscious awareness during sleep. When we dream,
we are consciously aware of visual, auditory, tactile,
kinesthetic and emotional content, as well as thought (both
cognitive and metacognitive) and to lesser extents smells, taste
and pain. With respect to sensory perceptions during dreams,
these are presumably hallucinations, but they are conscious
experiences nonetheless. We may or may not remember our dreams
upon awakening. Research has shown, in fact, that we do not
remember the bulk of our nightly dreams (Hobson, 1988). We tend
to remember those dreams that occur prior to awakening, at least
fleetingly upon awakening. It has been shown in the sleep lab
that waking sleepers directly from REM sleep allows for
significant recall of dreams. When we do remember our dreams, it
is clear that they are conscious experiences that, in many
respects, resemble our waking conscious experiences.

A second type of conscious sleep experience is the phenomena of
hypnagic hallucinations (reviewed in Mavromatis, 1987). 
Hypnagogic hallucinations tend to occur during stage 2 nonREM
(Hobson, 1988), and involve the perception of complex visual
imagery that may or may not be realistic in quality. Hypnagogia
is distinguished from dreaming in that the former does not
contain the rich, multimodal sense of immersion of the latter. 
Also, hypnagogia is less structured than dreaming, and does not
form an integrated narrative as dreams do. Hypnogogia occurring
upon awakening is termed "hypnopompic hallucinations".

A third type of conscious sleep experience is that which has been
discovered upon waking sleep subjects from nonREM sleep. This is
described as "less dream-like and more thought-like". Unlike
dreams, there is generally no sensory component this form of
sleep consciousness and it predominately manifest as thinking. 
The nature of this thinking activity has been described as
"common place...concerned with real life events...banal and
repetitive" (Hobson, 1988).

It should be explicitly pointed out that dreams do not occur
exclusively during REM sleep but have also been observed during
nonREM sleep. The probabilities of obtaining a dream report from
REM and nonREM sleep is about 80% and 30%, respectively (Okuma,
1992). This fact has substantially loosened the association of
dreaming as a REM state phenomena and many workers in the field
no longer accept that there is a causal relation between REM
sleep and dreaming (Mancia, 1995).

A fourth type of conscious sleep experience is sleep paralysis. 
This involves usually the (presumably hallucinatory) perception
of the environment in which the person is sleeping accompanied by
the inability to move despite intense effort to do so. Sleep
paralysis may often be associated with intense feelings of dread
or fear. The subject tends to be lucid and may believe that they
are awake. The subject in the sleep paralysis state can be
awakened simply by touching them (Hobson, 1988).

A fifth recognized state of sleep consciousness is sleep terror. 
Here there is a feeling of intense terror and dread without any
accompanying sensory perceptions or cognitive activity. The
subject may awaken drenched in sweat, heart beating rapidly and
crying out.

Finally, and most importantly for the following discussion, there
is a sixth state of consciousness during sleep. In this state,
the subject is dreaming, but is aware of the fact that they are
doing so. This state has been termed "lucid dreaming" (LaBerge,
1985) or "conscious dreaming" (Rifat, 1997). I will use the term
"lucid dreaming" throughout this article. This state is
currently characterized by the notion that the dreamer is aware
they are dreaming. However, as I will discuss below, this is not
the most suitable definition of this state, and this definition
of lucid dreaming has helped contribute to some degree of
confusion in characterizing this state of sleep consciousness. 
Below, we will address the paradigms used to conceptualize this
phenomena of lucid dreaming.

I would also like to add that states of trance and certain states
resulting from meditative practices are closely related to
conscious sleep experiences. At present, there is no clear
characterization of meditative states to allow for a precise
description of how exactly these relate to sleep itself, or
states of consciousness during sleep. Nonetheless,
phenomenological descriptions of subjective awareness during
meditative practice are highly reminiscent of sleep conscious
states, particularly the hypnagogic state.

In sum, I have described above six forms of conscious sleep
experience. Clearly, consciousness during sleep is very complex
and can manifest in multiple forms. What all six of these states
share in common is that they are indeed manifestations of
conscious awareness during sleep. I thus propose the adoption of
this general terminology when discussing these states: they are
conscious sleep experiences. In the above descriptions, I tried,
as best as possible, to describe the empirical facts of these
various manifestations of sleep consciousness without
interpreting these empirical facts within a specific paradigmatic
framework, which, of course, is not completely possible. For
example, calling a lucid dream a "lucid dream" implies a specific
paradigm, as I will discuss below. I would now like to
explicitly turn attention to the paradigms used to describe and
interpret these empirical states of sleep consciousness. Again,
the general thesis is that there is only one set of phenomena,
consciousness during sleep, but that there are multiple ways to
conceptualize this phenomena and its complex manifestations.


