Rationalists are admirable beings, rationalism is a hideous monster when it claims for itself omnipotence. Attribution of omnipotence to reason is as bad a piece of idolatry as is worship of stock and stone believing it to be God. I plead not for the suppression of reason, but for a due recognition of that in us which sanctifies reason.
-- Mohandas K. Gandhi
[Letter from H.P. Blavatsky to William Q. Judge, General Secretary of the American Section of the Theosophical Society. The letter can be found in Volume 10 of the BLAVATSKY COLLECTED WRITINGS, in ULT and Pasadena T.S. pamphlets, and on the Web.]
London, April 3, 1888
My Dearest Brother and Co-Founder of the Theosophical Society:
In addressing to you this letter, which I request you to read to the Convention summoned for April 22nd, I must first present my hearty congratulations and most cordial good wishes to the assembled Delegates and good Fellows of our Society, and to yourself--the heart and soul of that Body in America. We were several, to call it to life in 1875. Since then you have remained alone to preserve that life through good and evil report. It is to you chiefly, if not entirely, that the Theosophical Society owes its existence in 1888. Let me then thank you for it, for the first and perhaps the last, time publicly, and from the bottom of my heart, which beats only for the cause you represent so well and serve so faithfully. I ask you also to remember that, on this important occasion, my voice is but the feeble echo of other more sacred voices, and the transmitter of the approval of Those whose presence is alive in more than one true Theosophical heart, and lives, as I know, preeminently in yours. May the assembled Society feel the warm greeting as earnestly as it is given, and may every Fellow present, who realizes that he has deserved it, profit by the Blessings sent.
Theosophy has lately taken a new start in America which marks the commencement of a new Cycle in the affairs of the Society in the West. And the policy you are now following is admirably adapted to give scope for the widest expansion of the movement, and to establish on a firm basis an organization which, while promoting feelings of fraternal sympathy, social unity, and solidarity, will leave ample room for individual freedom and exertion in the common cause--that of helping mankind.
The multiplication of local centers should be a foremost consideration in your minds, and each man should strive to be a center of work in himself. When his inner development has reached a certain point, he will naturally draw those with whom he is in contact under the same influence; a nucleus will be formed, round which other people will gather, forming a center from which information and spiritual influence radiate, and towards which higher influences are directed.
But let no man set up a popery instead of Theosophy, as this would be suicidal and has ever ended most fatally. We are all fellow-students, more or less advanced; but no one belonging to the Theosophical Society ought to count himself as more than, at best a pupil-teacher--one who has no right to dogmatize.
Since the Society was founded, a distinct change has come over the spirit of the age. Those who gave us commission to found the Society foresaw this, now rapidly growing, wage of transcendental influence following that other wave of mere phenomenalism. Even the journals of Spiritualism are gradually eliminating the phenomena and wonders, to replace them with philosophy. The Theosophical Society led the van of this movement; but, although Theosophical ideas have entered into every development or form which awakening spirituality has assumed, yet Theosophy pure and simple has still a severe battle to fight for recognition. The days of old are gone to return no more, and many are the Theosophists who, taught by bitter experience, have pledged themselves to make of the Society a "miracle club" no longer. The faint-hearted have asked in all ages for signs and wonders, and when these failed to be granted, they refused to believe. Such are not those who will ever comprehend Theosophy pure and simple. But there are others among us who realize intuitionally that the recognition of pure Theosophy--the philosophy of the rational explanation of things and not the tenets--is of the most vital importance in the Society, inasmuch as it alone can furnish the beacon-light needed to guide humanity on its true path.
This should never be forgotten, nor should the following fact be overlooked. On the day when Theosophy will have accomplished its most holy and most important mission--namely to unite firmly a body of men of all nations in brotherly love and bent on a pure altruistic work, not on a labor with selfish motives--on that day only will Theosophy become higher than any nominal brotherhood of man. This will be a wonder and a miracle truly, for the realization of which Humanity is vainly waiting for the last eighteen centuries, and which every association has hitherto failed to accomplish.
Orthodoxy in Theosophy is a thing neither possible nor desirable. It is diversity of opinion, within certain limits, that keeps the Theosophical Society a living and a healthy body, its many other ugly features notwithstanding. Were it not, also, for the existence of a large amount of uncertainty in the minds of students of Theosophy, such healthy divergencies would be impossible, and the Society would degenerate into a sect, in which a narrow and stereotyped creed would take the place of the living and breathing spirit of Truth and an ever growing Knowledge.
According as people are prepared to receive it, so will new Theosophical teachings be given. But no more will be given than the world, on its present level of spirituality, can profit by. It depends on the spread of Theosophy--the assimilation of what has been given--how much more will be revealed and how soon.
It most be remembered that the Society was not founded as a nursery for forcing a supply of Occultists--as a factory for the manufactory of Adepts. It was intended to stem the current of materialism, and also that of spiritualistic phenomenalism and the worship of the Dead. It had to guide the spiritual awakening that has now begun, and not to pander to psychic cravings which are but another form of materialism. For by "materialism is meant not only an anti-philosophical negation of pure spirit, and, even more, materialism in conduct and action-brutality, hypocrisy, and, above all, selfishness,--but also the fruits of a disbelief in all but material things, a disbelief which has increased enormously during the last century, and which has led many, after a denial of all existence other than that in matter, into a blind belief in the materialization of Spirit.
The tendency of modern civilization is a reaction towards animalism, towards a development of those qualities which conduce to the success in life of man as an animal in the struggle for animal existence. Theosophy seeks to develop the human nature in man in addition to the animal, and at the sacrifice of the superfluous animality which modern life and materialistic teachings have developed to a degree which is abnormal for the human being at this stage of his progress.
Men cannot all be Occultists, but they can all be Theosophists. Many who have never heard of the Society are Theosophists without knowing it themselves; for the essence of Theosophy is the perfect harmonizing of the divine with the human in man, the adjustment of his god-like qualities and aspirations, and their sway over the terrestrial or animal passions in him. Kindness, absence of every ill feeling or selfishness, charity, good-will to all beings, and perfect justice to others as to one's self, are its chief features. He who teaches Theosophy preaches the gospel of good-will; and the converse of this is true also,--he who preaches the gospel of good-will, teaches Theosophy.
