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THEOSOPHY WORLD --------------------------------------- May, 2000

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

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"The School for the Revival of the Lost Mysteries of Antiquity,"
    by A. Keightley
"Blavatsky Net Update," by Reed Carson
"Questions on Evolution," Part III, by Henry T. Edge
"Humor and Common Sense to the Rescue," by W. Emmett Small
"The Mystery of Pain," by A. Trevor Barker
"Spiritual Teachers and Avataras," Part I, by Boris de Zirkoff


> All the thoughts and emotions, all the learning and knowledge,
> revealed and acquired, of the early races, found their pictorial
> expression in allegory and parable. Why? Because THE SPOKEN WORD
> modern "sages." ... because such or another vibration in the air
> is sure to awaken corresponding powers, union with which
> produces good or bad results, as the case may be. No student was
> ever allowed to recite historical, religious, or any real events
> in so many unmistakable words, lest the powers connected with
> the event should be once more attracted. Such events were
> narrated only during the Initiation, and every student had to
> record them in corresponding symbols, drawn out of his own mind
> and examined later by his master, before they were finally
> accepted.


by A. Keightley

[From THE THEOSOPHIC ISIS, August 15, 1896, pages 220-24. Note
that this School was founded, becoming the Point Loma Theosophical
Community, which existed until 1942, when the site was sold and
the Society moved to Covina, California.]

The proposal to found this School was put forward on the 26th of
April 1896, at the Convention of the Theosophical Society in
America, held on that day. The date inaugurated the commencement
of a new cycle in which such a proposal became possible, and
those who reflect on what such a proposal means, will acknowledge
that the old order must have changed, "giving place to new."
Previously we have been told that from 1896 to 1900 A.D. there
would be the close of various cycles closely coincident, and
consequently the commencement of new cycles. Thus it would
necessarily seem that the time was rife for changes, and further,
that it may be profitable with such a proposal before us, to
examine what it imports.

That there were "Mysteries" in olden time, none can deny. Those
of Eleusis, the Orphic and Bacchic, the Mysteries of Isis in
Egypt, with those of Chaldaea and Assyria, show to students of
history how deeply impressed on the minds of the people was the
idea. But with the dawn of the Christian Era came the religious
prosecutions, which continued with unabated force through the
dark "middle" ages. Still, through all, we have the records,
more or less legendary, that the Mysteries survived among the
various religious orders, the Alchemists and the Rosicrucians,
while the traditions, if not the history of the Masonic order
would argue that it is the lineal descendant of those who were
formerly the Hierophants of the Mysteries of olden times.

After the prosecutions came the "slanders." The Mysteries were
profaned, and no student of the subject can doubt that holy and
sacred as were the real Mysteries, there were degrading and
disgusting parodies which justified the strictures and statements
of Pane, Knight and Inman. But such representations are slanders
so far as the un-degraded and un-profaned Mysteries of Initiation
are concerned. And it is these latter, which arc the "lost"
Mysteries of antiquity, which arc to be revived.

The question naturally arises, How, if these Mysteries are
"lost," can they be revived? The reply is obvious. They are
"lost" only to the profane, for during the degradation period,
and the period of the prosecutions and slanders, the Mysteries
and the key to their symbols were very carefully concealed. So
carefully was this done, that while very many of the ceremonies
and symbols survive, to more or less extent, in the usage of the
Greek and Roman Catholic Churches, the meanings are almost
entirely lost. The idea has been materialized, idolatry has
replaced symbolism, and the worship of the personal has thrown a
veil over spiritual aspiration.

But there are, and have ever been, the real Hierophants and
Custodians of the Mysteries. Carefully concealing their
existence from the general public, they are able to move to and
fro without let or hindrance, and themselves, or in the person of
their trusted and obedient agents, take part in all that tends to
promote the harmony and welfare of humanity. In this connection
compare THE THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARY by Madame Blavatsky, under the
heading of "Mesmer," a part which I know to be from the pen of

> He was an initiated member of the Brotherhoods of tile FRATRES
> LUCIS and of Lukshoor (or Luxor), or the Egyptian branch of the
> latter. It was the council of "Luxor" which selected him,
> according to the orders of the "Great Brotherhood," to act in the
> eighteenth century as their usual pioneer, sent in the last
> quarter of every century to enlighten a small portion of the
> Western nations in occult lore. It was St. Germain who
> supervised the development of events in this case; and later,
> Cagliostro was commissioned to help, but having made a series of
> mistakes, more or less fatal, he was recalled ... Mesmer founded
> the "Order of Universal Harmony," in which, presumably, only
> animal magnetism was taught, but which in reality he expounded
> the tenets of Hippocrates, the methods of the ancient Asclepicia,
> the Temples of Healing, and many other occult sciences.

The Brothers of these orders (and especially that called the
"Great Brotherhood") are the custodians of the Mysteries, and
they keep alive in the heart of humanity the flame which purifies
man, and leads him from the degradation of materiality, to the
knowledge of the real essence of nature.

The word MYSTERIES has its origin in the Greek MUO "to close the
mouth," a symbol at once of secrecy or silence, and of hidden
meaning. Plato, and other sages of antiquity affirm that the
Mysteries were highly religious, moral and beneficent as a school
of ethics. They were observances kept secret from the "profane"
or uninitiated, in which:

> were taught by dramatic representation and other methods, the
> origin of things, the nature of the human spirit, its relation to
> the body, and the method of its purification and restoration to
> higher life. Physical science, medicine, the laws of music,
> divination, were all taught in the same manner. The Hippocratic
> oath was but a mystic obligation.

In this we see that one of the attempts of Mesmer was the revival
of the part of the ceremonies of Initiation, preliminary to
which, and as a condition, was the entry to the "Order of
Universal Harmony."

> The sacred Mysteries were enacted in the ancient Temples by the
> initiated Hierophants, for the benefit and instruction of the
> candidates ... [They] were in every country a series of dramatic
> performances, in which the mysteries of Cosmogony and nature, in
> general, were personified by the priests and neophytes, who
> enacted the parts of various gods and goddesses, repeating
> supposed scenes (allegories) from their respective lives. These
> were explained in their hidden meaning to the candidates for
> initiation, and incorporated into philosophical doctrines.

In every way that was possible, those who had been received into
the inner learning, endeavored to keep alive the sense of true
"religion" in the minds of the masses. All the arts and sciences
seem to have been in the hands of the initiated few who used them
for the benefit of the nations whom they led. It is not until
the knowledge so entrusted, and the mysteries themselves were
abused and profaned, that the spirit of true "religion" lost its
hold on the people, and the revolts against priestcraft and
superstition took place. The element of trust was missing, and
the people were forced to think for themselves. Thus far it was
good, but in the absence of the trust, the result was a denial of
the whole of the inner side of life, and materialism became
rampant. In the reaction between the creeds and dogmas, amid the
clash of sectarians, the attempts by one religious sect after
another to proclaim itself the sole repository of the truth, the
real possessors of knowledge retired and lived unknown, though
welcoming the few who kept alive the inner light in their hearts.
Thus they provided, for those who have eyes to see and ears to
hear, the continuous line of custodians of the mysteries who
survive to the present day, making in each century the effort to
fan the flame.

What then may be the meaning to this the latest effort? Simply
that the Theosophical Movement has reached a new phrase. Not by
any means is the Theosophical Society responsible for this
effort, for it is not, though, perhaps many of its members may be
associated with the work of this School. This phase is to link
on the ethics with the practice and demonstrate the scientific
basis for those ethics, so that all may read the lesson. It
means that again, before many, will the mystery plays be enacted
in word and symbol: That ceremonies which, heretofore, have had
no life, will begin to live once more, and that we may understand
their value and meaning. That sounds, sights and colors will be
known to have a new meaning, and one not necessarily attached to
the aesthetic side of humanity.

Finally, there is the possibility that once the School is
founded, and carried out on the lines projected by the wise who
have ordered and directed its foundation, there may be those
among us who will be able to recognize the presence of those who
occupy today, the place of the ancient Hierophants. What the
dwelling among men, and the being known will mean, one cannot
say. At least it means a great destiny for those who, through
Karma, have earned the right to come in contact with the
Hierophant, and it means also that great chances are given to
other men and women as well, and further, that a great general
evolution has taken place. That the School will be founded in
the West of America is only in accord with what HPB said of that
region of the earth, and amid the dawn of a new cycle, amid the
early foreshadowing of a new race, has arisen a new and grander
possibility for the teaching and uplifting of humanity.


by Reed Carson

Blavatsky Net ( passed another milestone
this month. Just two days ago the number of "quotes of the day"
sent out, exceeded 1000. These are challenging quotes requiring
attention to appreciate and I am amazed to find this level of
interest. Numerous people unsubscribe from that mailing list but
it keeps growing. It was about 150 people in December of 1998.
It is an inspiring thought that these words spread around the
world every day.

The articles by Judge continue to be added online with four more
added this month.

