Theosophy World Home Page
THEOSOPHY WORLD ----------------------------------- January, 2005
An Internet Magazine Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy
And its Practical Application in the Modern World
To submit papers or news items, subscribe, or unsubscribe, write
(Please note that the materials presented in THEOSOPHY WORLD are
the intellectual property of their respective authors and may not
be reposted or otherwise republished without prior permission.)
"On Getting Ready," by B.P. Wadia
"Lessons From Fairy Tales," by Anonymous
"When Will Theosophy be Written in English," by Grace Knoche
"The Adversary," by G. de Purucker
"The Sphinx of Theosophy," Part II, by Annie Besant
"The Higher and Lower Self," by G.N. Chakravarti
"Winter Solstice 1955," Part I, by Boris de Zirkoff
> To act with a deliberate intent to sway the will of another is
> always wrong. To set out consciously to interfere with the
> karma of anyone else would be simply practicing what it has
> become popular to call 'black magic,' and this is so even if the
> motive be originally good. Every man should indeed do all in his
> power, by means of reason and persuasion, precept and example,
> to prevent another man from consciously doing evil, and likewise
> to try to make him do better: not by imposing one's will upon
> this other, but by precept by example, by kindliness, by
> suggestive thoughts, by pointing out the new and the better way.
> -- G. de Purucker, THE ESOTERIC TRADITION, I, page 513.
ON GETTING READY
By B.P. Wadia
[From LIVING THE LIFE, pages 23-26]
In work or play, in business as in sport, men prepare themselves
by constant practice. The student-server of Theosophy also
realizes that he has to prepare for growth, and perceives the
fact that growth is through service. In gaining this perception
and in practicing, he makes mistakes. The ways of the higher
life are so different, the mode of inner unfoldment at such
variance with the methods of what some call modern progress, that
invariably there ensues waste of time -- the most costly of all
commodities in any market.
It is necessary to seize certain ideas that facilitate our
endeavors at preparation. The first of these is like a mirror in
which we can measure the stature of our growing inner nature.
The spiritual life is not one of subtle rest but of increasing
creative activity begetting real joy. Do we feel the zest of
life, and contentment in work? In all things and at all times, do
we feel uplifted naturally, that is, without any effort? This is
We are apt to judge ourselves from the praise or blame that
others bestow. We often value our work entirely in the light of
the reputation that it evokes. This is not the test.
Spirit-unfoldment registers its strength in light to the mind and
repose to the ever-active consciousness. If our thoughts and
deeds enlighten our own minds and bring peace and joy to our own
hearts, they are the natural expressions of the inner light.
Discontent proceeds from absence of bliss, Ananda, which is the
nature of Buddhi.
The affinity subsisting between our inner and outer natures
provides the second of the rules for our consideration. Reliance
on Atma grows with the denial of ahankara. In "denial" lies one
of the main practices of the life of the warrior-soul. The life
of the senses gives birth to Egotism. The powers and forces of
mind are prostituted for the gratification of desire in all
relations of life. The marital tie, sacred and beneficent,
subsists between mind-powers and the human Spirit, divine in
What happens in modern society is symptomatic of what takes place
in the life of many a student of Wisdom. The debasing of the
marriage life so rampant in our civilization flows from the same
archetype whence emerge the divisions in individual life whereby
we live in turns the lower animal and the higher divine lives.
Between the two, however hidden or obscure, a sure relationship
is expressed in the second rule we are examining.
In preparing ourselves for the Path of Holiness, we have to
practice denial of ahankara-egotism by a constant appeal to Atma,
the God within. Thus, Self-reliance grows. Atma is altruistic,
in the small man as in the large universe. It is everywhere
because of its altruistic nature. To rely on It is to see in
true proportion the multitudinous effusions of ahankara-soul, the
lower self. The light of Atma enables us to determine the real
values of the different component parts of the lower self.
Hence, contemplation on Atma becomes necessary. The pure Heart
pervades not only heaven but also hell. The descent of Jesus
into the nether regions is a dramatized version of the
psychological experiences every neophyte goes through. In the
conquest of flesh, in the holy crusade, the jihad of the Muslim,
pure Atmic altruism pervading the field of battle subdues both
good and evil, heaven and hell, rising superior to both. One of
the pairs of opposites, pleasure is often mistaken for Bliss for
the same reason that the lower self and ahankara are mistaken for
the higher self and Atma. In getting ready, the light of Atma
that is Bliss, the love of Atma that is Wisdom, and the Labor of
Atma that is Sacrifice have to be seen as superior to the
pleasure, the knowledge, and the activity of the lower self.
With this perception comes the strength to "slay," that is, to
regenerate the animal-man.
The alchemical power to transform the baser metal of the lower
self into the gold of the higher abides in the Heart of man.
This mighty Shakti-Power lies dormant and asleep. It is a coiled
Dragon of Wisdom. Elsewhere in the human constitution is the
venomous snake of self, that eternal foe of every aspirant to
Wisdom and Altruism. Snake and Dragon are of the same species
and so the injunction -- "be merciful to the foe; against its
treacheries be on guard." To subdue the lower but avoid
irritation to it is skilful action. The two characteristics
necessary for this enterprise are a sense of humor for the
foibles of the lower self and a never-failing watchfulness over
its insidious ways.
In this holy war of regeneration, the purifying power of
knowledge has to be used. This is where Theosophy, as a body of
knowledge, sure and infallible, founded and reared on the
accumulated experience of the sages, proves useful. Every
decent-minded individual wants to better his life. Many an
enthusiast is willing to practice rules of conduct that will
bring success to him. Few indeed study the science of the soul,
even theoretically, for the law of reliance on Atma by the denial
of ahankara frightens or discourages them.
Those who mentally understand the teaching often lapse into old
ways and modes of denial of Atma and reliance on ahankara. Time
is not allowed, such is the rushing nature of our race, for the
assimilation of what is studied. The spontaneous generation of
the Dragon of Wisdom in the cave of the Heart can take place only
in the passage of time. If in that period we are disturbed by
events or are wearied to disgust with things, we identify
ourselves with those events and things. "Time (Kala) alone
survives death (Yama) – Self (Atma) is made of time (Kala)."
To be the better able to help and teach others, we should use
time to study. Let time use us for the process of assimilation.
Thus, we achieve yoga with Time.
Knowledge in the passage of time will purify the lower self of
its dross and give birth to compassion by the aid of which others
can be truly helped. Compassion replaces Knowledge with Wisdom,
makes all actions sacrificial, all existence blissful. Thus, we
attain yoga with Space.
By a study of Theosophy, we acquire Wisdom. By the practice of
Theosophy, we acquire Compassion. These two lead to the
attainment and realization of the Bliss of the inner Life. To be
blissful, to be compassionate, and to be discerning -- these
constitute the eternal triad of preparation for the life of
Spiritual service. In this attempt, speaks the Teaching, "Beware
of settled security. It leads to sloth, or to presumption."
LESSONS FROM FAIRY TALES
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT, May 17, 1954, pages 171-74.]
> HPB has declared in more than one place "no mythological story,
> no traditional event in the folklore of a people has ever been,
> at any time, pure fiction, but that every one of such narratives
> has an actual, historical lining to it." (THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I,
> page 303) The history of the early races of humanity, the former
> continents and their civilizations; long-lost but important
> secrets of nature; as well as deeply occult truths as to man's
> place and goal here on earth are all contained in these myths,
> legends, and folk tales that have come down to us. They are not
> fiction, evidence of the superstitious mind of the ancients, or
> products of the imagination. All over the world, storytellers
> recount the same old, old tales, and the mere imagination of the
> masses of different nations could never have conceived and
> fabricated such a wealth of extraordinary tales -- different in
> name and locale, of course, but identical in essence.
> Such tales are the means by which simple people and children can
> communicate to each other simple virtues and simple facts
> regarding life; yet they contain truths profound enough to puzzle
> the greatest intellects. For, unless and until we know more
> about the laws of nature and the process of evolution, these
> tales must remain lovely but sealed mysteries. Many of them are
> difficult to understand because they are recorded in the language
> of symbolism.
> Says HPB,
> > The religious and esoteric history of every nation was embedded
> > in symbols; it was never expressed in so many words. 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.
> > -- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, page 307
> This mode of expression by sign language is no longer understood
> today. Theosophy, however, being the ancient and consistent
> record of eternal truth, furnishes the clue to the understanding
> of ancient legends and fairytales. HPB has further said that
> each of these ancient myth-tales can be examined from as many as
> seven aspects. To unravel all the seven meanings may not be
> possible for us today, but at least one of the seven keys could
> be used by us: the application by the individual to his own life
> experiences. This is an exercise of imagination, intuition, and
> discernment, and the working of individual insight is far
> superior to any mechanical extraction of a cut-and-dried "moral."
> The difference between the two processes is the difference
> between the esoteric and the exoteric reading of the truth.
> Certain spiritual ideas are imprinted on the inner, immortal man.
> Thus, certain folk tales that embody these ideas have a universal
> and perennial appeal. The following, for example, is found in
> many variants. Best known in the myth of Eros and Psyche from
> THE GOLDEN ASS of Apuleius, it portrays the dark, unconscious
> link between the divine and the human soul of man (Eros and
> Psyche) and the struggle of the latter in the face of obstacles
> raised by Nature (Venus) to make this link self-conscious and
> enduring. "The Snake Prince," "Jack-My-Hedgehog," "The Great
> Pig," and many others tell the same story. This one is from
> Scandinavian folklore.
EAST OF THE SUN AND WEST OF THE MOON
Once upon a time, there was a poor husbandman with many children,
but the youngest was the prettiest. One wild, wet Thursday night
in autumn, there came three taps at their window, and there
outside stood a great White Bear.
"Good evening to you."
"The same to you."
"Pray give me your youngest daughter and I will make you as rich
as you now are poor," said the Bear.
At first, the girl said "No," but her father talked her round and
the Thursday next off she went on the Bear's back.