This aspect of Theosophy has never failed to receive due and full recognition in the pages of the "PATH", a journal of which the American Section has good reason to be proud. It is a teacher and a power; and the fact that such a periodical should be produced and supported in the United States speaks in eloquent praise both of its Editor and its readers.
America is also to be congratulated on the increase in the number of the Branches or Lodges which is now taking place. It is a sign that in things spiritual as well as things temporal the great American Republic is well fitted for independence and self-organization. The Founders of the Society wish every Section, as soon as it becomes strong enough to govern itself, to be as independent as is compatible with its allegiance to the Society as a whole and to the Great Ideal Brotherhood, the lowest formal grade of which is represented by the Theosophical Society.
Here in England Theosophy is waking into new life. The slanders and absurd inventions of the Society for Psychical Research have almost paralyzed it, though only for a very short time, and the example of America has stirred the English Theosophists into renewed activity. "LUCIFER" sounded the reveille, and the first fruit has been the founding of the "Theosophical Publication Society." This Society is of great importance. It has undertaken the very necessary work of breaking down the barrier of prejudice and ignorance which has formed so great an impediment to the spread of Theosophy. It will act as a recruiting agency for the Society by the wide distribution of elementary literature on the subject, among those who are in any way prepared to give ear to it. The correspondence already received shows that it is creating an interest in the subject, and proves that in every large town in England there exist quite enough isolated Theosophists to form groups or Lodges under charter from the Society. But, at present, these students do not even know of each other's existence, and many of them have never heard of the Theosophical Society until now. I am thoroughly satisfied of the great utility of this new Society, composed as it is to a large extent of members of the Theosophical Society, and being under the control of prominent Theosophists, such as you, my dear Brother W.Q.Judge, Mabel Collins, and the Countess Wachtmeister.
I am confident that, when the real nature of Theosophy is understood, the prejudice against it, now so unfortunately prevalent, will die out. Theosophists are of necessity the friends of all movements in the world, whether intellectual or simply practical, for the amelioration of the condition of mankind. We are the friends of all those who fight against drunkenness, against cruelty to animals, against injustice to women, against corruption in society or in government, although we do not meddle in politics. We are the friends of those who exercise practical charity, who seek to lift a little of the tremendous weight of misery that is crushing down the poor. But in our quality of Theosophists, we cannot engage in any one of these great works in particular. As individuals we may do so, but as Theosophists we have a larger, more important, and much more difficult work to do. People say that Theosophists should show what is in them, that "the tree is known by its fruit." Let them build dwellings for the poor, it is said, let them open "soup-kitchens" etc., etc., and the world will believe that there is something in Theosophy. These good people forget that Theosophists, as such, are poor, and that the Founders themselves are poorer than any, and that one of them, at any rate, the humble writer of these lines, has no property of her own, and has to work hard for her daily bread whenever she finds time from her Theosophical duties. The function of Theosophists is to open men's hearts and understandings to charity, justice, and generosity, attributes which belong specifically to the human kingdom and are natural to man when he has developed the qualities of a human being. Theosophy teaches the animal-man to be a human-man; and when people have learned to think and feel as truly human beings should feel and think, they will act humanely, and works of charity, justice, and generosity will be done spontaneously by all.
Now with regard to the Secret Doctrine, the publication of which some of you urged so kindly upon me, and in such cordial terms, a while ago. I am very grateful for the hearty support promised and for the manner in which it was expressed. The MSS. of the first three volumes is now ready for the press; and its publication is only delayed by the difficulty which is experienced in finding the necessary funds. Though I have not written it with an eye to money, yet, having left Adyar, I must live and pay my way in the world so long as I remain in it. Moreover, the Theosophical Society urgently needs money for many purposes, and I feel that I should not be justified in dealing with the Secret Doctrine as I dealt with Isis Unveiled. From my former work I have received personally in all only a few hundred dollars, although nine editions have been issued. Under these circumstances I am endeavouring to find means of securing the publication of the Secret Doctrine on better terms this time, and here I am offered next to nothing. So, my dearest Brothers and Co-workers in the trans-Atlantic lands, you must forgive me the delay, and not blame me for it but the unfortunate conditions I am surrounded with.
I should like to revisit America, and shall perhaps do so one day, should my health permit. I have received pressing invitations to take up my abode in your great country which I love so much for its noble freedom. Colonel Olcott, too, urges upon me very strongly to return to India, where he is fighting almost single-handed the great and hard fight in the cause of Truth; but I feel that, for the present, my duty lies in England and with the Western Theosophists, where for the moment the hardest fight against prejudice and ignorance has to be fought. But whether I be in England or in India a large part of my heart and much of my hope for Theosophy lie with you in the United States, where the Theosophical Society was founded, and of which country I myself am proud of being a citizen. But you must remember that, although there must be local Branches of the Theosophical Society, there can be no local Theosophists; and just as you all belong to the Society, so do I belong to you all.
I shall leave my dear Friend and Colleague, Colonel Olcott, to tell you all about the condition of affairs in India, where everything looks favorable, as I am informed, for I have no doubt that he also will have sent his good wishes and congratulations to your Convention.
Meanwhile, my far-away and dear Brother, accept the warmest and sincerest wishes for the welfave of your Societies and of yourself personally, and, while conveying to all your colleagues the expression of my fraternal regards, assure them that, at the moment when you will be reading to them the present lines, I shall--if alive--be in Spirit, Soul, and Thought amidst you all.
Yours ever, in the truth of the GREAT CAUSE we are all working for.
Theosophy Lodge Online, a project of the Universal Theosophy Fellowship-MD, Inc., is now in its second year of operation. Efforts are being concentrated on increasing the online theosophical library which already contains over sixty articles. The TLO website (http://theosophy.org) has recently been enhanced to include listings of articles by author as well as in alphabetical order and biographical notes and photographs have been included for the predominant authors. The website recieves about one hundred hits every day and processes about 20 individual email requests every week ranging from general greetings to in depth reference questions. All efforts are voluntary and more help is needed to scan or key-in articles by H. P. Blavatsky, William Q. Judge, and others. Anyone interested in participating in this project is encouraged to contact Josh Carpenter by emailing TheosLodge@aol.com.
