Theosophy World Home Page
THEOSOPHY WORLD ---------------------------------- February, 2000
An Internet Magazine Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy
And its Practical Application in the Modern World
To submit papers or news items, subscribe, or unsubscribe, write
(Please note that the materials presented in THEOSOPHY WORLD are
the intellectual property of their respective authors and may not
be reposted or otherwise republished without prior permission.)
"How Did Albert Einstein Intuit E=MC^2?" by Leon Maurer
"There Are No Neo-Theosophists," by Dallas TenBroeck
"The Awareness Discovery Series," by Murray Stentiford
"Blavatsky Net Update," by Reed Carson
"The Magic Night," by Dara Eklund
"Destiny, Liberation, and Annihilation," by A. Trevor Barker
"The Etheric Double: The Far-Reaching Effects of a False
Assumption," Part II, by Geoffrey A. Farthing
"Spirit in Crisis: Meditation," by H. Oosterink
"Druidism and Its Connection With Ireland," Part I
from THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM
> The Jewish system of sacred measures applied to religious
> symbols is the same, so far as geometrical and numerical
> combinations go, as those of Chaldea, Greece, and Egypt, having
> been adopted by the Jews during the centuries of their slavery
> and captivity with those nations. What was that system? It is
> the intimate conviction of the author of THE SOURCE OF MEASURES
> that "the Mosaic Books were intended, by a mode of art speech,
> to set forth a geometrical and numerical system of exact
> science, which should serve as an origin of measures."
> -- H.P. Blavatsky, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 313.
HOW DID ALBERT EINSTEIN INTUIT E=MC^2?
by Leon Maurer
[revised and edited, New York, February 14, 2000]
That's easy! He looked it up in THE SECRET DOCTRINE.
On the 20th anniversary of Einstein's death (1975), physicist
Richard Feynman was quoted in TIME MAGAZINE as saying:
> I cannot understand how he arrived at the intuition leading to
> E=MC^2, considering the level of scientific knowledge at the time
This equation states that
> ... mass or substance is equivalent to energy and that time and
> space are integral parts of the substance-energy continuum.
> -- A. March and I.M. Freeman, THE NEW WORLD OF PHYSICS, 1963.
A niece of Einstein reported that a copy of THE SECRET DOCTRINE
was always on his desk.
> Iverson Harris, THE JOURNAL OF SAN DIEGO HISTORY, San Diego
> (California) Historical Society, Summer, 1974, 16. In checking
> this information it was learned that a niece of Einstein's, in
> India during the 1960s, paid a visit to the headquarters of the
> Theosophical Society at Adyar. She explained that she knew
> nothing of theosophy or the society, but had to see the place
> because her uncle always had a copy of Madame Blavatsky's SECRET
> DOCTRINE on his desk. The individual to whom the niece spoke was
> Eunice Layton, a world renowned theosophical lecturer who
> happened to be at the reception desk when she arrived. While in
> Ojai, California, in 1982, Sylvia Cranston met Mrs. Eunice
> Layton, who confirmed the story.
> -- Sylvia Cranston, HPB: THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE AND INFLUENCE OF
> HELENA BLAVATSKY, Preface, Note 11, p. 557.
Another witness, Jack Brown, reports similarly in an article, "I
visited Professor Einstein." (OJAI VALLEY NEWS, Ojai, California,
September 28. 1983)
Sometime, around the mid-1970's, I was attending a lecture on
karma and reincarnation by a foreign visitor at the United Lodge
of Theosophists in New York City ... After the talk, a group of
ULT associates and I met the speaker, Mrs. Wadia, the elderly
British-born widow of a well known Indian theosophical writer and
lecturer. She was accompanied by several other Indian women
dressed in Saris.
Mrs. Wadia, or one of the other women with her (I do not
remember their names) told us that when she was at the
Theosophical Publishing Company in Adyar during the mid 1960s,
she met Einstein's niece, who said she had come to the TPC
headquarters to offer their library the book that was at the
bedside of her uncle when he died. Mrs. Wadia (or the speaker)
said that she and several others at the Adyar Lodge gratefully
accepted the worn out and dog-eared copy of the first edition of
THE SECRET DOCTRINE.
I asked whether she actually handled and opened the book. She
answered that she had. When I specifically asked if there were
any margin notes, she said that the book was heavily notated and
underlined, and that the margins were covered with scribbles and
other markings that none of them could make heads nor tails of.
(What would we give to get a look at them?) When someone else
asked what happened to the book, she said, it was still in the
library of the Lodge in Adyar.
Whether it could still be found there today, is anybody's guess.
(If anyone gets to read its "scribbles" as a result of this lead,
please let me know.)
This information, however, led me to re-evaluate the "Secret
Doctrine" which I had been studying for the past many years (and
which was already heavily underlined and margin notated -- but
mostly of philosophical, occult, symbolical, and comparative
I immediately Purchased a new facsimile edition of THE SECRET
DOCTRINE with the intention of starting all over ... But, this
time, specifically to study its deeper scientific teachings with
reference to the linkages between consciousness, mind and their
associated biological organs and organisms (since most of its
teachings in cosmology and physics had already been culled and
expanded by Einstein, Planck, Millikan, Heisenberg, Bohr,
Gell-Mann, Feynman, Hawkings and many others).
My continuing study since that time (and the margin notes it
engendered) led me ultimately to the present holographic
consciousness theory of Astro Biological Coenergetics and the
beginnings of a new scientific paradigm and technology derived
from it -- that I am still working on. See:
P.S. I'm not sure if my letter to Feynman in 1975 (telling him
where Einstein got his insight) pointed him to THE SECRET
DOCTRINE. He never responded. But it wasn't really necessary
for his own work, since Einstein -- and Millikan, for another,
but that's another story -- had already been there.
> You can tell the seriousness of a scientific theory by how much
> fun the discoverer had in writing about it.
> -- A.N. Onymous (or Albert Einstein)
THERE ARE NO NEO-THEOSOPHISTS
by Dallas TenBroeck
Consider the label "theosophist" for a moment ...
The term "neo-theosophist" is one that indicates only a time
structure that is imposed on the naming of students of THEOSOPHY.
There are apparently in some minds the concept of "old student"
and "new student."
None of us, or "them," can accurately fall under any labels, as
we are all "old souls" and have reincarnated many times, and
perhaps we have contacted Theosophy in earlier times and under
different names. A such our "position" is largely unknown, even
New or old, we are all striving to improve.
Theosophy in reviewing the past and identifying the laws of true
growth in soul-wisdom serves to help us to advance, each in his
own way and at his own pace. It pays no attention to "labels."
The designation of THEOSOPHIST ought to be reserved to the
Masters of Wisdom who actually PRACTICE IT. We are "attempting"
to practice it and learn how to alter our lives and its
All the rest of us are at best "students of Theosophy." Some
attempt to practice it, hoping thereby to elevate their own moral
natures by using the ETHICS that Theosophy places before us, and
the REASONS that it gives for their use.
Regardless of designations, none of us can arrogate to ourselves
the designation "theosophist." Unless we are indeed devotees and
have achieved some eminence in its practice. Then, certainly,
such a person or persons would repudiate the designation if
attached to them personally. The Buddhist Bhikshu, when offering
the teachings of the Buddha always said: "Thus have I heard."
We live currently in a word of labels. And labels have
unfortunately the capacity to blur the meaning of anything they
designate. They lack accuracy in definition -- and each person
is an individual and any designation can only be applied to them
by those who truly understand the interior and REAL nature of
such a being. We like to place people in "pigeon holes" we have
devised. But that is entirely untrue. By using designations we
think we are explaining, but in reality we are using a kind of
short-hand for our own convenience and hope that others may also
adopt it. We may have even borrowed such labels from others.
Let us all call ourselves "students of Theosophy." None are yet
Fortunately THEOSOPHY is NOT a religion, nor do its students
pretend to do more than try to understand the philosophy of the
"rational explanation of things."
THE AWARENESS DISCOVERY SERIES
by Murray Stentiford
[based upon a January 2, 2000 posting to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
I have been leading a stream of activity within the yearly
program of the Theosophical Society in Auckland, New Zealand for
two years called the Awareness Discovery Series. The focus is
meditation and the spiritual way in the context of the challenges
of daily life.
And, you know, people are often heard to say they are enjoying
being in this group. It must be so, (said with a bit of a smile)
because it's got to the point that I can't get them to go home
afterwards, with everyone animatedly talking to each other after
the organized part of the meeting.
Now, to outline some of the features of the way this group is
run, features that seem to contribute to its success:
The meeting contains a mixture of people who think they are
beginners and those more experienced with meditation, and we sit
around a round table. There are eight to twelve people at any
The meeting as such lasts for about an hour. The format has a
basic framework but is very flexible within that framework.
First, there's a short attunement, to become more centered and
group-aware and let previous concerns of the day go to the
Then the leader asks if there are any questions on what was
introduced last week, any other aspect of their meditation
practice, or any aspect of relating a spiritual way to everyday
life. I encourage all present to offer their thoughts and
observations, so it is not just the leader answering. Discussion
develops, with the leader restoring focus if necessary. The
leader learns a lot here, too, by the way. This can last from 10
to 30 minutes, depending on the intensity of interest or the
number of aspects that come up.
The leader then introduces some new aspect of the practice of
meditation, or insights and their relationship to practical life.
This often includes insights from theosophical literature and
thought, but is kept open to inputs from other quarters as well.
The group then does a meditation together, applying a new
technique if one was just introduced, or being on a thought or
image or understanding that emerged in the earlier question
period. The leader may devise the exact focus of the meditation
at just this point, to relate directly to the energy of the
group, rather than rigidly plan it all before.
And finally the meeting is closed. It helps for the leader to
briefly remind people to be thankful for life, light, theosophy,
each other, whatever.