With some hesitation I added a potentially important new section
to the site. At the bottom of the home page there is now a click
for "history" of the Theosophical movement. I was finally moved
to start it because Derek Davis was closing down his site and
offered to BN an online book containing the early speeches and
other material of Annie Besant. As many of you could guess, I
have very serious reservations about the later activities of
Besant. Yet she was known for brilliant oratorical skills. So
this online book now forms the beginning of the "history

Frankly, I expect to move only slowly on this section -- though
there is various other original material I already have in mind
that seems important to place online. The problem is that the
laws of occultism provided that the early leaders of the movement
be tested severly and the results were not all a success. Yet
the individuals who, in my opinion, failed, need to be seen
fairly. And on top of that, it is especially important, again in
my opinion, that newcomers be shown the truth that they might not
obtain from just one source. One conclusion will be that the
sure guide to truth in matters Theosophical, comes from Madame
Blavatsky and her teachers. The masters say they searched a
century before they found an agent as suitable as she! For
newcommers I will be glad to recommend the teachings themselves
rather than studying the history of the movement at one's first
pass. The biography of Cranston on Blavatsky is another very
readable and useful starting point into the history of the
movement. Along with this new section is a new aisle in the
bookstore on the history of the movement.

In my mind the most important events this month were the
tumultuous and strongly felt discussions on BNstudy concerning
Judge and THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE. I might tell you that those
who had been criticizing Judge are now, as I understand it,
somewhat retracting their view as they now find confusion as to
what had in fact been done by Judge and Mead relative to changes
in that book. Those discussions were another factor in making me
accept Davis' offer on Annie Besant and start a history section.
The historical info will need to be available for those who want

In order to change the direction of BNstudy it is now studying
various aspects of Moses in the light of Theosophy. Though
conversation is slim I think some serious value is comming out.
I am anticipating a letter soon on Moses and the mountain of
wisdom. You knew about that didn't you? (Not Sinai.)

I don't feel like ending on "history" so I will tell you, I am
currently reading a book in my "available time", an oxymoron,
that may not be written exactly as I would like to see, but that
deals with an issue in physics today that is very important to
Theosophists. Through a culminating experiment in 1997,
scientists obtained utter proof of what they call the principle
of "non-locality". Particles affected each other faster than the
speed of light (instantaneously?) at a distance of seven miles
apart. Einstein didn't think it could happen in a "thought
experiment" he proposed first in 1937. A physisist at Princeton
in the 1990's said if physisists weren't worried about the
preliminary results at that time, they had "rocks in their
heads". The authors of the book call it the most important
experiment in the history of science. There are easy conclusions
from it such as "everything is very fundamentally connected and
one". The authors claim that "mind" must be integrated as part
of the "one" and cannot be understood as something separate. I
will have to see if I can read it in my "spare time", (that comes
after the "available time"), and pass the book on to you folks.

It has been suggested to me to pass onto you, and I am glad to,
that May 8 is the anniversary of Madame Blavatsky's death. In
various places students gather on that day to celebrate the
accomplishments of her life and what she has given to all of us.
My "suggestor" in this case comes from New York City where
Blavatsky founded the modern Movement. There an event will be
held on Monday, May 8th at 7:30pm at Theosophy Hall, 347 E. 72
Street, NY NY 10021.

Also note the announcement added on the "events" page this month
for the August 11-13, 2000 Sixth Annual Theosophy Conference -
sponsored by Brookings Theosophy Study Group in Oregon USA. I
always hear very fine things about this now yearly gathering.


by Henry T. Edge, MA

[From pages 16 to 24 of a booklet published by Theosophical
University Press in 1943, with materials based upon MAN IN
EVOLUTION by G. de Purucker.]

Question: What is meant by an evolution on three lines?

Physical evolution cannot be the only kind; it is not even the
whole of one kind. Theosophy recognizes an evolution along three
lines which are coincident, contemporaneous, and connected: an
evolution of the spiritual nature of the developing creature; an
evolution of the intermediate or psycho-mental nature; and an
evolution of the vital-astral-physical nature. The last results
in a body, made increasingly fitter for the expression of the
powers unfolding from the intermediate and spiritual natures.

Question: What bearing has this fact on the Darwinian view?

The Darwinians have studied only physical evolution, which, as
shown above, is not even the whole of number three in our list.
Any difficulties which they may have met in reconciling their
theory with the facts of nature, are sufficiently accounted for
by their view having been so partial. Our wider vision enables
us to give the real reason why an animal may progress by
inhabiting successive forms, each higher than the one before;
while the forms themselves do not progress beyond a certain

Question: What is evolution by accretion?

An erroneous idea of evolution, due to permitting mechanical and
molar ideas to influence our minds. Evolution is not a piling-up
of variation upon variation, or of experience upon experience,
like building a wall by adding brick to brick, or accumulating a
pile of information by memorizing data. Evolution is the
unfolding of what is wrapped in the seed. In the physical germ
the future attributes are as yet latent, though on inner planes
they are expressed; when the germ evolves, these attributes
become expressed on the physical plane.

Question: How does this apply to man, for instance?

His growth in knowledge must be regarded, not as an accumulation
of experience, but as a progressive calling-forth of powers that
are latent within him; a gradual process of self-realization, in
fact. The accumulative process does play its due part, of
course; but will not provide a full explanation unless we take
into account the other process. We see an illustration of this
in the case of people with vast powers of memory and mental
acquisitiveness, but very deficient in the power of making any
use of their acquisitiveness.

Question: And what is the bearing of this upon organic evolution
in general?

No progress can result from a mere adding of organ to organ,
function to function, without aim or plan; progress can be made
only by the realization of a preexistent design. Processes of
accretion take place in conformity with such design. Here we see
that theorists have put the cart before the horse: they have
tried to make out that evolution is the RESULT of accretion.

Question: What is meant by saying that there are many
evolutionary ladders?

Instead of there being one procession of living beings pursuing
an uninterrupted course from the protozoa to man, there are
various ladders along each of which a procession of its own kind
climbs. Each of these stocks, climbing its own ladder, has
reached an evolutionary development far divergent from the other
stocks and from the original parent source wherefrom they all
sprang. The result is the wide divergence which we see, and the
marked discontinuity in the alleged chain of evolution. The
longer a stock has been evolving, the more progressed has it
become; and conversely, the more progressed a stock is, the older
it is. The human stock is the oldest and most progressed of the

Question: What scientific evidence is there of the primitiveness
of the human stock?

Very much, but we have no space to enumerate the items. In Dr.
de Purucker's MAN IN EVOLUTION are to be found many quotations
from eminent men of science to this effect.

Question: Will animals ever become men?

Yes and No. The animal-stocks now on earth will not become men
in this Manvantara. Their destiny during this Manvantara is to
perfect their particular forms and then to die out. In
accordance with the general law of cycles, their history
comprises a period of expansion followed by one of contraction,
analogous to the life history of any organism, man included. But
the monads tenanting those animal forms will, in the following
Globe-Round, pursue higher stages in their evolution, eventually
entering the human kingdom. Thus every being, from the smallest
atom, is destined to become human; not by physical transformation
or procreation, but in the way mentioned.

Question: Darwinists claim that they can find among the fossils
of extinct forms some of the missing links in their assumed chain
of evolution.

These are not links in such a chain; they are but the fossils of
various offshoots from one or more of the great stocks below man.

Question: What is the salutatory school of evolution?

Propounders of an alternative theory to that of gradual change.
They hold that changes take place periodically and by sudden
leaps. The names of de Vries and Bateson are connected with this
school. They have an element of the truth, for nature uses both
gradual and abrupt movements in her economy.

These comparatively rapid changes, known as mutations, are due to
the fact that accumulated tendencies, or, as we should prefer to
say, habits, have remained latent until a favorable opportunity
for their expression is provided by environmental conditions.

It has been stated that every part of the universe is subject to
continual evolution. Yet it is observable that many things
remain, or seem to remain, unchanged for long periods.

This is due to circumstances which have been generalized under
the term "the law of acceleration and retardation." The cells in
the human body are not at present free to follow their own
special evolutionary path, because they are constrained by the
need of conforming to the evolutionary plan of the whole body
whereof they are parts. Thus they are said to come under the law
of retardation, while the body as a whole is under the law of
acceleration. This is part of the general give-and-take policy
by which corporate action among individuals is rendered possible.
It is not reluctantly, but by consent, that we so often yield our
private purposes to the exigencies of a corporate policy in which
we share.

Question: What about the evolution of worlds?

They follow the same general course as man and the other entities
we have considered. The worlds issue into physical manifestation
from the bosom of Nature, the great Mother, as nebulae, which are
composed of ethereal matter; this undergoes concretion or
materialization, in successive stages, until the physical stage
familiar to us is reached. This descent is followed by a
reascent toward the ethereal and spiritual.

Question: Does evolution, then, return in a circular path to its
starting point?

No; its course is spiral; not a plane spiral but helical -- like
a screw-thread. This kind of motion combines the rectilinear
with the circular; or perhaps we should rather say that both the
circle and the straight line are abstractions from the truth.
The helix itself can be curved around so as to form another
circle, to which the name vortex is given. And the process can
be continued indefinitely. Thus all evolution is cyclic or
recurrent, and at the same time indefinitely progressive.
Further, there must necessarily be cycles within cycles, without
end, from the infinitesimal orbital periods of a revolving
electron to the majestic sweep of a planetary node, and beyond.
This Law of Cycles is a universal passkey and must be applied to
the study of evolution. By its aid we can see how our remote
ancestors may be our superiors in one sense and our inferiors in
another. We live in a more advanced cycle, but they may have
stood at a higher point in their cycle than we yet stand in ours.

Question: What are manvantaras and pralayas?

The alternating periods of activity and repose to which
evolution, in all its phases, is subject. This is a universal
characteristic, and we may discern it in many familiar concerns;
it will suffice to mention day and night, the phases of new and
full moon, the rebirth and decline of the year, the alternate
life- and death-cycles of animate beings, perennial plants for
instance. It is here that we contemplate nature as a duality and
recognize those alternating states which, acting together,
constitute or define motion. The idea is familiar to science,
which finds rhythm and pulsation everywhere. Such rhythmic
vibration extends from the inconceivably rapid oscillations of
radiant energy to the vast periods of cosmic activity and cosmic
repose. It is to these latter that the words MANVANTARA and
PRALAYA are chiefly applied.