"Are you afraid?" asked the Bear.
"Indeed, no," she replied.
So on they went, a long, long way, to a steep hill at which the
White Bear knocked. A door opened into a grand castle inside,
and the Bear gave the girl a silver bell to ring for whatever she
needed. After a wonderful meal, she slept in a fine white bed.
When the light was out, the White Bear, who had thrown off his
beast shape, came as a man and lay down beside her. But he
always went away before dawn, and she could never get a sight of
Things went happily until she began to feel lonely in the daytime
and begged to be allowed to visit her family.
"Very well," said the Bear, "but promise never to talk with your
mother alone, for that will bring misfortune."
And she promised. So the Sunday next, he took her to the
family's new, grand house, where they were overjoyed to see her.
She told them nothing about herself, and when her mother begged
her to come upstairs for a talk, the girl tried hard to put her
off, but somehow or other was persuaded to tell her the whole
"Goodness," said the mother, "he may be a Troll! Hide this bit of
candle and when he is asleep, just light it and look. But don't
drop the tallow on him."
The girl took the candle to the castle, and that night, as the
White Bear slept, she got up softly and lit it. There was the
loveliest Prince you could ever imagine, and she fell so deeply
in love with him that she leaned over and kissed him on the lips.
But as she did so, three hot drops of tallow fell on his shirt
and he awoke.
"What have you done?" he cried out. "I had been free if you had
held out just for one year. My stepmother bewitched me into a
White Bear by day and a Man by night. Now I must leave you for
where she lives in a castle East o' the Sun and West o' the Moon.
There too is a Troll Princess with a nose three ells long, and
she is now the wife I must wed."
The girl wept and wept, but depart he must, and she, all alone,
would have to seek out the way to that castle East o' the Sun and
West o' the Moon if she would save him. Weeping bitterly, she
set out and, having walked for many days, came to a tall rock.
Under it sat an old woman who played with a golden apple.
"Which is the way to the Prince in the castle East o' the Sun and
West o' the Moon, who is to marry a Troll Princess with a nose
three ells long?" the girl asked.
"Maybe you are the one who should have had him," said the old
woman. "The castle I do not know, but I will lend you my horse
to ride to my sister. She may know more. Take this apple with
you, and when you reach her, give the horse a switch under the
left ear, and bid him go home."
So the girl rode on, a long, long way, to another tall rock, and
there sat an old woman with a carding-comb of gold. She also
knew nothing, but sent the girl on to the third sister, bidding
her drive the horse home as before, and gave her the
carding-comb. Again, the girl rode on, a long, weary way, until
she came to another great rock, and there was a third old woman,
spinning with a spinning wheel of gold. She knew no more than
the others knew, but gave the girl the spinning wheel, bidding
her ride to the East Wind and send the horse home as before.
On rode the girl, a long, weary path, to the house of the East
Wind and asked him the way. Yes, he had heard of the castle, but
had never blown so far. But he would carry her to the West Wind,
who was stronger than himself. So away they went till they came
to the house of the West Wind and asked him the way.
"I've never blown so far," said the West Wind, "but I'll take you
to the South Wind."
So away they went to the South Wind and the West Wind asked him
"I've breezed around," said the South Wind, "but never gone so
far. We will ask our eldest brother, the North Wind, for he is
So away they went to the North Wind, who was huffing and puffing,
all wild and fierce. But the South Wind called out, "Here's the
girl who should have had the Prince in the castle East o' the Sun
and West o' the Moon. Can you show her the way?"
"I once blew an aspen leaf there," said the North Wind, "but was
so worn out I hadn't a puff left in me for days. Still, if you
wish it, my girl, and are not afraid, I'll see if I can blow you
"With all my heart," said the girl, "for I must and will get
there. I am not afraid."
So early next morning, the North Wind puffed himself out --
terrifying, huge, and strong -- and off they went. Down below it
caused havoc -- woods and buildings torn up and ships foundered
by the hundreds. On and on they flew over the never-ending sea,
until the North Wind was so weary he could hardly blow a puff.
His wings drooped and the waves splashed over his heels.
"Are you afraid?" asked the North Wind.
"No," said the girl.
Just then there was land sighted ahead and the North Wind just
managed to throw her on the shore before the castle East o' the
Sun and West o' the Moon. But he was so faint he had to rest for
many days before he got home.
Next morning the girl sat down before the castle and began to
play with the golden apple, and who should see her but the Troll
Princess who was to wed the Prince!
"What do you want for your apple?" she asked.
"It's not for sale, neither for gold nor money," the girl
"Name your price," said Long-Nose.
"That I may spend one night with the Prince who lives here," said
The Troll Princess was willing, but when the girl came to the
Prince's room, he was fast asleep. Nothing would waken him, and
she was chased out of the room in the morning.
Once more, she sat down and began to card with the golden
carding-comb. Again, Long-Nose wanted it and again the girl
refused, except for a night with the Prince. The Troll agreed,
but when the girl went up, for all that she wept and called and
shook him, she could not rouse the Prince. Again, Long-Nose
chased her out in the morning.
A third time the girl sat down and began to spin with the golden
spinning wheel, and that too Long-Nose wanted.
"No, it is not for sale," she said, "except for a night in the
Prince's room, as before."
Now fortunately some good folk slept next door and had heard the
girl weeping and calling the past two nights, and so they told
the Prince. That evening, when Long-Nose came in with her
sleepy-drink, the Prince threw it away unnoticed. So when his
true love came in, she found him awake and told him all her tale.
This has something to teach at all levels. From it, the youngest
child can learn the simple virtues, e.g., of courtesy even to
those whose appearance is queer (who knows what opportunities
they bring?) ; of courage, for the emphasis on it is
unmistakable; of perseverance that keeps steadily on, despite
weariness and disappointment. One cannot miss the dangers of
breaking a promise, or curiosity, or fail to see the justice of
the fact that those who dirty a garment are the ones to clean it.
But it is when we look at the symbolism of the tale that we begin
to sense its profounder lessons. For the constellation, the
Great Bear, is the symbol of the primordial cosmic powers (the
Seven Rishis) that exist in time and space, the forces "from
which and into which the divine breath, MOTION, works incessantly
during the Manvantara" or life-term. In the individual, it is
the primordial septenary ray of his septenary life-cycle, the
nucleus of his being, the Monadic Heavenly Man. Just as the
Monad is the inherent, immortal part of man that compels his
growth towards perfection, so does the bewitched White Bear
(white including all the colors) call for the human-soul-to-be,
the youngest upon the material scene of evolution. But the
personal soul only knows its divine lord by night, in sleep; by
day, it is only aware of it in its animal nature and form.
Touched by the divine contact, the unsatisfied soul aspires,
desires, but does not know yet what it desires. To satisfy its
longing, it turns back to the familiar things of matter.
Here we find a link with the Promethean myth. By the light of
mind, the human soul becomes aware of divinity and enamored of
its beauty. Yet, in some mysterious way, that light, in its
tempting material aspect, is premature, and it plunges both the
human and the divine soul into an intensification of difficulties
and tribulations. For the human soul's view of its divine
partner is conditioned by the material, personal outlook (the bit
of candle given by the mother) and so its attitude mars the
Spirit's garment with the three spots of tallow, ambition for
progress and success, desire for life, and desire for comfort and
happiness -- for self. The soul desires to hold the Spirit for
itself and then finds itself bereft.
With self-conscious perception still rooted in the personal, the
human soul is seemingly further from its lord than when it felt
its presence instinctively. It has to find it again with
self-conscious pain and effort, or else the monadic spark is
doomed to union with the most gross, material element, the
psychic, personified by the Troll Princess with a nose three ells
long. For each of the senses correlates with an element.
Spiritual teachers are represented with long ears to denote that
their consciousness is centered on the pure akasic plane whose
characteristic is "sound." The sense of smell is equated with the
earth, or matter; so the lengthening of the nose clearly
indicates the gross, material character of the lower psychic
principles that claim the monad, the sleeping Prince, unless the
human Manas can find and call it awake.
The castle East o' the Sun and West o' the Moon surely lies,
then, in the mid-region of our being, neither sun-immortal nor
moon-mortal -- the bridge of Antaskarana, where the final choice
has to be made. But before that moment, the human soul,
one-pointed in its aim, must make its own destiny. The three old
women are unmistakably blood-sisters to the Greek Parcae, the
Fates, as also to the Scandinavian Norns -- Past, Present, and
Future. The golden apple must have grown on the tree of
knowledge of good and evil, for the actions we do with full human
awareness are those that bring the experiences by which we
approach our goal. The carding-comb is the judgment with which
we must comb out the dross of that experience from that which we
keep, in order to spin from it the thread of our true destiny,
the line of our life's meditation. Later, what time has given us
-- experience, judgment, and will -- must all be traded, offered
up for the possibility of awakening the Spirit.
The Four Winds are universal characters in legendary lore, for
they stand for the Regents of, the intelligent powers behind, the
four great cosmic forces and elements, said to preside over the
cardinal points, each with a distinct occult property. They are
the material agents by means of which Karma restores equilibrium.
Mankind sets up causes, both individual and collective, which
awaken corresponding powers in the cosmos, and these are
magnetically attracted to, and react upon, the makers of those
causes. The thoughts, feelings, and deeds of the searching soul
produce reactions in the cosmos that bear it onwards, as do the
Winds in the story. These Winds, the principles of Cosmic Space,
intimately connect with the Pole Star, which is itself linked
with the Bear constellation and therefore the North Wind finally
carries the soul across the ocean of samsara to the castle where
the last struggle between the principles takes place.
