To improve the golden moment of opportunity and catch the good that is within our reach, is the great art of life.
-- Samuel Johnson
By Wesley Amerman
[The following Letter and Information Request were recently mailed to students who might be interested in Theosophical Resources. This same invitation is extended to all readers of Theosophy World, and to all theosophists, wherever and however situated.]
The purpose of this letter is to acquaint you with Theosophical Resources, a practical new service to expand opportunities for creative work for theosophy by making contacts within the theosophical arena easier and potentially more productive. By reaching out, individuals can assist one another and discover within themselves and others the hidden human resources needed for the future of the theosophical movement.
The goals of Theosophical Resources are:
Other suggestions include:
We hope that Theosophical Resources will enhance the efforts of all existing theosophical organizations and groups. Its success will depend solely upon individual effort and cooperation. Our main purpose is to promote the common goal of Universal Brotherhood.
If you would like to be part of the first project, the Theosophical Resource Directory, please take a few minutes to fill out the enclosed Information Request. The sooner you return it, the sooner we can complete and distribute the initial version, which will be updated periodically. When you receive your copy, please verify that your Name, Address, Phone, E-mail, and other data are correct. Promptly submitted corrections or changes will be included in the next update.
Your ideas, suggestions and comments at any time are welcome and essential. Please contact us by mail, E-mail, or telephone.
-- for Theosophical Resources
THEOSOPHICAL RESOURCE DIRECTORY INFORMATION REQUEST
The Theosophical Resource Directory is a project of Theosophical Resources, a network of people who agree to share ideas, information, experience, training methods and learning resources in theosophic service. Participation in the Directory is free, open to all and entirely voluntary. Theosophical Resources is dedicated to the exchange of practical ideas, not doctrines or history, and will help anyone to contact others with similar interests. One is not asked about individual affiliations. You need not be a member of any theosophical group to utilize the activities or services.
The first objective is to develop a Resource Directory of those interested in theosophy. You may be part of this directory by completing the information below, which will be made available only to those who respond. Or, you may elect just to be on the mailing list, but with your permission, fellow students who have the directory will be able to contact you directly. It is hoped that self-initiated and self-directed efforts will emerge from the use of this Directory.
--------------------------- cut here ---------------------------- Name: Daytime Phone: Evening Phone: Address: Email (optional): Interests: - - Abilities/Skills: - - Other/Comments: - - May the above information be used in the Directory? (Y/N): ---------------------------- cut here ----------------------------Thank you for your interest in Theosophical Resources. Your input and response at this early stage are important. Please direct your response to Theosophical Resources, P.O. Box 4252, Chatsworth CA 91313-4252. (818-998-3223, email@example.com)
By Eldon B. Tucker
[based upon an August 21, 1994 posting to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
When we discuss Theosophy, we should look at the content of our discussions. Consider what we talk about. It shows both our personal interests and our relationship to the Philosophy. Do we keep Theosophy at a distance, and poke holes in it from some particular point of view, or do we embrace, practice, and experience it?
Consider someone who starts with the assumption that Theosophy is not true, or may contain serious flaws, inter-blended with occasional gems of truth. That person will not talk about Theosophy and the world in terms of the Teachings. He will use another system of thought, suitable to his personal temperament, and analyze Theosophy from that foreign perspective.
One such approach has to do with history, and I will talk about it this time. In a later message I'll write about another external approaches to look upon Theosophy.
If you have a strong interest in history, you may treat Theosophy as a subject for historical analysis. You would use the particular rules from that scholastic pursuit. You would seek to uncover the actual personalities and circumstances in the lives of key theosophical personages.
This approach has its limits. Not everything that happens leaves behind a trail of historic documents. You are like a police detective, trying to reconstruct the event of a crime from clues left behind at the crime scene. The more that the subject matter has to do with the Mysteries, the more likely there will be no traces to uncover.
Theosophy deals with a side to life that goes far beyond things that leave a trace on the physical plane. Take a photograph of a man sitting at his desk, reading a book. That event of reading the book is a historic fact, and is now documented. Not documented, though, is his state of consciousness. He could be idly daydreaming, in a lowly kamalokic state of awareness, or deep in lofty though that is almost nirvanic in scope. You might later find a record of a conversation where that man says that he was only thinking about his mortgage. But was he? The event itself was one of consciousness. Even his statement about it is secondhand evidence. By knowing about his life, you might arrive at a conclusion based upon all the evidence brought together. But that conclusion is probabilistic, and not conclusive.
It is materialism, in the guise of an academic pursuit of truth, which says that nothing is real, and nothing happens, unless is subject to historical documentation.
There is a value to history, and we can make assumptions and generalizations about historic personages. But when we make those assumptions, we believe those people to be like us, and that the generalizations can be applied to them. We are saying that a typical person, under these circumstances, must have thought, felt, and intended such-and-such.
We can use our knowledge of psychology and human nature to infer what is going on inside a person. But what if that person is insane? The connection is broken between external actions and what is going on inside the person. On the other end of the spectrum, the truly great geniuses have often been mistaken for being insane, or loony, because we do not have the education or intelligence to follow them. We cannot make sense of their reasoning and vision of life, and blame them rather than ourselves. We say that they are confused, deluded, impractical, stupid, when it is truly the reverse.
In "The Mahatma Letters," it is said that we can come to the Masters or settle for crumbs. And that their secrets, is told to us in plain language, would be perceived as insane gibberish! We cannot follow it because we are not ready for learning much of what the Masters know.
Consider reincarnation and karma, and look at the fact that over many lifetimes we learn and grow wiser, more intelligent, more compassionate to others. It is reasonable to assume that there are some people very far ahead of us.
The Masters have stated that special circumstances are necessary to convey what they know. They have said that they simply cannot write things down. And we are told that an appropriate degree of readiness is needed in the pupil before some of their knowledge can be imparted.
I do not think that if we heard some of their ideas that we'd find them sounding like gibberish. I think that we'd have many huh's, where we hear something but do not get the point. Something would be said and we just would not get the meaning of it. We'd be thinking: "So what? What is the point in that statement?"
Now what if you do not believe in reincarnation and karma? What if you do not believe that there are Mahatmas, individuals very far ahead of us in their spiritual and intellectual development? Then you would reject all this and instead look for where Blavatsky had deluded herself into thinking there were such people. The philosophy, as a consistent whole, would start to unravel in your mind and you'd find yourself numbered among the "non-believers."
If you believe in Theosophy, you use it as a tool to analyze and interpret things in the world. You treat it both as a spiritual path, a practice of Jnana Yoga, and as preparatory studies to admission, when the time was right, into the Lessor Mysteries.
Taking Theosophy as true, you'd say things like "In terms of Theosophy this thing is seen as ..." The other approach is to treat Theosophy as a subject for critical scrutiny. From another system of though, you might say: "Theosophy is an example of a myth arising out of the collective unconscious." Or you might say: "Theosophy is a primitive first attempt to bring Buddhism into western society, superseded by direct translations of Tibetan Works." Many other examples could be given.
Take a third-party system of thought, some religion, philosophy, or western academic discipline, and apply it to analyze Theosophy in the terms of that discipline. What do you have? You end with a caricature of the Grand Teachings seen through the eyes of people outside the Stream.
But is not modern science so wonderful? It gives us computers, space shuttles, penicillin, eyeglasses, printed books--countless things that enrich our material existence. But what is missing from our lives? And what more is there that it has not yet provided? There is a lot more in store in our future than the pittance that has appeared in the last few thousand years in the west.
We hear repeatedly in our literature that we must live the life to know the Truth. And that living of the life is not merely a pious observation of some arbitrary rules of behavior in our external personal lives. We need a sense of Belief to pervade our lives, a Belief that colors our consciousness, that flavors our experience of the events of life.
It is not possible to get far in Theosophy as a practice, as a discipline, as an approach to the Mysteries, unless we dive in. We need to give it our unqualified dedication. Treat it as a Zen Koan of unimaginable proportion. It has answers and there are processes in our inner nature that can be engaged. (See the first two of Purucker's 12 E.S. books, published by PLP.)
When learning to type, you first have to learn the position of each individual letter on the keyboard. You think of each finger as you type a certain letter, and go through various drills to become proficient. This is alike to the early study of theosophical literature that we undertake.