Question: What are life and death, birth and decease?

Merely specimens of the said alternating states. Life is
continuous, and subject to alternating phases. The life of a
human being on earth is simply a phase of the continued existence
of that being; it is but a single one out of many such phases;
and these periods of life on earth alternate with periods of life
elsewhere, in other states. Death is the termination of one
state and the beginning of another. Thus death is birth, and
birth is death, when each is regarded from another point of view.

Question: Who am I?

A god on a pilgrimage through the halls of experience. The drama
of your evolution depicts the adventures of a Monad, beginning
its career as an unselfconscious god-spark and ending as a fully
self-conscious god; but it must be confessed that it is wrong to
use such words as END and BEGINNING, and we do so only for
convenience. For the accomplishment of this purpose it is
needful that the Monad forgets for a while its divinity; that it
clothes itself in veils that at once hide the light that shines
from planes above, and reveal it to planes below. The divine
mind in man turns away its gaze from its divine source and fixes
it upon the special work before it. Thus you are a god having
many of your powers hid and latent, in order that you may be the
better able to accomplish your functions in the lower worlds of

Question: How does this connect with the law of cycles?

Your career consists of two phases: a gradual descent of spirit
into matter; and a reascent of matter into spirit. The early
human races were spiritual and ethereal, but "mindless." As the
races grew more material, they developed more of the faculties of
mind. After reaching the limit of materiality, they then proceed
on a gradually sublimating cycle toward spirituality. But within
the main cycle of descent and reascent we must recognize many
lesser cycles of the same kind and of differing degrees.

Question: What relation is there between the evolution of races
and the evolution of individuals?

"Race" is a generalizing term, and stands for a majority of
individuals resembling each other in the stage of their
evolution. The particular evolution is therefore not constrained
by the general law; and among individual men we may look to find
those whose evolution is rapid and those who are laggards; while
it is likely that every individual will be one or the other at
different stages of his career.

Question: What is reincarnation?

The reappearance of a living being in a body of flesh, after a
period when that being had no such body.

Question: What is Metempsychosis?

Reensoulment, as contrasted with reinfleshment. Soul, in this
connection, may be regarded as coming between spirit and body; it
is at once a body for spirit, and a spirit for body. The spirit
may create for itself a soul as a vehicle for its expression.
This compound of spirit and soul may then create for itself a
fleshly body for a vehicle.

Question: What is the connection between spirit and matter?

Spirit cannot act in matter, or on matter, directly; they are too
far apart. There is no common ground. It has been a standing
problem to explain the action of mind on body; but it becomes
more understandable if we admit the existence of intermediate
gradations. In man, the thoughts act on the intermediate fluidic
body, which again acts on the physical body. In general there
are various successive degrees between spirit and matter.

Question: But if it is difficult to bridge the gap between one
degree and the next, is not the difficulty multiplied when we
multiply the number of such degrees?

Yes, if we make the preliminary error of regarding these degrees
as essentially separate from each other. They are not
essentially separate, but separate only AS degrees -- like the
colors in a rainbow, for instance. To solve such problems as
this it is always needful to hold in mind at once the idea of
continuity and the idea of graduation; to see that a thing may be
continuous and yet at the same time marked off into stages.
Analogies are plentiful, as, for instance, in the various stages
of hydrogen monoxide, which can be ice, water, or steam, all
different yet the same.

The difficulty lies in regarding as separate what is really one.
If we regard things as separate, we have to invent a bridge
between them. There is no need for a bridge between mind and
matter, because they are not separate; they are separate in
degree but not in essence. When we say that spirit cannot act
directly on matter, or that mind cannot act directly on matter,
we mean that these opposite poles of the same thing are connected
by intermediate degrees.

Question: What is the source of the belief in the resurrection of
the body?

This is a teaching of the esoteric philosophy which has been
misunderstood and turned into something else. That teaching is
that all the life-atoms which we throw off and discard must
eventually return to us, in fulfilment of a universal law whereby
like attracts like. These atoms are our offspring, imbued with
our quality; and by a universal law of affinity will come where
they belong. Only we must beware of letting mechanical habits
affect our minds here. When we say "affinity," it is not to a
blind force that we allude; that affinity is the very same force
which attracts living beings together by love and affection. The
atoms go home; they seek each other and their common parent and
their common home.

Question: What is the true name of the doctrine of resurrection?

The transmigration of the life-atoms. When we reincarnate, we do
not indeed have the same body again; that is dissipated long ago,
nor would we need the same body -- it is a better one that we
need, or perchance a worse one, one adapted to our existent needs
-- but our new body IS composed of the same life-atoms. These
thus begin a new cycle of evolution under our tutelage,
accomplishing at once their own evolution and ours.

Question: How is this related to the Weismann discovery?

As said, Weismann found that certain cells are transmitted
unchanged from parent to offspring throughout generations, so
that verily the body may be said to be immortal. Thus Weismann's
discovery is one instance of a general law -- that of the unity
and perpetuity of the essence throughout innumerable
transformations of the incidentals.

Question: How does Weismann's discovery confirm Theosophy?

Theosophy teaches that the human stock is the oldest of the
mammalian stocks and constitutes a main trunk-line from which
other stocks have branched off. Weismann's researches imply that
the germ plasm has been handed down from all antiquity in the
human trunk-line.

Question: What else has Theosophy to teach about evolution?

A great deal more, for the subject is endless. This is a bare
outline and very incomplete at that; but it may serve as an
introduction and an invitation to further study.

Question: What are the main points brought out?

That the universe is a living entity, composed of innumerable
living entities, there being nothing anywhere that is not a
living entity. That all these entities are evolving from
unselfconscious sparks of the One Life to fully self-conscious
manifestations thereof; that this manifold evolution proceeds in
an orderly manner by a universal law of development, controlled
by intelligences, of many degrees, superior and inferior,
arranged in hierarchies, the members of which work harmoniously
by an adjustment of individual purposes to general purposes.

Question: Where does modern science come in?

Science, so long as faithful to its purpose, can but confirm the
truths enunciated by Theosophy. The Seers who have formulated
the Theosophical teachings have an immense advantage over modern
science both in the antiquity of their studies and in the scope
of their vision. Hence they can assist science by giving it a
plan to work by. The Theosophical teachings on evolution explain
the puzzles which science encounters in trying to adjust its
theories to the facts of nature. If science is exact knowledge,
so is Theosophy, but in a higher degree and on a vastly greater


by W. Emmett Small

[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, April 1945, pages 165-70.]

When I think of Humor, I think of stars -- not because they
twinkle, though that might be fair enough reason, but because it
sets in mind a certain train of thought which starts with
recollection of the following story. Reginald Machell was on
night guard at Point Loma. In the old days that was one of the
regular jobs that all members of the Headquarters Staff shared in
-- making the usual rounds and seeing all was well. Mr.
Machell, who had recently come from London, was an artist,
writer, wood carver, dramatic critic and actor. His watch was at
midnight until 1:30. How lovely were the stars, how serene!
There was the blending of self with the greater Self! But
suddenly he looked at his watch. His relief was fifteen minutes
late. Gone like a flash was the peace, the silence, the beauty.
The artist soul no longer communed with the stars, but ordinary
human expostulation barked its vehement irritation. After a few
moments of course came chuckles as good humor flooded in laughing
at the vagaries of human nature that can change so swiftly from
the Impersonal High to the personal everyday.

And when I think of Common Sense I think of buttons; or rather of
that well-known story of H.P. Blavatsky that has come down in a
score of variations. A pupil of HPB was sitting at her feet
begging for instruction in occultism. "My dear," she said, "the
button on your dress needs sewing on. Attend to that. The first
lesson in occultism is to do well the duty at hand." Not that she
used such prosy language, but it conveys the idea. It was the
Teacher's way of jerking the possibly too adoring pupil back to a
sense of reality and emphasizing an important lesson: that
Occultism has nothing to do with sentimentality but is based on
fact and wisdom. One can put oneself in the pupil's shoes to see
that a bit of humor was needed to make the right and dutiful
response. In fact as we study this subject of Humor and Common
Sense it is amazing to note how strongly they complement each
other. The man of common sense is often also the man of humor,
and vice versa. This is especially true in our Theosophical
work, which evokes such burning devotion. Common sense and a bit
of humor must be coupled with that devotion lest we foster a
fanaticism which crushes the life from the very thing we seek to
nurture. Drops of water on a grindstone which is being used to
sharpen some tool are necessary, or the heat or friction would
injure the instrument. And so without the cooling fluid of humor
to balance the temper and judgment of our own human instruments,
we might incline to become fanatical, and in Theosophy fanaticism
must be avoided as Common Sense Rule Number One.

Yes, Humor to the rescue if we would preserve sanity. There was
once an author. He'd been working days, weeks, months, and had
finished the manuscript of a great book. The last page was done.
That night with what relief he could lie down to sleep. But
early in the morning came along the maid putting things in order.
It was cold too, and the fire needed to get started, so into the
grate went all those old scribbly papers lying on the tables, and
soon there was a cheerful blaze going!

I wonder with what humor Carlyle met the situation! Anyway he
wrote the whole book over. That was his FRENCH REVOLUTION.

