The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.
-- Marcel Proust
By Nicholas Weeks
[An abridged rendition of some parts (II, 4-9; V, 43) of an ancient work, the ~Yoga Vasishta~, dealing with spiritual self-reliance. Based on ~Vasistha's Yoga~ pp. 25-29, 256-58; translated by Swami Venkatesananda; the ~Sree Yoga Vasishtha~ translated by Vidvan Bulusu Venkateswarulu, Vol. 1 pp. 106-22, Vol. 5 pp. 143-46; and ~Yoga Vasistha~ translated by Swami Jyotirmayananda, Vol. 1 pp. 114-34, Vol. 3 pp. 107-08.]
All you can do is to prepare the intellect: the impulse toward "soul-culture" must be furnished by the individual. Thrice fortunate they who can break through the vicious circle of modern influence and come up above the vapours!... We have one word for all aspirants: TRY. [KH in ~Mahatma Letters,~ #35.]
II 4 O Rama, listen to what I [Vasishtha] am about to say, which instruction is sure to remove the darkness of ignorance.
In this world, whatever is gained is gained only by self-effort; where failure is encountered it is seen that there has been slackness in the effort. By effort one can attain knowledge which leads to salvation. This is obvious; but what is called God, destiny or fate is fictitious and is not seen. The dull and the ignorant created God, who is none other than self-effort of a past incarnation affecting one.
Self-effort, Rama, is that mental, verbal and physical action which is in accordance with the instructions of a holy person well versed in the scriptures. This will reveal the moon of spiritual bliss beyond the dark clouds of mental impurities. Such effort, continuous and constant, gives good results, all the rest is sheer madness.
It is only by such effort that Indra became king of heaven, that Brahmaa became the creator, and Vishnu and Shiva earned their place.
II 5 Self-effort is of two categories: that of past births and that of this present birth. Past efforts can be counteracted by current labors. There is constant conflict, like battling rams, between these two in this incarnation. That which is more powerful triumphs. Men of self-effort, by firm and long practice, can undo the past effort.
Self-effort which is not in accord with the scriptures is motivated by delusion. To go against scriptural injunctions will lead to disasters. Mental desire alone, without the needed action, is pure lunacy. It will not only be useless, but it will lead to further delusions.
There is no power greater than right action in the present. Hence, one should take recourse to self-effort, gritting one's teeth, and one should overcome evil by good and destiny by present effort. Even obstructions presented by the devas are due to bad actions in past lives.
The lazy man is worse than a donkey. One should never yield to laziness but strive to attain liberation, seeing that life is ebbing away every moment. Everyday one must think of the impermanent body and struggle to conquer the animal nature. He must take recourse to association with good and virtuous people. One should not revel in the filth known as sense-pleasures, even as a worm revels in pus. By good deeds, good will return to you; by bad deeds, bad will return. Nowhere is there any God, fortune or fate. One who ignores his present ability for self-effort for fear of his past bad actions, might as well fear his own two arms, thinking them dangling vipers.
One who thinks that fate or God is directing him, is brainless and the goddess of fortune abandons him. Hence, by self-effort, discrimination, good association and study of the scriptures, acquire wisdom. Then realise that self-effort will end -- in the direct realisation of the truth. But ignoring, or going against the traditional injunctions, will not work. One should not try to create a gemstone from a ordinary pebble. Those who do not believe in the long practiced and experienced truths of the wise, but depend upon God, luck or destiny, are fools called the "living dead." If lazy dullness, this dreadful source of evil, were not found on this earth, who would ever be illiterate or poor? It is because lazy ones rely, life after life, on God or fortune that this earth is full of people who live like animals, miserable and poverty-stricken.
[Vasishtha continues the following morning:]
II 6 The only God or fortune is previous action. As is the effort so is the fruit, O Rama: this is the meaning of self-effort, and it is also known as fate. What is called fate or divine will is nothing other than the action or self-effort of the past. The present is infinitely more potent than the past. Just as a man can govern a boy, vigorous present actions can control past karma. The evils of yesterday can be remedied by the good actions of today. There is no need to rely on destiny, luck or God. They indeed are fools who are complacent about the bitter fruits of their past actions (which they regard as divine will) and do not engage themselves in self-effort now. A weak and dull-witted man can only see the hand of providence when he is confronted by a powerful adversary and succumbs to him.
If you see that the present self-effort is sometimes thwarted by fortune (or divine will), you should understand that the present self-effort is weak. Even the apparent experience of defeat sings the glory of one's own past self-effort.
Sometimes it happens that, without effort, someone receives a great gain. This is certainly not an accident nor some kind of divine act, but the fruit of self-effort in a past birth.
The wise man should of course know what is capable of attainment by self-effort and what is not. For what we cannot conquer, such as death, there must be no weeping.
One who does not dispel bad karma by strong effort is the same as a beast. He will always be coming and going to heaven or hell. He is ever dependent; never independent. He has no salvation. It is ignorance to attribute all this to an outside agency and to think that God sends one to heaven or hell or that an outside agency makes one do this or that -- such an ignorant person should be shunned.
One should free oneself from likes and dislikes and engage oneself in righteous self-effort and reach the supreme truth, knowing that self-effort alone is another name for divine will. That alone is self-effort which springs from right understanding which manifests in one's heart which has been exposed to the teachings of the scriptures and the conduct of Holy ones. The wise shun the ignorant method of dualism and enjoy the delight of equanimity. They realize that oneness is the goal of life.
The past effort which took one to heaven and follows one to this birth is called God. We do not blame God or luck, which are delusions. We blame only those dolts who give up self-effort and rely on God or providence. They are sure to destroy themselves.
II 7 O Rama, one should, with a body free from illness and mind free from distress, pursue self-knowledge so that he is not born again here. One who tries with his best self-effort to destroy the ideas of God and providence, fulfills his aspirations both here and hereafter. Those who rely on fortune or God and ignore effort are self-destroyers. Self-effort is rooted in an inner vibration that awakens an urge for realization in one's consciousness, then a decision in the mind, and then physical action. The process of self-exertion embraces every part of the individual -- spirit, intellect, mind, senses and body.
Self-effort consists of these three -- knowledge of the scriptures, learning from one's Guru and your own holy striving. Providence or God's dispensation does not enter here. Hence, he who desires salvation should divert impure mind to pure endeavor by persistent effort -- this is the very essence of all scriptures. The Holy ones emphasise persistently treading the path that leads to the eternal good. And the wise seeker knows that the fruit of my endeavours will be commensurate with the intensity of my self-effort and neither fate nor any God can ordain it otherwise. Indeed, such self-effort alone is responsible for whatever man gets. Only to console blockheads at the time of sorrows or difficulties is the word God used. No one has seen such a God, but everyone has experienced how an action (good or evil) leads to a result (good or evil). Hence, from one's childhood, one should endeavour to promote one's true good by a penetrating study of the scriptures; keeping company with the Holy ones and by right self-effort.
II 8 Fortune or God is merely a convention which has come to be regarded as truth by being repeatedly declared to be true. If this God or fate is truly the ordainer of everything in this world, of what meaning is any action? The simpleminded who believe in God might well jump into a fire, trusting in God's grace to keep them safe. God will make us bathe, give to the poor and do our spiritual practices. What is the use of the exhortations of the scriptures if God will do everything? In this world, excepting a corpse, everything is active and such activity yields its appropriate result. In this world no one sees God, but we do see mind and intelligence. There are not two things, intelligence and God. Only intelligence is. If between two people of the same intelligence one fails and the other succeeds, God is not the cause, but laziness and effort are. If one thinks God is the director and doer of all things, let this whole world sleep, God will do everything. This may be a consoling outlook, but in truth, there is no God. It was foolish ones who created God. The followers of God will perish. The sages became so by individual effort. Please tell me why the heroic men of valor, the wise and the learned should wait for God? If astrologers predict that a certain man will become wise and he does so without ever studying -- then I will accept that God is great.
Rama, this sage Vishvamitra became a Brahma-Rishi by self-effort; all of us Rishis have attained self-knowledge by self-effort alone. Hence, renounce the chimera of God's providence and apply yourself to self-effort.
II 9 Rama asked:
Lord, you are indeed the knower of truth; is God (daivam) real or unreal? You say there is no God, but also say that past Karma is God. Does God really exist? Please clarify.
Rama, self-effort alone is real; it does everything. The fruition of self-effort by which one experiences the good and evil results of past action is called fate or God by people. People also regard that as fortune or God which characterises the good and evil nature of such results. When you see that "this plant grows out of this seed", it is unwisely regarded as an act of God. God is a mere figment of the imagination. For I feel that God is only a word for one's effort and the effect of one's effort, in this life or a past one.
Rama, listen carefully and you will understand that God is only a myth. In the mind of man are numerous latent desires or tendencies (vasanas), and these tendencies give rise, in this life or another, to various actions -- physical, verbal and mental. Surely, one's actions are in strict accordance with these tendencies, it cannot be otherwise. Actions or karma are nothing but those latent desires manifested. Action is not different from the most potent latent tendencies, and these tendencies are not different from the mind and the man is not different from the mind! God is nothing but karma; karma is nothing but the mind. Therefore, there is nothing other than self-effort (purushartha); God is a fantasy. All results are achieved by self-effort and not by providence or God.
