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THEOSOPHY WORLD -------------------------------------- July, 2000
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"Self-Discipline," by B.P. Wadia
"Occultism and Mysticism," by J.W. Hamilton-Jones
"What Is, Isn't, and Always Will Be," by Eldon Tucker
"Teachings on Life After Death," by A. Trevor Barker
"Finding the Self: A Study from THE SECRET DOCTRINE," Part II,
by Herbert Coryn
"An Objective and Detached Approach," by Michele Lidofsky
"Cycles, Neutralizing Negative Habits," Part I,
by Boris de Zirkoff
> Occult Science has its CHANGELESS traditions from prehistoric
> times. It may err in particulars; it can never become guilty of a
> mistake in questions of Universal laws, simply because that
> Science, justly referred to by philosophy as the "DIVINE," was
> born on higher planes, and was brought on Earth by beings who were
> wiser than man will be, even in the seventh Race of his Seventh
> -- H.P. Blavatsky, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 516
by B.P. Wadia
[From THUS HAVE I HEARD, 215-17.]
The wise Solomon spoke of "the holy spirit of discipline."
Statesmen of every nation today advocate the practice of
discipline by the citizen. Sometimes it is sought to impose
discipline from without, and then, invariably, soon or late,
rebellious tendencies break loose. The lesson of the Sages,
ancient and modern, is that there is only one discipline truly
efficacious and that is Self-discipline. From within his own
consciousness a man must evolve his own code of discipline. No
one can be coerced for long by another, be the other politician
or priest; the feeling that the politician is exploiting his
loyalty and patriotism, the priest his devotion and faith, arises
and rebellion of some kind occurs.
Robert Burton in his ANATOMY OF MELANCHOLY speaks of "the fear of
some divine and supreme powers, which keep men in obedience."
Nevertheless, the growth of human conscience and of moral insight
does take place, however indirectly, as these are not directly
taught. Then the fear of powers, divine or demoniac, is overcome
and the mind becomes ready to exclaim: "Rebellion to tyrants is
obedience to God!"
Therefore discipline from within one's own mind must arise and
become the guide to conduct. In the early stages of this looking
within for guidance of outer acts, the person's own motives are
hidden from him. Pride and self-regard are so natural to his
being that the Egotist becomes the disciplinarian. Declaiming
that he is the master of his fate and the captain of his soul, he
proceeds to devise ways and means to express his own soul's
freedom. This does not take him very far. Soon his pride and
self-regard, subtly disguised, begins to function, covering his
ambition for money and popularity with the veneer of a desire to
do good, for which these are necessary.
The ways of Providence and Nemesis are strange. In earning
money, in gaining fame, in wielding power, in practicing
kindness, charity and sympathy, in pouring out love itself, the
human mind-soul learns the art of disciplining its personal self.
Strength of character, the habit of gentle service and the
manifesting of devotion to the interests of loved ones begin to
unfold. But pride continues to rule the will. Self-regard dies
hard. Both hide their faces subtly and unless these are
perceived and noted true self-discipline cannot be undertaken
with success. When one aspect of our lower personal self tries
to discipline another, it is a contest between the Devil and his
The Soul's disciplining of its personal self is the higher, true
discipline. It begins to operate only when the foibles of the
good, kind, affectionate, but all the same egotistic person stand
revealed to the inner Divinity which shapes its own ends, however
rough the hewing by the personal ego. The human being is a
sprite, an elemental, posing as a godling. Karma tears the veil
off his consciousness and reveals him as possessing in germ the
powers of the Spirit, of a God, and as capable of evolving into a
Sage-Seer. Then only does the real discipline begin.
The discipline of the disciple seeks the true teacher who has the
faculty of imparting knowledge without coercion or controlling
the freedom of the will. A true guru does not make slaves of his
disciples; does not claim obedience from them. The disciple has
grown to recognize that docility and receptivity are necessary if
he is to acquire the knowledge imparted; that concentration and
reflection are necessary if he is to understand, to discern, to
evaluate; that obedience to the teaching carries within itself
the higher obedience to the teacher.
In the course of his development he perceives how the great Guru,
the Self-realized Teacher, in instructing the self-prepared
pupil, is Himself the Sublime Pupil of the Most High, whose Body,
invisible and, visible, is Living Nature Herself. The real Guru
observes the Divine Discipline of obeying Nature and, having
obtained mastery over Nature's Law and laws, obeys them. Thus
the disciple learns the lesson of true discipline -- to obey
Teachings and Teacher, the former permeating Living Nature, and
the latter embodying the Wisdom in the single book-volume of His
Disciplined Brain. And so there is this piece of instruction in
H. P. Blavatsky's THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE:
> Desire nothing. Chafe not at Karma, nor at Nature's changeless
> laws. But struggle only with the personal, the transitory, the
> evanescent and the perishable.
> Help Nature and work on with her; and Nature will regard thee as
> one of her creators and make obeisance.
> And she will open wide before thee the portals of her secret
> chambers; lay bare before thy gaze the treasures hidden in the
> very depths of her pure virgin bosom. Unsullied by the hand of
> matter, she shows her treasures only to the eye of Spirit -- the
> eye which never closes, the eye for which there is no veil in all
> her kingdoms.
OCCULTISM AND MYSTICISM
by J.W. Hamilton-Jones
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, August 1938, pages 92-98. That
publication was a reprint from THE CANADIAN THEOSOPHIST,
September 1937, with the following preface.]
> From time to time the editors are glad to print articles by
> Theosophists who are not affiliated with the Point Loma
> Theosophical Society so that we may share with our readers the
> thoughts of fellow-workers in our Theosophical Cause who are
> earnestly bending their energies to the forwarding of the main
> purposes of the Theosophical Movement.
> Mr. Hamilton-Jones is President of the Phoenix Lodge, London,
> connected with the Adyar Theosophical Society. In past years, as
> has been noted in our pages, constructive work in fraternization
> has taken place between the Phoenix Lodge, Adyar, and the London
> Lodge of the Point Loma Theosophical Society.
> -- Editors of THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM
Do you recollect the note of warning that HPB sounded in the
early days of Theosophy having regard to people who entertained a
sincere wish to enter the Occult Path?
> As soon as anyone pledges himself as a Probationer, certain
> occult effects ensue. Of these the first is the THROWING
> OUTWARDS of everything latent in the nature of the man, of his
> faults, habits, qualities or subdued desires, whether good, bad,
> or indifferent ... This is an immutable law in the Domain of the
> -- H.P. Blavatsky, BLAVATSKY COLLECTED WRITINGS, XII, page 515.
Every individualized human being must eventually tread that
pathway which leads to the utter control of, hence freedom from,
the physical body. It is not possible for many people to
undertake the necessary work, first because they have not yet
reached a stage in their evolution which would allow them to make
the attempt successfully, and secondly because of the extreme
difficulty which faces all aspirants during the Age of Kali Yuga,
that terrifically materialistic period of which HPB makes
The evolution of the planet is at its midmost point. The life
cycle has descended into its most dense aspect. The spiritual
aspects are crushed beneath the weight of matter and materialism.
From our Theosophical studies we know that the solar system is
under the direction of Hierarchies, so that even the Kali Yuga
falls within the circle of necessity. We may be sure that the
world and its inhabitants are never left without guidance. We
learn also that there are those incarnate who are referred to in
Theosophical books as Masters and Initiates, and that those Elder
Brethren constantly carry on their labors for "The great Orphan
In spite of the Kali Yuga there always have been, as there are
today, schools, fraternities and societies whose purpose it is to
foster and inculcate the wisdom of the Ages. They exist so that
at whatever point in evolution at which a man is born, he can, by
patient searching, discover the signposts that indicate the
direction in which instruction may be obtained.
We are informed that the Great White Lodge of Adepts makes some
effort in the last quarter of each century to rekindle the flame
of Truth in Western countries. We know that our own Theosophical
Society is the result of the attempt made by the Masters in 1875.
Some of us are foolish enough to assert that the Theosophical
Society is the only doorway leading to enlightenment amongst
western races today. This is not so. Freemasonry, properly
understood and applied, leads to the same end. And certain
religious orders occasionally produce a great Mystic.
Apart from these, there were other movements fostered by the
Adepts in 1875 as well as the Theosophical Society. Some of them
were exoteric and others were secret organizations. It is well
known that in addition to the Theosophical Society, there was
also instituted an Esoteric School, under the direction of HPB,
into which were to be admitted those aspirants who wished to make
a special effort to tread the paths of occultism and mysticism.
Neither the Theosophical Society nor the Esoteric School can lay
claim to having achieved very much success. The Theosophical
Society drifted away from its original purpose, and the Esoteric
School was closed, and replaced by what was known as the Esoteric
After the death of HPB we had no Occultist of her rank in
control. The observant spectator is forced to the sorry
conclusion that the Theosophical approach, although sponsored by
two of the Adepts, has to be considered largely a failure. Thus
it joins the company of many other activities in the previous
centuries, which also proved abortive.