There are three main paradigms which have evolved to
conceptualize consciousness during sleep. These paradigms share
predominantly a focus on the phenomena of lucid dreaming,
although the other states of sleep consciousness play into these
paradigms to some extent or another. These paradigms display the
evolutionary development discussed above; the earliest paradigms
were based on simple, common sense notions and the latter
paradigms became more refined and were based on more technical
and scientific considerations. The three paradigms I will
discuss which have served to conceptualize primarily the lucid
dream phenomena are (1) the occult paradigm, (2) the
parapsychological paradigm, and (3) the scientific paradigm. 
Each of these paradigms has given a different name to what I will
argue is essentially the same phenomena. The names each has used
to describe lucid dreaming is (1) astral projecting, (2)
out-of-body experiences, and (3) lucid dreaming, respectively. 
The relation between terminology and its respective paradigm is
listed in the following table, as are some of the historical
lineages of each paradigm.

Paradigm    Term for "Lucid Dream" Historical Associations
----------- ---------------------- ------------------------------
Occult      Astral Projection      Eastern and Western Occult 
                                   Traditions (Yoga, Tantra, 
                                   Theosophy, Hermetics, etc.)
----------- ---------------------- ------------------------------
Parapsycho- Out-of-body Experience Psychical Research, 
logical                            Parapsychology
----------- ---------------------- ------------------------------
Scientific  Lucid Dream            Biology, Psychology, Sleep 
----------- ---------------------- ------------------------------

Because of the development of the EEG as a tool in sleep
research, which gained widespread usage in the 1960s following
the work of Aserinsky and Kleitman (1953), we are now able to
define each of the above 6 conscious sleep states in terms of
electrophysiological correlates. This in itself is a implicit
reliance on scientific paradigms of these states. However, some
of these states, particularly the lucid dream and hypnagogic
states have been described in Western literature for close to 150
years. Earlier descriptions of these states did not have the
luxury of defining EEG correlates and thus, these states were
described primarily in subjective, experiential, and
phenomenological terms. Some of the earliest workers who
described altered states of consciousness which resemble in
almost all respects what we now call "lucid dreams" were D'
Hervey de Saint-Denis (1867), Charles Leadbeater (1895), Frederik
Willems Van Eeden (1913) Oliver Fox [Hu Evert] (1920), and
Muldoon and Carrington (1929). We must forego a detailed review
of these and other early authors and only outline the salient
features of their interpretations of their experiences.


Authors such as Leadbeater, Fox and Muldoon form a historical
lineage in the occult paradigm. The essence of the occult
paradigm is that the world revealed to our senses is but one of
several, usually seven, worlds, or planes of nature. The general
idea that there are other worlds not visible to our senses has a
very long history, dating back millennia in ancient Indian
thought, vestiges of which can be found in the ancient Greek
notion of the "heavenly spheres"; ancient Gnostic traditions also
describe the seven aethers. A mosaic of these ancient ideas is
to be found in the Theosophical teachings (circa 1900), such as
those of Leadbeater, which in turn influenced later authors like
Fox and Muldoon.

Within the Theosophical framework, there exists seven planes
termed the physical, astral, mental, buddhic, atmic, anupadaka,
and adi. Accordingly, each person has a "body" capable of
traveling on its respective plane. Hence, the idea of astral
projection was that one used their astral body to travel on the
astral plane.

First, it can be stated that this notion of seven planes provided
a prescientific paradigm for conceptualizing human psychology. 
The physical plane is the world of the physical sensation, the
astral plane is the realm of emotion, the mental plane is the
realm of thought, the buddhic plane is the realm of the soul, and
the higher planes are abstractions reflecting levels of
relationship between the individual soul and the universal
transcendental essence, roughly translated as God. The occult
paradigm projects the psychology of the human being into the very
structure of the universe. In the premodern era, before our
detailed scientific description of natural phenomena, this
analogical reasoning dominated intellectual discourse.