Rama asked again:
Holy sir, if the latent tendencies brought forward from the previous birth impel me to act in the present, where is the freedom of action?
Rama, your tendencies brought forward from past incarnations are of two kinds -- pure and impure. The pure ones lead you towards liberation, and the impure ones invite trouble. You are indeed consciousness itself, not inert physical matter. You are not impelled to action by anything other than yourself. You are in fact the real Supreme Being. Hence you are free to strengthen the pure latent tendencies in preference to the impure ones. The impure ones have to be abandoned gradually and the mind turned away from them little by little, lest there should be violent reaction. By encouraging the good tendencies to act repeatedly, you strengthen them. The impure ones will weaken by disuse. You will soon become absorbed in the expression of the good tendencies, in good actions. When thus you have overcome the force of the evil tendencies, you will then experience the supreme truth with the wisdom that rises from the good tendencies.
Therefore, follow this blessed path of goodness followed since olden times by the wise. Always increase you good tendencies (vasanas); understand and become the reality, Brahman.
V 43 The foremost means for self-knowledge is self-enquiry; grace and such other factors are secondary means. Nothing whatsoever is gained with the help of God or guru or wealth or other means, but only by self-effort aimed at complete mastery of the mind. Hence, adore the atman with the atman, serve the atman with the atman, behold the atman with the atman, and be firmly established with the atman in the atman. Just as you perform worship of the Lord, why do you not worship your own self?
No one in the universe, not even the devas or the trinity of Brahmaa, Vishnu and Shiva, can save a man from the torments of a wayward mind.
By Eldon B. Tucker
[based upon an April 8, 1994 posting to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
In a study of the Esoteric Philosophy, as we consider any of our vast doctrines, we may find ourselves limited in how far we can go. We may find that we are held back by some of the ideas that we learned as we grow up, or that we are exposed to in our day-to-day life. We need to free ourselves of much mental baggage that we carry with us, baggage that puts us at a disadvantage to someone growing up in another culture.
One idea that shows up in many forms is that the Infinite is the biggest finite thing, and that if one kept getting bigger and bigger, one would eventually come to it, the biggest, the highest, the most powerful thing in all of existence.
A variation on the idea is that there is an ultimate perfection, but it is something that one can reach, if he kept evolving and evolving, that it is an attainable goal.
A third twist on this idea is that the infinite is unknowable and beyond our experience, since it is so high, so far off, so transcendent, so perfect.
A paradox may be posed to us: What happens when an immovable object is met by an irresistible force? This is only a so-called paradox. It assumes that there is such a thing as an immovable object and such a thing as an irresistible force. An immovable object cannot exist, there will always be a force strong enough to overcome its inertia. And the same for an irresistible force.
The paradox attempts to endow something that is manifest, finite in nature, with an infinite attribute or power. This is not possible. Nothing *can exist* with infinite attributes.
The infinite aspects of consciousness are very real, and we have them as a part of our experience. But they are just as we have said: in-finite, not-finite, beyond the conditioned existence of finite, manifested existence.
Another word that might be used for *infinite* would be *unmanifest,* because that is what it is. Those attributes of life, those aspects of consciousness that deal with unconditioned existence, with the state of *non-being,* as opposed to the our finite state of *being,* are as important to our experience of life as the parts of ourselves that we are more immediately familiar with.
Until we acquire a philosophical basis for considering the unconditioned states of consciousness in our thought, they will appear to us as mystical experiences, because we have not acquired the ability to articulate them. But they are not mystical, and are as real and as substantial a part of life as any other experience of live, be it eating food, talking to a friend, or reading a book.
Our experience of life in the manifest world, in conditioned existence, is in and through the seven principles of consciousness, from Atman through the physical body. Our experience of life as is transcends the manifest world, in unconditioned existence, is in and through the three higher principles, numbers eight, nine, and ten, the higher triad that overshadows our existence.
Consider the law of cycles. If you take a cycle and give it infinite duration, you would be making the same mistake as the people whom would say that the Infinite is the biggest thing in all existence. The mistake would be to give an infinite attribute to something that exists in the manifest or conditioned world.
No cycle can *exist* that is of infinite duration, that will repeat itself forever and forever, without ever ceasing. A cycle is not a mechanical process, a mechanism that exists in the universe that persists independent of what happens. A cycle is the effect of a living being in a universe, the result of some life, and its effects are felt only as long as that being continues to exist. And that being, of however grand a stature, will cease to exist, if not sooner, then at the pralaya or dissolution of the universe in which it finds its home.
Every universe, however grand, has its beginning and its end, its birth, lifetime, and death. And there is no such thing as The Universe, when speaking of the totality of all, everywhere, both in and out of existence at this moment. The name for that totality is the Boundless All, and can be considered as a Grand Fullness (*Idam* or This) or a Grand Void (*Tat* or That).
There is an infinite, a perfect, a unconditioned side to the experience of life. And it is there for everything that exists. Every being comes into manifestation out of that perfection.
This perfection, though, although it includes everything, all possibilities, all capabilities, all aspects of life, is still not *perfect* perfection. For us, it represents our personal experience of the nirvanic consciousness, of utter completion because of not being limited to having to make choices and take on a particular nature.
But even in our unconditioned selves, we are not truly perfect. There is much more for us to learn. As our consciousness embraces the all, it is still dim, weak, and uncertain, and there is a definite extent to our effective *reach* even when in nirvana.
There is a duality in us: the unconditioned, unmanifest, perfect, universal experience of non-being, on the one hand, and the conditioned, manifest, imperfect, limited experience of being, on the other. Being arises out of non-being, as a ray or projection of consciousness. We are both parts, and they are inseparable, and we have not lost our root consciousness, our basic experience of void as we take on outer life as a living human being.
This duality exists in the various aspects of our world as well. With time, there is absolute time, unconditioned time, the perfect side to duration, and relative time, conditioned time, the imperfect experience of time in a particular world.
Our experience of cycles is of this second type of type, the broken time *(Khandakala),* the sense of time that only exists when there are objects in activity with which to measure it by.
Consider the cycle of a day. This may appear to be a fairly stable cycle. It is the cycle of a being, the earth, doing one spin on its axis. For the beings on the earth, it demarks a cycle of activity, with many active at daytime and sleeping at night.
The length of a day may change over many billions of years, and as it does, the beings living on earth will adjust their lives to accord with it.
We would not say that a day is a cycle that controls our activities. Rather, the day is a cycle of the world in which we live, and we synchronize our own activities, our own cycles of living to harmonize with it. When it changes, we change or we experience discord and find it harder to live.
But a day is not a cycle that externally controls us; it is something in a world in which we exist that we come into cooperation and accord with. We have a relationship between us and the cycle of a greater being. It is not a situation of us being externally controlled or predestined or locked into the cycles of life on earth like two interlocking gears in a machine!
A day as we know it will have its end. At some point in the distance future, our sun will have burned out and our earth will have gone away. They will have entered pralaya, dissolution, and will cease to exist. No longer existing, our particular experience of "day" will be gone as well.
Other cycles will exist, and appear to be eternal, but only exist for the duration of their world or universe. They too will have their time when they come to an end. Like the beating of a heart, a cycle may continue, faithfully, for the entire duration of the life of its originator, then cease when that originator dies.
Cycles, though, do not have to be synchronous, to continue at regular intervals for the entire duration of their existence. They can also be asynchronous, to happen at apparently random intervals. But regardless of their timing, they follow a universal pattern.
There is a beginning, where the seeds of previous cycles sprout forth into a period of growth, activity, completeness, then withdrawal, dissolution, and death, as the cycle ends. When a cycle repeats, it is done slightly better than before, because of the previous experience brought to bear on it.
And cycles can happen with different intents or purposes. The same activity is done, but under a different influence. We could be writing an article on economics for a school purpose. (The cycle is the experience of writing the article.) Then we repeat the cycle of writing an article, but this time on Theosophy, and although the steps that we go through and the writing skills that we apply may be the same, the experience that we have is entirely different.
The same could be said, on a bigger scale, of the different evolutionary periods, under the rulership of different hosts of beings, collectively known as the Dhyani-Bodhisattvas and Dhyani- Buddhas. There may be different intents or purposes behind our periods of existence, and these influences greatly qualify our experience of life as members of the human lifewave.
The important thing to do when considering cycles is to give up the mechanistic view, to give up picturing cycles as interlocked gears in some cosmic machine, to give up the thought that cycles are universal, absolute realities that apply everywhere, throughout all universes both big and small, and apply forever, throughout all time and times.
Cycles as we know them are an aspect of conditioned existence. We should not look to them for a sense of the permanent, for a sense of order and rule to life, for a sense of peace and perfection. The permanent, the ruling order, the absolute peace and perfection can be found elsewhere, in the void, in the unmanifest, in our highest nature, the highest triad, above and beyond our conditioned selves and their experience of manifested time.
We have as an integral part of our consciousness the unconditioned, the experience of abstract space and abstract time. This is not far off, imaginary, a other-worldly vision, nor is it in any way vague, tenuous, or make-believe. This part of us is as much a part of our being as our mind or any other part of our natures, and is very real and substantial in its own way.
How do we understand this part of ourselves? By experiencing it. Not by trying to understand it, by trying to picture it in some other part of ourselves. We understand it by direct experience and not by indirection or analogy.