By Eldon B. Tucker
In addition to automated mailing lists like theos-talk or theos-l, and newsgroups like alt.theosophy, there are other forms of meeting and communicating with fellow students on the Internet. One is via IRC, which stands for Internet-relay chat.
How does IRC work? One connects to the Internet, then runs an IRC client program. (There are several versions available, including one from Netscape, that can be downloaded after a few selections from its home webpage.) The user connects to an IRC server on the Internet, selects a nickname and password, then selects and joins a chat "room".
One major IRC server is "davis.dal.net". It might have 1500 chat rooms and many thousand participants in the various rooms at any one time. A vast majority of the rooms have titles that read like the graffiti scrawled on a public restroom wall. Amidst these are a few of value.
One such room is "#Theosophy", started by a Theosophist in Reykjavik, Iceland. It's first arranged meeting was held a few days ago (August 4), and there are plans for regular weekly discussions of Theosophy. (That meeting had four people from California, one from Washington State, one on the East Coast, and two in Iceland.)
What is the advantage of such a place? It's a very public meeting place, where people could wander in and get in touch with other Theosophists on the Internet at any time (especially during the active meetings).
The type of discussions and interchange that happens is more formal than talking, but less formal than email exchanges as on a mailing list. The feedback is immediate and no one has an advantage over others as to how much time is spent in writing replies. (Except, of course, for the fast typists!)
When someone signs onto a room, a list of nicknames of people in the room appears on the screen, and as messages are typed, they appear after someone's nickname. After one enters the room, the user will see all of the discussion after than point. It could read like:
Steven> But I've always thought that Atman was universal? Mary> It is, but it still is one of our seven principles. Robert> Sorry guys. Have to go now. See you next week. Mary> Bye Robert. Mike> I still prefer Subba Row's approach over HPB's. Snoopy> I just joined. What are you talking about!!!!
This approach was pioneered by THEOSOPHY.ORG on their BBS, but participants have to sign onto their computer using "telnet", and the discussion doesn't have the same level of public visibility as an IRC discussion room.
What could IRC be used for?
The reader is recommended to check out this useful feature of the Internet. Visit the new theosophical discussion room:
Host: davis.dal.net Port: 6667 Room: #Theosophy Time: 8:30 - 9:30 AM PDT / (3:30 - 4:30 pm GMT)
The scheduled topics for September are:
Sept 01 -- no topic scheduled (American holiday)
Sept 08 -- Theosophy in the Computer Age (EBT)
Now that with computers and the Internet we have rapid access to knowledge and new forms of communication, will the Wisdom Tradition prosper?
Sept 15 -- What is Theosophy, Old and New? (THEOS)
Sept 22 -- The First Stanza of Voluspa (^S^)
The First Stanza deals with the Commanding Speech of The Heavenly Man at the beginning of this "World Period."
Sept 29 -- The Path and Getting Real with Theosophy (EBT)
We hear about the Path, but it is usually written about as something so far-removed from everyday life that it seems just for others. Can we do it too?
Oct 06 -- The Second Stanza of Voluspa (^S^)
The Second Stanza deals with the evolution of the Monad, covering former solar systems, the nine worlds, tne nine subdivisions of each world, and The Original.
It should be mentioned that DALnet has a slightly different command set than IRC, but it provides better security against valdalism done against the chatroom by intruders. Any IRC client program should still allow connecting with it, including the one that can be downloaded from Netscape.
When one first signs on, one must pick and register a nickname, then protect against someone else signing on and claiming the nickname, which would cause one to be bumped from the server. (Note that the following commands are run from the command window, not from the zero-or-more chatroom windows that may be opened on one's screen.)
After connecting with the server, run:
/msg NickServ info XXXX
where XXXX is the nickname one would like. If it is not registered, one can run:
/nick XXXX /msg NickServ register PPPPPPPP
to become nickname XXXX and register it with password PPPPPPPP. Then one must run:
/msg NickServ set kill on
which will prevent others from signing on with the same nickname. (This command stays in effect for a month, so the "set kill on" does not need to be typed everytime one logs onto DALnet.)
And to enter the #Theosophy room:
Should one become disconnected from the server, it will still think one is connected, and consider the reconnect as another person trying to use the same nickname. When reconnecting, one needs to remove this "ghost" nickname, using:
/msg NickServ ghost XXXX PPPPPPPP
to kill the ghost nickname and rebecome oneself.
In future sessions, one needs the following commands:
/nick XXXX /msg NickServ identify PPPPPPPP /join #Theosophy
The reader is warned that the DALnet system is evolving over time, and that the information presented above could become out-of-date without notice. For the latest information about DALnet, read: "http://www.dal.net", and regarding the IRC, read: "http://www.mirc.co.uk".
By Rodolfo Don
I would like to send all of you my best wishes for complete success. I know that we all are trying to find new ways to work for Theosophy. The internet presents us with new opportunities as well as with new challenges. As THEOSOPHY WORLD functions on the internet, anybody on the globe can participate of its discussions, as well as read any papers that are sent online. As long as they have a computer with a modem, and an internet account. All this represents an opportunity to reach anybody on the planet and the responsibility to interact with each other the right way.
Theosophy is Altruism and Theosophy is also Universal Brotherhood. To work for Universal Brotherhood is to work for Theosophy.
The back issues of THEOSOPHY WORLD, and of the associated discussion are available online.
To obtain a list of available files, send a message consisting of "index" to:
Back issues of the discussion are in files of the format
where "YY" is the year and "MM" is the month, like file "theos-talk.9606" for June 1996. Back issues of the magazine are in files of the format:
where "YY" and "MM" are again the year and month. The August issue just came out a few days ago.
To receive a back issue, send a message to "theos-talk-request" consisting of "get" followed by the name of the desired file, like:
get theos-world.9606 get theos-world.9607 get theos-world.9608 end
to get all three back issues. Any file in the archives may be obtained this way.