So likewise a man may have spent nearly a whole lifetime pressing
indefatigably toward a high goal, and then, say in his late
sixties, his house tumbles about him and he is where he was at
twenty. Less catastrophes have caused suicide. But humor to the
rescue and he would see the hand of karmic destiny and laugh at
his puny setting of himself against it. He would be more than
human if he were not hurt, but he would endeavor to keep free
from bitterness, that corroding internal acid that makes life not
worth living. He would take the long view and know that destiny
was working out its inscrutable but lawful mathematical design.

So often in our Theosophical work vie are deserted by good sense
and kindly humor, and we drive people away by too forceful, even
belligerent methods. Attack is not what we want, but simple
persuasion -- persuasion from an understanding of the teachings
themselves. We should show interest in the inquirer as a human
soul treading the age-old path, and our anxiety should be to
help, not to impose or intrude. Let us take the attitude that
the race is long, but that all shall be victors in the end. You,
my friend and inquirer, will one day join us -- first of course
in wish, in will, in thought, and then in deed.

We are not a society to discuss reform in food, health, politics,
though individual members may be zealously devoted to such
pursuits. We are not here to advocate yoga practices, postures
for meditation, breath control. We do not issue manuals on
ritual, incense burning, incantation, meditation. What are we
here for? To give the gospel of truth as much as we have been
taught it: to tell of the FACT of the universal brotherhood of
mankind and all beings and things; to tell of the basic laws of
Nature: that we reap only what we sow and that the way of growth
is by reembodiment; to point to man's past and the early Races on
this Globe, to describe the present and indicate the future
destiny of man. Finally to tell, and in what earnest degree we
can to demonstrate, that each one of us is the Christ-child, the
inner Buddha, the inner Divinity, and that the sublime destiny of
the whole human family is to march on toward the realization of
this truth.

From a conscientious study of life and of human character, which
is the beginning of real occult study, we begin to see in their
true role those little weaknesses and failings which we are
perhaps a bit too prone to excuse, with a shrug, as "well, just
human nature." Let me name just three: (1) Unfriendly and cruel
gossip; (2) meddlesome interference in others' duties; (3) the
desire to dominate another's life. You may think it puerile to
mention things like these so often moralized upon in a thousand
sermons; but it is these "little things" which engender the big
things which create world chaos. Take the last named point, on
which I think Theosophists can never bear down too hard: NEVER
Any student of Theosophy will tell you that the danger of such
indulgence -- one of the truly wickedest things you can do -- is
a radical interference with the normal and healthy growth of a
soul, warping it often, always weakening it; in other words
leading it on the downward path, while at the same time it
encourages in the practicer the seeds which if allowed to take
firm root, without exaggeration can lead to the inevitable
appearance in his character of that power or force we designate
as black magic. He is then caught in his own web of evil power,
and is even worse off than his victim. He faces the Dweller of
his Threshold and is threatened by the very elements of his own

But all this does not mean that we should not help others; give
sound advice and counsel when asked. We should look, however,
for real wisdom in this most difficult of human tasks, perhaps
made easier by cultivating a calm detachment and yet a
sympathetic interest in our fellow human beings. Tolerance and
broad-mindedness as well as the ability to disengage our minds
from the personal affairs of others will also help us shift our
thought from any desire for personal domination and power. This
is the commonsense view, and in the long run it is the happiest
way to live.

Common sense is by no means common or general. By it we do not
mean mediocrity or a spurious acceptance of weak compromise with
our inner ideals. Common sense means balance, judgment, judicial
ability to see things from an all-round viewpoint. These are the
qualities that are needed in the membership of the Theosophical
Society. The future of the Theosophical Society, said HPB in THE
KEY TO THEOSOPHY, will depend last but not least,

> ... on the amount of knowledge and wisdom possessed by those
> members, on whom it will fall to carry on the work, and to direct
> the Society after the death of the Founders ... I do not
> refer to technical knowledge of the esoteric doctrine, though
> that is most important; I spoke rather of the great need which
> our successors in the guidance of the Society will have of
> unbiased and clear judgment.

Every human organization of course has its troubles, and the T.
S. is no exception. We have them within our lodges, within
ourselves. But we need not be bowled over by them if we meet
them with humor, patience, and common sense. We are all working
for the same grand purposes, yet the clash of wills seems as
inevitable as the clattering of dishes in a cafeteria. What is
the cure? Orchestration, not solo playing. And if you are slated
to play third French horn in Dr. Smith's "American Melodies" and
must wait 502 measures before your 24 after-beats come in, accept
it as wise and proper orchestration, just in fact what the
composer wanted. Enjoy it. It might be much worse. Some day
you might be in a position to tell the conductor or the composer
just what you think about it; or you might be the maestro
yourself! Now of course if you can't stand playing French horn,
why by all means don't flagellate yourself (and others); take
steps to learn the oboe. It would be foolish forever to do
something you detested. In fact, nature looks after that.
Something would happen to that French horn very soon, if you
really felt that badly!

It is impossible to explain true humor. Clifton Fadiman says it
does something to you, like great literature:

> It changes your feelings, usually in the direction of greater
> well-being and general expansiveness. Instead of tensing you, it
> relaxes you. It works not on the nerves and the brain but on the
> heart and the imagination. It does not have a 'point,' which is
> a hard, direct thing. It suffuses an atmosphere, which is a soft
> and subtle thing.

Agreed. But I want to go a little farther. There is a spiritual
quality in humor. Clifton Fadiman wouldn't like that; but it's
true. Humor is born of a consideration of the relationship of
the transitory and the enduring -- there the Cosmic Vastness,
here our human frailty -- with particular recognition of the
seeming incongruity of the juxtaposition. As Theosophists
therefore we have an admirable opportunity to cultivate humor.
Indeed we have little excuse for not having a good handy fund
readily on tap. For we have, there is no doubt, grand universal
truths for contemplation, yet equally truly must we live our own
individual human lives, and these are studded with those little
insignificant happenings that overwhelm so many, but which if
viewed against the background of those vast ideas, tickle the
fancy and stir our humor to an awareness of the contrast and deep
relationship. On the one hand are those stirring grand
principles, 'unknowable' in their ultimates. On the other hand
we turn the arc-light on man himself, and at times nothing seems
more puny or more grotesque than our funny little selves making
shadow-pictures on the great Screen of Time. It is not always
easy solidly to identify ourselves with the Light that casts the
shadow. True, when we think of the Omnipresent, Immutable,
Boundless PRINCIPLE, we are apt to feel the personal problem of
little significance. But WE don't think so really, because we
ARE that personal human (and will be for a good long time to
come), and we don't like having it ignored even for the welfare
let us say of humanity, or the contemplation of sublime heights
of the stars and their spiritual regents. We figure, quite
sanely after all, that we have to live right down here on earth,
with its pains, its joys, its beauties, its sorrows, its nagging
irritations, and its signal successes -- concerning all of which
the divinities that be remain "magnificently unperturbed." Yet in
the divine scheme we cannot be forgetful of our spiritual
heritage. Where humor borders on the reverence of true religion,
there you recall or feel that those serene gods you think are so
impervious to your cries, so remote, are actually in a certain
sense your very inmost selves. Paradox, to be sure. But
paradoxes are the index fingers of Truth.

How far are the gods! How puny are we! The words of William
Watson flow through the mind:

> The august, inhospitable, inhuman night,
> Glittering magnificently unperturbed.

But we need that far distance. We need that unapproachableness,
that unattainability. Without it we could not endure. With it
we are sometimes miserable. We strive to annihilate it. We long
to attain it, or at best to humanize it, to bring it warmly into
our human understanding. The struggle is the drama of life, the
song in its tragedy, the sigh and sorrow in its comedy. The more
sensitive will share more deeply these extremes, feeling the
bitter poignancy of effort to wrestle with the Unknowable,
recognizing our littleness against the vast backdrop of Eternity,
yet sustained by the voice that will not be denied which whispers
our own starry grandeur. Thus, stimulated and balanced by the
recognition of this human-cosmic relationship, which is the seed
of true humor, we seek to understand the cosmic music, not sure
at times whether it is half chuckle or half choking sorrow, but
knowing it is the ever throbbing reverberation of rhythmic Being.


by A. Trevor Barker

[From THE HILL OF DISCERNMENT, Theosophical University Press,
1941, pages 216-28.]

Rather more than six hundred years before the beginning of our
Christian era the great Sage Shakyamuni, whom we know through our
historical records as Gautama the Buddha, lived and died in
ancient Hindustan, and he taught the origin of suffering; he
taught what is its root; he taught what is the annihilation of
suffering, and what is the means whereby you could enter upon
that annihilation, what he called the four noble Truths. Most of
the Buddha's teaching and philosophy is centered around the
explanation of those four noble Truths, and of the eightfold Path
which he explained as the means toward attaining the great end,
the emancipation from suffering.

Therefore right at the outset of our consideration of the
subject, we have not only the great ideal of the Buddha himself,
but we have the statement which must ever be of the most
tremendous encouragement to all who strive upon the upward Path.
We have that statement of his that emancipation from the
suffering of human misery such as we know it can be achieved even
in this life. More, he went still farther in saying that if a
man would sincerely enter upon the noble eightfold way, and
strive to put into practice, and to make a reality, the eight
conditions of that Path, even for a comparatively short while,
such a man would receive the fruits of merit of that deed, and
thereby would begin to feel the results in his own life.

