Elegance of language may not be in the power of all of us; but simplicity and straightforwardness are. Write much as you would speak; speak as you think. If with your inferiors, speak no coarser than usual; if with your superiors, no finer. Be what you say; and, within the rules of prudence, say what you are.
-- Henry Alford
[Earlier this century, there where celebrations of the Sacred Seasons held at the Point Loma Theosophical Community. These celebrations consisted of an Symposium, followed by a presentation of the Immemorial Teachings. The following was read at the opening of these celebrations.]
Know that among our Brothers of ancient times, our predecessors and forerunners in our Holy Order, the working of this present Degree or rite was of dramatic form, representing by pictorial action and by suggestive symbol, and as far as it could be done, exactly what the Initiant or neophyte undergoes at this one of the four Sacred Seasons of the year. But as this cannot be done now, from lack of the proper apparatus, and because the chances of being seen and overheard are too great, the Minor Mystery of suggestive drama is temporarily replaced by an exposition of the same sublime facts given in the allegory of the present symposium.
You are earnestly requested to listen with great care to the golden teachings that you will hear tonight, for they portray in precept and in verbal fact what is even now tonight actually taking place on certain parts of the surface of the earth.
Listen in utmost silence and concentration of both mind and heart, and when all has been heard, then leave the Temple in voiceless quiet and in peace.
By Wesley Amerman
I would like to announce the formation of Theosophical Resources, a new project intended to expand opportunities for creative work for theosophy. It will be an independent network of people who agree to share ideas, information, experience, training methods and learning resources in theosophic service. By reaching out, individuals can assist on another and discover within themselves and others the hidden human resources needed for the future of the theosophical movement. Theosophical Resources is dedicated to be a clearing house for practical ideas rather than doctrines, and will be available to help anyone contact others with similar interests, without regard for formal theosophical or other affiliation.
This is a proposal to create a network of shared resources in the service of theosophy, to be free and open to all to contribute ideas, offer and ask for assistance, share experience and associate with others. For lack of a better name (and perhaps because it is a descriptive one), it shall be known as Theosophical Resources.
The stated Objectives of Theosophical Resources are:
1. To provide study, research, promulgation, teaching and learning resources for students.
2. To identify opportunities for work, study and service within the theosophical movement.
3. To serve as a clearing house of ideas, information and practical knowledge.
The means for spreading this work will be as varied as the individual contributions made to it. Suggestions made thus far have included: the creation of a Student Resource Directory, a preliminary list of projects, an Internet web site to post news and events, a printed and/or electronic newsletter, develop and hold training, teaching and education courses, conferences and workshops for theosophists and for the public, suggest resources to help groups with their own and joint projects, help to coordinate "service learning" opportunities, the study and promulgation of new teaching methods for reaching the public, coordinate periodic conferences among or within theosophic groups, facilitate conflict resolution, open channels of communication within and between groups and provide general resources to help groups deal with process rather than doctrinal issues.
This is the first public announcement of Theosophical Resources in its formative stage. Theosophy-World has been chosen because it represents a wide variety of theosophical viewpoints, using the ease and directness of the Internet. Other communications will follow, including a letter of introduction to be sent to as many interested people as possible, and the announcement and development of a Student Resource Directory. Readers of Theosophy World who wish to be included on future mailing lists of information about Theosophical Resources may send inquiries to:
Theosophical Resources PO Box 4252 Chatsworth, CA 91313-4252 email@example.com
By B.P. Wadia
[From the 1989 ULT pamphlet containing a reprint from THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT, X, October 1940, pages 189-91.]
Universal respect is paid to a man of virtue. A good-hearted man is admired, but so is a clever-minded man. In our modern civilization mental capacity and moral power are allowed to remain dissociated, education almost fostering the dissociation. A gentleman in clubland will not cheat at the card-table, but the same man will not hesitate to cut the throat of his friend who happens to be a business competitor. Most Occidental church-going people condemn polygamy and polyandry most severely, but they connive at adultery in both men and women. The orthodox Hindu, philosophizing, argues and proves that Brahman is in the heart of each, but he sees no illogicality in observing in practice the immortal doctrine of untouchability. We can go on multiplying instances to show how moral principles are set at nought by intelligent minds, even by so-called logicians and philosophers.
The integration of hands, head and heart is the central and fundamental teaching of THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE. Moral principles are not only to be acknowledged -- all the world does that -- they are to be applied. The value of the mental habit of looking for the underlying moral principle before any deed is done or any word spoken is not all recognized by the "educated and cultured." Occultism demands the constant practice of bringing into juxtaposition moral principles and intellectual doctrines. If it is immoral to cheat at the club, it is also immoral to cheat in the office; if polygamy is wrong, adultery is worse, for in the latter hypocrisy is present; if Brahman is in all men, then untouchability is false and its practitioner is an irreligious man. The man on the path of chelaship is called upon to consult his code of rules and laws at every turn. Like a lawyer he has his memory, but almost always the lawyer refreshes his memory and before acting consults his code-books. This the learner of Occultism is expected to do. "To sleep over a letter and to wait on a plan" is a rule because it gives the necessary time to refresh the memory and to search the scriptures. To seek the principles of action, both moral and mental, is essential, and even on the field of battle the Master Krishna thought it necessary to set them forth.
The general rule, the fundamental and foundational law to be always and ever kept in mind, is that of Brotherhood. If a thought or a feeling, a word or a deed, harms another soul, it is wrong. To the true practitioner HPB gives this advice:
He must think of himself as an infinitesimal something, not even as an individual atom, but as a part of the world-atoms as a whole, or become an illusion, a nobody, and vanish like a breath leaving no trace behind. As illusions, we are separate distinct  bodies, living in masks furnished by Maya. Can we claim one single atom in our body as distinctly our own? Everything, from spirit to the tiniest particle, is part of the whole, at best a link. Break a single link and all passes into annihilation; but this is impossible. There is a series of vehicles becoming more and more gross, from spirit to the densest matter, so that with each step downward and outward we get more and more the sense of separateness developed in us. Yet this is illusory, for if there were a real and complete separation between any two human beings, they could not communicate with, or understand each other in any way.
-- TRANSACTIONS OF THE BLAVATSKY LODGE, ULT 138; SECRET DOCTRINE COMMENTARY, Part II, TUP, 40; BCW, X, 395.
The Law of Brotherhood is intellectually recognized by all students, and earnest practitioners begin to make applications. But the influence of the race-mind is very strong, and so even practitioners are swayed by the difference between mental understanding and moral application. All Probationers are called upon to examine themselves by the light of their own Inner Ego and with the help of the divine virtues -- the PARAMITAS. Ordinarily, virtues are considered to be attributes of the heart; we do not usually speak of mind-feelings integration or yoga-union between mind and heart demands that the mind become virtuous. We have to learn to think of virtues and to use our reason and our intelligence, our discrimination and our discernment, in practising the PARAMITAS, with which deals the third fragment of our textbook, called "The Seven Portals." It is from the point of view of the relation between mind and morals that we want to examine the golden Keys.
Because the mind is driven by human feelings and passions, it roams in the field of the senses, destroying them and itself. Therefore the injunction: "Thou shalt not let thy senses make a playground of thy mind." [54; 49]
Before the mind can absorb the virtues the learner has to see within himself the difference between desire-mind and soul-mind. A bridge called Conscience exists as a third factor. Conscience is Antahkarana -- the internal organ -- and it is both the voice of experience accumulated in the world of matter and the channel of divine light streaming forth from the world of Spirit. Conscience rightly activated bridges the gulf which ordinarily exists between mental and moral activities. Before the actual treading of the Path begins and the first of the divine PARAMITAS can be correctly practised, the integration between head and heart is necessary.
Before thou canst approach the foremost gate thou hast to learn to part thy body from thy mind, to dissipate the shadow, and to live in the eternal. [ULT 53-54; TUP 49]
This does not imply that the art of separating the body from the mind is acquired; but it does mean that each time, if Dana- Charity is to be rightly expressed, an attempt has to be made to examine the relative position of body and mind, to live, be it but for a moment, in the eternal, to feel that something of ourself abides in all things and that all things are in the One Self. This preliminary to the exercise of the Dana-paramita  brings to it the strength of the mind and of true ideas. As it is most difficult, almost impossible, to attune our mind to the mind of the whole of humanity, advantage is taken of the Chela-institution, and we are told to attune our mind to "the collective minds of Lanoo- Shravakas." The feeling of unity illuminates the mind; the enlightened mind uses the virtue of Dana, charity and love immortal, not sentimentally and sensuously, but Egoically.