Contents of the first three issues are:
"Looking to the Future" by John Paul Rolston
"Theosophy in Tibet: The Teachings of the Jonangpa School" by David Reigle
"The Masters Revealed" by Dara Eklund
"Ergates: The Energetic Worker" by Rich Taylor
"Embarking on a New Attempt" by Rodolfo Don
"The Paracelsian Order" by John H. Drais
"Theosophy in the Computer Age" by Jerry Hejka-Ekins
"What Are the Life-Atoms?" by Bee Brown
"Teaching the Soul Direct" from a conversation between Charles Johnson and Madame Blavatsky
"Rights, Duties, Privileges" by Henry Travers Edge
"Narada: A Study in The Secret Doctrine" by G. de Purucker
"Technical Terms in Stanza I" by David Reigle
"Theosophy: A Living Truth" by Rodolfo Don
"Current Superstitions" by Dara Eklund
"Psychic and Spiritual Path" by G. de Purucker
"The Archetypla Virtue" by B. P. Wadia
"Transition of Kingdoms on Globe D" by Eldon Tucker
"HPB In the News Again!" (Anonymous)
"States of Matter" by Eldon Tucker
"HPB In Tibet" (Anonymous)
"Models of Karma" by Eldon Tucker
"Alexandria West: Open to the Public" (Anonymous)
"Theosophical Encyclopeadia in Preparation" by Philip Harris
"Blavatsky Net Goes Online" by Scribe
"Original Edition of 'The Voice of the Silence'" by John H. Drais
"Appealing to the Higher Nature" by Henry Travers Edge
"Psychic Powers" by Andrew Rooke
"What if I Met a Master" by Eldon Tucker
"Once Again Blavatsky Words Are Proven True" by Radda Bai
"Armageddon" by Elsie Benjamin
"PI In Base 12 Notation"
"Each Member a Center" by William Q. Judge
"When Our Memory Fails Us" by Eldon Tucker
"Theosophical Glossary and the Psychic" by Elsie Benjamin
"Cycles and the Earth's Core" by Eldon Tucker
"Monads, Principles, and Sutratmans" by G. de Purucker
[On THEOS-L, an unmoderated discussion list devoted to theosophical topics, over the past few years, most ideas about Theosophy and the Theosophical Movement have been held up to question, and nearly every possible idea has at times been rejected by some participants. A good defense of the theosophical position is not always made, and the very idea that there is a theosophical position, that there are theosophical doctrines, is itself under frequent attack.]
[Following are a sampling of ideas which have been brought up as challenges on that list. (Each paragraph is a separate idea.) They are being simply mentioned below, without trying to answer them. It is hoped that if a point or two strikes the fancy of a reader, that a casual reply to THEOS-TALK or a more formal reply to the THEOSOPHY WORLD magazine will ensue.]
[Note that the ideas are simply stated, and because of the brevity of words, a complete picture of them may not be given. And they are not listed in order of importance, but simply at random, a sampling of ideas.]
Ideas like the seven principles are gibberish; they simply don't make sense. There's nothing to show that there's anything to us apart from the physical body, with the mind being a byproduct of the brain's activity. Since the books are confusing, they are nonsense.
"Theosophy" should be reserved for ultimate Truth, and "theosophy" for the process of seeking it. There is no such thing as the Mysteries, as Mystery Teachings, a body of knowledge held by the Mahatmas with HPB as their representative.
The metaphysical side of Theosophy is unprovable, all that can be proved is its scientific claims. Because its pronouncements on science, like its claims regarding Atlantis, have been disproved, the whole thing collapses like a house of cards.
Blavatsky wrote solely from her own knowledge and imagination. Her writings reflect the limited knowledge of the previous century. She made up things as time, sometimes intentionally lying to achieve her ends. Theosophy is simply the product of the individual opinions of a number of authors that wrote similar things.
The self-esteem of others is paramount. Everyone's views must be respected on an equal basis. Since all views are equal, anything can be taught as Theosophy. Any attempt to speak of theosophical doctrines is really making a dogmatic religion out of it. The only authoritative statements come from channelers speaking for angels and spirit guides.
Psychic powers represent the next great evolutionary step forward for humanity. Those that can see auras, astral project, speak to "angels", etc., are operating from inner experience. There is no inner experience based upon insight and mind.
The primary value to the world of theosophical groups is in the three objects of the T.S., a framework for cooperative seeking. Anything should be freely taught from its platforms. There are no theosophical doctrines to promote.
The Brotherhood of Adepts is a fiction. At most, they are exceptional seekers, simply more-advanced modern-day psychics. They have no treasury of knowledge. The theosophical Teachings are a hoax on the West, and they are laughing at us.
Promoters of the theosophical doctrines, and leaders of established theosophical groups, are dark, evil, corrupt, and power-hungry. They are numbered among the enemies of the forces of progress in the world.
Anyone that does not agree with the liberal anti-doctrine fraternal movement operates out of dark motives, or is simply deluded. The highest ethics can be found in the Western Politically Correct approach to social change.
It is honorable to speak out with anger, nastiness, and vehement anger in response to the supporters of "the old order" in theosophical groups. All religions are bad, including Buddhism, and should be deplored. The theosophical doctrines are just another religion to also be thrown onto the trash heap.
Science has made wonderful material progress in the West, and has revealed many mysteries of Nature. Therefore, if one speaks as a scientist, special authority is given to one's opinions about the world. One's views must be true, and the metaphysical musings of Theosophists are nonsense, even if they read and appreciate the same scientific journals.
It is egotistical and elitist to speak of the Path, of Mysteries, of special depths to understanding Theosophy, of future steps along the way. There is no "higher knowledge", but only those who have experienced higher planes (e.g. astral travel), as contrasted with those who are third-eye blind.
There is no good or evil, these are simply cultural products that an advanced individual learns to rise above. And the same is true of ethics. The highest maxim is the magician's "Do what thou wilt!" The highest good is not in seeing all choices clearly and making the ethical choice with conscious deliberation and forethought; the highest good is in simply acting as one desires, without hesitation.
By Andrew Rooke
[reprinted with permission from AUSTRALASIAN TS NEWSLETTER, March, 1996, for more information contact email@example.com, http://www.bart.nl/~tgpasade/australia.]