> Members of the Point Loma Theosophical Society cannot share the
> pessimistic viewpoint expressed in this paragraph. In a society
> whose growth goes steadily forwards, whose members are alive with
> an enthusiasm born of the Theosophic ideals imparted by the
> Masters of Wisdom through H. P. Blavatsky, and whose esoteric
> tradition and work, based on these ideals, have been
> uninterrupted from her time to ours, ideas of failure and of
> drifting have no existence because there are no facts, with us at
> least, which give them life.
> -- Editors of THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM
Let us not despair, however. Any worthy man can always reach the
portal at any time, regardless of either exoteric or esoteric
organizations or the lack of them. We are told that even the
West occasionally provides a recruit for the Himalayan
Brotherhood and doubtless the East produces several more.
Initiates who work in the outer world today prefer to remain
obscure and in the background. We may rub shoulders with them
and yet never suspect their degree, which goes to show that the
true teaching can only be given in secret and under oath, to
those who have the capacity to assimilate it. The Rishis of
India are no longer to be found. Some believe that this is due
to the influence of the British Raj, but knowing something of the
Cyclic Law, students will understand that the Rishis have
withdrawn because their present cycle has ended.
What then should a man do who becomes fired with a strong desire
for the occult life? When we open THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE, we
find that these priceless fragments are "Dedicated to the few."
Whether one has to tread the pathway of the Mystic or the
Occultist, one preliminary condition is absolutely essential and
that is an intense aspiration to be of service to Humanity.
It is said that whilst the East may thrive on contemplation, the
West evolves through action. In St. Paul's Second Epistle to
the Thessalonians, chapter iii, v. 8 we read:
> Neither did we eat any man's bread for naught; but wrought WITH
> LABOR AND TRAVAIL night and day, that we might not be chargeable
> to any of you: Not because we have not power, but to make
> ourselves an example unto you to follow us. Forever when we were
> with you, this we commanded you, THAT IF ANY WOULD NOT WORK
> NEITHER SHOULD HE EAT.
Interpreted in the light of the "Bread of Wisdom," we have here a
law for the West given for our instruction by that Great Initiate
who flourished at the commencement of the Christian era.
A broad division seems to imply a mystical development through
contemplation and an occult development through action, but this
is not an infallible rule because action does not necessarily
apply only to physical plane affairs. The mind is the chief
actor. The Mystic transcends the plane of mind. The Occultist
It would appear therefore, that in the course of his evolution
every aspirant has to tread both paths, and it is the occult that
is the final dominating factor.
It is as though the Mystic contemplation depends upon what is
called "Seed" whereas occult meditation is "Seedless." If we
study carefully the records of the Mystics we find that they were
invariably imbued with an intense determination to serve some
person, sage or god. The Christian Mystic aspired to serve his
Lord and contemplated the joy and elation of becoming one with
Him. The Mystics of the East have followed after the pattern of
some teacher or deity such as Siva, Krishna, Vishnu or Kali, and
by worship and devotion have, through their very penance, been
caught up into ecstatic conditions, which rendered them prophetic
seers, healers and teachers.
Yet mysticism even at its highest does not succeed in
obliterating the personality. It may seem a peculiar thing to
say, but the fact remains that Mystics are capable of feelings of
jealousy towards one another, and frequently antagonize one
another on the physical plane. They are capable of functioning
upon exalted levels of consciousness and their purity protects
them from the snares and pitfalls of the "Hall of Learning."
Usually in their physical activities, Mystics are highly
impractical people, because the Mystic dwells inwardly upon
exalted ideals, which are largely foreign, at least at present,
to this work-a-day world in which we live. Innocence and purity
are insufficient in themselves to render a man master of himself.
There are vast worlds of sensation and experience that pass by
The qualities that the Mystic develops belong to the negative
pole, whereas, mastership demands a delicately poised and
balanced state of self-consciousness on all levels of
manifestation and a capacity to understand and, where necessary
to control and apply all the Powers and Forces in the manifested
The disciple who is treading the Occult Path has to labor night
and day in order to conquer the worlds of illusion on the
physical, astral and mental planes. He is training under a
Master who has himself reached that degree of perfection that
enables him to impart instruction to a properly qualified
aspirant. The Occult Path is full of pitfalls and thorns, and
the man who treads it does so at the peril of his life. "To
know: to will: to dare: to remain silent," sums up in a few words
the requirements of the dauntless soul who essays the attempt.
Falls are frequent for the Occultist learns by experience. He is
taught to blame himself for his falls, to pick himself up and
courageously to step forward again along the path, having learnt
an unforgettable lesson through his lapse.
Occultism has to be studied in its three chief divisions namely:
Transcendental Science, Transcendental Philosophy and
Transcendental Religion. The following definitions may help the
student to a better understanding.
> The term "transcendental" applies to anything pertaining outside
> the normal sphere of experience, whether in fancy, thought or
> faith. Transcendental science deals with the operation and
> effects of forces generally unknown. Transcendental Philosophy
> is that complex of doctrine which explains the phenomenal
> manifestation of nature, in accordance with the science of its
> secret laws. Transcendental Religion is the application of
> universal law to the interior nature of man.
> -- Transaction No. 1, of the Phoenix Lodge, London
On the other hand, the practice of Occultism leads to the
conscious application of all the Powers and Forces in the
Manifested Universe. It is in this sphere of activity that the
Occultist must learn to excel. Let us hasten, though, to explain
that the application of these forces, in White Occultism, is
invariably conditioned by the necessities of the age having
regard to the cycles, and the work of the Hierarchy in charge of
human development, at that particular period.
It will be understood that the Occultist does not work for
himself. Every individual who seeks to attain occult status on
the white path voluntarily renounces any reward for himself. He
has become the servant of the Hierarchy and in consequence, the
servant of humanity. He is learning to become indifferent to
objects of perception, and is being instructed to function
self-consciously on various levels of manifestation. He must not
be deluded by appearances, but must seek to probe the origin and
purpose of every phenomenon that he encounters.
Quite frequently he "burns his fingers." He learns to mistrust
the evidence of the senses, the emotions and the mind, and to
depend upon the vibrations that he "senses" rather than "feels."
Thus when a trained Occultist approaches a shrub, the vibrations
from the plant find an immediate response in him and he KNOWS all
the qualities, properties and forces of which the shrub is the
For this reason, it is impossible to deceive the trained
Occultist. He has tested everything so thoroughly and
fundamentally that all the manifested worlds proclaim their true
nature to him regardless of any camouflage under which things and
shapes hide themselves from the uninitiated. He is learning to
function from -- not on -- the formless levels of
self-consciousness. Hence he knows that all forms are merely the
outward expression of the powers and forces that produced them.
It is the Occult Path that produces the Black Brother. Being
essentially a positive path, it is comparatively easy to acquire
and exercise the powers of the lower Iddhis, which are really the
toys of the Occultist. It is in the application of powers that
danger can be found. Having developed the powers, they must not
be used unless their application is in strict consonance with the
work that is occupying the attention of the Hierarchy at any
given period of evolution.
The aspirant who treads the Occult Path undertakes a gigantic
labor from the very beginning. Working in secret, often despised
and rejected by men, he nevertheless becomes a focusing point in
the outer world for man's upliftment. Hidden beneath the cloak
of those dabblers whom the world calls charlatans, the existence
of the true Occultist is unsuspected, and yet, we are informed,
there are about 4,000 initiates working in the various countries
of the world even today.
In order to correct any misunderstanding, it is necessary to
conclude with a reminder for the Theosophical student. Very few,
even amongst our own ranks, can do more than cherish an
aspiration that some day it will become possible for them to
essay to tread the dangerous razor-edged pathway in the service
of Humanity. Eventually we shall all have to do it. "The road
leads uphill all the way." But very few, indeed, are so
indifferent to life in the three worlds, that they can look with
complaisance upon a sphere of labor in which they are:
> Self-doomed to live through future Kalpas, unthanked and
> unperceived by men; wedged as a stone with countless other stones
> which form the Guardian Wall ...
> -- to shield humanity.
WHAT IS, ISN'T, AND ALWAYS WILL BE
By Eldon Tucker
A distinction has been drawn at times between "what is" and
"using a method." A suggestion is made that in only looking at
the "what is," one is doing something profound, something higher.
I'd tend to put things another way. I'd say that there are two
sides to things: the manifest and the unmanifest. The manifest
consists of that part of things that exist at this moment. The
unmanifest is the remaining part of the same things, which at the
moment are latent, potential, and capable of existence, but not
coming out into the world.
The wholeness of a thing includes all levels of it. At
something's highest level is a living sense of identity with the
Mystery about which nothing can be said. At a lower level of it
is its timeless but still individual and unique nature. Still
lower is the temporal, unmanifest part, that real part that just
happens to be unmanifest at this moment in time.
When we talk about what something is, apart how is happens to be
manifested at this moment in time, there are two levels of it
that we could consider. At one level is the wholeness of the
growing, evolving, temporal being, including its karmic
storehouse and its outward manifestation. At a deeper level is
the essential nature of the thing, what it essentially is, apart
from the evolutionary drama, above time as we know it, basically
the same throughout all of existence.
Looking at any level -- Absolute Unity, Essential Nature, or
Completeness of Being -- there is no imperfection. If by
imperfection we mean something that is substandard, that falls
short of the ideal that is less than acceptable.
