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THEOSOPHY WORLD ----------------------------------- December, 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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be reposted or otherwise republished without prior permission.)
"The Light and Dark Side of Nature," by B.P. Wadia
"Light-Stream House," by Ken Small
"An Old Book," by Philip A. Malpas
"Gratitude," by Pilgrim
"Theosophy in Swedish Poetry," by Maria Siren
"Prevention," by R. Machell
"William Law: A Disciple of Boehme," by Peter Malekin
"Soul-Loss and Insincerity," by G. de Purucker
> Even the worst of persons may come into our movement, and,
> whether unconsciously or not, contribute to its prosperity. How
> curious all this is to the student of karmic law; and how it
> shows that if a wicked person yields to even a momentary good
> impulse, he may engender good Karma that will go towards
> balancing his acount of moral responsibility.
> -- H.S. Olcott, OLD DIARY LEAVES, IV, page 516
THE LIGHT AND THE DARK SIDE OF NATURE
By B.P. Wadia
[From THE BUILDING OF THE HOME, pages 23-27.]
> Occultism, through its great Seers, perceives an innumerable Host
> of operative Beings: Cosmic Dhyan-Chohans, Entities, whose
> essence, in its DUAL nature, is the Cause of all terrestrial
> phenomena. For that essence is co-substantial with the universal
> Electric Ocean, which is LIFE; and being dual, as said --
> positive and negative -- it is the emanations of that duality
> that act now on earth under the name of "modes of motion," even
> Force having now become objectionable as a word, for fear it
> should lead someone, even in thought, to separate it from matter!
> It is, as Occultism says, the dual EFFECTS of that dual essence,
> which have now been called centripetal and centrifugal forces,
> negative and positive poles, or polarity, heat and cold, light
> and darkness, etc., etc.
> -- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 604.
> The Astral Light, or ANIMA MUNDI, is dual and bisexual. The male
> part of it is purely divine and spiritual; it is the Wisdom;
> while the female portion (the spiritus of the Nazarenes) is
> tainted, in one sense, with matter, and therefore is evil
> -- ISIS UNVEILED, I, 301
> "Educated people," so-called, deride the idea of Sylphs,
> Salamanders, Undines, and Gnomes; the men of science regard as an
> insult any mention of such superstitions; and with a contempt of
> logic and common good sense, that is often the prerogative of
> "accepted authority," they allow those, whom it is their duty to
> instruct, to labor under the absurd impression that in the whole
> Kosmos, or at any rate in our own atmosphere; there are no other
> conscious, intelligent beings, save ourselves. Any other
> humanity (composed of distinct HUMAN beings) than a mankind with
> two legs, two arms, and a head with man's features on it, would
> not be called human; though the etymology of the word would seem
> to have little to do with the general appearance of a creature.
> Thus, while Science sternly rejects even the possibility of there
> being such (to us, generally) invisible creatures, Society, while
> believing in it all SECRETLY, is made to deride the idea openly.
> It hails with mirth such works as the COUNT DE GABALIS, and fails
> to understand that OPEN SATIRE IS THE SECUREST MASK.
> -- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 606.
The Great Invisible is not all Spirit; nor is all of the visible
mere matter. Light and darkness are omnipresent; good and evil
are the centripetal and centrifugal forces of the moral universe.
As above, so below; lust as in the invisible there are Beings of
Light and Shades of Darkness; just as there are Brothers of
Radiance, who cast no shadow, and Brothers of the Shadow who are
without shine; just as there are Nirmanakayas of Good and
Nirmanakayas of Evil; just as there are Self-Conscious Lords and
non-self-conscious intelligences; so also in the visible there
are the human kingdom, in which the state of self-consciousness
is attained, and the other kingdoms, each with its consciousness
and intelligence, but without the power to determine and to
choose between right and wrong; and in the human kingdom there
are good men and bad, wise men and fools, self-determining minds
and mediumistic brains.
Human morality is different inasmuch as infallible Nature does
not fully and wholly impel man as she does the non-human kingdoms
of animals, vegetables, minerals, and elementals. Self-conscious
man has the power to choose and determine, and so all the lower
kingdoms are influenced by him for better or worse. Only the
Superior Kingdom of those Intelligences who, having passed
through the human stage, are more than mortals remains unswayed
by man's actions. But man can, by right use of Wisdom, gain the
cooperation and the help of that Superior Kingdom. Man is
equidistant from Spirit and Matter; his is a critical state. His
progress towards the higher depends upon his effort to raise the
Understanding such knowledge, the Home-Builder must recognize
that if he desires to create a center of light, he must feed the
kingdoms dependent upon him with right nourishment. Also, that
he should manufacture an astral magnet which would attract to his
home blessed influences from the infinitudes of space and from
Those who form the Guardian Wall.
> It is taught that the accumulated efforts of long generations of
> Yogis, Saints, and Adepts, especially of the NIRMANAKAYAS, have
> created, so to say, a wall of protection around mankind, which
> wall shields mankind invisibly from still worse evils.
These Beings are "unthanked and unperceived by men;" but shall
they not be thanked and perceived by students of Theosophy?
The recognition of the higher leads the students to enquire as to
how these Beings can be thanked, and how Their aid can be
invoked. Not by supplicatory prayers, not by propitiatory rites,
not by chants and ceremonies, but by evoking within ourselves the
qualities and the virtues which are Theirs can They be invoked.
Compassion born of deep knowledge makes Them sacrifice Their
immortality for the sake of the unemancipated and the involved.
In the core of man's soul, an imperishable impact is made by the
Fathers of the Human Race, and its response from the first has
been -- Devotion. This supreme quality will guide us at every
turn, enabling us to avoid pitfalls and to take the right road.
But that Devotion, now tarnished by egotism, has become a
thoughtless feeling, an emotion which impels many to a mistaken
way of life. Devotion means devotion to the interests of
another, implying right action towards that other; that other may
be a man or a god, a sinner or a saint, a sage or an elemental.
From his balance position man must learn not only to look
heavenwards, but also around him -- and below where abide
intelligences which look up to him as he looks up to the Blessed
Therefore the GRIHASTHA must learn to serve the invisible hosts
-- some of whom are superior to him, while others are inferior;
and what is true of the invisible is equally true of the visible.
In the LAWS OF MANU and in similar texts of other creeds, the
householder is called upon to perform five sacrifices every day;
these, Theosophically interpreted, imply remembrance of, and
seeking and giving cooperation to (1) the Teachers and Their
Teachings, the Gurus and Their Gnyan; (2) the Devas and
Dhyan-Chohans and Nirmanakayas -- a vast and graded host of
superhuman intelligences living in the infinitudes of space; (3)
the two classes of Pitris -- givers of the principles which form
the bases of our personalities and our individualities; (4) our
fellow-men now constituting the human kingdom; and (5) the
Elemental Kingdoms -- Gnomes, Undines, Sylphs, and Salamanders --
which are intimately concerned in the progress and the prosperity
of the mineral, the vegetable, and the animal kingdoms, now
evolving on earth side by side with men.
This is not the place to detail practices and exercises; and in
fact, no rites and ceremonies are recommended, neither are they
needed. Man's thought-will-feeling, his master-faculty of
imagination and a clear conscience are his best organs and
utensils. A clean body and pure Kama-Manas are the two
prerequisites. ("A sound and pure mind requires a sound and pure
body," is an Occult aphorism.) With these, while adequately
utilizing our Theosophical literature, the aspirant should seek
for instruction, remembering that all forces in Nature are dual,
that each has its light and its dark side, and also that each in
contacting particular human temperaments produces varied results
-- the peace-giving potion of one becoming poison for another.
There are hints which should be taken as warnings, e.g., "Those
who fall off from our LIVING human Mahatmas to fall into the
SAPTARISHI -- the Star Rishis, are no Theosophists." (THE
FRIENDLY PHILOSOPHER, page 184.)
Between the fear of, but respect for, the invisible which makes a
student impotent, and the forceful pushing of himself in without
proper comprehension of its dangers, which injures him seriously
if it does not kill him spiritually speaking, there is the middle
course. Acquiring knowledge which kills fear and engenders
courage, unfolding sympathy for and appreciation of the whole of
Nature, the student prepares himself to proceed from the known to
the unknown, from the visible to the invisible. He who
conjectures that the visible matters not, that outer things are
unimportant, and so on, implies that objects are lifeless, that
pen and paper, pots and pans, have no astral lives. He will then
err, as do thousands of "fakirs" and "sannyasis" who disregard
the body -- the Living Temple of the Living Soul. It is through
"the small plain duties of life" properly performed that the Ego
is often attracted to stream forth its radiance; "It is the
little things the work is done through." Therefore, Home-Building
provides a most excellent playground for our spiritual and
psychic muscles. And so we must now turn to the consideration of
some of the routines of home life through which the Light of
Heaven can be made to shine forth.
By Ken Small
[This open letter of December 1, 2007, addressed to "Friends," is
entitled "Point Loma Theosophical Archive, Literature and Art
Preservation Project, Light-Stream House, Holland."]
The Point Loma Theosophical Community (1897-1942) remains a
symbolic source of spiritual-intellectual energies. It is both
an historic time and place and more significantly an internal way
of enlightened living and source of spiritual teachings.
