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THEOSOPHY WORLD ----------------------------------- November, 2007
An Internet Magazine Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy
And its Practical Application in the Modern World
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(Please note that the materials presented in THEOSOPHY WORLD are
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"Point Loma Theosophical Library Collection Burns," by Ken Small
"Technical Theosophy," by G. de Purucker
"Plotinus: His Life and Teachings," by B.V. Narayana Reddy
"Thoughts on Theosophy," by Boris de Zirkoff
"The Path of Chelaship," by G. de Purucker
"The Necessity for Reincarnation," by W.Q. Judge
"Out in the Open" by F.M. Pierce
"Wind of the Spirit," by G. de Purucker
"A Talk on Theosophy: What is it," by Caritas
"The Allegory of the Cup," by Katherine Hillard
> Now let the Silence speak! O Scarred and Dewed
> With this world's tangled conflicts, fare you well
> On that high path nor speech nor song can tell
> Whose nobleness, nor there may thought intrude!
> Only, transcending thought our hearts' deep mood,
> Crystallized with death's pure presence here, may spell
> Some word, what healing benedictions dwell
> There 'neath the Aeolian wings of Quietude;
> And we may guess you, all your proud heart dreamed
> -- Your warrior heart -- of lofty, stainless, true;
> And that peace found, you wandered here to seek,
> When on your anguish sudden radiance gleamed,
> And the starred Vast leaned down and beckoned you,
> And you arose and heard the Silence speak . . .
> -- Kenneth Morris, "Now Let the Silence Speak," from THE
> THEOSOPHICAL PATH, May 1926, page 500.
POINT LOMA THEOSOPHICAL LIBRARY COLLECTION BURNS
By Ken Small
I have very unfortunate news. The recent fire consumed virtually
all of PLP's back inventory and eighty percent of the library and
collection. (Some books and all the archive of photos and art
work are safe, and some archive originals at another location.)
Fortunately, a complete copy of the archive was made about six
years ago, although much original material was lost.
The fire storm came through at over 1000 degrees so everything
burned from the inside out with near 100 mph winds according to
the fire department Sunday night (October 21). This fire burned
around 80,000 acres during last week in San Diego County. A
second fire burned almost 200,000 acres in the north part of the
The nature of things is impermanence. The wisdom lives on. Even
so, safeguarding the literature of the Theosophical Movement for
future generations is paramount in keeping some of that wisdom
accessible. To that end we are initiating, with the cooperation
of Theosophical friends and groups in the United States and
Europe, a project to digitally scan the entire Point Loma
literary heritage. We also hope for financial support in this
For more information, to offer support, or to make a
contribution, find more information on the PLP website
(http://www.wisdomtraditions.com), which should appear next week,
or write email@example.com. The best contact address is
Point Loma Publications, 4060 Adams Avenue, San Diego, CA 92116,
As the project develops, we will also be rebuilding the library
and establishing long term centers in different locations for
Theosophical study, research, and practice.
The following poem by the Irish mystic-theosophist, George
Russell (AE), gives vision to the inner dimension of fire,
transformation and immortality:
> We must pass like smoke or live within the spirit s fire;
> For we can no more than smoke unto the flame return
> If our thought has changed to dream, our will unto desire,
> As smoke we vanish though the fire may burn.
> Lights of infinite pity star the grey dusk of our days:
> Surely here is soul: with it we have eternal breath:
> In the fire of love we live, or pass by many ways,
> By unnumbered ways of dream to death.
PLOTINUS: HIS LIFE AND TEACHINGS
By B.V. Narayana Reddy
[From THE ARYAN PATH, May 1965, pages 204-08.]
Plotinus was a philosopher with many facets. He was a profound
thinker, who systematized the teaching of his great master Plato
and brought out its mystical and religious significance. He was
a man of the world to whom men submitted their differences and
disputes for a just solution. He was father to the orphan and
the widow, whose worldly possessions he safeguarded by his
prudence and care. He was a mystic who sought inspiration by
daily communion with the Eternal. He lived a life of such purity
that men who came in contact with him reverenced him like a god.
It was not without justification that the oracle of Apollo raised
this undying song to his memory:
> I raise an undying song, to the memory of a gentle friend, a hymn
> of praise woven to the honey-sweet tones of my lyre under the
> touch of the golden plectrum. Celestial! Man at first, but now
> nearing the diviner ranks! The bonds of human necessity are
> loosened for you and, strong of heart, you beat your eager way
> from out the roaring tumult of the fleshly life to the shores of
> that wave-washed coast free from the thronging of the guilty,
> thence to take the grateful path of the sinless soul. Oft-times,
> when your mind thrust out awry and was like to be rapt down in
> unsanctioned paths, the Immortals themselves prevented, guiding
> you on the straight going-way to the celestial spheres, pouring
> down before you a dense shaft of light that your eyes might see
> from amid the mournful gloom. Sleep never closed those eyes.
> High above the heavy murk of the mist you held them. Tossed in
> the welter, you still had vision. Still you saw sights many and
> fair not granted to all that labor in wisdom's quest.
Plotinus himself tells us nothing about his life in his own
writings. He would never say anything about his parents or
birthplace; and he often said that he was ashamed of being in the
body. He showed, too, an unconquerable reluctance to sit to a
painter or sculptor, and when Amelius persisted in urging him to
allow a portrait to be made, he asked him, "Is it not enough to
carry about this image in which nature has enclosed us? Do you
really think I must also consent to leave, as a desirable
spectacle to posterity, an image of the image?" Porphyry, his
friend and biographer, however, tells us that a good portrait of
his was painted in his lifetime without his knowledge; but there
is no evidence that a copy of it exists.
Nothing definite is known of his place of birth, but it has been
generally assumed that he came from Egypt. According to the best
available evidence, his date of birth seems to have been A.D.
205. He began the study of philosophy rather late in life, and
the teacher who influenced him most was Ammonius Saccas. He
spent over a decade with this teacher and, at the age of
thirty-nine, he developed a desire to study Persian and Indian
philosophy and joined the Emperor Gordian's expedition to the
East in the hope that he might meet competent teachers during the
course of his stay in Persia and India. There is, however, no
evidence that he was able to visit these countries, as the
expedition was a failure, and the Emperor himself was murdered in
Mesopotamia early in A.D. 244.
About the age of forty, Plotinus settled in Rome and began to
teach philosophy. During the next decade or so, his fame as a
great thinker was firmly established, and he was honored by the
friendship of the Emperor Gallienus and his wife and of many
other famous men and scholars from all over the Roman Empire. He
did not, however, take any active part in public life, though men
and women of the highest rank sought his advice in their personal
problems and found in him a sagacious friend and guide.
He was easily accessible to rich and poor alike, and his house
was full of young people of whose education and properties he was
in charge. He was meticulous in his care of their property and
spent long hours in scrutinizing the accounts that were submitted
to him on behalf of his wards. During his long stay of over a
quarter of a century in Rome, he acted as arbitrator in various
disputes between private and official parties, but never once was
his judgment or fairness impugned by anybody.
Plotinus never enjoyed robust health. His eyesight was bad and
his austere habits and long sleepless hours spent in
contemplation were a terrible strain on his physical resources.
In A.D. 269 the illness from which he suffered became so much
worse that he left Rome for the country estate of his friend
Zethus in Campania, and he died there in A.D. 270. The illness
of which he died has been identified as a form of leprosy.
He bore his sufferings with great equanimity, and when death
came, he faced it like the wise, great man he was. Of these last
moments, his friend Eustochius has given a touching account. He
was staying at Puteoli and was late in arriving. When, at last,
he came, Plotinus said, "I have been a long time waiting for you.
I am striving to give back the Divine in me to the Divine in the
All." As he spoke, a snake crept under the bed on which he lay
and slipped away into a hole in the wall. At the same moment,
It was the wise Socrates who told his mourning friends that the
true philosopher has reason to be of good cheer when he is about
to die, and that the votary of philosophy is always pursuing
death and dying. The truth of this statement is exemplified in
the manner of Plotinus' death. Great men, who have lived nobly,
develop a profound insight into the truth of things as they reach
the end of their earthly pilgrimage, and of the pregnant sayings
attributed to them during their last moments, the words of the
dying Plotinus to his friend are among the most profound -- "I am
striving to give back the Divine in me, to the Divine in the
All." These words epitomize in a small compass the fundamental
teaching of Plotinus.
His basic position is that reality is fundamentally One, not in
the arithmetical sense, which is the opposite of "many," but as
the transcendent and immanent reality from which all things
emanate and into which all things merge. It is the matrix of all
things, spiritual, mental, and material, and all other
conceivable and inconceivable states of being. The One has no
parts and cannot be taken apart or destroyed. It is beyond time
and space. It involves no conflicts because it is beyond all
opposites. It is nameless because to name it implies finitude
and limitation. It cannot be the object of thought, because
thought involves the duality of subject and object. It would be
inaccurate even to say that the One exists, because existence
implies limitation. Nevertheless language has to be used to
express the inexpressible, and when we speak and write of the
One, we must always bear in mind the limitations of language and
its inadequacy to convey ultimate truths.
The close resemblance of the thought of Plotinus to the Vedantic
conception of Brahman or the Buddhist idea of Tathata (sometimes
translated "Suchness") should be obvious. The Buddha referred to
this reality in these solemn words:
> There is a not-born, a not-become, a not-created, a not-formed.
> If there is not this not-born, this not-become, this not-created,
> this not-formed, then here an escape from the born, the become,
> the created, the formed could not be known.
The One is the primal reality in which there is no imperfection,
no duality, and no limitation; and yet there is imperfection in
the world in which we live. How is this explained? According to
Plotinus, all things must exist forever in ordered dependence
upon one another. Those other than the One have come into being
because it is a law of necessary production that each principle
must produce the level of being immediately below it as a
necessary consequence of its own existence. Perfection would
cease to have any meaning unless there were imperfect things in
the world. Imperfection is thus created by a process of
emanation and is derived from the One by a process of logical
Finite existence is therefore a progressive falling away from the
original perfection. The process may be compared to the shining
of a bright light which illumines the darkness without itself
losing any of its brightness or to a cup overflowing because its
contents are infinite and cannot be confined within it. The
brightness of the light decreases in intensity until it loses
itself in the surrounding darkness, and the overflow from the
perennial spring becomes a mere trickle the further it travels
from the central source.