The leader models an attitude of not just respect but active,
warm encouragement of all present to contribute, without pushing
them. In fact, I take delight in hearing the insights of the
different people expressed in their own ways, and watching them
blossom in self-confidence and freedom of expression during the
year. Maybe that delight on the part of the leader is part of
the fuel that makes the group work. We often have a good-natured
laugh about something and I think that helps, too.
The meetings are held in a block of four in one month, a break of
one month, then another four in the next month and so on,
totalling 20 in the year. This is a bit of an experiment but
seems to work well.
Topics covered (from the brochure, but by no mean confined to
this list) are:
> Relaxation, Posture and Breath
> When attention wanders
> Theosophical background
> Stress reduction
> Nature, music, art and other avenues
> Use of the word - mantra, affirmations
> Some of the Traditions Breifly Contrasted
> (Buddhist, Christian etc)
> How does prayer differ from meditation?
> Spontaneous and deliberate meditation
> Structured and unstructured meditation
> Creativity, intuition
> Realizing your oneness with the All
> Expansions of consciousness
> Meditation for life (in both senses)
> Ways of service
> Spiritual healing
> The inner teacher.
The brochure describes the class as an introductory series on the
practice and understanding of meditation amidst the demands and
turmoil of everyday life. It emphasizes simplicity, clear
insight and enjoyment as marks of a deepening connection with the
inner ground of our being, and encourages all who attend to find
the Way that best meets their own needs.
The leader has the framework of modern theosophy definitely in
mind, and must have done a fair bit of homework to integrate it
into their own life and understanding, so as to be able to speak
spontaneously in terms adapted to the person and the situation.
There is not much reading a paragraph from a book and then
discussing it, but it does happen occasionally; we don't exclude
anything. Those who want to study further have not only the
books in our library, but a series of study classes during the
year, so there is plenty of support in that area.
We see in our branch examples of the "old" way of teaching
theosophy too, with long monologues by a lecturer or class
leader. And we hear every year one or more students talk about
the struggle to stay awake through the whole of such a session.
There is no such problem in a group where people are dialoguing
with each other, offering insights to each other, and sorting out
their thoughts to be able to express them. I think the inherent
equality expressed by being in a circle, plus the eye contact all
round, makes a big difference too, to the interest and vitality.
I wholeheartedly affirm that there are plenty of people "out
there" who, if we will but approach them with a sincere
willingness to LISTEN as well as talk, will often surprise us
with their insights and, once that two-way relationship is
established, will honor us with questions they may have never
dared ask before.
Are we ready for that? The good news is that we don't have to
know all the answers, to be ready. We just need to be willing to
share the search, in the mutually nutritious exchange of where we
are up to.
Yes, let's have the attitude of gardeners. Even the business
world has figured out that the best leaders are those who serve
BLAVATSKY NET UPDATE
by Reed Carson
January 2000 News
Congratulations to everyone for making it into the 3rd millenium
(as commonly counted)! We have just witnessed an event that tied
the whole world together as midnight rolled across the earth from
time zone to time zone -- marked by celebrations from
grass-skirts, dugout canoes, to skyscraper backdrops.
And congratulations to the electrical grid and the internet as
they stood up to this test. (Though I admit my fingers are still
crossed -- a sign of hope in this case.) The internet, by the
way, by many reckonings, is the largest instance of global human
cooperation in our known history. It continues to work. It
continues to bring us together as never before.
While we enjoy having managed to be born so as to know two
millennia, we might mention the Theosophical view. Theosophy
says we have lived in a form, more or less suitable to call
human, for over 18 million years. And that is only in this
"pass". (There is now, by the way, evidence that such deviations
from mainstream timeframes can be justified based on the bones
etc. of ancient humanity. Just have to stop mis-classifying
them. For this see the heavily researched book "Forbidden
Archeology" sold in the bookstore.) This timeframe places us into
something like the 18,000th millennia. And counting. In that
span of over 18,000,000 years we are said to be something like a
million years "behind" in our evolutionary growth. When we look
around our current world, the pace appears to be picking up.
Perhaps during this new millenium we might work at "catching up"
in that larger evolutionary growth for which we are destined.
In case you would like to explore the details of such teachings,
along with the many other teachings of Theosophy, this month we
are delighted to announce the actual beginning of BN-basic, our
online discussion list covering the basic teachings of Theosophy.
I will be sending out a notice to all those who have subscribed
sometime between now and January 4th.
The Russian talk list, BN-russian, that was mentioned last month
will be starting January 10th. Again, a separate notice will be
sent to all participants.
We are pleased to say that Glynn Chow has contributed the online
text of 6 more articles by William Q. Judge. Glynn has said
that more are comming. So we wanted to thank Glynn particularly
for what has and will be done. The original articles of
Theosophy are of considerable interest to visitors to this site
and of course Judge's articles have clear value for people.
We should point out that on the Scholarship Forum page we have
added "A call for considered opinion." Some of you may be
interested in offering thoughtful opinion on the current research
And we want to thank the Theosophical Society [Pasedena] for
placing online yet more material from HPB. A link to LETTERS OF
H.P. BLAVATKSY TO A.P. SINNETT can now be found under the
"Theosophy Online" section.
You may want to know the progress of my computer saga to provide
a new dedicated server for the benefit of this site. While
learning much in this saga, I have had to backtrack yet again.
Allowing for other personal commitments that I must meet, I will
be aiming to restart that effort in the Spring on a different
computer. This time I will be aiming to use a strict co-location
approach on a machine that I can "touch" within driving distance
and allowing maintenance whenever I want it. Once bitten by the
Linux/Appache bug one stays bitten. Since I cannot run Lyris on
the current machine, the discussion lists above will be using
Majordomo, mailing list software used by some half of all web
discussion lists. It is 100% free with underlying source code
freely available to programmers. With all that I have learned in
this effort, this is now tempting. But we'll see later.
Just for the record during last night the total visitors kept
moving just past the 110,000 mark to begin the millennium. We
hope this is the real beginning of our service to the cause of
Theosophy for the new time ahead.
As of the beginning of January, there are 1512 members, including
65 who joined in December. Of all those, 857 are visible in the
February 2000 News
A good policy is to not flap open your mouth until you know what
you are talking about. And as you may suspect by now, I am going
to make a couple of exceptions.
For one thing, I just received an email last Friday concerning an
online course in Buddhism. This BN web site I expect will
recieve at least a very fleeting reference in that course. I
asked for more info and won't know until the instructor comes
back from Nepal next month. It will be very exciting if
Blavatsky makes it into the academic online-course world.
The second item on which I should maybe keep my mouth shut is the
current activities of Jerome Wheeler. He is planning to launch
an EZTV series of classes in Los Angeles during this February.
They will be filmed. It is yet to be decided what may or may not
be done with those films. But it is an exciting venue. An
exciting start. I suppose Jerome will be glad for me to give him
a plug here so it flapped open here also.
Speaking of video, the process has resumed again this month of
loading up video for the www.ult.org site by students of the
United Lodge of Theosophists. There had been 5 half hour long
films that could all be streamed comfortably at 28k baud. This
month 10 more half hour films were loaded up. And this should
We wanted to mention one astonishing aspect of the work of a
group of Theosophists in Los Angeles at the Philosophical
Research Society. The Theosophists are holding regular meetings
there and the notice of these meetings was on 11,000 programs
mailed to the members of the PRS! Of course the number who
actually attended so far was only a very small fraction of that,
word necessarily spread to many. I am told the discussion that
occurred there so far was very dynamic and required a change of
plans mid-way to accomodate the very high level of interest
generated. If you want to know more contact Wes Amerman.
Speaking of interest. I was recently told that the Manhatten
group studying core Theosophy that started this Fall has had at
least 15 people in every class (with the individuals varying). I
am told that very noticeably, "the spirit of inquiry" is alive in
the meetings. A real request has arisen there that they meet
once a week rather than twice a month. Well I guess I should
shut my mouth now!
On this site we thank Glynn again for the additional articles of
Judge. 18 more articles by Judge have been added this month.
The BN-basic discussion list started off, we admit, a bit rocky.
But now it is immersed in a very valuable discussion of the
"path". We are sure (and based on some feedback) this has
provided food for thought and inspiration for many. Soon they
will continue on with the "planned" agenda.
THE MAGIC NIGHT
by Dara Eklund
"The Magic Night" is a play written by a United Lodge of
Theosophy student and based on William Q. Judge's "A Curious
Tale." The original story may be found in a separate book: OCCULT
TALES printed in 1942 by the International Book House, Ltd. of
Bombay, India. That compilation included occult stories by H.P.
Blavatsky, as well as Judge, the latter selections being mainly
from his Path magazine. They are currently available in ULT's
collection of WQJ writings, or in ECHOES OF THE ORIENT, Vol. I,
pp. 507-48 (published by Point Loma Publications, San Diego,
Most of the Occult Tales are set in ancient Ireland and appear to
be reminiscences from former lifetimes by Mr. Judge. In THE
PATH, he wrote an article called simply "Ireland" [ECHOES I,
pp.125-16.] telling of its antiquity and heritage, so different
from the English across the channel. Erin's Isle was known as
the Isle of Destiny. Upon it an ancient college was situated
before Albion rose across the seas. Here lived great adepts
until a major cataclysm caused them to migrate elsewhere. This
Island, called Ierna, was identified by HPB in Lucifer as the
abode of Atlanteans, who migrated there from the submerged island
related in Plato's dialogue Timaeus. Strabo, the Greek
geographer, describes this land as having had peculiar Greek
customs, remnants of a wandering band of settlers in the Northern
Sea. Its peoples (the Dananns) bear a name similar to that which
Agamemnon used in Homer's ILIAD, when addressing the Danaans
(Bk.2-4) -- his Achaean army.