Theosophical founder H. P. Blavatsky predicted in her classic book THE SECRET DOCTRINE that there would be a "rent in the veil of nature" between 1888 and 1897 which would fundamentally change the way we look at the world. Since the discovery of X-rays in 1895 and the electron in 1897, the stage was set for the development of nuclear energy, and our century has proven HPB's prediction of vast scientific, social, and economic upheavals spurring rapid change in all areas of human endeavor unparalleled in recorded history. Two world wars and the breakdown of the old social class system they precipitated, the Great Depression of the 1930's, the economic recession of the 1990's, the development of computers and the transfer of economic focus from manufacturing to information based services in our post-industrial age. Through it all, the common people continuing to exist from day to day, put food on the table, raise families and make some sense of it all. Though the world has changed vastly in external circumstances since the TS was founded in 1875, the disharmonies of human behavior so evident in the spectacular changes of the 20th century are still much the same in our time as at any other. Our mission as theosophists then as now is to uplift the burden of human suffering in any way that is appropriate to our calling. More particularly as theosophists with the background of our wonderful philosophy, to help people understand and rectify the inner causes of suffering, to provide an example of enlightened living to the best of our ability in daily affairs, to teach the reality of universal brotherhood in nature, and to illustrate the bonds between people and systems of thought rather than the strife and divisions between them.
The 20th century now rapidly closing has been a transition time. The spectacular changes that fill the pages of modem history books indicate a breaking of the molds of thought, a settling of scores between races, a shifting and integrating of populations particularly in countries like the USA and Australia preparing the way for the dawning Aquarian Age consciousness and beyond. Theosophical teachers refer to this process of transition and it is clear enough in the features of this tumultuous time in which we live: wars, social upheaval, the movement towards racial equality and readjustments between formally dominant groups and their subjects. Who would have thought a few decades ago that the sun would set on the British Empire, that the Communist Empire in Eastern Europe would disintegrate and that Apartheid in South Africa would melt away so quickly. It has become popular to emphasize the negative aspects of this transition time such as rapid changes in standards of morality, lack of discipline amongst youth, poor political leadership, etc. Why not look at the positive side of the 20th century experience rather than always stressing the negative. Amongst these positive trends I would list -- the breaking down of old restrictive social forms bringing new opportunities to an ever-widening circle of people, ideals of racial and social equality are now widely shared, the emancipation of women in many countries bringing new freedoms to half the population, universal free basic education in most countries, and in the West at least, increased emphasis and opportunity for creativity not restricted by the religious or social taboos of the past. Theosophists have had an important role in encouraging these positive aspects of our age and we have great opportunities to further our work because of the very different atmosphere in which we live than 120 years ago. People are now generally much better educated and receptive of new ideas and willing to sort things out for themselves. The core ideas of theosophy -- Reincarnation, Karma, and Universal Brotherhood -- are now no longer a novelty to most people -- our challenge is now to clarify the basic understanding of these ideas and provide the depth that our philosophy supplies to these widely accepted concepts.
We are more fortunate than our predecessors in having vastly powerful tools with the potential for disseminating theosophy to many more people than could be dreamt of 120 years ago. The mass media and especially the World computer network, the Internet, provide phenomenal opportunities for theosophists to make our message available more readily to those who will listen. Particularly exciting projects such as the use of World Wide Web to advertise the work of the TS, electronic mail to speed messages around the world, and projects linking theosophical students from whatever background around the globe like the international computer-based theosophical study group "Theos-l" established in 1993 and gatherings such as the 2nd World Parliament of Religions in the same year. All these developments hold great potential for good which has hardly yet been realized. These are merely up-to-the-minute expressions of theosophists' pioneering role in using modem technology to disseminate theosophical teachings.
Did you know that eminent English scientist Sir William Crookes, a Fellow of the Theosophical Society, late last century devised the basis of the cathode ray tube now used in every TV set and computer terminal around the world? Here in Australia, theosophists have had a long interest in information technology with members of the TS (Adyar) establishing Sydney Radio Station 2GB in 1926 still broadcasting under new owners today. In this tradition of utilizing modern scientific discoveries to further our ancient work, I would say that some theosophists at least, have a duty to remain current with the exciting scientific developments of our time and relate them to the Ancient Wisdom tradition.
In particular the sciences that fire human imagination such as the space sciences, and sciences affecting our daily well being, such as health and medicine, have the capacity to reach people with a theosophic perspective appropriately and clearly stated. Beyond focusing on the intellectual developments of our age, I would say that we shouldn't lose sight of the basic issues affecting people's daily lives and remain aware and sympathetic with the perennial struggles of the common people.
In my view, our challenge as Theosophists working for enlightened living in the modem world, is to preserve, treasure, and communicate the original impetus propelling the founding of the TS 120 years ago. This original impetus charges us to help provide people with access to their birthright of knowledge about who they really are as essentially spiritual beings and their relation to the greater Oneness of which we form part.
This duty should not only be expressed in intellectual discussions but with joy and humor as a real living force in our lives. In this way we can make a long term contribution to solving the worlds problems by helping to transmute the aspects of human nature which produce the negatives we have seen all about us in the 20th century. Let's work together to turn them to positives in the 21st century!
By Chuck Bermingham
[The following story was posted by Chuck Bermingham on theos-l on January 11. Chuck had heard the story from a co-worker of his, Joe Murphy, whom had originally heard the story during a slide show on mathematics.]
There was a scientist from another universe who came here to study. After he had met with our scholars and leaders, he wanted to take his newfound knowledge back with him. Unfortunately, he was not allowed to take back anything he didn't bring with him.
He remembered that he had brought with him a rod that could be marked, in one single spot, with infinite precision.
He asked: "Can you make a huge number out of all the letters in all your great books (like, say, a long, long string of ASCII digits)?"
"Yes, of course," said the scientists, and they proceeded to generate it with their computer.
In front of this number, he put a decimal point.
He said: "This number is a percentage of the length of my measuring rod," and he marked the rod with a single mark.
When he got home, he had all the information that he wanted.
[The following is from a brochure on an useful correspondence course on Theosophy that is offered by the T.S. Pasadena.]
Designed to aid students in their search for truth, these correspondence courses examine the mysteries of life, the rationale of rebirth, and the laws of nature which, when understood, help us unfold our spiritual potential.
Each course is composed of lessons with questions to be answered and returned for comments. Some questions require answers that summarize the author's explanation, others seek the student's ideas. When we reply we send succeeding lessons. There is no time limit: students go at their own pace.
New students are encouraged to begin with TCC-I and progress through these guided courses. In this way they will become acquainted with theosophic terms and concepts. Students with a background in theosophy may enroll in any of the courses.