The timeless part of ourselves is not imperfect, since it was,
is, and always will be *us*, our essential, paradoxically
dynamic, essence. That part of us acts as an ideal that the
temporal part of us is ever guided by, an ideal that motivates us
throughout time to become more and more what we truly are.
And I'd say that the temporal part of us, the combination of the
invisible and visible, of the unmanifest and manifest traits,
characteristics, habits, dispositions, faculties, and ability to
have consciousness -- that is perfect too. What the outer person
needs is latent within, realized in the past and ready to come
forth again. Or it's there in potential, and it's only a matter
of time until it's attained.
At a still lower level, when we consider only the outer person,
what is actually realized and manifest at the moment in time, we
find it too is perfect in its own manner. It's superficial,
external "fullness" is complimented by its unmanifest
characteristics, its "emptiness," and in combination the two make
of one a complete person.
What I'm writing about is the essential nature of existence. It
applies equally well to a rock, a tree, a man, or a demigod.
Depending upon what level in one's nature that one centers in,
for the moment, the world will look that way. It's incorrect, I
think, to say that one level or perspective is correct and higher
than others. All perspectives are equally true, for all time.
When someone picks a perspective and suggests that it's the best,
and that other people are misguided or inferior in some way for
taking lower perspectives, it shows a lack of depth, a
superficial view of life. Such an attitude may come from wanting
to be better than others, which is seeking self-affirmation,
seeking confirmation that they're good and valuable and special
people. But they're looking in the wrong way for that
affirmation. That cannot be given one from the external world.
It comes from within, from keeping in touch with one's timeless
self, one's essential nature or essence, one's faculty of
consciousness that deals with one's meaning and purpose in
When something is expressed in the world, it becomes limited.
That expression is imperfect. The pure form of a circle, for
instance, when hand-drawn on a sheet of paper, is far from the
ideal. But in another and more important sense, the fact that
the circle was given expression makes it more perfect. This is
because the essential nature of the circle is never lost, and now
it is something more, both ideal and unmanifest as well as
concrete and manifest. The inner and outer combined, give
something more that the inner by itself, mute, unexpressed,
frustrated in expression in outer life.
To understand how an object is, in its ideal, and in its current
potential for expression, is fine. But that understand is
richer, fuller, more whole, if it also includes the practical,
physical nature of it. It's complete when it includes the body
or form, the current outward attributes, the methods or actions
taken by that object.
This has practical application to us. It's by sharing, by
expressing the higher, by making the unseen divine behind things
come out into existence, that we're making ourselves, the world,
and that divine itself into something more, something greater.
Life is only half-complete with inner realizations, until they've
worked there way out into the world, getting communicated to
others and expressed in many different ways in life. The basic
point is that there's nothing in life that belongs to "us" as
separate individuals. Everything we become, all our strengths,
abilities, and gifts are incomplete until shared with the rest of
life. Both our "inside" and our "outside" need to share in what
we realize in life.
TEACHINGS ON LIFE AFTER DEATH
by A. Trevor Barker
[From THE HILL OF DISCERNMENT, Theosophical University Press,
1941, pages 111-20.]
This particular branch of study we are going to do is a part of
the teachings on life after death -- than which, as we
Theosophists think, there is nothing more important for humanity
to gain an insight into, at a time when the world is overridden
by the activity of probably more than twenty-five million
Spiritualists: viz., those who are concerned to a greater or
lesser degree with what the Mahatmas have called "the cult of the
Worship of the Dead."
I think that we may take it that we are not wrong in attributing
so much importance to this branch of our teaching, in so far as
we find that such a vast amount of space in the early teachings
was devoted to this particular subject. Nowhere else in the
whole range of occult literature will you find so complete an
explanation of man's progress and what happens to him after he
casts aside this temporary physical body. It tells us the nature
of man; what he is in his inner composite being, made up of many
entities held together by one dominating individuality.
The Theosophist looks at this vast problem -- the mystery of
death -- from a viewpoint entirely different naturally from the
orthodox Church conception, which is unenlightened by these
Ancient Teachings. Right at the beginning we have a statement
made by one of the writers of these letters, which strikes a note
that is clean out of reach of ordinary thought upon such
subjects. Here it is:
> Those who know they are dead in their physical bodies (we quote
> from page 128) -- can only be either adepts -- or sorcerers; and
> these two are the exceptions to the GENERAL RULE.
Many people think, having their preconceptions and their ideas
colored by the notions of modern spiritualism, that a man when he
dies simply steps aside from his body and enters into a wider,
freer range of life: stronger and freer for the loss of the dead
weight of the material body. But this is not the teaching of
Theosophy, and never has been. Here is this challenging
statement: that average human beings, normal human beings who
have led ordinary sorts of lives, are not aware that they are
dead when they pass into the great sphere of effects that in the
Roman Catholic teaching they speak of as "the purgatorial
regions," and which in Sanskrit terminology is called the
Kamaloka, the region of desire. When the entity enters there he
is already bereft not only of his body, but also of the magnetic
framework of astral matter upon which his body was built -- the
substance that the Spiritualist refers to as ectoplasm; and he
loses also the life principle which animates these two lower
principles; all three of them together fade away after the
destruction of the physical body.
And now you have left a fourfold entity that enters into this
region of Kamaloka -- this sphere of desire; and the Master tells
us that they are not conscious there to begin with, and that only
those who have progressed far upon the Path of Occultism --
whether white or black -- retain their sense of identity and
continuity of consciousness when they enter into this sphere, and
where they still remember themselves in their ego, so to say as
"I am I." Now this is a strange statement, and I shall have again
to return to it because one of the aspects of the problem of
immortality is bound up with this conception.
And now the writer goes on to elaborate this idea a little:
> Both [i.e., the adept and the sorcerer] having been "coworkers
> with nature," the former for GOOD, the latter -- for BAD, in her
> work of creation and in that of destruction, they are the only
> ones who may be called IMMORTAL in the Kabalistic and the
> esoteric sense of course.
I wonder how you would define immortality to yourself if you were
to sit down and think about it? Here again the Theosophist
regards immortality in quite a different way from the ordinary
person. We believe in and affirm the immortality of the higher,
divine part of man's nature -- declare in fact that it is an
immortal entity; but that which in the real sense of the word may
truly be called Man -- MANAS, the thinker -- is this immortal? It
is only, in Theosophical parlance, CONDITIONALLY immortal. In
other words that you and I on our pathway through earth life are
called upon so to run the race of human life and destiny that we
shall succeed in merging our human, thinking soul -- our Human
Ego -- with that immortal, divine counterpart whose ray lightens
and inspires us during earth life. When we shall succeed in
doing that, then during life here on earth we become in the
Esoteric and Kabalistic sense immortal entities. Here is the
Master's definition: "Complete or true immortality -- which means
an unlimited sentient existence, can have no breaks and
stoppages, no arrest of Self-consciousness." This means that
every moment of the night and day, waking or sleeping, the Adept
is fully aware of his identity -- his consciousness to his own
reflective self is awake. When he lays his body down to sleep at
night he steps aside from it, and leaves it there like a garment
you put on a chair before getting into bed. But he retains his
self-consciousness, steps aside as a conscious being, and because
he has won this power during life (and remember it is only during
life that we can win these powers) so he has it after death; so
he is able when the hour comes, the moment of destiny when an
incarnation closes, to enter with just the same confidence into
that region of Kamaloka and to transcend it and go beyond it,
because he has won his immortality during life. Such a being was
HPB -- she to whom we owe the teachings that have inspired the
modern Theosophical Movement since its inception in 1875. She
has a very telling and very interesting phrase on page 38 of her
LETTERS OF H.P. BLAVATSKY TO A.P. SINNETT where she hopes that:
> [A certain Mrs. Gordon] will not dishonor by EVOKING me with
> some medium. Let her rest assured that it will never be my
> spirit or anything of me -- not even MY SHELL since this is gone
> long ago.
The "shell" is of course the cast-off vessel of psychic
emanations or remains, which is the chief inspirer of the
majority of mediums in the spiritualistic seances. On that
subject we shall have more to say in our next study on
"Spiritualism and Psychic Phenomena." But I wanted to refer to
this statement that HER SHELL HAD GONE LONG AGO. This can but
open our minds and enlarge our vision in certain respects as to
what we have to do if we are ever going to begin to tread the
same path that she and the Mahatmas behind her have trodden. It
means that this lower personality of ours has got to be
transcended to the point when this Kamarupa, this gross form,
this element of passion and desire, is burnt up in the fire of
Spiritual Wisdom that comes from the Higher Self; burnt up to the
point that it disappears. And then, clothed in that vesture
through which the Adept works in the inner spheres when the
personality is gone, shall we be free indeed -- "walkers of the
sky" as those who reach this state of consciousness are called in
THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE.