"The Magic Night" concerns this Isle of Destiny, known as
Innesfallen. In reading the play for a recent Winter Solstice
event, several Internet articles were brought by participants to
our rehearsals. One was a printout from fellow Theosophist
Eloise Hart's "The Divine Races of Ancient Ireland." This article
related how divine kings and heroes, the Tautha De Danann, taught
the infant races of mankind. Erin was the wife of one of these
early kings, becoming the name of ancient Ireland. The
pre-Celtic mystery centers where they reigned, were called "Wells
of Wisdom." The Tuatha De Danann is translated as "the people of
the goddess Danu"... "dan here meaning knowledge." [See
http://www.Theosophy-nw.org] These teachers enkindled the "fires
of rational thought," e.g., the Fire of Mind, in Theosophical
Here we find a clue to the fire symbolism in "The Magic Night"
drama which prophesies that the fires would go out on the Isle of
Destiny if the duties of life were neglected, or as Judge wrote
in his "Curious Tale," the power to keep these fires alive would
gradually disappear if charity, duty and virtue were forgotten.
This would bring about the destiny of Innesfallen. Again quoting
> It is interesting that Ireland was once called the "Plain of
> Fal," and her inhabitants, "Men of Fal," which is in line with
> the tradition that this land was an ancient center of mystic
> lore. In this respect one wonders if the prophetic Stone of Fal
> could have been interpreted by bards of old as representing man's
> inner voice.
Hart also mentions that the prophetic Stone of Fal, or Destiny,
was taken according to popular belief to Scotland by an Egyptian
princess (Scota) and is now said to form part of the Coronation
chair in Westminster Abbey. The Celtic legend of flagstones
surrounding this Stone of Fal, is curiously akin to Greek myths
of Clashing Rocks which could open or close to prevent the
unworthy from approaching the sacred stone. This stone utters a
cry when the rightful heir to the throne appears. Reflections of
the time when Initiates were kings?
In modern travel guides the Lakes near Killarney, where so many
of Judge's tales take place, include a lower lake known as the
Lake of Learning. That is where Innesfallen Island is situated.
The famous annals of Innesfallen were written there in 1010. Now
considered more significant than THE BOOK OF KELLS, the annals
are a chronicle of world history, including the rise and fall of
the Roman Empire, which we know extended once into the British
Isles. They are now housed in the Bodleian Library in Oxford.
These Lakes amidst Judge wandered have inspired poets such as
Thomas Moore and Tennyson, as well as a number of local Irish
The "Magic Night" certainly proved an inspiration for our
Solstice Gathering, accompanied as it was by harp music, and
voices singing the ancient Druid Hymn to the Sun.
DESTINY, LIBERATION, AND ANNIHILATION
by A. Trevor Barker
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, August 15, 1934, pages 15-21, a
reprint from THE ENGLISH THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, June 15. 1934.]
Before taking up the study and discussion of the subject tonight,
which is "Destiny, Liberation, and Annihilation," may I just
preface my remarks by drawing your attention to the basis upon
which we, of the Theosophical Society, endeavor to do our work of
spreading a knowledge of the Ancient Teachings, called in this
era "Theosophy." You will find that one of the first objects of
the Theosophical Society is: "To diffuse among men a knowledge of
the laws inherent in the Universe." Now this is rather a
complicated way of saying: -- to try to teach men Theosophy; and
so in these public lectures on Sunday nights that is what we are
endeavoring to do: to pass on to you a statement, to the extent
of our capacity, of the teachings that have come down literally
from the dawn of thinking man on this planet, in an unbroken oral
tradition. This tradition has been preserved by the elect of the
human race, and has percolated down to our present era, when we
had a restatement of the ancient Truths by H. P. Blavatsky.
Now it is very important from our point of view, and I venture to
think from yours, that we should do our work in just that way,
viz.: -- try to pass these teachings onto you, as much as
possible uncolored by our own psycho-mental apparatus. It is
important to you because you want to know what the Great Teachers
of the human race have said upon the vast problems of human life
and suffering, and man's relation to the universe. It is
important from our point of view because we dare not take the
responsibility of sowing, in the hearts and minds of men, ideas
which are merely the product of our own human, and therefore
fallible, imagination and thinking. Therefore what you hear from
this platform should be understood as a sincere endeavor, at
least, on the part of the speaker to give you the teachings of
Theosophy as he understands them, and, although it is also
necessary for him to endeavor to make certain deductions of a
practical kind, in order to show that this is not a mere system
of high philosophy and metaphysics without any relation to life,
yet you find, for the most part, that the teachers rather leave
to the students the task of making the application. Especially
in public propaganda work we believe in trying to deduce the
practical issues from this grand system of thought. Immensely
comprehensive as it is, a single life is by no means enough to
gain even a bowing acquaintance with the teachings as a whole;
but this does not mean that we cannot very quickly obtain a
sufficient amount of knowledge to make an immediate difference in
the conduct of our own lives, and enable us, to some extent at
least, to be of some service to our fellow men.
Now although we strive to hand on these teachings in accordance
with what we call the Esoteric tradition, nevertheless there is a
danger that we, as students, have also to try and avoid. There
is nothing easier than to permit the mind to crystallize its
thought, its understanding, upon some one or other of the
Theosophical doctrines, and so prevent the entrance of any
further light. This is a serious danger to the student, and I
want to read you a rather remarkable passage from Dr. de
Purucker's book, FUNDAMENTALS OF THE ESOTERIC PHILOSOPHY, in
which he deals with this particular tendency. He says:
> If anyone thinks -- I never did; thank the immortal Gods -- if
> anyone thinks that he knows THE SECRET DOCTRINE by reading it
> once, or even a dozen times, or a score of times, he mistakes
> greatly the situation. It must be read not only between the
> lines, but within the words. I have found the value of the
> following rule: never take a single statement in it and allow
> your mind to mold itself around it, never let a single idea
> crystallize; break the molds, let in the light. It is an
> excellent rule. As soon as a man says "I have the truth, I do
> not agree with such a one of our teachers: I think such and such
> a teacher was wrong," look out for him, for he is probably blind.
> The molds of his mind are crystallized and he cannot see the
That statement is worth taking to heart, and because of it I am
going to endeavor -- I say advisedly -- endeavor -- because I do
not know just how the experiment will work out -- to raise with
you certain points of view that may perhaps be new in our
understanding of the subject.
Now you can translate DESTINY, if you like, by the word KARMA --
a Sanskrit word. You can translate LIBERATION by the word YOGA,
and ANNIHILATION by NIRVANA. Therefore, these being important
parts of the Esoteric philosophy, we want to pay at least some
attention to them tonight.
Does Theosophy believe in Destiny for us human individuals? Are
we predestined to follow such or another path through earth life?
Is it all mapped out for us in advance according to the dictates
or the will of some personal or extra-cosmic deity, who decrees
that such and such a man shall do such and such a thing, whether
he is good, evil or what? On the other hand have we complete
freewill? These, I think you will agree, are important issues.
Well, Theosophy does believe in Destiny; it also believes in
freewill, and it makes the following statement. At the close of
his period of rest, before he returns to earth, the immortal Seer
is shown the general course of his life as a man, and the causes
that led up to that moment. He is also shown a picture of the
future with its opportunities of progress, its successes, its
failures, and the reasons for them. Then the human entity, in
the process of incarnation (or reincarnation) forgets the causes.
He has a new human brain; he has the difficult task of subjecting
or gaining power over the new physical mechanism, and the new
brain has no recollection of anything that did not pass through
On the other hand it has character, and the character of the
individual, strange as it may appear, is actually its destiny.
The past Karma, the consequences, the effects of every single
thing that the entity had thought, willed, felt or done in the
infinitely long series of its past incarnations is wrought into
the very fabric of that entity's own being and produces the man
as he is today or at any moment in life. Therefore Theosophy
says man is his own Karma, and Karma is nothing else but the man
himself, containing within himself all consequences -- be they
good or evil -- that appear to flow to him from outside himself.
So we can immediately deduce that Destiny is something that, if
it exists, the man has made for himself. You see man is an
incarnate God actually. He is a being with power to create -- to
create his future for good or ill. At any moment that he may
like to examine his personal life he will find that his
circumstances, his powers and faculties, his condition of health
or ill-health, have all been produced by his own action. He has
created his own destiny and he can change it. You see Theosophy
does not admit for a single moment that any individual in the
Universe has special privilege. He has gained any advantages of
personality, individuality or spirituality, or advantages of
environment, or anything else you can think of, strictly by his
own effort. There are no special privileges anywhere in nature,
and therefore we come to the next step, viz. -- everybody has
had to win at some time or another the powers or faculties that
he possesses. How has it been done? We can look at the Titan
intellects of the human race -- the great Teachers, the tradition
that we have of those Buddha-like men who embody Wisdom and
Compassion, and we can say to ourselves -- "What they have done
we some day can, must, and will do." But how? Let us use two or
three of the golden keys or jewels of Wisdom that unlock a
further stage to the understanding of this problem. We have used
one of the keys in talking about the doctrine of Karma. We have
also touched on Reincarnation. Now these are keys I would ask
you to note that we, as students, should try to apply to the
understanding of any problem. But you cannot understand the
doctrine of Karma, or any other problem of human life, unless you
understand something about the doctrine of what we call
Hierarchies. As applied to man this means that he is not a
single, simple entity -- perhaps just a physical body as some may
think -- but on the contrary he is composite of literally untold
billions of lives and intelligences. He is a sevenfold being --
a ten and twelve-fold being. Each department of his nature is
seven, ten and twelve-fold in its turn. Man is a Hierarchy --
spiritual, intellectual and physical: three main systems of
evolution going on all the time.
Now Karma is actually made, and the repository of it is,
so-to-speak, contained in the intermediate principle of the man.
I wonder if you have ever read HPB's own definition of what Karma
is. Let me read you a rather fascinating paragraph from her
THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARY. She says:
> When Buddhism teaches "Karma is that moral kernel (of any being)
> which alone survives death and continues in transmigration" or
> reincarnation, it simply means that there remains nought after
> each personality but the causes produced by it; causes which are
> undying, which cannot be eliminated from the Universe until
> replaced by their legitimate effects, and wiped out by them, so
> to speak, and such causes -- unless compensated during the life
> of the person who produced them with adequate effects, will
> follow the reincarnated Ego and reach it in its subsequent
> reincarnation until a harmony between effects and causes is
> And as it is that Ego which chooses the personality it will
> inform, after each Devachan, and which receives through these
> personalities the effects of the Karmic causes produced, it is
> therefore the Ego, that SELF which is the "moral kernel" referred
> to and embodies karma "which alone survives death."