Tuition for these courses is free. Charges are for books, materials, and postage. Book prices listed below include shipping. (California residents add 7.25 percent sales tax, Los Angeles County 8.25 percent). Outside USA, payment must be made in US dollars by checks drawn on any US bank, International Money Order, or Canadian Postal Money Order.
For those who alread have the book, please deduct book cost from the total price. Financial assistance is available when there is need.
Payment is made by check or money order payable to THEOSOPHICAL CORRESPONDENCE COURSE.
Theosophy I -- 16 lessons
A nontechnical overview of theosophical teachings that give reason and perspective to today's living.
EXPANDING HORIZONS by James A. Long,
USA, Canada, Mexico: $26.00 = $9.00 paper + $17.00 postage & materials $31.00 = $14.00 cloth + $17.00 postage & materials All others (airmail): $51.50 = $15.50 paper + $36.00 postage & materials $58.00 = $22.00 cloth + $36.00 postage & materials
Theosophy II -- 14 lessons
Examines H. P. Blavatsky's views on theosophic teachings, their practical application, and the purposes of The Theosophical Society. These teachings include: the origin and composite nature of man and universe, karma, reincarnation, and the dangers of spiritualism.
THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY by H. P. Blavatsky,
USA, Canada, Mexico: $33.00 = $13.00 paper + $20.00 postage & materials $39.00 = $19.00 cloth + $20.00 postage & materials All others (airmail): $67.50 = $23.50 paper + $44.00 postage & materials $75.00 = $31.00 cloth + $44.00 postage & materials
Theosophy III -- 17 lessons
Short chapters packed with information concerning the composite nature of spirit, soul, and body, after-death states, psychic powers, and cosmic and terrestrial cycles -- supplemented by extended definitions from the GLOSSARY.
THE OCEAN OF THEOSOPHY by William Q. Judge, and OCCULT GLOSSARY by G. de Purucker,
USA, Canada, Mexico: $37.50 = $9.25 paper + $10.25 paper + $18.00 postage & materials $42.50 = $9.25 paper + $15.25 cloth + $18.00 postage & materials All others (airmail): $68.00 = $14.00 paper + $15.00 paper + $39.00 postage & materials $74.00 = $14.00 paper + $21.00 cloth + $39.00 postage & materials
Theosophy IV -- 38 lessons
An in-depth study of the esoteric teachings that have influenced philosophical, religious, and scientific thought through the ages.
THE ESOTERIC TRADITION by G. de Purucker,
USA, Canada, Mexico: $60.00 = $22.00 paper + $38.00 postage & materials $70.00 = $32.00 paper + $38.00 postage & materials All others (airmail): $139.00 = $49.00 paper + $90.00 postage & materials $155.00 = $65.00 paper + $90.00 postage & materials
Theosophy V -- 17 lessons
An examination of theosophical views regarding the biological and spiritual evolution of mankind.
MAN IN EVOLUTION, by G. de Purucker,
USA, Canada, Mexico: $32.00 = $14.00 paper + $18.00 postage & materials All others (airmail): $62.00 = $23.00 paper + $39.00 postage & materials
Theosophy VI -- 8 lessons
Provides a helpful method for studying H. P. Blavatsky's THE SECRET DOCTRINE and introduces its devotional companion, THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE -- a book which offers instructions for seekers on the Path.
AN INVITATION TO "THE SECRET DOCTRINE" by H. P. Blavatsky, and THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE by H. P. Blavatsky,
USA, Canada, Mexico: $26.50 = $8.25 paper + $7.25 paper + $11.00 postage & materials $30.50 = $8.25 paper + $11.25 cloth + $11.00 postage & materials All others (airmail): $41.00 = $11.50 paper + $10.50 paper + $19.00 postage & materials $46.00 = $11.50 paper + $15.50 cloth + $19.00 postage & materials
Theosophy VII -- 48 lesosns
This course examines the universal principles presented in THE SECRET DOCTRINE, and deals with each of the "seven keys" that lead to wisdom.
FUNDAMENTALS OF THE ESOTERIC PHILOSOPHY by G. de Purucker,
USA, Canada, Mexico: $57.50 = $16.00 paper + $41.50 postage & materials $63.50 = $22.00 cloth + $41.50 postage & materials All others (airmail): $142.00 = $32.00 paper + $110.00 postage & materials $152.00 = $42.00 cloth + $110.00 postage & materials
For further information regarding the textbooks, the reader may request a catalog from Theosophical University Press. To get in touch with the correspondence course, contact:
Theosophical Correspondence Course Post Office Box C Pasadena, CA USA 91109-7107 818-797-7817 [voice] 818-798-4749 [fax] firstname.lastname@example.org
By Eldon B. Tucker
It's useful to keep up on the latest scientific thinking regarding the history of the human family. We can see where our theosophical doctrines are in accord or apparent conflict with science. We need to be aware of the differences, both in order to explain them to new students, and to understand them ourselves.
There's a good introduction to paleoanthropology on the web in The Talk.Origins Archive, http://earth.ics.uci.edu:8080/faqs/fossil-hominids.html.
(We'll start with some raw information from that article. A few passages will be quotes, a few words with be paraphrased.)
This discipline is described as
the field of science which studies the human fossil record ... the intersection of the discipline of paleontology (the study of ancient life forms) and anthropology (the study of humans).
The term HOMINID is described as referring to members of the family of humans. The last common ancestor of humans and living apes used to have been thought to have occurred 15 to 20 million years ago.
Some apes occurring within that time period, such as Ramapithecus, used to be considered as ... possible ancestors of humans. Later fossil finds indicate that Ramapithecus was more closely related to the orang-utan, and new biochemical evidence indicates that the last common ancestor of hominids and apes occurred between five and ten million years ago, and probably in the lower end of that range.
The classes of humanity follow. There are two genus, AUSTRALOPITHECUS and HOMO, and various species within that genus. We are warned in the article that the ordering is based upon appearance in the fossil record, and not meant to represent an evolutionary sequence.
Brain sizes vary considerably within any species, but this variation is not usually related to intelligence. Instead, it correlated loosely with body size: large people tend to have larger brains.