There the soul must surrender one by one the results of all its
individual experience, its judgment, and its will, for a higher
purpose. It has at length to wash away the three blots of
individual desire -- ambition, separate life, and happiness. The
more the psychic nature -- personal thoughts, feelings, and sense
impressions, as personified by the Trolls -- concerns itself with
these faults, the greater and darker they grow. We do not
overcome our vices by thinking and worrying about them. The
touch of the beggar-soul, with nothing left to call its own,
removes all stains of former selfishness from the heavenly
garment. The evil embodiments burst, the imprisoned "lives" are
set free, and soul and Spirit, reunited, gather into the great
storehouse of eternal memory the treasures of wisdom gained
through the vicissitudes of the life pilgrimage.
WHEN WILL THEOSOPHY BE WRITTEN IN ENGLISH?
By Grace Knoche
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, October 1941, pages 263-69.]
This question, if it keeps on cropping up, will divide students
into not two but several camps. There is the plain person who
has little faith in his capacity for judging and perhaps little
time for study. There is the devotee (a trifle inert very often)
who thinks that ethical teachings are enough, the brilliant mind
that is too impatient to be profound, and the congenital reformer
who knows that he ought to learn but would rather teach.
Finally, as a nucleus for the future, there are those quiet and
genuine students who see that the hurdle of a handful of
technical terms is very little indeed to consider in view of the
tremendous speeding-up -- spiritual and intellectual -- which he
sees also is the sure reward of taking it. In addition, there is
the puzzled inquirer who does not know what he is, or where, but
who, come wind come weather, is going to find out about Theosophy
somehow, yet is confused by this wordy fog.
One is amazed at the persistence of this question, for the answer
is simplicity itself. Theosophy will be written in English when
we who speak this language have English words to express,
understandably and succinctly, its clear direct teachings and
ideas. Unfortunately, when Theosophy was brought to the West, we
had no such words. How could we have names for teachings and
ideas of which our dictionaries were chemically pure and even
Western scholars had never heard? Alice in Wonderland might
uncover an answer, but we are speaking from Globe D.
In fact, the question as stated is purely rhetorical. What it
means is, "When will Theosophy be written in English without the
inclusion of Sanskrit words and terms?" However, let us take it
as it stands, and the first step is to settle upon what we mean
by "English." Just what is English? A dictionary might know
something about it and one happens to be before us -- the Funk
and Wagnall's Collegiate. A less than ten-minute perusal of its
pages discovers the following Sanskrit words: Atman, amrita,
Buddha, guru, dharma, prakriti, shakti, sati (suttee) maya,
sutra, Indra, Vishnu, Shiva, trimurti, nirvana, Mahabharata,
vina, yoga, and yogi.
Whatever these words were once, they are English now, as English
as Chicago or Des Moines, regime, bouquet, piano, molasses, or
some thousands of others once immigrant and suspect, now
citizens. Return to the dictionary. It doubtless contains other
Sanskrit words, perhaps many, but here we have twenty, a larger
number than one can find in any but the most exceptional, even a
technical, article. Note that an Editorial Board composed of
scholars includes these words, without benefit of apology, in an
English dictionary known to probably every college in America,
thus posting them as belonging to the English language.
Incidentally, before passing on, we check this list against the
PRACTICAL STANDARD DICTIONARY on the shelves across the hall. We
find every word there, too -- and this in a dictionary described
on the title page as "practical."
So what is this English in which Theosophy cannot be written, and
yet can be? For we cannot repudiate these Sanskrit words without
repudiating equally the almost numberless technical words today
found not only in dictionaries but in dozens of glossaries on
law, medicine, anatomy, botany, and chemistry. (Sanskrit, a
language of compounds, has nothing to compare with the 40-letter
unpronounceable terms of the chemist!) There are yet more
technical words found in yet other subjects that are technical
but like Sanskrit belong in the now rising cycle of human
knowledge and thus are worthy the steel of the worthwhile mind.
Or glance down the columns of a competent Index in a technical
book -- say on botany that is well past its youth and harmless --
and note the multitudes of words and terms at one time as strange
to us as Sanskrit, but now by rite of adoption full citizens of
the fatherland we call English. A bit of history must be
inserted here, for the question, "What is English?" requires
something more than a categorical answer.
What in due course came to be known as English had its roots in a
spoken speech brought over to the island now called England, from
the continent -- from the forests of the North Sea and the
Baltic, the low terrain of the Elbe, the Weser, and the Rhine, by
migrating groups sifted from populous clans. First came the
Angles, then the Saxons, then the Frisians, the Norsemen, and the
Danes. They brought their wives and children and their strong
will to stay; they brought their household goods and gods; they
brought their speech, their dialects, whose words were as exotic,
as wholly strange, as Sanskrit is to most of us today. They
fought their way to and into this island-country, and they
settled down to stay.
It does not make the politest picture, but history paints it so,
and after a century of the spadework that was to make Anglo-Saxon
the speech of this new land, its inner terrain of thought and
communication was plowed, furrowed, and seeded with these new,
strange words. The native Celtic, hardly more than spattered
with Latin, mingled with the dialects of the invaders, for Rome
had moved out, bag and baggage, and had taken its language along.
The day of books and scholarship was to come. Fat books and many
have been written around these proceedings and migrations, but a
bare summary will suffice. So much however is indispensable, for
we must define that word "English" and definitions have to rest
on a foundation or they cannot define.
There were law-courts, and there was of course a church, but
these alone concerned themselves with Latin. The vernacular was
simply Old English, familiar in the college Manual, and comprised
roughly of three main dialects. There were the Northumbrian,
brought in by the Angles and so named because spoken north of the
Humber; the Mercian of the Frisian clans, spoken south of this
river to the Thames; and the Wessex or Saxon, still further
south, the mother tongue of Alfred the Great. Certainly, there
were minor dialects, and no doubt overlapping, but this will do.
The dialect of Wessex became the Anglo-Saxon of English history,
its very name compounded of foreign words.
Now for the superstructure that is to furnish forth our
definition. Not only were these outland dialects taken into the
Celtic fold as they came to be needed, or pushed their way in,
but also the native dialects borrowed words from foreign tongues,
as well as from each other. So that by the time we arrive at
Middle English, with its greater solidity and exactness, some
hundreds of French words had filtered in, derived from the usages
of the aristocracy, the clergy, and the courts of this now Norman
These paved the way inevitably for more and more of Latin, the
beloved of the scholar and the church, while inflexions were
changed and exchanged, added and lopped away; prefixes and
suffixes were born and reborn; and participles and prepositions,
adverbs, infinitives, and gerunds had their own growing pains to
modify forms here and there. It all seems curiously fluid. Yet
it was natural, since language is essentially a fluid thing. One
is reminded here of Blackstone's quite unforgettable definition
of water (in COMMENTARIES ON THE LAWS OF ENGLAND, Book 2, Chapter
> Water is a movable, wandering thing . . . but the land, which
> that water covers, is permanent, fixed, and immovable.
So is a language a "moveable and wandering thing," but the inner,
the deeper forces that shape and in fact create it -- these are
permanent. While all the time more words come filtering in,
raining in, dancing in, and muscling in, some to be adopted
intact and unchanged, some to melt and fuse together with words
they found, like candles left in the sun. By the fourteenth
century, for instance, we find French words flowing like a tide,
to rock merrily along with the rest in the cradle of a
grammatical frame thoroughly Teutonic. Until at last, out of the
crumble and break-up of the dialects there we find emerging a
language. They called it "English," and it too went on
borrowing, clasping strange, foreign words in its motherly
embrace like so many breathless young children. But unlike the
Old Woman who lived in the Shoe, English did know what to do. It
adopted them -- an irrevocable step, but by no means unique. For
this is a language-habit, sprung from the essential nature of
free utterance in its youth -- and the Occident, bear in mind, is
very young compared with the Mystic East.
What, then, is English? Is it aA melting pot? Not that exactly,
for mostly the new words fit unchanged into the niches suddenly
ready to receive them. They are adopted, and this because
English finds suddenly that it needs them. By the mysterious,
because trackless, procedures of the past they come in because
they belong. The English language is a hierarchy, therefore,
with many hierarchies folded in it, but most of these left to
remain just themselves to the degree that they cooperate with the
rest. They become, thus, integral with that rest, tissue of its
tissue now, life of its life.
And just as English has welcomed the stranger-words that knocked
for admission in the past, so will it in the future, because it
is a hierarchy, in other words, a family, before all. It is the
One cherishing within it the Many. Here is our definition, then,
and should English ever cease to justify it, it would cease, in
the deeper sense, to be English. But it will not cease. It will
live its life, and normally, reach its prime, grow old, decline,
and pass away as all composite things do, to give place to
another language and a nobler -- Sanskrit perhaps! (Very wise
Teachers have said so, not today only, but in ancient days -- but
that is another story).
The point is, so English came to be, for with every new
adventure, discovery, importation, gadget, horizon, or idea, in
would come a new word or two, often a flock of them. This did
not have to happen, to be sure. We might have refused the
discovery, shut our eyes to the new horizon, our mind to the
idea, and declined all that looked like adventure. But as it
chanced, we did not want to. We chose adventure and the new
frontier, and English therefore took the path of growth and power
and enchantment, and kept on inviting foreign words in, and is
doing it still as the dictionaries attest -- with each new
edition we find the family enlarged -- and never in all the
history of English has anyone ever thought it queer.
Here are a few words, for instance, imported through the
centuries from Holland -- sturdy Dutch words, every one: botch,
brake, spool, ruffle, tuck, cough, muddle, nag, luck, trick,
sloop, mop, and so forth for the better part of a page, not to
mention easel and landscape, and (quickly seized upon by writers)
Boer-African trek and veldt. Once alien and exotic, they are
English now because adopted, and have all the rights,
hereditaments, and smoky flavor of a good old Anglo-Saxon word.
We would not, because we positively could not, dispense with even
one, and incidentally, did it cost us hours of painful
application to learn them? Is the use of them confined to the
scholar, the bookworm, or those who have time to study? Such an
argument does not stand up.
