August 1996

1996-08 Quote

By Magazine

Man who says it cannot be done Should not interrupt man doing it.

-- Old Chinese Proverb


Blavatsky Net Goes Online

By Scribe

"Blavatsky Net" is pleased to join this conversation and announce a new web site devoted to researching the writings of, and vindicating, H. P. Blavatsky. The URL is

As a contribution to the current discussion, Blavatsky Net has put online a page on the subject of Atlantis. It can be found under the "Evidence supportive of Theosophy" choice on the homepage.

Blavatsky Net will continue to add more information vindicating H. P. Blavatsky.


Original Edition of "The Voice of the Silence"

By John H. Drais

To all those interested, the Original Edition of 1889 THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE has been uploaded to our web site and is available for browing or downloading. The previous version was not the original, nor was it a verbatim reproduction (even though it said it was) of the original. Please check out the Library--Literature Section on the Voice. Our comments are in the Exordium.
John H. Drais, Abbot 
The Paracelsian Order
18372 Highway 94
Dulzura, CA 91917-1216

Appealing to the Higher Nature

By Henry Travers Edge

[Reprinted from "The Theosophical Path", June, 1928, pages 523-25.]

The higher nature of man is not something mysterious and far- off. It is not something that belongs to after-death or to Sundays and Holy-days only. It is something real and actual and practical; something that is familiar and with us all the time. All that is needed is to recognise its existence and allow it its proper standing in our affairs.

But the trouble is that people will not recognise its existence. Why is the appeal always made to SELF-INTEREST? Why do political parties advertise what they are going to do for the self-interests of you or me or the farmer or the businessman or the common people or the country or whatever it may be? Why do even preachers try to make you think that it will be an advantage to you to embrace their particular form of doctrine?

Perhaps the most offensive form which this kind of appeal takes is when we hear people shouting that "Christianity is the best business-policy"; or "the Golden Rule is good for salesmanship"; or when some mountebank glories in his intimacy with the Deity as a friendly power who takes an interest in his personal wants. Do not parents appeal to the self-interest of their children, when they exhort them to behave because then they will prosper and be respected; or teachers, when they proclaim morality as the best means of 'getting on' and feathering one's own nest?

There is a great deal too much of this sort of thing, as we all know; and however indulgent we may be towards such a policy, out of deference to the weakness of human nature, still there is no moving away from the fact that in every such case it is the selfish propensities that are appealed to; and the result can only be to feed those propensities.

But we dare to proclaim that, as Theosophists, and as genuinely sensible and practical people, we take a better view of human nature than that. We believe that man actually has a higher nature, and that he pines to express it and have it recognised and catered for.

Recent and contemporary history show that, when a leader of men has sense enough and courage enough to appeal to something better than mere personal self-interest; then, even though the ideals which he does appeal to may not be very high, still he always arouses great enthusiasm and achieves great results. If this can be done by an appeal to self-sacrifice in such a bad cause as war, or by an appeal to sacrifice one's private interests for the sake of a national interest (real or alleged), then it goes to prove how thirsty the common people are for a chance to express their finer nature. It goes to show how much greater things might be accomplished by a similar appeal addressed to a really high and sublime motive.

Theosophy, like the Christianity of Jesus, recognises the needs of THE PEOPLE, and sows its seeds where they are likely to find fertile soil. The appeal of Theosophy is to all; and, as so often said, it is large enough to satisfy the most profound intellects, and yet simple enough to appeal to those who, though without profound intellects, possess the other necessary qualities of human nature.

Let us recognise that we have a higher nature ourself, and be ready to admit that other people have a higher nature to which we can appeal.

Have parents the faith and courage to appeal to the higher nature of their children, even when that involves contradicting the personal desires of their children? Have they sufficient knowledge of human nature to know that a child will ask for a thing when he does not really wish to get it? While the lower nature of the child is asking you to gratify it, the higher nature is hoping that you will refuse. This is a fact, observable in grown-ups as well as in children.

Do not some of us grown-ups look back and wish that our parents had appealed more to our higher nature? How gladly we would have responded; yet we often made the appeal in vain. What an inestimable advantage those children have who are brought up on those right principles of appealing to the higher nature, while allowing the lower nature all that it needs but not permitting it to rule and encroach!

It is common enough to hear of people talking about what they owe to their mothers. It is infrequent enough to call for special remark, evidently. It is not a general rule. We all owe to our mothers those natural parental loves and duties that belong to the maternal function; but it is not all, or even the majority, who can say that they owe the formation of their character to that influence. Too often the influence has been neutral or even hindersome.

All through life we are met with the appeal to our lower nature, showing how little faith our elders must have in the existence of a higher nature, however much they may talk about it. And yet they must be blind not to see it. When we go to school and college, it is to 'get on' and 'get ahead'; not to do our duty.

As Katherine Tingley has so often said, the motive of advantage too often enters predominantly into the marriage engagement; the consequence of which is disappointment. For that engagement, in its real significance, is a sacrament, and therefore brings duties and responsibilities, the faithful observance of which is the only condition of happiness. If no false expectations were entertained, there would be no disappointment at the failure to achieve them.

No doubt, if successful unions are to become the rule, more wisdom is needed than is usually forthcoming; but the first step towards the attainment of an ideal is to recognise both its desirability and its possibility.

In fine, a very great deal can be accomplished by a simple recognition of the fact that man has higher nature; and that this higher nature has at least as much (and, we declare, much more) right to be allowed expression as the lower nature. We should have enough faith in the higher nature of other people to give us courage to appeal to it.

What Theosophy does is to assert certain undeniable facts regarding human nature, which have been too much lost sight of; and to explain these facts by its teachings.


Psychic Powers

By Andrew Rooke

[Editorial in the December, 1994 "Australasian T.S. Newsletter", T.S. Pasadena, Melbourne, Australia.]