Consider the feeling of being in love. Words can qualify the experience--much like the sense of smell can enhance the taste of food that is eaten--but the feeling of love is a different faculty of consciousness than the mind, than the words and ideas that we describe things with. We do not experience love just by using the words in the mind. We must evoke the feeling nature.
The same is true with the higher experiences of life. We understand the experience of the void by evoking the part of our nature that has that consciousness. Thinking about it can enhance the experience, and bring a clarity of consciousness to it. But the experience is not to be had simply by playing with words in the mind. This is something where we must "do it to know it."
Our highest nature must be experienced to be made real, and that experience is by the bringing of self-consciousness to what we already have as part of our conscious natures: our Highest Triad, the Auric Egg, Swabhava, and Paramatman.
We experience both unconditioned time and conditioned time, both pure time and the cycles of manifest existence. We experience both finite, conditioned space and eternal, abstract space. We experience both sides of every quality to life. And we are not fully functional until we bring a balanced awareness of both sides of the Great Divide, of the Abyss, to our everyday experience.
In our spiritual training, we can learn to become more aware of our inner nature. And with a solid philosophical and metaphysical basis for our experiences, one that we acquire with a study and deep contemplation of the Teachings, we can come to bring many treasures into our lives. We can enhance our living of life by the deeper, richer, more whole and complete perspective that this brings to our lives. There can be a lot more to even simple things, like drinking a glass of water or making a phone call, than we may realize!
By Bee Brown
The New Zealand Section [of the Theosophical Society (Adyar)] has at last established its presence on the Internet, just behind the Australian Section, which has a very natty site.
We are fairly small and so it has taken a while to gain the expertise to even attempt such a move. The site is still under construction and it is hoped to keep adding articles of a NZ content. It was felt that links to all the other great Theosophy sites was enough and that there was no need to duplicate what was already available. NZ puts out a quarterly magazine and this is supplying a lot of material especially if we go back many years of its existence. There is and has been very good NZ written articles as well as local contributions, that we hope to have available soon.
The activities of our 15 branches will also feature as the information comes to hand.
We have re-activated the NZ e-mail discussion list, now maintained by the TS headquarters office and the original instigator, John Vostermans.
We ask that anyone interested in joining in drop a line to email@example.com and their name will be added as soon as possible.
We are about 20 strong at the moment and so far we are getting a diversity of topics to think on and perhaps reply to. As all this is mostly organised by one person along with her other duties, some delays may occur in expanding the web site to the vision of what it can one day be.
By B.P. Wadia
[From the 1989 ULT pamphlet containing a reprint from THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT, X, September 1940, pages 173-74.]
The guiding principle in the Probationer's life is Discrimination between the Real and the Unreal. But these terms take on a special meaning for him; not the ordinary discrimination, between soul and sense, between mind and matter, between Beness and Being, but discrimination between Selflessness and Selfishness as ultimate cosmic principles. If he is bent on Liberation his discrimination follows one channel; if on Renunciation, it cuts a different canal. In the former case the neophyte's aspiration is for freedom from the world of erring humanity and entrance into the state of spiritual bliss. On the Path of Renunciation his whole concern is with Humanity -- not with his own realization of Bliss ineffable, but with bringing the bliss of enlightenment to the minds of men. The knowledge necessary for spiritual Self- Realization is limited; but that necessary for the service of other souls is vast and complex. Esoteric Philosophy, advocating for its votaries the treading of the Path of Renunciation, requires that they obtain the latter knowledge.
The first necessary step shown in the second fragment of our textbook, "The Two Paths," is that of the Buddhi-yoga of the second chapter of the BHAGAVAD-GITA, with one important difference. It not only recommends seeking asylum in mental devotion and doing one's duty without caring for the fruits of action, but also adds -- "Gain Siddhis for thy future birth."
Follow the wheel of life; follow the wheel of duty to race and kin, to friend and foe, and close thy mind to pleasures as to pain. Exhaust the law of Karmic retribution. Gain Siddhis for thy future birth.
-- VOICE OF THE SILENCE, ULT 39; TUP 36
To practise the most difficult art of doing good to others requires exceptional knowledge. It is not sufficient to gain "deliverance of mind from thraldom by the cessation of sins and faults."
Not cessation of sins, but something more; not suppression of vice but its elimination. The man who seeks and gains Mukti not only abandons humanity but leaves behind a particular set of his skandhas, which perforce must attract him back to incarnated existence, be it in another manvantara. Among the weaknesses and the conditions to be overcome by the future Adept are not only "desires for possession and power" but also "duties which, however honourable, are still of the earth earthy." Here is a subtle difference in the evaluation of Duty from that which is ordinarily made, a difference which the future Renouncer has to note. The development of right renunciation at the early stages and for the Probationer consists in the PERFORMANCE of duties; in not shirking them,  but discharging them. In discharging them, however, he has to learn the lesson contained in the performance and develop the power which goes with that performance. Liberation comes by the payment of our debts to all duties. But unless effort along a special line is made the powers which follow that performance will not unfold in his consciousness, and the treading of the Path of Renunciation will be impossible.
There are two kinds of Siddhis -- the one lower and psychic, the other higher and spiritual. When the Probationer is told, "Gain Siddhis for thy future birth," it is the powers of the second type that are meant -- powers belonging to Buddhi-Manas. In the performance of duty one should have not only detachment from the lower personal self and from the results of actions, but also attachment to the higher egoic self, so that the field of Dharma- yagna, sacrificial service, widens. He who desires liberation discharges his duties in such a fashion as to create no new causes -- exhaustion of Karma is his method. But he who aspires to tread the Path of Renunciation performs actions in such a manner as to create new opportunities to serve an increasing number of human minds. Each sacrificial action of his, naturally unfolding from his congenital duties, Karma-Dharma, is like a pebble thrown in a lake -- the circles of Karma made by it grow and grow. But, the aspirant is thrown back into his old sphere if, through lack of knowledge and because of limited perception, in serving he does not unfold the spiritual Siddhis. Each sacrificial deed deepens the spiritual insight, provided that both in motive and in method it is according to the teachings of the Esoteric Philosophy. Occultism teaches how to turn the forces of evil to good and unless the Probationer on the Path of Renunciation learns this and thus gains Siddhis his success will be very distant. Therefore this is said:
To live and reap experience, the mind needs breadth and depth and points to draw it towards the Diamond Soul. Seek not those points in Maya's realm; but soar beyond illusions, search the eternal and the changeless SAT, mistrusting fancy's false suggestions. For mind is like a mirror; it gathers dust while it reflects. It needs the gentle breezes of Soul-Wisdom to brush away the dust of our illusions. Seek, O Beginner, to blend thy Mind and Soul. [28; 25-26]
The ordinary man has for his horizon his street; his insight is surface-deep and the points of his magnetic compass draw him to his appetites. He lives in his sense-created state, which looks to him like a real world but which is not any of the seven Worlds of Rest Eternal. His mind made subservient to his senses, and his senses to his appetites, he goes from death to death. The man who has begun to live, who recognizes that life being probationary, afflictions are opportunities, looks beyond his street. Modern education does give him some breadth of vision, but not the depth, and therefore the gap between his knowledge and his practice, between his mental and his moral life, between his sacred beliefs and his secular deeds. Theosophy educates the human mind to gain depth,  to see below the surface, to penetrate into the very kernel of form. When the horizon of the student is broadened, when the insight of the practitioner has deepened, and therefore he has begun to live, he must secure the magnetic compass of the higher life. In navigation, by means of the magnetic compass the directive force of Earth, the great magnet, upon a freely-suspended needle is used and it is indispensable. Equally indispensable, nay more so, is the corresponding instrument to navigate the ocean of Samsara. The depth of insight develops Viveka-discrimination, and for the learning soul, that aspect of it which enables him to select ideas and aphorisms which, under Karma and for his particular stage, are necessary. The points of his magnetic compass show him the way to Sat -- Truth. It is for the human mind to maintain the breadth and the depth gained by not allowing desires and fancies to exert their power of suggestion and to draw him away to Maya's realm. This has to be achieved by the mind blending itself with the Soul.
Daily, nay hourly, from the sphere of memory the dust rises and settles on the mind, taking away its capacity to reflect the Divine Ideas of Akasha. Therefore daily and hourly the mirror of the mind has to be dusted and study of the Esoteric Philosophy does it. Sustained effort to reflect Divine Ideas polishes the mind, transforming the mirror and giving it the superior capacity to reproduce, more and more accurately, the Living Images of Devas and Dhyanis, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. These reproductions are the real points that draw the Chela-Soul to the Vajrasattva, the "Lord of all Mysteries."
It is during the process of brushing away the dust of illusions, of blending mind and soul, of soaring into the sphere of Sat, that the choice to tread the Path of Renunciation is confirmed, because we see the hidden meanings and the occult implications of that choice. The Great Choice comes at the end, when the knowledge concerning the two Ways is obtained:
Thou hast the knowledge now concerning the two Ways. Thy time will come for choice, O thou of eager Soul, when thou hast reached the end and passed the seven Portals. Thy mind is clear. No more art though entangled in delusive thoughts, for thou hast learned all. Unveiled stands Truth and looks thee sternly in the face. She says:
"Sweet are the fruits of Rest and Liberation for the sake of *Self*; but sweeter still the fruits of long and bitter duty. Aye, Renunciation for the sake of others, of suffering fellow men."
