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THEOSOPHY WORLD ----------------------------------- February, 2007
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And its Practical Application in the Modern World
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be reposted or otherwise republished without prior permission.)
"Sacrifices and Sacrifice," by B.P. Wadia
"The Heritage of Man is Man Himself," by G. de Purucker
"The Basic Dichotomy," by Bjorn Merker
"The Still Small Voice Within," by G. de Purucker
"God," by H.T. Edge
"Psychic Phenomena," Part I, by A. Trevor Barker
"Are There Limits to Striving," by L. Gordon Plummer
"Why Temporize With the Enemies of Our Own Household,"
by R. Machell
> The teachings as promulgated by the Theosophical Society are in
> full accord with the ethics promulgated by Jesus the Christ, and
> not one of our Leaders and Teachers has failed to call attention
> to the sublimity of the ethical teachings contained in the
> Sermon on the Mount. As a matter of fact we maintain that
> Primitive Christianity was the Theosophy of its day; but we do
> not accept many of the ecclesiastic dogmas and forms with which
> the Primitive Christianity has been encrusted since the days of
> its Founder.
> -- Iverson L. Harris, THEOSOPHY UNDER FIRE, page 112
SACRIFICES AND SACRIFICE
By B.P. Wadia
[From LIVING THE LIFE, pages 146-56.]
> O hapless race of men, when that they charged the gods with such
> acts and coupled with them bitter wrath! What groanings did they
> then beget for themselves, what wounds for us, what tears for our
> children's children! No act is it of piety to be often seen with
> veiled head to turn to a stone and approach every altar and fall
> prostrate on the ground and spread out the palms before the
> statues of the gods and sprinkle the altars with much blood of
> beasts and link vow onto vow, but rather to be able to look on
> all things with a mind at peace.
> -- Lucretius: ON THE NATURE OF THINGS, Book V.
The great text called THE BHAGAVAD-GITA has a universal appeal to
politician and poet, philosopher and mystic, aspirant and Adept.
Mr. Judge has referred to it as the study of Adepts. To each
mind, the Gita has something to offer; and what is more, its
deeply profound teachings have their simple aspect that touches a
person, however shortsighted or shallow-minded he may be. Among
these teachings, there is one about the oft-cited triad of
Dana-Tapas-Yagna. Charity; effort at pure living and noble
thinking, which is conveyed by the almost untranslatable term
Tapas; and Sacrifice, which stands generally for Yagna, are
reiterated and recommended for practice.
We want to consider the value and importance of Yagna --
Sacrifice. The term has a hoary background and the original
concept forms a grandiose Mystery Teaching. Today sacrifice is
much extolled, but what prevails is a materialistic view that
misleads people. The social aspect of sacrifice with money (the
Dravya Yagna referred to in the Gita, IV, 28) is today more a
veneer than a reality; the veneer strikes the eye of the populace
but does not fool its heart. Sacrificing, out of one's
abundance, a pittance of money, even with a good motive -- though
often it is colored by selfishness and the desire for recognition
and reward -- is not true sacrifice. Similarly, the religious
aspect of Yagna is today a superstition, and sometimes a gross,
degenerated superstition; e.g., animal sacrifice practiced by the
orthodox followers of several religions.
Great Teachers like Krishna and Buddha, Pythagoras and Plato, and
others in East and West alike, have ever attempted to bring men
and women back to a rational understanding of Dana, Tapas, and
Yagna, and to their clean and correct practice. It is part of
the mission of Theosophy to rescue the grand concept embodied in
these terms; in the writings of H.P. Blavatsky much about them
is offered for the consideration of students and for the exercise
of aspirants and devotees.
The prevailing notion of sacrifice that is respected in our
civilization is epitomized as service. Hospitals for the sick in
body, asylums for minds diseased, rescue houses for prostitutes,
orphanages, homes for the aged and the infirm, and such like
represent the services rendered by organized bodies sustained by
donations that the wealthy take out of their purse, but which do
not touch the quantity or the quality of their sumptuous
breakfast, their well-stocked wardrobes, or their many forms of
In his opening editorial in the very first number of THE PATH
(April 1886), W.Q. Judge wrote:
> Prisons, asylums for the outcast and the magdalen, can be filled
> much faster than it is possible to erect them. All this points
> unerringly to the existence of a vital error somewhere. It shows
> that merely healing the outside by hanging a murderer or
> providing asylums and prisons will never reduce the number of
> criminals nor the hordes of children born and growing up in
> hotbeds of vice. What is wanted is true knowledge of the
> spiritual condition of man, his aim and destiny.
Once a Master wrote to a good-hearted German lady:
> You have offered yourself for the Red Cross; but, sister, there
> are sicknesses and wounds of the Soul that no Surgeon's art can
> cure. Shall you help us teach mankind that, that the soul-sick
> must heal themselves? Your action will be your response.
From one point of view, such social service and sacrifice is
superior to the degrading forms of religious sacrifices -- from
the burning of candles at the Roman Catholic altars to the
killing of goats, etc., at Hindu temples. Jews, Muslims, and the
followers of other sectarian creeds have similar superstitious
"sacrificing," some more, some less objectionable in method.
The present-day degrading superstition of animal sacrifice was
practiced as a rite of magic in an earlier epoch. W.Q. Judge in
his NOTES ON THE BHAGAVAD-GITA refers to the sacrifices
established for the Jews by Moses (page 87), and makes mention of
the "peculiar explanation" that has been given of the same (page
88). That blood has certain occult properties, and that it has
the power of absorption and assimilation, was known, and so was
made use of in certain magic rites.
"Atonement through blood," says THE SECRET DOCTRINE, "has been
too long in the way, and thus was universal truth sacrificed to
the insane conceit of us little men." (II, 699)
The knowledge of the magic rite was forgotten, but the evil
practice of killing doves and goats has persisted. Orthodox Jews
may quote the example of Cain who brought to God "the fruit of
the ground" as sacrifice, which did not please the deity; whereas
Abel offered "the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof.
And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering; but unto
Cain and to his offering he had not respect." (Genesis, IV: 4-5)
To understand this teaching literally is wrong, for to accept it
literally means favoring the vice of cruelty. The allegorical
and mystical interpretation should be sought. One such may be
considered by the reader. It is in a conversation between the
boy Jesus and a rabbi, in the story MARY by the well-known Jewish
novelist Sholem Asch. (pages 260-61)
In India also, the magic rites of blood offerings were known and
practiced; today the knowledge is gone but the practice continues
-- a degradation that brings home forcefully the teaching of
Lucretius, from which an extract is quoted at the beginning of
Theosophy cannot but condemn every species of animal sacrifice.
The great Buddha, too, condemned such irreligious action. We
quote some beautiful verses of THE LIGHT OF ASIA:
> Round about the pile
> A slow, thick, scarlet streamlet smoked and ran,
> Sucked by the sand, but ever rolling down,
> The blood of bleating victims. One such lay,
> A spotted goat, long-horned, its head bound back
> With munja grass; at its stretched throat the knife
> Pressed by a priest, who murmured, "This, dread gods,
> Of many yajnas cometh as the crown
> From Bimbisara: take ye joy to see
> The spirted blood, and pleasure in the scent
> Of rich flesh roasting 'mid the fragrant flames;
> Let the King's sins be laid upon this goat,
> And let the fire consume them burning it,
> For now I strike."
> But Buddha softly said,
> "Let him not strike, great King!" and therewith loosed
> The victim's bonds, none staying him, so great
> His presence was. Then, craving leave, he spake
> Of life, which all can take but none can give,
> Life which all creatures love and strive to keep,
> Wonderful, dear, and pleasant unto each,
> Even to the meanest; yea, a boon to all
> Where pity is, for pity makes the world
> Soft to the weak and noble for the strong . . .
> . . . Still our Lord went on, teaching how fair
> This earth were if all living things be linked
> In friendliness and common use of foods,
> Bloodless and pure; the golden grain, bright fruits,
> Sweet herbs which grow for all, the waters wan,
> Sufficient drinks and meats. Which when these heard,
> The might of gentleness so conquered them,
> The priests themselves scattered their altar-flames
> And flung away the steel of sacrifice.
> This was some 2,500 years ago, but even today India reeks with
> the blood of animals murdered for sacrifices or butchered for
> food. Cruelty is a sin against God and Nature. Of the many
> forms of this sin, the killing of beasts and birds is not
> difficult to stop. In the name of sport also the sin flourishes,
> and states and churches connive at it.
But go further back in India's history.
Tradition assigns Krishna a definite antiquity; he ends the cycle
of the Dwapara Yuga and his death marks the beginning of the Kali
Yuga, 5,000 years ago.
Whatever the mode and procedure of Yagnas -- rites of sacrifice
-- in the previous cycle, what Krishna stressed in the Gita
deserves most serious consideration. Should not Krishna be
regarded as one of the highest Planetary Spirits? Theosophy
> [The highest Planetary Spirits] appear on Earth but at the origin
> of every NEW human kind; at the junction of, and close of the two
> ends of the great cycle. And, they remain with man no longer
> than the time required for the eternal truths they teach to
> impress themselves so forcibly upon the plastic minds of the new
> races as to warrant them from being lost or entirely forgotten in
> ages hereafter, by the forthcoming generations. The mission of
> the Planetary Spirit is but to strike the KEY NOTE OF TRUTH.
> Once he has directed the vibration of the latter to run its
> course uninterruptedly along the catenation of that race and to
> the end of the cycle -- the denizen of the highest inhabited
> sphere disappears from the surface of our planet -- till the
> following "resurrection of flesh."
Let us see what Krishna has to say about Yagna -- Sacrifice.
In the Third Chapter, the instruction of Prajapati, the Lord of
all peoples on earth, is quoted. The kinship of man to the other
kingdoms, to the invisible forces and with spiritual
intelligences, is stressed. According to what is said, most of
us are "thieves," robbing Nature and hoping to go unpunished!
In the Fourth Chapter, many kinds and modes of sacrifices are
referred to. Born of action are all sacrifices; to gods and
godlings, to archangels and angels, to Ameshaspentas and Yazatas,
to the Supreme Spirit under different names, objects are offered
as sacrifices. Senses and organs and vitality of body are
sacrificed by one mode or another. But it is taught that all
such actions purified of their blemishes culminate in Wisdom.
