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THEOSOPHY WORLD --------------------------------------- June, 2006
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(Please note that the materials presented in THEOSOPHY WORLD are
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be reposted or otherwise republished without prior permission.)
"Lust for Power," by B.P. Wadia
"National and Racial Karma," by Gertrude W. van Pelt
"Vengeance is Mine," by G. de Purucker
"Necessity of Illusion in Devachan," by Alexander Fullerton
"Identification with the Nobler Forces of Life," by Per Fernholm
"The Problem of Ahimsa," by Sramanera Sangharakshita
"Peace or War: And 'The Secret Doctrine,'" Part II,
by G. de Purucker
"The Esoteric WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ," by Clare Goldsberry
> For my part, as one of the cofounders of the Society, I had
> persistently adhered to that policy of personal freedom and
> personal responsibility of the member from the beginning, and
> have stood for it and fought for it down to the present day.
> When I can no longer have such freedom within it, I shall leave
> the Society, and grieve over it as a lost cause. If I needed a
> Pope I should go to Rome, where a so-called Viceregent of God is
> enthroned, and a brazen toe of a statue is always waiting to be
> kissed. Docile obedience to a TEACHER, who has mastered the
> secrets of life and death, of man and nature, is natural and
> proper; but servile obedience to a bald creed, or to a person no
> better nor spiritually wiser than oneself, is the worst of
> serfdoms -- undignified, unmanly, a spiritual suicide.
> -- H.S. Olcott, OLD DIARY LEAVES, III, pages 241-42
LUST FOR POWER
By B.P. Wadia
[From LIVING THE LIFE, pages 102-107.]
The life of a Chela is made up of tests and trials. The prosaic
and ordinary acts one has to perform every hour offer
opportunities for the practice of the right discipline;
otherwise, they become future hindrances. We allow ourselves to
be robbed by our ambition.
"Ambition is the first curse; the great tempter of the man who is
rising above his fellows," says LIGHT ON THE PATH.
The illusory nature of ambition should be perceived. Shakespeare
calls it "a shadow's shadow."
One ambition leads to another; the ways and methods of achieving
success in the fulfillment of ambitions differ not only with
different people but also within one's own consciousness. There
are persons who try to achieve what they desire by hook or by
crook; there are others who conscientiously labor with honest
motives and clean methods. Within one's own consciousness,
alterations and adaptations of both motives and methods take
place. All such changes point to the illusory nature of
The ambition for money is very general, but the reasons for the
ambition differ with different people. The sordid motive of the
miser, the motive to achieve comforts in life for one's self and
for near and dear ones, the motive to amass wealth to do good
works, etc., make people ambitious for material possessions and
There is the ambition for fame that very often follows the
ambition for wealth. Some become famous by honest, worthy, and
righteous means. Others elbow out other men and women to get to
the front rank.
Power is another goal for the ambitious -- power to be a
political leader, to be a great social celebrity, to be acclaimed
a mighty hero. This power needs, for its real fulfillment, the
power to love and to be loved. This ambition calls for subtle
ways and means for its realization. Soldiers must love their
general, whose influence on the mind and character of his
soldiers pronounces the general great or mediocre or unworthy.
So in political life a party leader must have the respect and
love of his followers, or he is a failure. The grande dame of
social life must be loved and respected by all men and women, or
she is not the great lady she professes to be.
The curse of ambition to which LIGHT ON THE PATH refers is no
doubt engendered by the longing for wealth and for fame. The
aspirant to the Higher Life must "kill out" those ambitions. But
he faces the most difficult of all his trials when it comes to
conquering the ambition for power. The other two ambitions are
easily detectable, however difficult their overcoming may prove
to be. They have their own masks; but the subtlety of the
ambition for power is as great as it is insidious.
The ambitions for wealth and fame make a pair; they affect each
other as they live in the hearts and minds of men. Similarly,
the ambition to wield power and the ambition to love and be loved
Though ambition is "the great tempter of the man who is rising
above his fellows," yet "it is a necessary teacher." For the man
of the world, this tempter and teacher functions in the worldly
way. But for one who aspires to bask in the warmth and the light
of the Divine, the temptations and teachings are of a high and
very different order. It is recorded:
> These vices of the ordinary man pass through a subtle
> transformation and reappear with changed aspect in the heart of
> the disciple. It is easy to say, I will not be ambitious; it is
> not easy to say, When the Master reads my heart, he will find it
> clean utterly.
Ambition must be transmuted into altruism. The ambition for
wealth and possessions must be used for the service of all; but
we must learn to regard ourselves as trustees; in our trustworthy
and altruistic hands, all wealth is placed.
The ambition for fame must be transmuted into the loving and
altruistic, i.e., impersonal, service of all who gave us fame,
who fulfilled our ambition for fame. Fame is a mental possession
for universal use; not for self-aggrandizement.
Ambition for power requires a special knowledge of higher
alchemy, of the transmutation of the personal self into an
impersonal power. "That power which the disciple shall covet is
that which shall make him appear as nothing in the eyes of men."
This is spoken of as a crucial stage in the life of the disciple.
The intuitive poet, Browning, has spoken of it:
> There are flashes struck from midnights,
> There are fire-flames noondays kindle,
> Whereby piled-up honours perish,
> Whereby swollen ambitions dwindle.
Unless his good Karma, from some far-off past, comes to his aid,
so that the disciple is spurred to proceed from unselfishness to
selflessness, the ambition and love for power will become lust
for power, and make him first a fault-finding and wrathful man of
egotism, and if he does not check himself, he will enter the
declivity that leads to the " loss of all."
The ambition to be loved and respected can never be transmuted
into love for others until the lust for power is destroyed. The
instruction given to the disciple will never be accepted or
approved by the worldly, even though they possess much goodness
of heart. Says LIGHT ON THE PATH:
> The ordinary man expects, not to take equal fortunes with the
> rest of the world, but in some points, about which he cares, to
> fare better than the others.
This is because the Law of Human Brotherhood is not understood
and accepted. But the disciple has understood and accepted it,
and therefore he "does not expect this."
> The king rises and falls, the poet is FETED and forgotten, the
> slave is happy and afterwards discarded. Each in his turn is
> crushed as the wheel turns on.
The disciple learns that to rearrange the circumstances that
arise out of the forces of human nature itself will not avail.
> When the disciple has fully recognized that the very thought of
> individual rights is only the outcome of the venomous quality in
> himself, that it is the hiss of the snake of self that poisons
> with its sting his own life and the lives of those about him,
> then he is ready to take part in a yearly ceremony that is open
> to all neophytes who are prepared for it. All weapons of defense
> and offence are given up; all weapons of mind and heart, and
> brain, and spirit. Never again can another man be regarded as a
> person who can be criticized or condemned; never again can the
> neophyte raise his voice in self-defense or excuse. From that
> ceremony, he returns into the world as helpless, as unprotected,
> as a newborn child. That, indeed, is what he is. He has begun
> to be born again on to the higher plane of life, that breezy and
> well-lit plateau from whence the eyes see intelligently and
> regard the world with a new insight.
The desire and the ambition to be loved can be transmuted when
the disciple acquires the Power to Love born of Dispassion,
Viraga, which, rising above fame and ignominy, pleasure and pain,
also rises above heat and cold. To love when one is beloved is
comparatively easy; to love, whether or not one's love is
requited, and even when it is not returned, is not so easy.
As Shakespeare's sonnet points out:
> Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
> But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
His lines speak of conditions that none can fulfill save one who
is practicing the discipline of the disciple:
> Love is not love
> Which alters when it alteration finds,
> Or bends with the remover to remove;
> O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
> That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
> It is the star to every wandering bark,
> Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Evil and evils are understood and valued differently by the good
man of the world and by the struggling disciple, determined to
gain victory over not only his personal evils but also the
corporate Evil that is engulfing the entire human kingdom.
> [Satan] is simply the personification of the abstract evil, which
> is the weapon of Karmic law and KARMA. It is our human nature
> and man himself, as it is said that "Satan is always near and
> inextricably interwoven with man." It is only a question of that
> Power being latent or active in us.
> -- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II 478
To overcome Evil, the disciple has to give up weapons not only of
offence but also of defense. This is felt to be a great
hardship, almost an injustice, by the progressing disciple.
More, if we allow the rascal, the robber, the exploiter, a free
rein and do not oppose him and overcome him, his rascality and
hatred will overcome all of us. THE SECRET DOCTRINE (I, 643)
says that with "right knowledge" and "a confident conviction that
our neighbors will no more work to hurt us than we would think of
harming them," the disciple should proceed to practice the Law of
Human Brotherhood. The consummation devoutly to be wished is
> The disciple who has the power of entrance, and is strong enough
> to pass each barrier, will, when the divine message comes to his
> spirit, forget himself utterly in the new consciousness that
> falls on him. If this lofty contact can really rouse him, he
> becomes as one of the Divine in his desire to give rather than to
> take, in his wish to help rather than be helped, in his
> resolution to feed the hungry rather than take manna from Heaven
> himself. His nature is transformed, and the selfishness that
> prompts men's actions in ordinary life suddenly deserts him.
NATIONAL AND RACIAL KARMA
By Gertrude W. van Pelt
[From THE DOCTRINE OF KARMA: CHANCE OR JUSTICE, pages 48-54.]
> Such is the law which moves righteousness,
> Which none at last can turn aside or stay;
> The heart of it is love, the end of it
> Is peace and consummation sweet. Obey!
> -- THE LIGHT OF ASIA
We have said that all life is one; that it has a common origin:
in other words, the Universe is a great organism. But within
this are contained uncountable lesser organisms in an infinitely
descending scale, all rooted in the Unknown Source, and springing
into life from it as children from their parents. Thus, we have,
as said in Chapter II, Rulers of the Cosmos; of Solar Systems; of
Planets; Gods; Demigods; great Seers and Sages. When we come
down to humanity, we find its units assembled together in
countries, cities, families, etc. It follows that Karma must act
collectively as well as individually. Great cycles will affect
races as a whole; smaller ones, the various sub-divisions. In
this, some have seen fatalism or inescapable destiny, but it is
no more present than in the individual cycles. These groupings
are no more arbitrary than are those that the chemist finds among
the elements. All are where they are, because they belong there.
And everyone has built up his own attractions.