Nation after nation, foreign language after language past and
present, has stamped its soul-impress upon English in just this
way, some more indelibly, and some more spiritually, than others;
but here these once-strange words are, all of them, without
benefit of protest, English words now. And it will continue, the
hoary process, because we who speak English are that way. When
the first Giant Panda, for instance, was brought to our shores or
the little Koala-bear from Australia (with apologies, since it is
not a bear), did we accept them, and adopt the unknown words that
they brought along as names? Or did we ship them back with the
message that "if the donors (or discoverers) will give them
English names we shall be pleased to look them over?" Of course
not. We did the sensible, simple, and perfectly obvious thing --
we adopted these hitherto unknown Chinese and Blackfellow words,
and hurried to the dictionary-makers with them.
But Sanskrit is different, you say, and you are right: it is very
different. It is not bringing us curious animals, or
insect-pests, or dangerous weeds with strange names, as the
scientists do; not even nourishing foods and fruits like the
mango, anone, cherimoya, and avocado pear; like the orange and
lemon, apricot, sago, cinnamon and chocolate, molasses and
marmalade, coffee and tea -- words as foreign once as Sanskrit
ever was. Nor does it vie with the native dialects of North
America that have given us so lavishly of their words for names
of lakes, rivers, cities, counties and states, that whole pages
in a competent atlas make you wonder if geography is but another
name for some verbal melange or potpourri.
Sanskrit is different, for the burden of its strange new words is
no material thing. What it does bring is best described,
perhaps, in the familiar words of our Leader: "Light for the
mind, love for the heart, understanding for the intellect." What
it has to offer is a nosegay of forgotten truths and teachings --
truths, by the way, upon which the great spiritual civilizations
of the distant past were founded, and by which they lived out
their cycle to reach a point of (relative) spiritual perfection.
What Sanskrit has to bring us, in a word, is Light -- but some,
because it is offered in lamps whose name and pattern are
strange, must hesitate. (English does not hesitate: English
adopts them. Question: "Does a language have more courage than a
man?" That is an aside.) To imagine that any protest of ours can
make a language stop dead in its tracks is to imagine something
that simply does not happen. Languages do not evolve that way,
and certainly English did not. That is why it is not ready-made
and static; that is why it is spiritually alive. It is learning
and growing as we are. What do we want to be polarized to,
anyway -- Spirit or Matter? What do we really want for our
spiritual Polar Star?
By G. de Purucker
[From WIND OF THE SPIRIT, pages 250-54.]
It is very interesting to me to see how many people are
interested in what some branches of religio-philosophy have named
the "Adversary." I believe that this is caused largely by the
fact that outside of dogma from which the life has fled, there
abides a residuum of reality even in these exoteric teachings of
the outer instead of the inner time. The human heart realizes
that at the bottom of all these various theological doctrines
there is a fact of deep meaning, and this accounts, I believe,
for the reason why the Christian Church and Christians struggled
so long to overthrow the gross anthropomorphic and ridiculous
ideas that had centered on this central core of pure reality.
What is this central core? There is in the universe opposition.
There is the keynote of the meaning of the Hebrew word "'Satan,"
the Adversary, an opponent; or of the Greek and Latin word
"diabolos," from which we have the German "Teufel," the French
"Diable," the Italian "Diavolo," and the English "Devil." These
variations of spelling and pronunciation on the original term
were the products of different peoples, the original term from
which they all derived, undoubtedly having been the Greek word
"diabolos" -- meaning "the Accuser," and hence "the Adversary."
As just stated, the thought behind the word embodies the idea of
an accuser, an opponent, an adversary. How grossly this
wonderful philosophic and religious idea has been distorted to
become a mere anthropomorphic or human-like personification of
opposition in nature, opposition that in truth may be and indeed
is most beneficial and helpful, or opposition that may be, on the
other hand, malign and evil.
That is the keynote of the doctrine; and hence, using words to
explain a great cosmic reality, the Hebrew said the "opponent,"
the "adversary," and the nimble-minded Greek spoke of the
"accuser." A Theosophical teaching explains that there is no such
actual cosmic individual acting as an opponent or adversary of
men or of the Gods. The "accuser," the "adversary," the
"opponent," is in actual fact, so far as men are concerned, our
own weaknesses, evil doings, evil thoughts, evil emotions that
some day sooner or later karmically spring up in our path to face
us, and facing us, accuse us, as it were, point us out as the
evil-doer. They, our own former selves, have now become the
adversaries and accusers of the present self.
In nature and in human nature, the early Christians personified
this and spoke of the diabolos or Satan, for to them it was a
very real thing.
But mark how amazingly and marvelously every truth becomes
capable of teaching us wondrous things, for the adversary, as
should appear clearly enough from the foregoing remarks, becomes
in reality a most valuable teacher; we learn by the faults of the
past, not only to avoid them in the future, but to become
stronger than they in the future. The karmic adversary therefore
becomes the instructor; the faults learned, overcome, and
surmounted thus prove themselves to be our guides and teachers --
in other words former stumbling-blocks when surmounted become
stepping-stones to higher things.
Following this idea in one more but parallel significant meaning,
was it always stated by the ancient mystics and occultists, by
Theosophists of ancient lore, that the name of the teacher, of
the guru, of the instructor, of the Savior, is the Adversary. He
will not allow the neophyte to pass upwards until that neophyte
has proved his worth, until he has learned the keywords, the
passwords that mean primarily self-conquest and future safety.
See how wondrously this thought or key-doctrine shifts from one
explanation to a parallel one, and yet seems so difficult. Thus
were the ancient teachers always called Nagas or serpents of
wisdom. Thus was likewise the opposing power in nature, whether
divine or malign, spoken of as a Naga, a serpent in the Garden of
Eden or a Serpent of Wisdom.
A Christian teaching in the New Testament coming from supposedly
inspired intelligences, tells us to worship the serpent. Look
how graphic is the injunction: "Be ye wise as the serpent, and as
harmless as the dove." For such are all the grand Adepts, all the
Buddhas and Christs, the pitiful, sorrowing ones, sorrowing for
We learn from our weaknesses to mount to higher things. Our
weaknesses themselves become our teachers; and once we have
learned their lessons, it is then no longer needful to turn to
them for instruction. So we say then that they become evil
instructors, for we have already learned much and mounted higher
through their help. We are not only wasting time, but we are
doing wrong to be affected by the thoughts, feelings, and
counter-emotions of the past. It is our duty to pass to higher
things, to challenge the new opponents, the new accusers.
"Behold, I stand at the door and knock." Do you catch the
thought? The door opens. The adversary, the opponent for the
nonce says, "Who are you?" If you give the right answer, you
pass; the wrong answer, the door closes against you, because it
is so in reality. You cannot take a step onwards and upwards
until you know the passwords that are parts of yourself, in other
words until you have the will and the intelligence to do right.
You yourself then, in such instance, become yourself the
adversary, the so-called Satan.
You must conquer yourself, this part of yourself, in order to go
higher. Therefore, we learn on the stepping-stones of our former
selves to become new selves. Our best selves are an ideal before
us, to mount upon and to build with. Our present selves in their
turn some day will pass and we shall meet the Spirit, the divine
Self of the future. It too will ask us, "Who art thou? Give the
password." The password is knowledge, is wisdom, is altruism, the
great treasury of long-past spiritual experience. Be ye wise as
the serpent, but innocent and harmless as the dove. This is a
most beautiful and profound allegory. No wonder it has been
adopted by race after race of humankind, in different parts of
the world. Climb on our dead selves to higher things.
One aspect of the adversary is our present self, marvelous
thought. Shall we overcome the present self, the adversary that
prevents our going higher because it is not higher, it is simply
a self? If we do, then we have given the password and we ascend,
we pass the portals of wisdom. The adversary is no longer a
tyrant. No longer is the initiator examining our spiritual,
intellectual, and moral credentials, our own self, and our own
inspiration. The adversary becomes the divine friend, the Savior
of all men, the serpent of wisdom.
It is a beautiful allegory pregnant with meaning. Even the poets
of modern times, relatively modern times, have caught the idea.
Although not Theosophists perhaps, they caught it from
recollections of previous lives on earth when they were taught
it. Milton, the English poet for instance, describes the fall of
Satan or Lucifer, according to Christian theory, one of the
highest of the angels who "fell." This is the same idea with a
new angle of vision to it, a new twist of thought. The angel
climbs upward within the celestial spheres, self-redeemed. The
self, the main adversary, whether it be of god or of man or one
of the innumerable hierarchies of living beings in human nature,
for each one there is an adversary, itself or himself. Yet,
marvelous wonder, so compassionately is nature constructed, that
out of our faults we learn better things. From ugliness, we
learn beauty. From weakness surmounted is born our new strength.
From the unholy, we advance to holiness. What was once the
opposition, the opposer or adversary, when we challenge it with
courage and take the kingdom of heaven with strength, becomes the
Savior, the Initiator.
So with our own selves. Have you ever thought that a fault
overcome becomes a new strength in your character; that a
temptation surmounted has given you more power, for you have done
it through exercise of your will? Your will has become stronger.
The pity for others within you has become keener. Your vision
becomes more luminous, a far-seeing clairvoyance. It is
experience that makes us think. It is experience that gives us
growth. It is this experience that is the adversary, the
All peoples have taught of opposition in the universe, and they
taught beautifully of it. But as far as I know it is only the
very savage tribes and later Christianity that have ever
personified or humanized this cosmic principle into an angelic
entity, in Christianity of demoniac type. The essential idea is
the same over the earth. So when we look upon this Opposer,
under whatever multitude of myriads of guises, in which we meet
it, whether of divine character or of malign, the principle
behind all is the same. To us humans it becomes demoniac and
malign if we weakly succumb. We have forgotten the challenge of
our own soul. On the other hand, when we use our will to achieve
and take our selves in hand for training, we become strong
because we become more universal. Our vision is no longer
restricted to ourselves, and therefore raises itself
proportionately towards the divine.
That is why the divine is always spoken of as always being
divine, and the immensely restricted and constricted and
therefore selfish as always being evil. The small thinks but for
itself and opposes the world to gain a tiny kingdom of the lower
self, setting its power against the universe and thereby becoming
so much evil, like the seeds of a disease in the human body.