There is a time, though, when we stop thinking about individual letters, and just about the words and sentences that we are typing. We have gone to a new level of experience. We are doing something different now. We have reached a higher level of experience.
The same is possible in the study of Theosophy. There is a point where it is possible to get a feeling of the thought-current of the Teachings. And more, it becomes possible to come in touch with the ideas directly. It is possible to have original ideas about the Teachings that are not just logical conclusions working out from things that we've read, but are new, original, fresh.
There is a source of knowledge and wisdom that is behind the printed page. It is real, tangible, and approachable. It is a non-physical thing, and just as real as any part of Theosophy.
How is Theosophy to be proven? To someone outside, it may remain unprovable, because the proof is in personal experience, and that experience requires real changes in the life of the student. To someone who lives the life, that proof is unnecessary. The reality of the experiences in his life is understood.
Is it necessary for people truly into Theosophy to engage the critics in verbal battle, to tear down their false gods and expose errors in their logic? No. What is necessary is to show the appropriate love, honor, and respect for the grand spiritual treasures that we are blessed with. The proper attitude toward the critics is not in shouting back at them. The proper attitude is admitting into our lives things of the Spirit. These things are so incredibly beautiful and profound, that we simply have no choice but to do something, be it ever so humble, to give expression to them in the outer world. To not try, to gaze on the Truly Grand and do nothing, is the greatest shame imaginable.
By Jerome Wheeler
Here is an experience of General Yermalov that demonstrates the reality of our HIGHER EGO, taken from "An Astral Prophet" by H.P. Blavatsky:
The friend is told by General Yermalov that while writing LATE IN THE NIGHT he had suddenly fallen into a REVERIE, when he suddenly perceived upon lifting the eyes a stranger standing before him. Now that reverie was most likely a sudden doze, brought on by fatigue and overwork, during which a mechanical action of purely somnambulist character took place.
The PERSONALITY becoming suddenly alive to the Presence of its Higher Self, the human sleeping automaton fell under the sway of the Individuality, and forthwith the hand that had been occupied with writing for several hours before resumed mechanically its task. Upon awakening the PERSONALITY thought that the document before him had been written at the dictation of a visitor whose voice he had heard, whereas, in truth, he had been simply recording the innermost thoughts--or shall we say knowledge--of his own divine "Ego," a prophetic because all-knowing Spirit. The "voice" of the latter was simply the translation by the physical memory, at the instant of awakening, of the mental knowledge concerning the life of the mortal man reflected on the lower by the HIGHER consciousness.
Thus, the stranger ... belongs to that class of well-known phenomena familiar to us as the ASSOCIATION OF IDEAS AND REMINISCENCES in our dreams. The pictures and scenes we see in sleep, the events we live through for hours, days, sometimes for years in our dreams, all this takes less time, in reality, than is occupied by a flash of lightning during the instant of awakening and the return to full consciousness ... It is one of the fundamental teachings of Occultism that besides the attribute of divine omniscience in its own nature and sphere of action, there exists in Eternity for the INDIVIDUAL immortal EGO neither PAST nor FUTURE, but only one everlasting PRESENT. Now, once this doctrine is admitted, or simply postulated, it becomes only natural that the whole life from birth to death, of the Personality which the Ego informs, should be as plainly visible to the Higher Ego as it is invisible to, and concealed from, the limited vision of its temporary and mortal Form.
By Donald J. DeGracia
[based upon an August 8, 1994 posting to email@example.com.]
In a culture such as ours that stresses values of individualism, the idea of "superior" humans, no matter how benevolent, just seems to cut across the grain of Western values. Such a belief in Masters is predominately an Eastern invention, not a Western one. Here in the West we tend to think of those in power as inherently corrupt, and the political experience of our nation gives much credence to this attitude.
I start with this point in the context of "planning for the 21st century", for it seems kind of nerve to ignore our common societal values when formulating "official" theosophical positions. This is ironic in light of John Algeo's statement that "it is not enough to study in isolation or communicate with an elite coterie. We should be pragmatic and popular". Are we relly being "pragmatic and popular" when we ignore the common values of our times?
Basically the choice is: do we keep the authoritarian idea of the Masters alive in the mythos and teachings of theosophy at an official level, or do we, as a Society, acknowledge the social fact of our Western culture with its ever growing emphasis on decentralization of authority and reliance on internal authority (as opposed to externally opposed authority)? For the image of the Masters as currently formulated and promulgated in Theosophy is one of external authority.
These are people, again, in spite of the claim of their superiority, that are external to us as individuals. If, instead, we think of the Master as our own inner conscience and higher potential, we are discussing a different matter altogether. However, the present view is one of the Masters as being external to us, as superior beings whom we should simply obey. Like it or not, those that don't mindlessly accept the idea of the Masters will inevitably see a hint of fascism in such a conception (especially when the Masters are construed as running things "for their own purposes.").
Now, this is only one angle, and by no means the deepest or most significant. Another level this issue can be validly looked at on is the following: one must ask: just what is the psychology of a person that needs to believe in Masters? For, again, as currently formulated, the idea of the Masters can be construed, in somewhat Jungian terms, as basic "father figures". They are a patriarchal guiding force and we are the children whom shall learn their wisdom.
However, in the actual pattern of life, do not our physical parent one day die, and we are left alone to face the world, supposedly as fully formed, mature and responsible adults? In other words, our physical parents do not guide us for our whole life -- this is simply impossible -- so why do we need to project this type of guidance on a cosmic level and posit a hidden and mysterious "parent force" of Masters, whom will guide us on spiritual levels?
In actual fact, the human psyche progresses through a well defined series of growth. As children, the guidance of our elders is essential as we learn about the world and learn to give meaning and values to our experience. However, as we grow psychologically, we eventually outgrow the need to be told what to do, and who to be, and how to live by our elders.
We make the transition from a learner to a teacher as we come on our own as individuals. At this stage of psychological maturity, the idea is not to follow the rules of elders, but to have the wisdom to cooperate with other mature individuals. And even this stage is transcended as we grow in wisdom and spirituality and learn to see God in all things. Such a progression of psychological growth is fully described in the Hindu conception of the four stages of life, and is restated in more modern terms by Jung himself.
So, looking at the issue of the Masters within the context of this progression of human psychological growth, one can come to the following conclusion. The Masters, if formulated as some external, superior "father figure" will appeal to a mentality at a stage of psychological growth that requires such images to maintain itself. And thus, if this is the official platform of the TS, then such a platform will SELECT for a certain type of person at a very specific stage of growth i.e. those who still need father images and images of guidance by their superiors for psychological security. In other words, such individuals will be the future members of the TS (again, in the context of planning for the 21st century).
So, from the perspective stated above, the question boils down to: what kind of people do we want the TS to appeal to in the 21st century? For we can formulate the TS ideas to appeal to people at any stage in the progression of psychological growth and maturity.
And there is another angle to this in that we must ask ourselves: where is our society as a whole at in this progression of psychological growth and maturity? Where is the average individual today in this progression?
I would suggest that the average mentality of the people in our culture as a whole is considerably beyond the stage of needing father figures as an essential component of their world-view. People of today are at the level of needing to define and explore who they are ON THE INSIDE. This is not a new trend, it has been happening through the entire 20th century.
Thus, I would suggest that, in sticking to the idea of the Masters as some mysterious hidden group of so-called superior individuals who are outside of us, whom we cannot identify with personally other than as objects to be worshiped, that we will be ignoring the needs of society as a whole and instead be appealing to a mentality that is below the average in terms of their place in the progression of psychological growth and maturity.
After half-a-decade of effort, an computerized version of THE SECRET DOCTRINE is in its final stages of preparation. The original edition is being used by the Theosophical Publishing House in The Phillippines. Many thanks are due Vic Hao Chin for his perseverance in this monumental effort.
The ebook will be available at a nominal charge to handle preparation and distribution costs. It will likely be placed on the Internet for immediate download. When it becomes available, there will be an announcement in THEOSOPHY WORLD and the various theosophical mailing lists.
The current beta version requires either Microsoft Windows 3.1 or Windows 95 to run, comes on five floppies, and takes up about 7.5 MB of disk space. Background music may be available in the final version; it is currently disabled because of poor performance on slower computers. A small number of students are currently evaluating the ebook to help in its final preparation.