He, who becomes Pratyeka-Buddha makes his obeisance but to his *Self.* The Bodhisattva who has won the battle, who holds the prize within his palm, yet says in his divine compassion:
"For others' sake this great reward I yield." -- accomplishes the greater Renunciation.
A SAVIOUR OF THE WORLD is he.
Behold! the goal of bliss and the long Path of Woe are at the furthest end. Thou canst choose either, O aspirant to Sorrow, throughout the coming cycles!
OM VAJRAPANI HUM.
-- U.L.T., 46-47; TUP, 43-44
The student will do well to make use of THE THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARY and to reflect upon the terms (1) Pratyeka-Buddha; (2) Vajrapani; (3) Vajrasattva; and (4) Vajradhara.
By K. Paul Johnson
[based upon a September 24, 1997 posting to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
In SUNY Press's hefty AMERICA'S ALTERNATIVE RELIGIONS there is a good definition of the New Age movement. Found in Phillip Lucas's article on the A.R.E., this passage defines four distinguishing characteristics of the New Age movement:
Belief in an imminent planetary spiritual transformation that will occur at the level of human consciousness ... An ethic of self-empowerment and self-healing as a prerequisite to the healing of society ... A desire to reconcile religion and science in a higher synthesis that enhances the human condition both materially and spiritually ... Strong eclecticism in its embrace of healing therapies, healing practices, and millennial beliefs.
Elsewhere Lucas accurately identifies the A.R.E as one of the major promoters of the New Age movement, since it was "a natural outgrowth of activities and emphases that had long been staples of the association." He finds "the New Age's eclectic, pastiche-like approach to spiritual traditions and methods" particularly harmonious with the A.R.E. approach.
The reasons for Theosophy's distancing itself from the New Age movement are complex. I don't agree with the conclusion that "the ego is all" and "all views are equally subjective" are necessarily part of the New Age mix. If they were, the same stuff goes back to New Thought -- although the ego is never spoken of favorably in either movement as best I know. And I certainly disagree with the claim that "any group that has reached any level of advancement in their esoteric studies" would distance itself from the New Age -- except in a very special sense of "advancement."
I don't know that any of the Theosophical groups *have* reached any level of advancement *as groups* -- they're all highly individualistic affairs in which one is more or less on one's own. The Esoteric School is an exception to this in the Adyar Society, but not an encouraging one. There, belief that "we are advanced in esoteric studies" creates a spiritual elitism that looks down not just on non-Theosophists but on all FTS who are outside the group.
It is *that* kind of advancement in esoteric studies that has kept the Theosophists standing on the sidelines. Advancement in thinking that "we have the secret truth and others don't."
In 20 years of observing both movements, I have found the A.R.E. to be much more willing to identify with the New Age, but also much more open generally.
I think the two go hand in hand, and that Theosophical distancing from the New Age movement is mostly a simple case of "mine's better than yours." Better because older, or closer to some imagined source of authority, or more abstract, probably.
I recall an Internet-discussion reference to "plebeian New Agers" as a group that Theosophists had every right to look down on. I think that conveys an all-too-prevalent attitude. While Theosophists are busy looking down on seekers, other more welcoming groups are drawing them in.
By Dallas TenBroeck
One should consider that the whole Universe is bathed in what, for lack of better words, we designate "SPIRIT." Spirit is indefinable, being subtle, subjective, life-giving, and is ubiquitous -- present everywhere. Hence to be thought of as closest to us in our own hearts. But not limited to our hearts only, since it is universal and is therefore SHARED with all other humans and in fact all other beings alike, each drawing on IT for what is needed for their EX-istence, at the particular stage and condition of their present living.
If as I suggest, nothing is excluded, and "evil" or "wrong-doing" is very simply a deliberate choice made by an ISOLATED mind-self to act AGAINST THE GENERAL LAW -- WHICH IS THE LAW OF UNIVDERSAL BROTHERHOOD. [Here is where desire and passion can be shown to establish rings of isolation around the embodied Self, the Ego, and thereby generate the karms of selfishness and despotism.]
Those rings of isolation, once perceived, can be gradually destroyed by the active mind of the disciple, who desires to widen to the INFINITE and practice altruism, charity, and assistance to all.
It is the LAW OF UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD which draws any "body" composed of atoms, molecules, cells, and other structures into existence, and which is inclusive of those vaster areas we call worlds, planets, solar systems, gallaxies, etc ... until the mind reels in trying to visualize the vast intricacy of the WHOLE. [What we name SKANDHAS are simply living elemental forms which are impressed by us with the quality of our desire or thought.]
They leave us for a cycle away in nature, but the personal impulse set upon them draws them eventually back to us,and when they come entering the circle of our personalities the quality of the original impuse will help or delay our lives. Thus, we create and cahnge our own Karma. No one else does that. We are responsible for our RESPONSE to situations and placing "blame" on other who seem to act as Karmic agents is incorrect, philosophically and actually.
If we fail in grasping this, let us say that our capacity to even think of such vast abstractions (metaphysics) demonstrates by its presence that it is an actuality, and that our own POWER TO PERCEIVE is a vital part of THAT. If we did not share in the Whole, and every other aspect of Nature, we could not think of it, nor try to describe it to others.
From Unity and brotherhood spring those LAWS of harmony which permit the existence andcooperation of all the many disparate beings each at its own level of intelligence, and all constantly interacting.
Reincarnation is the process whereby individualized thought and memory are able to learn further and progress individually through the cycles of manifestation, which, starting with the "bare-subjectivity" of PURE SPIRIT, pass through every degree of manifested matter-spirit, and finally emerge as independently capable units, each knowing not only its own integrity, but recognizing that of all the rest and voluntarily integrating its life with them.
This is sacred living, or "sacrifice." It is not a surrender of the individuality or a lessening of responsibility or work, but an intensification of the power to assist because one learns to perceive the lines of karma that frame any one oiving Monad/Dhyan, including our own selves.
In the KEY TO THEOSOPHY, P.231 HPB speaks of 4 "Golden Links" that bind all into the One Universal Brotherhood.
If we use these ideas we will find the definitions of difference begin to dissipate.
If, again using the KEY we study so as to thoroughly assimilate the meaning of the 7 "Principles" we will be able to see these powers of ourselves as well as in Nature operating. The 7 great cycles, and the innumerable sub-cycles begin in consideration to assume the nature ofstages in an universaleducative pattern and a Vast School is the ultimate picture of all Evolutionary Processes. [ Rounds, Races, sub-races, "globes", etc ... ] HPB's diagram on p. 200 Vol. 1 of the SD will be found illuminating in this regard.
An ancient Hindu text states:
The ONE CONSCIOUSNESS pierces up and down the 7 planes of being and serves to uphold the MEMORY of experience on any or all of those planes.
If we keep this in mind then we will grasp the fact that we as mind-beings hold that memory always with us, and from top to bottom in terms of experience we can go INWARDLY to the source of any situation or experience, the cause of karma.
[reprinted with permission from THEOSOPHY MAGAZINE, XXVI, 26.]
An old Persian proverb says, "The darker the sky, the brighter the stars will shine." Perhaps the very darkness of the European firmament during the Middle Ages caused that mysterious Fraternity known as the Brothers of the Rosy Cross to shine, by contrast, with such startling brilliance. The fame of the Rosicrucians, which persists up to the present day, was not due to any desire on their part to dazzle the world with the splendor of their knowledge. They built no colleges, reared no temples, never claimed position as leaders of men. IMPERSONALITY was their watchword, and their motto had descended to them one of their Gnostic predecessors: "Learn to know all, but keep THYSELF unknown." This does not mean that the Brothers of the Rosy Cross kept themselves aloof from the world. On the contrary, they mingled freely with all classes of men, submitted to all the ordinary obligations of life, obeyed the laws of their respective countries and were considered as excellent citizens, their only secrecy being in regard to their own extraordinary knowledge and powers.
Who were the Rosicrucians? Did they spring, like Minerva, full-fledged from the brain of Jove, without any visible line of descent? Such is not the history of any truly occult organization, and the Rosicrucians were no exception to the rule. The actual origin of the Order, said H.P. Blavatsky, may be ascertained by any earnest, sincere student of Occultism who goes to Asia Minor and contacts some of the Brotherhood, if he is able to decipher a Rosicrucian manuscript which is carefully preserved in the very Lodge founded by the first Kabalist calling himself a Rosicrucian, but which now goes under another name.
The existence of the Fraternity first came into public notice in the year 1614, when a small Latin pamphlet known as the FAMA PRATERNITATIS was published in Germany, describing the foundation and aims of the Order. The first English translation of this pamphlet was made by Thomas Vaughan (Eugenius Philalethes) in 1652. It contained then story of Christian Rosencreuz, a poor but noble Knight who was born in Germany in 1358. As the result of a vow taken in his early youth, the young man started out on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. While living in Asia Minor he learned Arabic, studied with several Arabian alchemists and translated an important occult document into Latin. On his way home he stopped in Spain, where he tried to interest some of the more intellectual Moors in his occult doctrines. Failing in this, he returned to his native Germany where he assumed the mystical name of Christian Rosencreuz, or Christian Rosy-Cross. He soon attracted a group of disciples and together they built a Lodge which they called the "House of the Holy Spirit." At the end of five years Rosencreuz selected three of his most promising pupils and bound them by an oath not to reveal the secrets he was to impart. Later four other men joined the group, these eight men forming the original nucleus of the European Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross. The number eight had a peculiar mystical significance with the Rosicrucians, as is seen in their symbol of the Pelican tearing open its breast to feed its seven little ones. This purely Eastern symbol represents the idea of a universal matrix, figured by the primordial waters of the deep, from which issues the Logos, containing in itself the other seven procreative rays or powers.