It seems reasonable to infer that the idea that there are worlds
which exist beyond the ken of our senses derives directly from
the experience of lucid dreaming, as well as from
meditatively-induced states. That is to say, the simplest and
most common sensical interpretation of the lucid dream
experience, and similar altered states, is that some
non-material, soul-like entity has left the physical body and
physical world and has entered into a nonphysical world. It can
be easily imagined that, through premodern history, the few
individuals who left records of their lucid dreams, or similar
altered states of consciousness, and interpreted them in an
occult framework, spawned a whole paradigm/mythology of the
nature of these nonphysical planes. This would include notions
of the planes, of reincarnation, of nonphysical bodies, and
include such terminology as "auras", "chakras" and "kundalini". 
Most of these notions have their origin in ancient Indian
traditions from which Theosophy heavily drew, and many of these
notions persist today and are applied to conscious sleep states.

Today there is still confusion between lucid dreams and astral
projections. In fact, the techniques for inducing either are
identical (compare Rogo, 1986, with LaBerge and Rheingold, 1990),
and the content of the experiences are identical, indicating that
these are in fact the same state of consciousness. The confusion
results because there is not a clear recognition that the terms
"astral projection" and "lucid dream" represent different
paradigms for conceptualizing the exact same experience. I will
discuss the relative validity of these two paradigms below.


The parapsychological paradigm has its historical roots in the
occult paradigm. At the turn of the 20th century, as the notion
of "astral projection" and other occult phenomena became more
widespread, it attracted attention from those not involved in
occult movements. Specifically, nonoccult investigators began to
investigate independently the claims of occultists such as
Leadbeater. Hence was born in the mid 1800s the British Society
for Psychical Research, and later in America, The American
Society for Psychical Research. Early psychical researchers were
influenced by such movements as Theosophy or Spiritualism, as
seen, for example, in the works of Muldoon and Carington (1929). 
However, in the 1930s, the work of J.B. Rhine in America gave
rise to a nonoccult approach to the study of supposed psychical
phenomena, later to be termed "psi" events. This approach has
come to be known as parapsychology.

In general, parapsychologists abandoned their occult roots and
developed their own ways of conceptualizing the psychic phenomena
described originally by occultists. Parapsychologists accepted
that such psi events were real and began to investigate them from
nonoccult perspectives. This is true of the phenomena of astral
projection, which eventually parapsychologists began to term
"out-of-body experiences" (OBE). The parapsychologist abandoned
the occult idea of the planes and instead began to conceptualize
the OBE as some part of the personality literally leaving the
body and capable of moving about in the physical world. Several
modern authors exemplified this paradigm including Charles Tart,
Robert Monroe and Susan Blackmore.

The parapsycholgical paradigm made the clear prediction that a
person undergoing an OBE should be able to acquire information
not accessible to that person's physical senses. Many such
experiments were performed, none of which produced clear-cut
results. It is my opinion that the OBE, as a product of the
parapsychological paradigm, was a particular interpretation of
certain conscious sleep experiences including lucid dreams, sleep
paralysis, hypnagogia and certain trance and meditative states. 
Furthermore, my reading of the parapsychological literature is
that this interpretation has failed the test of scientific

Nonetheless, as there exists confusion regarding the terms
"astral projection" and "lucid dream", there is also confusion
over the term "OBE". Again, the relative validity of these terms
will be discussed below.


The scientific paradigms related to sleep states of consciousness
have their own long and involved histories involving brain
research, psychology, psychoanalysis, dream research and sleep
research, all of which occurred completely independently of the
development of occult and parapsychological paradigms discussed
above. The history of the scientific study of sleep and dreams
can be conveniently divided into the pre-Freudian and
post-Freudian eras.

Hervey de Saint-Denis is exemplary of the pre-Freudian study of
dreams. Hervey de Saint-Denis was a phenomonologist who very
clearly described his subjective dream life. He clearly
described his own lucid dreams, although he did not use this
term. Interestingly, his emphasis was not on his self-awareness
that he was dreaming (which is the current conception of the
lucid dream), but instead on his ability to act with volition
within his dreams. A similar emphasis can be found with Van
Eeden (1913), who coined the term "lucid dream". With the rise
of Freud's approach to dreams in the early part of the 20th
century, this pre-Freudian work was lost for several decades and
not rediscovered until about the 1960s.

The Freudian approach to dreams, both in terms of the explanation
and the meaning of dreams, dominated the Western mind through the
first half of the 20th century. Today it is fair to say that few
researchers take the Freudian approach seriously and it is now
only of historical interest. For readers interested in critiques
of the Freudian approach to sleep and dreams, see Hobson, 1988.