With these two aspects of "Point Loma" in mind, a new center has
been started by ISIS Foundation (part of the Theosophical Society
Point Loma--The Hague) 20 minutes north of Amsterdam, just behind
the dunes of the beautiful North Sea coast.
In this center -- the Lume-house -- Point Loma Publications has
loaned for study and preservation books, archives, and more than
50 original paintings from artists that lived at Point Loma.
This material has already been transported to the Netherlands,
and during the next months will be prepared for public access and
exhibition, with availability summer 2008.
(The center's name honors a woman named "Lume" since it occupies
the house inherited from her. "Lume" comes from the Latin with
the meaning of light stream: in physics it is the IS the unit
(lumen) for light stream emitted from a source. We see here the
function of the spiritual source which streams into the outer
On Oct 21, 2007, a large wildfire in San Diego County consumed
significant Point Loma Publications book inventory and library
and archival materials. Opportunities for greater cooperation
and expansion of Theosophical effort have arisen in response to
the current crisis. (Read more about the fire at the Point Loma
Publications website, www.wisdomtraditions.com.)
Our wish is to be able to share and make available the wonderful
theosophical source teachings to a wider global audience. To
this end, we are establishing this historic collection at the
Lume-house for a five year project of making available for study
and public display, as well as conserving and digitally
preserving this unique heritage. (See Greenwalt's history work,
CALIFORNIA UTOPIA - 1897-1942, available from Pont Loma
Your continuing support in this effort is appreciated.
Additionally the library loss from the fire is being re-created
as far as possible. A listing of book titles being sought will
be posted on the PLP website as well. On that site, we will list
ways that "Friends of Point Loma Theosophical Heritage" can
assist in the growth and development of the new library and
Specific book titles, art work by Point Loma artists, and letters
to and from Point Loma Theosophists are being requested to be
either donated or copied to enhance the Point Loma heritage
whenever possible. A quarterly e-magazine will begin next
Spring-Summer 2008 listing art, books, and archive available in
It is our hope and intention that this cooperative venture may
open doors for further unified activity between Theosophical
groups to collaborate and create a complete digital archive of
Theosophical literature. There is a great need to have a
complete archive of our literature in multiple locations globally
in our dynamic times. Your support and cooperation toward
achieving this goal to benefit the Theosophical Movement is
Herman C. Vermeulen
De Ruijterstraat 74
2518 AV The Hague
Point Loma Publications, Inc.
Wisdom Traditions Institute
4060 Adams Ave.
San Diego, Ca. 92116
AN OLD BOOK
By Philip A. Malpas
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, October 1917, pages 363-68.]
Who was Tiphaigne de la Roche?
About the middle of the seventeenth century, several books
appeared in Paris written by an author of this name, and
considering the really remarkable knowledge he showed, it is
surprising that he is not better known to literary fame.
Under the disguise of a playful satire on society as constituted
in those days, this author wrote the book GIPHANTIE, an anagram
of his own name. It was published in 1760, a date which is
important for those who might suspect that it was written after
the event. In accordance with the custom of the time, he makes a
somewhat ponderous title page which is none the less interesting
> A VIEW OF
> WHAT HAS PASSED
> WHAT IS NOW PASSING
> AND, DURING THE PRESENT CENTURY
> WHAT WILL PASS
> IN THE WORLD.
The introduction describes the writer's great inclination for
traveling. He says:
> I considered the whole earth as my country, and all mankind my
> brethren, and therefore thought it incumbent upon me to travel
> through the earth and visit my brethren. I have often found
> great folly among the nations that pass for the most civilized
> and sometimes as great wisdom among those that are counted the
> most savage. I have seen small states supported by virtue, and
> mighty empires shaken by vice, whilst a mistaken policy has been
> employed to enrich the subjects, without any endeavor to render
> them virtuous.
> After having gone over the whole world and visited all the
> inhabitants, I find it does not answer the pains I have taken. I
> have just been reviewing my memoirs concerning the several
> nations, their prejudices, their customs and manners, their
> politics, their laws, their religion, and their history, and I
> have thrown them all into the fire. It grieves me to record such
> a monstrous mixture of humanity and barbarism, of grandeur and
> meanness, of reason and folly.
> The small part, I have preserved, is what I am now publishing.
> If it has no other merit, certainly it has novelty to recommend
Describing a vast desert in Guinea, the traveler felt an intense
desire to explore it, and in spite of the danger, penetrated far
into the sandy waste. Then a sandstorm arose that but for the
protection of a "benevolent Being" would have proved his death.
The storm subsides and he sleeps peacefully through the night.
On awaking, he finds himself within sight of a green oasis which
grows the more luxuriantly as he advances into the interior.
Even the plants in that wonderful land seemed to possess
consciousness, and their variety, as well as that of the birds,
beasts, and fishes, was wonderful to behold. Trees "coeval with
the world" form an immense amphitheatre which majestically
displays itself to the eyes of the traveler and proclaims that
such a habitation is not made for mortals.
Wondering that he had not seen any inhabitants in these gardens
of delight, the traveler heard a voice: "Stop and look
steadfastly before thee; behold him who has inspired thee to
undertake so dangerous a voyage."
"I looked a good while and saw nothing; at last I perceived a
sort of spot, a kind of shade fixed in the air, a few paces from
me," says the narrator. "I continued to look at it more
attentively, and fancied, I saw a human form with a countenance
so mild and engaging that instead of being terrified, the sight
was to me a fresh motive of joy."
The benevolent shade declares himself to be the Prefect of the
Island, who had been prepossessed in favor of the wanderer by his
inclination to philosophy, and had defended him from the
hurricane. He explains:
> This Solitude . . . is an island surrounded with inaccessible
> deserts, which no mortal can pass without supernatural aid. Its
> name is Giphantie. It was given to the elementary spirits, the
> day before the Garden of Eden was allotted to the parent of
> Mankind. Not that the spirits spend their time here in ease and
> sloth. What would ye do, 0 ye feeble mortals, if dispersed in
> the air, in the sea, in the bowels of the earth, in the sphere of
> fire, they did not incessantly watch for your welfare? Without
> our care, the unbridled elements would long since have effaced
> all remains of the human kind? Why cannot we preserve you
> entirely from their disorderly sallies? Alas! Our power extends
> not so far. We cannot totally screen you from all the evils that
> surround you. We can only prevent your utter destruction.
> It is here the elementary spirits come to refresh themselves
> after their labors; it is here they hold their assemblies and
> concert the best measures for the administration of the elements.
In Giphantie, Nature has an opportunity of doing many things
which would be impossible in the outer world. One of her works
there is the constant endeavor to increase the numerous tribes of
Vegetables and Animals and to produce new kinds. She works with
admirable skill, but does not always succeed in perpetuating
them, in which case they return forever into nothing. The
Guardians of the Island cherish them with the utmost care, and
when they are sufficiently organized to produce their kind, plant
them out in the earth. Hence the new plants sometimes discovered
by naturalists and the sudden disappearance of certain exotics,
which meeting an unfavorable climate, decay and are lost as a
species. The Prefect speaks of many plants he has which can
produce marvelous effects in medicine -- such as one for fixing
the human mind, only in fifty years of Babylon (Paris) he has
never observed a mood worth fixing.
> [Here nature] incessantly repeats her labors, still endeavoring
> to give her works that degree of perfection which she never
> attains. Flowers she endeavors to make still more beautiful.
> Animals she tries to make still more dexterous. Mankind she
> endeavors to render still more perfect, but in this is not so
> Indeed one would think that mankind does all in their power to
> remain in a much lower rank than nature designs them! And they
> seldom fail to turn to their hurt the dispositions she gives them
> for their good.
The nature of the elementary spirits was originally pure,
consisting as to their material substance of fire, or air, or of
their unmixed elements. But by mixture with earthly impurities,
their pure essence becomes spoiled and some have even become so
degraded through the mixture of various elements that they have
been visible to men. People have seen them in the fire and
called them salamanders, and Cyclopes; they have seen them in the
air and called them sylphs, spheres, Aquilons; they have seen
them in the water and called them sea-nymphs, Naiads, Nereids,
Tritons; they have seen them in caverns, deserts, woods, and have
called them Gnomes, Sylvans, Fauns, Satyrs, and so forth.
From the astonishment caused by these apparitions, men sank into
fear and fear begot superstition. To these -- Creatures like
themselves -- they erected altars which belong only to the
Creator. Their imagination magnifying what they had seen, they
soon formed a Hierarchy of Chimerical Deities. The sun appeared
to them a luminous chariot guided by Apollo through the celestial
planes; thunder, a fiery bolt darted by Jupiter at the heads of
the guilty: the ocean a vast empire where Neptune ruled the
waves: the bowels of the earth, the gloomy residence of Pluto
where he gave laws to the pale and tremulous ghosts. In a word,
they filled the world with gods and goddesses. The earth itself
became a Deity.
When the elementary spirits perceived how apt their apparitions
were to lead men into error, they took measures to be no longer
visible. They devised a sort of refiner by which they got rid of
all extraneous matter. Thenceforward, no mortal has seen the
least glimpse of these spirits.