In preparation for their future work, these eight men formulated a secret cipher language and compiled a dictionary in which all forms of wisdom were classified. When the time arrived for them to separate and begin the promulgation of their teachings, they bound themselves to observe six rules:
1. To make no public profession of superior knowledge, and to heal the sick free of charge.
2. To wear no special garment, but to dress according to the custom of the country in which they lived.
3. To return to the House of the Holy Spirit on a certain day each year, for the purpose of mutual help and instruction.
4. To seek for a worthy person to succeed each member.
5. To adopt the letters R.C. as their sign and mark.
6. To keep the existence of the Fraternity a secret for a period of one hundred years.
When the first of these eight men died, it was decided not to reveal the burial place of any member of the Order. Consequently, when Christian Rosencreuz died at the age of 106, no one knew where he was interred. But in 1584 a secret door was discovered in the House of the Holy Spirit, above which was a brazen plate stating that 120 years after Rosencreuz' death his tomb would be revealed and his doctrines made public. When the door was opened it disclosed a burial vault with seven sides, each five feet broad and eight feet high. In the center of the vault stood an altar, brilliantly illuminated by an "ever-burning lamp." Beneath the altar lay the perfectly preserved body of Christian Rosencreuz, one hand clasping a parchment scroll bearing the letter "T."
In this Testament the Fraternity offered its secrets to the world, with the provision that they should not become the property of any Christian sect. It expressed the loyalty of its members to the existing forms of government and invited all men of sincere aspiration to get in touch with members of the Fraternity. At the same time it urged those of selfish motives to leave Occultism alone, warning that misery and sorrow would overtake all who delved into Nature's secrets without a preliminary purification of the mind and heart.
Although the existence of the Fraternity was not made public until 1614, the influence of the Brothers was felt long before that time. In his THEATRUM CHEMICUM BRITANNICUM, Elias Ashmole states that Queen Elizabeth was cured of smallpox by a member of the Order, and that the Earl of Norfolk was healed of leprosy by a Rosicrucian physician who may have been Robert Fludd himself, as Fludd's father was Treasurer of War to Queen Elizabeth. Between 1603 and 1625 several important books appeared in which the Fraternity was mentioned, the most important being the APOLOGIA OF Robert Fludd, which was published in 1616 and is still preserved in the British Museum. In 1623 there were said to be only thirty-six Rosicrucians in Europe, scattered about in six different countries. By the end of the seventeenth century many prominent men (among them the German philosopher Leibniz) were identified with the Rosicrucians, and in the eighteenth century Cagliostro and the Count de St. Germain travelled throughout Europe trying to unite the Masons and the Rosicrucians on the common basis of Eastern Occultism. With the "death" of Cagliastro the last REAL Rosicrucian disappeared from Europe.
One of the aims of the Rosicurcians was to combine the various branches of Occultism into a synthetic whole. Many of the Brothers were alchemists, seeking for the invisible "spirit" in inorganic as well as organic matter. To these alchemical Rosicrucians is attributed the rediscovery of the secret of the "ever-burning lamps," known to many ancient nations but which had been lost for 1500 years. Three of these lamps, which had been burning in Roman sepulchres for fifteen centuries, were found in Italy shortly after the death of Christian Rosencreuz, and in 1660 the famous antiquarian Dr. Plot repeated the story of an English farmer who had discovered a subterranean chamber underneath his fields, where a "Rosicrucian" was studying beneath the light of one of these lamps. Fifty years later the London SPECTATOR of May 15, 1712, related that "Rosicrucius, say his disciples, made use of this method to show the world that he had reinvented the ever-burning lamps of the ancients, although he was resolved that no one should reap the benefit of his discovery."
The Rosicrucians denied the ordinary chemical theory that the nourishment of kindled fire must of necessity be converted into vapor, declaring that the "spiritual essence" of liquid gold (gold being the metal which wastes least when heated or melted) can be made to absorb its oily humidity, thus continuously feeding its own flame. "The Hermetic gold," said Robert Fludd, "is the outflow of the sunbeam, or of light suffused invisibly into the body of the world. Light is sublimated gold, and gold is thus the deposit of light, which of itself generates."
Many Rosicrucians -- such as Paracelsus, Cagliostro and the Count de St. Germain -- claimed to possess the secret of prolonging Life, a possibility which no Theosophist will deny. If nature is able continually to renew her wasted energies by absorption from the source of energy, why should not man do the same? If the surface waters of certain mineral springs can restore physical vigor, is it illogical to say that if we could get the first runnings from the alembic of nature in the bowels of the earth, we might, perhaps, find that the "fountain of youth" is no fable after all.
The Rosicrucians were also known as the "Fire-Philosophers," and among all the mystics and Kabalists of the Middle Ages they alone gave out the true interpretation of the word FIRE. As the esoteric teachings say, "Fire is the most perfect and unadulterated reflection, in Heaven as on Earth, of the ONE FLAME. It is Life and Death, the origin and the end of every material thing. It is divine 'SUBSTANCE'." The Rosicrucians postulated one eternal, boundless and limitless Cause, which they defined as DARKNESS, the root and basis of light. Robert Fludd described it as "Divinity latent or at rest," declaring that "Darkness adopted illumination in order to make Itself visible," and that only after the active period of manifestation began did Light AND Darkness appear.
After the active movement from the center began, the radiation or interchange of Light mid Darkness produced Spirit and Matter. And in the relative counterbalancing the diversity of things arose. From these rudiments of being the archetypal scheme arranged itself., which, though One in essence, was triple in manifestation. (Robert Fludd.)
Fire is a triple principle. Esoterically, it is also a septenary, containing a visible flame (Body), an invisible, astral fire (Soul) and Spirit. Its four aspects are heat (life), light (mind), electricity (Kamic, or molecular powers) and the synthetic Essence, BEYOND SPIRIT, or the radical cause of its existence and manifestation.
Every material form, said Robert Fludd, contains an "eager fire" or "jewel of light," the development of which brings about its evolution.
Thus all minerals, in this spark of light, have the rudimentary possibility of plants and growing organisms; thus all plants have rudimentary sensitives which might (in the ages) enable them to perfect and transmute into locomotive new creatures; thus all plants pass off into more distinguished highways of independent, completer advance, allowing their original spark of light to expand and thrill with more vivid force.
The third fundamental proposition of THE SECRET DOCTRINE also describes all Souls as "sparks" of the Universal Over-Soul. But whereas the "spark of life" in the lower kingdoms evolves unconsciously to itself through natural impulse, the "three-fold Flame" of the human Monad may hasten its evolution through its own self-induced and self-devised efforts. As the Rosicurcians taught,
Although the individual human monad, with spiritual self-consciousness and self-knowledge, may arrive at that state of perfection in the slow course of its evolution, extending perhaps over millions of years, nevertheless there is no necessity to wait until nature may, perhaps slowly and unaided, accomplish her object, but she may be assisted by the individual will and effort of those who know how to proceed.
The method by which this may be accomplished was outlined in the famous Rosicrucian maxim: To know, to will, to dare and to keep silent.
To know is the first step, and this knowledge includes an understanding of the laws governing the visible and invisible universe, and involves the study of the complete constitution of nature and of man. Knowledge brings power, and power -- if it is to be of any practical value -- must be applied. The application of knowledge requires a conscious and deliberate use of WILL, which, to be efficacious, must always work in perfect harmony with the Universal Will. The great Will of Nature works for the good of all, and the individual who would blend his own will with the Universal Will must dare to practice good alone. But power, once it has been acquired, may be used for either good or evil purposes. Therefore the Rosicurcians taught that power should be given only to those who have been sufficiently tested to prove that it would not be misapplied. Their fourth requirement, therefore, was to REMAIN SILENT about their own powers and knowledge with those with whom it was not expedient to speak.
Every candidate admitted into the Fraternity of the Rosy Cross accepted these four Rules as his standard of life, and immediately entered into a period of probationary discipline. He was told that if he fulfilled the required conditions he would find all necessary information in the "Book of Initiation." He was also promised that, when he was ready, he would find a "guide" who would instruct him in the higher degrees of Occultism.
The INSTRUCTIONS of the Rosicrucians date from the year 1675. They begin with a warning to the candidate never to use his knowledge for selfish purposes. They inform him that the Brothers of the Rosy Cross have already shown the "Way" to many peoples in many languages, and deplore the fact that their efforts have often been misunderstood and their teachings perverted. Then, in the form of an allegory, the candidate is given a description of the "Way" and is told how it may be found.