So there you have HPB's own statement that man is his own Karma.
It is the "moral kernel" of the individual -- the higher part of
the intellectual, thinking, human entity.
You will wonder what all this is leading up to. I began to draw
these deductions and make these statements about the conception
Now I want to draw your attention for awhile to the other idea of
Liberation. Liberation from what? Liberation means freeing us --
from Destiny, the self-created thing that has bound us to the
wheel of birth and death, forever, unless we find the way of
escaping from it. It is the great statement of Theosophy that we
can and must find such liberation. The great Buddha taught the
way to get free from the miseries of life and the wheel of birth
and death. How is it to be done?
There must be a way. How often do we not get asked:
> Well, you tell me that I have made myself what I am, but I am in
> such an appalling state, that Heaven knows when I shall be able
> to work out the consequences of what somebody, you theorists say
> was I, has done in perhaps preceding incarnations -- for I never
> did anything in this life to warrant my present condition. Can I
> change it? Have I just got to sit down and put up with it?
What is the practical issue involved?
You who have been brought up in a Christian land will probably be
connecting these ideas with the Christian idea of vicarious
atonement, forgiveness of sins, and various other things. You
are right so to connect them, just to see what light Theosophy
throws upon such problems. We do not believe -- and the Great
Sages of antiquity have never taught -- that anyone can do
anything at all to wipe out or bear for us the consequences of
our own wrong doing. That doctrine, which has gained a hold on
the mind of Christendom, is something that has caused untold
damage to the mind of the race. It has warped its thinking, and
it has actually brought about an immense amount of actual evil in
the world; but, as in all these things, there is behind it a
truth of some kind which in the process of time has become
distorted. Throughout the East the idea of Liberation from the
bonds of Karma is everywhere. They all believe it is possible if
they go the right way about it; and you also find that the
Christian firmly believes in the possibility of a full and
perfect remission of his sins -- that is what he calls it. What
is it all about?
At this point, I am going to read to you two or three Aphorisms
on Karma, which come from an article under that title by William.
Q. Judge. There are some 31 Aphorisms of a profoundly
metaphysical nature, but this is what I want you to listen to:
> The effects may be counteracted and mitigated by the thoughts and
> acts of oneself or of another, and then the resulting effects
> represent the combination and interaction of the whole number of
> causes involved in producing the effects.
I think you will agree that there is a distinct suggestion that
it is possible to counteract and mitigate.
Now another one:
> Changes may occur in the instrument [that is the body and
> psychological mechanism of the man] during one life so as to make
> it appropriate for a new class of Karma, and this may take place
> in two ways: (a) through intensity of thought and the power of a
> vow, and (b) through natural alterations due to complete
> exhaustion of old causes.
"Through intensity of thought and the power of a vow" -- that is
the particular one that I think we should pay attention to,
because it is a practical issue that we want to get at.
You may be interested further to hear what Katherine Tingley,
successor of William Q. Judge, had to say on the subject of a
> A vow is an action rising like a star high above the level of the
> common deeds of life. It is a witness that the outer man has at
> that moment realized its union with the inner [you will notice
> "union with the inner' -- that means by Liberation or Yoga]
> purpose of its existence, registering a great resolve to become
> one with its Father in Heaven. At that moment the radiant Path
> of Light is seen with the eye of pure vision. The disciple is
> reborn, the old life is left behind, he enters a new way. For a
> moment he feels the touch of a guiding hand ever stretched out to
> him from the inner chamber. For a moment his ear catches the
> harmonies of the soul. It is a descent upon him of the Holy
> Ghost, "the Grace of God."
I have read these passages to show you that the deduction I want
to make has a very good foundation in our recorded teachings. It
is possible, friends and brothers, to change ourselves by
intensity of thought, by self-sacrifice, by the power of a vow.
If it is possible, it means this -- the changing of our destiny.
How? You will say "But I have hundreds of lives of Karma, and
they are going to keep me as I am forever -- or at least for
another three or four lives." Now that is sometimes the way we
comfort ourselves, you see, with the doctrine of reincarnation,
which is another way of putting off till tomorrow what we ought
to perform today. But directly we wake up to the fact that we
will not have any different tomorrow unless we change ourselves
today, then we begin to wonder whether it may not be better
worthwhile to get a move on now, in the present.
That is what some students have come to believe. They recognize,
in the light of the teachings of Theosophy, that we have got to
do something about changing the "moral kernel" of our nature:
that we have got to so change it that the consequences that flow
to it and from it are the kind that we want, instead of the kind
that makes us feel so very uncomfortable and even miserable.
Now do you think that it is impossible to get a clue -- another
clue -- as to what we have to do from the teachings of the
Avatara Jesus? I rather think we shall find that that Master Mind
threw a dazzling light upon the problem in something that you and
I, perhaps, have neglected to pay much attention to for many long
years -- I refer to that best known of all Invocations, or Occult
Formulae, as it truly is, called the Lord's Prayer. It is a
wonderful Invocation, and therein is made the appeal to our
Father in Heaven -- our Inner God, our Higher Self. "To forgive
us our misdeeds;" but it states the conditions: that we are
willing to forgive those who have trespassed against us. What do
you think that He meant? It is not written so that he who runs
may read, but I commend it to your attention as something for
deep meditation and thinking over. You have to study it with the
idea well in mind that if you created causes you have got to reap
the effects: you cannot escape, and yet there is this idea of
forgiveness, this Eastern idea of liberation from all bonds of
Karma. You have the statement in THE BHAGAVAD GITA that an evil
man speedily becometh a righteous man when once he has rightly
determined -- determined to do what? -- to renounce his personal
self and devote it to the Supreme. There is a deeply mystical
meaning in this idea of the forgiveness of sin. What is it, do
you think, that shuts out the light -- that prevents our having
or being in that state that Katherine Tingley refers to as the
"Grace of God," of being in a state of spiritual grace? I venture
to suggest to you that it is nothing in the world but actions of
a personal kind with a personal end, misguidedly performed, which
have made what Theosophists call "bad Karma," and what the
Christian calls in one word, "sin." Now that creates a block
which makes it impossible for the man, when he goes into his
closet to commune with his Father in Heaven, to hear the still
small Voice of his spiritual consciousness. It makes it
impossible, I say, for him to hear that voice, and therefore is
he in a state, not of liberation, but of bondage, and not
at-one-ment, or Yoga, or union, but simply of unregenerate human
frailty and sinfulness.
But if the whole of the personal man is cleansed by the "power of
a vow," by the determination from this time forward to empty
himself of all thoughts and tendencies to action which are
detrimental to his fellow man, and which keep him from the light
of the God within; then in the strength of that vow, and in the
power of the appeal to the Christos within his own heart
something happens, and an actual change can and does take place
within his soul nature (which remember is the sum total of all
his past actions, that we call Karma). A change takes place when
he has been willing to pay the price; but I want to emphasize
that the price has to be paid by every human soul that seeks to
find the path to union with his own Augoeides.
The man who makes that renunciation of his personal self can, in
a moment of time, pay such a price that the very harmony that he
disturbed is righted, transmuted, changed, and in that moment he
is liberated from the Cross of matter upon which he has been
fixed; his bonds fall away, and he rises into union -- one-ness
-- with the light of his own Divinity.
Now do you see what a different light we begin to get upon the
whole problem with which every one of our personal lives is
There is another word we have not yet touched upon that is
included in our subject tonight -- the awe-inspiring term
"Annihilation." There are two or three ways in which we can
understand that term. Do you believe that it is possible for a
human entity to be completely annihilated -- wiped out,
extinguished, so that there is nothing left? It is possible if
you go about it properly, and do just the worst you know how to
do for a number of lives, and keep on doing it. Then you will
eventually get into the condition or state where you will forfeit
all possibility of Yoga or union with your divine, spiritual
counterpart or parent. In other words you may gain the whole
world, but in the process you will lose your own soul which,
incidentally, is the only thing that makes life worth living.
Such an entity, being first soulless, and then becoming a lost
soul, proceeds downwards, lower and lower and lower, until he is
literally annihilated. But fortunately there is another aspect
to this idea of annihilation. Remember that no human being is
ever too far gone if he wants to save himself, for a single
upward aspiration to the light of his own Savior and Redeemer --
the God in him -- will actually reestablish the link of
connection that has been broken.
There is another kind of annihilation that the Western
Orientalists used rather to delight to talk about, and you know
that they actually translated the Buddhist term "Nirvana" as
Annihilation! Theosophy denies the accuracy of the translation.
And yet the word, if you go to its root and origin, actually
means "burnt out" or "snuffed out," and this is part of the
highest spiritual teachings of the Buddha himself. Whilst still
on earth he was said to have achieved Nirvana, but he certainly
was not wiped out. He was very much there, and he taught -- made
the statement, that wherever his precepts were practiced in their
fulness there was Nirvana. Nirvana means "Enlightenment"; it
means union; it means entering into peace and into bliss; but in
the process the personal nature of the man, the animal entity,
has to be yielded up, ground over, and literally annihilated.
The poor physical body has very little to do with it at all; it
is often the unwilling slave of the nature of the man inside.
The Theosophical conception of Nirvana is to enter into union
with the Supreme while living here on earth, and we make the
further statement that if we do not succeed in doing it here, we
cannot do it hereafter.