By Pam Giese
[based upon an October 23, 1997 posting to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
I feel it's important to allow ourselves to "play" with perception -- to let ourselves view things with other eyes. I think it was Aldous Huxley who used the turn doors of perception.
I've always like that term -- applying it both to the expansion of personal and group consciousness, as well as universal brotherhood -- to let go of our prejudices and cultural conditioning and try to experience a world free of these coats.
As a systems designer, I constantly have to imagine myself in the role of a first-time user who'd be using my programs. It's one of those areas where my metaphysical studies and professional life amplify each others.
For years, I've often thought that UFOs may be some astral or other dimensional plane that interfaces with our own, or that they are member of a dimension beyond our normal perception. Last summer I actually had the experience of this.
I had recently purchased a new house in the country which had large 10 foot windows facing east. One morning last June, I got my customary cup of coffee and sat down to look at the sunrise. It was an unusually clouded day and the clouds allowed only a glimpse of the sun behind.
As I watched, I thought "If I didn't know that the clouds were only masking the sun and I were a primitive tribesman viewing this sunrise, I might think the sun was doing battle with the clouds". So, in the mode of perceptual experimentation, I "disengaged" the 20th century gears in my mind and tried to view this cloud-laden sunrise divorced from my usual paradigms. As my mind was trying to "free-wheel" and just see, I saw some clouds coming together in ways different than the neighboring clouds.
The memory of my sister's description of a UFO as a "jellyfish in the air that only hinted at substance" came to mind and the clouds began to take the more coherent form of jellyfish then of UFOs in the usual sense.
I continued to watch them for several minutes. Eventually I was seeing a mothership with a fleet of five supporting ships.
Since that time, I've tried to reproduce the attitude that led to the perception without real success. I think that my current expectation gets in the way.
I don't think its possible to cross dimensional barriers directly, you need to have intend and focus directed along one line and then "slip to the side". One might be able to represent this mathematically; I'll have to think more on this ...
I hope the readers will see that there's a light heartedness in my UFO story. A good sense of humor about one's self goes a long way.
By Keith Price
[based upon an October, 29, 1995 posting to email@example.com.]
I have just had a bad accident and trying to get back into things. I wonder, are there any real "accidents"? I think this has been much discussed in relation to Karma and Dharma and chaos and entropy and all the other "gods" of occultism and science, but when you have a bad accident, I don't analyze, but I try to utilize. That is, I try to do everything to improve my health and situation without sorting out immediately my karmic guilt or my victimhood or the "just" wheels of the universe. In short, I hurt and want to stop the pain at all costs.
During my recovery from the car accident, I had a strong Lucid Dream that was like a delirium. I was sleeping and dreaming. I could see things as in a dream, but I was quite aware of being in a bed in pain. I would drift in and out of the dream state very quickly, but what was really weird was not only was I conscious of dreaming while I was dreaming (a lucid dream) I was aware that I was in two worlds or shifting between the dream world and real world very quickly.
People who have been sick will know what delirium means although it is not widely approved as a tool on the spiritual path for obvious reasons. Who wants to be sick and near death.
In fact all these terms, astral travel, dream, hallucination, out of by experience, near death experience seem to be very nearly the same thing or paths to the same thing of a UNITIVE CONSCIOUSNESS.
This unitive consciousness seems to be the 7th level, 7th chakra, enlightenment, satori so often talked about in theosophy, zen etc where one realized that one needs a definite vehicle of consciousness for each of the 7 levels, planes, globes, parallel universes an all that, but that consciousness can be tuned as a radio (an idea form Ken Wilber) but the spectrum of consciousness is always there and we have an ability to be conscious ... my thoughts are incomplete ... I am not sure if our consciousness, my consciousness is eternal or just consciousness as the complete spectrum?
The insight I gained was that I was supposed to examine all this very closely. I hope to catch up on all the many things that seem to be going on in this area and though not always related to theosophy, I think they should be.
By John R. Crocker
[based upon an October 11, 1995 posting to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
A couple of weeks ago I heard, in a couple of different places, about a unique artistic exhibit at a New York gallery, and it is beautiful and strangely moving enough that I thought a few people on the list might enjoy it as well.
There is an old Jewish folk tale that has a Biblical scholar coming across a simple, uneducated man whose prayers seem remarkably successful. Upon being questioned, the man told the scholar that he could not read or write -- causing the surprised scholar then to ask the man how he could pray ... and the man replied that all he knew was the alphabet, so he just asked God to accept his letters and make them into prayers.
Diane Samuels, a Pittsburgh sculptor, had apparently for years been keeping a sketchbook of different but recurring shapes that she drew on over and over again in her sculpting, and when she heard that folk tale, it moved her, and starting her thinking that in those shapes was her own personal "alphabet" -- and the art that grew out of it (called "the Alphabet Project" I believe) came about as she started "offering her letters to God".
She chose 30 (or so) of the shapes (each one corresponding to a letter in the Roman or Hebrew alphabets), and began translating them into three dimensional sculptures all over the world.
In Poland she scratched her letters into a frozen lake; in France she did them in the sand on a beach; she even talked a multilingual class of schoolchildren in Ohio into forming their bodies into the shapes of her letters.
Photographs were then taken of all of these different forms, and the current exhibit has both three dimensional sculptures as well as sets of these photographs -- arranged to spell out, in numerous different ways, the "simple man's prayer".
While the sheer creativity and aesthetic beauty of such an artistic endeavor certainly moved me, it also caused deeper sort of reflection about what it is we do when we speak words aloud. While my particular orientation doesn't quite resonate with the simple man's belief in such a personal God -- the concept embedded in both the story and the art does.
I began thinking about all the free energy poured daily into the planetary biosphere, at both the inner and outer layers (from cosmic spiritual energy to purely physical solar energy) -- energy that then moves through all the different layers of individual life forms -- and is again re-radiated as action, movement, and in perhaps one of its most refined forms -- words.
I wonder what it might be like to be able to sit on the moon with enhanced hearing, and to listen to what the totality of all the human voices speaking at once, in thousands of different dialects, would sound like -- and then adding to that the voices of the other kingdoms -- birdsong and cats' meows and chirping crickets and roaring streams -- I wonder whether Earth is speaking a WORD -- and what that word sounds like.
And even (pushing this even further), wonder whether perhaps the Biblical phase "In the beginning was the Word" might be understood as a single supreme foundational vibration that was the original source of all that energy that now flows into our little planet from so many apparently different directions ... and whether the spiritual "evolution" so many esoteric traditions speak of could be conceived as the struggle of our planet to hear that "word" completely, and to SPEAK IT BACK TO ITS SOURCE -- that perhaps that fellow with the good hearing sitting on the moon, were he to sit there for all these millions of years listening to Earth's Voice ... would first hear a low murmuring as life began, gradually building to crescendos followed by quit periods as the various waves of periodic evolution and extinction cycle through the kingdoms ... taking on crisper and clearer forms as life individuates and the "word" acquires more precision, but also becoming more cacophonous and often disharmonious as the awareness of differences (a natural and necessary phase of evolution) come into focus ... and perhaps leading, sometime in the distant future, to a planet where individuality has been harmonized with awareness of the whole, and every "instrument" plays its own tone perfectly, but also with full awareness of the rest of the orchestra -- I wonder if to that fellow on the moon, the whole planet might seem to be struggling, over a scale of several billions of years, to sound a single clear word ... that will resonate outward in all directions ... that will be the "answer" to that original "Word" that was in the beginning -- and whether the moment that word is spoken all the kingdoms participating in its speaking might just dissolve back into the One ... liberated instantaneously by the sheer and unbearable beauty of such a sound.
Oops, got a bit carried away (comes from spending the day in the mountains!... But still, maybe I'll at least take the tiles from my Scrabble game and leave them out on the table in my yard tonight.
The HIGH COUNTRY THEOSOPHIST is now available on the Internet. Information on it's online version and how to subscribe is in the new-subscribers message, which follows.
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NOTE: Monthly issues of the HCT are in "Portable Document File" (PDF) format and are readable with Adobe Acrobat. A free copy of Acrobat is obtainable at the Adobe www site
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By Liesel F. Deutsch
This is an essay about how people's thinking affects their actions, and their physical being; and how the atmosphere which is thus engendered can spread out until it pervades entire communities; it's about how
thinking leads to action leading to karma leading to thinking leading to action leading to karma ... etc.