Now what happens in the region of Kamaloka when the entity enters
there? I would like to give you these short extracts from the
book itself, because the Master's own words are so much more
illuminating. I will read a paragraph here from page 103:
> Every one but that ego which, attracted by its gross magnetism,
> falls into the current that will draw it into the "planet of
> Death" -- the mental as well as physical satellite of our earth -
> IS fitted to pass into a relative "spiritual" condition adjusted
> to his previous condition in life and mode of thought. To my
> knowledge and recollection HPB explained to Mr. Hume that man's
> sixth principle, as something purely spiritual could not exist,
> or have CONSCIOUS being in the Devachan, unless it assimilated
> some of the more abstract and pure of the mental attributes of
> the fifth principle or animal Soul: its MANAS (mind) and memory.
You see now there is the statement of the conditioned immortality
of the soul. The intermediate real thinking principle in us, if
it would persist and survive in the after life, has got to have
that in it which is worthy of immortality. It has got to have
that element of eternal thinking and living and high aspiration
and purpose that, by the very force of the attraction it sets up
in the higher worlds, will draw the disembodied entity up as it
were and give it birth, to use the language of Theosophy -- to
give it birth in the Devachan or Heaven-world. You know that a
man is born in the after life just as a little child. Nature
repeats itself by analogy all the time. Birth -- human birth
into the earth world -- is a very real death to the Divine being
that descends and incarnates. And Death when we understand it
aright is the birth in the divine regions of a God.
Just think of the analogy of an entity being born as a little
child on earth, with its parents and home life, surrounded by
those that care for and love it, and then, because this is an
event here which we cannot doubt since we have all experienced
it, therefore will it have its reflective analogy -- in that
which will take place after death; and we as entities, if we have
lived decently, ordinarily decently, will be reborn as little
children in this after state, having therein full memory of all
that took place during earth life that was good and pure and had
in it the elements of immortality. I will return to that in a
little while. That was by way of explanation of the phrase "the
more abstract and pure of the mental attributes of the fifth
> When man dies, his second and third principles die with him.
> That is, the lower triad disappears, and the fourth, fifth, sixth
> and seventh principles form the surviving QUATERNARY.
Now to this Kamaloka question:
> Thenceforth it is a "death" struggle between the Upper and Lower
This means that the entity is now bereft of his body and has
entered the sphere of Kamaloka. He has lost his three lower
principles; four are left, and henceforward it is a death
struggle between the Higher duad and the Lower. We know what are
these Higher and Lower duads. The higher is purely spiritual;
the lower consists of the thinking apparatus and the desires and
passions. Emotions, higher and lower, are comprised in the lower
duad. And now a struggle takes place.
> If the upper wins, the sixth, having attracted to itself the
> quintessence of Good from the fifth -- its nobler affections, its
> saintly (though they be EARTHLY) aspirations, and the most
> Spiritualized portions of its mind -- follows its divine ELDER
> (the 7th) into the "Gestation" State; and the fifth and fourth
> remain in association as an empty SHELL -- (the expression is
> quite correct) -- to roam in the earth's atmosphere, with half
> the personal memory gone, and the more brutal instincts fully
> alive for a certain period -- an "Elementary" in short. This is
> the "angel guide" of the average medium.
We have got something very interesting there. The entity falls
asleep -- immediately or within a few days after death in normal
cases (and for the moment we are talking about average human
beings, not Adepts, not Theosophists or students of Occultism
necessarily, but just men and women who lead ordinary, average
decent lives). The entity has a complete review of every
incident of the past life that passes through the brain before
the Spiritual eye of the Ego -- immediately following the moment
when the body is declared to be dead. In this connection the
Master says (we quote from page 171):
> Speak in whispers, ye, who assist at a deathbed and find
> yourselves in the solemn presence of Death. Especially have you
> to keep quiet just after Death has laid her clammy hand upon the
> body. Speak in whispers, I say, lest you disturb the quiet
> ripple of thought, and hinder the busy work of the Past casting
> on its reflection upon the Veil of the Future.
We are told moreover that it is this Divine hour of refection and
revelation that will actually determine the whole course of its
future incarnation. Then the entity falls asleep. Within a
quicker or shorter time it enters a state in which it is
relatively unconscious -- unconscious entirely from the point of
view that it can neither perceive anything nor can it perform
actions. It has no will to do. It is in a region of effects,
and it is at the mercy entirely of its own destiny as created by
the man during life. If he was upward-aspiring, if he had noble
thoughts and desires, if he loved a little -- not even greatly --
there will be enough in the higher spiritual portion of him to
create that upward attraction of the higher principles that will
gradually cause them to separate from the lower. The man is
unconscious; but if there was a very material, egotistical, or
even criminal life, then there is such an attraction -- force of
gravity -- in the lower principles, that the lower man yields no
meed of spiritual essence to the higher.
Still pursuing the course, then, of this entity, the average
mortal who falls asleep: this immediate precipitation of all the
different elements of his being takes place, and is referred to
symbolically as the struggle in the Kamaloka -- not dissimilar to
the struggle and ordeal of the passing from the physical body.
It is a drawing apart of that which has been held together for a
whole incarnation. Now, assuming that there is enough in the
higher part of the human, thinking principle, enough of higher
emotion and higher thoughts, when the drawing apart is completed,
the lower part immediately crystallizes into an elementary -- a
shell -- which pursues its own course ultimately to
disintegration and falling apart of the elements that made up
this entity. But the Higher part, what happens to it? Does it
become conscious immediately? No. It goes into that state which
is exactly analogous to the prenatal state of a child of human
parents -- into a gestation state -- see how nature repeats
itself. And after resting asleep, growing and preparing, the
entity finally at the end of this period of gestation, awakes and
becomes conscious. But it becomes conscious at the period of its
first conscious memories of its child state at the beginning of
the last incarnation. And so it begins life over again in a kind
of ideal Paradise, surrounded with its parents, with its brothers
and sisters, and those that loved it on earth; it lives there,
and grows from infancy, through youth, adulthood, old age, going
through all the spiritual experiences and working them out in
absolute and complete bliss, resting in the bosom, as it were, of
its own Christ principle, its own Lord of Splendor and Light, its
own Inner God.
Necessarily there is a term. There comes an end to this
experience of the Ego in the Heaven-world. There will come a
time when the spiritual store of energies which have given it
birth there and kept it there during all this time, become
completely assimilated -- just as there comes a period when you
completely assimilate the meal you took a few hours ago; and then
the entity immediately begins to descend -- mind you it is a
gradual process: as the birth and awaking to consciousness there
was gradual, so is the redescent gradual. Nevertheless the store
of karmic energies on the opposite side of the scale, i.e. the
evil tendencies, thoughts, desires, wrong actions, and their
consequences which everyone creates to a greater or less degree
during his passage through earth life -- we have not referred to
this so far. What do you think happens to these? Very important
for us, for the Theosophic teaching is that there is no hell, no
punishment in the ordinary religious understanding of the term,
for the entity after death, i.e., for the average people; but
this bundle of tendencies awaits the redescending ego after its
experience in the Heaven world, awaits it, according to the
occult teaching "at the threshold of Devachan." Then, as the
entity descends, putting down the ray of its energy into the
lower planes, it then by attraction, magnetic affinity,
recollects the very matter -- yes, the material substance -- of
which its lower vehicles were composed in the past life. It also
gradually reclothes itself with those old tendencies, the effects
of which it will have to work out in the succeeding earth life.
So that the hell the Theosophist believes in is veritably here.
Here we have to work out all karmic retribution, all those things
that we did that were contrary to that Law of Unity and Harmony
of the Universe.
There are only two immortal feelings, love and hatred -- and that
is a strange statement, is it not? You can be immortal in love,
and you can also be relatively immortal in hatred. You can ally
yourselves with the forces that make for regeneration: wisdom,
understanding, life and progress; or you can identify yourselves
with the forces of death and destruction and hatred and evil.
These are the world's eternal ways. Verily, "he who holds the
keys to the secrets of Death is possessed of the keys of life."
Yes indeed, if we understand these teachings correctly, we have
the key that will enable us to realize how to live now that we
may enter onto the Path of Light, not only here during this life,
but enter into those regions of bliss in the higher worlds, that
will enable us to be merged in that Universal Over-Soul in which
we know that we live and move and have our being. These are a
few of the ideas that you will find worked out in very great
detail in THE MAHATMA LETTERS.
FINDING THE SELF: A STUDY FROM "THE SECRET DOCTRINE," Part II
by Herbert Coryn
[From THE THEOSOPHIC ISIS, August 15, 1896, pages 233-38. ]
What then are the forces that go into the making up of all the
personalities which we inhabit, and in each of which we exhibit a
different phase of our total powers? For as is the inner man to
his various outer phases through the days and years of his life,
so is the eternal man, the reincarnating ego with all its powers
to the successive personalities through which his aspects, as the
lives go on, find their embodiment. So, too, to these eternal
Egos, is the Logos of their planet. The same analogy can be
carried still higher. Perhaps the scale has no summit.
What are now the forces in our consciousness? Every one of us
acts mostly by the compulsion of forces already in his
consciousness. Few are they who add very much to them. In lives
long past, and more recent, and in this present, we have made for
ourselves habits, and modes of thought and action. Some we have
found already in social existence, or have entered into by
heredity. These habits almost entirely rule our lives.