What is true of Dana is equally true of Shila and of Kshanti; these form a triad, for love creates harmony, and without patience, harmony cannot be created. The balanced offspring, whether a word or an act, a poem or a picture, has for its father love and for its mother patience. When the child is created, its nature of perfection makes it a masterpiece, and there is Bliss "for ever after."
Similarly, the last three paramitas, Virya, Dhyana and Prajna, form a triad. When, with dauntless energy, the father pursues contemplation, the result is Prajna -- full spiritual perception.
Between the two triads is the paramita of Viraga (Vairagya) without which neither can Maya-Illusion be conquered nor can Truth- Sat be perceived. Detachment, dispassion, indifference, is, in more than one sense, the most important of the virtues. And we are told:
Have mastery o'er thy thoughts, O striver for perfection, if thou would'st cross its [the middle portal's] threshold. [64; 58]
It is the mind which fructifies attachment to objects of sense. If the mind did not lend itself to the dictates of the desires and the passions there would be no attachment. Detached from the lower, it has within itself the power to attach itself to the higher.
Now, the gratification felt by the elemental beings who make up our desire nature is due to the interplay between them and the senses and the organs -- the Gnyana-Indriyas and the Karma- Indriyas. Desire-perception leads to desire-action. Therefore we are told:
Stern and exacting is the virtue of Viraga. If thou its path would'st master thou must keep thy mind and thy perceptions far freer than before from killing action. [62; 57]
The action which is not pleasing to Ishvara and which kills the Soul is selfish action; its opposite is sacrifice; sacramental action is YAGNA. Any action, however trivial, can be transformed into a sacrament by the magic called Yagna (see THE THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARY under YAGNA). All the Karmas we inherit from the past form our duties, our Dharma; the Esotericist HAS to perform his Dharma, so that each performance becomes sacramental. But --
Before thine hand is lifted to upraise the fourth gate's latch, thou must have mastered all the mental changes in thyself and slain the army of the thought sensations that, subtle and insidious, creep unasked within the Soul's bright shrine. [60-61; 55]
 The unwanted thoughts overpower the consciousness even before their presence is registered -- that is the first stage. To oust them is difficult, but the effort brings the SIDDHI, the power, of sensing their approach. In this second stage danger lies in keeping the mind vacant. It is important to learn to keep ourselves mentally engaged. It is necessary ever to have near at hand thoughts and things which would hold the mind steady and firm. "Possession in nine points of the law," it is said, and that is equally true of the mind possessing true ideas, which make it immune to attack from the enemy.
If thou would'st not be slain by them, then must thou harmless make thy own creations, the children of thy thoughts, unseen, impalpable, that swarm round humankind, the progeny and heirs to man and his terrestrial spoils. [61; 55]
It is through our thoughts, good and bad, that we bind ourselves to humanity, and to the universe. The thought-links are very powerful binders and Vairagya is detachment of our own mind from all thought-links. The thoughts of others bind us to them, in proportion as we are consubstantial with them. This law, however, works on the beneficent side as well: THOUGHTS link us to the Supreme Self, to the Blessed Ones who live in the infinitudes of space or on earth. Our desires fill our world now; they impel us to think, to plan, to act; a void is the world of Spirit for the man of flesh. But when the higher choice is made and the resolve taken, the emptiness of the world of the senses is seen. Invocation of the higher, daily contact with the higher, sustained repose in the higher reveal how grand and blissful the plenum is. Detachment from the lower, cleaving to the higher, transfer the loves of the aspiring practitioner to a spiritual realm, and from there the MAYA of the material universe looks like a play, a drama, a LILA. The symbols of the vacuum and the plenum are excellent metaphysical ideas, contemplation on which strengthens the virtue of Vairagya.
Thou hast to study the Voidness of the seeming full, the fulness of the seeming Void. O fearless Aspirant, look deep within the well of thine own heart, and answer. Knowest thou of Self the powers, O thou perceiver of external shadows? [61; 55-56]
Every effort to reach and to hold a new postion in a higher world requires spiritual energy -- Virya. The source thereof is in the spiritual pole of man's being. Bodily energy related to the prana-principle in man is but the lowest expression of Virya. Virya is called the semen of the Soul and it is activated by spiritual celibacy -- Brahmacharya of the mind. The Chelas of the Great Gurus are real Brahmacharis -- young learners gaining the strength of knowledge, who presently will enter the Great House of the Fathers of the Race. If the practice of bodily Brahmacharya is a difficult undertaking, much more difficult is Soul-celibacy, necessary for real one-pointedness, Dhyana. As in all else, unfoldment from within without is the law in Brahmacharya: inner psycho-spiritual  celibacy makes the outer psycho-physiological celibacy possible. Those who try to practise the latter without a basis of the former fail -- and worse than fail.
For attaining Dhyana-paramita the learner has to acquire the art of using energy for both offensive and defensive purposes. The consciousness has to attain a state wherein attacks from the lower regions do not touch it; and also in that state the movement towards the ultimate goal is steadily continued. The Dhyana-state is static in relation to the lower, but dynamic in relation to the higher. In it the attacks from the astral light have to be met and warded off, while a steady rising in the Divine Astral or Akasha has to be attempted. This dual task is implicit in the following verses, arranged to facilitate the reader's understanding:
Ere the gold flame can burn with steady light, the lamp must stand well guarded in a spot free from all wind." Exposed to shifting breeze, the jet will flicker and the quivering flame cast shades deceptive, dark and ever-changing, on the Soul's white shrine.
And then, O thou pursuer of the truth, thy Mind-Soul will become as a mad elephant, that rages in the jungle. Mistaking forest trees for living foes, he perishes in his attempts to kill the ever-shifting shadows dancing on the wall of sunlit rocks.
Thou hast to reach that fixity of mind in which no breeze, however strong, can waft an earthly thought within. Thus purified, the shrine must of all action, sound, or earthly light be void; e'en as the butterfly, o'ertaken by the frost, falls lifeless at the threshold -- so must all earthly thoughts fall dead before the fane.
Build high, Lanoo, the wall that shall hedge in the Holy Isle, the dam that will protect thy mind from pride and satisfaction at thoughts of the great feat achieved.
Thine "Isle" is the deer, thy thoughts the hounds that weary and pursue his progress to the stream of Life. Woe to the deer that is o'ertaken by the barking fiends before he reach the Vale of Refuge -- Dhyana-Marga, "path of pure knowledge" named.
Ere thou canst settle in Dhyana-Marga and call it thine, thy Soul has to become as the ripe mango fruit: as soft and sweet as its bright golden pulp for others' woes, as hard as that fruit's stone for thine own throes and sorrows, O Conqueror of Weal and Woe.
As the diamond buried deep within the throbbing heart of earth can never mirror back the earthly lights, so are thy mind and Soul; plunged in Dhyana-Marga, these must mirror nought of Maya's realm illusive.
A task far harder still awaits thee: thou hast to feel thyself ALL-THOUGHT, and yet exile all thoughts from out thy Soul.
The Dhyana gate is like an alabaster vase, white and transparent; within there burns a steady golden fire, the flame of Prajna that radiates from Atman.
 The Dhyana Path, the haven of the Yogi, the blessed goal that Srotapattis crave.
The Probationer is on the shore of the Manasa-sarovara where, Occult tradition teaches, great Sages recorded what they had heard as the Vedas. He has to enter the Waters of Wisdom and dive deep and deeper till he sees the Naga, the Dragon-Lord of the Lake. He teaches, it is said, the mantram to the new Arhan who comes out into Myalba to repeat it, and it is --
PEACE TO ALL BEINGS
By Eldon B. Tucker
It's important to be aware of history, lest it repeat itself. Consider the horrors of Nazi Germany. World War I was "the war to end all wars," yet we still had World War II. When things appear to get better in the world, it does not mean that human evil has come to any end, but rather that it is just in subsidence. We have to be ever-vigilant to see that prevent the reemergence of the dark side of human nature.
In World War II, Theosophy had to go underground in Germany. Mary Linne and Emile Haerter had translated The Secret Doctrine into German. Their translation was burned and they were jailed. After the war, it was translated again.
Following is a translation of an interesting letter from that time period:
Theosophical Society, "Branch Dresden" Dresden, July 31, 1937
We regret having to inform you that from this day on the Theosophical Society, Branch Dresden, has been dissolved by the Secret State Police (Gestapo), Berlin. This decree concurrently affects other similar associations as well.
The planned excursion on August 1 can't therefore take place.
All books which were lent from the Library MUST BE rendered to me IMMEDIATELY. (Dr. A., Schnorrstr, 27 Eg.)