Men and women offer their belongings and possessions; such
offerings of objects are not enough, so some religious
practitioners offer their senses and organs and even breathing;
all such ultimately, in one life or through many lives, come to
see the value of study, discipline, and knowledge as objects of
sacrifice; ultimately, they come to realize the basic verity:
> The sacrifice through spiritual knowledge is superior to
> sacrifice made with material things; every action without
> exception is comprehended in spiritual knowledge.
> -- THE BHAGAVAD-GITA, IV, 33
And then, the soul of all practices in spiritual living is
proclaimed -- that through enquiry and search, humility and
service, the disciple is taught by the Seers and Knowers of the
Essence of things.
This is the sublime goal, and every man without exception is
provided a chance to realize it by bountiful Nature and by the
In the Seventeenth Chapter, sacrifices of three types are
described, according to their characteristics, derived from the
gunas, attributes of matter. Motives and methods are involved in
any act of sacrifice; Theosophy or the Wisdom-Religion reiterates
the teaching offered by the Knowers of Karma. In Verses 1 to 13,
very definite words are used, and the aspirant to the Inner Life
should perceive the superiority of sattvic sacrifices, in which
both body and consciousness are involved. Dnyaneshwar points to
this in his commentary on the Verse.
Orthodox Hindus have for long limited the term Yagna to religious
sacrifices, with mantras and mudras that have become mummery and
gestures. Yagna as a principle, as an institution to be used and
applied in daily life to mental, moral, verbal, and bodily acts
is completely forgotten. Krishna tried to restore its use by
those who aspire to tread the Path that leads to the Temple of
Therefore, we find that there is another teaching on the subject
of sacrifice that the Gita puts forward in the Ninth Chapter that
deals with the Secret Science of Raja Yoga, the Royal -- i.e.,
the Superior -- Way of Living the Inner Life. The prescription
offered for the performance of sacrifices is simple and
forthright. It is the way for those who aspire to rise above the
three gunas. The Gita recommends in more than one place that we
should rise above the effects of the gunas, including sattva
guna. This sacrifice of the Ninth Chapter, described in Verses
26 to 28, follows a very telling piece of instruction in the
preceding Verse; it is the fruition of the different sacrifices
> Those who devote themselves to the gods (Devas) go to the gods;
> the worshippers of the pitris go to the pitris; those who worship
> the evil spirits (Bhutas) go to them, and my worshippers come to
> me. (IX, 25)
The highest kind of sacrifice is that offered to "Me," says
Krishna. This "Me" has two recognized aspects: (a) Man's own
Higher Self and (b) the real Guru, the embodiment of the Supreme
Spirit, the Most High.
The Adhi Yagna, the Great Sacrifice, has a psychological or
microcosmical aspect and also a Theogonic or Macrocosmic one;
both can be better comprehended by the metaphysical and the
purely spiritual aspect.
As students and practitioners of the Secret Science, the life and
labor of all aspirants should be dedicated to rising above the
three qualities of matter, using the sattvic quality as a
stepping-stone to the higher state.
What state of consciousness should one have to observe the
simple-sounding but profound injunctions of Verses 26 to 28 of
the Ninth Chapter?
The striver for Supreme Renunciation should offer every thought,
word, and deed to the Shining Self within. That Self is to
receive, by the blessing of the Gracious Guru, the Light from
"the star that is thy goal," says THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE; and
HPB explains in a footnote "the star that burns overhead is the
star of initiation.'" This initiation, it is said, reveals the
Mystery of Compassion Absolute and its living expression in those
who are the embodied Great Renouncers. Our one aspiration and
only hope should be to attain to that vision by the Self of the
True, the Real.
The effulgent end has a beginning. The first step is in front of
us, to be taken with knowledge and daring now, today. Leaves of
small and passing acts, flowers of beautiful acts and fruits of
creative acts should become the offerings to the Ishwara in man.
That Lord within is ever intent on purifying and elevating the
many intelligences on whom he depends; they give him the
opportunity to learn and to teach. All these living
intelligences, the deities presiding over our own senses and
organs, must be made pure by the baptismal water that
transubstantiates the gross into the subtle, and makes each deed,
each word, and each thought a vibrant sacrament.
Each aspirant has to perform daily actions in the natural course
of his life, using his own free will and knowledge. He has to
eat to build his body as a shrine of his soul. Again, he has to
sacrifice himself to fulfill his obligations to his inner life
and self-discipline. Further, he voluntarily gives of himself
and his possessions as gifts -- all these are acts of austerity,
of mortification, resulting from his Tapas-meditation, held out
as silent, secret, and sacred oblations to the Inner Ruler, and
to the Guru to whose bidding he has devoted his life and whose
Hand is extended in protecting love over him.
By this process, the secular life is made holy; the performance
of this continuous Yagna or sacrifice is the means whereby the
good and pious soul who has hitherto undergone human evolution on
the Path of Forthgoing, Pravritti Marga, enters the Nivritti
Marga, the Path of Return. No more need he propitiate the Devas
by rites and ceremonies, following the precedent of Daksha, the
Archetypal Ritualist and procreator of the good but mortal man.
He now comes under the regenerative power of the Egyptian Thoth,
the "Thrice-Great Hermes," Shiva-Mahadeva, the Maha Yogi, the
Patron Saint of all Yogis, the Archetypal Renouncer, the Teacher
par excellence of Immortality. He is called "the first divine
physician," "for he cures the disease called mortality," and so
he is "the auspicious."
The highest aspect of Yagna-Vidya is described by HPB in ISIS
UNVEILED (I, xliv):
> "The Yajna" exists as an invisible thing at all times; it is like
> the latent power of electricity in an electrifying machine,
> requiring only the operation of a suitable apparatus in order to
> be elicited. It is supposed to extend from the Ahavaniya or
> sacrificial fire to the heavens, forming a bridge or ladder by
> means of which the sacrificer can communicate with the world of
> gods and spirits, and even ascend when alive to their abodes.
> This Yajna is again one of the forms of the Akasha, and the
> mystic word calling it into existence and pronounced mentally by
> the initiated Priest is the Lost Word receiving impulse through
But THE SECRET DOCTRINE (I, 169) gives warning:
> Without the help of Atma-Vidya, the other three [Yagna-Vidya,
> Maha-Vidya and Guhya-Vidya] remain no better than SURFACE
> sciences, geometrical magnitudes having length and breadth, but
> no thickness. They are like the soul, limbs, and mind of a
> sleeping man: capable of mechanical motions, of chaotic dreams
> and even sleep-walking, of producing visible effects, but
> stimulated by instinctual not intellectual causes, least of all
> by fully conscious spiritual impulses. A good deal can be given
> out and explained from the three first-named sciences. But
> unless the key to their teachings is furnished by Atma-Vidya,
> they will remain forever like the fragments of a mangled
> textbook, like the adumbrations of great truths, dimly perceived
> by the most spiritual, but distorted out of all proportion by
> those who would nail every shadow to the wall.
The good man who lives the good life to the best of his ability
and practices sattvic sacrifices must in course of time
understand the occult significance of the Yagna of Raja Yoga
taught in the Ninth Chapter of the Gita, and thus begin his
return journey. Whither will he turn? To the heavenly home of
Pure Bliss -- Light, Peace, or Nirvana? Or to the mysterious
retreat of some Great Renouncer of Nirvana itself, there to
acquire the Secret of secrets, how to render endless Service to
Humanity through many yugas, many kalpas? There, too, he will
learn the hidden meaning and power of Yagna and also the right
and righteous use of it. The Secret of Service is supreme and is
the continuous living out of the Maha Yagna allegorized in THE
VOICE OF THE SILENCE:
> Self-doomed to live through future Kalpas, unthanked and
> unperceived by men; wedged as a stone with countless other stones
> that form the "Guardian Wall," such is thy future if the seventh
> Gate thou passest. Built by the hands of many Masters of
> Compassion, raised by their tortures, by their blood cemented, it
> shields mankind, since man is man, protecting it from further and
> far greater misery and sorrow.
THE HERITAGE OF MAN IS MAN HIMSELF
By G. de Purucker
[From WIND OF THE SPIRIT, pages 6-10.]
The heritage of man is man himself. Each man is the builder of
himself, and the destroyer maybe. Each man is his own
regenerator and savior, and each man undoes the work upon himself
which mayhap for eons in the past he had been building. This
statement may sound recondite, difficult to understand, a dark
saying; and yet I wonder that anyone could or might doubt so
self-evident a truth. Is it not clear enough that what a man is,
he is; and that what he is, is the result of his former lives,
the resultant of his thoughts and his feelings, the resultant of
his previous willing, thinking, and feeling? We make ourselves;
we fashion our own characters.
This is one of the commonplaces of human experience. But just
think what it means to grasp it in fullness. We make our lives
shapely from day to day and year to year and from life to life;
or we make them very ugly; and no one is to blame on the one
hand, and no one is to be praised on the other hand, except the
man himself. Think how just that this is. We have nobody,
naught outside ourselves, to blame if we have made ourselves
unshapely and ugly and full of sorrow and pain; and there is none
to be praised when our lives become shapely and beautiful in
symmetry through our own efforts, save we ourselves. A man by
thinking may change his character, which means changing his soul,
which means changing his destiny, which means changing everything
that he is or becomes in the present and in the future.
Why blame the blameless gods for our own faults, for molding us
in the patterns that we ourselves have shaped? It is the old idea
of 'passing the buck' -- slang, but oh how expressive! --
throwing the blame on someone else. This is the surest way to go
down instead of going up; for the recognition of truth and the
recognition of justice and the cognizance of responsibility in a
man, by a man of himself, is the first step to climbing the path
higher; and what hope there is in this. Think of the mistakes we
have made in the past, the wrongs that we have wrought on others
and on ourselves. Only half the story is told when we say that
we have made ourselves and are responsible for ourselves. The
other half of the story is what we have done upon others: how we
have helped to shape their lives in beauty, or to misshape their
lives in ugliness.