The great column or refiner is shown and many spirits are seen
ascending after purification like exhalations from the sun. It
is explained that their visibility is artificially produced by
the adoption of a very thin surface partaking of the nature of
the spirits who assume them, much as looks describe a man. Human
beings use these surfaces very much and thus it is that a
"Babylonian would rather be nothing and appear everything than be
everything and appear nothing." All is one gigantic sham in
There is a description of something like a telephone. A vast
globe is ingeniously erected by the utmost skill of the spirits.
By minute tubes to all parts of the earth, sound is conveyed to
the globe, and the current which had grown weak in the
imperceptible pipes is reinforced on its entry into the globe in
such a way that all the joy and sorrow of the world is heard with
every kind of sound in a confused disagreeable murmur. By the
placing of a rod on any point of the mapped surface of the globe,
any particular speech or sound can be detached from the rest -- a
sort of universal telephone central. With the addition of a
mirror, anything can be seen at the same time; it is in the
seer's power to "view the habitations of every mortal."
The traveler uses the mirror and the rod and sees and hears much.
> I beheld wise nations rejoice at the birth of their children and
> deplore the death of their relations and friends; I beheld others
> more wise stand round the newborn babe, and weep bitterly at the
> thoughts of the storms he was to undergo in the course of his
> life. They reserved their rejoicings for funerals and
> congratulated the deceased upon their being delivered from the
> miseries of this world.
And so the book goes on, describing the wonders of this 'Island'
in the midst of an impassable desert. Of the many ideas given,
perhaps the strangest for the time (1760) are those on the
constitution of man. Discussing the principles, there occur some
paragraphs of no little interest.
> The rational soul is united to the human body the instant the
> motion essential to life is settled there. It is separated the
> instant that motion is destroyed; and once separated, it is known
> to return no more, it departs forever; and enters into a state of
> which there is to be no end.
> The universal soul is united and separated in the same
> circumstances. But it is not always separated forever. Let, in
> any person, the motion essential to life, after having totally
> ceased, come to be renewed (a thing which every physician knows
> to be very possible), and what will be the consequence? The
> rational soul, which departed upon the ceasing of the vital
> motion, cannot return; but the universal soul, always present,
> cannot fail of reuniting with the organized body set in motion
> again. The man is dead, for his soul is separated from his body.
> He preserves, however, the air of a living man; because the
> universal soul is resettled in his brain, which it directs
> tolerably well.
> Such to you appears a person perfectly recovered from an
> apoplectic fit, who is but half come to life; his soul is flown;
> there remains only the universal spirit. Excess of joy, or of
> grief, any sudden opposition may occasion death, and does
> occasion it, in fact, oftener than is imagined. Let a fit of
> jealousy or passion affect you to a certain degree, your soul,
> too strongly shocked, quits its habitation forever. And, let
> your friends say what they please or say what you will yourself,
> you are dead, positively dead. However, you are not buried. The
> universal soul acts your part to the deception of the whole world
> and even of yourself. Do not complain, therefore, that a
> relation forgets you, that a friend forsakes you, and that a wife
> betrays you. Alas! Perhaps it is a good while since you had a
> wife, or relations, or friends; they are dead. Their images only
> How many deaths of this kind have I seen at Babylon? . . .
> I shall now speak of the signs by which the living may be
> distinguished from the dead. And, doubtless, the reader sees
> already what these signs may be. To behold wickedness with
> unconcern; to be unmoved by virtue; to mind only self-interest;
> and without remorse to be carried away with the torrent of the
> age are signs of death. Be assured, no rational soul inhabits
> such abandoned machines. What numbers of dead amongst us, you
> will say. What numbers of dead amongst us, will I answer . . .
> I will conclude with opening a door to new reflections. Suppose
> a man like so many others vegetates only and is reduced to the
> universal soul. I demand whether the race of such a man is not
> in the same state. If so, I pity our posterity. Rational souls
> were scarce among our forefathers; they are still more so among
> us; surely there will be none left among our offspring. All are
> degenerating, and we are very near the last stage.
The interest in the above account for those who remember the
Theosophical division of the human constitution into seven
principles lies in the distinct indication of such principles.
The whole chapter is too long to copy, but we are told "there are
in us two contrary Beings, which oppose one another," as is
"manifest by the clashing between the passions and the reason."
The universal soul is described as everywhere present and
homogeneous, like a sea in which fishes swim, one may say. The
animal soul is clearly distinguished from the higher, manly,
rational soul. Matter is described as something separate. The
universal soul may be present everywhere in the solar system or
even farther, but it has its bounds, it is God alone that fills
immensity. The motion essential to life is distinguished. Here
are five principles described by a Parisian in 1760, and in other
places he shows that he does not limit his principles to these
Among the wealth of ideas put forward in this remarkable little
book, the famous description of the photographic process, or as
some describe it the cinematograph, has always been a stumbling
block for scientists and critics of every hue. Facts are
pitchforks, but this pitchfork has no handle visible. The best
that science can do with the matter is to relegate the thing to
the storehouse of literary curiosities, and not to keep it too
closely under observation. For it was PUBLISHED forty years
before the first glimmerings of photography dawned on the
scientific mind, and yet today, more than a hundred and fifty
years afterwards, it describes our most modern development of the
art. The mocking omission of chemical details is disconcerting
to say the least, for without such details, how can we tell just
how much he did not know?
Here is the chapter, in its entirety:
> THE STORM
> Some paces from the noisy globe, the earth is hollowed, and there
> appears a descent of forty or fifty steps of turf at the foot of
> which there is a beaten subterraneous path. We went in; and my
> guide, after leading me through several dark turnings, brought me
> at last to the light again.
> He conducted me into a hall of middling size, and not much
> adorned, where I was struck with a sight that raised my
> astonishment. I saw, out of a window, a sea which seemed to me
> to be about a quarter of a mile distant. The air, full of
> clouds, transmitted only that pale light which forebodes a storm:
> the raging sea ran mountains high, and the shore was whitened
> with the foam of the billows which broke on the beach.
> By what miracle (said I to myself) has the air, serene a moment
> ago, been so suddenly obscured? By what miracle do I see the
> ocean in the center of Africa? Upon saying these words, I hastily
> ran to convince my eyes of so improbable a thing. But in trying
> to put my head out of the window, I knocked it against something
> that felt like a wall. Stunned with the blow, and still more
> with so many mysteries, I drew back a few paces.
> Thy hurry (said the Prefect) occasions thy mistake. That window,
> that vast horizon, those thick clouds, and that raging sea are
> all but a picture.
> From one astonishment, I fell into another. I drew near with
> fresh haste; my eyes were still deceived, and my hand could
> hardly convince me that a picture should have caused such an
> The elementary spirits (continued the Prefect) are not so able
> painters as naturalists; thou shalt judge by their way of
> working. Thou knowest that the rays of light, reflected from
> different bodies, make a picture and paint the bodies upon all
> polished surfaces, on the retina of the eve, for instance, on
> water, on glass. The elementary spirits have studied to fix
> these transient images. They have composed a most subtle matter
> very viscous and proper to harden and dry by the help of which, a
> picture is made in the twinkle of the eye. They do over with
> this matter a piece of canvas and hold it before the objects they
> have a mind to paint.
> The first effect of the canvas is that of a mirror. There are
> seen upon it all bodies far and near whose image the light can
> transmit. But what the glass cannot do, the canvas, by means of
> the viscous matter, retains the images. The mirror shows the
> objects exactly, but keeps none. Our canvases show them with the
> same exactness and retain them all. This impression of the
> images is made the first instant they are received on the canvas,
> which is immediately carried away into some dark place; an hour
> after, the subtle matter dries, and you have a picture so much
> the more valuable, as it cannot be imitated by art nor damaged by
> time. We take, in their purest source, in the luminous bodies,
> the colors which painters extract from different materials and
> which time never fails to alter.
> The justness of the design, the truth of the expression, the
> gradation of the shades, the stronger or weaker strokes, the
> rules of perspective, all these we leave to nature, who with a
> sure and never-erring hand draws upon our canvases images which
> deceive the eye and make reason to doubt whether what are called
> real objects are not phantoms which impose upon the sight, the
> hearing, the feeling, and all the senses at once.
> The Prefect then entered into some physical discussions, first,
> on the nature of the glutinous substance which intercepted and
> retained the rays; secondly, upon the difficulties of preparing
> and using it; thirdly, upon the struggle between the rays of
> light and the dried substance; three problems, which I propose to
> the naturalists of our days, and leave to their sagacity.
> Meanwhile, I could not take off my eyes from the picture. A
> sensible spectator, who from the shore beholds a tempestuous sea,
> feels no more lively impressions. Such images are equivalent to
> the things themselves.
> The Prefect interrupted my ecstasy. I keep you too long (says
> he) upon this storm, by which the elementary spirits designed to
> express allegorically the troublesome state of this world, and
> mankind's stormy passage through the same; turn thy eyes, and
> behold what will feed thy curiosity and increase thy admiration.
[From THE ARYAN PATH, June 1957, pages 255-57.]
> A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent
> of all the other virtues.
> -- Cicero
> We can be thankful to a friend for a few acres or a little money;
> and yet for the freedom and command of the whole earth, and for
> the great benefits of our being, our life, health, and reason, we
> look upon ourselves as under no obligation.
> -- Seneca
> I hate ingratitude more in man
> Than lying, vainness, babbling, drunkenness,
> Or any taint of vice whose strong corruption
> Inhabits our frail blood.