Accordingly the primeval One manifests itself as the Nous in its
first stage of descent from the original state of perfection.
The word "Nous" has been variously translated as the Intellectual
Principle by Stephen MacKenna, as Spirit by Dean Inge, and as the
Rational Mind by others. Perhaps the best equivalent is the word
"Spirit" used by Dean Inge. Nous or the Logos is the first image
of the One, it is His image as the First Thinker. Inseparable
from the Thinker are his first thoughts, which subsist in the
spiritual world. The thoughts of God, which Plato called
"Ideas," are the eternal realities of all that is manifested or
manifestable. For example, the "Idea" of treeness is the
producing cause of an infinite number of trees and thus too with
all other things. "Here" they are in part, particularized, and
separated, but "there" they are perfect, universal, and united.
Nous is, accordingly, the kingdom of all absolute verities,
permanent values, and ultimate attributes. It is the realm of
ideas, ideals, and archetypes. It is both essence and existence.
The next stage in the manifestation of the One is the Soul -- the
Oversoul or World Soul. The Soul is essentially a unity, unlike
Matter, which is essentially a Plurality. The unity of the
Universal Soul does not, however, exclude the plurality of souls.
Individual souls are comprehended in the Universal Soul. The
entire Universe, including the stars and galaxies, is held in
place by the unifying nature of the Universal Soul in the same
manner as the activities of the human body are held in harmony by
the individual soul. In other words, the Soul is a Plural-Unity
which enters into relation with all beings and things. The Soul
pervades the universe as it also pervades the human body, but it
is difficult to explain the precise character of the Soul's
relations with its vehicles. When the soul enters into relations
with the body, it becomes individual though universal. It is as
if someone who was expert in a whole science confined himself to
a single proposition. It is as if the fire which is endowed with
the power of burning everything touched some small object and
burnt it up.
The last and final stage in the descent of the One is the
material world. The world of matter is a relative, conditioned,
and limited reflex of the spiritual world. It is subject to
change, growth, decay, and death. Therefore it is spatial and
temporal. Matter, as such, never is. It is always becoming,
without ever persisting in its condition or being able to come
out of it. But it can never pass into nothingness. It is
indestructible. It either reverts to its primal condition or it
fulfills its true purpose as the recipient of order by being
gradually redeemed in the regenerating process set up by the Soul
when consciously converted into Spirit.
> How does this process of liberation or ascent from matter to
> Soul, from Soul to Nous, and from Nous to the One take place? The
> Plotinian path to liberation is three-fold, viz., through the
> True, the Good, and the Beautiful. In the True, the intelligible
> unity of all things is revealed. In the Good, the harmony and
> order of life is manifested. But in the Beautiful is the final
> perfection and consummation of all. Hence the soul rejoices when
> it beholds the Truth and is happy when it is in harmony with the
> Good, but its highest experiences are those wherein it beholds
> the Supreme Beauty.
> How do we come to the vision of the inaccessible Beauty, dwelling
> as if in consecrated precincts and remote from the common ways,
> where all might see, even the profane? He that has strength, let
> him arise and withdraw into himself, foregoing all that is known
> by the eyes, turning away forever from the material beauty that
> once made his joy. When he perceives those shapes of grace that
> show in body, let him not pursue. He must know them for copies,
> vestiges, shadows, and hasten away towards what they tell of . .
> . And this inner vision, what is its operation? Newly awakened,
> it is all too feeble to learn the ultimate splendor. Therefore
> the Soul must be trained to the habit of remarking, first all
> noble pursuits, and then the works of beauty produced not by the
> labor of the arts but by the virtue of men known for their
> goodness, and lastly you must search the souls of those that have
> shaped these beautiful forms.
> But how are you to see into the virtuous soul and know its
> loveliness? Withdraw into yourself and look. And if you do not
> find yourself beautiful yet, act as does the creator of a statue
> that is to be made beautiful: he cuts away here, he smoothes
> there, he makes this line lighter, this other purer, until a
> lovely face has grown upon his work. So do you also. Cut away
> all that is excessive, straighten all that is crooked, bring
> light to all that is overcast, labor to make all one glow of
> beauty, and never cease chiseling your statue until there shall
> shine out on you from it the God-like splendor of virtue, and you
> shall see the perfect goodness surely established in the
> stainless shrine.
By G. de Purucker
[From MESSAGES TO CONVENTIONS, pages 207-11.]
I want to point out the extreme need of disseminating technical
Theosophical teachings in the outside world of men and women; and
by 'outside world,' I mean those who are not privileged to study
together as we do. That is the only sense in which I use the
word 'outside.' There are millions whose place, spiritually and
intellectually, is here amongst us. But we have not succeeded in
giving them the chance yet; we have not yet been able, with our
teachings, to reach their imaginations, their hunger for more
light, for more truth. Their lives are already founded in ethics
and they are ethically inclined. They have the ethics of the
magnificent religions and philosophies in the world, and they
have the instincts of decency in the human heart. What they need
is the technical Theosophy to show them the HOW and WHY and WHAT
-- something that can be achieved only by giving them and making
them to love the STUDY of our technical Theosophical doctrines.
Why do the Avatars come amongst us? To help us who to them are
spirits in chains of matter, to raise ourselves out of the
condition in which are those whom Pythagoras called the "Living
Dead," into at least genuinely good men and women whose lives are
good because they are ENSOULED, in other words, who have a
conception of spirituality and who love it, and in loving it,
Faint indeed must be the whisperings of the spirit within you if
a picture like this does not arouse something within you as it
did in me when first as a child or boy I was taught it again in
this life, in this embodiment. Then it was that I first
dedicated my life to Theosophy.
What is the burden of all the teachings of all our great god-like
men? Feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, and clothe the
naked, comfort the heavy-laden. Do you think this means merely
material benefits? It means aid and feed the naked and suffering
and hungry SOULS of men -- as well as their bodies. If we can
arouse by our Theosophical work, working under the mandate that
we have received, sufficient enthusiasm along these lines,
sufficient to change the thoughts and hearts of men, all the
material wants of all mankind will be taken care of because men
will no longer allow their fellow human beings to suffer the
All these latter things are needed, but they sink into utter
insignificance compared with the majestic drama of the human soul
swinging between spirit and matter, between Divinity and Avichi.
And often, too much of the good things of life, too much
concentration of thought and mind, too much devotion unto the
material things, are dangerous because they concentrate the
attention on and attachment to material things alone, and there
is danger in this.
Notice that the Buddha, Jesus the Avatar, or Krishna went around
establishing things like soup-kitchens, charitable organizations,
or hospitals, great and beautiful though such often are. They
were feeding and raising the hungry souls of men. They were
ministering to the intellectual wants of their fellowmen. They
were clothing their spiritual nakedness with the sheaths of
consciousness, the garments of truth, knowing that when they did
these things, a multitude thus ensouled would attend to the
material wants of our fellow human beings.
Not that I decry soup-kitchens and things like that! Sometimes
they are very needed; but when I hear people ask me: "Well, you
Theosophists talk about loving your fellowmen and you believe in
Universal Brotherhood. Why don't you establish soup-kitchens, do
philanthropic work among the poor, and visit hospitals?" Our
answer is obvious: We have done it, and we are doing it as much
as we can as individuals, and will do much more of it when we get
the millions upon millions of the wealth of the churches, or the
philanthropic organizations. But what we are doing is cutting at
the root which brings these physical material wants, needs, and
lacks into being. In other words, we work mainly to change men's
minds and hearts.
What produces the poverty amongst us, and the illnesses, the
untended material wants, the exactions on the poor and the weak
who are the least able to respond to exactions? It is human
cruelty, human selfishness, human weaknesses, human
thoughtlessness, the lack of an active warm beating heart feeling
the woes of the world. Correct these and you cut at the roots of
all the material evils of mankind. That is what the Great Ones
of the earth have always done. They cut at the root of the evil,
knowing that when they get the multitudes together in a common
ideal, if the multitudes are faithful, these other things will be
Now, don't go to extremes. The next time you hear the cry for
food, physical food, or the cry for a cup of water, don't say:
"No, I am doing Master's work on a higher plane. Go elsewhere to
him or her, and he or she will attend to your wants." Take what
comes in your daily work and set the example of universal pity
and helpfulness, but remember that these noble philanthropic
material things will automatically come about if we first take
care of the greater things.
It is really a terrible situation. The materialization of our
age has become frenzied, so frenzied that there are millions of
men and women in the world of today who have no patience with
things of the spirit. They are utter materialists; they think
there is no good in anything except what will benefit the human
body. That is wrong and distorted, and as evil-working a state
of mind as is the mind of those frenetic spiritualists in the
other sense of the word, who want to be up in the clouds all the
time, and will not even give a cup of cold water to a man whose
body is thirsting. There are such.
When you remember that the majority of our fellow human beings
are destined for two things, unconsciousness, with no progress,
and no further light, and no further help for eons and eons and
eons unless they get spiritual enlightenment and intellectual
help; or on the other hand, destined to the annihilation of the
Planet of Death or of Avichi -- what is your reaction? I put it
to you. I think these things ought to be talked from the
housetops, preached all the time, brought to notice on every
occasion possible. It does not matter two pins if people mock.
The average man and woman today likes, like the Athenians of old,
to hear something new; and even if a smile of incomprehension
comes to the face -- mark you the first time you attended a
Theosophical gathering, and consider what your reaction possibly
was. For all you know, you may be sowing seeds of thought every
time you utter a technical Theosophical teaching.
So wonderfully appealing and persuasive are they that no matter
how much a man may grin, hesitate, argue, and even mock perhaps
at first, it may be for months, the seed sown will germinate some
day. You may have saved that human soul and you know what I mean
by 'saving.' For pity's sake, when you talk about philanthropy,
raise this grand old Greek word to the plane where we understand
it, and don't think that the giving of glasses of water, or mush
and sausages, or soup and stale bread is going to save souls. I
have seen these things done so mechanically and soullessly that
it was almost an insult to the receiver, and a disgrace to the
giver. I have seen it, and have blushed.