Many of us have heard over and over again the statement of those
qualities demanded by the eightfold Path. We are familiar with
the noble Truths, and like many things that we have heard so
often, sometimes the significance is missed by us, and we do not
apply it. The realization of the practical application of those
great teachings does not seem to enter into the very being of us.

Tonight we want to examine in the light of Theosophy how we can
apply the teaching of the Buddha to our own lives. We must
remember that in the time of the Blessed One there was the Order,
the holy company of the monks and ascetics, the Bhikkus, who
followed in his footsteps. Of course his remarks were addressed
largely to his disciples. Today in our own times it is amongst
such Brotherhoods as Theosophical Societies that you will find
those who are striving to tread that same eightfold Path. It is
there that you will find that spiritual companionship that is so
necessary as a support, as an encouragement, in all endeavor
toward spiritual living.

Let us ask ourselves, therefore, first of all, what change comes
over the attitude of mind of one who has made a study and an
application of Theosophical truth. How does it influence his
attitude toward this mystery of human suffering? Well, friends,
it is a very large question; but in the first place has it ever
struck you how enormous is the amount of human misery that is
caused by our attitude of mind to what we call God? Cast your
mind back to your own childhood. Think of the amount of misery
you suffered owing to the supposed wrath that you incurred of
some Deity external to yourself, who was going to punish you.

We Theosophists do not believe in that personal God of all the
orthodox Churches. We do not believe in him because there is
logically no room for him. If God, a being, was the omnipotent
and omniscient creator and controller of this universe, then how
are we to account for the presence of evil in our midst? We must
of necessity hold him responsible for it if he is omnipotent, if
he is all-wise, and if he is all-worthy. Therefore this is the
first great idea that Theosophy gives to us as to the nature of
Deity: In essence every man is a God. At the heart of his own
being there is that living fire which exists at the heart of
every created thing in this Universe.

Whence, you may ask, are the laws of nature that obviously exist
around us? We discover their existence when we break them and
reap the penalty of so doing! Are those laws the will of a
Creator? What are they? Theosophy gives one a very helpful
symbol, a helpful image, whereby we can begin to understand the
relationship of man to nature. According to that ancient
teaching there exists nowhere in the Universe a Being who
consciously controls by means of the laws of nature other created
beings -- you and me, in other words. We are told by the ancient
Teachers that we will get an absolutely wrong idea, and one
harmful to ourselves and to our spiritual growth and progress, if
we imagine God as a being somewhere outside of us, who is
controlling our destinies.

How can we think about it? How can we begin to understand the
problem? Why, first, friends, by studying ourselves. What are
we? Look at this body of ours. We see, if we examine the
teachings of science, that it itself is a vast universe; that it
is composed of millions upon millions of tiny lives, atoms,
molecules, and structures of living, vibrating matter pulsing
with life; and the teaching of Theosophy comes along and says
that each of these tiny lives is instinct with the same life that
imbues your own consciousness as a Thinker; that each of those
tiny lives in vast and agelong evolution proceeds to unfold, to
unwrap, the forces inherent in the very being of it, inherent in
the heart of it; until it passes through all the stages of
progress up to and including the power of conscious and
deliberate choice of action and thought; that each of those tiny
lives will be raised up to the level of a conscious Thinker.

Just for a moment let us think of ourselves as bearing the same
relation to the unknown Deity that those tiny lives of our own
bodies bear to the consciousness of the personal man. Here is a
great thought for us, because actually if you consider that
relationship, you can see it is most unlikely that to those tiny
lives any complete consciousness is possible of the man who lives
and uses the body which they compose and build up. All that they
know is that there is a central will, a central force, and
certain laws -- call them laws of nature if you will -- which
work. Can they possibly have any conception of the God within
who uses that body of flesh and blood as a means of locomotion,
as a means of action, as a means of thought and feeling and
service to other human beings? Not at all. Such an idea must be
for them merely an inferential possibility, if they can think at

Now that is exactly our relation to the unknown Deity. His
conscious power to control anything, anywhere, must be for us a
mere inferential possibility, and therefore we rid ourselves once
and for all of the bogey of a conscious Being controlling and
directing our destinies. We look for a grander, truer, more
spiritual teaching which will enable us to realize ourselves in
the sense and meaning of the ancient Delphic Oracle: "Man, know
thyself." Man know yourself to be what you are in your innermost
spiritual essence. That is our problem, and that ultimately must
hold the meaning and explanation of suffering; for after all what
is it that suffers? Man is not only a body. We know that the
body suffers, but there is something more permanent, more real --
the Eternal man transcending the body: the man that passes from
body to body and life to life, and even from planet to planet,
and world to world, and solar system to solar system, in the
agelong pilgrimage upon which he is bound.

That brings us to the second thought that I want to put before
you: that the change that takes place in a man when he studies
Theosophy in regard to the problem of human suffering is
tremendously influenced by the great doctrine of Reembodiment, or
Reincarnation. We do not believe that man has only one short
life to live on this planet, because such an idea is an absolute
denial of all justice. Do we not often see the sinner dying in
his sin and from our point of view never having received any
adequate punishment -- to use the term -- for all the evil he has
done? On the other hand, as we look about us and study ourselves,
do we not ask: although the purpose of life is not only progress
but perfection, how many of us reach perfection at the end of one
short life? Obviously so few that it is not worth considering.
Therefore when we hear for the first time that great doctrine of
Reincarnation by which the eternal, inner, real man comes again
into tabernacles of flesh to take up his life, take up his task
where he left it off, then we get another key which will help us
to understand human suffering.

And the third key, which I want to put before you, is that other
doctrine, Karma, as they call it in the East: the doctrine by
which that eternal man, that reincarnating entity, does represent
every single result of every cause that he created during any one
particular earth-life. We do not admit the possibility that man
does actually endure suffering which is unmerited. UNMERITED
FROM HIS POINT OF VIEW IT MAY BE, yes, because we do not bring
back to this life, as you know, a recollection of previous lives.
Why is that? Simply because we have now a new brain, we have a
new mechanism of consciousness, which has not received the
impress and record of the previous lives that have been led.
Therefore, the man in his new body does not remember. But the
real man remembers and sees the essential justice of his human

Bearing these three main ideas in mind: the nature of the Deity,
the law of Reincarnation, and the law of Karma, what would you
teach a child about the idea of pain? It is a very fundamental
question that. What would you teach a child? Well, perhaps it is
not a question that is very easy to answer, but I think the first
great lesson that any child should learn is to gain the habit and
power of not identifying itself with discomfort, with pleasure,
as a matter of fact, or with pain. You will say perhaps that is
a bit of a counsel of perfection for a tiny child, but it is not
so: tiny children do respond in the most wonderful and impersonal
way if you go the right way about it and teach them, to use the
ancient Eastern simile, to regard pain for themselves with
indifference; to be to themselves in regard to pain as the stone
of the mango.

At the same time inculcate the idea that, while they are hard and
indifferent to the pain which comes to them, they should be soft
as the fruit in the pulp of the mango to every cry of pain and
every cry of distress that they hear from another outside of
themselves. You will find that even a tiny child will respond to
that idea, and will learn the first great lesson: that for it
pleasure and pain are equal and opposite; things to be
experienced merely, but never to be identified with to the point
of losing hold of the calm spirit within their own heart as a
guiding light in their own lives.

Remember that directly pain or pleasure gains the power over us
to distract our spiritual meditation, then it begins to represent
evil for us; and therefore the earlier that we can get hold of
the impersonal idea toward pain the better it is for us. Some
people may think that it is not possible to apply this principle
with a tiny child, but I will give you a little example because
it shows you how the great teaching of Theosophy can be applied
in life. Little children are always tumbling about, always
hurting themselves, always bursting into tears -- are they not?
-- as they learn to walk and so on. Well, what are you going to
do about it? A tiny child will respond to the idea that he may
have hurt that which he bumped up against, and in distracting the
attention of the child to the consideration of the damage that he
has done to his father's furniture, for instance. Lo and behold!
You find the child has forgotten all about the bump that he has
received. And so with the Spirit of man: while his thought is
turned ever and eternally away from himself he forgets the
personal, as he forgets the bumps and bruises and the
unpleasantness of life; and he becomes detached from objects of
sense, and his heart begins to enter on the Way of Peace. That
after all is the meaning of all teaching, of all Theosophy.

Shall we be always subject to pain? In answer, you have the
teaching of the Blessed Buddha, who won complete enlightenment in
this life, and lived in imperishable and eternal bliss while
walking the ways of men. He gave it as a promise to all who
followed in his footsteps: that they should realize here and now,
when they had gone through the necessary steps of purification,
that life was no longer a mystery of pain; they would then
experience right in the core of their own being the ineffable joy
and bliss that actually are at the heart of all existence. Do
not think that this joy is merely a figure of speech. I do not
mean it so. If Theosophy means anything at all, it means just
that profound realization in the lives of individual Theosophists
that they have an understanding, that they have a peace, that
they have a joy in spiritual living which takes them in
consciousness away -- literally away -- from all the
unpleasantness of life, and turns it into one endless progression
of lessons and experiences.

Think what the Theosophical conception really means! Probably a
true understanding of the mystery of pain is not realized, and
cannot be understood, until the age-old Path is entered and the
man begins to take hold of his own lower nature, and studying it
he begins to realize the blessing of pain. After all, all entry
into new life is caused through pain or through death. Death of
what? Why, the death of the lower elements of being. All growth
and progress are a turning away of mind from that which has been,
to that which is to be.