> -- Shakespeare
Gratitude is a virtue most extolled and yet most departed from.
In Occultism its lack is counted not merely a defect, but a
crime. The Master-Custodians of the Secret Wisdom have declared
that ingratitude is not one of Their vices.
Gratitude or devotion -- the one cannot be conceived of without
the other -- is an emotion innate in the heart of each human
being. It is a child's first instinctive feeling for its mother
and nurse; the first and foremost motor in man's nature. As the
child grows -- and if it is a normal and sound growth --
gratitude to others should become as habitual as the reception of
benefits is constant. But, although every normal person
recognizes it to be a moral requisite, its wider significance and
deeper import is often overlooked.
The dictionary defines "gratitude" as "recognition of benefits
received . . . appreciation of the kindness of a benefactor
and inclination to return it." Recognition and appreciation call
for the interplay of heart and mind. Gratitude is not only the
memory but the homage of the heart. Why need there be
thankfulness upon receiving what we consider to be our "due?"
Does not the answer lie in the fact that nothing can come of
itself? Life is ever sustained on the principles of unity and
interdependence. Life is, or should be, a constant exchange of
benefits. Without widespread cooperation and brotherly
assistance from all directions and from many remote places, we
could hardly live! Are not all those who serve us in one way or
another entitled to recognition and appreciation of "benefits
It is customary among some people to say grace at meals; but most
of us rarely feel gratitude for the many other blessings of life.
In his essay "Grace Before Meat," Charles Lamb wrote with
> It is not . . . easy to be understood, why the blessing of
> food -- the act of eating -- should have had a particular
> expression of thanksgiving annexed to it, distinct from that
> implied and silent gratitude with which we are expected to enter
> upon the enjoyment of the many other various gifts and good
> things of existence.
> I own that I am disposed to say grace upon twenty other occasions
> in the course of the day besides my dinner. I want a form for
> setting out upon a pleasant walk, for a moon-light ramble, for a
> friendly meeting, or a solved problem. Why have we none for
> books, those spiritual repasts -- a grace before Milton -- a
> grace before Shakespeare -- a devotional exercise proper to be
> said before reading the Fairy Queen?
Gratitude should find expression in three directions: towards
those above us, towards those below us, and towards our equals.
Above us are our Elder Brothers, those Great and Peaceful Ones,
those Super-Men infinitely superior to us in wisdom, peace, and
power; they ever strive to alleviate the sum of human misery.
They "live regenerating the world like the coming of spring."
Having crossed the ocean of embodied existence, They help us
deluded mortals, out of boundless pity and compassion that seeks
no return, to cross it.
Is not silent gratitude the least thing we can do for Them? What
better expression of gratefulness can there be towards a Buddha,
a Christ, a Krishna -- to name but a few of Those who have come
out in the public world and whose life and teachings have
uplifted the level of consciousness of millions upon millions all
through the ages -- than energizing ourselves to live up to Their
message and passing on to those who know still less than we do
the Gift of Knowledge? What can be a better "outward and visible
sign of an inward and spiritual grace" than our effort to live to
Then below us are our younger brothers, beings in need of help
and support -- not only human beings, but all the kingdoms below
the human from whom we receive benefits and whom we ought to help
in return by becoming co-workers with Nature. The life-giving
sun and the beneficent rain, the productive earth and the
invigorating air, are all gifts which Nature like a true Mother
bestows on us. Bountiful Nature has much more to give, which is
ours for the taking. If we had but eyes to see and ears to hear,
we would find "tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
sermons in stones, and good in everything." Fruits and vegetables
give sustenance to the body; flowers and trees bring joy and
beauty into life with color and perfume and shade. The animal
kingdom too has its usefulness to man.
Surely sincere gratitude is due for everything used and enjoyed!
So the Gita enjoins that there be mutual nourishing between man
and the "gods" who minister to his needs, stating: "He who
enjoyeth what hath been given unto him by them, and offereth not
a portion unto them, is even as a thief." Instead of helping
Nature and working on with her, man in his ingratitude exploits
and robs her and breaks her laws. Have we any cause for
complaint when Nature rebels and earthquakes, floods, famines,
droughts, diseases, and the like visit the people of the earth?
Among our equals, our brothers of the human family, many, many
serve us in the manifold walks of life and are entitled to all
the help and guidance we can give them. The countless human
agencies involved in providing for us the necessities and
comforts of life, all those who have helped us grow in body and
mind, the generations of men who have gone before us and have
left us a legacy of knowledge and skills of various kinds and
whose accumulated experience we are availing ourselves of today
-- all these should evoke our gratitude, gratitude for being able
to give as well as to receive. But the weed of ingratitude, the
outcome of the seeds of envy, egotism, pride, and covetousness,
takes root in many a human heart, and instead of striving to
repay our fellow brothers for the benefits received from them,
far too often we try to grab as many of the good things of life
as we can for ourselves, depriving others of their rightful due.
If all human hearts were grateful hearts, would we have
competition and rivalry, strife, and bloodshed, in the family of
man? Would people be plundered and exploited on all sides, often
by appeal to their nobler traits, not only in the sphere of
commerce and industry, but also in the name of religion or of
science, of patriotism and what not?
Let us reflect on the fact that we can claim nothing as "our
own." There is not a thing we use or enjoy but is a gift. Our
bodies are gifts; our minds too are gifts. Life itself is a
gift. He who receives gifts and offers nothing in return has
aptly been called "creation's blot, creation's blank." Life often
brings us seeming misfortune or affliction, but let us be
thankful even for this, for it offers us opportunity for building
stamina and strengthening virtue, and serves to brighten all our
future days. To have a heart replete with thankfulness is to be
both good and happy; for such a one, life is ever a contest of
THEOSOPHY IN SWEDISH POETRY
By Maria Siren
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, April 1932, pages 345-52.]
Speaking of Theosophy, we must remember that it is not a
religious system with fixed dogmas, but that its outer form has
changed throughout the ages. Theosophy is called "the mother of
religions." It is the inner kernel in all religions, and as the
essence of religion is to get closer to the divine, it follows
that every thinker with a broad mind and high ideals in some
measure reveals Theosophical truths. On the other hand, it is
clear that Theosophical ideas given out in some remote time, and
colored by the views and means of expression of that time, can
hardly be accepted by us in their entirety. This explains, for
instance, why we feel the strangeness in Jacob Bohme's Theosophy.
Certain trends of idea reappear very strongly after long
intervals. The Greek spirit was revived by the Renaissance which
gave new life to art; at the end of the eighteenth century,
Platonic idealism permeated the entire Western civilization and
has had beneficent influence upon philosophy, religion, and
literature. The literary school called forth by this influence,
known as Romanticism, is defined broadly as an idealistic effort
to view the world as one whole living organism. The ideas of
Plato, Pythagoras, and Plotinus are found in Swedish romantic
writings, as in Elgstrom, Atterbom, Stagnelius, and others.
In our Swedish Hymnal, we have a genuine thought of Plotinus in
Wallin's beautiful hymn:
> Oh, when there is so much beauty
> In every pulsation of the life,
> How beautiful the source itself must be,
> In its eternal clearness.
The romantic writers are generally familiar with Bohme's
Theosophy. They believe that the divine, the World-Soul, lives
in everything; that the spirit is imprisoned in matter, and that
in death, it is free to return to its rightful abode; that ideas
are the souls of things, the things themselves being the bodies
of the ideas, the world emanating from the infinite and returning
to it. These thoughts are brought forth by them all. Thus
> When Psyche from her source
> Sank into the heavy folds of matter,
> She forgot her former life,
> When a higher world she experienced,
> In which eternal archetypes were mirrored . . .
Atterbom speaks plainly of his religion as Theosophy in
PHOSPHORUS. He defines three distinct ages for art, the first
being that of mythology, the second that of religion, and the
third, which was about to appear, that of Theosophy, the
fundamental characteristic of which was to be the blending of
religion, philosophy, and poetry. Atterbom predicts a northern
era of highest culture, which indeed had been spoken of already
in the ancient northern Sagas in the mythology which in
religious and philosophic profundity is surpassed only by the
mythology of India, whose step-daughter he considers it to be.
The new civilization is to be a synthesis of the Greek and the
Christian, of materialism and spiritualism.
His poem "Urania" is a hymn to the World-Soul. Urania in the
night is looking down towards us who live on the stars, trying to
lift our inner being to where she herself is dwelling. Atterbom
dreams of blending with the soul of the great whole. He looks at
the descent of the soul into the world of matter as a fall, and
he sees the end of the soul's effort in the reunion with the real
essence, after being freed from the material garb at death. The
soul becomes one with the world-mother Urania and lives her
eternal life. The emanation of life from God and its reunion
with God as the river, tired of its wandering, longs to unite
itself with the ocean, is a theme that often appears in
The same is true about Stagnelius. However, there is a great
difference between Elgstrom and Atterbom on one hand and
Stagnelius on the other. While the former regard matter as a
divine principle in which they everywhere perceive traces of the
divine goodness and beauty, Stagnelius regards matter as fallen
and urges us to fight against nature and matter as an evil which
we should learn to renounce by our free will, a thesis
beautifully expressed in his poem "The Mystery of the Sighs:"
> Man! Wouldst thou learn the wisdom of life,
> Listen to me! Two laws govern
> This life. The power to ask
> Is the first; the necessity of renunciation
> Is the second. Ennoble this necessity
> By freedom, and sanctified and atoned
> Thou shalt enter the portals of divine life
> High above the whirling Planets of matter.