THE ETHERIC DOUBLE:
THE FAR-REACHING EFFECTS OF A FALSE ASSUMPTION,
by Geoffrey A. Farthing
[Reprinted, with permission, from a booklet in private
circulation dated June 1995]
In her book THE ANCIENT WISDOM, in a footnote, Besant says,
> Linga Sarira was the name originally given to the Etheric Body
> and must not be confused with the Linga Sarira of Hindu
> philosophy. Sthula Sarira is the Sanskrit name for the dense
But the 'Etheric Body' is her modern term and Linga Sarira is an
ancient one. She does not explain the origins of the term
'Etheric Body' nor what she meant by 'originally', but in the
original (Blavatsky) theosophical literature there is no
'etheric' body or state of matter. Besant does not say why the
Etheric Body should not be confused with the Linga Sarira. She
implies that the term Etheric Body was somehow of more ancient
usage than Linga Sarira but does not justify her statement. It
was certainly used as a word by mediaeval and even 19th century
occultists but not in the sense in which Besant used it. To this
double, however, she ascribed most of the characteristics and
qualities of the astral body (second principle) of the Blavatsky
system, often referred to by its Indian name Linga Sarira.
In the HPB/Masters literature the word ETHERIC does appear in a
few places, e.g., concerning the force used in the Keeley motor
(SD, I, 562), but there Blavatsky expressly relates 'etheric' to
Astral (i.e. her second plane). It could be that in contrasting
it with the meaning given to the word by the Hindus Besant was
thinking of Linga Sarira being translated as 'sex-body' (see BCW
IV, 53), Linga being the Sanskrit word for phallus or maleness.
Blavatsky does mention this but persists with her use of the
word. The meaning she gave to Linga Sarira in her THEOSOPHICAL
GLOSSARY is as follows:
> LINGA SARIRA. The 'body', i.e., the aerial symbol of the body.
> This term designates the DOPPELGANGER or the 'astral body' of man
> or animal. It is the EIDOLON of the Greeks, the vital and
> PROTOTYPAL body; the reflection of the man of flesh. It is born
> BEFORE and dies or fades out, with the disappearance of the last
> atom of the body.
It is used in this sense consistently throughout the Blavatsky
writings. Linga Sarira is the direct equivalent of Blavatsky's
astral body. Later she explains the Linga Sarira's relationship
to the Kama and Mayavi Rupas (BCW, IX, 53).
In all the voluminous literature that came during and after the
Besant era, the astral plane became identified with the Kama Loca
(fourth Blavatsky plane), but to add to the confusion many of the
qualities ascribed to the astral plane in the later literature
were in fact those of the astral plane (second) as originally
described by Blavatsky, and sometimes of the Astral Light
Little or no mention of the Astral Light, as such, is made in the
later literature in spite of its importance, particularly in
explaining psychic phenomena. Another important difference
between the AB/CWL view on 'etheric' states and the HPB/Masters
description of Ether is that the former might be regarded, as
'developmental' states of matter, and would then be associated
with the processes of involution, whereas the tattvic Ether and
higher states are evolutionary, i.e. they will appear only in
the Rounds after our present fourth.
Besant said she was making these changes to eradicate confusions
but it is difficult to see that any confusions existed,
especially as Blavatsky had been at such pains to define her
terms which she used consistently throughout both her own and the
PRINCIPLES AND PLANES
Many confusions were introduced by the changes made by Besant in
both the terminology and classifications of the principles and
planes. A fundamental one was the use of the word 'Monadic' to
describe a plane (second) (see Table IV below). Monad is defined
in the Blavatsky literature as a duad, the combination of Atma
and Buddhi. It is also used in the universal sense to include
Mahat, i.e., Monad is then regarded as a triad (SD, I, 570).
There is a reference in the SD Vol. III to the Monad as both a
duality and a triad, but by the latter the Ego (the upper Triad
in man) is obviously meant. Although Monad as defined by
Blavatsky is one and indivisible, the triad Atma-Buddhi-Manas is
sometimes referred to in her literature as the human Ego (see
terminology and definitions given, Key, IX, 176.)
TABLE III -- COMPARING CLASSIFICATIONS OF PLANES
HPB/MASTERS SYSTEM AB/CWL SYSTEM*
- #1 ADI
- #2 ANUPADAKA
#7 ATMA #3 ATMA
#6 BUDDHI #4 BUDDHI
#5 MANAS - HIGHER #5 MENTAL - HIGHER
#5 MANAS - LOWER #5 MENTAL - LOWER
#4 KAMA #6 ASTRAL
#3 PRANA -
#2 LINGA SARIRA (ASTRAL) -
#1 STHULA SARIRA (PHYSICAL BODY) #7 PHYSICAL - ETHERIC
#7 PHYSICAL - DENSE
The inversion of the numbering should be noted. It is a further
cause of confusion to students.
* See Table IV, which follows, for the new names of planes in the
The division of the physical plane by Besant into two (a dense
lower and an upper etheric) not only meant a radical
rearrangement of the principles of man, but also affected the
naming of the planes in Nature on which the 'subjective' globes
of a Chain are placed. The HPB/Masters scale of principles is
clearly set out in THE KEY (see Table II). Besant's variations
on this are given on page 194 of her THE ANCIENT WISDOM. They
are also set out on page 48 and there are further variations in
the footnote, where the numbering of the principles is inverted.
Here Atma is allocated to the fifth plane, counting from the
bottom, instead of the seventh (see Table IV). It is explained
in the text that two higher principles above the fifth (third in
Table III) are beyond the consciousness of man at this time. No
reference to any such higher principles or planes is given in the
Blavatsky literature. Corresponding planes of Nature are given
on page three of Besant's A STUDY IN CONSCIOUSNESS. Here Adi and
Anupadaka are names given to the two planes above Atma, whereas
in the HPB/Masters classification Atma is supreme, i.e., no
planes above it, and the names Adi and Anupadaka are those of the
Tattvas CORRESPONDING to Atma and Buddhi (see Table I).
Besant applied the word MONADIC (see Table IV) to her No. 2
plane (counting downwards) making it superior to the Spiritual
(Atmic). Apart from the fact that in the classical system there
is no 'plane' above Atma, Besant's nomenclature is illogical in
that whether Monad is regarded as a duad or triad, Atma is its
highest component. Any combination of Atma with Buddhi and
Manas, both derivatives of 'Atma' could not possibly be superior
On page 194 of THE ANCIENT WISDOM Besant gives a table of
principles and 'forms'. Under the forms she lists a series of
bodies which she says corresponds to the Koshas in the Vedantic
classification, but here she relates Atma to the bliss, Buddhi to
the causal and Manas to the mental body respectively. These
terms are not so used in the Blavatsky system where the causal
body corresponds to the higher Manes and bliss to Buddhi (SD, I,
157). In Besant's Table the astral body is equated to Kama, or
the animal soul, and the Etheric Double to Linga Sarira and the
dense body to Sthula Sarira. Underneath the Table Besant says:
> It will be seen that the difference is merely a question of names
> and that the sixth, fifth, fourth and third 'principles' (not
> however numbered in the Table) are merely Atma working in the
> buddhic, causal, mental and astral bodies while the second and
> first principles are the two lowest bodies themselves.
To this statement was added,
> This sudden change in the method of naming is apt to cause
> confusion in the mind of the student, and as Blavatsky, our
> revered teacher, expressed much dissatisfaction with the then
> current nomenclature as confused and misleading and desired
> others and myself to try and improve it, the above names as
> descriptive, simple and representing the facts are here adopted.
The changes, together with others, made by Besant did not in fact
represent the same 'facts', e.g., the invention and insertion of
the 'etheric' body, but they were adopted both within and outside
the Theosophical Society. In the meanwhile they have virtually
become standard 'Theosophy'. It is difficult to understand how
Blavatsky's 'then current nomenclature' was 'confused and
misleading', in that so near to her death as 1889 when she wrote
THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY she set out so clearly and simply the
terminology which had been devised over many years with the
Masters cooperation. Up to that time there were no English
expressions for the then devised terms, and there was certainly
no confusion in them.
As an example of how Besant's new nomenclature was imposed on the
membership of the T.S. (and the interested public), we have the
following from Leadbeater's TEXTBOOK OF THEOSOPHY, page 61:
> The President has now decided upon a set of names for the planes,
> so for the future these will be used instead of those previously
> employed. A table of them is given below for reference.
> TABLE IV
> NEW NAMES OLD NAMES
> ---------------------------- -----------------------
> #1 Divine World Adi Plane
> #2 Monadic World Anupadaka Plane
> #3 Spiritual World Atmic or Nirvanic Plane
> #4 Intuitional World Buddhic Plane
> #5 Mental World Mental Plane
> #6 Emotional or Astral World Astral Plane
> #7 Physical World Physical Plane
> These will supersede the names given in Vol. II of THE INNER
It will be noted that neither the 'New' nor the 'Old' names
referred back to those given by Blavatsky.
FURTHER DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE SYSTEMS
Confusions have certainly arisen because of the altered
nomenclature and numbering of both planes and principles. In the
HPB/Masters literature specific expressions are used quite
consistently; for example, the Linga Sarira is always the astral
body or the astral double. In the AB/CWL system this term, Linga
Sarira, was dropped, together with its corresponding plane, as
was also the principle of Prana and its plane. Both the
Blavatsky astral and prana principles, however, have their
corresponding states of consciousness, but both of these were
omitted in the AB/CWL system.
It is true that Blavatsky made some variations in the ordinary
septenary classification of planes and principles in the Papers
for her Esoteric School, particularly in dividing Manas into
upper and lower, and sometimes omitting the physical body as a
principle, but she never altered the main theme of her sevenfold
system, with Atma as the supreme principle and plane. It will be
seen from the foregoing that the alterations made by Besant,
which were generally adopted by later writers in the Society,
e.g., Leadbeater, C. Jinarajadasa, A.E. Powell, etc., were more
than mere terminological changes and certainly did nothing to
It is important to note what is said (BCW, XII, 608 fn):
> It is erroneous to call the fourth [second in AB/CWL ] human
> principle 'Kama Rupa'. It is no Rupa at all until after death,
> but stands for the Kamic elements in man, his animal desires and
> passions, such as anger, lust, envy, revenge, etc., the progeny
> of selfishness and matter.