When that seed of disturbance is cast out, as happily it may be,
health, universal peace, in the body, returns. There is the
idea. The more we become universal, the higher we are.
Phrase it otherwise. The closer we approach to the divine, which
is universal, the higher we are. To quote again a Christian
thought of great depth and to me of wondrous beauty: "Know ye not
that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God
dwelleth in you?" There you have the companionship of the divine,
if you will take it by your inner strength, for here within us is
its tabernacle, its temple, in the human heart.
There is a whole cosmic philosophy in just the simple thoughts we
have studied together this afternoon, parts of a whole cosmic
philosophy; and I would very earnestly suggest to those of you
who may have come here for the first time today, that you study
the books that treat of our god-wisdom. In them you will find
illumination that is life, comfort, immense intellectual activity
of the highest type, and last but not least, peace, that inner
peace that passeth all understanding, but that can be known.
THE SPHINX OF THEOSOPHY, Part II
By Annie Besant
[A lecture that appeared in LUCIFER, August 15, 1890, pages
Remember what I said to you about the seven planes of existence.
Go to the fifth plane where the mind is working. Pass from the
third, which is matter as you know it, to the fifth where the
mind is in its own environment and living in its own life. There
what to you is immaterial becomes material to it, for matter
there is not identical with matter here, and that is visible and
audible to the mind that is invisible and inaudible to the
coarser senses of the body.
We learn from this dry science of the lecture hall, from our
Western thought. We learn from this how the Occult Thought is
justified by modern science, how that which has been taught for
centuries in the Eastern schools is now becoming a matter of
experience in the Western hospitals. If from that and from many
another scientific proof of this real existence of thought and of
mind, an existence other than we have known on our own earth, and
within our own normal and daily life, if we once realize what
that means, we learn that Man's destiny will indeed unfold itself
before us as something loftier than poets have chanted, something
mightier than ever prophets have dreamed.
That which is abnormal today shall be general tomorrow. That
which is only beginning to bud here and there amongst us shall
blossom in a future, which is not far off as the time in Eternity
is counted. That which now only gained by careful study and by
careful living shall after a while become the inheritance of
every child who is born into our world and to a higher life.
Do you desire to prove the reality of something more than
hypnotism can give you to yourselves? Do you desire to follow out
your own evolution and try to climb upward beyond mind into
spirit, into a plane of consciousness higher yet? Then seek the
constant conquest and subordination of the lower nature, until
that which is done by the hypnotized person in trance and
unconsciously is done by yourself with full consciousness of your
doing, and without losing hold of yourself from the beginning to
You can only do this by rising for yourself and climbing upwards
by your own endeavor. If there were intelligences on those
higher planes, you cannot drag them down to you; you must climb
up to them. The consciousness that you would share with them
must be the consciousness that is theirs, and not the endeavor to
degrade them to your lower life. You can only do this by
uttermost effort, by perfect self-devotion, and by nobility of
If the athlete to climb a mountain-top must train himself for
many a week and many a month, and then as he climbs must strain
every muscle, must use every power of body, if he would reach the
mountain-top that he covets to scale. Do you think that if
physical mountains can only he climbed by effort, it is without
effort that these mountains of the mind and of the spirit can be
scaled? For, mind you, as you climb upwards, fresh powers pass
into your hands, and with wider knowledge comes greater power
The student of physical science gains fresh power to control
Nature as he learns more of her secrets and the student of
psychical science also gains the natural powers that lie hidden
from the majority today, but are open to those who know how to
study and how to attain.
Some say, "There is too much mystery in your Theosophy. These
powers that you are hinting at, these powers over Nature -- why
not throw them open to the world and let men everywhere know how
to learn and how to win?" Do you give your children dynamite to
play with? Do you let your schoolchild play with poisons in the
Laboratory? Do you not say that only with manhood's knowledge
comes manhood's power, and that that which is potent for use and
for service may be potent for mischief and for destruction of
life? It is so in the past as in the present.
These higher natural powers can only be gained by those who are
willing to work for many a year constantly at patient study.
They come as an appendage of the development of the higher life.
They come as the natural growth of the human being as he evolves
upwards in this long climb; not followed for themselves, not
gained for themselves, but only as the natural blossoming of the
higher humanity, which gradually grows within the men and the
women who study and who live for others.
Such powers bring with them vast responsibility. Such powers
bring with them ability for service, but also ability for
mischief. I ask you, would it be wise that they should be thrown
everywhere amongst a people, men and women of the world, men and
women of today, women who would lose their temper if their dress
did not fit, or men who would swear if their coachman made them
late for a dinner party. Are those people to be entrusted with
powers that with a thought are able to cure, but are also able to
slay? Are those people to be trusted with ability that gives
mighty power for salvation but power also for destruction, at the
mere will of the evil desire?
So that side of Theosophy is not thrown open to the multitude,
and when you hear talk of phenomena, and when you see foolish
excitement from the people who desire to see something wonderful,
like a conjuring trick, then the answer is: Those powers are only
interesting as signs of the growing spirituality, and they are
not to he used for the amusement of a moment, nor as mere
platform tricks to spend an hour in some fresh excitement.
You will read of them, and they exist; but they exist only for
those who are worthy to wield them; aye, for any one of YOU, who
is willing to go through the discipline, who is willing to give
the time and have the patience for study. They are not
supernatural. They are wholly natural. They can only be won, as
Nature's powers are won, by those who have patience to study, who
have courage to investigate and to act.
From that side, I point you to the light that there is in man's
destiny; reminding you how it shows the time when man shall
indeed be royal over Nature, because he is first royal over
himself; that Nature shall be his servant because he is his own
master; having conquered himself, he conquers everything; and
when that victory has been won, man's destiny will be perfect and
You may well say, "How can life give time for such attainment,
how can one brief life find space for the evolution of which you
speak?" No one life would be enough for such growth or in one
brief human life is such attainment possible. Theosophy teaches
that it is not one life but many lives through which you pass.
You who are here today are not here for the first time. Far
behind you stretches a vast human experience. The abilities that
you have, the faculties that you enjoy, and the powers that you
exercise are the trophies of your past victories. They are the
signs of the fashion in which you have used the lives of the
Not one, but many lives, come to every human spirit in its
pilgrimage through Time and Space. Not once, but often, does man
renew his experience, gathering more of knowledge with every
life, adding fresh pages of experience to the book of his
existence, and so writing line after line of that human story
that at last he will be able to read. So, we are taught, man is
reborn according to the past that he has made by his own effort.
What you are, Theosophy tells you, you have made yourself. The
life that you have and the powers that you exercise, that life
has been molded by your own past, those powers have been won by
your own endeavors. For the ethics of Theosophy grow out of this
view of man; the ethics of Theosophy tell you of a law that none
can escape, of a destiny that none can avoid. That law of moral
causation is universal, molding for each the life that his
previous existence has deserved. According to that law of Karma,
that law of ethical causation today is the result and the fruit
of the past. Your past molds your present. Your future shall be
the outcome of your present.
Shadows thrown upon a wall, Professor Draper tells us, leave an
impress there, so that if you use the rightful means, you can
evolve once more the shadow from the wall over which it has
passed. If that were true of matter, shall it not also be true
of spirit? If the suitable means could evolve from the wall the
shadow that your passing figure has cast upon it, shall not the
shadow of your acts cast upon your character be evolved by the
mighty alchemy of Nature and change it, and leave an impress that
nothing can take away? So we believe that men are born as they
have prepared for themselves the life into which they come.
If you say to that, "Well, but look at the rich and the poor,
look at the varieties of human circumstance, the varieties of
human happiness. Would you tell us that all who suffer poverty
have ill-used their previous existence, that the prosperous and
wealthy are only reaping the reward of some past life?" Then we
answer you, in dealing with human life, you must look not only on
the surface but also below it. Lives of yours are but moments in
the great life through which you pass; each life but as an hour
out of the many years of your pilgrimage through the ages.
When you judge of wealth or of poverty, you must measure them in
the scales of the eternal life, and not only in those of the
transitory present. It may be that those who are most miserable
and most poor, whose fate has flung them into some slum of this
vast city, may there be expiating only some trifling error, and
by the self-denying of their living, by the glory of their
charity to their fellows, by that nobility and unselfishness that
you find more among the slum-dwellers than the palace-dwellers,
it may be that they are molding for themselves the most glorious
future, and making progress more rapidly than they could dream of
in their darkness now.
It may be that some wealthy man or woman, thrown into that
position by some event of a previous life, it may be that in the
selfishness that grows out of comfort, in the isolation that
grows out of wealth, in the indifference to other lives that
comes out of ease to one's self, it may be that they are losing,
spiritually and mentally, far more than they are winning with
their mere bodily ease, and they are further back in their
pilgrimage by reason of the very ease of their daily life.
Mind you, the worst crime in man is selfishness; that which
isolates him from his brothers, that which separates him from the
common lot, that which puts him apart and separate, is oft-times
the worst curse that can fall upon a human life. For if it be
true, as we teach, that all men are brothers; if it be true that
in this vast human family there is one great tie of brotherhood,
that goes from life to life and from heart to heart; then I ask
you, what can do more to degrade the whole life of man than to
live in selfish and easeful isolation while others are in misery
and wretchedness at your very doors?
Think not that the poor suffer alone; think not that the
brutality and the misery, the degradation and the crime of one
part of London leave unpoisoned the atmosphere of the rest. I
spoke of the bearing of Theosophy on human conduct; the one
message Theosophy brings to the Western World, is the message of
brotherhood, a brotherhood that is blasphemed every day in this
metropolis, and that is merely a word and an empty phrase in the
mouth of most.