Stagnelius regards selfish love as the cause of the descent of
the soul from the ideal world to the material world. As long as
man is filled by it, he takes illusion for reality and is hunting
restlessly after shadows. He forgets the idea for its symbols;
memories of the primeval home disappear, after having followed
him during the innocence of childhood -- which is in itself a
picture of life in the paradise of the ideal world.
Bohme also considered the fall of man as a result of selfish
longing, and H.P. Blavatsky has written along that line in THE
SECRET DOCTRINE. With her, Stagnelius condemns head-learning
without the wisdom of the soul and the heart, in one of his
poems, unfinished, which speaks of Theosophy as divine wisdom in
contrast to the illusive arts of alchemy.
> Not learning alone
> Ever leads thee out of the grave of the spiritual,
> Love alone can unite thee
> With Him who gave thee life.
> Become pure as the blue ether of space,
> Calm as the mirrored moon in the spring.
> Then let thy soul be initiated
> Into mysteries of Light.
> Not in the crucible of curiosity
> Found the searcher his longed-for gold,
> If virtue does not guide thy search for wisdom,
> Only smoke and mist will envelop thee.
In his commentary on this, Book says that "Stagnelius in the vain
search for the gold saw a symbol of the inadequacy and
ineffectiveness of human research when not pursued in the spirit
of virtue, love, and religion."
In his "Theses," Stagnelius gives what he considers to be the
esoteric kernel of Christianity. He believes, as do others of
the Romantic School, that the human race originally had a divine
revelation, secretly handed down through the ages. In all the
traditions and artworks of ancient races were found fragments of
the original tradition.
Many Pythagorean ideas are to be found in Stagnelius's writings,
as for instance the mystical numbers and the idea of the breath
as an expression of kosmic law. The whole universe is a living
being which is breathing in a constant inflow and outflow. The
poet uses water as a symbol of the physical world, the world of
In a long dramatic poem, Stagnelius makes Orpheus the spokesman
of his Theosophical conception. For instance:
> We worship the same Deity, though with different names.
> . . . . . . .
> Believe me: There is but one God: he may be called
> Apollo, Dionysus, or the thunder-god Zeus.
Thus he considers the various religions as different symbols of
the same esoteric idea.
Albert Nilsson tells us that:
[Stagnelius's system is] an Orphism purified from cult and
doctrines where only the esoteric kernel has been kept. Life is
regarded as a trial. Only suffering in patience, pious
resignation, and divine harmony can liberate the soul and make it
worthy to be united after death with its divine original.
Elgstrom proposed that the Aurora Society take the name of
Orphists. "We would then," he said, "revive an ancient
philosophic sect, whose philosophy and religion was poetical,
which should preserve the ancient teachings of god and the world,
treasuring wider knowledge and more sacred mysteries." His
suggestion was not followed, but the Swedish Romantic School
started, at all events, and the picture on their magazine showed
Orpheus playing on the shore for the rising morning star.
Turning now to the poet of sun and light -- Tegner -- we note how
he sings about the sun in many of his poems. The Romantic School
generally regards nature as a form of revelation of the Deity and
the sun as a symbol of the majesty of the Deity. One of Tegner's
fondest ideas is that the Divine Being, in itself One, appears in
the physical world under many forms, as light is broken up into
> Measure not heaven with the narrow
> And false scale of thy knowledge
> The forms of mortal dust are many,
> The divine is One.
The light of divine revelation appears, according to Tegner, in
many forms also, and in many colors. It is by no means found
only in Christianity, but wherever the divine shines forth, there
we find a revelation of God. In one of his speeches, Tegner
asks: "What is revelation?" and gives the answer:
> There is a revelation in every age. Christ gave one: but before
> and after his time it was. Its source will never dry out as long
> as God is, as long as springtime appears in its fresh green, as
> long as mind is searching and traditions speak to us. The
> scientists tell us that light in itself is One and without color,
> but as such, it cannot be understood by any human sense. It must
> be broken up, in the sky and in the earth, before it can be
> sensed by us in its rich play of color. The same is true of the
> light of revelation. It always carries the colors and speaks
> with the tongue of its age. It is a curious concept indeed that
> there should have been just one single revelation, coming bare
> and naked from heaven, like the shields which the Roman tales
> speak of as through a miracle falling down.
Tegner also speaks of the teaching of preexistence. The human
soul is a guest here on earth. It has left its real home and is
longing to return. Religious aspiration is described in one of
his poems as the longing of the soul for home. The human soul is
a son of God, fallen from heaven. Nobody can entirely forget his
origin, though most of us only dimly remember it. "The poet, the
thinker, and the hero" represent to Tegner the three ideas: "the
beautiful, the true, and the right," and they are in the service
of the eternal.
The Atonement he views differently from the Church. According to
Tegner, the Atonement is liberation from this finite world and
reunion with divinity. Albert Nilsson shows that this is the
basic idea in his sublime "Hymn to the Sun," where he applies the
myth of Lucifer to the Sun. Nathan Soderblom says that "Tegner's
ideas of salvation are not Christian but Platonic; he looks at
the Christian dogmas as being symbols." This is true according to
Theosophy. In "Frithiof's Saga," Balder's priest says:
> On earth the atoner is called death.
> All time is from beginning turbid eternity,
> All earthly life is a falling away from the throne of God.
> To atone is to return there purified.
> . . . . . . .
> The crowd sacrifices to the Asa-gods.
> It is a symbol with deep meaning, because blood
> Is the rosy dawn of a Day of Atonement.
> But the symbol is not the thing itself, it atones not.
> Wherein you have transgressed, none will atone for you.
> The dead are atoned for in the bosom of All-father,
> The living may atone within their own breast.
When man conquers his lower self, his hatred, his passions, and
everything that ties him to the material, then the Eternal in him
is liberated and he atones. Thus Frithiof's atonement lies in
conquering his hatred towards Helge.
In one of his speeches, Tegner says:
> It is a childish and narrow idea, which one frequently hears,
> however, that piety and devotion were brought to the world by the
> Christian teachings. There was much Christianity before Christ;
> Christianity is only a name later given to that spirit.
Like Atterbom and Stagnelius, Tegner calls Spirit "the divine
World-Soul," which inspires the entire creation from the lowest
to the highest forms. He says:
> The spirit makes life, but what spirit? Whence does it come? How
> does it act? It penetrates the world; it is the life of the
> world. In reality it does not MAKE it, Life IS life; what is
> without Spirit is dead. Look around, you will find it everywhere
> in living Nature. . . . Further up on the ladder it appears,
> though still dimly, in the animal -- perceiving, feeling,
> enjoying, and suffering. In man it looks around fully awake,
> seeing itself, perceiving right and wrong, judging and thinking,
> groping forward to its origin, to the spirit of Spirit, to God.
Of the poets mentioned above, none has directly treated the
doctrine of Reincarnation, the rising from lower to higher forms
of life, through rebirth, unless the poem of Stagnelius, "The
Rose in the Garden of the Prince of the World," may be
interpreted in such a light. According to Book, this poem treats
of the "migration of souls" as he calls it, but others are of a
different opinion. In short it says:
> Behold the flower! On the emerald ground
> She is shining, innocent and pure;
> A soul tied in the fetters of dust,
> A morning dream of Psyche.
> . . . . . . .
> Soon you shall wake from your slumber,
> Soon on the desert paths you shall be,
> Where no wind will cool you,
> Where no sister souls will smile to you.
> In dwelling of dragons you shall pitch your tent for rest.
> In lions' dens you shall be a guest,
> With leopards you shall go.
The soul, fettered in the flower, thus will take up various
animal forms, finally to become a human soul. There are many
allegoric terms: "the demiurge," interpreted by Book as the
incarnation of sensuality. The twelve stars in his turban are
the twelve zodiacal signs. The five princesses are the human
senses. At this point in its evolution, the soul has its trial
by fire, deciding whether it shall regain its primeval purity.
A poet who does not lose himself in dreams of a spiritual
reality, but like Tegner from his consciousness of it gains
inspiration for ideal work, is Viktor Rydberg. He and Tegner
stand, therefore, very close to us as representatives of the
practical application of Theosophy in life. Though later than
the others, Rydberg comes close to them in his ideas. He was a
pupil of the philosopher Bostrom, who declared that morality did
not mean killing out the lower nature but rather the reformation
of it, and that man's real task was to realize the spiritual in
the physical life. To Rydberg genuine Christianity was in full
harmony with the best in the Hellenic spirit, and even he dreamed
of a third age when antiquity and Christianity should blend
harmoniously. This he expressed most forcefully in his work,
"The Last Athenian."
In this book there is a beautiful interpretation of the Narcissus
myth, which is interesting as differing from other
interpretations. Plotinus had regarded water as a symbol of
physical existence, the world of illusions. We often take this
illusion for reality and meet the same fate as Narcissus, who in
trying to embrace his image in the water was dragged down into
the depths. In order to perceive soul-beauty, Plotinus says, we
must close our physical eyes and use the inner vision.