Psychic powers, spiritualism and the occult arts exercise an enormous attraction for many people these days. Walk into any video store and you will find racks of films based on these subjects. Browse al around most bookshops and there will be a whole section catering to this fascination. If so many people express their interest in the invisible worlds this way, why do theosophical teachers in the Blavatsky tradition strongly discourage their students from involvement in the occult arts?

The dangers of awakening psychic powers, without the proper guidance and discipline for self- centered motives, are clearly explained in several theosophical books. In particular Dr. de Purucker covers the subject in great detail in two chapters of his monumental book, THE FOUNTAIN-SOURCE OF OCCULTISM, "Spiritual Illumination vs. Psychic Illusions" and "Ancient and Modern Spiritualism Contrasted". He sums up the attitude of our Society to this subject as follows:

Occultism is the exposition of the essence of life, of the essence of being, and of the essence of living. Let us never confuse it with the so-called occult arts, arts which are strictly forbidden to us as students of this School. T he Brothers of the Shadow lead on their helpless victims with the occult arts, enticing them thereby, and their end is nonentity. But the Masters have told us plainly; learn first discipline, first learn the Law. Then the powers which you may crave, you will crave only as spiritual powers, and only to give yourself and them to others. On the Path, the so-called occult arts drop away even from the imagination, because their deluding enticements and their allurements are clearly seen.


[The Brothers of the Shadow are those who oppose the spiritualizing forces in the world represented by the Brotherhood of Compassion. The Masters are the enlightened men who founded the Theosophical Society and who silently encourage the uplifting of the human spirit in a multitude of ways.]

However, I have found when discussing these matters with people who are interested in psychism, that they often are not impressed with book knowledge passed on second-hand from people with little or no personal experience of psychic powers and mediumship. How then is it possible to meaningfully explain a viewpoint based on theosophical teachings that there are far more important issues in the discovery of spiritual truths than psychism and spiritualistic practices? Ultimately, each individual has to find his way to these answers in his own way. However, two simple pieces of advice on this subject were given to me which may prove of some value in explaining insights from theosophy on this subject.

First, from the wise adviser to a friend who had been experimenting with astral traveling: "How can you cope with other worlds if you can't cope with this one." Most people, especially in today's rapidly changing world, have trouble in coping with the challenges we have in our everyday lives, much less with the allurements of the invisible realms. The great religious teachers have always stressed the development of self-mastery and the building of spiritual strength as the primary task for humanity rather than concentrating on the development of psychic powers. How is this done? By squarely facing the seemingly minor tasks of our duties each day and gradually we will build the moral strengths and attitudes which will allow the safe unfoldment of the spiritual potential within us all, including the miraculous powers that lie sleeping in us. As Jesus is reported to have instructed his followers: seek first the treasures of the spirit of the kingdom of heaven and all other things will be added. What are these "treasures of the spirit" humanity has always been enjoined to cultivate? They are the spiritual and intellectual faculties recognized the world over as indicative of an enlightened and godly person: intuition, discriminating vision, strong, compassionately-directed willpower and sympathy with the problems of others. Cultivation of such qualities, rather than absorbing oneself in the peripheral aspects of nature's secrets, has always been the path of true self- knowledge and advancement in the service of others.

Secondly, an old soldier once told me: "In a battle, always maintain your objective". In the continuing battle to uplift human consciousness, the primary objective of our work as theosophists is to engender a spirit of Universal Brotherhood. The study of the powers innate in man was placed as the third objective of the Theosophical Society after the second objective being to pursue the study of ancient and modern religions, philosophies and sciences. Our teachers have made it clear that Universal Brotherhood is the main point of our endeavor, but why is the fascinating study of man's hidden powers relegated to a lesser priority? In theosophy, as I understand it, "psychic" means all that lies between the purely spiritual and the purely physical in both man and nature. It is the "plastic state" or realm of universal and individual life, as distinguished from that which is fixed, whether because of its relative perfection, as spirit, or because of its imperfection as matter. In man PSYCHIC is a term that could be used for the middle principles of his being that connects self-consciousness and embodied existence. It therefore makes more sense in the long term to concentrate one's efforts on the more permanent and perfect spiritual aspects of the universe and oneself rather than the impermanent and imperfect images of our intermediate psychic nature. As one theosophical teacher put it: "By going to the fountainhead we find the clearest water, so why drink from the muddy waters hundreds of miles from the spring."


What if I Met a Master?

By Eldon B. Tucker

There is talk at times, and a theosophical student may ponder the question: What if I met a Master? What would I ask him? What special information would he convey? What magical changes would the Master affect in my life?

Well, what is the answer to all this? What could we say? Simply, "don't hold your breath." That is, there is no advantage to be sought by a student from meeting a Master. Is this always the case? No. When the student advances and reaches the necessary point of inner ripeness, then there will be merit from having a teacher, a Guru, a Master. Until then, the advantage is in one's PERSONAL RIPENING, and not in chance encounters with the highest, the most advanced members of the human family.

There are vast occult secrets, considerable philosophical and practical wisdom about the nature of the world. This knowledge is in the safekeeping of the Mahatmas. While it is true that some of it would be dangerous if told to the general public, and must be withheld by the Hierarchy, there is much that does not need to be intentionally withheld. Why? Because it is simply unintelligible, sounding like gibberish to the ears of the uninitiated.

Consider how an advanced mathematical proof, involving references to numerous theorems, might sound to someone without only a background of grade school arithmetic. Then increase the gulf a thousandfold. And yet the contrast would be yet wider than we could imagine.

It is mentioned in THE MAHATMA LETTERS that in order to communicate their doctrines, certain conditions must be prepared, and the student must be brought to the necessary state of inner readiness. It is not simply a matter of their plainly stating an idea, or writing a book. For what they know, it simply could not be communicated that way.

They use techniques of spiritual training and of communicating the Wisdom Tradition that have proven themselves to work, techniques that have been developed, tested, and refined over countless generations, going back to the infancy of humanity on this earth.

Where then do we look for teachings, for inspiration, for spiritual instruction and support? We look to the people about us, at the noble-minded men and women that are our peers. And from among them we can likewise pick our gurus, our personal teachers, our spiritual coaches. Lofty beings, high Devas, grand Mahatmas are all too advanced to do us much good. We must look to the people closer to home for our companions and teachers.