The essay is also about how most of the events which happen to us -- and around us -- are the solidification of our own thoughts and beliefs ... of our own Mindsets.
Acting from this base, people, from time immemorial, have managed to severely mistreat each other ... have often even gone so far as to kill.
At first, while God Himself was busy experimenting with different life forms, we were trying to find out, from the human side, what made us tick and why this cockeyed planet of ours functions as it does. We were also trying to build a better roof top. Our first attempts were mostly hit or miss. The karma we created was more often unfavorable than pleasant for us.
I imagine that, at the beginning of the human race ... even before we were visible, while we were still nothing more but wispy amorphous spirits ... we had already begun to fiddle around to find out what works. With our human curiosity, we tinkered with our surroundings ... also tinkered with each other. At first, it must have been interactions among gases. Eons later, we went to play with such creations as bacteria, crystals, chlorophyll, and proteins. Maybe the next step was something like investigating the great granddaddy of the juices in a tree trunk, which was probably a precursor to animal and human blood, fashioned by mixing water, minerals, plasma and etc. Just as an aside, our physical connectedness to the universe must have come from these antediluvian roots which we share with other life forms, and which must also be a part of our Karma. If we didn't have minerals in our blood and bones, our eating habits would be much different, and our ways of providing our food. From that, our Karma would be different too. But that's for another day.
Having finally acquired more solid forms, one day, one of us said "let's see what my friend will do if I poke into him with my stick." Well, my friend poked back with his own stick "Ouch!" Maybe another day one of us decided to give a neighbor a hug, and the neighbor hugged back. That was a very pleasant surprise! In some such fashion we learned about pleasure and pain. We got the idea that it felt nicer to create more pleasure and less pain. We're still rather on a hit or miss basis, because maybe the next time we decided to hug our neighbor, the neighbor poked at us with his stick, or we threatened with our stick and received a hug in exchange, and how do you account for that? But we stored all these experiences away ... as ideas with which to govern future acts ... again creating some Karma. For a long time, the instances of making unfavorable Karma must have been enormous. But as we kept on maneuvering among all the interplays, we learned more, our knowhow became more sophisticated, and our karma had a tendency to improve for us. For instance, early on, we found out that caves provided shelter from inclement weather. Later on, we dreamed up ways to build primitive houses and so on, right up to skyscrapers.
As time went by, civilizations rose and fell. Each civilization made a contribution to human betterment before it petered out. Karma, slowly, became more favorable, even though the improvements came 'round in an ascending spiral, rather than in a straight line. Some of the Karma of our earlier mistakes still hung on, waiting to be recognized and dealt with. Surely, we're on the path to Nirvana, but we're not there yet by a long shot. We need to explore some more, learn some more, dispel any Karma hindrances, and learn to apply it all much better.
People say that a valid measure of the stage at which a society functions, is how the women are being treated. Skipping over the ups and downs of millennia we reach our more recent Western civilization ... we'd now garnered more sophisticated knowledge, but in medieval Europe, crippling and killing was again the order of the day. We often acted out of what seems like the most altruistic of cockeyed intentions ... trying to save souls from eternal damnation by torturing the "sinful" body into "confessing." Perhaps some of the Inquisition's torturers really thought they were being kind, or at least righteous. If you read the stories and plays written about Jeanne d'arc -- that is the impression you get of both the church and the lay people. Some of these men were, no doubt, the medieval link on a long chain of human beings whose minds had been warped by physical maltreatment, and by being fed horribly twisted thoughts. Even I can remember today the German children's books I grew up with, classics which had been passed down from medieval times to and told to generation after generation of little kids. Some of the characters did and said scary and outlandish things. Think no further than Christmas with the witch in "Hansel and Gretel," and with the parents who tried to abandon their kids. Thank goodness, the story also tells about an angel descending to protect the children as they wander lost in the forest, where even the pine trees seemed to be forbidding. ( A fact which I don't remember as having transferred to our happily decorated Christmas tree, but who knows!) Now that there's been Jung, we can say that, for one thing, the Inquisition's men were denying their anima. They projected their suppressed character traits and feelings onto their women, a mindset which put the fear of the devil, of witches and of hell, of broomsticks and of goats, of women healers, of evil ghosts all over Europe for three centuries, causing much maiming and killing. Clearly, they wrought their own karma.
My own Jewish ancestors, (the inquisition of Jews was only a drop in the bucket as compared to the inquisition of the much more numerous women) decided to forsake the collective Karma of Spain during those times, with its mindset to save souls via torture and stake burning, and to rather take their chances with the collective Karma of Germany. This proved to be salubrious for several centuries. My folks settled and prospered in the ghetto of Frankfurt, which also housed the bankers Rothschild. Back in Spain, other Jews saved their hides by becoming Christian. Others just rather killed off their entire family, and then themselves. The family of the Jewish sage and physician, Moses ben Maimonides, roamed around North Africa for a while, and finally settled in Egypt, where they too prospered. Maimonides wrote beautiful commentaries and healed kings. Beliefs, Mindsets were worth living, dying and moving around the world for.
Why did these things happen? Especially since, if our theosophical teachings are right, the inquisitors suffered as much as the heretics. At the time, no one had the wherewithal to really understand why. For the inquisitors, there wasn't even a reason to try to understand "why." They knew that they were right. Their churchly beliefs said so. Their mindset. As for the victims, they didn't know how to cope with it any better that to just endure the suffering, unless they could somehow get out of the way. That, until Freud, and psychiatrists, anthropologists, social workers, a host of modern social scientists, who came after him, began to explore the mysterious human mind, the mysterious ways of human societies, the cause of much of this karma.
Viewing these events from some distance in time, one is led to wonder about the sagacity of the Masters' saying "with us, motive is everything." It's a mindset which provides redemption for the torturer, but what is a person to say to the dying heretics? "Sorry if it hurts a lot ... their motives are pure."? What do you say to the kids who had to just passively stand by while their mothers were being burned at the stake? "They mean well!"? As a saving grace, there's also the human tendency to soon forget the painful, but long remember the good. Also, the unforgiving churchmen taught their parishioners to forgive. "Hate the deed, and love the doer." (In our time, King was forgiving.)
These events are only a brief 300 odd years into the past. Compared to how things are going in our present century, one can say that it looks like we've made some progress. Against an Inquisition holocaust lasting 300 years, and taking into account that advanced technology speeded up the rate of murders, we've had Communist Gulags for about 70 years, Chinese terror and genocide for about 50 years, Nazi concentration camps for about 10 years, and the Yugoslav debacle for about four years. Furthermore, I've not read of any person or group protesting against the Inquisition. Lately, lots of people and groups have been raising voices in protest, and sometimes even the UN tries to be a force working to alleviate these horrible Mindsets.
I like to believe, with the Buddhists, that much of the mayhem happened because people just didn't know any better ... and that by trial and error, by slowly coming to an understanding of what makes us and the planet tick (and how to build a better roof top), we're working our way out of this karmic morass. When one compares the misdeeds of this century with those of centuries past, one can hope that this might actually be happening. After all, we say that the roots of the lotus are in the mud ... lots of mud. Our urge is to come to understand our muddy Mindsets by 'n by, with minds and hearts. As we learn, we'll, hopefully be able to rectify more and more, while the spiral winds slowly upwards. Whatever one of us finds out, can be taught more easily to the others. Maybe the process is working. Maybe over the eons we're leisurely wending our way to becoming a race of budding Bodhisattvas.
By Mark Kusek
In light of some of the recent art related threads, I've uploading some images that may be of interest to people on the list. They represent just a small fraction of a collection I've built up over the years.
I've organized them into categories, as described below. Check them out if you like, at:
These are images that relate to the teachings on the occult anatomy of Man, from a few theosophically related traditions. (I have lots more of these.)
2) I AM:
Here you'll find a funky little group of pictures from the 1930's that were sold through the I AM Movement. Masters, Angels, Meditation and Decree Foci, etc.
An assortment of images of a few of the Adepts, Cosmic Beings, etc. from the Esoteric Pantheon. (I have lots more of these, too.)
Miscellaneous theosophically related images for creating and working with thought forms.
5) Depth Psychology:
Imagery for individuation process.
Art of the wondrous Nicholas Roerich.
7) Sacred Architecture:
Mandala in three dimensions and the idea of building as manifest sacred geometry.