Of course I don't say all the philanthropy of human beings is
like that. Undoubtedly there are thousands and thousands of
noble men and women in the world who have never heard a word of
genuine Theosophical teaching, whose hearts ache for the
sufferings of their fellows, and who do what they can. But I am
talking of mechanical charity, and the charity which humiliates
when it is given.
What we want is to do away with the need of charity, and you will
never succeed in this until you change men's hearts and their
minds. The multi-millionaire who endows a College or a
University or some scientific institution with several millions
which he could spare perhaps as easily as the wealthiest among us
could spare a few dollars, and immediately sees his name in the
newspapers, may be doing far less good for his fellowman than the
poor woman at the cottage door who will give of the little she
has to the wayfarer who may come and knock. The latter act is
true human sympathy. The other may or may not be commendable.
I tell you this: it is my own pet dogma. I don't believe you
will get any genuine spiritual brotherhood, no matter what the
form of the power behind the movement, which is not based on
spirituality and Theosophy. You will get mechanics and political
theories and emotional outbreaks of charitable people. And these
are often more dangerous than they are workers of good, because
their whole concentration is on the things of the body. It is
needful to have the body cared for, undoubtedly.
Nobody questions it for a moment. But look here. You can feed a
man's body and starve his soul to death. You can give him work
and kill his spirit. You can give him a job and clothe him well
and guarantee him against the cold of winter and the heat of
summer, and you can starve that man to death. You may have made
a lost soul out of him. Why? It is because the concentration
here is solely on the things of matter. When Jesus spoke of
"feeding my little ones," do you think he meant babies? Children?
"Little ones" is an old occult term for disciples, learners, as
children are; loving as children are; receiving as children do,
and therefore "little ones." And such -- and I say this with
deepest reverence for human hearts and minds -- and such, I
repeat, are all those millions who wait hungrily to be fed the
bread of life and the water of inspiration that Theosophy,
technical Theosophy, only can satisfy.
THOUGHTS ON THEOSOPHY
By Boris de Zirkoff
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, May 1926, pages 432-36.]
> In Lebensfluthen, im Thatensturm
> Wall' ich auf und ab,
> Webe hin und her!
> Geburt und Grab,
> Ein ewiges Meer,
> Ein wechselnd Weben,
> Ein gluhend Leben,
> So schaff' ich am sausenden Websthul der Zeit,
> Und wicke der Gottheit lebendiges Kleid.
> -- Goethe, FAUST, "Song of the Earth-Spirit"
One of the signs of the time is the keen interest in the name of
Theosophy and the meaning of this term, awakened nowadays all
over the world, in every nation and in every land. People begin
to feel, unconsciously to themselves, the mysterious 'something'
which lies behind the mere name. They ask. They inquire. They
try to make clear to their minds and brain-intellects the
significance of that much-repeated and widely-spread word
"Theosophy" in order to satisfy their ever-burning desire for new
and unexplored domains of science and thought.
The period of absolute derision, of bold and foolish ridicule, of
the teachings of Theosophy is gone by. The enemies of human
progress and evolution have seen, have felt, have heard, and
understood that the mere ridicule of Truth does not kill her and
does not even hurt her validity in the slightest. Rejecting the
worn-out policy of ridiculing everything and everywhere, they, or
rather those who have inherited in the present generation the
tendency to criticize without previous knowledge of the subject
discussed, have resolved to question once for all in a more or
less tolerant and peaceful manner those who even in their opinion
happen to be acquainted with the tenets expounded under the name
And now, behold! Many of the enemies who thought their time was
best occupied by slandering the new revival of a world-wide and
ancient spiritual movement have even grasped something of the
true meaning of that doctrine, and from bitter enemies of the
Theosophical Movement have turned to be loyal friends of that
But we will not speak of the enemies alone, or of the friends and
sympathizers. We merely state that Theosophy, AS A NAME, has of
late penetrated into the minds and even hearts of men, whatever
their religious or philosophical views, whatever their opinions
and beliefs on the plane of intellectuality and thinking.
But the name is new (to the majority without learning or
scholarship) and THE EXPLANATIONS ARE MANY, and let us say it at
once, they are mostly contradictory and sometimes absurd to the
utmost. In the last six years, we have had the opportunity of
traveling in many countries. We have seen the states of minds
and the intellectual conditions prevailing among the masses of
many a nation in Europe and Asia, and we have especially directed
our attention and interest to the inner crave of the people we
met on our way.
Studying the need of the present civilization as represented by
different classes and levels of society down to the very bottom
of 'civilized' life, trying to define in a more or less practical
and true manner the necessities of the human intellect and the
food the human heart and soul were striving for, we realized more
and more that it was and that IT IS the teachings of the ancient
Wisdom-Religion brought to the western world by that great, that
extraordinary woman, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, in the seventies
of the past century.
We have also seen, and with the greatest sorrow and pain, the
misrepresentations and gross falsehoods which were and are sown
about by irresponsible and foolish persons concerning the pure,
the lofty, the sublime teachings of Theosophy, as presented by
its three Leaders in their works and IN THEIR LIVES AND DOINGS.
Summing up the numerous conditions, good and bad, that we have
been able to witness in the last few years, we must say that the
teachings of Theosophy are not understood in the right and true
way they OUGHT TO BE, if humanity is to outgrow its degeneration
and its fall into the mire of illusion and materiality.
Theosophy, the ancient Wisdom-Religion, is taken too often as a
mere philosophical doctrine, as a group of tenets referring to
the intellectual world, or the plane of pure speculation, and
metaphysical Babel-towers. It is useless to speak here of the
hundreds and thousands of misrepresentations and real
'hallucinations' about Theosophy which flourish once in a while
on the soil of human minds, but are, we hope, on the way to
self-destruction and annihilation in the ocean of their own
But we feel it proper to point to the terribly brain-mind methods
of popular inquiry into the teachings of Theosophy; we should
like to show as much as we can the real, vital meaning of the
tenets expounded by our three great Teachers -- H.P. Blavatsky,
W.Q. Judge, and Katherine Tingley.
The world is drowned in intellectualism and philosophical
conceptions, the one deep and splendid in its essence, the other
not worth even thinking about. This same world is still craving
for the same food, though the brightest minds of the present
civilization are already (and it is really not too early) feeling
the danger of the mere intellectual study and the nonsense of the
innumerable theories on the origin and evolution of the human
soul. If we take the teachings of Theosophy in the same
time-honored manner of a bulk of doctrines without any practical
application to the life we see around us and feel in ourselves,
well -- we had better drop it altogether and return to the grand
theory of hell and brimstone, lately deceased.
To the well-known definition of Theosophia as being (as a word)
composed of two Greek terms -- "theos" (God) and "Sophia"
(wisdom) -- somebody is said to have replied that in order to
understand this 'wisdom,' one has to be a sage oneself. "Oh!"
responded the learned friend, "do you consider yourself a fool?"
"Se non e vero, e molto ben trovato."
This is the greatest stumbling-block of many a person today. Man
thinks he is a fool and cannot understand a teaching which is A
LITTLE above the everyday banal and useless life of pleasure and
selfishness. BUT MAN IS NOT A FOOL; HE IS AS WISE AS THE SAGES
OF OLD TIMES, only this wisdom is hidden in the depths of his
soul and is so deep and so far from the consciousness of the
individual himself that he is ready to deny it at every moment
and laugh at those who would show him the way.
THEOSOPHY IS NOT A NEW RELIGION. It is not A religion at all.
Theosophy is not A science. It is not A philosophy, as the term
is understood all over the modern world in the sense of logical
deductions and analytical or synthetic definitions of pure
abstractions. It is not a cloak to hide some far-fetched ideas
and conceptions. But Theosophy is RELIGION itself, understood in
its original meaning of 'binding together' -- Man and his Divine
Essence. THEOSOPHY IS THE LAW OF LIFE, THE RULE OF RIGHT LIVING
-- and that is its practical significance for the world of today.
Fully to define Theosophy, we must consider it under all its
innumerable and multifarious aspects, from all its sides and
issues. But the real, full definition, or rather the knowledge
of the teachings, of Theosophy is not, as it is so often claimed,
dependent upon a brilliant intellect or upon a scholarship beyond
the common level of men's mind. Theosophy, although it reaches
the mind and illumines it with the great Light of Truth, that
Light which shines in darkness and bears witness to the majesty
and grandeur of Eternal Life -- Theosophy in its true, in its
most sacred and divine aspect, speaks to the soul of man; it
tells the old wisdom of the ages to his weary heart, and enters
therein like a perfume of another world, beyond the reach of the
banalities of life.
Theosophy shows to man the road of duty and love. It fashions
the impulses of his heart and being into one great whole,
imposing and strong. It means the regeneration of Humanity
through selflessness and devotion. It leads Man to the victory
of his Divinity amidst the struggle and battle of life.
Taken from this standpoint, Theosophy is a rock to which sooner
or later the whole of mankind will cling as to its unique and
last hope, on the ocean of brutal selfishness and ambition.
The great search of the present generation is not for new dogmas
and new theories; it is not for hypotheses on the metaphysical
meanings of such or such a term. It is not for the complicated
definitions of life. No! The search is for the Science of right
living. The wine of Brotherly Love is craved. Man looks all
over the world to find the solution of the great riddle of
existence and suffering and sorrow. Theosophy, the ancient
Wisdom of the earlier races, the mine of treasures and that
beacon-light of truth, gives that solution and opens the way of
knowledge and happiness.
The wave of spiritual rebirth is fast moving over the surface of
our world. It is like a tide which threatens to engulf the
shore; but it is a tide of new hope and new yearnings. It is a
wave of eternal youth. It is a flow which springs from the
source of being and brings with it the elixir of spiritual love.