This recognition of man's responsibility not only to himself, but
to others, is the lost keynote of modern civilization, which
seems to be infatuated with the idea that things will run
themselves, and that all men have to do is to get what they can
from the surrounding atmosphere. I think that is a hellish
doctrine, and can but produce its harvest of misery. Let a man
realize that he is a man and that what he sows he shall reap, and
that what he is reaping he himself has sown, and see how the face
of the world will be changed. Each man will become enormously
observant not only of his acts which are the proofs of his
thoughts and his feelings, firstly upon himself, but perhaps more
important, what impact he makes upon others.
I think it is the lack of this feeling of individual
responsibility and mass responsibility in the world today which
is the cause of the many, many horrors which are growing worse
instead of better. It fosters the belief that violence can right
a wrong. It never can. Violence never has perished by adding
violence unto it. No problem ever has been solved after that
manner. It is against the laws of being, against the laws of
things as they are. Think it out, and you will see it yourself.
What is a man's heritage? I say again, it is man himself. I am
myself because I made me in other lives. And how ashamed I am of
myself at times that I have not made me wiser and better and
higher and nobler in every way; and how I bless the whispering
intimations of divinity within my heart that I can say I am not
worse than I am! You see, this is the first realization of my
responsibility to all -- and the all includes me. And here is a
wonder-thought: when a man does right, no matter at what cost to
him, he strengthens himself and he strengthens all others. It is
a work of wonderful magic.
When a man does evil, is it not obvious that he weakens himself?
First there is the weakening of his will, then the soiling of his
thoughts, and then the lessening of the strength of his genuine
inner feelings. The very contact with such a man, provided he
follow the downward path long enough, causes the self to be
soiled. Even as one rotten apple, they say, will ruin a whole
barrelful of sound fruit, so will an evil character adversely and
evilly affect not only him, but all unfortunates who may be near
We can save ourselves from this very easily, because there are
few things so revealing as evil. It has naught to stand upon
except illusion. Leave it alone, and it will vanish like a mist.
Do not strengthen it with pouring more evil into the illusion
from your own energy. If it has naught to stand upon, no source
of vital activity within itself, it falls, it goes to pieces.
How different is good, which is health-giving and strengthening
and cleansing. Such simple truths, and so profound! I suppose
the simplest things are the most beautiful and the most profound.
So this doctrine of the heritage of a man which is himself is
simply the doctrine of another chance for the man whose life has
been spoiled by himself. No other man can spoil you unless you
yourself cooperate in the spoiling. None other can make you evil
unless you conjoin in the suggestion or in the doing. Blame not
the other for your fall. It is you who fall, and you will never
fall, you would never have fallen, unless you had preferred that
which brought about the fall. Such simple truths, and yet they
comprise a code of divine conduct for us men on this earth. A
child may understand these things because they are so clear; they
are so obvious.
The doctrine of another chance! Think of the man -- any one of us
-- who has made a mess of his life and wonders why ill fortune
and misfortune and unhappiness and misery and other terrible
things come upon him, until sometimes in the agony of
self-reproach he cries, "Lord, deliver me from this hell." It is
the old weak appeal to something where no help lies; for help is
here within; the divinity lies in your breast, the source of all
strength and grandeur; and the more you appeal to it the more you
exercise it, the more you strengthen your own self, advance in
truth and wisdom, rise above all the planes of weakness and
sorrow and pain brought about by evil-doing.
So you have made yourself; and in your next life, you will be
just what you are now making yourself to be. You will be your
own heritage. You are now writing, as it were, your last will
and testament for yourself. When a man realizes this wonderful
fact, he no longer blames others, no longer sits in judgment upon
his brothers. He no longer says: I am holier than thou -- an
attitude which is the sure mark of the weak and of the poor in
There is a wonderful French proverb which runs thus: Tout
comprendre, c'est tout pardonner: To understand everything is to
forgive all. To understand all the hid causes, the results, the
past destiny, the present strength, the temptation, the virtue,
whatever it may be -- to understand all this is to have divine
knowledge, and it means to forgive. It is a wonderful proverb
and must have been uttered, I venture to say, first by some human
being who had a touch of illumination.
I know myself by my own experience that when I have been hurt, or
am hurt and think I am unjustly treated, I say to myself, even
when it seems to me that the wrong doing unto myself is obvious:
If I could read the heart of my brother who has wronged me, read
back into the distant past and see what mayhap I did to him to
wrong him, perhaps I would realize that he now is as unconscious
of the wrong he does me as I was then of the wrong I did to him.
I shall not increase the treasury of virtue and happiness and
peace in this world by taking up the gauge of battle and
injecting more fury and hatred into a hatred-ridden world. But I
can do my part in strengthening myself, do my part in getting
some illumination from above-within, from the god within me, by
doing what I myself have taught: practicing what I preach. Peace
and happiness come from this, and the sense of increased
self-respect and the growth of pity.
Do you know, I sometimes think that pity or compassion is one of
the most celestial visitors to the temple of the human heart.
The old sages used to say that naught but the gods really pay men
exact justice or what they think is justice and flatter them that
they are right. The gods upon their azure seats hear all, see
all, feel all, understand all, and are filled with pity. Think,
if any one of us human beings were weighed in the strictest
scales of karmic justice untempered by pity and wisdom, what
chance do you think any one of us would have to escape
condemnation? Does any one of you think that you are so spotless
in virtue and holy strength that the scales would not fall
against you? If so, you are very, very happy -- or very, very
blind! I think that if such spotless purity of past karma were
yours, you would not be here as a man on this earth working out
your own heritage -- yourself.
True it is that in the future the entire human race is going to
be gods, and there is no reason on earth why we should not begin
in the present instant of time to grow towards godhood. You win
all, you gain all, and you lose naught. From driven slave of
past karma, you become the orderer in time of your own destiny,
for you are your own heritage. What a doctrine of comfort! What
light it bestows on us!
THE BASIC DICHOTOMY
By Bjorn Merker
[From THE ARYAN PATH, January 1965, pages 23-28.]
There is no more universal endeavor than Man's attempt to
reconcile his longing for unity on one hand and the diversity of
existence on the other. In one form or another, this is the
substance of all religion, philosophy, and science. Non-violence
in the Indian context, both historically and pragmatically, does
not remain unaffected by this quest. Thus today a great deal of
effort is spent in trying to determine the direction of
nonviolent development so as to deepen and broaden its concepts.
What results have been obtained so far? The general trend is
indicated by the arrival of terms like "non-opposition,"
"non-violent assistance," and "spiritual non-violence." Let us
look a little closer at what this indicates.
The idea seems to be to arrive at a "purified" form of
non-violence, avoiding the "combatant" means of Direct Action and
resistance, which are considered limited and crude. Thought goes
to the kind of non-violence described in the religious literature
of India, "in the face of which all evil vanishes." This has led
to a process of "distillation," and the first stage has produced
a concept of non-violence cleaned of the negative forms of action
such as opposition, resistance, and negation. The constructive,
affirmative, assisting attitude has become firmly established.
This trend may be summed up in the phrase "through non-opposition
This expression implies the notion that the earlier "resisting"
forms of non-violence create barriers between the satyagrahi and
his opponent and represents an attempt at avoiding such barriers.
It must be noted here that Gandhi spared no efforts in explaining
that only an imperfect application of the doctrine of resistance
and non-violent non-cooperation built these barriers. The
limitation is not in the principle, which indeed is a chief means
of unity with the opponent, but in our weakness.
At present a second distillation seems to be in process, aiming
at the elimination of physical action in favor of spiritual
action. This is still embryonic, however.
It is important that we arrive at an understanding of these
concepts and relate them to the quest for unity mentioned above.
The future of non-violence depends on whether it fits into this
larger concept or not, and on whether it is able to advance this
I will make no attempt to scrutinize these arguments
scientifically or philosophically, but merely compare them with
and relate them to other efforts in the same direction. Three
concepts must be investigated in so doing:
1. The position of the Negative,
2. The Dualities of existence (good-evil and so on), and
3. The meaning of Unity.
To begin with the last one, the quest for unity seems to be a
basic feature in the evolution of man's conception of existence.
Every religion abounds in hints and visions of an ultimate,
all-pervading unity. This unity is most easily seen at the
beginning of creation:
> There was then neither being nor non-being . . .
> Without breath breathed by its own power That One.
> -- Rig-Veda, 10. 129
But not only at the origin of things is unity seen, but also in
> Him who is the One existent, sages name variously.
> -- Rig-Veda, 1. 164
> Brahma, indeed, is this whole world, this widest extent.
> -- Mundaka Upanishad, 2. 2. 11
Upon having stated this unity, however, the manifold, diverse,
and contradictory elements of the world as we know it present
themselves to challenge this unity, and thus:
> He desired: "Would that I were many! Let me procreate myself!" He performed austerity. Having performed austerity, he created this whole world, whatever there is here.
> -- Taittiriya Upanishad, 2. 6
We are thus thrown back into dichotomy from the postulated unity.
In facing the outside world, man is disturbed at the lack of the
basic unity envisioned in his spiritual efforts. He faces a
multitude of diverse and conflicting elements and situations, and
feels unable to cope with contradictions like good and evil,
entities diametrically opposed and seemingly impossible healthily
to unite. His universe is split and in the field of religion,
this takes forms like God -- the abode of all good -- and Satan
-- the total evil. History becomes the unending struggle between
these powers. In a wider, existential sense, I call this the
Man cannot rest satisfied with this dichotomy. He struggles to
overcome it. The developments in the field of non-violence must
be seen as an attempt to take up the challenge of reaching Unity.
Before we examine this, however, some earlier attempts throw a
little light over the problem.
Hegel's philosophy tried to bridge the gap by means of
dialectics. He postulated a dialectical series consisting of
Thesis, Antithesis, and Synthesis. This Synthesis would
represent Unity if it were not for the perceptible inexhaustible
diversity experienced around us. This forced Hegel to introduce
the emergence of a new antithesis responding to the established
synthesis, leading to a further synthesis, and so on. Thus the
primary dichotomy he sought to overcome is merely lifted to a
higher, dialectical, plane, but does not vanish.