The choosing of environment begins with the individual. The
Reincarnating Egos, as has been said, on returning to Earth,
bring their characters with them -- an axiom that, it would seem,
could go without saying. Having then well-defined tendencies,
they are of necessity drawn to those parents who can give them a
body most akin to their characteristics. This teaching casts an
entirely new light on the problem of heredity, one in accord with
essential justice, as has been shown. When life is viewed from
this standpoint, children cannot throw upon their parents the
responsibility for the bad tendencies they bring with them, and
blame fate and luck for their birth and environment. Parents, of
course, may fail to meet the problems they find in their
offspring -- problems that they, perhaps, helped to create in
past lives, and that must, in such event, recoil heavily upon
themselves. But that is another story.
Thus, just as the individual chooses his family, so does the
family choose its nation and race; that is to say, it is reborn
where by its inherent nature it belongs. Therefore, individuals
are involved in national karma because they have helped to make
it. A narrow and intense nationalism might attach one to a
particular nation in one way; while in quite another would a
strong feeling of duty toward that nation or a desire to help it.
> The old Aztec and other ancient American peoples died out because
> their own karma -- the result of their own life as nations in the
> far past -- fell upon and destroyed them. With nations, this
> heavy operation of karma is always through famine, war,
> convulsion of nature, and the sterility of the women of the
> nation. The latter cause comes near the end and sweeps the whole
> remnant away. And the individual in race or nation is warned by
> this great doctrine that if he falls into indifference of thought
> and act, thus molding himself into the general average karma of
> his race or nation, that national and race karma will at last
> carry him off in the general destiny. This is why teachers of
> old cried, "Come ye out and be ye separate."
> With reincarnation, the doctrine of karma explains the misery and
> suffering of the world, and no room is left to accuse Nature of
> The misery of any nation or race is the direct result of the
> thoughts and acts of the Egos who make up the race or nation. In
> the dim past, they did wickedly and now suffer. They violated
> the laws of harmony. The immutable rule is that harmony must be
> restored if violated. So these Egos suffer in making
> compensation and establishing the equilibrium of the occult
> cosmos. The whole mass of Egos must go on incarnating in the
> nation or race until they have all worked out to the end the
> causes set up. Though the nation may for a time disappear as a
> physical thing, the Egos that made it do not leave the world, but
> come out as the makers of some new nation in which they must go
> on with the task and take either punishment or reward as accords
> with their karma. Of this law, the old Egyptians are an
> illustration. They certainly rose to a high point of
> development, and as certainly they were extinguished as a nation.
> But the souls -- the old Egos -- live on and are now fulfilling
> their self-made destiny as some other nation now in our period.
> They may be the new American nation, or the Jews fated to wander
> up and down in the world and suffer much at the hands of others.
> This process is perfectly just. Take, for instance, the United
> States and the Red Indians. The latter have been most shamefully
> treated by the nation. The Indian Egos will be reborn in the new
> and conquering people, and as members of that great family will
> be the means themselves of bringing on the due results for such
> as were done against them when they had red bodies. Thus it has
> happened before, and so it will come about again.
> -- W.Q. Judge, THE OCEAN OF THEOSOPHY, 96-7
But history shows that often in national disasters, all are not
involved. We query why the cyclone, in its seemingly mad rush,
chose its victims so curiously; why the earthquake destroyed
certain areas and not others; why, when the tidal-wave destroyed
the city, some had accidentally (?) been elsewhere than at home.
Even in the sweeping racial cataclysms the same curious fact is
on record. This is strikingly illustrated in the story given in
THE SECRET DOCTRINE of the sinking of the main continent of
Atlantis. Before the close of the highly intellectual and
brilliant Atlantean civilization, many of the spiritual and
higher psychic powers unfolded in the race. A large portion used
these selfishly and became wicked Sorcerers or Black Magicians.
On the other hand, many of the nations and tribes turned into
what is called esoterically the Right-hand Path, and became White
Magicians, using their powers impersonally. These latter were
warned of the coming general disaster by those Great Ones who
eternally watch over the races of men.
A striking and graphic description of this period in our Ancient
History is given in THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, 427-9, in which H.P.
Blavatsky hints that the story of the Exodus in the Old Testament
was built up on legends of this distant event. She tells how the
"great King of the dazzling Face" sent his air-vehicles to his
chiefs all over the land, and how the great Adepts and their
followers escaped to safe quarters of the Earth in Vimanas or
air-ships far superior to anything we have today, and became the
founders of the Fifth, our Aryan Race. The description closes
> THE NATIONS THAT WERE LED AWAY, WERE AS THICK AS THE STARS OF THE
> MILKY WAY ? LIKE AS A DRAGON SNAKE UNCOILS SLOWLY ITS BODY, SO
> THE SONS OF MEN, LED ON BY THE SONS OF WISDOM, OPENED THEIR
> FOLDS, AND SPREADING OUT, EXPANDED LIKE A RUNNING STREAM OF SWEET
> WATERS ? MANY OF THE FAINT-HEARTED AMONG THEM PERISHED ON THEIR
> WAY. BUT MOST WERE SAVED.
One can see the beneficent working of Nature here. Although the
evil Atlanteans were destined, of course, to reincarnate later in
the Fifth Race, they came into fresh, clean lands, where the
followers of the Law had already gained the upper hand, and where
opportunities for improvement were greater. They are,
nevertheless, a part of ourselves, and it has been stated that we
are still suffering from Atlantean karma. Knowing the close ties
that bind together the members of our human family, we must infer
that responsibility for the disturbing elements will not end
until all are redeemed. Should this fail to be recognized, then
the suffering they are certain to cause to the nobler, more
advanced, will become a reminder of our unfortunate Atlantean
inheritance, and compel action.
Karma, as has been said, is universal. It moves from world to
world. Planets are born out of their parent-planets; Solar
Systems and Universes, the same. Everything is the result of a
previous cause. Nothing comes by chance. The peoples of our
Earth make its history in very truth, generate the forces that
are so certain to focus at a given time that the Great Seers can
foresee the Future to which the Past and Present so surely point.
They can tell why and when a race is to run its course, when
cataclysms are due, when the high and low points of a
civilization will appear; and thus know just how and when to use
their energies to lighten so far as possible the heavy karma of
> Why does this (Karmic) sterility attack and root out certain
> races at their "appointed hour?" The answer that it is due to a
> "mental disproportion" between the colonizing and aboriginal
> races is obviously evasive, since it does not explain the sudden
> "CHECKS TO FERTILITY" that so frequently supervene. The dying
> out of the Hawaiians, for instance, is one of the most mysterious
> problems of the day. Ethnology will sooner or later have to
> recognize with Occultists that the true solution has to be sought
> for in a comprehension of the workings of Karma. As Lefèvre
> remarks, "the time is drawing near when there will remain nothing
> but three great human types" (before the Sixth Root-Race dawns
> [several millions of years hence]), the white (Aryan, Fifth
> Root-Race), the yellow, and the African negro -- with their
> crossings (Atlanto-European divisions). Redskins, Eskimos,
> Papuans, Australians, Polynesians, etc., etc. -- all are dying
> out. Those who realize that every Root-Race runs through a gamut
> of seven sub-races with seven branchlets, etc. will understand
> the "why." The tidewave of incarnating Egos has rolled past them
> to harvest experience in more developed and less senile stocks;
> and their extinction is hence a Karmic necessity.
> -- H.P. Blavatsky, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, 780
> Yet in the prognostication of SUCH future events, at any rate,
> all foretold on the authority of cyclic occurrences, there is no
> psychic phenomenon involved. It is neither PREVISION, NOR
> PROPHECY; no more than is the signaling of a comet or star,
> several years before its appearance. It is simply knowledge and
> mathematically correct computations that enable the WISE MEN OF
> THE EAST to foretell, for instance, that England is on the eve of
> such or another catastrophe; France, nearing such a point of her
> cycle, and Europe in general threatened with, or rather, on the
> eve of, a cataclysm, which her own cycle of racial KARMA HAS LED
> HER TO. The reliability of the information depends, of course,
> on the acceptation or rejection of the claim for a tremendous
> period of historical observation. Eastern Initiates maintain
> that they have preserved records of the racial development and of
> events of universal import ever since the beginning of the Fourth
> Race -- that which preceded being traditional.
> -- H.P. Blavatsky, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 646
VENGEANCE IS MINE
By G. de Purucker
[From WIND OF THE SPIRIT, pages 155-58.]
There is no escaping ever Nature's law that an effect follows
upon a cause. There is no escape. No prayers, no petitions,
nothing will change the sweep of the divine mandate: As you are
and as your works are, so will be the fruits that you will
produce. And they will be your children. Do good and good will
come unto you. Do evil and nature will bring the very same
inharmonious vibrations and reactions upon the evildoer.
This is the meaning of the old Jewish Christian statement:
"Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord. I will repay" -- words that
men have talked about and preached about in the Occident for 2000
years, and have not believed in sufficiently to trust in their
power. In other words, they have added evil unto evil by trying
to check evil with evil, which is making the thing worse.
Figure it out in the ordinary affairs of human existence.
Revenge is no way to reform the evildoer. You are but convincing
him that he is right after all: he is going to get his revenge
and you are attempting to revenge yourself upon him. Restraint
at times, yes, certainly. But you cannot check evil with evil,
you cannot fight fear with fear, you cannot fight hatred with
hatred. Foolish men have been trying it for heaven knows how
many millennia, and have they ever succeeded yet? The world
itself is the answer.
Even our ordinary human laws in civilized society will not allow
a man to take the law into his own hands and retaliate. For they
recognize the idiocy of it, and that it produces more evil than
good. The ordinary principles governing human society contain
more good sensible wisdom than nations apply to themselves, or
than humans as individuals apply amongst themselves. The law
will not allow you to take the law into your own hands and seek
revenge upon one who hurts you; and wisely, because the principle
is based upon a profound teaching of wisdom. Nature will not
Men have forgotten that what ye sow ye shall reap -- not
something else. Now, think what this means; and no matter how
dark may be the day, no matter how desperate may be the
situation, the worker of evil and the worker of good receive
recompense in time exactly in proportion to the good they have
wrought or the evil they have wrought. People forget that you
cannot think thoughts of hatred without distorting your own
character, which means weakening it, which means rendering it
less strong, less brilliant, less intuitive, and less
penetrating. It takes strength to be a good man, and to follow
the Law, and strength grows mightily by exercise.
Look what human society does. Human society protects itself. In
accordance as human society is more civilized, the restraining of
the evil is more humane. In proportion as human society is less
civilized, the restraints imposed by human society upon the doers
of evil are cruel, harsh, and unjust. And they do not last.