With the light of Theosophy, a new era has opened for the
nations. A message of Truth and Hope had been sounded in the
silence of gloom and agony. It is the message of the gods
proclaiming the dawn of a brighter future. It is the
trumpet-blast of an age to come. And the world is gradually
awakening. It shudders in the depths of its hidden life. It
vibrates under the breath of the Spirit, which rushes on the
wings of Light, and coming from the depths of the unknown, a song
divine resounds over the old and weary globe. It is as if it
were the song of the Earth-Spirit acclaiming the approach of the
> In the tides of life,
> In action's storm,
> A fluctuant wave,
> Without form,
> Birth and grave,
> An eternal sea,
> A weaving, flowing
> Life, all-glowing.
Let us unite in this supreme reawakening of the Age. Let us look
straight ahead into the Face of the Future, with a clean
conscience and a pure motive, and strong in our endeavor to reach
the goal of Brotherhood and Love, inspired with the sublime Ideal
of Perfection; firm in our WILL as the rock that resists the
tempest, let us strive for the benefit of others and lay our
whole life and being on the One Altar of Truth.
The Path of Chelaship
By G. de Purucker
[From GOLDEN PRECEPTS, pages 123-39.]
Beautiful indeed is the bond between Teacher and Disciple: the
sense on the part of the disciple of utmost confidence and love,
so that nothing, he feels, could be hid from his Teacher's
knowledge; and on the part of the Teacher, the understanding, the
compassion, the love, yea sometimes and often indeed, the
commendation. If the disciple has gratitude towards his Teacher,
the Teacher in a sense has gratitude towards his disciple, for he
sees in him the growing life of a new Master of Compassion to
flower forth in the eons to come.
On the difficult path of discipleship the aspirant is sustained
by the love of his guide, but he must walk every step along the
pathway to victory alone. He is not carried there. Every step
he himself must take. In ordinary human existence we make our
own way in the world: we feed ourselves, we inform ourselves, we
train ourselves. If that is a necessity here, it is tenfold the
same necessity in the esoteric life. There must we ourselves win
everything; because we are simply bringing out what is within us;
our own will, our own consciousness, must become awakened, fully
awakened, and by our own efforts.
Spiritual light comes from within; the disciple does not receive
light -- the light of the spirit -- from outside. All that the
Teacher can do is to help the disciple to brush away the
enshrouding veils of selfhood. All spiritual illumination comes
to him now, and ever will come to him, from the Master within
himself. There is no other possible pathway to the Light. All
growth is from within; all illumination is from within; all
inspiration is from within; all initiation is from within.
Aspiration is real prayer; it is us constantly raising ourselves
from day to day, trying each day to go a little higher towards
the god within. This means harmony, inner harmony, peace.
Having harmony and peace within, in the mind, in the heart, that
state of mind and heart will reflect itself in the physical body
and the body will function harmoniously, which means that it will
function in health.
Moreover, an atmosphere of lofty conceptions and of kindly
thoughts clarifies and refines the auric atmosphere around every
human being, and it is the bounden duty of every disciple on the
Path to aspire towards high and noble things, for this refines
the atoms of the entire constitution.
The disciple should have always in mind the consciousness, the
brooding thought, of these teachings. This SUPER-CONSCIOUS mind
is the divine essence of the disciple, on and in which this
brooding consciousness dwells. Such is meditation: taking a
subject for thought and dwelling upon it in thought in an
impersonal way, meanwhile searching within for the answer, for
more light upon it; and if this method of meditation be
faithfully followed, finally light will come. Exercise makes it
so easy; habit endows it with such attractiveness, that finally
the time will come when one will be meditating all day long, even
though the hands may be busy with the daily tasks.
One does not need to go into his private chamber and to sit or
stand or lie and, with an effort of the will, try to whip the
brain to think of certain things. Concentration means centering
the mind on a point of thought or object of thought and holding
to it. It is easy to accomplish and the way to do it is to be
interested in a thing. Then the mind automatically will
concentrate itself on that thing.
But the best form of meditation is the constant thought,
yearning, aspiration, to be one's best, to live one's noblest,
and to keep this thought with one day and night. If this
yearning is derivative from the spirit of compassion, welling up
in the heart like a holy river of energy, it will lead one
quickly to the Gates of Gold.
The next step on the Path is taken when the disciple is ready: it
all depends upon the disciple; the Teacher can do nothing except
to awake him; the disciple is the one to decide. For when the
disciple is ready, the Teacher is waiting.
There comes a time in human evolution when a man or a woman
arrives at a point where he wants to concentrate all his energies
-- spiritual, intellectual, psychical, astral, vital, physical,
everything -- on one object, namely, to make himself a fit
servant and servitor of his fellow human beings without any other
distractions or calls of duty. This is called CHELASHIP: the
state of discipleship. But this path of discipleship is for the
Those who follow this pathway of spiritual progress and
illumination -- disciples of the esoteric life, living the
Chela-life -- have pledged themselves to give up self for the
world, to have no personal property, and to give up life and all
that there is to the holiest Cause they know. For these
disciples of the Life Beautiful non-resistance is right; they
have sworn never to strike back; never to lift a hand in
self-defense if the attack be on the Chela alone; never to
protect one's personal self against libel or slander, that is, if
it be only for the protection of the individual's personality; to
turn the other cheek when smitten; and give one's shirt also when
the cloak is asked. But even these Chelas are pledged to check
wrong, to stay the pathway of evil-doing, to stop it if possible,
when the evil-doing is directed against another; because an
esotericist will do for another person what he may never do for
Chelaship, or the training for Masterhood, is a strenuous and
heart-stirring work. Every step of it is joy, although at times
psychological reactions come which must be guarded against. The
Chela-life may be likened to the man who is engaged upon some
important, fascinating, most interesting, but very strenuous
physical work. He labors, he tires, the breath comes quick and
fast, the sweat bedews his brow, and bedews his body, but yet he
feels growing under his hand, as it were, a work of marvelous
beauty. He is inspired to give to it every ounce of strength
that is in him. The Chela knows that over the distant hills,
perhaps for him, if his karma is favorable, not so far distant,
there lies the Temple of Wisdom, and that its doors will open for
him if he can reach it, and reach it clean and strong. If he
reaches it with soiled feet, which feet that he has not washed
with the tears of his eyes and the blood of his heart, he must
retrace his steps, or wait until the time come when no longer
will the heart bleed, and no longer will the eyes be blinded with
the tears of selfish personal devotion to merely personal ends.
Then the eyes will be lightened with the undying inner flame, and
the heart will, as it were, beat only for others, because it will
be utterly self-forgetful. Then beauty, then inexpressible joy,
then unimaginable strength and peace will enter into his life.
Chelaship in itself is not difficult. In itself it is easy,
almost inexpressibly easy. It means giving up pain, giving up
sorrow, giving up anger, giving up lust, giving up selfishness,
giving up all the things that injure us and blind us and cripple
us and retard us. It means us being clean, sweet, fresh, pure,
and beautiful. It means beginning to live the life of an
incarnate god. It means becoming at one with one's inner god,
ever more and more; a little at first, a little more at the next
effort, and so forth; for at each effort the Chela gains more and
more of the inner light, of the inner life, of the inner
inspiration -- of the inner Buddhic Splendor. In other words, it
means becoming ever more and more at one with the inner Master.
In every human being there is now, even now, an exalted entity, a
Be self-forgetful; be impersonal and therefore unattached to
matter; be detached and therefore impersonal. Be great of heart
and great of soul, and then you can attain. Bear injustice with
equanimity, thereby you become magnanimous -- great of heart.
Never strike back; never retaliate; be silent; be patient.
Protect others; protect yourself not at all. Do not be swept
away ever by anger or passion. Not only do they not pay, but
thereby you make bad karma that one day you will have to meet and
Forgive injuries. With a heart filled with love for all that is,
and complete and perfect forgiveness of all injuries, past,
present and to come, you surround yourself with a mighty
protective power, for these spiritual energies purify the heart;
they stimulate the intellect; they elevate the soul. Thus will
your soul shine through your body like a lamp shining through
glass, and you will illuminate those with whom you are; by your
peace, by your quiet, you will lighten and will light the pathway
Be bold in your learning, but not overbold. Be courageous as you
press forward on this old, old Path of the ages leading to the
Heart of the Universe; but be not rash. Guard well your speech,
lest something pass out unseen with the words; for you can never
recall it. Dare, Will, Know, and Be Silent!
Let yourself grow naturally as the flower opens its petals; as
the bud opens its heart. Is there any reason or need why the
eyes should be continuously blinded with tears, and why the feet
should be continuously washed with the blood of the heart?
Do not be discouraged if you fail, if you do not live up to your
noblest. Do not even waste time in regretting; it is weakening.
Simply make up your mind: I will not do it again! And then if you
fail, repeat: I will not do it again, for by so doing I alone am
the loser. The day will come when, by the constant repetition of
the mantra, the continuous aspiration of both the heart and the
mind, and by the continuous striving to be the best, the most
beautiful that is in you, you will suddenly be it, suddenly you
will become it.
In living the Chela-life you simply exchange things that you
detest inwardly, that you hate, for things that are beautiful,
helpful: exchanging weakness for strength, ugliness for beauty,
blindness for vision, darkness for light.
Do not struggle; do not strive; do not fret; do not worry
yourself. Be natural; be patient; be calm; be peaceful; be not
impatient, be very patient. Take things as they come and strive
continuously; strive after what you love best and feel to be
truest and let all the rest go. Do your duty by all, no matter
at what cost to yourself, and you will find that there is an
unspeakable joy in it all. Then, sooner or later, there will
come the opening of the inner eye, the Vision, the opening of the
inner senses, the becoming cognizant of the most wonderful and
strange things around you.
The spiritual faculties are within you, and can be cultivated to
an infinite extent. When the inner eye is opened you shall have
spiritual clairvoyance -- vision of universal sweep, limited only
so far as you as an individual can interpret, can receive, can
contain -- and the spiritual ability to see and to see right, and
in seeing, to know that your seeing is truth.
When you have allied yourself with the god within you, the
spiritual power will show you how to see things at whatever
distance. You immediately see things at enormous distances
through the inner spiritual eye. Your consciousness is there,
whither you have cast it. You can sit in your armchair and see,
with eyes closed, all that you care to see at great distances.