We who believe in this Universal Brotherhood, we recognize and
understand that no progress in the spirit can be made unless
there be self-devotion to the general good of humankind. That
any idea of progress by the intellect, that any hope of
attainment by means of the mind, that those are but as dreams
beside the progress that can be won by self-devotion to humanity,
and the service that is done to our brothers when we sacrifice
our own happiness to their good.
The final message of Theosophy is one of ethics rather than even
of philosophy or of science. It has its philosophy of which I
have suggested to you some outline; it has its science of man to
some points of which I have alluded; and I have suggested the
line of study along which we may go. More vital than its
philosophy, more essential than its science, is that ethical duty
of brotherhood between all members of the human race, which sees
misery only to relieve it, and suffering only to lighten the pang
that it inflicts.
It teaches us that none can rise alone. The degradation of one
is the degradation of all. While some are miserable, none can be
truly happy. While there are poor to succor, there ought to be
no rich to waste. While there is starvation on one side, there
ought to be no idle luxury on the other. That message of
brotherhood is most wanted in our selfish Western Civilization.
Here luxury has reached its highest point. Here the purely
material rules over men's minds more than ever before.
In this nineteenth century, in its race for wealth, in its
triumphs of material science, in its pride of material
advancement, here more than ever before in the world's history,
has been wanted this message of brotherhood from man to man.
Sometimes I have thought, in their far-off Eastern home, those
whom we call Masters and Teachers, in that they are wiser by
their study than we are, that they have broken what one of them
has called the silence of centuries, because of the sore need of
our Western World. We may progress in science and in wealth, we
may progress in knowledge and in intellectual attainment, but
useless is this, nay, worse than useless, mischievous, if it
widens the gulf between rich and poor and makes more impossible
the Brotherhood of Man.
Together we must climb or together we must fall. No one of us
can save himself by his own efforts unless his brother rises side
by side with him. Our work is the work of a common salvation;
our work here is the work of a common duty to common human need;
and in doing that, in devoting ourselves to that, we shall be
true Theosophists, working out the spirit of the Philosophy, and
climbing upwards towards the Higher Life.
To you, who, for one brief hour this evening, have come from
gayer scenes and brighter lives to listen to this message from
the East, my last word to you, which is the central word, shall
be this word of "Brotherhood." To be rid of selfishness, to win
but to serve, to use your education to help the ignorant, to use
your training to help the untrained, to use your voices to make
articulate the sufferings of the voiceless; that is the command
that Theosophy gives to the rich of the Western World.
If you would learn its Philosophy, you must bear its moral yoke.
If you would learn its Science, you must accept its ethical
teaching. Ethics come before Science, and Duty comes before
attainment. Accepting the one, the other likewise shall be
yours. Then all together, not apart and individually, all as one
vast family bound in bonds of love, we shall climb together that
ladder of Humanity whose foot is set in the slime of animal life,
but whose summit is lost in the eternal light -- the ladder on
whose rungs our feet are set today, but up which we cannot climb,
save as we bear our brethren with us, and use our strength to
help their weakness, and our powers to make their helplessness
THE HIGHER AND LOWER SELF
By Professor G.N. Chakravarti
[From "The Report of Proceedings of The Theosophical Congress,
World's Fair of 1893," pages 180-85.]
In the rush and stir of your daily life, in the ceaseless turmoil
of activity of physical life, it is only natural that people
should be perfectly unconscious that there is any self besides
the self that is created by the sensation given rise to by the
five senses of the body.
Yet sometimes when you retire from the rough rubbing of the
world, sometimes when you are listening to the sweet melodies of
a babbling stream, sometimes when you are looking with admiration
upon the silvery blue of the starry firmament, you seem to forget
the life of the world; the daily marketable life recedes in the
All consciousness of the struggle with the various temptations
and trials of this world leave the plane of your consciousness,
and you seem to sink into the vast profundity of some power, of
some world behind you. You realize then that you are not the
ignoble, mean, and groveling creature, fighting and elbowing your
way in the keen struggle of life against life; you realize in the
presence of that spirit that your capacities are infinite, that
your future is limitless, and that you are the very angel of
paradise thrust out from your birthright.
It is not, however, always that people in the West have
opportunities to realize such a state of being. There is such a
high-pressure life in the West, such feverish struggle for that
which I cannot understand, you can almost never retire into a
sanctuary that is behind the external consciousness.
Everyone in the West seems preoccupied with the physical
relations of man to the world, or at best, merely works the lower
aspects of one's intellect. Seldom therefore can he realize what
lies beyond the mind in the Western nations. His life is like
the remorseless giant, the Rakshasha, the giant in the deep ocean
who extorted the promise from the person who raised him that he
must always give him work -- the moment he was unable longer to
find him some work, "that moment," said the giant, "I will
swallow up your whole being into my stomach."
The mind that you have been given has been pursued on this
physical plane, and is now that hydra-headed monster that demands
from you work, work, ceaseless and constant; and the moment you
do not give him work he threatens you with annihilation. You
stand aghast at what lies beyond. There is a gap indeed between
the mental plane and the plane of the soul, and you look at that
chasm and your head reels, for you cannot look beyond.
But allow me to tell you that if you look deep enough into that
chasm you can find the living immortal waters of life that can
make you happier, nobler, more sublime beings than you can ever
be if you are occupied as you are on the plane of the mind. You
are familiar, ladies and gentlemen, with that phenomenon in
objects that is called total reflection. As long as the proper
angle is not reached, a ray of light passing through a medium
becomes distorted, and you have an inaccurate picture of the
object; but only give the perfect angle to the ray of light, let
it come to the point of the critical angle, and -- lo and behold!
-- the distortion and refraction give place to the most beautiful
reflection -- perfect and total reflection, as it is technically
So is it with the mind. At first when you withdraw from the
mental plane, you feel depression, desolation, despair, and
longing for something upon which you can stand. Only go a step
further and try to extort from nature the wealth that it holds in
store for you, and that feeling of depression will be driven
away. The giant that once threatened to swallow you up will fall
at your feet, and you will rise triumphant with the knowledge of
having conquered, the knowledge of having acquired the birthright
of the spiritual possession.
In the East, however, where there is not such a keen struggle for
life, men can oftener retire from the plane of mental
consciousness. In fact, it is ordained in the daily religious
duties of the Hindus that they should spend at least half an hour
twice a day in reflection on the Divine; and the conditions under
which this has to be done are laid down.
It is recommended that he should sit, if possible, on the banks
of a silent stream at a time when day joins hands with night,
when the stars are just disappearing or just appearing, and then
there will flow into him an ineffable calm. He puts his soul en
rapport with the soul of the great nature that is the true source
of all happiness. He instills into his mind the real poetry of
existence, the real romance of the universe.
Hence, in all the great religious systems, poetry and prophecy
have meant the same thing. I need hardly remind you that the
Latin word "vates" means both a prophet and a poet, and in the
majestic language of the Sanskrit philosophies, one of the names
of the highest Divine Being himself is Kavin Paranim, the ancient
poet. Yes, by withdrawing himself from the outer consciousness
in which man has crystallized his will being, and by throwing
himself on the bosom of Mother Nature, he realizes a deeper part
of him that is the true essence of his being and in whose light
alone he can find peace and comfort.
This is the higher self of which I am to talk to you tonight.
This is the real self of the man, which decayeth not. It is the
primitive portion of his being, not that which but appears and
disappears in forms clothed in incarnation and reincarnation, but
rather that higher self that is not touched by external changes,
which has on it today a fresh garment and tomorrow casts it off
in order to have a better and more suitable one. So it is this
higher self that tomorrow passes on to a more suitable
habitation. This immortal self of yourself is not burned by
fire, is not drowned by water, is not slain by the slayer's
knife, but defies all effects that can be produced by things
physical. It is the aim of every human being, therefore, to
bring his lower self into consonance with the higher.
We know so little about the higher self because the lower self is
not prepared to receive any vibrations evoked in the higher. You
are aware of the law of acoustics, which states that a string
must be tuned if it is to catch the vibration of a sound.
Similarly, it is with the brain consciousness. Your brain is so
materialized, so ossified, and so deadened to all that is subtle,
ethereal, and noble that it no longer vibrates in response to the
waves that emanate from the higher self. It is the duty of every
man, therefore, if he is to learn anything of this higher life,
to so train his brain or lower consciousness that he may be able
to catch these vibrations of the higher self.
This is what is meant by self-control. The very word
"self-control" shows that there is a higher self that has to
control the lower. This is the great moral principle of which
Kant speaks as one of the two things that fill him with awe.
This reunion of the lower self with the higher is the great
truth, the mystical verity that is represented in all the great
religious systems of the world by beautiful allegories and
fables. This is the meaning of the fall of Adam from his
paradise and the regaining of the paradise through Christ, who
represents the higher self. This is the meaning of Proserpine
gathering flowers, being carried away by Pluto who represents the
lower self, and of being regained almost by her husband.
This great truth is also represented by many, I think hundreds,
of beautiful allegories in the great Sanskrit literature of the
East. I shall take the liberty, with the permission of the
chairman, to narrate to you one that appears to me to be one of
the most beautiful that can be found in any literature existing
on the face of the earth.
My object is to show how in the East they make a harmonious
blending of higher spiritual truths with instruction for the
common people who cannot follow the real esoteric side of things.
In the story, you will find ordinary duties of life, ordinary
virtues that every man has to observe and possess, brought out in
resplendent beauty, and at the same time below the surface, it
conceals one of the deepest and grandest spiritual mystical
truths that you can learn.
Another object is to show by illustration that our books teem
with literature that has an esoteric aspect to it. Max Muller,
as my brother Dharmapala has told you, denies that in the East
there is an esotericism. No greater mistake, no more
preposterous, no more disgraceful injustice to the sacred
literature of the East can be perpetrated than by the assertion
that there is no esoteric side to the teachings of the East. I
shall go on now to narrate the story that I have in mind, and I
shall leave it to you to judge whether the esoteric side that I
shall present to you of that story is forced or is natural.