A simpler attempt at solution has been to turn towards
philosophical relativism, saying that "things are not what they
appear to be," good is not necessarily or really good, evil is
not evil. Even though borrowing terminology from science, this
school of thought has nothing to do with scientific relativism.
The latter is concerned only with the relativity of relations.
It investigates the objects in relation to each other but cannot
say anything about the object's relation to itself. So the
"nothing is certain" way of integrating existence tries for the
impossible, pretending that the problem does not exist.
We now arrive at what I here will call "spiritual positivism."
(Positivism should not be understood in the usual academic
philosophical sense here.) It coincides more or less with the
direction of the development in non-violence mentioned above. It
proposes to bridge diversity by escalating on one of its
components, that which is generally called the positive. By
wholly and totally embracing the good and by directing all effort
towards the positive, the constructive, and the affirmative, it
claims to overcome evil, consequently establishing unity. In
doing this, arguments like "resisting evil means to recognize and
entrench it" are used. This approach tends to be accompanied,
though not necessarily, by a tendency towards "spiritual" instead
of physical action.
Here we are forced to investigate the position and meaning of the
negative. The negative is the inevitable and necessary
counterpart of the positive. The one implies the other. The
presence of the one establishes the other. The Chinese
philosopher Lao-tzu says: "If all the world agrees on good as
being good, then evil is just as manifest." (Tao Te King, 2) This
holds true for positive and negative as well. They are equal,
impossible to separate, and interchangeable. They are the origin
of all power: electricity is the utilization of positive and
negative charges, steam of high and low pressure, and so on.
The only language which adequately conveys the equality of
positive and negative is Chinese. Where we say "he is sure to
come," the Chinese say "he cannot not come." Even more
explicitly, to the question "Isn't he coming," the Chinese
answer, "Yes," if they mean that he is not coming. The "not" has
no private or seclusive meaning but merges with "coming" to form
the concept "non-coming," an expression that can be treated as
equal to any positive phrase, i.e., can be denied or affirmed.
Gandhiji had the same insight into this fundamental equality when
> In my humble opinion, rejection is as much an ideal as the
> acceptance of a thing. It is as necessary to reject untruth as
> it is to accept truth. Human endeavor consists of an eternal
> series of rejections and acceptances. Non-cooperation with evil
> is as much a duty as cooperation with good. Weeding is as
> necessary to agriculture as sowing. Indeed, even whilst the
> crops are growing, the weeding fork, as every husbandman knows,
> is an instrument of almost daily use.
> Let me close this argument by drawing attention to the fact that
> the final word of the Upanishads (Brahma Vidya) is Not. Neti was
> the best description the authors of the Upanishads were able to
> find for Brahman.
We can and must never succeed in escaping the negative. Our very
ideal has is embedded in its name, NON-violence, ahimsa.
Resistance and non-cooperation are not inferior as ideals because
they contain a negative element. As Truth and Love were the
spiritual foundation of Gandhi's non-violence, so resistance to
evil was the rock-bottom foundation in the realm of action. He
said, "This deliberate refusal to cooperate is like the necessary
weeding process that the cultivator has to resort to before
sowing." And even the votaries of non-resistance do not escape
the negative, resistance. "Let us not resist" implies resistance
to resistance. We have to accept the negative. An ideal like
detachment is not less attractive because it holds the negative
element "de-." And, indeed, why should we try to escape this
negative, why try to leave aside half of existence, why close one
The argument, which says resistance means recognition of evil,
stumbles over itself. Why should we not recognize something
actually existing? And if resistance strengthens evil, it
strengthens just those qualities that ultimately lead to the fall
of evil. Resistance is a method of bringing evil out in the
open, then confronting it with good, the antidote, and thus
overcoming it, like the discharge of positive and negative
electricity. Not-resisting evil actually means supporting it.
The extermination of six million Jews in Hitler's gas-chambers
was made possible because, as Eichmann testified, "No one
protested, no one refused to cooperate." This is an urgent and
weighty argument in favor of resistance. The ostrich does not
escape the hunter through sticking its head in the sand!
Thus it seems that the ideal of positivism and non-resistance is
not built on a very firm foundation, either philosophically or
practically. It cannot accomplish the desired unity by exalting
one side of the dichotomy; that is a unity as easily shattered as
a dream on waking up. Then what is the solution?
There is no solution in the sense that we will ever be able to
erase the fundamental diversity, the conflict between good and
evil; but our relationship to it has to be understood and, if
properly understood, may be termed a solution. We are
encountering the same problem that the thinkers of the great
Upanishads faced after having failed to reach the much-longed-for
unity along the path of realism (early Vedas), on the path of
grasping the outside world. They were unable to overcome the
split between self and non-self, however deep the two were set in
a monistic frame. Then, as the final release, the path of
epistemological idealism opened the vista of unity. The final
unity could not and would not be found outside of the Self, but
in it. In truth, the Self was the unity they had been looking
for all the time, because "therein all these things become one."
Through knowing the great Self, through realizing Atman, the
Atman-knower transcends good and evil and all other pairs of
opposites in attaining the higher state of self-realization.
Without, the dichotomy reigns supreme; evil stands beside good,
truth beside untruth, and each calls for its form of action; but
within, they are united in consciousness, the very entity which
once produced them. Transcendence of diversity and ascent to a
higher state of consciousness in itself implies taking a stand on
the whole of diversity, one leg on good and one leg on evil.
Only then do we find stability enough to make the leap. Thus we
arrive at, not a state of affirmation of any particular part of
existence like truth or good, but a state void of all ethical
distinctions, merging with all of existence in total liberation.
And this applies to the development of non-violence as well. In
our self, "all these," that is, evil and good, resistance and
assistance, Truth and untruth, acceptance and rejection, become
one. It is our consciousness that relates us to the world. Man
is placed in this world, squarely into the multitude of
existence. With him he brings the power of Yes and No. How
beautiful they are, how lovable, the Yes and the No, assistance
and resistance, the positive and the negative, equal, both of
brilliance, like our two hands! They are not contradictory, but
complementary. The unity lies, not in embracing only one of the
two, but in having both at our command. The non-violence of
rejection and acceptance resolves the basic dichotomy by
resisting evil and assisting good out of ONE motivation and
meeting them with one force, Love. As Lao-tzu says:
> To the Good I am good,
> and to the evil I am also good.
> To the truthful I am true,
> and to the untruthful I am also true.
> -- Tao Te King, 49
"Being good to" certainly implies action of some form or other.
The gap closes through meeting both sides with the same attitude.
Non-violence faced with good means the strengthening of good,
flowering creation; faced with evil, it means the latter's
ultimate destruction through resistance, that is, through love.
We will advance towards good only to the extent that we are able
to generate a surplus of love and compassion, i.e., more than
what is neutralized by evil. There are no shortcuts to
Thus it becomes clear that man is both the origin of the
dichotomy (through perception) and its dissolution (through
conscious activity). It is up to us to restore the balanced,
transcending unity which we ourselves have shattered. It cannot
be done through manipulating our relation to the outside world,
but only by bringing our inner Self in accord with all existence.
> Being and non-Being produce each other
> Heavy and light complete each other
> High and low maintain each other.
> -- Tao Te King, 2
THE STILL SMALL VOICE WITHIN
By G. de Purucker
[From GOLDEN PRECEPTS, pages 7-12.]
Beautiful are the pathways, sublime the goal, and quick the feet
of those who follow the way of the still small voice within,
which leads to the Heart of the Universe. This is the core of
the messages of the great Mysteries of antiquity -- the union of
the simple human being with his divine Source, with the root of
himself, linked as that is with the all, for that core is a spark
of the Central Fire, a spark of Divinity; and this spark is in
Divinity is at the heart of you. It is the root of you. It is
the core of the core of your being; and you can ascend along the
pathway of the spiritual self, passing veil after veil of
obscuring selfhood, until you attain unity with that inner
divinity. That is the most sublime Adventure known to man -- the
study of the Self of man.
Thus you will climb the mountains not merely of Parnassus and of
Olympus, but you will in time, by following this inner pathway of
self-knowledge, grow so greatly in understanding and in inner
vision, that your eyes will take in ranges and sweeps of inner
light, unveiling to you the most awful, because the holiest and
the most beautiful, mysteries of the boundless Universe.
The first step on the pathway to the Heart of the Universe is to
recognize the truth that all comes from within. All the
inspirations of genius, all the great thoughts that have made and
unmade civilizations, all the wonderful messages that have been
delivered by the Great Ones of the earth to their fellow human
beings -- all these come forth from within. The battle of union,
towards union, for union, with your own inner god, is more than
half won when you recognize this truth.
And oh, how splendid is the pathway seen after that! How glorious
it is! Leading ever more inward and inward, which is the same as
saying upward and upward, ever higher and higher, till you become
at one with your own kin -- the gods -- who are the governors and
rulers of the Universe, and of whom men are the children.
The inmost of the inmost of you is a god, a living divinity; and
from this divine source there flows downwards into your human
mentality all the things that make men great, all the things that
give rise to love and mighty hope and inspiration and aspiration
and, noblest of all, self-sacrifice.
In yourself lie all the mysteries of the Universe. Through your
inner self, your spiritual nature, you have a road reaching to
the very Heart of the Universe. If you travel that road leading
ever within, if you can go into yourself, go behind veil after
veil of selfhood, deeper and deeper into yourself, you go deeper
and deeper into the wondrous mysteries of Universal Nature.
Knowing yourself, you progress more quickly than the average
running of the evolutionary course; and when this pace is
quickened to the utmost, there are initiations, SHORT CUTS in
fact, but only for those who are fit and ready to take these very
difficult short cuts. Growth proceeds step by step.
This pathway is spoken of as a “road,” but it is the unlocking of
the heart of man -- not the physical heart, but the heart of his
being, the essence of the man, in other words the unlocking and
development of his spiritual and intellectual and psychical
powers and faculties. This is the Doctrine of the Heart, the
secret doctrine, the doctrine that is hid. The Eye Doctrine is
that which can be seen and is more or less open.