Consider what the current Dalai Lama said, in SELECTED WORKS OF THE DALAI LAMA III: ESSENCE OF REFINED GOLD (Glenn H. Mullin, Editor), page 73:

Were all the Buddhas and lineage masters of the past to manifest before us at this very moment, we would not be able to recognize them as enlightened beings. Due to our not having a sufficiently strong karmic connection with them, great kindness of coming to us in an ordinary form which we can perceive and to which we can relate, and carries out the work of the Buddhas in our lives.

In one sense, all of life about us is our teacher. Life itself responds with precision to who and what we are. The beings about us react to what we do, mirroring the fruits of our actions upon them. The responsiveness of the world about us is nearly perfect, since we are all interrelated, all interconnected, and not truly separate, individual beings.

There is compassion to life as well. The results of what we do are buffered. They come back to us at a rate that we can handle. We aren't crushed with the burden of all our karma at once. It's flow is regulated (by the Lipika), and we are thereby enabled to maintain moral, self-conscious, and sentient control of our lives. Granted, external circumstances may limit our choices, yet we can remain aware and able to act by choice rather than by instinct, impulse, or desperation.

Now let's come to an imaginary meeting with a Master. We approach him and ask, "Tell me about what's really going on in the West right now. Tell me about the inner changes that are happening." He might smile and say something short, puzzling, sounding like a Zen koan. Or he might say nothing, but simply make some gesture. Yet again, if he had some purpose to it, he might actually comment on the situation. And you'd listen, and think, those first few words seemed to make sense, but then think "What the heck is he talking about!" And he might smile, knowing in advance of your reaction.

What does all this mean? That one may go through life, deeply interested in the spiritual. One may be making significant personal progress. One may be successful in practicing compassion, the Bodhisattva Vow. And yet one may not meet a Mahatma, a spiritual Olympian. Life itself may be one's coach, or one may find and genuinely benefit from the help of a coach of humbler stature.

From the other direction, looking at how one acts to teach others, rather than considering one's status as a disciple or student, we also find hope in this idea. No matter how humble one is, one may find yet others trailing behind, people whose lives would brighten up were one to touch them. One can become a light in the lives of others, perhaps even a bigger light that the Buddha could himself be. This is because one is closer to the others, in a better position to make karmic connections to them, and in a state of progress that they can more readily respond to.

It is said that then the student is ready, the teacher will appear. It is also said that when the right knock is given, the Door will open, and one can enter the Temple. What is that knock, and what is that state of readiness? It is the willingness to give what we have, to be of benefit to others, to forget self, to fill our minds and hearts with wisdom and compassion AND THE UNQUALIFIED DESIRE TO SHARE.

In doing so, we become sources of light to the world, and teachers to those trailing behind us. And at the same time, we start to see the pathway ahead, and come into relationship with fellow students, a bit ahead of us, beckoning us on. We then find ourselves forged into the "chain of life", becoming a living link in the tree of compassion that stretches inwardly to the heart of life, and outwardly and downwards as far as living, sentient beings allies themselves with it. Let's open our eyes, warm our hearts, illumine our minds, and join in!


Once Again, Blavatsky Words Are Proven True

By Radda Bai

It is surprising how words presented in the "Secret Doctorine" are ignored or rebuked until TRUTH rears it's head and shakes off of it's back the ridicule of past ages. This has just occured again, as the following will attest.

We read that

... in all large and wealthy lamasaries, there are subteranean crypts and cave-libraries, cut in the rock ... with one old lama, a hermit, living near by to watch it. Pilgrims say that the subterranean galleries and halls ... contain a collection of books, the number of which, according to accounts goven, is too large to find room even in the Brittish Museum.

While this particular passage referred to a specific location, many such locations are known to exist. To most readers, this would be considered mere fantasy, if not outright fraud. We may now present proof that such crypts exist. In the August number of "Discover" magazine we read the following:

It took generations of monks at the YunJu Monestary, near present-day Beijing , more than a millennium to complete ... the scriptures had been carved into 14,278 Stone Tablets, ranging in size from two-and-a-half by one-and-a-half feet to eight by two feet. The monks hid many tablets in nine caves they had dug in a mountainside near the monestary. Locals knew of the tablets, but no-one else did until Josef Guter, a German historian and China specialist, came upon them two years ago. A farmer showed showed Guter the caves ... where the tablets still remain ...

Time will tell how much, if any, of the Esoteric Buddhist doctorine has been revealed by this "Discovery", as most likely there exist more caves than the nine disclosed to Mssr. Guter which would contain additional "hidden" texts. And one might ask of the so-called farmer how much he may be versed in the our school's teachings, for one might find that this mere farmer may know more of the Secret Doctrine than poor Josef. Food for thought.



By Elsie Benjamin

[Reprinted from "Corresponding Fellows Lodge of Theosophists", July, 1978.]

Question from William Savage, San Diego, California, USA:

On related question [relating to a discussion about The Book of Revelation in the Bible]: What does Theosophy have to say about the destruction of the world in the event of a nuclear disaster? If such a thing ever did occur, it seems that cycles of evolution would be severely disrupted, and the karmic consequences are inconceivable. In general, what happens when man tampers with Nature so much that he sets everything out of whack?

There are several interesting facets to this question, on all of which Theosophy gives clear answers.


1. "Destruction of the world", whether by nuclear disaster or otherwise.

These cataclysms are brought about alternately by fire and water. Predominantly fire brought about the destruction of Lemuria; and water, "the great flood" brought about the end of Atlantis. But in each case the cataclysm covered only a part of the globe. What was not destroyed held the seeds for the rebirth of the new races.