In olden days, there lived a princess, the daughter of a great
king. Her beauty was well known throughout the world, and she
was endowed with all the virtues recounted in the Shastras that
should adorn the female sex. In the neighborhood was another
king. He had lost his entire kingdom and had retired with his
wife and son into a dreary dense jungle, living a life of misery,
of desolation, and of discomfort -- and he was blind. Nature
could afford to him not one moment of delight or of beatific
This princess when she attained the age of marriage was consulted
by her father as to whom she was going to marry, for in ancient
India the girl was allowed to make her own choice quite as much
as now in the West. The girl replied that she had set her heart
upon the son of the blind and exiled king living in the
wilderness. The son's name was Satya Ram.
In the ancient times, the princes did nothing without consulting
the great Rishis of old. The king therefore invoked Narada and
asked him if the choice of his daughter was well and was likely
to bring happiness to her.
The sage with his vision prophetic looked into the future and
said that no person wandered the earth who was nobler or more
virtuous than the son of the exiled king, but that there was one
great objection to the choice: he would die within three months
after the marriage.
The king, the father of the princess, at once made up his mind
and said, "This one defect is quite enough to outweigh all the
virtues that you have recounted," and asked his daughter what she
thought of the position. (In India, you must remember that a
person can marry once alone.)
The daughter said, "I have mentally made my choice. I have given
my heart to my intended. Not more than once can a woman marry.
I shall stick to my resolution. I shall be loyal to my thought,
I shall be devoted to my future husband; come what might, I shall
marry the man whom I have fixed upon."
Knowing the virtuous character of his daughter, the father
allowed her to have her choice. She was duly married and brought
to the exiled home of her husband. There with her many virtues
of charity, loving kindness, and devotion, she soon won the
affections of her husband and of her father-in-law.
Time went on happily enough until near came the prophesied day of
the husband's death. Three days before the appointed day, the
wife, whose name was Savitree, began to fast. She made a rigid
vow for the welfare of her husband. The father-in-law knew her
to be delicate and said that she was not capable of making such a
long fast -- a fast of three days and performing such a rigid vow
of abstinence. But she was determined; she asked permission to
go on, and she was allowed to undertake the vow.
On the third day, the day appointed for the death of her husband,
she prayed that she might be allowed to go with her husband into
the wilderness where he went daily to fell wood for the use of
This startled both the father-in-law and the mother-in-law. They
said, "Child, thou art too delicate to wander thy way through the
thorny paths of this jungle, thou must stay home. No such
proposition can be entertained." But she insisted upon following
him. She said, "This day I must go with him, I cannot stay
back," and she who never made any request was allowed to have her
way in this particular.
Away both of them went into the jungle, the husband and wife,
till they reached the appointed spot where the wood was to be
felled, and immediately after the husband got a throbbing pain in
the head and very soon fell senseless in the lap of his wife.
The wife nursed him in her bosom until the last wave of life
seemed to be ebbing away from the frame of the husband. After
the life was gone, Yama, King of Death, appeared, ready to take
away the life of the husband.
Seeing Yama, Savitree, the wife, said, "Why, the Lord of Death,
why come you yourself from your mighty throne to take this man
away, and did not send one of your ministers?"
The reply was, "The magnetic purity of the devoted wife is too
strong to allow any of my subordinates to approach within miles
of its presence. It therefore required the King of Death himself
to come down from his throne to perform this work."
When Death began to take the life away, this devoted wife
followed Death as he carried her husband through the wilderness,
and she was asked, "Why followest thou now? Thy duties to thy
husband are over, wend back thy way home." She persisted, said
such words of wisdom, saying that no duties to her were greater
than serving her lord. Nothing that the home could give her back
by returning would make up for the loss of her husband. She
persisted in following Yama.
Attacked by her sweet words and her unflinching devotion, Yama
said, "You may ask, save the life of your husband, any boon, and
I will give it to you."
She said, "My father is deprived of his kingdom. The first boon
that I ask of you is that he shall return to his kingdom and
regain his wealth."
"Granted," said Yama. "Now you shall go back."
Still she pursued Yama, still she refused to go back, again she
used such sweet words of wisdom, poured forth such expressions of
unflinching devotion to her husband into the ears of Yama that he
was induced to grant her a second boon, and she said, "My
father-in-law has lost the power of sight. My prayer is that
sight be given back to him."
"It shall be so," again said Yama. "Now go thou back."
Yet she pursued. She was not to be sent away without having
accomplished her end. She prayed that she might have a hundred
beautiful and strong children from her womb.
Forgetting his task for the moment in the sweetness of her voice,
Death said, "Granted is thy prayer."
Immediately the next moment, she turns around this ideal of
chastity and says to Yama, "Lord of Death, knowest thou what thou
hast just now granted? Knowest thou that a Hindu wife can never
go to a second husband? Knowest thou that my prayer cannot be
granted unless my husband comes back to life? Thou art the
minister of justice. Thou canst not speak untruth, therefore my
last boon is the life of my husband."
Startled, confused beyond all comprehension, the mighty Death
shook down his head and said, "Take thy husband back. Thy
chastity has taken back from the very home of death the life that
has already become its own. Thy chastity will remain the ideal
for generations and generations for women to follow."
She returned home with the life of her husband. They all
regained their lost kingdom, the father-in-law regained his lost
sight, and once more, they reigned peacefully.
This is the exoteric story; this outside aspect of it is enough
to offer an ideal of devotion, of purity, and of chastity to any
civilized community that has existed on the face of the earth.
But there is an esoteric aspect that is even more sublime than
Savitri in the Sanskrit language means the daughter of Savarta,
which means the spiritual sun. Savitri therefore means the
spiritual soul of man that emanates from the great spiritual sun
of which I spoke to you last night. Marriage of this spiritual
daughter to Sakravan represents the marriage of a spirit to the
lower self, to the personality of the man.
Sakravan was the son of the king who had lost country and sight.
What does it represent? That the personality of man is the
creation of the human mind that has lost all its kingdom of
paradise that has flown from it. It has also lost all its sight
that allows it to look into that heaven from which it has fallen.
The marriage of the spiritual soul with this lower self then
brings about the happiness of life. At the very moment when the
destruction of the lower self might have been achieved by its
devotion to matter, there comes the help of the higher self, the
spiritual self, the daughter of the spiritual sun, to save the
personal man. She has come not only to save him but also to
regain for the human mind the wealth and kingdom it has lost and
the spiritual insight that it had been deprived of.
This, then, is the real meaning of this grand allegory, and this
the meaning of all the various other allegories that the
different systems of religion are found teeming with. The great
object therefore of your life must be to direct your gaze inward,
bend down your ears to the voice of the divine mother that ever
crieth in mellifluous strains to be heard by you, but whose sweet
voice you hear not.
If you but catch those sweet strains once, if you kneel at her
feet and say, "Mother, save me," she will take you in her lap,
wash all the thousand wounds that your self has been penetrated
by, and lull you into gentle sleep in her bosom. Then you can go
on through the trials and turmoil of life with a peace abiding in
your breast that can be found nowhere save in the bosom of that
WINTER SOLSTICE 1955, Part I
By Boris de Zirkoff
[This talk comes from the first part of the tape recording
entitled "Winter Solstice 1/2" made of a private class on
FUNDAMENTALS OF THE ESOTERIC PHILOSOPHY held on December 21,
It is wonderful that in spite of anything going on in the world
we still have Christmas. No matter the outer karmic stage
setting in the world or outer manifestation of human selfishness
and ignorance, there still is Christmas with all that means in
the deeper, more esoteric sense. It is wonderful because of the
deep significance of what this sacred season means.
No matter what changes take place around us, the season of the
Winter Solstice remains with its spiritual message, its vision of
beauty, and its serenity. In spite of changing conditions, there
remains the same cosmic significance to this season.
From time immemorial, in all races of the earth and their
civilizations, the four sacred seasons of the year have had deep
spiritual significance. Of the four, the two solstices and two
equinoxes, the Winter Solstice has greater appeal to the heart
and mind. It touched those who knew the inner meaning of these
things and even those who did not understand. Even in popular
beliefs and festivities, the Winter Solstice, later known as the
Christmas Season, has always had a greater significance than
Easter. The Summer Solstice and Autumnal Equinox have gradually
retired into the background as Easter and Christmas grew into
As far back as we can go into history, there are tales clustered
around the time of the Winter Solstice. We hear of the coming
into birth of great initiates, sages, and seers, the saviors of
the human race. The great teachers do not appear by chance.
They come guided by universal law. They are part of the occult
life of our planet, itself a living entity. There is nothing
haphazard about the appearance of those who have guided the
spiritual unfoldment of humanity from time immemorial.
Much is written on the symbols, customs, and habits that cluster
around the time of the Winter Solstice in both Christian and
previous civilizations. Why are we uplifted at that time,
especially those who can attune to a certain condition of
consciousness? The season is sacred because certain events happen
then. Where do they take place? They happen in many geographical
localities of the earth, more in some than in others.
Keep aware of the significance of the sacred seasons. We do more
than come together to commemorate something that has taken place.
We come to partake of something that still goes on. The rites of
genuine initiation take place today as they have in all the ages
of the past.
We are not commemorating past events. We attune our
consciousness, our mind, and our heart to a vibratory rate
pertaining to the spiritual events taking place. Even now,
neophytes ready for initiation undergo their final tests in
sacred places of the earth. As they have their spiritual
experiences, we hope they triumph in their trials.
For every one of us, there can be a change of consciousness if we
can attune ourselves to those wavelengths. It is minor compared
with what we consider here, but major in our lives. We align our
consciousness with the events taking place.