Those whose inner faculties and powers have come more into actual
operation and into conscious functioning, whose inner natures
have been more developed, as they grow from childhood towards
manhood, in any one life, are the fit, the neophytes, whose
natures are opening, and who have the ears to hear and the eyes
to see what is put before them.
Those who have the intuition of something greater within, of
something splendid and grand, of something that is growing within
the heart and within the mind, like the budding flower: these
ones shall finally see more; these are the initiates developing
into the great Seers and Sages.
There is no favoritism in Nature. The old, old rule is a true
one. Man takes what he himself can get -- WHAT HE HIMSELF IS.
Man is an inseparable part of the Universe in which he lives,
moves, and has his being. There is no separation whatsoever
between his roots and the roots of the Universe; there is no
distance between them. The same Universal Life flows through all
things that are. The same stream of consciousness that flows in
the mighty Whole and through the mighty Whole of the Universe
flows therefore through man, an inseparable portion of that
Universe. This means there is a pathway by which you may come
into intimate relation with the Heart of the Universe itself.
That pathway is you, your own being, your own nature, your
spiritual Self. Not the self of ordinary physical man, which
self is just a poor reflection of the spiritual brilliance
within, but that inner Self of pure consciousness, pure love for
all that is, unstained by any earthly taint -- your spiritual
Following this pathway to your own inner god, your Higher Self,
you will reach all the mysteries and wonders of boundless
Infinitude, through infinite time; and such happiness, peace,
bliss, beauty, love, and inspiration will fill your whole being
that every breath will be a blessing, every thought a sublime
By H.T. Edge
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, November 1915, pages 305-09.]
A God of some sort being considered necessary, and the
traditional and sectarian Gods being at a discount, attempts are
made to reconstruct God in a scientific or rational manner. As a
starting-point, there is the dual nature of man, as manifested by
the opposition of two wills in him: a personal and an impersonal
one. To explain the latter, some people have postulated a sort
of collective will -- the will of humanity as a whole -- and to
this they have perhaps added a collective intelligence, which is
that of humanity in general. Thus we obtain a simple philosophy,
giving an explanation of morality and of the combat between
selfishness and self-sacrifice.
The philosophy is far from complete. For one thing, it is very
evident that the collective will of large masses of people may be
a very evil thing; and it is notorious that the collective
intelligence of crowds is a long way behind the intelligence of
individuals. It would be tantamount to making God a kind of
mob-spirit, or national ideal, or spirit of the times. And there
are such Gods; but the trouble is that there are too many of
them. Just now we see bitter emulation between such tribal
deities, each of which is appealed to by its own votaries, just
as the people in the Old Testament, with far more frankness,
invoked their God to destroy the Gods of the other tribes. The
collective will of humanity is a very vague phrase.
Perhaps in these philosophies there is a trace of the modern
scientific idea of synthesis, whereby wholes are supposed to be
merely the arithmetical sum of their parts. But before parts can
make up anything better than a junk-heap, they must be organized;
and we cannot make a man out of blood and bones alone. A number
of separate human wills may unite so as to have a collective
value, but speculation still remains open as to the precise
nature of the mixture or compound that will be generated; and if
we take analogies from chemistry, we may infer that the product
might easily be either a balsam or a poison. However
interestingly such philosophers may write, it is clear that a far
deeper study of human nature and nature in general is necessary
before the contents of their notebooks will be of much value in
We have spoken of the idea of synthesis, by which great things
are regarded as being made up of small. The analytical view
represents small things as being parts of great things. There is
a considerable practical difference between the two; for though
we cannot make a man out of blood and bones, we can easily make
blood and bones out of a man. Man is a great deal more than the
arithmetical sum of his component parts. Before a house can be
built, the idea of the house must have preexisted in the mind of
the builder; otherwise nothing but a heap of bricks and mortar
will mock the eye of the intending home-seeker.
It is more reasonable to say that man made his bones and blood
than that the bones and blood made him. And it is more
illuminating to say that the personal human will is a torn
fragment of the real human will, than to regard the latter as
being merely the sum of a great number of separate wills. Thus
at least we shall find a means of distinguishing between wisdom
and folly, and avoid identifying God with a popular hallucination
or a national character. It is much more likely that a mere
addition of selfish human wills would generate a Devil than
generate the Deity.
Scientific analogies may always help if intelligently applied.
We are told that decomposition is attended with dispersion or
running-down of energy and that recombination can be effected
only by supplying some more energy from an external source. Iron
and oxygen reduce each other to a state of mutual inertness,
wherein they will slumber throughout the geological ages in the
bosom of the earth, until somebody brings the all-potent spirit
of fire -- whether in the furnace or in the ardent acid -- and
reproduces both elements in their pristine vivacity. The mere
putting of things together will not suffice to produce anything
of a higher order; an access of energy must come from somewhere
-- from a source of latent energy within or from an outside
source. Oxygen and hydrogen could never make water unless water
itself was a preexistent reality; the invisible element of water
(unknown to science) must enter to bless the union.
A single man contains within himself a vast number of separate
lives, presiding over the various organs, cells, and even atoms,
whereof he is compact. But it is a serious error to say that
man's self-consciousness is nothing more than the sum-total of
all these minor consciousnesses. Man is a being that is
independent of the body, and he enters the body and controls it.
When the man himself withdraws, the various lesser lives in him
begin at once to fall apart. It is the same with humanity. A
number of people merely makes a crowd or a nation or a race; if
there is such a thing as a higher order of being, to which the
name of "collective man" might be applied, that being must exist
independently, and must be regarded as entering into and
ensouling the race. Moreover it is evident that an evil
influence might be regarded as entering into a race, as well as a
Conscience is something more than a pooling of self-wills or a
mutual adjustment of personal desires. How many wrong notions
must be added together before the combination will result in the
production of divine wisdom, we are not prepared to say. When a
Master says, "Where two or three are gathered together in my
name, there am I in the midst of them," he does not mean that he
has not existence until that is done. In the same way, God does
not owe his existence to the fact that a number of men have put
their heads together.
Morality is often supposed to have "evolved" out of immoral or
unmoral elements by a process akin to that which is believed to
have evolved man out of the amoeba; and conscience is often
defined as being merely recognition of other people's interests.
This idea of the gradual building-up of the mind, conscience,
sentiments, aspirations, etc., of human nature out of lesser
elements is really absurd. The source of all human faculties
must lie in something far vaster than any of them and
comprehending them all and much more besides. A code of mutual
agreement, such as might be supposed to exist among villains, is
a poor substitute for morality.
The real source of morality is the essential Divine nature of man
himself. The personal ego, which looms so largely in his life,
is not really an important part of him. It is a blend of animal
propensity with self-conscious mind. Animal propensity is that
which drives the animals, and for them, it is the natural law of
their lives. It acts within the narrow limits prescribed for it
by the simple mind of the animal. But man brings his
self-consciousness to bear on his propensities, thus turning them
into potent and far-reaching forces; and out of this alliance is
developed the thing known as the personal ego. But from whence
comes man's self-consciousness? This mysterious faculty was never
evolved from the animal mind, nor is it possible to imagine any
intermediate steps between the unselfconscious mind of the animal
and the self-consciousness of man. The faculty of
self-consciousness is something original, and to trace its
source, we must look up, not down. If, starting in the middle of
man's nature, we can trace his lower faculties downwards towards
the animal kingdom, so we must trace his higher faculties upwards
towards the divine.
Man may be analyzed into three souls, as follows:
(1) The Animal Principle or Soul, called in Theosophical
terminology Kama. This is the impelling force in animals,
containing the instincts and propensities.
(2) The Human Soul, or Kama-Manas.
(3) The Spiritual Soul, or Buddhi-Manas.
In man, two lines of evolution converge: an evolution from above
downwards, and an evolution from below upwards. Hence the Human
Soul is the arena of conflicts between a higher and a lower law.
Man oscillates between the laws of his lower and higher natures.
Just as propensities spring from our animal nature, so higher
aspirations spring from our Spiritual nature. The truth is
generally found to be simpler than the theories which are offered
as substitutes. God, then, is not merely the aggregate of a
number of personal human wills, but is that boundless ocean of
wisdom and power which animates all creation; and the highest
manifestation (on this earth) of this universal deity is the
Perfected Man. It is from this source that come the spiritual
influences that make men's lives better; it is this that is the
true source of morality. Cut off from this source of life, man
would begin to wither like a plant cut off from its root; but it
might take him several incarnations to die out altogether. We
see around us people who seem to be thus withering, but under the
merciful law of reincarnation, they have other chances in store.
Possibly some people do not think there is a God in man or
anywhere else, so these remarks must be considered as applying to
those who do think there is a God and who would like to know more
on the subject. We have aspirations, and we fail to realize them
because we make them too personal. We try to bring down the
higher to the plane of the lower. This is the principal
explanation of the frustration of geniuses. Geniuses, like
Shakespeare, do not seem to have any personality; Shakespeare
went back to his beloved Warwickshire, when he had finished his
work; he did not stay in London and try to outdo himself. We
love music, perhaps, and strive to fathom its meaning and to
realize the message that it has for us; but to do that, we must
soar out of our personal limitations. Thus perhaps a person with
no technical knowledge of music may have more music in his life
than a talented but discontented artist.
It is of course impossible to devise a consistent philosophy of
life without taking into account Reincarnation. Wordsworth,
realizing that his Soul came "from afar" and had lived before,
was unable to complete his thought because he was limited by
current dogmas; and so with many others. Reincarnation is a
subject that needs to be pondered long, earnestly, and
reverently, until the idea becomes so familiar that we
unconsciously refer everything to it. In this way, knowledge and
conviction may come. Once admit that one has a higher nature,
and the path is opened for that higher nature to manifest itself.
We must not expect to see too far ahead of where we are standing;
much of the path we have to tread is concealed by turnings in the
way, at which we have not yet arrived. When we reason as to the
nature of God, or other such problems, we do so from the
standpoint of our present normal waking consciousness, which is
very limited. We are not conscious of the link that unites us
with fellow human beings, nor do we recollect the experiences of
deep sleep; and death is an even greater mystery. So people
discuss whether God is a personality or not, without knowing what
a personality is, and they reflect on the relation of the deity
to themselves, without understanding what the self is. Thus many
people are impatient because they know so little, and are
inclined to abandon the search because they cannot arrive at the
goal in one bound.