This can be done not only in this exterior world but you can
penetrate into the interior and invisible worlds with this
spiritual vision, and thus know what is going on in the worlds
spiritual and ethereal; and remember also that these inner and
invisible worlds are the basis or root of this mere cross-section
that we humans call the physical universe.
In Tibet this power is call the "hpho-wa," the power to project
your consciousness (that means also your will) to any distance
that you may please: on earth, to the moon, to any other planet,
to the sun. This is possible because the cosmic spaces are your
home. You are they and they are you. The very powers that work
in them are also in you. The very substances out of which they
are born and built, you also are built on. You are native there;
and therefore manifesting such a power is a natural thing to do.
Another spiritual power is true and genuine clairaudience: the
ability to hear with the spiritual auditory power or faculty --
the inner spiritual ear -- even what the gods are saying and
doing. Having this power you can hear the music of the spheres:
for every celestial orb, as it swings along its pathway, sings
its own majestic paean, and everything on earth or elsewhere,
animate or so-called inanimate, being a collection of atoms, is
therefore a symphonic melody, a symphony, the aggregated volume
of sound being composed of the notes of each and every singing
entity; our physical bodies themselves are embodied song.
Every little atom is attuned to a musical note. It is in
constant vibration at speeds that are incomprehensible to the
ordinary brain-mind of man, and each such speed has its own
numerical quantity, in other words its own numerical note, and
therefore sings that note; so that had you this spiritual
clairaudience, the life surrounding you would be one grand sweet
song; and you yourself would sing a song; your very body would be
as it were a symphonic orchestra, singing some magnificent
incomprehensible, musical symphonic composition.
With the awakened power of the inner spiritual ear you would hear
as a song the opening of the rosebud, and its growth would be
like a changing melody running along from day to day. You would
hear the green grass-blade grow. You could hear every hair on
your head as it lengthens in growth; for growth is movement. The
growth of a little child you would hear as a prolonged chorus of
singing atomic entities.
THE NECESSITY FOR REINCARNATION
By W.Q. Judge
[An unsigned tract attributed to Judge appearing in ECHOES OF THE
ORIENT, III, pages 71-75.]
To most persons not already Theosophists, no doctrine appears
more singular than that of Reincarnation, i.e., that each man is
repeatedly born into earth-life; for the usual belief is that we
are here but once, and once for all determine our future. And
yet it is abundantly clear that one life, even if prolonged, is
no more adequate to gain knowledge, acquire experience, solidify
principle, and form character than would one day in infancy be
adequate to fit for the duties of mature manhood.
Any man can make this even clearer by estimating, on the one
hand, the probable future which Nature contemplates for humanity,
and on the other, his present preparation for it. That future
includes evidently two things -- an elevation of the individual
to god-like excellence, and his gradual apprehension of the
Universe of Truth.
His present preparation therefore consists of a very imperfect
knowledge of a very small department of one form of existence,
and that mainly gained through the partial use of misleading
senses; of a suspicion, rather than a belief, that the sphere of
super-sensuous truth may exceed the sensuous as the great
universe does this earth; of a partially-developed set of moral
and spiritual faculties, none acute and none unhampered, but all
dwarfed by non-use, poisoned by prejudice, and perverted by
ignorance; the whole nature, moreover, being limited in its
interests and affected in its endeavor by the ever-present needs
of a physical body, which much more than the soul is felt to be
the real "I." Is such a being -- narrow, biased, carnal, and
sickly -- fitted to enter at death on a limitless career of
Now, there is only three ways in which this obvious unfitness may
be overcome -- a transforming power in death, a post-mortem and
wholly spiritual discipline, a series of reincarnations. There
is evidently nothing in the mere separation of soul from body to
confer wisdom, ennoble character, or cancel dispositions acquired
through fleshiness. If any such power resided in death, all
souls, upon being disembodied, would be precisely alike -- a
palpable absurdity. Nor could a postmortem discipline meet the
requirement, and this for nine reasons: (a) the soul's knowledge
of human life would always remain insignificant; (b) of the
various faculties only to be developed during incarnation, some
would still be dormant at death and therefore never evolve; (c)
the unsatisfactory nature of material life would not have been
fully demonstrated; (d) there would have been no deliberate
conquest of the flesh by the spirit; (e) the meaning of Universal
Brotherhood would have been very imperfectly seen; (f) desire for
a career on earth under different conditions would persistently
check the disciplinary process; (g) exact justice could hardly be
secured; (h) the discipline itself would be insufficiently varied
and copious; (i) there would be no advance in the successive
races on earth.
There remains, then, the last alternative, a series of
reincarnations -- in other words, that the enduring principle of
the man, endowed during each interval between two earth-lives
with the results achieved in the former of them, shall return for
further experience and effort. If the nine needs unmet by a
merely spiritual discipline after death are met by reincarnation,
there is surely a strong presumption of its actuality.
Now, (a) It is only through reincarnations can knowledge of human
life be made exhaustive. A perfected man must have experienced
every type of earthly relation and duty, every phase of desire,
affection, and passion, every form of temptation, and every
variety of conflict. No one life can possibly furnish the
material for more than a minute section of such experience.
(b) Reincarnations give occasion for the development of all those
faculties which can only be developed during incarnation. Apart
from any questions raised by Occult doctrine, we can readily see
that some of the richest soul-acquirements come only through
contact with human relations and through suffering from human
ills. Of these, sympathy, toleration, patience, energy,
fortitude, foresight, gratitude, pity, beneficence, and altruism
(c) Only through reincarnation is the unsatisfying nature of
material life fully demonstrated. One incarnation proves merely
the futility of its own conditions to secure happiness. To force
home the truth that all are equally so, all must be tried. In
time the soul sees that a spiritual being cannot be nourished on
inferior food and that any joy short of union with the Divine
must be illusionary.
(d) The subordination of the Lower to the Higher Nature is made
possible by many earth-lives. Not a few are needed to convince
that the body is but a case, and not a constituent, of the real
Ego; others, that it and its passions must be controlled by that
Ego. Until the spirit has full sway over the flesh, the man is
unfit for a purely spiritual existence. We have known no one to
achieve such a victory during this life, and are therefore sure
that other lives need to supplement it.
(e) The meaning of Universal Brotherhood becomes apparent only as
the veil of self and selfish interest thins, and this it does
only through that slow emancipation from conventional beliefs,
personal errors, and contracted views which a series of
reincarnations effects. A deep sense of human solidarity
presupposes a fusion of the one in the whole -- a process
extending over many lives.
(J) Desire for other forms of earthly experience can only be
extinguished by undergoing them. It is obvious that any one of
us, if now translated to the unseen world, would feel regret that
he had not tasted existence in some other situation or
surroundings. He would wish to have known what it was to possess
rank or wealth or beauty, or to live in a different race or
climate, or to see more of the world and society. No spiritual
ascent could progress while earthly longings were dragging back
the soul, and so it frees itself from them by successively
securing and dropping them. When the round of such knowledge has
been traversed, regret for ignorance has died out.
(g) Reincarnations give scope for exact justice to every man.
True awards must be given largely on the plane whereon they have
been incurred, else their nature is changed, their effects are
impaired, and their collateral bearings lost. Physical outrage
has to be checked by the infliction of physical pain, and not
merely by the arousing of internal regret. Honest lives find
appropriate consequence in visible honor. But one career is too
short for the precise balancing of accounts, and many are needed
that every good or evil done in each may be requited on the earth
where it took place.
(h) Reincarnations secure variety and copiousness to the
discipline we all require. Very much of this discipline comes
through the senses, through the conditions of physical life, and
through psycho-physiological processes -- all of which would be
absent from a postmortem state. Considered as training or as
penal infliction for wrong done, a repeated return to earth is
needful for fullness of discipline.
(i) Reincarnations ensure a continuous advance in the successive
races of men. If each new-born child was a new soul-creation,
there would be, except through heredity, no general human
advance. But if such child is the flower of many incarnations,
he expresses an achieved past as well as a possible future. The
tide of life thus rises to greater heights, each wave mounting
higher upon the shore. The grand evolution of richer types
exacts profusion of earth-existences for its success.
These points illustrate the universal maxim that "Nature does
nothing by leaps." She does not, in this case, introduce into a
region of spirit and spiritual life a being who has known little
else than matter and material life, with small comprehension even
of that. To do so would be analogous to transferring suddenly a
ploughboy into a company of metaphysicians. The pursuit of any
topic implies some preliminary acquaintance with its nature,
aims, and mental requirements; and the more elevated the topic,
the more copious the preparation for it.
It is inevitable that a being who has before him an eternity of
progress through zones of knowledge and spiritual experience ever
nearing the central Sun should be fitted for it through long
acquisition of the faculties which alone can deal with it. Their
delicacy, their vigor, their penetrativeness, and their
unlikeness to those called for on the material plane show the
contrast of the earth-life to the spirit-life. And they show,
too, the inconceivability of a sudden transition from one to the
other, of a policy unknown in any other department of Nature's
workings, of a break in the law of uplifting through Evolution.
A man, before he can become a "god", must first become a perfect
man; and he can become a perfect man neither in seventy years of
life on earth, nor in any number of years of life in which human
conditions are absent.
The production of a pure, rich, ethereal nature through a long
course of spiritualizing influence during material surroundings
is illustrated in agriculture by the cotton plant. When the time
arrives that it can bear, the various vitalities of sun and air
and ground and stalk culminate in a bud which bursts apart and
liberates the ball within. That white, fleecy, delicate mass is
the outcome of years of adhesion to the soil. But the sunlight
and the rain from heaven have transformed heavy particles into
the light fabric of the boll. And so man, long rooted in the
clay, is bathed with influences from above, which as they
gradually pervade and elevate him, transmute every grosser
element to its spiritual equivalent, purge and purify and ennoble
him, and when the evolutionary process is complete, remove the
last envelope from the perfected soul and leave it free to pass
forever from its union with the material.