Why? Because men and women intrinsically are decent. I have
found decency even in the heart and mind of a criminal -- one
with a desperate character. Even such a man knew what decency
was, but he had become psychologized by the idea that it was
utterly useless for him to try any more because no matter how
much he tried there was his record against him; his life would be
just one long hell.
What you sow you are going to reap, and what you are reaping now
is what you have sown in the past; and that is just what the
world is experiencing now: the reaping of what it has sown. It
will not last, it is not eternal, and it is only temporary. What
we call the iron age of trial and sorrow are succeeded by a
gentler and kindlier age, until men grow tired of beauty and
harmony, and invent the evil contributions and machinations of
veritable genius; and then comes in a new dark age, a new age of
horror, when men want to get all they can, and think they can get
it without paying for it. They cannot.
That is a fine old saying of the Jewish Christian New Testament:
Vengeance -- no, it is not revenge; we can translate that as the
bringing back of equilibrium, of justice, of harmony in the
universe -- Vengeance is mine. No sane man doubts it. We all
know that if we mistrust ourselves, nature will demand
retribution. If we abuse our bodies, one part of ourselves, even
by such small indulgences as ordinary evildoing, it will not be
long before nature will demand retribution, and we have pain,
maybe disease. And all other disturbances of natural law and
harmony have to be paid for.
That is the grandest doctrine that human genius ever brought
forth from the womb of cosmic truth. THERE IS NO ESCAPE. And
see what a wonderful rule of conduct this brings into a man's
life. You can never get away with it, even if you try. There is
no escape. You pay to the uttermost farthing, and then your new
chance begins. You have paid your debt. That is our doctrine of
karma, and some people who do not understand it may think it is
cruel and unkind that nature should have her laws and exact
retribution for disturbance of those laws, for the protecting of
cosmic harmony. But think what would make you obey if it were
not so. Why, men would have no protection, the gods would have
no protection. There would be no law and order. The
reestablishment of harmony is nature's greatest and most
wonderful procedure. It is the great thought of refuge of the
good, the great principle of conduct of the good, and the warning
to the evildoer.
Take courage. Meet what is coming to you like a man, and if you
have been at fault in the past, you will pay your debt, and then
you will be free with a clean sheet to write upon it your new
destiny. No longer will it be the warning of the Babylonian
writing on the wall. But Nature says, Yes, child, it is
finished. A new path now opens before you, a new chance. You
are now free. You have paid your debt. You are out of the
prison of fell circumstance.
It seems to me that there is nothing so comforting and so
beautiful as to reflect that Nature around us, by which I do not
mean only physical nature, but the divine womb of being out of
which we came in the dawn of time, is still our Mother,
Father-Mother, that we are children of the cosmic harmony, and
that in that harmony lie infinite peace and happiness in our own
daily lives, and a code of conduct that will fail us never.
Do good and good will come back to you. Sow peace and peace will
come to you. Give others a little of the joy that is in your own
heart; then joy will come back to your heart, and in times of
trouble, the joy will bring peace. Sow evil in the world, and
that evil, like the widening circles of destiny, will enclose you
some day, and then it will be useless for you to groan out to the
gods or say: Why did this come upon me? You are paying your debt.
It is painful, but once the debt is paid, you are free. Now
isn't that a doctrine of comfort, sane, sensible, and comforting
in every way?
NECESSITY OF ILLUSION IN DEVACHAN
By Alexander Fullerton
[From THE PATH, April 1894, pages 5-10.]
Much is said in Theosophical literature of the evil of illusion,
and so many are the warnings against its influence, that most
Theosophists are sensitive to the very word. Particularly is
there felt a hardship at the apparent unreality of Devachan.
After thirty, fifty, or seventy years of subjection to all the
mistakes, misconceptions, and beguilements of illusionary
existence, it seems grievous that centuries of Devachanic life
continue them, succeeded by another period of deceptive
earth-experience, with an indefinite series of alternate
illusions. Yet the anomaly may be explained and even justified.
But before such attempt, one should observe our arbitrary
reversal of the terms "real" and "unreal." So accustomed are we
to attribute reality to physical objects that may be seen,
handled, and examined and to consider as visionary the contents
of the super-physical world that that only has become veritable
to us that is material. And yet this it is that changes hourly,
which is in perpetual state of flux, which cannot have fixedness
or continuity; while the truly enduring, that which passes on
through time without decay, is the Mind, Soul, and Spiritual
Being. "The things that are seen are temporal, but the things
that are not seen are eternal."
But in this discussion, one must use the terms in their ordinary
sense, and, so doing, the subject divides itself into two
propositions: first, that illusion is inevitable in Devachan, a
requirement to its functions, inseparable from its nature;
second, that illusion is a necessity to the progress of the Soul
Three considerations go to prove the former of these
propositions. First is that the soul is yet unfit for the sphere
of pure reality. As Atma-Buddhi-Manas, it has freed itself from
the lower quaternary and passed the Devachanic portal. But it is
fresh from earth-life; its interests and conceptions, however
purged from lower quality and now the rarefied extract of highest
experiences, are still colored from its late career. Manas is
saturated with recent thought and habit. How impossible to
translate the yet unfinished being to a region for which it is
not fitted and the contents of which it is yet unable to
There is a homely proverb of "a fish out of water." The fish
dwells in a dense medium, extracting from it by its gills the
finer element -- air -- that pervades the water, thus maintaining
its life. But place it entirely in that finer element and life
becomes impossible because of that fineness; the fish gasps,
struggles, and dies. Long accustomed to extract its nutriment of
thought from the surrounding matter of terrestrial life, the soul
could not maintain itself yet in a world of pure reality, but
would succumb from the very perfection of its environment.
In the second place, an element of illusion must persist so long
as any trace of matter inheres in an organism. Imagine the
spiritual realm and the material realm as at opposite ends of a
prolonged line. As a spiritual being leaves its home and follows
down that line, it reaches a point where the first faint aroma of
matter is perceived. At once begins a slight illusionary
tendency. As the being nears the material realm, matter grows
denser and illusion stronger. At the extremity of the line,
reality is farthest from perception and mistake rules.
Reverse the process. The being leaves the material for the
spiritual. As it does so and as the atmosphere rarefies, little
by little illusionary proclivities drop away, the vision clears,
the actual comes steadily into view. Yet not until the last
trace of material association has passed by does illusion sink
wholly to the rear. But in Devachan, this has not been gained.
Higher Manas has still the aroma, the memory, the interests of
its late embodiment in flesh, and with them must retain that
illusion that pertains to the material sphere.
In the third place, we must remember the function of Devachan.
It is two-fold, and one part is Happiness. But happiness is an
individual thing, and consists to each man in the realization of
his own ideal. There must be as many varieties of Devachan as
there are varieties of Devachanis, each finding there the highest
of his aspirations and hopes. Yet to all there is this common
element. They are subjective conditions of the soul, with no
corresponding objective reality, yet nonetheless actual,
A man is a philosopher, a student, a scientist. The attainment
of truth is his delight, and the means to which alone he is
accustomed and of which he can conceive are books and scientific
treatises and philosophical apparatus. His dream is of a future
world where research is facilitated vastly, the newest
discoveries are spread broadcast, and apparatus exists so
delicate and fine that ours appears but the clumsiest of
Is it possible in the super-sensuous world that libraries,
printing presses, and experimental tools are to be as here? Is a
disembodied soul, removed from the gross and the tangible, to
continue handling, reading, and testing? Impossible! But in the
mind within, those processes may go on, and with all the reality
of an actual experience may continue their educative function
until their need has been passed by. Take the artist, he whose
soul is instinct with visions of beauty in form, color, and
suggestiveness. He looks for a land where transcendent glories
flush the spirit, where light never seen on earthly seas and
shores fills with measureless delight. Yet in Devachan, there
can be no Alpine sunrise, picture gallery, nor canvas or marble
whereon he can work out his inspiration. Is he to be
disappointed, or is the fullest of all possible satiations to
expand his inner nature in a subjective but real experience?
Take the musician. Harmony, melody, and perfect expression make
his very life. Yet he knows their inadequacy to portray all that
the soul can sense, and so he anticipates in heaven a feast
unattained, unattainable here. There are to be the richest
orchestrations, the noblest symphonies, the most glorious operas,
and the most entrancing voices and instruments with every
elevated taste finding its amplest gratification. But are there
opera houses, orchestras, and trained singers in Devachan? Or are
those supernal joys in the soul within, in some strange way
provided by beneficent Nature -- an illusion, if you please,
because without a counterpart in fact, yet the reality of reality
to him who is their subject.
The profoundest of all human emotions is Affection. Broken,
disappointed, and severed often here, it gazes onward to a land
where sorrow is unknown and partings never to be feared. The
mother leaves her child, the wife her husband, the friend his
friend, calmed with the assurance that it is but for a time, and
then will be the joy of an endless reunion. More than anything
else is this conception of heaven; and you might fill the future
world with every possible joy to intellect and soul, enrich it
with the lavishness of a Divine treasury, yet all would be vain
if the one desire was absent, all a desolation if the heart was
If the beloved were away, heaven would be no heaven to the
inmate. And yet see how impossible such presence is in any
literal sense. If to the happiness of a Devachani the actual
existence there of the loved one is essential, then the child
must accompany the departing mother, the husband the wife, the
friend the friend. Would it be just that these should be cut off
before their time, that they should be unwillingly deprived of
their right to life merely that another might be made happy? But
more than this. Every beloved has his beloveds, each has others
dear and cherished; so that if they too are to be happy their
loved ones must go with them; and thus the circle widens, widens
without the possibility of stop. What follows? The death of a
single individual would depopulate the world.
And so we see that illusion is a necessity to Devachan, that it
cannot but exist, that the bliss of the soul is interior, not a
reflection from objective surroundings.
Turn now to the second proposition. Illusion is a necessity to
the progress of the soul in Devachan. Here again there are three
considerations. The first is as to that progress itself,
progress being the twin of happiness in the two-fold function.
It would be a grievous mistake to suppose that the long centuries
of Devachanic rest are but an idle dream, the soul making no
advance, learning no new truth, a stationary thing in a universe
of evolution, emerging from Devachan precisely as it entered it.
HPB distinctly states the contrary. And, indeed, it would be but
reasonable to expect that in a world from which gross matter and
its influences are excluded, a world finer than this, closer to
reality, more in touch with eternal truth, there must be avenues
to learning, facilities for progress that we cannot now divine.