The property of the T.S., Branch Dresden, will be confiscated in order to serve other charitable purposes.
We also have to make you aware of it, that every attempt being made to continue with the Organization in one way or the other, respectively trying to establish a new organization, is liable to prosecution.
Thanks to all members for their collaboration, best wishes and theosophical greetings,
(signed) Liesel Wehlitz, Secretary
We live in turbulent times. Political or religious forces to repress the freedom of thought have arisen before in but a few years to grip a country. Even with computers, allowing the free interchange of ideas, the technology can be turned against freedom of thought. Encrypted messages could be made illegal, punishable by law, and the government could review and censor email, if it were so inclined.
I'm not suggesting that this is necessarily on the horizon, but it could happen, and has happened quickly in the past.
The Teachings which we are privileged to study are something that could easily become a target for suppression, as they have been suppressed at various times throughout the ages, forcing us to go underground, like the Masons or Rosicrucians did in the past.
Let's feel grateful for the freedom that we have. We can profess a belief in Theosophy, and study and teach it openly. This is something that we cannot always take for granted. Life moves in unexpected ways, not always according to our expectations. And the forces that shape nations and change the face of the world are not only beyond our control, but often unpredictable as well.
By Eldon B. Tucker
[based upon an August 29, 1994 posting to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Ethics, like other aspects of life, is inter-woven with the rest of the Philosophy. It cannot be considered apart from the other grand ideas and ideals, anymore than reincarnation and karma could be. We can learn more about it when examining it in conjunction with the other Teachings.
Consider the doctrine of karma. We have our individual karma, made by our personal choices in life. We are self-made and control our individual destinies. Yet there is also group karma. There is, for instance, national karma, in which we share because of our birth into a particular country, and our long-standing relationships with the others incarnating in that nation at the present time.
In a similar way, we could say that there is individual ethics, and national ethics. There is the sense of right and wrong, the knowledge of good and evil, the awareness of the benefit or harm, to ourselves and others, by our actions. We make for ourselves certain rules of behavior, certain stan- dards of conduct that we try to live by. These rules are based upon the type of person that we want to be (or see ourselves as), and upon our experience of other people and the society that we live in. We know when we've done something good or wrong. The term for that awareness is "conscience," and we all have it, to some degree.
Taking a look at the larger picture, we are each in- dividuals in a particular society. We are taught to obey the laws of the land that we live in, to live in harmony with others, to peacefully coexist with others. We are further told to not just coexist, but to live for their benefit, to think of their benefit on an equal basis with our own, to truly care about their needs to. The Golden Rule, to do unto others what we'd have them do unto us is taken literally: we accept their needs and lives as equally important with our own.
Now considering the NEEDS of others does not mean working to satisfy their desires, which may be self-destruc- tive. We consider the NEEDS of others on an equal basis with our own, and the balance is never tipped in our direction if the greater good would have otherwise. And it is the same with our society. We may, at great cost to ourselves, seek to fulfill the needs of society, by opposing its current struc- ture, by refusing to satisfy its current desires.
When we truly care for others, we want the best for them. We do not use them as tools to achieve our own end. We consider each situation on its own merits, looking at the overall good. There is no self-conscious awareness of oursel- ves as individuals, apart from the rest, fighting for our own benefit at the cost of others. This forgetting of self, this transcending of the personal sense of separateness, we find as called "self-forgetfulness" in our literature, and it is an important quality of spiritual consciousness that is a special treasure.
In Zen, we are trained to lose ourselves in the situat- ion, to become so completely absorbed in what we are doing that we momentarily forget the sense of self and do things in perfect enjoyment. This enjoyment comes from the momentary liberation from the sense of personal self. This sense of personal self is a painful burden. Carrying it with us, it is like going through life wearing a pair of too-small shoes, shoes that hurt our feet to put on, and hurt even more when we walk on them. It is indeed a blissful sensation to take them off!
The personality does not go away, as we progress, but it becomes responsive to the spiritual will. As we progress, our awareness shifts deeper within, and the personality, rather than being the central focus of our awareness, instead becomes another means to give expression to ourselves. It does not go away; it does not even necessarily become a thing of beauty or a model of psychological health. Rather, the personality loses its function at that part of our inner nature which we pay attention to and identify with, replaced by something deeper within.
When we define ethics in terms of a system of moral conduct, considering it at the level of society, imposing rules of interaction upon its citizens, we are considering Group Ethics (analogous to Group Karma). Considering our individual choice to belong to that society, our individual choice as to how to interact with other individuals, and our individual choice as to how to live our own life, we are con- sidering Personal Ethics (analogous to Personal Karma).
With ethics itself, what do we have? There are certain rules of conduct, certain general principles, like "do not kill others," or "do not cheat on college tests." Each rule has valid reasons for its formulation, based upon wanting to balance individual freedom with the rights of others to remain free from harm. The balance attempts to achieve the greatest common good for all.
Looking at any particular rule, giving it our closest scrutiny, we find that it needs qualification when applied to any particular situation. When we say, for instance, "do not kill others," we might qualify it to say "unless they are about to kill your family and there is no other possibly way to stop them."
There is a difference, then, between the general rule and its particular application to any situation. This difference can be found with any type of analysis, any time of awareness, any time of consciousness. There is the general formulation, based upon the cumulative experience of the past, the essence of previous experiences. And there is the specific ap- plication, based upon the particular needs of the present, the complexity of the situation before us.
The storehouse of our past experiences, the generalized knowledge of the workings of live and the right way for us to live it, is found in our Higher Natures. The personality represents the specific way that we have brought it out in the present lifetime. The personality suffers for all the choices that we have made in this life, all the compromises necessary to get by in life, and it is quite glad to achieve liberation from the bondage of physical existence by the type we reach the death of the physical body.
I would consider the ethical consciousness, the ethical awareness as arising out of our connectedness with others. This awareness can only be possible because we are all interrelated, in our inner natures. We all participate in the process of cocreating the world. The world would not be the same were any one of us not to exist! And that interaction helps define both the world and ourselves. We know and sense the natures of each and every other being in existence through that cooperative effort. And that connection is in Buddhi, in our buddhic principle of consciousness. It is more deeply- rooted, more fundamental than the separate sense of personal self, which comes with Manas. And it is but one removed from a sense of Identity with all life, a sense of the universal Self which we realize in our highest principle, Atman.
When we consider past theosophical personages, we have to take care in our judgments of them. If someone is dead, and no longer able to help or harm others, it is not necessary to warn anyone to stay away from him. If that person had both a good and an evil side to their personalities, we can still benefit from the good, and downplay the evil.
(This does not mean the suppression of historical information about key individuals in the Theosophical Move- ment. It means keeping things in the right context. I could joke and suggest a rating system: "EH" for explicit history and "IP" for idealized philosophy, so that readers may prescreen materials before actually reading them.)
Apart from a historic study, the personal problems of past personages is not important. What is important is their philosophical differences. Their ideas must stand or fall on their own, based upon consistency with the Esoteric Philo- sophy. Any individual thought and writing stands the risk of error. Compare the writings of each person to those of Blavatsky, the Mahatmas, and what grand truths that we can derive from the great exoteric philosophies and religions of the world. Does it arise out of the same source?
This comparison can be difficult, impossible for many. Until an individual has reached a certain point, comes in touch with the theosophical thought-current, and is capable of individual thought along these lines, the selection of ideas seems arbitrary. Until one has awakened his Inner Thinker, or rather come into active relationship with it, one is a follower and believer or non-believer. Until then, there is no apparent reason for choosing one writer over another, for choosing one religion, philosophy, system of belief over the next. After that relationship is established, one can choose, and knows, to a degree, how to mine the "gold" from the common ore.
The search for ethics is the same as the search for knowledge. One set of rules of conduct seems no better than the rest, until one has come in touch with one's inner Rule Maker, and starts to see the right and wrong in everything in a fresh, original way, through direct insight rather than the recollection of rules imposed from without. This Rule Maker is Buddhi, and its active participation in life brings a new type of consciousness to the moment-to-moment situation, as we give it our complete emotional, mental, and MORAL attention.
When we speak of highly advanced individuals going from moral to "amoral" consciousness, it is comparable to in- dividual and national karma. Until we take self-responsibility for our lives, we have personal karma, but are also strongly influenced by the sweep of national events, by external society, by group karma. Also as to ethics: until we take self-responsibility for our lives, we have personal ethics, but are also strongly influenced by the national values, by external society, by group ethics.