It is abundantly true that "except a man be born again he cannot
see the kingdom of God." Rebirth and re-life must go on until
their purposes are accomplished. If, indeed, we were mere
victims of an evolutionary law, helpless atoms on which the
machinery of Nature pitilessly played, the prospect of a
succession of incarnations, no one of which gave satisfaction,
might drive to mad despair.
Theosophy thrusts on us no such cheerless exposition. It shows
that reincarnations are the law for man because they are the
condition of his progress, which is also a law, but tells him
that he may mould them and better them and lessen them. He
cannot rid himself of the machinery, but neither should he wish
Endowed with the power to guide it for the best, prompted with
the motive to use that power, he may harmonize both his
aspirations and his efforts with the system that expresses the
infinite wisdom of the Supreme, and through the journey from the
temporal to the eternal tread the way with steady feet, braced
with the consciousness that he is one of an innumerable
multitude, and with the certainty that he and they alike, if they
so will it, may attain finally to that sphere where birth and
death are but memories of the past.
OUT IN THE OPEN
By F.M. Pierce
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, May 1926, pages 498-502, captioned
"Inspired by the big Dakota plains," International Theosophical
Headquarters, Point Loma, California.]
Give me the Open Country -- the sweep
Of the big, wide plains!
Give me the sky for a tenting, to let
In the winds and the rains!
Blankets I'll make of a mooseskin,
Clothing from skins of the deer:
They will give me for breakfast and supper
Streamed water the nectar to cheer!
The wild fowl and fish will befriend me,
Nor suffer from capture for greeds;
Wild flowers shall say grace at my table --
All giving to life's simple needs.
Berries and roots that are luscious,
To make sinews that never know pain;
And a will and a heart that shall serve,
And never give way under strain.
I will ambush the bees with their honey,
Lure herbs to yield me their juice;
Nature to give me her bounty --
She glad to my selfless use.
She will open to me her secrets,
Her mysteries in store;
Bringing a pure heart,
She will teach to me her lore
I will nestle their cubs for the mothers,
And teach them new tricks in their games
With the lion lie down for my rest;
For love the savagest tames.
The quail shall make me their mating,
And whistle me come to their camps;
And the song-birds shall wake me at dawn,
And be chums on my wide-running tramps.
Away from the bruise of my fellows,
I will send brave thoughts to my kind;
That they venture on peace -- and there dare!
In their thoughts all strife undermined.
I will sing to the breezes' harping,
And be vocal, leading the storms!
I will let the zephyrs to lull me
And yield to night's sylphin charms.
With the loves of my heart I'll go dreaming
Beyond the borders of thought!
We will gather the roses of heaven
By love's pure crafting wrought.
The morning the noon and the evening,
The light and the darkness make mine.
Shall life escape me wherever
A soul, out free -- and divine?
These! -- out in the Open with Freedom,
My way on the sun-kissed sod!
I will grow a stature for man,
Nor stop when I rise up, a god,
The sun the vesture about me,
My purpose all life to redeem:
What then shall stay or debar me
To be of the Will Supreme!
Ruler of Boundless Freedom,
Helper up its incline:
The travail of all ascending,
Easing -- as Love did mine.
WIND OF THE SPIRIT
By G. de Purucker
[From WIND OF THE SPIRIT, pages 1-5.]
There is one thing I learned when I was a boy, and I learned it
well, and it has been one of my best friends ever since. It is
that I can learn from everything, and that if I allow a single
day to pass without increasing my store of wisdom, without
enlarging and enriching my inner life by however small an
increment, that day is a lost day in my life. Too many of us are
asleep; we sleep and dream. We dream dreams, and all too often,
these dreams are evil dreams, for they are the up surging of the
lower, personal, easily self-satisfied ego of ours. But others
of us dream visions of incomparable beauty -- and I mean not
merely physical beauty, but beauty of any kind: spiritual beauty,
intellectual beauty, aye, even beauty of wondrous nature around
us. And every such new envisioning of a marvel awakens us by
just so much.
Oh, how we sleep, and are forgetful of what we are and of the
richness around us which is ours for the taking, ours if we WILL
take it! Naught except oneself stands in the way of taking.
There are none as blind as they who refuse to see; none as deaf
as they who refuse to hear; and on the other hand, none so wise
as they who meet every new experience in life's wondrous
adventure with the feeling that there is an angel behind this for
me. I must discover him, uncover him, and learn what that
angelic messenger is trying to tell me. Every experience is
I think one of the grandest things that our beloved Theosophy
does for us is to unveil our eyes, unstop our ears, so that
seeing, verily we see somewhat more, and that hearing, we hear
somewhat more, until finally we begin to hear what the silence
tells us -- the Voice of the Silence, which is the greatest and
the richest and the most wisdom-pregnant voice to us. Theosophy
would be but a farce, it would be but tinsel, if it did not
awaken us out of ourselves and make us more than we were. That
is its one purpose, and that is the whole purpose of our study of
Theosophy: to become ever more enlightened, a little bigger, a
little more receptive.
And just here, we see the difference between the beast and the
man. The beast sees and knows not, recognizes not; the man sees
and understands somewhat; and the Master sees and hears, and the
message enters in its fullness; and the god, the producer of that
which we see and hear -- all the gods on their azure seats have
to receive their light from still more sublime worlds, planes,
spheres of universal life.
So now facing what is taking place in the world today, we must
recognize it as no chance event, no haphazard or fortuitous
occurrence, not the blind blows of fate, but the working out of
the events which are coming. We must recognize that behind these
events there is power, spiritual power, spiritual force. It will
all work out to an already predestined and sublime ending. For
to me, despite the agony and the sadness that we humans in our
blindness feel, there is the wind of the spirit sweeping over the
earth, rearranging, remaking, reshaping. And the agonies and
sorrows that come, come from ourselves, blind humans that we are
who will not enter into Nature's majestic processes, helping her,
but instead oppose her, and in opposing her suffer.
One may say: "Alas, we know not how to act in consonance with
Nature's laws!" But the statement is not true. It is a lie, for
men have been taught since immemorial time that right is right,
just is just, and wrong is wrong. How then may we choose between
the right and the wrong? And just here enters in a difficulty;
not that it exists in itself, but we create it. It is not right
to employ violence and force. There is the first law. "Thou
shalt not kill." Violate this law, and you set yourself in
opposition to Nature's processes.
Even in ordinary affairs, man's genius recognizes this, and it is
embodied in our systems of jurisprudence today, an advance truly,
for no longer is it considered logical for the avenger, the one
wronged, to seek out his enemy and engage in mortal combat. We
are advancing, for the time was when even to refuse to recognize
what was then called one's honor, would have subjected a man to
shameful ostracism. Our ideas have enlarged. Is there a man or
woman in the world today who would dare to tell me that the only
way to settle disputes is by violence, when, mayhap, victory will
perch upon the banners of the one who is less right than the
The way to settle disputes is by reason, by refusing to accept
anything less grand than that. For he who takes up the sword, as
the Avatar Jesus put it, by the sword will he perish. Perhaps
not immediately, but in the long run. Disputes are righteously
and in justice composed on the basis of reason and right, not on
the basis of the heavy hand of violence.
We ask why we suffer. We ask why these things have fallen upon
us. In our ignorance of our own Higher Selves, and in our lack
of a perfect confidence in the eternal laws of cosmic life, we
assume, we take to ourselves, the duties of the avenger. What
man knows enough to judge any other man unto the scaffold? So
well are these principles recognized that there is not a
civilized society today that recommends them. They all want
justice; they all want to use reason. Why don't they use it? And
using it, why don't they abide by it? Face facts if you want to
know the reason of the suffering and agony, the terror and
appalling privations that are upon us. It is no extra-cosmic god
or intra-cosmic god who has put these horrible things upon us,
his blind children. IT IS WE OURSELVES.
I am not preaching a doctrine of illogical pacifism, in the sense
of submitting to anything without struggle; for society must
protect itself. But let it protect itself by means which laws,
national and international, have already established, and to
which the greatest and supposedly most civilized nations on earth
have years ago pledged their honor and their allegiance. But
when the test comes: "Oh, no; this is a matter of national honor.
We will attend to this problem ourselves!" Then when the heavy
blows fall, when happiness and honor have fled, when want and
misery stalk through our streets, we cry unto high heaven and
say: "What have I done that these things should fall upon me?"
Were there no means of securing, of establishing right, it would
be a different matter. But there are the means, recognized and
accepted means, to which the so-called statesmen of our world
have pledged their allegiance in solemn compact. And then we
complain, and then we say we suffer and wonder why. And the wind
of the spirit that is blowing over the world, tumultuous, cold,
and biting as it seems to our sensitive lives, is nevertheless
the WIND OF THE SPIRIT, and it will blow away the fogs and
illusions, and men once more at last can see peace, heavenly
peace, prosperity, and self-respect.
It is well to remember that while our hearts may ache -- and the
man is, inhuman whose heart today does not ache over what our
brothers in humanity are everywhere enduring -- remember, I say,
that behind the suffering, there is learning, that behind and
beyond the present events, there is a dawn. Let us as
individuals, not merely as Theosophists, do our part in helping
to bring the new day when violence will be seen for the folly
that it is, and the reign of justice and reason and
fellow-feeling will be with us and around us. If not, we shall
have a recurrence, and worse, of what now we are passing through,
and after that, another recurrence still worse than the former,
and so on to the remains of our civilization, until our civilized
society will vanish in flame and blood.
Those of you who may be alive to see the handwriting on the wall
had better awaken.
> MENE MENE TEKEL UPHARSIN!
> Weighed, Weighed, Wanting -- the Persians!
The tragedy of Occidental society is that it has lost its trust
in an abiding spiritual power in this world of ours, and Reason
has lost its seat. This entire universe of ours is but an
appearance, an outer shell, a physical body as it were,
manifesting the tremendous forces at work on the other side of
the veil of Nature, and no man, demigod, or god can offend or
oppose these powers with impunity. Law rules this world, and
sooner or later the gods will descend from their azure seats.
Let us see that they come to us as envoys of happiness and peace
rather than with the flaming swords avenging overthrown
You will tell me: "You are preaching after the event." But this
is not true, for worse will come unless we heed. And these
things have been told to mankind from immemorial time. The man
who said, "God and I are a majority against the whole world" was
no flamboyant egoist. If we understand his meaning, we realize
what he meant.