8) Mystic Pedagogy:
Diagrams of teachings and schematics from diverse traditions that point to similar referents.
Small cross-cultural survey of sacred and ritual art traditions.
By Bart Lidofsky
[based upon an October 11, 1997 posting to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
It is my opinion that the reason the TS was formed was to speed the evolution of humanity as a whole, and to create an atmosphere where seed groups could be created that might become Adepts in the next millennium or two. I'd like to make this statement clearer.
First of all, some terminology: I am not using the term "Master," as the level of reverence in many TS groups has altered the meaning from master of an area of knowledge/skill to one who must be obeyed. Also, I use the term "Mahatma(s)" to refer to the specific group of Adepts with whom Blavatsky et al communicated. But they themselves said that they were not the only group of Adepts around (this is often forgotten; I think one of the problems with the St. Germaine controversy is that, if St. Germaine was an Adept, he was probably a member of a different group than the Mahatmas. Therefore, the pro and anti's may BOTH be right). Finally, I'm going to be a little simplistic on my definition of "monad"; for the purpose of this, it will be defined as a consciousness that is self-aware, which is why you can have monads within monads, and, of course, the one Monad (which will be distinguished by the capitalization of the "M").
Now, how does one become an Adept? The TS concentrates on the concept of "Chelas"; if the Adepts think you have the right potential, they will take you in as a student, and, if you can reach the right level of whatever is necessary, you can join them. That leaves an interesting question. How did the groups start in the first place? And what makes them Adepts? Here are my theories; please don't send the men in white coats and butterfly nets.
First of all, the process of evolution is slow and painstaking. Every time you're born in a new body, you have to relearn a large amount of knowledge over again. But if you don't die, there are some things you may never learn. One way around this is if a group could form a group monad. Members can enter or leave the group, but the group monad lives on, and can continue to evolve, provided that the individual members allow it to do so. The members are still individuals, however. They are not always attached to the group monad; if they were, then the evolution of the group monad would be blocked.
There are, demonstrably, groups with at least the beginnings of such a group monad around today. A well-known example would be encounter groups, formed for the psychological health of the members. While the individuals have problems, the idea is that, by shedding their mental shields with each other, they can combine their strengths to help each other out.
Now, to digress, for a moment, let's take a look at one of the major problems of our current time: super-bacteria. Before the discovery of antibiotics, bacterial infection was a serious matter. People could and often did catch gangrene and/or die of what would be considered today to be simple infections. Eventually, three classes of antibiotics were discovered, and it was figured that it would be decades before bacteria could develop a resistance to one class, and centuries before they could develop a resistance to two or more types. But this assumed that bacteria followed basic laws of genetics.
Unfortunately, they do not. Bacteria have the ability to exchange genes with each other. Therefore, their physical evolution proceeds at a much more rapid pace than it would otherwise. If a bacterium is resistant to an antibiotic, then not only it and its descendants are resistant, but many of the other bacteria that it comes in contact also gain that resistance. If a single bacterium picks up resistance to all three kinds of antibiotics, then it becomes just as dangerous as bacteria were in the 19th century and earlier.
Going back to the subject at hand, if you consider the bacteria to be groups formed for spiritual advancement, if you have fixed groups, with little or no exchange of knowledge, then their ability to generate an Adept group is like the original estimates on how long it would take to develop a species of super bacteria. What is needed to allow Adepts to form more rapidly is for something akin to the bacteria where we have groups forming, failing, members going out, forming and reforming groups, until something clicks. Then you have a group whose members can drop their defenses with each other completely, and form a group monad. If the group is sufficiently careful in letting new members in, this monad can evolve, and, given enough time, eventually become Adepts.
At the time of the formation of the Theosophical Society, this kind of free-association was not possible. Religions were highly structured and stifling; scientific mechanistic atheism led nowhere, and Spiritualism, while it attracted the right kind of person, also attracted enough of the wrong kind of people to turn it into a dead end. Here comes Blavatsky and the Theosophical Society, which encouraged people to go out and find their own spiritual way, and gave a few hints here and there as to how to go about it. Theosophists encouraged others to break the strictures of their religions, and to seek the truth for themselves, whether or not they were members of the Society. Other groups came about, inspired by the TS. People started looking at their own religions differently. And new religions were formed.
One example is the so-called neo-pagan movement in the United States and England. Originating from Gerald Gardner, who borrowed heavily from Theosophy, Co-Masonry and Thelema (the latter two being strongly influenced by Theosophy) with his Wiccan religion, people became encouraged to form their own religions. While Wicca settled into a traditional religious form, the other groups were much more volatile. Someone would start a group. Others would join. They would send their members out to gain occult knowledge, and the members would share it with the group. Eventually, there would be strife within the group, and it would break up, but the individual members would go out to new groups, not unlike the genetic material in bacteria.
And, rarely, a group clicked. They work together, forming a natural hierarchy based on competency; by dropping their mutual shields, there is no quarrel about who is in charge, because they KNOW who does what the best. New members are very carefully brought in, as it is very easy to disturb the delicate balance that exists. Old members seldom leave, so the size of the group remains stable (the group dies out more often than becoming oversized; when it becomes oversized, you end up with a mystery religion, which no longer evolves). And the monad of the group can evolve. It enables the members of the group to be able to, when connected to the group monad, reach that level of evolution, as well. As the group monad evolves, the members of the group have more and more difficulty in dealing with people outside the group, as they have to put up the shields which they can so comfortably lose when within the group. Members therefore don't like to talk about their group much, as attention to their group from the outside interferes with their ability to remain coherent.
You don't hear a lot from these groups, as a result, except hearing from members who had to leave, or recruits who didn't make it. They may be entirely rumor, but there is enough information from independent sources to make that possibility unlikely. And these are the groups I am talking about when I mention groups that might become Adepts in the next millennium or two (the time frame is very shaky; it might be as little as a few decades, and might be as much as 10 millennia).
So, in my opinion, the TS members are not the next Adepts; they are holding the door open so that the new Adepts can get through. But, in doing so, they increase the speed of the evolution of humanity as a whole, and, therefore, their own evolution as well.
By Eldon B. Tucker
[based upon an August 9, 1994 posting to email@example.com.]
Theosophy is a religious philosophy. It consists of a well- defined body of Teachings. There are the core concepts of Theosophy that new students are taught. More advanced topics, though, are difficult to approach in a study class.
There are many reasons why Theosophy seems confusing to new students. The terminology is different; a new vocabulary needs to be learned. There is a difference in the use of some terms and a difference in ideas between the writings of Blavatsky and Judge, and the writings of Besant, Leadbeater, and Bailey. And there is the nature of the subject matter itself, dealing with ideas that cannot be expressed by simply telling them, ideas that have to be evoked from within.
No external measure exists to show, to the satisfaction of all, the extent of someone's theosophical insight. One saying goes: "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit." I'm sure it happens. But also consider: "Where there's smoke, there's fire." And I'm convinced that there is definite knowledge to be had, that we have a real Wisdom Tradition which goes beyond the latest fad in thinking in any particular country.
Politics enters our discussion, because we are surrounded with political thought, and can be affected. We need to be aware of the influences that would manipulate us, to account for their effects on us. Some may be well intentioned, "for our own good," but we should maintain our objectivity. A good example of this is the "politically correct" movement in the US, which would change every aspect of our lives, from employment, living conditions, dress, lifestyle activities, speech, and even thought. There are a growing number of taboos placed on our lives to externally change us into other peoples' ideas of a better way to live.
Theosophy is a timeless philosophy; it is something derived from the work of countless generations of Adepts. It does not change as various ideas and approaches fall into disfavor, or come into style, in any particular country. What changes is its expression. What aspects of Theosophy that would be helpful or useful to the people of a country facing famine and death, for instance, would be different from those aspects helpful to a country that is wealthy, bored, and spiritually lifeless.
There are two aspects to Theosophy as we find it in the Theosophical Movement. One is the special, esoteric, hidden side. This part deals with a spiritual practice that involves philosophical thought, leading to one of the Lesser Mysteries. The other is in public work, in adjusting whatever society we find ourselves in, changes to make things a bit better for all. This second aspect is like adding salt to a soup that is a bit too bland, an entirely different activity than studying the cook- books.