What are we striving for? To be able to look within and know, to feel ourselves firmly rooted in a spiritual universe rooted in compassion, to truly see and understand what is right and live accordingly. What prevents us from doing so? The disbelief that it is impossible to achieve, or so far- removed from life as to be unachievable until some far-distant future lifetime. But both are not true!
We are so close to the spiritual, to the higher side of things, that we have it now. We just do not let ourselves see it! It is said that the Kingdom of God is on earth already, but we see it not. Well, the Spiritual Nature is with us, an integral part of the fabric of our conscious, and WE KNOW IT NOT. How do we NOT know it? By not giving it our self- consciousness, by allowing it to be unselfconscious, by the denial of our attention and awareness.
It is true that it takes time, there is a process that must be undergone to make it an outwardly manifest part of our lives. We must go from point A to point B, and from B to C, and so on, following a natural process of self-unfoldment. But that which is to be unfolded is already there! It is not waiting to be created, only waiting its turn to be manifest in the world as an integral part of our lives!
By Gerald Schueler
[based upon an August 18, 1994 posting to email@example.com]
I have a problem with all of this talk about ethics. In fact, I have a problem with ethics per se. I have tried to discuss this many times. Apparently I have not yet been successful. So, I will try one more time, and then I will shut up about it.
Most Christians are taught to be ethical. In fact, church attendance and ethics are quite sufficient to get most Christians into heaven. The problem that I have with ethics is motive. Most Christians (and I shouldn't really pick on Christians, because it is true across the board) are ethical because they believe that this will get them into heaven. In other words, ethics are a means to an end, and this end involves the inflation of ego. Theosophists are not supposed to be interested in inflating the ego, but rather the opposite.
As a theosophist, has the thought ever come to you that by being more ethical you will move toward spirituality? The thought often sounds something like this: "If I am ethical, I will tread the path, I will become enlightened, I will increase my good karma, I will further my spiritual evolution." Has it? If so, then please tell me the difference between the theosophist and the Christian. Are not both on similar ego trips? Even the tiny little thought that by helping someone, I will lessen my karmic burden and thus my next life will be better, is an ego trip. And yet I hear this kind of stuff in theosophical literature all the time. I submit that it matters very little whether we seek to enter heaven or seek a better future life on Earth -- both ideas are egoistic.
The problem that I have with ethics, is that it is all too easy to use ethics as a means to further inflate the ego, which for most of us is already quite large enough.
Ok. So what is the alternative? I am not suggesting that we throw out ethics, or subscribe to DO WHAT THOU WILT (a Crowley law) or even AN' IT HURT NONE, DO WHAT THOU WILT (a Wicca law which is only a little better, simply because you can't do very much in this life without inadvertently hurting someone somewhere in the process).
What I am suggesting is that we emphasize compassion and concern for the welfare of others, together with respect for all living beings. If we do this, then ethics will be a natural fallout, and will tend to take care of itself. In fact, every occult and magical organization that I am aware of teaches the importance of compassion. The ego cannot pass safely through the Ring-Pass- Not that separates form from formlessness. Thus in order to perceive the spiritual formless realms, we must eliminate the human ego. Compassion for others is a good technique to use for deflating the ego. Not ethics.
Helping others is a good thing. But inflating the ego is not. If we can fill ourselves with compassion, then we will help others simply because we cannot do anything else, and not because it is the "right" thing to do, or because it will give us good karma or will eliminate some of our past bad karma. One's motive is as important, if not more important, than one's action.
By April Hejka-Ekins
[based upon an August 22, 1994 posting to firstname.lastname@example.org]
The question of ethics in relationship to Theosophy has been raised on the network. A stimulating conversation can result if we dialogue with one another, rather than pontificating. Instead let us share our ideas and experience and, where appropriate, agree to respectfully disagree in an atmosphere of open inquiry.
I wish to begin my part of the dialogue with 4 points. First, if spiritual growth is the process of realizing the fundamental unity of all life, then I believe leading an ethical life as essential to reaching that state. From my experience as an instructor of ethics, I view the term from two dimensions: developing the moral judgment to discern right from wrong and exercising the strength of character to put those judgments into practice.
Second, the writings of Blavatsky, Judge, and the Mahatmas themselves are totally imbued with ethics as the foundation for earnest students of the Ancient Wisdom. From my studies I believe to be a Theosophist means struggling to live an ethical life of self-responsibility, justice, and compassion, while constantly striving for Truth.
Third, due to our own egotistic nature, it is easy to dispense with ethics as merely either "being nice to people" or "adhering our own moral code" that supersedes the conforming standards of society. I believe one way we often delude ourselves is in thinking that because "we are on the Path," that we have become virtuous and can go on to the more important work; i.e.,investigation of occult practices.
Fourth, in my experience leading an ethical life requires honest self-scrutiny and an ongoing humility, since we are each filled with flaws. Perhaps a fruitful conversation would be to discuss ethical problems we have faced and how a Theosophical perspective can be helpful in coping with them.
By K. Paul Johnson
[based upon a May 17, 1994 posting to email@example.com.]
Last Sunday I spoke to the Baltimore TS on the chela Babaji, and was pleased with the lodge's reception of my research and thoughts. There were lots of good questions, and one, at the end, that really made me stop and think. I wonder how others would have responded. Boris Orszula said (I parahrase):
It's clear that in your investigations you are seeking the truth, whatever it may turn out to be, and try to be strictly objective in determining what is credible and what is not. What then, after all these years of research, do you still find to be worthwhile in the contemporary Theosophical movement, and what do you reject?
Folks said my answer made sense to them, but I felt really inadequate. What I said was that the work presently being done in the movement was effective and appropriate in terms of the Three Objects, all of which I "believe in" -- i.e. value and support. That is, the publications and programs of the societies really do -- with varying degrees of success -- fulfill those Objects.
On the other hand, there was a serious failure to adhere to the motto "No Religion Higher Than Truth" as the movement had degenerated into a number of factions each of which believes its own version of the truth and discourages people from taking seriously anything which conflicts with that version.
But beneath the question lies the issue: "how do you feel about the fact that your research is destructive of people's belief systems, and what do you think is left standing in the aftermath of the destruction?"
It may surprise some folks to know that I have been a Theosophist for 16 years, have published about 25 articles in various Theosophical journals, have spoken at conferences and many branch meetings, and for the first ten of those years was quite orthodox in my views.
So, I'm not a historian becoming interested in Theosophy, but a Theosophist who gradually stumbled into historical research. And step by step, the evidence uncovered in that research took me further and further from orthodox views of HPB and the Masters, which was very painful since I was emotionally attached to so many Theosophists.
When I first gave a "controversial" talk in London in 1986 (Sufi connections was the topic) I was actually trembling with fear at the possible reactions. Jean Overton Fuller's subsequent charges of an Islamic takeover plot were even worse than I had imagined!
Anyhow -- what's the balance sheet of losses and gains for Theosophy if my forthcoming book is basically correct? What is lost is the sense of exclusive exaltation of HPB and the TS as being THE agent of THE Masters in possession of THE occult wisdom.
What is gained is a thoroughly documented proof that HPB had more connections with more advanced adepts in more different spiritual traditions East and West than has ever been imagined. And, in consequence, that her teachings are clearly based on authentic information from genuine adept sources.
But the human reality of all this leaves us with the realization that HPB and the TS were/are AN agent of SOME Masters in possession of VARIOUS kinds of occult wisdom. And some people will be very unhappy with the extent that these alliances were ever-shifting rather than stable and secure.
In terms of degrees of admiration and respect for HPB, I was always considered pretty extreme before I got into this research, and I still love her and honor her as the person who has taught me the most. Moreover, I think people who read the forthcoming book with an unbiased mind will see that it is VERY pro-HPB, in spite of being very much a "warts and all" portrait.
One more point and then I'll shut up. I've beed advised trying to put oneself into the position of one's attacker, and this is good advice.
In the case of a review in a recent theosophical periodical, what I surmise is that the writer perceives, rightly, that my work is destructive of a belief system he values. But then he wrongly assumes that this means my intentions are destructive and selfish, and that I have deliberately manipulated the evidence in service of evil purposes.
On the contrary, although I try to be scrupulously even-handed, there are lots of instances where I tend to give HPB the benefit of the doubt. And most importantly, knowing the truth about history may be destructive -- of illusions -- but it can also be liberating and enlightening.
Liberation and enlightenment are what Theosophy is all about -- in my humble opinion -- and I am hopeful that most readers will derive more benefit than pain from the results of my labors.
[Following is news from the American Section of the Theosophical Society (with international headquarters at Adyar, India). This information is now available, and I understand a copy of the announcement will appear in the next issue of THE QUEST.]