The downfall of Freud's influence in dream theorizing came in the
middle of the 20th century and was due to the discovery of the
sleep cycle by Aserinsky and Kleitman (1953) and its correlation
with dreams by Dement and Kleitman (1957). This work spawned
what is now called the "psychophysiological" paradigm of
dreaming, whose main tenet was that dreams are the result of the
physiological changes responsible for generating the sleep cycle. 
During the psychophysiological era, the idea of lucid dreams was
not generally accepted, and dreams were viewed as being a model
for waking forms of mental illness and psychosis.

Several factors have contributed to the fall of the
psychophysiological paradigm, one of which has already been
mentioned. That is, the occurrence of dreams is not exclusively
confined to the REM stage of sleep. Thus, the consensus today is
that the factors leading to dream formation must be independent
to some degree from those responsible for generating the EEG
sleep cycle. As well, research based on cognitive psychology
paradigms has overturned the notion that dreams are similar to
waking psychosis. Cognitive psychology research has revealed
that many aspects of dream psychology are essentially identical
to normal waking psychology including aspects of sensory
perception, and in particular, the use of language in dreams
(reviewed in Cavellaro and Foulkes, 1993).

Perhaps the most significant development in 20th century dream
research was the laboratory demonstration that a subject can
display volition and communicate directly from the dream state
with people who are awake. This discovery was made independently
circa 1980 by LaBerge et al. (1981) in America and Hearne (1980)
in England. Both of these researchers proved unambiguously that
the lucid dream state does occur and has highly reproducible
physiological and psychological correlates.

In sum, the scientific view of sleep states of consciousness sees
these as events intrinsic to the brain. It is a paradigm firmly
grounded in both the biology of the brain and in human
psychology. Dreams are internal hallucinatory events generated
by the brain, whether these are of the lucid or the nonlucid


I have now described the three common paradigms currently in use
for conceptualizing conscious experiences which occur during
sleep. It is hoped that the reader can now better see how
current ideas of conscious sleep states derive from one or a
mixture of these three paradigms. In fact, we live in a
historical era of relative confusion about the nature of these
states of consciousness because these three paradigms coexist and
are used and mixed to varying extents. I would like to now offer
my opinion on the relative validity of these paradigms in terms
of current scientific knowledge of sleep, dreams, brain function
and physics.

First, I truly believe that much confusion can be eliminated by
recognizing that we are dealing with one general phenomena - that
of conscious sleep experiences - but that there are at least
three major ways, and a host of minor variations, for
conceptualizing these experiences. We must learn to be careful
thinkers and try as hard as possible to not confuse empirical
facts with interpretive frameworks. For example, it is common
knowledge that one may experience "chills", "tingles" or
"vibrations" during the onset of a lucid dream. Some people
interpret these "vibrations" as the manifestation of "kundalini",
or the activity of "chakras". Such interpretations are grounded
in occult paradigms. Other people interpret these vibrations as
a consequence of a particular type of brain activation, in which
case, the person is using the scientific paradigm to interpret
the phenomena. Again, there is only one empirical phenomena, but
two different interpretations. It is only by untangling these
paradigmatic interpretations that we can go beyond superficial
differences in terminology and attempt to scientifically
determine the nature of these experiences.

In this regard, the use of Ocam's razor is recommend: thou shall
not multiple terms needlessly. This means that we should not
invoke more complex explanations until simpler explanations have
been ruled out. Thus, I recommend that the simplest explanation,
both experimentally and theoretically is that states of
consciousness during sleep are due to changes in the activity of
the brain. This is the simplest explanation because we are not
invoking anything other than human anatomy and physiology. If,
and this is a big if, it can be conclusively demonstrated that
this is an insufficient theoretical basis, then, and only then,
should we invoke ideas about things "leaving the body" or
"chakras", "planes" or "kundalini". However, I believe it is
unlikely we will need to invoke such terms as explanatory
principles. This is because the human brain is the most complex
object known and we are far from understanding the possibilities
inherent in our own brains. I believe that the study of
conscious sleep states will enlarge our understanding of the
functions of the human brain. In the end, I believe we will
discover that ancient terms such as "chakra", "kundalini", and
the like, are prescientific descriptions of specific states of
brain activity.