One effort of the politically correct movement is to do away with any sense of individual differences, to consider any thought of being better than others as wrong, because it might adversely affect the self-esteem of those who are less intelligent, less successful, less able to learn. Applied to Theosophy, it leads to such questions as: How can you say that this person is more evolved than the other? Are not both people? Do not both have an equal right to live? Cannot both exist in the world?
The problem with this comes with the assumption that to recognize individual differences is to devalue or to fail to appreciate those who are not the best, the winners, the leaders in intelligence and accomplishment. This is not true. A society recognizes and rewards those traits that it considers to be valuable. I hope that in the US we still recognize, appreciate, and reward individual achievement!
A gifted child should be given training appropriate to the child's capacity to learn. We would not say that the child is smug, and disdains other children of lessor intelligence, unless the child happened to be socially maladjusted. And being socially maladjusted is a problem that any child may have, and not a unique problem directly resulting from being more intelligent than other children, nor from studying more advanced materials than other children.
The same is true with a study of the theosophical Teachings. It is possible to be in a program for "spiritual gifted children" without feeling aloof, isolated, better than others. That feeling comes from a lack of spiritual rootedness in life. If Theosophy is approached as an intellectual game, apart from being a religious philosophy deeply rooted in life, then that feeling could arise and one may have to back off from Theosophy until his spiritual life is in order. Joseph Campbell has a well-known saying: "Follow your bliss," which means to undertake those activities that really stimulate and bring life to your inner nature. The study of Theosophy, as a particular practice, is not meant for everyone, and the 20 percent annual turnover we see in the T.S. in America illustrates this.
Regarding the Masters, the original theosophical idea of them was that they were not directing things in the world. The idea of them as a "World Government" came in the Alice Bailey variant, and perhaps a bit in Leadbeater's writings, but was not part of the original presentation.
They are not authority figures, no more than a university professor at Oxford would be an authority figure to someone living in another country and not going to school. There is no interaction, and even if you met one personally, what would you say? And what would it matter what the reply was? They are involved with activities appropriate to their station in life, including things that we could not follow, because of our lack of the appropriate training and background.
In "The Mahatma Letters," it is said that up to the last and supreme initiation the Chela is left to his own device and counsel. And it could not be otherwise. We cannot learn to do things on our own initiative, and become spiritual forces for good in the world, if there is someone else giving us orders, someone telling us what to do at every step of the way.
Some people may have an abnormal need for an authority figure. If it cannot be God or Christ telling them what to do in response to their prayers, it could be applied to Masters. But that is an abuse of the grand idea of what a Master is, and takes the idea out of the context of the theosophical Teachings.
Someone with a lack of faith in our judicial system, seeing injustice in the world, may also need to believe in a higher form of justice. The doctrine of karma, as another grand idea of our philosophy, does not, though, arise from a compulsive need to believe in something better than what we find about us in the external world.
Similarly, the idea of the astral light does not merely come from a need to believe in a higher form of reporting than we find in the news media, and the idea of an astral plane is not merely an escapist desire for a world where we can get away from the unpleasant, perhaps unchangeable, circumstances that we find ourselves caught in externally.
Theosophy, as presented to us in the literature, is a body of doctrines of high philosophy. The core concepts make a useful cornerstone to any edifice of thought we may build for ourselves. The deeper Teachings could fuel our contemplation for many lifetimes to come!
By Boris de Zirkoff
[This article is based upon a tape recording of a private talk given by Boris de Zirkoff. It was initially transcribed June 30, 1973, by Eldon Tucker, then later edited for publication.]
I was thinking the other day, friends, about the practical value of the Ancient Wisdom, the practical application of its Teachings. I think we're all prone, only too often, to indulge in a great deal of intellectual thought, which is good in its place, no doubt, and to forget or disregard or perhaps minimize the fact -- the important fact -- that the power of the Teachings consists in their practical application. By practical application I mean the utilizing of the philosophy of the Ancient Wisdom in the event that's before us in life. It is similar to the ability to use tools to produce mechanical work or results.
Whether you use tools of the psychological, the intellectual, or the spiritual part of our constitution -- regarding which we do not know very much -- regarding which, of course, we are far behind as compared with the considerable success we have reached on purely mechanical and material lines in the utilization of material tools. Essentially the idea is the same.
When a problem arises in mechanical lines, it cannot be solved unless you know what the problem is all about, and unless you have the tools with which to solve it. Suppose it was a question of building something, or of repairing something, or of starting something new. It is also impossible to solve a psychological, an intellectual, or a spiritual problem unless you can define it first, unless you can see it at a distance, unless you can be detached enough from it and look upon it impartially enough to see it in all its various facets, even though imperfectly. Then, it cannot be solved without finding the necessary tools with which to work at it.
Now there are certain things in the human character which very few people would consider -- unless they are students -- to be definite tools to work with; nevertheless, they are. One of them is a calm attitude toward the problem. Some people would interpret to be almost a negative attitude: instead of going and doing something we are told to become calm about it. That is a very important tool of operation: an attitude of serene and calm observation, the attitude of a spectator who doesn't get enmeshed in the problem, but looks upon it from the high vantage point of the real individuality within himself. The problem is something that may involve other people, or it may involve no one but you. It usually does involve other people, and therefore of course you cannot become completely detached, but you can be detached at least to some extent.
Now just think. If you are so completely attached to and involved in the problem, or in the thing that happens to you, you cannot have a perspective of it; you are too close. It is the case of a man coming up to look at a picture that hangs on the wall, and he is two inches away from it. He doesn't see the picture. But if he goes at a certain distance, he has a perspective of that picture. Therefore if we can disentangle our emotions from the problem that is facing us, we begin to see it in perspective. And then we see aspects of it which we didn't see otherwise when there was no perspective.
There are paintings that are painted with no perspective; they make no sense. There are others which are marvels of perspective in which everything stands out in its right proportion. As soon as we are able to see our problem in perspective by having detached ourselves from it -- relatively speaking, not wholly -- it has assumed a different proportion. That's one point.
The other point is that we have seen in it, we're beginning to see in it, aspects and factors which we didn't see before. We also see that problem in its relation to other things in life. That is very important because everything is related with everything else. If we can see the relation of that problem to other facets or events in our own life and in the life of others, we have acquired already a certain mastery over the problem. We have gathered aid; we have understood, or are about to understand a deeper meaning attached to it.
Now the other thing about this subject is that whatever takes place in our lives is called forth into manifestation by ourselves and by no one else. We may be experiencing the seeming onslaught of inimical forces; that's an illusion. That is an absurd philosophy which is no philosophy at all, suitable to thoughtless people. Thoughtless people are also weak people. They have discovered no cause or causes for things and therefore no causes for their lives. They do not think. They emote.
So you are faced with an onslaught of inimical forces. Why should we make the capital philosophical mistake of imagining that such a thing exists? It is a pure delusion. There isn't a thing that can come our way that isn't our own. The very natural and automatic reaction of the imperfect personality through which we all function is to put up an opposition, an instinctive psychological opposition to something unpleasant that is taking place around it and that is directed toward it, an automatic erecting of a battlement, of an embankment, of a fortification to protect oneself against the seeming onslaught.
But suppose we were to practice the very subtle, spiritual psychology of nonresistance, so that at least intellectually we would welcome the unpleasant event, forces, circumstances, or people as merely an extension of ourselves, as merely something that we have set into operation at one time or another, and which at this particular point is coming into fruition, but is our own.
What would be the result of that attitude? First of all, our emotions would become quiet. We would resign ourselves or accept a fact of nature. Second, we would be able to generate, within ourselves, the quality of forgiveness of wrong, which is one of the basic powers of the spiritual Self.
It is difficult for me to find the words to express this subtle idea unfamiliar to the Western mind. When I chafe against something, when I fret against something, when I am deeply hurt and resent it, I build a barrier between it and myself. When I refuse to feel resentment, and build deliberately an attitude of mind which is characterized by understanding of the weaknesses of others, pity for their ignorance, regret for their selfishness, and determine that I will deliberately practice nonresistance, I'm generating within myself a center of spiritual force which through the subtle alchemy of nature has a tremendous effect upon the so-called, the seeming forces and people who are leading an onslaught against me.