As regards any one man, there reside in his consciousness the
forces that he himself has generated by his past thoughts and
acts, and which will inevitably discharge themselves into action
when the hour strikes. There are the forces that sway him, but
have taken exit from others. There is his will, sitting nearly
motionless, potent when it does act, yet whose acts are in no
wise to be predicted.
Let us study the working out of these three groups in the
shifting personalities of men. Every act of man is twofold in
its effects, and of those twain we are for a moment concerned
with one only. Every act not only paves the way for its own
repetition, but it also prompts to that repetition as a positive
We can picture man as a central glowing spot of
self-consciousness, and around that spot is the halo of it. The
halo is a passive register of all that is originated by the
glowing spot, which is self-conscious will. When the energy of,
or for an act goes forth like a spark from the flame of will, it
pushes ahead of it that passive pendulum known in science as the
subconscious, and goes its way outward into the act.
So the mere act is not the whole of the story, for the pendulum
when it has passed on the force to the mechanisms of act, swings
back to its original place and then further back still, as much
further back as it had been impelled forward. Then in a
time-cycle, whose length is determined by the original force, it
swings to and fro. That is all of the matter, so far as a
mechanical pendulum is concerned.
It becomes more complete when we use the pendulum as a symbol,
not very inaccurate, of the processes of human consciousness and
sub-consciousness. Suppose the pendulum hung by a catch at the
backward end of its sweep, awaiting for some indefinite time the
removal of the catch to recommence its return swing. Suppose it
was already swinging sideways when it was caught by the forward
force, and so had to combine henceforth the two motions. Suppose
that it could be caught at the end of one direction of movement
yet free as regards another. These will suffice to show the
complex possibilities of human, latent or active, consciousness,
for the field of possibility contains a vastly intricate congress
of such pendulums.
Every such pendulum represents a habit, superficial, or deep, of
rapid or rare recurrence. We are accustomed too much to restrict
the meaning of the word habit, making it apply only to frequent
recurrences, but the word has just as good an application to a
thing that occurs once only in each incarnation, for example, the
habit of failing at the same point in occultism, in each life
through the commission of the same fault.
A little duck, directly it is hatched, takes to water. Whilst it
was in the egg, the POWER OF SWIMMING was, as it were, a pendulum
held back at the inner end of its swing. Directly it sees water,
which provides a new outer condition, a condition that suffices
to release that pendulum whose swing is the manifestation of the
power of swimming.
Say that four lifetimes ago, a man was a general, devoid of fear,
accustomed to command. Three lifetimes follow in whose times
there was no war, or his chance of soldiery is otherwise lacking.
He is developing other parts of his nature, and the power of
generalship is a pendulum held back from the swing. Now, again,
war and his soldiership are offered by nature, liberate that long
quiet pendulum and once more he is enabled to show forth all the
qualities that go to make a general.
Suppose that a previously well-conducted man murders his mother.
We say this is "insanity," but it may well be that from some long
passed hostilities with her who is now his mother, coupled with
old slavery to a bad temper, he had that pendulum or combination
of pendulums swung back and caught, in his under-consciousness,
and it only required that some other swinging pendulum therein
should break that catch and set it free for its fateful swing
The MANIFEST character of a man is the sum of the pendulums that
are swinging. The unmanifest character is the sum of the
pendulums that are tied up at the inner end of the swing and
which at any moment might be set free.
When death comes, all the pendulums are tied up, and activities
are purely subjective. In the life following, a few swing loose.
A few, for in all of us are countless millions awaiting the
conditions that will allow of their swing. And the great Karmic
wheel, life after life, detaches here one and there one, and will
in the end bring all into open cycle.
Every man may well stand aghast at the consideration of his own
latent possibilities of evil. In a beginningless past of lives
with a beginningless series of acts, we set a-swinging all those
pendulums. But it is Nature who ties them back for a while in
their multitudes, so that an appropriate few in each life may
have undisturbed swing. It is Nature, and it is also we
ourselves, for in some deep sense the two are one. Those silent
hung-back pendulums have a force of their own that acts in
bringing about the conditions of their activity.
He who has music in his soul will SOMETIME bring about for
himself the birth and conditions necessary to give that music its
chance of manifestation. Karma is the coming about of such
external conditions as allow of the display of activities. The
conditions arise under the silent power of the apparently
inactive forces in consciousness that only await them to become
active. We might assume that, but everything points to it in
A man builds a house to suit himself, and his coat. And he
builds the brain he requires, storing it with what furniture he
will. So too he selects his business, though that is less
obvious and sometimes untruly seems untrue. He selects, by the
unconscious force within him, that which his deeper self needs
for the expansion of his folded powers. Do not confuse that deep
necessity with superficial whim, the casual and passing ideas of
comfort or show.
Circumstances do not bend to THAT. If one has the necessity for
music in his soul, and a whim for the law, the law will be
apparently denied him. It will be apparently denied, for really
there is no denier. It is denied because it was by WHIM, not by
imperial WILL, not by the force that acts toward manifestation as
strongly in the man as in the logos. Those forces within must
have their expenditure, and they require conditions most
objectionable to the outer man, such as great poverty. WE ARE
THE ONLY LAWGIVERS, because the inner unexpended and unexpressed
forces that we have compared to tied-back pendulums must have
their swing and play.
It may be hateful to the musician to have to learn his scales and
compose. But the force of composition is in him and so the outer
man is compelled to do that for his bread, to the end that the
inner man may be brought forth as HE wills. And if it is a life
of crime that is written, so also will it happen. If
imprisonment follows, again so, for unexpended forces, or needs,
which ignominy of detection and prison life alone can enable to
act, bring it forth.
Always we are our own lawmakers and condition-makers. We only
SEEM compelled from without. How can we prove this? It can only
be proved by watching the inner self, and seeing how the forces
liberate each other, and how the external conditions roll up in
apposition as the holes in an endless chain roll up to meet the
cogs on a revolving wheel.
Slowly trying this and that activity, heaping up and expending
this and that force, the self learns, at last, to select only
such as all others could also adopt. He does what other men
should do to him, making as his test of right action, "would it
be good that all others should do likewise; if not, I will not do
The inner man needs and asks for the maximum of activity. In all
actions that are injurious to his fellows, his actions are
limited by their forces. In all actions that we call moral, they
are not so limited, but encouraged. In long time this tells, and
though to give great scope to the higher faculties requires that
we curtail the lower activities. Yet some day the inner man will
learn that thus only can he be most splendidly active and
Spirit, in one sense, is the root of action, it is even action
itself. In a long view, spirit reigns most where there is most
action. If we look at it properly we shall easily see that we
have most scope of action when our fellows least hinder us, which
is only where we work for and with them. That is brotherhood,
virtue, spirit, wide and happy activity, and in the end is
AN OBJECTIVE AND DETACHED APPROACH
by Michele Lidofsky
[based upon a June 2, 2000 posting to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
I would like to suggest that we might need to be quite objective
and detached from emotional reactions when discriminating whether
there is any truth or reality in any particular teacher's body of
It has been suggested at times that the objective approach,
detached from emotional reactions, is incomplete. The suggestion
is that a deep-down emotional reaction is also important, and
needs to play a role in our acceptance of spiritual works.
But it *is* nearly impossible to separate and draw distinctions
between our intellectual apprehension of any subject matter and
the governing effects of our emotional reaction to it.
So many of these have been conditioned by unpleasant experiences
we have denied or suppressed, or by events in infancy or early
childhood similarly 'buried' in our subconscious.
And often when we are telling ourselves that something FEELS
fishy in a situation it is merely that we have simply not yet
been able to intellectually solve a puzzle in which a bundle of
quite objective but unrelated clues have been presented.
Yet perhaps the only way that we, as divine beings incarnated in
animal bodies awash in a sea of primitive neurochemical and
hormonal 'messages' continually influencing our behavior,
opinions and decisions could be COMPLETELY objective about any
written work would be to read it 'blind' -- not knowing who wrote
the material you are presented with.
I have entered into so many discussions regarding this question
of how to determine whether the teaching of a specific teacher is
'valid' and 'true'. Most often, after ENDLESS debate, the answer
eventually does reduce to some formulation of "You must go with
your gut instincts, your deepest feelings should be the ultimate
It is difficult to imagine how they could NOT have the last word.
But over the years, my confidence in this method has been
somewhat dampened. I have seen many seekers who have fallen 'in
love' with a guru whose wisdom and counsel is suspect or even
downright dangerous. These devotees defend their alliance
because of the intensity and fervor of their 'gut reaction' to
her or him, which is then complacently supported by
Haven't the adepts advised us to try to come to conclusions using
"impersonal" judgment? This would imply subtracting our
emotions/egos from the issues. Therefore I prefer to lend more
weight to pure analysis and intellectual detachment.
I look at the writings of some second-generation theosophical
writers, and I'm disappointed. My pure analysis and intellectual
detachment leads me to conclude that they were neither teachers
nor practitioners of wisdom and compassion.
Compared to the magnificent encyclopedic works of Blavatsky, the
quality and value of some more-recent material is meager. The
writing shows no evidence of any prior or future empirical
support. And for these reasons alone I would be hard pressed to
qualify many as teachers or to recommend their works to anyone.