The Planet Earth itself will not be fully "destroyed" until the end of the Planetary Manvantara and the onset of the Planetary Pralaya. We are only in the Fifth Root Race of the Fourth Round. WE HAVE TWO MORE Races for this Round. Then we have three more complete Rounds before the Planetary Pralaya begins, which could be called "the destruction of the world". Nuclear Energy in itself is not evil; it is the misuse man makes of it in some ways that would certainly seem to be the agent that will help to bring about the Fifth racial cataclysm by fire. HPB reminds us that the Cataclysms do not just suddenly come overnight, but come upon the earth gradually. At the time of her writing, she instanced a very severe earthquake in Chile as the sort of thing that would increase in intensity for the next 16,000 years.

A word of warning: One must not use the word 'Cataclysm' with the exact meaning we use in ordinary language. HPB in discussing the periodic racial cataclysms (SD II 410) in a Section titled "The 'Curse' From a Philosophical Point of View", has this to say:

Meanwhile, one task is left incomplete: that of disposing of that most pernicious of all the theological dogmas -- the CURSE under which mankind is alleged to have suffered ever since the supposed disobedience of Adam and Eve in the Bower of Eden. Creative powers in man were the gift of divine wisdom, not the result of sin.

Referring to the cataclysms of both the Third and Fourth Races, she continues,

... hence the Deluge was no punishment, but simply the result of a periodical and geological law.


2. "Cycles of Evolution severely disrupted."

Interestingly this very question was asked of Dr. de Purucker by a student at Point Loma in 1923, as follows:

The doctrine of cycles, and the exact number of years the human race will take in one Manvantara or a Day and Night of Brahma to reach the Seventh Race and Seventh Round, taken in conjunction with the doctrine of free will, always somewhat puzzles me; why does not man's free will and failures continually keep upsetting the exact number of years it takes him to reach to certain future Rounds and Races?

G. de P. answers in part, as reported in his FUNDAMENTALS OF THE ESOTERIC PHILOSOPHY:

In the large sweep of things, taking the Seven Rounds as a Kalpa or as a whole, and even more strongly so as regards the Solar Kalpa, the exact number of years of even a human's many incarnations is definite and set, in much the same way as the number of turns (or days and nights) which our globe, the Earth, makes in one year, or one revolution determined in a year, or in a lunar cycle or month. But while that is so in the general sweep of things, the doctrine of free will which man has, is a very real truth, and man's failures or successes do work to retard or to hasten the number of a human being's incarnations, for instance.

But just as the bodies of the solar system, the planets, as is known to astronomers, sometimes due to their perturbations are occasionally a little behind or a little ahead in time, nevertheless in the long run the "arrive in time", as if they were endowed with consciousness, and had to arrive at the goal at the time when the hour is set therefor. So man's free will can later the course or time-periods of his incarnations, but not their number. In any Round, or any Root Race, he can change them in that respect; but he will have to pay for it by karmic retribution, for a reaction sets in; and there will be an adverse current running the other way.

You can look at this way: Our free will is rooted in and is a part of the Boundless Cosmic Life; but the Whole is larger than any of its parts; and before the end of this answer we will illustrate that in the final analysis, it is the Great Free Will of the Whole that triumphs.


3. "What happens when man tampers with nature so much that he sets everything out of whack?"

Whenever man tampers with nature he is going on the downward road towards black magic. This is what HPB (SD II 272) writes. She speaks of the struggle always going on in Man between his Godlike powers, his spiritual, and the animal in his physical self, "which began from the very day man tasted of the fruit of the Tree of Wisdom", between the spiritual and the psychic, the psychic and the physical. "Those who conquered the lower principles by obtaining mastery of the body, joined the 'Sons of Light'. Those who fell victims to their lower natures, became the slaves of Matter", and ended as 'Sons of Darkness'. "They had fallen in the battle of mortal life with Life Immortal, and all those so fallen became the seed of the future generations of Atlanteans".

In a footnote she explains that the term 'Atlanteans' is used here as a synonym of 'sorcerers' or black magicians. She explains that they were not all such. "They became so towards their end, as we (the fifth) are fast becoming now." Further on she says it was mainly anthropomorphism in their religion, and the practice of black magic that started them on the downward path; she also says the Fifth Race will not descend quite so far as did the Atlanteans, the Fourth Race.

Actually, Theosophy makes a distinction between Magic per se, and Sorcery. In the closing chapter of ISIS UNVEILED, II, stating the ten fundamental propositions of the Oriental Philosophy, HPB says (the fourth item):

Magic, as a science, is the knowledge of ... the way by which the omniscience and omnipotence of the spirit and its control over nature's forces may be acquired ... Magic is the application of those principles. No. 5. Arcane knowledge misapplied, is sorcery, beneficently used, true magic or Wisdom.

Therefore, answering the specific question: Anything going against nature is tending towards sorcery, the downward path. She instances such things as hypnotism and much that is done under the name of curing, and adds (SD I 263):

Such experimenters as Pasteur are the best friends and helpers of the Destroyers and the worst enemies of the Creators ...

But it must be remembered that in the final reckoning, it is the creators who will win over the Destroyers.

Let us go back to a quote on the Racial Cataclysms found in THE MAHATMA LETTERS, 156-7:

The approach of every new "obscuration" is always signaled by cataclysms -- of either fire or water ... Every Root Race has to be cut in two, so to say, by either one or the other.

And the following is the IMPORTANT point:

... when it will have reached its zenith of PHYSICAL intellectuality ... unable to go any higher in its own cycle -- its progress towards ABSOLUTE evil will be arrested (as its predecessors, the Lemurians and Atlanteans, the men of the Third and Fourth Races were arrested in their progress towards the same) by one of such cataclysmic changes.

So in the last analysis, these cataclysms are not terrible catastrophes. They prevent man from further "setting everything out of whack". The Sons of Light shall prevail.


4. Final Point

Lastly, we must not forget The Guardian Wall, described by HPB in her VOICE OF THE SILENCE, 68:

Built by the hands of many Masters of Compassion, raised by their tortures, by their blood cemented, it shields mankind, since man is man, protecting it from further and far greater misery and sorrow.

And in a footnote (page 94):

The "Guardian Wall" or the "Wall of Protection": 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.