However, current scientific ideas of lucid dreams have their
problems. Specifically, as mentioned above, the idea that a
lucid dream is "a dream in which the dreamer knows they are
dreaming" is too simple of a definition of this experience. In
fact, knowing that one is dreaming during a dream is dependent
upon the paradigm a person uses. If the person believes they are
astral projecting, then they will not be aware they are dreaming
because they do not think they are dreaming; they think that they
are astral projecting. Thus, the current scientific definition
of the lucid dream does not take into account the beliefs of the
person undergoing the experience.

In fact, the attempt to distinguish what is a lucid dream from
what is a nonlucid dream is very difficult to do; presently there
is no really good definition that distinguishes lucid and
nonlucid dreams. For example, a person could be undergoing a
nonlucid dream, but within this nonlucid dream, have the thought
in their mind that they are dreaming. This is a very subtle
phenomena that is easiest to understand only when it has happened
to you first hand. Likewise, one could undergo a lucid dream
without once stopping to think to themselves "I am dreaming". 
Again, this latter depends completely on how the person
conceptualizes the experience in their own mind.

The factor that appears to distinguish lucid dreams from nonlucid
dreams is that in a lucid dream, the person has some type of way
to recognize that they are not in the usual waking world. 
Whether the person conceptualizes this as "being in a dream",
"being in the astral plane" or "having left their body" is
immaterial. What is common to all three viewpoints is that the
person realizes they are not in their usual waking life and, most
importantly, the person can act on this knowledge. This does not
happen in nonlucid dreams. Thus, it would appear that in a lucid
dream, the brain undergoes some kind of change that gives the
dreamer metacognitive access to their waking memories. Hence, it
may be that a lucid dream is a dream in which the dreamer can
compare their present condition with their waking life. It is
this ability to compare the dream experience to waking experience
that really appears to distinguish lucid dreams from nonlucid
dreams. Now, this ability to compare one's state during a dream
may manifest more or less; which is to say, this ability forms a
spectrum of gradations. Thus, dream lucidity is not an all or
none feature but can manifest more or less.

When looked at from this perspective, any other supposed
distinguishing features between lucid dreams and dreams, or
between lucid dreams and either OBEs or astral projections are
merely superficial. For example, some people believe that if
they are having an experience in which they are in familiar
surroundings (such as their bedroom, neighborhood, etc.) and they
are lucid (i.e. there is a continuity of memory and thought with
the waking mind) that they are then undergoing an OBE. But this
is not a justifiable distinction. In fact, the person is having
a lucid dream and within that dream they are in familiar
surroundings. It is very common to be in familiar surroundings
in a nonlucid dream so why should it be unusual to appear in
familiar surroundings while lucid in a dream?

One significant factor people use to distinguish lucid dreams
from what they label as either OBEs or astral projections is how
the experience was induced. If a person is in the midst of a
nonlucid dream and suddenly becomes lucid (what LaBerge terms a
dream-induced lucid dream), they consider the experience a lucid
dream. However, if the same person goes directly from being
awake to being in a lucid dream by applying some type of trance
technique (what LaBerge calls a waking-induced lucid dream), they
may consider the experience to be an OBE or astral projection. 
However, there may be no difference whatsoever in the content of
the two experiences. The only difference in this case is how the
experience was induced. Is this enough of a distinguishing
factor to consider these to be two different types of experience?
I do not believe so.

In fact, the criteria people use to distinguish lucid dreams from
OBEs from astral projections are all artificial. The environment
one appears to be in, the method for achieving the experience,
how one defines in their own mind what is happening to them have
nothing fundamental to do with the experience itself. In all
cases it is the same phenomena operating: the person is asleep,
the person is conscious, and there is the ability to compare the
present state to the waking state. What all the little
distinctions point to is that dreams themselves are very complex. 
Because dreams can occur in familiar or unfamiliar settings,
because the dreamer's mind can be more or less continuous with
their waking mind, because there is such variety in the onset of
dreams, all of this suggests that dream experience may be even
more complex than waking experience. Thus, when people try to
fit their dream experiences into this category or that category,
they are in fact implicitly admitting that dream experiences are
complex and can take on a large variety of forms. By trying to
pigeon-hole their experiences into this or that category, they
are missing the underlying fact that these are all varieties of
dream experiences.