This states categorically that there is no Astral Body (fourth
principle vehicle as such) until after death. In what body then
it can be asked does 'astral' travel occur, if there is no body
during life in which to travel? Blavatsky tells us,
> When a man visits another in his Astral Body, it is the
> Linga-sharira that goes, but this cannot happen at any great
> distance. If a man thinks intensely of another at a distance,
> his Mayavi-Rupa (see later) may appear to that person, without
> the projector knowing anything about it. This Mayavi-Rupa is
> formed by the unconscious use of Kriyashakti. (BCW, XII, 706-7).
In the matter of the 'doubles' in man's constitution Blavatsky
wrote an article, in question and answer form between herself and
M.C., in LUCIFER, December 1888 (BCW, X, 217 et seq), "On
Astral Bodies, or Doppelgangers," wherein she clearly states:
> HPB Our occult philosophy teaches us there are three kinds of
> 'doubles', to use the word in its widest sense. (1) Man has
> his 'double' or SHADOW, properly so called, around which the
> physical body of the foetus -- the future man -- is built.
> The imagination of the mother, or an accident which affects
> the child, will affect also the astral body. The astral and
> the physical both exist before the mind is developed into
> action, and before the Atma awakes. This occurs when the
> child is seven years old, and with it comes the
> responsibility attaching to a conscious sentient being.
> This 'double' is born with man, dies with him and can never
> separate itself far from the body during life, and though
> surviving him, it disintegrates, pari passu, with the
> corpse. It is this, which is sometimes seen over the graves
> like a luminous figure of the man that was, during certain
> atmospheric conditions. From its physical aspect it is,
> during life, MAN'S VITAL double and after death, only the
> gases given off from the decaying body. But, as regards its
> origin and essence, it is something more. This 'double' is
> what we have agreed to call LINGA-SHARIRA, but which I would
> propose to call, for greater convenience, 'Protean' or
> 'Plastic Body'.
> M.C. Why Protean or Plastic?
> HPB Protean, because it can assume all forms; e. g. the
> 'shepherd magicians' whom popular rumor accuses, perhaps
> not without some reason, of being 'werewolves', and
> 'mediums in cabinets', whose own 'Plastic Bodies' play the
> part of materialized grandmothers and 'John Kings'.
> Otherwise, why the invariable custom of the 'dear departed
> angels' to come out but little further than arm's length
> from the medium whether entranced or not? Mind, I do not at
> all deny foreign influences in this kind of phenomena. But
> I do affirm that foreign interference is rare, and that the
> materialized form is always that of the medium's 'ASTRAL'
> or Protean Body.
> M.C. But how is this astral body created?
> HPB It is not created: it grows, as I told you, with the man
> and exists in the rudimentary condition even before the
> child is born.
> M.C. And what about the second?
> HPB The second is the 'Thought' body, or Dream body, rather;
> known among Occultists as the MAYAVI-RUPA, or
> 'illusion-body'. During life this image is the vehicle
> both of thought and of the animal passions and desires,
> drawing at one and the same time from the lowest
> terrestrial MANAS (mind) and Kama, the element of desire.
> It is DUAL in its potentiality, and after death forms, what
> is called in the East BHOOT, or KAMA-RUPA, but which is
> better known to theosophists as the 'Spook'.
> M.C. And the third?
> HPB The third is the true EGO, called in the East, by a name
> meaning 'causal body' but which in the TRANS-Himalayan
> schools is always called the 'Karmic body', which is the
> same. For KARMA or action is the cause which produces
> incessant rebirths or 'reincarnations'. It is NOT the
> MONAD, nor is it MANAS proper; but is, in a way,
> indissolubly connected with, and a compound of the Monad
> and Manas in Devachan.
> M.C. Then there are three doubles?
> HPB If you can call the Christian and other Trinities 'three
> Gods', then there are three doubles. But in truth there is
> only one under three aspects or phases: the most material
> portion disappearing with the body; the middle one,
> surviving both as an independent, but temporary entity in
> the land of shadows; the third, immortal, throughout the
> manvantara unless Nirvana puts an end to it before.
After this Blavatsky went on to explain the difference between
the Mayavi and Kama Rupa, very relevant to 'astral' travel and
the after-death states. All this explanation was to eradicate
MAN'S CONSTITUTION AS PRINCIPLES AND ASPECTS
There is important explanatory passage (BCW, XII, 607) which
gives another view of the elements of man's make-up, and which
significantly supplements what was in THE KEY tabulated above.
These extracts indicate how precisely Blavatsky defined the terms
which had then been decided upon. The established classification
and numbering of the principles of man were those used
consistently throughout the massive Blavatsky literature.
Some variations on the main theme were made in her E.S. Papers
but these were explained. It is hard to see how any confusion
could have arisen prior to the changes made by Besant herself.
ABOUT 'PRINCIPLES' AND 'ASPECTS'
Speaking metaphorically and philosophically, on strict esoteric
lines, man as a complete unit is composed of Four basic
Principles and Three Aspects produced by them on this earth. In
the semi-esoteric teachings, these Four and Three have been
called Seven Principles, to facilitate the comprehension of the
THE ETERNAL BASIC PRINCIPLES
1. Atman, or Jiva, 'the One Life', which permeates the Monadic
Trio. (One in three and three in One.)
2. Auric Envelope; because the substratum of the Aura around man
is the universally diffused primordial and pure Akasa, the
first film on the boundless and shoreless expanse of Jiva,
the immutable Root of all.
3. Buddhi; because Buddhi is a ray of the Universal Spiritual
4. Manas (the Higher Ego); for it proceeds from Mahat, the first
product or emanation of Pradhana, which contains potentially
all the Gunas (attributes). Mahat is Cosmic Intelligence,
called the 'Great Principle'.
TRANSITORY ASPECTS PRODUCED BY THE PRINCIPLES
1. Prana, the Breath of Life, the same as Nephesh. At the death
of a living being, Prana re-becomes Jiva. (Remember that our
reincarnating Egos are called the Manasaputras, 'Sons of
Manas' [or Mahat], Intelligence, Wisdom.)
2. Linga-Sarira, the Astral Form, the transitory emanation of
the Auric Egg. This form preceded the formation of the
living Body, and after death clings to it, dissipating only
with the disappearance of its last atom (the skeleton
3. Lower Manas, the Animal Soul, the reflection or shadow of the
Buddhi-Manas, having the potentialities of both, but
conquered generally by its association with the Kama
4. As man is the combined product of two aspects: physically, of
his Astral Form, and psycho-physiologically of Kama-Manas, he
is not looked upon even as an aspect, but as an illusion.
The Auric Egg, on account of its nature and manifold functions,
has to be well studied. As Hiranyagarbha, the Golden Womb or
Egg, contains Brahma, the collective symbol of the Seven
Universal Forces, so the Auric Egg contains, and is directly
related to, both the divine and the physical man. In its
essence, as said, it is eternal; in its constant correlations, it
is a kind of perpetual motion machine during the reincarnating
progress of the Ego on this earth.
The aim of this booklet is to draw attention to the fact that the
Ethers of which the Etheric Double was said to be composed (see
THE ANCIENT WISDOM, 50 et seq.) do not exist. Students may also
be interested in the alterations to the original classification
of the human principles which were made to accommodate the
Etheric Body. These, as given by Besant, are set out in tabular
form below (see ANCIENT WISDOM, 193):
TABLE V -- PLANES AND PRINCIPLES (BESANT)
7 HIDDEN * - -
6 HIDDEN * - -
5 NIRVANIC (ATMIC) 7 ATMA
4 BUDDHIC 6 BUDDHI
3 MENTAL 5 MANAS - HIGHER
5 MANAS - LOWER
2 ASTRAL 4 KAMA
1 PHYSICAL 3 PHYSICAL - PRANA
2 PHYSICAL - ETHERIC DOUBLE
1 PHYSICAL - DENSE BODY
* The seventh and sixth planes are described in THE ANCIENT
WISDOM page 46-7. See also the footnote to page 48. Principles
one, two, and three are regarded as physical.
It will be seen from this Table that neither the planes nor the
principles nor their numerous correspondences accord with those
given in the original literature, particularly in the Inner Group
Notes (BCW, XII) where the planes and principles correspond
exactly to each other according to the Law of Analogy. Similarly
the characteristics of the planes as described by AB/CWL do not
agree in important particulars with those given in the
HPB/Masters system. Besant gives the color of the Etheric Double
(ANCIENT WISDOM, 54) as violet-grey or blue-grey. In the Notes
(HPB/Masters system) violet is the color of the Astral Double,
which is on the plane above the physical.
Another serious difficulty that arises is that the whole of the
Masters' account of what occurs at and after death cannot be
understood in terms of the classification of principles later
used by Besant. This is apart from essential differences between
the Masters' account of what actually happens after death and
that enunciated later by Leadbeater. Besant's account in her
early book, DEATH AND AFTER, is generally in accord with that of
The foregoing analysis and comparison deals with only some of the
salient points of difference between the Theosophy as given us by
the Masters and the system propounded by Besant and her
followers. There are many other areas of difference not touched
on in this paper, viz. group souls, permanent atoms, the
dispensing of Karma and the attitude to religion.
From what has been given it is quite clear that in the respects
mentioned the two systems are irreconcilable. This is
particularly so in connection with the latest information
Blavatsky gave out in the Papers to her Inner Group. The AB/CWL
system is incompatible with the correspondences given there and
with, for example, the hierarchical colors and their relationship
to the principles of man. It is important that serious students
of Theosophy should know about these discrepancies.
The clairvoyant investigation into the atomic structure of some
elements was started in 1895. An early reference to the term
ETHERIC is on page 20 of Leadbeater's book THE ASTRAL PLANE
(1895, reprint 1987). On page 21 he refers to Blavatsky's 'seven
principles of man', but Blavatsky never made reference to the
Etheric Double (see Table II and refs. to Blavatsky's Doubles on
page 16 et seq.)