(Fuller references to the Guardian Wall can be found in Dr. de Purucker's STUDIES IN OCCULT PHILOSOPHY, 665; ESOTERIC TRADITION, 914; and DIALOGUES I, 164, 924 fn.)


Pi in Base 12 Notation

By Eldon B. Tucker

The first kind of numbers that we have are called the NATURAL numbers, which are countable quantities of things, like "I have THREE apples." Then when quantities are compared to each other, like "I have two apples and you have six apples", or quantities are changed, like "I had six apples and now have two apples", we get negative numbers, like "I have FOUR less apples than before," or MINUS-FOUR apples. Extending the natural numbers to include negative quantities gives us INTEGERS.

The third type of number is from comparing the size of two integers, like "I have FIVE books for every TWO books that you have, or FIVE/TWO as many books." This type of number is RATIONAL, based upon the RATIO of one number to another. Things in the world can be approximately measured in rational numbers, like "The table is four feet, six inches long, 4.5 or 9/2 feet in length."

To this point, we have, in a sense, finite beings (natural numbers), the privations of finite beings (negative integers), and the relationships between them (the ratios of two integers).

There are yet two more kinds of numbers.

Fourth we have the IRRATIONAL. These numbers are not the ratio of any two integers. They can only be approximated by any two numbers, or by an arbitrary string of digits. There are certain mathematical objects that can only be represented by irrational numbers, and they have names and special meanings. One is PI, the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. Another is E, a third is the Golden Mean, and there are others, including one from chaos, dealing with how quickly period doubling happens in a system undergoing turbulence.

The fifth kind of number is COMPLEX. It includes two irrational numbers, one that is normal, and the other that is IMAGINARY or non-existing. Certain mathematics require values to have an IMAGINARY component, a part that cannot exist, in order to work out and describe things in the world. (This is like saying that there's a manifest and an unmanifest component to anything that is subject to measurement.)

Forgetting about the COMPLEX numbers, with their IMAGINARY or unmanifest component, let's consider the IRRATIONAL, the magical relationships that exist between two quantities, like between the circumference of a circle and its diameter. This ratio, PI, is approximately 3.141592.

When we represent PI in this manner, we have an infinite sequence of digits; we never reach a point where the sequence starts to repeat itself. To write out the sequence would take all of time, it would take forever. To have a written sequence of digits to represent PI, it would take all of space, all possible places to write the digits. We basically have a relationship that is transcendent.

There are different manners of computing PI. Typically, one may use an infinite series, a series of numbers, which if added up would equal PI. The series is followed until sufficent accuracy is obtained, and the remaining infinite terms are left off as not needed.

The same is true of any transcendent quality, as it is expressed in our finite, limited world of matter. It is approximated, to a certain precision, but never fully expressed. A mathematical circle, for instance, is only approximated by any physical object that attempts to be circular. Even if the object is perfect to our eyes, if we magnify it sufficiently, and look at it at a moculecular level, we'll see a certain roughness to its shape.

Looking at PI, as represented as a decimal number, we have something like a fractal. It has a starting size "3", then with each iteration a growing amount of detail, as the series continues within rapidly narrowing boundaries. (This is like continually magnifying the edge of a fractal, like the mandalbrot set, looking at the never-ending detail on the boundary between two states of order.)

In a sense, irrational numbers are like these boundary areas in fractals, where the infinite detail is to be found, surrounded on either side by well-behaved areas, the rational numbers.

Looking at PI, the number 3.14159 is a number represented in base 10. That is, each digit is a power of 10. We really have the sum of the numbers:

3 + 1/10 + 4/100 + 1/1000 + ...

But PI could also be represented in other bases. It is customary to represent numbers in base 10, but we could use base seven or base 12. In base 12, PI would be:

3 + 1/12 + 8/144 + 4/2780 + ...

or be 3.184809493, where each digit had the possible values

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C

(A is 10, B is 11, and C is 12). THERE MAY BE SOME METAPHYSICAL SIGNIFICANCE in representing PI in base 12, and looking at its leading digits.

Finally, by looking at how we approximate and represent irrational numbers, and how we create and build fractals, we see a process that is not usually mentioned in metaphysics.

In metaphysics, we have the notion of infinite that has to be INFINITE IN BOTH DIRECTIONS. Here we have an infinity that is not symmetrical, it's finite in one direction and infinite in the other.

We have a finite size or shape or number, an initial start, then a potentially never-ending series of terms to add (with an infinite series) or iternations to perform (with a fractal). Does this mean that there are infinities that hang off of finite things?

We could say: yes and no. Yes in the sense that when a particular world, being, or thing comes into existance, it has an initial form, shape, number, first interation. And through a series of additions to itself, a series of iterations, it starts to grow and take shape. But since this happens over time, in a finite world with its own limits, that series does not go on infinitely, but stops when it no longer produces additional results or the end of the life of the being.

(This only holds true, though, in the case of an infinite series, if it is convergent, where the effects of future terms being added rapidly diminishes.)

One example is drawing a circle on a computer screen. The circle could be roughly drawn, then drawn and redrawn with increasing sharpness. At a certain point the circle is drawn as finely as the resolution of the screen, and no further refinements are possible. Do increasing attempts to draw it even finer happen, even though they have no effect? Probably not, since living things are closely tied to their forms, and with constant feedback will detect the lack of results and respond to it.

Another example is from looking at a Julia Set (a type of fractal) as it undergoes interation. One may quickly take a unique shape in a few iternations, but rapidly break apart into smaller and smaller objects, until it is no longer seen.

It ultimately will break apart into a Cantor dust, a cloud of points infinitely small, and no longer have any size or shape at all. As it breaks apart, and the parts get smaller and smaller, they eventually reach the stage where all of them are too small to be expressed in the world anymore.

If it were drawn on a computer screen, at a certain iteration the pieces of the fractal would be so small that no pixel on the display (an single "dot" on the computer screen) would be on anymore, and the fractal, as far as the computer screen was concerned, would have left existence.