Clogs from flesh and blood are removed. Prejudices, antipathies,
limitations have vanished with the relinquished personality. New
and larger methods, regions, pursuits open to the unfolding
There is a condition to this finer state. It is that all
obstruction though pain shall be effaced. How often in this
present world has indigestion made impossible thought, fever
paralyzed aspiration, and headache conquered prayer! True, all
physical evils are absent from Devachan because the body is; yet
internal grief is as fatal to progress as are external, and so
from that progressing state must be banished every sorrow,
memory, foreboding, and regret that could arrest the Ego's march.
But this, as we have seen, is not consistent with fact; it is an
illusion, however indispensable to our needs.
Another consideration is that man is to round in his career the
whole circle of experience, and so no segment of it can be
omitted. At eras in his earth pilgrimage, he has tasted
unqualified misery. He must now taste its antithesis,
unqualified happiness. Yet this, as has been shown, is
impossible through literal presence of conditions. They must be
supplied by an illusionary belief.
And a third consideration is that "Nature does nothing by leaps."
As a human soul evolves slowly up to that stature that lifts it
above all deception or mistake and fits it for the realm of
absolute reality, it parts from its illusions but gradually and
by degrees. The great Law that pervades the rest of the Universe
is not absent from Devachan. The Ego enters it as a pilgrim on
his pilgrimage, not as a victor on his goal. And yet we may well
believe that as centuries pass on and the changed existence
modifies the character and its modes, a truer view of all its
inner life may come, a closer touch with real things. Illusion
may steadily be mitigated. As it is outgrown, direct percipience
of fact steadily takes the place of imagination for a guide. And
so when the Devachanic interlude is over, the Ego may return for
its new incarnation with clearer views of truth, a less clouded
sense of spiritual verities, and a firmer hold on ultimate
Thus, we see not only that Devachan cannot be without illusion,
but also that the very progress in Devachan is conditioned upon
that illusion, and that the illusion must continue until its
function has been fulfilled. When a man has become a Master,
when he perceives not as through a glass darkly but face to face,
illusion has no longer power over him, Devachan has become
impossible; he is done with it forevermore.
I think that these truths should correct our attitude to
Devachan. We should not look upon it as a deceptive state
continuing the evils against which we vainly struggle here, but
as a needful, an unavoidable experience wherein are found
compensation for all the bitterness encountered outside of it, a
happiness adapted to the weary pilgrim, a gradual emancipation
from the evils of illusion itself. There need not be suspicion
of it, protest against its wisdom, and saddened resignation to
the inevitable. May there not be even THANKFULNESS for it? In
the many hours of sorrow here, when hopes dearest to the heart
are prostrated in the dust and the very life-blood of the spirit
seems to ebb despairingly away, it is something to remember that
these sacred desires are only postponed, not blasted, and that
not a worthy wish, thought, or purpose shall be permanently vain.
All will revive in that sun-lit realm, and there in copious
fullness delight the soul once desolated and forlorn. Infinite
Wisdom and Infinite Love have framed a scene where each best hope
of heart and mind shall bloom into a glorious fruitage.
It is said of the poet Burns that there was one passage in the
Bible that he could never read without emotion: "And God shall
wipe away all tears from their eyes." Well, in a sense this is
true of Devachan. The pathway of humanity as it goes onward to
its heights is over many a broken heart, many a desolated life,
many an extinguished hope, and it passes through many a starless
night. And yet there are breaks, long breaks whereon not a
shadow throws its chill, but where life, light, and cheer are
without a drawback. Those portals are open to every noble
thought, desire, and aspiration. All accompany the pilgrim as he
steps into the sunbeams, but they are rigorously barred to every
pain, grief, or disappointment. There sorrow finds its end; the
very causes of sorrow are obliterated; and not a tear shall ever
be wiped away, for none shall ever form.
IDENTIFICATION WITH THE NOBLER FORCES OF LIFE
By Per Fernholm
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, April 1912, pages 277-80.]
We all know how our conceptions undergo a change as we grow and
the mind becomes capable of comprehending a wider sphere of life.
A child looks up to his father and mother as his highest court of
appeal when there is doubt of what is right or wrong, and when
there is need of guidance. Slowly it dawns upon him that the
family outlook has to be subordinated to something greater, say
to that of the tribe, whose notions of right conduct have usually
a local color. When the child finally leaves the family circle
to take up his own position, he finds himself a citizen of the
state or nation, and many an idiosyncrasy may have to be given up
in the light of the higher duties that now make themselves felt.
At this point, most people stop, if they even have come so far.
A little reflection on this fact shows us that each circle is a
living reality with a life of its own, a kind of entity, so to
say, and that there are interrelations in a thousand ways between
them all. Each sphere, small as well as great, has therefore a
growth of its own that cannot be set aside by the individual
belonging to it. At the same time, these limitations form the
materials put into our hands for our work in this life.
It is possible to rise above and master them, just as we have to
master all other tools and materials we wish to use for some
purpose. It is possible to acquire a higher consciousness that
must be our real self -- the consciousness of a far grander
entity, the higher element that ensouls humanity as a whole and
to let that govern our actions in the lesser spheres of life in
which we have been placed. Such an effort will affect all who
belong to the same spheres as we; it will open a way for them out
of many a close chamber to places where the sun shines and
refreshing breezes are blowing.
The present age is truly a turning point in Man's history, such
as has never before been encountered. The nearest task before
individuals and nations seems to be that mentioned above: to rise
into the greater consciousness of humanity as one living reality
and to sense, as it were, the source from which all the different
races and nations have sprung. This accomplished, even to a
slight degree, the thousand secret bonds uniting all will lie
revealed to all who have eyes to see. They will feel themselves
members of God's great family, and find new courage and strength
to follow the impulse to make this earth the heaven it should be,
instead of the hell it now is in most instances.
That this can be done and is really the meaning of all that has
been said of heaven will suddenly flash upon their minds; once
seen; it will become an axiomatic truth. It can be done just as
well as the home and state can be purified and beautified by the
application of higher rules of conduct, and by letting in the
true sunshine of life. The great work is, in fact, already
begun, and the present universal unrest is only one of the signs
thereof, for it shows that the present order of things is rapidly
breaking up to give place to the new, higher order.
Mostly it is left to individuals, to make the great effort of
rising in the strength of the inner soul-life; to break a path
through the barriers; and to silence the whispers of the lower
nature. At great epochs, we find individuals -- men and women --
standing out as those around who gather the new waves of higher
effort. The greatest of the pioneers remain unknown and, as a
rule, unheard of, because ordinary humanity would be unable to
endure the strong light that ceaselessly radiates from them.
Some of their conscious or unconscious co-workers are the pivotal
historical characters we know of. These fulfilled their part in
the effort and stand now, as it were, on a high rock with an
outlook in both directions. Often they have not gone very far,
lest they lose sight of those behind; and because of their
compassion may not have seen much of the land of promise. How
often have they not been crucified even then!
But there are other epochs of recurring cycles when a whole
nation, a race, even all humankind, is borne upon the top of an
immense tidal wave and when it is possible to pass right on into
a new condition altogether. We are told that at present we are
carried to the very portals of a higher existence by such a
mighty cyclic wave. Never have there been such opportunities of
undoing past mistakes and finding a way out of the misery and
pain that we ourselves have brought into life on this earth by
those mistakes. Never has there been such a need of real men and
women who dare to face themselves and the conditions around them,
resolved to do their utmost in a noble endeavor.
Great as this step is -- the realization of humanity as ONE
family, one body with many members, which opens up so many latent
possibilities -- it is, however, not the final one. Humanity is
part of this earth, and our earth is a living entity and a member
in the Sun's family of planets. The members of this planetary
family are on different stages of evolution like everything else.
Some are old and wise; some are youthful and just starting out to
realize their proper duty; and some are slumbering. It would
seems as if our earth were in the second of these categories, for
how could it be a conscious member of the Solar family before its
self-conscious element, humanity, had risen to consciousness of
There was knowledge of such a kind in ancient times, for it was
part of the Mysteries, and the relations between Man and the
guiding Intelligences of those great entities were shown in the
Mysteries of Antiquity to those who had been purified and
initiated. The time has come for the return of such knowledge.
Its custodians will be those with minds so imbued with
brotherhood as a fact in Nature that it has become a living power
in their lives -- not as a secondary element, but as the very
foremost. Then beneficent influences that have been shut out for
ages will begin to flow in again like life-giving blood from a
spiritual heart, imparting blessing to all that lives and
The guiding star is always there if we but look for it. The
secret is never to let it out of sight, for if we try to steer
our course from what we see behind and hear whispered around, our
minds will certainly reel and our ship find itself stranded on
some subtle reef. The star is unattainable, but it leads us
toward the safe harbor. Every man can seek and find that guiding
star within himself; it has always been there. Only he who has
not looked for it remains unaware of its presence.
It is but natural that the lower forces of life should arise as
never before at such a crucial time. That is what we find in
every field of human activity. While the essential quality of
the greater Life pulsating throughout the universe from its
spiritual Heart is to radiate, illumine, warm, and give
abundantly, that of the lower life is to use the beneficent
forces for selfish purposes, without regard to their source.
Thus diverted, such forces resemble beasts seeking their prey,
and this frequently in ways that are so subtle as to elude
observation. This is the only great sin in human life, the abuse
of beneficent power; and when, as now, Man's nature begins to
respond to higher and nobler impulses vibrating in the inner
chambers of soul and heart, such abuse assumes new forms and is
more difficult to guard against.
Those in the shadows, those immured in prisons and hospitals, are
by no means the only ones who have misused the nobler forces of
life. In many cases, they are but the victims of greater
criminals who consciously and freely walk around among weaker
fellowmen in their pursuit of prey. Such prey they find even
among those who in one or more respects have felt the urge of the
time and cast loose from old moorings to steer out on the new
course, too unmindful of all the leaks in their own nature, and
who thus easily become wrecked.
In ordinary life, we are wise enough to put as the first
requisite of a vessel to be used for liquids or gases that it
shall be tight; we should not think of pouring water into a
leaking cup. Yet that is just what we daily do or urge to be
done in our own life; we wish to be filled by the quickening
heart-forces of real life before we know how to use them wisely;
and when we succeed in some slight degree, their stimulating
effect takes some unexpected expression in a selfish or unworthy
deed. We may not consciously use them thus, but if our nature is
not in full control, it may give way under the pressure, and the
precious force leak out to feed and strengthen a human beast.