When we study Theosophy we find how many things there are to be
learned first and how much there is for us to do in the way of
immediate practical work in remodeling our way of life in the
light of Theosophy. By pursuing this path, we shall certainly
arrive at a point of clearer vision and advance into a larger
life wherein lies that peace which nothing can disturb.
PSYCHIC PHENOMENA, Part I
By A. Trevor Barker
[From THE HILL OF DISCERNMENT, pages 328-35.]
Friends, You heard tonight that the Theosophical Movement, of
which this Society is an integral part, is an ethical and
spiritual one; that it has existed all down the ages; and also
that it has nothing but a feeling of friendliness, a feeling of
brotherhood and fraternal sympathy, for all movements that strive
according to their own methods and ways for the elevation, even
to the smallest extent, of humanity. Therefore I want to say
right at the beginning to those of our Spiritualistic brothers --
some of them I see here tonight -- who may or may not have come
in contact with Theosophical teachings before: I want to say to
them that we have much sympathy for them; but that we have
furthermore the feeling that for them Theosophy has a very real
message -- something of vital importance to them as individuals.
The first object of this Theosophical Society is to promulgate
knowledge of the laws inherent in the Universe. That means, of
course, a statement of that knowledge of the inner constituents
of Nature and man that exists in the keeping and in the knowledge
of those who are called the Elect among mankind, those who have
always preserved it, and who from time to time come to restate it
in language comprehensible to the age in which it is particularly
given. This being one of our main purposes, we have to study the
problem of psychic phenomena in the light of that Ancient
Psychic phenomena have always existed, and the fact that they
play a very large part in the lives of an increasing number among
an interested public means that the teachings that Theosophy has
to give on this subject should fill some vital need in that
public. One of the first statements is that there is no such
thing as miracle; that that which looks to us like a marvelous
and extraordinary and otherwise inexplicable happening or
phenomenon is actually explainable in terms, if not of the
physical Universe then of the unseen and occult Universe,
provided that you understand the laws involved.
Many of the phenomena that we know of, from the New Testament
down to our own age, especially those that are the constant
happenings in Spiritualistic circles, do arouse in very many
people a sense of wonder, if not of awe, and, friends, even of
reverence for the powers that produce these mysterious phenomena.
If we understand this, the great element of wonder is largely
reduced as we look at the problems sincerely and say: "Well, now,
there must be an explanation of this phenomenon." The Universe is
a Universe of Law. Things do not happen fortuitously; and if we
do not understand them, well then, the Theosophical Society
provides another object amongst those that you have heard
tonight, whereby in studying the laws and the powers innate in
man; we seek by an unfolding of those powers to understand what
those hidden forces and hidden laws may be.
According to the Theosophical philosophy, the Universe is guided
or evolved under the direction of conscious and intelligent
beings. The teaching is that every part of boundless Space is
instinct with the life of the One Great Reality, the Great Breath
of all existence, which pulses eternally throughout the heart of
things, and throughout every living creature. Every one of the
forces of Nature is actually the expression of the life-force of
some group of beings that inhabit the inner spheres of Nature.
The fact that we cannot see them matters not at all.
That man is not the only conscious thinking being in this
Universe does not need a great deal of substantiation possibly;
but the Theosophical teaching is that beyond man, in an endless
series of progression, are rank after rank, hierarchy after
hierarchy, of still more exalted beings. Descending also in a
progressive scale into the depths of matter, you get different
types of entities even lower than man, who still act as some of
the unseen but intelligent agents and forces of Nature.
Man himself is built upon the same plan as Nature. Just as
Nature is not only the external appearance that we all see in all
its phases -- some beautiful, some terrible -- so also has man
within himself a thinking, conscious, intelligent, directing
influence: that which we call Soul in man -- the real man as
apart from his body. Man is not made up of merely that which we
see. We have only to look inside ourselves to observe that we
are made up, for example, of emotions, of passions, of thoughts,
of a more or less material nature. Understand that to be the
constitution of what you might call the animal-soul in man. Then
you have what we call the Human Soul -- that which makes a man a
human being. It is in the Human Soul that repose the capacities
of man to think, to know himself as a god. It is in that
capacity that he is distinguished from the beast creation. Over
and above those three principles -- if you will and like to look
upon them as such -- you will find a fourth, that over-brooding
and divine immortal principle in man, with which it is possible
for the Human Soul to identify itself.
With that fourfold division, you have sufficient for our
evening's study as regards man, and you will find that the great
community of the Spiritualistic movement do believe (I think I am
right in saying this) that the inner realms of the Universe are
guided by unseen and intelligent forces. It is that really which
gives them the right to be termed 'Spiritualists' in
contradistinction to that other section of the community (which
happily is far less strong than it used to be in the early days
of the last century, or shall we say in the middle of the last
century?) the Materialists. Really the two words are the
opposite of each other: one believes in the spiritual, energizing
principles in Nature that we do not see but believe in, so to
speak, if we cannot observe them. The other believes there is
nothing beyond that which we can see and feel and touch.
The second great -- shall we say belief? -- that distinguishes
those who come under the category of Spiritualists from other
thinking people, is the belief or conviction that it is possible
to communicate, or have communication, between the living such as
ourselves, and those who have passed over into the Great Beyond.
It is their belief; and therefore arising out of that you get
their own activities, which result in what we call 'psychic
phenomena.' You have only to examine the daily newspapers towards
the weekend, principally the Sunday papers, to discover that even
in one city like London, there is a great, a large, body of
people who call themselves the Spiritualistic Community. There
are a tremendous number of them. It is estimated that there are
something like twenty million in all the world, and I think that
is probably a conservative estimate. There are twenty million
people who to some extent believe in the possibility of
communication with the dead, and who no doubt practice the
various methods that they believe in to that end.
There is an enormous variety, an almost endless variety, of
psychic phenomena that could be described and discussed; but so
vast is the field that it would take not one lecture but many,
any volumes -- days and weeks of time -- to describe all the
possibilities of variety in psychic phenomena. They are indeed
endless, and therefore tonight we shall have quite enough to do
to examine that sphere or field of psychic phenomena that is
possible for us all to examine somewhat; and I refer therefore
principally to the field that has been brought to the notice of
the world through the activities of these same Spiritualistic
That is the subject that we want to consider for a little while;
and we want to understand, if we can, in the light of the Ancient
Teachings, what is the real nature of these phenomena. We want
to see whether the interpretation that is usually put upon them
can possibly give place to a better interpretation -- to a
different one, if you will -- and so let us consider really what
are the purpose and the possible use of psychism and psychic
I will tell you that from the Theosophical point of view they
have two possible uses, both of which are somewhat qualified by
results. But two things this interest in phenomena has done.
One is that many people have become convinced -- as we think, on
quite insufficient evidence, but nevertheless convinced, in
themselves -- that the survival of man's individuality, his Soul
(call it what you will) is a fact. Now for those people no doubt
it is useful if it has, as it were, raised their thoughts at any
rate to the extent of believing or discovering that the material
existence is not the only one. Probably that is the best that
can be said of psychic phenomena. It is the object with which
most people investigate, and I think that many Spiritualistic
communities would tell you that their main purpose in carrying on
their meetings and activities is to give a demonstration, as they
call it, of the facts of survival.
You have a corollary of that, which is that many people who have
lost those that are dear to them have sought comfort, if they
were able to find it, in the revelations of the seance-room; and
we are told on excellent authority that these people have felt
comfort, that they have derived a great deal of satisfaction from
the various messages and supposed communications that they have
received from those who have passed on,
That is one aspect of it, and we want to go rather more deeply
into these questions, and examine them, and discover their real
nature, and to see whether in reality these people have received
something by means of those psychic experiments that has led to
nobler living; which has taught them, as they used to say, to die
grandly; which has given them a philosophy of life that embraces
the whole of Nature, leaving out no part of it; which has given
them a strength for their inner spiritual needs that can only be
regarded as the Bread of Life. Now we want to see. I mentioned
those few words simply because if those experiments do not bring
that result, well then, really, they are empty shells, husks,
which do not feed the inner Spiritual Being in man at all.
Therefore let us first of all examine what is the nature of
mediumship. There are no psychic phenomena, as we understand the
term today, without mediums, and you will find the principal
characteristic of mediums is that they make no bones about the
fact that they have a peculiar, abnormal, and unusual faculty of,
shall we say, stepping aside, paralyzing their mechanism of
consciousness, their body and normal faculties, and that they are
then taken possession of, or controlled by, some force or entity
They speak of this familiarly as their 'guide' or their
'control.' This for them is a fact of considerable importance,
and they consider that by the mere fact that they are being
controlled and guided by this mysterious unseen entity, therefore
the results of that activity will be more useful to their fellows
than if they were doing it in some way by their own conscious
direction. A medium, in other words, is a passive instrument of
forces that control and guide him.
That is the definition of mediumship, and I want to show you for
just a minute (I believe you will agree with me) how it is a
misunderstanding of a very wonderful truth in Nature. There is
always a light and a dark side to everything. If you see one
side of a medal you can also see the other side. The medium has
got something in his idea. He has got the notion that if he were
to step aside, so to speak, and let something motivate him that
he is going to be useful in some way.
Let us turn to what we Theosophists call the Light, the
Wisdom-side of that picture, and what do we find? We find that
the definition of the Adept in Arcane Knowledge is as different
from the definition of a medium as light is from darkness. The
Adept in Arcane Wisdom is one who is able, by the self-conscious
powers of his own spirit, to do under the direction and control
of his will every single one of the phenomena -- and an
infinitely greater series -- that the mediums do unconsciously to
themselves. He knows how he does it and why he does it; he
merely makes use of certain occult laws in Nature with which he
has learned to cooperate by the understanding of the powers of
his own being.