In the center of the world is a mountain, which is near and yet invisible, and in which lie the greatest treasures known to man. It is surrounded by "many fierce animals and plundering birds" which make it difficult of access and may tempt the candidate to turn back. "But have no fear," the INSTRUCTIONS counsel, "neither look ye back nor desire to return, for your guide who hath led ye thither will not suffer any harm to come to ye." In these first stages the candidate is cautioned to follow the guidance of the SELF WITHIN, and is warned of the battle with the lower self which must fought before victory can be attained. The lower principles are described as beasts of prey and elemental forces which will attack the soul at the FOOT of the mountain when all is still and dark. But when the night of temptation has been passed, "toward morning it will become right still and lovely, and soon ye will see the MORNING STAR arise and the red dawn break, and ye will perceive the great treasure."
At this stage the candidate finds himself ready for the help of a Teacher who --
... will be your guide, if ye desire it of him, and he will truly tell ye where our assembly is to be found, and will teach ye concerning our Order, and will accompany ye until time shall fully reveal all things.
For one hundred years after these INSTRUCTIONS were written, little is heard of Rosicrucian activities in Europe. Professor Lauteo, in his HISTORY OF THE ROSICRUCIANS, says that they departed for India at the beginning of the eighteenth century. But in the last quarter of that century some of their teachings were revived by Cagliotro and St. Germain who, nevertheless, remained silent concerning the esoteric side of their doctrines. In the last quarter of the nineteenth century Hargrave Jennings published his illuminating book THE ROSICRUCIANS, THEIR RITES AND MYSTERIES, but he, too, respected their secrecy and remained silent concerning those things of which he had no right to speak. With the establishment of the Theosophical Society and the appearance of the comprehensive writings of H.P. Blavatsky, all further necessity for a Rosicrucian Fraternity ceased to exist. HPB preserved her own silence concerning the Rosicrucians, and wrote --
No one could ever lay hands on the Rosicrucians, and notwithstanding the alleged discoveries of "secret chambers," vellums called "T," and of fossil knights with ever-burning lamps, this ancient association and its true aims are to this day a mystery ... the true Society remains today as it has ever been, unknown to all, especially to its cruelest enemy -- the Church.
-- ISIS UNVEILED, II, 380
By Eldon B. Tucker
[based upon a May 16, 1994 posting to email@example.com.]
There are many unspoken assumptions behind discussions on Theosophy. They may be considered beyond question. But are they? In reading the talk about astral experiences, I am reminded of born-again Christians. When I hear people talking of their renewed personal relationships with Jesus, I see them making many assumptions regarding Jesus and Christianity and the makeup of the world. I risk their outrage when I raise my doubts about some of their key ideas. Do I comment or remain silent?
My training in Theosophy leads me to oppose materialism, selfishness, and false belief, no matter however sincerely held. I feel responsible for sharing the Teachings with whomever is responsive to their effects. I also feel responsible for helping others in their spiritual growth, to the extent allowed by circumstances in my life.
The purpose of the Teachings is to draw people away from a preoccupation with the material world, and from the illusory psychical nature as well, and to develop and awaken their spiritual-intellectual natures.
Some theosophical books read too easily. They leave one nothing to ponder. The books may even sound like a psychical travelogue. These books make the reader feel that there is nothing more to the philosophy, that the next step is to develop paranormal powers and visit other planes.
Other books touch on the actual Mysteries. They stir a deeper part of us. These books awaken our inner Teacher.
When we find books that seem empty or meaningless, that seem to contain philosophical hair-splitting, we're either not reading the right authors or not ready yet to see what is there.
The next step in our spiritual evolution is to awaken our higher mind, a spiritual-intellectual faculty. The higher mind is completely above and independent of our material and psychical natures. It is a faculty of consciousness, not an extension of any of our senses, like hearing or sight, on this or other planes.
There is the astral light, which surrounds our earth. It is the storehouse of nature. The astral light is not an objective world; it is a world of illusions. There are other objective worlds, the globes of our planetary chain, but we do not visit them in dreams. A visit to the other globes is in deep sleep, totally unrelated to the dream state.
An astral experience is inherently unstable because it is self-created. We populate the environment about us, giving shapes, colors, characterizations based upon the content of our own mind. We do not interact with others, except perhaps telepathically; there is no interaction in person.
The continuous stream of events that we see in a dream follows the stream of thought in our own minds. There is a continuous mental dialog, a narrative voice. This voice brings with it the dramatization of the content of our consciousness. This is what we see in the astral light.
A respected Jungian psychologist in San Diego, Robert Johnson, once said that the stream of consciousness that we experience in dreams is continuous, and is always happening, even when we are awake. I'm inclined to agree with him.
When we experience a lucid dream, or when things seem less chaotic in a dream, we are really controlling our minds, and the dramatization of our conscious content in the astral light, for the moment, is less confused.
The content of a dream is based upon our own beliefs and training. It depends upon what thought currents that we have put ourselves in touch with. A Christian could train himself to experience a heaven world with Jesus and angels. A Tibetan Buddhist could train himself to experience the Bardo. And a Spiritualist could, with practice, come to see his Summerland (aka astral plane).
Collective beliefs form mirages in the astral light, illusory "places" that believers could experience. Each such place would have its own apparent laws and types of experience. We are correct to consider this more alike many people watching the same movie on TV than many people traveling to the same distant land. Depending upon which thought current someone is in touch with, one will find the appropriate "place" to visit. But these are not places, but collective hallucinations.
In dream experiences, we have people interacting with collective thoughtforms. No one is coming into existence on another objective plane. The experiences are self-created. A good example involves a former theosophical writer. He wrote extensively of his out of the body experiences. A friend of this writer died, someone that the writer claimed to work with on the inner planes regularly. The writer could not tell, out of his body, that his friend had died, and subsequently wrote him a letter, thinking him still alive. This is because, I think, he never really met his friend while in the dream state, but interacted with his own dream image of the friend.
My assumption might be countered. Someone may say that there is certain knowledge shared between people that they could not have possibly known while awake, that had to happen when they met while asleep. But I'd reply that those fragments of knowledge exchanged were instances of thought transference, and not due to meeting others in person in a dreamworld.
If what I am writing about sounds a bit strange, or if you feel a quick, impassioned need to tell me how wrong I am, you might stop a moment, and remember that there are more than one worldview that comes under the banner of Theosophy, and that not everyone takes your basic assumptions for granted. I do not think I'm alone, when I write, but perhaps the first to break a silence and say something different.
There is a karmic responsibility to others for whatever that we teach them, whether it is high philosophy or occult science. It is important to go with caution when we are uncertain about what we are doing. But we must also act when it is time, and do what we feel is right. Part of theosophical work--as I've learned it--is to speak out against the teaching of the occult arts, to speak out against psychical development. The acceptance and approval of seeking powers are not universal in theosophical circles. Each person should decide for himself, but should make an informed decision.
By Gerald Schueler
[based upon an May 18, 1994 posting to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
According to magic and occult science there is in fact, a dreamworld.
When we go to sleep, we (ie, our consciousness) leave our physical body and enter either an astral or mental body, suitable for the appropriate plane. Dreams with emotion take place on the astral plane. Dreams without emotion take *place* on the mental plane (admittedly this is oversimplified).
So, do we or do we not meet and converse with others? It depends. For most of us, our Body of Light is covered over with a rather heavy film -- a protective shield, you might say. HPB clearly discusses this in regards to Devachan, but this is also true during our dreams.
For most of us, most of the time, we project our desires onto this shield and thus "see" only our own projections. Its rather like being in a safe caccoon. But as we spiritually progress, this film becomes thinner, and in fact can be made to dissapate. Then we "see" outwardly into the astral plane.
This idea is found in HPB's writings and is also found in the Egyptian Book of the Dead (this is the real purpose of the Opening the Mouth ceremony) and many other magical teachings in the West and in the East (the bardo body of the Bardo Thodol is nothing more than the western magical Body of Light).
The comment that dreams do not occur on the Globes of our planetary chain is, in my opinion, wrong (this demonstrates the diverse views existing among the theosophical community).
Globes C and E are located on the astral plane, which is where we are when we dream with emotions (albeit locked away in a bubble of our own making). Remove the bubble, disperse the clouds that surround our consciousness when we sleep, and we would have real OBE experiences.
I refer the the cyclic journey from Globe D to Globe E over to Globe C and then back to Globe D as the Dream Cycle, and I believe that we go through this every time we go to sleep. Experiences on Globes D and E (i.e., the dream state) are much more subjective and relate more to our personal karma than experiences on Globe D (i.e., the waking state).
By Einar Adalsteinsson
[Based upon a July 8, 1997 posting email@example.com.]
I got THE CELESTINE PROPHESY in its first months and I liked it so much that I started a five-week introductory course into its ways of Self Culture or Spiritual Path at the TS in Iceland. There were in all three courses, before I got back to my old track [of Mind Culture Courses], but I still include one evening (two hours) going into the main points.
Of course there is nothing new under the sun, concerning the perennial wisdom, but we need ever new approaches to it, not because of the wisdom, but because of our nature of mental stagnation in the forms -- any forms.
It is therefore of paramount importance that we can speak the 'truth' in a fresh way at all times. So if you find the book to be of help, then use it as a platform into further study -- you will find it repeated and corroborated in myriads of ways in the scriptures, but it is the "gut feeling" that matters. To feel it working within, and spreading from there to the outer life, is what make it worthwhile. And the book is good for that.