Here are some addresses you can use to contact us electronically:
General firstname.lastname@example.org Membership email@example.com Library firstname.lastname@example.org Audio-Video email@example.com Quest Book Shop firstname.lastname@example.org Discussion list email@example.com National President firstname.lastname@example.org
We look forward to hearing from you over the ether. But if you are not electronically inclined, the old post office number still works.
By Alan E. Donant
The American Section of The Theosophical Society (Pasadena) is sponsoring a two-day event to explore theosophy and modern science.
This is a call for Papers, Panels, Demonstrations, and Slide/Video Presentations, for the conference to be held May 30 - 31, 1998.
1. To advance the scientific philosophy of theosophy.
2. To present theosophy as a body of workable hypotheses that provides understanding of some of the perplexing scientific questions of our day.
3. To foster an exchange on the significance of theosophic perspectives on science.
4. To explore scientific models found in The Secret Doctrine and the implications drawn from them as applied to modern scientific discoveries.
By Thoa Tran
[based upon an November 21, 1997 posting to email@example.com.]
If any theosophist is worried about the future of t/Theosophy in getting the attention of the younger generation, s/he should log onto the zee list to observe the tone of the list. You'll have to do it without judgment of the topics. Some of the topics may not settle well in your stomach. The topics range from shit incense to Shakespeare. The ages on the zee list range from 18 to probably ancient. The knowledge level also has a wide range. If you can read countless e-mails (almost 100 a day) without feeling like protesting, you pass the test.
IMO, the typical theosophy list is diseased with necrophilia (a constant rehashing and argument over dead Theosophists), an unfriendly tone (sometimes snotty), a mental arrogance (I'm smarter than you!), and preaching (this list must be reserved ONLY to spread brotherliness!).
As an aside, regarding limiting conversations to only spreading brotherliness, we are fooling ourselves if that is the only reason we log onto the theosophy lists. People, if they are inclined to, are already doing whatever they can to spread brotherliness, OUTSIDE of the computer. Whatever their inclination, a constant reminder is not going to help, but cause guilt and annoyance.
I think the main reason theosophists log onto the lists is to be among theosophists, since there are not that many in our immediate vicinity. The staid Theosophists will congregate with staid Theosophists. Turning away and without drawing any newbies, they are not influencing anything, regardless of their constant reminder toward brotherhood. They are only reminding each other.
Although one thinks that the mission is to spread enlightening messages on the Internet, the motive is mostly selfish, arising from a need to be with like people. The attitude that pushes away people beyond your realm of positive influence reveals that the motive IS selfish.
[Circulating the Internet]
AP WIRE -- Monk Gloats Over Yoga Championship
"I am the serenest!" he says.
LHASA, TIBET -- Employing the brash style that first brought him to prominence, Sri Dhananjai Bikram won the fifth annual International Yogi Competition yesterday with a world-record point total of 873.6.
"I am the serenest!" Bikram shouted to the estimated crowd of 20,000 yoga fans, vigorously pumping his fists. "No one is serener than Sri Dhananjai Bikram -- I am the greatest monk of all time!"
Bikram got off to a fast start at the Lhasa meet, which like most major competitions, is a six-event affair. In the first event, he attained total consciousness (TC) in just 2 minutes, 34 seconds, and set the tone for the rest of the meet by repeatedly shouting, "I'm blissful! You blissful?! I'm blissful!" to the other yogis.
Bikram, 33, burst onto the international yoga scene with a gold-mandala performance at the 1994 Bhutan Invitational. At that competition he premiered his aggressive style, at one point in the flexibility event sticking his middle toes out at the other yogis. While no prohibition exists against such behavior, according to Yoga League Commissioner Swami Prabhupada, such behavior is generally considered "unBuddhalike."
"I don't care what the critics say," Bikram said. "Sri Bikram is just gonna go out there and do Sri Bikram's own yoga thing."
Before the Bhutan meet, Bikram had never placed better than fourth. Many said he had forsaken rigorous training for the celebrity status accorded by his Bhutan win, endorsing Nike's new line of prayer mats and supposedly dating the Hindu goddess Shakti. But his performance this week will regain for him the number one computer ranking and earn him new respect, as well as for his coach Mahananda Vasti, the controversial guru some have called Bikram's "guru."
"My special training diet for Bikram of one super-charged, carbo-loaded grain of rice per day was essential to his win," Vasti said.
The defeated Gupta denied that Bikram's taunting was a factor in his inability to attain TC. "I just wasn't myself today," Gupta commented. "I wasn't any self today. I was an egoless particle of the universal no-soul."
In the second event, flexibility, Bikram maintained the lead by supporting himself on his index fingers for the entire 15 minutes while touching the back of his skull to his lower spine. The feat was matched by Gupta, who first used the position at the 1990 Tokyo Zen-Off.
"That's my meditative position of spiritual ecstasy, not his," remarked Gupta. "He stole my thunder."
Bikram denied the charge, saying, "Gupta's been talking like that ever since he was a 3rd century Egyptian slave-owner."
Nevertheless, a strong showing by Gupta in the third event, the shotput, placed him within a lotus petal of the lead at the competition's halfway point.
But event number four, the contemplation of unanswerable riddles known as koans, proved the key to victory for Bikram.
The koan had long been thought the weak point of his spiritual arsenal, but his response to today's riddle -- "Show me the face you had before you were born " -- was reportedly "extremely illuminative," according to Commissioner Prabhupada.
While koan answers are kept secret from the public for fear of exposing the uninitiated multitudes to the terror of universal truth, insiders claim his answer had Prabhupada and the two other judges "highly enlightened."
With the event victory, Bikram built himself a nearly insurmountable lead, one he sustained through the yak-milk churn and breathing events to come away with the upset victory.
By Eldon B. Tucker
[based upon an August 5, 1994 posting to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
I agree with the idea that our spiritual progress leads us gradually along the road leading to becoming Masters. But this is only part of the picture. The road to enlightenment has been described as a gradual one, and as a series of sudden realizations. The gradual and sudden schools are both true, and describe different aspects of the same process.
Consider water. If heated, its temperature gradually rises, taking it eventually to the point of a radical change of state, as it boils and becomes steam. A caterpillar goes into a cocoon, and emerges as a butterfly. A chick cracks its egg shell, and emerges into the world, a creature quite different from the egg left behind. We grow old, slowly, day by day, the changes barely perceptible, but one day we die--quite a state change!
In all these cases, we found a gradual process, once engaged and followed, leading to a dramatic, sudden change. After a period of approach, of ripening, of getting ready for a new phase of life, the change happens. The springtime bud, ripened in the warm sunshine, has opened and becomes a beautiful flower!
This leads us to the idea of the Mahatma. After a period of spiritual ripening, over many lifetimes, the neophyte has reached the point of flowering, and undergoes Initiation, a considerable state change. He has become an entirely different creature, something more than the man that he was before. There is a new, different being.
Every event in life happens in accord with Natural Law. Nothing is by change, by make-believe, by pretense. We can no more become a Mahatma by pretending to follow the Path, than we can become rich by pretending at money making, or by imagining winning the California Lottery. To do something, you have to DO IT. That is, do those things that really make it happen. Engage the process and you grow, change, and achieve results. Do whatever you like, pretend to yourself whatever you like, but you'll get nowhere.
Knowledge is power, and without it we're at a considerable handicap. Much gratitude is due to HPB and her Teachers for their work to make the Teachings available to us, outside the circle of Chelaship. Otherwise we're on our own in a materialistic western society, in the midst of the Kali Yuga, the great dark age.
The basic truth is that for every event in life, there is a natural process that can be engaged to bring it about. For anything that can be done, there is a process. Do it and it will happen.
There are things we read about that cannot be done on earth at this time, because the physical plane conditions that we are subject to, here on Globe D, will not support those activities. But they can be done on the other Globes, or in future Rounds when the matter of our earth is more highly evolved and responsive to the effects of our consciousness.
Try some spiritual practices that can be found in the theosophical Teachings. If you are doing something real, changes, real changes will happen in your life. If you are doing something unreal, something wrong, something not in accord with the laws and activities of Nature, then the results will not happen.
And what brings results, real results? It is by changes in our consciousness, by broadening our outlook, by uplifting our vision, that we become more than we were. We become self-forgetful, we find ourselves engaged in grand thoughts of high philosophy and grand works in the world, rather than in the details of our personal lives, and in the self-identification with the personalities that we are burdened with.
The changes in our consciousness are inner, not obvious from the outside. Externally, we may get worse as new turbulence in our outer lives arises, as all sorts of karmic troubles boil up to the surface. But our minds and hearts are elsewhere, in a grander space within, and the outer events do not really trouble us. We're busy doing something very real, wondrous, beautiful, and fascinating in its own way. And we are on the road, along the gradual path toward that special day when we become something more, something truly grand.