What does this mean? It means a parting from the habits of mind,
and the states of being, and the modes of action, to which we are
accustomed. It means that we are prepared, having seen the
light, and something more and better, to relinquish our old
methods and old habits of mind and being. In that moment we die:
the spiritual life is a constant dying, a constant death upon the
cross of our material being. Is that a miserable thing? Is that
an unhappy thing, as the Christian scriptures have rather taught
us to believe? Not at all, because it simply means a giving up of
the things that are not essential in our lives. We give up that
which for the time being we think is important, which we think
has significance for us, because we realize that this giving up
is in accordance with and in harmony with the higher law.

Then what happens? In a little while, after we have passed
through the strangeness and the quietness that succeed an entry
into a new state of being, we realize that the suffering that we
have gone through has merely brought forth blossoms and buds of
spiritual life in ourselves, and we realize that there is not one
single experience of pain that we pass through in this small life
of ours but has a peculiar significance to the man who is
treading the noble eightfold Path. And I speak particularly to
the one who is a spiritual aspirant -- because the meaning of
pain is missed, is passed by, by those who have not got the
conscious spiritual guidance by which to direct their lives --
that until you have learned to subordinate every single action in
life to your inner spiritual purpose, you won't understand the
meaning of the pain; but directly you have learned that lesson,
then comes the realization that those things in your life which
have been the hardest, the most difficult to cope with, are the
very things which have given you the power, the capacity, the
knowledge, the sympathy, and most of all the understanding, with
which to help your fellow pilgrims upon that same Spiritual Path
that you yourself are beginning to tread. It is one of the
deepest mysteries of the great subject of pain, how every
experience of life tends toward the development of some faculty,
some power, of the inner Spiritual being, which will enable you
to help some brother one step farther upon the Path.

Let us turn back for a moment with that thought in mind to the
inner nature of man, because Theosophy has such a sublime
teaching, and it is this: that the very progress of the inner
nature of man toward perfection is dependent upon the effort of
that inner man to raise first of all his own material being to
the condition where that lower man is a fit tabernacle for the
God that exists within; and as a further stage beyond that:
progress of the inner man depends upon his identification with
the God who broods over him and in his own heart. Now the
progress of that inner God also depends -- and here is one of the
great teachings of Theosophy -- the progress of that God depends
upon its power, its effort, to raise the lower man, to raise the
inner real man, to the conscious recognition of its oneness with
that inner God.

How does it come about? As that inner Spiritual being is always
ready, if we turn the polarity of our minds upward to the inner
Spiritual nature within us, that beam of light that exists there
will grow stronger and stronger until it blazes as a lamp within
the heart of that inner man; and he knows without any argument,
without any reasoning or help from outside himself, HE KNOWS that
his own next step on the Path of Spiritual progress will be a
step toward truth; and he then can bring that light of knowledge
that he has won to those who as yet tread the path in darkness.

Is it not a sublime thought that as we ourselves -- and we can
all of us do it, friends, at any rate to some extent -- as we
look out from ourselves, and leaning down for a moment stoop to
help someone who needs that help, in that moment the doors of the
soul open, and the light of the inner man grows stronger and
stronger; and so the inner God raises the inner man, and the
inner man raises the outer man, and all three together work in
the service of the one cause and the one life and the one light
that exist in the heart of all creation. Don't you see how it
works? It is a wonderful idea.

In these times when the stress of economic life is so tremendous,
we are forced to realize that men and women, by the very
privations that they are forced to go through, enter into one of
the classes of beings who begin to study spiritual truths, who
begin to long for an explanation of the sufferings of material
life. So it is that during the times of adversity the spiritual
life of men is actually quickened. During the times of
tremendous prosperity all their attention is turned outwards in
identification with the very things that will lead them away from
the search that we are all really and truly, however misguidedly,
engaged in pursuing.

One of the troubles that many people have to face is the loss of
some individual with whom they have spent some part of their
lives; the loss of some loved one who passes into the Great
Beyond; and that for them brings about an anguish and suffering
that is very real. Now Theosophy does work a great change in a
man's life even in such a case as that. Why is this? Simply
because the man who has learnt to tread the Spiritual Path within
himself has found a Divine companion. He has found a Divine
companion that he can never lose; and therefore, while he becomes
more sensitive, more loving, more compassionate, and more
sympathetic to the needs of those around him, the personal loss
takes on an altogether different aspect, because he knows the
laws of nature, he knows that the great rhythm of life that
brought the loved one to him must inevitably take the same one
away beyond into a further life, and he knows that that is not
something to cause sorrow to anybody except the one who is left
behind. He realizes that it is only a personal and selfish idea;
he renounces his personal sorrow like other things of the
personal life. He gives it up because he knows that the loved
one has gone to a region where there is no more sorrow, where he
will enter into a realm of Spiritual bliss and living which is
beyond the mystery of pain altogether. He is free from the
shackles of the flesh and all that it means until he returns once
more into earth life.

What is the message of Theosophy to those whose business it is to
minister to the sick? They indeed are brought constantly into
this problem of pain in every moment of their lives. I think the
answer would be this: that in all pain and all disease, although
every individual receives naught but what he himself has sown,
yet he is in need very often -- and most of the time -- much more
of Spiritual comfort than of material assistance; and therefore
the great idea that Theosophy would give to every physician of
the body would be to see if you cannot light in the patient's
mind and in his heart a faith, a conscious recognition, of the
spiritual power that is lying dormant within his own nature.
Think, if everybody, if every physician, were also a physician
and healer of the soul. Why, friends, the world would quickly be
a different place. It is because in most cases that physicians
and others do not know how to minister to the needs of the soul
that the needs of the body become so very pressing.

Sometimes the question is asked: Are disease and pain a mere
figment of our imagination? Will a change of mind, a change of
thought, cure them? Is it my fault, can I cure them by merely
taking thought? That is a big question, a very important one,
because, as you know, there is a whole school -- what shall I
call it? -- Scientists, Christian Scientists, Mental
Psychologists, I do not know what you would like to call them --
those who believe, and so teach, that there is no such thing as
pain, that there is no such thing as evil. But turn to the
record of the lives of the great Teachers that have been in past
ages, and see what their attitude to the problem of pain and
disease is. Did they say it did not exist? Not at all. On the
contrary, every single case of suffering that any one of the
great Teachers came across invariably called forth their human
pity and compassion, showing that they realized what it meant.
They gave a spiritual remedy, quickening the spiritual life in
that individual so that he should learn how to heal himself.

What is the healing that Theosophy recognizes and considers
permissible? Friends, it is a fact and a very potent and
spiritual fact, that a change of mind and heart of the individual
does affect the physical and bodily health, and even his
circumstances. It is a fact; but does that mean that where a man
has got a serious physical disease, or even a simple ache or
pain, he shall deliberately deny it in his mind and his
consciousness, and tell himself that he has only got to go on
thinking that way and it will disappear? Well now, it is a fact
that probably if he goes about it strongly enough he may lose
that particular ache or pain. It is not a very happy thing for
him if he does, because he has merely deflected it for future
use. He has forced it back into the mechanism of his own
consciousness where it came from, and in the fulness of time it
will work out again. It had its root in a thought, in a feeling,
in some wrong action. Until it has worked itself out it cannot
be got rid of.

All the individual can do is to learn, simply as the Buddha
taught, to give up the practice of evil, to enter the noble
eightfold Path, and in so doing he ceases to create future causes
of evil. That is why THE BHAGAVAD GITA states: "Even a man of
very evil ways, once he is devoted to me, crossing over every
evil in the bark of knowledge, will verily come to me." That is
the truth. All we have to do is to consider that ray of
spiritual light in ourselves. Faith in that connection and
aspiration are a tremendous force for good, not only in our own
lives but in everything that we try to do for others.


by Boris de Zirkoff

[From a tape recording of a private class held on September 1,

There's a certain subject that is very worth going into. That is
the subject of Teachers and coming Teachers. That is also
something that we hear from other people, among our friends and
people in general. I think it would be of considerable
importance and be worthwhile to clarify our ideas a little bit on
that general subject.

It would appear that there are many people in the world today,
mostly the Occidentals, students of metaphysics, who are in a
frame of mind or in different types of frame of mind more or less
similar to each other. They are in a frame of mind where they
expect, like to expect, the appearance of some great Teacher in
the world of today and a need for anything like this is very

There are a variety of views on that general subject. Some
express themselves in very sound and logical terms. Some have
woven into this idea of a lot of wishful thinking. Some have
simply have gone haywire on the whole idea. Some people, as a
matter of fact, claim to be such World Teachers of the present
time. They don't have a very great calling, but it all shows
that the subject is confused. When there is a confused subject,
there is always some particle of truth somewhere that has been
twisted or exaggerated or in some way or other misunderstood. So
it is very, very worth our while to clarify things if we can.

It is a Teaching of the esoteric philosophy, from immemorial
days, that spiritual Teachers guide. Spiritual leaders of
thought appear from time to time among men. From time immemorial
they have done so. They do so now from time to time. They will
continue to do it. They will continue to do so in the future.
Because the appearance of these spiritual Teachers, these sages
and seers or Initiates and Adepts, is part of the occult life of
the planet on which we live.

From time to time as the need arises and spirituality sinks, to
be superseded by a great deal of selfishness or materialism, a
Teacher makes his appearance in accordance with a certain occult
law. He proclaims a certain message. He does his work for the
time being and vanishes from the scene of action after awhile,
leaving a message or a book or a movement according to what kind
of Teacher he was.