Hence, although I advocate a brain-based paradigm to explain
conscious sleep states, it is important to recognize that this
view is not perfect and is still in need of substantial
improvement. A current project I am undertaking is the
comparison of the operation of the mind at all of its levels
between waking and the variety of dream states. The purpose of
this task is to clarify the intrinsic variety clearly present in
dream states. The various scientific views of dreams that have
come and gone throughout this century have attempted to see
dreams as this or that in a mutually exclusive fashion. With the
knowledge available today, it should be quite clear that no one
view of dreams can capture the inherent complexity of this
phenomena. The waking state provides a baseline of psychological
function from which we can begin to catalogue the large diversity
of psychological function possible in dream states. Ultimately
this approach should provide a foundation by which to classify
all of the conscious experiences which occur during sleep.


Although Ocam's razor suggests that we do not need to invoke
occult notions to explain conscious sleep states, some comment
about occult paradigms from a wider perspective is merited. What
we today call occultism was in fact the basis from which much of
modern science arose. The classical example is the rise of
chemistry from alchemy. The history of astronomy is intimately
linked to the history of astrology. Even nineteenth century
phrenology, which today is found in occult literature, was the
precursor of our modern view of the modularity of brain function. 
Thus, it is not intellectually proper to dismiss all of occultism
as irrelevant to the future of our scientific understanding. In
fact, there are two domains of knowledge in which occultism is
relevant: physics and psychology.

We live in an age dominated and enamored by the scientific method
and the knowledge this method has created. Because we are so
enamored by science, we fail to see its shortcomings. Some of
these become obvious when one compares occultism to science. At
a philosophical level, science is highly specialized and
fragmented, whereas occultism provides a unified view of Humanity
and the Cosmos. Science itself grew out of a Renaissance
reaction to the rigid dogma of the Catholic Church. Hence,
science, from its very roots, rejected spiritual considerations,
and, in effect, it threw the baby out with the bath water. The
typical Western scientist has no conception of the possibility
that spirituality can be studied with the same intellectual rigor
as the natural world. A study of the methods and philosophy
underlying Yoga shows that indeed spirituality itself can be
approached with the highest intellectual regard. The realm of
psychology bleeds imperceptibly into the realm of the spiritual,
and here in the West this has only been recognized by a few
unique scientists such as Carl Jung or Abraham Maslow. One value
to the study of occult ideas is that it provides an intellectual
model of a unifying intellectual approach, something dreadfully
lacking in modern Western science. When we speak of uncovering
the deepest aspects of the human brain, this implies
rediscovering spiritual truths well explicated in ancient
philosophies, which today survive in numerous occult doctrines.

A second level where occultism may be relevant in the future is
the link between physics and psychology. Today, from a
scientific perspective, this link is the brain itself. The brain
embodies principles of physics: diffusion, membrane electrical
conduction, principles of chemical reactivity, principles of
information processing only now emerging from detailed analyses
of neural anatomy at the synaptic level. Likewise, the brain is
the basis of psychology; it is the seat of reflex, perception,
emotion, thought, consciousness, creativity and imagination. How
these two seemingly vastly different levels meet is currently not
understood. There is optimism that it is all a matter of detail
and that soon, the wiring diagram of the human brain will reveal
the mysteries of human psychology. One is best to remember that
before Einstein, LaPlace declared to the world that physics had
solved the problems of the universe and that the end of physics
was in sight, in which all the basic problems of physics were to
be solved. It was only within several decades that LaPlace's
claim was seen to be the naive fiction that it was with the
advent of Relativity Theory and Quantum Mechanics. The same
pattern can be seen in the history of mathematics in the lineage
from David Hilbert to Kurt Gödel (Kline, 1980). The moral is
that optimism is not always correct and that Nature has a way of
showing our simple minded notions of her to be very wrong.

Hence, when physicists are today speaking of 26-dimensional
universes underlying the space-time we perceive as 4-dimensional
(Davies and Brown, 1988), the occult notion of the planes does
not sound all that far from possible truth. When physicists
speak of "dark matter" - invisible matter that interacts only
with gravity but none of the other forces - this is not very far
off from notions occultists described circa 1900 [cf Powel,
(1969)] . It is perhaps wise to re-evaluate occult claims and
descriptions of altered states of consciousness recognizing that
they also may have glimpsed some truth that will only take us a
little longer to get to using the scientific methods at our
disposal. This is not to say that occult claims will be correct
as they are stated presently. What I am implying however is that
the future of intellectual understanding may in fact be a more or
less recognizable hybrid of what we today call "science" and
"occultism". Scientists of today are deeply immersed in the
day-to-day social role of what our culture presently defines as
"science", and they tend not to see beyond this into the greater
cultural and historical patterns in which they are immersed. The
study of history shows that it is quite indifferent to the
fashions of any particular era; an apt warning for the seeker of