The same theme and interpretation Stagnelius used in "Idealism,"
in which it is a flower that mirrors itself in the clear water
and dies, thus emphasizing the truth that what we perceive here
is only a reflection of true Being.
Rydberg, however, says:
> Narcissus in his thirst is the human soul longing for knowledge
> and light. Narcissus bending over the well is man in whose soul
> Ideas are revealed. The well, which is not disturbed by any
> shepherd, by any herds, by any falling leaves, is Wisdom. The
> reflected image is the ideal in its divine, incorruptible beauty,
> revealed to the eye of the mortal. It bears his own features
> because the divine cannot be rendered apprehensible to the senses
> except in human form . . . because the divine is inherent in
> the human, IS the inner man who through struggle and suffering is
> developed. The soul perceives itself and is seized by infinite
> pain and infinite joy, in finding how high is the goal, how
> perfect it could and ought to be. The ideal is so close and yet
> so inconceivable. The soul meets the cold wave of reality when
> it wishes to seize this ideal. It does not find it until the
> heavenly yearning has consumed all that is earthly in its nature.
Atterbom in his optimism regarded the physical world as a
revelation of the divine beauty; Stagnelius in his pessimism saw
the distance between the physical and the ideal. Rydberg
sometimes follows the former, sometimes the latter. To Rydberg
the conscience is that in which God directly reveals himself: it
is the lever for the moral evolution of society. As Narcissus
reaches the ideal only when yearning has consumed the lower
elements in his nature, Rydberg's "Antinous" finds the answer to
the riddle of existence only by sacrificing his own being.
Thus we find how differently the same myths may be interpreted,
both interpretations being beautiful, true, and elevating --
different aspects of life, revealed in the same exterior form.
Only when the form becomes a purpose, a dogma, and a ritual is
the result empty and worthless. Lessing once said that if God
offered him the truth in his right hand and the yearning for
truth in his left, he would choose the left. To Rydberg the
effort is the essential thing, for upon that evolution depends.
Tegner expresses it also:
> Although we cannot reach it all, the effort is beautiful,
> For in life, aspiration itself elevates and inspires.
By R. Machell
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, October 1919, pages 351-57.]
There is a word of infinite virtue in education and also in
government -- for government and education are both concerned
with ordering the forces of life in accordance with the fitness
of things. That word is the subject of this paper, Prevention.
The old saying that "Prevention is better than cure," is one that
usually commands a certain amount of approbation but that excites
very little enthusiasm; and which also arouses a certain amount
of unexpressed opposition, due to alarm.
The alarm is instinctual. It is caused by an intuitive
recognition of the presence of a power capable of assuming
control over the liberty of the individual in the gratification
of his wishes.
These wishes include all sorts of personal desires, ambitions,
and appetites the indulgence of which is politely called the
rights of man or some such euphemism. A human being of average
intelligence knows that all human woes spring from the
uncontrolled indulgence of such desires, appetites, and
ambitions. And, knowing this, the individual fears that sooner
or later other people will want to protect themselves from the
evil consequences of his indulgence or of the unrestricted
exercise of his rights.
So that while all intelligent people admit that prevention is
better than cure, they also in silence agree that prevention
should be used on other people and cure be provided for
But, as no one can be dishonest in his own eyes, so this
perversion of moral law has to be camouflaged by the theory that,
while other people's troubles may be due to their transgressions,
the misfortunes that afflict themselves are caused by social
conditions, injustice, tyranny, etc., or perhaps by heredity.
And, as the evils of the moment are those that require immediate
attention, there is no need for prevention until the desired cure
is effected. So, as practical philanthropists or legislators,
they can honestly confine their attention to palliation or remedy
of the effects, without attempting to prevent or correct the
causes of the evils that all deplore.
But common sense has no pity for such quibbling, and it forces us
to realize that the evils in life will continue as long as the
causes remain uncontrolled. And if these causes are inherent in
all individuals, they must be controlled by those in whom they
arise. So that common sense will tell us that prevention begins
at home, for it consists in self-control first and
Many idealists have seen a vision of a world that was entirely
self-governed and have read the picture in terms of their own
desires and called it Freedom. Then, being entirely ignorant of
self-control, they have interpreted this picture of freedom as a
state of absolute license or the free gratification of all
desires -- a stupidity that would be inconceivable, if it were
not so amazingly general.
Some of these enthusiasts are intelligent enough to see that
self-control in itself is no ultimate remedy; but when they
refuse to take that first step on the path of progress and
emancipation from the ills of life, they make the next step
doubly difficult if not wholly impossible. Self-control is but
the first step in self-knowledge, and self-knowledge is the key
to all knowledge and all power for it leads to the identification
of the will of the individual with the will of the Universe.
That state is one of harmony and understanding that ends the
sense of wrong and leads to true Liberty.
There can be little doubt that self-control is the first word in
education, for education consists in DRAWING OUT the inner
possibilities; and this work must be accomplished by the student.
The teacher can help, can show the way, can set the example, can
explain the method, can establish favorable conditions, can
create an atmosphere; but the actual work must be done by the
student himself. The teacher can encourage the student to
believe in his own possibilities, can inspire him with
self-confidence and help him to keep his mind fixed on the goal.
But the student must become his own master and must assert his
authority over his lower nature from the very start or no true
progress will be made.
That this view of education is not more generally accepted is
perhaps the reason for the failure of the modern school systems
to establish the moral character of the student on a sure basis.
Boards of education have not shown themselves always capable of
choosing teachers qualified to draw out the higher side of their
students, or able to give the scholars any rational explanation
of the problems that are met by every youth and which must be
dealt with understandingly if the pupil is to arrive at anything
That education in general is not accomplishing this result at
present is proved by the increase of crime, of disease, and of
insanity. Were these becoming rarer, we might safely argue that
preventive work was being accomplished in our public schools and
colleges. But on the contrary, we find the reports of charitable
organizations showing an enormous increase in donations to
institutions wholly devoted to moderating evils that are not
prevented and to curing diseases that should not have arisen,
while the same institutions base their appeals for increased
support upon the fact that the evils themselves are constantly
increasing. Prevention is needed.
But Prevention itself is also misunderstood by some of those who
are most anxious for its establishment. This misunderstanding is
of course due to a false philosophy of life, and to the
persistence of an old idea that force is an efficient substitute
for morality, and that a well-organized police force is a proof
of an enlightened civilization. A police force can only deal
with evils when they have produced results, and so it is never
really preventive. Prevention is the elimination of a cause of
evil, or its conversion into a beneficent force. This must be
done in the individual before it has produced results, and this
is the work of education.
We come back to the rule that civilization begins at home, and
prevention must be practiced by each individual in himself. This
means self-mastery the first step towards which is self-control
-- a practice that is not popular, because the nature of self is
not generally understood. To remove this objection and to show
how desirable is such an achievement, right education is
necessary, and this education must begin early, and must be
conducted by teachers who themselves have mastered this great
science in some appreciable degree, and who themselves have
learned that it is a path of joy.
Perhaps the most serious obstacle to the general acceptance of
this ideal is to be found in the fear that it will entail a
sacrifice of things desirable, a renunciation of happiness. This
is an altogether mistaken view, for that which is to be renounced
is that which is most undesirable and the most potent cause of
unhappiness. This delusion is the root of human woe.
If this is the path of joy, we may be asked why the old books
should speak of it as a path of woe. The answer may be found in
the opening passage of THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE, by H. P.
Blavatsky, which runs thus:
> These instructions are for those ignorant of the dangers of the
> lower Iddhi," and in the notes we are told that Iddhis or Siddhis
> are psychic faculties or abnormal powers in man, "one group of
> which embraces the lower, coarse, psychic, and mental energies;
> the other exacts the highest training of spiritual powers.
Thus we see that the object of these teachings is to warn the
rash investigator who would seek pleasure or excitement by
forcing his way into the inner world for which he is unqualified
by lack of discipline and in which his weaknesses would lay him
open to great dangers.
The path of renunciation is described as seen from the standpoint
of such a one. And it is certain that so long as the things he
clings to as sources of enjoyment still can deceive him, so long
must the path of pure joy be to him a path of renunciation and of
woe, for he has identified himself with his lower nature. When
the disciple has realized that these delusive delights are the
real causes of his misery, then he will rejoice to be free from
his old slavery and will look forward to liberation from his old
joys as to an awakening to happiness.
An arctic explorer engaging a crew and company for a long
expedition will not minimize the hardships of the voyage, nor
will he accept as a companion one who is not fully prepared to
find joy in the attempt and in the endurance of the greatest
hardship. But to those who know all that such a journey implies,
there is no question of woe or sacrifice. There is but joy,
hope, and dreams of great accomplishment. The dangers are known,
recognized, and carefully prepared for in advance, and those who
have wasted their energies and ruined their health by past
indulgences are not accepted, for the whole attempt might be a
failure if the whole party were not qualified to meet the
inevitable difficulties of the task.
Therefore the teachers sometimes warn disciples against hasty
undertaking of great enterprises, and recommend them to follow
rather the lower path of preparation. The entrance to the
mysteries of old was guarded by long preparation. The disciple
was told that "discipline precedes instruction."