Such individuals are of various degree of attainment. Some are
Avataras. Some are Buddhas, the most rare. Some are various
types of advanced Initiates and masters of life, with a sort of
avataric mission, even though they are not actual Avataras. Some
are still less than these. You might say that they are local
Teachers for one continent or a race instead of worldwide in
their effect. Some are less yet, being only very advanced
disciples of higher Teachers sent by the latter as Messengers to
proclaim a certain message or to found a movement or do some
other specialized work.

We might say that the greater the individual is who appears, the
more infrequent is his appearance. Some of these individuals
like Avataras appear at considerably long periods of time.
Others appear every few thousand years. Others again appear with
what is known as the zodiacal cycle, the messianic cycles of 2160

These individuals do not appear by chance. Their appearance is
just as much geared to the occult life of the globe and of
mankind as all the other events and phenomena of life, ideas to a
pattern, to a spiritual mechanism over which advanced
intelligences preside. There is no chance in anything. The
phenomena taking place within our own constitution, from our
physiological phenomena up, or from our spiritual changes down,
are just as much geared to various laws as are the appearances of
Teachers in the rounds and the races, and the ushering of this,
that and another cycle.

Point number one is that Teachers of any kind, less or greater or
very great, Teachers of any kind do not appear by chance. They
appear at stated intervals of time. About these intervals of
time, we don't know very much. But we know a little bit.

It certainly looks from a certain angle, from a certain
standpoint -- and we can have sympathy with people who see it that
way -- that the condition in the world is such that it would be an
awfully nice thing if some great spiritual Teacher was to turn up
and to help us to harmonize ourselves and to bring order out of
chaos and generally speaking to help us back on the road to
sanity. It would be a wonderful thing. Still, just because
things look that way, it does not necessarily mean that a Teacher
is going to appear right now.

The seeming chaos is not necessarily because of the result of the
lack of Teachers or guides or leaders of thought in the world,
not necessarily the result of their absence. It is rather the
opposite. Try to look at it from another angle. It is because
there is already in the world a tremendous spiritual energy at
work. It is precisely because there is a great spiritual
challenge in the midst of mankind that there is also a great
chaos and disorder as a reaction to the former, as a byproduct of
the former.

We see the chaotic conditions because they are very obvious. We
notice them and are sometimes overwhelmed by them because they
are so patterned, because they impinge upon everything and you
cannot disregard them or ignore them or overlook them. It is
very easy to overlook and disregard the tremendous spiritual
shift of consciousness that exists in the world and which has
brought about the temporary chaotic conditions of mind and
emotions as a reaction, and a natural reaction, to it.

First of all, I think I'd like to eliminate out of the
discussion, or out of the picture at least for the present, one
basic misunderstanding. Not a misunderstanding among you, but a
misunderstanding that exists among thousands of students who
follow various metaphysical schools and are not very well
grounded in any one particular school of thought.

There are a lot of books with quite a number of different people
who have proclaimed the idea that a very great Teacher is about
to come and even given it the name, the Sanskrit name of
Maitreya, which means "the friendly one." You will find some
theosophical books, mostly by Annie Besant, mentioning that. You
will find Mrs. Alice Bailey's books full of it, and a lot of
others. Various modifications of that idea, various variations,
you might say, playing upon that main theme, of the appearance of
a Teacher by the name of Maitreya. This, if you haven't heard
yet, you probably run into sooner or later.

This idea is a complete misunderstanding of the Teaching
contained in Blavatsky's THE SECRET DOCTRINE, to the effect that
as the Buddha, known as the Gautama by his first name, Gautama
the Buddha, Gautama the Enlightened, appeared some 2500 years
ago, and had to do with the spiritual impetus approximately
around the middle period of the fifth root race. So there will
be another great Buddha by the name of Maitreya the Friendly. He
will usher in, in due course of time, the beginning of the sixth
root race, which is a matter of several million years from now --
several million years.

It is that Teaching, taken out of its general context, thoroughly
misunderstood, foreshortened to apply to a matter of a few
centuries instead of to a matter of a few million years. It has
given rise among many students and writers to the mistaken idea
that the Maitreya Buddha or a Teacher by the name of Maitreya is
going to turn up practically in our own lifetime, and if not,
very soon after. It is not so.

This unfortunately is not the only misunderstanding of the
ancient Teachings, not the only misunderstanding that you will
find in the current literature, a literature that calls itself in
theosophical or metaphysical or occult. You might just as well
eliminate this idea as being completely and utterly worthless.

No such individual, Avatara, Buddha, is due to come. The Buddhas
come at the most rare of intervals. There is a Buddha that is
ushering in a Root Race. There is a Buddha that appears towards
the middle of it. There is a Buddha that appears at the ushering
of the next one, with millions of years in between the two of
them. That is sufficient. Their work is sufficient. This work
is accomplished within their lifetime because of the tremendous
individualities that they are, and the tremendous, unimaginable
spiritual impress, an impression that is produced by them upon
the thought of mankind.

Is there any kind of a lesser Teacher that is going to turn up
more or less within our lifetime or a little after? Yes, it might
be so. In order to make that clear we have to go back a little.
In discussing this subject, we are primarily concerned with one
kind of Teacher, which is the most practical that we can talk
about, the most understandable that we can talk about. That is
the Teacher that appears among mankind twelve times within a
zodiacal year.

A zodiacal year is 25,920 years in duration, the time that it
takes the precession of the equinoxes to be accomplished. It is
an astronomical and astrological fact as well. The period is
divided into twelve sub-periods, each one of 2160 years, which is
a messianic cycle according to the term used by mystics in the
Occident. Every 2160 years, more or less, because these cycles
overlap, there is the appearance of an unusual individual who is
ushering a new zodiacal age, one of the twelve zodiacal ages of a
complete zodiacal period.

One of the last ones was the individual whom history has recorded
as Jesus of Nazareth. We don't know his true name. The Talmud
speaks of Je Jehoshua Ben Pandira as being his real name, son of
Pandira. We don't know. His personal life is unknown except to
the Brotherhood of Adepts and lately they haven't said very much
about him for some reason or another. He ushered what might have
been called the Piscean Age. This is because in those days,
approximately 2200, 2150 years ago, more or less, the equinox was
entering into the sign of Pisces.

Curiously enough, the Christians know it but they don't apply the
right key to their symbolism. They talk about Jesus as having
been a fisher of men. They represented in the early centuries
Christians as fishes. That's a symbol for the Piscean age, the
sign of the two fishes, by which is symbolized the sign of Pisces
in the zodiac.

There are all sorts of occult implications and meaning which the
Christian church has lost. 2160 years, more or less, have
elapsed since the appearance of that Teacher. We are ostensibly
in the year 1954, but that is simply a mistake of calendar.
Jesus, whatever his real name was, was born at least 120 if not
more years prior to the time imagined for him, or set for him
arbitrarily. A monk had set the Christian year arbitrarily in
the year 600 A.D.

There has been a time for the appearance of the next individual
of the next messianic Messenger. In plain, ordinary language let
it be understood that that other individual was Blavatsky.
Please don't make a mistake now of imagining that I, or some
other student, speaking on the subject, compares Blavatsky to the
Teacher known by the name of Jesus. They had a certain
similarity in mission, but they are not equal in status, not at

The individual known as Jesus was an Avatara. Blavatsky was not.
Blavatsky was a Messenger from the Lodge of the Masters and did a
certain work of an avataric nature. You know how easily we are
misunderstood by captious minds that say "Oh well, they compare
their Blavatsky to Jesus." No, they don't. No more so than
Blavatsky could be compared with Krishna or Rama or Moses or
Osiris or anything. You must compare missions to be performed,
but not necessarily the status of the individual.

When I said that within the zodiacal cycle there would be twelve
of these Teachers, I did not mean to imply that these twelve
would be equal in achievement, knowledge, and inner spiritual
status. Some of them may be far greater than others. The main
point at issue now is that as the occultist, the Initiate,
whoever he was, went down in history under the name of Jesus, as
he opened the Piscean age.

The spiritual influence that was working through Blavatsky, and
was far greater than the woman Blavatsky, opened the Aquarian
Age. We will not fully enter that age for 200, 300, 400 years.
That individual ushered the beginnings of that age, of that new
zodiacal sign, which is overlapping like everything else in
nature with the preceding one and the one to succeed.

Even the influence of these Teachers overlaps. There is no need
for another appearance of any kind of Teacher similar to
Blavatsky and the influence back of her, which is far greater
than her. There is no need for any other one for the next 2100
years. Let's get that straight. It is sufficient.

Don't get discouraged by the fact that you see in the world only
a few Theosophists now. The influence of the Theosophical
Movement is not reckoned by numbers. It is not necessarily
reckoned by people at all. It is primarily reckoned, its
influence, its impress upon the age is reckoned primarily by the
-- what shall I say -- by the loosening, the letting forth, the
loosening of a powerful current of ideas from a certain occult
quarter, the Lodge of the Masters, you might say. This happens
at a certain specified time when the clock points to a certain
place. The influence of the current of thought then spreads
through different individuals and through other movements and
through groups of people helped by various students. Some of
these individuals are known and some are unknown. The influence
revolutionizes the thought atmosphere of the world.

You know darned well that between 1875 when this was done and
today, the current of the spiritual thoughts that were loosened
in those days and later have swept away the entire materialism of
the nineteenth century and produced a major thought revolution in
mankind. I mean political revolutions now. Thought revolution
along spiritual, religious, philosophical, psychological,
scientific lines, everything!