SPIRIT IN CRISIS: MEDITATION
by H. Oosterink
[Theosophical University Press, California, 1946, pages 58-65.]
Nearly five years have passed since the moment that I began to
write this book. Five years of nameless sorrow and horror for
the whole population, culminating in the winter of 1944, when,
isolated from any connection with the outer world, we were at the
mercy of misery, hunger, cold and darkness. How much that made
life even more unbearable has not happened since that time! How
much about which we are hardly able to speak now!
We think of the fate of our persecuted Jewish fellow citizens,
the liquidation of their possessions, and finally, after they had
been in concentration camps for some time, their deportation.
How few of them will come back to tell us the story of their
We think of the numberless men and women who were arrested,
locked up and maltreated in concentration camps; of our workmen,
the army, officers and soldiers, who were deported, and of the
persecution of those who went into hiding. The barbarous house
searches for hidden fugitives, the confiscation of our houses and
furniture, the requisition of motorcars, bicycles, wireless sets
and other valuable objects, the plundering of factories, and
finally darkness, hunger and cold.
Shall we who went through all this, ever lose the memory of the
endless throngs in search of food all over the country, or of the
wanderings of exhausted people driven away from hearth and home,
the evacuees who had lost everything they possessed and became
dependent on the charity and pity of their fellow-men? I see them
again, with their fixed, almost dazed looks, loaded on carts
along with their last objects of value, sorrow marked on their
faces. Shall we not recall the exhausting sawing and dragging
away of trees for fuel, the hunger that gnawed at us, or the long
and lightless nights? Or the picture of hostages who were shot
and whose bodies lay in the streets as a warning?
Or the humiliating and unworthy picture of the black marketeer,
who asked his usurious profits at the cost of the misery of his
How should we have been able to bear all this if we had not been
supported in all our misery by other pictures, pictures of
helpfulness, of spiritual strength, of loving understanding, of
sorrow patiently borne, as expressions of the compassionate
influence of the soul, the action of a higher consciousness?
And yet, in spite of the night around me, my thoughts raised me
above these heavy ordeals, and others with me, for these thoughts
began to spread their light and surrounded life with a luster of
profound beauty which transcended hunger, cold and sorrow; my
inner experience made me realize that man keeps his most valuable
possessions within himself.
Others might have been able to express the thoughts that entered
my head better, more fully, or more simply; I have only been able
to speak in my imperfect language, but the thoughts that occupied
my mind penetrated deeper and deeper into my life and gave me a
refuge which saved me from weakness or despair. I cherished them
as jewels, at which I looked again and again, and when I had put
them down I took them up again to revel in their radiations.
Before me there was always a greater picture, a light that
remained with me in the darkest and most difficult hours of life,
and which gave me a quiet and lasting joy.
What I could not describe, what I could not express and what was
the most important thing, was my life itself, that which I felt.
Although the misery around me told on me, and the sorrow which I
had to bear personally was a heavy burden to me, it did not
occupy all my moments.
Gradually a greater light began to dawn in my life, and when I
look back on the period of these last five years, I keep a memory
of many moments of beauty and peace, which surrounded my days as
a beneficial light.
Our life is dominated by the nature of our thoughts, our fancies,
our ideas. And we ourselves can influence them, if only we
realize sufficiently what our thoughts really mean in our life.
If we allow our thoughts to be influenced by our higher
consciousness, then the whole plane of our life is raised.
Meditation opens for us the gate to a higher consciousness.
For many years past I have experienced the truth of this
statement by losing myself in meditation for some moments early
in the morning and for a short time in the evening.
Let us see what it means, early in the morning shortly after the
day has begun, to turn our thoughts silently toward this day.
Behold, the day lies before us like a blank page of our book of
life, a page that we are going to fill with our thoughts, our
acts, a day that we can spoil by our doings, or raise in a luster
of quiet beauty.
We direct our thoughts upon our higher nature; we call forth the
powers of our souls that are ready to help us; we realize that
the background of our life is the Boundless and Eternal Self, and
as far as it is possible we allow our thoughts and our feelings
to dwell there. By regular practice we will experience its
influence every day. And how important the day is! What else is
our life but a series of days, of which each day has a value of
If we begin our day like this, and if in the evening we look back
on the day behind us, we will learn how to guard against oncoming
emotional storms, sentiments, passions. For in the evening we
see these before us as merciless failures of our goodwill.
The question arises, what should we meditate about, what should
be the object of our attentive musing? I would mention three of
these objects, which, in succession, enlarge our consciousness
Let us realize and ponder on the fact that each of us is an
incarnate divine being. Our highest consciousness is divine. It
has been drawn from the absolute universal divine consciousness.
This consciousness lives within us and can penetrate our souls
more and more in proportion as we open ourselves to it. But if
we do so, we will have to act during the day like men who realize
their divine nature.
Thus we meditate on the fact that we are children of the
universe, that our constitution has been drawn from, and is
composed of, all that is contained in eternal and ensouled
creation itself. We have sprung from this creation as separate
beings, we have come from it and we are one with it.
Then we meditate on the fact that we are the Boundless, that we
have always been it and always will be, and that as our present
detaches itself more and more, it will dissolve and become one
with that which transcends all human thinking.
Look for the core of your being within yourself; it is a
revelation, a discovery that may give you all you want of insight
You will experience what a force is hidden in meditation; your
entire being will be turned to the light that shines within you.
If ever a time was suitable to trying this meditation, it was
this time, which taxed our confidence, our courage, our strength
and our piety.
Meditation exceeds prayer when the latter is used for personal
ends. It is the raising of the soul to the highest spiritual
splendor within us.
Acting thus, we attain a harmony between our inner and outer
life. For he who borrows his life from the spirit, is irradiated
in everyday life by its light, raised by its strength, ruled by
You may ask: is meditation the proper attitude for everyone? Let
us realize that every man, irrespective of personal character, is
in fact the same. We are all children of the Boundless, we were
all born to be carried along by a universal evolution, so that
every man has the same possibilities.
If he wants to cooperate and lose himself in it, every man will
have to go the same way, the inner way which will liberate us
from the restrictions we have made ourselves. And it is
meditation which opens the way for us. Why should we remain in
this narrow sphere of everyday life? Why continuously expose
ourselves to all the grievous experiences involved?
Who shall say what contact there is among the consciousness of
separate beings? Though we are apparently completely separate
beings, yet there is a higher sphere of consciousness by which we
are all influenced and held together. When our souls rise beyond
the sphere of personal interest, when we withdraw ourselves from
the impressions of the outer life of every day, when we succeed
in coming closer and closer to a condition of consciousness that
binds us all universally, we take the others along with us. It
is done without words or deeds, it is the silent influence of the
soul, it is a power that comes from the inner and sacred core of
Though we seem to be separate beings, we form together the tissue
of the universal consciousness, it pervades us, it raises us, it
binds us, we are the facets through which the light shines in a
variety of colors and shades.
We are all bound together by each other's sorrows, bound together
by each other's loves, bound together by quiet and imperceptible
influences, unspoken and intimate.
The trouble we cause others is turned against us, what we give
will in the end prove to have benefitted us. In the deep-most
abyss of our existence complete silence reigns; there all threads
of life and consciousness come together, there is no
separateness, but life, the cohesion that binds everything and
Meditation brings us into contact with this sphere of existence;
here begins a new life, a life that springs from the deepest
ground of our being, a life whose influence envelops us all.
There our highest consciousness expands and reveals itself to us,
the light that shines eternally.
From this atmosphere, which is to us eternal silence, rises a
world of manifestation, the world we see, with its numerous
separate centers of consciousness, different in their
development. Truly, life is full of beauty: in its manifestation
a chaos, in its essence a unity of love and light.
Let us, then, confidently surrender to life, with the knowledge
that we are cared for by eternal laws, and let us feel one with
all that lives, bound together by close ties of brotherhood and
love, and by understanding of the background of things, which is
left unassailed and unapproached by the stream of life, where
reign silence, peace, love and light.
Images of contemplation, collected in disturbed times, arisen in
Images of contemplation, full of variety, but essentially one,
because one idea of eternity binds them together, the most
sublime idea of all, that of Boundless Being.
May the sun of this Eternal Idea shine into the hearts of men.
DRUIDISM AND ITS CONNECTION WITH IRELAND, Part I
from THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM
[This first appeared in THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, September 1946,
pages 396-410, and is a reprint from THE PITH AND MARROW OF SOME
SACRED WRITINGS, Script No. 11.]
The Celts, who are they? Some authorities declare there are no
Celts; others are equally positive in asserting the contrary,
pointing to the Irish, the Welsh, the Scots and the Bretons of
France in proof. "When doctors disagree, it is difficult for the
layman to decide," so we must need be content with the
established fact that the so-called Celtic peoples have certain
linguistic and PERHAPS racial characteristics common to them all,
which distinguish them to a degree from the rest of the world.
In remote antiquity there was a great immigration of Aryan
peoples -- seemingly from Bactria, the district east of the
Caspian Sea -- into India on the one hand and into Europe on the
other -- for the Hindu is of the same race as the European.
Their original, unknown language developed into Sanskrit and
other Indian dialects in the East, and in Europe into the
well-known ancient and modern tongues. These migratory Aryans
loved freedom, and possessed qualities which soon gave them the
domination over the aboriginal tribes they found on their
journeys; and over a large portion of Europe the Aryan Celts, as
they are commonly called, throve and multiplied. From the
earliest times we hear of the Druids, their spiritual guides,
lawgivers, and teachers. These found the conditions of
existence, such as the privacy and reasonable security provided
by the great forests, suitable for the building up of strongholds
of their power, which lasted in undiminished strength in the
British Isles and the neighboring parts of continental Europe,
until the coming of Christianity. A Theosophical writer says
> In silent forest glades and groves they had ample opportunity,
> like the Vanaprasthas of India, for the development of those high
> spiritual states of ecstasy in which the whole realm of knowledge
> and the secrets of nature became revealed and unveiled to their
> wondering and inquiring gaze, and so long as they were unswayed
> by ambition and remained content to be advisers and teachers, the
> fame of their extensive learning and the vast stores of knowledge
> which they had accumulated, caused them to become subjects of the
> highest reverence. The rumor of them spread throughout all
> lands, so that students from surrounding countries flocked to
> them for instruction ...