There is but one way of protecting the sanctuary of Life in
ourselves, and that is by rising in the strength of our Spiritual
Will with a firm and indomitable resolution to take our nature in
conscious control, and ally ourselves with the nobler forces of
Life. The brotherly attitude, the readiness to give, is in
itself a shield that protects us from subtle attacks, and
prevents us from being taken by surprise in moments of
unwatchfulness, or of passive mood.
Even the one farthest down in the shadows, yea he more than
anyone else, may do this, and at once find a firm foothold that
will never, never waver. He, just he, can become the best
teacher and helper of other weak fellowmen who are constantly
thrown into despair and darkness, for he has sounded the depths
of human life, knows the real dangers, and has obtained an
experience that is worth the cost if he takes it rightly, however
terrible it may have been. Jesus came to the outcast; and the
glory of the dawn of the new era humanity has entered upon, is
that many a note of hope will resound from the very depths.
Sleep reigns too often along the easier paths of life, with a
deplorable lack of understanding of the real situation, the
battle that is raging between the antagonistic forces of Light
THE PROBLEM OF AHIMSA
By Sramanera Sangharakshita
[From THE ARYAN PATH, August 1950, pages 339-43.]
The theoretical consideration of spiritual truths, without the
actual practice of them in daily life, generally results in
intellectual confusion. What was crystal-clear to the heart of
the devotee becomes an insoluble problem in the eyes of the mere
philosopher. Such has been the case with the great principle of
ahimsa. It is torn out of the living context of actual practice;
and after being applied to all sorts of imaginary situations and
to impossible exigencies of conduct, it is treated as a problem
that calls for merely intellectual solution.
One is asked whether he would use violence to protect the
chastity of his mother or his sister, or whether he would feel
himself justified in taking the life of one man in order to
preserve the lives of a hundred men. It is furthermore pointed
out that since life is able to exist at all only by crowding the
weaker forms of life out of existence, a completely non-violent
life is a contradiction in terms. The doctrine of ahimsa
consequently an impossible ideal, a mere counsel of perfection,
which cannot be realized at all in this violent world, and the
logical consequence of which is or would be if life followed
logic, simply suicide.
Having thus thoroughly confused his mind and the minds of those
who were foolish enough to listen to him, the
armchair-philosopher triumphantly concludes that it is useless
even to try to practice ahimsa. One had better let the world go
on in the same bad old way that it did before one was born and
will go on, presumably, after one is dead.
The first thing that we shall have to do before we can clean up
this intellectual mess is to decide in what himsa and ahimsa
really consist. The Buddha has made it clear that the criterion
by which the ethical status of an action is to be determined is
the purity or impurity of the state of mind by which it was
inspired. The mind is said to be pure when it is free from
desire (lobha), hatred (dosa), and ignorance (moha) and impure
when it is not free from these three defiling tendencies.
An action is ethical or unethical not because it conforms to or
does not conform to a predetermined scheme of dos and don'ts, but
rather because it is rooted in states of mind that make for
liberation or that make for bondage. Himsa and ahimsa are
therefore primarily states of consciousness in which love (adosa)
and hatred (dosa) respectively predominate. We shall see later
on, however, that although they are essentially attitudes of mind
rather than specific actions, they nevertheless tend to express
themselves outwardly in the field of life and action in a
Since ahimsa is fundamentally a condition of heart or a state of
consciousness, the practice of ahimsa must consist primarily in
the cultivation of that condition or state. It does not consist
in the observance of any number however large, of rules, nor in
the observance of any system of precautions, however elaborate,
against even the accidental taking of life.
What we may designate as the legalistic view of ahimsa is an
attempt to solve the "problem" of non-violent action purely on
the intellectual plane; it does not succeed in rising to the
level of spiritual perception. It tends to make the practice of
ahimsa a mechanical observance rather than a flaming passion. In
the sphere of ethics, to try to determine what one should do
before one has found out what to think and how to feel is a case
of "putting the cart before the horse."
The particular defiling tendency of mind to which violence
(himsa) is affiliated is, as we have already seen, hatred (dosa).
The practice of ahimsa therefore consists in the eradication of
hatred (dosa) and the cultivation of love (adosa). But since
hatred (dosa) is, like desire (lobha), in turn affiliated to
ignorance (moha), the practice of ahimsa consists, in the last
analysis, in the eradication of ignorance (moha) and the
cultivation of wisdom (prajna, bodhi). Ahimsa resolves itself
into love, and love in turn resolves itself into knowledge, for
action depends upon feeling, and feeling in turn depends upon
understanding. Ahimsa is "the outward and visible sign of an
inward and spiritual grace," the external expression of an
internal realization. We should try to find out what that
understanding, grace, or realization is, for without it, the
practice of ahimsa is impossible.
To begin with, it is necessary to understand correctly in what
ignorance essentially consists, for knowledge is in its negative
aspect nothing but the absence or privation of ignorance. The
Buddha has repeatedly affirmed that there is one root-illusion
proliferating into the miseries and misconceptions to which our
mortal flesh is heir. Lying at the back of every greedy, cruel,
or deluded thought, word, or deed, it is the tightly clung to
belief that we are individual selves or separate ego-entities
that are divided by an impassable gulf of difference from all
other similarly constituted selves or ego-entities whatsoever.
To this view, in its most refined no less than in its grossest
formulations, the Buddha gave the name of Atmavada or
philosophical Egotism. He made it perfectly plain that
wheresoever lurked even the subtlest sense of separative selfhood
there lurked also incipient the germs of greed, cruelty, and
delusion, and therefore of birth, disease, old age, death, and
every other form of suffering too.
Because men think and feel themselves to be little hard cores of
separative selfhood, with interests and ambitions that differ
from, or at times even directly clash with, the interests and
ambitions of all the other millions of similarly constituted
"selves," they naturally behave and act as such. Their behavior
and actions are naturally either centrifugal movements of
attraction to the "pleasant" that we call desire (lobha) or
centripetal movements of repulsion from the "painful" that we
call hatred (dosa). It is not difficult for a child, even, to
understand that Atmavada, egotism, or, in plain Anglo-Saxon,
selfishness, in one or another of its innumerable forms, is the
root cause of all the wickedness, and therefore of all the
misery, which has ever been or which ever will be in this or in
any other world.
When selfish interests and ambitions are thwarted, they turn into
hatreds that are violent in proportion to the strength of the
frustrated desire; and violence is but another name for himsa.
Only by thoroughly uprooting the minutest fibers no less than the
thickest and toughest stems of the ego-sense shall we be able to
check the wild growth of hatred and arrest the exuberance of the
swelling buds from which runs down the world-intoxicating wine of
violence. It is for this reason that the Buddha stressed the
indispensable necessity of the eradication of the ego-sense in
the spiritual life and laid down the doctrine of Anatta or
Sunyata as the ultimate philosophical foundation of His religion.
Since ignorance (moha) consists primarily in the belief that one
is, has, or contains some kind of permanent and peculiar element
called "soul" or "self." On the contrary, wisdom (prajna, bodhi)
consists of the knowledge that one's own and all other
"personalities" or "things" whatsoever are altogether empty of
any such entity, and that one's mind is a stream of psychic
events even as one's body is a stream of physical events. For
the foolishness of the conception of a static being is thus
substituted the wisdom of the realization of a dynamic Becoming.
Into the genesis of the illusion of permanence, it is not our
intention now to enquire. Even so, indisputably true and certain
it is that until this most pernicious of all illusions is
destroyed root and branch, the full and perfect practice of
ahimsa is impossible.
To try to practice non-violence while clinging desperately to the
conception of a permanent individual soul or self is like trying
to row a boat that is still fastened by its hawser to the shore.
The cultivation of what we may term the sense of universal
emptiness is the one fundamental spiritual practice that all
others must subserve. Any practice that heightens one's
ego-sense, howsoever holy in popular estimation it may be, is
unspiritual, and any practice that attenuates it, howsoever mean
and despicable outwardly it may seem, is spiritual in the truest
and best sense of the term. Growth in holiness is essentially
growth in emptiness.
It should not be supposed that emptiness is equivalent to the
absolute death of a blank annihilation or nothingness. Certain
ignorant and malicious critics of Buddhism have indeed
persistently tried to misrepresent it as such, despite the
unanimous emphatic declaration to the contrary of all schools of
Buddhist thought. Emptiness or egolessness is equivalent to
blank annihilation only to those for whom the conception of a
life of egolessness is consequently unthinkable. But those who
do not thus fondly cling to the illusion of selfhood, who have
learned, in the terse words of THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE, to see
"the voidness of the seeming full," to understand the egolessness
of all this ego-seeming existence, are able to see also "the
fullness of the seeming void." They realize that emptiness,
instead of being a mere negation, pulsates with spiritual life --
with that pure and perfect life that, although appearing to our
dualistic consciousness as the Life of Compassion, thinks not "I
It would be a mistake, however, to think of emptiness and egoless
compassionate activity as two distinct principles, or even as two
merely accidentally related states. They are to each other as
the obverse and reverse sides of a single coin, or indeed even
more intimately related than that. They are so intimately
related that in the end it becomes impossible to speak of a
relation at all, since to do so implies that they are in a sense
external to each other, like the distinguishable although
inseparable sides or angles of a triangle, whereas in truth,
emptiness IS active and activity IS empty. The realization of
one is therefore necessarily the realization of the other also.
If one wishes to achieve the condition of compassionate activity,
which is the positive expression of the rather negative and
content-less term ahimsa, one must first attain to the state of
emptiness or egolessness.
The "problem" of ahimsa, or in fact any other difficulty
experienced in applying ethical principles to concrete situations
in daily life and exigencies of personal conduct, arises only
when it is sought to attach non-violent actions in a purely
external manner to an egotistic and therefore fundamentally
violent consciousness. The ego can act only egotistically. It
is impossible for it to act egolessly. Only emptiness can act
egolessly, compassionately, and therefore nonviolently also. The
ego-dominated intellect is unable to penetrate the mystery of
egoless activity. Its artificial attempts to create patterns of
non-violent behavior without first removing the root-cause of
violence are doomed to failure from the very beginning. The
realization of emptiness is the only way to achieve egoless,
compassionate, and non-violent activity for the benefit of all
When the ego-sense is removed compassionate activities, or in
negative terminology non-violent behavior, will stream forth
spontaneously from the purified inner consciousness, just as,
when the boulders that blocked its passage are removed, the
mighty mountain torrent rushes downward to the plain below.
Problems of conduct will no more arise. "His mind becomes
peaceful, so also his speech and deeds," sings the DHAMMAPADA.
Conduct will automatically be non-violent when the consciousness
behind it is non-egotistic. Situations that seemed to present
insoluble theoretical difficulties will be entered into and
solved spontaneously by enlightened practice in a manner baffling
the comprehension of the ego-ridden intellect. But although
these subtler activities of emptiness in its more refined phases
and more delicate shades of manifestation may elude the clumsy
grasp of the dualistic understanding, the general pattern of its
activity is nevertheless distinctly recognizable.
The Buddha has stated clearly and categorically that someone who
has realized the perfection of emptiness, and therefore the
plenitude of compassionate activity, is incapable of
transgressing the fundamental rules of ethical behavior. For
such a one, obedience to the moral law indeed consists not so
much in the acceptance of a code imposed from without as, on the
contrary, in expression of a realization flowering spontaneously
Although the Arahant is "beyond good and evil," he nevertheless
manifests in the field of life and action in a determinate manner
as an ethical, not as an unethical, being. Buddhism thus bangs
the door in the face of those opposed to the moral law and
sternly rejects the pseudo-liberation that claims that one who
has transcended all such relative terms as good and evil is
capable of acting indifferently in a manner that is moral or in a
manner that is immoral according to the canons of conventional
The purely transcendental activity of ineffable emptiness
manifests in the world of relativity as compassion, or rather is
apprehended by it as such, and ahimsa or non-violence is simply
the negative expression of a particular phase of that
Ahimsa resolves itself into compassion, and compassion in turn
resolves itself into egolessness, for action depends upon
feeling, and feeling in turn depends upon understanding. Only
the empty and egoless people, the loving and compassionate, can
practice ahimsa. For them only, the "problem" of ahimsa does not
arise. They alone are blest. They alone are the true
Bodhisattvas, the true Shravaks.
PEACE OR WAR: AND "THE SECRET DOCTRINE", PART II
By G. de Purucker
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, November 1923, pages 419-29.]
THE BEGINNING OF THE END OF WAR
Men shall believe that every human entity is fundamentally a
spiritual being, even though men may be, most of them, still too
weak in moral fiber to follow that path all the time. All things
that are, high and low, and especially self-conscious human
beings, are children of the Divine part of Nature in their
essence. All of us possess one common and identical source
therein, and even physically (allowing for manifold degrees of
evolutionary development) of one common natural origin. Men
shall realize in consequence that what injures one injures all,
preeminently the evildoer. Men shall realize that under the law
of Karma (roughly defined as Cause and Effect) and under its
complementary law of Reincarnation that they reincarnate from age
to age now in this nation and now in that. They descend into
such fleshly bodies and in such countries as one's Karma has
prepared for him because of his own actions and by no fortuitous
so-called law of chance.
When they know all this, understanding and sympathy of man for
man and of nation for nation will come. Men shall feel then
keenest interest and understanding for ancient times and for the
races that then lived, their own very progenitors, as well as for
all peoples whatever which live on our common Earth today. Then
the spirit of Universal Brotherhood will descend into and quicken
human hearts as naturally as the soft sweet rain falls into and
quickens the parched bosom of the thirsty earth. With this
quickening steadily growing in the hearts of men, we shall see
the beginning of the end of War, of international hatreds and
suspicions, and above all of Greed and Fear, the real basis and
the real causes of international discord.
Such is the teaching, as I understand it, of Katherine Tingley,
who at this present day directs the destiny of the Theosophical
Movement. Such likewise is the teaching of the two great souls
who preceded her in the leadership of the Theosophical Movement
and its various activities. These two were H.P. Blavatsky,
first, and William Q. Judge, her successor, even as Katherine
Tingley is now the third in the line of succession.
WAR AN ABOMINABLE EXPERIMENT
War is universally acknowledged an abominable and devastating
EXPERIMENT, of which the ends may never be known until the iron
car of destiny has passed by. War also is everywhere
acknowledged an irreplaceable waste and destroying of sacred
human life, and of treasure, often wrecking the civilization
so-called that gave it birth and fostered it for its own undoing.
Warfare is acknowledged by all profound thinkers to be a lapsing
into the manners of savagery and barbarism. Reasonable and
sanely thinking men know perfectly well that a truly honest WILL
to compose international differences has remedies that are always
at hand. These remedies are easy, sure, peaceful, economical,
certain, and definite, leaving no heritage of rancor, hate,
revenge, and a future war when the conquered shall by inevitable
turn of the Wheel of Destiny come again to the top, then
conquering the conqueror of the day. No wonder Theosophists feel
as strongly as they do about it!
KATHERINE TINGLEY'S FIRST REMEDY
The best of all such remedies, except one, mentioned later, is
that urged by Katherine Tingley in the March 1923, issue of THE
THEOSOPHICAL PATH, as before mentioned, as a measure preparatory
for the still greater one to be mentioned in a moment. The
former is the referring of subjects likely to cause bitterness or
lead to conflict between nations, to the adjudication of neutral
referees: to be selected in such easy and proper manner as is
daily done in the private affairs of individual men. As the
Theosophical Leader remarked in that editorial, this method has
already often been tried in international disputes, and with
perfect success. Nothing prevents it except Fear and Greed --
one or both. The day is surely coming when the difficulties now
thrown by one or the other side in the way of such magnanimous
settlement of disputes will be considered as an actual proof that
the case of the objector to such peaceful solutions of
international difficulties is downright rotten: corrupt at the
core with either Fear, or Greed, or both.
TRUTH VERSUS EVASIONS
Not an atom of the national sovereignty is ever, or ever can be,
abandoned by any nation that magnanimously follows justice and
righteousness in its international relations, even though its
material interests may suffer temporarily. In such case, its
situation is exactly similar to that of a businessman who meets
his obligations at whatever cost to himself and to that of a man
of honor who acts in a similar manner at whatever cost to
himself. Indeed, such a nation acquires reputation for honest
dealing that rebounds to its immense advantage in all future
situations, while the much talk about questions that are dubbed
in or out of its jurisdiction are intelligent men have every
right to believe, only too often pure evasions, a pitiful attempt
to hold the advancing train of human progress towards a nobler
and finer unity among the nations, to the medieval and even
ancient notions of States as entities apart, whose interests must
of necessity conflict forever, and whose best hope for peace lies
in an armed and watchful antagonism.
All this is wrong, unnatural, and therefore stupid and dangerous
because it will inevitably lead to the settlement of disputes
between the peoples of Earth by the savage method of shedding
human blood and destroying the enemy's property, if not, indeed,
of seizing his territories or parts of them.
We may suppose that in this more enlightened age, no man would
dare openly to acknowledge the bald facts in so many words;
clever brains are worked overtime in order to discover some
apparently reasonable and convincing cloak for the real
mischief-working powers and schemers behind the scenes. Mark ye
well, however, that these remarks are in no sense meant as an
attack on anybody who is honest, nor on sincere men who have not
awakened to the real issues in the situation and who honestly and
of sincerity repeat the brazen war-cries of obscurantism. Even
so, the facts are indisputable, proven by the many guarded, or
perchance unguarded, admissions of eminent men of State and of
affairs in many countries.
KATHERINE TINGLEY'S CURE FOR WAR
There is the sane and reasonable method of composing
international disputes with regard to neutral referees. As
Katherine Tingley has often pointed out and urged, far better
even than that method is one of OUTLAWING WAR ITSELF in much the
same manner as all nations today have outlawed piracy and
privateering on the seas or the operations of semi-independent or
so-called Free Companies on the land. We have laws many and
various for the palliation of the evils arising out of war, and
for a more humane conduct of it. Not yet have the peoples of the
Earth passed, by international convention, one single law placing
in the same category of outlawry the method of coercion by
physical violence, devastation, and bloodshed. Yet, as all know
full well, war is worse than any other kind of violence, lawful
or unlawful, because it is conducted on such a large scale, and
worst of all under the guise of civilized procedures. The truth
is, however, that there is no such thing as civilized warfare.
The most that can be said is that some methods of warfare are
somewhat less savage, brutalizing, and barbarous than some other
A FEARFUL IDEA
Certain thinkers claim with unanswerable logic FROM THEIR
VIEWPOINT, that IF men appeal to warfare instead of sane and
civilized methods of composing international disputes, it is more
humane to use every manner of violence and engine of destruction
that science places in our hands. They reason that the horrible
agony is ended sooner with probably less loss of precious human
life and less destruction of treasure and industry. The fearful
idea is the actual policy followed by humanity for ages past.
Every invention that can be applied to destructive purposes is
seized and perfected in application for warfare.
Nevertheless, no healthy intelligence, possessing unbiased
vision, can or ever will admit the distorted ethic, the morals
athwart, of this truly diabolic method of conducting a settlement
of international troubles; and we may assert positively of
conviction that even the protagonists of this theory would never
admit it were they not mistakenly convinced -- alas! -- that
warfare must of necessity come through the weakness and
imperfections of the human species.
Their viewpoint is pathetic to the last degree, and verily a
striking proof of the psychology induced by the war-spirit. Such
writers are self-psychologized, in fact, from much brooding on
the dark problems of human weakness and passion; and their
conclusions are therefore utterly biased because they see but one
side of the problem: the side of passional human mentality. They
open not their eyes to the other side, to the wisdom and glory of
man's spiritual and intellectual nature where alone abides truth
and fundamental principles.
Psychologized much the same way are many of our legislators, and
in consequence the psychosis is of necessity sensed even in our
law-courts. But these theorists are in the immense minority, and
their voices in consequence have, relatively, but small weight.
However, here we see the result of the miserable and untenable
conviction that war is as sure to come someday as the sun is to
rise over the eastern horizon. Every war grows worse than the
last from precisely this fatal and untenable conviction. The
tragedy of it all lies in the fact that it needs not to be!
Let us apply the teachings contained in that wonder-book, THE
SECRET DOCTRINE, to the problems; the difficulties then begin to
dissolve; and it needs but the WILL TO PEACE and to DO
RIGHTEOUSNESS AND JUSTICE, in order to solve the apparently most
knotty problems not merely of individual human conduct but also
those of international relations.
WHERE DO WE STAND?
So, then, where do we stand? Are we with the shining gods above,
whose children we all are, and whose divine spark of selfhood
burns in our own souls? Or are we turning our faces to the Pit,
to the swirls of passional matter and the iron chain of
materialistic dogma -- to the gloom, the murk, the flaming-red
passions of the nether realms?
Mark ye well this fact: the strife that ultimately makes war,
originates in OUR OWN PASSIONS and in OUR OWN MINDS: it then
enters into our blood. Here is the remedy, here the cure: Sweep
out the Augean Stables that we have lazily allowed to fill to
overflowing in our own natures, and war, human strife of all
kinds, will be no more. Refashion our minds to see aright,
cleanse our hearts, and then we shall march forwards in the
strength of our common humanity along the path of the common and
intrinsic brotherhood of all beings as a fact in nature, and with
increasing certainty, towards that Sun of Peace that riseth with
healing in its glorious wings.
THE KEY TO PEACE
The key to Peace is simply an honest belief in Universal
Brotherhood as a law of life, as a fact of Universal Nature; and
this is no sentimentalism but the recognition in action of one of
the fundamental laws of universal being, a profound scientific
and religio-philosophic truth.
THE METHOD OF CURE
I repeat: it is propaganda, clever, subtle, shrewd, and broadcast
that wins most and probably all modern wars, in the last
analysis. Let us then adopt the same means (plus an intensive
education) of changing human minds and hearts towards Peace and
Righteousness: changing minds we change human hearts; changing
human hearts we may direct the energy of human action, and that
means molding human destiny. We may do it by education through
propaganda and by propaganda through education.
Any illiterate barbarian, any savage, can fight, can make war;
but it calls for the noblest qualities of a self-restrained and
virile manhood, to pursue the ends of life in the exacting yet
smiling avocations of peace. No devastation, no wanton
destruction, no desolation, is there; but a building up of all
that man holds dearest. As Katherine Tingley has declared: war
creates not at all the heroism that occasionally shines forth in
war; it is the self-denials and the fruitful lessons of Peace,
which do it; heroism shines forth in war IN SPITE OF WAR, because
it was in our hearts, placed there by the discipline and the
training of Peace-times.
For ages, men have raised monuments of iron, brass, and stone to
their war-heroes, largely because for ages children have played
with toys suggesting and inculcating warfare. The workers for
Peace, the lovers of Peace, those impassioned for Peace, have a
higher, a finer, a grander, and a far more enduring monument, in
the soft and pulsating fabric of the hearts of men. Let us have
So mote it be! So MUST it be!
THE ESOTERIC "WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ"
By Clare Goldsberry
It should not have gone unnoticed to the Theosophical community
that Lyman Frank Baum was born 150 years ago this May 15. Baum,
of course, was the author of THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ, whose
original title was THE EMERALD CITY. While there has been much
speculation over the years about this so-called children's
classic and its many underlying meanings (including an editorial
by John J. Miller in the May 11, 2006 edition of the Wall Street
Journal), few have noted its esoteric or "occult" messages.
Miller notes the "long history of digging deeper into Baum's
books and searching for hidden meanings" with the most popular
interpretation being "a parable of the Populist movement of the
1890s: Dorothy represents the American people, the Scarecrow
symbolizes farmers, the Tin Woodman stands in for factory
workers, and the Cowardly Lion is William Jennings Bryan" and one
of the leading concerns of the day, "to get off the gold standard
(the Yellow Brick Road) and replace it with the silver standard
(the color of Dorothy's slippers in the book)."
While the Miller editorial brings up the supposed "political"
undertones of the tale of Dorothy and Toto's trip to Oz following
a head trauma during a tornado in Kansas, we of the Theosophical
mind set cannot help but look in a different direction, seeking
the esoteric. Given the fact that Baum was a Theosophist and had
great interest in the esoteric, it is not difficult to find
"occult" meanings in this beautiful story.
Just 11 years before Baum wrote THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ, HPB
published THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE; she also had written ISIS
UNVEILED and THE SECRET DOCTRINE, both seminal esoteric and
occult works dealing with the Ageless Wisdom. It is fitting that
Dorothy's journey was a journey of the mind.
One of the questions that face us in Baum's novel is if the
unconscious dream state is just another level of conscious
reality. Today's quantum physicist would answer in the
affirmative. It took a good ol' Midwestern tornado to take
Dorothy to a level of consciousness that typically we call the
unconscious state of mind. Where would we be in that state? The
mind, we are told, is everywhere and nowhere; the mind is
ubiquitous. Did Dorothy travel to a parallel universe? Was she
experiencing, as Stuart Hameroff (founder of the Center for
Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona in Tucson)
says, a "superposition of consciousness?"
In THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE [Voice], we read, "The Mind is the
great Slayer of the Real." The mind creates what we perceive as
the real. As we are reminded in the movie, "What the Bleep Do We
Know," our mind creates its own reality. The Voice continues,
"Let the Disciple slay the Slayer." Let us (the disciples)
destroy that which fools us into believing this level of
consciousness is real. That this entire story takes place in
Dorothy's mind shows us that reality truly exists in our minds.
The Emerald City is a fitting name for a tale of transformation.
It could be that Baum selected this name based on the Emerald
Tablet, an ancient artifact said to have advanced spiritual
technology giving carefully described steps towards personal
transformation and accelerated species evolution. This spiritual
"alchemical" transformation encompasses all levels of mind, body,
and spirit, bringing readers of the Emerald Tablet to a higher
state of consciousness.
The Tablet is a single piece of green emerald. Seen over the
centuries as the original source of Hermetic Wisdom and
alchemical philosophy, it caught the attention of many scholars,
writers, and scientists including Alexander the Great, Isaac
Newton, and Carl Jung. It was said to have been on display in
Egypt from about 330 BCE until 400 CE when it had to be hidden
from religious zealots. Many believe it will eventually be found
somewhere near the Great Pyramid.
Finding the Emerald City, home of the Wizard of Oz, was not easy;
it required quite a journey. Dorothy only wanted to go home, to
Kansas. She awoke in a place called Oz, which she knew
immediately was not her true home, much as when awakened, we know
that this earthly level of consciousness is not our true home.
Our senses trap us in this illusion, fooling us into thinking
that this material realm is real, and then we develop
attachments, binding ourselves to it.
As Dorothy begins her journey to find her way home, she meets
three characters who travel with her. They seek the Wizard of Oz
wishing that he would grant them what each believes they most
need. The Scarecrow needs a brain; the Tin Woodman needs a
heart; and the Cowardly Lion needs courage. Dorothy, of course,
needs to find her way home to Kansas.
The Voice is also about a journey to find one's true self and
home. There are two paths, three Halls, and seven Portals that
one must pass through. The three Halls might be synonymous with
the three companions that take up with our heroine Dorothy. The
First Hall is Ignorance, the existence in this life "in which
thou livest and shalt die." In the time the WIZARD OF OZ was
written, it was believed that the mind resided in the brain. It
might seem that the Scarecrow was ignorant because he had no
brain. Yet, we now know from science that the Mind exists
outside the brain. The brain is the hardware, and the Mind is
the software. Mind is the activator of the brain, but exists
outside the brain as well. "For the Mind is like a mirror, it
gathers dust while it reflects. It needs the gentle breezes of
Soul-Wisdom to brush away the dust of our illusions. Seek, O
Beginner, to blend thy Mind and Soul." (Voice, page 26) This is
the lesson that the Scarecrow needed to learn.
The Second Hall is the Hall of Learning, in which one's "Soul
will find the blossoms of life, but under every flower a serpent
coiled." It is also the Hall of Probationary Learning. There are
several different types of learning; there is head learning, and
there is heart learning or "emotional intelligence" in today's
sociological language. Perhaps it is heart learning that the Tin
Woodman needed and not just a heart. Heart learning leads to
self-knowledge as the heart is the seat of the soul.
Self-knowledge is key because to know "All Self" (the Divine),
says the Voice, one must "be the knower." To know the self, one
has to "give up Self to Non-Self." We must practice
non-attachment to this thing we call "self," to that which we
believe ourselves to be. Self-knowledge leads us from Ignorance
to Learning. "To reach Nirvana, one must reach self-knowledge,
and Self-knowledge is of loving deeds the child."
The Voice tells us that while the Dharma (teaching) "of the Eye
is the embodiment of the external and the non-existing" (i.e.
causes us to mistake as real and permanent all that is unreal and
impermanent), "The Dharma of the Heart is the embodiment of Bodhi
(the reincarnating ego), the Permanent and Everlasting." While
the Tin Woodman had no heart, he actually would come to discover
that he had "Heart."
The Third Hall is the Hall of Wisdom. Soul-Wisdom does not come
easily. It takes entire journeys of lifetimes to gain the Wisdom
we need. The Voice says of this Hall, "Thou must divest thyself
of the dark garments of illusion" if we are to have Wisdom, for
we can never find it if we allow ourselves to be fooled by this
material world. But that takes tremendous courage to look
through these "dark garments" (our bodies) and see all of this
for what it is -- illusion. The Cowardly Lion needed, as we all
do, the courage to believe that something beyond this material
world exists and move toward that, unattached to what our senses
tell us is real.
When we know the real from the unreal, when through Soul-Wisdom
the true nature of the Mind is revealed, we understand these
Halls. The Voice tells us, "Beware of fear that spreadeth like
the black and soundless wings of midnight bat, between the
moonlight and thy great goal that loometh in the distance far
away." Furthermore, "Fear, O disciple, kills the will and stays
all action." (Voice, page 53) Fear paralyzes and causes inaction.
The only advice Dorothy gets from the white or Good Witch from
the North -- perhaps her Guru -- on finding her way home is to
"follow the Yellow Brick Road." It is interesting that the
subtitle of the Voice is "Book of the Golden Precepts." Perhaps
that is the reason that Baum made it a yellow road -- to denote
the "Golden Precepts" that one must learn to find one's way home.
Dorothy is the "Lanoo," the Spiritual Seeker or Disciple. She
suddenly set upon a path she found confusing and out of place,
much as we must feel when we land on this level of consciousness
as infants. "You're not in Kansas, anymore," the Witch tells
It is interesting that the wicked witches are from the East and
West. The Wicked Witch of the East died when Dorothy's house
falls on her, leaving only her feet and the silver slippers
exposed. Yet, the East was also the direction of Oz, the
direction of the rising Sun, of light and perhaps enlightenment.
Dorothy, hoping to find her way home, journeys with Toto and her
companions. In search of the Wizard, they encounter distractions
along the way. That is the way of this journey of life. There
are always distractions brought about by our attachment to the
senses. The field of poppies is an excellent example of how we
allow distractions to put us to sleep. The beautiful, fragrant
field of blossoms put the group to sleep.