Take another further development of that idea, and you will find
that those Adepts of Knowledge work in the world by means of
certain disciples -- if you like to use the term -- certain
individuals who are connected with them, under their instruction,
and who at certain times are able to transmit to their fellows
ideas of spiritual value. Possibly, if one had had a great
acquaintance with Spiritualistic views and teachings, it might be
thought when such Adepts in knowledge work through one of those
individuals in the world who are their disciples, that they do it
in a similar way to the medium and his guide or control; but,
friends, it is not so; and this is where I am going to suggest to
you that there is, so to speak, a shadow of truth in the idea
that has perhaps given rise to the idea of the value of
Actually a great Master of Wisdom will not permit himself to
interfere with the conscious control of any individual who may be
under his instruction. On the contrary, when such an individual
is performing a task under the direction of a Master of Wisdom,
what happens? Why, the inner spiritual nature of the disciple is
so energized that the actual connection between the inner
spiritual real man and the body he works through is ten times, a
hundredfold, stronger than in the ordinary man and woman of the
Adeptship is in every way the opposite of mediumship. Such an
individual is ten times more positive and non-mediumistic than
his psychic brother. What he is taught is not to get out of his
body, if he can, and give it up to some extraneous entity. On
the contrary, he is taught to forget himself in the service of
the race to which he belongs; and as he lays aside the personal
idea of himself and raises his consciousness to the realization
that the Great Soul -- the Great World-Soul as it is called in
this philosophy -- is actually that of which he himself is an
integral part; as he begins to manifest in his daily life the
powers of that infinite Universe by forgetting himself. Why, as
he forgets himself, all power and knowledge and the infinite love
and wisdom and compassion that lie at the heart of Nature itself,
because of his self-forgetfulness, begin to manifest through him.
Do you see what a different picture it is; how entirely different
that conception is from the idea of the medium who is negative
and who allows some other entity to disinherit him of his divine
ARE THERE LIMITS TO STRIVING?
By L. Gordon Plummer
[From THEOSOPHIA, Fall 1977]
> He who does his best does enough for us.
> -- Master K.H. in THE MAHATMA LETTERS
It is probable that most people at one time or another feel that
they have reached the limits of their endurance. At such times,
it may be that some will wonder if it is worth the struggle. Can
they cope with life? Most of us do, and we learn eventually to
accept the fact that so long as we have put our best efforts into
the solution of our problems, we can put our anxieties behind us,
and we can move on to the next thing with renewed confidence.
This preamble is leading to a consideration of one aspect of this
subject that may be of interest to all who are seriously striving
toward spiritual development along the lines that have been
enunciated by the Mahatmas through their most prominent agent H.
P. Blavatsky. She set forth certain ideals and goals in a
number of her writings, such as "Occultism and the Occult Arts"
and in shorter articles. The trials and dangers confronting
those who aspire to tread the path of Occultism are clearly set
forth, and one may be sure that she did so in order to deter all
who do not have within themselves the elements of success in
these matters. We have no reason to take issue with any of her
It seems nonetheless that we should not overlook the other side
of the coin. In the words related to us by G. de Purucker, "I
am a servant of the servants of the Law," we have a hint of the
immense joy or service. This joy is not fleeting. It grows with
the progress of the student who attains to some awareness of his
place at the heart of the work to which he is dedicated. Why are
there warnings then? Well, we can draw many lessons from Nature,
and for this one, we might turn to astronomy.
Now much interest has been aroused by the discovery of rings
around the planet Uranus similar to those of Saturn. This is
held to be one of the most important discoveries of the century.
The existence of rings associated with any planet will provide a
lesson that might be applied to the matter in hand.
Why do we observe rings associated with Saturn, and now Uranus?
Here is one explanation as given by modern astronomy.
Every heavenly body has a gravitational field. In the case of
out own moon, its gravitational field is about one sixth that of
the Earth. This is because the Moon is only one sixth as massive
as is the Earth. The Moon, at a distance of approximately
240,000 miles, is likewise affected by the Earth's gravitational
field, just as we are affected by the moon's gravitation. Hence,
we have the tides. At the distance of the Moon from the Earth,
our gravitation is far greater than is the pull of the Moon. If
it were not so, things would be very different on our planet from
what they are today. It has been calculated that at the time
when the Earth was young, the moon was much closer to us, so
close in fact, that the tides rose to a height of a mile instead
of a few feet as they do today! It is equally true that the Moon
feels the gravitational pull of the Earth, but to a less degree
than the strength of its own gravitational field.
Now, there is a critical distance between any planet and its
satellite known as the Roche Limit. At this distance, the
gravitation on the satellite would be equaled by the
gravitational pull of the planet, and if the satellite were to
come any closer, matters would become very serious indeed. The
greater pull of the planet's gravitation could tear the moon
apart. It is believed by some astronomers that this is what
happened in the cases of three of Saturn's moons. They were so
close to the planet that they broke into small pieces that
continued to orbit the planet in the form of rings.
Now, what has all of this to do with the subject at hand? For the
sake of clarifying our thinking, we might say that each of us has
his "Roche Limit." In the case of our problems with living, this
would be the point at which our own vitality and endurance are in
danger of being overcome by life's pressures. We can avoid being
crushed by stopping short of our own individual "Roche Limit,"
and keep ourselves from being swept off our feet by taking a more
relaxed attitude of mind, knowing that when we have done our
best, even though we fall short of our goals, we need the time to
pause and reflect. We cannot change the world; we can only
change ourselves; since the world is made up of individuals with
their own karmic destinies, it changes very slowly.
Turning now to the more specific subject of this article, in the
treading of the path of genuine Occultism, each student has his
own "Roche Limit" as it were. In this case, we are not referring
to gravitational fields, obviously. We are now speaking of
spirituality. The path of Occultism cannot be disassociated from
those who exemplify it in their own lives and work. Their
existence is no secret. We have only to study The Mahatma
Letters in order to come to some understanding of the Hierarchy
of Compassion. Since the very nature of this Hierarchy is
spirituality to a vastly greater degree than is exemplified in
any individual student, any of us has his own "Roche Limit." As
we are in our present state of inner development, we could not
tolerate the full force of the spiritual energy that we would
inevitably feel were we to come too close to the real heart of
the work that is being accomplished. Such close proximity might
well disrupt our psychological natures, and none of the Teachers
would allow this to happen. If it seems that we are kept at a
distance, regardless of our aspirations, we may rest assured that
it is for our own protection.
However, let us not think that we have been abandoned. Far from
it. Each one receives all the light that he can safely use.
Fortunately, this "Roche Limit" is not a fixed irrevocable thing.
It changes with our growth, and it is only ourselves who set up a
seeming barrier. Actually, there is really none, and in the
final analysis, it is all a matter of growth. This comes about
in its time and is fostered by our own dedication to the high
principles that have been so amply given to us. Only work in the
Cause that we love will hasten the growth of those spiritual
qualities that we have already in potency, and in time, the
"Roche Limit" will disappear altogether.
It would appear then that undue striving is not the answer. We
have no reason to worry about it. As we learn to give of our
best, we discover that these things are not as remote as we had
thought. The spiritual life is with us always, and as we grow,
we find new opportunities for service. That is all that matters.
WHY TEMPORIZE WITH THE ENEMIES OF OUR OWN HOUSEHOLD?
By R. Machell
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, December 1920, pages 560-66.]
One of the first things that a student of Theosophy learns is the
duality of human nature; and the learning of this lesson brings
about a complete change in his position with regard to enemies
and friends: for the duality in nature must be taken into account
in every case, including his own personality. In fact, it
necessitates a complete change in his estimate of those he
considers to be his enemies or his friends.
Later he will come to realize that his worst enemies are
precisely those that have crept into his own household in the
guise of friends, and he will in time perhaps decide that his
real household is within his own personality. He may then come
to understand that it is only the enemies in his own character
that can really injure him or allow him to be hurt. Truly, a
man's worst enemies are they of his own household.
Opposition calls out strength and develops the most desirable
qualities in one who is struggling against a host of supposed
enemies. Even in the midst of the battle, the fighter may learn
that defeat can only come to him by the treachery of some of his
own. It has been well said, "Protect me from my friends, and I
will defend myself against my enemies."
"Love your enemies!" is an injunction that is seldom understood
when first heard. It is an impossibility to love one's enemies,
without, in the act, changing the attitude of mind that saw
enmity in the opposition that in fact is necessary to one's
growth. Opposition is not really enmity. Perhaps the injunction
to love one's enemies should be changed in form, and the word
'understand' should be substituted for 'love.' There is a French
saying: "Tout comprendre c'est tout pardonner," "to understand is
to forgive." When a man understands his own nature and that of
other people, he becomes strangely tolerant of their opposition
and strangely bitter against the treachery of false friends,
those of his own household. To understand one's own nature fully
is perhaps the last word of human wisdom. The first step in that
direction is to recognize that it is at least a duality, and
probably a complexity of a sevenfold character, but the duality
is enough to begin with.
To realize that there is the possibility of untold good and
undreamed of evil in one's own heart is to take a big step
towards the understanding of life and its problems. Then the
determined identification of self with the good side of this
complexity, which we call ourselves, enables one to see the
possibility of good in another, who may be for the moment wholly
under the influence of his lower nature. Such a person becomes
at once an object of pity rather than of aversion. And when one
sees the beauty of a soul peeping out through a veil of iniquity,
one can no longer hate the victim of delusion who acts like an
This kind of tolerance is not the same as temporizing with
recognized evil. On the contrary, it is the clear distinction
between the two natures. To be in a state of enmity is to be
deluded by one's own lower nature. To meet attacks strongly and
determinedly does not entail looking on one's opponents with
hatred or enmity nor does a fight with one's own lower nature
require one to assume an attitude of self-contempt or of
To confess oneself to be a miserable sinner is to identify one's
self with the deluded lower nature, which asks nothing better
than to be mistaken for the real self. The confident assertion
of one's own divinity, even when one is fully aware of the as yet
unconquered strength of the lower nature, is an assumption of an
attitude that goes far to secure the victorious realization of
what may at first seem but an empty boast.
To see clearly, one must open one's eyes; to go forward one must
stand up; to grovel in the dust of self-abasement is to stay down
with a fair chance of being run over where one lies in the mud of
a false humility. I think that true humility is only possible to
one who has a clear comprehension of his own essential divinity,
and a full realization of the essential divinity of every other
human soul. For the ordinary mortal, humility is merely
hypocrisy, an attempt of pride to escape detection. It is an
accentuation of egotism. The true humility is simply
self-forgetfulness, which is of very rare occurrence.