Regarding the discussion of spiritual powers, it is my view that one should approach discussing them cautiously, even at times saying nothing at all in public.
It is the 'show-off' that most often turns it into a circus, not because of the powers, but because of peoples' attitudes in general. You should always be aware that when showing of such extra sensory powers, most people have no way of corroborating what is said or done. It will unfortunately split people into believers and sceptics, and maybe a few neutral (sane?) minds, and the 'freak' will end up with a lot of adoring, albeit blind followers. (What a nice and comfortable feeling for any well inflated EGO!)
Then any faculty obtained naturally in the course of spiritual endeavor is a gift to be cherished and cultivated for any beneficial cause, relieving suffering, promoting understanding and unity.
But the real skills of spirituality, worth seeking all the time, by every means, are there laid out for us by the masters and sages of all times -- becoming more understanding, more loving, -- yes and more tolerant, (in a 'correct' way).
Note the golden rule of relationship: "You should never use or manipulate any person -- and more important -- you should never yield to the use or manipulation of any person whatsoever."
This is the first rule of Control Theory, the remedy of all so-called co-dependency, which is one of the most common diseases of modern (and ancient) relationships. This is a very difficult and complicated rule to apply, but it is the key to a personal freedom beyond imagination!
I would like to add some few words on service, help, charity and giving.
First of all: Giving is only 'real' giving if there is not a touch of craving for anything in return.
Secondly: Giving is also impossible if there is a craving from the receiver of the gift.
Please don't take these statements lightly. Ponder over them and see if they are really right or wrong.
In the light of these above statements we should look at the other "good deeds."
Help is only help if it is both given and received unconditionally. Help tends to become manipulation, according to the helpers limited view on the situation.
Charity is more often than not important for the "charitable" person and not at all for the receiver.
Service, in the real sense, is also a very subtle form of giving unconditionally from ones heart.
These are basics, but if we are aware of their importance in our relations to others and try to apply them wholeheartedly, we will eventually understand how wise they really are.
Horse-trading gifts and any other 'goods' in relationship are perfectly all right, if we stick to the above rules, set fair limits in our relationships, and practice the art of unconditional giving, whenever we have anything of worth to give.
It may be noted, in case you didn't know, that giving is the key ingredient in spiritual joy and happiness!
As usual I may sound like I know all this -- but I don't! Please take this for what it is, a feeble seeking for some light in the dark. Please don't dare to believe a word of what I just said on my say-so!
I have to leave you now, going this morning (the time is past four a.m.) out in the country, to spend a week alone in the family hut in the north of Iceland, trees all around, mountains to climb, company of the birds, the music of a lonely brook, the immense silence of the light arctic night -- just imagine -- heaven on earth, heaven within!
By Dallas TenBroeck
The subject of the Masters' existence and abilities has come up, and there appears to be some confusion about this matter, so perhaps it would be a good exercise to look up, each for themselves, what is said in Theosophy about them, the Mahatmas, Adepts, Chelas, etc.
So that instead of speculation and opinion we could all base ourselves on something we have read, considered or studied in common: namely what HPB has said concerning Them.
I was struck by one appellation: "Holy Mortals." The implication being they are mortals who have passed through all the tests and examinations of the great educational system, which we might call "the World-school." They were once like us, aspirants, students, and hopefuls or acquiring wisdom. If they stand forth to us as the highest level of learning we can think of, we also come to realize that we have to make the effort to become as they now are.
We might surmise that they resemble those who become Professors and teachers in our Universities they have "graduated" from the higher levels of learning earlier than we have, -- perhaps in a previous manvantara. (I guess speaking of an earlier Manvantara this would resemble an earlier graduation class.)
Unless we grant continuity of consciousness, immortality and memory that extend for an enormous amount of time, the whole idea will appear impossible. But, as an instance we find that philosophical scientists speak of the atom as indestructible, as a "perpetual motion machine," the source of its momentum and individuality being unknown to us. According to present day theories of astrophysics those atoms, now used in our bodies and in our World, as also in all others, came into being at some climactic beginning when the Universe exploded into being from an infinitesimal point. Theosophy states ( SD Vol. I) that the period of manvantara-evolution we are in started universally, each "point" reawakening to "life" in the condition and position where it went to "rest-sleep": ages ago.
Even the Big Bang theory is made to suggest that the many kinds of atoms we know of chemically and physically are the result of the release of stupendous energy at some center and almost instantaneously the effects of that release are noted and felt at immense, immeasurable distances.
Recent research in astrophysics has determined the existence of "webs" of galaxies, stars, and other celestial objects suspended in a grand symmetry by reason, it is posited, of the fundamental vibration, the "sound" ["first principle of AKASA," says HPB in the SD] that one might call the "manifested Cause," which again in the SD Vol. 1, HPB says is derived from the "Causeless Cause." Thus Science once again approaches the methods of expression that were first used in Theosophy.
So to shortcut the whole intervening argument it might be appropriate to suggest that the unit of consciousness that we call the life-atom (MONAD) may be, or is, the base recording agent of all new experience over milliards of years. Would it be unreasonable to suggest that interior to each of us is such a "life-atom," a MONAD which is the Perceiver, the Spectator and that which views our living and decision making? We might even think of it as the "Real Me." It should now be clear that there are two "We's" in each of us. There is the ever-detached, calm and compassionate "We," and the turbulent, ebullient, ever-active and aver seeking pleasure, enjoyment, adventure, excitement "We." The first is reflective and carries the entire record of all that we have done in our earlier personalities. It speaks to our present Personality as the Voice of Conscience when it warns of danger.
When we say we "reflect," or we "meditate," we are giving a certain time for these two "We's" to speak to each other, and for the best decision to be made for our future. [There is an important section in the SECRET DOCTRINE, toward the end of the 1st volume (p. 610-633) titled: GODS, MONADS and ATOMS. It is not easy to grasp when read independently of all that HPB has spoken of in the earlier part of that 1st volume, but it does convey the idea that these are designations for the same ENTITY at different stages of its life-work and responsibility.]
After the SD was published, HPB held sessions with a number of her students and published in LUCIFER (1890-91) the "Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge." Several theosophical publishers have issued these in book form. In the version I use, published by Theosophy Company, Los Angeles, between pages 66 and 76, she discusses the existence of the HIGHER SELF (Atma-Buddhi) in every human. She hints that this gives us our sense of identity and also a sense of immortality -- that all the work we do in this life is not entirely lost at the death of our body, but continues ...
Personally, I can be easily persuaded that my life has some definite purpose, and that would be other than a mere snuffing out at that ending at the death of the body and all the work that I have put into learning and living. You may call this "wishful thinking," or anything you please, but it has a fine inspiring ring of logic. I find the same idea running in the pages of ISIS UNVEILED (1877) and repeated in a number of HPB's articles, available to us all at:
Perhaps one of the most valuable articles (also most difficult to understand) is PSYCHIC AND NOETIC ACTION.
So if we look at our Universe, World, Life as having a continuous relationship, we find that the concept of the One Source of Life is followed by the idea of Law [such as all Science depends on in every department of study and research] -- and why should humankind be the sole group excluded from the reign of universal law? Why should we have earned that distinction? Well? What are we anyway? We soon find that we are both dependent, and independent. A paradox? As minds we are free to choose and to bear the Karma of that kind of choosing. As personalities living in this World, we are entirely dependent on living by the self-sacrifice and cooperation of other beings, who may even sacrifice their life to keep our bodies alive. So we owe them a responsibility and are in their debt.
If we all depend on each other, not only as humans in a vast family ["The Family of Man!"]; but also, we depend for nourishment, air, water, heat, etc ... on our environment. We see that without the cooperation of life forms around us, our personal ecology (physical body) could not survive or work without interaction with those, and with other ecologies around us.
We could not even live physically. For those of us who look at our own physical bodies, we can notice that they are made up of many structures and that somehow the whole is coherent, and, in spite of many differences in functions, and composition; the whole is held together as a unit in which a single key Intelligence [the Human MONAD -- see SD I 174-5fn] lives and works. I would conclude, and would you agree? That is a "master intelligence?" We choose, we decide, and we order the body to do what we choose, often, quite regardless of whether the body likes it or not.
One might, perhaps, be allowed to call this the instinctual intelligence, which, starting from the simple lattice work of crystals and minerals, passes on to the more complex bodies of the plants, and from plants, animal bodies are sustained; finally we have the highly refined and capable body of a human being. But this assembly is not supervised by us. Something else does this for us, and after the baby body is developed and the educational and growing processes are over, we, the adults are given our freedom to work, to live, to choose our particular way of living. All this happens quietly around us and How many of us actually know all that we could know about our physical body functions? One would have to spend 10 years studying medicine, if one wanted to barely scratch at the knowledge that is available on this simple, subject: ourselves!
We all have and use this highly intelligent, reactive, and sensitive body which has a vast (in comparison to most animals, and especially to the apes who resemble us so grotesquely) and intelligent brain; so that many millions of action/reaction stimuli can be coordinated at a time. It is something to think of. No wonder that Theosophy states that Man is a miniature Universe. I am not suggesting that we drop everything and become physiologists, but, rather suggest that we remember that we are tenants in a living home (our bodies) and we know comparatively very little about its health, nourishment, maintenance, etc ...