And now a comment from H.P. Blavatsky (THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, 149):
The Secret Doctrine maintains that, notwithstanding the general cataclysms and disturbances of our globe, which -- owing to its being the period of its greatest physical development, for the Fourth Round is the middle-point of the life allotted to it ... physical Humanity has existed upon it for the last 18,000,000 years. This period was preceded by 300,000,000 years of the mineral and vegetable development.
And again on pages 156-57:
... although the exact figures are withheld ... the figures 18,000,000 of years, which embrace the duration of SEXUAL, PHYSICAL, man, have to be enormously increased if the whole process of spiritual, astral, and physical development is taken into account.
[during the earlier Root-Races the] terrestrial conditions as were then operative had no touch with the plane on which the evolution of the ethereal astral races proceeded. Only in relatively recent geological periods, has the spiral course of cyclic law swept mankind into the lowest grade of physical evolution -- the plane of gross material causation. In those early ages, ASTRAL evolution was along in progress, and the two planes, the astral and the physical, ---
[FOOTNOTE: It must be noted that, though the astral and physical planes of matter run parallel with one another even in the earliest geological ages, yet they were not in the same phases of manifestation in which they are NOW. The Earth did not reach its present GRADE OF DENSITY till 18,000,000 years ago. Since then BOTH the physical and astral planes have become grosser.]
--- though developing on parallel lines, had no direct point of contact with one another. It is obvious that a shadow-like ETHEREAL man is related by virtue of his organization ... only to that plane from which the substance of his UPADHI is derived.
There are various discussions of the root races in the theosophical literature. The exact figures are not given out, and some of the hints seem to conflict with each other. The information is given out as something to puzzle over, rather than a plain statement of scientific fact.
Apart from dwelling on the time periods of the races, for which incomplete information has been given out, there is a significant point to consider. That is the fact that until the middle of the Third Root Race, humanity was astral on this globe, rather than physical.
Where did this earlier humanity live? We might also wonder admist what other kingdoms did this humanity live? Were there representatives of the mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms in a similar astral state where there could be interaction between them and the humanity of that time?
We find in THE INNER GROUP TEACHINGS OF H.P. BLAVATSKY, pages 22-3, something illuminating:
The body is not a Principle in Esoteric Parlance, because the body and the Linga[-Sharira] are both on the same plane.
That is, the astral and the physical are basically of the same "stuff", and on the same plane.
The body is an Upadhi rather than a Principle. The earth and its astral light are as closely related to each other as the body and its Linga[-Sharira], the earth being the Upadhi.
Or we could say that the physical earth is one place where the astral light is expressed. The earth is concreted astral.
Our plane in its lowest division is the earth, in its highest the astral.
And this is the key sentence. So we see than an "astral" humanity still exists on this physical plane, but is on a higher subdivision than the gross matter that we see with our eyes.
The terrestrial astral light should of course not be confounded with the universal Astral Light.
We are given a warning here, that there is more than one "astral light", and that which specifically relates to our terrestrial earth is localized, specific, and not the universal.
Since it was possible for the astral humanity to exist on this earth during the age of the dinosaurs and earlier, unharmed by physical creatures and events, the same may be true of the humanity (and other creatures) of our sister planets.
Looking at Mars or Venus, could we say that there is no humanity on the physical planets (globe D's of their planetary chains)? We know that astral humanity became physical on our earth, just before the middle of our Fourth Round. Might this have happened in earlier Rounds? Could it also happen in later Rounds, where humanity is astral, then becomes physical in later races on this earth? And could the process reverse itself, and at some point physical humanities disappear from the scene, becomes astral in subsequent races in a particular Round?
There are many questions to ponder, and much has been left unsaid in the theosophical literature. It's a worthy study, though, and challenges us to think about the ramifications of our philosophy, considering how it relates to modern science and our understanding of how life on this earth actually works.
We can keep up our studies of the philosophy. We can keep abreast of the latest discoveries in science. And we can keep continually keep up our inner work, seeking to open up within and Know directly. Over time, we'll find ourselves growing, and as time passes things that once puzzled us will start to make themselves clear, and we'll have yet greater problems to dwell on.
By Richard Taylor
[Based upon a posting to theos-l earlier in the year.]
I believe there are quantum experiments which show that the OBSERVATION itself has a "fixing" quality to it. And I have heard rumors of studies that show that statistically, the attitudes and predictions the scientist make can actually RETROACTIVELY effect the outcome of an experiment, in essence CHANGING THE PAST, or at least what we thought of as "past."
The following list suggests research on the mind and its PHYSICAL effects quite outside of quantum mechanics:
1) Psycho-somatic illnesses,
2) Bio-feedback studies,
3) Psychokinesis studies,
4) Spontaneous remission of cancer/etc. following intense meditations or systems like "A COURSE IN MIRACLES",
5) The "hundredth monkey" effect (i.e. a so-called "critical mass" is achieved in consciousness which snow-balls into large-scale societal and even physical transformations),
6) Rupert Sheldrake, Michael Polanyi et. al. and the hypothesis of "morphogenetic fields" where species-wide consciousness alters the course of that species' evolution,
7) Martial arts and the projection of "chi" by mental effort,
8) Mesmerism and hypnosis,
9) Paranormal phenomena manifested by religious adepts (e.g. Satya Sai Baba's ash, HPB's Simla tea-cup, etc. etc. etc.) There's a HUGE list of this kind of stuff, traditional and current.
10) Placebo effects in medicine
11) Faith healing/spiritual healing, and
12) Psychotherapy and imagery practice.
One excellent source, especially for bibliography and documented cases is Michael Murphy's nearly thousand page tome, THE FUTURE OF THE BODY.
Coupled with the broad mind-based philosophy put forth by HPB in her Secret Doctrine, with its special and explicit emphasis on the Yogacara/Cittamatra ("mind-only") school of Buddhism, I think there is a fairly substantial case that HPB and her Teachers believed and taught that mind was the central force in human evolution, it was for the development of Manas that spirit incarnated in matter in our series of globes, and that HPB foreshadowed so much of the mind-body work being done this century.
Indeed, HPB wrote, that perhaps her S.D. was a work not of the 19th, but of the 20th century, and even here, in our 20th century, the work would be only "partially vindicated." (in the preface to the Secret Doctrine, I think, I forget exactly what page)
I for one think it is hard to say she spoke untruth here, the results are all around us.