What do we have in science today? You know, the science of the
entire world is telling us back some theosophical ideas that
earlier students tried to fertilize science with and succeeded.
Never mind the application of science, never mind the
misapplication, never mind the bombs and the warfare stuff, never
mind this. I'm speaking of ideas about the structure of nature.
Science today is talking Theosophy, but it is in scientific

It's all right. Who did it? Not any one person. Not even
Blavatsky herself. She did a lot. It was accomplished by the
momentum of spiritual force, the current loosened at that time
through certain individuals who were the Messengers, the lesser
Messengers of the time. The main one in those days was
Blavatsky, to be followed by others. The effect of that is going
to increase as centuries go by. It will not decrease.

The Theosophical Society as an organization may vanish out of
sight, but students of that wisdom will multiply ad infinitum
until new religious movements and new psychological schools grow
out of it. New social institutions and social orders and new
sciences, and new discoveries, and new everything, will grow out
of it for centuries to come. There is plenty in that impulse for
the next 2160 years, indeed.

If that is so, is there any need for the appearance of any kind
of a Teacher now in our lifetime? Yes. That's the third point.
The 2160 years, more or less, of the zodiacal, of the messianic
cycle, are sort of punctuated by the appearance of lesser men or
women each century. At least that seems to be the way in which
it works now in the Occident. I couldn't tell you, because my
knowledge is not sufficient. I couldn't tell you whether that is
the general plan and has been so before and will be so forever
after. I don't know.

Consider one of the great Teachers who embodied part of the
consciousness of Gautama the Buddha, who lived 2500 years ago.
This Teacher lived in Tibet. His name was Tsong-ka-pa, the great
reformer of Tibetan Lamaism. He lived in the fourteenth century
of our era, in other words some 500 years ago. He embodied
within his constitution part of the ray, of the same ray, from
Gautama the Buddha. He did a tremendous work, more or less
limited to the Buddhism, already established Buddhism, of Tibet,
and reforming its abuses.

It is that Teacher Tsong-ka-pa, an Avatara of a kind, who lay
upon his disciples and his school the duty to try and enlighten
the western world. They come once in a hundred years to make a
special effort. They come at the end of the century to lift the
west spiritually, to give it a new installment of the old
Teachings, to send a Messenger of one kind or another to help
with the spiritual life.

It is under that plan that Blavatsky worked. That is under that
plan that a 100 years before her time, approximately in the days
of the American Revolution and the French Revolution certain
scholars opened up for the first time in the history of Europe.
They opened up the wealth of Oriental literature to the west.
They began to translate Oriental writings. That was part of the
effort of a hundred years before Blavatsky.

Those earlier efforts are not very easy to trace. They're not
easy to trace because some of these efforts apparently have been
on the quiet. The one apparently made by Blavatsky was right
smack before everybody and was a big bang.

It is presumed, hoped for, by great many of us students in this
school that towards the end of this century, maybe somewhere
around 1970 or something like that, or '75, they would appear
from the same quarters. This would be another Messenger, not as
great as Blavatsky, no, a lesser one, maybe equal if you like.
He would give a new spiritual impetus to this century. And
others would appear to repeat the same pattern in the
twenty-first century, and the twenty-second century, and so forth
and so on. We're thinking now of the appearance of lesser men or
women, high chelas, high disciples, but not great Adepts or
anything like that, on a smaller scale within 2160 years.

So let's sum up the whole thing. I think a musician could
explain this better than I could. There seems to be a
fundamental keynote that is struck by great Avataras for millions
of years. Smaller Initiates, but very great ones just the same,
strike again that note on a smaller scale of thousands of years.
These still lesser Adepts strike the same keynote or a
corresponding one over a period of zodiacal ages.

Their Messengers and lesser individuals strike the same keynote
perhaps every century -- if that is correct at all times. I know
it's correct as far as the Occident goes. I do not claim to know
too much about it. I couldn't tell you whether that was the case
a thousand years ago and will be the case a thousand years from
now. It is the case now. It's like a musical light motif, as
the Germans put it, repeating itself with variations on smaller
scales and in a descending series of octaves.

The answer briefly is there is always from time to time the
appearance of Teachers. Their quality, achievements, spiritual
greatness, differs widely, enormously. The Maitreya Buddha is
not going to come for millions of years, don't fool yourself
about that. The information, or misinformation, is wrong.

The Theosophical Movement, not the organization, the Movement,
the spiritual Movement, initiated by Blavatsky as one of the
Messianic Teachers, will last for hundreds of years, a couple of
thousand. Yet, we may look forward with expectation and hope to
see the appearance of some unusual individual, man or woman,
towards the end of the century, the latter quarter of the
century. This will happen if we don't make a perfect mess of our
life, politically and otherwise, so that such effort will be

That we can do, mind you. We can make a mess so that affairs in
the occult hierarchy are postponed. This isn't a promise that he
is going to turn up, that he might. Blavatsky herself said, as
Mr. Judge said, as my own Teacher de Purucker said, yes he might
and probably will if we don't make an awful bunch of fools of
ourselves, something which I don't think we will.

To that particular individual, we may look forward. How are we
going to recognize him is not an easy question. I'll leave that
question for you to answer. How tomorrow are we are going to
recognize him? We have already all sorts of claims and
counterclaims. In those days we're going to have more claims and
more counterclaims. There will be fakes and there will be
well-meaning people who will just be pushed by others as fakes.
Somewhere there is going to be the real individual.

I trust that we'll have the intuition enough to find in the
welter of confusing claims which one is the individual who holds
the same torch and proclaims the same message, unaltered, that
the previous one did. When I say, "unaltered," it's got to be
adapted to this century. The essence of it must not be altered.
No matter how much it will be adapted, it must be absolutely at
one on all four with the previous ones because of the succession
of the hierarchy and the uninterrupted flow of the same force.

If you have any other things that you'd like to have brought out
on the general subject, I will be glad to answer some questions.
Naturally, I don't claim to do anything more than to give a brief
outline of the whole thing in the short time available to us.

> Marge:
> Boris, how is it we determined whether a person was an Avatara or
> just a Teacher or Messenger?

How is it determined whether an individual is an Avatara or just
a Messenger or Teacher? Well, I'm afraid that we as mere students
would not be able definitely to determine this. I don't think we
have the spiritual insight for it, and we haven't got too much to
go on.

To us, an outstanding spiritual individual will appear great
enough and will satisfy our yearnings and aspirations and he will
be the embodiment to us of what we consider to be very lofty and
noble. He will be a great symbol. Can we know whether he is of
one or another type, whether he stands spiritually on this level
or twice as high or higher yet? No. I'm afraid we will fail
miserably in appraising his spiritual status, which, I think, is
not very important anyway.

> Marge:
> But how do we know now that Jesus was an Avatara? How did we find
> out?

All I can do is to pass on the Teachings, as stated by Blavatsky
in THE SECRET DOCTRINE. I do not claim to be able to bring any
proofs in support of it. I would not be able to determine this
myself. Of course not! We might as well be frank about these
things. They are far beyond our firsthand knowledge.

The doctrine of Avataras is a very mysterious one. While we can
grasp the general idea of it, I don't think that we are in a
position ourselves as yet to have any firsthand knowledge as to
which particular Teacher was or is an Avatara.

> Doug:
> Boris, you say that there's one Teacher every messianic period.
> Aren't Gautama Buddha and Jesus very close on that timing? That
> is, 2500 years ago and approximately 2000 years ago. It's only a
> matter of 500 years approximately.

Yes, yes, there are even more curious, what shall I say,
complications. There are even more difficult things than that,
showing one thing. They show that there are various overlapping
cycles regarding which we don't know very much.

Here is the point. Between Gautama the Buddha and the time of
Jesus there would have been possibly five to six hundred years.
Between the appearance of Gautama the Buddha and an Avatara very
well known throughout the Orient by the name of Shankara was only
a couple of hundred years and between the appearance of the one
we've known as Jesus, and Apollonius of Tyana, another Avatara,
there probably wasn't more than a hundred years. The key is in
the fact that there are several successorships. One belongs in
this line doesn't belong in that one. Within his own line, he
follows a certain time sequence. When compared with some other
line, of which we don't know enough, it looks as if things were
even mixed up or overlapping.

If cycles were following each other end on, the picture would be
very simple. The point is that cycles are like curves, like
graphs on a ruled paper. The one cycle may have this kind of a
sweep and the other may have a much smaller sweep, and a third
one may be very short in the vibratory rate, and they all may be
encompassed in one sweep of a still greater cycle.

If you put this on paper, which is not too difficult, you will
find that at certain points in your graph there are knots. These
are where larger and smaller cycles either completely coincide or
approximately coincide. You will find if you want to draw it
with pen and ink that there will be a multiplicity of lines
coming to that point. Each one of these cycles is represented by
some force or other or vibratory rate. Therefore at that
particular historical time there will be the appearance of
several individuals, each doing his specific work.

From the statement of Blavatsky, such a year was 1897, at which a
number of important cycles ran together and crossed each other.
Therefore, the last quarter of the nineteenth century was of a
special importance, and a special effort was made at that time.
Several individuals worked simultaneously, although she was the
best known of them all. That does not mean that in the latter
quarter of this century there will be any convergence of cycles
of that nature. There may be just the one-century effort, and
nothing else.

You see how complex these things are. Fortunately, they can be
represented mathematically on paper and therefore have a purely
scientific or mathematical appeal to the scientific student.
They are not highfalutin metaphysics. They can be drawn on paper
with the usual mathematical rules that we have.

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