In conclusion, it is hoped that this abbreviated history lesson
has helped inform the reader of the historical threads pertinent
to understanding conscious sleep states. There have been three
main lineages of thought. We need to untangle these three
threads and get beyond superficial differences in terminology. 
We need to recognize the vast potential implicit in the study of
consciousness during sleep for revealing some of the deepest
secrets of the human brain, and perhaps for rediscovering ancient
wisdom in a new form.


Aserinsky E and Kleitman N (1953). Regularly occuring periods of
eye motility and concurrent phenomena during sleep. Science

Baars BJ (1988). A Cognitive Theory Of Consciousness. 
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Cavellaro C and Foulkes D (editors) (1993). Dreaming As
Cognition. Harverster Wheatsheaf. New York.

Churchland PS (1986). Neurophilosophy. MIT Press, Cambridge MA.

D' Hervey de Saint-Denis JML (1867). Les Reves Et Les Moyens De
Les Diriger. Paris: Amyot.

Davies PCW and Brown J (eds) (1988). Superstrings: A Theory of
Everything? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dement W and Kleitman N (1957). Cyclic variations in EEG during
sleep and their relation to eye movements, body motility, and
dreaming. Electroenceph. Clin. Neurophysiol., 9 673-690.

Fox O (1920). Astral Projection. New Hyde Park, New York.

Hearne K (1980) Insight into lucid dreaming. Nursing Mirror,
150(1) 20-22.

Hobson JA (1988). The Dreaming Brain. Basic Books.

Kline M (1980). Mathematics The Loss Of Certainty. Oxford:
Oxford University Press.

Kuhn TS (1971). The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions. 
Chicago: The University Of Chicago Press, 2nd edition.

LaBerge S (1985). Lucid Dreaming. Ballantine Books: New York.

LaBerge S and Rheingold H (1990). Exploring the World of Lucid
Dreams. Ballantine Books: New York.

LaBerge S, Nagel L, Dement WC, Zarcone VP (1981). Lucid dreaming
verified by volitional communication during REM sleep. 
Perceptual and Motor Skills, 52 727-732.

Leadbeater CW (1895). The Astral Plane. Madras.

Mancia M (1995). One possible function of sleep: to produce
dreams. Behavioral Brain Research 69; 203-206.

Mavromatis A (1987). Hypnogogia. London: Routledge & Kegan

Muldoon S and Carrington H (1929). The Projection Of The Astral
Body. Rider & Co.

Okuma T (1992). On the psychophysiology of dreaming: a sensory
image-free association hypothesis of the dream process. Jpn. J. 
Psychiatr. Neurol., 46:1 7-22.

Powel AE (1969). The Etheric Double. Wheaton IL. Quest Books

Rifat C (1997). Du reve conscient a la conscience. Rever No. 

Rogo DS (1986). Leaving the Body. New York: Prentice Hall,.

Van Eeden FWV (1913). A study of dreams. Proceedings of the
Society for Psychical Research. 26:431-461 


by Chuck Cosimano

[based upon a September 20, 1997 posting to]

The biggest problem in dealing with the idea of karma in the
context of the Theosophical Society is the lack of understanding
of the time In which the TS adopted it. You have to remember
that these were VICTORIANS and they had a very particular view of
the world that we of the end of the 20th century simply do not
share because our experiences are so much different.

First, good Victorians had a real problem with doubt. Now that
make no sense to us at all, because we have a problem with people
who don't doubt. We consider them to be idiots or new agers or
worse. The good Victorian, on the other hand lived in a world of
certainties and when one certainty bit the dust he had to run off
and find a new one real quick or develop one of those complexes
that odd Dr. Freud was talking about and betake himself to
an alienist.

Well, the Victorians found themselves with a serious problem
because one of their most cherished certainties, the concept of
eternal damnation for anyone who did not behave like a good
Victorian was heading for the dustbin of history. This created a
serious problem, because if people did not have something to be
afraid of, they might start doing all sorts of terrible things,
like having sex and drinking. Again, pretty silly stuff to us,
but not to them. To the Victorians this was serious business.