By Martin Euser
[This article is from a recent posting on "theos-l" in reply to a message by another writer stating that "there is no TS yoga".]
There are several powerful exercises of a Raja Yoga type which are being practiced by some people (theosophists and non-theosophists) I know. (I practice these exercises too).
For brevity I will only mention them here.
A fuller description of some of these can be found in my article: "The Psychological Key to Man" which you can retrieve at http://www.spiritweb.org. (See Theosophy section;Theosophy_basics(2)).
Several other ('theosophy approved') meditations I know of:
[And yet other techniques:]
One added note: if people are asking about techniques for the explicit purpose of developing psychic powers -- well, you know what the opinion is on that in Theosophical circles (and in some other spiritual organizations I know of).
One can do that -- but there is a danger of an inflated ego, blocking progress to the more spiritual realms. IOW, there's a rationale for deemphasizing psychic powers -- if they come, fine, but don't be blinded by them.
By Eldon B. Tucker
[This note is written in response to some discussion of THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE on theos-l, and particularly some comments of Keith Price, which are paraphrased herein.]
One might suggest that our earth is Myalba, hell, the lowest level in the universe.
I'm not sure that it is the lowest level in the universe. Our Globe D is the lowest globe of our planetary chain, and represents as far into matter as WE can go. But I'd expect that there are as many lower planes are there are higher planes.
There are hints, for instance, about there being a planetary chain on lower planes, in relationship with the earth. It is associated with the "eighth sphere near the moon."
Another hint is that during the Rounds the earth unfolds through one class of subplanes in sequence
7 - 6 - 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1
and another class of subplanes going down and coming back
7 - 6 - 5 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7
The subplanes below these are mentioned as having to do with the dark side of life. (This is mentioned, I think, in THE INNER GROUP TEACHINGS OF HPB.)
But aren't we on one of the lowest globes and in one of the darkest cycles of manifestation?
I think the word "darkest" can be misleading. The spectrum is spiritual through material, as we descend from higher to lower planes. A particular plane is not good or evil per se; that is determined by the free will and choice of the individual beings on those planes.
Going to a "lower" plane is attempting to come into existence in a more concrete, more tangible, more limited yet obvious world. The same inner light and understanding can be experienced and expressed on a low, concrete plane as on a high, abstract or formless plane of experience.
Why then don't we experience the same lofty contents of consciousness on this plane as we might find on a higher plane? It takes time to learn how to do it. And this "learning how to do it" is the process of spiritual evolution that we're undertaking.
I like to picture us with feet touching lowest matter and head reaching to the sky of heaven, nirvana, the ONE.
You present a good picture here of our situation: feet grounded in the material world and head reaching into the skies of heaven. But this world is lowest TO US, and not in an absolute sense. And the heaven our heads reach into is OUR highest, and not an absolute topmost.
As finite beings, we exist in the world as a bundle of Skandhas, a bundle of finite attributes. We are more than that bundle, but it defines the boundaries of our experience of life on this world. It is like the piece on the playing board of life that represents us. The outer boundaries of that "piece" are our limits, defining where our feet are placed and how high our heads rise.
We are hooked up with the universal in every possible direction, where we pass beyond our individual boundaries. Our atman has its paramatman, and even our physical could be said to have its para-physical roots in the mystery of life.
Thus we reach from the lowest hell through the mind to the highest awareness of heaven-like states and beyond to the intuition of the ONE.
The lowest worlds, though, are "hell" because they are as yet inexpressive of our higher faculties. We must go to sleep inwardly in order to exist in them. It "hurts" to leave a major portion of ourselves behind. But as we continue to grow and evolve, we experience more and more of ourselves here, on earth, and one grand day in the distant future we'll realize that we've left nothing behind, that we are truly ourselves in this CONCRETE world, a world that no longer seems dark nor evil nor a place of suffering.
Aren't we souls encased in bodies, seeking freedom from the lower worlds?
Seeking freedom from the six lower worlds? I'd put it differently: seeking liberation from the INEXPRESSIVENESS of the lower worlds. That is, seeking the power to be oneself, even HERE ON EARTH.
During the Rounds, we (humanity) have time to spend on each of the planes. The places we spend the time are the globes. At this time, we're focused on this plane, the "physical", and this is our place of self-expression. Vast ages hence, we'll move on.
The purpose of life, I think, is not to get out of here as quickly as possible, taking as many other prisoners of the physical plane with us as we can in the process. It is to bring ourselves and others to liberation, but that liberation is one from our blindness, from the inertia of matter, from our inability to exist with self-consciousness. Let's wake up!
By Nicholas Weeks
[reprinted from theos-roots, February 11, 1996]
Of the many books I've read in the past year or two, the following are some of the best.
THE THREE LEVELS OF SPIRITUAL PERCEPTION by Deshung Rinpoche. This is a full (500 pages) commentary on the "Three Visions" root text of the Sakya order of Tibetan Buddhism. Deshung Rinpoche taught in Seattle for many years.
LIFE OF SHABKAR. Shabkar was a wandering Nyingma lama (1781-1851) who revered all Dharma practitioners, such as Je Tsongkhapa, a Gelukpa. This is his autobiography that stops at age 57 or so.
GEMS OF DHARMA by Je Gampopa. Gampopa was the founder of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. This is very welcome new translation of his "lam-rim". Guenther's "Jewel Ornament" translation, especially his notes, was never helpful to me.
PATH OF HEROES by Zhechen Gyaltsab. A two volume mind training text from the Nyingma order. Very beautiful; with Tarthang Tulku's comments at the beginning of each chapter.
PATH TO ENLIGHTENMENT by Geshe Thubten Loden. The best lam rim (stages of the path) text based on Je Tsongkhapa's GREAT LAM RIM I have seen. Over 1000 pages.
THE PYTHAGOREAN SOURCEBOOK. This was done in the late '80s and has several traditional biogs of Pythagoreas, plus many texts from his school.
SAI BABA GITA by Al Drucker. This is Bhagavan's commentary on key themes in the Bhagavad Gita. The first edition with a different title is better, but it is out of print. Drucker took some liberties with the text, but something is better (in this case) than nothing.
GOD TALKS TO ARJUNA by Yogananda. This a two volume, lovely, new, much expanded edition of his never-in-book-form commentary on the Gita. Very good and "esoteric" too.