But how are we to know the enemies of our own household? How can
we distinguish friends from enemies when both are so near?
Theosophy teaches that man is divine in essence; but it is
evident that there are very many self-styled Theosophists whose
essential divinity is completely masked by a very earthly lower
nature, which latter in some cases attains to almost unearthly
ugliness. And it is such as these that are often loud in their
talk of brotherly love and in their profession of wide tolerance
for the most abominable abuses. Such as these are indeed enemies
in the Theosophical household, and they must be treated as such
or they will mislead others more ignorant than themselves. No
wise man fears opposition; what he dreads is treachery. The real
enemy of Theosophy knows this and works accordingly.
Theosophy is spiritual wisdom; and the enemy is the monster
egotism. It is pride, ambition, selfishness; and it works by
subtle insinuation, by argument and criticism in order to destroy
faith, and to foster suspicion.
It has been said that self is the enemy of Self, and in that lies
the difficulty of dealing with the danger. Without the knowledge
of the duality in human nature, the problem would be eternally
insoluble. It was to meet this difficulty no doubt that the
churches or their founders invented a devil and a personal God
that might serve as symbols of the internal duality in man but
that soon came to be looked upon as external realities.
How can we distinguish our enemies from our friends in the
strange confusion that exists in the human heart at this stage of
We must first learn to distinguish the two forces constantly at
work in our own nature before we can recognize either friend or
enemy outside with any degree of certainty. Yet we have been
given instruction in such works as THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE and
LIGHT ON THE PATH from which we can fashion a simple test. The
touchstone of right action is purpose, and this can be tested by
the selfishness or the selflessness of the life or by the general
trend and bearing of the teaching and counsel offered by those
who pose as teachers, guides, or critics. To apply such a test
safely, a man must first have proved its value as a test for his
All the troubles of man come from this one cause, the delusion of
self, which causes us to mistake the false self or the
personality for the true Self, which is universal. This mistake
leads to the struggle for self-aggrandizement, which is the
effort of each particular self to get for itself more of the
things desired than naturally falls to his lot, or to protect his
possessions from the greed of others.
All modern civilizations have been built up on some such basis of
personal competition. The 'struggle for existence' has been used
as an excuse for the struggle for possessions; and this struggle
is now destroying civilization before our eyes. It is the
glorification of the false self, the attempt to put the illusive
personal self in the place of the universal spiritual and
selfless self for whom we now can hardly find a name, so utterly
has it been forgotten in the world. Therefore we preach
brotherhood and practice it. The life of the Theosophist who is
on the right path is a path of progress towards the elimination
of all merely selfish motives and the substitution of the ideal
of service for that of self-aggrandizement.
One illustration of the rightness of this line of
self-development is the happiness that results from working with
nature instead of against her laws. The constitution of our
organization declares that brotherhood is a fact in nature and
asserts as the first object of the Society the demonstration that
it is a fact in nature and the making of it a living power in the
life of humanity. The need of this teaching has been widely
recognized, but many men seem to believe that brotherhood can be
established by violence, which is a manifest delusion. The
reason why nations are willing to go to war in the interest of
peace is that 'the enemy in the household' has played upon the
love of power and the desire for authority in the hearts of the
people to lead them on to self-destruction, deluding them with
the lure of self-aggrandizement, which is spiritual suicide or
the triumph of the lower self.
A man who is completely under the domination of his lower nature
is insane whether he be declared mad or not, and a nation is as
surely insane when selfish motives control its policy. It is on
the path of self-destruction. We have only to read the events of
history to see the truth of this. And we can see clearly that
fine phrases are no protection against the evils that spring
naturally from wrong action.
We have seen that the enemy of our own household is always ready
to wave the flag of altruism, or patriotism, or even of peace
while stirring up trouble that must end in war. We must search
our own hearts to find the real motives for our own acts, and
having learned to recognize the enemy there, we may know him
again when we meet him in the wider field of national life. When
we meet him, we must not temporize with him out of respect for
his fine clothing or his venerable appearance. The path of
progress is the path of effort and of obstacles to be overcome,
but the real enemy is not the opponent who openly challenges the
pioneer or the reformer. The real enemy is rather the false
friend who seeks to stand well with both sides hoping to draw
profit from both or aspiring, perhaps, to rise to power by
playing one party against another.
Theosophy has been openly attacked by sincere opponents who in
their attempts to shake its foundations have actually done good
service to the cause of truth by spreading knowledge of its
fundamental principles and by the very arguments they have used
to refute the ancient teachings. Such opponents are the friends
of truth and will find their place in the ranks of true
Theosophists some day.
But very different are the attacks that come in the guise of
devotion to principles while insinuating criticism of the
Theosophical teachers who have led the movement. Such enemies
nearly wrecked the Society during Madame Blavatsky's lifetime,
and the most venomous of the attacks against her leadership were
made under cover of a professed devotion to the principles of
Theosophy or to those who were her teachers.
Similar attacks shortened the life of her successor William Q.
Judge, but failed to disintegrate the Society. And when Mr.
Judge appointed Katherine Tingley as his successor, he bequeathed
to her a legacy of the same kind. The enemies who first attacked
her were of the Theosophical household, and they professed the
deepest devotion to the principles of Theosophy, merely seeking
to destroy the outer and visible head of the Movement in order to
replace her by another of their own selection. But Katherine
Tingley did not temporize with these enemies; she forced them to
declare themselves thus putting them where they belonged in the
ranks of open opponents whose open attacks could only serve to
strengthen the Movement.
She has constantly worked to force secret enemies out into the
open where they may have an opportunity to see themselves in a
true light and where they will be powerless for evil. In doing
this, she is helping them to find themselves, and is not seeking
to punish them. The idea of punishment is one that is foreign to
Theosophy: for the law of Karma takes care of all readjustments
in human affairs. It leaves the Theosophist free to forgive the
enemy and ready to help him again to find the path when the time
comes for his return to sanity in this life or in a later one.
Insanity is invariably characterized by an accentuation of
vanity, egotism, pompous pride, or abject self-contempt. Self in
some exaggerated form fills the whole field of consciousness --
self-exaltation, self-indulgence, self-mortification, and
self-destruction. And as egotism is the dominant note of human
character at this stage of man's evolution on earth, this kind of
general insanity has led many a philosopher to speak of this
earth as a vast lunatic asylum. In the same way, many of the
ancients looked upon the Sun as the home of man's spiritual
consciousness and as the source of spiritual illumination. But
they were careful to explain that the true Sun is not the visible
solar disk or orb nor was the moon that we see the real source of
the disturbing influence supposed to emanate from the true moon.
Duality was recognized in these forces also.
If we study, life we are bound to find evidence of the duality in
everything. And nowhere is it more marked than in our own human
nature, for man is at a turning point in evolution and seems to
be vacillating continually between opposing forces as if he had
lost his bearings and had forgotten the object of his existence.
And this general kind of insanity has been aggravated by the
horrors of the last few years so that there is an enormous
increase of insanity that has not yet been officially recognized
as such because it is so general. It is called by many polite
names and is attributed to many causes, but it shows itself in a
loss of mental balance that incapacitates a man for right
thinking and clear judgment.
In such a condition, a man is peculiarly open to suggestion and
is liable to be seriously influenced by his supposed friends,
'they of his own household,' who have their own desires to serve.
These suggestions, coming from such a source as that of a trusted
friend or relative, may be accepted unconsciously and adopted
without question until the man's whole nature has been perverted
from its original honesty. Vanity may help to blind him and to
convince him that he is thinking for himself all the time, while
in reality he is being ' led by the nose' in ignominious slavery
because of his failure to recognize the duality in himself and in
his intimate associates.
Some one of these otherwise lovable friends may have allowed the
lower nature to get control and under this influence may have
developed characteristics entirely unworthy of the higher side of
the nature thus becoming an enemy while still holding the
position of trusted friend and counselor. Such a one should be
brought face to face with this false self and given the chance to
recover self-control so as to paralyze the evil influence. But
who shall do this if the one most concerned refuses to see the
facts and fails to realize that the true self of the trusted
friend is temporarily at the mercy of a lunatic, an egotist --
crafty, cunning, ambitious, and malignant?
It takes courage and determination to face such a situation, and
a weak man will probably temporize and excuse and will end by
submitting to the evil influence, which he should have
immediately recognized and challenged as the enemy in disguise.
These tragedies are of constant occurrence and cause utter
bewilderment to those who have no sufficient philosophy of life
to help them.
It must also be remembered that weak-willed people are liable to
be unaccountably and suddenly invaded by impulses to commit
actual crimes that would horrify the normal mind of the one to
whom they come perhaps as messages from some spiritual source,
being in fact but the floating thoughts of vicious natures thrown
off in moments of passion, like moral disease germs, that fasten
on a weak-willed victim and make him their tool. Such things are
not mere fancies, but rather are the common facts of daily
It was to make men and women strong and clean and self-reliant
and proof against such suggestions that Katherine Tingley created
the Raja-Yoga School in which children are taught the duality of
their own nature and are trained to combine all their faculties
in one harmonious whole and to place this beautiful human
instrument at the disposal of the spiritual self or the real
self. To accomplish the complete mastery of the lower by the
higher is the aim of Raja-Yoga. One who has attained to this
perfection is a god-like being in comparison with the helpless
hysterical creatures that are to be met on every side today in
True Raja-Yoga does not temporize with the enemies of its own
household, but rather challenges them to come out and show their
true character. Raja-Yoga is uncompromising in dealing with
enemies of this kind but is also compassionate in resisting the
evil without retaliation or desire to punish. In the pure
atmosphere of Raja-Yoga, justice and mercy are seen as but two
aspects of the one harmony that is perhaps beyond the reach of
ordinary terms to express. And Raja-Yoga, as practiced at Point
Loma, is no dream, but rather a rule of life that makes life
worth living, a thing of joy and beauty. In Raja-Yoga, there is
no temporizing with the enemies of our own household. The
enemies are challenged.
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application