The Theosophists figured they had the solution. They stole the
idea of karma from the Orient and put their own little gloss on
it in the hope that it would inspire people to act like good
Victorians and give up sex and meat and drink only temperance

Fortunately for civilization, they failed. Because not only was
hell delivered to the trash bin, but no one with any sense bought
into the karma thing either. (One of the features of
second-stage Theosophists, 1900-1930, is that they seemed totally
bereft of any common sense.) They were too busy having fun. 
Freed of the shackles of one superstition, they were not about to
adopt another one.

The other problem with the Victorians was they had an idea of law
that is peculiar to their time. They thought of law in near
mystical terms, something that transcended mortals, only in
spiritual, but in temporal terms. They took the idea of
immutable laws of physics (like our old friend gravity) and
extrapolated onto human society and the spiritual realm as well. 
This was, of course, a reaction to the still remembered time of
absolute human monarchy and the divine Tyrant of Israel. So when
our older Theosophists adopted karma, they put that notion onto

Now we don't view law that way at all. First, we know only too
well that the laws of nature are far from immutable and there are
always methods for getting around them even though that may take
some work. Second, we know that human legislators are no better
than monarchs, being just as corrupt, venal and stupid. Law is
not something we take very seriously as a philosophical concept
any more. Rather than affirm its majesty, as the Victorians did,
we do anything we can to subvert it and render it impotent. So
when faced with an idea such as karma and then having it
presented as a law, our instinctive reaction (as a society) is
not embrasure but revulsion in varying degrees depending upon our
life experiences.

We just don't view law as a good thing. It is at best a
necessary evil that given the right circumstances all of us will
work to get around.

What all this means is that the idea of karma has found itself
caught in a cultural trap and that is why all the attempts to
explain and justify it. It is not enough to merely assert it, as
our Victorians would. It has to be defined and explained and
examples given. The only problem is that there are no examples
of it that anyone can see, so the only resort is argument by
analogy, but the analogies don't work very well either. The
final fallback position is argument by authority, but authority
has to be accepted and that is one huge weakness. You don't try
to persuade a Baptist by referring to a Papal encyclical because
he doesn't care what the Pope thinks.

So what we have with karma is this ancient idea cobbled together
to control a society that was adopted in the vain hope of
controlling another that cannot be proven and is impossible to
explain in any coherent fashion and which cannot be enforced upon


by Andrew Rooke

[based upon a May 24, 1994 posting to]

Some years back a conference was held in New York during which
practical ideas on the dissemination of theosophy were shared by
theosophists of all persuasions.

A wonderful cross-fertilization of ideas resulted with some very
constructive and non-traditional activities for theosophical
groups being advocated such as the use of poetry, drama, and art
to communicate theosophical ideas.

Why don't we continue this good work using the wonderful medium
of Internet? I would like to start the ball rolling with a few
suggestions based on our experience here in Australia, and some
of the ideas that have appeared on the Internet.

1. Development of theosophical libraries:

Some members of the network are librarians (e.g. Paul Johnston
and myself) and therefore well placed to offer advice on the
development of theosophical libraries. Why not identify and
utilize this expertize wherever needed in different parts of the

2. Current awareness of theosophical literature:

This is an idea which has value in situations such as ours where
members and friends work in isolation is to establish a current
awareness service. Contents pages of theosophical magazines
could be distributed to interested people who don't have access
to a theosophical library and articles of interest copied for
them (where this does not breach copyright!).

3. Theosophically trained therapists:

Another topic is the impact of changing family structures in the
Western world and what, if anything, theosophists could do to
alleviate the resultant problems that arise from this process. 
The idea is that if parents could see their responsibilities in
the light of the great laws of life that theosophy teaches, then
many of these problems could be ameliorated.

How is it possible to practically apply this sentiment? I
remember reading interesting accounts by theosophically inspired
psychological therapists in SUNRISE MAGAZINE and THEOSOPHICAL
LINK (TS Pasadena publications) which gave actual examples of
people applying theosophic concepts to marital and psychological

Could more be done to draw on the experiences of such people and
ways found to train others (not necessarily in theosophical
organizations) with these concepts?

4. Use of new technology:

The production of a thesophical game on CDROM on Theos-l recently
is an interesting example of the application of new technology to
the ancient concepts we hold dear as theosophists.

There must be so many other practical ways, including the further
use of Internet, that theosophical ideas could be disseminated
using new technology.

Theosophy World: Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application