The modern enthusiast too often thinks that he can dispense with
discipline and can ignore instruction while going straight to the
goal. There are times in life when a great goal appears quite
close. The enthusiast leaps forward to attain it only to find
that a chasm intervenes between the ground he stands on and the
vision that allures him. Such long-sighted visionaries are
dangerous leaders, for they bring their followers to inevitable
disaster and shake the faith of men in the reality of the goal
that is within the reach of all who follow the path of wisdom
True Teachers are more anxious to show their disciples the next
step and to help them to reach it than to dazzle them with
visions of the goal that is as yet far away. Each step safely
taken brings the goal nearer, but a plunge into the abyss means a
fall back to depths from which the people are but now emerging.
The most brilliant prospect may lead to retrogression, and the
slow path of preparation proves the royal road to progress. This
is so obvious that we ignore it as a truism that is negligible
because unavoidable. But surely this present age is a time when
the world has need of common sense in order to test those
theories of life that are the substitutes for knowledge that the
blind world has latterly accepted as the laws of life.
The world must recognize that world-events are not the work of
single individuals, however active they may have been in helping
on disasters. It must be realized that great results flow from
adequate causes, and that those causes were seeds sown by many
hands in many lands and in many ages, and that the world that
reaps the harvest is the same world of men that sowed the seed.
Furthermore, it must be realized that the plants that sprang from
that seed have been fostered by those whose share in the
responsibility for the ultimate harvest may not be so easily
traced, and that the quality of the crop might have been altered
at any time in the past just as the harvests of the future may be
altered now even though the seed is sown.
The evils that have torn the world so recently were of long
growth and of ancient origin, but they might have been prevented.
That is the point. No disaster can be called inevitable till it
happens: for even when it is too late to avert the disaster, it
is never too late to transmute into beneficent forces the
energies let loose. New causes may be set going at any moment,
and it lies with men to do it. We are the makers of the world's
destiny. We can prevent the evils that we have perhaps accepted
in the past as irredeemably ordained by destiny or Nature's law.
We are the agents of the law and its administrators. And, though
the knowledge of these laws has been forgotten by the world at
large, the ancient science is not lost. Man may at any time
reclaim his heritage and know that he is a ray from the Divinity,
himself divine in essence and powerful to make or mar the
happiness of his kind.
That which is needed is right education. The secret knowledge is
within and may be drawn out by education, but it cannot be
attained by book-learning alone. It is a growth, an evolution of
the inner man, coincident with the growth and training of the
outer physical body, which must be purified and strengthened by
right discipline in order that the inner wisdom, when attained,
may be expressed correctly and intelligibly in right conduct as
well as in right words. So, right education is the most urgent
need of humanity today.
Even now, when the bare problem of existence seems to obscure all
other considerations, it is most urgent that education be placed
before all other considerations in the state, as affecting every
individual today and the whole course of evolution in the future.
But it must be right education, which takes note of the whole
complex nature of man, and is not limited to a cultivation of the
memory and brain-mind.
All the faculties must be united and controlled by the higher
will according to the simple laws of life, the chief of which is
Brotherhood -- chief, because it is the expression of man's
spiritual unity with the Soul of the Universe, and because it is
the law of life that alone can be called Preventive. The
happiness of man depends on Universal Brotherhood; the
responsibility of men springs from the same great fact. The
apparent simplicity of this law blinds men to its importance,
while they go hunting remedies for the woes of life in palliative
measures that leave the cause untouched.
Probably there is but one school actually and intelligently
founded on this principle, successfully putting this great law
into practical application. That school is the Raja-Yoga College
and Academy at Point Loma, founded and directed by Katherine
Tingley. In the nineteen years of its existence, it has proved
the possibility of establishing preventive education, which is
No one who knows the power of heredity will hope to prevent the
whole results of past causes, or completely to eradicate
hereditary tendencies. But the prevention of future results by
the elimination of present causes is shown to be effective in the
highest degree, and curative results are accomplished that seem
marvelous to those who have become pessimistic from experience of
ordinary efforts in that direction.
It is true that many people are beginning to see their only hope
for the future in the establishment of such a system of
education, but they are often daunted by the difficulty of
finding teachers qualified to obtain the desired results; that is
to say, teachers who can stand as examples of the principles they
profess to inculcate. This difficulty is due to the same law of
Nature that makes all the get-rich-quick schemes so disastrous to
the society in which they are adopted.
There is a wise old saying that "the longest way round may prove
the shortest way home." And in reform this rule seems to be an
absolute law, as absolute as the axiom that "no one can give what
he has not got." Teachers to whom the principles of Raja Yoga, as
practiced in this school under Katherine Tingley's direction, are
but theories, will get but theoretical results; and all attempts
to establish a system of true education on any get-results-quick
system will get precisely the results that are now being obtained
from schools equipped with everything that money can buy and
lacking only the one thing necessary to success.
And yet there is no need to abandon hope because the goal is far
away. The first step in the right direction is the first thing
necessary. This step consists in recognizing the overwhelming
importance of right education and the serious responsibility that
devolves upon all who have the appointment, selection, or
supervision of teachers in their hands. And the fitting
provision for their support must not be neglected. These points
concern the public, and the public means you and me and the rest.
When the first step is taken, the next will become more apparent.
And this first step does not require long training or
preparation. It requires the use of common sense and strong will
to bring about a better condition in the schools and in the
Some of the evils of the present system are so apparent that an
improvement could be effected immediately if the public where
alive to the urgent need of action in the matter. But this
action must be generous and comprehensive, free from sectarianism
or parochialism; it must be inspired by a conviction that
humanity has rights and responsibilities, among which the right
to a good education is first. This right implies responsibility.
Rights and responsibilities are inseparable. The next generation
will reap a bitter harvest of results from the causes that this
generation has let loose. It is the duty of those who recognize
this fact to urge the necessity for preventive action now, action
that may modify the terrible evils that will otherwise overwhelm
the human race. Preventive action means right education.
Schools like the Raja Yoga School of Katherine Tingley are
preventive, and will make prisons and lunatic asylums and the
like unnecessary. "Prevention is better than Cure."
WILLIAM LAW: A DISCIPLE OF BOEHME
By Peter Malekin
[From THE ARYAN PATH, August 1957, pages 358-63.]
Not many people have heard of William Law. Only one of his
works, A SERIOUS CALL TO A DEVOUT AND HOLY LIFE, is at all well
known, and that is neither his best nor his most typical book.
William Law was a clergyman of the Church of England. Born in
1686, he was educated at Cambridge where he became a Fellow of
Emmanuel. In 1714, however, he gave up his fellowship and all
hope of a career in the Church by refusing to abjure the rights
of the exiled Stuart Kings. For a while he played some part in
the affairs of the non-juring Church, but spent most of his time
at Putney, where he acted as tutor to Edward Gibbon, the father
of the historian. In 1740 he retired to King's Cliffe, his
native Northamptonshire village, and set up house with two
ladies, Elizabeth Hutcheson and Hester Gibbon. The three
regularly attended the services of the local parish church.
Their large income, once their immediate needs were satisfied,
was distributed among the poor; much of it they gave with their
own hands in the form of food and clothing. They themselves
lived in frugal comfort. At King's Cliffe, Law remained until
his death in 1761.
As will be seen, the external circumstances of Law's life were
hardly exciting. His real adventures were adventures of the mind
In 1717 Law was a High Churchman. His first publication was a
series of letters against the Bishop of Bangor in which he
defended High Church principles. These and his other early
controversial writings are masterpieces of their kind; the best
of them is his answer to a book called THE FABLE OF THE BEES.
It has often been stated, particularly by Canon Overton in his
biography of Law, that Law remained a churchman to the end of his
life, but this is untrue. Law later quite abandoned his first
In his next phase, Law wrote as a moralist. It was in 1728,
towards the end of this period, that THE SERIOUS CALL appeared.
At some time a little before 1737, Law began to study Boehme.
From then until the end of his life he devoted his extraordinary
gifts as a writer to the exposition of Boehme's philosophy. Law
had one of the finest of all English styles and his mind was
unusually clear. He was therefore in many ways an ideal
eighteenth-century champion for Boehme, but perhaps his greatest
qualification was that Jacob Boehme's mysticism became a way of
life and a psychological experience for him.
After contacting Boehme, Law no longer writes as a commentator on
matters fathomable by reason alone. Rather he writes as one born
in a blind world that has caught a glimpse of light, who KNOWS
that it exists and that its wonders can be made manifest to man.
He pleads with all the power of his earnest nature that others
too should use their eyes and see. He repeats again and again
that all he or Boehme can do is to persuade others to see for
themselves. Unless the truth of Boehme's great philosophy is
experienced as a birth of the Christ principle in man's soul,
says Law, it must remain a merely rational notion and cannot
become a spiritual benefit.
Two other great changes occurred in Law's writings after 1737.
The first was that instead of attacking others with brilliant
polemics, Law contented himself with presenting Boehme's
philosophy for those who desired it. The second change was in
Law's style, which became full of the warmth of compassion.