CYCLES, NEUTRALIZING NEGATIVE HABITS, Part I
by Boris de Zirkoff
[From a tape recording of a private class held on March 30,
Friends, before we actually begin any discussion regarding the
teachings of Theosophy, there is something on my mind that I
would like to mention. Consider our own meetings here, the fact
that we like them, the fact that we are free to hold them. We
are, we might say, completely at liberty to exercise our own will
with regard to our studies, with what we do with Theosophy, with
how we speak about it. I think that sometimes we forget that all
of that cannot be taken for granted.
I think that very often all of us -- I know I certainly do --
take many, many things for granted that are not to be taken for
granted. They are in many ways a privilege. Not a privilege
that any one of us has accorded to each other. They are a
privilege in the sense of an opportunity. There is opportunity
for growth, for service. We can have a mutual acquisition of
knowledge by sharing our experiences with ourselves and with
other people who have nothing to do with any particular group,
just fellow human beings.
These ideas have been brought to my attention only this morning
by a letter that I have received from a good friend of mine in
Uruguay. He's engaged in translating some of the theosophical
literature into Spanish. This includes some of Blavatsky's
writings and excerpts of various other things. He is issuing
them in pamphlet form, not only for South America, but also for a
certain number of people that he can furnish with such
translations in Spain and in Mexico. He asked me some questions
and for some suggestions. Among other things he began to quote
from a letter that was received from Spain. He says that perhaps
half of our booklets will be sent to Spain. He has just this
morning received a letter from the actual leader of the
Theosophical Movement in Spain. That letter says:
> With difficulties, we have formed 15 lodges with 400 members. We
> cannot have meetings outside our private homes. We cannot have
> any headquarters. We cannot have talks in public. We cannot
> publish books. We cannot give public lectures. The police are
> in charge of enforcing it. The church tries to link us with the
> masons. The masons have been terribly persecuted. We receive
> some books from Buenos Aires and from Mexico. Can you believe
> that last year it was forbidden to establish even a vegetarian
> society in Spain?
How would we like to study Theosophy, to actually form lodges in
Los Angeles, if this were the condition prevailing here? Of
course, it can never happen here.
Question: Why not?
Yes, that's what I'd like to know. It is sometimes of value, of
profound worth, to get a little insight as to how the other half
of the world lives. We take a great deal for granted. We think
that we are persecuted or cheated out of our rights when some
little thing happens that thwarts our interests or perhaps our
selfish inclinations. We all indulge upon occasion in
considerable criticism -- I know I do -- of existing conditions
in this country.
Well, of course this is not a paradise. Oh, no! I would like to
just hear the squeak and the squawk that would go on among all of
us, thousands of us, studying Theosophy in perfect freedom, if 50
percent of these conditions suddenly arose right out of the
earth, unannounced, like a weed, and were with us overnight.
While we may recognize a great many shortcomings that exists
around here, it is good to compare our degree of freedom of
expression and of movement and of study and of thought.
I have to choose my words very carefully now. What shall I say?
There are corners of the globe -- and they're not little corners
-- vast segments of the globe where a combination of medieval
obscurantism has the upper hand. It is medieval even if it is
ultra-modern in its methods. It is medieval in the spirit of it.
It forfeits its own ends. It is bound to collapse. It can never
stop the freedom of the human soul. It can do a great deal of
damage. It can make millions suffer. It can introduce and does
introduce into human life some of the greatest sorrows and pains
and tribulations that the human heart can endure. This is
particularly so when it has to do with the freedom of the
spiritual interests of the human being.
In this particular instance, we are speaking of a land that for
centuries was one of the foremost centers of culture. The great
Moorish philosophers, the great Arabian culture as imported into
Europe, the greatest lights of many a century shone from Spain.
Unquestionably, it will be the case again. Of what use in the
long run is that system? Of what use is a system of repression
and coercion that today has invaded millions of human hearts and
minds all over the world? Of what use is a system that tries to
force things, things of darkness, upon the soul of man? That soul
is free. It is essentially, potentially a thing of freedom. It
is only when we project these dark clouds against whatever light
there is -- and there is plenty of it -- that we begin to see how
futile is the effort of materialism. Whether political,
religious, or psychological, materialism is utterly out of season
and out of time. Today these methods belong really to the
childhood of the human race.
There is something that I wanted to bring to your attention,
friends, a certain point of teaching which I think is very
practical. I believe we should all attempt to investigate it a
little closer in the consciousness and in the mental processes of
our daily life. It has to do with cycles. This is not in a very
general sense, but rather in a very specific sense. I would like
to bring this to your attention by means of a physical analogy,
of a physical simile.
Suppose you have a fairly strong light, without fade, let's say a
fairly strong bulb. You look at it for a few moments. It's not
very pleasant to you because it's a little too strong to look at.
Then you turn it out, and close your eyes. Of course the usual
thing happens in that you see that light, usually the filament of
that electric bulb, impressed on your retina. The image persists
for a while. The same thing would happen if you were to look at
the sun then turn away or go into a dark room. It's there before
you for a while.
Have you ever watched that image? If you watch that image, you
will discover, or you might discover, one of the very important
laws in the occult operation of nature. Experiment with it
sometime. Watch that image. It is not steady. It is not
continuous. It remains for a stated number of seconds. Then it
vanishes for a stated number of seconds. Then it reappears
before the eye for a while. Then it vanishes again. It comes
back and vanishes a number of times. It is simpler to do it if
you do not try to blink. Just look steadily into the prevailing
darkness with that retinal impression before you and with the
eyes closed. Every time that image comes back from nowhere, it
has changed slightly its shape and its color. Every time its
shape will be a little different and its color will be a little
different. It will become fainter and fainter. Finally it will
even up with the darkness before your eyes and you will see that
impression no more.
Behind this simple thing lies a profound law. All impressions
are periodic. If you touch something fairly cold -- not too cold
to touch or to hold, fairly cold -- and keep your finger there
after the initial impression, it will become less cold after a
while. You will not feel the cold, as much as you did at first.
The first impression is colder. If it's something hot -- but not
too hot, so that you can touch it -- the first impression is very
much hotter than after a while.
The impressions produced upon our senses are periodic. If they
are not periodic, if we deliberately make them non-periodic, we
will lose them. Touch something. Feel that "This is a table."
Think of something else. After a little while you have forgotten
that your finger is on it. You don't feel it until you THINK of
it. Even if you touch yourself, after a while you might forget
that you are in contact with yourself. The first impression was
the one you felt. Then it has deadened away, because the
impression was not periodic. If the impression was periodic by
your tapping this way, you feel the contact every time.
Physically -- that is, on the physical plane -- the periodicity
of impressions is fairly evident.
Important as it is, it is not very important unless we talk about
the periodicity of the cycles in nature. Picture the periodicity
of all impressions, their recurrence, their disappearance, and
their recurrence again and again. This happens until they are
superseded by stronger impressions. This periodicity is
particularly important in psychological, intellectual, and
spiritual lines. That is where they become. That is where this
law becomes a tool with which we can build our lives. That is a
tool with which we can help other people to build their own
I think this periodicity of cycles is especially important for
anyone engaged in spiritual work, either for the sake of others
or upon him, and for anyone who is engaged in the healing arts.
Whatever happens to us is an impression. It carries with itself
an impression. You come here. You attend our discussion. You
carry away impressions. If there were no further meetings held
here, the memory of these meetings and more particularly of the
last one that you attend would come back periodically. You would
think of it periodically, but not all the time. Maybe after
months or even years, according to the strength of the
impression, it had been overlaid with other, more powerful
impressions, and you won't think of it anymore.
You can have impressions imprinted upon a certain part of your
mind, both of a constructive and a destructive nature. If you
see some nasty brawl on the street, it will produce a very
unpleasant impression upon you. You might remember it for a long
time and feel disgusted about it. If you watch a marvelous
sunset, or sunrise, that too will come back and back and uplift
you every time it comes back into your consciousness. The only
reason why this happens is because they recede into the
subconscious part of our mind. These impressions do not remain
steady. They become more and more feeble. It is because the
senses, the physical senses, the mental apparatus and the nervous
system are constantly bombarded. They are bombarded by new and
perhaps more powerful impressions as we go along through life.
There is a practical application of this simple law, which
prevails from the electron to the galaxy. This is a simple
application. With it we can have control over the recurrence of
If we indulge in any kind of an action, we will have made an
impression upon our subconscious mind. It does not matter
whether that action is positive or negative, ethical or
unethical, beautiful or ugly. The impression will recur. It
will vanish away for a while and become dormant like that picture
on the retina. Then it will come back. The impression has come
back into the vision or sphere of your mind. It has focalized
itself and there it is again.
You then have a growing urge to repeat the original action that
gave the original impression. That is when you begin to feel an
urge to do the same thing again. It may be a beautiful thing.
It may be an ugly one. Maybe you caught yourself sometime being
dishonest in money. It was the first time. That impression
comes back and is focalized before your mind a second time. You
will then feel an urge to repeat the same action and do it again.