Remember than there is no separateness in nature, there is absolutely no separateness anywhere. You can't say if you are a philosopher: "This is I, and that is he, or she, or other." There is no such separateness. They are the extension of myself and I am an extension of them. They may be perfect brutes, or they may be silly asses, or they may be more intelligent and wiser than I -- either way -- or we may be fairly equal with each other, and similar, but the point is that there is no separation between us, there are only degrees of knowledge, which means also degrees of ignorance.
There is a very profound Buddhist Esoteric Doctrine regarding the great emptiness. They call it in Sanskrit sunyata, emptiness or vacuity. It has many aspects. That Teaching has some aspects of the cosmic kind, pertaining to the nature and structure of worlds.
But another aspect refers to you and me, our consciousness. If we can transcend, or try to transcend, the conception of the personal "I," to transcend our limitations and strongly imagine ourselves to be completely empty, empty of all personal limitations and infinite in consciousness, we can take the mental attitude something like this: that nothing seemingly coming to me from the outside can hurt me, because I'm so immense in consciousness that I can absorb it and a thousand times more than it into the infinite depth of my being, swallow it up because it is my own anyway, and move on.
It undermines the Western view of the necessity of a struggle, that life is a struggle. Life is not a struggle; the reaction of us, our reaction to many things that take place in Nature is such that it eventuates in a struggle, but life, cosmic life, is not a struggle. There is nothing in cosmic life than fights something else. On a small, little human scale we have erected barriers of ignorance and selfishness which Nature in its wisdom is trying to level down, and the process is so unpleasant to our personalities that we experience suffering and pain when Nature in its totality is trying to level down our self-erected barriers, which are only barriers of an illusory nature.
Now does that mean that an out-and-out student of Theosophy who is trying to live the Teachings to the best of his ability is absolutely, irretrievably, and forever opposed to fighting anything, or fighting for anything? No. Is he supposed to be constantly dedicated and devoted to peace? Yes. The point is that the word "fight" has to be defined. The word "peace" has to be defined.
It is obvious of course than we as students of Theosophy are not going to use violent means of struggle, violent means. Peace and goodwill are not achieved by doing nothing. Therefore, there is nothing negative in the concept of peace: peace is a positive spiritual force. You cannot achieve peace by not fighting. If you do not fight all that can be said of you is that you are holding to a condition of armed waiting. That is not peace. Peace is not the opposite of "fight." Peace is a spiritual force which is outgoing, dynamic, harmonious, and can outdo, outwit, and counteract anything that is disharmonious, an evil, without the slightest struggle, because it is a powerful spiritual force.
Now the idea of fighting simply has to be reconsidered in the case of us students of the Ancient Wisdom. We should never allow ourselves to be walked over. That is not peace. The point is that if we can arouse within ourselves an attitude detached enough, impersonal enough, strong enough in spiritual conviction in what is true, we are saturating the actual aura, the actual auric atmosphere surrounding us with a positive spiritual force which on its outer peripheries repels any inimical energy directed toward it without doing the slightest thing in the nature of a struggle.
These are all -- I grant you -- a number of paradoxes, but they are well worth thinking over and meditating about. They are paradoxical. They are subtle. Truth is paradoxical and very subtle. Only the brain-mind conceptions of the Western type are fairly clear-cut. Because they are clear-out and definite, they are limited. Because they are clear-out and limited, they are insufficient. They are too clear. They are too simple. Anything that is paradoxical simply shows that there are many aspects to a truth. And everything that is subtle simply shows that there are many levels to its understanding. I personally would be very chary about anything that is too clear, too definite, too well outlined, because I would know that it would be unsatisfactory and would fail me sooner or later because it is incomplete.
Now the other point is that we as students should never lose sight of the fact that our difficulties are originated by us, and it would be the greatest injustice for some third party to blame us for originating our own difficulties. That is not a matter of blaming. It is rather a subject for higher esteem and consideration.
I'll put it now somewhat differently. If you find a student whose life is harmonious and nothing particularly startling happens in it, there are no great problems and nothing occurs over a period of time, you can be dead sure that individual is passing through a period of relative stagnation. If you look a little closer into his life, why, he has moss growing all over him. The student whose life exhibits from time to time periodically cycles of struggle, sudden or progressively rising and falling and rising again, you can be sure that the student is growing, because every struggle is self-brought about, every struggle is the result of a challenge he has pronounced or stated or made within himself, a challenge of the higher toward the lower within himself. That kind of a challenge is not a matter of words. It is an inner attitude. A challenge is an inner spiritual, intellectual, and also psycho-magnetic attitude, an attitude which brings to the fore, brings forward and exteriorizes elements of unspent, delayed karma.
The individual who has the power to make the challenge, or a number of successive challenges which will result in periodic cycles of struggle, is an individual who is a strong character, or he is about to gain now strength. Therefore, as a deduction, no troubles, no struggles and no great problems ever arise in the lives of weaklings. It would be utterly illogical and utterly impossible in the very workings of universal laws to find any problem in the lives of weaklings because they wouldn't have the strength to meet them. There is nothing in our lives that ever comes into fruition except parallel and simultaneous with the appearance of a greater strength within us with which to meet the problem that has just been exteriorized. Do I make myself clear on that?
Now when a problem or event or struggle is exteriorized from within our inner consciousness as a part of our own consciousness, it's got to come through somebody else. It's got to appear in the illusory form of other people. Illusory, I said, because other people are an extension of ourselves, and there is no separateness between them and me. None. The illusory impression is an onslaught from without: loss of fortune, loss of work, death of loved ones, impossible psychological tangles, physical disease, terrible accidents, a combination of them, or perhaps an inner struggle to the death that others do not know anything about and do not even notice. An inner struggle; no outside complications, but nevertheless brought about by something seemingly from outside of us which people may not know a thing by looking at you.
Whatever the problem may be, I see a shortcut to its solution. I think that the shortcut to its solution lies in the recognition that within the rough and barbed-wire appearance there is hiding itself a friend, a friendly force testing our weaknesses, trying to balance our disharmonies, testing the validity of our convictions, balancing the opposites. That friendly force is invariably a spiritual influx from your own inner Self, because there is nothing from outside, that could possibly reach you, that isn't your own. Therefore the only logical attitude in these conditions is to act with as much calm and quiet and composure and serenity as your spiritual will can command. The moment that an individual goes down to the level of emotion, he is as good if not worse -- as bad I should say if not worse -- than his seeming opponent.
If we can combine an attitude of inner serenity, great interest in what is going on, an attitude of welcoming the circumstance because it is one more link in the karmic chain to be harmonized, disentangled, made into a harmonious result and passed over and forgotten eventually. If we can welcome this thing as a means of growth, if we can add to this a certain degree of indifference -- you see the paradox, I said to be very interested in it, now I say to be indifferent to it. Now you'll have to figure that out for yourself. You can be interested in something -- very much -- but quite indifferent as to what might be the result of it. It's paradoxical, but if you'll think this out very carefully you'll find that there is something in it. Be interested in what goes on but be indifferent to the result.
We can add to this an attitude of resignation, an attitude which has nothing that is negative to it. It is simply the acceptance of the working out of the pattern of your own life. You cannot change that pattern to the extent to which you have already built it, but you can constantly build a new one. But the pattern, as far as it concerns past events, is unalterable. But your attitude to the event is in your hands, you can do anything with it, the attitude to the event.
Now there is something else, and that is the final thought on that. That is that, given any kind of a struggle or problem in your life, there is some principle involved which you have to defend. Don't forget that by defending an impersonal principle of justice or truth you have on your side the totality of universal forces which are working in that direction. No matter what might be the seeming-and-temporary, illusory outcome, you cannot lose. It has got to be a principle of universal justice or of truth, not a point of personal gain -- that's not the idea.
But if a principle of universal justice or truth is involved, you are bound to win. When? Tomorrow; next week; next year? Don't think in these terms. That's completely and utterly immaterial. You can win the thing in one minute, or you may not win it at all -- seemingly so -- only to find that your defeat became a victory and the seeming triumphant victory of the others has resulted in perfect and irremediable defeat, another paradox.
I love to see people triumphant, carrying banners of great glory, having defeated their enemy. I like to see it because I know that their hour has come. They are the losers. The individual who can say: "Well, that was a hard struggle, and I don't exactly know how I came out of this, but it was a valiant one. It looks as if -- well I wasn't very much of a success, yes I did win a few points but on the whole I was defeated." That man is the winner. Another paradox. Think it over. It works. It works particularly with students of the Ancient Wisdom.