It is said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. The landscape does change as we start walking, and we do find ourselves going places. There are people passing out maps. No one denies us the right to travel, and we do not need to travel blindly. We hear that what awaits is incredible beyond words, and it's there for the taking!
By Richard Hiltner
As we enter the brave new world of medicine encompassing such heretofore science fiction aspects that are now reality, I wonder about the wisdom of it all. Medical science has indeed done some magnificent things, including: coronary arterial by-pass surgery; bigger and better birth-control suppressants; bigger and better immunosuppressants; cloning; organ transplants, etc. However, I would like to concentrate in this short paper on an almost sacrosanct subject of organ transplants.
Almost every week one hears of the marvelous help of this or that organ transplant. It is indeed wonderful to see various people who are critically or mortally ill to be saved by these procedures. There is no doubt in my mind that those individuals who donated their organs have very unselfish motives. So what's the problem?
The problem is a nagging, recurrent "feeling" that something is not quite right. Perhaps the best way to examine this feeling is to write about them to others whom I feel might answer my concerns. To be more precise, let me outline some specific factors.
As a student of the ancient wisdom now called Theosophy, I realize that a human being is composed of at least seven principle-elements and that the highest of these is Atman or the Higher Self. I would rather not elaborate the rest of these principle-elements, but simply state that there is a gradual narrowing, coarsening of the consciousness or energy-force and matter until the physical body [vehicle] is reached. With this said, how then does using the donor organ of the decease or living person affect psycho-magnetically [if you will allow me to use this word] both the donor and the recipient.
In the case of a donor who has died, the theosophical student is aware of the concept of Kama-loka or "desire-locality" [sometimes referred to as "purgatory" in Christian parlance], which is located in the astral realms. After the death of the physical body, the Kama-rupa ["desire-body"] is drawn to various levels depending on its previous earth life. If one considers the thought of a human being divided into three Duad [two element-principles] levels or more commonly [Spirit, Soul and Body], the kama-rupa would be the second Duad [kama-manas], the Spirit Duad would be buddhi-manas, and the body would be astral-physical.
If my understanding is correct, the kama-rupa is for the most part unconscious or in a chaotic dream state and spends less time in the astral kama-loka if the person was more drawn to the spiritual consciousness and action. And contrariwise, if the person was more controlled by excessive, selfish passions and desires then the period would be longer and more fully conscious of the lower astral levels which are horrible to behold.
The question thus arises whether the donated organs attract psycho-magnetically the kama-rupa and therefore prolonged the stay in kama-loka? Also, would this "living" organ tend to enhance the consciousness of the kama-rupa in the lower, "nightmarish" levels of kama-loka?
It is fairly well known that cremation has been done traditionally by the more wise civilizations because of the fact that it speeds up the disassociation or cohesion of the various atoms to the molecules. This allows again the physical atoms and astral life-atoms to be free to pursue their transmigrations and evolution until the Re-embodying Ego [buddhi-manas] returns to the earth. If my understanding is correct, the longer the physical and astral body exist, the longer the attraction of the kama-rupa and the more likely it will be drawn to the lower levels of the kama-loka.
Other questions arise if the donor committed suicide or was killed by an accident. H. P. Blavatsky relates that these individuals will not be able to leave "earth's atmosphere" [albeit, in a unconscious or chaotic dream state] until there normal life span has expired. Are these donors more drawn to the earth sphere? Are they tempted more than usual by mediums or "channelers" to abnormally return to this earth and create more "negative" karma?
Looking at the other side of the coin, does the recipient of the organ affect both negatively and positively the life-atoms of the donor? It is acknowledged in theosophy that various organs are associated with different element-principles, such as the liver being related to the kamic or desire element-principle. Taking this as an especially appropriate example of affecting both the recipient's kamic element-principle as well as a direct relationship with the donor's kama-rupa, one can see all kinds of possibilities. It is also well known that a number of liver transplants are done due to alcohol toxicity, including cirrhosis, etc.
One would want to know some of the statistics on the emotional, psychological changes that occur after these transplants. This data may well be present at least to some extent already in various medical Internets, such as, Med-line. I wish in the future to pursue this; however, if there is anyone aware or better adept than myself, the information would be appreciated.
One argument in favor of transplants is that one's life-atoms are going to transmigrate to their psycho-magnetically attracted areas or beings anyway when a person dies. So what's the difference? This reasoning seems to be somewhat at fault, if one considers that after the dissolution of the physical and astral body, the life-atoms and physical atoms are "free" to go to their respective beings. The key word is FREE. With an organ transplant, the various life-atoms are "forced" to go to a specific individual. This is backed-up by the fact that except perhaps in the case of siblings or identical twins, there is great need to use extreme methods of immunosuppressant therapy on the recipient. Recipients must take very toxic immunosuppressant medications with frequent side effects, often for very long periods. One could surely argue that Nature did not have this in mind.
If the donor is living, the question of after-death states is relatively less important, except in the karma affecting the donor when he/she dies. The donor does not have complete knowledge of all the karmic aspects of the recipient, even if known. The truly "saving grace" for the donor is that of good motive. Again the argument can be presented that all of us exchange life-atoms every day, even every second, by such methods as respiration, etc. However, an organ transplant is much more intense, concentrated and, depending on the organ, affecting more directly the various element-principles. It is more intimate; surely as imitate as giving blood and therefore, more dangerous as to any negative quality both gross or subtle being communicated.
The obvious question of karma comes up in reference to the recipient's reason for needing the transplant. This may sound harsh, insensitive and lacking compassion. Who am I to judge another? If you can help another, is it not your duty to do so? These are very important and legitimate questions. Nonetheless, do we really understand all of the implications of doing the transplants? Could we do more harm than good? Each case must be examined separately! Since this is an imperfect world and we humans surely reflect this, all we can do is our best. But it is our responsibility to be aware of all sides of the argument.
Perhaps all of these questions, and very few answers, will enlighten us more about transplants. It has helped me as a physician to write down these ideas, and by doing so, organize my thoughts so that a clear picture might emerge. I sincerely hope that my concerns about transplants will eventually vaporize into space. For, as said, it has helped people and aside of the obvious abuse [stealing peoples' organs, greed, etc.] the motives seem to be genuinely good. To my very limited knowledge, theosophical literature addressing the above concerns is sparse. It would be greatly appreciated to hear from others with more knowledge.
By Mark Jaqua
[reprinted from PROTOGONOS, Spring 1989]
Many a lost secret lies buried under wastes of sand in the Gobi desert of Eastern Turkestan ... Beneath the surface is said to lie such wealth in gold, jewels, statuary, arms, utensils, and all that indicates civilization, luxury and fine arts ... awaiting the day when the revolution of cyclic periods shall again cause their story to be known for the instruction of mankind.
-- Isis Unveiled, Vol. II, pp 361, 598
... well educated and learned natives of India and Mongolia ... speak of immense libraries reclaimed from the sand, together with various reliques of ancient MAGIC lore, which have all been safely stowed away.
-- Secret Doctrine, p. xxxiv
Peter Hopkirk's book "Foreign Devils on the Silk Road" (Un, of Mass. Press, 1984) on the early twentieth century treasure hunt in Chinese Turkestan is a book as full of real-life adventure, mystery and intrigue as one is likely to find. This is a particularly mysterious area of the world, and we are told in Blavtasky's Secret Doctrine that it is the most occultly significant part of the planet, holding for ages one of the headquarters of the Lodge she represented.
The Gobi desert, where rainfall may come once in ten years, is a vast expanse that stretches some fifteen hundred miles east to west and two to five hundred north and south. It has also been called the "Shamo" desert and more modernly has been geographically divided into the Taklamakan and Gobi deserts. To its south lie India and Tibet, to the north Russia and Mongolia, and to its east, China. Shortly after the beginning of the Christian era trade routes, which later came to be know as the "Silk Road," were established along its northern and southern boundaries. Oasis towns were able to be established along rivers emptying into the desert from the gradually melting glaciers left with the last ice age. As the glaciers gradually melted, the rivers dried up, and the oasis trading towns gradually were abandoned and left to be covered by the drifting sands.
While this area remained untouched for a thousand years, almost at the sounding of a bell in the 1890's and early twentieth century Western explorers and archeologists began extensive work in the area until 1930 when China would no longer allow foreign exploration. Scores of ancient cities and temples were dug from the sand and tons of artifacts and manuscripts were transported to Western museums, much to the later chagrin of the Chinese. (It is believed by many, that hadn't the Westerners "pillaged" the area, most of their finds would have been destroyed by later political upheaval, economic development of the areas, etc. A common example was that local farmers were fond of scraping the paint off thousand-year-old frescoes to use as fertilizer.)