From immemorial antiquity, two of the main initiations have
always taken place at the Winter Solstice. One is the first true
initiation that a neophyte can undergo. He has reached the
pinnacle of ordinary human consciousness and stands at the border
between humanity and mahatmaship. That first initiation makes
the ready neophyte a master of life, a beginner in the next stage
The Winter Solstice is also when one of the greatest initiations
takes place, giving birth to a Buddha such as Gautama, the
founder of Buddhism. "Buddha" is a generic term meaning a stage
of consciousness rather than any particular individual. Although
many have attained that stage, these initiations are exceedingly
rare. A Buddha appears but twice within the history of a Root
Race, and that means several million years. Whenever one
appears, his mission begins at the Winter Solstice of that
The initiatory rites of the four Sacred Seasons intimately
connect with astronomical events. The Sun and planets are living
entities, inhabited by various hierarchies of living beings.
Their relative positions indicate the spiritual dynamics of the
solar system of which we are an integral part.
A disciple can go through an initiation whenever he is ready, at
any time of the year. Even so, the initiant performs the rites
with greater spiritual skill and success when certain planetary
bodies are in a specific position in the sky relative to the
Earth and Sun.
The Moon's position is critical to initiatory events. The great
initiations take place when the Moon is new (conjunct the Sun).
As you may see in today's sky, it is not new. It is in its first
quarter, at a right angle to the position it occupies when new.
When new, the Moon is lost in the Sun's glare. We do not see it
except when it is at the same declination as the Sun and there is
an eclipse. Otherwise, in a couple of days, we see the crescent
Moon to the left of the Sun, having left the Sun's blinding
For the greater initiations, it is ideal when the Moon is new,
with the Earth, Moon, and Sun in direct line. You may have to
wait a few years before it happens at the Winter Solstice, around
the 21st or 22nd of December. Most years, the Moon may be full,
waxing, or waning. A new Moon rarely occurs at that time.
Next is the conjunction of Venus with the Sun, giving the Earth,
Moon, Venus, and Sun in direct line, which happens less
frequently. Finally, the supreme initiations involve the
conjunction of Mercury as well. Then Earth, Moon, Venus,
Mercury, and Sun are in an approximately straight line. If you
try to calculate how often this occurs at the Winter Solstice,
you will find it extremely rare, perhaps happening in hundreds of
thousands if not millions of years.
The great Buddhas appear at the supreme cycles when all five
bodies are conjunct at the Winter Solstice. Lesser initiates,
from great ones through beginners, pass their rites when four or
three of these bodies are conjunct.
Why is the alignment of the Moon, Venus, and Mercury significant?
When they come into approximately a straight line and conjunct
the Sun, they are suffused with the Sun's radiance. Then the
supreme spiritual power emanating from the Sun on various planes
blends with their auric emanations. The auric emanations from
the hierarchies of beings of these planetary bodies directly
relate to the principles, substances, and forces of our
constitution. Such an alignment is like an open door through
which the neophyte may go.
Behind the curtain of esoteric secrecy, ancient teachings have
come down, some released in later times. One tells us that when
the Moon and planets align, the neophyte's soul-spirit or
spiritual individuality can start its motion towards the Sun by
From training, the neophyte knows how to release his inner
consciousness from the shackles of lower selfhood. In the
initiatory rites, his body and personal mind are entranced. As
the planets align, his spiritual individuality escapes earthly
attractions, moving by magnetic attraction through the planets
sunward, and then enters the Sun. That is why we call these
rites the Solar Initiations.
The Moon is tremendously important in both the initiations and in
growth, conception, gestation, and death. It rules these
functions on this globe. It receives human souls after death and
they pass through its sphere before reincarnating. Hence, in
initiation, which is conscious death, the first passage of the
neophyte is through the moon, outwards into other spheres.
Does the neophyte enter the Sun or only come up to it? Does he
return in three days or in a fortnight? It depends upon the
degree of the initiation and the degree of his internal
unfoldment. Assume he returns in a fortnight. Fourteen days
after the Winter Solstice's new Moon, the Moon is full. It is
now on the opposite side of the Earth. The Moon, Earth, and Sun
are in a straight line. If Venus and Mercury were in between,
they will not have moved too much. The soul-spirit of the
neophyte comes through the full Moon back to Earth. He
reconnects with his entranced body, which his teachers had kept
The soul-spirit reconnects with its vehicle, entering it. The
body awakens from a spiritual trance, which has nothing to do
with any condition found in psychism. Having triumphed over the
dread trials of the journey through inner spheres, the neophyte
awakens a full-fledged master of life. He is equal to those who
first taught him.
He has contacted the titanic energies of the Sun and become
permanently at one with his inner God, the solar divinity in us
all. He awakens carrying part of the solar splendor within his
consciousness. Buddhists called it the "Buddhic Splendor."
Greeks call the "Light of Apollo." Early Christian mystics call
it the "Christ Light" or "Light of the Christos." He actually
shines, even physically, because of his inner nature's heightened
spiritual tension. That is why we call him clothed with the Sun.
We find examples of this throughout the world, with sages and
seers pictured with an aureole of light surrounding the head and
rays coming from the back of the head. This shows the esoteric
fact that he shines awhile, until his consciousness adjusts to
this sphere again.
He took a journey in consciousness into the inner worlds. In the
case of advanced Chelas, the consciousness is the Chela himself,
the whole of the man. We speak of our consciousness abstractly.
Not having fully identified ourselves with our higher
consciousness, we cannot say we are consciousness per se, since
so much of us remain attached to the physical body and psychic
apparatus. In the Chela's case, the consciousness of the man is
the man himself, so that during that entranced condition, he is
fully awake, except for a minor link to the body and astral
apparatus left behind.
The mystic symbol of the cross comes, in part, from this
initiatory entrancement. In many parts of the world, the
neophyte lies on a cruciform couch with outstretched arms, a
symbol of the spirit involving itself into matter and evolving
out of it again. In other places, he might lie entranced in some
receptacle protecting his body from harm, while going through the
trials and peregrinations of the initiatory journey through the
inner worlds. We know of one such container. Many have seen it,
but do not realize what it is. It is the so-called coffer in the
King's Chamber in the Cheops pyramid, one of the receptacles in
which neophytes of ancient Egypt went into their initiatory
We find many recondite teachings connected with this subject.
These sublime challenges to the human soul have never died out.
They take place today. Some laugh or are completely ignorant.
People believe when ready, attuned to these truths. Although the
Solstice is tomorrow morning, even this hour, neophytes
throughout the world may be undergoing some variety of these
The rites exclude no geographic location. Initiates hide in
secluded places throughout the world. The occult life of the
Earth remains shrouded in great secrecy from those not qualified
to know. This is not because of silly exclusiveness, but because
many are not ready and it would do them no good.
When students attune with these thoughts, they evoke a response
from those quarters where knowledge of these things exists.
Students like us have to take the initiative and move spirit-ward
before we can evoke a response from the guardians of that
It takes lifetimes to prepare for the trials of initiation. We
have studied together for several years, which is a form of
preparation. We have had our difficulties, yet move on in our
understanding. Chances are great that none in this room is
studying these teachings for the first time. Some in the
Movement are far ahead. They have many lifetimes of careful
preparation for these supreme events. Finally, an incarnation
comes in which one makes the final grade for this stage.
Those who have become the Masters of Life are only beginners in a
greater stage. As far as the human stage of evolution is
concerned, such an initiation is the beginning of a new school of
life. It ends the one in which we find ourselves at present,
mere men and women striving after higher knowledge.
A genuine initiation is absolutely a matter of fitness. If you
are what it takes, you succeed; if not, your weakness prevents
you. There is no favoritism. It has nothing to do with human
concerns. If ready, you find the road to it. At each step along
the way, you will be magnetically attracted to those centers and
people that will open the next door for you. This continues
until some incarnation when you make the final grade, undergoing
firsthand the experiences that we have just been considering.
In these experiences, the neophyte investigates the structure of
the inner worlds, experimentally and individually. For the time
being, he becomes that which he investigates. He enters the
inner worlds and their conditions of consciousness. He knows and
becomes those states, so that he comes back fully illumined.
When I say "fully," I do not mean he is omniscient -- obviously
not. There is no omniscience except in the abstract. He knows
fully that which is contained within the circle of consciousness
that he has reached. There are many new peaks of spiritual
knowledge for him to scale, as there are new peaks before us now.
There is always something more. Within the condition, the circle
of knowledge, and the range of consciousness that he has reached,
he may become everything that he had studied, bringing it back in
We have studied the globes of the planetary chain, the evolution
on them of root races, and the nature of the sacred planets of
the solar system and their hierarchies. Obviously, we realize
that our studies are mainly intellectual. We have also drawn
various ethical conclusions from our studies. Our studies were
not only intellectual, because then they would have been dry and
sterile. We have brought in the spiritual and the practical
application of the teachings. You have also done so in your own
studies and daily life. Even so, none of us can say that we
actually know the conditions of inner worlds. None of us has
actually seen the globes of the planetary chain or the
hierarchies that dwell on other planetary bodies.
Unlike us, the neophyte who is ready for these initiations
actually experiences their conditions. He penetrates in full
self-consciousness into the spheres that we study intellectually,
cognizes their inhabitants, penetrates into their structural
setup, and learns firsthand in the laboratory of the solar system
the workings of its laws. When he returns, he can write a book
or teach advanced disciples from his direct observation and
knowledge. He speaks of things to people who have not yet
experienced them but whom, like us, hope someday to go through
similar experiences under the guidance of greater teachers.
Picture someone whom has studied a book on chemistry diligently
and can explain that science. Compare that student to the man
who actually works in a laboratory. The technician has handled
and produced many combinations of elements. Although the book is
a good explanation of what actually takes place, the student
knows the book whereas the chemist knows chemistry. The same
applies to spiritual knowledge, the difference between our book
learning and the initiants' knowledge.
Our book learning of chemistry is necessary before we become
chemists. Likewise, our intellectual study and ethical
application of the Teachings is necessary before we learn the
mysteries of nature firsthand. From the initiation centers of
the Earth, we hear that discipline precedes the Mysteries. With
practice, we strive to attain some discipline. "The Mysteries"
is a term for the totality of greater knowledge from firsthand
experience held by those who embody that spiritual discipline.
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application