And perhaps a final thought in that in every struggle that we as students have -- whether known to others or known only to ourselves, and especially in the case of those who are in dead earnest to become nobler, better, to become building bricks of a new age, particularly in the case of those, and through the various struggles that they go through, as though there's someone watching, invariably, invariably the student is under observation.
How is he going to act? Is he going to act according to the great principles that he professes or is he going to run under cover until the storm is over? What does the man on the ship do when the storm is on? He'll protect himself, yes, and if necessary he might even go down and close the hatch. He is not letting the ship run wild in the storm. He nevertheless continues to port if possible at all. To protect himself to some extent, yes, but he continues to port.
And what about us? Invariably we are under observation at those critical times, and that observation is always the kindliness, the most felicitous. If we allow, if we permit it, if we leave the channel open, an unexpected help comes just where it was the least expected. An unexpected help comes when it was the least expected showing that somebody else cares almost more than we do, almost more than we do, cares about the right outcome of a struggle wherein a principle is involved.
Don't confuse this now with any kind of a struggle that we may have because we have brought upon ourselves sickness, disease, and troubles by doing wrong. No. Nobody's watching to help us then, because we're just meeting the results of our own foolishness. I'm speaking now of nobler, higher things, contentions and struggles in our lives where principles are involved and where seemingly inimical circumstances -- seemingly -- exteriorize outwardly a climacteric point in our own personal karma, which point when passed over becomes a stepping stone to us and to some other people maybe so that we can look back and see and say: "Oh, yes, here instead of tripping on this thing, I stepped on it. I see my own skin that I threw off like a snake. My own leopard-skin; I am now in a fresher skin, a greater, better man. I stepped right through that struggle, and the road is clearer ahead." I hope I'm making myself understood, though I spoke on many points somewhat cryptically; yet I hope that it was clear enough to give you at least some food for thought.
What we have touched upon today at the beginning of the meeting of course, friends, is applicable on a very large scale as well. The struggles that we have in our own lives are exemplified on a larger scale as the struggle between groups of mankind, fragments of the same humanity. Brothers fighting brothers, extensions of each other, unable to realize through the illusions of selfishness that they are practically identical with each other, that there is less difference among all of us the world over than there are between two species of a dog, much less. Yet, immersed in the ignorance, in the illusion of separateness, striving for practically the same ends, very similar ends, and not seeing it, we lambaste each other because we're not doing it exactly in the same way.
I really think that if there is such a thing as a man coming out of a flying saucer, and if he has the power to look upon our various motives and plans and objectives, he'll probably realize with a detached viewpoint, he'll see that we are all striving to achieve the same thing, the same sort of life: a life of abundance and peace and good will and integration and build something new and better. That we are doing it or trying to do so in various ways which are disliked by the respective people, and they are hurt by the way it's being done. It is the same thing that they are all trying to do.
There isn't a nation in the world that is trying to move backwards. There isn't a group of humanity anywhere that is trying to destroy everybody else, or that is trying to build up a civilization that would be the representative of the embodiment of every evil conceivable. They are all trying to better themselves. They do this mostly on the material plane, but not exclusively. Some do it more on the intellectual, some more on the artistic, some more on the social, and of course a great deal on the physical.
But they are caught, have been caught for a long time in the mistaken idea that each one, each one of the major ones has some kind of a holy mission to perform, and is the savior of mankind. The English have felt that way; the Germans have felt that way; the Russians have had that thing for more than 200 years in their reign; the Americans are feeling that way from another angle; the Hindus. How many more are there fired by some illusory idea that they have a special mission, a mission that cannot be duplicated by anybody, convinced that they are the builders of the one and only great civilization that is to be forced upon everybody else?
As a matter of fact, this thing can be traced over thousands of years as a national and universal delusion. If we could only find the means to make the great masses of people realize that they are all striving for exactly the same thing, barring minor differences, so that we can hold hands together and march together toward that great objective. It's bound to come. It's got to come.
How much easier it would be to do this peacefully than to do it eventually with bloody noses, flattened heads and worse. The struggles that we have in our own lives, they have an analogy in the lives of nations, they too are tested. They too bring out from within their national karma, these exteriorizations of delayed karmic action, which they have to meet. Nations are entities; they are entities; they build molds and these molds work certain forces.
Anyway, it's a big subject. I think that we would do very well if we took more seriously in our daily meditations the paramount thought that we all are but rays from the same Sun. That we are all not only brothers but actually manifestations of the same underlying spiritual reality. That the things that make us dislike each other at times are the limitations of our personalities and not the all-embracing oneness of our spiritual selfhood.
From one angle it's high metaphysics, from another angle it's applicable in the daily affairs of our lives. Some people might say: "Oh, what a strange idea that is." So what! All the great ideas have appeared strange at one time or another when they were unfamiliar to people. People have familiarized themselves with them, and the ideas have become -- certain ideas have become -- a household word.
And also never to lose sight of the thought, of the realization that in everything we are struggling for that involves a high and noble motive we are never alone, never at any time. The laws of the universe would be a sad, sad failure if we could disregard our struggle for principles and truth. As the world is based upon these laws, such a thing is impossible. Every time we reach out toward truth through a struggle, trying to obtain a stronger hold upon truth, every time we assert, quietly but firmly -- quietly but firmly -- conviction in a spiritual principle of action, you have in league with us the totality of the universal evolutionary stream that runs in that direction. What other allies can we wish for in addition to the totality of the universal forces that are working for the good of all that lives and for the embodiment of light and truth in that evolutionary journey?
The third SECRET DOCTRINE SYMPOSIUM will be held at Saint Francis Pastoral Center, Oklahoma City, U.S.A., May 21 to 24, 1998.
The year of 1998 is the 110th anniversary of the publication of H.P. Blavatsky's The Secret Doctrine, which was published in 1888. We will honor the occasion with the third symposium in the United States on the Secret Doctrine in recent years. HPB's intention in her source book of esoteric philosophy was to bring to the highest minds a far-reaching vision and cutting-edge understanding of our universe and our own humanity. This, along with widening our own education, is the aim of this symposium.
CALL FOR PAPERS
We invite participation by all serious students of the Secret Doctrine who are interested in or involved in theosophic work federation wide, nationwide, or worldwide. For those interested in submitting one or more papers, please:
A committee will review those titles submitted by January 31 and make a selection for those to be presented at the conference. It is expected that there will be more papers than time to deliver all of them orally. In choosing those to be read, we will try to keep an overall balance to represent the scope of the Secret Doctrine and HPB's vision of service to humanity.
However, all papers submitted that are considered relevant to the conference will be included in the proceedings. The papers in the proceedings will not be limited to those presented at the conference. A copy of the proceedings will be available at the conference (cost will be extra).
Ceremonial addresses will be reduced to a minimum to accommodate as many oral deliveries as possible. Only brief comments will be permitted for each presentation. Subgroups might be arranged, depending on the number of participants interested in a particular subject. For example, one group might consider Cosmogenesis, another Anthropogenesis, or other divisions of topics might be devised. Plenary sessions would bring all the groups together.
VENUE AND ACCOMMODATIONS
The symposium will be held at the beautiful Saint Francis Pastoral Center, 7501 NW Expressway, Oklahoma City (between Rockwell and Council). An announcement of meeting details will be released in early 1998 and will include a preliminary program and a call for registration. Those registering early can take advantage of a discount on the preregistration fee. As details are available, they will be posted at this web site.
A kitchenette with small stove, microwave, and refrigerator is available. However, these are not intended for replacement of full meals. Snacks can be brought in.
It is still too early to make reservations. However, if you want more details concerning food and lodging, you may contact: Jeanine McFall at (405) 721-5651.
In addition to authors and conference attendees, we also need volunteers and sponsors (contact us if you are interested in more information). Registration costs will be kept low to encourage participation (ca. $35), and therefore, financial support from sponsors to defray mailing costs, etc., will be gratefully accepted. Those unable to help financially, may be able to assist in other ways. It is anticipated that a newsletter will be distributed periodically to those actively supporting the conference. You will need to let us know if you are interested in receiving the newsletter and in what ways you may be able to help us organize and conduct the conference.
TELL US HOW YOU CAN HELP!
Tell us if (email to: Arden Strycker, firstname.lastname@example.org)
For the most up-to-date information, see the web page: