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THEOSOPHY WORLD --------------------------------------- July, 2006

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

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"Anger," by B.P. Wadia
"Edgar Allen Poe," by K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar
"You Are Your Own Karma," by Gertrude W. van Pelt
"ULT Day Letter," by the United Lodge of Theosophists
"Silence, the Key to Knowledge," by Henry T. Edge
"Coal or Diamond," by James A. Long
"Do We Have a Future," by Andrew Rooke
"One Life -- One Law," by G. de Purucker
"A Philosophy of Life," by E.A. Coryn
"Archetypal Codes," by John Algeo


> I should not be surprised if [Damodar] ... came when H.P.B.,
> reincarnated and, like himself, changed beyond all recognition,
> shall resume the world-work she had to drop on "White Lotus Day"
> in 1891. It would be too unreasonable to imagine that the Lords
> of Karma would keep any one of the best workers of the
> Theosophical movement idling about on the other planes of
> existence, when the cry of the suffering world for light and
> guidance is rising to their celestial abodes. Their chief desire
> and paramount duty is to help our human race to climb the path to
> the highest levels, where delusions, born of spiritual ignorance,
> wither away in the blaze of Wisdom like flowers bitten by a frost.
> -- Henry S. Olcott, OLD DIARY LEAVES, III, page 279


By B.P. Wadia

[From LIVING THE LIFE, pages 108-12.]

The Vishnu Purana is said to be "equal in sanctity to the Vedas."
In response to his pupil Maitreya, Parasara tells the tale of all
evolution. It is a great work, and HPB makes use of it to
explain deep esoteric teachings.

Parasara is the son of Saktri or Sakti, and the grandson of the
holy sage Vasishtha. In the Adi Parva of the Mahabharata, the
story of the birth of Parasara is given. King Kalmashapara,
meeting with Sakti, the son of Vasishtha, in a narrow path in a
thicket, desired him to stand out of his way. The sage refused,
on which the Raja beat him with his whip; Sakti cursed him to
become a Rakshasa, a man-devouring spirit. Having become a
Rakshasa, the Raja not only killed and devoured Sakti, but also
his brothers. But at the time of his death, Sakti's wife was an
expectant mother; Parasara was her son and was brought up by his
grandfather Vasishtha. The son came to know of the manner of his
father's and his uncles' death, so he instituted a sacrifice for
the destruction of all Rakshasas. Thereupon the great sage spoke
to his grandson:

> Enough, my boy. Let thy wrath be appeased. The Rakshasas are
> not culpable; thy father's death was the work of Karma. Anger is
> the passion of fools; it becometh not a wise man. By whom, it
> may be asked, is anyone killed? Every man reaps the consequences
> of his own acts. Anger, my son, is the destruction of all that
> man obtains, by arduous exertions, of fame, and of devout
> austerities, and prevents the attainment of heaven or of
> emancipation. The chief sages always shun wrath: be not thou, my
> child, subject to its influence. Let no more of these
> unoffending spirits of darkness be consumed. Mercy is the might
> of the righteous.

Self-evident is the truth of these noble words of the holy sage.
The Purana records the gift bestowed by the high gods on Parasara
because of his non-violent act. "You have exercised clemency;
therefore you shall become learned in every science."

Anger is named as one of the three gates of hell. (Gita, XVI,
21) An angry man lives in hell or kamaloka in waking life. A mad
man does not recognize his lunacy, nor does an angry man remember
the saying of Horace, "Anger is momentary madness, so control
your passion or it will control you."

There are men who suffer from irritation born of impatience or
discontent, and these soon gain strength and turn into wrath.
The ultimate effect is that such a person becomes one who, in the
words of Shakespeare, "carries anger as the flint bears fire."
Then there are those who feel indignation (and some salve their
consciences by naming it "righteous indignation") but refrain
from expressing it in words. The Christian scriptures have a
telling proverb, "Can a man take fire in his bosom and his
clothes not be burned?"

The world is full of the force of violence, and anger is a
pronounced and formidable expression of it. There is anger hotly
expressed by words and with fists and kicks. There is cold
anger, like hard ice, which burns. From its expression in slight
displeasure that is merely shown by the face, to the extreme
variety that produces apoplexy -- the human kingdom suffers from
anger. For all such, Gandhiji's precept and example are
excellent. He says:

> It is not that I do not get angry. I do not give vent to anger.
> I cultivate the quality of patience as angerlessness, and
> generally speaking I succeed. How I find it possible to control,
> it would be a useless question, for all must succeed in forming
> this habit and cultivate it by constant practice.

If wrath is bad for the ordinary mortal, it is one of the
greatest of hindrances for him who attempts to live the higher
life. The violent shaking up caused by anger in a practicing
neophyte is spoken of by W.Q. Judge in his "Culture of
Concentration." He concludes, "Anger must be strictly avoided,
and it cannot be avoided unless charity and love -- absolute
toleration -- are cultivated."

Those who study that article carefully and attentively will
naturally wish to know what is the force and the substance of
anger. "Force or energy is a quality; but every quality must
belong to a something, or a somebody," says THE SECRET DOCTRINE.
(I, 509) To say that it is disorderly motion, tending towards
inertia, hardness, darkness, and tamas, or that the nature
spirits or elementals act as the agents who arouse our anger, is
not an adequate explanation. The force of anger belongs to the
dark side of Nature and emanates from the mysterious source
symbolized as Mara, Ahriman, and Devil. The dark intelligence
pervasive in material Nature or Prakriti colors the Kama
principle in man, and something of this dark intelligence and its
progeny can be understood if we brood over these words of THE

> It is not molecularly constituted matter -- least of all the
> human body (sthula-sharira) -- that is the grossest of all our
> "principles," but verily the MIDDLE principle, the real animal
> centre; whereas our body is but its shell, the irresponsible
> factor and medium through which the beast in us acts all its
> life. Every intellectual theosophist will understand my real
> meaning.

But all this is not as graphic as the words of Mr. Judge who
refers to the progressing neophyte, "you may soon begin to get
the attention of the Black Magicians, who then begin to try to
knock you out, so beware." How is this knocking out done?
"Attempts will be silently made to arouse irritation and to
increase it where it now exists." (LETTERS THAT HAVE HELPED ME,
page 115) Again, "No irritation should be let dwell inside. It
is a deadly foe. Sit on all the small occasions that evoke it
and the greater ones will never arise to trouble you." (page 137)

Irritation springs from impatience and grows into anger. The
root and the remedy are revealed by Mr. Judge. The statements
quoted above should provoke thought in every earnest

The Mahatma KH has written,

> It is a meritorious act to extirpate with the roots all feelings
> of anger, so as to never feel the slightest paroxysm of a passion
> we all consider sinful.

Here anger is designated as a sin, and in the Science of
Occultism, sin is a step to soul-less-ness. In that strange
story, Vathek, by the highly eccentric William Beckford, there is
a statement about the sin of anger. Vathek is an Oriental story
of a megalomaniac, an Arabian Caliph, who sells himself to Eblis,
Satan. From crime to worse crime, he moves; the tragic end of
his burning heart, we will not speak about. But at the very
beginning of the story occurs this:

When he was angry, one of his eyes became so terrible that no
> person would bear to behold it; and the wretch upon whom it was
> fixed instantly fell backward, and sometimes expired. For fear,
> however, of depopulating his dominions, and making his palace
> desolate, he but rarely gave way to his anger.

The Old Testament wisdom should be remembered, "He that is slow
to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit
than he that taketh a city."

Better that we close this outline study of anger with a reference
to the patient, spiritual eyes that bring peace and
enlightenment. Says the pupil to his Guru:

> Master, obeisance to thee. Save me sunk in the sea of life,
> bending on me thy steadfast glance, which rains down
> righteousness and compassion.


By K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar

[From THE ARYAN PATH, October 1949, pages 435-40.]

January 19, 1809 - October 7, 1849

Anything approximating to a just appreciation of Edgar Allan Poe
has been slow to crystallize in America, where he has suffered
more derogation than, say, in France or even in England. To the
French "Symbolists," Poe was a major prophet. Mallarme
translated his verse, and Baudelaire his prose. M. Paul Valery
salutes the "world-wide glory" of Poe and describes him as a
pioneer "who considered the things of the mind and, among these,
the production of literature, with an exactness, a sagacity, a
lucidity, which had never before been found in a mind endowed
with poetic inventiveness."

On the other hand, Emerson dismissed Poe as the "jingle man," and
Lowell found in Poe an odd mixture of genius and sheer fudge. If
his admirers are idolatrous, his detractors are irascible.
Yeats's categorical assertion that Poe is "always and for all
lands a great lyrical poet" is counterbalanced by Brownell's no
less categorical asseveration, "Poe's banquet is as bereft of wit
as it is destitute of love. He lacked humor and he lacked heart
. . . as literature his writings are essentially valueless."

Much has been written about the influence of Poe on the French
"Symbolists," but it is still one of the open questions of
literary history. It might be that Poe in his critical theories
and in treatises like "Eureka" did no more than catch up stray
rays from Coleridge and Shelley, and refracted them through the
prism of his own lurid temperament. But in France, the doctrine
of "art for art's sake" came to be associated with Poe more than
with anyone else, and Baudelaire, apostle of aestheticism like
Gautier and Flaubert before him, quickly seized Poe's juggled
conceptions and integrated them into his own aesthetic
philosophy. As Matthiessen points out:

> Poe, in spite of gross crudities and lapses in taste, was the
> first man (in America) to declare that practice must not be
> separated from "the theory that includes it"; and it was his
> strict if brittle insistence on the principle of art that helped
> free Baudelaire and the French Symbolists from the effluvia of
> romanticism, and so cleared the way in turn for the emergence of
> Pound and Eliot.

It might be true that Poe created no tradition in America, and
rather moved in a narrow groove of his own making. But his
"William Wilson," an audacious imaginative study of the dual
personality, was without doubt the original of Stevenson's "Dr.
Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," and Poe was obviously cofounder with
Gaboriau of the modern detective story. Besides, Poe's influence
on Henry James, Ambrose Bierce, and Hart Crane, on the one hand,
and on Rossetti, Swinburne, and Ernest Dowson on the other, is at
least an arguable proposition. Further, there was much in Poe's
life to excite pity, admiration, and contempt by turns; and so
the critic is often swayed, now this way, now that, by the
biographer. To dissociate poetry from poet-olatry, to
distinguish the man from the influence, to discriminate between
the intrinsic and the historical value of his writings, and above
all to extricate the man from the legend, all this is certainly a
most difficult task. But the occasion of the Poe Centenary
should prove auspicious for such a salutary undertaking.

Walt Whitman wrote:

> In a dream I once had, I saw a vessel on the sea, at midnight, in
> a storm . . . On the deck was a slender, slight, beautiful
> figure, a dim man, apparently enjoying all the terror, the murk,
> and the dislocation of which he was the center and the victim.
> That figure of my lurid dream might stand for Edgar Poe, his
> spirit, his fortunes, and his poems -- themselves all lurid
> dreams.

Like the hero of his unfinished blank-verse tragedy "Politian,"
Poe too was

> . . . a dreamer and a man shut out
> From common passions.

From his parents, both itinerant players, whom he lost early,
Edgar Poe inherited his "Wanderlust," and the chronic discords in
the home of his foster-parents, John Allan and his wife, were
likewise duly reflected in his star-crossed life. It is possible
too that Poe as a child sustained a psychic trauma that rendered
him incapable of normal healthy relationship with women.
Already, at the age of fifteen, Poe was a shy, morbid,
high-strung lad, consumed by his unearthly love for the mother of
one of his classmates, the immaculate "Helen" who was to inspire
two of his famous lyrics:

> All -- all expired save thee -- save less than thou:
> Save only the divine light in thine eyes --
> Save but the soul in thine uplifted eyes . . .


> Helen, thy beauty is to me
>   Like those Nicaean barks of yore,
> That gently, o'er a perfumed sea,
>   The weary, wayworn wanderer bore
>   To his own native shore.

Poe had his early schooling in England and after his return to
America with the Allans proceeded to the University of Virginia,
where he ran into debt, gambled heavily, and got into a thorough
mess. He then joined the Artillery division of the United States
Army; then entered West Point, but, for all his erratic
brilliance, he was court-martialed in 1831. Drifting to
journalism, he published in quick succession a number of reviews,
essays, poems, and stories, which came to the notice of a
widening circle of readers and gradually stabilized his position
as a writer. In the meantime, he married his cousin Virginia
Clemm, then barely thirteen, and set up house with his wife and
her mother. Virginia was the "Eulalie" of the lines:

> I dwelt alone
> In a world of moan,
> And my soul was a stagnant tide,
> Till the fair and gentle Eulalie became my
>   blushing bride
> Till the yellow-haired young Eulalie became
>   my smiling bride.

She was, besides, the inspiration behind the short story "Ligeia"
and the poem "Annabel Lee." And yet, neither in his life nor in
his love, neither in his habits nor in his occupations, neither
in his hopes nor in his fears, was normality ever a constituent.
Alcohol and opium held him fascinated; he alternately drank
himself to oblivion and solaced himself with laudanum. Edgar
Allan Poe was indeed playing a reckless game for impossible
stakes -- and he was foredoomed to lose all the way.

After a brief agitated interval at New York where he made the
acquaintance of Washington Irving and William Cullen Bryant, Poe
settled down at Philadelphia for five years (1839-1844), easily
the most peaceful and fruitful session of his terror-driven,
wasted life. "Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque" came out in
1840, "The Gold Bug" and some of the Dupin stories came out one
by one, each a marvelous essay in detection, while his essays in
criticism gave him a certain standing among his contemporaries.

Poe was not the man to flirt with success for long. He would be
drowned, and nobody could help him! Emasculated by the corroding
sense of his own fatality, he dreamily took off from the hard
ground, he clawed somnambulistically into the air, he wildly flew
at shadows, he moaned melancholy tunes, he spiraled uneasily in
midair, and he suddenly gravitated to the ground and crashed into

From Philadelphia to New York was a mad shift, made worse by
Virginia's consumption and lingering agony. Fame and poverty
kept house together; specters hovered above, and tragedy was, as
it were, round the corner. Virginia withered, Virginia died.
Relieved at last from Virginia's strangely powerful hold, Poe
embarked on wilder courses than ever. Intermittently the
disturbed sky brightened for a brief second or two -- there were
lightning flashes -- but all was lowering darkness again.

Making a final frantic effort to redeem himself, Poe got engaged
to Mrs. Shelton, but it was no use; a few days later he was
picked up inexplicably delirious near a saloon in Baltimore, and
died soon afterwards of pneumonia in his fortieth year. The
fitful fever of his life was spent at last, and Poe was now
gathered into that "hollow vale" and its eternal rest.

Such a life as Poe's was in all conscience a nightmare mixture of
tragedy and futility, itself a blend of the macabre, the
grotesque, and the arabesque. Normality and actuality repelled
him -- he knew them not -- and he therefore minimized them into
zero and cantered into the regions of abnormality, unreality.
Says Professor C.M. Bowra:

> For Edgar Allan Poe and for Gerard de Nerval, the other world was
> always the real world, and actual phenomena a source of trouble
> and confusion which they refused to accept. The result was a
> search, conscious or unconscious, for some anodyne that should
> enable them to maintain their dreams.

In his life, Poe found the anodyne in alcohol, in opium; in his
art, he found it in the determined contemplation of dying beauty,
in the vivification of charnel houses and torture-chambers, in
the laborious elaboration of crime and detection. Poetry,
according to Poe, is concerned, not with Truth, but with Beauty
(as though Truth and Beauty were contradictories!) -- especially
Beauty that must die. Thus, the most suitable, the most poetic,
of all themes is the death of a woman who is adored but dies in
the full flush of her beauty and bathed in all the radiance of
her lover's adoration. A long poem, then, is a contradiction in
terms; consistency of tone can be maintained only over a poem of
100 lines or less -- or in a story that can be read through at a
single sitting. And rhythms, now nervous and mild, now
aggressive and bold, should fuse into a jet of melody that
incarnates the tragedy at the heart of all supremely beautiful

While all this may very well be an authentic summing-up of Poe's
own practice as a poet and literary craftsman, it rather empties
of significance the world of art and reduces it to a
ghost-gallery devoid of life and even of beauty. The beauty that
Poe manages to evoke is but a pale bloodless beauty, a mere
simulacrum of the rich seething beauty in God's wide world. "The
Raven," Poe's most famous poem, is a technical achievement of a
high order; it creeps into one like an infection, and the fever
waxes with each stanza until one comes to the very last:

> And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting
>   -- still is sitting
> On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my
>   chamber door;
> And his eyes have all the seeming of a
>   Demon's that is dreaming,
> And the lamp-light o'er him streaming
>   throws his shadow on the floor;
> And my soul from out that shadow that lies
>   floating on the floor
> Shall be lifted -- nevermore!

Then, suddenly, the spell is broken; the ague is gone -- and one
returns to life, sanity, and health. Poe's remarkable technical
gifts as a poet were nevertheless largely thrown away because he
would not -- perhaps he could not -- come to terms with ordinary

Poe's stories, again, granted all their excruciating power and
craftsmanship, hold little commerce with the flesh and blood of
actuality. Ideas are pushed to their logical conclusion;
formulae are inflated into persons; moods are evoked with a
terrifying vividness and particularity; complicated problems are
posed and solved with a pontifical solemnity -- but, although
they stimulate our interest, although they extort our admiration,
they never overwhelm us. In stories like "The Fall of the House
of Usher," "The Pit and the Pendulum," "Ligeia," and "The Black
Cat," detail is added to detail with an uncanny astuteness. The
"tone" is preserved with a diabolical consistency, and the
contours of this crepuscular and sinister world are made to stand
out in all their poisoned clarity before our awed, unbelieving

Afraid or contemptuous of the familiar, the traditional, Poe
sought refuge in the ugly, the fearful, and the bizarre.
Trafficking with terrors, he exchanged the pulses of humanity for
the phantasmagoria of Lucifer's dream-kingdom. And yet what
astounding craftsmanship has gone into tales like "The
Assignation," "The Cask of Amontillado," "Manuscript Found in a
Bottle," and "A Descent into the Maelstrom." Poe is rather like
the ingenious inventors of our own day who mobilize all the
resources of their trained intelligence towards the construction
of more and yet more destructive weapons of war.

On the other hand, as the creator of M. Dupin and as the author
of "The Gold Bug, " Poe holds his own against scores of recent
practitioners in the genre. But even here, Poe's eminence is
subject to an important qualification. "The detective story, as
created by Poe," says T.S. Eliot, "is something as specialised
and as intellectual as a chess problem; whereas the best English
detective fiction has relied less on the beauty of the
mathematical problem and much more on the intangible human
element." M. Dupin is apt to assume that life is a simple rule
of three, but there are undreamt-of accidents -- there are vast
imponderables -- there are unpredictable spurts of circumstance,
and these must forever defy the mere logician in search of Truth.
Modern detectives like M. Hercule Poirot and Inspector Maigret,
Father Brown, and Lord Peter are more in the Sergeant Cuff than
in the Lecoq-Dupin-Holmes tradition. Poe, as usual with him, as
was inevitable with him, went the whole way when he invented the
story of detection, and by pumping in too much ratiocination, he
emptied it of human significance.

Edgar Allan Poe was poet and critic of poetry, daring
experimenter and innovator, master of the macabre and the
grotesque, wanderer between the physical and supra-physical
realms, flawless craftsman and adroit thinker, wayward genius,
and devotee of Beauty. He so mixed the elements that he was
fated to become yet another of the "inheritors of unfulfilled
renown," one of the anguished, intoxicated denizens of the world
of poetry and art. He suffered intensely, his fragile nerves
were keyed to an unbearable pitch, but as his suffering was often
self-forged and his nervous tension but derived from his exotic
sensibility, Poe surfeited himself with diseased abnormality and
soul-destroying despair, and presently he loomed immense, a
severe hooded figure, the Laureate of shadows, dank chambers, and
improbable possibilities.

He created a world of his own, a nightmare dream world that not
seldom glows with the poignancy of authentic tragedy. As a
creative writer, he blazed the trail in many directions, but what
he achieved himself fell short of the promise held out by his
extraordinary gifts. His flaw-fissured personality no less than
his ingenious inventions and striking achievements inevitably
created a legend that for a time overflowed the bare truth and
almost threatened to engulf it. But the danger is past. It is
now possible to evaluate Edgar Allan Poe with a greater
approximation to the truth of things and to hail him, in the
centenary year of his death, as a very considerable artist in
prose and verse and as a pioneering and powerful force in modern


By Gertrude W. van Pelt


Sow an act, and you will reap a habit. Sow a habit, and you will
reap a destiny, because habits build character. This is the
sequence: an act, a habit, a character, and a destiny. You are
the creator of yourself. What you make yourself to be now, you
will be in the future. What you are now, is precisely what you
have made yourself to be in the past. What you sow, you shall

-- G. de Purucker, GOLDEN PRECEPTS

It is a fundamental teaching of the Wisdom-Religion that every
atom, being an inseparable part of the Universe, has locked up
within itself all the potentialities of that Universe, as the
seed contains the future tree locked up within itself. Hence in
the far distant cycles of evolution every atom will become a man
-- then a god, then reach still higher grades of divine life. It
follows that in the case of man these possibilities have been
unfolded as far as the human stage, at which point is incurred
the responsibility of creating personal karma. From this time
forward, equipped with mind and free will, he will carve his own

Theosophy teaches that in those early days the Great Teachers
that launched these pilgrims on their long journey to godhood
instructed humanity as to the purpose of life. Many, many times
since then have they lived -- in various climes under various
racial conditions, and in different bygone civilizations. Man
has never been left without sufficient light to find the Way:
there has been the Voice of Conscience; there have been the
results of wrong and right action as lessons for the future;
there have been mind to interpret these and free will to choose.
Therefore, it is fair to say that man has created himself and is
his own karma.

This latter expression implies the fact that every act and
thought alters character. From moment to moment, we change.
Nothing remains for an instant IN STATU QUO, so that constantly
and progressively, man is the resultant, the fruitage, of all his
thoughts, emotions, actions; of the use or non-use of his will.
He stands at every moment as his own autobiography -- or he is
the great artist, having the tools of destiny in hand and
compelled under the laws of being to carve and carve until the
outer becomes a worthy Temple for the god within. Life is indeed
the highest art.

Every moment, then, may be taken as a new starting-point, as
expressed in a beautiful Salutation to the Dawn:

> Look to this Day, for it is Life, the very Life of Life. In its
> brief course lie all the possibilities and realities of your
> existence.

Plainly, one can unfold or grow only from the point at which one
has arrived. Whatever power or vision has been gained, none can
take away, and whatever of burdensome rubbish, pernicious habits,
or degrading qualities one has acquired, can evidently be removed
only by the evoking of the will of the one who acquired them.
They have become a part of the nature, and no extraneous Savior
can extract by any process of magic them from the character of
another. But the Saviors do seek, and all down the ages have
sought, to awaken the Warrior in the heart of every Pilgrim who
has lost his Way. When such awakening happens, the sway of karma
is altered. The whole purpose of life takes a new direction and
gradually constructive forces are generated that modify the old
destructive ones. We MUST meet the energies already generated,
but we can then meet them with courage and understanding and with
a new armor that they cannot pierce -- possibly even with an
opposite equal force that will neutralize them.

Weak characters furnish a weak focus for karma. They take things
easily, as they come, drift along the river of life, enjoy and
suffer without asking why, and leave their bodies much as they
entered them.

> But Nature will not have it thus always: finally there comes the
> karmic impulse, the karmic stimulus, then you suffer a little;
> but in doing so you awaken and begin to grow. Bless the karmic
> stimulus; be not afraid of it. Look to the essential divinity
> within. Remember that everything that happens is transient, and
> that you can learn from everything, and in learning you will grow
> -- grow great, and from greatness pass to a larger sphere of
> greatness.
> -- G. de Purucker, QUESTIONS WE ALL ASK, Series I, No. XXXIV

But when the real man is aroused and consciously grips himself
and co-operates with Nature, which is seeking to evolve him, his
unfolding proceeds rapidly. The past will decide the future
events. They may bring quickly a sense of glorious freedom with
deeper sympathies, new friends and opportunities; or perhaps more
often misfortunes, suffering, or enemies may be called out of the
mysterious past; for none of us has avoided clashes with the Law.
All this, however, is but clearing the way. Eventually such
self-directed evolution will lead out into the open spaces of
freedom; into glorious possibilities; into friendship with those
Great Ones who have overcome.

> We are constantly upon the fringe of great opportunities and at
> some crucial point, and then, instead of grasping these
> opportunities and moving on to a larger view and a broader
> spiritual life, we shrink, we hold back through timidity -- and
> so we lose them all. The present is an unusual cycle, and never
> in this life shall we meet present opportunities again.
> Fear nothing, for every renewed effort raises all former failures
> into lessons, all sins into experiences. Understand me when I
> say that in the light of renewed effort the Karma of all your
> past alters; it no longer threatens; it passes from the plane of
> penalty before the soul's eye, up to that of tuition. It stands
> as a monument, a reminder of past weaknesses, and a warning
> against future failure.
> So fear nothing for yourself; you are behind the shield of your
> reborn endeavor, though you have failed a hundred times. Try
> slowly to make it your motive for fidelity that others may be
> faithful. Fear only to fail in your duty to others, and even
> then let your fear be for them; not yourself.

Physical disease is one of the unpleasant expressions of past
karma. It even shows itself in infants, who may come into life
with such marks. The compilers of the New Testament give
evidence of having recognized this fact in the question recorded
in THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO SAINT JOHN, ix, 2: "Master, who did
sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?"

Dr. de Purucker, in speaking of disease, has said:

> I will tell you a little esoteric secret in this connection:
> Every time when a man flies into a passion, whether of desire or
> of anger, whether of fear or of hate, he has lost control of
> himself and at the time exemplifies the characteristic and power
> of some elemental being under whose influence he has fallen.
> This natural fact, so simple, so easily understood, is the basis
> of the old superstition about the action upon human beings of
> 'devils.'
> These elementals are not 'devils;' they are simply elemental
> beings, and they have a natural and strong affinity for man.
> They look upon man much as we humans look to the gods; but when
> the man becomes degenerate and drops to their lower sphere, then
> is their chance. Automatically and instinctively, they act; and
> they act as impersonally and as much without conscience as does
> the electric current. And I may say here that the electric
> current is but a stream or flow of these elemental beings ?
> I will go a little farther: Diseases are the result of loss of
> self-control at some time, either in this or in some past life.
> You can say that an Elemental has entered into the man's vital
> aura ? and if the man does not oust it with his will and by
> aspiration to better things, in other words by resuming his
> normal spiritual manhood, that seed will grow, and disease or
> horrible consequences will be the result for him.
> -- G. de Purucker, QUESTIONS WE ALL ASK, Series II, No. XXI

This ousting it with one's will is quite different from apparent
cures through psychic methods.

> A man also can indeed apparently cure certain diseases of the
> body, if he can use certain psychological faculties that he has ?
> But the results ? are not good. All disease is a purging, a
> purgation, a cleansing. Natures law is that the poison should
> come out. If it remains within, it poisons the body, the
> constitution, still worse than before; and the physicians of the
> future will know perfectly well how to lead disease out of the
> body so that the body shall not be injured at all. But be very
> careful about damming it back, throwing it back into the stream
> of consciousness; for one of these days the trouble will come out
> despite your best efforts and it will have gained strength and
> power and be like ten devils worse than the first.
> -- G. de Purucker, QUESTIONS WE ALL ASK, Series II, No. XL

It might be added that the physicians referred to in the above
quotation are those of the far distant, not immediate future.
Every inharmony, through the beneficent process of Nature, tends
to work to the surface. Sometimes we observe in ourselves or in
others a succession of mishaps or disasters that are commonly
attributed to 'bad luck.' Then suddenly Dame Fortune changes her
tactics, and everything undertaken turns out well. This suggests
that the so-called bad karma has expended its force. But it is
truly bad only if the lessons have not been learned; only if one
continues to roam through life in an idle, inconsequent attitude,
willing to be buffeted alternately by 'good and bad luck.'

If men could only realize that they are the results of what they
have thought and felt and done in this and other lives; that
through these thoughts and acts they have altered the very fabric
of their character -- a character often that invites misfortune
-- would they not learn self-control, kindness, helpful
cooperation, and thus become beneficent forces in Nature? Human
nature is complex, and the results of inharmony will naturally
express themselves through the channels where the disturbance

This whole subject is complicated in its workings though simple
in its broad outlines, and it would be idle for us in our present
stage of evolution to attempt to follow the details. We
sometimes see a deformed body, fine mind, and sunny disposition
in the same individual; or again, a robust body housing a
distorted mind and selfish disposition. In the former case,
seeds of disease are working off, while in the latter, they are
being planted, even though the physical energies may be strong
enough to resist them through that incarnation. Often we see a
beautiful nature, refined, sympathetic, in one who is working
strenuously to benefit mankind, but who is careless regarding the
body. It would seem in such a case that karma would begin and
end on the physical plane, though there must always be a reaction
from one plane to another. Or one may concentrate his energies
on the laws of health and forget the sufferings of his
fellow-men. Such may gain a strong body temporarily, but at what
cost! Law reigns throughout. We attain what we ardently strive
for. The infinite potentialities of the Universe are before us,
but only he whose note chimes with that of the over-mastering Law
-- the Law of Compassion -- can hold his victories.

When at last this great achievement becomes a fact, it is said
that man rises above Karma. This, however, is only a figure of
speech. Karma acts forever, everywhere, but when the great
currents of the Universe are no more thwarted, no friction is
felt. One moves forward easily and rapidly.

> Yes; "our destiny IS written in the stars!" Only, the closer the
> union between the mortal reflection MAN and his celestial
> PROTOTYPE, the less dangerous the external conditions and
> subsequent reincarnations -- that neither Buddhas nor Christs can
> escape. This is not superstition, least of all is it FATALISM.
> The latter implies a blind course of some still blinder power,
> and man is a free agent during his stay on earth. He cannot
> escape his RULING Destiny, but he has the choice of two paths
> that lead him in that direction, and he can reach the goal of
> misery -- if such is decreed to him, either in the snowy white
> robes of the Martyr, or in the soiled garments of a volunteer in
> the iniquitous course; for, there are EXTERNAL AND INTERNAL
> CONDITIONS that affect the determination of our will upon our
> actions, and it is in our power to follow either of the two.
> Those who believe in KARMA have to believe in DESTINY, which,
> from birth to death, every man is weaving thread by thread around
> himself, as a spider does his cobweb; and this destiny is guided
> either by the heavenly voice of the invisible PROTOTYPE outside
> of us, or by our more intimate ASTRAL, or inner man, who is but
> too often the evil genius of the embodied entity called man.
> Both these lead on the outward man, but one of them must prevail,
> and from the very beginning of the invisible affray the stern and
> implacable LAW OF COMPENSATION steps in and takes its course,
> faithfully following the fluctuations. When the last strand is
> woven, and man is seemingly wrapped in the network of his own
> doing, then he finds himself completely under the empire of this
> SELF-MADE destiny. It then either fixes him like the inert shell
> against the immovable rock, or carries him away like a feather in
> a whirlwind raised by his own actions, and this is -- KARMA.
> -- H.P. Blavatsky, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 639


By the United Lodge of Theosophists

[Following is a letter to friends and associates of the United
Lodge of Theosophists. This voluntary association of students of
Theosophy exists "to spread broadcast the Teachings of Theosophy
as recorded in the writings of H.P. Blavatsky and W.Q. Judge."
The ULT issued the letter June 25, 2006 under the letterhead of
the Los Angeles Lodge (245 West 33rd Street, Los Angeles CA
90007). The letter is signed, "With best wishes to all who share
a similar 'aim, purpose and teaching,' Fraternally, The United
Lodge of Theosophists."]

> Being in sympathy with the purposes of this Lodge, as set forth
> in its "Declaration," I hereby record my desire to be enrolled as
> an Associate, it being understood that such association calls for
> no obligation on my part, other than that which I, myself,
> determine.

The "ULT Day Letter," sent annually to Associates, Lodges, Study
Classes, and Friends, is a small matter in the larger world of
thought and action. Yet, one may hope that it arrives as a token
of comradeship in what can be a lonely -- and in some places a
dangerous -- endeavor. Students of Theosophy hopefully gain
perspective and support from this reminder that connections, both
visible and invisible, exist among their fellows, "wherever and
however situated."

In a time of global change, of shifting alliances and boundaries,
of threats and fears, of emerging yet still unclear ideas, we may
pause until the fog lifts, as William Q. Judge might advise.
The attentive student, however, sees when the way is clear, and
determines to act. Study groups sprout on the simple basis of "a
few of us have decided to meet in each other's homes and read THE
OCEAN OF THEOSOPHY." Outreach using new technologies gains
sophistication and allows broader participation. Internet
communications connect newcomers and older students, sparking
dialogue. The discoveries of science are analyzed and discussed
in the light of Theosophy. Workshops and new class formats are
devised, as the invisible network of study, application, unity,
and harmony become visible in the world.

The United Lodge of Theosophists assumes that humanity can best
be served when authority is inherently INTERNAL. As problems
arise, students may wonder, "Who is in charge?" and, based on
conventional methods of work, look for -- and want -- external
guidance and structure. The quiet reminder of self-determination
found in the ULT Declaration and the statement of as "I, myself,
determine" throws us back on our own freedom to choose
responsibility. A silence comes over the striving personal
nature when the "unassailable basis" for choice, work, and union
is seen to be simply -- and only -- studying and applying the
teachings of H.P. Blavatsky and William Q. Judge. Individual
stances and opinions, no matter how compelling, dissolve as each
node of work, no matter its size, becomes a crucible for our
transformation from the human to the Divine.

Robert Crosbie developed the methods of ULT 97 years ago in
recognition of this divine nature. The ensuing years and their
accretions provide different challenges, however, from those
present in 1909. Worldwide, countries and cultures faced with
self-governance realize that reliance on internal authority
demands discipline and skill. Individually, the same
requirements prevail. Vital methods need to be culled from
outgrown traditions. To confer with others and listen to their
views takes time and may be uncomfortable. Giving up the
reassurance of "we've always done it this way" perhaps is seen as
disloyalty to valued friends of the past. The needs of newcomers
may be misconstrued after years of talking and listening only to

To maintain ULT as a living force requires work, attention,
patience, and resolve. The formation of a new study class, the
examination of a new train of thought in the world in the light
of the Teachings, the willingness to work in harmony with
fellow-students who may see things slightly differently than we
do, revivifies and renews the ULT principle. Unity is aided by
the reminder that we are not exempt from human tendencies nor
history, but can expect the same challenges to arise in work for
Theosophy as arise in all human endeavors. Humbling though this
is, a gentle reminder that kindness and compassion provide an
unseen leaven keeps discouragement at bay, as we examine
ourselves and see, as Arjuna came to understand in the
BHAGAVAD-GITA, that all battles are within.

The United Lodge of Theosophists presents a principle of work
that springs not from outer organization but from the human heart
and mind. The growing awareness that the world is one,
physically, morally, and mentally, and that even the smallest
action reverberates globally, is reflected in the international
face of ULT. Efforts in Greece, Brazil, Portugal, and Australia,
for example, stem from the determination of a few individuals who
have had the courage to recognize the value of a non-sectarian,
non-dogmatic approach to the teachings of Theosophy. The
decision to work -- to translate Judge's writings into Russian,
to translate HPB into Portuguese, to advertise in different
venues, to create new ways of study -- in short, TO TRY, begins
with individual students, and not from any central authority.
Reflecting upon the meaning of ULT Day, we think this is what
Robert Crosbie may have had in view as he considered how best to
further the Theosophical Movement.


By Henry T. Edge

[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, November 1916, pages 417-22.]

Why do both individuals and communities so often find themselves
debarred from the attainment of desired knowledge? It is because
of their unfitness to receive it due to their failure to observe
the conditions necessary for its possession.

If a man has in his constitution the seeds of wasting disease, it
is no use pumping vitality into him, because the deadly germs
will waste it all; nay more, it is worse than useless, because
the destructive malady will be fed and its destructive work
hastened. People who despoil flowers cannot be allowed in
gardens; property has to be guarded against thieves (whereby the
honest share in the deprivation); and information is withheld
from those who would abuse it.

In the present order of society, there is no adequate safeguard
against the abuse of knowledge. Our resources of knowledge are
at this moment being ransacked for contributions to the service
of mutual destruction, and in times of peace, the same resources
are often utilized to the utmost for purposes purely selfish. We
live under an order wherein it is possible for private concerns
to send out agents for fastening an injurious habit upon a
population in order that commercial profit may be reaped.
Refraining from discussing the morals of this fact, and regarding
it simply as a fact, we make the point that it is enough to
explain why knowledge should be withheld.

The position of a teacher, such as H.P. Blavatsky or any other
teacher who might come, can be understood in the light of the
above considerations. There have been those who have sought to
pervert Theosophy to personal ends, the result being coteries and
cults that mimic Theosophy as the parasitic fungus on the roots
of the yerba santa mocks the violet blossoms of the real plant.

When the subordinate vital processes of the human body escape
from the balancing and controlling power of the central vitality,
wasting diseases set in, and the resources of the constitution
are burnt up. But these destructive ailments begin in the mind.
Our prevalent mental condition today exhibits a predominance of
the destructive (or "catabolic") forces, whose symptoms are a
tendency to wastage and dissipation of resources. Knowledge,
under present conditions, is either public property or the
perquisite of a privileged coterie, and neither of these
conditions satisfies our ideal of what is desirable.

Many writers hail the divorce of science from religion as a
triumph for the progress of thought; but it is pertinent to
consider what the causes of that divorce were. One or both of
the partners must have been unfaithful to the trust, the result
being disunion and the determination to try to live apart and
pursue separate ends or contract other alliances. The divorce
was the first stage of decomposition, resembling the separation
of the synthetic and analytic processes in the body from one
another, and resulting in the gradual deterioration of both.

Doubtless there is a boundless ocean of knowledge latent within
man himself and readily available as soon as the requisite
conditions can be observed. Man himself, by his own action,
shuts off the supply, as a racing engine turns off its own steam.

It may be doubted whether it is possible for a wise teacher,
under the conditions of his status as such, to withhold knowledge
from a competent inquirer, or to impart it to an incompetent one;
which, if so, throws on the inquirer the responsibility of making
himself competent. A student, attracted to a certain line of
inquiry, might find that certain unfavorable conditions
prevailing in his own internal anatomy (mental or otherwise)
rendered the further pursuit of that inquiry undesirable; in
which case, if wise enough, he would postpone the study in favor
of more profitable pursuits. A teacher, responding to an appeal,
might feel disposed to give information that was valuable,
instead of information that was desired; thus quite undeservedly
incurring the resentment of the applicant, unless (as before)
that individual happened to have enough wisdom to see the point.

We shall not extort much knowledge from either God or Nature
unless we fulfill the conditions, the first of which, as all wise
teachings declare, is to eliminate covetousness from our nature.
As long as we harbor the propensity to kill the goose for its
golden eggs, to bleed the cow, or to hang the roc's egg in our
dome, we shall have to remain content with what we can get by
such behavior. Wastefulness is certainly characteristic of our
civilization; though there is constructive work, the total effect
probably leans to the destructive side. The same condition is
observable in the vitality of civilized communities: there is an
increasing preponderance of degenerative diseases. These
conditions threaten disaster unless checked and counteracted.

The remedy is obviously to build up a stable and well-balanced
organism -- using the word "organism" both in the individual and
in the corporate senses. This is what the Universal Brotherhood
and Theosophical Society is doing. Its Raja-Yoga education does
it for the growing generation, and the organization of its
student-life does it for the older people. This Theosophical
work is to be regarded as a beginning, a seed, a model. It will
grow and spread as its efficacy becomes manifest.

The attainment of knowledge is usually regarded as a process of
accretion and accumulation; but another view represents it as the
attainment of a position of equilibrium. It is to be compared
with the ascending of a mountain, in order to command the view,
rather than to the garnering of riches. Not by piling up
erudition or multiplying accomplishments, but by simplifying our
own nature is knowledge according to this second view to be
attained. The process is in some respects a contrast to the
other, for it lies in a process of simplification rather than of

The word "silence" is always associated with the Mysteries, and
is indeed synonymous. "Mystery" is derived from a word meaning
to close the eyes or the lips. This silence, though referring
principally to the secrecy sealing the lips of the candidates,
can also be construed in a wider sense; and then it means the
self-restraint which the aspirant for knowledge finds it
necessary to observe, not merely in his speech, but in his acts,
and even more in his thoughts and emotions. Without such
self-restraint, anything he might receive would be frittered away
and the gate closed against further reception.

The immense advance in applied science is a favorite theme, but
it has failed to make good in the desired sense. This is an
instance of knowledge acquired without the previous acquisition
of a superior kind of knowledge that is needed in order to render
serviceable our possession of the other kind. It is an instance
of Manas under the power of Kama -- that is, of mind led by
desire. Great quantities of things are invented simply to employ
the active mind of the inventor, and many more are invented with
the view of bringing wealth to the inventor. Thus, new wants are
actually created. This state of affairs is compelling us to
attend to matters that are more urgent in order to restore the
balance. The body politic is like an individual who has
over-developed his nerves, muscles, and brain until they have
depleted his constitution, leaving him weak at the center,
unbalanced, and shaky. He needs to go slow and build up his

That there is urgent need for the knowledge that can enable us to
control our affairs cannot be denied; but the urgency seems
merely to breed more and more theories and systems. Political
economy is largely based on the principle of regulating jarring
interests by a system of checks and counter-checks; but ingenuity
can get around any such system. Appeal to conscience instead of
self-interest. Let public reprobation check transgression.
Recognize the higher nature of man. This higher nature is the
source of knowledge; the kind of knowledge that proceeds from the
lower nature misleads us, as we see. The common divinity of man
is the basis of universal solidarity and is wider than
nationalism. If, then, nations desire the wisdom that shall
bless their counsels, they must invoke the God in man and place
more reliance on the power of hallowed motives. Similarly, an
individual seeking wisdom to guide his life must rely on his
higher nature as the source of wisdom for him and must trust in
the efficacy of right motives.

Among the various inadequate motives for seeking knowledge, we
may enumerate personal aggrandizement and other well-recognized
desires, but must speak more particularly of a less easily
defined incentive that is variously described as curiosity and
the love of knowledge for its own sake. This leads people into
sidetracks and wastes their time. The extreme case is that of
the crank who spends half his life in the elaboration of some
wonderful system, and produces a book about it, which is quite
incomprehensible to anyone else. Less aggravated cases, in whom
the malady takes acute forms instead of chronic, or the ailment
is benign and seasonal, are those who follow these useless
pursuits as a hobby. Their efforts are not linked up with any of
the main objects of their life; and to this extent their
intellectual faculties can be described as being more or less
idly spent or frittered away.

The imagination is a very competent thief of our wealth; habits
of daydreaming are sometimes indulged to the point of a serious
disease. Such a condition might seem a harmless eccentricity to
ordinary vision, but not to keener vision. The victim is slowly
accumulating a great force -- gradually transferring installments
of his vitality to another plane. He is building up the
destructive side of his nature at the expense of the constructive
side. His case is not unlike that of the man addicted to the use
of a narcotic drug. By suchlike inordinate uses of the mind,
this function of the mind becomes predatory and acts as a waster
of substance and energy.

The mind is often compared to a lake, whose still surface can
reflect, but which is quite opaque when ruffled; or to a mirror
which may be either burnished or tarnished. The attainment of
knowledge is therefore likened to the stilling of ruffled waters
or the cleansing of the bronze face of a mirror; and it is said
that unruly emotions create the turbidity that blots out vision.
Certain it is that trembling is a symptom of emotion, and that
calmness is conducive to wholesome reflection. This may stand as
a lesson for the individual aspirant to knowledge, but we must
not forget the application of the principle to corporate mankind.
Man the corporation is truly in a turbid condition at present;
and we are afflicted by the presence of that greatest of all
possible magpies, the periodical press, which does for the public
at large what the gossip over the teacups and pipes does for
private coteries. Silence is surely called for, whether in the
individual or the community -- silence, not only of the tongue,
but also of those inner gossiping tongues of our minds, and of
the emotions.

As said before, knowledge is not to be regarded as the piling up
of an accumulation, but as the opening of an eye. The most
important thing in education is to equip the pupil with the
ability to learn whatever may be necessary. It is better to
endow him with a capital digestion than to place large quantities
of assorted viands in his interior. It is said that, despite the
inordinate distension of the curriculum, the amount of pabulum
actually digested by the average pupil is quite small; if this is
so, the cause must be non-assimilation and malnutrition,
consequent upon the exhibition of excessive doses of food upon a
debilitated stomach. The more robust digestions are able to
extract the nutriment from the mass and dispose of the portion
that cannot be assimilated. These are our scholastic successes.

After all, for what is knowledge? Knowledge what to do with our
lives is the kind that counts. Since we have minds, we must
learn how to use them; life cannot be, for us, a mere drifting,
as it might be if we were mindless. Wisdom is the getting rid of
delusions, and it is familiar enough that the attainment of
wisdom has been compared to a letting out of the imprisoned
splendor within the Soul, rather than to the putting in of
something from without. SILENCE is the condition of attaining
knowledge. The lack of this quality prevents the attainment.


By James A. Long

[From EXPANDING HORIZONS, pages 154-59.]

As a Pennsylvania boy, I was proud that my home state could boast
of some of the biggest forests the earth had ever known. It did
not matter that they had disappeared; the fact that they were
once there was wonderful to me. Of course, they flourished
millions of years ago, in some Carboniferous Age, but it was a
thrill to realize that the carbon dioxide that those trees had
absorbed so long ago had gradually been metamorphosed under the
pressure of soil and rock and time into coal.

It seemed obvious to me even then that nothing really dies.
Things changed form, but the energy that made them live simply
went somewhere else. For all I knew, the force that had once
caused the sap to flow through those pines might still be around,
perhaps making our present forests green while underground their
ancestral trunks, now transformed, had become a means of
livelihood for thousands. Miners for generations had been
digging out the coal, oil drillers pumping crude petroleum from
shale beds, geologists had painstakingly gathered plant and
animal fossils, while along the rivers and valleys we boys
searched for tomahawks and arrowheads left by our Indian

Mineral, plant, animal, and man -- four kingdoms of nature, all
closely interrelated, yet each evolving within its own life cycle
of birth, growth, and death. Here the conifers and ferns had
taken their substance from soil and air, and now after tremendous
periods were returning it as coal, graphite, gas, and oil -- to
warm our houses, provide our pencil lead, cook our food, and fuel
the furnaces of industry. Stored carbon -- in its elemental form
one of the softest of minerals and opaque. Yet with just a
little difference of internal structure wrought by the
accumulated pressure of the ages, it yields pure carbon still,
but now in crystal form, the hardest of minerals, the most
beautiful and transparent, and now a many-faceted diamond.

One in essence, different in body -- so the world, after all,
from mineral to star is of the same basic stuff. It is simply a
question of what is done with 'matter,' how its particles are
arranged or combined, to make at one stage a weed, at another a
stone or a man, or again a sun. The durability and versatility
of the life force -- I have never lost that youthful flash of
conviction. There is a brotherhood that embraces the whole of
cosmos, not only human beings but also everything from electron
to nebula. And all the peoples of the globe are kin literally,
and neither their color of skin nor the languages they use can
make or unmake that fact. WE ARE ONE: chemically, fashioned of
star-stuff cosmically diffused; spiritually, sparked with the
flame of a divine element that ignites every point in space into
an evolving unit.

If there is indeed "a divinity that shapes our ends," how account
then for the sickness of the times? In nearly every direction,
there is upheaval, discouragement, a tragic lassitude of spirit.
Why should this be so, when never before have we had such
magnificent opportunities for development? Are we really heading
toward disaster? Or is there some aspect we have neglected
because of our absorption in the dark side of human affairs?

"Where the night is blackest, there the stars shine brightest."
The old Spanish proverb was rarely more apt. Perhaps we have
grown a little too tall too soon. Exploration of outer space has
suddenly brought down on us a completely new set of problems that
we find ourselves ill equipped to handle all at once. We are
being forced to assume the responsibility of a higher adulthood,
and we have not yet fully recognized, let alone accepted, the
challenge. But we are learning fast and well. The very upheaval
so universally felt is the mark of a strong inward stirring, the
struggle of the soul of mankind in the process of shedding an
outgrown chrysalis.

Of course, we have problems, and serious ones, but I have as
little use for the hawking of the perennial gloom-peddlers as I
have for the peace-of-mind addicts who sugar-coat every
difficulty. Let us have a realism of the spirit that is not
afraid to face life as it is. If we would keep pace with the
scientists as they send out their probes, we should be probing
the reaches of the inner space within the heart of man that is
his link with the divine inspiration that brought the cosmos into

We may appear to be little more than developed animals, but given
some understanding patience and a little time, we shall find our
wings and know that no power in the universe is mightier than the
divine essence embedded within us. Mentally and spiritually, we
are indeed giants in embryo, coequal in potential with the great
Intelligence that inspirits the galaxies and suns. That realism
will prove far more dynamic than the so-called realism of the

So let us have done with over anxiety and doubt. No one ever
succeeded by feeling sorry for himself or by constantly
downgrading his inherent capacity to achieve. Certainly, we
cannot pray away evil any more than we can deny that disease,
sorrow, and death are part of human experience. But health, joy,
and growth are also part of living. Viewed from the outer roll
of events, the lives of many may seem to be a failure; but seen
through the eyes of our highest self, there can be no failure.
No matter how many battles we lose, the immortal Warrior within
us is invincible; it will lead us repeatedly to the field of
human endeavor until full victory is ours.

If Divine Intelligence does pervade every particle of Infinity,
then every single human being has at his command all the power
and creative initiative to work with it and its constructive
elements in nature. We may have plenty of coal and crude oil in
our make-up; but we also have the potential of a diamond. That
is why the Buddhists, particularly in Tibet, spoke of the Lord
Buddha as the "diamond-heart," he whose whole being had through
the pressure of the ages and the intensity of experience been
metamorphosed into the purity and strength of the diamond. From
the most opaque in quality, Gautama became through the crucible
of trial the most translucent: as perfect a reflection of the
Light from within as of the sorrow of man from without. An
exemplar of compassion in very truth, because so adamantine in
will and purpose, yet so responsive to the heart-cry of the
world, that he refused the bliss of Omniscience that he might
return to earth to share the radiance of his triumph with all

Coal or diamond -- we too are compound of both.


By Andrew Rooke

Twenty-five years ago, British Professor James Lovelock
electrified the scientific world with his concept that the earth
is a self-regulating mechanism that shows many features of being
alive! He used the ancient Greek name for the Goddess of the
Earth, Gaia, to describe our home planet as a living entity.

Over the years since his first book, GAIA: A NEW LOOK AT LIFE ON
EARTH [1979], the idea that the Earth is similar in many ways to
a living being has become known as the 'Gaia principle.' It is a
shock therefore, to read his latest book, THE REVENGE OF GAIA:
WHY THE EARTH IS FIGHTING BACK [2006], which says that due to
pollution and global warming, humanity has no future as we
understand it from our lives today. In his own words from a
recent interview,

> When we look back at the past events of history 55 million years
> ago, which seems to be our fate now, most of the Earth's surface,
> the great continents, were overheated and turned into scrub and
> could only support a very few people. The people who are in
> those regions now will just not be able to survive.

-- Interview with the ABC, May 30, 2006.

Environmentalists like James Lovelock tell us that global warming
is caused by the burning of fossil fuels creating waste from
cars, factories, coal-fired power stations, etc. poisoning the
Earth's atmosphere with carbon dioxide gas. Every year, we
inject into the atmosphere enough carbon dioxide that if you
froze it solid to dry ice, it would make a mountain one mile high
and 12 miles around in circumference!

Along with this, humanity is destroying forests at an
unprecedented rate. Forests are one of the 'self-regulating
mechanisms' by which Gaia reprocesses carbon dioxide into
life-giving oxygen and maintains the capacity for life on our
planet. This combination could possibly mean, according to
Lovelock, that most of the earth will become unlivable within a
comparatively short period. The future remnants of humanity will
retreat from the current population centers to the Arctic and
Antarctic areas of the world for the 100,000 to 200,000 years it
takes for Gaia to recover from her present fevered state.

What does Theosophy say about this developing global crisis? Do
we have a future?

Descriptions of current environmental problems bring to mind
sacred histories from many cultures that speak of cycles of
general decline in moral standards including environmental
depredation related to an increasing emphasis on externals and
the pervasive influence of materialism.

The VISHNU PURANA, an ancient Indian religious text, long ago
described the present cycle in humanity's evolutionary history as
the Kali Yuga or 'Black Age.' This age began 5,000 years ago with
the death of Krishna, and it is 432,000 years long. Such times,
whilst terrible in their assault on the finer human aspirations,
are a testing ground for our inner mettle. More spiritual
progress can be made in such an adverse moral atmosphere that at
times when conditions are easier.

A wise friend once described the challenge and opportunity of
this present age by saying: "You don't build your muscles by
pushing against the air." Instead of throwing our hands up in
horror at the state of today's world, we are living in the
situation that enables us to realize that there are myriads of
opportunities for us as individuals and as a society to come up
with technological and attitudinal solutions to the problems that
face us.

Further, a crucial teaching of Theosophy is that Gaia and its
inhabitants have progressed beyond the halfway point in our
spiritual evolution in this incarnation of the Earth. In the
grander scheme of our evolution, we have completed the downward
drift and we are beginning the 'ascending arc' out of matter to
spirituality. Kali Yuga is a cycle of descent within a grander
cycle of ascent. If we keep focused on this fact, then we can
have faith in the glorious future predicted by Theosophy for
humanity, and we can have the confidence to contribute to its
realization -- each in our own special way.

As Grace Knoche says,

> In a letter to Allan O. Hume written in 1882, HPB's mentor K.H.
> explains that when humanity passes the "axial point", the
> midpoint in its septenary course, "the world teems with the
> results of intellectual activity and spiritual decrease"; and
> that it is in the latter half of the long evolutionary arc that
> "the spiritual Ego will begin its real struggle with body and
> mind to manifest its transcendental powers." He closes his long
> letter by asking: "Who will help in the forthcoming gigantic
> struggle? Who? Happy the man who helps a helping hand." (THE
> MAHATMA LETTERS, Letter XIV, page 88.) Who indeed will -- put their
> shoulder to the wheel -- in this contest of the ages?

Aspects of this contest of the ages are beginning to unfold even
now with the problems described by environmentalists like
Professor Lovelock. Are we all prepared to lend a helping hand?

Ghanaian musicians Osibisa put our current situation beautifully
in a song made famous by Art Garfunkel in 1973:

> We are going, heaven knows where we are going,
> We'll know we're there.
> We will get there, heaven knows how we will get there,
> We know we will.
> It will he hard we know,
> And the road will be muddy and rough,
> But we'll get there, heaven knows how we will get there,
> We know we will.
> We are going, heaven knows where we are going,
> We'll know we're there.
> -- Woyaya, from Art Garfunkel's album, ANGEL CLARE


By G. de Purucker

[From WIND OF THE SPIRIT, pages 204-7.]

How marvelously does our Theosophy, the ancient God-Wisdom of
mankind, reduce all the phenomena of Nature to a majestic
generalization, so that all things fall within the compass of a
single law understandable to human beings! For our God-Wisdom
shows us that just as we are born and live our little sphere of
life and die, so do the worlds likewise, and the suns in those
worlds, and the planets and the various kingdoms of the different
suns, and the atoms which compose all things, and the electrons
in the atoms. All are periodic, not only in the sense of being
cyclic, but also in the sense of having periods. There are
beginnings, culminations, endings, and rounding out the cycle of
invisible worlds a new beginning, a second culmination, a
subsequent passing merely to vanish again into the worlds
invisible, there to experience new and vastly greater adventures
than those that our smaller solar system can give to us.

All things function alike because Nature has one Law, one
fundamental law that is at its source, a divine source, all
energy. Habits, courses, and procedures are all governed by the
same cosmic powers and intelligence, which simply means that all
things follow these same fundamental laws in similar manners, all
under the governance of the cosmic life, ringing all the possible
changes that Nature so lavishly provides for our admiration and
utmost reverence. For while all things, all beings, follow the
same fundamental laws and courses; every unit, precisely because
it is a unit and an individual, has its own modicum of will --
call it free will if you wish -- and therefore can more or less
change, modify, its own courses, but always within the
encompassing energy of the universe.

This means that while all beings follow these general rules, or
what we Theosophists call analogical procedures -- analogy being
therefore the master key of life -- yet all beings, precisely
because they are beings, by their own innate power drawn from the
cosmic source, more or less modify the details of the procedures
and movements. Thus, the sun is born as a child is born, but the
details are different. Details are not as important as the main
fact. The birth, the growth, the death, the invisible worlds,
the new adventures, the coming again to a new embodiment, a new
culmination on a plane somewhat higher, a new death to be
succeeded by the same round on the wheel of life -- but always
advancing, always growing, always enlarging. Step by step all
things progress.

Actually, as our occultism, our God-Wisdom, points out, if you
wish to know the destiny, the birth, the origin, and the
temporary ending of a sun, then study a man from birth to death.
And if you can, study him after death in his adventures, and you
will see what the solar divinity undergoes, but of course on
enlarged and higher planes in the worlds invisible. Why, the
visible world of ours is but a shell, is but the body, the
exterior carapace, the skin of things. The life, the
individuality, the power, the will, the thought, the real entity,
is not this outer shell. Whether a man, or sun, or solar system,
or galaxy, or an entire universe: the reality is within. And the
body more or less expresses, although feebly expresses, what the
inner powers produce on this outer plane.

Those of you who have followed the experiments undertaken in
scientific ways will understand this more clearly than those who
have not studied them. But all of you, if you think a moment,
will know that you shed your strength from hour to hour, physical
strength and mental strength. The man who produces a great
thought shakes the foundations of civilization. The man who
produces a majestic system of cosmic philosophy and definitely
guides mankind -- does not his vitality move men? These are
facts. The only difference between a sun and a man is in the
details, some of them majestic, very admittedly majestic; but it
is only in the details that the procedure differs. The main
principle of fundamental law is the same for all. Every man in
fact is but an embryo sun, a sun in the making for the distant
future -- not his body, for that is not the man. His body is but
the skin of him, the clothing of skins spoken of in the Genesis
of the Hebrew Bible. A man is the power within, the spirit or
the monad. It is this energy or power that makes the man be the
same from birth until death. This power makes the sun retain its
form and follow its functions from its birth to its death. An
atom, a flower, a tree, or a beast -- all are subject to the same
cosmic law of similarities if not positive identities. It is but
the detail that changes.

The wisest and greatest men of antiquity pointed out that Father
Sun was indeed Father Sun, but likewise our elder brother; our
parent and yet our brother. The beast and the plant are in a
sense our children because they look up to us as we look up to
the Gods. They are, in a sense, our children and they follow in
our footsteps towards mankind, towards the status and stature of
humanity. The beasts are slowly crawling up towards us, as we
look unto the Gods, our parents and grandparents. When we find
our souls infilled and inspirited with their life force and with
a spark of their shining intelligence, then we become on this
earth like God-men, because our thoughts are godlike, our
feelings are godlike, and our actions following our thoughts and
feelings become godlike too.

Thus, the atoms of the body and the molecules and protons and
electrons that make up the physical stuff of the body are in a
sense its children, and they feel the impact of our thought and
of our feeling. They suffer for our sins in proportion, and they
are raised by our virtues, so closely are all things knitted
together, a web of life of which each strand is a production of
spiritual magic.

I tell you that we are responsible for the very atoms that
compose our bodies, whether we dirty their faces or cleanse them.
Some day, if we dirty the faces of the atoms composing us, they
will return to us to be washed, washed clean of the sin we put
upon them. And the same is true with all the interior realms of
man's constitution, the vehicles of his mind, feeling, and

Birth and death: what are these changes? A birth in the body is a
death to the soul. It leaves its own inner spheres, its own
inner arrangements of its life there, and as it were descends or
falls like a star to earth, and is born in the physical body of a
helpless human babe, tasting for the time being the karmic
retribution for all its past. When we die, aye, when we die,
then are we released, then we spring forth, upwards, and onwards
on the wings of our soul. Those strong pinions carry us through
all the planetary habitations to the very throne of Father Sun.
It is rebirth to the soul, as rebirth on this earth is death to
the soul. So with the sun, so with the worlds that are born and
that die. The sun when he embodies on this plane is shorn of
greatly much of his splendor. When the sun's hour shall strike
and he passes from this plane, he springs like a divine thought
right into the invisible realms, taking off into grandeurs only
very dimly imagined by us. The flower expressing its soul in
scent and beauty but repeats the same cosmic law in its birth
from the seed. Little brothers of men are the flowers. Some of
them are to us venomous. In some way in past time, we envenomed
them. Now in karmic retribution, they envenom us.

The birth of a man from ordinary manhood into mahatma-hood is an
interior birth. The growth of the mahatma into Buddhahood or
Bodhisattva-hood, or as the Vedantists say, the becoming one with
the Atman: this growth is in your hands to achieve, and in the
hands of none else. You have it in your power to become god-men
on this earth. You also have it in your power so to ruin and
blast your life that you shall become like the fury-driven victim
of Greek legendary story, driven by unspeakable remorse and
haunted by the feeling: I have played my play and I have lost.
Too late, it is too late! But Theosophy says, never too late. If
you have played your game awry, re-assemble your cards and play
like a man, play with the devil for the salvation of your own
soul, the devil of your own lower self, and win! If you win,
divinity lies ahead of you. Over the peaks of that mystic East,
the East in the heart of every human being, dawns the sun of
truth that carries healing in its bosom. The truth shall make
you free!


By E.A. Coryn

[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, October 1916, pages 336-40.]

The question really underlying all other questions is that of the
purpose of life, and any theory of that must call up for
consideration our relationship to the Worlds of Life, not only on
our own plane, but also on the planes of life above and below us
in the scale.

And beyond the question of that relationship, there is the
further question of our relationship to the infinite host of life
in the past and in the future -- our relationship to posterity
and our relationship to the unborn generation.

These are questions which neither science nor religion answers.
Science postulates the upward march of life from the lowest
forms, each kingdom merging into the next, becoming the next; it
sees in each plant, each animal, and man himself the outcome of
ages of evolution from lower forms -- and so far it sees the
unity of life. But there it stops -- to the question of what has
become of the million generations in the past who have made the
race what it is, it has no more answer than it has as to the
future of the generations who today are carrying it yet higher.

It sees the Race, whether of plant, animal, or man, as an entity
growing in function and structure; it sees that growth made by
generation after generation of the individuals composing the race
-- but it sees only the race.

We, today, it says, are the result of numberless generations that
have passed; our functions -- our physical, mental, and moral
equipment -- are the heritage of the struggles and experiences of
our ancestors of a thousand generations. But what is our
relationship to them, what theirs to us, and what their and our
relationship to the race?

Here science is silent and unconcerned. It sees the race but
knows nothing of the beings that made and make it up. Did they
merely step into the race, carry it forward higher, and then fall
out when their usefulness was over? Do we ourselves run for a
time merely as items in the race, inheriting what we are from
other items in the past, and handing our inheritance on to the
newcomers, and in our turn falling out, having no further concern
with the Humanity of which we are a part for the few years we are

While science sees only the race and ignores the individuals
composing it, so religion knows only the individual, and is
unconcerned with the race or with the other forms of life, past
and present, surrounding us. We are born, live and die, and pass
out into some other form of existence. We have no relationship
to the past or to the future of the race. Today we are a part of
it, tomorrow neither it nor humanity any longer concern us.

It seems we are faced with an unthinkable hypothesis. Nature's
whole aim is to make an abstract perfection called a Race. Our
only, most pitiful ideal is to contribute our mite to produce in
the future a race of mankind possessing every attribute of
perfect humanity. The race will possess all virtues and full
wisdom, but only as a child possesses clothes which its parents
place upon it. It will have self-control without effort and
strength of character without achievement. Its virtues are not
the outcome of experience, of self-conquest, but rather an
unearned and undeserved heritage.

Normally we stand negative, unplaced between these conflicting
theories. Religion claims us on one side, science on the other,
but we rarely, if ever, definitely face the problem and demand a
philosophy of life.

Is there no common ground that will include both these positions,
which will give us a philosophy?

In the Theosophical scheme of life, we can find a place wherein
both schemes will find their standing-ground. Evolution, in
Theosophy, is the growth not of an abstract Race, but of the
beings making up that race, and the evolution of successions of
human beings unlinked save by their racehood, would produce
nothing worth the having. We made up the Race in the past; we
compose it now; the past of the race is our own past; the present
is the fruitage of our own sowing. It is not "mankind" but "man"
himself who has evolved -- the outcome of an eternity of growth,
passing life after life through kingdom after kingdom up to the
point reached today.

We are linked with the past because it is our own past. We are
linked with the scheme of evolution because we are the beings
that have evolved; and to evolve, we must persist. Evolution
without the persistence of that which is being evolved,
reincarnation, is a meaningless play with words.

Looking so at life, we start to comprehend the present; a
conception of a "purpose" or philosophy of life becomes possible.

We can take the theory of heredity, or heredity as it is commonly
understood; but how if it is our own heritage from our own past
which we "inherit?" How if the conditions we "inherit" are the
conditions we ourselves helped to provide, if the taint in the
germ-plasm is the taint we ourselves contributed to effect, if
the physical deterioration is of our own making, if the adverse
social environment is of our own creation, if the international
relationships are our own handiwork? Grant heredity, but of whose
making? Who sows and who reaps?

There science and religion are both silent. Neither knows
anything of the individual past. Let us take each as far as it
will go. Science is entitled to assert a theory of heredity on
the facts it possesses. We do not invading its domain by asking
whose heredity. The present is the child of the past, but of
whose past is that? Is it a child of our past or of another's?

In answering the question from the Theosophical standpoint, we
are giving a new and pregnant meaning to the utterance of
science; we are making possible a philosophy of life; we are able
to discern a meaning and purpose of life. The past is seen as
OUR past and the present the outcome of OUR doings, not of
another's. The future lies in our own hands. It is our own
thinking and doing that comes over to us as heredity. We reap
our heredity hereafter from our current sowing.

Nature is truly evolving a perfect race, but we are the ones
being evolved, life after life in long pilgrimage, to be
hereafter that perfect race.

Cannot we assume that the laws that govern our lives now are the
same laws that governed them in the past? When we find that any
growth of character or function is only attained by experience
and effort, we may reasonably assume that this applies also to
such growth and power as we have already attained. Lacking
self-control, we know that it cannot be attained without effort
and pain, but that it CAN be attained by striving. With a
tendency to passion, to self-indulgence, or what not, we know
that we can overcome it by effort, and that it can only be
overcome by effort. In short, we know that we can grow and we
know that experience and effort are essential to growth.

Are we unreasonable in asserting that this applies not only to
future growth, but also that the position with which we start
life was governed by the same laws? Our characters, powers,
abilities -- our mental and moral stature, in short -- is the
outcome of effort and experience in the past. As we have passed
up the ladder of Being, so by our acts and thoughts we have
created the conditions which surround us at each stage; we have
reaped what we have sown; we have sown what we reap.

The qualities, abilities, virtues, and weaknesses mark not our
endowment, but the place in life that we have reached, the road
we have traveled. The conditions under which we -- the nation --
live are what we have made for ourselves. The conditions under
which we -- as individuals -- live are the conditions that we
have made. They are the conditions that, while we are
responsible for them, are also the means whereby Nature teaches

Nature is not an outside force, and the cure for our misdeeds is
the consequences of the misdeeds, and through the pain of the
results of evil, we are taught to avoid the evil, not by any
arbitrary punishment from outside.

In regarding the conditions under which we live as being created
by ourselves, we mean that by wrong living in the past, we have
put into operation the causes through and by which we shall learn
the error. This is not to say that the slum-dweller has directly
created the slum, or that the ruined victim has as terribly
injured another. In each case, our action in the past is the
means whereby Nature remedies the wrong causes through its
effects now. Nor does this involve the assumption that we are
always able to see or even to suggest the cause of suffering.
Either we must start from the basis, as an axiom, that the
Universe is built on justice, or the very talk of a philosophy is
foolish. The only achievement of an ideal based on such a
negation would necessarily be a success at the cost of some other
life. Either there is justice in suffering and we reap our own
sowing or there is injustice and we reap what others sowed. On
that basis, no edifice is to be built and no philosophy is to be
founded. "God's in his Heaven, all's well with the world."
Somehow, some way, whether we see the working or not, deep in our
hearts is the knowledge, absolute, certain, that the Universe is
not built on morality lower than that which we know to be the
highest in ourselves. An evolution that produced a consciousness
that justice is of divinity is not falsified by the very power
that has evolved it.

Our social ideals are then built on that final basis. What we
reap -- good or evil -- is both the outcome of what we have sown
and is the means taken by Nature to remedy the evil in us that
caused it. Let us build our social edifice then well and strong.
If it is to stand, it must be built in accordance with this final
law of the Universe. To build however finely, while the causes
which have brought us to the pass we are now in remain, is simply
to build into it the germs of rot and destruction. The disease
may show itself on another plane, or in another way, but it is
there. For the conditions of life do little to produce vice or
wrong, but rather the vice and wrong within us use the

But, further, the assertion of the underlying basis of justice
involves the further step. The earning must have been done
before we were born. This clearly cannot be the beginning, and
death cannot be the end. The diseases of humanity are deeply
rooted in character, of slow growth stretching over long periods
and as slowly cured.

Our ideals are high and we look to the future not with hope but
rather with certainty. We fight with the aid of forces leading
upwards, seeing in even the most adverse conditions the ceaseless
efforts of Nature to bind men together in a consciousness of a
wide Brotherhood, seeing the effort of Nature to teach, and
seeing men not as bodies, but as fellow-souls traveling along
diverse paths leading to the one goal. The goal may be far off.
Whether it is near or far, we can see on every hand the guiding
of "that power which moves to righteousness." This power works
through all the Universe, transmuting the very wrongs men do to
the purposes of the soul within, binding men closer and closer in
the bonds of mutual need and dependency, and urging them ever
forward to the certain goal of a Universal Brotherhood.


By John Algeo

[revised from Yahoo site Masonic Outer Court paper 0.13]

Codes have come to be much in the public attention recently as a
result of Dan Brown's novel called THE DA VINCI CODE and the
motion picture based on that book. Many critical appraisals of
those works, both book and movie, have been dismissive, yet some
churches have been alarmed at what they perceive as a threat to
their foundations if readers and viewers take as historically
accurate the proposition that Christ married Mary Magdalene and
they had children whose descendants are still living.

As a result of the alarm associated with THE DA VINCI CODE, the
very concept of a "code" has become emotionally charged for some
members of the public. Codes, however, are pervasive in human
culture, so the concept deserves some attention. What follows is
a presentation of some definitions and a discussion of the
concept of "code," particularly as applied to several forms of
humanity's effort to relate to the world around, inside, and
"above" us.

Almost all words have more than one meaning. So we talk about "a
code of laws," "the moral code," "the Morse code," "a computer
code," and "the genetic code." In one sense, all human language
is a code by which one person (the encoder) conveys ideas,
intentions, feelings, etc. from that person's mind to the mind
of another person (the decoder) by means of a message in their
shared code or language. So the Anglo-Saxon utterance "Hwut we
gardena in geardagum theodcyninga thrum gefrunon" is meaningless
to anyone who does not know its code. In our English, these
opening lines of the epic poem BEOWULF would be "Lo, we have
heard of the glories of the kings of the people of the Spear
Danes in olden days." But our code would have been just as
incomprehensible to the Anglo-Saxons of a millennium ago as
theirs is to us today.

In the sense that is of particular relevance here, a CODE is a
system of signals, signs, or symbols representing meanings that,
for one reason or another, are often secret. The reason for
secrecy may be that the encoder wants to keep the information
represented by the code from persons (potential decoders) that
the writer believes are not entitled to that information.
Military codes and Internet commercial codes (used, for example,
to conceal your credit card number when you order something on
line) are examples. Such secret codes fill an important role in
wartime and in commerce, among other uses.

However, there is another kind of "secrecy" stemming from the
fact that what the code represents is not directly observable to
our ordinary senses. This sort of "secrecy" is not imposed by
the encoder to keep the information from others, but instead is
inherent in the nature of perception. So we need briefly to
consider the limitations on our perception.

Our senses all serve dual purposes. They are both our windows to
the world around us and a shield from that world. For example,
there are colors frequencies, such as infrared and ultraviolet,
that we cannot see and that consequently are not colors for us at
all. Yet those colors can be picked up by color-sensitive
machines and transformed into something we can see.

Similarly, our hearing allows us to perceive vibrations in the
atmosphere that are within a certain range of frequency. That
ability makes human speech possible, and speech is our most
important form of contact among ourselves. But there are sounds
we do not hear. It is well known that dogs, for example, can
hear sounds at a higher frequency than human beings can. Bats
use a sort of radar involving the emission of sounds that are
beyond human hearing. Various animals can hear low-level sounds
emitted from the earth in advance of an earthquake, and respond
to them by fleeing or seeking safer ground. But even human
beings vary; older men especially tend to lose the ability to
hear the upper registers that they heard in their younger years.
But all humans loose hearing in the upper range as they age.
Recent news reports concern a cell-phone ring that escapes the
hearing of adults but that teenagers have no difficulty hearing;
that ring is being marketed to the teenager who wants to use a
cell phone where it is prohibited, for example, in school.

It is clear that the ranges of colors we can see, sounds we can
hear, and other sensory data available to us make it possible for
us to exist in the world. And so the ability of our senses to
give us information from such sensory input is obviously of
primary survival value. However, the reverse of that is not
always equally clear. Namely, limitations on our senses are also
of critical survival value. Our inability to perceive everything
is a blessing.

Imagine for a moment what it would be like if we had no sensory
limitations but instead could perceive every possibly perceptible
input around us. Suppose we could hear all sound vibrations, see
all the vibrations of an extended color spectrum, etc. -- even
pick up all the vibrations for which we have no sensory organs at
all, such as radio and television vibrations, x-rays, beta rays,
gamma rays, and who knows what else may be out there. What would
it be like to have all that input constantly bombarding our
minds? Surely we would be overcome by it. If we perceived
everything, we would be immersed in a vast, buzzing, whirling,
chaotically confusing universe. We would have sensory overload.
So the limitations of and on our senses are vitally necessary.

Yet, are there occasions when we may benefit from perceiving
something to which normally we do not have direct access? Do we,
in fact, have indirect access to some nonsensory data that is
otherwise "occult" (that is, literally, "hidden," as when the sun
is "occulted" or eclipsed by the moon)? Obviously, yes, we do.
We cannot directly perceive certain electrical waves, but we can
perceive them when a television set converts them into light and
sound. Are there other sorts of potential information that we
can access only through some kind of intermediary "machine"? The
ancient Greek philosopher Plato thought so, and so did the modern
Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung.

Plato proposed that everything in this world is a reflection or
embodiment or shadow of a transcendent "idea" or "archetype." And
Jung proposed that, in the course of evolution, our species
developed certain primordial concepts that are embedded in a
portion of our unconscious mind that is common to all human
beings as the "collective unconscious." Those concepts he called
"archetypes." We cannot perceive an archetype directly because,
Plato said, they are part of the transcendental world and so we
see only their shadows, or because, Jung said, they are part of
our unconscious, which by definition we cannot be consciously
aware of except as they are reflected into symbols by dreams,
reveries, or other such mechanisms.

An ARCHETYPE is thus an original pattern or model, and
specifically an inherent idea derived from the early history of
our species and present in the unconscious of every individual.
Theosophists might say that the archetypes are part of the
structure of our minds as the human mind was formed by the Lords
of the Flame some eighteen million years ago. Those archetypes
are not directly accessible but can be perceived only as they are
expressed by a symbol. Such archetypal symbols vary in their
form from one culture to another, but all symbols of the same
archetype have a family resemblance that makes it possible to
identify them. For example, one of Jung's archetypes is that of
the Great Mother. That archetype is expressed by the
25,000-year-old Venus of Willendorf statue, Mother Mary, Ceres,
Juno, Isis, Kwan Yin, Durga, and a host of other embodiments of
the fecund and caring female. Other such Jungian archetypes are
of the Hero, the Wise Old Man, the Trickster, the Shadow, the
Eternal Child, the Helpful Beast, the Sacred Mountain, the Hidden
Treasure, and so on.

Archetypal symbols are, however, not just isolated expressions of
separate archetypes. They can also form an interconnected web of
related concepts. And that brings us to the connection between
codes and archetypes. An ARCHETYPAL CODE is a system of
interrelated symbols representing a complex of archetypes in the
collective human mind. How archetypal codes come into existence
is not known to psychologists, but they exist all over the world
in a variety of forms. As suggested above, a possible
Theosophical explanation is that they are the manasic structure
imparted to nascent humanity by the Manasuputras.

Archetypal codes are used specifically in all the great mystical
traditions of the world, such as Gnosticism, Alchemy, Kabbalah,
and Freemasonry, to mention a few. But they are found also in
certain forms of fantasy fiction, such as the Oz world of L.
Frank Baum, the Middle Earth of J. R. R. Tolkien, and the
world of Harry Potter by J. R. Rowling. These various codes,
both mystical and literary, differ from one another, but the
archetypal complexes they represent are in common to all of us,
and the different codes are clearly linked together.

Each archetypal code tends to have a single dominant image to
which elements of the code relate directly. In Freemasonry, that
image is the Temple built by King Solomon in Jerusalem, reputed
to have been the most magnificent structure of its kind and to
have awed all visitors, such as the Queen of Sheba. In Kabbalah,
it is the Tree of Life, whose branches are said to extend to all
the worlds and on which all beings live. In Alchemy, it is the
Philosophers' Stone, which could be used to convert base metals
into gold and to prolong life indefinitely. In Gnosticism, there
were several such images rather than one only: a celestial dance,
a search for a lost pearl, the donning of a robe of glory, a
sacred marriage, etc., all of which relate to the attainment of a
direct experience with transcendental reality. The fictional
dominant image tends to be a quest by an orphan -- to return home
to Kansas, to destroy the Ring of Power, or to discover his own
identity and nature as a Wizard.

It is noteworthy that these dominant images of the various
archetypal codes are not just static icons. All of them involve
action on the part of any decoder of their message. Thus
Gnostics did a ritual dance, they went on a metaphorical search
for the Pearl of Great Price, they clothed themselves in the Robe
of Glory, or they sang a wedding song for the marriage of their
lower and higher selves. Alchemists spent long hours in their
laboratories experimenting with mineral and vegetable substances
as analogues of the substances needed to produce the
Philosophers' Stone, and in the process, they became themselves
the alembic from which modern chemistry and medicine were
distilled. Kabbalists explored all thirty-two paths on the Tree
of Life in all four of the worlds in which the tree was said to
grow. Freemasons set out to build a new Temple on the model of
Solomon's, but a temple "not made with hands, eternal, in the
heavens" (2 Cor. 5.1), a Temple of humanity, fit to be the
dwelling place of the Divine. Dorothy Gale, Frodo Baggins, and
Harry Potter all traveled "there and back again" seeking the
object of their quest.

Returning to the opening remark of this paper, about Dan Brown's
novel THE DA VINCI CODE and the movie based on it -- whether you
like that story or dislike it, find it fascinating or boring,
believe it to be based on history or to be fiction masquerading
as fact -- THE DA VINCI CODE is definitely not an archetypal
code. Archetypal codes have no known authorship; even the
literary examples, whose book-authors are well known, use
traditional archetypal symbols of primordial origin. But all
those archetypal codes embody great insight and wisdom. They are
about humanity at its deepest level, a level where human concerns
merge with cosmic concerns. They are not stories about
mysteries; they are Mystery myths. That is, all archetypal codes
have the same subject as do the ancient mysteries of Eleusis, of
Orpheus, of Isis, of Mithra: they are about humanity and the
cosmos, about life and death and transformation.


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