I have felt impelled to speak of the wind of the spirit blowing
over the earth. It will extinguish all false lights. The true
and the holy will but burn the brighter and will remain. Yet
judge not. Things do not happen in a day. Perhaps it may be
fifty years before we know at least something of the inner
meaning of what is now coming upon us: of good, of ill; of high,
of low; of pathos or of bathos. But this that I have called the
wind of the spirit is clairvoyant in the heavenly sense. It is
the spirit of the Earth, if you wish, and its works are utter
true. All that is grand and unselfish, I repeat, will live.
What is false and selfish, this wind will not merely pass by, but
mayhap overthrow. Put your whole trust in the divine power
behind Nature and live in accordance therewith, and Nature will
look upon you as working with her and therefore as her master and
will make obeisance. Those of you that have ears to hear, hear!
A TALK ON THEOSOPHY: WHAT IS IT?
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, May 1926, pages 465-68.]
This is the question which I put to a friend of mine as we rode
together in the train to a neighboring city on our way to
business. He was a bank-man and studious, who rarely missed the
opportunity given by the half-hour's daily ride to and fro to
read what I found later were books on Theosophy. He looked at me
in a mild way, a little surprised perhaps at my curiosity, but
quite ready to shut his book and chat on a theme which was so
much in his thoughts.
"Well," said he, "that is a big question which I cannot answer
fully, for I have only been studying it myself during the past
year or two, but I can give you my idea of it, and will do so
I thanked him and remarked that I had heard it spoken of many
times, and each time I had felt unaccountably drawn to learn
something of it, though in a double sense it was 'Greek' to me.
In those days, some thirty years ago, comparatively little was
known about the subject. Now and again, one reads in the daily
press a reference to that remarkable Russian woman, H.P.
Blavatsky, and comments were made on the phenomena she was
supposed to have produced. This did not interest me, for I was
not drawn to anything that savored of the uncanny or was allied
with what was called Spiritualism and the doings of mediums. It
was too remote from the ordinary affairs of a businessman's life.
My friend, however, evinced a remarkable enthusiasm as he went on
to describe what little he knew about it. "You've heard of
Buddhism, I suppose," said he, "and the teachings of Buddha?"
"No," I replied. "Beyond the names, I know nothing about them
except what the missionaries have reported occasionally; and that
I've always felt was more or less overdone in order to impress
children and their own subscribers with the enormities of
idol-worship and the crass ignorance of the so-called heathen.
It's not Buddhism, is it?"
"No," he said, "not in its modern form, at any rate, but there
are many ideas in it which correspond with the teachings of
Gautama the Buddha, as one may see by reading Arnold's LIGHT OF
ASIA. Yet I remember my first interest was aroused by hearing a
lecture on "The Secret of Buddhism" in which the modern teachings
of the Buddhist priests were in no way referred to, but instead
what seemed to me a new way of accounting for the origin of this
earth and its humanity."
"I suppose that there are only two ways to account for the origin
of man and things," I remarked. "That contained in the Jewish
Bible and that vouched for by science on the Darwinian Theory.
They seem mutually contradictory rather, though for my part I
have considered the contradiction was more seeming than real,
since the process of creation set forth in Genesis does not
eliminate the idea of evolution by which the elemental condition
of things precedes the more organized and complex. The dry land
and water are before the herbs and fishes and creeping things,
and man appears rightly to crown and complete the great process
of creation as being the finished product of all nature."
"Yes," he said. "But have you ever thought of it that even in
the Bible there are two distinct processes of creation
"No," I replied, "I had not seen it in that way, but rather as
the description by two different records of the same stupendous
"Well," my friend added, "if they relate to the same work it is
strange that the one should begin where the other appears to
leave off. In other words, man seems to be the crown of creation
in the first chapter of Genesis, while in the second, he is
described as the forerunner of all lesser nature."
"Ah! I had not thought of that." I said. "It is, as you say,
very remarkable. Yet how is it to be accounted for?"
"Theosophy," said my friend "seems to give a very consistent
explanation of this seeming contradiction. For the process of
creation or evolution, according to its presentation, is a very
much more protracted and gradual affair than one would imagine
from the brief symbolic summary of it shown in Genesis as the
work of the Creator in a space of six days with its seventh of
consummation and rest. Indeed, you will find that the long slow
measured process of evolution is quite logically and
systematically sketched in the Theosophical teachings. Nowhere
does there seem to be any record of that sudden coming into being
at the fiat of the Almighty, such as our theologians are too apt
"And then the rise and fall of nations and races," he continued,
"the wonderful civilizations of an ancient past succeeded from
time to time by a reversion to the simplicity and barbarity, if
one may so call it, of the nomad of the desert and the backwoods,
which have been revealed by our geologists and anthropologists,
and which are a constant menace to any theory of the savage
condition of primitive man and his subsequent growth and
development into the cultured being we know today. These
problems seem to me much more seriously grappled with by writers
on Theosophy than by any other school of modern thought, whether
religious or scientific."
"Tell me," I said, "what you mean by this; are we not evolved
then from the condition of the primitive man? As one looks down
the pages of history, one feels at any rate that in our own
country there was a time when the people appeared to be very
little removed from the state of savages. Gradually law and
order have been evolved, and the interdependence of man with his
fellow-man has only dawned upon the human mind by degrees as man
acquired the art of communal life."
"That is where we too often delude ourselves," he replied. "We
think our present condition so superior to that of our
forefathers! But is it really so? Do we understand more of life
or its meaning and purpose? Is there greater happiness in our
cities and towns than there was in the rude hamlets and villages
of olden times? Do we understand and support and comfort one
another more than was done then?"
"Well," I said, "it is not easy to answer those questions,
because the standards of comfort have varied so much in the
different ages. However," I added, "I am anxious to understand
how Theosophy makes clear what must be puzzling to the ordinary
observer of our modern conditions of life."
"Theosophy," replied my friend, "certainly does throw a new light
upon the problems of life. It postulates a great law of Harmony
in the universe. Every part of it is dependent on every other
part, and nothing can happen to the smallest particle of it that
does not in some degree affect and modify the whole. The purpose
of the whole universe, and therefore of the life of man, is the
acquirement of experience which shall result in freedom -- the
freedom of the soul of man in the dignity and power of 'conscious
godhood,' as one writer has so well put it.
"The conditions of being, below that of man, are not those of
self-conscious entities. There is a blind acquiescence in the
universal Law of Harmony, and hence we do not regard animals or
plants or any lesser creature as having any moral responsibility.
In a sense, they are sinless. But man is a being qualified in
his evolution to become free; he is capable of exercising a
choice in his actions, and so according to his knowledge, he is
competent to conform to the Law of Harmony or to disregard it and
suffer the inevitable penalties of infringement. For no law in
the universe exists that does not exact a penalty if broken.
"In other words, this great Law of Harmony may for a time be
disregarded by the acts of a free self-conscious being, but the
process of readjustment is inevitable. It is this process of
action and reaction which in Theosophy is called Karma, and which
brings about the sorrow and suffering, the reincarnation and
rebirth, of this self-conscious entity, man, who having sown the
seeds of disharmony in his ignorance or willfulness, must reap
the consequences in his present or a future life. Thus it may be
seen that the present life is the outcome of past similar
conditions and is giving birth day by day to a future life which
will be full of joy or sorrow as the seeds of that future are
being sown today.
"But," he added with a smile, "You see we have only just touched
on the fringe of this vast subject, and I must now get away to my
With that we parted, but not before I had begged for another chat
with my friend on what I now realized was indeed a very profound
THE ALLEGORY OF THE CUP
By Katherine Hillard
[From THE PATH, September 1891, pages 169-74.]
When Rabelais' hero, Pantagruel, has completed the long and
toilsome voyage of discovery that he makes for the benefit of his
friend Panurge, the two arrive at last at the shrine of the
Divine Bottle, to which they are guided by the illustrious
Lantern, emblem of the light of Truth. The whole description of
their progress through the underground region wherein the temple
they seek is built is full of the symbolism of initiation,
through whose manifold tests the travelers are obliged to pass.
The mystical seven planets, with their appropriate jewels and
metals, are represented here, and the twelve signs of the zodiac,
with other astronomical figures, are painted upon the dome over
the fountain, which is itself shaped like a heptagon within a
perfect circle. From this temple the neophyte, specially arrayed
for the ceremony, is conducted to the inner shrine, a round
chapel built of transparent stone of richest workmanship. Within
it is another seven-angled fountain, in the midst of which stands
the Divine Bottle, a pure, oval crystal. The hymn of invocation
having been sung, the oracle pronounces the one word "drink!"
The priestess dismisses the seekers with these words: "Here
below, in these circumcentral regions, we establish as the
sovereign good, not to take and receive, but to impart and give,
and we reckon ourselves happy, not in taking much of others'
goods, but in imparting and giving of our own to our fellows.
Go, friends, in the protection of that intellectual sphere of
which the center is everywhere and the circumference nowhere,
that we call God. All philosophers and ancient sages, the more
surely and pleasantly to accomplish the road of divine knowledge
and the pursuit of wisdom, have esteemed two things necessary --
the guidance of God and the love of mankind. Now go, in the name
of God, and may He be your guide!"
It is easy to see the identity of this Divine Bottle with the
sacred cup or consecrated drink of all nations. The Greek and
Roman gods drank from the cup of Hebe or Ganymede (two
personifications of the same idea), and the priestesses of their
oracles also drank deep draughts of the sacred beverage before
they prophesied, as in India the Soma juice still inspires the
Brahmin at the altar.
In the second Book of Esdras, ch. XIV, Esdras is commanded by a
vision to rewrite the burnt books of the law, and to prepare him
for the task, he is told by the Voice, "Open thy mouth, and drink
that I give thee to drink."
"Then opened I my mouth," says Esdras, "and behold, he reached me
a full cup, which was full as it were with water, but the color
of it was like fire. And I took it and drank. And when I had
drunk of it, my heart uttered understanding, and wisdom grew in
my breast, for my spirit strengthened my memory."