I don't mean, of course, any of you here. I'm speaking in the
It so happens that when you have done this thing a second time,
the impression is twice as strong. Therefore, when it comes back
for the third time, the urge to do it a third time is that much
stronger. Eventually a habit is formed. We indulge by then in a
very natural way. The way is natural to us because we have
established a habit. We indulge very naturally, almost
automatically in that type of action. We have become habitually
liars, habitually dishonest, habitually immoral. Or we have
built a habit of kindliness, a habit of cheerfulness, a habit of
meeting danger fearlessly. We have established a habit of
RESISTING temptation, both on the negative side and on the
positive, on the constructive and on the destructive side. As a
habit is indulged in, the habit becomes a character.
We, as students of Theosophy, may see noble characters and
ignoble characters. We know that they haven't become that way by
the decree of some hypothetical god. They have become that way
because they have given way to recurrent impressions of original
actions, good or bad. They have established a habit of doing the
good or the bad thing. Eventually, perhaps over a period of many
lives, the habit repeated every time has become the fabric of
their character. It has become the DOMINANT of their character.
Note here that I say "dominant" using that word in a musical
sense. Their character has other characteristics as well, but
this good or bad habit is a dominant in it. It's one of the most
powerful impressions because it has been indulged so often in.
There is one very interesting point here, a little-known one. We
witness planets going around the sun in cyclic curves. They are
obviously not closed circles. By the time the planet has gone
around half of its orbit, well, the whole solar system has moved.
So of course it never comes to the same spot. It is seemingly a
closed circle. But it is really a spiral always in another part
of space. The sun is moving away on its own orbit. Every time
we see seasons roll by, every time we see the moon go around the
earth once a month, every time we see the return of a comet so
many few years and so many few centuries, we speak about cycles.
We take many of these things for granted.
We've got a big science by the name of Astronomy. It has written
a lot of books. We trust that these books are fairly correct.
We may fail to take into consideration the fact that our
impressions, the impressions that we receive, also move in some
kind of an orbit. These impressions may be either from other
people's actions or from our own action. They are here today.
They are not here tomorrow.
Today I am having a mood of depression. I am struggling against
it maybe for several days. It becomes feebler and feebler. It
has been overlaid with something better. I have worked myself
out of it. By the end of two, three days, or maybe longer, it's
gone. I'm again my better self.
By Jove! If it doesn't come back next month! Or it comes back at
the expiration of six weeks. Or possibly two or three months,
according to the individual. Back it is with the same effect,
the same symptoms. I'm in the throes of fighting it off again.
Where has it been in the meantime? Where has it traveled? It has
got an orbit. It's almost like a comet that was here. Then it
went behind Neptune and you couldn't even reach it with the best
telescope on hand. Then it began to become visible again as it
came closer to the sun. It's almost the same thing.
Well, naturally, if we were trained clairvoyants we might have
the full answer to that. We would see the motions of the inner
world, the circulations of the astral world. Note that this is
not the motion of the physical planets. We will follow our
thoughts -- which are things, which are entities -- along these
circulations. I do not intend to give you the full answer
because I don't know it. Suffice it to say that these
impressions, giving rise to our moods and states of
consciousness, are periodic. They are cyclical. And just as
long as they are periodic and they are cyclical, we can do
something about them.
Here is a man who is fighting that depression. He has put it
down in his notebook. Between the places where he puts it in his
notebook is about six weeks. Every six weeks he gets into this
state of mind against his own will. Is there anything he can do
about it? He has understood a little bit of the teaching of
cycles. He has understood the idea of the periodic operation of
impressions. These impressions are created or given rise to
either in former lives or in habits of thought established in
this incarnation through many years past. He has understood this
thing. Is there anything that he can do about it to change it?
Is this an automatic thing that cannot be touched? Is it
something that we must endure? Is it something he has to learn
how to live with, unable to change it? Not at all!
The key to the controlling of cycles lies in another occult law.
That is the balancing of opposites. It takes will. Before
exercising your will, you had better understand at least
intellectually what goes on. Here you are. You're a man with
that periodic mood of depression and discouragement. You have
the blues, during which period everything seems useless. You are
tired of everything. You lose optimism. You lose trust and hope
and faith. You would like everything to end, and get away from
it all, once for good.
To get away, of course, is something that you cannot do. You've
got it with you. The only way in which you can control it is
first to realize that it is something created by yourself. That
is, it is a natural result of having indulged, once upon a time,
in a building up of this series of impressions. There must have
been some time in the past -- a first time -- when you gave way
to it. Then come a second, and the third, and then it becomes a
habit. It may have been in this life. It may have been a
carry-over from another incarnation, where you have built it up
in yourself. Other people may have contributed to this in your
You have it now. The first thing to realize is that it is
self-made. If it is self-made, you can also make the opposite.
And you cannot control this thing unless and until you try to set
up a new vibratory rate at the time when you feel the worst. Not
at the time when it has passed away. Then everything seems easy.
It has to be initiated at a time when you are down and out,
relatively speaking. At that time you can force yourself.
If it is that hard for you, you can force yourself to smile. You
can force yourself to feel happy about one little thing that you
can find somewhere in your life. Failing this, you can force
yourself just to go in front of the mirror. Smile. See how it
looks. It looks attractive. That is more attractive than the
other picture. Failing this, you can force yourself IN
IMAGINATION to partake in or share the happiness of another. You
may not even know the individual. You just happen to know that
he's very happy about something. Or you may know a friend of
yours who is very happy. Try to share in imagination his happy
frame of mind. You've made a beginning.
Why have you made a beginning? In a little while the same mood of
discouragement and pessimism and disappointment comes upon you
there will come up your effort of a few weeks ago to feel happy.
It comes up automatically from exactly the same deeper levels of
your subconscious mind. They will be simultaneous. They are in
association. From now on they are in association.
You have created a positive impression in your mind that is
associated in time, cyclically associated with the other mood.
And they come back together. As long as they come back together,
the negative mood is somewhat lessened by your positive effort of
a few weeks ago. And they're bound to come together because
that's the way nature works. It's lessened.
Be sure that at the time that the mood of depression passes
through your mind, there also passes a memory of what you did or
tried to do last time to counteract it. Be sure at that time
that you repeat the attempt to counteract it again along similar
lines. This would be not identical, but similar, so as to make
the positive impression of a new mood twice as strong. When the
depression mood comes back the third time, it'll be less so. And
a positive impression will be three times that strong.
Persevere in doing this simple exercise of yoga. That's what it
is, spiritual yoga. You will then find that there comes a time
when the negative mood of disgust and discouragement and the
positive will to be cheerful and courageous have equalized
themselves. They're equally strong. You don't know which way to
feel. You can't give way to discouragement because this is too
strong. You can't feel positively happy because this is too
strong yet. You are uncertain which way to feel.
You have a struggle within. But that's fine. That's fine. The
more we have struggle within, the better, the sooner we will
grow. If you pass that point of equalization and continue your
exercise, every single time that this thing happens to come back
again, the positive will be stronger than the negative.
Given time, the negative mood will be completely exhausted from
want of nourishment. It will be superseded by the positive
impression that you have created. It must be simultaneous.
Otherwise it is not going to work. In this simple fashion, you
can control any vice in due course of time. You can control any
negative habit, any condition of consciousness that you want to
So we go back now. This little experiment with the light and the
periodicity of its impressions can therefore be applied with a
law in back of it. It can be applied to the psychological,
intellectual, psychic and even physical purification of the human
In due course of time we establish those rhythms within us that
are creative. We establish those habits within our mind and
psychological nature that are constructive and uplifting. In due
course of time we begin to reach that point where we feel only
what we will. When we think only what we WILL to think, we have
then built a spiritual, intellectual resistance area, or
This field cannot be penetrated by any negative influence. You
are not constantly giving way to the feelings that impinge upon
you from other people. You have begun to become the king of your
own realm. You are not prostituting this fear of your mind to
the tramping thoughts of the multitudes. You have learned how to
fill the sphere of your mind with the thoughts that you have
willed to think. You don't have to will to feel them and will to
think them every time.
By the law of the periodicity of impressions, the higher feelings
and the higher thoughts periodically come back and back and back
and are being strengthened every time. They are strengthened
just like the negative ones were, so that they finally become
There is no room for anything else in the sphere of your inner
principles. There is no room for anything else in the part of
your aura that belongs to the inner principles, because you have
saturated it with this positive action from within.
Long before that, other people will know that you are different
from others. They will know that you are a positive, creative
thinker. Long before that, you will have opened up for yourself
almost unbeknown, almost unconsciously so, opportunities of
service. People attuned at all to anything like this will come
your way because you will have something flowing OUT of you. You
have something that is uplifting and beneficial and creative.
There is a great deal more that can be said about all of this. I
think that what I've said is sufficient as a general outline. If
you have anything to ask, I will be glad to discuss this a little
I must say that my knowledge of these things is very limited. If
it were less limited, then all of us would be much bigger
individuals than we are. Can we grasp the elements of this
thing? Can we grasp the fundamental law operative behind it? Then
we can use this fact of nature as a tool to carve our character
accordingly. We can build just like a bricklayer or a carpenter
builds with tools and materials by exercising his will. We take
certain specific, constructive directions to achieve certain
specific ends in view.