There are likewise certain limits or boundaries to existence on the physical plane which when reached take a being "out of existence" or make that being unmanifest.

There are many mysteries that can be explored by looking at mathematics, science, and the new area of nonlinear dynamics or "chaos". They can provide rich symbolism for metaphysical speculation, and possible keys to Mystery Teachings. It is a worthy subject that is largely untapped.


Each Member a Center

By William Q. Judge

[THE PATH, X, October 1895, pp. 201-02. ECHOES OF THE ORIENT, I, pp. 468-69.]

Some years ago one of those Masters in whom so many of our members believe directed HPB to write a letter for him to a certain body of Theosophists. In this he said that each member could become, in his own town or city, if earnest, sincere and unselfish, an active center from which would radiate unseen powerful forces able to influence men and women in the vicinity for good; and that soon enquirers would appear, a Branch in time be organized, and thus the whole neighborhood would receive benefit. This seems just and reasonable in addition to its being stated by such high authority. Members ought to consider and think over it so that action may follow.

Too many who think themselves theosophically alone in their own town, have folded their hands and shut up their minds, saying to themselves that they could do nothing, that no one was near who could possibly care for Theosophy, and that that particular town was the "most difficult for the work."

The great mistake in these cases is forgetting the law indicated in what HPB wrote. It is one that every member ought to know---that the mind of man is capable of bringing about results through means of other minds about him. If we sit and think that nothing can be done, then our subtle mind meets other minds within the radius of our sphere--not small--and shouts into them: "Nothing can be done." Of course then nothing is done. But if unselfishly and earnestly we think THEOSOPHY, and desire that others should, like us, be benefited by it, then to the minds we meet in stray moments of the day and in many hours of the night we cry "Theosophy," and "Help and hope for thee." The result must be an awakening of interest upon the slightest provocative occasion.

Such an inner attitude, added to every sort of attempt at promulgation, will disclose many unsuspected persons who are thinking along this very line. Thus will the opportunity of the hour be taken advantage of.

Our last Convention marked an era: the dying away of strife and opening of greater chances, the enlargement and extension of inquiry and interest on the part of the great public. This is a very great opportunity. Branches and members alike ought to rise to meet and use all that this will afford. Remember that we are not fighting for any form of organization, nor for badges, nor for petty personal ends, but for Theosophy; for the benefit, the advantage and the good of our fellow-men. As was said not long ago, those of us who follow after and worship a mere organization are making fetishes and worshipping a shell. Unselfishness is the real keynote.

Those of us who still, after years and after much instruction, are seeking and wishing for personal progress or preferment in the occult side of life, are destroying that quality first referred to- --of being a living, breathing center of light and hope for others. And the self-seekers thus also lessen their possible chances in the next life here.

Close up the ranks! Each member a center; each Branch a center; the whole a vast, whirling center of light and force and energy for the benefit of the nation and of the race.


When Our Memory Fails Us

By Eldon B. Tucker

[reprinted from, September 26, 1994]

There was an interesting article on memory in NEWSWEEK, Sept. 26, 1994, entitled "You Must Remember This."

Memory is considered both fallible and malleable. Our memory can fail us. And we can remember events that we've only heard about, but never experienced.

A memory is stored in many pieces. The components, including images, sounds, feelings, are all saved in association with similar memory pieces. When we recall a memory, there is a function of consciousness that draws the pieces of memory together into a cohesive whole. When that function of consciousness fails us, and pieces are assembled incorrectly, we can remember things that never happened.

How do we tell when we've recalled a true memory? There is no structural difference between the memory of an actual event and a false memory. What we do is save the source of the memory. When a memory is recalled, we also recall that it was from something we read, from a dream, or from an actual event in our lives. This aspect of labeling memories enables us to discriminate between physical-plane "reality" and so-called non-real events.

The problem is that the frst aspect of a memory to fail is its origin. When we strongly imagine something enough, and then forget where the memory came from, we may have made ourselves a false memory. The term for this forgetting of the source of memories, and the subsequent creation of false memories, is "source amnesia."

Because of source amnesia, it is possible to create memories from suggestions. A suggestion leaves a trace in our memories. The memory is tagged as a suggestion and linked with others. Under stress and over time the fact that it was only a suggestion fades. We later recall it as a real memory, perhaps embellished with other newly-associated contents of our memory.

The creation of false memories is hastened under severe emotional stress, which overcomes internal checks on plausibility. We can see this in our own experience, when we've had a rift with someone we've known for years. The anger and feeling of betrayal colors our perception of the person. If we're not careful, as we think of that person our anger will bring us to "rewrite history" and see previous experiences with him in a darker, less kindly light.

There are a number of implications to this process of memory in regards to our theosophical studies, and to various topics we consider. One relates to our memories of the materials we study in the theosophical literature. When we forget the source of an idea, if it is closely tied to our theosophical thinking, we may create a false memory of having read it in a book by our favorite authors.

This source amnesia for the ideas that we read help explains how opinion is formed. Our opinion draws upon ideas we've encountered from many sources. We forget the sources, embracing selected ideas as our own, and formulate our own personal beliefs.

We find with Theosophy, though, that there is much more to the source of our ideas than some previous physical-plane event, remembered or not. There are other planes of existence, and other forms of interaction with people than the outer, physical events of our lives. We can exchange thoughts directly, without use of the spoken word. We can pick up thoughts and images from the astral light, either as impressed on physical objects or directly. (Like going to the scene of a crime and "picking up" from the objects there a "memory" of what had happened.) And we can get in touch with various thought-currents, which act as non-physical channels of learning.


Theosophical Glossary and the Psychic

By Elsie Benjamin

[Reprinted from "Corresponding Fellows Lodge of Theosophists", February, 1980]

The third Object of the T.S. is usually worded "The investigation of the unexplained laws of nature, and the psychical powers latent in man." In THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY it is "psychic and spiritual powers". In THE THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARY it becomes "The study and development of the latent divine powers in man". This suggests that HPB at the end of her life decided to back-pedal PSYCHIC and promote DIVINE. Which seems at least odd since she spent so much of her life disseminating and discussing the science of psychic forces and states. But I understand that some theosophists regard the GLOSSARY as apocryphal. So, please, to what extent IS it HPB's?