Law's Boehmenist writings divide into two periods. The first
group of books appeared from 1737 to 1740. These show the
immediate impact of Boehme. In them Law developed his exposition
of Boehme's philosophy, culminating with a fairly full statement
of it in his APPEAL TO ALL THAT DOUBT AND DISBELIEVE THE TRUTHS
OF THE GOSPEL. He here abandoned his old churchmanship, saying
that no sect has the whole truth, and that external ceremonies
are only of use as they forward the birth of Christ in the soul;
however, he honors the good intentions of organized religion and
advocates the performance of religious duties in a non-sectarian
From 1740 to 1749 Law remained silent. He learnt German and
studied Boehme constantly. After 1749 he wrote a series of great
mystical works, THE SPIRIT OF PRAYER, THE WAY TO DIVINE
KNOWLEDGE, and THE SPIRIT OF LOVE.
Law's exposition of Boehme's thought takes the following form.
He utterly repudiates the idea of creation out of nothing as a
logical absurdity. The universe exists as an emanation from God.
God is threefold. The father is a hidden Fire or Will to
Manifestation, which begets the Son or Light or Desire, the
outspoken Word or Logos of the Deity. From Fire and Light
proceeds the Holy Spirit or Love. These three are inseparable in
the Deity, and this "process" of generating and proceeding is an
eternal one. From the triune God emanates Eternal nature, also
known as the Glory of God or the Kingdom of Heaven. This is the
world of archetypal unity, a condition to which our world aspires
in an inferior degree.
The Fire of the Father has a dual aspect. This duality passes
into the Son, into the Holy Spirit, and into Eternal Nature. In
all these it is a duality in unity, each aspect finding its
fulfillment in the other. This duality, once manifest, may be
analyzed into a trinity, and yet again into seven "forms" or
"properties." In Eternal Nature these seven forms are one. In
temporal nature they underlie all phenomena from the movement of
the planets to the psychological processes of man.
Eternal Nature is perfect and copies the "process" of Deity,
i.e., the hidden fire in it generates light in it, and from them
From Eternal Nature came temporal nature. Eternal Nature was
peopled by angels, who were not created directly by God, for God
creates nothing directly, but were born out of Eternal Nature.
The will of these creatures was a spark of the Divine Will and
therefore free. Some of them desired to know the source of
manifested power, which source was one of the two aspects of the
fire in Eternal Nature. The two aspects were a dark hellish fire
known as the fire of God's wrath, and a bright heavenly fire,
known as the fire of God's love; in union the bright fire drew
strength from the dark fire and transmuted its wrathful nature,
thus generating light and love and causing perfection.
Evil can occur in manifestation only through a separation of the
two aspects, for all qualities as combined in God are perfect and
necessary to one another. The effect of the angels' willing was
to manifest the dark fire in isolation, which created hell, and
into it fell those angels who had willed to know it. Through the
manifestation of the dark center in themselves, they became
devils and the Eternal Nature about them underwent a similar
change, becoming dark and hellish.
To counteract this change, the Light and Love of God immediately
began to manifest themselves as far as was possible in the
falling Eternal Nature. The result was the temporal nature in
which we live. Here the physical sun represents the Divine Light
and Love, and its influence checks the manifestation of the dark
fire. Within temporal nature in its first paradisiacal state,
the dark angels were trapped and their activity quite inhibited,
for they can act only in a medium akin to themselves.
Man, the microcosm, was breathed forth for this new world. He
was a new creature, but the "essences of his soul" came out of
God and never were not; hence all knowledge is present within the
soul. Adam, the first man, shared the nature of heaven, of hell,
and of the temporal world.
Man's purpose was to raise fallen temporal nature to its original
state by manifesting within it his eternal nature. He also,
however, fell by willing to know the good and evil of temporal
nature. His fall was gradual and as it continued, Adam,
originally androgynous, lost his power to procreate by his will
and imagination; in consequence, his "Eve was taken out of him,"
and the sexes divided.
Man's falling caused a falling in nature and a partial
restoration of the devil's power to act. The devil's temptation
of man completed the Fall.
Once more, however, the Light and Love of God manifested
themselves in a fallen creature as far as was possible. Into the
fallen soul of man was breathed the "seed" or Christ principle
through which man could regain his former state as an angel of
power and glory. This seed is a divine spark in the souls of all
Regeneration is the bringing to birth of the Christ principle in
the soul. The controlling factors in the process are the human
will and desire. These can be directed towards the dark fire
center, towards temporal nature, or towards the divine center in
the soul. If a man desires the first, he becomes a devil. If he
desires the second, then during life he is open to the divine
influence of the sun, but at death, he falls into the dark center
of his own nature. If he desires the divine, he becomes an
angel. The desire for the divine within is faith, for faith is a
hunger and thirst for God in the soul and not the assent of the
reason to a set of propositions; hence any man of any race, time,
or religion may have faith and become a Christian, i.e., a
The Christ principle was peculiarly incarnate in Jesus, whose
life not only typified the process of regeneration, but made it
possible for others to become regenerate; for the Christ in Jesus
overcame both temporal and hellish nature, thus making possible a
restoration of the divine harmony.
Law says a little about man's position in fallen temporal nature.
The universe is a unity bound together by magnetic force. Each
part of it is linked to the microcosm, man, who affects the world
about him by his thought and feeling and is responsible for the
disharmony in his environment. Man's physical body is a mere
shell which came to him as a result of the Fall; within it he has
an inner body and inner senses. Physical nature likewise has an
inner causative principle.
Man's will and thinking power derive from the Divine Will and
Thought and are therefore free and potent. The thinking power is
not, however, reason, but is above reason. The human will is a
magical force, for it stems from the Divine Will which caused the
magical birth of all things. Man's temporal environment strives
to regain its eternal state in which the four elements of this
world were only one. It does this by the fire in nature trying
to generate the Son and Holy Spirit in it (compare the tamas,
rajas, and sattva of THE BHAGAVAD-GITA), but it can only do this
in a temporal way, which is why the world is subject to decay.
At the end of the world, physical nature will be swept away by a
purifying fire and the light and love of Eternal Nature will
again manifest in its place.
Prayer was important for Law, but he used the word in Boehme's
sense, i.e., as a fervent direction of the will and desire
towards the birth of Christ in the soul; to ask for anything else
was not prayer in Law's eyes. Prayers in words asking for this
birth were good, but the highest kind of prayer was an abiding
desire pervading the whole of a man's life. Man's desire had to
be single, for to desire the divine meant taking the desire away
from everything else.
Law's opinion as to whether the devils could regain their first
state changed; his final belief was in universal redemption.
Law was an ardent pacifist and wrote with great feeling against
the killing of so many young men who, had they lived, might have
come to seek the divine life.
Law's God may be called personal or impersonal, provided one is
clear about the meaning given to the terms. God was, for Law,
fixed beyond all change as a source of love which streamed into
the whole of manifestation as light streamed from the sun. Only
those did not receive it were who willed not to have it.
Law's system has similarities to Plato's. Eternal Nature is like
Plato's world of archetypal Ideas. Their explanations of beauty
are also similar, e.g., Law says that a jewel is beautiful since
its clarity is the nearest earthly approach to the translucence
of Eternal Nature. Another similarity is their suspicion of art,
for Law thought art dangerous because it diverted the attention
from the birth of Christ in the soul.
There are certain aspects of Boehme that Law does not mention.
He never elaborates the nature of the seven properties except in
so far as they relate to the first psychological stages of
regeneration; he does no more than mention man's inner body; he
does not deal with Boehme's astrology; above all he does not
mention a cardinal doctrine with Boehme and many other German
mystics, that of the "Abyss." The Father is with Boehme a kind of
unmanifested Logos which knows itself in the Son. Behind the
Father is the "Ungrund," the "Abyss" or "Bottomless," which, like
the Father, cannot be known by man. The "Ungrund" is the
Absolute, and the Father the first Will to manifestation which
arises in the Absolute.
It has been claimed by Mr. Stephen Hobhouse that Law's silences
indicate modifications of Boehme's thought. I believe this to be
a mistaken interpretation. Boehme often says that he will write
on some point in such a way that the profane cannot understand
him, although his fellow students of the mysteries of divinity
will understand him well enough. Law was most impressed by the
fact that reason was not the faculty to be used in understanding
the mysteries Boehme wrote of, and equally by the fact that
divine understanding could only become active through unswerving
devotion to the Christ within. Hence much of Boehme's system was
not for the many.
Some doctrines were too deep, while others would mislead the
worldly in a pursuit of selfish power and hidden knowledge.
Therefore Law was silent about certain things; but to those ready
for Boehme he gives directions as to which books and chapters are
the best to read first. Boehme was for Law not a man who held
certain opinions but "the heavenly Illuminated, and blessed Jacob
Behmen" as he calls him in THE SPIRIT OF PRAYER.
Law at one time intended to translate Boehme, but never did so.
There is a translation in his name, but it is not his; it is a
reprint of a seventeenth-century translation published by some of
Law's admirers many years after his death.
Law's later writings have influenced individuals without ever
starting a "movement." Parts of them have been republished
recently by Mr. S. Hobhouse with a commentary; the book is in a
form most suited to a Christian audience. Parts of them have
also been republished in Mr. Aldous Huxley's THE PERENNIAL
PHILOSOPHY, a work of more general interest. Among others, Louis
Claude de Saint-Martin read Law, and THE WAY TO DIVINE KNOWLEDGE
was translated into French by one of Saint-Martin's friends under
the title of LA VOIE DE LA SCIENCE DIVINE.
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application