In 1895 Sven Hedin of Sweden was the first Westerner to launch an expedition into the area, several years after the discovery of the "Bower Manuscript" by native treasure hunters. This was a fifth century Buddhist text on medicine and "necromancy" and determined to be one of the oldest existing pieces of writing. Various other manuscripts also found their way into western experts' hands. These discoveries " ... sent a shock-wave through the world of Indian scholarship, pointing to the existence of a forgotten Buddhist civilization in China's back of beyond."
Sven Hedin's first valuable find resulted from returning to get a forgotten shovel and stumbling upon a buried city in the dunes at Lou-lan. The library of a Buddhist monastery was discovered at Dandan-uilik that contained Sanskrit texts from the fifth and sixth centuries. A wealth of documents were found in an ancient garbage dump at Niya. At Endere a Buddhist temple was dug from the sand and, among much else, the oldest specimen of Tibetan writing. At Karakhoja Le Coq of Germany found the site so plentiful of finds that he observed an old woman digging up artifacts and manuscripts (which she wanted a high price for!). At Shui-pang a "cartload" of Christian texts dating to the fifth century were found.
Eighth century Manichean texts were found by Le Coq at Karakhoja, although a large number of manuscripts were also tragically lost here when a superstitious native dumped a cartload into the river. Others were discovered to have been destroyed by irrigation water. Nestorian manuscripts were found at sites on the northern border of the Taklamakan. (The Nestorians were an early Christian sect that could not believe that Christ was both divine and human. They were outlawed by the Council of Ephesus in 432 CE and fled eastward.)
The largest manuscript "haul" of all was made initially by Aurel Stein of Britain and later Pelliot of France at Tun-huang at the "Caves of the Thousand Buddhas." Led by rumors, they persuaded a Buddhist monk restoring the cave-temples to reveal a secret chanber he had discovered that was " ... a solid mass of manuscript bundles rising to a height of nearly ten feet, and filling, as a subsequent measurement showed, close to 500 cubic feet." Among them was the oldest block-print book in the world, a "Diamond Sutra" from the ninth century. There were " ... countless manuscripts in Chinese, Sanskrit, Sogdian, Tibetan, Tunic-Turki and Uighure, as well as in unknown languages ..."
Most of the Tun-huang manuscripts ended in the British museum or at the Musee Guimet in Paris. Another cache of texts at Tun-Huang was discovered by Chinese archeologists in the 1940's and as late as 1977 a Swedish bookseller was offering Tun-Huang manuscripts in his catalog. Of the British-held manuscripts, "Half a century was to pass before these (and then only the complete ones) had been catalogued. In his mongraph, "Six Centuries at Tunhuang," Dr. Lionel Giles, who carried out this titanic task, calculates that in all he had to wade through between ten and twenty miles of closely written rolls of text."
Hopkirk summarises that --
Today the thousands of manuscripts brought back from Chinese Central Asia, written in a multitude of tongues and scripts, are divided among the institutions of at least eight different countries. Very many have still to be translated. The deciphering of one script, or the translation of one collection, can take a man's entire working life ... Anyone who wishes to understand the contribution these manuscripts have made to the study of Central Asia and Buddhist history can turn to the host of translations, catalogues, monographs and other special studies produced by scholars such as Bailey, Giles, Waley, Maspero, Levi, Konow, Muller, Henning, Hoernle, Pelliot and Chavannes, to name just a few.
By Jerry Hejka-Ekins
[based upon an August 24, 1994 posting to email@example.com.]
One would think that discussions on the Theosophical philosophy would be the prime topic on a theosophical mailing list. Yet, I have seen very little of this. I do see lots of little essays derived from digested ideas of Jung, Gurdjieff, Rudhyar, etc.. More often than not they have no particular reference to the core theosophical teachings (whether they be theosophical or neo-theosophical). I'm not putting these efforts down. They are quite nice and often very informative. No question that they also have a place here. After all, Theosophical concepts have become woven into the fabric of Western thought over the last century. Yet current topics are not the same as discussions concerning core Theosophical teachings. On a Theosophical discussion board, I believe that it is the Theosophical teachings that ought to be the bases for evaluating current topics; not the other way around.
On the other hand, I wonder how much real interest there is in Theosophical teachings among the users of this net. Few participants have consistently written essays on this subject, and when they do, they are usually met with criticism -- not criticism of their grasp of the teachings, but criticism of the fact that a writer has beliefs concerning this subject in the first place. I also wonder, if the reluctance to discuss theosophical teachings is because most people in the Theosophical Society are not really that well read in the theosophical writings, and really have deeper interests elsewhere. Then again, if there is a substantial genuine interest in Theosophical teachings, then why don't we have more posts concerning them? Those familiar with the literature can be resources to direct others who are less familiar to sources where they can find more information.
I would think it a fair assumption that posts directly concerning theosophical teachings would be of prime interest to students of theosophy. Even my suggestion (spurred by Vic's invitation to discuss aspects of theosophical education) that we discuss ethics in terms of theosophical education was met with accusations that I was suggesting that younger theosophists are immoral. One writer noted "doubt in Theosophy, distrust of it, a cynical attitude that it's a sham, that it's a work of imagination, that it's just a fairy tale." This strikes me as a very strange viewpoint for a student of Theosophy. I believe that the acceptance of Theosophical teachings as a matter of blind faith would also be as out of place here as its outright rejection. The balance has to be made with the exercise of open minded discrimination--not doubt and cynicism. Even more problematical is when this doubt and cynicism is combined with a superficial understanding of the Theosophy is is being discounted.
Just a historical word of clarification here: The earliest use of the term "neo-theosophy" was used by F.T. Brooks around 1912 in a book called NEO THEOSOPHY EXPOSED, which was part two of his first book: THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY AND ITS ESOTERIC BOGEYDOM." Brooks was an early theosophist and Prime Minister Nehru's teacher. Brook's criticisms revolved around the handling of the 1906 Leadbeater scandal, Krishnamurti's promotion to being the vehicle for the Matreya, and radical new teachings in the E.S. (channeled through C.W. Leadbeater), that contradicted the old ones. Around 1924, Margaret Thomas published a book called Theosophy Verses Neo-Theosophy: Part one compares Blavatsky's teachings to those of Besant and Leadbeater's by juxtaposing quotes from each party on various subjects, so that the thoughtful reader could easily discern the differences and contradictions. Part two published documents concerning the Leadbeater scandal, and part three publishes documents concerning the Judge case. These now very rare documents clearly show that the objections to "Neo-Theosophy" were not because of the Christian interests displayed by the new leadership, but because of the of the TS leadership's decision to shift the organization away from being a very influential philosophical movement to becoming a cultish like organization generating progressively more and more dramatic revelations concerning the desires of Matreya, the MahaChohan and of Krishnamurti, who was to be the incarnation of that Matreya.
By Annette Rivington
[based upon a July 27, 1997 posting to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
It has been proposed that in the name of completeness we could meld or synthesize the three realms of science, religion, and philosophy.
Isn't this what we are all trying to do and finding it an onerous task? Should the Theosohpical Society could try to do this, pragmatically?
I'm not well read, lately that is, but I seem to remember reading that the motivation of the previous round of scientists (approx. 17th & 18th Centuries) was more that of religion/philosophy (and sometimes downright alchemy). What ended up as Science (the How), started out as their personal ways of seeking their answers to the Why, by which they hoped to find the "Truth".
I often stop and remind myself that their seeking led to their "children's" "Science" which evolved into their "grandchildren's" Technology and a whole (new) way of life for a whole mess of (reluctant) people.
Of course we could "meld" the three very simply. All education would be about one subject only -- "The search for Truth". One could not graduate in Economics or Chemistry or Sociology, as studying these parts of knowledge would be very incomplete. In fact, one could not graduate at all. That would at least be a start, wouldn't it?
Everyone would participate in a method of primary and secondary education to learn the basic life skills, history of the race, the basics of the what, where, who and how, languages for communication, developing the imagination, meditation, freeing the spirit within, and most importantly, individual discovery of that talent or skill one would bring to the world community, which would be the basis for one's post-secondary education.
By this time in one's life, one would "naturally" respect all life and "understand" the interdependence of all and the rights of all. Life would be a continual learning process and the knowledge that one could not "graduate" as an expert in only one part, would help one keep alive the necessary state of humility and grace to keep the process going, not only for oneself, but for all future generations.