John Algeo tells us of the second Hall:
> [The] pilgrim soul finds "the blossoms of life, but under every
> flower a serpent coiled." In a note on that passage, HPB
> identifies the second Hall as "the astral region, the psychic
> world of super-sensuous perceptions and of deceptive sights . . .
> No blossom plucked in those regions has ever yet been brought
> down on earth without its serpent coiled around the stem. It is
> the world of the Great Illusion." . . . The danger of the
> lower iddhis is that their attractiveness can entice us from our
> journey and preoccupy us with spiritually irrelevant phenomena
> and with ego-gratifying distractions.
> -- THE QUEST, March-April 2004, "The Blossom and the Serpent: The
> Yellow Brick Road and the Field of Poppies," page 61
Many of us are pulled off the path, distracted and left stupefied
by what we see, hear, taste, and smell. Our senses entrap us
into believing this is Real, and we fall into a narcotic sleep.
Perhaps that is why the Voice tells us to "mistrust thy senses,
they are false." Our senses keep us trapped in illusion, keeping
us desiring and attached to that which we believe real.
The group finds the Emerald City surrounded by a high green wall
with a gate studded with Emeralds. There is always a gate; or in
the Voice, there is a Portal. Actually, there are seven Portals
to pass through to obtain enlightenment. The Guardian of the
Gate, who is also green, provides spectacles for the travelers to
put on, telling them "Because if you did not wear spectacles,
then the brightness and glory of the Emerald City would blind
As Dorothy and her companions approach the castle where the
Wizard of Oz resides, they become apprehensive. The Cowardly
Lion wants to retreat altogether. It is only because Dorothy
wants to go home so badly and the Wizard is the only person who
can help her that she convinces the rest to enter with her.
The Voice tells us, "Before thou canst approach the foremost gate
thou has to learn to part thy body from thy mind, to dissipate
the shadow, and to live in the eternal." If indeed our mind
creates our own reality, then our fears and our belief systems
take place in the mind. To separate the body (the material) from
the mind (the mental) means to create a state in which our fears
diminish and our mind creates for us a state of knowing our true
nature. After all, if none of this is Real and if it is all
illusion, of what do we have to fear?
As it turns out, before the Wizard of Oz grants the group their
wishes, they must perform a task -- a common motif in many tales
of initiation. They must find and destroy the Wicked Witch of
the West. To gain their wishes, the group complies. They set
out toward the setting sun where the witch lived. She saw them
with her "one eye" that was powerful like a telescope, and
decided to destroy them immediately. First, she sent her wolves
-- forty of them (an auspicious number) -- but the Tin Woodman
cut off their heads with his sharpened ax. Then the Witch sent
wild crows to destroy them, but the Scarecrow grabbed them and
wrung their necks. Finally, she sent hoards of black bees to
sting them all to death, but this time the Tin Woodman protected
them, and the bees broke their stingers and die trying to sting
the Tin Woodman.
Still, she had one more plan. She would use the last of the
three wishes from the golden cap, studded with diamonds and
rubies, to summon the Winged Monkeys. She had used the first
wish to make the Winkies, the people of the region, her slaves.
She used the second wish trying to destroy Oz. Now she summoned
the Winged Monkeys, ordering them to bring her the Lion so she
could use him for work, and kill the others.
The Winged Monkeys did as they were told, under the power of the
one who held the golden cap, and dropped the Tin Woodman onto
rocks, badly denting him. They pulled all the straw out of the
Scarecrow, put his clothes into a sack, and put them in a tree.
They tied the Lion with a rope to carry him to the castle.
When they saw Dorothy, they noticed the mark on her forehead left
by the Good Witch of the North when she kissed Dorothy. "We dare
not harm this little girl," the lead monkey said to the others,
"for she is protected by the Power of Good, and that is greater
than the Power of Evil. All we can do is to carry her to the
castle of the Wicked Witch and leave her there." So they carried
the Cowardly Lion, Dorothy, and Toto to the castle.
As the Wicked Witch of the West attempts to put a stop to the
journey of Dorothy and her companions, she tells them in her
"mocking" voice (in the movie version) that they will never get
to where they want to go. The Voice tells us, however, "The
unwary Soul that fails to grapple with the mocking demon of
illusion" (represented here by the Wicked Witch of the West)
"will return to earth the slave of Mara." Dorothy learns that she
will have to deal with this Wicked Witch somehow.
We must deal with this world of illusion and see it for what it
is, else our fate is to return time after time and continue to be
a slave of this material existence. Dorothy eventually and quite
accidentally finds a way to destroy the Wicked Witch, which we
might call illusion. It is interesting that the one thing that
destroys the Wicked Witch of the West is water. As Dorothy
douses the Witch with a bucket full of water, the Wicked Witch
begins to melt. The water is a "baptism" of sorts, a baptism
that melts the illusion of the material world and reveals the
Now, Dorothy, keeping the golden cap, frees the Cowardly Lion,
who had refused to do the Wicked Witch's bidding. They find the
Tin Woodman (which the tin workers of the Winkies repair) and the
Scarecrow (which they repair by finding his clothes and
restuffing them with straw). Grateful that Dorothy freed them
from being slaves to the Wicked Witch of the West, the Winkies
were more than glad to help her.
Again, Dorothy and her companions set off to return to Oz, but it
was more difficult this time because there was no path. Once one
has started on the path, one must keep to the path, even if there
appears to be no path to follow. This may have been something
Dorothy discovered when they got lost after killing the Wicked
Witch of the West, and were trying to find the East and Oz. "If
we walk far enough, we shall sometime come to someplace." That
could be said in response to J. Krishnamurti's statement "truth
is a pathless land." For truly in a pathless land, if one walks
far enough, at some point one comes to some place -- and it is
generally the place that one is destined to be.
Dorothy called the Queen of the Mice, who had helped them
previously, and ask her how they might find the yellow brick road
to the East. The Queen told Dorothy that the golden cap had
special powers and she could summon the Winged Monkeys to help.
So, Dorothy summoned the Winged Monkeys -- perhaps spirit guides
-- and they most graciously flew them all to the Emerald City.
Once again, they all have to have the green spectacles locked
into place before being allowed into the throne room of the
Wizard. A Voice they assumed to be the Wizard's spoke to them
but they could not see him. "Where are you?" Dorothy asked.
"I am everywhere," answered the Voice, "but to the eyes of common
mortals, I am invisible."
The Wizard spoke to Dorothy in a thunderous voice, with smoke and
fire billowing to add to his threatening posture. Dorothy begged
the Wizard to help them -- to give the Cowardly Lion courage, the
Scarecrow a brain, the Tin Woodsman a heart, and most importantly
to tell her how she and Toto can get back home to Kansas.
In the movie version, as the Wizard became more threatening and
angry, the Cowardly Lion stepped forward and demanded that he
quit treating Dorothy badly. The Tin Woodman began comforting
her, and the Scarecrow said not to worry, as they would figure
out a way to get Dorothy and Toto back home.
Unseen to the rest, Toto wanders back behind a large curtain
hanging behind the Wizard's throne. Toto began pulling on the
curtain, and suddenly the curtain fell away to reveal a man -- a
tiny old man -- with a megaphone and smoke machine. To the
surprise of all, they discovered that the Wizard was not a
powerful, threatening entity. He was just an ordinary human like
all the rest of them.
That is the way it often is. Things are not always as they seem
to be. The way we perceive things and the way things really are,
many times are two different things. Our perception can fool us.
Even the most powerful, threatening people are not who they
appear to be, and we can see that if we remove the veil. This
world is full of veils that keep us from seeing things as they
The Voice tells us that when reach the sixth gate -- Dhayana or
Bodhi Portal -- we are almost ready to realize our true nature.
"Thou hast estranged thyself from objects of the senses, traveled
on the 'Path of seeing,' on the 'Path of hearing,' and standest
in the light of Knowledge."
The Wizard explained to the group that he accidentally fell into
Oz from the sky many years ago, after a balloon he was riding in
came loose from its tethers and floated away. The reason he made
everyone wear green glasses was so that his subjects would always
see green. "But my people have worn green glasses on their eyes
so long that most of them think it really is an Emerald City . .
." he said.
Again, the illusion fools us into believing that things are
something they are not. We see the world around us as being
permanent and Real, when it is quite impermanent and Unreal. One
key to enlightenment is learning to see the world differently so
that our "green glasses" will not fool us.
When the Wizard heard their wishes, he told the Scarecrow that he
did not need brains. "Experience is the only thing that brings
knowledge, and the longer you are on earth, the more experience
you are sure to get," he said.
To the Cowardly Lion, he said, "The True Courage is in facing
danger when you are afraid," noting that the Lion had done that
many times along his journey. "The more one dares, the more he
shall obtain," says the Voice. "The more he fears, the more than
light shall pale -- and that alone can guide."
The Wizard told the Tin Woodman that having a heart was not all
that great -- that it often causes pain and sorrow. But the Tin
Woodman wanted one anyway. And Dorothy begged the Wizard to help
her get back to Kansas. That one, he said, might take a bit
The next day they all returned to have their wishes granted by
the Wizard, but by now we all know that in reality, all that we
want lies within our own power to achieve. But, by pretending to
give each of them what they want the Wizard knows that each will
believe they have it. Reality exists in the mind.
The Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion, and the Tin Woodman have all
been slaves to their thoughts, believing that they did not have
what they thought they needed. Since we are all "the children of
[our] thoughts," as the Voice says, then if we would not be
destroyed by our thoughts, we must render these creations of our
minds harmless. When the Wizard went through the motions of
giving the Scarecrow a brain, the Tin Woodman a heart, and the
Cowardly Lion courage, the belief that they were different made
Dorothy found her way back to her true home, just by clicking the
heels of her silver magic slippers together and repeating,
"There's no place like home." Truly, there is no place like home,
but our true home is not here in the material world. Like
Dorothy and her companions, we learn that this is all illusion,
and that each one of us possesses the power within to cut through
the illusion to see all of this for what it really is: Oz.
Ultimately, the goal of L. Frank Baum, student -- Lanoo -- of
Theosophy, may have been to show others the way out of illusion,
to show them the Real versus the Unreal and to help them find the
way back to their true home. Though THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ
came to be known as a children's classic, the message is there
for all of us. Perhaps Blavatsky said it best in the last line
of her two-volume treatise ISIS UNVEILED. "Our fervent wish has
been to show true souls how they may lift aside the curtain, and,
in the brightness of that Night made Day, look with undazzled
gaze upon the Unveiled Truth." (II, page 640)
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application