In the second volume of ISIS UNVEILED, page 560, we are told that
in the sacred rites of Bacchus (from which the ceremony of the
Eucharist was derived), the hierophant-initiator presented
symbolically before the final REVELATION wine and bread to the
candidate, who partook of both in token that the spirit was to
quicken matter, that is, that the divine WISDOM was to be
revealed to him. And in a note to page 228 of Volume I of THE
SECRET DOCTRINE, we read that "Soma is with the Hindus the
father, albeit illegitimate, of Buddha Wisdom," that is, that
occult knowledge comes from a thorough understanding of lunar
mysteries, or taking Soma as the sacred beverage, that wisdom,
"albeit illegitimate," follows the drinking of it.
With the ceremony of the Eucharist and its sacred vessels is
closely connected the symbolism of the Holy Grail, the principal
motif in the legends of King Arthur.
The stories of the Holy Grail are all to be traced back to the
legend of St. Joseph of Arimathea, who was said to have brought
to Britain from the Holy Land the sacred vessel of the Last
Supper. In the French prose romance of the Saint Grail, it is
said that St. Joseph, having obtained leave from Pilate to take
down the body of Jesus from the cross, first went to that upper
room where the Last Supper was held, and found there the shallow
bowl from which Christ was said to have eaten the paschal lamb
with his disciples. And into this cup, as the body was lowered
from the cross, fell many drops of blood from the still open
wounds. "According to Catholic theology, where the body or the
blood of Christ is," (points out Mr. Thomas Arnold), "there, by
virtue of the hypostatic union, are His soul and His divinity."
The Grail therefore becomes a divine marvel and mystery, a worker
of miracles and wonders. By the Grail, St. Joseph's life was
sustained in prison for forty-two years without food, and from it
he imbibed also the food of spiritual wisdom.
Wherever we find the symbol of the bowl, the bottle, or the cup,
the idea is expressed or implied of divine wisdom as its
contents. So in Hermes Trismegistus, as translated into French
by Menaro, we read: "God did not create all men with Intuition,
because he wished to establish it in the midst of the souls of
men as a prize to strive for. He filled a great bowl with it,
and sent it by a messenger, ordering him to cry to the hearts of
men: 'Baptize ye, ye who can, in this bowl; ye who believe that
you will return to Him who has sent it, ye who know wherefore you
Those who answered the call, and were baptized in this Intuition,
these possess the Gnosis, and have become the initiated of the
Spirit, the perfect men. Those who did not understand the call
possess reason but not Intuition, and know not wherefore and by
whom they were formed. Composed alone of passions and desires,
they do not admire that which is worthy to be contemplated, but
give themselves up to the pleasures and appetites of the body,
and believe that this is the end of man. But those who have
received the gift of God, judging by their works, 0 Tat, are
immortal, and no longer mortal. They embrace, by intuition, all
that is in the earth and in the heavens, and all that there may
be above the heavens. Disdaining all things corporeal and
incorporeal, they aspire towards the One and the Only. This is
the wisdom of the Spirit, to contemplate Divine things, and to
know God. This is the blessing of the Divine Bowl."
Sometimes the symbol of the cup is transmuted into that of the
WELL or the FOUTAIN. In a note to page 551 of ISIS UNVEILED, I,
HPB says: "The 'well,' in the kabalistic sense, is the mysterious
emblem of the Secret Doctrine." "If any man thirst, let him come
unto me and drink," says Jesus (John vii, 38), and therefore
Moses, the adept, is represented sitting by a WELL, to which the
SEVEN daughters of the Priest of Midian come for water. And in
the story of the woman of Samaria, Jesus sat by a well, and used
it as the symbol of spiritual wisdom. "Whosoever drinketh of
this water shall thirst again," said Jesus, "but whosoever
drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst;
but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of
water, springing up into everlasting life." (John 4:13-14.)
As the fountain of Moses had seven priestesses, the fountain of
Rabelais seven angles, so the mystic fountain of Boccaccio (in
the AMETO) is surrounded by seven nymphs, for "Wisdom has rested
her house upon SEVEN pillars." (Prov. 9:1)
When we come down from the symbolism of the Middle Ages to that
of modern times, we find the story of the Holy Grail most
beautifully retold by Tennyson. If he has omitted the incident
of the drops of blood that fell from the figure upon the cross
into the Cup, he has restored another point in the old legends of
King Arthur quite as significant, the story of the "Siege
perilous" of Merlin, that magic chair that always stood vacant.
For Merlin had declared that therein:
"No man could sit but he should lose himself."
But Sir Galahad, the maiden knight, burning with desire to find
the Holy Grail, caught the true meaning of the oracle, and sat
down in Merlin's chair crying "If I lose myself, I save myself."
> And all at once, as there we sat, we heard
> A cracking and a riving of the roofs,
> And rending, and a blast, and overhead
> Thunder, and in the thunder was a cry.
> And in the blast there smote along the hall
> A beam of light seven times more clear than day:
> And down the long beam stole the Holy Grail
> All over covered with a luminous cloud,
> And none might see who bare it, and it past.
> But every knight beheld his fellow's face
> As in a glory . . .
-- and then it was that all the knights present swore a vow to
ride for a year and a day in search of the Holy Grail, because
they had seen not itself, but only the cloud that covered it.
But Sir Galahad, having "lost himself, to save himself", had seen
the Holy Grail descend upon the shrine, and move before him like
a blood-red star to guide his steps. Sir Percival comes up with
him as he is nearing the end of his quest, and Sir Galahad bids
his friend come with him to watch his departure to the spiritual
city. And Sir Percival went, and saw stretching out across a
great morass, an ancient way.
> Where, link'd with many a bridge,
> A thousand piers ran into the great Sea.
> And Galahad fled along them bridge by bridge.
> And every bridge as quickly as he crost
> Sprang into fire and vanish'd, tho' I yearned
> To follow; and thrice above him all the heavens
> Opened and blazed with thunder such as seemed
> Shoutings of all the sons of God: and first
> At once I saw him far on the great Sea,
> In silver-shining armor starry-clear;
> And o'er his head the holy vessel hung
> Clothed in white samite or a luminous aloud.
> And with exceeding swiftness ran the boat,
> If boat it were -- I saw not whence it came.
> And then the heavens opened and blazed again
> Roaring, I saw him like a silver star --
> And had he set the sail, or had the boat
> Become a living creature clad with wings?
> And o'er his head the Holy Vessel hung
> Redder than any rose, a joy to me,
> For now I knew the veil had been withdrawn.
> Then in a moment when they blazed again
> Opening, I saw the least of little stars
> Down on the waste, and straight beyond the star
> I saw the spiritual city and all her spires
> And gateways, in a glory like one pearl --
> No larger, tho' the goal of all the saints --
> Strike from the sea: and from the star there shot
> A rose-red sparkle to the city, and there
> Dwelt, and I knew it was the Holy Grail,
> Which never eyes on earth again shall see.
In LUCIFER, for October, 1888, Mr. Ashton Ellis had a fine
article on the Parsifal of Wagner, whose hero is identical with
Tennyson's Sir Percival. Speaking of the Holy Grail, Mr. Ellis
says: "Is not this the Divine Wisdom of the ages, the Theosophia
which has been ever jealously guarded by bands of brothers, and
to which, in the words of the drama, there leads no path, nor can
anyone find it unless it guide his footsteps ?" (as Sir Galahad
was guided.) . . . "Sought by no earthly paths, found by no
course of learned study, set in a spot whence Time and Space have
fled away, this is the eternal well of changeless truth." And as
Mr. Ellis points out, "when the spirit of Love and divine
Compassion has conquered the world, then the command shall be
'Unveil the Grail, open the shrine!'"
And so we come back to the teachings of that great, but
grossly-misinterpreted soul, Rabelais, to find that his priestess
also declares that the two things necessary to the pursuit of
Divine Wisdom are the guidance of God and the love of man. The
oracle of the Divine Bottle has but one word to say to the
listening soul -- "drink!" -- but is not this one word equivalent
to the saying of Jesus, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me
and drink?" Both oracles imply the same thing, an effort on the
part of the applicant. The water of Wisdom is to be had for the
asking; but that "asking" is not a mere formula; it is labor as
well as prayer. "To reach Nirvana one must reach self
knowledge," says THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE, "and self-knowledge is
the child of loving deeds." Before a man can become a vessel of
honor fit for the Master's use, he must have purified himself
from all sin, and then the Divine Wisdom will fill his soul.
In studying the words of the seers upon the subject of Intuition
or Spiritual Wisdom, we must remember that the spirit has to do
with things of the spirit, not with the concerns of everyday
life. When Rabelais' hero first set out in search of the oracle,
the question upon his lips related only to the advisability of
marriage, but to such queries the oracle gave no response. When
Laurence Oliphant felt that "intuition" bade him follow another
man as a god, he mistook the nature of intuition, which is not
active upon this plane and could take no cognizance of
individuals. That is the property of INSTINCT, and is but an
extension of that faculty of the animal soul that we see
developed to such an extent in the likes and dislikes of dogs,
for instance. Give to Caesar the things which are Caesar's. Do
not expect the Divine Spirit to do your fortunetelling or to
direct your daily comings and goings.
There is another source of confusion, sometimes, in the fact that
wisdom, or intuition, is spoken of in both an active and a
passive sense, as a process and as the result of that process.
So we may think of intuition as the clear light that shines in
upon the soul and enables us to see truth, or we may think of it
as the sense of vision by which we apprehend that truth. In the
teachings of theosophy, we speak of Buddhi as a passive
principle, the vehicle of Atma, or as an active principle whose
vehicle is Manas. All depends upon the point of view, upon
whether we begin at the top or at the bottom of the scale. But
though, in thinking of the prism, we may think of the yellow as
following the green or preceding the orange, we cannot place it
between the violet and the red. Instinct may guide the reason,
but intuition enlightens the soul. For intuition is one with
Wisdom "privy to the mysteries of the Knowledge of God." And "in
all ages entering into holy souls, she maketh them friends of God
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application