-- Maurice Cheshire, London

First. I don't think HPB really intended to soft-pedal the psychic investigations aspect, because somewhere in the S.D. she says that psychism and kindred subjects will attract much attention in the 20th Century and it behooves FTS to be well versed in the rationale, the real explanations, etc. that Theosophy can give.

Second. I wouldn't consider HPB's GLOSSARY to be entirely apocryphal. The point was that she had a chance to proofread only a few pages of it before her death, as Boris de Zirkoff points out in his trenchant article: "Who Played This Trick on HPB?" Because there are several definite mistakes and misunderstandings which she never had a chance to check, notable the one about the composite nature of the Nirmanakaya -- which is a very interesting subject in itself, I mean the mistake made in the GLOSSARY.

Third. Also the fact that the book wasn't prepared until shortly before her death, would seem to indicate that its preparation was one of her last literary undertakings, and with all the other terrific amount of literary work she had on her hands, I THINK the book was compiled by one or more of her students.

Fourth. Also I think it is one the signs of the true Teacher that at one time specific needs are pointed out, and that at others as the scene changes, something else is stressed. We do know that the Master finally had to protest that the T.S. was not formed as a hotbed for teaching magic, etc., as many members were more closely interested in that aspect, phenomena, etc., to the neglect of theosophical teaching.

Fifth. But about the GLOSSARY: Do you Know -- I think it is very salutary that we have these uncertainties, because it throws us back onto our own investigations and intuitions, if we find something that seems not "to ring true" to us, or something that we think may be a misprint. Which of course doesn't mean that we should immediately reject it, but they are points to ponder over and see whether we can accept them. Remember HPB's advise to the American Convention: "orthodoxy in Theosophy is a thing neither possible nor desirable. It is diversity of opinion, within certain limits ... a certain amount of uncertainty, etc. that keeps the Society a healthy body".


Cycles and the Earth's Core

By Eldon B. Tucker

The mysteries of life, touching upon invisible, unseen worlds, have strong, living bonds with external nature. There are deep secrets connected with the simple things in life like the weather, the rising and setting of the Sun, and the changing geological face of the earth.

We have an strong example of this bond. Our physical brain and the mind of our lower self, the personality, have a strong tie. Is the mind a byproduct of the physical brain? No. Do changes to the physical brain affect the mind, as we know it? Yes, according to modern science. States of consciousness have corresponding brain states, including, for instance, rapid eye movements [REM sleep] when we dream.

What we have between the brain and mind is a state of co-dependence. Each depends upon the other. And taking it a bit farther, each of our seven principles are interrelated, and need each other, if we are to function as full human beings here on earth.

The same form of co-dependence exists between exterior things, and the unseen face of nature, the other planes of existence. Being co-dependent, an physical event does not cause something on another plane, nor does something on an unseen plane cause the physical event. The two cause each other; they happen simultaneously, both arising out of the came causes and due to the same creative impulse.

When we look at the beautiful things found in nature, some of vast sizes and titanic proportion, we gaze upon physical events that are correlated with equally vast things that are unseen. And when we learn the law of analogy and learn how to trace the correspondences between things physical and those of other planes, we have a way of learning about great thing of other planes. And we likewise, by correspondence, have keys to unlock mysteries of the psyche and the heart of our own being.

Consider the weather. We may have a mountain breeze, gently swaying the branches of the trees before us. Or we walk along the beach during low tide, examining all the sea life left behind on the shore. We might bristle to the electricity in the air, as a thunderstorm approaches, and we see flashes of lightening amidst the black clouds on the horizon. We could find ourselves stepping through deep snow, almost taller than the boots we wear. Or perhaps we stop to gaze upon the gold and red painted clouds at sunset.

There is significance in these events, both pointing to things unseen, of other planes, and to things within, of our own psychological being.

And there are yet deeper things about us. Some deal with vaster periods of time, like ice ages and the continental drift. Others deal with vaster sizes, things of astronomical magnitude. On earth, we may have earthquakes, the rotation of the earth in a day, the revolution of the earth about the sun in a year, full and new moons, the eclipses, solar flares, and the sunspot cycles of 11 years.

And there are longer cycles. They include:

1. The precession of the perihelion (the closest approach of the earth to the sun, currently January 3) every 22,000 years.

2. The precession of the equinoxes every 25,800 years.

3. The change of the obliquity of the ecliptic (the tilt of the earth's axis from a direction perpendicular to the plane of the earth's orbit) every 41,000 years.

4. The change of the shape of the earth's orbit (from circular to elliptical) over 97,000 years.

The time periods involving our solar system are far bigger in scope, and include 200 million years for it to orbit the galaxy, which it has done about 50 times since it was formed.

A recent scientific discovery points to yet another type of cycle, and to another area of metaphysical symbolism. It has to do with the core of the earth. [See "Scientists Get First Glimpse of Earth's Core", LOS ANGELES TIMES, July 18, 1996.]

It seems that the earth has an inner core and an outer core. The inner core is the size of the moon, and is primarily made of solid iron. The outer core is liquid or molten iron, with the consistency of water. The liquid iron is slowly crystallizing at the rate of one inch per 50 years, and has several billion years to go.

In the outer core, the molten iron carries powerful electric currents, that help create and shape the earth's magnetic field. It is related to the North and South magnetic poles of the earth, which change places every 100,000 years.

As the iron freezes, it releases energy. Surprisingly, the inner core rotates faster than the surface of the earth. It it about 2/3 seconds faster every day, and takes about 400 years to get one day ahead of the earth's surface. It cannot be said if this cycle endures over long periods of time, since it is not known if the inner core speeds up, slows down, or changes direction over time.