But there is in addition to this the compassionate and sacrificial side. If one cuts one's hand by mistake, we can see that the blood not only tries to wash out any strange impurities, but from within itself the "white cells" start to fight invading germs, and then the small "platelets" join together to form a kind of gel, to cause the flow of blood to come to a stop. In this process as individuals, many of them lose their lives. They sacrifice themselves for the good of the larger body to which they belong, and for which they live.
Many other examples from the actions of various organs can be cited: respiration, blood flow, the transmission of food and the elimination of wastes -- all done intelligently and automatically without our even being CONSCIOUSLY focused on all that is going on within our bodies. Isn't it wonderful? As a Mind/Soul we do our thing, and the body goes about doing its thing -- as under an automatic pilot. In the SECRET DOCTRINE it will be found stated in several places that the earlier "Rounds" were periods of time spent in evolution in perfecting these complex relationships that make the existence of a physical body possible.
Theosophy has never suggested that the development of the physical body implied that intelligence or consciousness such as that of the MIND/SOUL, developed BECAUSE OF THE COMPLEXITY OF THE FORM. It does consider that at all times the development of the forms was supervised by Great Minds, Intelligences, [Masters, Mahatmas, Adepts] which had been men in earlier manvantaras. In effect the description given to us of the earlier "Rounds" is one of the laboratory processes in which the necessary "forms " are developed for us, the MIND BEINGS to use and inhabit.
Once that the form is "ready," that INTELLIGENCE is brought to unite with it, buy a process called "The Lighting up of Manas." It is a process similar to that which occurs in every family as children are gradually led to become independently intelligent thinkers. We repeat briefly in every lifetime the same general process, so that by the time we have reached our majority we are independent and responsible only to ourselves as THINKERS. In the process of the "Lighting up of Manas," the group of Great Teachers and their Assistant all incarnated in the world, and by their presence and direct teaching at that time they opened the brains of the now perfected forms to the old mind-beings whose time it was to incarnate and to resume there (or rather here) the program of self-education undertaken in those past manvantaras. A new School-year began about 18 million years ago and we are the pupils involved in the process.
All I am getting to, is that there are many levels of intelligence that are constantly coordinated in each of us, and from one Mind to another or to several others, and that the whole Universe, and our world is geared to this marvelous interaction and ecology. It is said that the Universe is infinitely sensitive to the needs of each of its parts. The great law of Karma could not operate with accuracy and timeliness without this being so.
Is there any wonder then, that it is claimed that there have been human beings who have lived much earlier than we, and who have learned these things, and are now trying to pass on to us that which they have themselves learned from their Teachers before them? It is said that there is an endless chain of teacher-pupil-teacher, stretching back into the past, and we are in the middle of the chain, as we are obliged to pass on what we have learned to our pupils, the life-atoms which go to make up of bodily form and its components on the invisible planes, such as the astral, for one.
We do not question the fact that our teachers, and the professors at a University have more knowledge in their specialities than we do, So why should we be surprised or even resent the idea that the Masters of Wisdom exist. HPB claimed to be one of their Messengers, and made no claims for any special learning herself. One often hears the statement made: Well if they knew what harm was coming, why did they not do something about it? Theosophy answers that in all cases warnings have been given. they are clear, but they are not always "liked." And because of the personal reluctance of some to adopt and change themselves (their Personal natures) those warnings have been dropped and calamities have occurred. We all know of the rise and fall of civilizations, and the rise to power of certain individuals and their sudden fall. The caus is to be found in this neglect of such warnings.
But, if you read ISIS UNVEILED, and then THE SECRET DOCTRINE, you will start to ask yourself : "How did any person come to deserve to be the transmitter of so much valuable information?" The next question arises some time later, when we have put the fundamental ideal of Theosophy into our own minds to consider them. [ Universal Source or Cause of Life, Universal and impersonal LAW, Reincarnation, and WISDOM, a goad for which all strive. With wisdom and knowledge arise moral responsibility, and this aspect of consideration is one which few desire to contemplate or study, and even less, to apply -- so until that is done on a consistent basis the failures and successes will continue.]
We cannot deny that there is the mind, our Self. And of this we can begin to investigate it by inquiring about our abilities and powers, and perhaps make a list for reference of assets and deficiencies in intellect, character, aspiration, and the whole vast field of psychology and mental and moral health which is OURSELVES. "Man know Thyself," said Hermes of ancient Egypt, and this is the one and solitary key to all the Mysteries, ancient or modern.
And this is "us." We don't know ourselves very well. Theosophy tries to deal with this by showing us that primarily we are spiritual beings, living in an intelligent form ; and, we have as immediate responsibility, the care of the well-being of the physical body, the emotional nature, the mind, and finally of the spiritual component, the reservoir of wisdom we all possess innately.
In the World School of experience that I am thinking of, the continuing Intelligence is that superior aspect of the Mind which is able to conceive of the SPIRIT as being a possibility. Then there is the lower aspect of the mind that is occupied with the management of the Personality (feelings, emotions, mind) and the body.
It also fulfils another function, as it concerns itself with how we feel about things, our likes and our dislikes, and how these impact the mind and the power of thinking. [Feeling is different from thinking. When we say we "feel" we seem to mean we believe that something is preferable or better than something else, but WE DO NOT KNOW. When we say we THINK, we imply that we have given serious consideration to some subject and, having looked at alternatives, we have definite and reasonable conclusions. We KNOW, we are SURE, we can PROVE it.]
If these ideas are approximately true then we are just at the beginning stages of becoming truly human. We find that there are records in history, and also people living around us, that are both wiser, or more foolish, than we are. If we throw back our memories to the time we spent in school, each of us can remember that he or she rose in understanding (or, learned) according to the work that we/they put into that process. Nothing came to us by some miracle. We got wise and knowledgeable because of the effort we made to study. We have noticed that some persons have a greater facility or capacity to understand in some area of study than other so. None of us are exactly the same as others are. Could this be the result of efforts we put into our self-education in earlier lives? Is capacity, character, an ability to access some kinds of knowledge easier (or more difficult) than others, an index of our previous work? Is this a possible proof of reincarnation?
Wouldn't it be so in the World School? Then what about the Teachers? We all knew that our School had a number of administrators, and also some teachers seemed wiser and better able to teach than others, Then, those of us who went to College found out that in the University the whole structure of education was continued -- as far as pupils were concerned there were classes that led to higher and higher degrees of learning, and the ability to graduate depended always on the work of the pupil within the curriculum, the system of the educational (or evolutionary) scheme.
One important fact we all noted: our class-room teachers were accessible, but those even in the same department of study who had higher responsibilities, were more difficult to meet. It was not until we raised ourselves to a level where we could talk intelligently to them that they began to pay attention to us.
All educational schemes have grades of teachers both those who work with the less advanced, and those who tutor the graduates. But the principle is the same, there are always those who can help us, at any level, when we need them.
HPB was such a teacher, and all of us owe to her what we have learned of Theosophy and its methods. She left to us the same help that she received from her Teachers, and we have the record of what she wrote. Every subsequent writer on theosophy has had to use her writings as basis. Theosophy is not something that evolves. it is simple a description of things in nature as they are [see S D I 272-3 for instance].
She spoke of the World University and of its Professors, to whom the name "Masters" was given. These noble and learned persons were known through all times, and she claimed some of them as her own "Teachers." She went so far as to say that many of the things she wrote, were beyond her own personal knowledge, and she exposed their wisdom to us, under their direct instructions, (just as an under-graduate who is also an associate professor or a "lecturer," would teach that which his own Professor found to be useful for the undergraduates entrusted to him/her.) This is how most of what we can study of Theosophy has come to us, through her, from Them. This process is the one that operates in all Universities -- there is a common knowledge and all use it freely Knowledge cannot be patented, or secreted away, but its publication can be delayed for a time.
There are many approaches to this question of who we are, but can we not consider that within each one of us there must, of necessity, in terms of common sense, reside our own special IDENTITY? What is this and where does it come from? We need to think about our potentials. And, why are we not "wise," if it is wisdom that we desire? Perhaps like all students, we have to earn more fully about our powers and our environment before we are made free to use the powers of knowledge that reside there, ready for us, when we make the grade. From one point of view we can paraphrase the old saying: Nature contains all knowledge and all wisdom. It is innate to her. Man is a vital part of nature. The Key to magic is responsibility. When we become morally responsible, we will be able to access our own inner nature and the secrets held for us there.
Early in the SECRET DOCTRINE (1888), and, of course, earlier still in several of her articles, HPB has stated that the MONAD (Atma-Buddhi) is, like the concept of the Life-atom, a deathless entity. The Universe, our World is full of these each at its own particular stage of evolution and development. So we have an actual Universal Brotherhood all around us and we are responsible for our own small sphere. When we shall have mastered that, then we can pass on to higher and more responsible things and earn the powers that come with those responsibilities.
In the meantime we have Theosophy to study. When the pupil is ready. it is said, that the Teacher will be found ready, waiting for him. So our first work is to make ourselves ready. That is why we need to know the fundamentals of Theosophy, then we have to prove their accuracy to ourselves, and then only will be fit to search for the Teacher, and then, HPB will appear. We are all of us in this century HPB's pupils, awakened by her to our potentials and from there we have to begin our personal effort to become wise.