Following this process through many generations, I envision each person finally reaching a level of understanding that propels the whole race into a next level of existence. I haven't really envisioned what that is yet, but I do feel that when we get to it, there will be no problem with "parts" versus "whole".
By Eldon B. Tucker
[based upon an August 10, 1994 posting to email@example.com.]
When we speak of a "first cause," we are usually thinking of an idea out of western philosophy. The idea is that everything is started or caused by something else, but that there was some first impulse, some first cause which originated all that followed. This is attributed to God creating the universe. And that creation is either an initial impulse, giving it a start, although it could as well be a continuous stream of creative energy allowing the continued existence of the universe.
There are many ideas involved in this that we quickly move beyond in our theosophical studies. One is the idea of a personal God, a particular being, however grand, which is a Supreme Being and creator of all. Another is the idea of a Universe, however big, which can be called the totality of all that is.
A clear distinction is made between the Totality, Tat, the Great Unknowable, and any particular world or universe with its hosts of creative intelligences collectively known as its Creator. The infinite is truly not-finite, and is not simply a finite thing that is biggest, best, most grand, or top-most among lesser finite things.
To understand the workings of Nature, to follow in our philosophical thought the coming into being of a world, we have to limit ourselves to a particular world, and examine what happens with it. In "The Secret Doctrine," it is mentioned that even the highest Dhyani-Chohans have not penetrated beyond our Solar System.
So let us pick a world, and limit our inquiry, so that we can go on: the Earth Planetary Chain. This world comes into being in a greater world, the Solar System or Solar Chain. It is built out of the life energies and materials of a bigger, already-present world into which it is being born. It is not built out of nothing, but needs a bigger world to host its existence.
The same is true, no matter how big the world or universe that we may consider: that world needs an already-existing parent, a still grander world, to host it, to give it a home for its existence. And its parent requires an evenvaster parent to host it. This progression goes on, to bigger and bigger realms, without end. It is an endless series, and could be considered a Golden Chain of Being.
For our Earth Chain, picture it as out of existence, in Pralaya, and now wanting to manifest itself. The term used for individuals wanting rebirth is "Tanha." There is a similar feeling for the Earth Chain as well, a similar thirst for renewed existence.
Picture black, empty space, inclusive of everything, without end or boundary or limit of any kind. It contains the vast potential of anything at all that can be. No matter how much of it we may contain in our consciousness, there are more, truly an unlimited supply of being-ness. Our ability to contain this Space is only limited by ourselves, limited by our ability to expand, to reach out, to embrace it. This Space is the Void or the womb of the unmanifest, the side of life in which we experience non-being. From the point of view of our Earth, this Space could be called Parabrahman. The Earth itself, as its essential nature or Swabhava, its karmic storehouse and Monadic Essence that make it was it is, can be called Brahman. And Brahman could be pictured as an Egg, a great Cosmic Egg that exists in this Space, in the void.
But the line of demarcation between Parabrahman and Brahman, the egg shell itself, is fuzzy, chaotic, nebular. There is a gradual fading out, rather than a clear-cut boundary between where Brahman ends and Parabrahman begins. In a sense, Brahman reaches out and embraces the farthest reaches of Parabrahman, but in a practical sense, there is a reach, an extent, a scope to what Brahman can include in its consciousness, before reaching the unknown.
We also find that there is a part of us that corresponds to Brahman and Parabrahman. We have the experience of Nirvana and Paranirvana. In Nirvana, we have left manifestation, and find ourselves in this same Void, this Space, and there is a distinction between our effective reach or scope, defining our Auric Egg, our Monadic Essence, our Swabhava, our storehouse of karma, and the totality of all that is. The Nirvana of a Buddha of Compassion is far vaster in reach than that of a Pratyeka Buddha; and its reach is even further than the nirvanic sleep of lesser beings. There is a scope to things, different with each Monad, with each being, even in this state of non-existence.
The Cosmic Egg always exists, although in a sense it never exists, because it is completely unmanifest, and never directly descends into being, as life and form are taken on. There is a periodic hunger for existence, and at such times it sends a ray of its consciousness into manifestation. A seed arises in the Cosmic Egg, a dot appears in the circle, a laya-center is opened allowing entry into manifestation in a particular world. And a world starts to come into being.
This Cosmic Seed could be called Brahma, the creative god of the world that is now starting to appear. Hosts of lesser beings flood into existence in and through Him, and we find a world in formation. The first period involves setting up the superstructure of the world, getting everything into place for the dramas that will follow. The stage set is constructed, and the props put into place, before the first Act is played. And then the drama of life begins.
Unlike the chaotic boundary between Brahman and Parabrahman, the boundary between Brahma (the First Logos) and Brahman, is sharp, clear-cut, well defined. This is due to the clarity but also the limitation of manifest existence. Choices have been made and specific attributes have been taken on.
Consider the attribute of color. Before a color is chosen, it is possible to be any and all colors, based upon our varying preferences. Pick a specific color, though, say orange, and there is quite a sharp distinction. The vast spectrum of possibilities has been manifest as orange. All the possibilities still exist in their own realm, but only orange is manifest. As we bring things forth in life, we make specific choices as every point along the way. Each choice brings something into manifestation.
Another example comes from quantum physics. Give a single electron two paths to follow, but do not look which way it is going, and it will go both ways. It will act as a wave rather than a particle. The wave-like attribute has an analogy to the unmanifest state, to Brahman. The particle-like attribute's analogy is to the manifest state, to Brahma, and all that comes forth from it.
Now observe which way the electron is going. See which of the two paths that it is following. It no longer acts as a wave; it acts as a particle. The electron now only follows one pathway. Our act of observation has made it manifest. Our consciousness interaction with it has brought it into manifestation. There is a similar self-conscious reflection done by Brahman, and in us as Monads, which brings us into manifestation, which allows us to project a ray of our consciousness into the worlds of being.
It's important to note that when we speak of Brahma, which what we observe is not one being presiding over the creation of a world, like the Christian God, having a personal interaction with every creature in creation.
First, we are not created. We are provided an opportunity to come into being, in and through the world, but preexist the world and are not forever tied to it. It is our parent, our host, our landlord, but not our creator in the Christian sense. Much like the Egg of Brahman, we have our Auric Egg, which transcends manifest existence, and there is a part of us which can be found in the still, dark, quiet place where time is not. There is a part of us rooted in the Unchangeable, in the Forever Perfect. We are rooted in the highest, and are not the lowly creatures of some minor deity.
Secondly, Brahma is much like us in the sense that it is a being at its own level. Its self-conscious activities are with beings at its own scale of existence. It has only a vegetative sense of our existence. And it is the same with us and the life-atoms, the individual cells and atoms that make up our bodies. Our existence provides a world to host their lives, but we are engaged with beings of our own scale. We talk to other people, not to one-after-another of the hundreds of billions of cells in our bodies.
What then, within our world, enacts the Laws of Nature? What forms the ruling creative spiritual intelligence that guides things? Not one being, a personal God, Brahma, but a collective host of spiritual beings. There is grade after grade of higher beings, from the Celestial Buddhas down through the lowest of the Dhyani-Chohans. And then within our Human Kingdom itself, there is the Hierarchy of Compassion, headed by the Human Buddhas, Sixth Rounders, down and through the noble-minded men and women of society. We all participate in both living and guiding the drama of life.
Coming to what might be called a "First Cause," we are at the start of a new world period, a new Manvantara. The Dhyani-Chohans give the initial impulse that starts the existence. They set the keynote for the new period. The initial seed from which all will grow has been planted. The opening refrain that defines the theme of the melody to come has been played.
Out of this keynote, and according to its basic theme, the Dhyani-Chohans formulate the architecture of the world, from which lesser beings build from, and still lesser beings manifest as the materials used. First come the story-writers, then the actors, then the builders of the stage props. Even at the highest levels of participation in the creation of our world, we have collective hosts of intelligences. When we say "the Celestial Buddha," for instance, it is a collective name, not the title of a single godlike being.
We first have the totality, Parabrahman. Within it is Brahman, the innermost nature of the great one, unmanifest and unseen, the Cosmic Egg. And within Brahman is formed the Seed, Brahma. A world is formed. And we are Brahma's life-atoms, rushing into existence in and through him, along with the other hosts of beings that inhabit our Earth Chain.
This pattern of Parabrahman, Brahman, and Brahma could apply to any world or universe. It is a general pattern. Our experience of it is as Paranirvana, Nirvana, and Atma. Life works the same at any scale of being. Discover the key to one, and the others can be unlocked as well!