That is just an aspect of self-directed evolution. It is not the
floating, drifting down a stream together with all the other
thoughtless millions. It is sailing according to certain laws
that the seaman knows, sailing down currents and even sometimes
against currents. We are with the wind and against the wind,
because we are beginning to be captains of our own ships and not
just stowaways on somebody else's ship, as most people are.
David: Would you say that habits could continue from one
incarnation to another?
Yes. Habits are much deeper than they appear to most people.
Many physical habits are transitory, gone when the body has
disintegrated. They belong to just this particular aggregate of
molecules. They endure a few years and then they are gone.
There are habits of the soul, habits of the inner structure of
the man. They are psychological, intellectual, and spiritual
habits. These habits pertain to the inner man, to the real
actor, to the one who has built for himself a body -- and has
built for himself many bodies, many times. They pertain to ways
of thinking and ways of feeling, as seeds of emotions and seeds
of thought. They endure in the auric sphere, field, or force
that surrounds the ego.
Those seeds of habits remain in latency during the period of rest
between incarnations. The individual comes back and builds for
himself a new vehicle, astral and physical. Then those seeds
almost automatically begin to grow. They produce by
exteriorization. In the growing personality of the child, the
young man, or woman, there appear the tendencies, the
inclinations, and the habitual moods, which they have built for
themselves in past lives. These tendencies are produced as the
result of former thinking and of former feeling.
Physical heredity has a great deal to do with the picture. The
most important thing is that psychological, intellectual, and
spiritual heredity by which we only inherit ourselves. We are
the inheritors of our own past. There is no denial of physical
heredity. The physical heredity is something that has to do with
the outer vehicles. It must -- if it has any meaning at all, any
deeper meaning -- be correlated with the inner heredity or sum
total of experience from former lives that makes this individual
what he is.
Question: Boris? I was thinking of this problem -- which is a
terrible trouble now -- of the alcoholic. Actually, in the
beginning it is not a physical thing, is it? In other words, the
body does not crave the alcohol in the beginning. It must be
something mental or emotional rather than just physical.
Eventually the physical does enter into the picture, probably
where the body is attuned to this thing and probably then
Question: Suppose a person enjoys his liquor. He drinks to
excess for a couple of incarnations. Then he comes back. I know
that many doctors say that certain people should never touch a
drink. The minute they do, they are through. Other people can
drink. It does not seem to really affect them. Other people
take a drink. For them, that one drink is their downfall. Is
this habit beginning again? Has this affinity for liquor, which
may have accumulated through past lives, started again?
Partly. It is partly so, largely so. That is not the whole
story. Say an individual has given free reign to any kind of
habit. Something has been indulged in, and a habit has been
established. There also has been established another pattern, a
very unfortunate one. The type of habit does not matter. It
does not have to be just drink. Although the rule applies to
drink, just as well. It may be stealing. It may be immorality.
It may be any other criminal tendency. It may be more or less
There are various element-principles of the human constitution.
They are bound together by links including the physical with the
lower astral, the lower astral with the more higher form of the
astral, the pranic or life currents with the physical and the
astral, the astral with the kamic or the desire principle and the
lower thought elements. These inner links between the principles
have become weakened.
There is a loosening of the internal coherence of the lower
principles. Where that loosening has taken place, there is what
might be called holes, fractures, fissions, fissures, or
openings. Instead of being solidly integrated, forming a strong,
repellant wall of the self-contained entity, the loosely
organized personality of the man becomes shot to pieces.
There pour into its internal structure all sorts of vicious
elements and entities and streams of elemental forces from the
lower realms of the astral light. It becomes more and more
saturated with foreign substances and living entities, which do
not belong in a harmoniously integrated, self-contained, and
self-controlled individual. He is not only up against his own
habits. He is also up against the urges, temptations, and
motivating impulses of all sorts of other entities similar in
vibratory rate to his own habit.
You might ask if he is possessed. Well, at first he is obsessed.
After a while, reaching the point of delirium tremens, he is
possessed. Does he ever get out of it? Certainly. Everything
finally has a tendency to become equilibrated and purified. When
will he see this recovery happen? It may be lives before he has
been able to build, brick by brick, enough internal will,
resistance, to begin the fight against the elements which have
invaded his internal structure, elements that meet him every time
at the threshold of a new incarnation.
It is like meeting old friends. They are there! They are your
own. Is there anyone else to blame? No. It is your own doing.
Imagine what marvelous things we can build into our nature.
Imagine what wonderful currents of spiritual life we can become
attuned to. Imagine what elemental entities from higher spheres
we can beckon to our assistance and to become allies with us.
Imagine what wonderful friends in them we can meet at every
incarnation. It works both ways. Of course, people do not
become addicted to any particular vice overnight.
The picture is still more complicated because we are karmically
connected with other people. Other people may have exercised an
undue influence upon us. We have to meet that. After
controlling the vice within ourselves, we are also karmically
required to help those others to get over theirs. It is a
One thing remains unaltered. No amount of argument can get you
away from it. That is that it is self-made, that it is self-made
by stages. At every stage, it becomes easier. This could be any
type of vice, any type of habit. Every time that you indulge in
it, it becomes stronger.
Curiously enough, the more a habit becomes established, the more
opportunities there seem to be for the lower mind, the
emotionally functional mind, to invent excuses out of its own
diseased imagination. It finds excuses for this condition and
finds good-sounding, logical reasons why it should be indulged
in. As said in THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE, "The mind is the slayer
of the real." The disciple is called upon to "slay the slayer."
This is mystical, metaphorical language. By the mind, HPB did
not mean the spiritual intellect, but the lower mind of man.
It applies to all habits. The pattern in nature is uniform.
There is only one pattern. Therefore, everything said about vice
applies to virtues. They have to be built the same way. Nature
is run on the same pattern. Whatever mechanics or dynamics apply
on the negative side, the same dynamics apply on the positive
side. It is just a matter of direction or of motive. It is a
matter of direction or motive. Yes, these are the best words to
Nicky: How is it that we can help these noble thoughts and ideas
to rub off on other people? Does that process need encouragement
or does it just happen automatically?
I think that to some small extent the power of example rubs off
automatically. It rubs off to some small extent, not much. As a
foundation, we might say that if you set an example of something
high and noble, it will eventually rub off. Of course, that is
People have to be urged, never coerced, never told what to do,
but given a suggestion of what they might do. Learn how to
arouse in others a desire to do the noble thing or to behave the
way that you think is noble. Arouse in them that desire either
by direct action or indirection. If by any chance you have
learned how to make them feel that they were the initiators of
that action, that you had nothing to do with it, then they will
start it going.
People do not like to imitate you if they think that you know
that they are imitating you. They invariably imitate you. They
do so as long as you do not know that they are doing it. They
will imitate you, your example, as long as they know or think
that you do not know anything about it.
Bring them to the point where they feel that they are doing
something from within themselves. In actuality the thought, the
original thought, came from you. They just took the suggestion.
Treat this completely impersonally. Do not say anything to them.
Then you can start them in the right direction.
Urge them to do something. Should they actually begin to do it,
they would feel constantly indebted to you for that. You would
make the mistake of telling them, "Well, you see, you see, now
you're doing what I told you, and how fine it works."
Question: Boris, That never works.
Yes. When you have a strong conviction about something, I think
it is better to exercise it, at least most of the time. It is
better to exercise it silently. Not by letting people hear,
"This is my conviction and this is the way I'm going to act." Act
that way and let the other people guess, "Why are you acting that
If they are intelligent at all, certainly not dumbbells, but if
they are intelligent at all, they will finally come to ask
themselves the question, "What makes that man tick that way?"
Maybe they'll come to ask you definitely, "Why is it that you
think that way?" or "Why are you acting that way?" "Everybody's
afraid of so-and-so, but you weren't afraid of it." "Everybody
got discouraged about so-and-so, but it didn't make any
difference to you. Why? Is that the way you have been taught?"
By the time you have brought a man to the point of asking you a
question, he is lost. Because that is a door, you can drive in a
whole cartload of bricks with that. He has asked a question.
You can say many things, even in a few words. He has begun to
The urging of others has to be done in a very wise way. I do not
think that we can lay down too definite a law about it. Every
instance is individual, is a specific one, and is a different
one, and your own intuition will have to supply the necessary
links in any particular situation. One fine approach to this is
to invariably encourage whatever there is good in the other. If
you know of any traits in his character that are good, speak to
him about it. Say how you like them. Say that they mean quite a
bit to you. Comment on them. If you find his mistakes,
failings, shortcomings, and negative traits, never mention them.
Never mention them, just as if they did not even exist.
I think that the circumstances when we are called upon to draw
the attention of the other fellow to one of his weaknesses are
very rare, very rare. They arise, yes, they arise, but they are
rare. The occasions when we can make a slight comment on his
good qualities are very numerous. We can make those
opportunities. We can create them.
Finally, that friend of yours, he sees what you like in him. He
is not quite sure of what you did not like in him, because you
never mentioned those things. He is quite sure of what you like
in him. As it is in the very nature of the human being that he
likes to be liked. He likes to be admired. He likes to receive
favorable comments about himself. For that very reason, he will
try to enhance his good qualities. He knows that you will like
him more for that.
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application