What areas of symbolism do we have with this new information from science? First we have several distinct areas of the inner earth, one a sea of iron, the second a moon-sized iron core. These could correspond to the localities of lower subplanes than our physical is on. Second we have two earths and two earth days: the inner earth and the outer earth.

We have, then, a new cycle to add to the others, a new type of precession, the precession of the inner and other earths. What could this signify? It's a worthy object of our contemplation, a subject rich with meaning. Let's explore it in our thinking and see what we can come up with ...


Monads, Principles, and Sutratmans

By G. de Purucker

[Confusion can arise at time over our constitution, because of not making a clear distinction between different manners of viewing it. Following are some words by G. de Purucker on the subject, taken from CORRELATIONS OF COSMIC AND HUMAN CONSTITUTIONS, Point Loma Publications, 1987, pages 32-40.]

... our two Theosophical manners of viewing man's constitution, one as being composite or composed of the seven Cosmic Elements [principles] ... [The] second manner ... somewhat more occult or esoteric, is the consideration of man as a compound or composite of interworking Monads or Centers of Consciousness ...

What is the distinction between the different Monads in man, and the Seven Principles, and what are their respective functions? This questions was at the bottom of the dispute between HPB and Subba Row. Each was right, neither was wrong; but the world did not know the 'why' of the dispute.

Subba Row desired to follow the teachings of the Brahmanic esoteric school, in fastening attention on individualities of the Universe, on the Monads, looking upon the Universe as a vast aggregate of individuals. But our great Teachers, through their mouthpiece HPB, for that time of the world's history say that it was needed to give to the then inquiring Western mind, taking a materialistically scientific bent, some real explanation of what the composition of the Universe is as an entity. What is its 'stuff,' what is man as an integral part of it? Now, the Seven Principles are the sevenfold 'stuff' of the Universe, then seven kinds of 'stuffs.' The higher part of each kind is its consciousness-side; the lower part of each 'stuff' or kind is the body-side, that through which its own consciousness expresses itself ...

[When we speak of the seven principles, we have a] background of divinity clothing itself in spirit, these bringing into birth the light of mind; and the light of mind then co-working with the other principles and elements thus far evolved, brought forth 'Cosmic Desire'; and thus we go down the scale, until we reach the ... substantial body, gross body on whatever plane, concreted, compacted, whether the plane be physical or spiritual or divine or what not ... every monad is septempartile, has its Atman, Buddhi, Manas, right down the scale ... We must not have our minds confused with the idea that the Seven Principles are one thing, and the Monads are something else which work through the seven principles as disjunct from them. That is wrong. Every Monad itself is septempartile. Of what? The seven principles ...

The Monad, every Monad, is builded of ... the Seven Principles or Elements. Every such principle or element likewise can represent one of the cosmic planes, from the highest downwards ...

Now what differentiates one man from another man, and a man from a beast, is not any difference appertaining to their respective seven principles or elements, because these enter and form the compound constitution of all beings, and entities and things; the differences arise from the relative degree of evolution of the different Monads ... it would be fatal to a correct understanding of the truth if it were ever thought that these seven principles ... are distinct and separate from each other ... all the seven ... interblend and interact in most marvelous and perfect fashion ...

Man's constitution is composite, and, as said before, there is in it a Divine Monad, a Spiritual Monad, a human Monad, and so forth down the scale. Now, is each one of these monads an entity by itself, united with all the other entities, all together forming man's constitution; and if so, are there several 'mans' in man, or is it just one single unitary being to which different names are given as we pass down the scale?

It is not a mere figure of speech when we speak of man as having in his constitution different monads. A monad means an indivisible center of life-consciousness-substance, a spiritual ego. Therefore man, in addition to being a stream of consciousness as he is as a constitution, has within him a Divinity, a Buddha or Christ, a Manasaputra, a human being, an astral entity; and he is housed in the human beast -- the astral-vital-physical body. All these collectively constitute man's constitution. Hence it is that I have so often said: Remember in all your studies, never forget it, that man is a composite entity, which means an entity formed of other entities, other beings. All through any one such constitution there is found the SUTRATMAN or thread-self from the inmost of the inmost, the core of the core, the heart, of the Universe -- though all these different monads, from the highest downwards till it touches the physical brain of man. Thus man is both legion and unit ...

Now, then, the human ego which is I, which is any one of you, is one of those particular monads as yet relatively unevolved. Above it there is the Spiritual Monad, and above the latter there is the Divine Monad. For karmic reasons very intricate, difficult to understand but existent, any one of us happens to be a certain stream of consciousness, a sutratman; yet you or I as human individuals are the human monad ... any such Sutratman, or raying of consciousness flowing forth from a Monad, traverses whatever is below it, which thus forms its 'field' of action ... the raying proceeds from its source downwards through the lower ranges or degrees of such constitution finally reaching and touching and acting upon the appropriate organ or organs in the physical body ... there is a fundamental Sutratman in man, the Ray from the Divine Monad, but that because there are other Monads composing the human constitution, each one of these minor or subordinate Monads ... rays forth its own respective or swabhavic minor Sutratmic emanation or flow. Here again we notice the essential truth that the human constitution is compounded of consciousnesses emanating from their respective focal Centers as well as of all the different vehicles which these subordinate Sutratmans clothe themselves in ... we have therefore in man the Sutratman of his own humanhood, emanating from the Manasaputric or Human Ego overenlightened by and enclosed within the comprising essence of the Divine Monad, its 'Father in Heaven'.

It is the aggregation of these interworking Sutratmic activities in the human being which make him the compound entity he is, with one Sutratmic channel or path into his own HUMAN Monadic consciousness, another Sutratmic channel or path along which he can rise into his Spiritual Monadic consciousness, and again another Sutratman or Sutratmic channel along which he can rise upwards to commune with the divinity in and above him, i.e. with his own individualized Inner God or Divine Monad ...

Any one of these monads or spiritual egos which form what is commonly called the constitution of a man, is evolving -- you are, I am, the god within me also, the god within you also, each one on its own plane, each one following its own pathway, and each one in time going a plane higher, and then a plane higher still ...


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