> Out of the dim and mystic past, the Druid Bards loom up as beings
> of a commanding and awe-inspiring character, invested with
> tremendous powers and possessors of a secret knowledge of Nature
> and an occult philosophy which caused them to be regarded with
> sentiments of the deepest reverence. In the unfolding of the
> great panorama of History they suddenly appear begirt with a
> power and authority more than kingly in its extent and influence,
> majestic in form and feature, calm and self-contained in their
> deportment, with brows encircled with golden coronets, and
> arrayed in all the splendid robes and glittering insignia of a
> lofty and learned priesthood. Thus they appear on the stage of
> human life, and after discharging their functions and playing
> their parts in the world's drama, they disappear, retiring into
> that dark oblivion, the grave and cemetery of all that is mutable
> and human.
> -- UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD MAGAZINE, 1898
From the real knowledge of human nature and of the intelligent
processes and forces of the Cosmos possessed by the Aryans, which
are revealed by the light of Theosophy in their legends and
mythologies, it is clear that an immense period of development
and civilization of some kind must have preceded the time --
beyond the dawn of accepted history -- when they started on their
migrations. The fact that the remarkable persons who were the
natural leaders of the people had great knowledge of natural laws
still unknown to the modern scientists, is a factor to which our
folklorists have not given due attention, but no picture of
"prehistoric" culture can be even approximately true which does
not take it into account.
Theosophy shows that the knowledge of and control over some of
the semi-intelligent forces of nature, which has been
misunderstood for being something "supernatural" or even as mere
imposture, can be traced far back to the great learning of the
dwellers in the lost continent of Atlantis, who in their turn
derived it from previous races living nearer the heart of Nature
and who intuitively obtained their wisdom through this closer
approximation. The Atlanteans misused and debased the sacred
sciences entrusted to them, and only a few very incomplete relics
escaped the general ruin that overtook the evildoers.
The Druids are the most recent national Western organization of
which we have certain information which possessed some of the
magical science of antiquity as well as a comprehensive
philosophy of life. The medieval Order of the Temple was the
latest European body which may have had in its possession some of
the secrets of the Orient, but it was a private body and never
had the status of the Druids. The Druid "white magic" has since
descended to groveling superstition, but, as the modern
investigators, notwithstanding their learning and wonderful skill
in piecing together the most unpromising promising scraps of such
evidence as appeals to their practical minds, have resolutely
ignored the existence of some basis of truth in the stories of
magical doings attributed to the wise teachers of old in general,
it is impossible that they should appreciate the full
significance of the Druidic power and its hold upon the people.
Unfortunately we have very little precise information about the
Druids, and it is almost certain that by the time of Caesar, who
give: some valuable observations concerning those of Gaul in his
COMMENTARIES ON THE WARS IN GAUL, they had considerably
degenerated. Although the Druidic system was considered most
complete in the British Isles, according to Caesar the Druids
were organized in Gaul into a complete hierarchy with degrees
leading up to that of Arch-Druid. In all the Western countries
there must have been a close resemblance in customs, though local
circumstances gave rise to slight differences. For instance, in
Ireland, the ceremonial wands were made of yew instead of oak.
Yet even as far off as India the disintegrating effect of time
and distance had not destroyed the parallelism. The Soma juice
of the Hindus, and the Haoma juice of the Zoroastrians, and
PERHAPS the sacramental wine or water of other religions, were
the counterparts of the Druidical mistletoe juice which was
supposed to confer spiritual inspiration.
The Druids were not a hereditary caste like the Brahmans of
India, but in Gaul, and presumably elsewhere, they were divided
into three classes. The highest was composed of the white-robed
Druids who presided at the ceremonies and were also the
lawgivers, the judges, and the instructors; the Bards formed the
second division which accompanied the warriors to battle and
encouraged them by song; these wore green robes; the third
section wore blue and white and was the scientists, the
physicians, and diviners. Chiefs, even kings, were sometimes
found in the ranks of the Druids.
The original Druidic philosophy of life was handed down orally,
and we have no manuscripts giving even a general outline of the
Mythology. This was not because writing was unknown in Western
Europe before Christianity, for the Continental Druids used the
Greek alphabet, and the curious straight-stroked "Ogam" character
is pre-Christian. Irish tradition says it was invented by the
god Ogma. A large number of Ogam inscriptions have been
discovered on the edges of monumental stones in the south-west of
Ireland, and some in Scotland and in Devonshire, England. Nearly
all can be read, but there is not much of interest written on
these stones, the inscriptions being chiefly the names and titles
There are no manuscripts in the Ogam character, but a few
specimens of alphabets exist in the medieval BOOK OF BALLYMOTE.
The present Irish alphabet is not older than the fourth century
A.D., and is a modification of the Roman.
The carvings inside the great Tumuli of New Grange, Dowth, and
Knowth, at the Brugh-na-Boinne (the royal Field of Burial near
Drogheda), and others in Brittany -- those marvelous prehistoric
remains which, from their size and design, may be associated with
the great Pyramids of other countries -- resemble alphabetical
characters in a few instances, but are most probably ideographs
or picture-writing used in the instruction of candidates for the
Mysteries. The symbolic carvings within the passages and
chambers in these impressive buildings, their peculiar design,
and the tradition that the principal one, New Grange -- which is
surrounded by a great circle of stones -- was the residence of a
god, Angus, the Celtic Apollo, makes it clear to the student of
Theosophy that these Tumuli were not, any more than the great
Pyramid of Egypt, merely tombs of chiefs. And although we cannot
associate the origin of this picture-writing with the Druids, it
is extremely probable THAT THE INITIATED ONES COULD READ IT.
Although there is little written record of the philosophy of the
Druids we are not without light on their main belief; but for
this we must go to the Welsh medieval manuscripts such as the
Barddas of the Bardic College at Glamorgan, in which there is a
large amount of teaching which is certainly of Druidic origin.
From the later Irish manuscripts as well as from lingering
traditions among the peasantry which have not been quite killed
by the outward dominance of the new creed, many hints are to be
The Druids attached great importance to two leading features of
their philosophy, which are, as might be expected, the teachings
of Reincarnation and Karma. Caesar mentions Reincarnation as
having a powerful influence on the conduct of the people in Gaul,
making them fearless of death; and even in Ireland there still
exist the legends of several heroes who returned after dwelling
for centuries in the Western Paradise and who recognized their
friends when they were reborn on earth; the memory of the friends
was not equally good.
The belief in Reincarnation of course presupposes the immortality
of the soul, and in Wales the old teaching is preserved which
says that "Gwynfyd" (or Nirvana?), i.e., Completion or
Perfection, cannot be obtained by a man till he has attached
himself indissolubly to godliness; otherwise he cannot live on
the higher planes but will continually fall back into the Circle
of "Adred" (Necessity), i.e., will return to earth.
The Druidic philosophy of life, which can easily be seen to be a
part of the once universally spread ancient Wisdom Religion, or
Theosophy, is found in the Bardic "Triads" of Wales, collections
of short pithy aphorisms in groups of three, which although not
directly attributable to the Druids are considered to be
survivals of their teachings. Nothing so clear has been
preserved elsewhere, but the high estimate in which the Druids
and their teachings were held can be gleaned from the ancient
Irish epics, in which they occasionally play prominent parts. As
the Irish records now existing were written down long after the
events related are supposed to have occurred, we may be sure many
changes have crept in, and as they were all written by churchmen
it is natural to conclude that an effort was always made to show
the "pagan" Druids in the most unfavorable light as a foil to the
virtues of the saints. The scientific knowledge of the Druids
would always be attributed to wizardry (or imposture perhaps) in
order to accentuate the presumably divine origin of the
"miracles" of the church.
Notwithstanding all this, the records give us a sufficiently
imposing, if incomplete, impression of the profound knowledge of
the forces of nature possessed by the ancients. The Druids are
credited with the power of throwing a glamor of invisibility, a
"Druidic mist," over anything they wished to conceal; of
controlling the action of fire; and of holding successful ordeals
for the detection of crime. That their powers were taken
seriously is proved by the accounts of the ordeal appointed for
women who might be called upon to clear their characters. They
had to lick an adze of bronze heated to redness in a magic fire
of blackthorn or rowan-tree!
Remarkable prophetic powers were also credited to the Druids.
For instance when the end of their cycle was approaching, three
years before the arrival of Patrick, King Laoghaire's (Learn's)
Druids prophesied the coming of the Christians, saying that:
> Adze-heads would come over a furious sea,
> Their mantles hole-headed,
> Their staves crook-headed,
> Their tables in the East of their houses.
(Tonsured men with cowls, pastoral crooks, and altar-tables in
the east end of their churches.)
Whatever we may think of the stories of Druid powers -- and from
recent testimony, such as the records of unprejudiced
eyewitnesses of the mysterious fire-walking ceremony in Fiji,
India, etc., and of the increasing knowledge of the enormous
power of hypnotic suggestion even in the hands of the ignorant
experimenters of today, some of them at least are not so
outrageously incredible -- they certainly prove that the Druids
were the intellectual leaders, as they were the spiritual
leaders, of the age. It is almost impossible to imagine that
they held their supremacy for centuries -- perhaps millenniums --
a supremacy gladly accorded by the people, without being exposed,
unless they had proved their honesty and devotion to the higher
welfare of those who regarded them with awe and reverence. In
their days it was not so easy as it is now to disguise sinister
motives and shams, for society was less complex.
[TO BE CONCLUDED]
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application